England, May 2021; could there possibly be a more wrist-nibblingly depressing scenario?

[The view from the side-hatch.]

Yes, of course there could.

But it must be said that with Father Nature being a complete t*t with the weather, The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd publishing its latest steps in driving live-aboards off the canals, the global pharmaceutical industry still merrily pulling off the biggest heist in human history (&etc), and the human species still bleating (in-between “soap-operas”) that someone’s cr*pped in their grass, well – this era is up there (down there!) among the notables.

If the gas oven on the boat worked then I’d be sore tempted. It’s a quarter to six in the morning, Mr Stove really can’t be ar*sed (too “end of season” for his tastes), the rain is lashing down and there’s half a gale blowing up my Arsenal Villa have done well this season have they not.

Or possibly a monkey’s uncle.

If this is really the last week of May then I’m a dutchman.

We zijn allemaal volslagen idioten en de menselijke samenleving is dus gedoemd. Vaarwel.

This is most definitely not the apocalypse that I was promised.

I always knew that the (human) world wouldn’t end with a bang, but who would have thought that it would end with it being both illegal and too much effort to raise so much as a whimper?

Anyway, to business. Swans.

Stupid critters.

Sometimes swans absolutely insist on joining boats in locks – and then they’re royally stuffed. Swans can’t take off (or land) without a hundred yardlings or so of runway, and they can’t even climb lock ladders.

As I approached the lock (on foot) yesterday I noted that the Senior Team of Lock Volunteers were on duty, and that the paddles had for some reason only been opened a dribble. This was why. A spatially-challenged swan taking a nervous ride down the lock with a hire-boat.

Certain only that it was first in the queue the horrid critter sailed around, explored the corners, tried to squeeze through alongside the boat and just waited for something to happen as the water level was slowly reduced.

Then, when the lower gates could be opened (taking care to not squish Mr Sunday Lunch, as I termed him, behind the apparatus), out he sailed. Full speed ahead and don’t spare the flippers.

Excitement over. Doubtless he only paddled down to the winding hole and then joined the queue to go back up the lock.

Narrowboats. Not all narrowboats are equal – some have some very fancy bits, bobs and pretentions.

Emma Louise Too

This one’s some sort of “Dutch barge” with an eating disorder and a “skinny fit” hull. It’s a lovely boat, but IMHO (and remember that I am Lord High He-Who) the centre cockpit is impractical and makes control difficult, and there is too much of the boat that is nought but boat and thus not much-needed lebensraum. Must be noted however that it got up the lock without the aid of a swan.

We’re still moored in Windy Alley, in a long line of miserable boats, all being miserable with added whatever. That’s me, first on the left.

Ordinarily Windy Alley is delicious for its wide-open sky but at the moment it’s akin to living under the messy end of some giant broody pigeon.

Oh I can’t complain. We’ve had a steam train past a couple of times, a Deltic, and something odd dragging what must have been an incredibly heavy load (Richard Parry’s pay packet?) – all of which I’ve missed with the camera.

Industrial train thingy of some sort.

A mate procured for me a coffee that I haven’t seen hitherto – coffee from Southern India. Ye gods (Greek and Roman), it’s ruddy good stuff.

Some coffees are just hot and wet, some tickle the odd taste-bud as they answer the siren call of oesophageal gravity, but this stuff runs around a chap’s mouth kicking seven shades of delicious sh*ite out of every sensory organ fitted. Apparently – and not a lot of people know this – it’s grown alongside vanilla trees or vanilla bushes or vanilla-squirrels or whatever vanilla grows on, and it shows. Most excellent stuff indeed.

I’ve had a cafetiere so far this morning, there will be another later in the day. If a chap must stand at the side-hatch and watch the human world crumble before his eyes then this is the coffee to drink in-between offering advice such as ‘Oi! You’ve missed a bit.’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just shoot everyone between the (blank, dull) eyes?’

Another passenger-free train thunders past, rushing from nowhere to who cares.

It seems that the vegan egg-substitute that Messrs Chandlery ordered for me may well have arrived, so I needs must venture out into the day, later. I have of late been craving what we English term “French Toast”, and I’d like to have some before the world ends. This is – as far as I can tell from extensive research and much reading of reviews – the only stuff that will produce the necessary eggfect but not have popped out of some hen’s over-strained sphincter.

I’ll let you know. Fingers crossed. Another variation of “comfort food” – if it works. The reviews are about fifty-fifty, with half hating it and half loving it. Tis also supposed to be good for Spainish Ohm-lettes and the like. Mind you, at the price charged it ought to be good for every damned thing.

I haven’t tried powdered egg since Mr Hitler started World War II just so that he could bomb the backside out of our house in Grimsby.

Oh well, chin-chin &etc.

If anyone hears a nightingale singing (in Berkeley Square or otherwise) please do let me know.

I have an old Roman recipe.

Ian H.


  1. I hope the vegan-egg substitute is better than any of the so-called meat-substitutes I’ve tried since going vegetarian, none of which remotely resemble meat in either taste or texture. I could never go full vegan. I’m too partial to poached egg on toast, one of the few pleasures left to my diminished palette these days.


    1. Sadly not – in common with most aquatic boyds they have incomparably greater legal rights in all spheres of life than do humans – all backed up by stupendous fines and gaol sentences!

