Whilst the world was still dark outside it remained dry. But once the sun had risen, along with ourselves, it started to rain. We’d been hoping for an hour of dry weather to get us closer to the stoppage, so that we could be poised ready and waiting to go through, but there really isn’t any rush so no need to get wet.
That’s also what I thought when they opened the back doors! Blimey it was wet. So wet it wasn’t even worth stepping past the engine board. A morning snooze was a far better option.
Taking advantage of the situation Mick got to work in the kitchen and rustled up a breakfast. Sadly no tomatoes had been ordered, but beans did the job instead. Very nice it was too.
Later on Tilly returned to her old younger self and ventured out in the rain, only to come back soaked and leaving muddy paw prints over everything including freshly washed trousers. At least she was keeping occupied and hopefully wouldn’t be bored for the rest of the day.
I got on with my knitting whilst watching the recent Elton John interview and Rick Stein eating and cooking his way around France. With the second glove knitted, there’s just the ends to weave in now and then they can go in the post. Next on the list of jobs was Christmas cards, the post version. All are ready for the next post box.
As our macaroni cheese cooked in the oven we could hear the new setting on the inverter. This setting means that if the inverter isn’t being used it will turn itself off, but it wakes up every second to check if it’s needed. Well the fan on the top oven needed it, but maybe not quite enough. We could hear it stopping and starting. A touch annoying.
Originally the inverter would draw 20 watts just by being on. Then when Mick put it into turning off mode it would draw 8 watts whilst not being used and checking if it was needed. A few more adjustments were made today. Now whilst the inverter isn’t needed it goes into a mode with a modified sine wave and draws 12 watts. Hopefully this will stop things like the fan from stopping and starting and not affect anything else.
We stayed up to see the first results of the general election come in. The exit pole at least would mean that we wouldn’t wake up to a surprise result.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 wet day, 1 soggy moggy, 2nd glove knitted, 25 cards written, addressed and stamped, 2nd day of 2nd attempt of new sour dough starter, 12 watts.
Sainsburys took their time in getting back to me yesterday, but this morning I woke to an email and message from them. The Banbury store had not followed the correct process. Anything with the delivery date or following day as Use by dates should have been flagged up on the paperwork. This would have given us the chance to return anything. As it wasn’t mentioned we got our money back for the ham and some humous. So it’s always worth commenting on such things.
Much of the morning was taken up with A Regular Little Houdini conversations. The production manager rang about something else so I got chance to put forward my new idea, then a lengthy chat with the new director. We came up with a solution that once we get to Vienna we may be able to improve on to get the Wow factor. Another chat with the Production Manager and all was agreed.
Mick in the mean time readied Oleanna for the off. A final load of washing was done, the dirty washing drawer now empty, again. He topped up with water and flattened down the pram cover.
Then it was time to unplug the hook up. He flicked the switch in the electrics cupboard, but the inverter didn’t come on. This should be seemless, no interruption in power, but the inverter wasn’t working!
He tried all sorts, the big breaker switches were turned off and on, the cover came off, he checked for loose connections, the volt meter came out to check for voltage. He unplugged the cable going to the Victron Monitoring system, the inverter started to work. Plugged it back in, it stopped. It was unplugged again.
By now it was the marinas lunch time so we had lunch ourselves, I finished off a new storyboard all about curtain movements, scanned and emailed it to all concerned in Vienna and Wales. At 13:55 we untied and pushed back, only to come forwards again into the next berth which is a service mooring.
A top up of diesel and five bags of coal, then we were finally ready for the off. Our plan was not to go far, the stoppage at Claydon flight is only a couple of miles away and due to reopen at the end of play on Friday. So the first available towpath mooring would do us. These however were all taken, so we rose up Broadmoor Lock and found a space there. With only half an hour before cat curfew time Tilly was allowed out to survey our location.
Mick spent some time on the internet looking for a solution to the inverter problem. He plugged our laptop into it, had a look. The settings seemed fine, so he plugged the monitoring system back in and all was fine. He then altered a setting which means if the inverter is not needed it will turn itself off but will wake up to check if it’s needed at regular intervals, this will save us power.
Tomorrow the forecast is for rain much of the day. But if we wake to favourable conditions then we’ll carry on up the last two locks hopefully before it starts to rain. Fingers crossed.
