A small pond on my tonneau (and I think that I caught a touch of the “the sunstroke” yesterday) #narrowboat #boating #England

What may I say in re the putative touch of the sun except that my ancestors obviously walked southwards to help populate England, not northwards. I can get sunburnt under a hundred-watt bulb. Ten minutes under a sodium streetlight leaves me dizzy.

They – Her Maj’s Met Office wallahs – forecast rain for overnight last night, and for daytime today. It rained. Oh boy, did it rain. It RAINED. We had a spot of thunder and lightning too which, while as weak as a kitten and hardly impressive, was nonetheless a pleasing thing.

The rain was, I think, sent by Mr Universe (not that one) to test my efforts with the latest jobbie ticked off my list – ungrunging the mounts for the plank and the poles. It’s all very exciting.

Part-way through un-grunging the mountings for the pole rack &etc. Fun fun fun ’til Daddy took the Bosch drill and wire-brush away.

There are two of those brass (monstrosities) and, it transpired, eight bolts each, someone having drilled and tapped thready-thready holes for them in the steel of the boat. Why they fitted such things and in such a manner, I do not know. Probably because “it’s always been done that way” or some other, pathetic, excuse. Still, the holes are there so unless I fabricate and fit blanking plates I may as well use them. Brass and I have a well-balanced hate-hate relationship. Can’t stand the stuff and, if you ever see me holding a tin of Brasso in my hand, it will only be because I am drinking it.

Sometimes on the canals of Ing-ger-lund Chilled Brasso, ice and a slice, hold the umbrella and the salad, in a straight glass please recommends itself as the ideal cocktail.

Yonder sunstroke diagnosis arises from the evidence of my feeling like a large pile of poodle poo this morning, this in spite of a splendid night’s sleep in the most comfortable place on the planet (my cabin, my bed). I have consulted with Asclepius at the Temple of Medicine, he cast the runes for me and prescribed a day of intensive “naff all”.

Yep, although admittedly this sensor is quite close to the upper reaches of the Cardinal’s main cabin. Far, far in excess of Hutson-Tolerable Degrees.

This I shall do.

If there is one thing that I am ruddy good at doing, tis “naff all”.

Were “I don’t know – poke him with a stick and see if he’s still breathing” an Olympic event then I could bring home Gold for England once every four years.

Yes, there was that much sunshine here yesterday, and I was unwise enough to allow my jobs to keep me out in the evil rays. At least my Vitamin D tank is brimmed, I suppose.

The mounts are now back in place, wire brush-ed and treat-ed and top-coat-ed, with sealant abounding and each bolt nestling in dollops of the thickest of thick grease. I had a slight discomnobulation in re-fitting the second of these brass monstrosities pole-rack stand thingies because it transpires that they have been made to Victorian or Edwardian “Canal Heyday” standards, not churned out by machine, so the bolt-holes only line up correctly with the stands in one particular orientation… and by this time a chap and his tools were liberally covered in sealant and grease, adding to the degree of difficulty that the judges had to consider in awarding their 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.7 1.2 (French Judge) 2.3 (German Judge) 5.9 5.9 5.9 marks.

Damned raindrops left over from last night’s semi-monsoonery, on my fresh paintwork. Ho et le hum.

Raindrops keep falling on my head fresh paintwork. Damn it.

There were enough hints that yesterday was to be of the “knotted handkerchief on head required” variety, but yesterday, as today, I was below par in my ability to brain and I missed the signs.

Yesterday even at dawn gave plenty of clues as to its intentions. I ought to have listened, and prepared myself a bucket of water to sit in while reading a cooling book.

There was a little bit of f*rting and f*ddling about, some fun furtling, with wiring for the new “Bluetooth” gizmo. The “old” controller display now works full-time for the engine starter battery instead of the domestic batteries, waste not want not, and it is definitely my long-felt wont to want not. The new little R.K.O. radio aerial has been nailed to the wall – um, I mean, screwed in place, with its wiring all neatly routed and tied back. As neatly as may be, anyway. So far tis working very well. It’s quite fun – and useful – to be able to interrogate my solar panels and batteries via the magic of the airwaves. Wonderful wireless.

Beep – beep beep beep – SKYNET connected…

Yes indeed, my dongle does have its earrings in slightly askew – but the unit itself is as horizontal as it gets on a narrowboat, bouncing around on the ocean waves, and mounting him thus allowed me to use to pre-existing screw holes. No idea what was there afore. A device for getting Boy Scouts out of bargee horse shoes, probably.

If you really need a definitive answer you’ll have to ask Harry H. Corbett.

Well, tis Sunday morning and the rain has stopped. Country parsons are flitting up and down the lanes and the hedgerows like black-clad wraiths desperately searching for a church, or possibly for missing choirboys. The bells will be calling the faithful to Mr God’s ego-fest events soon enough.

The Hoi and the Polloi have awoken and there are boats scooting back and forth. In accordance with Standard Procedure though on such a soggy, cool morning, the “have you met the missus?” is hiding inside, eschewing her usual place as some sort of monumental (dis-)figurehead on the well deck, and Mr “Well you wanted the bloody boat, not me” is generally standing in sombre, equally gargoyle-esque isolation at the tiller. The dogs are probably quite sensibly still in their baskets, or in the engine bay re-racking their screwdrivers and spanners after “morning checks boy, go do morning checks for me – here’s an old rag for when you dip the oil. Good boy! There’s a Bonio in it for you.”

