What began in mist wriggled through conduit and ended in light during the night.


The night-time fog had receded to mist by the time Hutson dragged himself from his pit. The marina’s pontoon lights added an industrial glow to the smoke from the stove as it coughed and spluttered into life.

Autumn is most definitely upon us. Last night was foggy and chilled (while I was toasty under my 99 TOG quilt). One of the neighbours was up too, as you can see from the glow from their bow doors over the water.

A strollette to clear away the cobwebs was interrupted by a very heavy train, with two tractor units labouring to pull it along, one fore, one aft. When they’re not ferrying passengers about the lines are amazingly busy moving nuclear waste and, in this case, tanks of something that must be more dense than first sight would suggest. The puzzle is that both the nuclear waste trains and this tanker strain equally whether up or down the line – whatever it is, it’s moved in both directions.


Spot the train along the embankment.

The sun did its best though at burning away the damp air.


So much so that by the time I returned from my perambulations, some colour was beginning to return to the natural world. Autumnal colours…


This is one tree – with all of those colours

Even the canal was beginning to wake up.


Albeit with the walking (brain-)dead.

Heading back to the marina the sun was really beginning to win the battle.


It doesn’t get much more flat calm than this.

The slave… er, the Bro then turned up, and work commenced on finishing off the electrics. All of that hidden re-wiring with new feeds to each individual light, vent and switch are now paying dividends as we work from bow to stern, chucking wiring into consuit laying in the cable tray, and connecting up the power. All twisted wires connections and duct tape gone, just properly crimped connections – each labelled individually – remain.


Separate feeds to each area, with separate circuit-breakers.


What remains on this part of the task is now the final section down by the DC panel and Mains/Solar cupboard.


Final cable work to be done and the cable-tray put back up.

The heart of the machine, where I can step out of bed and immediately crank up the sonic oscillatrix twelve more points with nought but a languid digit, where I can plug the laptop into a couple of USB sockets and interrogate separate solar and battery systems for domestic power and engine power. Ticketty boing boing boing or what? The glass suction lifter thing has arrived, so the clear polycarbonate panel over the heavy stuff (which we want on display, since it looks so good) is now in place. All of my little flashing status LEDs remain visible. Ventilation fans to go in next so that the whole thing keeps its cool, whatever.

As we work so things installed much earlier begin to come alive. For example, the forward navigation lights and tunnel light are now powered and hooked up to their switches…


‘Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.’

Today, we let quite a lot of Newton be all by ourselves, no deity involved.

Oh yes, and somewhere along the way, it seems to have got dark again… in spite of Mr Newton’s best efforts.

Mind you, it’s not difficult to tell which narrowboat here has a big new tunnel light…


New LED tunnel light, which I must now adjust to point up and to the right…

I am now thinking about returning to my pit. Sustenance, in the form of a mongrel colcannon, has been devoured, the washing up done and the blinds pulled and doors locked on the outside world. The Cardinal has been given a rare treat – a feed for his batteries from the onshore mains – but soon I’ll scoot down to the blunt end and take him offline. There’s full sunshine predicted for tomorrow, so the solar panels can take the load.

More jobs to be finished tomorrow. Mayhap hooking up the horn, decklights, anchor light and rear navigation light, mayhap not yet. We’re getting there.

I’ve said it to him in person often enough, but I need to say it publicly too – an enormous thank you to the Bro, for being so gobsmackingly generous with his time and expertise. Both the Cardinal and I appreciate it immensely. Thank you.

Right, time today methinks to arise from my gluteus, flick those switches to “off” and crawl into my pit.

Here endeth the Admiral’s log for today.



The Society for the Movement of “Up” to a More Convenient Location – S.M.U.M.C.L.


Cable tray partly in place – virtually all of the 12V wiring is carried along here, the 230V “mains” is on t’other side o’boat. Yup, the tray is staying exposed and on view like that – and to add a touch more of “Red Dwarf” it will soon have some ventilation pipes hanging off it too. The images below are yonder Cardinal Wolsey himself, and a view of the pounding of the French ship ‘Redoubtable’ at Trafalgar (although too late to save Nelson). White blanking plate between is where there used to be a dangly-dangly brass wall-light thingy, the real and main purpose of which seemed to be to collect dead flies.

