Mad ducks and Englishmen go out in the midday snow #narrowboat #england #winter

It would appear that I made an amazingly good decision in moving the Cardinal and, necessarily thus, myself, to this new location to sit out “The Beast From The East” and its head-on collision with Storm “Emma”. Cold we have in bucketloads with a wind-chill of “ye gods, I can’t feel anything below the waist – or above it”. Wind we have by the barrel, for it is difficult to have a significant wind-chill without wind. The gusts are, rather like my IQ, in the low forties. Snow though has, largely, passed us by. We’ve had only a couple of inches of the old white stuff (so far…) and most of that has gone. Better yet, the snow that we did get here was that powdery, dry stuff that you Johnny Foreigners often get (while ours is more generally soggy, wet, half-frozen, half-defrosted and, oftentimes, yellow). When I have ventured forth to clean off my solar panels (all hail the solar panels) all it’s taken is a quick brush down. Luxury, pure luxury.

I do wonder what drakes do with their, um, their… little duck cojones when paddling or walking about in weather such as this. You certainly wouldn’t see a brass monkey braving these conditions, properly fearful of dropping a clanger if they did.

Misunderstand me not, it is winter here and will be for some time to come. It’s colder than a politician’s heart, and the cold is that seeping, creeping, bone-chilling cold that bears little relation to the reading on the thermometer. The Cardinal is rocking about with each gust, and in that photograph above you can see the old powdery nonsense blowing over the ice.

Mr Stove is working around the clock, and I have notified him via internal memo that he may eat whatever he wishes to eat and in such quantities, for the moment, as he desires. Rather like Frankenstein’s monster in his early days, Mr Stove likes to be fed and cleaned every two or three hours overnight.

Mr Stove and I are fortunate in this matter to have the brave souls of the fuel boat “nb Halsall” out and about, breaking ice and delivering. Tis much appreciated.

The outdoor cellar before their visit:

Not as serious as it might appear – the Cardinal’s main coal cellar is inside. Only in winter do I like to keep the outdoor cellar stocked too.

The outdoor cellar after their visit:

Bags of coal! No, seriously – bags of coal. Coal and kindling.

I’ve gone for a brand called “Red” this time, after the recent experiments. It seemed to burn better than the others (in their new formulations), and although it is not certified as “Smokeless”, the world can kiss my Arsenal Villa are playing well again, are they not?

Yestereve, before clambering into my hammock to hibernate, I made myself some toast (lashings of Marmite, the food of the gods). It was only as I was munching the last crust and licking crumbs from my feeding dish that I realised – that was the first LPG that I had used all day. Coffee, breakfast, lunch, din-dins – all cooked on the stove-top, using heat that would otherwise have gone either largely unnoticed or to waste. Splendid stuff.

This morning, doubtless emboldened by my surfeit of toasted nutrients, I decided to try one of those “selfie” things that all of the young folk are talking about on the world wide wireless.

Say “cheese”, Gromit. STINKING BISHOP! One of those new-fangled “selfies”.

I don’t think that I have quite grasped the mechanics yet though.

Then I thought that I could practice on my legs, but it turns out that my legs are in revolt and I have lost not only my lower-limb mojo but also all traces of leggery-elegance and presence. Once upon a time I could, without the slightest effort, adopt the stance of Mr J Wayne (after he’d got off his horse and relaxed for a while) and of others with whom one would not meddle inadvisedly. Not so this season for me. I think that the three attempts below look more like “I don’t give a damn”, “Ooh, get me – I’m in the Army now, on sentry duty” and “About to lose my mind and launch into the Hopak, forgetting the plastic knees”.

Legs best described as – and, quite frankly, happiest when – “akimbo”.

I gave up, cleaned off the solar panels again and went back aboard to put on a curry for today’s lunch.

Even though they laughed at me, I didn’t curry the ducks.

My feet are cold. I told you that we ought to have migrated.

They have enough problems of their own at the moment, especially the drakes.

Emergency take-off procedures.

