Oh bullocks – winter’s here #narrowboat #boating #boatsthattweet

Past days have dawned on the chilly side of ‘Sodbucket – have my slippers sent down to the kitchens to be warmed through’.

Mist – even fog at times – and a good, crispy coating of frost in the a of the m. Not enough coolth to take the sog out of the soggy towpaths, but enough to put frosting on my solar panels.

With the monumental amount of rain we’ve had of late there have been floods and closures on rivers and canals alike. Fortunately, the only effect on this stretch of canal has been to raise the level by some inches – meaning that I had to slacken off the ropes – and now the level has dropped by about the same amount below normal. We’re up and down like the congregation at a Catholic mass here on the canals. Stand, sit, up, down, genuflect, watch out for the swing of the thurible, up, down…

The evening skies tell it all, if you can read them.


The Cardinal – pictured on these moorings of a couple of days ago – is waiting on the wrong side of a small hedgerow for the morning sun to reach out. The other boats are there because, well – I think that they may be Cardinal groupies. That’s the only way to explain the loyal following that always appears. Where e’er we moor, so moor they.


The ducks are most unimpressed. This lot were very quiet until the sun warmed them through, and I don’t blame them. It’s all very well having anti-freeze in your feet and feathers on your bum, but what’s a duck supposed to do when his beak freezes shut?


The bullocks in the field aren’t so bothered by the drop in temperatures. Like steaming, shaggy, mammoths-in-waiting they amble about the place snorting and bellowing, or eating and peeing. It takes a lot to freeze a mammoth, even a young one that’s still wet behind the ears.


Some of them haven’t quite mastered the art of bull & bluster yet, like this cheeky little minx with doe-eyes and a self-conscious look before the camera lens. Doubtless the farmer’s favourite.


Not quite an indoor pet, but stick it in a Burberry coat, bung a diamonte collar on the beast and you could walk that through Manchester without getting too many sly looks from the Pit Bull set.

England is beginning to look – and to feel – more and more apocalyptic as we sink slowly into dribbling insanity along with what used to be our government. I don’t know why anyone worries about a “zombie apocalypse” – it’s already happened, just look around you.


Run for your life across this field or slink around the hedgerow?

Both have dangers.

Ho et le hum.

Mein Gottenhimelslosh, vot ein mess.


Mr Stove is eating through my stack of coal supplies at a rate. I haven’t timed how long it takes him to eat through a sackful yet this season, it’s all too depressing. Last winter it was roughly four days and nights per 20kg sack.

The temptation to simply stay in bed of a morning is strong, strong it is, Little One. In concert with the temptation to go to bed early this is building to a disaster in re “staying awake until spring has sprung”. Aside from their not being “for me” (fine for others, not for me – and besides, the pension won’t run to staying in one!) this is why I won’t book into a marina – I’d tie up the ropes, climb into my Blue Peter hibernation box and not be seen again until the second Wednesday after the first daffodil. I do love winter but oh boy, does it test my getupandgoness.

This Friday sees one of my favourite canal dates, when most, but not all, “visitor moorings” with 48-hour stay limits revert to fourteen days. My favourite canals, the Shropshire Union, the Middlewich Branch and the Trent & Mersey (in parts) are, to use the medical term, plastered from one end to the other with “visitor moorings”*, and what isn’t a VM like as not has the unwelcome sodoffski of the Shroppie Shelf**.

*Visitor moorings – usually in the prime locations, nearest anywhere where most sane folk would want to be.

**An idiosyncratic item of canal design in which the edges sport an underwater ledge, preventing comfortable mooring or indeed mooring at all in most places.

From Friday the Cardinal and I shall, subject to space and etceteras, be able to stumble from “visitor mooring” to “visitor mooring” with winter abandon.

Until March (the ends. not the ides).

Wheeeeeee boing boing boing.

I’m so sorry, the frost has got to my brain. I shall have to break out the thick socks, the thermal boxer shorts and the beanie hats. One of those ought to insulate my brain effectively, wherever it is these days.

I’m already wearing my favoured fingerless gloves.

I do hope that you’ve all got your turnips out of the ground, it’s going to be impossible to dig them up soon enough without blunting your spade.

Right, that’s me, I’m off. A mug of hot chocolate and some more of a damned good book on Medieval England awaits – along with my duvet (and the first of several layers of ‘Merrycan “Indian” blankets).


Chin-chin &etc., Ian H., & Cardinal W.


  1. Having just retired, I find for the first time in 56 years that I am enjoying winter. The sheer joy of waking up to a vile rainy windy morning and knowing that I do not have drag myself through traffic jams to the misery of a career in the NHS fills my day with virtual sunshine!


  2. BTW. Do you actually like fingerless gloves? I’ve only ever had one pair and I thought they were useless. My fingers got cold, and my hands weren’t exactly warm, largely because of the exposed fingers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do – I have half a dozen pairs for different purposes. They are the only things that allow me to type or work a camera while keeping most of my hands warm. Even more peculiarly, when cruising in the cold I favour the “Michael Jackson” approach – one glove, on my tiller hand, the other hand in a pocket! One glove is easy to whip off, two can be problematic in a hurry.

      I have a serious range of gloves from lightweight to thick-enough-for-the-Arctic, but most things can only be done with bare hands – can’t tie or untie a knot while wearing thick gloves… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not too bad down here in the deep south. (Of England, that is). We had a wee little bit of frost-sign a couple of days ago, but it’s been over 10 degrees C during the day. And we’ve had SUN! Still, as a native of the frozen north, aka the north west of England, I do understand your feelings.

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    1. Cold is fine but dull grey days – especially windy dull grey days – do my lump in, as they say. An awful lot of boating stuff (at least, when single-handed) has to be planned around the wevver. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing like a bit of frost to take the quack out of you and yesterday I did wear my fingerless gloves whilst at my terminal – there’s a thought – why do they call it ‘terminal’? Excellent photography once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah – terminals. Took me right back to my youth, when there was truly no need for more than six computers globally. Monochrome monitors (green or amber) and no interwebnetting to sustain the scammers and spammers.

      Thank’ee kindly, ma’am. 🙂


  5. I often envy the hibernating mammals. It seems so apropos. I wonder why we all don’t do it? I suppose death by starvation is a reason. But is it though? I mean dying while cuddled under a down comforter in a comfy bed – is that a bad thing? Plus, I’ve got plenty of winter storage on my body. It think I would snooze through to spring. I wonder if there is a movement afoot to hibernate for health. Maybe I will start one.

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    1. A new trend in gentle eco-living – forget the silly season of “Christmas” and wotnot, and instead have a festival in Autumn during which everyone puts on weight and gathers a large collection of reading matter for the winter hide-away…

      I suppose though that with the luck of the hooman species we’d awake in spring to find that aliens had assumed the planet to be uninhabited and had moved in. Or that dogs, desperate to go outside for a wee had taken over.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed so, sir, yes – and likely cold enough soon to need a kettle of hot water over the mooring ropes, so that they will bend sufficiently to allow me untie them! This morning they were just stiff.

      There’ll be polar bears and arctic foxes slinking up and down on the ice before we know it.

      Note to self – stash a lot more coal aboard when next the fuel boat (or the favoured marina) pass or are passed by. 😉

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