You can’t move for boats on this stretch (at least) of the Shroppie at the moment. This is probably because most of the other canals are closed or under threat of closure rather than because of the gentle English Summer that we are having (extracts tongue from [face-]cheek). Anything that floats is loaded with screeching, incisor-displaying, bald baboons – and causing chaos.
I swear I saw a tin bath cruise past yesterday loaded with a family of eighteen aboard. Richard Parry must be so pleased; his rêve humide of turning the canals into a strident-blue plastic theme park is well advanced and moving with its own momentum.
I upped chains and left at ten to five to gain myself this brief queace and piet; the canals as they could be, as they ought to be, misty, moisty, and not choc-full of radios, screaming kids and bunken drums. Simply due to the raw numbers involved there are more people these days moving at Sparrowfart O’Clock, but it can still be most delicious if the Fates smile down from Olympus.
The moored boats began outside Nantwich and extended, fender to fender, right through town. Two boats were awake, one with a chap on the well deck eating a mug of tea with his tooth (and who raised a nod, although you could tell that his heart, like mine, really wasn’t in it), one with a lady on deck in some sort of fluffy ex-white dressing gown and wearing what I hope was a Hallowe’en mask. I am sure that they both looked at me and wondered why a bespectacled hobgoblin with rampant B.O. and severe fashion-deficiency was motoring past at that time of day humming favourite snippets from the Mrs Mills’ All Time Funeral Hits album.
We made it to the Service Area in splendid isolation, our main porpoise there being water, the obtaination of. On this planet it comes out of taps.
See header phomatograph for a better view.
There were some right sights along the way. I admit that I rather love the standard lamp on the rear deck of this creation. I wonder if it is twelve volts and LED converted?
The owner has obviously put their heart and soul into it, so much so that one wonders what they themselves are running on. Fumes, possibly.
Prize of the year for the R Soulyist mooring goes to this Plastique Phantastique on the very narrow narrows just north of Nantwich. They must have searched and searched for the stupidest place to moor up.
The first available mooring (that wasn’t patently as silly as the one shown above) appeared, and the Cardinal and I took it. Littledidweknow.
Littledidweknow isn’t the name of the town, it refers to the neighbourhood gestalt.
Thumps, bangs and scrapes came and went (unlike the two cruisers still moored up ahead – see previous posts in re Drunken Yobbery) and a fine selection of craft pulled onto and away from the ‘Mooring Verboten – Reserved for C&RT Working Boats’ stretch immediately behind us. Then in the evening a lovely hire-boat (light blue and cream) manoeuvred themselves in and cheerily asked – already tied to it – if they might share our stern mooring ring. My answer was, of course, ‘yes, welcome to, no worries &etc’. There being no point whatsoever in ‘splaining about the ‘Verboten’ signs, have a ball, it’s all blue and plastic and wellness-related.
After an hour of (further) bangs and thumps I went out to investigate (didn’t want to do so earlier, in case they hadn’t finished their mooring manoeuvre).
Their boat was deserted, they’d gone, not with everybody to the Moon, but I presume with everybody to the pub. They’d wedged their boat’s stern between the Cardinal and the towpath, metal to metal, rudders and stern buttons overlapping – and had tied on three very loose ropes, all angled from towpath to their bow and thus not one of them stopping their boat being banged and re-banged into the Cardinal every time a large fish swam past. Only the Cardinal’s stern was preventing them from drifting out into the middle of the canal.
As I looked on in awe, wondering WTFyF, a cruiser squeezed in to the front of the Cardinal – and the wusband and hife team began a heated debate ending in agreement that just one line would see them through to morning and the fresh Rise of The Red Rubber Ball. They were perhaps two feet away from my bow and six inches from the outboard motor of the cruiser behind them.
That’s when our second cruise-ette of the day happened. The Cardinal and I, realising that brushing water up hill in Hell with a bald broom is a very steamy business, left. Off with the covers, on with the tiller bar, stow the inflatable (anti-Shroppie-Shelf) fenders, remove the deep-dangly pipe fenders, let go the lines, and ring on the Chadburn for full steam ahead and don’t spare the Bram Stokers.
They had been such pleasant moorings too, earlier – early – in the day.
We oiked ourselves past the junction and onto the stretch that we ought to have moored on in the first place, had there been space. Unpopular with hire boats because of the proximity to the A51 country lane (!) and because of their extreme extra distance (two hundred yards or so) from the pub, but then inhabited – and as yet so – only by nb Bumpy Grollocks, and two other residentialish-looking craft. So far, so good.
nb Bumpy Grollocks will be there until Doomsday, and I’ve not left room for so much as a rowingboat between us, so our stern is relatively safe. I am hoping that the boat moored ahead is planning a long over-stay, and so will be protecting us at the bow for our full forty-eight hours (precisely, not one nano-smidge more). That just leaves me with the gunwales and the occasional shout of ‘brace brace brace’ to the Cardinal. He knows the drill by now.
This is not a drill.
I spake briefly with the Fuel Boat BARGUS; they’re having a lovely time of it with the closures and retrictions. At Hurleston Junction there are five or six huge pumps running constantly pumping water back up the flight and presumably into the reservoir. There’s talk of closure there. The Trent & Mersey (Cheshire Flight) is already closed. nb Snowgoose, part man, part Mars Bar, is currently trapped on the River Weaver, the Anderton Boat Lift being doubly disfunctional until at least the end of this week. The cruises of the Cardinal & I prior to these herein detailed were undertaken because the lower of the two Hack Green locks is on its last legs, top and bottom gates leaking so well that getting through (esp. single-handed) is a game of pure chance. I didn’t want to get stuck behind another stoppage*. No wonder it’s crowded around here – there’s really nowhere else to go.
*Stoppage is my butler. It’s a silly name but it’s the one he came with in Father’s Will.
At least I got the laundry done between cruises.
Now, to get it dry…
Ian H., & Cardinal W., and the canals on Mars still aren’t open.