Water & Diesel & Gazunders & Comestibles

My childhood was a bit “boom and bust” in terms of the family fortunes. This is probably why I have squirrel-like tendencies come winter (and spring and summer and autumn). Unless I’m actually sitting on a pile of acorns my hind-brain has no idea where my next nut is coming from. After this year’s shananagins with the now-you-see-us now-you-don’t we’re-feeding-the-nation-not-so-fast-Hutson-not-you Sainsbury’s – surely now the worst “super”market this side of the Hell branch of WOKE-Groceries-Ltd., – Messrs ASDA finally allowed new registrations, and I done did it.

They called yesterday with a small but perfectly-formed van full of comestibles, and they arrived promptly and with only one minor change and one minor substitution. Delivery window was 0800hrs to 0900hrs and I was back aboard the Cardinal at 0820, sorting packets and jars into strict size, shape and colour order before tapping each one three times with the tapping stick, bejigging a small jig and offering thanks in Latin to Edesia and Bibesia.

The madness remained upon me after victualling and Messrs Weather & Co., while looking grim, looked dry so I set about loosing the Cardinal’s ropes. The moment the centre-line was free of course yonder heavens opened and verily and lo, the rain it did fall. Wet got I. Soaked also got Phil, the gentleman of the lock of this year, as he worked me down through Cholmondeston. I offered exhortations to retreat to the dryth of his canvas, but he declined and, as I was half-way down in the lock, advised me that he was to be collected that day by friendlies, and taken to a place of brick and indoorery for the remains of winter.

[Havin’ thus been caught on the hop I went back after mooring to say a more formal g’bye and farewell, only to find that he’d already gone, and only the unturned sod remained. See image below.]

Phil woz ‘ere. Gone but not forgotten.

Venetian Hire Boats and Chandlery provided a splash of potable water, a dash of diesel and an opportunity for gazundering, thank’ee kindly. I took the opportunity of being (temporarily) tied up again to change coats into something more waterproof, whereupon of course it (temporarily) stopped raining.

Venetian Hire Boats & Chandlery, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union, in the county of Cheshire and the country of Albion.

Having waited for the water tank to fill – it was as low as it has ever been allowed to be, and required some eleventy-dozen litres to brim – I then mooched on via the winding ‘ole (Olé!) and re-moored facing das railway line, so that my inner-spotter and geek might better see the odd peculiar train passing (and there are many such on this line).

As of the moment these fresh moorings are only slightly crowded…

Cardinal Wolsey on his moorings (yes, you can see him in this image). 🙂

…although such may change in an instant, especially now that we’re no longer in El Lockdown II but in Tier 23, or 42, or something. The Gubbermunt says that ‘…boats both residential and leisure may move providing that they have aboard at least two but no more than three fresh haddock, are steered by a person of restricted growth who was formally christened under the name of ‘Dave’, and while carrying a small wooden spoon made from birch felled during a Wolf Moon made freely available under oath of fealty to the original ticket-holder and/or their proxy…’

As far as I can tell, anyway. I shall check again later, to see whether a pig’s bladder on a stick has been added to the rules, and which trouser leg I must roll up post meridian but pre-tiffin.

The weather couldn’t make its mind up after I’d re-moored. I got hold of the Met Office on the short-wave radio (channel 16) and asked for detail on what the weather was to be like, and their reply was ‘Yes.’

Windy Alley skies.

It all got a bit dark…

Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union, Windy Alley.

…and then it got just a smidgen brighter and lighter, before it went really dark.

Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union, Windy Alley.

So that was yesterday.

Today’s just dull and raining Datsun Cogs. Soggy.

I shall have to go out for a walk soon. If I don’t go soon then I shan’t bother all day, and that wouldn’t sit well with Nanny. Mr Stove is doing his best to cheer things up, and the stove-top fan has developed a jaunty rattle and clonk, indicating that combustion is taking place at a healthy rate.

Once I’ve perambulated and performed at least a minor peregrination I shall have to sit cross-legged in the galley, staring up at a mountain of comestibles and thinking that there’s nothing aboard that I actually fancy for lunch or tiffin. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme far too much choice and a clinically-acquired lack of decisiveness – a heady mix, if you’ll pardon the pun-ette.

Still, after yesterday’s wild and adventurous cruisings that which ought to be empty is empty, and that which ought to be full is full, and that’s a good feeling indeed.

It won’t last long of course, not with me around.

Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. I have this lettle problemo, I have a need, a very real need to take under my wing and feed all waifs and strays of the world according to the confines of the Great British Isles of Britain. Food parcels a speciality, just today, I have knocked out a hamper for the ‘boys’ (83 & 81 respectively) in the far north of Haggisland. A fruit cake laced with spicy rum, ginger and choccie chip cookies, very cheesy biscuits, two jars of piccalilli and one jar of raspberry jam. All made in the sweat shop that is my kitchenette. Cut to the case LL the reason I am telling you this was when I saw mention of Shropshire Union I thought I know what I’ll do I will make that well known waif a food parcel and troll along the tow path in my Smart car and scare bejesus out of the lad soon to be a fully paid up member of HermitsRUs. On consulting my map of the Grand Union canal it looked ruddy miles away so I decided that was enough philanthropy for one day… ragged trousers notwithstanding obv…


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    1. Was it wise do you think to send octogenarians cake laced with rum? Isn’t that akin to putting out LSD-laced seeds for the local sparrows? I’m not saying that rum and LSD-based activities are a bad thing by any means, simply pointing out that there may be …consequences.

      I considered a Smart Car myself once, to the extent of sitting in one at the kerbside of a dealership. Sat there for hours, damned thing didn’t go anywhere that I wanted. Apparently they still require manual driving, so I gave up and went to the Labour Exchange to procure a piggy-back chauffeur instead.


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  2. I am so glad that you have emerged from your hunt for comestibles and civilizing chores victorious. It does seem like the daily living requirements of narrowboating are a bit of challenge, made worse by pandemics and made better by persons named Phil. 🙂

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    1. I have – unwittingly, and unwillingly – made it slightly more difficult for myself in being a person wot doesn’t also run a vehicular car of the vehicular kind, which is why comestibles of an independent nature can occasionally (such as in 2020!) present a problemette. The rest just requires a lot of forethought if I am to live with the economy required of me by my means! It is though all (still) a lot of fun and a splendid modus du living. 🙂

      Phil made the whole boating through the lock thing even more of a pleasure for many people, he became a part of the infrastructure (not literally). 🙂 On several occasions he saved me upping and downing via the soggy wet and weedful lock ladder…

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  3. I too am impressed by the mystical power of the, rain for the shrugging-off type of garment, whereby once wrestled into, aforesaid rain runs and tells its master, The Rain God, an awesome deity whose existence was only revealed to us through the hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy.

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    1. I loved Hitch-hiker’s guide to the Galaxy. Also the guide to Dairy Milk, Fruit & Nut, Old Jamaica and those Caramac bars that one so rarely sees about these days.

      The rain today looks to have settled in for the long haul. It’s a good job that I am in a boat.

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  4. Pity that the rain doth raineth every day. Still, you got your comestibles successfully. Now the big decision time. It’s easier when there’s no choice. I, too, suffer from indecisiveness. Once you bought toothpaste. You knew you brand, and that was it. Now there’re lots of different types. Whitening, gum care, cavity protection (but why do you want to protect cavities?) etc. etc. Too much choice. I now stand for ages trying to decide. Too much choice is a bad thing.
    I hope you managed to decide and aren’t slowly starving to death due to this problem.

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    1. I let the use-by dates and tendencies decide for me, and scoffed a generous helping of spuds, cabbage, sprouts, broccoli and carrots. Most capacitating indeed. 🙂

      Please don’t mention toothpaste – notice that these days it all comes (here at least) in 75ml tubes, whereas once – for the same price and even less – it came in 100ml tubes. Doubtless the toothpaste companies, along with the orange juice companies (750ml versus the full litre these days) and all of the others imagine that we haven’t noticed their profitable (and deceitful) sleight-of-hand.

      These days my gnashers require a paste with a high proportion of opium and cocaine, the better to prevent twinges…

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  5. Well done Asda! Stuff Sainsburys. I did wonder having done my own ‘mystery shopper’ review of the big ones early in the first lockdown – you may remember my once in a lifetime skirmish with Tesco who did deliver but tried to poison me with their kippers (stuff Tesco!). It’s all a bit of a lottery really being in Tier 333 and permanently locked down and the ‘casuals’ who dominate the delivery slots are at it again, bugger us housebound loyal customers who don’t need to get anything delivered close to Christmas anyway, we can stop eating for ten days or so and it won’t affect us at all. Why is M&S advertising party food when most people in the country are still dying in droves? Ah, humbug! I am stockpiling brussels because they are suddenly of a quality worth overdosing on! It must be a delivery day phenomenon that after all the bags are in you can never find anything you want to eat?

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    1. Once I have trained ASDA to follow the Cardinal around on his highly-variable itinerary I shall indeed stuff Sainsbury’s – with sage and onion. Funny that you should mention Brussels Sprouts – I’ve just necked half a bag of the things with lunch! Gently steamed over English spring-water, lifted out of the pan with a wooden spoon and allowed, in their own good time, to jump down my throat and into the great equaliser below. Yum, et le yum-yum. I must have been something ruminant in a previous life, otherwise I couldn’t love green veggies as I do. 🙂

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