1 lock, 0.36 miles, £6.30 refund, 1 reverse, 1 left, 1 fault on the monitoring system, 1 last load, 5 bags coal, 55 litres diesel, 1 very helpful dutch chap, 1 inverter set to turn on and off by itself, 1 problem not solved just gone away, 30 minutes!1 sock completed, 8m by 3.1m Taft CS Weinrot.
The day started windy, it then increased to being windier, to WINDY, to BLUSTERY, to Buffettingly BLASTING wind, with a touch of rain added in for good measure!
Before we left the marina we were wanting to top up with diesel and coal which would mean manoeuvring to the service point which is only a short distance away and at a right angle to our mooring. But the strength of the wind was very off putting, so we changed our mind. Mick headed over to the office and handed over another £15 for an extra night. At least this meant we could carry on with washing things.
Around midday there was a lull in the elements which was handy as we had a Sainsburys delivery. Our mooring was very handily positioned for the driver and he pushed his trolley with six crates of goodies down the pontoon to the stern of Oleanna. With Tilly locked in the bedroom we were able to unload the crates at ease.
I’d just finished cleaning and rationalising what was on the kitchen counters. Now they groaned under the weight, we’d decided to get some Christmas booze in. With 25% off when buying six bottles it was worth doing. Finding space to stow everything was a bit tricky but it all got tucked away in the end.
Checking the Use by dates on the fresh produce I noticed there were a few things with short dates. Two packs of ham and some humous running out tomorrow, a complaint was needed. I entered a facebook messenger conversation which took ages to get replied to, photos were needed of the dates and paperwork. Still no reply when we went to bed, we’ll see what they come up with.
The kitchen tap has developed a drip, quite an annoying one. It can be stopped with the precise positioning of the hot water tap. So last week we’d ordered new valves for it, no washers nowadays! Getting both hot and cold valves we were covered. Today was a perfect day to do such a job, except we don’t have a 2mm allen key to be unable to do the taps! We’ll have to cope with the water torture a little longer.
One of the soft closers on our pullout kitchen cupboard in the galley had broken the other day, so we’d ordered two more. This was a lot easier to sort as the closer just slots over the top of the cupboard door hinge with a bit of umph it locks into position. Job done.
My knitting was checked for size, sadly just a touch too big, I amended the pattern and pulled it right back to where the rib started. Fortunately by the end of the evening it was further on with just two fingers left to knit, then the second glove.
Shortly before sitting down to enjoy some left over Salmon en croute I received an email with a new version of the script for Houdini. Magic tricks added and a rewrite of the opening of Act 2. This is the most problematical section of the play. A quick read of the stage directions, oh bugger! Curtains that have taken quite a lot of sorting out now need to do a lot more than had been planned for. A rethink is required to accommodate edits in the video footage. Can we achieve the required effect without use of solenoids?
It was time to pack our bags this morning and hope we’d enough room for all the presents and post. Everything had fitted into our wheelie bag on the way to London, but going back we needed an extra bag, good job we’d brought one with us. It’s a nice problem to have returning with more than you arrived with, this of course is helped by my birthday falling on the 25th December.
An early farewell to Josh as he headed to school before 8am. At 10:30 it was time to wake Finn up from his box, Ziggy only slightly jealous of her brothers reign of the cardboard. Then goodbye and thank you to Andrew and Jac for their hospitality once again.
The No 30 bus moved faster on a Monday morning so we’d left ourselves plenty of time to sit at Marylebone Station listening to the foreign announcements about Bicester Village, now a destination for tourists to do duty free shopping.
On the train my knitting came back out and grew nicely, up to the point where the thumb was ready to be knitted using the ‘magic loop’ technique. We were soon back in Banbury and in a taxi back to the marina.
When we’d left on Saturday Tilly had been sat in our bedroom window, there she was still, just facing the opposite direction. Big cuddles and head nudges. Her magic food bowl had worked and opened, every morsel consumed, the large mountain of biscuits also had had a good chunk taken out of them. The heating was raised and we settled down to lunch.
With the stove out, Mick gave the chimney a good sweep, then hoovered the stove out and put the brand new glass in the door, an early Christmas present for Oleanna. The old glass has been wrapped up and stored under the stove should we need a spare in the future.
Unpacking and more washing took up the rest of the day with Tilly coming and going.
