Buying coal in the month of May #narrowboat #boating #canal

Mr Stove remains steadfastly in service.

Spring sprang and was immediately Tasered and locked away. Summer isn’t due to begin hereabouts until some fluffy, woolly date in June. June is an exciting month. In either June or July I am released from my longjohns so that they may be returned to my tailor for cleaning and repairs, or to be updated to the latest in re lace & buckle fashions.

Removing my longjohns from me requires a long soak in a bath of Turpentine.

Damn, no sooner have I begun this blog entry than I have turned and accelerated down some dark sartorial cul-de-sac.

A “dark, sartorial cul-de-sac” sounds very much as though it ought to be an item of emergency/medical underclothing worn by gentlemen who must of social necessity be seen to be out and about in the Scottish “kilt” but who nonetheless do not wish to leave the crown jewels to the mercy of high winds.

Moving on…

We indeed mooched on a little a few days ago, the Cardinal and I. Not far, it’s not that sort of season, really, but along via a waterpoint, down Cholmondeston lock, via the services of Venetian Chandlery and out into “Windy Alley”. My progress through the lock was perfectly timed, no sooner had I worked the Cardinal through, descended the ladder and engaged “full steam ahead” to take us out of the lock than a boat hove into view, wishing to go up the lock. I was thus saved having to re-moor and go back to close the bottom gates, they were saved the need to moor and go to open them. With a hey, and a ho, and a hey-nonny-no, out and in without much (further) ado we both could go.

I like Windy Alley as a place to moor because it has relatively wide horizons, the farmland is flat and the aspect relatively inoffensive. The concomitant disadvantage of course is that, if it is breezy elsewhere, then in these moorings it is very windy. The day in question dawned dull, dreary, drizzly and relatively wind-free. We haven’t mooched far because I really can’t be Rs’d at the moment.

For one thing (the word “thing” used here in the Quatermass sense) there are boats about in numbers akin to the flies on a politician’s thinking-gland and, worse yet, I seem to have accidentally synchronised myself with the moochings of the herd.

The Moo Chings of the Herd. Some sort of ancient Chinese method of divination involving the observation of cattle?

In short, to wit, and – as usual – to not put too fine a point on it (although I do have the necessary rasp should a finer point be required), I find myself in the iron grip of the waterborne version of the Supermarket Car-Park Syndrome.

In the words of China’s finest scribe, Shakespeare, where so e’re I goeth, there followeth and mooreth the [quiet canal] equivalent-eth of the Hoi-eth and the Polloi-eth. Three boats, one of which is abandoned, is a nice neighbourhood, but then my beloved humans always begin to fill in the gaps.

A highly-respectable, “non-Hackney” distance twixt moorers.
Nuff said. It begins…

The weekend approaches, and we shall soon be sternly bow to bow again, as well as stern to stern, bow to stern and stern to bow.

I love humans, really I do, but they are dreadfully high in cholesterol and pc-fats, which is why I try to limit myself to one or two in a month, heavy on the side-salad.

There are two thousand miles of navigable canal and river in England, you’d think that I’d be able to get just one thousand nine-hundred and ninety-nine of those to myself, wouldn’t you? Is it really so much to ask for? 😉 I simply don’t have the “Meerkat gene”. Some days I wish that I had; I might be a nicer person for it.

Ce sera serum. C’est la guerrilla. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme shoes.

[I am effluent in pig-Spainish and in conversational French.]

It’s all go though, really.

I just opened the side-hatch to shake a fist at and swear at a passing boat of my friendly acquaintance only for them to kindly advise me that, having moored a quarter of a nautical canal league farther on from me they found themselves overnight inundated with mice… meeces, mousekind.

Perhaps this explains the boldness of Mr Field/Dor-mouse of a recent posting, out in the mid-day sun like an Englishman and quite unconcerned at the presence of humans? We have had low temperatures over winter, but they have not been sustained for long periods, the season was hot/cold/freezing/thawed/warm/wet/windy and sometimes the same the next day.

Are we in for some Rodent Armageddon?

I do hope not.

Workmen have been busy too. Not with nesting and producing hundreds of bald-tailed, squeaky offspring (although… perhaps…), but with removing the other abandoned boat, the one that has been gently decaying up above Cholmondeston lock for some time.

You can see the spoor of the Canal Rozzers’ latest warning notice fluttering in the breeze on the side of the boat. I fear from the age, type and condition of the vessel that it hath but-th a short timeth to live, and will end in the knacker’s yard with the boat-breaker’s knife to its throat afore long. I know that they shoot horses, but do they stun old boats before they kill them?

Removal of an abandoned boat.

Quite why they are using a dinky dinghy in reverse to tow the wee beastie to its fate I could not say. Doubtless they are per-fess-ionals and have their raisins. It’s not the heaviest of vessels, you could tow it with a reasonably good-quality pair of gentleman’s trouser braces.

It had been there long enough for the “dog emptiers” to use it as a repository for their carefully bagged parcels of Fido-poop.

It always saddens me to see such boats. Once upon a time they were all someone’s pride and joy.

Now, sniffle, if you’ll please to excuse me, in spite of there being enough sunshine today to keep the solar panels and boat batteries happy, I must away and stoke Mr Stove again. We are currently burning the replacement coal that I bought after burning the coal that I thought would be stashed away in readiness for autumn…

Still, it’s an ill wind that blows in the hood (which is why Duffle Coats come with that semi-lethal drawstring, and the toggles). Eastern Europe or China or wherever it is that “we” bulk-buy our coal from in these post-Thatcher decades will be pleased.


Ian H.


  1. The wee beasties go where the food is. Perhaps that lad in question basted himself overlong in essence of beastie-food and they took him up on his generous offer.


  2. Concerning news about the upcoming rodent invasion. I would suggest adopting a cat but I think I recall you saying you were not a cat fan in a previous post.
    Did they actually climb into the boat of your neighbor? That’s pretty bold.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently so. I can’t help but imagine a long line of mousekind scurrying up the mooring ropes, balancing their suitcases and trying not to slip…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew that there would be a good raisin for it! 🙂 Even for such a lightweight as the poor beastie being recovered that dinghy did seem to be under-powered – a stout chap in a rowing boat might have done as well after a hearty breakfast.

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