New nuts, new bolts, old-fashioned biscuits


A short trip to the nice chaps at Aqueduct Marina to acquire bolts of various sizes, some of those peculiar nuts with the nylon inserts – the ones that rarely if ever come undone – and a packet or two of biscuits, combined with an arrival of the Bro bearing the fabrications of a new mount for the oil-pressure sensor and there we were. There I was, back in the engine bay. Grunting. Wheezing. Creaking.

Grunting. Wheezing. Creaking. Sounds like a firm of solicitors with wood-panelled offices in some market town, staffed with dusty clerks with ink-pens. Grunting Wheezing & Creaking (Deceased), Solicitors & Swearers of Oaths by Royal Appointment. Open whenever the local inn is not.

I am out of practice with being back where I was, in the engine bay. DIY is fun enough when performed on dry land, but on a boat DIY is, by tradition, performed upside down, back to front and with much goofiness aforethought. To wit, I spent yesterday either straddling my nice big Isuzu engine like some overweight, bandy-legged Colossus in Springtime, or I spent my time lying face-down on top of my nice big Isuzu engine, cracking my sternum and spreading my ribs to all four points of the anatomical compass. Either way I looked like a right plonker. My feet, being size 11, spent the day splayed because of the shape of the swim. I used muscles that I didn’t even know I’d had fitted and, if my backside wasn’t stuck on the Mikuni central-heating boiler then it was wrapped around the engine exhaust like two part-baked cottage-loaves huddled in the cold around a warm water-pipe. At times, had I broken wind, it would merely have sounded like an avant-garde musician tuning up a 3″ exhaust-pipe, pre-concert.

In the end though, and believe me, it pains me to use the phrase “the end”, the oil-pressure sensor was remounted not on its original proprietary single p-clip-with-bolt, but on two mini-girders with four bolts and four lock-nuts. Upon starting the Cardinal’s thump-thump engine there was just the briefest of pauses – just long enough to give birth to worry – and then the hitherto troublesome gauge sprang into life and registered – Greek and Roman gods be praised – a spiffing 75psi (“cold”).

Ruddy phew! The Bro left in time to return to his cold, dank, artist’s garret before the landlord locked the gates and released the guard dogs – but he left with the grin of a job well done all about his face.

I went up the wooden staircase to Bedfordshire at nursery o’clock yesterday evening. My brain didn’t need sleep, but my body was demanding it. I love my bed. My bed loves me. We slept together like oddly-shaped, one sentient one not, meerkat cubs, right through to you-ought-to-be-ashamed-of-yourself o’clock this morning.

I couldn’t have moved the Cardinal yesterday if I’d tried. So, instead, we moved today. Another “test” distance, with me watching the gauges like a hawk with a preternatural interest in engine gauges. Odd, I warrant you, but there you go, that’s me.

The Bruiser Brother Swans visited me.


There’s Bruiser in the lead, followed by Gnasher and Crunch.

They got confused.


Then they left.

I navigated the Cardinal just over a mile further up the Shropshire Union canal, and then we called it quits for the day, since I wanted to do some more sitting down and some more “nothing”.

Tomorrow, or the day after, we’ll move again.

There’s such a crowd here, I almost didn’t know where to moor.


The Cardinal and I are almost back where we were a whole cycle of the Moon ago, not far from the new-cue-lar bunker place. Same old bridge, just the other side of it and facing in das oppositen direction, if you’ll pardon my foreign.

I’ve read two more books since last I blogged, taken delivery of four more (three narrowboaty ones and an Inspector George Gently) – and steamed some nice new spuds and stuff with mint and things for luncheon. It’s all go, you know, when we’re not actually going, and even then there’s quite a lot of go.

Passed one snotty B on our way up the cut from there to here. I raised a cheery wave and offered air-hair-lair, as you do. She glanced, twitched a disapproving (blue, permed) eyebrow and sniffed, telling me all that I needed to know about her and the silver windlass that’s been lodged in her rectum since the day she was born to parents called “Brasso” and “Mushroom Vent”.

I smiled again, just to annoy, and thought dark thoughts about whether she would fall in and sink or float if I were to whip-crack her on the buttocks with my centre-line as we completed our passing manoeuvre.

They do say that you don’t regret the things that you do in life, just the things that you don’t do, but on reflection (and advice from the family solicitors), on this occasion, tempting though it was, not whip-cracking the up-tight misery was the better part of my decision. She’ll never know how close she came.

Unless she reads this blog, of course. 😉

Perhaps she was having a bad day. Perhaps her favourite race-horse had lost at its last outing, or had died, or something. Perhaps her daughters, Daphne, Clementine and Chlamydia weren’t doing as well at Roedean as one had hoped. Perhaps the wind had changed, just when last she had indigestion and was stifling a belch (for that was her expression).

Being cheerful’s not compulsory. Should it ever become so I would be in trouble.

Anyway, there’s the news. The Cardinal’s minor wotnot is repaired. We have moved and we’ll move again in short order. There are miserable people on the canals every bit as much as there are on land (quelle surprise). I’ve had lunch (no photos) and I remain, from tip to toe, in sore need of some (more) sitting (and lying) down, just until the feeling of having been trampled by cows go away.

Talking of which, why the cows in the first photograph? Why, if it comes to that, the geese? Well, just because. Rather bucolic and rather splendid they were, too. Does anyone else find it very disconcerting, the way that cows make eye contact and lock on? I’m never sure if they are about to start an argument with me or a fascinating conversation.

Geese, on the other hand (and you should probably wash your hand afterwards), are just very silly creatures indeed.

Right, well I don’t know about you chaps, but I’m all for another plate of warmed comestibles, a mug or two of chai, the next good book to read – and as little immediate activity as may be possible.

