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…



Eating the sun while it cooks me alive #narrowboat #solar


Feed, my little ones, feed…

Yesterday was ridiculously, disgustingly, liver-churningly hot and humid, and today is predicted and looks likely to be even more foul. I do solemnly swear and affirm that if just one more short-shorted, belly-button-revealing-t-shirted, manky-footed-Croc-sporting person wobbles on at me about how “isn’t it lovely?” and “gorgeous weather” I will exercise my cricket-bat on their brain-casing. It’s not lovely, it’s inhuman, even in the shade. Worse than that, it’s un-English! So, quite frankly, are some of the “sights” that this weather brings out – truly, what has been seen cannot be unseen, no matter how much one’s brain vomits. My retinas still bear the greasy after-image shadow of that… lady, the one wearing what looked like a pair of bloke’s too-small budgie-smugglers, the fringe she’d cut off her great-grandmother’s never-washed net curtains and, where human skin ought to have been, a layer of whipped Factor-50, cellulite, bum-fluff and self-deception.

Yes, I am well aware that I don’t look good either – so that’s why I keep a respectable layer between my “oh-my-good-gods-is-that-even-human” body and Her Majesty’s public!

Just to give you a smidgen of what this weather brings out, here’s a photo of a dead rat’s arse.


Yesterday was so hot that even the plague-rats were leaping into the canal and drowning themselves. Note the lovely oily scum that had settled around this one, floating past yesterday evening. Note to self: never, not never, don’t ever fall in…

Still, being the stalwarts (Stalinist warts?) that we are, the Bro and I got the extra domestic solar panel mounted and wired in. There are now three one-hundred and thirty-five watt panels on there hooked up to a controller designed to keep the domestic batteries happy. Towards the blunt end is a single thirty-watt panel that has been given a separate controller and the assigned the task of keeping the starter battery in Olympic form. If I were to bung my solar-powered torch (possibly the world’s greatest technological oxymoron) and my solar-powered DAB radio on the roof too then I have no fewer than six solar panels gobbling up the sun’s effluence.

Serious confession time. The sun scares me. Honestly, it does. It’s a chuffing great ball of nuclear nonsense, it’s wholly eight light-minutes away, and it can – at the drop of a summer cloud – make my life unworkable. I just can’t do “heat”, and by heat I mean anything much over 63°F with a pleasant breeze and some tree-rustled shade. When, as today in England, it’s in the nineties, all that I can do is to sit and stare at my feet. I can’t walk, I can’t talk and I certainly can’t work. Even my laptop hates it – the fans, as of 08:40hrs, are on high-alert and 50,000rpm.


Yestereve’s relief of Mafeking. Um, I mean “sun-set”, yestereve’s sun-set.

No-one else seems worried. If the sun were, for example, just one light-minute closer how would we ever get our Pimms chilled? Don’t tell me that hot and humid is lovely, and that a tropical island is some putative “paradise” – they’re all Hell.

Consider this if you will. If you were to grab the keys to your Toyota Priapus Hybrid or whatever it is that you drive and head towards the sun at 70mph it would only take some one million two hundred and twenty thousand or so hours of constant driving to get there.

That’s far too close, even if it would necessitate listening to one or two of the CDs in the car twice.

Nota bene: if you wish to know, then paradise, such as it may be, is actually a small, desolate and windswept island somewhere on the Atlantic coast of northern England or even, damn it, Scotchland.😉

Anyway, so alright already with the horror stories, what else have you done this week, eh?

Well, we’ve begun to fit the first of the soundproofing. Wasn’t that just the noisiest job this side of gas-testing the brass section of a Yorkshire-based orchestra. Fourteen holes to drill just for this, the smallest hatch – five for the bolts that hold up the 18mm marine-ply and nine to pin the soundproofing to it. My apologies to the neighbours in the marina (but there’s more, much more to come before things quieten down)…


When fitted, the panels have the flavour of a Victorian buttoned-velour seat cushion.


This is the stuff that’s going in – layers of acoustic foam and various densities of rubber (from “doh” to “ug”, one presumes).

Many, many fine sundry items have been going back in place, such as fire blankets and extinguishers. The washing machine now has its own cupboard, tucked up and out of the way under the gunwale in the galley, soon to have its own power supply. The first of the nifty perspex-and-chrome photo-frames has gone onto the cabin wall, and very sleek it looks too (ten quid plus p&p from Amazon, A3 size). The last of the uninvestigated wiring has been investigated and changes planned, ditto the plumbing and new taps.

