The Great English Bake-Off

I have written a lengthy letter of complaint and sent it to the Times (via the Minister for Weather & Suchlike, the Honourable Roger Thuppezance, MP for Barbuda & Banking Environs).

My Dear Sirs, I write to complain in re what may only be described as the total incompetence of Her Majesty’s Meteorological Office. Their recent choices and subsequent purchases of The Weather for England have bordered on the ridiculous, and I further note that for the weekend they are advertising temperatures in the mid-nineties Fahrengezundheiting. This simply will not do… &etc., with my very best wishes for the Editor’s mistresses (and their little doggies), yours faithlessly, Lord Sir Reverend Colonel Hutson (Retd. on all counts) KCB KGB DDT GCSE NSFW MGB GT TTFN und Mück.

Seriously? Mid-nineties? The odds of my survival – even under a wet handkerchief and whimpering in the bilges – are not great.

Moorings, splendid moorings, at Audlem

Even the early mornings of late – can one have an early morning of late? I digress. Even four o’clock in the morning – both early and late – has been a tad warm and humid for my customary torn ecru hemp “Venice Beach” muscle-vest, stained light-blue nylon budgie-smugglers and well-worn Lee-Kee (Chinese knock-off) Wellington boots. Such jobs as I have had to undertake (a little light undertaking – just six bodies, and some middle-weight domestic tasks) have been performed at first light and, not to over-share the details, I still sweated like a full-bodied young pig invited to a party hosted by Mr David Cameron, ex-PM.

This morning is hot, humid, overcast – and raining. If I wanted weather such as this I’d have chosen to live in some foreign Hell-hole such as The Holyhotrainyland or the Tropical Island of Steamysteamyprecipitation. Or Paris.

Hot cows – simply spoon coffee in the eating end, shake well (the cow, not yourself), and latte comes out of the udders

Silliness such as this is why during my childhood each Summer my late Mother used to nail us all into old tea-chests and have Nanny throw us onto the train, labelled ‘For Collection at Shimla’.

Audlem – England’s green and pleasant land, sparrowfart o’clock.

I can barely stand over my curry pots while they fizz and clank. My morning juice-of-the-virginal-young-orange is body-temperature*!

*Human-body temperature, not orange-body temperature. I have never measured the temperature of a live orange. Are oranges hot-blooded like us, or cold-blooded (cold-bloodied), like politicians?

If I ate eggs I could probably fry them on the roof.

We’ve mooched around a little, the Cardinal and I, back and forth, forth and back. There are services part-way up the Audlem Flight – although I notice that someone has torn down the fence of the bin enclosure. I do hope that this is not another part of the Canal Company Ltd’s policy of highly-active “neglect” under the heading of ‘We didn’t do it. Some big boys did it and ran away. It was like that when we found it. We can’t afford to repair it.’

I simply don’t trust them one short iota. They are shameless corporate opportunists (tautology?). The longer the facility is open to the breeze the more the likelihood of the Canal Company bleating about putative mis-use – tales of local hordes driving Transit vanloads of old bedsteads and dead cart-horses off the main drag, past the Bridge Inn, past the old Mill building, squeezing through the narrow narrows past the Shroppie fly in the wee small hours and into Biffa’s delicate mercies.

Wheelie-bins on view at Audlem. I know the answer but I still must ask – how on earth does one “lose” a perfectly good fence in these circumstances? The attack of the 50′ Woodwormosaurus?

Notice the usual “long-term repair” tape on the posts. This compound isn’t even on a thoroughfare, it faces directly onto the canal, next to the Shroppie Fly – a pub that opens and closes, lives and dies more often than even your average English hostelry.

The Shroppie Fly. A pub permanently on the edge, and not just of the canal.

The moorings at Audlem are splendid it must be said, this in spite of the Shroppie Shelf abounding, and they do give (those with stamina and fortitude, or even at a pinch, thirty-fivetitude, sic) access to a small but perfectly-formed Co-operative Shop in the village.

Cardinal Wolsey 508533, warming gently below Audlem, Cheshire. July 2022. AD, not BCE.

It is a mild annoyance that the aforementioned Co-operative Shop doesn’t open its doors until 0700hrs hundred o’clock – long, long after I like to be out and about – but needs must when the Devil is at the wheel of her Morris Minor.

Farmer Gillespie has been making hay while the sun shines. Well, silage, anyway. Or Soylent Green perhaps, who knows in these peculiar W.E.F./W.H.O./”Great” Reset times?

A healthy crop of Tom Jones. [The green green grass of home.]

The geese have mostly been pratting around in the water. Imagine Fight Club, but with overgrown hens instead of Brad Pitt. They can be… noisy. This the scene as viewed from the side-hatch.

