This morning we could feel something in the water around us. A few boats were moving, most coming past us to wind and then head back towards Venetian Marina. We walked down the towpath to check out if there was space at the barbeque mooring as we’re wanting to clean our boat covers. One boat was pulling away leaving one, there would be space for us.
Back at the boat I was receiving emails about my Dark Horse show, they were wanting my opinion on how the show might be realised with current restrictions. Obviously the play can only be performed once restrictions are lifted. I sent an honest reply back. Some elements won’t be affected much if on-line orders don’t get affected. Costumes, another matter. With social distancing I wouldn’t be able to do fittings with the actors, worst case scenario the actors would have to wear their own clothes, should the show go ahead. But my strong belief is that when restrictions are lifted, theatres and theatre companies will need to have a show up their sleeve, one that can be built and rehearsed quickly. So I can finish the design, we’ll have our meeting in a couple of weeks over the internet and then time and restrictions will guide us as to how much will be possible. My next payment will be on completion of the design, due in two weeks, this will go straight out to renew our boat licence.
The feeling we’d woken with was growing inside. If a lock down of the country was imminent then we wanted to be somewhere we’d be able to get water, shopping, diesel etc. We had lunch, headed to the winding hole in front of us, turned the boat and headed back to Cholmondeston Lock.
Here a boat was waiting below to go up, they were emptying the lock, we nudged in behind them. The chap opened up the gates and came to move his boat, I walked up and closed the gates for them and then operated the towpath side paddle whilst the chap did the off side.
We chatted from opposite sides of the lock. He was moving his freshly painted and spray foamed boat towards Birmingham. Tomorrow he’d pick up timber in Nantwich so that he could start to fit the boat out and then a friend was coming to help him up the rest of the way. When asked where we were going I explained that we felt movements would be restricted soon, so we wanted to be above the lock.
Once we’d ascended the lock ourselves, gloves were removed, hands washed, windlasses disinfected, we pootled along to the next winding hole. Here we winded again then reversed to some Armco. Hatch to the towpath. Here will do, it has a farmyard smell to it, we may get used to it.
Whilst we’d been moving we’d had emails from other boaters who’d been feeling the same vibe. An email from C&RT had come through asking boaters to limit themselves to an area. We would now be staying on this pound.
During the afternoon we turned the BBC on, the usual press conference at 5pm wasn’t going to happen, a COBRA meeting was taking place. All Brits who were abroad were being urged to return home as soon as possible. There would be a broadcast at 8:30pm.
Mr Johnson with fists clenched announced the new measures from No 10. We knew this was coming and to a certain extent it was a relief to finally hear it.
At 11:00 this email from C&RT dropped into Mick’s inbox.
Following the most recent announcement from the Prime Minister regarding the UK’s response to the coronavirus crisis, we are asking leisure boaters to stop all non-essential travel. As a result, and to help those who live-aboard (along with those who would need to travel to their boat in order to move it) we are suspending the requirement to move every 14 days. The suspension will be kept under review in line with revised government guidance, applying initially until 14 April.
We ask everyone to be considerate and make sure at least a minimal amount of essential movement is maintained to keep vital boater facilities and services accessible to those that need them. We will continue to maintain boater facilities and pump out cards are available from our online shop. (We will be urgently reviewing the implications for face-to-face sale of pump out cards and facilities keys from our public offices).
Please click here for the latest updates to our Frequently Asked Questions and up to date advice on where to get support.
Colleagues whose roles are critical to the safe management of the waterways, for example those managing water levels, those carrying out statutory inspections of canal structures, ensuring essential facilities for boaters are available etc will continue their day to day work.
We will be doing whatever we can to support our customers and protect the waterways so we can return to enjoying them fully when the crisis is over. We will keep the situation under active review and update you in line with changing circumstances and guidance.
Thank you for your patience and forbearance and please stay safe during these unprecedented times.
Canal & River Trust
So from now until further notice we will only move for water and shopping. We’ll try to combine the two. Tilly will have to adapt too, rationing of the outside may have to be brought in.
Stay safe, stay well, stay at home my friends.
1 lock, 0.83 miles, 2 winds, 1 determined theatre company, 2 unnerved boaters, 1 set of covers that can wait, 1 pound, 3 water points to choose from, 1 town for shops, 2 Dreamies not 4, 1 pongy mooring, 1 country on lock down.