Midwinter…

After the hugely successful November visit to family in Southern California (note: no Covid or other bugs either imported or exported) time rolled on towards midwinter…

Short days and long nights require illuminations – and the Captain spent the best part of three days following his plan, mounting seasonal decorations, stringing out Christmas lights.    When you live in a community of Christmas lights devotees and right next door to neighbours who put on a dazzling display,  a credible effort has to be made.

 

The annual St Paul’s Church Christmas Tree Festival is always held in early December, this year’s decorating theme being Kings and Queens.     (Elvis the King??) 

Then in mid-December there’s an annual pilgrimage out to the farm beside Stevington Windmill. (“How many other places have we passed that sell Christmas trees?” the Captain muttered, an annual observation on his part.  But tradition is built on habit and habitually a tree is bought near the windmill). 

After the Chipping Norton pantomime ( Cinderella, set in central America, hilarious, December 10th) the Christmas tree was brought indoors. It’s a job (a very pleasurable one) dressing a tree. Place must be found for half a century’s worth of inherited and acquired decorations. New this year were these two, bought at the Spanish  Village Art Center in San Diego. – and this one, a gift delivered from Australia.

Christmas in Cheshire was on the cards this year – before and between festivities there were sightings along the Macclesfield Canal.  How lovely to muse on Bosley memories while munching on a sandwich lunch beside the Top Lock…

How familiar was the sighting of the miscellany of items at a permanent mooring beside Bridge 13…   Look, there was The Cage up on the hills in Lyme Park.      How comfortable nb Lottie M seems at Victoria Pit, on Cleddau‘s  previous mooring…   A hundred yards further south a boat pushing a butty was on the move, chugging through Bridge 15.

Then, on Boxing Day, not one but two boats had just made their way through the (often tricky to operate) Broadhurst swing bridge (Bridge 47).

Here the main Manchester to London railway line runs close to the canal.  Cross the railway footbridge and there’s a different world to explore.  This is Danes Moss Nature Reserve. Old wooden sleepers hark back to the days of the horse drawn trams that until the mid-1960s carted peat off the Moss.    A new board walk snakes through the trees,  passing vividly coloured tree trunks,  shell-shaped fungi  and bronze-coloured bracken.

Back at the canal there were wistful reminders that a boat can be a cosy home…

So how has Cleddau fared in recent times? After so many weeks without visiting, it was reassuring to find her still afloat at Crick…  She’s sporting a newly blacked bottom (thanks to the guys in the marina dry dock), has a new airing cupboard radiator and is dry inside…

New Year – new starts. The sight of a host of sailing boats gliding across the water at Priory Country Park on New Year’s Day was a reminder of boating’s pleasures. It’s a ten minute walk to the end of Priory Lake and on to Cardington Lock. This is the last lock on the Great Ouse before Bedford Lock gives boaters access to the town and the upper river.

Two male walkers gazed down into the lock from the footbridge. Soon a lesson was under way to explain how a boat from one level can transit to another. For paddles say slackers; lock side crew require windlasses and a key of power to operate the guillotine gate… (And if all goes to plan Cleddau and crew will be right here to demonstrate  lock operation some time next July…)

Meanwhile, to friends and family, to landlubbers and boaters, best wishes for A (very) Happy New Year.

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