I felt officially old yesterday. A nurse in a NHS pop-in clinic gave me a walking stick and told me I’d got gout. “Gout”, I exclaimed, “I thought that was a Victorian condition”. “Oh, it’s quite common she said”, as matter of fact as you like. “Now would you like a walking stick or a crutch"?
So, it looks like I can’t hide behind my boyish good looks and charm anymore. It’s certainly not the best of looks, bent double, hobbling along the towpath clutching a walking stick, but I am confident the anti-inflammatory tables she thrust in my hand will ease the pain considerably, though 24 hours into the regime, it still seems like someone is sticking pins into my foot.
|Oh well, I suppose the stick will come in handy hooking stuff out of locks|
On checking t’internet it appears I am far from alone, and it is quite common of men “of a certain age”. A bit too much red meat, beer, and an extra few pounds round your tummy seem a sure-fire recipe for a Gout attack. So be warned. You know who you are.
Anyway, to boating business. The First Mate is back, after a whirlwind two weeks in New Zealand, and I met her off the train last Thursday. Considering she had been travelling for 24 hours she seemed very chipper. We decided to stay in Congleton for the weekend. It’s an attractive Cheshire market town, called “Beartown” locally, and we had a good mooring, beside an aquaduct on the outskirts of town. A barman in Wetherspoon’s told me that “Beartown” refers to an incident in the 17c when the town’s bear they used for baiting was old and past it, so the local council gave the money it had been saving for a new bible towards buying a new bear, thinking it very good business sense. Evidently this caused outrage in neighbouring towns who could not see the fiscal benefits. There’s a “Beartown Nursery”, “Beartown Brewery”, “Beartown Cabs” and even a “Beartown Bare Miss” as the picture shows. There’s probably loads more. We really liked Congleton.
|Ms Dee Cup, The Beartown "Bare Miss". I kid you not|
We hired a car for the weekend from Enterprise, did a lot of food shopping on Saturday at Waitrose in Leek and on Sunday drove to Huddersfield for the second Great Northern Ukulele Festival. Loads and loads of folks clutching ukes, ready and willing to whisk them out at the slightest encouragement. Headlining on Sunday evening was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, who joked that they may have to change their name after this Thursday. They were superb and very funny. I’ve been wanting to see them for a long time, but we always seem to be away somewhere when they tour. You would not think you were watching eight people playing ukuleles. Check ‘em out on YouTube.
|Mid-day thrash on stage. The silver-haired couple on the right of the picture, Tony & Jane, were moored at Mercia last winter. We had no idea they were coming.|
|Rog tries out his favourite Uke brand, an American Mainland Tenor in Mango|
|The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain.|
I mentioned a while back that we were having problems with our propeller on The Cat’s Whiskers, after hitting all sorts of debris in and around Manchester. Our boating pal Fred on “Chyandour” rang me to say he’d had a similar experience and recommended a place on the Shropshire Union who could do the job, fairly quickly. “Try your insurance company”, he suggested. We did, and it looks like they will pay for it, some £650. We have to be at Norbury Junction in two Sundays time, when they will put TCW into a dry dock and do the work. At present we are just crawling along on tick-over. Yesterday afternoon we said goodbye to the Macclesfield Canal and re-joined The Trent & Mersey, so it’s Nantwich this weekend and Norbury Junction the following weekend. We have a spot of good weather to look forward to, so it should be an enjoyable trip. It’s territory we know well.
And finally, and quite sadly for Pat and myself, we heard earlier this afternoon from our tenants that the last of our cats had passed away. Molly was a good age and seemed to have been around for ever. A proper little madam at time, but very affectionate.
|My old mate Miss Molly. We reckon she was about 15 years old|