Yonder human frame is emphatically not adapted well to working overhead. Drilling, stripping wires, tinning wires, crimping terminals onto wires (and testing them), screwing up wotsit connection blocks and connecting wires with fiddly wee screws – when conducted in the “up” dimension of time and space – wreak havoc on necks, backs and arms.

I therefore propose that we form a society with the express aim and intention of having “up” removed from its current, highly inconvenient location, and placed somewhere where it’s not quite so creak & groan-inducing to use, such as at desk height or roughly 30″ – 33″ from the average set of human toes.


All “overhead” work might then be more conveniently carried out with arms hanging down instead of raised above the shoulder, and with head in the more natural “drooping” position. Furthermore, my varifocal spectacles (close work to bottom of lens, long-distance to top) might then actually have a ruddy chance of being useful, and I might look less like an elderly bog-eyed frog trying to use a screwdriver in a pea-soup fog.

This week the Bro and I have, on occasion, when there has been demonstrably fewer than one spectator in sight, lumbered onto the roof the the Cardinal and performed “The Happy Dance”. This is because all of the thinking, planning and physical work hitherto undertaken is now paying dividends (and dividends a damned sight more generous than any National Savings Account). The last of the electrics is going in…

We’ve thrown out pipeworkery, we’ve heaved out woodwork, and now we’re ditching the last of the Duct Tape. Below, the old versus the new:


Earlier “electrickery merchants” seemed to have thought that twisting wires together and then taping over them was kosher industry standard and practise.


Many, many splendid examples of the electrical trade. These really ought to go to some museum for display. I recommend Madam Tussauds, in the “horror” department.


A small measure of the new… new wire, labelled at either end (and sometimes in the middle too, if a long run) and hooked up in terminal blocks ready to run back and forth in conduit in the new cable-tray. Most splendid indeed. All immortalised in diagrams in the new Owner’s Manual too. The only downside to this is that it’s overhead, which is up, hence S.M.U.M.C.L.


Wiring further down towards the blunt end and still in progress, temporarily labelled with tape and ready for being cut to length, proper labelling and connecting.

S.M.U.M.C.L. would, when our aims have been achieved, also take the pressure off words such as “ooh” and “aargh” and “yikes” and “gadzooks”. Phrases currently under ridiculous demand, such as “chuffin’ Nora, my back’s gone again” and “no – I can’t feel my hands at all now, the blood must be somewhere else” would be much more freely available in moments of more genuine need. For the good of the human species we simply cannot continue to undertake overhead work in the “up” position, it simpy must be moved.

Interspersed with trips to the wilds of the marina to find vertebrae that have pinged out and shot off to pastures untrodden, some of the good good goodies have been finalised (using wiring put in many moons ago at the start of this venture).

There are now two of these LP Gas detector beasties live, one at the lowest point (as the Cardinal usually rests) and t’other in the galley near the cooker. Either of these will turn off the gas in the gas locker all by themselves, if triggered.


Yes, yes, yes – wiring yet to be neatly p-clipped away! Sensor itslef is way down below…

There is now a big, red switch near the galley that will also, if whacked in a panic, turn off the gas bottles (and probably throw a cover over the budgie’s cage too).


Gas on – gas off. Gas on – gas off. Gas on – gas off…

One very neat feature added is a couple of extra switches right next to the light switch by my bed in the cabin. These are “protected” switches in that to work them requires that the little red secondary switch is tickled first, so they can’t be operated accidentally. One is an extra switch to the deck floodlights (that went in earlier in the work) and the other is an extra switch for my 120db horn… Should I find myself in the middle of nowhere and the boat being attacked by badgers during the night all I need do is to reach out a languid arm and flick a couple of switches to both illuminate and mightily disturb the peace. No need to get dressed first, find the ignition key, or even go outside. Hopefully this son et lumière show will keep badgers, burglars and zombies distracted while I load the blunderbuss with grape, don a pair of exceptionally frilly knickers and adjust the strap on my pickelhaube.