The bridge is looking a little more wintery today than it has been. I shall simply say that of all the possible names for moorings, “Slow Down Moorings” has got to be the most popular, and the least imaginative. Everybody, everywhere calls their moorings “Slow Down” – except for the few that are christened “Dead Slow Moorings”.

To the notice-makers I say simply this. Punctuate, people, punctuate or expect to be ridiculed.

Slow Down Moorings. What a silly name for moorings.

So, what have I told you in this over-lengthy post? Not a lot, except that winter is all around, I have coal, my legs look like something sawn off a pub piano, drakes feel the cold too and there are moorings nearby called “Slow Down Moorings”.

Isn’t that enough?

Oh – and I hope that you like the new layout (I hope that the layout works!) – prompted by complaints from the cheap seats about the white-on-black text of the previous layout’s “comment” section. Is that racerist? I don’t know. Anyway, difficult to read if you’re on drugs, apparently, and I hadn’t given the matter any thought before. Well, now I have. 😉

Chin-chin, and BBBBRRRRRRR!

Ian H., Admiral.


  1. Someone else who can’t master the art of the selfie, I tried once and got a headless corpse! Love the duck pics but it does look cold.I can see they had a better chance than the pigeon this week on my bird back, standing on the ice and beaking it in the hopes it might give forth water. I have not know cold like this, it reminds me of The Day After Tomorrow, a film I tend to watch in the summertime. Keep the homefires burning Admiral!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Currently burning through the last half of a sack of (largely useless) “Supertherm” (which is, in point of fact, nothing of the sort – “Undertherm” might be more apposite) and then Mr Stove is promised six sacks of the (so far) much better “Red”, a coal manufactured by and for the people (I assume). Never before, in the field of human commenting, have so many brackets, been used, with, so many, commas… 🙂

      Today’s wildlife so far – one grebe, one squirrel.


    1. Thanks! It’s a layer with the filter applied over the original photo and then some detail of the boat revealed. It sort of reflects the weather during the delivery – very, very windy (and cold and wintery)! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’ee kindly!

      I’m always in awe of wildlife, it just gets on with it in winter. Tiny, feathery things hide themselves away somewhere in minus horrible Celsius and gale force winds – even the moles dig fresh holes! My contribution to the season is to wrap my fingers around a long line of hot coffee mugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Is your tanks ( portable water, grey water ) heat tape wrapped and insulated? Your lines? I know our RV had those things. We did not need them in Florida but had we gone into the frozen north such as you have, they would have been much needed. Stay warm. Hope the ash from Mr. Stove is not too great for you to handle. Do you add it to the towpath? Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Scottie, they don’t have heating tapes – at the moment, but they will by next year. After this, my first full winter (and it’s been a wintery one so far!) I now have a (fortunately short) list of jobs to do! So far I’ve kept the stove going 24/7, kept some expansion-room the cold water tank for any ice (and I’m sure there’s been some!), run the pump to move what’s in the pipes once in a while, and made sure that heat gets everywhere the boat needs it before I think about where I need it… There’s antifreeze in everything else, and I run both engine and heating before a really cold spell to give them an extra chance. So far, so good… 🙂

      At these moorings I can put the cold ash straight into the services bins (just a bit of a walk away), but often it’s added to the hard-core on the towpath where it wriggles in, settles down and disappears into the fabric overnight.

      I’ve just been reading about and watching video of Holyhead (which is in this corner of the country) – almost everything there sunk or wrecked by Force 12 winds, horrible to see. Glad that I am inland waterways only!

      Hope all is swelligant with you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, much easier to read now, thank you.

    Still snowing and gusting here, I am fed up with it now, where should I complain?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is all going on long past its sell-by date, isn’t it? I’ve sent a letter to the Times newspaper expressing my disappointment and asking for immediate improvements to be made. I don’t suppose that anything will be done.

