Heron on Rutters Bridge.

It’s alright though; I talked him down.

It’s been Hellishly hot and also coolishly cool in Albion of late, and now it seems that we are in for a spot of mildish wind and middling rain. My valet tells me that dressing appropriately is impossible, and that is why I am in my ventilated oil-skin onesie and knee-sandals until further notice. The Civil Servants are managing the weather about as well as the Politicians are managing leadership – headless chickens, all.

One morning this week I spent a happy couple of hours watching Red Kites [Milvus Milvus] gliding about seemingly sans effort, hunting small furry beasts in the grass. Fascinating critters, with a wingspan of nigh-on two of your Earth metres. This treat tookth place during one of the hot hot hot spells with the blue sky and the lackth of breezings; doubtless these conditionibodes supplying the thermals upon which the kites were wheeling about. They came tantalising close, but never so when I had Mr Camera in hand… so you’ll just have to wake my… take my word for it. Top notch entertainment; a soft and slouchy folding chair in the shade, a mug of fresh java, and a sky full of hungry raptors (four, at best count).

Early mornings in such warmthnessnous can be delicious, although the days may very quickly descend into Hutson No-Go Zones, there being insufficient in the way of soaking wet knotted handkerchiefs on the planet under which to preserve cranial thermal integrity. A spot of light mist pre-burn-off always helps, as does my habit of viewing your world through my plum-tinted monocle.

Walking about must be undertaken with not some little care; thirsty trees are apt to produce a plastic straw with which to remove the fluids of any passing ‘animated bags of mostly water’.

Sabre-Toothed Tree crossing open land in a hunt for moisture.

I am fortunate in being able to roar ‘Please don’t eat me, I am a nibble not worth your tribble’ in 9.99999999 × 108 of your most local languages.

The wildlife is red in tooth and paw in England. There are thunderous rabbit migrations by which one might find oneself trampled underfoot like a jam tart at an All You Can Eat Eccles Cake Convention.

To wander unawares into the Albion outback is also to invite death at the hands of ten million field mice.

Not instant death of course; it takes them about a week to nibble through a decent pair of boots, but they’ll get you in the end.

Being got in the end is no fun at all. A single troop of Field Mice can strip a wheel of Stilton cheese in under ten years. It’s a frenzy.

There are, of course, manifold boats abounding of both a private and a Hertz/Budget nature, with a scant few maintaining etiquettee or observing the rules of the road. Moan moan moan, it’s all that I ever do. I spotted a spotter spotting, yesterday – rather sensibly so at 0730 hundred hours o’clock of the morning ante meridiem and ante-post, before the shimmering heat-hazes made the boat names and numbers impossible to read without the aid of a broad-brimmed something and a large flask of wholly medicinal milky G&T with extra G and very little T.

The Spotter looked to have already developed a case of the staggers – but only because the towpath from whence he appeared is more, much more, of an Ankle-Breaker than most. The reasonable flats were confounding his balance-glands, requiring a sudden little in the way of gyroscopic adjustments. Folk from the north don’t so much arrive here as they cou de pied derrière fouet battement chassé en fundament, and the sensible if rather clock-work regular lady dog-emptier from the south wisely turns and retraces her steps before the bridge.

We, the Spotter and I, took reciprocal photomagraphs of one another, albeit with separate cameras and with quite distinct intentions…

…but then quickly confused the negatives when a light breeze threw up, and now don’t know which to be me and which to be him… We really ought to have developed them separately, for the safety.

It matters little, although it is amazing what may be found on boats, most especially on other people’s boats. Art for Doris’s sake. Doris for Art’s sake. Sake if you’re Big In Japan.

The Canal Company Ltd’s “One [third-party private contractor] Man Went To Mow – But Never To The Edge As Before” policy continues to be a stunning success, encouraging incredibly rare buttercups, daisies, clover and nettles to return to England’s scant natural flora, and encouraging [bastard-] boaters to be more brave about leaping off into hidden sink-holes in the towpath and the subsequent necessity of leaning out from the over-grown under-growth in order to find something with which to secure the planet to the boat. Every time an elderly private boater falls in an angel gets their wings, and Mr Parry suffers from an uncontrollable urge to remove his Cuban cigar and to deliver an epicaricacoid belly-laugh at length.