Yikes – duct tape! No worries though, it’s just holding the new wiring back until it is covered by the wood trim on its way to the cable tray up above (see aims of S.M.U.N.M.C.L. for problems with “above”). One horn, one outside floodlights.

Numb fingers, shoulders, elbows, wrists and brains aside, the week has not been without its more mundane tribulations. Polycarbonates ordered from a certain “specialist” plastics firm early last month have been arriving – arriving damaged, cut with axes instead of saws, with holes drilled in the wrong places and with no holes drilled at all. “Useless twonks” is a phrase that keeps springing to mind. One of the sheets ordered (and the one in the photo below is sans holes ordered – useless twonkery abounding) is to be the access panel to the heavy electrics cupboard (and to protect it from t’weather, should t’hatch be open). Because it has none of the endrillinations required it is shown with some canvas webbing wot I did use to lift it in and out to try it in place. When the plastics twonks get their act together, it will just be a plain see-through panel.


Please to ignore the purple canvas webbing, this is that which will what be not there when finished properly. Row of coloured switches shown are: engine isolation; inverter on/off; bilge pump; engine-bay ventilation fan; cabin ventilation (mentioned below) and, finally, electrical cupboard ventilation fans over-ride.

The see-through panel keeps the inverter, isolation transformer, various fuseboxes and the solar controllers – and their various flashing LEDs – on view, while still protected. This used to be covered by a couple of dodgy doors with the poor circuit-breaker panel languishing on one of them under some sort of “photo frame” arrangement in a desperate attempt to keep it out of any and all rain.

All of the switchworkery and battery displays have been moved one step further inside, away from the steps and away from the great outdoors.

The exposed metal cable-tray is a deliberate feature, running the full length of the boat – and I loves it. It will, for even more Red Dwarfery effect, soon enough have some plastic and crinkly pipework dangling from it – forced ventilation to take warm air from around the stove area and to throw it into the shower room and the sleeping cabin. The shower room doubles as a clothes-drying area, so it will have warm air blown in at floor level and the vent in the ceiling to extract the various scents of my laundered boxer shorts (these scents being lemon, lavender, meadow-flowers and curry-breath).


Oh yes – and I took five minutes out to stick up the third smoke/CO alarm! If all three (and a fourth is planned…) were to go off simultaneously then I suspect that the decibels alone would remove all human life from the Cardinal’s interior.

I also took advantage of the flat calm the other day to move the Cardinal about face at his mooring, thus giving me easier access (as in access with a pontoon under my boots) to scrub the rest of the roof and to tart up some of the battle-scars on the gunwales (in my free time). The pointy end is now moored where the more blunt end used to be, and – fortunately, a testament to Northwich Boat Builders’ skill and the quality of the hull – the blunt end moored where the pointy end used to be moored. It’s all very confusin’, I know. In landlubber terms, a three-point turn was performed. Alright, a four point turn was performed; there’s not a lot of room in the marina for this sort of floating tomfoolery.

Moving the Cardinal thus was also an act of calculated cruelty performed upon my fellow marina inmates, in that they all thought – they all hoped – that we were departing for pastures new. Oh, their little crest-fallen faces when I reversed the Cardinal back into his mooring and re-tied our strings. The marina went from full of folk running about with boxes of paper party-hats and crates of beer and fireworks to full of folk sitting on rocks, weeping.

We aim to please.

Which reminds me, I must clean the bathroom. We should aim there too, please.

Chin-chin for the mo’.

S.M.U.M.C.L. membership forms are available from the front desk, or by post from The Department for Time, Space & The Idiotic Placement of Important Dimensions, P.O. Box 3.142ish or more, SWIA 1AA.

IGH on behalf of Cardinal Upgradements & Improvements Limited.


A mascot on the mental brink after a spell in the washing machine…


It was for his own good. He needed a bath. He had six minutes in the twin-tub, six on rinse and six minutes in the spinner. Now all he does is tremble, mutter about “bad hair forever” and stare at me with those accusing eyes. You’d think that I’d tried to drown him or something.


Progress abounding on the Cardinal.

Flooring is going down. Insulation first, a layer of foil and then some nice oak which is what I gots me at a very goodly bargain price. Of course, nowt is square or parallel on a narrowboat, so each piece must be cut to a slightly different length and shape.


