Part of the charm of the waterways is that their supporting businesses haven't, by-and-large, succumbed to the corporatisation that has taken over our High Streets. Most are still small individually-run enterprises with all the variety and colour that adds to the canal scene. But just every now and again you wish that some of them would embrace some of the business practices of at least the 20th Century, if not the 21st.
I needed a new gas bottle today and a splash of diesel wouldn't have gone amiss either. Lyme View Marina at Poynton seemed a reasonable place to try. The fuel pump is conveniently situated on an unoccupied wharf alongside the Macclesfield Canal and no sooner had I drawn up that someone appeared to ask what I needed and help me tie up.
The 60 litres of diesel I bought were all charged at the "domestic" (lower) tax rate and at a very reasonable 78ppl. (It's OK, I'm sure I've got some high-tax diesel somewhere in the tank I can use for propulsion). I didn't ask for that, nor was I asked - presumably it just minimises the paperwork!
It was only when I came to pay that there was a problem. With the gas bottle the bill came to just over £70. I proffered my card. "Sorry, don't take plastic", said the man, "can you give me cash or a cheque?"
Well, it's been so long since I last wrote a cheque from the account I keep just for Starcross that I've long since forgotten where the cheque book is. A rummage through my wallet turned up £40 and 20 Euro, not enough even if he would accept the Euro, which of course he wouldn't!
"So, where's the nearest cash machine then?" I asked. Turns out its in Poynton - two miles away.
"Don't suppose there's a bus?"
"Don't know" (and don't much care either).
"I'll have to walk then"
"OK, but I'm closing at four. (It was now 2.15)
Well, there was a bus, but I'd missed it by ten minutes. But from the timetable I saw that if I got there quickly enough I could at least ride back, which is what I did. Just to add insult to injury though I forgot to take the bus pass and had to pay on the return leg!"
So, a new note has been made in my Nicholson's (other guide books are available): Lyme View Marina does not take plastic.