Winter Wanderland

AWOOGAH! AWOOGAH! Said the Met Office – snow… and ice. Oddly, perhaps – I suspect – knowingly – they oft issue “Yellow Snow” alerts. Let’s face it, no-one in “government” or the senior “Sybil Serbice” is going to have a clue about yellow snow, are they?

Anyone else here remember proper winters in England? I remember coming out of work and all that was visible in the car park were car radio aerials poking out of one giant slightly knobbly drift. In those days – when cars had grip, narrow(er) tyres, and human drivers at the wheel we just got on with it. Now with everything automated and/or drive-by-wire with ABS EBD AWD DDT MGB CBT 600 BHP und Mudflaps traffic seems defeated by half an inch. I watched a “Motorist” this morning getting into their car, presumably to go to work. The car was frozen of course. They sat there with the windscreen wipers groaning horridly on the frost for about fifteen minutes until there was a patch of windscreen that they might peer through – goodbye blades, hello no visibility when next it merely rains.

Yonder canal froze again last night, although the AWOOGAH Office reports only a -5.8Ā° of the Celsinghams.

It behoved a chap to make like a member of the Tenderfoot Tribe when crusting about at the canal’s edge

For once, of late, the Cardinal and I got ourselves properly moved yesterday – oh frabjous joy – through the Service Area. Better yet, on approach, the water standpipe wasn’t frozen, so the Cardinal’s tank is full once more.

The Trans-Siberia Railway runs not far from here, and it runs from there to somewhere else

Notice the snow on the railway tracks themselves. There wasn’t a train all day. I don’t know if they were on strike or whether the snow was simply too deep for modern lomocotives. Tis the same with modern cars, they’re so fancy now with 600BHP huge fat tyres ABS EBD drive-by-wire autopilot MGB DDT und Mudflaps that half an inch makes them grind to a plastic-bumper crunching halt. Snow was much easier when cars had 6″ of ground-clearance, skinny tyres, 50BHP and a human driver. I repeat myself. I repeat; I repeat myself. Not all “progress” is progress.

In my day the train companies used to employ smelly peasants to walk along in front of engines to clean the tracks. Tell the youth of today that though and they won’t believe you. On the steeper inclines we used to throw old people and unwanted children in front of the wheels to help with the grip.

Henry VIII’s right-hand man in chilly climes

Three hours or so it took from start to finish, for five miles and to do the necessaries. The main water tank took a while to fill. The actual it of the cruising was most splendid, too, there being no other boats on the move (we went at Winter’s “first light”) and on occasion something of the local system’s star shine.

Feed, my precious, feed…

The move was accomplished without the discomnobulation of other boats in any ice-manoeuvres, and we did not get shouted at by Mr Grumpy in Nantwich who, while he was out on the bow of his new boat, ready to abuse, failed to find reason, and answered my ‘How do’ with a grunt.

Oddly – everything seems odd to me in this parallel universe of yours – the generally more (rabidly) popular moorings were nigh-on deserted, while the moorings more popular with me (as in generally unpopular with others) were nigh-on full. My target moorings had but one space left, although it must be said that it was of civilised length and sported two ideally spaced mooring rings. This is to the greater good, since messing around with chains as well as ropes is a finger-numbing experience at -5.8Ā° Centigrodes. It’s a bit of a bugger when the mooring ropes won’t bend because they’re frozen solid. Tying and untying knots can be problematic.

As has become customer-y when lashing onto these parts I bunged in a comestibles order (yesterday, for today). There were mayhap half a dozen slightly adventurous items by way of treat. Received the order confirmation email this mornibode and guess which half a dozen items have been substituted for other, more dreary, more domestic nonsenses. Yep. Still, mustn’t grumble, we shall still have vesh freggies again – and we’ll see how long these last when in comparison to those purchased from Messrs Co-operative Ltd.

Mr Stove is doing a splendid job, even though I neglect him terribly sometimes, it being both irresistable and prudent to spend more time than is strictly necessary in the Land of Nod, under Messrs Quilt Blanket Blanket & Quilt.

Memories of cruising with a wet bum are, as I had hoped, fading.

Testing the grip of my battery-powered heated-sole Thrucknumble Boots.

