The Fuel Boat BARGUS cometh and goeth; the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd remains obdurately silent

Messrs Meteorillogical (sic) Office have sent wind, wind and more wind. Temperingtures (sic) though are almost balmy in comparison to the past weeks of ice, sleet and occasional light snow in these parts. We’ve even had some sunshinery, but not today. Today is dull dull dull and depressingly grey. Mr Engine is running – the better to feed the domestic batteries and to provide a tankful of nice, hot water. I always try to only run the engine when I can take advantage of multiple purposes: moving the boat; charging the batteries; providing hot water. It seems churlish to burn good diesel for anything less than two out of three.

BARGUS came calling yesterday. Their route is somewhat severely injured by the current stoppages (landslide at Beeston; culvert collapse towards Audlem, &etc &etc ad nauseam gadzooks) so the temporary route is a two-hundred mile horse-shoe, rather than the more usual circular confection. Three of coal please, two of kindling, one of Elsan Blue (as opposed to the Esso Blue favoured by my late Father). The Cardinal’s well deck is well and truly stuffed, and that’s a good thing.

Talking of stuffed, and getting, you can see the massively over-crowded moorings above Cholmondeston Lock in the photograph below (towpath side, to right of canal here). There have been knife fights over mooring space of late. Not. That dot is the Cardinal’s stern end.

BARGUS with Jason at the helm, descending Cholmondeston Lock (11′ 3″) (the lock, that is, not Jason). 18/02/2021.

Many thanks for agreeing to my taking some photos. Oddly, for such a photogenic great lump of canal history (the boat, not Jason), I haven’t yet managed to take a good photograph of BARGUS. I need to re-think it and prepare some more. My theory is that the problem is the many, many colourful and attention-grabbing supplies aboard, and a really totally uncomplicated background is needed. I’ll have a think and a furtle on that one.

BARGUS leaving Cholmondeston Lock. Middlewich Branch. 18/02/2021.

Messrs ASDA having called recently (praise be to there actually being the odd available delivery slot!) I have been sitting on my perch and muching my way through broccoli and cauliflower. I know, I know, what may I say except that I am weird, I love my veggies.

Don’t worry though, I always spread newspaper beneath my cage so that everything keeps clean.

As with most things that I do I had intended to slip quietly out, crawl along the hedgerow with trolley and plastic crates, take a swift delivery and then hoof it back behind the steel bulkheads of the Cardinal – leaving the outside world outside. What actually happened though was the slowest delivery in the long and drama-laden history of Commercial Broccoli Delivery… The text arrived advising me that the van was on the way, I arrived at the Ron Dez-Voo co-ordinates early (as is my wont anyway, having been trained at gunpoint by old-fashioned parents a la manners), the rain also arrived early, and the van actually arrived late. Two hours and more from hopping over the Cardinal’s gunwales to throwing my comestibles back aboard and thinking about beginning to consider the benefits of an at-my-earliest-convenience stowing away of same.

For comparison, the shortest delivery ever was twenty minutes including a hoofing along the towpath.

Still, tis done and tis well that tis done. If the planet stops rotating then I shan’t starve for two or three weeks. πŸ˜‰

My thanks indeed to S for the supply of replacements for the substituted pastry-clad goodies. Also πŸ™‚

The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd (“Making Life Better By Water”) remain silent in the matter of my wellness. Perhaps the new and expensive tag-line doesn’t apply to boaters? Seemsnot. All manner ofsnot. As organisations go they really are a jumbled heap.

The (human) world continues to run screaming towards whatever is beyond, far beyond, insanity. I continue to ignore it as best I can while entreating it to ignore me. I rather think that all of the various strings that make our politicians jump back and forth on the world stage have become tangled somehow, and the global body politic is now merely jerking like a dead frog hooked up to an electrical current.

Something flew over the Cardinal a few days ago and in the space of perhaps one second shat on every canal-side window, every canal-side porthole and all five solar panels. We’re not talking “shat” in the sense of dab at it with a tissue, either, this was a bucket of water and a squeegee job (panels only, I’m not wing-walking to clean the canal-side).

