Dome Is Wherever I Twist My Stern-Gland Greaser

Old Father Nature does get whimsical at times, as yesterday when he bunged up a full semi-circle double rainbow with no visible means of support. Being brighter on the “inside” than “outside” it gave the impression of being a dome over the countryside. Does anyone yet have an explanation for this difference in bright-th-ness under a rainbow?

Photo taken from the Cardinal’s side-hatch.

Anyway. I took my shovel, traced both ends and dug up a pot of bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal with the atomic number ’79’ at one excavation, and a briefcase full of slightly damp Bearer Bonds (Schweizerische Nationalbank, 1933) at the other. There was a label asking the finder to return it to one Leutnant Klaus Schwab, aged 13¾, but he can pucker his lips and whistle Kampflied der Nationalsozialisten as far as I am concerned, if he can still raise a tune and a lungful of N2O2CO2.

It’s been a whimsical week in general, all things considered. I’ve been berated by a horde of canoeists who apparently think that boats ought not to moor up anywhere, and who kindly advised me that I ‘don’t own the waterways’. #Whodathunkit? I’ve watched canoeists return, not actually in their little plastic baby-baths, but towing them along with their paddles, full of rucksacks. Hopefully that’s all that could be salvaged from the earlier rather gobby horde after the Aeroflot 747 express to Davos crash-landed on them as they portaged around a particularly butch-looking duck.

They caused nearly as much confusion as did the earlier bunch, who played among the 18,000kg steel boats like hungry monkeys raiding a wholesale fruit market, forming themselves up only at the last moment each time – and piddly-paddling under the bows of cruising boats to pass on the left side…


Still, mustn’t grumble, I’m sure that they’ve each paid their 7/- 6d licence fee into the coffers, and received their kiss on the forehead, loving sigh and clasping of the adoring hands from C&RT HQ as they launched.

Each to their own of course, but I know damned well which of us would get the blame and be sued from arse’ole to beak should one or more of the horn-free, light-free, insurance-free, clue-free monkeys be squashed on a blind bend, under a bridge or – Heaven forefend, now that C&RT have unbelievably allowed it – in a tunnel.

Not ‘grumpy’ – purely practical. They’re not safe!

The Cardinal and I have mooched on two or three times since last we moored. Back around, round and around and goes around to the water point and wotnot, and thence on again to pastures different. Having poked a rheumy eyeball at the Met Office’s forecast I cruised last, as is generally not my wont, one evening – and most splendid it was too. Not only did the gathering clouds hold off with their threatened precipi…….tation but one of my favourite mooring spots was available. I thought about it for 0.0003 of a second and oiked us in.

Cardinal to the left of us, one of the most civilised winding holes in the Nation to the right. We are most distinctly off the mooring restrictions indicated by the post to the extreme left (buried in the trees), being betwixt and between, so how many days (up to the 1995 Act max) I spend here is up to me, not to Sharon Yeah? in the Office. [They all seem to have names with rising inflections these days.]

Nor are we compromising the winding hole, the photo being deceptive, and there being a boat length between winding hole and our stern end.

There’s a bit of a breeze blown up today that distinctly wasn’t on the published menu, so fortunate it is that I have to cruise nowhere. The second-busiest (single) lock on the canal system is a stroll up ahead, and immediately after that, a mere stumble onwards, the best chandlery, marina, cafe, and cover-maker on the planet (Venetian). During “rush hours” there’s an elephant’s sufficiency of things to watch, with boats racing one another for the lock from both directions (I kid you not), and boats juggling to get onto the wharf for diesel and water and comestibles and all manner of semi-religious reasons.

The interwebnettings signal is not spectacular on these moorings, but then – unlike Klaus – one can’t have everything on a warmed plate. It’ll do.

Relatively early (for most) on a Sunday the boats are already beginning to move. The Cardinal is, as is usual, apparently invisible, with few bothering to slow down as they pass (tis polite and tis a requirement of etiquette to slow down to a mild pootle when passing moored boats). The mix is complete – some live-aboards, some marina-escapees, and some hirers pass at a rate of “screw you and the rope you tied up with” knots, while some live-aboards, some marina-escapees and some hirers are (still) most considerate indeed. A party of thoroughly inebriated Danes (flying their flag) cruised past in one direction as though towing a water-skier, and returned later as though leading a floating funeral cortège in honour of their favourite rasher of bacon. One can rarely guess, so I offer them all abuse and my best wishes for a septic sit-upon.

The towpath here is civilised, so there’s a steady procession of dogs attempting to walk a little of the “burger and fries” off their owners, and of velocipedes passing with something horrid and lumpy and unkempt in lycra impaled on the saddle post. Doubtless if they see me at all then they conclude – quite reasonably – for their part that all boaters are (at least, also) two picnic baskets off being “beach body ready”.

