Good morning, star-shine, the Cardinal says ‘Hello’… #narrowboat #boating

[Main photo: sun-a-rise over the Cardinal, 24/08/2019.]

Well, tis noon and I think that I have done for today all that I will be doing – until, perhaps, late evening. From drab and windy and rainy and autumnal Ing-ger-lund has thrown itself into the fiery pit of some weather system not unknown to yonder The Middle-East. At 0500hrs this morning it was borderline too-warm for “shirt-sleeve” weather, and now, in the early afternoon I swear that if there is a “god” (and there most certainly isn’t) that he’s using a magnifying glass to burn us all like bugs on a school playround.

Tis twenty-six or twenty-seven of those new “Celsius” things (some, those cowed by the dictats of Establishment, might know them as “Centigrade”). I prefer to think of them as on the order of eighty Fahrengezundheitings. That’s “chuffing hot” for me and for England.

The light – when I was out and about – changed dramatically. The fields were initially full of frist and mog but Mr Sun, cautious at first, quickly gained the upper hand and burned those off in short order. We began in foggy gloom, were kissed by the first rays from behind trees, lost the light again to a passing cloud, bathed in some delicious shades of  purples and pinks and reds – and are now under some sort of horrible Halogen glare.

A tree pretending in the mist to be a hot-air balloon.

Of particularly pleasing aspect to me was the field that is moored alongside the Cardinal at the moment. The farmer has been rushing hither and thither in not less than fifty tonnes of mechanical clever-dickery, the better to secure his latest crop of silage before the weather changes again. The field looks quite gentle and welcoming, so long as one forgets the forcing of multiple crops in a season and the application of vast quantities of commercial chemical ‘Grow Yabbastard Grow’ by Monsanto Inc.

This looks like sort of field that we used to play in when I was knee-high to chicken-pox, rolling around in the hay and whatever else we’d destroyed. Tis not such though, this field is far too busy being cropped and fed fertiliser and cropped and fed and cropped and fed as fast as the tractors can go. It is Zombie soil, doubtless dreaming of an early death but not being allowed to die.

Less pleasing to me was the continuing attentions of Messrs Cows & Co., in the next field along. Cows have long memories. When I popped my head over the hedgerow (not literally, I didn’t separate it from my body and lob it over-arm or any such thing), just to check on their progress, they were all cool, calm, collected and feeding in the mist.

Cowes in the mist. Um – I mean cows in the mist. Rip, tear, rip, peeeeeeeeeeeee.

A flock of cows [sic] is a noisy thing, even when they’re not hooting (or whatever it is that genetically-mortified country cows do, these days) – there’s a constant tearing of grass and what sounds like the constant splatter from a hosepipe turned on full. This is punctuated by the occasional “whee-plop” of more serious matters. Cows are big animals, when they go they really go.

It wasn’t long (1.967 seconds) before the entire troop came thundering over to offer me threats and belligerence abounding. These are not the expressions of friendly cows.

Here we have Marty Feldman reincarnate, backed up in his (her) authority by the hooded eyes of She-Who-Kicks-First-Kicks-Longest. Bloody terrifying.

At sparrowscratch o’clock I fetched potable water, teas and coffees and cookingery for the direct use of, to supplement my “I am not moving until the Bank Holiday is over” supplies thereof. We have food, we have gazunders, the shower &etc water is well-tanked still, potable wets were all we lacked.

The decorators had been at it again overnight. The Cardinal was covered stem to stern in spider-doilies.


This is the season when I think that perhaps the Cardinal’s mooring ropes are superfluous. Instead of bothering with all of that rope and chains nonsense I ought to just fling a couple of spiders overboard on the towpath side, and tell them to get on with it. We’re attached to dry land in eleventy-hundred different ways, not a knot among them that I recognise.

The nearby marina was slumbering. Actually, quite seriously, I could hear little other than the snoring of those in their boats. Imagine a choir, front row pew of purring cats, back pews of those horsey women from the Home Counties who snort when they larf and you have the measure of it. Once in a while as I tip-toed past on the towpath I think that I heard a bum note or two (someone farting), but the conductor was either not terribly fussy or was allowing certain members of the ensemble to play to their individual strengths with not some little free rein.

Venetian Hire Boats and Chandlery, with Venetian Marina beyond.

In particular, the boat to centre of frame above, canal-side closest to the flag pole, sounded rather as though the occupants were trying to master the skills necessary to extract music from a set of dead bagpipes. Imagine if you will a rhinocerous blowing raspberries and following through with a party kazoo…

Anyway, aural entertainments aside, water was fetched. The day still being merely uncomfortably warm, I then launched into the laundry, and that is now done and is drying with malice and creases-aforethought on the rear deck. In this sun everything will be as stiff as cardboard when I bring it in. I shall have to take a lump-hammer to it to make it fit back into the wardrobes. Fortunately, I have several. Several lump-hammers that is.

