North is upside down, two dogs, and one of the Cardinal’s nuts fell off.

It’s finally happened. The Earth’s magnetic core has flipped.

Yesterday was an interesting day.

Updown-side compasses notwithstanding, I have populated this blog with photographs of flowers from a place called “Gunby Hall”. Everyone needs some Spring in their lives, and flowers mean Spring just as surely as Beanz Meanz Heinz. My favourite flowers vary from moment to moment, but regular contenders include pansies, lobelia, buttercups, dandelions, daffydils, mushrooms and the quintessentially English potted amorphophallus titanum. As large flowers go I quite like Oak trees, although the ruddy Chestnut also has a place in my heart.

I know why the compass is upside down. Each morning, following the letter of Admiralty standing orders, I take a reading to ensure that no-one has turned the Cardinal around overnight, and I generally also call for the lead, if you please, to ensure that none of the water below us has been nicked. Yesterday I performed these tasks in reverse, so naturally south moved a bit.

Here are some pretty flowers. Sadly, these are inedible.

Yellowous-Brownus to the rear with some Reddish-Pinkus to the fore. I know my latin names.

Two dogs, I hear you ask? Two dogs indeed. I’ve seen some sights in my life from comets to solar eclipses, from drag queens wrestling with bouncers as they rolled out of nightclubs to Tomahawk missiles flying past at tree-top height. One thing that I had not seen until yesterday was a hire-boat flogging past with Daddy driving the boat, Mummy driving Daddy, Sonny-Jim and little Violet Elizabeth playing on the cruiser stern and two dogs enthusiastically shagging on the roof.

Here are some more pretty flowers.

Scraggypetalpinkuns with blobby centres.

It helps a lot to see some pretty flowers, they can work wonders in the expunging of other, less welcome images.

The only thing that might have added some sense to the 3mph scene would have been a brass band on the well deck staffed entirely by folk of an Amazonian pygmy tribe and dressed in the scarlet of the 53rd Regiment of Foot, perhaps playing the Bolivian National Anthem in double-quick time.

One may only hope that the dogs knew to duck for passing under bridges, and that they reached some sort of mutually agreeable conclusion before the locks at Hack Green.

Here are some more flowers, and a small colonnaded folly with a galvanised roof of the sort that posh folk often have built to sit in and contemplate the nature of reality. We all need to contemplate the nature of reality sometimes.

‘A small but serious folly’ says the guide books at Gunby Hall. This is a coincidence, since that was also my parents’ pet name for me as a child.

So, back to matters more domestic. When not furrowing my brow over the passing scenery yesterday, I was busily engaged in the matter of managing my batteries. The solar panels were performing photo-electric miracles, of course, but the day was of the sort favoured by the Gloomy McGloomarse Clan of Scotland’s Prussian coast, and I calculated that assistance may be required for lead-acid satiety. For the first time since moving on Monday of the previous week, one bunged on the engine with its spinny-spinny alternators. Part of my cunning plan was that this would also provide hot water for some comprehensive personal, much-needed ablutions.

Well, while the starter battery gauges whizzed up to onety-four and a bit volts and some charging activity, the domestic battery gauges continued to feed only from the solar panels. Hmm, methunk, summat are amiss. Summat were indeed. In the Cardinal’s engine room a bolt had come loose, allowing one the alternators to (not)run free, to (not)run wild, to sit about a lot and do sweet Fanita Adams. A spare was procured from the Cardinal’s stores and the mount and alternator reunited and reintroduced to the lash of the fanbelt. Charging commenced and hot water was had by all.

Well, hot water was had by me. I shower alone. Not by choice, you understand, but for humanitarian reasons that would become crystal clear if you ever saw me demonstrating my clumsiness in squirting a bottle of DDT Powder. In my Indian Army days I had been known to aim for my own armpit and yet accidentally de-louse two wholly unprepared Jemadars, a Risaldar-Major and a small but perfectly-formed Acting Lance-Daffadar.

My theory is that it’s a lot to do with my spectacles getting wet whenever I shower. I tried showering once while wearing my pith-helmet, and my aim was much improved, although this could not be implemented as a solution since one’s pith-helmet needs must be removed in order effectively to shampoo one’s ceremonial Barnet Fair.

That image has probably started you trembling again, and so soon after you’d got over the two dogs image too. Here are some more pretty flowers. They toil not, neither do they spin, but they will help to calm your nerves.

Flowerus-Flowerus. These flower when in season and always grow from the soil upwards, unless there are high winds, in which case they may sometimes be found to be horizontal. I am also often to be found to be horizontal when in wind.

If it helps explain matters I should mention that the moon is currently waning gibbous but still at 98.6% and setting low.

We make our own entertainment here on England’s canals.

Well, to be candid, there is very little choice but to do so, since so very few pygmy Amazonian tribes are prepared to make the effort to learn how to play brass instruments these days.

Part of my entertainment was in contemplating my next move. I had planned to visit Dorfolk Hall next, but I wonder if I should leave that a while, since it’s Easter-Loony Weekend, and Dorfolk only opens for something like forty-three minutes on Tuesdays (I kid you not). Perhaps rather than enter some pugilistic contest for moorings in and around Nantwich I’ll head on past and work my way towards the ruins of Beeston Castle instead (over the next couple of weeks or more).

I gravitate towards ruins. Mentally and emotionally, I mean, I don’t find my head and feet swinging like a compass (except, possibly, from the evidence of the sheets, sometimes while asleep). I think it’s because ruins and I have so very much in common.

Must get the maps and guides out and do a spot of planning.


Ian H.


  1. Love your Blog, makes me remember that England is still there somewhere. I lived in Cookham, Berkshire and I took my 2 little boys on walks by the river and they loved to watch the lock open and close. I miss my country so very much and enjoy visiting through your descriptive writing. Lov-er-ly, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’ee ma’am (rhymes with “ham”). England is still here, a little ragged about the edges, a bit flustered and looking his age, but still here. I will do my level best to find the nicest bits within rambling distance of the canal and to show them to you! Many thanks for reading. 😉


  2. Excellent entertainment! I am beginning to wonder at the animal life on the canal system – is it the lapping of the water? Perchance the proximity to wild life that excites? Or maybe it is Spring and the sap riseth with the blood surging and pulsing? Dogs and Ducks and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun, be careful especially taking your annual shower so soon in the year!

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    1. I took a second shower today, with my clothes on. Not quite insane yet – it rained for an hour and a half today. It began ten minutes after I went for a walk, and it finished raining just as I got back! Thank you, England! Soaked to the skin! 😉


    1. Thank’ee, sir! Even the most hum-drum days here have some magic to them! After yesterday though I find that I am using my peripheral vision to do a quick preview before turning my head to take in whatever is floating past!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, beware of shagging dogs to starboard! Gorgeous flowers – your spring is far more advanced than ours!


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