Horses, insane boat traffic, and venturing forth without a jacket… #narrowboat #england #springtime

Now is the winter of our discount tent made glorious summer by this sun of York…

or some such rubbish. It is certainly not summer yet, but spring sprang today and, having sprung, will doubtless move on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

A couple of days ago it was cold enough in England to make a polar bear shiver, windy enough to blow away the strongest cobweb and either raining or snowing or both. Today, while not exactly bright, there is no wind to speak of, no precipitation and it is too warm for even a thin jacket (I know, I tried).

Even horses have bad-hair days. It’s lanky and greasy and I think that I have split ends – do you think that Vosene would help?

This is why, in England, we look like prize pillocks whenever there’s weather. In a couple of days’ time it is as likely to be back to blizzards and gales, there’s just no telling.

Some of the horses in the field next to the Cardinal still have their jackets on, some are running as I myself love to run in the fields, stark naked and free, as free as a bird.

You lookin’ at me, Kid?

There’s nothing like a good airing of the crevices in the countryside to assist in one’s hygiene routine, although one must be especially careful when vaulting the hedgerows. I can’t do anything over two foot six or with a ditch on either side.

These chaps appear to be eating the carefully and very recently, very brutally, be-hedged hedgerow work of SUMBA, the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch Adopters enclubination. They were chomping away at the thin, green twigs, seemingly both loving and hating the experience.

Hmm… dead hedgerow, my absolute favourite…

This hedgerow is home to a very cute (sadly grey, not red) squirrel chap who bounces back and forth on the cut branches. I does like me squirrel-watching. I know that they’re just tree-climbing rats with big fluffy tails, but they are amusing. No idea how he would describe me, should he be able to see me.

Ouch. Got some stuck between your teeth? Nay, nay…

Indeed, tomorrow is rumoured to be somewhat rainy, so I have taken the opportunity today to do some of that which needs doing.

I lifted the covers on the Cardinal’s engine bay, mopped out a couple of pints of rainwater overflow (which ought to tell you just how heavily it has snowed and rained of late), checked over the engine (oil, water, alternator belts x2, sensor mountings, general wotnots) and given things in there a wipe down with a small but perfectly formed oily rag. There has even been sufficient sunlight today to cheer up the batteries well enough for me to not need to run the engine to charge them, and that’s a lovely thing. I still have hot water in the tank from a couple of days ago, and tomorrow I’ll do something wild such as use the washing machine, so that the engine is doing three tangible tasks at once and the diesel is thus better spent.

Having suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous (‘orrible) “brown” rice for a few days I ventured to stroll along to the chandlery shop of the local marina. Wonder of wonders, cue the Hallelujah Chorus, they had a small sack ofย white rice on the shelves – something decent to go with today’s curry-for-luncheon, curry-for-dinner and a dab of curry behind each ear before bed. The instructions on the “brown” “rice” said to boil it for six hours and then throw it away. They weren’t kidding.

There have been half a dozen or more boats past today. Methinks that perhaps the marina-bound folk are venturing forth. It will be full springtime and then summer soon, and then the Cardinal and I shall be awash with hire-boats and with what I heard someone refer to as “SAS boaters”, the “SAS” referring to Saturday & Sunday…

Talking of venturing forth, with the temperatures this morning being so mild I did enflunginate open the Cardinal’s bow doors and side-hatch, the better to catch the air. It took less than three minutes for a belligerent wasp to find me. Thank you, Nature, thank you very much indeed (Bitch-Cow).

We wrestled a while, he tried to draw his weapon, I got him into a headlock and the whole ugly little scene ended with my boot up hisย Arsenal Villa, him leaving the way he came in but this time in a ballistic arc, and my closing up the doors and hatch again, the better to enjoy my morning coffee in peace.

The dog emptiers are out in force on the towpath, as are the “we haven’t had any exercise since last September” brigade, all trying to make up for six months of sitting solidly on their gluteus maximii all winter.

I do enjoy seeing the dogs, he said, with obvious barb and sarcastic social comment aforethought.