Post-laundry the day had just enough remaining before the “halogen horrors” of the noon-ish sun for me to slap a layer of blue top-coat on the Cardinal’s latest measle spots, the ones that I wire-brushed and treated yesterday. I’d like to do more, but if I were to try in this unseasonable nonsense I’d simply end up as a government statistic on a mortuary slab. No; I’m done.

I shall leave you with our pre-apocalyptic sun poking his head around from behind a copse of trees. ‘I say… hair-lair… would anyone mind terribly if I were to expose myself with total abandon all over England? The Sahara’s closed, do you see, and I’ve nowhere else to go… Bzzzzzt nuclear-flash…’

Had I known the excesses that he had in mind for the day I would have bade him sod off back behind the trees, please, Louise.


The Cardinal has fans extracting, blinds down on the sunny-side, bow and stern doors open and solar panels throwing energy into everything that I have. They’ve already had the batteries plausibly in “float” from early morning, have replaced all that I used in doing my laundry, and are amusing themselves with running the refrigeratrix and charging up any and all devices that may need charging up. One must make electrical whoopee while the sun shines.

There’s boat traffic a-plenty passing, all boats crewed by folk who “don’t you just love this blistering sunshine” and wotnot. Incomprehensible creatures all, and burning as they should.

I’ll move again either and or after the weather and the Bank Holiday weekend.

I’m not so green as I am cabbage-looking.

Besides, I’m getting quite a few of the Cardinal’s jobs completed here, why interfere with a winning formula by “doing the boating”?

They’re all insane I tell you, insane. It’s really not dissimilar to The Black Hole of Calcutta out there.

Look at it!

Icarus before the fall.

Those of the people who aren’t test-flying the family rocket are attaching themselves to lawnmower-powered fans and are flying their handkerchiefs into the sun!

The serious mode of flying and the not-so-serious mode, in pleasing aerial juxtaposition.

Save yourselves! All hail the Shaded Spot.

Seriously though the first couple of hours of this chap in his magnificent flying machine were a novelty. Thereafter the entertainment value pales, and it becomes nought more than a buzzing annoyance. I indicated as much to the chap, and he misunderstood my message, thinking instead to fly back and forth over the Cardinal, even closer than before.

How the hecky-heck anyone can experience such apparent joy with a petrol-driven propeller poking out of their ar*se beats me. Each to their own, I suppose. After his hours and hours of flying today he won’t be able to sit down – or still – for a week. That propshaft just has to have chafed something ‘orrible.

Composite photograph of some of the gentleman’s “look at me!” exploits staged for my benefit. The blurred pose to the top of frame is the gentleman demonstrating “oshit stalling speed”.

Oh, how we laughed.

No, but seriously…


Ian H., now available in “Overly-Warm” as well as “Grumpy”.


  1. Love your descriptions. I don’t know why, but your bit about Cows sparked memory of a rhyme we used to recite:
    “The elephant is a bonny bird
    It flits from bough to bough.
    It builds its nest in a rhubarb tree
    And whistles like a cow.”


  2. You are a great advertiser for the beauty of narrow boating in England with those photos. Which when one considers it – is sort of creating your own problems. You mostly wish you and about 5 people you personally approve of, are on all the boats allowed on the canals in all the UK. So, maybe you should stop making it looks so ideally bucolic.

    Except the cows. I normally think they look peaceful, but you do manage to catch them looking sinister. Maybe they see the demon hanging around you that the dogs saw that one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Damn, that motorised handkerchief is back early this morning, and he’s brought company. I shall have to raise the Howitzer.

      You’re quite right about not really advertising the canals. The “boaty life” book that I have in the pipeline keeps being delayed because I want to insert more of the realism – the intense and knife-edge divides between “classes” of boater, the way that two-thirds of folk take it as a challenge and an insult if you say ‘Hello, good morning/afternoon’, that sort of thing. The canals are most definitely a fertile corner of society for “people watching”! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A finer set of photographics I have never seen afore, full of atmospherics, very well done sir! Those cows are looking at you as though they are dubious, they can’t get much chance to view a vegan and I’m not sure they couldn’t quite believe it. I’m sure vegans must smell differently to farmers; dogs know if you are a cat person or a dog person don’t they? Incidentally fine words to go with the pictures, could almost hear the silence (well I did say almost) of the early morning misty moisty morn. Excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that perhaps cows take one look at me and think ‘liver and Chianti’ or ‘that would go nicely, grilled, with some chips and a few mushy peas…’

      I do my best for cows (and other beasts too), really I do, but I don’t think that my efforts are appreciated.


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