Wildlife here seems limited this season to a few desultory ducks, a moody moorhen and six dozen spiders. The spiders are all aboard the Cardinal. Yesterday I was dishing up my lunch when one made a break from the shadows and sprinted towards the plate. The evening before while enjoying an electric “DVD” show one crawled onto my bare arm, and I swear the little bugger gave me a nip.

If hollywood is to be believed then having been bitten by a spider I ought soon to be able to shoot strands of silk from my private arsenal and crawl across any ceiling including polystyrene tiles and Artex.

I await developments with interest (and with regular applications of Tiger Balm).

Knowing my luck I’ll probably just grow six more legs and have to spend a fortune on shoes.

nb Whistler has just cruised past. I wonder if his mother will follow on?

nb Cochon Noir has just performed a neat colte face in the winding hole, bow-thrusters thrusting.

One of the “hotel boats” has just scurried up to the lock.

I can hear a goose (or two) taking (eventual, very eventual) flight behind – all flap and splash and honk.

A chap has just cruised past with a bun – a top-knot I think they’re called. We must be moored in a fashionable area. I shall have to stick a chicken feather in my flat cap if I venture out again.

Dear God – indeed Ye Gods – I know that I ought not to be judgemental (except when on The Bench) but something wheezy has just jog-shuffled past in sky-blue lycra tights, sky-blue singlet (c/w runner number) and sky-blue head-band. A bloke.

Perhaps the Corpse de Ballet is performing locally?

A performance of Swan Leak?

I hereby retire from public life.

It’s all go on the canals, you know. Well, gone now, for the moment.

I’ll keep you abreast of the legs situation.

Chin-chin, chaps.

IGH & CW., with best wishes for all of those in peril in pea-green boats.


  1. Canoeists sound like the cyclists of the waterways what with all their sense of entitlements and interesting interpretations of “rules” and accompanying fruity languages. And as you’ve as much protection from prosecution as your average bus driver who “needs must” mows down one of the lycra-clad, the comparison is no doubt apposite. If you do end up in old chokey when the temptation becomes too great, we’ll send postcards to cheer you up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s the perfect analogy – canoeists in general display the same squealing me-me-me mentality as do most cyclists. My theory is that this attitude has been fostered and actively encouraged over past decades by the Them of our Establishment. Like most of my generation as a sprog when I wasn’t desperately hoping for a (rare, very rare) lift from Dad in the car I was walking or riding my bike (or someone else’s bike, we weren’t fussy) – but we gave way, respected traffic (because we liked living), used lights and didn’t expect a place to be laid for us in front of three lanes of motorised traffic at every set of traffic lights. Canoeists are generally the same – I met one a few weeks ago at a bridge hole and it was obvious that while the bridge was mine by etiquette and by all that is holy -he- had no intention at all of dropping his padddling speed or giving way. I would have loved to squash his ego but I brought 18,000kgs of steel to a halt instead. On his return trip (time trials?) he caught me up and overtook – no warning, on the incorrect side, far too close for (my) comfort. This will end in tears.


  2. We had a spider lived under our ornament cabinet on the boat. It was massive – capable of handling a twin-seater saddle. I attempted to sweep it out one afternoon, but it bit the head off the broom. Presumably the new owner of the boat hasn’t disturbed it yet. Or it might have eaten her. We don’t keep in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Found – or rather, was caught – by another one in the dark last night. It had built a web at face-height across the toilet doorway… This one too was not given the option of the capturing & releasing jar. I fully expect to wake one morning cocooned and unable to move, as Shelob hangs from the ceiling, lickling her lips and preparing napkin and cutlery.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gud aftermoaning your eminence,
    I think it’s high time you purchased one of those hi-tec camera thingies for the front the Cardinal so you can prove how many of those pesky canoeists you have mown down on you travels & we can have the pleasure of seeing it on your blog & accruing the points for doing so!
    I’m with you on the Venetian marina chandlery being the best on the cut but the jury is out on the café. Calverley Mill café does a wonderful full English (including mushrooms, black pudding & coffee) for £8.50 ! Oh and that Calverley crunch cheese is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This lot were interesting because of their combination of total ignorance of the rules of the road (the canal) alongside their absolute sense of total ownership – a more entitled bnunch of baby-bath paddlers it would be difficult to meet. Trouble is, as I mention, that any and all blame will be firmly placed by C&RT whatever the evidence upon the boater – we’ll get no help at all from the Cyclists Anglers & Ramblers [mis]Trust Ltd. We’ve seen this with the Lea and C&RT’s hideously untrustworthy behaviour over the rowing club’s “safety zone” fiasco.

      Tis early days but if the cafe puts fried bread on the breakfast plate then they’ll get my vote! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I like rainbows (everywhere exept on flags where they become merely gaudy) but I’ve never managed to do one justice in a photograph. Most times I see one I just don’t bother reaching for the camera, and just enjoy it instead. 😉


Comments are closed.