Having released the recent tome, The Dog With The Bakelite Nose, upon the world I am now in the final stages of letting fly the paperback version (awaiting the proof copy to check that the cover artwork works well enough). I am up to my forehead ridges in penning the next book, hopping back and forth between half a dozen plots and scenarios. At the moment I have a couple of my favourite popular scientists running for shelter on a wild and windy moor. They have no idea what is in store for them, but I do…

Two more weeks of “winter mooring rules” whereby I can take advantage of the CaRT-designated limitations of “visitor moorings” and stay for the full, 1995 Waterways Act-enabled, 14 days if I should so desire, without invoking self-appointed officialdom’s ire. Then the Cardinal and I will be back to seeking out the moorings that others, if I may be so bold – theย SAS boaters – generally shun, the moorings more than fifty yards’ stagger from a pub or cafe or car park, the moorings where a chap must bang in a pin or three to moor to rather than just lasso an iron ring.

It has been a long winter, I’ve forgotten what summer is like. Doubtless it will come as a bit of a shock.

Chin-chin for the mo, from me, Cardinal Wolsey and the horses.


    1. Thank you! These horses are cute little devils, when they’re not asleep on their feet they’re rolling in mud or looking for trouble to get into – it’s nice to see. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Flinging is a dying art, sadly. More people ought to fling more things, and then they’d appreciate how much fun it can be. I generally fling caution, often to the wind… ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. I have been following your adventures recently, and much enjoy your blogging style. Very entertaining.

    On an informative note, the mangled hedge looks to me as though someone has attempted to “lay” it. Very badly and unfinished. A well layed hedge is a thing of beauty, a true example of a dying country craft. Eminently practical and stock-proof, a good one has the stems cut part through and layed and intertwined at a shallow angle (not horizontal), and leaning up hill. It is then bound on the top with long pieces of thin hazel or willow that has already been cut from the hedge. The semi-cut stems sprout new growth in the spring and the whole becomes an impenetrable green barrier.

    Whoever mangled your hedge should spend some time in the stocks for crimes against the countryside.

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    1. Thank’ee sir, thank’ee! The hedgerow does look to have had a very brutal hand upon it. Weather, the rumoured apocalypse and my own longevity notwithstanding, I should be up and down this canal in future years, and I’ll report on the hedge’s well-being or otherwise. I have my fingers crossed for it. What worries me is that so many of the trunks & branches are all but completely severed, it will surely struggle for life – I am no expert, I have no expertise in this matter at all, but I would have thought that they ought only to be cut just enough to allow them to be bent into position. All of those exposed wounds worry me too… I am a countryside wuss! ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Thank’ee kindly, sir! Tis much appreciated. The horses are probably staring over the hedge at the Cardinal and thinking about how their great-great-grandad used to have tow things like that around, up and down the canals! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Springlike emanations from the climate are always welcome, even if not reliable. I feel a bit bad for the horse all bundled up. I mean just when the days get enjoyable, he’s under the wool covering. Not fair. Not fair at all.

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    1. He probably feels like the one kid sent to school in duffle coat, balaclava and mittens. Perhaps he has a weak chest or something and needs the warmth? He’ll be laughing in a day or two when we’re back to snow… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. The horse in the coat is most definitely a horse with character. The hedging looks to be very, very brutal to me, a lot of the trunks and branches that have been chopped to bend them over are barely attached at all. Maybe it is all supposed to die off and just be a framework for new growth? Seems weird to me, but I am no expert. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. These pictures are unbelievable and how do you get a horse to pose for you like that? You obviously speak their language. What to you say, I imagine they have no concept of ‘cheese’, maybe you just shout ‘hey’ since I imagine they don’t spell that well either. I gave up opening windows, well that is until microsoft upgraded.

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    1. I grunt and squeak and squawk like the animals… like Mr Donelittle. Seriously, I am still working on horses. They do like an idiot talking to them, but I haven’t chanced upon the correct tone or subject matter yet. Ducks I can manage, all you have to do with ducks is to click your tongue as your approach and combine that with angling your body away from them so that they don’t feel threatened by your approach (then you spear them and roast them for dinner). ๐Ÿ™‚

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