The House-Keeping Slattern and the Gyroscopic Dare-Devil Arachnid #narrowboat #boating #boatsthattweet

From November to March my stove-top fan whirrs away almost constantly at about eleventy-twelve revolutions a minute, the only exceptions being when I oik it off the stove temporarily to make room to boil lobsters or to warm up another swan’s head in aspic for tiffin. Or, occasionally, to clean the wee beastie.

I can understand the dust and general crap that it gathers – living with a coal-fired stove is a dusty, fingernail-blackened lifestyle. I used to be able to cough up a rainbow or release emeralds from my nose, but all is now Stygian black.

But the cobwebs?

Some sort of daredevil stunt?

An Archnid Army training exercise?

Spinning spiders from another dimension?

The most common “last words” of the human species are ‘Wheee! Look at me!’

So too it would seem for the arachnids.

Then there’s the minor matter of reaching the fan as it whirrs. Do the spiders abseil down the outside of the hot flue, or do they run across the body of the stove itself, presumably hot-foot-foot-foot-foot-foot-foot-foot-foot and shouting ‘ooh! ooh! it burns! it burns!’ as they go?

Perhaps they parachute in, wide-eyed, tugging frantically at the cords and aware that a bad landing will turn them into mincemeat… thwirrp-splat, R.I.P.?

Do earnest-looking spider-scientists laden with instruments and laboratory proddy-proddy things, climb up from the hearth while wearing silvered suits, gloves and helmets cooled by little backpacks?

One of life’s mythteries.


The Slattern in question.

postscript: the fan is this morning making way for a chunky vee-getable stewy-soup fit for a vegetablearyan, and for which I shall soon be making Les Dumplings. Spuds and carrots and cauliflower and sprouts and cabbage and leek and onion – and broccoli – and anything else that wasn’t nailed down in the galley. Hopefully though, no spiders.

It all looks very green in there; the carrots are doing unseemly things with the spuds, in the lower layers, as root vegetables are wont to do when unsupervised by Cook.



  1. At the height if spider season (early to mid Autumn) I had on average three spiders per evening, abseiling down the front of my computer screen, whereupon I would do the rescue thing and,gently, toss them into the rose bush outside the front door.
    It finally occurred to me that I was being used by the parent spiders to relocate their teenage offspring once they’d tossed them out of the nest.

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    1. Presumably, upon landing, each one of these teenage arachnids exclaimed ‘But my parents never promised me a whole rose garden!’…

      I collect my strays in a catching jar and then release them in the towpath hedgerow – usually. The guilt complex that I suffer from when I discover that I’ve forgotten to release the previous day’s leggy horde is almost overwhelming. Do they appreciate my apologies for holding them overnight? Not a bit.

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  2. If you took out the sprouts, that would sound, and no doubt, taste lovely. Have you considered spreading them about the galley as a spider deterrent? It seems sad to ruin that stew with them.

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    1. Brussels sprouts, the food of the gods. I remember one weekend we ran out of the ruddy things, and Zeus was beside himself. Teensy little cabbages ready for their cocktail sticks. You can’t beat ’em.

      No, seriously, you can’t beat them, they’re not at all like eggs.

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      1. 🤣. Their adorable likeness to cabbage is why I hate them. They lead you to think they will taste like cabbage. But instead they taste like bitterness and tears. I hate to be swindled by tricksy veg.


    1. Vegetables – I am so glad that evolution has seen fit to give us a variety. Can you imagine if only one had evolved? How would you like your cabbage today? Grilled, boiled or fried?

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  3. Yum! Mine was home made vegetable soup and flat bread yesterday (sadly still didn’t warm me up) and they reckon it’s going to get colder later today! You have inspired me into getting the makings for my own bread which alas I haven’t made for the past few years – Morrison’s delivery on its way today! Cheato though – I have an old bread maker someone gave me a few years ago, we’ll see if it still works!

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    1. I remember that Mother used to have an old breadmaker that she quite loved. We had to let the poor old fool go in the end though, he got far too crusty and just loafed around all day.

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