The Oneth of the Oneth of the Twenty Twenty-Thrid

Other dates are available, mention here does not imply endorsement. E&OE.

I think that perhaps the trees in the phomatograph above look rather like most people in the Western world have been made to feel, except that of course in a phatomagruph you can’t hear the screaming.

As I type this the it of it is absolutely pi…persisting down. The ducks and moorhen are confused, some are swimming past inverted, since it feels wetter that way. I’ve just fed a friendly moorhen a large chunk of precious Teasted Toecake – yes, I know it’s bread, but the wee beastie’s an adult, and there’s fruit in them thar cakes. Knowing my luck it’ll be the fruit that kills the hungry mite. I was very impressed by the way that the thing grabbed the teacake in the water and then swam back to the side-hatch, offering it up. ‘I say, could you throw this on the grill for a couple of minutes for me please?’ At least evolution would appear to have continued in a positive vein in the avian species, if nowhere else.

Took a walk into one of the nearby towns yesterday. A lot of humanoids in green Wellington boots and expensive waxed jackets were blasting seven shades of sh*it out of the wildlife. We passed a duck that they’d shot. It had made it out of the killing fields, across the hedgerow, and into the canal where it then expired alone, the little dots of bright red on its neck and back attesting to a verdict of death by misadventure.

I do hope that my heartfelt wish for the health of the members of the shoot has come about. If so then a lot of them ought to be sitting in a queue on a hard plastic chair in some fly-blown hell-hole of an A&E about now, dabbing at their suppurating testicles with Dettol-soaked wads of cotton-wool, their hairy ears assaulted constantly by low-fidelity Christmas carols and announcements that the wait to see a contract Junior Houseman who hasn’t slept since the 23rd of December (and only then on the long flight from Goodgodihstan) is now down to just forty-one hours, patient refreshments being available from the Marks & Spencer vending machine in the foyer, just past the closed public toilets.

I am an unforgiving old Hector.

Life on the canals continues apace, that pace being zero at the moment, far reduced from the more hectic 2.75mph when things are in a panic.

We got royally slammed by Idiots day afore yesterday. They were towing an unpowered boat in a 35mph cross-wind and making an insult to pig’s ears of it. I watched them scraping along the towpath and went out to them before they reached the Cardinal, smiling and saying that the next two boats were both well-secured, so please to use all the speed they needed to get past. My invitation didn’t register. The space between their ears was obviously intentionally left blank.

The kid was driving the lead boat, the bloke was retying the towing lines, and the… the… lady on the tiller of the unpowered boat was waggling the tiller about as though half-heartedly trying out a few swings with a tennis raquet she was thinking of putting on her Christmas List. They had, she said, actually shrugging her shoulders at me, got places to be. Upon my retort that the failings of their diary were hardly any of my legitimate concern (and I was polite about it) she screamed that she was ‘being abused’ and gave up attempts at steering to turn around and demand that I not take photographs of her…

I would not have been quite so fussed about their utter nonsense had they a., not purported to be “professionals” (on trade plates) and b., had the towed boat, the one that was slamming around at all angles, not sported this peculiar ironwork poking out, somewhat negating the operation of the rubbing strips…

Ho hum, or, as Mother used to say when addressing The House, quarterwits, all.

Just my humble opinion. Others are available, but they’re more strongly worded still.

Nobody minds a (slow-speed) bump, nobody minds a (slow-speed) scrape, we all get it wrong on many an occasion, but when you’re moving entirely needlessly in ridiculous weather, and when your boat’s armed with several of Captain Hook’s best hooks, a line has been crossed.

Peace, love, and load the long nines with grape and chain.

In-between these… excitements… the countryside is relatively peaceful, and when the sun shines out, rather spectacular too.

I should point out that manifold of these countryside images are available to purchase in forms from print to greetings cards to jigsaws and mugs, by exploring the ‘Merchandise’ link at the top of this page – or by clicking here.

I read a science-fiction book once wherein the “authorities” interviewed millions in order to find pilots for deep-space missions; humans who could stand the isolation. I was puzzled. Nobody interviewed me before assuming that I could withstand being inescapably cheek by jowl with thousands of millions of sweaty dullards.

Equip my space-ship with a selection of large Silent Running-style “bio-domes” and I’d cheerfully pootle off and explore the Galactic Centre for you on some “whole of life” mission. Let me take a hound or three with me and there’s be ne’ery a backward glance.

The weather of late has been somewhat wild, with the Llangollen freezing over, and with some blasting winds – perfect weather to read a book that I received as a present; Endurance, by Mr Alfred Lansing. A recounting of Shackleton’s failed expedition to cross the Antarctic continent (or incontinent, one can never assume). A most splendid and a very atmospheric read indeed with the wind howling around my cabin. It was the kind of book that made me ration it, reading some every day but stopping early; I wanted it to last.

It’s the first of the new year. I have broccolii again, and other comestible luxuries. I haven’t made any resolutions, I don’t do that these days. I suppose I could promise to restrain myself less, and thus moan more, but what would be the point? ‘Cull’ and ‘the human species’ are words and phrases claimed by others and not allowed to we peasants even as an observation.

Ye gods but it’s hardly daylight at all at the moment, and there’s a moorhen on the offside performing the Himmler Manoeuvre on another, shouting that it’s choking on a piece of teacake.

Mid-winter, eh?

What jolly japes.

Hopefully my reader in Winter climes is tucked tightly into the nest, while my reader in warmer situations is wrapped around a cold pint of mojito.

I would wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year but, the definition of insanity being to do the same thing over and again while expecting a different result, I won’t bother. We are microscopic bugs in the toilet-rim of life, twenty-twenty-three will being what it brings, and we’ll generally just gerronwivit.