      Dear Sirs,
      I am writing with regard to the weather in Cheshire. Two named storms being purchased and used simultaneously seems to me to indicate a certain profligacy with regard to tax-payers’ and rate-payers’ money. One storm would most surely have been quite sufficient. I demand that an explanation be forthcoming, and that approporiate refunds in re the surplus Meteorological element be issued at your earliest convenience.
      I do not call for the dismissal of the person responsible, since I am positive that this will have been a genuine administrative or policy error, but they ought to be disciplined. A spell in the stocks would seem to me to be an appropriate level of punishment, with perhaps a light whipping and a poke up the nostril with a sharp stick.
      I remain your humble etcetera etcetera,
      Quite Miffed of Tunbridge Wells & Environs.
      [Name and address withheld]

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Very happy to see your post today! Like to know, you aren’t frozen stiff and all that…..

    Mmmm, think the ‘techy young’ do ‘selfies’ on their ‘smart phones.’ Don’t have a ‘smart phone’ so, I take all pics with a little old point and shoot camera. To do ‘selfies’ with them, one needs to find a reflecting surface. You did that. Then one needs to hold the camera away from the face, while looking in the camera viewing thing _and_ at the reflecting surface. (A mirror makes this much easier)

    OK, you move your eyes from the reflecting surface, to the camera…. Making sure camera doesn’t obscure your wonderful features. Then, no you aren’t done yet! Then you attempt to Look-With-Eyes, in the direction of the camera.<—Very important! Since I have been told, that to just have a pic, with eyes not looking in camera, is……….. Not good.

    Soooo…. Once you have all these maneuvers 'down pat,' you can proceed to take at least 50 pictures. With my luck, you will find at least one in the 50, which doesn't make you gaggggg toooo much. Needless to say, I am not really pleased with my attempts. Maybe one, in every 5 years, will make me happy.

    Gold Stars to you, if you actually _read_ this whole comment!!!!!! 🙂

    Stay safe and warm. So glad the fuel got to you!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never understood how people take photographs on phones – do they have extra-long cords so that they can take them outside? Does one click for the operator or what? If I make a trunk call can I take a long-distance selfie? It’s all so very confusin’.

      Seriously, I resisted for years and years and only ever carried a mobile that made phone calls and nothing else. Of late I have finally changed to a “smart” phone – and still all that I ever use it for is to make the very occasional phone call (when I can get a signal)!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad you got your fuel! Lovely photographs. I particularly like the way you embellished the first one, it looks like an old Japanese wood-block print. I bet the fuel boat people would love to see it, once they have thawed out. If that seems like winter weather, you should try Lincolnshire again. (just add punctuation as required) ;-))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How do, Missus! The photo of the fuel boat is a quickly doctored on with two layers blended – the arty-f’arty one processed with the waves and wotnot, and then parts deleted to reveal the more ordinary boat. I like the effect, but must stop myself from using it too often. 😉

      The wind here has picked up again nicely and the boat and I are bouncing around nicely. It’s always so much better when boat and I bounce up and down on the mini-wavelets together, it looks very odd when we do it separately. Next winter I am definitely going to buy and live in some sort of “onesie” outfit!


    1. Thank you – and I am glad that it seems to be working! I just hadn’t thought the other one through. This one seems to be nice and simple. I like nice and simple, it feels like home to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Layout makes the images stand out (and matches the frozen snowy weather).
    Winter around boats and water are a whole different experience. ( nice pictures, though) Glad you’re stocked well, and in a good spot. (Lots of dead palms here that have survived other longer winters. Sad.)
    Got a kick out of the leg selfies. Stay warm and safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Boom boom! There’s something weird about the cold here at the moment – it’s packing more of a punch than is usual! Proper Siberian cold, I suppose, instead of the watered-down home-grown stuff… It’s quite fun as I type this, the wind has picked up again, and the boat is bouncing around very nicely. Of course, it’s just possible that my mooring lines have come free and I have drifted out into the English Channel, but I’m not about to open the blinds and put the deck lights on to see, just in case… 🙂

      [Note to self – prepare for the gendarmerie knocking in the morning. Excusez moi but je avez drifted here overnight from L’Angleterre. Is this by any chancez Calais? Je demandez mon phone call a la British Consulate.]

      Liked by 2 people

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