Rain, Coal, and Squelch

A swift statement from Mr Justin Case – any advertisements that you see here are placed by WordPress, not by me. This blog is on the “freebie” version of WordPress and has been so for ages.

Unspeakably dreary. That was yesterday. It was dark, it was cold, it was grey and it was windy and it was raining fit to rival the monsoons in Poonah of ’43 or ’44.

I sat on my gluteus in the morning, thinking about how miserable the weather was being. Little did it occur to me that just through the bridge ahead yonder fuel boat, BARGUS, was at the wharf re-loading with some thirteen tonnes of supplies – in the monsoon rains. The level of the boat in the water is an indication of how laden BARGUS is.

The first clue for me of their call yesterday was the awoogah-woogah of the horn. Panic ensued. Washing up of lunch dish-pottery suspended, shoes and coat on, cratch covers open, the three baggies of coal remaining on the well-deck re-arranged, room made on the t-post for another rope to be slung (as they moored temporarily alongside). In the event I need not have rushed because two of the four boats moored betwixt Cardinal and bridge’ole made themselves customers.

The green boat was just passing, asked me if BARGUS entertained casual customers and, upon my reply of ‘yes, just hove alongside’, promptly hoved alongside and gave me even more time to prepare. Having served the moored grey boat the crew just volte faced and served the green one, then moving on down the line.

I laboured my addled brain-gland to try to come up with a snackette or thank’ee kindly to mark the season (something else I hadn’t given sufficient timeous thought to), the best that I could come up with being Mice Pies. I had two varieties in Ship’s Stores; ASDA’s Finest (not impressive) and a packet purloined from the local Wotsit Shop, a product of some local bakery (much, much nicer). I settled on the Wotsit Shop variety and that natural feeling of guilt that goes with knowing that the crew of BARGUS were doubtless already sick to the back teeth of bloody Mice Pies. Sorry guys, it’s all that I had in as a token thank’ee. You have the good ones, I’ll have the soggy pastry of the supermarket ones! 😉

To ingrain the guilt even further, I was presented with a gift by them – and I doubtless got the better of the bargain, thank you!

Six bags of the nuggetty dinosaur remains were, as ever, most conveniently delivered to me as I knelt on the well-deck (kneeling to receive coal, not to pray or conduct a blessing), and a bag of “please wake up, Mr Stove, it’s morning time and I need you at full tilt” kindling. Payment will go via BACS, bank account to bank account.

The Cardinal and I now have an elephant’s sufficiency to see us through perhaps being in the wrong place at the wrong time for their next call; we can last well past Spendmas and the Silly Season. Probably last right into the next National “El Lockdown”.

The Living on a Narrowboat Formula is manifold and multifarious, and one of the elements for simultaneous solvery is that while the Fuel Boat is constantly on the move, so, occasionally, am I, and yet we must meet to do business. It is sometimes akin to arranging for the arrival of your post, when while your address remains the same your house keeps moving.

The photograph above looks very much like the previous ‘I have coal’ photograph, but I assure you that the bags, while similar, have changed.

Coal is a most peculiar item on the domestic supplies list. What else do we buy and then deliberately burn? Tis fortunate that there is a warming side-effect to this madness.

One side-effect was the cooking of the last of my fresh vegetables (from last week’s dewiverwy), and their subsequent conversion into curried form, fortified with half a dozen (vegetablearyan) sausages. There’s a day or two left in the pot yet. I must remember to bung some (white) rice on Mr Stove to cook, otherwise I’ll be annoyed at myself for not having remembered to cook any rice.

The last of the fresh veggies eh?

Scurvy now awaits me in the scuppers, and there’s little worse than scurvy in your scuppers.

Dry stores and I shall doubtless do a Gloria Gaynor.

Quite what this morning’s sky is promising I do not know.

nb Cardinal Wolsey, Calveley, Shropshire Union.

Time, as it usually does, will tell. Why Time can’t keep a secret I do not know.

