Ice, ice, baby… and the filter on the gene pool is blocked again #narrowboat #England #canal #boating

The Cardinal is well and truly frozen in today, the canal having frozen over during last night, purportedly the coldest night of the winter so far here in Ingerlund – although, modestly, nothing like the polar vortex nonsenses being enjoyed in the trans-Atlantic colonies…

It has been a bright day though, with some sunshine slipping like greased Mexicans through the thin cloud barrier. The sunshine has improved both my mood and, I think, the mood of Cardinal W’s battery bank.


I was out there at the first possible moment, scraping the ice off the solar panels. Sometimes, when they freeze over, the ice (and in this case snow) can be persuaded to slide away in one large and solid sheet. Not so today though, as clearing them required a couple of attempts and some prodding and poking with my patent panel-squeegee.

Yesterday, the day being too everything to even attempt to cruise, I walked ahead. It is indeed a case of ten locks in one gulp, there being nowhere now to moor until immediately after the tenth lock, just before the services in the village of Wheelock.

The village of Wheelock is… well, let’s just say that Wheelock would benefit greatly from a hug and a squeeze (from a JCB and a bulldozer). Picturesque and packed with great places to visit it is not. I must say something positive about Wheelock though, so I shall remark with gratitude upon how it is solid enough to form the edges of the Trent & Mersey canal that runs through (and past) it.

The ducks have all lost their gruntle. The ducks are disgruntled.

Eustace, old chap, aren’t we supposed to be floating on this stuff rather than walking upon it? Shut up, Claud, I can see my reflection – and I’m gorgeous!

Dear Her Majesty’s Meteorological Office, please supply at your earliest opportunity weather sufficient unto melting that which hath frozen, and then a day in which Cardinal and Captain may swoosh themselves through the coming set of locks… yours sincerely, &etc &etc.

It is a tad disconcerting when the canal freezes over so. Whenever I move on the boat, from swinging my twelve small but perfectly formed toes out of my bunk and into my slippers to staggering into the galley to make coffee and to stumbling into the saloon to feed Mr Stove (every two to three hours in these temperatures) I can hear the ice scraping as the boat gently moves.


Belay that “scraping as the boat gently moves”, for something thick do approach. Replace it with “banging and rocking as a pair of selfish idiots force their boat through the ice with not a care for anyone else’s boat…”

Here they are on approach, either trying to crash their way through close to the offside, or else thinking what a clever tactic it is if we first break the ice over there and then charge through past moored boats:

into the offside bushes, reverse and ram, reverse and ram. Oh what fun!

The gentleman at the helm was working the tiller and giving it revs back and forth as the ice sent them at all angles. No idea what madam’s function was. She’s surely facing the wrong way to be the boat’s figurehead, unless… well, there must be an isolated tribe out there somewhere that worships the polyester-covered buttock.

Here they are with a more unpleasant tangent, and lucky both of us that the large plate of 1″ ice decided to move away from my boat.

Lucky him that pure chance allowed him to miss ramming the Cardinal – through no lack of enthusiasm or endeavour on his part – by about 18″.

I learned over the previous two winters that there is no point whatsoever in engaging these folk in conversation. Their needs are paramount, their actions always beyond reproach, they’ve been boating for a million years, they know all that there is to know about everything worth knowing, and I’m just a miserable sod. Everyone else is just a miserable sod, and everyone else knows nothing.

So I went out and engaged them in non-conversation.

Their comment? ‘It’s tough going today…’

No shit, Sherlock.

One or two of the folk on the line of moored boats ahead were less restrained than I in their comments upon their navigation. Some Solace may be had from their missing the stern of that blue and red boat, even if only by maybe a foot or so, and at that purely due to the whim of chance, not any putative “skill” on the part of the arse&^$£%*hole at the tiller.

Just so long as we get where we’re going when we want to go, kneecaps to the rest of the world, eh?

There’s the gentleman using his boat (his boat? an assumption… and we all know what assumptions are the mother of all of…) to clear the ice from the lock entrance so that Ms Figurehead can open the gate. What jolly japes in his hi-vis jacket, aren’t they just having a splendid adventure. I’m sure that they will reach their “must-reach” destination on time today and wondering, as they always wonder at the end of every day, why they’ve been surrounded by miserable people all of their lives.

The Cardinal is made of steel. This cruiser that they rammed their way past is made of fibreglass.

Still afloat when I checked, with no thanks to &etc

The ice is about an inch thick hereabouts.


May they always live in interesting times (old Chinese curse).

May their always not actually be very long at all (old Hutson curse).

Oh well, back to being peacefully frozen in…

Early morning sun glinting off the Cardinal. I knew that he was incandescent for a reason…

I love humans, really I do. Honestly, I love them. Love them to bits. Lots of little bits, preferably, in this case.

Oh it’s no good, I’m not even fooling myself, am I?

Would just one of you sky-fairy gods who are supposed to be out there please take a moment to clean the filter on the gene pool?

Thank you.

Takes a deep, calming breath and reaches for a jar of soothing Vindaloo paste.

Counts backwards in Klingon from ten million.

With luck, by the time the Cardinal and I get moving, this pair will be safely tucked up in some hidden corner of a marina. Probably downing a pint of dry sherry each and wondering whether next to take the motorhome up to Scotland (barging smaller motorhomes out of the middle lane of the motorway as they do, because “it’s tough going” up there) or whether to splurge fifteen quid on a Ryanair flight to their villa in Spain (where they can throw peanuts at the Spanish staff on the golf course and bray about their Brexit-proof investments).

Just sayin’.


Ian H.


  1. Eustace and Claud are going to write strongly worded letters to the Bureau … as soon as Claud has finished with his Narcissus moment. 😀 … I, too, am in favour of ‘tidying up’ the gene pool

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first fifty years of life ought to be served on probation, liable to be cancelled at a moment’s notice… When I am Lord High He-Who (Must Be Obeyed) it will be so. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, no one’s paint job was pristine after they passed. I’m glad you haven’t had Cardinal re-blacked yet. They of course would be the loudest and angriest had anyone scratched their paint. It’s all about them.

    One rather wishes they would hit a patch of ice that was too thick and they would sink like the Titanic. But. That would inconvenience more than just them. I recall it took months to remove the that boat that sank last year. So I guess don’t wish it. OR. Maybe it’s a small hole and they don’t notice and then they sink n their slip at the marina. OK. Fixed it. That’s my wish.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They’re probably propping up the bar in the club in their marina, telling tales of their derring-do to a barman who is considering leaving the barman business to join the army. Any army… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am truly shocked at the actions of those numpties! Is there no way of reporting their actions with a view to fining them heftily? Stay safe m’dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The sound of breaking glass-ier, I do love these in-house movies. Awesome photography once again.Be assured we would only worry about your whereabouts in extreme weather conditions or in the event of rampaging pond-life! Keep the home-stove burning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mr Stove is working his cotton socks off keeping me warm and toasty – and the air-blower snake is blowing warmer air down to the cabin for me in preparation for “lights out”. 😉 Seriously, your concern (anyone’s!) is appreciated!


  5. Captain, so happy to find you safe and sound… well, maybe not sound, but that has been questionable since I read Cheerio! and thanks for the apocalypse. The beauty of the sunrise and your friends, Eustace and Claud, offset the untenable polyester fashion display. Stay warm. Thanks for the update.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All is well in Cardinal W Land – I do need _something to whine about once every few days! Eustace and Claud (and the other members of the gang) did not look happy all day…


    1. Would I laugh? Um, yes, I would. Not nice of me, I know, but I would. Shouldn’t wish that on anyone, really, but it’s difficult in this case… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

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