Here we are again... can you tell I'm making a determined effort NOT to ignore this place as much as I did during the summer? - ironically perhaps as now, bugger all is REALLY happening... it's pretty much groundhog day - day in - day out.
The Towpath however HAS seen a change of use again. During the recent (now thankfully ended) period of 'lockdown', more and more folks have been using the Towpath. A few boaters moan about this but quite honestly, it's nice to see people as I wander down to Sale or Deansgate. There is nothing (well for me at least) quite so miserable as towpath, bereft of human interaction potential. Yes, I know I'm a bit odd. ACTUALLY, I take that back ... I'm no more odd than many of the other 'lost' folks wandering up and down the towpath when I stop to think about it... only difference is, I'm paying double what a 'leisure boater' pays to use the canal and a gazillion times more than 'Joe-public' is.
I don't mind at all. I'm good at sharing. You see, the towpath is teaming with life (imagine Sir David Attenborough)- (I don't know how to spell his name) describing the comings and goings.
To start with, we've got the boating folk... striding around - more often than not wearing Shorts (like me) with their floaty ball key rings clipped to their shorts... mud up the back of their legs and smiling/saying hello to everyone coming towards them or sat (sitting) on a bench etc. THEN you've got the ding-a-lingers on bikes (I'm NOT so keen on them truth be told), who zoom up behind you ... give a few dings on their bell and EXPECT you to get out of their way. At the nicer end of the 'user spectrum' are the old dears having a wander along canal side - hoping (like me quite often) to have the opportunity to interact with another human being... before they go back to their prison like home for the remainder of the darkness... in anticipation of repeating their walk the following day etc.
Unlike the Street or retail park, there is (despite what some of the more recent towpath converts think ) an understanding that it's "OK" to say hello when on the towpath... to everyone - be they on boats, kayaks, walking a dog, pushing a child in buggy or even staggering around with a can (or 7) of 'special brew'... It's OK cause I'd hazard a guess most of us have made a conscious choice to BE there and avoid the more hostile routes. Even the ones smoking dope are friendly enough on the whole. I don't like the smell of it but it's no more offensive I suppose than the soap dodgers you often have to queue behind in Aldi *other German supermarkets with limited product ranges are available*...
Oddly, today as I was walking Manchester direction, a chap (this time a jogger) passed by me and I got that strange smell for pork and onion pies - the ones that taste lovely from Stanforths in Skipton but when my brain processed it must have been a stale sweat aroma, I admit to feeling quite bilious at that point lol.
Then we've got the ladies who buy all the exercise gear but really are just having a gossip with a mate as they meander along the towpath. I met a couple of these the other days on a "run out" - heavens I sound like Thora Herd in Last of the Summer wine ... I must have been looking "good" - (something that doesn't happen often and tbh, I was only have a jaunt out cause cabin fever was setting in. I can only imagine WHAT they were talking about but as I rounded a corner and dropped into tick-over for some moored boats, one of them shouted "my friend fancies you and your boat, are you single?" - quite taken aback I replied (possibly blushing) "I'm newly divorced but dance backwards"... which they didn't get so I had to (by then I was a few feet further ahead) wave a limp wrist at them to further explain... at which point they were (practically ro0lling on the floor laughing.
All good fun and positive interactions.
Of course it's not all rosy - as we chug up and down the canl, OR (as it mostly the case during the winter months) you ALSO come across 'troubled' folks... those who can't quite fit into society... or perhaps they choose NOT to fit. They're just as worthy of a conversation or bit of kindness though. I suppose THEY are the ones we SHOULD be looking out for and trying to help. I try but don't always manage it and admit to choosing carefully if someone looks dangerous.
Writing of 'scruffy people' I can't remember if I've already shared this with you but the other week - I was walking back from a gin run (ok perhaps I bought some bread and milk too) with my back pack on and on my route is a church... where apparently on Thursday mornings they run a food bank... well it was just after lunch and I did notice a van being packed up with stuff but didn't give it much attention until was level with it... AT which point, a lovely old lady wandered out of the church front with a white carrier bag and offered me a bag of (presumably) food not claimed... As tempting as it was (I doubt there would have been any gin in it though) I politely declined and continued on my way back to the boat... chuckling to myself that I've finally blended into cc society. The joke is that on paper as a result of this Covid year, I probably DO I meet the criteria. Oh dear... time to buy some less holey shorts and t-shirts from charity shops again.
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NOW that lock down is over, Manchester remains in tier 3... ergo, whilst shops, barbers, gyms and pools are open - you CAN'T go into a pub. It's all a bit pants really... the reality is that the "covid spreading hubs" (in my opinion) ARE the supermarkets that we ALL have to go into! - you know, the places where you DON'T have to submit to track and trace and where folks who are "mask exempt" regularly loiter around spreading (or potentially spreading) their germs... NO - Government totally ignores THEM as places of mass transmission! Folks anonymously spreading the virus- day in, day out.
That really does irk. It must REALY irk for the many pubs/restaurants being screwing into the ground as a result.
At the risk of having ANOTHER moan, I STILL maintain - EVERYONE should be wearing masks - end of... I'm exempt due to my asthma but quite frankly feel it a moral (perhaps civil) duty to wear one when I have to and quite frankly, anyone who has emotional or mental health issues SO severe that wearing a mask whilst in Tesco's *other militant supermarkets are available* is clearly UNSAFE to be out without a carer anyway!
In MORE positive news, I've done my Tax return for the previous year and that feels good. I'm quite open about this so the 'profit' element whilst modest WAS an improvement on the startup year so that's good - alas, all the profit (and more) was eaten up with solicitors fees and divorce loan repayments but hey - they'd have been there without the profit so I choose to see this as a positive! 2020 WAS to have been the year when things began to look up but we all know what happened to that. The reality now is it's been a debt building year. NOW with the good news about the covid vaccines coming online, hopefully 2021 will help get back to 'zero'... and if not, surely 2022 will!
Out and about, Xmas lights are going up and that's nice to see (I usually think it's WAY too early) but this year, any light is GOOD light!
I'm quite looking forward to Christmas this year - not since I was a kid have I enjoyed it.... Xmas really is for kids... luckily, my folks have been self sufficient and not guilted either me or my brother (my brother and I?) into enforced family xmas gatherings. Last year did feel cruel NOT being with dad - his first on his own since mum died (after 52 years together) but he WAS adamant he wanted to be miserable on his own.... likewise in my case I was mourning both Joyce dying AND the end of my civil partnership, Dad again this year is choosing not to take up any of the offers bestowed up on him which I totally understand.... he KNOWS he's loved and wanted but will do his own thing. I respect that.
THIS year, with a guest coming, it's a different kettle of fish on board 'Ellis' - I've already got some crackers, and I've half a plan to wait until 23rd December and see what lights are left - time will tell on that one!
Righty ho - enough of this now... it's Saturday night, Strictly is looming on the goggle box and I feel a glass of something cold and dry coming on.
Until next time....