Chapter And Verse

Chapter And VerseTonight should be interesting, it’s my second appearance at the Open Mic Night, arranged by The Platform at the Mad Cucumber in Bournemouth.

Yes, the very same Mad Cucumber we frequent with our vegan chums, though tonight the audience will not be comprised entirely of veggie / vegan folk. This presents both a challenge, and an opportunity.

With luck, I’ll get time to perform four poems. One about the buzz that public performance gives you, much like chanting actually. One about how we are slowly destroying the Earth, another about our recent narrowboat holiday and the last about a certain single vegan female.

So rather varied subjects and topics, but the chance to broadcast my views about everything from Buddhism to veganism, overfishing to canal holidays. I’m sure some people will like some of the poetry better than others, some may not like it at all. But if I make one person think about things, and in some small way, change their lives for the better because of that, I will be pleased with the outcome.

Tragic Tuesday

Memories and pipe dreams - maybe?The holiday is well and truly over and the crew are suffering. A week of not having to be anywhere at any time is a true luxury, but one to which one can quickly become accustomed.

Like a fool, I made the huge mistake, last night, of looking  at narrowboats for sale online, knowing full well that now was not the time. Sadly I found several that fitted the bill, beautiful, well equipped and (relatively) cheap.

So today I am busy getting my mind back into ‘sensible mode’ and dealing with the problems that every day life brings. Though I have to admit that I keep drifting back to last week, and an afternoon spent in the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury with Richard, a retired IT professional, now living full time on narrowboat Sarah Pay with his Welsh Collie Megan.

We all set ourselves goals and we are all guilty of looking over the fence to the greener fields, but we must use Wisdom when we navigate through these mental flights of fancy.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, at least for now, I have to concentrate on performing the role for which I am paid. The holiday is gone, albeit that the memories are still fresh in the mind. To make changes we must make causes, and to make causes we need to use our wisdom and courage. We will see, time will tell … again.

So Chilled

Bridge 43 on the Llangollen CanalThe holiday is over, the boat returned to its rightful owner intact and in good order and the crew are both back at work.

A week afloat, in beautiful countryside and always at walking pace or below is enough to slow even the most frantic heart rate. Of course there were a couple of issues, the most memorable being the deluge we encountered whilst trying to moor Kingfisher at Hurleston junction.

The rain was coming down by the bucketful and mooring spaces were at a premium, so the stress levels were raised just a little. To say it was wet would be an understatement. Everything, and I mean everything, was soaked through.

But these tiny bumps in the road we call life, are just opportunities to learn and improve, and although it was reported by First Officer Fogg, that I did use a few expletives at times, the task was accomplished and everything was dry, or drying, by the following morning.

So now I’m back in the office. Apart from the odd sensation of land sickness, where perfectly solid buildings appear to sway like a narrowboat, giving everyone the impression that one is a little intoxicated, it’s life as usual.

Whether life as usual is a good thing or not, is open to conjecture. Whether life as usual will remain life as usual was discussed on several occasions during the week afloat, so maybe watch this space for further developments.

Getting Started

Moored Up For the Night

So we’re up at 6:30 and under the illusion that we packed everything in preparation for the trip up to Ellesmere. The plan was to leave at 7:30 in good time to drive the 2.75 hours up the M5/6 and M54 towards Telford and on to the marina.

In fact it took us until 8:00 to get going, and Mrs Satnav told us we weren’t going to arrive till past 11:00, so the SAS would be sitting there waiting, Steve drumming his fingers on the steering wheel and muttering about Bridget always being late.

Now I’ve driven to mid/north Wales more times than I’ve had welsh rarebit (cheese on toast) so I knew she was exagerating and her diversion through Worcester, though picturesque, was not the quickest route. So we ignored her insistances to turn round, take the next exit etc.

And after a couple of minutes she gave in, capitulated and recalculated the journey time, which just kept coming down and down. By the time we hit the M54, we were doing to be 10 minutes early, then the phone went. It was the SAS to ask where we were. Thinking that they had been sitting at the marina since 9:00, I was greatly relieved to hear that they were still on the M6 and we were going to be there first.