It is said among the fraternity that large bets are placed at both Canal Company Ltd HQ and Dog-Emptier Central on the odds of some boater type kneeling down in thistles and/or doggy-do – or both, and then falling in.

I was fortunate on these moorings, placing an exploratory knee both on solid towpath and in a large pile of Doggy-Hadn’t. These were, however, my second-choice moorings, careful inspection of the Wild Bush at the earlier attempt finding an extremely active nest of ants waterside and preparatory to boarding, had I been foolish (or unfortunate) enough. Anyone born yesterday may have simply moored and then found themselves next morning with ten-thousand crew members not detailed in Ship’s Books.

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest all of those at Canal Company Ltd HQ, and may their arms be too short to reach their Corporate Crotch.

It’s been a most splendid week, all things considered. Today’s excitement lies chiefly in judging that precise moment when the blue shky and shunshine will change to heavy precipi…..tations, and I needs must throw myself into the elements to replace the rear tonneau.

Until then I must content myself with leaning out from under the cratch, poking the passing moorhens with a small but perfectly-formed garden cane.

They need the encouragement.

Chin-chin, chaps. Don’t forget that this month is International Nostril-Hair Month.

[Minor pause while, from my desk, I watch a young lady in gosh-aren’t-I-just-fabulous outfit (no, you’re not!) stand and watch as her hound pi*sses, as near as it could manage, over my bow mooring chains. Am I so very horrid in hoping beyond hope that she and her pony-tail fall face-first into the copious amounts of swan shite farther along the towpath?]

[Second minor pause while those aboard a passing share-boat seem to think it hilarious that I have coal stashed on the Cardinal’s well deck. No idea why it’s so funny. They’d be the first to complain had I nothing set aside over which to barbecue their cold, dead bodies. Humans are such weird creatures. I am so glad that I am a Tripedal Greater-Furred Whingeingmoaner from the planet Grumpyguts in the Miserable Constellation, Depressed Arm of the Galaxy. Pleased to have given them some cheap entertainment! I bought it at £10.50 per 20kg bag. From the evidence when the Splendid Fuel Boat cruised past a week or two since, it is now retailing on the water at £12.95 per 20kg bag. Who’s the idiot? Thanks Klaus, may you and all of your W.E.F. chums rot in Hell, preferably in a sinking share-boat.]

[Give me Red Kites instead any day!]

Ian H., & Cardinal W., somewhere in the South Seas – although, happily, on the water-air cusp and with most of the Cardinal on the air side of the divide, just the way we like it. 🙂


    1. The kites seemed to need perhaps one flap every ten minutes and yet maintained their “hunting altitude” steadily, circling over the freshly-mown fields and the hedgerows. Fasinating stuff. Damned big birds, too. Small hounds would be at risk, and I bet that many an unsuspecting cat has found itself suddenly airborne and shown the cruet set in the nest.


  1. A nice blend of brain fodder and fol-de-rol which went well with my caffeinated heart-starter.
    That sounds like I’m a vintner’s scribe!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well my friend it’s my turn to get on the proverbial soap box. I’ve just been talking to a lady some years our junior who disembarked her boat on the overgrown towpath at Christleton nr Chester & went arse over tit breaking her forearm! To add insult to injury she had to wait 5 hours in A & E at the Countess of Chester.
    Now onto the subject of picking up dog shit, it’s near impossible to get every last bit of dog shit in your plastic bad when the grass is 3ft high! Again no excuse for the lazy b’s who don’t even attempt to pick it up As you know the dog bin wasn’t replaced at Cholmondeston lock when it disintegrated yet the irresponsible owners have now taken to leaving the there wonderful furry friends bag of shite on the slope up to the lock!
    Rant over for now but I’m sure I could rant on more about the Anglo Welsh (River dancer) going past us at cruising speed and there is a line of boat on pins.😡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wholly agreed!