[Aforementioned dog offering a two-paw bras d’honneur and muttering, lifting the engine cover and disappearing reluctantly down the Black Hole of Calcutta once again, the Haynes Manual of Basic Narrowboat Maintenance betwixt his teeth…]

There is some argument about what Mankind’s greatest invention or inventions may be, but from the evidence cruising past me on the canals I would venture that somewhere up near the top of the list – with the wheel, antibiotics and Marmite – is the steel bulkhead. What else would allow these happily married couples to so effectively separate themselves for a cooling-off period, and thus prevent, or at least discourage, bitchicide or bastardicide?

The steel bulkhead, in all of its variations including the bricks & mortar version: indoors and the flip-side of indoors; out in the garden shed, I think, but who cares?, has, in my opinion, never been given the recognition that it deserves.

But what would I know about anything, eh?

The spirit of risky adventure may still be found even on these soggy Sunday mornings.

Why use the winding hole three or four hundred yards up the cut when you can instead simply jam your boat between towpath and reed-covered offside bank?

Narrowboat demonstrating the importance of just six inches. It didn’t work, they had to extricate themselves and use the winding hole three or four hundred yards up ahead… Twas fun to watch, though (since it wasn’t me and my boat jammed between towpath and offside).

So near and yet so far. After much poling (poleing? use of the barge-pole…) defeat was admitted and the official winding hole given a go.

The grey boat with the fancy scroll-work on the bow moored up ahead (photo above) managed, by dint of unreasonable static physical existence, to find itself banged and scraped by an Anglo Welsh hire-boat being towed by chaps from Anglo-Welsh with another Anglo-Welsh boat. A quarter of a mile of straight canal; thunk, clonk, bang, clatter. So much for “perfessionals” eh?

At least they missed the Cardinal.

The grey boat is, it must be said, to be awarded Seven De-Merit Points because they have moored up leaving the centre-line in place – and, which is wot are worserer – taut… tsk tsk and tsk. 😉

I think I’ll mooch us on again tomorrow. Services are called for (boat services, not Sunday services – no country parsons involved), and tis that I want to be elsewhere in order to have more comestibles delivered.

Until then I plan on taking my cue from the day itself, limp and insipid and half-hearted as it (so far) is; daylight but without gusto, neither cold nor warm, neither wet nor dry.

There must be a book on the Cardinal’s shelves somewhere that I have yet to read.

[Reaches for The Bonobo and the Atheist…]

Mayhap back in bed although – much agin the rules of the old-fashioned NHS Matron – upon the covers rather than within. In bed, Mr Hutson, or in your chair, but never on your bed. How are your bowels today? &etc.

Skippedee do dah, skip a whole day, what a wonderful feeling, I do hope that my now soggy-again mooring pins are in to stay.

Hopefully wherever you are, whomsoever you may be, you have your feet up on a teapot, a rug over your knees and something interesting with three-hundred pages in your hand.

Keep on keeping on, and give ’em all Hell whenever you may.

Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H., and Cardinal W. &etc.


  1. ‘…The Bonobo and the Atheist…’ Heh, heh, heh … and assorted ‘snerks’ for the ijit trying to impress, someone, with his rotating prowess. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That shot of the wedged boat is a hoot! It never pays to take the lazy route. It’s always less embarrassing to take the harder one. But at least he provided you and us wish some morning schadenfreude.

    Do you use Kindle quite a bit since your space is so limited, or do you just make the used book shops into a library system like my mom used to? She would go in, buy several armloads full of books and sell back the armloads she had bought the previous trip. (she, of course, kept those that were worthy) I tried to point out that the library will do that for free. But I think she liked the transnational nature of it. You, naturally, are not able to establish a relationship with any particular library so I guess the used book shop method would be excellent.

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    1. They did indeed. Once I can get over the steam pressure built up by spending weeks (on and off!) painting up the gunwales only to be rammed and scraped with the paint barely dry by some … thing… who doesn’t care, the passing boats are rather grand entertainment.

      I have tried reading on Kindle but it just doesn’t work for me. Ninety-nine percent of my books are paper, with a dreary preference for hardback – once read a book is either a keeper or a bung back to the charity shop. One or two I must confess – of the “international Best Seller recommended by eleven out of ten Guardian readers” – have been used as firelighters… it’s only a mortal sin if the book is good. The Cardinal has something like thirty-six feet of bookshelf, so I have a reasonably large juggling space, for a narrowboat. More is planned. 🙂

      Your Mum had the right idea – good one. Libraries in Ing-ger-lund are sad and depressing places in this Era of Mammon – I can’t join any because I can’t get to them often enough (or for long enough periods), but they almost all have rack upon rack of books withdrawn from the shelves and put on sale for silly money – I’ve seen 10p a book in one library. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sorry that the Libraries are not up to snuff in England. I’m lucky to live in a city with a thriving library system. Recently named the best in the US. (a few years ago, but an honor worth noting). They even do ebooks. I’m partial to buying used library books for my keeper books. The library book binding requirements used to be stringent but seem to have fallen off.

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  3. Was half-way through with thoughts agrowing when I came upon ‘Haynes manual’ in my thinking that a lot of your (extremely entertaining) post details about the building, fitting and maintaining of the Cardinal would make a wonderful (extremely entertaining) manual for those serious people who inhabit the canal system – or want to but need some really good ideas about it. A sort of cross between a Narrowboat directory of boating, hello sailor tips on navigation and Mrs Beeton household living/cooking guide. Some of your ingenius ideas even I can give merit to – oh and complete with pictures – excellent!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aye, that is indeed a large part of the flavour of the narrowboaty book I am still revising and re-scribbling! The canals unmasked – the dirt, the gritty-nitty, the things that other narrowboaty people just don’t tell you… Fingers crossed. I’ll either have a successful book on my hands or be lynched one dark evening. 🙂


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