There comes a time in everyone’s life to resist temptation. Mine was not this past week. Ought to have been but wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had times of great restraint….not very often mind you. I’m trying to recall a time when I said no to something not necessary for my wellbeing. Oh well, if I think of one before I end this Blog, I’ll let you know. I suppose you have guessed what this week’s temptation had been. The Candy Boat paid a visit to our area.
Along the Canals of Britain are boats of all descriptions doing business of one sort or another. Where once boats carried coal from the midlands and the north to the south, dragged along by horses on a towpath, now they deliver coal to your boat for our solid fuel stoves. My stove is called a Bubble….don’t ask. Anyway, the working boats these days carry coal, gas bottles and diesel for delivery. They go up and down the canals and stop off for a few days to make their deliveries.
My guy Phil, in a 70 foot boat that is a refit of a very old boat, just delivered 8 bags of coal to us for the winter. We have central heating that runs off our diesel, but the stove is for evenings and overnight. Our Webasto central heater makes one hell of a racket when we start it up. But then, everything in a steel tube 60 feet long sounds louder than usual. This coal burns clean and doesn’t leave much ash. We can burn wood too, but coal is cheaper and more plentiful. We’d rather burn air, but that’s not feasible.
Besides the fuel boats, many other businesses thrive on The Cut. I saw a boat that sold little trinkets made out of wire and glass beads that reflected light….butterflies, faeries, angels and the like. Some sell books or lend them. Others do music. One we saw sold fenders made of rope. Rope fenders are attached to the fronts and backs of narrow boats to cushion bumps from both directions. Very handy. Some sell decorated canal ware like coal scuttles, watering cans and bread tins. There’re various foods (canal delicacies….no, not swan or duck…The Cheese Boat for example), drink (The Brew Boat etc.), herbal treats, jewellery, souvenirs and face painting. Artists sell their paintings and wooden sculptures. There are even those who peddle religion. And, of course, you can rent boats for cruising or partying.
On most occasions I see these trading boats cruise by or moor up but pay little attention to their merchandise. Some of it looks lovely and dazzles the eyes, but my wallet stays in my pocket. I can resist being painted on my face. So far I have managed not to buy a coal-scuttle painted in canal art (roses and castles) and have not succumbed to the lure of The Cheese or The Brew Boat. But that may be because I’ve only heard about those and not seen them yet. The Brew Boat in particular sounds interesting. If they have anything like the rhubarb wine my neighbour Gary plied me with yesterday (very potent), I’d have to buckle and buy.
It took a visit of The Candy Boat to finally break me down. I lasted two days before giving in to the temptations of its enticing array of candy jars and a fudge bar. The boat arrived on Wednesday. I saw the name on a plaque on the side….The Candy Boat. Candies are sweets over here, so I just assumed the purveyors of this enterprise must have chosen the name to be appealing to locals and international visitors….read Americans. At first there was nothing too unusual about the boat. It is red and has windows. A man was at the tiller, stepped off the boat and began to tie it to the mooring posts. I politely asked if they sold sweets. Yes, he said, and they would be there for the rest of the week and over the weekend. I felt my resolve giving way.
Returning to the scene later, I noticed the man, and I presumed his wife, opening panels on the side of the boat, revealing glass jars full of every kind of candy known to the planet. Their specialty is home-made fudge. All kinds of flavours, including whiskey fudge. They have toffees, licorice in every flavour (even banana and strawberry with a candy filling), jellies, gums, nougat, hard shells with soft centers, lollipops, chocolate/coconut marshmallows, dolly mixtures (known as Grandad Specials to my kids….another story) and so many more I can’t get them all down here. A cornucopic dream. A nightmare in disguise.
By Day 3 I collapsed. I approached the lady of the boat and purchased a bag of chocolate mint fudge, 6 pieces for £1.50 ($3.00). Didn’t take me long to finish them. I tried to make them last, but….you know. Then my best friend and I bought another bag of fudge, the whiskey flavour. Fudge that will knock you out. very strong whiskey, very little fudge taste. But who’s complaining? That was to be it. No more. At my age, you have to watch your weight and worry about diabetes. It was a very warm, sunny week here at our marina. I took a stroll down the towpath tha, naturally, takes me by The Candy Boat. The sweet jars are aglow with sugar death. I give in. £5.00 later I have in my hand an assortment of delicacies, the likes of which my old stomach hasn’t seen in years.
I thought, maybe just a couple then put them away for another time. Impossible. Charlie, the Amazon, was working on our boat, putting in some necessary piece of electrical gear we had to have to prevent us from sinking. I shared some with her….and had a few more myself. Other neighbours gathered just outside our boat. I shared some with them….and had a few more pieces myself. I put the bowl containing the rest of the sweets on the wall surrounding the marina for passers-by to indulge and had a few more pieces myself. I paid for it. My stomach was turning over and sugar rushes came hard and fast. Lie a hangover but on candy. My head was banging. My best friend was away for the night. This is something I could never confess. It would only enhance her view of me as a greedy pig.
Tom to the rescue. He was visiting the couple on the boat next to us. I picked up the bowl and shoved it under his nose. His eyes lit up. “Have a few Tom” says I. He finished the lot. Good man. The bowl was washed and all evidence of the madness removed. The Candy Boat left this morning. I both mourned and rejoiced. Next time it comes around I shall show more restraint….yeah, right.