Someone please call me in late spring.
Notable Bene – all photographs in this post are from previous winters, we’re not quite there yet this year.
The “it” of it is quite dull today. Not cold, but cool, so dull as to be almost dark, drizzly and with a breeze that just can’t make up its mind. Mid-October and today is the first day of the season – whatever this benighted excuse for a “season” might be – upon which my solar panels look as though they might go hungry to bed. We shall see.
Reflecting the general mood of Her Majesty’s peasant in England some nine-tenths of those on the canals are grumpy and ill-disposed. Where once we were almost where we needed to be, with everyone just one more silliness away from riot and much-needed insurrection, the populace seems now to be simply fed up to the ***s with absolutely everything.
Disappointment that the people are merely thoroughly disappointed rather than roused to action only adds to the disappointment.
Anyway. Pfft and pshaw.
Halsall, yonder The Fuel Boat in these parts, patrols all year but I believe that the nature of their business changes slightly with the seasons. In summer they supply mostly gas (for cookering) and diesel (for cruisering), while in winter the trade leans more heavily upon coal (for heatering). This winter’s official canal stoppages (for repairs to the infrastructure) are going to make their more usual stately and circular-route progress somewhat on the impossible side of difficult.
Making their business more difficult has the knock-on effect of meaning that I have to be that much more careful to maintain stocks of combustibles.
Living on a narrowboat, esp. in current socio-economic and political climes, involves the constant solving of a rather large and complicated formula. Uber-economy in all things versus eco-credentials versus cruising because cruising is good/fun/part of the raison d’etre versus being within reach of service points for water/gazunders/shopping/rubbish-disposal versus Her Majesty’s English Weather versus Personal Energy and occasional bouts of Can’t Be Ar*sedness versus, occasionally, the canal rozzers versus mooring somewhere decent and (relatively) safe versus meeting the Fuel Boat Halsall versus being where I want to be sometimes when I want to be versus just ruddy-well enjoying the canals versus extending my boundaries and exploring farther afield when the mood takes me.
…and everyone takes one look at a boat moored up or cruising amiably and assumes that the totality of living on the canals is one-hundred percent relaxation…
Again I say pfft, pish and pshaw!
Winter in England of course is generally the season when the countryside lies largely undisturbed except by skinny red foxes loping from hedgerow to woodland, and by black-clad, wraith-like clergyman scurrying from hearth to altar and back to hearth again. Anything with life in it generally lays down a trail of smoke.
…although some particularly flashy individuals with the benefit of triple-expansion forced-aspiration engineering lay down more than most.
Even those sardines cheek by jowl in marinas aren’t immune from the neighbours burning old chip-fat or whale blubber or old car tyres or something similar in their stoves on a frosty morning. Neighbourliness is next to
The usually much more humane and open-aspect towpaths can get a tad crowded and smokey if the few boats still moving about mis-time their moochings and accidentally congregate.
Of course, this being the Planet Numpty you’re not really safe even when moored up and frozen in. There’s always someone who thinks that they are in charge of an ice-breaker, and who cares, generally, not a whit for the concomitant slamming and crashing about of great slabs of ice into other people’s boat hulls and blacking.
It doesn’t actually do anything like the damage that you’d imagine – so long as your hull is healthy and thick – but it does sound appalling, and the minor damage that it do do – Dodo? Dodo do-do – is almost always wholly unnecessary. Tis guaranteed to make nine out of ten boaters vewy, vewy, angwy… incwuding me. 😉
It’s all jolly japes (until one of their crash-bang-wallop victims gets their hands on them at the next bridge-hole)…
Personally, I find that a large log thrown to make solid contact with the nape of the miscreant’s neck oft has the effect of increasing manners and consideration.
Wildlife can be confused a little by water which is at or is approaching 0°C.
But I digress, of course. Today is merely dull, grey and wet. Captial dull, darkest grey and wettest wet. Mr Stove appears – praise be to the Greek and Roman gods – to have accepted that I would prefer him to remain alight now until mayhap March or April (or possibly May or June).
I make but best preparations for my annual squirrel-esque hibernation. Seeking out the other two-thirds of the six-thirds all-seasons duvet, and releasing thick blankets from their vacuum-bag storage. Experiments have been undertaken to re-familiarise myself with the process of “the making of herb dumplings”, and this week’s task is remembering (the knack of) how to make stove-top Aussie damper.
My cunning plan is that, having made such preparations as may be, we’ll now have some sort of “continental (relative) heatwave” instead of winter. You never know.
Nanny? Is it too early for bed, Nanny?
Saw a wonderful t-shirt advertised the other day. The slogan was along the lines of
‘I LOVE SLEEPING (it’s like death but without the commitment).’
Now, I must bung another slack handful of coal into Mr Stove. I want him up to temperature this afternoon so that I can experiment with making bread streaked through with Marmite…
Then I’ll go to bed (with a book, and with whatever proceeds out of the other side of my bread experiment).
What else are such dull, damp, grey days for, eh?
There’s nowt quite like a boat stinking of freshly-baked bread to attract a circle of adoring, slavering, canal-side wildlife.
Chinni-chin for mo, Muskies.
Ian H. &etc.