Monday, August 06, 2018

Lord Bonkers' Diary: The Rutland Union Canal

It's high summer in Rutland and, as we begin another visit to the Hall, Lord Bonkers is in the mood to go exploring.


To demonstrate solidarity with our friends in the European Union I have been residing at the Hotel Splendide in Antibes. Yesterday I returned to the Hall to find that the scents of early summer – jasmine, wisteria, honeysuckle – had been supplanted by the scents of high summer: buddleia, lemon verbena, damask roses. Remind me to give Meadowcroft an emolument.

This morning I decide to enjoy our own countryside at its finest by undertaking an expedition that is a long-cherished ambition: I shall explore the Rutland Union Canal. Built by one of my forebears to connect the docks of Rutland Water with the manufacturies of the English Midlands, it was once central to the local economy.

Pork pies and Stilton cheeses were sent west by narrow boat and in return  we received pottery from Stoke-on-Trent, coal from the Charnwood Forest, Shuttleworths from Hebden Bridge, Liberty Bodices from Market Harborough and Playfair Cricket Annuals from Fleet Street.

In recent years, if I am honest, the canal has been allowed to fall into a state of desuetude – it is some years since the last holidaymakers ventured as far as Oakham Lock and many years since I playfully pushed L.T.C. Rolt into the cut there. So it is high time I attempted a navigation of my own.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10.

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