Oh yes – the biscuits? Rich Tea and Ginger Nuts. I know how to live. Unless you’re in the mood for a Digestive or a nice Nice, there’s nothing to beat Rich Tea and Ginger Nuts.



Ian H.


  1. Congratulations on the amending of the gadgetry in the engine room.

    I must caution you on your attitude toward geese. Geese are the devil’s spawn. DO NOT TRUST THEM. Look them in the eye at all times and NEVER show weakness. They will attack. Usually if they consider you weak. Stand tall and sneer while looking them in the eye. Or face the swarmed attack when you accidentally drop a biscuit. Or merely because their tiny brains randomly switched to ragey feathers mode. They will show no mercy. It’s possible English Geese are nicer than Canadian Geese that lord it over us here in North America, but I have my doubts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the sage warning! I shall at all times in future carry with me a goose-feather quilt, and should any geese turn belligerent I will brandish it at them and then they will know fear… 🙂

      There were a pair of swans in the marina last year, and they thought that they owned the place, including all of the pathways. By the time I left I had taught them to slip quietly into the water whenever I approached! I did that by never giving in to them and by lots hissing and of flapping of my coat. Doubtless I provided hours of entertainment to the wussier element of humans watching. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’ee sir, thank’ee! Since writing this I have had official representation from the cows in the photograph. Basically, not to put too fine a point on it, I now understand that the reason cows make eye contact and hold it is “classified” and on a “need to know basis”. The information is not to be had at my pay-grade. Oh well, I did try… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great answer!! The cows were possessed by aliens who escaped Area 51 and Homeland Security won’t share the Intel!


  2. Ah, the Cardinal is keeping you both young and in shape it seems. Doing all this just for your benefit. I noticed that all along the canals you travel are places to moor. Some nicely done with mowed grass and picnic tables with grills. Who pays for theses spots and who is responsible for the upkeep? They seem open to everyone so is there a monthly fee for boaters? Also what about shore power hook ups and waste tank emptying? Another grand post of the adverturous life of a Boating Man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Scottie! Good to hear from you sir.

      It’s… complicated. For the boat to be on the canal I pay a licence fee each year, and that covers some of the costs of the system. The rest is made up of grants from organisations to promote the use of the towpaths – cycling and wildlife and general wotnot, and that will cover another portion of the upkeep. A vast amount of the upkeep is done by volunteer groups – each canal has its own volunteer society, and it is they who provide the seats and some of the signs and the mooring rings. The folk who take the licence fee do the major works, maintaining the locks and bridges and general water-tightness of the canals.

      The Cardinal hasn’t seen shore power since we left the marina in early March – that’s why I love my solar panels so much. It’s diesel for moving and somtimes hot water or heating, wood and coal for the stove (and some cooking), LPG bottles for the cooker (oven/burners/grill) and solar for everything else from lighting to laptop, from shower pumps to toothbrush recharging.

      For water (domestic as well as potable) I visit either marinas (where I get charged) or “official” service areas, where it’s included in the licence fee. I’ve just paid my licence fee for the next year – my bank account will be very, very depressed for a long time! Same arrangements for toilet emptying and rubbish/recycling – marinas or service areas.

      The roving “fuel boats” (of earlier posts) also provide all of these services and more – diesel, gas, kindling, coal, some do toilet waste disposal, even ropes, fenders and wotnot – the only thing that they can’t supply is water to fill the Cardinal’s 540 litre tank!

      Some of the canals are “visitor” areas with mooring rings, and these have, generally, a limit of 48 hours on staying. Anywhere safe and not causing inconvenience along the whole canal network is fair game though – if there are no rings or armco to moor to then I knock in big steel pins and tie to those. It truly is an amazing arrangement. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it. In many respects your arrangements are far better than the on land equivalents. I had large tanks on our 40.4 foot RV. I emptied my gray water tank about every four days when possible because two showers a day plus dishes and other things can fill a tank fast if you are not in a place to empty. I could easily go double or triple that on the black water. We did try to see how long our tank fresh water tank would last with normal use. We got almost six days, would have gotten more if we had been frugal with the water. I had two propane gas tanks for the furnace, stove, oven and water heater ( The water heater also could run on DC or AC current ). However the capacities mean little if no place to dump the tanks and get water and gas. We could stop in most welcome centers on the highways, they sometimes have a dump station. RV parks are supposed to let you dump at their stations even if you don’t rent a lot, almost all lots have electric , water and dump facilities on each lot. Most parks though dislike to let you dump if you do not pay a fee or for a night as it is an expense for them. As for electric when away from land power we had batteries which recharged from the truck. My big truck could also power everything . I think that is about it. I loved it and would gladly go back to that life 🙂 even with the tank dumping and stuff, but Ron did not like RV living and has refused all attempts to return to that lifestyle. 😦 Hugs


  3. Well done with the mechanical mending! I’m sure that Ulysses and Captain Cook had to stop off occasionally to examine their nuts….and bolts. Pleased to hear you have learnt some restraint when faced with the native travellers, shame there wasn’t a photo though, I’m sure the lady would have posed for you jut like the other cows did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do hope that she’s “cheered” up by now, wherever she is. The human frame can only take so much puckering before it creates its own black-hole effect and disappears like the Cheshire Cat. Mind you, this IS Cheshire… I wonder… 🙂


    1. Thank you! It is a relief to see the gauge reading again – at the back of my mind I was worrying about the oil pump. It’s reassuring to be moving again – even if I will spend a disproportionate amount of time watching the dials for a while! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes, I must admit, I wonder about myself too! My earlier life just hasn’t prepared me physically and mentally for sitting on engines while bobbing around on the water… 🙂


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