Yes, the walk through the image above was as cold as it looks. The towpath was frozen, the canal was frozen and the mist was frozen. Lovely stuff.
Messrs BARGUS, the magnificent fuel boat, called a few days ago. I was their first customer of the day. Ice was of necessity crunched and cracked and eight bags of combustibles oiked from boat to boat, thank’ee most kindly.
Given that this winter I have swapped all of my blood for distilled water [so it would seem from the complaints my Extremities have been forwarding to Brain], Mr Stove is on an “all he can eat” deal, and a sack of the black stuff lasts three days and three, ish, nights.
The black-clad item between the coal is not boathold rubbish (that’s like “household” rubbish but afloat), but logs. Logs are useful for a quick blast of warmth particles*.
*My world-changing, stunning discovery of the Warmth Particle and its concomitant polar opposite; the Coolth Particle, remains unrecognised by both the Nobel Foundation and by all of my colleagues in the world of Science. My PhD Treatise; On Postulating the Existence of UnCombustion, the Active Process of Not Burning, remains the least-read thesis in the Open University Library. I continue my research and, something between 700,000 and 120,000 years after the discovery by mankind of Fire I hope, one day, to discover Unfire. Early experiments involving not rubbing two sticks together until there is no friction between them seem promising.
The previous moorings were most pleasant indeed, having mooring rings and plenty of interwebnetting signal, but suffered from an outbreak of highly-contagious Boating Meerkatitis.
This mooring affliction is akin to Supermarket Car Parking, but involves boats – in especially narrowboats – and, rather than forcing any heavy metallic object to lay at rest side by side, door-ding by door-ding, compels all living things afloat to moor up stem to stern with ne’ery room for a gnat’s flatulence between them.
This is in fact Recommended Practice in busy areas during the summer months, but in January in a middle of a “pandemic” “lockdown” when no-one is, under pain of hefty fine, allowed to poke their noses out farther than half an inch from under the duvet, one wonders. One really wonders.
The Cardinal and I are flattered, of course, by the attraction, but of much puzzled brain-gland.
In view of the fact that I snore like a T-Rex after a night on curry washed down with rum (and then jiggled about by a six-hour bop at the Dino-Disco) – and that doubtless the Cardinal’s steel hull amplifies such – don’t these other boaters lose sleep, and become thus annoyed (and perhaps learn that I am not a Podgy Pink Papal Peepulpersun)?
I must, there’s no way that my nasal passages could possibly not, annoy the hell out of them…
Oh well, and ho et le hum. Maybe they all wear earplugs as well as
There’s a wee pond thereabouts (filled with water, not with wee) and encircled by old and gnarled trees. It is home to (at least) two very large, very plump, very fluffed-up (grey) squirrels. I gave photographing them my best efforts in spite of the frost and I present for you here below one of my finest photographs of the spot where a squirrel had been just some scant moments before.
Squirrels or no, the final straw for those moorings, for the time being, came when I discovered an alien life-form living under my barge-pole.
Once this alien foot develops fully I wonder if it will release my barge-pole, or whether it will carry it off as food, or mate, or some such. What might happen if I dug out my old Descant recorder and played it five particular tones? What aside from strange looks from passers by, that is.
Anyway, Alien and I decided to take advantage of the ice-breaking endeavours of not one not two but some three other narrowboats, and to mooch on down – an “essential trip” sanctioned by Das Local Authorities – through the lock and to the Venetian Hire Boats & Chandlery chandlery to take on diesel. Sixty-seven litres topped the Cardinal’s tank up nicely, and then we mooched farther on and out into Windy Alley, winding, oddly, in the winding hole near Syke’s Hollow. Winding thus gives me a good – lazy – view with a railway line attached, as opposed to merely a good view without railway line attached.
With both boilers boiling and with the ship’s Sailing Master rowing we made it the one and one tenth total trip miles before dark, and were nicely moored up again (chains on armco, my favourite) before the meteorological winds of last night set in.
It’s all wonderfully black & white down there – here – for the moment.
Life on a boat is most atmospheric during winter nights of 30-40mph winds and torrential rain. Life aboard the Cardinal last night was most atmospheric indeed. Almost atmospherical. Meeting a big structure such as the Cardinal in the middle of wide-open fairly flat countryside amplifies the whistles, whines and howls of the wind, the rain (and hail) splatters on the steelwork and the boat – and my bed – rocks ever so gently. It’s all a chap can do to get a full chapter of a good book under his wing before Nod calls.
The winds then were blowing from the south, holding us firmly onto the towpath. Today of course, this being Ing-ger-lund, the winds are from the north-west, trying to ease us off our mooring ropes. There are three ropes out, this being an “I will sleep better with more than two” but not quite a “four ropes and close the gun ports” situation. The wind has to get up to 60-70mph before the Cardinal and I resort to four ropes (and it has, on several occasions).
The towpath here is, as it was above the lock, quite quiet. The lack of towpath traffic is, methunkth, down to the season and the weather, since very few folk will do anything if it means the mildest botheration or discomfort. So far today there’s been a couple of dog-walkers (nice dogs, he remarked), a couple of stout young gells ramblering, a couple of ugly lycra bags of sweat, fat & SUSTRANS-encouraged self-entitlement* and that’s all, although it’s more than enough.
* “Keen” “Cyclists”, the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd’s favourite people. “People”.
Oh well, perhaps the alien on the roof will decide that they all look tasty and nutritious?
Stranger things have happened.
Stranger things are happening, all about, and getting stranger by the day.
I wonder how long it will be before Boating Meerkatitis consumes the area once again, and we are back to being stem to stern? Guesses on a postcard please, in increments of half-day.
We had a spot of sunshine earlier, but the clouds are in the ascendant again now. That said, the view from my desk is still wonderfully, entirely, deliciously “Not Hackney”, even if it is black & white only.
Photograph is cr*ap because it was taken through the glass of the window, and if you think that I’m going outdoors again today you’ve got another thunk coming! The cratch cover is zipped and toggled, Mr Stove is eating his nom-noms and there’s a rinky-dinky wee Dutch oven atop, baking me an enormous baked spud for tiffin.
A million boaters every day pick up a tin of Beanz and say ‘yep, these’ll do nicely, with a chuffing great baked spud and a dollop of HP sauce’.
Before I set the thing to be baked alive I soused it in virginal olive oil, rubbed it with a sufficiency of garlic and gave it a sprinkly sprunkling of sea-salt.
It’ll be fantastic, or it’ll be horrid. The galley of Cardinal Wolsey produces nought that is betwixt and between.
Chin-chin for the moment, Muskies.
Ian H., &etc.