Storm Dennis – full of coal and sprouty goodness #narrowboat #boating #England

It’s been a bit odd, so far, as Storms of Armageddon go. There’s been news on the interwebbing of the Army being deployed to help with flood defences. Shoot the ruddy water, Private Sodbucket, just shoot the ruddy water! This storm seems to have been more about dumping the Atlantic Ocean on England than about wind, although there have been some very impressive blasts – even the Fuel Boat Halsall noticed them yesterday, and they usually proceed at a stately pace around the network like some sort of cross between a Klingon warship and an Arctic exploration vessel. If you rammed Greenland with nb Halsall Greenland would have to be repaired.

Some areas of England are more prone to meteorological discomnobulations than others, and there have been flooded towns, flooded canals (yes, you can flood a canal or river, and it is disastrous when it happens), trees down,  boats sunk (at their ropes, or floating off and settling where no boat ought to settle), and boats adrift – inland. So far in my little patch of the woods we have been spared the worst excesses, and – so far – about one day into a forecast three or four – it’s been wild and windy but mostly wet wet wet*.

*Sorry to mention Wet Wet Wet. Mr Marti Pellow is (reliably) said to have been a regular visitor at a house I once owned, being involved with the previous owner. Gosh, I’m almost a celebrity myself by association. Mind you, by that logic I am also well-acquainted with the previous owner’s gas man, electricity meter reader and gardeners. It’s the nearest I’ll ever get to celery-ebrity status, and I’ll mention it where I can. If it helps, Maddy Prior also once gave me a chocolate.

Damn, this is desperate nonsense. Back to the canals, quick smartish, Hutson.

We (the Cardinal and I) have been bouncing around relatively energetically, for a moored narrowboat. It’s not as though we’re in the North Sea or anything, but it can make a stagger to the lav in the middle of the night into a bit of a giggle-fest.

The towpaths are mud-soup again, they barely had time to dry out from the previous winter, let alone the previous storm. The water in the canal here is the colour of NAAFI tea. Currently the weather gods can’t decide whether to send down raindrops or hailstones. They’re sending both.

A generic “news” report from yesterday – there do seem to be few such about, considering all of the fuss. I have my fingers crossed that it is not barred to those unfortunate enough to be “foreigners” living in “the abroad”. I have no way of telling, from this end.

In the middle of all of this weatherish loveliness Fuel Boat Halsall oiked up and replenished the Cardinal’s coal stocks, adding a bag of kindling (Mr Stove can be moody at times, requiring treats to encourage him) and a bottle of chemical “Blue” for the bog. That’s them in the lead photograph, steaming away through the bridge up ahead, just another couple of miles to go before they can tie up for the night.

Tis amazing service. Lee and Roberta lift the sacks of coal up to the gunwales of Halsall moored alongside the Cardinal, and I just have to oik them across and arrange them on the well deck. For some reason the card reader wouldn’t play the game (probably because it was fed up with being rained on heavily), and filthy folding lucre had to change hands for once.

Word has it that for once the wind was blowing in the Helpful Direction as they came through the ninety-degree turn of the junction just behind these moorings. When I came through a few days ago the wind was in the Unhelpful Direction, trying to stop the bow from turning, and I had to apply a little of the “drive it as though it’s stolen” to get around without giving a queue of lorry drivers on the road a good laugh. I maintained my air of casual nonchalance, arm draped over the tiller as though I’d forgotten it was there.

The sprouts, I hear you cry, what of the tinned Brussels Sprouts?

Well, they are indeed on the “gosh, did you forget about them?” side of “cooked”, but they are also full of sprouty goodness and flavour, most excellent things eclipsed only by their fresh cousins.


I bunged them (“bung” is a chef-ish term meaning “put”) into the curry so that they had just long enough to heat through. They were little spoonfuls of deliciousnessnous.

Pardon me for being rude,
it was not me it was my food.
It only came to say ‘Hello!’
before going on to settle, down below.

Today might be a “pasta day”, methinks.

There’s only so much the old catalytic convertor can take, and we don’t want to burn it out now, do we.

I needs must get my act together soon and go outside, into the mud of the towpath. We’ve been promised a little bit of weak and weary sunshine this afternoon among the clouds, and I want to clean down the solar panels, ready to feed. While I’m out I’ll also check on the covers and the ropes, j.i.c. One never knows what tonight might bring.

Well, wherever you are, do keep young and beautiful – um, I mean, keep warm and safe – if you want to be loved.

I wonder what it’s like, working in a factory that produces tinned Brussels sprouts?

Hmm. About as much fun as working in any factory, probably. I must purchase another couple (of dozen) tins when next I pass Aunty Wainwright’s. 😉

Chin-chin, chaps, for the mo.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. My goodness. Change the accent and the place names and that exact report is being done all over America when the weather can be be even remotely possibly a bit wet, cold or windy. Mind you, they also do a very bad taste look at the devastation when the storm sweeps a town off the map.

    They have Full coverage of weather. Truth be told, I think it’s the only reason anyone turns on the news anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The very best news reports are the ones where they are (apparently) struggling to stay upright in the gales and someone walks past in the background with shopping and a small dog on a lead… 😉

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  2. Yes indeed, your canned brussel sprouts reminded me of my mother, bless her but then in those days you cooked everything to the max in case it came back to life. I just checked my online Morrison’s site for tinned veg, they have a huge variety and quite exotic, but no brussels. Your chandlery is indeed an Aladin’s cave!

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    1. I remember those days, when vegetables had to be pressure-cooked to death and beyond. Did we think that they were poisonous or something otherwise? My mother was a brilliant cook, but we still had veggies sans crunch in my early yoof-hood. These tinned beasties are mostly flavour, but welcome for all that. I wonder why the factory cooks them so? I shall likely never know. 😉

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