“ I’ve started so I’ll finish,” a particular TV quiz master used to say. That was the sentiment in the Captain’s heart: he’d started the boat polishing, it needed to be finished. So, a Friday afternoon and an early evening were spent taking diversions to avoid M1 hold-ups between Junctions 14 and 15, and using the M6 Toll to avoid delays further up the M1. Then just patience, lots of patience, was required during the slow and near stationary traffic at each junction north of Stafford. Finally the “Take the next exit” voice of the Satnav directed the driver through Holmes Chapel, past the two Jodrell Bank telescope dishes and eventually to Poynton.
The Boar’s Head pub (on Shrigley Road North) was as busy as ever but a table was found, food ordered – and conversation struck up with the neighbouring diners. What is it about this pub and its regular clientele? Here we have had deep discussions about bee-keeping; a long conversation with a veteran about bomber crews in World War 2; a description of serious winters in these parts – just snow poles marking the Pennines road to Sheffield in the late eighties and skating along the frozen canal between High Lane and Macclesfield in the thirties… This is a friendly locals pub where you can eat finely from the specials board or cheaply from the menu, where you can gather with friends for a quiz night or pop in as a stranger and leave as an acquaintance.
To the work: Saturday morning dawned dry, showers forecast for later in the day. The Captain had an arm’s length agenda: fit a new tunnel light; treat any rust spots; black paint the gunnels; polish the red top hatches and the boat sides… throughout the morning rain spits and hailstones hindered all efforts. Yowls of frustration were borne on the breeze as task after task was declared unmanageable. Then, after one last ferocious April shower, the clouds cleared and proper progress could be made:
1200: rust spots treated on the port side
1300: the new tunnel light (a birthday gift from Salty) was wired up and declared operational
1500: gunnels painted (port side)
1800: port side polished
Sunday morning arrived dry but grey. Time would be precious if the weather forecast was to be believed. It took two attempts in the fierce south westerly winds to back the boat out of the moorings and face it up the canal; there was a two hundred yard crawl, a tricky turn, a crawl back along the canal and a reverse alongside the pontoon.
The wind was pushing the boat away from the pontoon but finally after some rope tugging she was in and tied on. After a quick breakfast all hands were deployed outside – while the Captain gunnel-painted on the starboard Boatwif rubbed polish on – and then rubbed polish off a very long side! But the objective was achieved: Cleddau’s Operation Boat Wash on April 13th had been followed through by an application of polish all over by April 28th… Additional minor achievements included the tidying of galley cupboards and the lining of shelves with some excellent thick plastic roll (IKEA: Variera).
But a wander along Middlewood Way
and across Hag footbridge about half a mile away
to investigate the route of the footpath up into Lyme Park
was far more enjoyable. A pair of lambs displayed calm sibling devotion
while a Canada goose on the bank side busied himself exercising territorial rights.
The Cheshire Three paid a late afternoon call: “Look out for Grasshopper warblers in the undergrowth here in the next three weeks,” advised Techno Son-in-Law. “They’re fairly rare and sound like a fishing reel running out…” Well, that’ll make a bit of a change from the raucous Canada geese!