Improvements, major and minor
Cleddau has had a month-long sojourn at St Mary’s Marina in Rufford.
During a flying visit to check on the boat mid-June an earlier curiosity was sated. En route along the canal to Tarleton on 16th May an inviting-looking place was passed. This was Rufford Old Hall. It’s the ancestral home of fourteen generations of the Hesketh family. Since 1936 the Hall has been in the hands of the National Trust. It’s a stunningly beautiful building, much extended and transformed over the centuries.
Four points particularly intrigued this first time visitor:
1, In the 1530s the house was built in an H shape, a compliment to the king at the time, Henry VIII.
2. The Great Hall houses a freestanding “movable” screen (not that it is movable). There are several deliberate mistakes made in the carving on the screen: it was important to avoid absolute perfection. By looking up in the Great Hall beautifully carved flying angels can be seen.
3. It’s believed that in 1581 a company of players kept at the Hall by Sir Thomas Hesketh included a young William Shakespeare.
Now (8th July) Cleddau is on the move again, heading south, leaving West Lancashire, to float around the western edges of Wigan and of Manchester, then to cruise on slowly towards Cheshire… Back on the boat (after a month of Bedfordshire days) there are several visual reminders, souvenirs in some cases, of the season’s cruising so far.
Remember the Captain’s sudden generosity in buying a replacement bow rope, referred to here . It was bought at the Heritage Marina at Scholar Green back in April. And what a fine, pleasant-to-handle rope it is. It does not chafe the hands or catch against other objects. Flushed with enthusiasm for well-behaved ropes the Captain has since renewed the anchor rope. Gone is the ancient (circa 1989) nasty, hairy fibre-shedding blue stuff and in its place now is a bright white 12 metre hank of rope. No doubt over time its colour will take on a duller hue… It is hoped, of course, that the anchor remains an item never called into use on this boat.
By contrast another new item on the boat is in very frequent use; who could not love this dimpled blue whistling kettle? It’s replaced a utilitarian camping kettle that itself was a temporary substitute for the good-looking red kettle which had developed an irritating spitting and dribbling habit. The blue dimpled job was purchased during the recent Lancaster Canal trip while moored at the very well-stocked Barton Grange Garden Centre. It’s a delightful souvenir, both a visual and a practical improvement to galley life!
From minor boat-related improvements to two sources of major improvement. The mostly broken Cleddau and Tentatrice boat crews, in need of respite cures, retreated to their home counties of Bedfordshire and Worcestershire for about a month. All are now much improved with tales to tell of nurse, doctor and chiropractor visits… The month in Bedfordshire provided time for visits to and from friends various, for a bit of effort to return order and colour to the garden – and to find an appreciative home at a local pre-school for some much-loved items from the garden shed.
And then there is the final major improvement to report. For six months now, on term-time Saturday mornings, members of the Macclesfield Music Centre have been preparing and practising, constantly improving. They were preparing for a big event, a Silver Anniversary Concert to be held in an acoustically splendid concert hall at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Tots, teens, twenties, in fact all generations through to those in their eighties, vocalists and instrumentalists, performed in a brilliant concert on Saturday July 6th to celebrate their 25 years of existence.
While the Clarinet Group was providing pre-show entertainment in the foyer, Cheshire Mum (with soprano saxophone) and Cheshire One (with clarinet) posed with their instruments. “I am playing in five pieces,” said Cheshire Mum.
“I am playing in seven,” said the Cheshire One. And there, after the interval, she was high up among a line of percussionists, playing the timpani in, among other pieces, Pomp and Circumstance, the 1812 Overture and an Abba Medley which appropriately included ’Thank you for the music’.
What a splendid evening it was, a glorious celebration of 25 years of music-making in Macclesfield.
So now what? Cleddau has climbed back up from the coastal plain and is back on the main Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Back to boat journeys next time!