Preparations for England’s micro ice-age #narrowboat #england #winter

The meteorologisters are rushing around flinging entrails in the air and predicting that England will freeze in some rush of Siberian air for the next two weeks. Yes, well, we’ve all heard them cry wolf before. Even so, I have made some small preparations, just in case they speak the truth. The Cardinal and I have bunkered, serviced and moved on to a place with more about it should the ice-floes flow.


Yesterday while at our previous moorings, I organised a delivery of groceries from Sainsingworry’s Supermarket. I have fresh vegetables – including the magical “broccoli” and “dark green, crinkly cabbage” – so shan’t starve for at least six or seven days yet.

Yonder water-tank is full (possibly inadvisedly, should the temperatures plummet before I have time to use some and put some expansion room in the tank for ice…). The gazunders are empty, there’ll be no “Red light on Cassette Three, Captain” for a while. The galley is free from household rubbish and recycling.

Je suis prepared.

Mr Stove, who has been in his first grumpy mood for some months, has had his chimney flue thumped and swept clean, and I have a selection of not one, not two, but three varieties of coal with which to try to tempt him. He’s halfway through a bag of “Red something or other” and seems to be warming to it (as am I). I notice from the sack though that it is “not authorised for use in smokeless zones” or something, so slap me in irons and call me a Black Maria. Haven’t noticed the Cardinal’s three funnels belching black smoke yet though, so I do wonder if the line dividing “smokeless” from “not smokeless” is perhaps as thin as a government excuse.

I’ve tucked the Cardinal’s arse-end in next to some CaRT-esque work-pontoon (well, three pontoons, all strung together and carefully moored up with blue twine…) just in case someone comes through that bridge at 85mph, loses control of their boat on the ice and is looking for something to ricochet off.


Should they approach from the bow I shall at least have time to dissuade them by using the long nines.

Mind you, if the freeze does happen I could see that pontoon being popular with basking polar bears,  confused penguins and Arctic monkeys lazing about, so my cunning plan may misfire.

My cunning plans usually do.

  • Harpoon  ✓
  • Set of teeth suitable for seal blubber  ✓
  • Blueprints for bijou but comfortable igloo  ✓
  • Whale-oil for lamps  ✓
  • Goose-grease to lather all over myself for insulation  ✓
  • Hi-Vis Longjohns to stop the goose-grease from falling off  ✓
  • Rifle with Laser-sight just in case John Carpenter comes over the horizon in a helicopter, chasing what appears to be a “husky” but is in fact some ravening alien life-form hell-bent on eating my brains  ✓


  • Flame-thrower in case I miss with the rifle ✓

Well you never really know, do you?

I have done all that I can, but have I done enough?

Time alone will tell.

I’ll let you know.


Ian H.


  1. I LOVE the idea of hunkering down for a blizzard and hate the actual boredom and feeling trapped. The idea of hunkering down brings out the feeling of a primitive battle with the elements. All the preparedness.

    But lo, I live a modern life, so my battle mostly consists of cleaning ice off the car and getting cold while doing it. It lacks something compared to your expected battle. You are much closer to the battlefront in the Cardinal.

    I hope to hear of the great battle soon. Stay snug. You sound prepared for the snowmageddon. 😊❄❄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mostly this winter it seems to have been howling gales, and they are a mixed bag. I love the sound, and the being inside, warm and hugging a great book, but I can’t help but worry about my boat’s covers and the odds and sods on the top! I am getting better at the ce sera sera approach, but I am not a natural at it. I remember well the ritual of cleaning off the car’s windows, persuading the inside to de-ice as well sometimes… brrrr!

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    1. Mr Stove is a much happier bunny when the outside temperature plunges (“plunges” in the English weather sense, we’re not talking about walking to the poles or crossing Siberia). He stayed in and happy overnight last night with just a single feed. Everywhere outside this morning is white – just frost. The canal hereabouts though hasn’t frozen over (yet)… 🙂

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    1. Indeed so. I do wonder though about ducks, paddling about on the canal. When it freezes over do they sense it coming and get out at the last moment, thus not being frozen into it, or do they wait until stuck and then wriggle free? I shall have to post watch and find out… 😉

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  2. Three types of coal, you say? Does that mean they burn at three different speeds, quick, slow and oh ffffreezing? Still it’s not the weather to be out there playing card games even without the Arctic Monkeys (you’re okay they aren’t due on tour until June and then start in Dover). When it comes keep clicking the old camera or whatever you do these days to take pictures! Stay cool, I mean warm!

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    1. I am ready with a sharp stick, ready to poke the weather if it comes too close. I didn’t get where I am today by not poking things with a sharp stick.

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