It feels great underfoot, and looks a treat.

The shower-room is all but finished (still the soft, sensuous, black rubber flooring to go down sometime, ooh, er, missus). A flick of the light-switch now turns on the red night-vision LEDs, a second flick changes them to bright white. The shower itself now bathes in a neon blue glow, which makes taking a shower just that little bit “Star Trek”.

The red night-vision gizmo means that I really, really don’t have to be fully awake to visit the necessary offices during the night – luxury, eh?


I was going to take a selfie while I was in the shower to show you the lighting effect, but then I realised that you’d all end up looking as though you’d just spent six minutes in the washing machine… so I didn’t. Be grateful.

The washing machine’s home is now finished and trimmed. It stows out of the way in the galley, with an extra worktop as a bonus.


Just awaits the velvet restraining rope to the front so that it doesn’t move out of place as we cross the Atlantic or something.

All of the earlier work that is now unseen, the wiring, the changes to the layout, all feel as though they are coming together, and the end is in sight.

It’s either that, or there’s a train heading towards me in the tunnel.

Galley gets more attention next, with cupboard doors being removed and re-trimmed so that the shelves are open-plan basket cases (wibble moo fribble de-clomp, Nanny…) and mayhap a change to the main worktop surface. Ancient refrigerator will be leaving me for pastures new, to be replaced by two separate 12v coolboxes.

The gaps where the mush-er-oom vents used to be in the roof are being plugged with the “Breezy” beasties, with two-speed fans and the facility to close them off altogether if necessary…


Panels are going up over the … traditional… carvings that currently adorn the various stem, stern and side doors.


The furniture on these is being simplified, with better bolts, better locks and “medieval” style locking bars that just drop into place. Simples is the way to go, methinks – it suits my brain.

Duh-huh, uhuh.

Aside from that, it’s been a relaxing week. Today, by way of cont-er-ast, has been an unseasonally summerish festival of waking up when I felt like it, coffee, toast – and of emptying “Thunderbird Two”, filling the Cardinal’s water tank, a couple of hours of laundry and some writing of this blog post. Domesticus abounding. Later I may iron a shirt or six, and arrange my boxer-shorts into colour order with a sub-order of gusset-itchiness. I’ll tackle rolling the socks tomorrow (that’s a job I find best on Sundays, when I know that lots of religious folk are probably praying). Socks are dangerous things.

Right now though the ripples on the water are slapping at the Cardinal’s bow, the sun is shining and I am contemplating (vegan) cherry pie and (vegan) custard for tiffin, just as a restorative, to keep my vitaminous levels and suchlike up. One mustn’t allow one’s various sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic humours to drop, must one?

Certainly not during the season of frists and frellow mootfulness…


All suggestions as to how to calm the mascot down and bring him back from the verge gratefully received.

A stiff brandy, perhaps?



Navigation lights, LED tunnel light, auto-Taser antennae and satellite link system installed…


in place of the old tunnel light…


I just hope that the red and the green are on the correct sides!

Yet to be fully hitched to the systems but all is in place now. New LED tunnel light, set slightly upwards and to the right… Rinky dinky navigation lights… Satellite link in its wee box… and probably the most giggle-inducing bit of all, two motorised auto-tracking 80,000 volt Tasers as part of the security system. Trigger any of the sensors and, if you’re within ten metres of the boat, I get an option on my mobile phone (whether aboard or abroad) to lay you out and fry your hairy arse with a wee bolt of electrickery through the aether. I cannot believe that these things (the two black “antennae”) are legal, but it seems so.

Tally ruddy ho, chocks away, let me see your ne’er do well eyeballs (and suchlike) swivel.

Similar systems to be fitted to the rear, on a rack with the rear nav light, anchor light, some uber-floodlights, the horn and two more antennae.

Decks painted and new anti-slip rubber mat laid everywhere including in the engine bay, a manky little dark cupboard opened up into a six-shelf bookshelf (and the corridor made wider as an added benefit) – and some of the interior visual embellishments are up and running, such as these two over my bunk…


Yes, yes, they do rather betray my sixties and seventies upbringing, with bearded, sandal-wearing music teachers and Hillman Imps and Caramac chocolate bars and “It’s frothy, baby!” Cresta in glass bottles… but I love ’em.

