Squirrels in the Mist

I hadn’t expected to see twelve squirrels on a fence dancing the Cancan in the original French as I cruised and I was mightily pleased to be able to note later in the day that I had not.

Anderton Services [corrected – thank’ee sir!]. Built in 1823 (or thereabouts, it was something past six o’clock in the evening) now has a novelty water-point. Connect your hosepipe, flip the leever to select the outlet that you’ve connected to… and the other outlet shoots water directly upwards, ten feet into the air. It’s fun! Take an umbrella. I didn’t. πŸ™‚ Having once discovered the phenomenon and instinctively darted away it is, of course, then necessary to voluntarily walk back under the waterfall to continue with the adjustment of the taps… Next time I shall either umbrella or apply shampoo and soap first. Probably the latter.

The Service Area has been sepia-toned ever since it was opened by King Henry IV Part One (Part Two couldn’t attend the ceremony, having a priory enagement). Henry IV was a ‘boate weathoute an home mooringe’ and had been cruising past in search of the mythical Bolingbroke Canal when he noticed that the service area needed opening. If you ask me, he’s never been given the recognition that he deserves. It was the first recorded use of red ribbon and scissors in English history. Anyway. Whatever.

My morning began at almost exactly the mooring I was on when last here some while since, when a small but perfectly-formed part of a tree came down in the storms and fell – the topmost branches just tickling the Cardinal’s stern end. This is the stump, still cocked at a fortunate angle and, as it also didn’t do when it fell, still not quite crushing the fence.

Good fence. Fence get biscuit later, and new chew-toy.

Aah what memories what memories from nineteen hundred and sixty-three while later that same year this golden goody blast from the past was introduced by the Crystals…

A most minor mist had arisen overnight and, exercising my long felt wont, we did mooch on, mooch on, with hope in our heart during the lower numbers on my Casio digital mantelpiece twenty-eight day Alum Bay Sand hourglass with Westminster chimes, the better to take advantage.

Many things cross the canals. People (see earlier post). Water. Sewage. Mostly it’s in pipes such as these. Gas generally goes under the canals, but they put up “Day-Glo” orange and white signposts to let you know where the pipes are, and the Anal & Rivet Tryst Ltd add exhortations to “take care” or “beware”. Quite what a boater is supposed to do differently I do not know. Not drag an anchor perhaps, or refrain from sending divers down.

Mr Sunshine was making an entrance by the time we arrived at the Service area.

My favoured routine is to moor up securely (id est a rope at both ends, and using fenders), deploy the Portable Hydraulic Transfer Tunnel (the hosepipe), and while rinsing it through use that water on the Photon Capture Plating (the solar panels), then get the main tank started on the fills. While that’s chugging along, dispose of the rubbish, then empty the gazunders. After that it’s an E.R. Scrub and sand hanitiser and a de-deployment of the P.H.T.T. and a return of same to the S.T.D.C.U.D.N.C.D.*

* Spatial & Temporal Displacement Chamber for Useful Devices Not Currently Deployed.

I bung the hose back in the bow gas locker. Duh.

Statistically and stochastically something on the order of between fourteen dozen and eight and one half million other live-aboard narrowboaters follow similar routines when at service areas. Nine out of eleven cats meowed that their owners preferred it so.

We then had a look at the moorings nearer the Anderton Boat Lift, and there was most definitely absolutely no room at the inn. Snoring boats bow to stern to stern to bow, the entire length. When I press into action ‘Attempt Plan B’ I’ll do so during the more normal boater waking hours, when some of them might have woken, scratched, shat, showered and shaved and shifted.

There’s a nice winding hole just before the Lift itself, where the Cardinal and I spun the planet underneath us by one-hundred and eighty degrees. It is truly amazing what one can do with a bit of leverage, given a suitable pivot-point. We then went back to a mooring spotted earlier (Blue Peter style) opposite Anderton Marina…

…but upped sticks again and left within ten minutes. It was just too damned dismal there, bows pointing East we’d only ever have seen the Sun for the first five minutes of any day, and the interwebnetting signal was as weak as I remember it being in Edwardian times. I’d have succumbed to S.A.D. within the hour had I stayed.

Perhaps it was the vibe of young pilchards in the air?

Whatever it was, third coffee in hand we motored away toot sweet, trying a couple of other places on for size “on root” as the French also say when pressed, but nothing fitted well, so we returned to the exact same mooring we’d begun the day from, simply volte face.

It’s a touch urban around here, and thus not really my Tommee Tippee of hot infusion of Camellia sinensis, but well, there is a war on and we all have to make dough.