FIght Club, but with overgrown hens, not Bradley Pitt.

One boon of these moorings is – when the weather permits – access to one of my favourite benches; between the two Hack Green Locks. It can be most pleasant to sit there and watch the impressively competent, universally polite and friendly boating Komunity go by.

Atcherly, given that I am under oath, the boat emerging from the lock in the phogratamaph below was choc-ful of friendly, talkative types, and most competent indeed!

Hack Green Lock 1.

They do say that a change is as good as arrest, although I’ve never understood quite how or why.

I tried the time-restricted moorings at Coole Pilate for a couple of nights, too, one on the way to Audlem, one on the way north, but had to up sticks both times and absquatulate; the elbow-jostling and volume-enhanced braying of the Boating Brasso Masses was just too much. I ought to have known better than to have even tried, in Summer. Tis packed to the rafters where we are now, the Cardinal and I, but at least the towpath is not conducive to sun-loungers, gazebos, awnings and the barbecueing of large ruminants-on-the-hoof. They kept me awake late evening and night; I started the Cardinal’s engines and left – enthusiastically, it must be noted – at 04:30 in the morning, praise be to the disturbed person (read that any way you like) aboard the (noisy) hire boat – for the middle finger. I assume that you showed it to me through the porthole above your bed because it was sore…

Tee, et le hee.

We needs must mooch on again soon, although I doubt that the Rozzers will venture far in this … warmth. I wonder if I can find us some shade before the weekend?


Oh goody goody gum drops; the rain has begun again in earnest. Huge, heavy drops, and loads of them – and me with the covers off in order to allow some (minimal) movement of (humid – almost fetid) air. At least the weather knows the importance of being earnest.

I remain your most humble servant and mayhap it please thee I beg to advise of a revised link in the menus atop this blog, the pertinent item being ‘Gubbins‘ from which in times of fiscal excess one may, should one choose to do so, purchase items of “The Merchandise” ranging from humble mugs to peculiar duvet covers, all manner of wall prints and sundry other items of some use. Please share this link or these links with several million of your most closestest friends so that I, your humble servant, may continue to amass profits in the nine-digit range (£0000000.00). 😉 The link is best selected fro the top menu, wherein thou hasteth manifold choicings already programmed into this, the Devil’s “Interwebnettings”. Delivery worldwide by flying pack-hamster.

Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H., & Cardinal W., over-warmed and most unlikely to be enjoying the comforts and sights of Bench A any time today, damn it. Bloody England.


    1. Just been out and about this morning at my customary hour, waking up the sparrows and lecturing the early worms on tardiness – and the it of the weather was damnably cold! I had two layers on and was feeling the pinch and glad of my hat. Would not have been totally surprised to have seen a light frost in places! As my cjhildhood Spanish bull-fighting tutor might have remarked; ith craythee.


    1. If memory serves me correctly I think it was Gloucester in Richard III (Bill Shakespode) who, just after this past Tuesday’s weather forecast on Radio Cheshire, was heard to exclaim ‘Now is the Summer of our discontent made glorious Winter by this ruddy rain of York, and all the clouds that lour’d upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried.’ Never a truer word. You’ve got to hand it Gloucester (as did Richard III, twice weekly), he wasn’t just a pretty face.

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  1. In times of fuel shortages, fences go missing, to finish up on people’s fires. But in this heat, why would they want to have a fire?
    I envy you the rain. We haven’t had any for weeks. After a cold, wet May and early June, we’re now sweltering, like you, in heated air. Mr Sun is making up for going missing earlier in the year. Day after day of greyness, we had. I got my winter clothes out again. Now the weather has decided it’s summer, but hasn’t heard this is Britain, not Africa.

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    1. I’ve been trying to think of some shade to run to for this weekends ninety-plus degrees nonsense, but there’s precious little on this stretch, so I’ve settled for being near to taps and a shop instead. I do wish that the Met Office would buy in some decent, civilised weather instead of this cheap, Chinese-made nonsense they’re foisting on us!

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  2. There are gentlemen here who could make a fence disappear only for it to reappear miraculously in another site….unfortunately they have not yet bought stripey tape to mark their activities.
    Perhaps they are moonlighting for the Tyre Drowners.

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    1. The ol’ Canal Company Ltd does love its “hazard” tape – I’ve even seen it used to “re-attach” a safety railing on the walking boards across a pair of lock gates…
      The Cardinal’s stove will burn wood as well as coal, I suspect that I may be awarding myself the Garter of The Chainsaw soon, and – um – “foraging” – if fuel prices continue to head skyward.

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