The Fogle family, the rich landowners of Abertump has a strange son, Marmaduke Wellington Fogle, who has returned penniless from his grand tour of Europe. He spent most of his time and their money tobogganing in Austria and lazing around Venice, where he fell in love with gondolas. Horatio had already tried using the canal for boating, but failed. So here is another chance for him to try again, this time using Fogle money.
That Marmaduke insists on having gondolas, which Horatio has never heard of (he also thinks Venice is near Wrexham), causes him genuine problems. Where will he get them? Since he always refuses help, he decides to make them - rather special, and very Welsh, ones.
Luckily for Horatio, Marmaduke, like his father, always adopts the philosophy of never actually doing anything but leaving it up to the chaps to sort out. This provides space and time for Horatio to manage the construction of the gondolas himself with disastrous and rather comic results.
Venice is not in imminent danger of facing stiff competition from Abertump!