In the end, we were seconds apart on the same road, and turned into the marina together. Bumble sorted out the paperwork, as it’s her timeshare, and we then set off to the town to get the provisions. While we were in the Co-op the heavens opened and it was a sign of the weather to come.

We left the marina after a short induction, how the engine worked, how the water and the toilet should be used, and we were off on our adventure. Cruising at 4mph or less gives you lots of time to view the scenery and we headed off towards Chirk and our first overnight mooring.

Well before 7:00pm we had found a nice spot, outside the Poachers Pocket pub. A nice establishment, with a pub garden, Marston’s ales and friendly, if rather inept staff. A couple of Guinness’s later we were ready for a game of Scrabble and then it was time for bed, a great first day had by all.

Excited Anticipation

Canal LockIt’s funny isn’t it, how something you have been planning, thinking and talking about for ages suddenly appears just round the corner. Our much anticipated canal holiday, which was booked way back in the spring, starts tomorrow. Well ok, Saturday officially, but I’ll be wending my way up the A36 to Bristol tomorrow evening, ready to leave bright and early on Saturday morning, so that means our holiday starts tomorrow in my book.

Not that there’s that much to plan actually. We have to be up in Shropshire around noon to pick up the boat, then a trip to the supermarket for provisions. Some sort of induction follows, so we all know which end of the narrow boat is which and how to start, stop and steer it and then we’re off up the cut for seven days of fun.

I know that anticipation can lead to disappointment, but I think I’m fairly safe in this case, having three experienced ship-mates aboard. It’s the first holiday I’ve had in some little while and the first away with Bumble, so it will be a good test of where we are in the relationship.

Naturally, I’m chanting for a good outcome, good times, even for good weather, and I’m confident that things will go swimmingly. I just hope that none of us do too much of the swimming. So the packing is almost done, all ready to make a swift start after work tomorrow.

There’s an old saying that ‘there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip’ meaning that until something is complete, there’s still room for trouble. But in this case I think I have put all the causes in place to encourage a fortunate and pleasing outcome. Now where did I leave my captain’s cap?

Croissants and Canal Boats

The Canal In The SkySunday morning, and the SAS arrive. No not that Army lot with their blacked-out faces and rubber dinghies, but Sue and Steve in their black Passat, all ready for a croissant laden breakfast and a canal holiday planning meeting. We’re off to Shropshire in a few days, to take charge of a narrow boat and cruise the Llangollen canal, come hell and high water.

Now Bumble, Sue and Steve are old hands at this sort of thing. To them a lock is a way of changing level along a canal, not two users trying to access the same data or the thing I put my front door key in, as it is in my world. Despite the water being only a few feet deep, I sense I’m out of my depth already.

Actually, I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Not the challenge of learning about locks and boats, knots and navigation and the like. The challenge of getting around a narrow boat with Steve around, who was never designed with narrow boats in mind. He’s a proper, old fashioned, jolly giant, so I’m sure we will get to know each other all too intimately during the seven days afloat.

I have to say, that I have been having a few reservations about the trip. For one, we will be going over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct at Trevor. When Thomas Telford and William Jessop opened the aqueduct a month after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, it was the tallest canal boat crossing in the world and at 126ft (over 38 metres) high it is still an impressive and buttock clenching structure.

I’m also going to be thrown in at the deep end, figuratively I hope, in terms of being out of my comfort zone, with no experience of canal navigation whatsoever. But as they say (whoever they are), feel the fear and do it anyway. We are hoping for at least a day or two of good weather, though North Wales is better know for its lush green valleys than its sun-soaked beaches, so a fair deal of chanting is required before we cast off.

Naturally, being immersed in the Welsh countryside, blogging may prove to be another challenge. But be assured that I will post as often as connectivity allows, and fill in any missing bits when we return to ‘civilisation’. With a maximum speed of 4mph, it going to be a great excuse to chill out and take things nice and slow.

Time will tell whether the natives, and my fellow crew members take kindly to me chanting from the bow (the pointy end apparently) first thing in the morning. So if you hear a loud splash and the blogging stops abruptly, you’ll know what’s happened. Please tell my kith and kin I loved them all dearly.

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