See what I did there? Squeezed in a cheeky phomatograph of the Cardinal (albeit locationally misleading, since we’re a hundred yards and more from the bridge itself).
Hire boats. You see ’em chugging up and down relatively serenely but about once a week (or fortnight) they are subject to a veritable Blitzkrieg – change-over or turn-around “day”. Guests return their boats and drive back up or down the M6 motorway to land-based Hell (that’s near where Chris Rea lived), and the boats must be returned to Messrs Spick & Span before the next guests arrive. In addition to spickness and span-ness, all that ought to be empty must be emptied, and all that ought to be full must be fulled.
Hire Company operators call some of the operations involved in this ‘Living The Dream’.
Hire boaters of human necessity leave behind themselves some items that must be pumped off the boat and into the sewage system – as do some private boats, as pictured above. All part of the service.
As is retrieving work-gloves from friendly local hounds who have kleptomaniac tendencies and mutter phrases such as ‘that’s mine – and that’s mine – and that’s definitely mine…’
Many people know many things about narrowboats but one of the many things than many people don’t know about narrowboats is that they love sniffing flowers. If you want to trap wild narrowboats then all that is necessary is to bung an arrangement of lavender or some such at the edge of the water, and in no time at all you’ll have half a dozen narrowboats, all frantically sniffing and ripe for lassoing and domestication. This is how sales brokerages get their stock.
If you’ve never heard wild narrowboats arguing among themselves about whether that’s Lavendaritus Purplefolius or Saxifrungum Petaloonia then you’ve not heard true debate.
Anyway, I digress.
While Aggie and Kim nuke the interiors of the hire boats from floor to ceiling (it’s alright to use house terms in reference to narrowboats – the terminology has never really been completely settled-upon) and change bedding and bathroom wotnots and oik away domestic rubbish and lay out (in the case of Venetian Hire Boats luxurious) Welcome Packs of select comestibles ugly old chaps with more than a passing resemblance to Compo (from Last of The Summer Gin) wash the outsides from stem to stern, roof to waterline. It’s a damned good excuse to play with water…
This latter process is not dissimilar to washing a 50′ long car except that, dry land or pontoon being on one side and canal on the other, each boat has to be turned about face halfway through the lathering.
…and it’s best for the new hirers if this turning process ends with the boats facing the “correct” way along the canal for the intended direction of the holiday.
Greasy, oily chaps with spanners for thumbs do peculiar things to the engines, and to anything else that needs tickling with a rag…
Bilges are cleaned out, sonic oscillatrices are discalibrated, stern glands are lathered in Lurpak Light and any of the hirers’ small children that have been shut in the gas lockers for the week and forgotten by their parents are released and sold on (to defray costs) to Social Services in several splendid central-African countries.
Each time that the boats come in then one or two things are hit with a hammer. As well as being The Law, this is done to keep the Universe in balance.
Brushes, unlike the Universe, may be kept in balance against any handy bench – especially the one whereupon track of the various processes (or pro’-sess-ease if you’re trapped linguistically on the wrong side of the Atlantic) is kept – via a game of 2D Vertical Draughts.
Green for “done”, red for “still communist”. Um, I mean undone. In this low-tech – and thus reliable – way all that must be done is assuredly done.
While all of this activity is being did and do’d of course, the regular needs of other customers and passing boaters must also be met: diesel pumped; ice-creams served; beer dispensed. Also incredibly delicious sandywitches served by Dee’s Venetian Tea Rooms eaten for lunch. It must be noted that the Chandlery stocks mint-flavoured ice-cream-for-dogs, and that nine out of eight dogs love it – although they’re not allowed to buy it themselves, and must be with an adult human. It must matter not how cute the ice-cream-seeking hounds are, front paws on the counter, slapping down a Doggy Express card and asking for two litres of best gravy-flavour please and a wooden spoon. It is not unknown for dogs to fake a note from their human keepers in an attempt to buy ice-cream for themselves.
‘plze giv Fydo a big tub of doggo ice-kreme and take da munny off my kard, thanc you – sined doggo’s hooman. big smiley emotikon.’
That sort of thing.
This being Ingerlund the odd “vintage” aeroplane usually performs a salutational fly-by…
…as ever, and me with only the “pocket-rocket” camera to hand, at the extreme end of the zoom range. No idea what the hairyplane is, answers on a postcard please, but it sounded amazing.
Then, just when you think that the day’s work is almost done, purple lunatics arrive at the lock, gibbering after some Fantastic Voyage, and requiring the assistance of two (or more) adults in order to descend and return to their mooring in Venetian Marina.
On this occasion since no adults were available Yours Truly was sent, under the supervision of Messrs Cover & Canvas … Mr Cover & Canvas, while brilliant with pram, cratch & tonneau – and a whiz at the electric sewing machine – had to be prevented from trying to eat his windlass during the locking, and was summarily returned to base aboard the Purple Machine. He may be teething.
Any and all similarities to Carry On Cruising were purely incidental but if there is any to be had then bagsy I’m Sid James.
By roughly four or thereabouts of the post meridiem, carpe diem (although you mustn’t fish for them out of season or at any time in the marina – or, univited, from the bow or stern of my boat I kid you not), te deum, no tedium, three more boat-loads of unsuspecting, slightly suspect-looking hodilay-makers were sent on their way in gleaming Venetian boats, and all was, well well well, well.
It’s all go on the canals you know.
It’s even quite busy on the canals that you don’t know, you know.
So that was Saturday. Saturday of course sashays nicely into Sunday, so today – as well as producing bloggery postings – I have services to perform and sermons to preach.
Today’s theme is ‘All creatures great and small, the Good Lord made them all – edible or poisonous?’
Chin-chin, chaps, &etc.
Ian H., and Cardinal W.
Few narrowboats were harmed during the production of this blog post which was supervised by the Bolivian RSPCA.