I am hoping that it was a flock of somethings, and not just one enormous bird with a bowel the size of Boris Johnson’s… problems.

Perhaps it was the fabled Politician Bird? They’re well-known for cra*pping on the populace from a great height.

Perhaps it was a(nother) message from the Canal & River Trust Ltd?

Of course, I can’t rule out the possibility that it was one of the many Army/RAF/Police helicopters that we’ve all become so inured to seeing flying far below the “peacetime” lower limit of 500′ these days. Aren’t they the opposite of trains; only supposed to flush while in the station? From mystery Chinooks circling to Police surveillance rushing headlong from (probably) Chinese take-away to Base, we barely notice them now, do we? What a sad, sad indictment and we’re back to frogs again, although in our case, boiled.

If you don’t know how to boil a frog then just review the various joys of Human society for the past year, year and a half. That will give you the full recipe.

Anyway. Wind is still a-blowing, the Cardinal is rocking quite nicely (unlike those poor buggers still living on a tilt beyond the Beeston breach, their boats sitting on the bottom of an empty canal), and I must away and feed Mr Stove again.

Chin-chin chaps, if all else fails then do please raise a fist to the clouds and then light up and enjoy a Hamlet moment. No, not Shakespode’s play Hamlet; Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet… and Air on a G String*.

*Johann Sebastian Barking, as are we all.

Ian H., &etc., Scourge of The Canal System.


  1. Just to be bl**dy pedantical and all that, military is 250ft agl in open country 500 over built up, whereas civil is the 500agl in country 1000 over townships (but not necessarily townboats ??)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know. There is little of this area though that I would consider to be open country, stuffed full of footballers, their wives and their Aston Martins as it is, and positively teeming with the servile masses needed to maintain same. πŸ˜‰

      I have a close relative who lives directly under the flight path of any hairyplanes sent up to intercept those damnable Riskies when found in the North Sea, and my goodness gracious and all that, those interceptors are impressive when being flown without a care for fuel economy. The hens not only stop laying but actually hoover up eggs previously laid.


  2. I blame the flocks of flying pigs the government releases every time it slaps itself on the back over its handling of the plague.


    1. It is. I much prefer it to my previous usual honorific, which was ‘The Accused’. For years I thought that my surname was ‘Howdoyouplead’.

      I shall have to change it again though after the Revolution, when I shall be known simply as ‘Lord High He-Who (Must Be Obeyed)’.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful blog post and comments, thank you all.
    You all deserve medals of the highest order.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In a short but spectacular ceremony earlier this morning I awarded myself a Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire and two Non-Military Crosses. πŸ˜‰ After speeches we all ate toast and Marmite and drank coffee until it came out of our ears.

      Texas has one or two problems of its own I hear – a blast of winter weather and some frozen disconveniences abounding. I hope that you are safe and well and happy – swelligant, in fact – in whichever part of Texas your heart may lay. πŸ˜‰


  4. I can’t top Helen’s advice (above), but have to say I do enjoy your tales of misery and merriment.

    Here, the dregs of a monsoon continued all night and seem to be winding up again for another day of same. Probably not as ardupus as cleaning barge windows, but think of me, sweeping water…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss the monsoons. I remember once in Poonah in ’43 or perhaps ’44 it rained so hard and for so long that it shrank three of my favourite howdah elephants and we had to turn them into house pets for their own safety.

      My most very favouritest thing about rain is that it falls in droplets over a period of time, and not all in one solid sheet… Usually, although I have heard tales of parts of Wales where it has been known to flatten whole herds of sheeps. πŸ˜‰ Wheeeeee…. thump, baaaaa.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Blowing a hoolie here in Chester basin & surprisingly very little stuff landing on the windows. We just have a swan that is aimlessly wandering up and down calling for it’s soulmate which died last weekπŸ˜”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes – there was a swan deceased and ceased between Bridges 3 and 4 here on the M’wich last week – is that another one? Is there some swan serial killer on the loose? Were both swans swans of the street, swans of easy virtue? I have to confess that I don’t much care for the things but I’d not want to see them fall prey to a mass murderer.

