Two ferns quivered a little and a teacup was broken in the scullery #England #narrowboat #storms

It is not often that I seem to move in the correct direction. If within ten miles of a hole I can fall into it for no apparent reason. Recently though, the Cardinal and I mooched our way east, off the Llangollen and – unknowingly, incidentally – away from the approach of Ophelia.

Storm Ophelia, now happily “passed on” in every sense was, during her overnight visit, a still cantankerous, still obstreperous and still unpleasant shadow of her former hurricane self. On the edge of her flapping black cloak the Cardinal and I got winds of 50mph, Eire was treated to winds of 118mph, the Welsh coast and Wales within to something in-between. Today, the day after Ophelia’s dying outburst, has dawned with blue sky, fluffy clouds and a light breeze. As all howling harpies do, she has blown herself weak and hoarse and away over the horizon. She will not be mourned.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
That’s the Cardinal towards the top of frame, with Mr & Ms Engine-Freaks moored on our bow, post facto, et al delerium and other pig latin phrases that I am using while trying to not use some of the more pithy words of Anglo-Saxon.

I took a few sensible precautions before her arrival. That which was on the roof of the boat and could not be moved was lashed down. I doubled-up on the moorings, using four lines and six mooring pins – Ophelia was set to blow right across us, off the towpath.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
In the previous storm, a week or two ago, my very heavy gangplank crept across the roof all night – lashed down with a couple of stout bungees all it could do last night was rattle a bit…
Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
Tis a half-dozen of one and six of the other decision whether to leave the rear tonneau cover on. Without it I am relying on the guttering alone to keep the engine bilge dry, with it I have to worry about it flapping around like the sail that it is.
Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
There is no armco here, and no mooring rings, so it’s two ropes either end, six pins (the main two crossed) and a Sainsbury’s carrier bag to alert bumbling idiots. Um, I mean, a Sainsbury’s bag to alert dog-emptiers, walkers and cyclists to the presence of the pins. Yes, yes.

One thing though that I couldn’t legislate for was, having chosen a nice rural and sparsely populated mooring, some engine-running, tooth-achingly twee numpty then mooring stern to bow with the Cardinal… he’s running his engine now. Three hours a day, twice a day, and whatever old lump he has in there, it is heterodyning horribly with my boat windows and panelling. Thrumble thrumble thrumble thrumble…

If only murder were legal.

What? What’s that you say? Thurggle grrgk urrkgh my hands around your throat? Krrgh urgghke ooogphmxyy can’t breathe? Oh, I do beg your pardon, I have no idea how they got there. Do allow me to offer you a windlass to the temple, or perhaps a boat-hook to the forehead instead.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
Yep, that’s them slap bang in front – miles of canal to choose from, and they choose to nuzzle up right next to my boat. Give me strength (and an AK47).

Ophelia’s local winds of 50mph provided some… entertainment, as I listened to my boat creaking and the covers flapping, bouncing around and straining at the lines. In the wee small hours the sheer pressure of the wind against my windows broke a couple of window-catches (they never were of the best design to begin with), and bleary-eyed, boxer-shorted and bemused by the sudden howling draught, I had to fetch my screwdriver set, find the pieces of each catch, reassemble them and screw them back in place. Other than that, I slept the sleep of one who is comfortable in the knowledge that the bodies will never be found.

This is a nice, rural area, deep in the heart of corporately-owned pension fund Cheshire lush dairy farmland. One thing that did surprise me is that the pension fund managers Farmer Giles took the pre-storm lull as an opportunity to cut the nearby field of grass (sadly not that kind), and to leave it in rows, drying out.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
Why this didn’t blow away overnight I have no idea.

It seemed unwise to me, wot wiv such strong winds forecast, but obviously he knew his onions, since it all seems to be there and undisturbed this morning. I really thought that all of this loose grass would be in Russia or Subsidyscovenia or Kent by now. Perhaps, like tornados apparently oft do, the winds of Ophelia skipped over his field, thus be-knobbling his plans for an insurance claim for lost crops? Cynical of me, I know, but as someone once sang, I yam what I yam (and I wasn’t born yesterday).

These moorings are within the sound, not of Bow Bells, but of Railtrack’s offering to transport hereabout, and to the trains of both Local Clatterer Transport Ltd., and Mr Virginal-Branson. I was somewhat embarrassed when photographing the line and a train appeared, doubtless the driver classifying me as some sad train spotter…

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:

These things happen though, and I girded what was left of my persona and carried on, albeit with a sigh.

This is a two-carriage 448-6A1 diesel, the model with the two-two-four wheel arrangement, the undersprung carriage seating and the steam heating system that surveys have discovered to have a “customer satisfaction” rating of just 31.26% when adjusted for seasonal commuters. I noted it in my personal spotting log as a “Category 77-b-3” spotting.

Seriously, if you didn’t know where the canal was then you’d not trip across it hereabouts. The approach is hidden down a farm-access lane, and a CaRT sign on the steps forbids entry to all but those with a smile and a sense of adventure. Silly sods.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
Steps courtesy of the Small Tasks Volunteer Team, apparently, Thank you.

