Monday, 4 September 2017

Grub Street and Caterpillars

The Shroppie Fly
First things first. After a complaint re the number of times "kingfisher" is mentioned in these pages I wish to reassure you all that, for this week at least, there will be no further mention of said fishers, be they kings, queens, jokers or merely knaves. In fact the Crown of Kingfishers we have seen this week will remain an unmentionable thing. By the way, I googled the collective noun for Kingfisher and it is actually a "Crown" of Kingfishers. Other contenders are Clique, Concentration, Rattle and Realm (the last two sound a bit like a Fats Domino record, don't they?). So there you have it. You can read on, safe in the knowledge that the following incoherent ramblings will be uncontaminated by, well, I'm sure you get the picture.

Moving on, you have probably realised that Linda is not typing the jottings. Probably the brusque, "devil may care" attitude demonstrated in the above paragraph gave the game away. Yes, it is I, Captain Carl, again. My wife has operated 12 narrow locks today, so I thought I'd take the strain, so to speak.
Latte Carl? that's not very pirate, is it!
The weather has been kind to us for most of this week. It's been warm, with plenty of sunshine and light winds. But oh dear, what a change a few hours can make. Yesterday (Saturday) was quietly pleasant; plenty of sun, a bit chilly in the shade, but on the whole a nice day. We had hoped for a similar day today and in order to check the outlook I logged onto Aromatic Anthony's amateur weather forecast and pizza delivery service site last night. According to his collection of garden ants (one of them had walked backwards and stubbed a toe), an intrigue of sky-kittens would drift aimlessly in from the Atlantic, followed by some really big clouds. Just before dawn the sun would rise in the manner of a Yorkshire pudding and smile upon the world. This was not what happened. Today was cold, cloudy, windy and, eventually, wet. The rain was argumentative and stroppy, and caused puddles to form on the tow-path.
Weaver Valley
The last week has been spent on the Shropshire Union canal. This is one of my personal favourites, except for the hidden shelf which runs below the waterline for much of the length of this waterway. This underwater obstruction can make mooring difficult; you can, perhaps, visualise the scenario: the narrowboat's engine note changes as the driver slows down from a giddy four miles per hour. The bows swing towards the bank at what looks like an idyllic mooring spot, only to be thwarted at the very last moment by the heart chilling sound of steel grinding against concrete and the boat being held back from the canal edge by the aforementioned shelf. This happened to us often during our first foray along this navigation. Sometimes we have been able to get back into open water without too much of a struggle, other times we have had to do battle with the boat pole, reverse gear, and copious amounts of strong coffee. Foul language doesn't help, I've discovered, although it does make me feel better.
Speckled Wood Butterfly
The Shroppie really is a wonderful canal. It is extremely rural, except where it isn't, and runs through, or by, some very nice villages. It can be a bit of a "testing" canal, though. There is one particularly narrow bit known as the Grub Street Cutting. Don't ask me about the name because I don't know anything about it. All I know is that it's very long and very narrow, and meeting seven boats coming the other way, one after another, when you're halfway through is a shame. Once through the tunnel we met boat number eight. This was driven by Captain Jack Sparrow, although judging by the way he steered his boat a better name would be Blind Pew.
Lock Cottage at Audlem
Changing the subject (hence the new paragraph) I found a caterpillar on the roof of our boat yesterday. It seemed to have made itself quite at home, and was sitting there with a cup of tea, reading the sports pages of the Sun newspaper. It was one of those hairy caterpillars, just like the ones a young child would draw.

Anyway, I'm running out of things to say so I'll hand over to Linda now to finish off.

It's pretty hard to follow that Carl – I sometimes wonder if we've been on the same boat! I'll stick to the facts and stay clear of the melodrama! This week we've travelled from Brewood to Audlem and added another 12 locks to this year's tally of just over 500 locks and 829 miles. I'm a fully paid up member of the Ibuprofen club!
Cute gingerbread man with our latte in Market Drayton
We're still travelling in convoy with our friends on Naga Queen and enjoying their company of an evening. Tricky is very fond of their fireside rug and is sulking tonight because they moored too far away for her to pay her usual evening call in search of 'treats'. We'll be catching them up in the morning and travelling towards Nantwich and the Llangollen Canal. I'll be back next week as normal with the Jottings, have a great week everyone.

Lots of Love
The Floating Chandlers

ps Had to light the stove a couple of times this week. I can't tell you how cosy the boat is with the kettle steaming away on the hob and Tricky steaming on the hearth mat. The duvet is back on the bed and I've dug my slippers out from under the chair – summer is slipping away and there was just a hint of frost on the grass this morning to remind us that winter is just around the corner.