      Yonder wind is rocking the boat very nicely here this evening. From the forecast it looks as though we bought in a job lot and have supplies for the week. There must have been a Closing Down Sale of winds somewhere and someone from the Met Office attended… πŸ˜‰


      1. A week last Tuesday we came up the road by the Telfords warehouse pub and the swan was on the pavement on the other side of the sandstone wall by the basin. It wasn’t moving and sat upright. A guy was calling the RSPCA . They think it hit the wall by the bridge while flying down to the bottom of the basin. I found out a few days later that it died due to it’s injuries.


  6. Hurrah for someone using the word ‘obdurate’ may you be knighted at her Madge’s pleasure. Here on your blog we have the makings of a brussel sprout appreciation society – ‘give brussels a chance’, ‘brussels are not just for Christmas’ etc etc. What else would I have as a treat on my birthday with cauliflower cheese and another five veg? It’s all quiet on the persecution front over here also, let’s hope no one pokes them with a stick!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the word obdurate. I also love the words obscurantic, otiose and pellucid. Also peregrination, which I know to be one of my brother’s favourites too. Such words are akin to fine wines and old brandies, and need to be sipped at and savoured. πŸ™‚

      The cauliiflower is one of Mr Nature’s most excellent creations, steamed to the soft side of a crunch, shown the merest vapours of a hot onion vinegar, the lightest dusting of a fragrant North Sea sea-salt, and then wolfed down in an orgy of English staples. Ye gods but I am easy to please! πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  7. If they changed their slogan to ‘Making life better by waterboarding’ their money worries would be over…Sir Mark Sedwill could arrange funding from his banking and security activities and they could happily forget all about those pesky people who insist on sullying the waters with boats all the year round while converting canalside loo and rubbish facilities into ‘interview’ centres for those who refuse vaccinations.

    How people accept policemen telling them porkies about what they can and cannot do I do not know….has no one watched all the series of ‘Line of Duty’? That it is more than likely that they are all controlled by H for nefarious purposes and want everyone locked up so that they can continue to ‘mislay’ convoys of arms and drugs without the inconvenience of witnesses?
    If their helicopters are flying that low you need to import an elderly north Vietnamese person with experience of shooting down helicopter gunships….make a change from pheasant shooting.
    Enjoy your broccoli and cauli…i am gloomily regarding what seems to be the last bag of frozen brussels sprouts in Costa Rica and wondering whether to blow it all on one orgy or to eke it out, a few at a time……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just can’t get past the nightmare of ‘…the last bag of frozen brussels sprouts…’ – that’s just seriously more than the human frame ought to be able to withstand. I hadn’t ever thought before about how this wet and windy little blob of rock in the Atlantic provides us with such a wealth of (European-grown, African-grown, Middle_Eastern-grown) vegetable, but the thought is indeed a humbling one. There is no cure for an absence of sprouts (or broccoli) (or carrots or cauliflower or spuds or cabbage or onions). Would a Red Cross sack of Brussels get through Costa Rica Customs? The newly-formed B.S.A.S.(Brussel Sprout Appreciation Society) (see comment above from Pat) stands ready to club together and send supplies.

      In re the helicopters that’s a damned fine idea – elderly Vietnamese ought to be immediately imported and shown the target silhouettes. The flying habits of the heckilopters in these parts (and doubtless other parts too) have become… impolite. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The way customs work here the contents of the sack would have evolved into primeval slime by the time it emerged from their clutches….

        Still, things do improve….when we were first in France in the 80s we could not believe how limited they were in terms of veg…not to speak of rice….but things gradually improved. Same here in Costa Rica. Fresh sprouts are occasionally sighted in a couple of upmarket supermarkets, causing an unseemly stramash to get at them – thank goodness for early training in church jumble sales, smart work with the elbows bring dividends. There is one weekly market in the capital where such rare delights as proper spinach – not the blasted tetragon – can be found, but you have to be there before the Chinese get in, and they rise early!

        Liked by 1 person

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