Yanking My Chain

It’s not just the new Terror Weather that’s yanking my chain (kill the children and the livestock, grab the family Holly Bibble and run for the hills; there are thunderstorms on the way!) – although I mun admit, I loathe anything over 63°Fahrengezundheitings with a visceral vengeance – but some damned boater. Moored here on chains, and they went past so… velocitatiously enthusiastically… that they moved the eighteen tonnes of the Cardinal sufficient unto ripping the bow chain through two of the upright convolutions of the armco. That’s a first for me (and probably for the Cardinal, too). The doubled-up rope held, the chains held, but I munned gone out and re-moored us since we were then drifting wide of the mark.

I’ve saided it before and I’ll sayeth it again; if you’re on the canals in a rush then you’re in the wrong damned place.

Especially so when the weather is this disgusting. If my Latin was correct (and it seemed so; I summoned no demons-by-accident) then the speedy boater’s entire nether regions ought to be nicely septic by now.

Narrowboating in Hell. August 2022. Middlewich Branch.

The early mornings are most splendid at the moment, days generally beginning with a mist of varying densitosity and – which is wot is more important – a coolth unknown during the fullness of the day.

Boiling water near Syke’s Hollow, Middlewich Branch, August 2022.

Windy Alley – formerly formally requisitioned by Das Inlanden Waterwaysen National Socialist Ass-O’ciation* but such diktat largely ignored by all, as is only right and proper – is generous in the matter of Lebensraum at the moment, with a boat-length and sometimes more betwixt each narrowboat. I suspect mightily that this will not last, come the fullness of the weekend. Hey ho.

*The full circus is in town for a couple of days at Cholmondeston Lock and demandened reserved moorings, fnarr fnarr. Some sort of fund-raising event for their anti-live-aboard-boater work. I hiss at them and extend my wings whenever I pass, and receive a “NIMBY, He’s-Not-We” glare in return.

Mr Cardinal, while slow to warm, is also of The Science necessarily slow to cool of an evening, being eighteen metricated tonnes of hot steel.

Mind you, give it a week and I’ll be moaning about the wind and rain, for such is indeed forecast. It’s being so miserable that keeps me going. That, and a generous tot of rum in my coffees.

We’ve cruised about a bit forth and hither, once or twice to avoid the meerkat-like affections of a couple of boats that reduced property prices in the neighbourhood immediately upon their arrival. In an irony known only unto the Canal Gods [Narrowboaticus, Lockius, Dredgeia et al] those two wee glassfibre cruisers passed a day or two since – and came head on with a [Huge Corporate Co.] hire boat who had either merely forgotten that on the canals we drive on the wrong side and/or was intent upon sinking them. It was a game of chicken, but with boats at perhaps 5mph (perhaps 6mph). They missed by a Rizla. Oh how I would have chuckled to see three such entities meet themselves for a change instead of preying upon more innocent parties.

Middlewich Branch canal in the morning, right at the end of the Human-Habitability period, just as the sun rose high enough to preclude all notions of activity indoor or out.

We have a new chair in the salon library. Old Mr Comfortable had finally to be put out to grass, being in the process of losing yet another leg. New Chair, as with everything else these strange days, arrived with some assembly required and with in-bold exhortations that the job was not to be attempted by fewer than two stoutly-built persons and both with prehensile, muscular tongues. I managed the job – just – by going “Full Angry Gorilla”. Not even flat-pack furniture likes me when I’m angry. New Chair is very comfortable indeed, although there is much negotiation yet to take place; Mr Comfortable had become saggy and baggy in places where I have become saggy and baggy. The entire chair was one big “Homer Simpson dent”. New Chair gives the impression of being young, keen, fresh from Medical University and determined to improve my posture…

We entered negotiations the other day with a first (for the new chair) full screening of Master & Commander. I think we’re going to get along just dine and fandy.

Venetian Marina at-snore, Venetian Hire Boats & Chandlery wharf and pontoon en-deserted-before-hours. Middlewich Branch, August 2022. Windy Alley beyond the railway bridge.

The Canal Company Ltd’s much-vaunted “Nature-Friendly Mowing Policy” has been revealed to in fact have been a “we can’t even manage third-party contractors” debacle, during which, to improve matters, they’ve switched from one outsourcing contract to three separate contracts! Penalty Clauses must have been revving up his Cancellation Reindeer. It has had less of an effect on Windy Alley than the Fuhrer may have wished, since many boaters now sport battery-powered strimmers, shears, and flame-throwers. You can see where boats have recently been moored because the towpath overgrowth has been tamed a little in 35′ or 40′ or 57′ or 65′ or 72′ lengths.