Gerronwivit while appreciating the trees and the moorhens and the clouds and the books and the most of the time when we’re not being abused by “professionals” of the sort who really ought not to be allowed out in [putative] “control” of even those little pink tricycles, the ones with tassels hanging from the handlebars.


Chin-chin, Chaps.

Ian H., and a “Brace Yourself” Cardinal W.


    1. Broccoli, it’s the only sure certain solution.*

      *Broccoli ought never to be actually eaten in solution, there should be a certain “crunch”.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Stunning photographs. We don’t get skies like that here in Northern Ireland where the sky is reliably a shade of miserable grey all year. Nobody asks what the weather is because it is always grey with a chance of rain. I constantly wonder how the locals can be so cheerful πŸ˜ŠπŸŒ«β˜”οΈ

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    1. I am very lucky that here we have a sky that – generally – puts on a fantastic show. Of course, today is uniformly dull and grey with eight eighths cloud cover! We forget that we’re living on small islands in the North Atlantic, latitudes about equal to the southern end of a polar bear’s hindquarters when it’s sitting down! Sometimes I am seriously in need of one of those Seasonal Affective Discomnobulation lights to sit in front of and bask. πŸ˜‰


  2. I’ve found that I can stand isolation for up to seventeen years without a flicker of self-doubt, so long as I have a large pan of stew constantly on the boil, a decent view out of the window (or an interesting hedge full of wildlife at any rate) and a well-thumbed copy of Molesworth.


  3. Those photos are corking! Happy New Year, there’s (no?) hope for us yet. (I still can’t believe the amount of interference you encounter on what I imagined to be a peaceful and easygoing way of life… guess it takes all sorts – and some of them dodgy!)


    1. The common factor is the people – there’s a full spread of the bell curve on and about the canals, but the edges are raised – more emphasis on the weirdos! That’s probably why I love the canals. Have a most splendid 2023 wherever and if ever you can. πŸ˜‰


  4. May you have a Happy and Prosperous gerronwivit 12 months in which your dream management team is appointed over the canal system ready and willing to undertake all necessary repairs and improvements and be willing to reduce the number of numpties who travel on the system by way of capability licences.

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    1. Thank’ee! I’ve just put a bet on at Ladbrookes on just such an event occurring before the end of this year. They looked at the chances and then said that I didn’t need to give them any stake money but that if it happened they’d pay me eleventeen million pounds in winnings. I don’t think I got two to one odds.

      Have a brilliode twenty twenty-thrid yourself, give ’em all hell and keep on keeping on, if only because it annoys them so. πŸ™‚

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  5. Happy New Year from down under the toilet-rim! Your witty prΓ©cis of tiresome intruders into your reverential reading of Shackleton’s Endurance did make me laugh – what a pity that they couldn’t just be characters on a page and you didn’t have to engage in actual words and the sharing of water and air with them. Tiresome. Or, an endurance all of your own.

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    1. I love the ol’ canal system but there’s on thing that it lacks – personal, one-boat pull-ins, where a chap can moor up out of the flow of numptyisms. Something akin to the “Emergency Refuge” system on those “smart” motorways that have actually just done away with the hard shoulder…

      May your 2023, in spite of the best efforts of Messrs &etc-etc, be a great one. πŸ™‚


  6. I am with you on the “sporting shooters” Even green-wellied ones.

    My new calendars are never spoiled with promises of things I’ll never do. Hells bells! I still haven’t unpacked all the boxes from the house move!
    But I do hope the world will be allowed to get on with spinning around our star without too much interference from greedy bi-peds. Cheers!

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    1. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to simply be able to get on with a stable, self-chosen life without constant bombardment from “authorities” and “experts” and “media” all demanding that we do or change or cease this or that or the other, be scared of everything, and apologise for everything else? Somehow I don’t think that we’re going to achieve that in 2023, except perhaps in myu hibernation dreams!

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    1. As with DIY parachuting, cross-Channel snorkeling, and my 2023 attempt to reach the moon using only a wheelie bin and two bottles of Methylated Spirits, I shall give it my best. πŸ˜‰ Have a very decent 2023 yourself!

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  7. Join in your wishes for the shooting party….and, yes, given the Captain Hooks, it is about time you installed that punt gun.
    Bit nippy for a mojito at the moment…7 o’clock and a bit chilly round the Gorbals but the sun will be over the mountain shortly ready to roast anything it sees.
    Those photographs are superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A punt gun was on my list to Father Crimbo at the North Pole, but I suspect that the strikes being held by the Royal Mail have delayed the larger parcels in the post. I was speaking to a gentleman who has first-hand experience of such matters as pump-action sh*tguns, only to be reliably advised that they are nowhere near as satisying as they look to be in the films. Another daydream gone, and never called me ‘Mother’. ;-(


  8. Wonderful photos, Ian. I won’t give you the usual greetings for this time of year, (you have the uselessness of that down to a tee), just that I hope you will continue to amuse us.
    I am currently tucked up warm in my nest.
    Stay toasty yourself.

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    1. Nesting is a wonderful hobby and I am often to be found under an unruly heap of duvet and blankets. I do love the Winter, but my old bones less so with each passing year. πŸ˜‰

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  9. A fine, bracing start to the new year, gorgeous photos included. Can’t ask for more than that. All the best to you and the Cardinal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. May you too have a happy and a very merry, &etc. πŸ™‚

      This being New Year’s Day the towpath is (relatively) busy with all manner of folk taking their essential once-a-year exercise, of a stroll with the dog – half an hour of slow shambling to burn away the fifty-thousand calorie excesses of the past season!

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