A wet bum? Yes. There being ice and snow abounding at these locks there was insufficient dependable grip to rope the Cardinal in and out, and the lock ladders were just itching for a kill – so, these being of modest depth, I had no other course than to sit down on the lock edge and step aboard. Thus it was that I looked as though I’d had a serious trouser accident, had there been anyone about to see and/or rude enough to look at the seat of my pants.

Hack Green Locks in a bit o’snow

I haven’t looked at the forecast since landing here. I suspect that we’re in for more of the same; a little bit of everything winter. The snow we got the other day was of the distinctly wet variety, and was highly unsuitable for skiing.

Whiteout. It’s white out.

Right, I’d best away and don my boots again, and go out to stand around and wait for the lurid green van to hove over the horizon. At least in this order they tell me that they have my sourdough bread, so the toast and Mardymite will be good.

Keep warm or cool, depending, ma/mon petite chihuahuaii, wherever you may be.

Gossip and scandal when I have any, if pertinent. My love to the llamas.

Ian H., & Co. I should cocoa.


  1. That’s a superb photograph at the top of the page – the narrowboat being the only splash of colour in the otherwise frozen landscape. It’s like the canal version of Schindler’s List.

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  2. Oh, my! You are fretting about a few snow flakes and temperatures of -5.8 C. Here in Utah, we are snowed in with 1.2 m of snow (would be a lot more if not some had, meanwhile, dried away in our arid climate). And we presently (i.e., at 8 p.m) have -18 C. Was -23 lst night. And our coldest this winter has, so far, been -30 C. You limies are sissies. šŸ™‚

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  3. Oh, bring back those heavy smoke belching steam locomotives…massacre of any leaf rash enough to be on the line. And come to that, bring back proper steam rollers, capable of making any penny into a plate and flattening any modern car in its path.
    The next bext thing was a Russian car that Leo had when young…weighed a ton, had no power steering and anything getting in its way was doomed. Ran on paraffin, too. It sneered at British snow….

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    1. I remember my father narrowing down his list of choices for what car to buy and it came down to a VW Beetle, a Citroen GS, or a Moskvitch saloon (two-stroke engine). He bought a Sunbeam hadn’t appeared on his list at all (would have been a Hillman had it not been hand-built from spare parts of dubious provenance and intended for the export market by a small garage next to Alconbury’s American air base.)… Ā£850 cash, and was a splendid car. Mind you, the old Singer Gazelle estate being replaced had done sterling work over the years. šŸ˜‰

      I wonder what Saddo Khan’s “emission zones” in London would make today of the two-stroke Moskvitch? DefCon “Awoogah” and mass fatalities, I suspect.


  4. Sourdough toast is the best! And the hard, chunky heel left when I can no longer slice it gets bunged into the soup. Or into the freezer when the thermometer dictates the menu.

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    1. It is indeed! On the matter of crusts it depends on what else is cooking but I am a sod for bunging them into curries – a great way to add texture, and to use up crusts (the ones that I haven’t already scoffed eagerly just because they’re crusts)! Weird perhaps, but it works. šŸ˜‰

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    1. It’s not a bad planet, in many ways. I do worry though that trees are in fact upside down – they eat with their roots and excrete oxygen with what’s on show above ground. I suspect that what they are showing us is not the greatest sign of respek.

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  5. You seem to be having a more wintry winter than we are in deepest Sussex. We had a bit of snow before Christmas. It lasted a few days. Actually, now I think about it, it was almost a week.
    About the railway. You mentioned strikes. Although that is a distinct possibility in these days, have you forgotten about ‘the wrong type of snow’? You said it was the wrong type for skiing. Maybe the trains want to ski down the lines.

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    1. I must wonder why trains don’t have some super-futuristic device fitted to allow them to operate in snow – some sort of brush arrangement on a hinge with a couple of bits if string leading up to the cab, so that the driver’s mate can waggle the brush about as they go… šŸ˜‰

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      1. I’ve seen videos of train that operate a wee bit farther north than you or I where the snow over the tracks is measured in meters, and they have this V-shaped blade attached to the front of the loco that pushed the snow off to either side. Quite the sight when the trains are pootling along at a high rate of knots. šŸ™‚

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