Woomera? We Have A Problem.

Someone crashed the Moon lander.

Seriously, how the helly-hell you actually do this to a lock ladder is beyond me. Moor up tightly to it and then drop the lock, possibly. Sneeze and fart while climbing up those last few rungs, maybe. It didn’t stop me in my tracks this time because the Cardinal and I were going up the lock, and thus it was the other ladder that I used, but anyone (single-handed) going down, well…

The whole arrangement has been squished in, twisted, and those substantial bolts ripped from the concrete. Puzzlingly, the wreckage is also leaning “up” the lock.

At least with all of that ‘C&RT Aware’ tape over it it’s safe again to use.

We had a spot of Summer again early the other morning – although the frost on the solar panels is evident in the photomagraph below.

I had a slight problem when oiking up to this lock landing – the centre-line wouldn’t bend. It was frozen stiff, and took much persuading to allow itself to be wrapped around a mooring bollard so that we could tie on. There are pantomimes within pantomimes when you live on England’s canals, wrestling with a very slender ten-metre-long Black Mamba while insufficiently caffeinated to tackle even an elderly slow-worm being one of them. πŸ˜‰

A lot of canal cruising consists mainly of threading a biblical hypodermic needle through the ear of a camel on behalf of a rich man. Some of the rest consists of climbing out of flooded man-made holes, holding onto ropes to stop your boat from reversing itself out on the flow of the leaks from the top gate.

These holes having been lined with bricks made by children who had TB, rickets, and said things such as ‘Please Sir, I want some more…’ and ‘God bless us, every one…’ It sounds like a line from a dodgy film but the reason that locks in most places are 7′ wide is because the builders used Tiny TIm’s crutch as a measuring stick.

What Tiny Tim did while the builders were using it we may only guess. Fell over and lay prone, presumably. Lazy little bastard. You just can’t get a decent day’s work out of a rickets case.

There were, as ever, manifold reasons for our cruise that day. People to do, places to be. We’re on manoeuvres. One of those reasons was, of course, to head back to moorings not town. One thing that you can’t fault the Middlewich Branch for is countryside. There are more buccolic moorings than you could wave a stick of broccoli at. We passed most of them by because we were on a mission. Ce sera sera, and in the words of Tina Turner as she leapt over the fence into Switzerland on her modorbike in that classic film The Great Escape From The Sound of Mad Max’s Matrix Music, ‘I’ll be back…’

Not many know it but THIS is the set location for Bridge Over The River Kwai, The Bridges of Madison County AND Bridge Over Troubled Water.

But I promised you broccolicolic views, not a rose garden.

Here we pass some extreme moorings with a view to the right fair set to make Winnie poo pots of honey uncontrollably – wide open fields, a stream, semi-intended lakes and a town with church spire in the distance. There are even mooring rings, benches and stands for those tin-foil “dipsosablurgh” “barby queues” that folk like to use to cook animals.

Up through the bridge in the photograph is a dark, dank, cold and generally awkward little stretch, where I chanced upon a holiday boat from [insert large corporate company name]. They’d given up and moored in the dark and dank overnight. Had they gone but one bridge farther on, well…

To add to their miseries they had got themselves excrutiatingly well grounded in the shallows (no-one else ever even tries to moor there, so the edges have silted up), and were trying to extricate themselves by powering forwards sliding along the horridly-eroded bank, with several crew members hanging on the canal-side gunwales, trying to rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby, rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over.

I did mention ‘red-line it in reverse’ (to throw water under the boat), and even offered a tow, but they were hardy and adventurous souls with near a fortnight still to go on their holiday, so they were in no rush. There was talk of them waiting for the monsoons, when the rise in water levels might re-float their boat.

We agreed that they ought to do whatever floated their boat, and I went around the bend.

I ought perhaps to have asked them how they got on with the lock ladder at Minshull Lock.

Eight miles (and thus about a gallon of diesel) and two locks, and the Cardinal and I were done for the day. A most enjoyable cruet set.

Um – cruise-ette. A most enjoyable cruise-ette.

Being back on the main body of the Middlewich Branch we were, of course, logged by the canal rozzers within twenty-four hours of arrival. One might almost be fooled into thinking that this is one of the few stretches actually patrolled on a regular basis.

Also on foot. Patrolled on foot.

Probably on two feet, although the rozzer was much taller than that.


Were one to be of a more (realistic) cynical bent one might imagine that this could account for the overweening overwhelming reliance upon and preponderance of “sightings” of – I’d posit – all boats in this area.

For some reason the trans-Atlantic faux-word ‘duh’ springs to mind.


Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies.

Ian H., & Cardinal W. Scourges of the Civilised Human World.


  1. Tip of the Week: Always keep a mug of cold coffee on the roof so that when the clockers clock you, you can clock them back with a cold coffee shower. Keep your camera up there too, so that you can record the evidence of the soaking for the CaRT and your ‘Drenched Clocker Scrap Book’.

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  2. Well me hearties, have a good Friday and here’s hoping the waters don’t get too choppy over the mad weekend, most folk will be camping out at airports and ferry terminals! The airwarves be quiet without ‘ee!

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    1. We are in the first tsunami of the Silly Seasons, aren’t we? I keep forgetting that schools let their inmates out and that seven shades of Hell ensue. The past few days have been relatively busy with “historic” boats all thump-thumpering up to Chester and Ellesmere for some sort of event – The Easter Uprising, I think. Might just be the Easter Gathering now that I think on it. Suffice it to say that were I to bne headed in that direction, and I’m not, I’d be heading in the opposite direction too sweet quick smart. πŸ˜‰ I shall do my level best to get a bloggery pokery up for the weekend – had a most enjoyable nine mile cruisette this morning – fog, mist, and low sunshine…

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  3. My neighbour must have taken up narrow boating….sights like that are common on his finca as he leaves stuff lying around and then runs over them with his lorry…

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    1. Mother used to do something similar with people, although she preferred to use an anonymous-looking white Ford Transit van rather than a lorry (unless the client had special requirements). Same effect.

      There are three locks in the ten miles of this Middlwich Branch canal, and three of them are bandaged up. Stranthorne has both bottom paddles limited to half-flow (meaning that a chap can die of boredom and/or old age waiting for the flow to overcome the leaks), Minshull has a “Modern art” lock ladder, Cholmondeston has a paddle completely out of action and swathed in one of the Canal Company’s specially tailored “Aware” bags! TBH, the fourth lock has always been a bit of a sod in all ways anyway too…

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