After more than a week off-line, I’m back. And a little more crazy for the experience. It’s somewhat humbling to discover that the rest of the world can carry on quite satisfactorily (or not, depending on where in the world you are) with me not sitting right here next to the ‘send’ button. In any case, I had a lovely week cruising a wee bit of England’s canalways in a narrowboat, run by Neil and Corinne Thomsett, of Snipe and Taurus. I should say a pair of narrowboats: a motor and a ‘butty’ pair. (for those of you who speak normal English, as in American, butty rhymes with footy). The butty is towed or tethered alongside the one with the motor.
My visit to Chester was occasioned by plans to join the canal boat cruise, due to depart from Chester on the Shropshire Union Canal, eventually moving onto the Trent & Mersey Canal. I’ve never done this before, so had no idea what to expect. I knew it would be ‘cosy,’ –and it is—and I knew it would be slow—also true—but beyond that, I had no idea.
Speaking of cosy, a couple of pictures is worth a thousand words. Or at least a couple hundred words:
I am never destined to be a travel writer because the time spent writing is bound to be taken from the time spent doing things to write about. So here I’ve just cobbled together some random notes as I go along. (I might add that I’m now in Copenhagen, sitting here in my room instead of out seeing this neat city! I do hope you’re grateful!) Anyway, back to the narrowboats:
Random Notes (in no order of importance, or even occurance)
We’re now cruising up (?) the Shropshire Union Canal from Ellesmere Port, back to Chester, where we came from. We made the trip to Ellesmere Port to visit the National Waterways Museum (www.nwm.org.uk), which is home to a variety of boats: barges, tugs, narrowboats, ice breakers, and all sorts of historical displays and information about England’s inland waterways. For boating/canal/marine enthusiasts it is a ‘must do’ sort of place. A really neat place. Check out the link.
Saturday night, our first night out, was amazing. We tied up to a mooring alongside a field, with none but cattle around to care. The stillness of the night was so complete it tempted one to believe in Chaos Theory: even the merest flutter of a butterfly’s wings would surely disturb it all. It’s pretty peaceful and quiet back home at Fossil Cove, but there always possums to disturb the night. Here there were no such disturbances.
One of my first lessons concerned locks. Well, not locks directly, but the people who like to watch—and kibitz—as the boats are going through the lock. They are called gongoozlers. Who would have believed there would be a specific word for such busybodies onlookers (not to be confused with the peope who are actually doing the work). Apparently they (the gongoozlers) invariably appear out of nowhere to watch and offer advice, once the process begins, even though there may have been no one around before.
The ‘process’ being the opening/closing of the lock, which requires two people, one on each side, pushing against a heavy wooden beam to wind one-half of the gate open, once the water level has equalised. Check out the short video of one of my fellow cruisers, Rod, putting his back into it. You’ll see the raised bricks, in an arc, which are there to give the gate openers some traction as they push the gate open.
Next is a short video of the ‘gate’ opening and the boats heading through it.
There were many locks, most of which had their own special twist, but all very neat. I’ll save the ‘best’ until another post; it’s the Anderton Lift, which is amazing. In the meantime, I’ll just continue with some idle rambling about various things as they occur to me (which is not necessarily as they occured to me).
The crew was delightful. Neil and Corinne are a charming couple, full of energy and information. It’s no accident that their business is thriving. Crew members Kat (says she’s from Scotland, but she doesn’t sound like a Scot…) and Sara, who is Italian (from Venice) are a super pair. They do much cooking, cleaning, man-handling the locks, steering, and whatever else comes along. Both are full of energy and smiles–and talent!
Well, folks, it’s after noon and I’m determined to get out of this room and take in some of what Copenhagen has to offer. I’ll tell you about the haggis, the wasps, the swim, and of course the Anderton Lift another time. This is your lot for now. I’m off meandering. MM