So, here we are now in the day following Ophelia. The grindingly annoying happy boaters on my bow are, as I type, running their four-cylinder, three-injector, two-bearing, single exhaust-pipe engine. Thrumble thrumble thrumble. The Cardinal’s solar panels are burping and farting happily as they feed (SILENTLY!) on the sunshine, and the usual random assortment and tasteless array of coffin-dodging walking enthusiasts, all freshly escaped from some institution or other are plodding past my portholes, each on one or two legs and two or three sticks. Who could have imagined that sales of bobble hats and mountaineering backpacks to the elderly would prove such a lucrative industry? There’s not one of them who couldn’t spend three weeks on the Großglockner, the Zumsteinspitze or the What-Can-The-Matter-Be-Horn without the need to so much as unzip a pocket to refer to their Ray Mears Survival Manual.

I’ve done my walking for the day, I perambulated at dawn – south to check that my favourite canal service area hadn’t been blown away overnight (it hasn’t, thanks be to the Greek and Roman gods), and north to see if Bunbury locks and environs remained (they do, although the lower two sets of lock gates – I’d guess at over a modern “tonne” each – had been blown open by Ophelia. What a windbag she was. Glad to see the back of her, sensible shoes, bustle and all.

The area does, currently, hold one good laugh, although I doubt that many have laughed aloud at it as I did. It’s a lovely boat moored half a mile or so back from the Cardinal.

Give us a kiss, big boy.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
Pucker up, darling – Aunty’s coming in, ready or not.

This is the sort of fender arrangement that will doubtless bring on nightmares of kisses from elderly aunts, dowager duchesses and sundry village spinsters.


Seriously, although I had to wade out a yard or two to get it, it was the best snog I’ve had in years. Rubbery (and, no, I’m making no Japanese mockery), solid and surprisingly warm, quite unlike, for example, a surprised Collie dog or a well-trained Rottweiler.

Right, let’s move on from all of this hunkering down in high winds, and get back to more regular boating life.

Lunch; curry.

Quelle surprise.


Ian H.


  1. Enjoyed that, as usual – loved the lips, so to speak. Us landlubbers have similar experiences; it is one of the Great Mysteries (like why sheep don’t shrink in the rain) why, in a near-empty car park, some wally plonks his/her car next to mine. Invariably, they are full of family and dogs. Thinking about it, the same thing happened at a camp site once as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tis a mystery indeed. I don’t mind a bit of company, but why oh why do I always attract the loonies? I suppose that they do say that birds of a feather flock together – which is worrying. Wheeee wibble moo fribble de-clomp. 😉 In the days when they had such things I found that the best way to get a train carriage all to myself was to wear a bow-tie, a monocle, to smile at everyone and to keep patting the seat next to me…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! “Braved” is perhaps not the correct word – I sort of made my preparations and then retreated under the magic duvet… I do like a nice nuclear-bunker magic protects-from-all-things duvet!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Wind, I have to say, is my least favourite meteorological affliction. Rain I can take, snow, cold, I can even remind myself that heat passes, eventually, but wind? Yuck – it’s just so savage (even the relatively mild winds we get here)!


  2. One down and another to go! Or is that buy one get one free? Storm Brian heading in next week – apparently! Probably chasing Ophelia. Delighted to see you have an actual gangplank (all pirates must I suspect) and I did wonder about all this leaping on and off the boat, impressive though it was! I am in awe of the colours in your photography and how you get such sharp pictures – amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brian? They’re calling the next storm Brian? What’s wrong with Benjamin or Tarquin or Rupert or Sebastian? Please tell me that Eric’s not on the list. Bert, possibly? Horace? Hugo? Who names these thing? 😉 Can we put next week’s storm off for a while, maybe until – oh, May 2018 or something? I’m really all stormed out at the moment…


  3. Why do some humans not understand the unwritten rules that the rest of instinctively get. Like if you are not in a crowd, don’t stand, sit or moor cheek to jowl next to a stranger. I just don’t get them. WHY?????

    I know it’s a lot of work, but I might have been tempted to make a point by moving a hundred yards further on. Because COME ON! Also I’m fairly antisocial and would get a certain glee in making a passive aggressive statement out of it.

    I should probably be more kind… Maybe they are afraid of the dark and/or storms and needed you nearby to wake up in case of nightmares. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know why, they just seem to be oblivious to their own noise-pollution. I had high hopes earlier on this afternoon when Mrs N’Osense untied their stern line… then she tied it back up again, but more neatly. I am having shovel fantasies – I think that I may have to bury the entire boat soon… The engine is running even as I type this. It ran this morning. Mr N’Osense was outside fussing all day, as he has each day, carefully adjusting his solar panels, and now they’re running the engine again – two hours so far! If it hadn’t been so windy – and if now I hadn’t better things to do during today and tomorrow – I really should have moved the Cardinal! 😉 p.s., I have noted the colour scheme, the boat number and name – so that should we chance upon each other again I’ll open the throttles and cruise on by!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Difficult to say really, and doubtless they are, in truth, very nice people. What I’ve seen of them has been their very organised, very one-step-at-a-time routine of centuries for getting on and off the boat, and their sliding past on the towpath looking neither to the left nor to the right, as Mr Caine would say. I don’t think that they interact with the world much – I hope beyond hope that they are very happy and self-sufficient within their own company. Fingers crossed! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.