The Mighty Mooch… Video abounding… #narrowboat #boating #England

This past Monday began in a quite astounding manner, with a weak but confident sun and with no breeze to speak of. Don’t worry though, it spoilt itself comprehensively for the afternoon and evening with the return of high winds and monsoon rains.

My time was up on the then-current moorings, the full weight of Parliament – when Parliament had some weight still, and wasn’t the joke helium-balloon that it is these days – had come upon us in the night in the shape of the 1995 Waterways Act ‘No more than fourteen days in any one place’. Such touchings up to the towpath-side gunwale as were going to happen had happened. Services were called for; water and gazunders and suchlike. Comestibles were desired.

Steam was raised. Paper streamers and a marching bagpipe-band were organised for our departure. A marching-bagpipe band? Can the wild bagpipe be trained to march in step? All ashore that’s remaining ashore, wild and carnivorous wind instruments too.

In Autumn I take on the persona of a human-squirrel hybrid, and take delight (and misplaced comfort) in stashing away edible goods against the day. I don’t actually go out with a wheelbarrow, collecting acorns, I just shop for food more enthusiastically than is usual for me and fill the Cardinal’s galley baskets rather than just stocking them. No car means that I can’t just “pop” anywhere or nip down to Fortnums should I run out of Brandied Bambi Paté or whatever, and winter in especially can sometimes put a limit on the accessibility of even a local charcuterie.

‘Charcuterie? Your butcher?’

‘Nice of you to say so, thank you. I think it’s the new haircut that’s made the difference.’

Yes, yes, they’re all dried and in little jars, but if you think that I am having chuffing window boxes fitted to the Cardinal so that I can grow fresh h-h-h-herbs then you’re mistaken. These will liven up the stove-top veggie stews and wotnot quite nicely, thank you.


Mind you, my plan to add to my stash of pre-baked, irradiated, chemical-laden, long-date naan breads – for days when I really can’t be Arsenal Villa’d baking for myself – came to grief. Sainsbury’s supplied the short-date variety, and they either folded them in half or reduced them to crumbs en route.


Home-delivery packing from this particular “super”market these days appears to be the exclusive province of the chimpanzee. The quality has declined noticeably of late.

But I digress, I am like a hobbit obsessed with his larder, please do accept my apologies.

Anyway. Having risen and noticed the quality of the day I wasted no time in making us ship-shape and ready for a long ocean voyage. For once, I remembered to plant the video camera on the bow (the only place where I may mount it safely, for the present). The plan was forwards a little to Bunbury’s splendid and now almost secret winding hole, back past where we had been moored, through the bridge and to the Service Point at Calveley.

Once fully wellied-up there, onwards via Barbridge and Moorings-Moorings-Moorings Alleyway to a(nother) convenient spot for a van to deliver my groceries… and where, I should add, I could say air hair lair to old chums and – this coming weekend – support the Pizza Boat, which is what are due for a visit. Splendid stuff.

The vids-not-vlogs are, of necessity, of roughly between six and ten minutes each, all “real-time” and with only the more repetitive moments edited unto the scuffed and dull vinyl tiles of the cutting-room floor. This gives you an idea of the true velocities of a (reasonably) well-behaved narrowboat…

I hope that they are of some tattifilarious funnination to you. The total distance covered is about three of the four miles or so that the Cardinal and I enjoyed by way of a mooching cruise, including turning at Bunbury, servicing, the “Doggy-Bark” s-bend bridge, getting ourselves around the right-angle junction at Barbridge and negotiating M-Alley with an oncoming boat to play with.

The waterproof mount of the camera mists up a tad with the change of temperatures, and you do rather get a Dalek’s eye view for some of the footage. I think that it adds a certain je ne sais fnarr-fnarr to procedings. The low sun was rather spectacular, and guess which idiot forgot to lay his (prescription-)sunglasses out in preparation, not remembering that he’d be turning back to cruise directly towards it…

Aside from finding that some kind soul had left the Elsan point at Calveley in a state of damnably disgusting disarray it was a most pleasant cruise-ette.

You’ll see in the video that I do go and tell teacher about the mess – mostly because I do not want to cruise away unto the horizon with anyone thinking that the mess was left by me! I have no idea how anyone could make such a mess and yet live through the experience. At the very least, given the tide-mark up the walls, they must have needed a carbolic shower and a series of precautionary injections against all diseases known to the human rectum. Oh, and whatever they had been wearing, assuming that they were clothed, must surely have required burning.

Some people, eh?

Now, I wonder whether I can fit in another grocery delivery while I am here? That way I could sit and cuddle a comforting kilo of plain flour or something until the weather really turns.


Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies.

Ian H.


  1. Re the mess – wouldn’t life be better without the other humans? it’s so distressing. I spend an inordinate amount of my work life wondering WHY? What could possibly?… I mean there were better options!…. You were given instruction!… Why?
    You have my sympathy.


  2. A very calming experience with the inflight movies (until the first cut out as another powercut shut it down – thanks to the trickeryboard doing stuff in the locality and every time they put the lecky back on wherever they are it sends a surge and my very sensitive trickery box jumps out!!) thanks for these most enjoyable. Loved the turn and have to admit your sailoring has become exeptionally good since those shakey days of first leaving the Marina. Can I ask a personal question? You need not answer, but are you quite a tall person or was that a very short attendant somewhere in my own small range?

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    1. Power cuts? Ooh that took me back to the seventies with the six-hour week or whatever it was and shortages and crises and candles and Mum cooking on the camping stove! Had a five-day power-cut on one farm that I lived on for a few years in Norfolk as a growed-up, that was fun – especially since the water, all of it, was electrically (and locally) pumped.

      I used to be tall in the olden days (I was the only kid in our street without rickets), now I’m just a great lump of a thing. It is annoying (for me, at least) almost all of the time, but also quite handy for the odd occasion when a gorilla is the best form of defence, when I can just expand in all directions and look ugly. Six foot something or other, not considered tall at all in these well-nourished days. 😉

      Half of my improvement in boat control came from learning what not to do, such as cruising in winds! The other half comes from knowing “boat slow” from just “car slow”! Doubtless I annoy a lot of people, but – well, GORILLA! We all do our best, and that’s the best that anyone can hope for. I leave perfection to dogs… 😉


  3. I did enjoy those snippets of cruise. Takes us back 21 years. Only thing different is that the camera is away from the motor so the chug-chug effect is muted.

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    1. I am trying to think of a semi-decent way to mount the camera – or another camera, perhaps – at the stern, but I keep forgetting that this is one of the items on my “to do” list! I must admit, I was being particularly gentle in those videos because of the hour of the day – even of those awke, most would still be in the tea and armpit-scratching stage. 😉


      1. The bow camera gives a pleasant perspective.
        Somehow that sound of the motor is strangely soporific, which is not good if navigating a twisty or congested stretch or coming upon an unexpected lock!

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  4. Yikes – that last video was exciting – all those other narrowboats, on BOTH SIDES of the canal – nd oncoming traffic to contend with – BTW, Well done on the left turn, under bridge, PLUS, not even nudging the swan. 👍😃

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    1. I think that the swan was muttering ‘you’re not going to make it – you’re not going ot make it…’ and left eventually, disappointed. Damned thing put me off right from the get-go! That alleyway of boats is always a fun place, there’s usually a touch of a cross-wind to add that frisson of frissonivitynessnous. 😉

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