Tis mightily soggy in the field alongside, but I ventured in for a better view.

Not far in, admittedly, just up to my knees in squelch.

I’ve squeegeed the solaring panels, in the hopes of some sunshinery.

I mun also get out and about more today, there are some outdoor jobbies to be done, and if I don’t do them then I sore doubt that the Job Fairies will do them in my stead.

Mr Sun has just poked his head above the horizon as I type. This time of year though he’s averse to heights, and will barely rise above the scrubbery and treelings before sinking back from whence he came.

We shall see.

Chin-chin, Ian H., & Cardinal Wolsey of The Fleet.


  1. Coal is not dinosaur but trees. From dinosaur times perhaps. You don’t want to be heating up dinosaurs, they might eat you or your vegetables, and then where would you be? Would arsda deliver enough veggies to feed your brontosaurus?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss the dinosaurs, they were fun to be around. Oh you couldn’t turn your back on ’em for a second, or nod off to sleep, but they were fun all the same.

      What I can’t understand about coal being from millions of years ago is why no-one ever seems to question why it is in plastic sacks. Who knew that the people in The Land That Time Forgot had a massive coal industry and used plastics?


      1. The plastic industry in the land that time forgot was developed from the plastic that had been used to make Doug McClure. It was a plastic skin over wood. There was also some plastic in the ladies, as was in use at the time.
        Some dinosaurs were made of plastic too. The plastic dinosaurs that had been found hid in boxes of breakfast cereals to try and avoid detection. Bad idea! Hey ho ho ho!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. My theory is that my “boom and bust” family, combined with a few years in the wilds of the Outer Hebrides where a young chap got to town once a week, on Saturday when Father drove us all in, has left me with some legacy psychosis (or psychoses!) that require me to surround myself with as many acorns as I can get into my nest. If I can’t actually see the real world for acorns then I feel safe… 😉

      er. Safer. Never quite totally “safe”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Life in the transportless wilds of rural France introduced me to the idea of ‘grab it while it is there’, no, more like ‘grab all of it while it is there’….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to hear you are all victualled up for Spendmas, Ian. And the upside is that squelchy ground keeps the madding (or should that really be maddening) crowd at bay.
    I hope Mr Stove is pleased with his coal and pumps out delicious heat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope that you are similarly prepared for Spendmas and the Silly Season in general!

      When the weather is betwixt and between and I am cold but he is not then Mr Stove is an awkward soul, requiring much attention to keep happy. However, when the weather is seriously cold he takes to his work with an almost terrifying fervour… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If only Morrisons etal would start up trade boats to deliver comestibles. Honestly, running a grocery deliver boat wouldn’t be a terrible nb business. Some combo of delivery of your preordered grocery and an on board Chandlery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Equipping supermarket delivery vans and drivers with dinghies would be a Giant Leap Forward! Somehow though, I doubt that it will happen, any more than my idea for an ‘Angler-B-Gone’ boat, where someone might ring up and ask for anglers to be removed from their bow or stern (I have two such as I type, neither with the least idea of sharing the space, let alone “personal space”). That one would just need a speedboat and someone with lasso skills… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Will be glad when all the panic to get enough food to last three months (just for the one day) is over. I now wonder if I do need some of those hot cross buns they have on offer on the last screen before I pay. No I really don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is all rather barking mad, isnt it? On my second home-delivery shop with ASDA they weren’t the slightest bit keen on my checking out without taking advantage of their “special offer” on two for £x of 9 pack toilet rolls… so I gave in. Earlier in the year buying two 9-roll packs would have been a hanging, stockpiling offence, and yet here they are virtually forcing it on me. Fortunately, two-ply quilted with Aloe Vera makes quite good toast.


    1. I’ve not tried Toasty Toes for breakfast – is the recipe complicated?

      Something along the lines of ‘Take one thousand Centurions, remove the toes, discard the Centurions, cook as for Dormouse and serve on hot, buttered toast…’


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