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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Parkin

Thanks for the culvert, Ma’am

I’ll be blogging under the tag ‘Reenie’s Progress’ for our imminent journey to The North – Leeds, to be precise. It’s going to be a slow adventure: you can get there in about three-and-a-half hours by train, but it’s going to take us around six weeks. That’s how defunct we consider the rail network. Better late than never.

On our way, I’ll be writing daily about our Inland Odyssey – as I’ve dubbed it – and the trials therein. It’s not going to take as long as Odysseus’ journey and I anticipate the Sirens to be in the form of appealing canal-side ales (luring us with their hoppy, boozey voices) and any whirlpools will be replaced by slightly-dodgy Industrial Revolution locks.

It looks like we’ll finally be able to leave to head to Yorkshire – although perhaps in stages – later this week. We’d planned to leave just over two weeks ago, but as a culvert – the big pipe underneath the canal – was apparently in a bad way just past Trowbridge, we’ve been waiting for it to be fixed. While it might be easy to blame Trowbridge for its weak culvert, it wouldn’t really be fair – the canals are really very old, so a bit of maintenance (albeit at a very inconvenient time for us) is inevitable. Had it not been fixed, apparently a whole stretch of canal about nine miles long could have drained. And, after all, a canal without water is merely a trench – and is certainly no good for boats…

While I’m no Royalist, apparently British Waterways (the not-so-shadowy entity which presides over our nation’s many miles of canal, etc) have had to step up their repairs in time for the Jubilee this weekend. At this moment, men in high-vis vests travail alongside various diggers, cranes and construction paraphernalia, watched over by HRH’s hench-birds – the swans – to ensure they get the work done in time for her big do.

So thanks for the culvert, Ma’am – although the prospect of flotillas of inebriated weekend boaters in full Union Jack regalia doesn’t fill me with glee. Ah well – we’ll actually be able to get going, which is the main thing.

I’ve been meaning to do some exposition for our current boating situation – the acquisition of Reenie and our move on to the canals – so I’ll post this and then get going on the Story So Far. Rest assured, there is Mild Peril (like on the film posters), Strong Language, and Scences of Violence (not to people, though – don’t worry). I’ll try to recount it accurately and with all the drama we’ve experienced becoming boaters.

Possibly even more.

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