At least hereabouts you can still identify towpath from jungle. This is due entirely to boaters and NOT to those PAID by boaters to keep the towpath under control.

Canal Company HQ estimates up to four years to ‘get things back under control’ – but I must take technical issue with the ‘back under control’ element of that announcement.

They’ve also just awarded (to a name on their “Preferred” suppliers list) a ten year £510,000,000 contract for the heavy work maintenance of the canal system. Nothing’s “in house” these days, there’s little remaining expertise or knowledge, not even managerial. Given that they couldn’t manage just one contract for the “gardening” I can’t see a(nother) vast contract for the bridges, locks, &etc working out any better. What’s that old saying about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and over again while expecting a different result?

‘Bung’ and ‘baksheesh’ are words that spring to mind for some unrelated reason. Why – and I already know the answer – is everything in the “Public” sphere dictated these days by certain individuals’ prospects of luncrative future £contracts£ of personal “employment”? Comfortable seat on the board or “hugely-overpaid and under-worked advisory role” in years to come, anyone? Just dance to our tune in the meantime then…

One of my favouritest boats on the cut has just cruised past, back in the area. Hello, long time no see, good to talk to you and to see your happy-looking boat again! 🙂 Thank’ee for the scones – and for the opportunity to lean out of my side-hatch canalside and fuss up a hound!

There appear to be more boats moving (in the heat) than yesterday, so perhaps the IWA Circus will have more luck today with their begging bowl.

Who can say?

I certainly won’t be going out in the mid-day sun to check.

Cardinal Wolsey 508533 Middlewich Branch August 2022

Chin-chin for the mo, chaps.

Do please keep on keeping on.

Don’t forget, folksies, that oodles of my photomagraphs are available – worldwide production and worldwide delivery – from Fine Art America clickez vous here – as prints and mugs and jigsaw puzzles and greetings cards (multi-packs bring the £/$ down signifibode) and even as kinky shower curtains, duvet covers, tote bags and all manner of wall artwork, framed or otherwise. All manner of sizes.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


    1. Now that the hot spell has dissipated I am once again surrounded, nose to tail, damn it! This is usually a pleasant stretch of moorings, but this week I may as well be in a marina. Ugh. 😉

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  1. I had a run-in with a hired yogurt pot once – full of drunk grockles apparently unaware that, when operating an overfilled hospital guzzunder of an excuse for water transport, you have to allow sixty-foot narrowboats time and space on ninety degree corners otherwise you’re heading to a large insurance bill and plenty of spilled cocktails.

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    1. I’ve always wondered why Plastique Phantastiques never ever slow down for other boats, even moored ones – perhaps the FG construction makes the throttle controls sticky? They do seem to have a lesser grasp of etiquette…

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  2. I envy you your chairs. The dogs have anything remotely comfortable except in the short period between dishing up their food and their return from checking each other’s bowls. About five minutes.
    I had thought about a hammock, but would inevitably be unable to get into it, let alone arise from it.
    I do not envy you in the heatwave currently hitting the U.K……living in a steel box reminds me of Japanese punishments for POWs.
    Do I gather that the current thinking is to drain the canal network to preserve the lawns of the home counties? If so, the tyre drowners seem to be ahead of the game.

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    1. The Cardinal can be a tad ‘Tenko’ in weather such as this, but it’s a matter of opening up (and living) early, closing blinds and opening windows and then swapping over as the Sun moves around planet Earth. Sometimes there’s a decent breeze, which is glorious, but when not there’s my 12v fan – like all fans, noisy as hell, but nicely effective at fooling me into thinking that the temperature differential betwixt my liver and the environment is greater than it is.

      If this were constant – and praise be to the Greek & Roman gods that it isn’t, here, for I could not stick it were it so – then we’d find better ways to acclimatise. As it is though the sky has changed this morning and we’re promised both rain and thunder storms from tomorrow. Whether they will or whether they won’t none can say, but I have hopes. Today is forecast to be the warmest of the lot – in the mid-nineties, old money.

      Still, at least the (very early-morning) laundry that I put out on the stern deck dries cardboard-stiff in three minutes flat!

      I don’t think that I could get into or out of a hammock either, certainly not safely – and my back would be Notre Damed in days. With the hounds, how about throwing a treat to distract them and then walloping down into your chair of choice? I suppose that you’ve already tried that, but I can’t think of many other options – other than a poking stick. 😉


  3. Long since I had hands-on dealings with anything nautically inclined, but I am with you on the chair episode. On land or on the rolling main, I prize a comfortable sitter on which to rest my sitter.

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    1. If sitting down were an Olympic event – and it ought to be – then I’d bring back Gold for England every four years. It’s something I’ve always done well, even without formal training. 😉

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