Not too wild a sub-expedition; the Wardle Canal begins with the lock that I am moving out of in the photograph above, and ends at the bridge, the junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal. The Wardle is but 154 ft in length, having been built in 1829 and designed as such for the express porpoise of allowing the robber-baron owners of the Trent & Mersey Canal to maintain control of the junction with the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal (with its own, quite separate, robber-baron owners).
Actually, it’s a bit of a dog – as you can see, the lock squirts out boats to one side of the “second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” ideal, the lock landing to the left is a stub of a stub and banked too high for effectively scrambling up thereof to use the lock mooring bollards, and the bridge is so damned low that even Stickola Nurgeon would have to duck down to waddle under it. Moan moan moan. 😉 By the time I’d persuaded the ever-lively Cardinal to rest sufficiently neatly for me to spring off like an elderly, overweight gazelle in a flat cap some kind chap had already closed the lower gates for me and retrieved and delivered my windlass.
It was then a left turn through the bridge onto the Trent & Mersey. This next wee stretch of damp ditch through town is notable not so much for the remaining four locks (one of them wide; double-width), but for a couple of boat businesses that forget – or don’t care – about anyone but themselves using the PUBLIC canal. They indicate such by mooring all over it.
This first constriction in the flow of the universe, pictured above, left but a single boat-width through which to pass. The second constriction left slightly less than a single boat-width, and was passable only with a slalom manoeuvre, triple moored boats opposite double-moored boats – quintuple mooring – in a mix and match “first one side then the other” pattern until past the Hire Company…
The BIG hire companies (not the nice smaller ones) are the Canal & River Mistrust Ltd’s darlings, so while we peasant boaters are hectored and threatened from ear-‘ole to R Soul about mooring violations, not a peep of a squeak of a half of a word will ever be said to these companies about their utterly inconsiderate (and unacceptable) behaviour.
Steps down off soapbox, heel catching the stash of old glass milk bottles, unleaded petrochemicals, and polystyrene packing peanuts (an old family recipe that Grandmother used to great effect during the Barrackpore Mutiny of 1824).
Still, through town it was (is there any other way to treat a town other than passing through as best may be?) and soon enough out into the fresh(er) air.
The tally for the cruise-ette was two changes of canal (one of which, for reasons explained, hardly counts!), 3 and 6/10th miles, six locks and two commercial obstacle courses.
My reward was a mooring at a charming little oddity by the name of ‘Bramble Cuttings’.
Bramble Cuttings is an offside magnificence accessible only via boat, or by trespassing on the private farmland surrounding (with its plethora of “family crest” signposts bearing crossed shotguns with man-traps rampant). The moorings are as pleasant as they look, and I had three hours or so of them to myself, soaking up the vibes of Father Nature’s Cheshire bounty. In short, I sat on the benches and listened to small birds screeching about sex and territory, and to the fresh breeze doing its best to wake up the trees ready for Spring.
The place is awash with signposts too of course, there isn’t an inch of England that has been spared the hectoring and the reminders that the Wobber Bawons are (still) (totawy) “in charge”.
Indications of obeisance must be made thrice-daily and offerings left for the gods.
I am assuming that the exhortation to ‘please clean up after your dog’ relates to putting away the poster paints, the plasticine, or the Meccano or whatever he’s been playing with.
Some of these gods haven’t been alive for ten years and yet their spoor remains;
The splendid and useful picnic benches too bear the spoor of what tranny-Atlantic “therapists” would call a “passive-aggressive” reminder that chain-gangs are still both de rigueur and indeed very popular in what passes for Human “society”. It’s not slavery if they’ve transgressed in a matter of some offence that Society has pre-defined, it’s “rehabilitation“. Just putting that thought into your head – at the least, we must question and check the definitions on a regular basis (although we don’t, because SOAPs on TV &etc). Have you ever drawn your own line in the sand rather than just accepting what’s already there, drawn by someone (or some thing) else?
Call me an old-fashioned nit-picker if you will, but I doubt very much that ‘H. M. Prison Services’ (see what I did there, with the corrected punctuation?) so much as coughed up a bit of sawdust in the making of these benches, that being left to those who have transgressed agin Human “society’s” “norms”, rightly or wrongly. Take money – far more than you could ever need – from a trillion “customers” and you’ll become a “billionaire” (a thousand-millionaire!) and be feted and invited to become a member of The W.E.F. and other, decided not august bodies; “steal” money just once and you’ll be making park benches. Jus’ sayin’, is all – we ought accept nought without question.
It is most pleasant indeed, and a rare treat for me, to not have anglers, ramblers, massed dog-emptiers, joggers and manifold other scurrilous, less-than-fragrant cads scooting past the Cardinal at anything up to zero-inches clearance, and I am enjoying same most mightily, while it lasts. The next services are now some seven leagues distant, we’ll pootle towards them in a few days.
Meanwhile I have mushrooms to stuff and to bake on Mr Stove for lunch. I does love a good mushroom. I’m quite fond of ill-behaved mushrooms, too. Oh dear, we’re back to those coded warning signs on the benches, aren’t we?
Here are a couple of swans in flight. Air-traffic control seems to be a tad lax in these parts.
In Other News Linux appears to be behaving and performing well. A few non-discomnobulating tears and scratches, but it appears to be wriggling down into residence nicely. I still have my fingers crossed, which is why it’s been incredibly difficult to type this blog post. I’ve replaced most of the packages I hitherto used, ditching corporate Photoshop for G.I.M.P. and so forth. It’s all looking much, much better. The V.P.N. is in place, and I can now – with some juggling – browse the interwebnettings without falling foul of the most obvious of censorship (doubtless much remains that I am not even aware of). That said, I haven’t bothered to read (what passes for) the “News” for a while – it’s all just so much wildly (and cynically) manipulated cr*p anyway; I’d rather speak to the squirrels in Bramble Cuttings.
They think that the news is all cr*p too.
So there you have it, chaps, a wild cruise (actually, some miles, six locks and two quite ridiculous slalom events did indeed cause me to feel that I had cruised – quite enpoopinating!) and a splendid mooring for a couple of days. With added swan.
Chin-chin &etc., for the mo.
Ian H., and Cardinal W., Scourges of The Damp Ditches.