Moving the boat on two Aspirin and a banana #autumn #narrowboat #england

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Autumn has most definitely arrived on England’s canals.

As has Hurricane Wolfbane or Typhoon Doris or whatever this one is called. Nothing at all on the scale of the winds in other parts of the world, praise be to Boreas, Zephyrus, Notus and Eurus, with honourable mentions to Kaikias, Apeliotes and Thrascias, but 45mph gusts are quite enough, thank you.


Whether the reds, golds, coppers and greens of every description will still be on the trees in the morning depends, I suppose, on how well the trees are still holding onto their leaves. So too, whether the trees are still there in the morning depends on how well they are still holding onto their leaves! Tis a fine line.

The Cardinal and I have moved again, we came to towards the end of our “timus maximus in any one locationus” and this morning I woke up, got up, bolted on the waggle-stick and moved us. For the most part (and although short) it was a civilised move, although a couple of times gaps in the hedgerow allowed blasts of wind through, trying to catch out the helmsman.

I thought it best done this morning when a spot of real windypops is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. So, we are now out in the middle of nowhere, away from large trees (and hopefully away from falling branches), and I have the Cardinal on some very stout ropes indeed.

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The over-enthusiastic hedgerow that we are moored under will give us nothing in the way of protection from the breezes, since they are blowing right up the Cardinal’s stern.

We have travelled some two-point-four miles through three locks today, and navigational activity was ceased when, in the late morning, the winds began to get properly … discomthrobulationist. Boats with crews may have wandered on, but the Cardinal has only one Jack-of-all-trades, and I had no intention of spending half the afternoon trying to persuade the Cardinal towards the towpath against the wind, dangling ineffectually from the centre-line like some sort of idiot. I’ll stop early, and keep what little dignity I have, thank you.

I took advantage of the early stop to take a wander forwards to see what was coming. It seems to be mostly autumn coming, from what I could see, the season when Nature goes off greens and yellows and begins to use the red, gold and brown crayons a little more.

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Tis also the season when Farmer Giles et al hack back all of the hedgerows in their tender care, using only the most delicate of machinery… [extracts tongue from sarcastic cheek]… These things really are crude and nasty in operation.

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At this time of year every farmer in the land is in the most enormous rush, and they don’t really even care who is close about when they are playing with these flying-splinter-machines.

This farmer is also not, by the looks of it, much of one for company. I’ve never seen such enthusiastic barbed-wire before. Again, horrible stuff. It’s a quiet field next to a quiet canal in a quiet area, so why the need for such discouragements is beyond me.

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It’s not all fortified farms and vicious defences though in England’s green and pleasant countryside. Along the way I spotted a gap through the hedgerow and what looks like a very unofficial pathway worn down by the feet of many a miscreant afoot. Even in this stormy weather the pathway seemed to glow with a fine pinkish-red light.

I didn’t explore.

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The farmer or one of his cohorts was doubtless down there with a double-barrelled discouragement device loaded with grape and chain. I have no intention of being fed to the pigs.

As I sit here on our new moorings this evening the rain is beating down upon the roof and the wind is beginning to practice howling in the minor keys. At least, I hope that it’s the wind practicing howling. Perhaps it’s the farmer?

The best winds are predicted here for the very early wee hours of tomorrow morning. Since they are blowing on our stern, and the first compartment at the stern is my cabin, I will probably know all about them when they arrive. The rain has a most uncommon beat this evening for some reason. It sounds as though to be falling in teacup-sized drops – not in vast numbers of drops, but making a most strange sound on the roof. Odd rain to match the generally odd weather that passes for “normal” these strange days.

That which I could not remove from the roof has been tied down with bungee cords. The rudder is lashed to stop it moving and clonking in the wind. There are extra lashings on the rear tonneau cover, the least I could do for it since it will be bearing the brunt if the winds do arrive. We are tied as tightly as I could get the ropes, and on chains.

The stove is lit and glowing, the boat is warmed through. I have a Klingon warrior’s portion of a very hot curry inside me. The Cardinal’s battery bank was fully charged today during our move so I have lights, internet, music or DVDs if the whim takes me. The plan is to stay here tomorrow and wait for the less breezy weather on Friday, mayhap to move again then. Six more locks (two singles and the four of Hurleston) will see the Cardinal and I off the Llangollen and back onto the main line Shropshire Union canal. Once there I must seek out the fuel boat and buy diesel, and the first winter-stash of coal and kindling.

I think, perhaps, that I shall oik a banket out of one of the lockers, just in case in the middle of tonight I need to supplement the duvet… I intend to retire there very soon, to listen to the wind, the rain and all of the creaking, clonking noises that the Cardinal makes when he’s rocking gently at his moorings. The canals are quite enough for me, I don’t think that I could take the scale of this translated to what must happen on wider waters, or – perish the thought – actually at sea!

Not all of nature is going to be playing tug’o’war over leaves tonight, one or two of the trees have been sensible and have already let their leaves turn brown and crisp. Sensible things. Hmm. Brown and crisp. I wonder if I should toast some toast before crawling into my pit?

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Hot toast and Marmite, just the thing for Hurricane Wolfbane or Typhoon Doris or Spot-of-a-breeze-Eric.

What was that? Oh – the two Aspirin and a banana? That was breakfast this morning. If you peel the banana and arrange it on a plate with the Aspirin you can make a smiley face (albeit with piggy eyes). Just the thing for a very swift brekkers when in a rush, and I was in a rush.

Well, wherever you are, I hope that you’ve got the hatches battened down and the wheel properly lashed and the powder barrels sealed with tar.

I have.

Chin-chin from a very autumnal England this evening.


Ian H.


    1. I put it all down to the farmer’s insecurities, leapt the fence and gave his tractor a hug. Now I know that I _can outrun a tractor, even one driven by an angry farmer and one brandishing a hedge-trimming device… 😉


  1. I read this at 04.00am not being able to sleep with the wind rattling my kitchen door giving an authenticity to this piece. I couldn’t imagine how it must feel when you have to think about securing your living space inside and out from expected weather conditions, nevermind having to move it to a safer place! We tend to miss these things here in the middle-lands and can only hope that friends are safe wherever they are! Stay safe trusty sailor and baton down your hatches!

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    1. All present and correct here – and whatever it was that hit the roof at 0400hrs doesn’t seem to have been anything of mine (or the Cardinal’s), and must have continued flying on its way! Very windy indeed, but less so for the moment now. Hope all is swelligant with you, ma’am, and that your roof tiles are all in place! 😉


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