      Yesterday I met a couple of “mature” cyclists attempting to navigate the towpath just south of Calveley – already narrow, the overgrowth (as high as my head and taller in places) – has reduced the path to some sort of jungle exploration. Of necessity they both stopped and dismounted their velocipedes as we approached one another, the lady almost going in during the manoeuvre. SUSTRANS would be proud of the results of Canal HQ’s cost-cutting policy – not! On that little stretch alone it is difficult to know where the ground begins and the towpath ends, let alone what’s canal and what’s not. Anyone falling in would find themselves – possibly under their bicycle and/or their companions and companion’s – in nettles and reeds as well as water. Whether that would aid extraction or foil it I could not guess.

      Barbridge bin compound is now a private parking spot for someone’s Ford Transit van. Cholmondeston Lock is becoming poop-bound because HQ won’t accept that while some folk will cheerfully lob their poop-bags into the hedgerow (where the plastic will decay in only a thousand years or so) others prefer just to drop them the instant they’re out of general view. The mooring ring that I saw pulled bodily out of the ground by a speeding boat last week appears to have been “replaced” by filling the hole with hardcore. Repairs that are undertaken now require – from local evidence – ten “health & saferty” office staff for a couple of genuine workers! There is a measure of desperation about it all.

      It may be cynical of me (me? cynical? ptcha!) but I do wonder if all is being pared to the bone and beyond because Canal HQ is positively bricking it about the state of the reservoirs under their care and reponsibility – poor dear Mr P’s eventual knighthood would be imperilled should just one more of them go “Full Toddbrook” before all of the dams can be pumped full of permanent-solution expandy foam! How desperate things will need to get for HQ to begin economising on office senior salaries, executive bonuses, senior pension contributions, private-use company cars – and on back-pocket-lining schemes to attract ramblers/anglers/paddleboarders/day-dream-believers to the towpaths – remains to be seen…

      Sadly I can’t see an end to the silliness given that Canal HQ and Her Maj’s Government are in modus operandi and political philosophy lockstep. Whatever HQ’s aims may be I can say only one thing for certain – their aim is not to run the canals as we know them, or in any way that we might recognise (or enjoy) them. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure if you or your readers are aware but Canal and river trust are celebrating 10 years since the trust began. All employees and vollies are being invited to an hour and a half get together (to include food) throughout the country at different locations on the 12th July at 3.30pm ( why food at 3.30pm beats me) so just imagine how many thousands of pounds will be spent celebrating their incompetence in looking after our Canal network.

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        1. Tis crazy! I have nought but admiration for the grunt workers and volunteers, the ones who get their hands dirty doing the real work – but I can’t see anything to celebrate about Canal Corporate HQ Ltd and their intention to convert the canals into linear marinas for those with money money money (a policy that is falling flat in more ways than ever before, these interesting days). The corporate model is so outdated that it would be worthy of a laugh, were it not so serious. Parry’s reve humide is for himself to be the only employee, sitting atop a pile of outsourcing zero-hours reactive contracts. IMHO the opposite is needed – no Parry, but much like the original system, permanent local employees doing pro-active work and inspection – and the occasional spot of dredging! I can’t understand why Parry et al want to convert the canals into something that’s plastic and nasty, when instead they could be such a solid and tangible two thousand mile exemplar of how things can be done, locally, regionally, with humans at the helm not contracts. Mind you, if that were ever likely to happen then the new signs everywhere would be cast iron or wood, not bilious blue plastic… JMHO. 😉

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  3. Due to the soaring price of Russian gas, the local weevils have reopened the long abandoned coal mine at the end of our street. They’re not stupid those weevils – ecologically unsound, perhaps, but stupid no.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In times of difficulty one must always choose the lesser of two weevils… unless they are the main or sole constituent of your dinner.

      I have personally been ecologically unsound for decades, and it’s done me no harm. Mind you, the nappies have helped beyond measure.

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