Sunday, 13 October 2019

Carl's Thoughts on Ducks and Newts

Tatenhill Mooring
Dear All

The perfect place to find proper puddles is on a canal tow path. The best time to experience them is four in the morning. You will need one torch, one small dog that is desperate for a pee, one half-asleep dog owner, and a pair of old slippers. Method: switch on torch. Put on old slippers. Let dog out. Stumble out yourself armed with shovel (just in case) and follow dog half a mile down the tow path. After an eternity of aimlessly milling about step into a large muddy puddle. Lift out foot and retrieve slipper. 
Toadstools or Mushrooms?
All this talk of puddles reminds me that it's been raining cats and dogs for the last few weeks. Of course, dear reader, it hasn't really been raining. It's actually England crying, and frankly I don't blame her. As the river has been in flood recently we weren't sure whether we could travel from Alrewas to Wychnor. As luck would have it the level had dropped from red to amber yesterday and the locks were open to river traffic. The current was swift, however, and swept us down to Wychnor lock in double quick time. It's been a bit of a windy old week as well, truth be told. I put the blame firmly at the door of the new dog food.
Signpost on the Trent and Mersey - almost home

We have observed a variety of waterfowl this year, including the flightless steamer duck, the wandering whistle-duck, the freckled duck, the masked duck, a flock of bean geese and some common pygmy geese. We've also seen eighty seven moorhens and three ordinary hens. Actually, to be honest with you, dear reader, I'm not a duck expert, so they might just have been ordinary village pond ducks.
Lesser spotted Window Newt!
Now, I can't talk about ducks without mentioning newts. They're amphibians, you know. They don't accept this classification though, and at job interviews always describe themselves as team players who work well under pressure. Sadly, employers are reluctant to employ them, due to the demands for time off for hibernation. Only this morning, a newt climbed one of our windows looking for a job. Before we could take his particulars a boss man came over and wanted "Tiny" back. I said to him that's a funny name, isn't it? "Not really", he replied. "It's my newt". Think about it; minute (as in very small), my newt. The old ones are the best. Or perhaps not.
An Unexpected Plate Mountain
Something else we saw yesterday, which was unexpected to say the least, was a mountain of broken white plates and bowls. Probably donated by Jugglers-Are-Us. They must be destined for recycling into something else; supermarkets, probably, to make up the shortfall in out-of-town shopping centres.
Street Sign in Atherstone - Holyhead 180 miles away!
Earlier this week we passed under a canal bridge. Nothing unusual about this, it is the traditional way of dealing with them. I mention this particular overpass because it instantly transported me back to 1997, and brought back memories of "Education, Education, Education!". Remember that disappointing non-event? I'll get to the point. The graffiti defacing this centuries old structure read "keep carm smoke jonits'. Give me strength. While I'm ranting, I'll mention that other lie they told us. "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". What a joke that was. They didn't say anything about only being tough on the victims of crime. Why oh why can't a government just punish criminals properly, instead of endlessly hand-wringing, making excuses, removing deterrents and being mortally afraid of anything approaching appropriate sentencing?
Are you warm enough Tricky?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to whinge a bit more. While cruising along this week, I have mostly been wondering about local authorities, and local road resurfacing, or "dressing", as we call it. They favour the "throw lots of loose gravel around in the hope that some might stick to the recently spread tar" technique. The worrying thing about this is that it confirms there are deranged cretins in positions of authority. What sane person would approve of a way of resurfacing a road that makes it worse and more dangerous than it was before? Linked to this is the placing of strategic road signs on the highway, warning of newly resurfaced roads. The secondary purpose of these omens is to indicate a speed limit which almost makes walking quicker, albeit more dangerous. The main reason of course is that the signs act as a disclaimer to protect them, the council, from possible litigation.
Autumn on the River at Wychnor (2018)
There is a load of rubbish advertised on television and radio these days. Shampoo that contains, amongst other things, caffeine. Great, if you want your hair to be wide awake and alert. Cars that can do two hundred and four miles to the gallon; except they can't, because in the tiny, tiny grey print at the bottom of the screen is the admission that "real world figures may differ...". More annoying still are the inane adverts with people shouting and whooping all over the place and the ones with horrible, horrible rap type music blaring out. Why do advertisers think this will make us buy their products? Bring back the PG tips advert: "Dad, do you know the piano is on my foot?". "You hum it son, and I'll play it", or words to that effect. And the Cadburys Smash advert: "They peel them with their metal knives ha ha ha". The commercials were so entertaining back then. At least they were to a grumpy old git like me. I sometimes think we living through some sort of reverse progress strategy.
Tatenhill Mooring
Hardly any of this week's splurge has been about boating I'm afraid, dear reader. Briefly, then, we have been cruising along the Coventry canal from Nuneaton to Fradley junction, observing lakes where fields used to be, hunkering down during heavy rain and occasionally doing battle with strong winds (from the Atlantic, not from Tricky). At Fradley we rejoined the Trent and Mersey canal and travelled down through Alrewas to today's mooring, just above Tatenhill lock. And that is the end, almost, of this year's wandering. The last leg is to travel to Willington, turn, and then moor at our home moorings for the winter. So Adios Amigos.

Love from

The Floating Chandlers

P.S. On Wednesday we had a phone call from a neighbour. Apparently, someone has dumped a ton of soil on our front garden. We have no idea who could have done this. The plot thickens. Come on, think about it!
And it's goodbye from Tricky too

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