The final two of the four “Breezies” have gone on the roof in place of the mush-er-oom vents – tiny wee flying saucers, in a neat formation from stem to stern and with teensie-weensy little fans to push air in or out of the Cardinal’s innards. These latter take the place of the punka-wallahs sitting in the corners with fans tied to their toes. I am an equal opportunities employer, and have given them all a guinea in redundancy money, a letter of reference and the same opportunity to catch a bus back to Poonah from the stop outside the marina.


Batteries not included, although, if they were, my solar panels could now charge them up within nano-seconds.

It is now 09:15hrs and I am already sitting here with a damp flannel on my head and one foot in a bucket of water. Today may very well be cancelled due to inclemencies.

I daren’t even go out – that woman with the stretchy budgie-smugglers might be out there again. It’s just possible that with this heat and with Chinese-manufacture elastic having a tendency to give up the struggle when over-loaded the ensemble may have ridden even further up into areas of interest only to gynaecologists, bacteriologists and aliens with probes…

No, much better that I stay indoors, lie on the floor and think about penguins and ice-cubes and lovely winter snow-storms.

I’m not strong enough for outdoors in these conditions.

There are jobs abounding on the “still to be done” list. I’ll just have to start working night-shifts.

In the meantime, I will leave you with my best wishes and my fervent hope that the great bird of happiness craps in your beer.



Exits stage left to the sound of water being poured over his pith helmet.

Ian Hutson 2

Erm – I mean right, exits stage right…

Ian Hutson 2a

Oh, sod it. I am very over-warm Hector.


Exits whichever bloody way is coolest…

Oh, how I remember cool. I have fond memories of cool. Cool? Cool? Where are you, Cool? Cool, come home, you fool, all is forgiven.

Stumbling about the Cheshire countryside soon after sparrow-fart


The skeleton of a Vulcan Bomber, picked clean by feral sheep and field-marmosets in a field in Cheshire.

Body took brain on a walk yesterday morning. Brain didn’t want to go, but cabin-fever loomed and body prevailed, insisting upon at least a brief sashay and a short shuffle in the open air. If nothing else, said body, it keeps that musty smell a little at bay.

Anyway, what did we spy on our perambulations together, but the eerie sight of the skeleton of a Vulcan bomber.

It must be the annual Vulcan Bomber migration season again, and I suppose that this one just hadn’t eaten enough to see it through the long, long flight from Stoke Poges to Mablethorpe, or something, and fell out of formation. Once on land of course they are almost immediately seen to by feral sheep and field-marmosets, and the bones are picked clean.


An R.A.F. Avro Vulcan Bomber, by Sgt. David S. Nolan, US Air Force (DF-ST-86-11850) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How sad to see something once so dominant brought so low.

The bones will be there for years, I suspect – at least until the next Cold War.

Anyway, the rest of the stroll was relatively uneventful. One of the wheels on my Zimmer began to display a mind of its own. My drip-dry jeans worked wonderfully and hardly left any trail behind me. I suppose it’s just possible that I have misunderstood the directions on the label, and they aren’t intended to be quite so liberating as I think they thunk I thought?

Talking of thinking, I had been toying with the idea of buying Cheshire, but now that I know it’s on the Vulcan migration flight-path, I don’t think I shall. Have you seen the size of the droppings, for one thing? They put seaflaminherongullimots to shame in the poop department.

Work on the Cardinal continues apace, and yesterday he gained a fully-functioning remote isolation switch for the starter battery, courtesy of the Chief Engineer. It makes a nice, satisfying “clunk” when the relay kicks in, means that I can isolate the starter battery from inside and, most importantly, saves some eleventy-three metres of hefty cable which has now been removed from the starter circuit. There’s now very little wire indeed in the engine bay, and such as there is has to stretch on tip-toes to connect what must be connected. It is now a lean, mean, engine machine – with a remote battery isolation switch.

By the time we’ve finished, this boat will be far too posh for me to be seen in.


Meanwhile, the search for the bodies continues in the marina car-park.


If I had to hazard a guess myself, then I’d say that they are digging roughly twenty-seven and a half metres too far due north-east, and two point three metres too far out from the bank, but they won’t be sure of that until they’ve gone down at least one point five metres for the first body, two metres down for the second.

Just a guess.


One of these evenings they’re going to leave the keys in that machine, and then I’ll have some fun.

And I’ll move the bodies again, just to be on the safe side.