      That said, I am certain that a number of them disappear into various ovens come that season calling for the roasting of large avian critters and the singing of carols… πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your usual Sublime to Ridiculous by way of Entertainment. I swear your humour glows in the dark.
    I thought of you yesterday as I stood by the canal in Chester. I offered a nonchalant salute.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The glow is just the effect of the radioactivity (in a previous life I was a spent fuel rod discarded by safety offices at Huddersfield Nuclear Station). That, and the effect of not washing for twenty years.


      Liked by 2 people

  3. Is that a knitted bumper I see on the front of ELT? And is she a bit long for the winding holes? It looks rather longer than the usual offerings on these pages, or is it the skinny model effect?

    Re: the promised apocalypse, I’m fairly sure I read that billions of locusts are about to hatch out the ground in America. It should add a bit more verisimilitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Emma has some triplicated arrangement there in place of a single front button – the bows are almost vertical and much higher than usual for modern boats. It looked initially to me like a squashed teddybear.

      I don’t think that I would acquit myself well in a locust apocalypse – far too squeamish about insects! Mind you, I’m not really a hit-it-in-the-head-with-an-axe sort, either. In fact, I’m not well-equipped for life in general…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. All the swans down this way have mini versions, all grey and fluffpots for the adults to be over protective about!

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    1. The swan couple hereabouts decided on a sports car, a dog and a holiday home instead of kids – sensible swans. πŸ˜‰ Some silly sods in this line of boats have been feeding them from the side-hatch. This means that whenever I fling my doors open to the world the swans oik up, recognise me as Mr Grumpy, swear and paddle away disappointed.

      Hope that the trip is going splendiferously – did the weather discomnobulate things?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Super photograph!
    Vanilla is an orchid. I have it in the garden. Unfortunately whatever insect used to pollinate it has died out – or been Monsantod – so you have to pollinate the damned thing by hand which is a royal pain in the proverbial if you are both short sighted and cackhanded.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Do you pollinate using a feaher of some sort? There are so many great flavours on this planet – vanilla, ginger, almond, I can’t even recall them all to list, and now Indian coffee too.

      If only one of them (or even a combination) eaten to excess could permanently correct dodgy eye-sight! You sound as though you have a similar problem to me – I must be careful to remember exactly where I put my spectaculars down, otherwise I can’t find them again without a fingertip search… So used to the damned things that I often try to remove them when they’re already off or put them on when they’re already on.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I recently had cateracts removed, having worn glasses or contacts since Iwas about 9 years old. I can now see perfectly ‘over there’, but need glasses to see ‘here’. However, I still go to take them off, or put them on at times. (Amazingly, I read the second to smallest letters on the vision chart. Makes a change from ‘What chart?’)
        I can sympathise about losing glasses. I previously said I needed glasses to find my glasses!
        But it’s brilliant being able to see, especially the clock during the night when I wake up.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Tis most excellent indeed that you have your eyesight back!

          I have fond memories of a talking alarm clock that I had for years – tap it on the top and it would tell the time. It lasted well but went the way of all gizmos, and I haven’t found a decent one since (or looked for a while)…

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, mostly because it seems like a lot of bother. Im nothing if not lazy. If it was convenient and cheap, id be as pleased as not to give up everything but eggs and milk. I’m quite fond of them. I hope your sub works well.

    I find that when I eat a vegan thing that isn’t trying too hard to taste like meat, I like it better. I like a veggie burger that embraces the veggie and tastes different and more interesting therefore than meat. In the US, there’s a craze right now for “impossible meat” that is vegan. It seems to me that it hits the exact bland nothingness of trying too hard.

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    1. I find it difficult to understand why almost all veggy/vegan things are made to look like and taste like meat – I think it’s just plain vomitorious! Why, as you say, they can’t just embrace the new is beyond me.

      I’ve seen far too close-up where milk and eggs come from, which is why both are “eek! yikes! and gadzooks! to me) – although I have tempered my zeal and can mostly prevent myself from reading labels these days… That said, my favouritestest plate ever is just simply cooked, unadulterated vegetables without too many man-made bits. The pies are just a luxury. πŸ™‚

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      1. I agree with you on veggies made to look and taste like meat. If you are going to give up eating animals, just do it ( as a well-known sports clothing company says). It seems those people who eat these things are really hankering after meat, so shouldn’t be vegetarians.
        I’m not vegetarian myself. In fact, I believe that humans are intended to be omnivorous, as shown by our biology, but if anyone wants to embrace it, good luck to them, but they shouldn’t pretend to be eating meatless meat.
        Kudos to you, Ian, for eating honest vegetables.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. With Wales who knows? Isn’t the rainiest place in the Ukited Knigdom somewhere in Cumbria? I forget. Something like a mile and a half of rain per year, or some such.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful photograph and what ‘orrible weather. Apparently the wettest on record ever for Wales, so I reckon you’re on the cusp. And it’s so cold, comfort food it the only insullation against it. It’s definately a Pukka day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was born on the Cusp. Might have been the prison bus to and from Wakefield, nor that I come to think on it. On the roof, as I remember. Life was hard then, but we were happy*.

      *For one thing, the weather was much more orderly.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve never understood why when they go to the trouble of catching the swans to “tag” them they then let them go (instead of selling them to McDonalds or some such). You can tell that I’m not fond of swans, can’t you? πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

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