Loads and loads and loads done, loads still to do, but we’re getting there. If only I could stop adding jobs to the list…

Coal storage, new fire surround, fifteen feet more of bookshelf, somewhere to hide my OAP shopping trolley…

How many ellipsesisies can a chap use in one blog post?

Right, I must away and fill in the firearms licence questionnaire for the Tasers. There’s a paragraph in there about a cheque or Postal Order for ten shillings or something, payable to Her Majesty’s Constabulary. Then I must away to my bunk to contemplate negative space within an organic juxtaposition to strong polychromatic statements in portrait format. Or I may just dribble over some splodges of orange and grey and yellow.



Take that, yabbastads.

I love the smell of hot, smoking peasant.




The (Margot & Todd) “Dinette” is now the “Ruddy Library, what, eh?” #narrowboat #pretentiousness #moi


Well, very nearly.

What was a four-seater eating area and a two-person bed is fast becoming a two-person eating area, a redesigned solid-as-a-rock desk, a single bed… with all of the storage it had before PLUS a 75″ x 15″ locker (lined out in carpet) AND a 75″ x 15″ bookshelf with four extra 230v sockets, two USB charging sockets and two 12v sockets. There’s even space underneath for my vast heap of shoes and walking boots to be slung out of sight.

It’s official.

If in the nineteen-seventies it was acceptable for Margot and Todd to call the original a “dinette” then I am damned sure that in the twenty-teens or whatever we’re currently in it is acceptable for me to refer to the space from now on as “The Library”!

Alright, the boat’s far too young to have known what a “dinette” was, but give it a day or two and there’ll be 75″ of luvverly books lined up on that shelf.


These little 12v beasties (just like car accessory sockets) will allow me to run the laptop and similar stuff without needing the inverter to be on – two ampere-ish things an hour saved there that my solar panels can better direct elsewhere.

The table is an entirely new lump of oak-faced ply, varnished by yours truly (out in the mid-day sun – tee-hee, boing, boing, wibble moo fribble de-clomp I think it’s sunstroke, m’lud…) and it will soon be stood standing on a new leg and with new bracing structures so that, unlike the old table, this one stays upright and doesn’t collapse under the weight of a small but lovingly prepared bucket of gin and tonic.

The old table will be going on to do service in the engine bay, as backing for some more panels of soundproofing. Waste not, etcetera, etcetera.

In other news, the Bro did some extremely brave things with the Cardinal’s engine yesterday, including adjusting something called “the tappets”. I gave him (non-alcoholic) drinks, fetched any tools called for and tried to leave him to it so as not to break his concentration.

Henceforth he shall officially be known as ‘Gunga Din’.


Both alternators have been tickled and prodded and suchlike and now treat the warning light on the instrument panel with the proper respect, and they both charge away like healthy charging things, one to the starter battery, one to the domestic batteries.

The (very small, semi-trad) rear deck is now painted and ready for new rubber mat to go down, the well deck will follow suit asap or sooner while this dry spell lasts.

A million (possibly two million) other small jobs have been done, and I am ready for my bed. Oh sheesh, am I ever ready for my bed. I love my bed. If arranging oneself horizontally and sleeping the sleep that only those with a 120db “pig and whistle” snore can truly know were an Olympic event, then I’d be bringing home a swag-bag full of gold medals for England about now.

Sitting down and doing sod-all. Why isn’t that an Olympic event? It’s just as difficult to do really properly as is runnin’ or jumpin’ or throwin’ things.

I shall start a petition to see which of the more accessible, everyday sports we can get included in the next Olympic games.

Re-wiring, re-plumbing and re-woodworking a narrowboat for one, that should be an Olympic event.

We are, now, gently sliding on our raggedy arses down the “almost there” side of the moutainous list of jobs. The end (of the beginning) beckons. Wheeeeee!

Cutting down the cushions to fit the new reduced seating and bed space also beckons.

How’s your needlework, Hutson?

Passable, Gunga Din, passable. I remember once in Poonah, having to sew new uniforms for the regiment’s elephant brigade…