I’ve never understood quite why.

There is mooring ringery here but also a shelf, of sorts, so the Cardinal’s wheels are deployed. Oddly I seem to be the only boat such, others are moored with just pipe fenders and seem happy, but when I tried the Cardinal on those we clonked. When I switched to the inflatable squidgy blue fenders, we clonked. Perhaps that’s why this space was available twice in succession. Wheels do make onning and offing a gusset-stretch and a gimbal-gamble, but needs must when Beelzebub has vehicular responsibility. As I said, these are urban moorings, so it’s not as though I’ll be getting off and interacting with the world very often… πŸ˜‰

In fact I won’t be leaving the Cardinal alone here ever.

We’ve got some sparkly-sparkly water to look at, and while the local wildlife isn’t the most visible in the known universe, there are lots of different bird-calls here. There’s one in particular that sounds like – I think the Americans call it a “bull-horn” – a loud and angry extended single tone. I’ll have to look that one up. There are also lots of owl hoots.

That’s if you can hear them over the blasting (crap) “music” coming from a couple of boats hereabouts at night, or – during the daylight hours – the 1500rpm three-hour Wagnerian diesel opera of the boat moored stern-on at our bow, three shows a day, pensioners and Service Personnel half price on Sundays.

Oh how I love urban arias!

Um – areas.



I don’t think that I’ll be riding down and up the Anderton Boat Lift. Been there, done that, enjoyed it mightily at the time, but the Canal Company Ltd not long since scheduled, announced and then removed and went silent on the matter of a long closure of same for maintenance. The twenty-year certification of the hydraulic rams that lift and lower the boat caissons has either expired or is on the cusp of expiring. It’s a very big and very expensive job – and that’s probably why the need for it appears to have been swept quietly under the office carpet. The most benign failure mode is not acceptable; getting stuck on the River Weaver is not an option.

Rumours that I am a full-blood Pierson’s Puppeteer are unfounded, but I am on the spectrum of the fully-cautious.

How long shall we be here? Well, if I spot a spotter spotting I’ll be untying the mooring ropes five minutes later. If I can cruise up and find a spot nearer the lift then I’ll be there for a few days. Otherwise we’ll see how long my steely fixed rictus can hold.

No, that was more of a psychological reference than a slightly risque biological pun.

Talking of which, curry today, methinks.

Chin-chin, chaps.



  1. So when the Anderson Boat Lift shuts for its work, is there any way to get from the River Weaver to the canal? It’s been many decades since I lived in that area, and can’t think of any way.
    In the 1930s, I think it was, you could have sailed (do canal boats sail?) From the Anderson Lift to the Bull Ring in Northwich. The Weaver and Dane flooded and the water came several feet up the Regal cinema (and said edifice had steps, probably around 6 or so going up to the door). Not that I remember, I hasten to add, but I do remember a mural in the foyer of the cinema showing the Great Flood. My uncle had a radio and TV (no, not TV at that time, I doubt) business in the Bull Ring and he had to rush there to try to rescue what he could in the shop.
    It would have been interesting to float into the town.
    And your comment on Henry IV part 1 had me giggling. I did said play for ‘O’ level and can still quote it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s the Manchester Ship Canal, if those locks are in operation – but that’s mixing with the sea-going boys, and requires all manner of certification and expense (as well as nerve). Northwich seems to flood on a regular basis, and I am most definitely not a river-rat, I prefer my water in canal form… There are floating pontoons and wotnot, but each time of flooding usually claims a boat or three for Poseidon’s extensive collection. I know of one unfortunate (business and boat) that was lost while in dry dock because the water levels ran so high. Definitely not for me. πŸ˜‰


  2. Most Tuesdays of the year I arrive in Chester at 7.30 of the ante meridian and pass over a bridge looking down over a tail of the canal to see if the Admiral or Old Bow knee part is parked up to take advantahe of the comestibles available from Ye olde Tesco Store mere yards (Imperial)away hoping perhaps to cadge a cuppa char before enjoying the sight of my grandchildren on their way to school in town.. Oh how our chins would wag over said cuppa as I admire the bow and stern of your vessel decorated by the ranking adornment of English/French origin?

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    1. Haven’t been to Chester in a long while, although it was a very regular haunt for a spell as a brat. Hope all is well and swell with you and yours sir. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Audlem services ???
    Was that a deliberate mistake to check that we were paying attention. Even in my bleary eyed state I could tell the difference between Audlem and Anderton services.

    Liked by 1 person

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