Short and smug

Siren call of the real deal

Ever since the Braunston Historic Show last June I’ve been harbouring naughty thoughts, insidious and insistent, like Sirens calling me to my financial and marital doom. Yes, you need a full length unconverted motor, they chant, you do, you do, you dooooo! No, I bloody well do not and having witnessed firsthand the travails of my doughty chums as they manhandled their 70 ft beasts round the twisty turny bends of the shallow, silty Wyrley & Essington, I am, a la Mrs Slocombe, unanimous in that. Am I pleased or what that I am a short-arse at just 48 feet; more than pleased, I am Mrs Smug of Smugsville. Before I go any further let me refer you to the Flamingo blog and Alan’s cracking post about the Yarwoods’ convoy from Walsall to Brownhills that stuttered round on Good Friday – for a taste of what it’s all about when you’ve had no bits chopped off, this is an essential read. Having spent most of the trip directly behind either Swallow or Flamingo, I really did get a full appreciation of the skill and effort it takes to be a boatman in these circumstances, and I doff my piratical bandana to both captains for wrestling their charges into submission.

Alan on Flamingo earned his pint

We ran as tail-end Charlie for the trip, a decision driven partly by gallantry (if everyone got stuck, I could come to the rescue given that my bottom is slightly smaller than their bottoms) and partly by sheer self-interest (if there were obstacles to find or ram someone else could have the pleasure.) Actually, it was more down to simple commonsense. Nick on Beatty’s weapon of choice is the keb so sending him as pathfinder seemed logical; Flamingo went second so Cath with her sore back could get some help up the Walsall locks; Swallow had a bike so could lockwheel with abandon, so we basically decided that peeling out of the basin in mooring order from left to right was the way to go. After a bit of a bunched start, we got into a good rhythm and we popped up onto the top stretch to Brownhills junction thinking we’d gone through a time whorl and floated into Moxley tip…an agglomeration of crud, a grimy potage of cut reeds and flotsam which I suppose was an almost inevitable punctuating exclamation mark on our Walsall passage. But this is just my aesthetic sensibilities being hurt, it’s no biggie.

Moving round through Goscote and Bloxwich on the Wyrley wasn’t much better, but at least we (meaning me) weren’t attacked by leviathans from the deeps…er..from the shallows. Beatty snagged a devil of a duvet while Alan added to his I-Spy Book of Bumper Bladefuls (he’s already got the duvet) with an impressive run of industrial carpeting. When I finally arrived at Brownhills and pulled off just a few plastic bags (my first of the whole trip) I felt even more like a fraud – not just short with a pert bum but lacking a mile of co-ax round the prop too! I fear I could get thrown out of the Club for such indiscretions…

On the way up to Anglesey Basin – and yes, still Birmingham

Other notes from today, Saturday. We had a little bimble up to Anglesey Basin and I’m thinking I may add that into my BCN Challenge route as I managed a decent turn of speed and it will be a pleasant little diversion for my crew, who’ll be new to the northern BCN. If you ever get the chance to go, do. Once back, I took the dogs to call on new friend Ricky on big Woolwich (hint, hint) Chertsey, and was promptly invited on board by Jim. The dogs had a quick sniff round but soon settled, Buzz appropriating Ricky’s bed and Rosie appropriating Jim’s lap. This was my first time on Chertsey and my word, what a marvellous thing it is, a glorious ‘home within a hold’ – dry, cosy, full of perfectly curated pieces drawn from all sorts of eras that yet manage to form a beautifully congruent, consonant – and now, newsflash, carpeted – whole. Embellished perfectly by three snoozing hounds…

Now about what I was saying earlier about full length unconverted motors like…ooh, I dunno, big Woolwiches? Unanimous I may have been, but it is also a woman’s prerogative to change her mind…

I do don’t do don’t do don’t need a big Woolwich

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