Life, photos but not the universe

The rain it raineth

Though not too much and the wind it bloweth and the ice it freezeth and the gasman didn’t come but we collected some gas anyway, from a marina.

Yes, we have returned from our week on the Waterways of Britain and they are just as you’d expect in midwinter, cold, windy, wet and, for two or three days, icy.

Frozen solid in fact.  We did icebreaking!  The noise was astonishing and caused passers by on the bank to raise eyebrows and make friendly but perhaps slightly amused comments which we couldn’t hear for the crashing and grinding noises all around and underneath us.  And one boat person, driven to distraction by the noise of sheets of ice scraping against his hull, ran along the towpath after us crying “why are you doing this?” repeatedly.  The answer was too long and involved to reply adequately so I’m afraid, though our reasons for boating in deepest winter were impeccable, nay altruistic in the extreme, we simply couldn’t explain it to him.  No doubt there will be an impassioned letter to ‘Waterways World’ or ‘Narrowboat Monthly’ on the subject.

Every so often when we entered short stretches of unfrozen water, the noises changed as we pushed through loose, floating  pieces of ice, to a pleasant and gentle twangling sound.  Yes indeed.  Boating on ice causes twangling and I’m deeply grateful to Mr Shakespeare for giving me the word which exactly describes the sound. (And now I think about it, during those lulls, we could also hear bird song which made for pleasant airs)

Well, ice breaking was a completely new experience for us and very instructive.  For instance, if we slowed down when passing moored baots, the consequent loss of way (forward momentum of which boats normally have a lot) caused the boat to lose steerage as well.  Then we were pushed whichever way the ice was weakest – often towards the moored boats.  On open stretches, the ice slowed us down a surprising amount and in locks, it sometimes crunched up into heaps which stopped the gates from opening fully.

Bits of it broke free from the big sheets and skidded and sparkled across them  Other bits rose and piled up on each other and ahead of us, long jagged cracks ran the width of the canal and were filled with ripples  coruscating in the sunlight  (when the sun was out).  Where it was thick and even, you could see the ice ahead quivering until it cracked.  Ducks stood on it until we were close and then took off, skating across the sheets.

When we retraced our steps (our float?) after a night’s refreezing, we could see our previous day’s path outlined with broken chunks and cracks and, presumably, thinner ice.  (Not sure about that thinner-ness).


It was all very new and exciting.

I’m afraid there really isn’t room for six people, all their bits and pieces and a dog.  Though three people and the dog manage well enough.  Oh and that reminds me, we have a new, official ship’s dog.

He belongs to Mr and Mrs Magnificent and is very small, very young and remarkably well behaved.  When abandoned by Mr Magnificent, he utters extremely pathetic and heart wrenching small wails and cries of distress and if you’re cold, he’s a perfectly lap-sized tummy warmer – a grateful one to boot.  He’s called Jacko.

He also does upside down wriggling.

And there were a couple of sunsets : )



February 5, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. She’s back, she’s back!!!

    Just as well you checked in–I was starting to wonder if you’d all froze to death! Well….look at the water?! You coulda fell in and froze! (such drama, I know..LOL)
    Makes for lovely photos–and I’m sure it made for a lovely time of it to be amongst such wonderful folks….and such a upsidedown wriggling lap warmer. 🙂

    Welcome back.
    And wow what confused duckies they must have been. LOL When it warms a bit and there are thawed pools they’ll be happier duckies, I’m sure.
    Or….maybe not!

    BRING on SPRING!!!!!

    Oh yes Mel! I yearn for Spring but am trying not to yearn too much as it’s only February still.
    We thankfully didn’t fall in at all, it might have been a difficult business drying out. But inside was lovely and warm – most of the time. Had to laugh at the ducks, they so didn’t know what to do with sliding feet!

    Comment by Mel | February 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. Oh, but I’ve decided (after another round of photos cuz I’m greedy!) what an awesome time it must have been, busting ice and watching it skitter and collect. I’m betting I woulda loved the sounds!

    Well it was amazing and quite hypnotic. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Could have (nearly did) watch the ice all day : )

    Comment by Mel | February 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. So by dint of much twangling and upside down wriggling you discovered the North-West Passage? I think this is pretty heroic.

    Welcome back!

    Thank you Christopher : )
    If only John Franklin had had twangling and the upside down wriggling he might have discovered the North West passage before us. I imagine that the ice noises in the Arctic may lean more towards crashing and booming though. Similarly eerie but BIG!

    Comment by Christopher | February 6, 2011 | Reply

  4. you’re back! you’re back!


    wow – what an incredible adventure. . . makes you think, doesn’ it, about other journeys

    hope the ice didn’t damage the boat

    wonderful shimmery icy photos

    and a very cute little dog!!!

    glad you’re home and safe and hopefully warm



    I am and it’s lovely Inukshuk : )
    It did make me think a lot about other journeys and how terrifying and exhausting the noises must have been for travellers and explorerers in the Arctic wastes. The ice was beautiful though.

    Comment by english inukshuk | February 6, 2011 | Reply

  5. I read and posted a comment on the icebreaking video in the post atop this one, that prompted me to scroll down and see what there was to see about the voyage itself. This is just awesome to be able to boat in winter, and with icy passage. Of course you’re in a sizeable boat so you can crash through the ice. I could imagine riding up onto a sheet that is thicker and then you could have been stuck until you fell through or thawed!
    Very intersting. Please tell me what part of England this is so i can see maps of the canals.

    Thanks for a great adventure.


    Aha! You like maps too ‘Man?
    It’s near Great Haywood, North West of Birmingham on the Trent and Mersey canal. I can’t work out exactly where we were because we went back and forwards a lot! But when I can I’ll put some map links on : )
    Before Christmas, some of the other owners tried to move the boat but it was in 5″ inches of ice and going nowhere!
    Not nearly so heavy going for us but great fun! (And nothing like the cold you have over the pond : )

    Comment by Spadoman | February 8, 2011 | Reply

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