In the post I’d received a copy of The Separate Doors 3 Report that I was involved with earlier this year. Have to say my sketches and illustrations have come out very well and I am particularly proud of the front cover. Thank you Vanessa for asking me to be part of it.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 train, 1 taxi, 3 cats in one day, 1 very pleased to see us, 1 load washing, 1 load dried, 1 chimney swept, 1 boat hoovered, 1 corner missed, 0.5 inches too big? 1 very big bag of presents ready to sit under the tree, when we bring it in.
Booking into Cropredy Marina wasn’t solely to do washing but so that we could have a few days away from the boat, leaving Tilly in charge and in the warm.
Saturday morning we packed a bag with clothes and presents. She refused to put me inside it, so I sat on top with the hope that they wouldn’t forget me.It didn’t work!
Mick had booked our tickets to London a few days ago. Splitting our journey to London at Oxford, a direct train back for the two of us cost £28, not bad, but we did have to be on specific trains. We booked a taxi to get us to the station in Banbury, but amended our booking when Mick noticed that the train we were booked on was going to be half and hour late, which would give us just a couple of minutes to catch the next train.
So at Banbury we squeezed onto the first train heading to Oxford and Mick was ready to argue a point with the guard, but nobody checked our tickets. At Oxford we had an hour spare so bought some sad gits sandwiches at M&S and waited for the next train. This train stopped everywhere, but we did have seats so we could settle down for a while. My knitting came out and I got the rib done for a glove by the time we arrived in London.
Then a bus took us right across London to Hackney and my brothers house.
Christmas post was mixed with our postal votes for the General election. Mick had applied for his on line whilst I did mine by post from Chippy. His arrived very quickly and mine in the second batch. What was interesting was our different envelopes, Mick’s being for a postal vote from abroad! We both took time to study the instructions, marked our crosses and sealed the envelopes, they went in the post on Sunday morning.
We had a lovely evening with Andrew, Jac and Josh. Eating , drinking and me making two batches of my gluten free puff pastry. It’s amazing what a difference in just room temperature does to pastry. On the boat I’m sometimes tempted to do two roll and folds in a go, but Andrews house was so warm the butter just kept melting quicker than I could roll the pastry out on his granite tops. I did discover that rolling out on a worktop above a dishwasher was not in the slightest bit good as I almost had to spoon the butter back onto the pastry.
Sunday morning there were jobs to do. Mick headed to buy wine and flowers, whilst I made a wreath for the front door and Jac and Andrew tidied up and cooked.
This was the first time Andrew had ever dealt with gluten free pastry and it’s been a while since I’d made any, I’d forgotten how crumbly it is. Making two huge long Salmon En Croute took a bit of doing, the pastry being quite short it wouldn’t let us do any pretty lattice work on top, but we got the two of them into the oven in one piece.
Today we were having a pre-Christmas get together with three of Mick’s sisters, sadly Anne lives a touch too far away in Scotland for her and Alasdair to be able to join us, but I’m not sure we’d have been able to fit them in! Last year we’d had such a get together and it was really good fun it was decided to repeat the event.
Presents were exchanged, news caught up on, jokes told, food eaten, wine drunk. A very good Sunday afternoon with almost all of our siblings. It was enjoyed so much I suspect we’ll be doing it again next year.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 home alone cat, 1 magic food bowl, 1 very full bowl of biscuits, 1 taxi, 2 trains, No 30 bus, 1 wave to Joa, 1 load of washing hung out super quick, 1 pair gloves started, 1200 grams puff pastry, 6 folds and turns, 2 A envelopes, 2 B envelopes, 1 brother, 3 sisters, 1 nephew, 11 for lunch, 2 cats, 1 very lovely weekend.
Not far today. First we rose up Slat Mill Lock infront of us and then pootled along the pound into Cropredy. There was something missing, well quite a few things missing. Firstly we only saw one canoe out on the water, secondly where have all the cows gone? Normally along here the cows are so noisy they keep you awake at night wading in the canal! But not one was to be seen in the fields today.
When we’d moored up yesterday we received a C&RT notice saying that Cropredy Water point was out of action due to vandalism. It was a good job we’d reversed back to the water point in Banbury yesterday. If the weather had continued getting colder we could have found ourselves iced in and running out of water. But we had a full tank and the weather was warming up so no problem there.
Cropredy Lock and I noticed something was missing here also. The little toy dog that sat in the white picket fence is no longer there. Hopefully it’s owner has reclaimed it and not just a passerby picking it up. I was a touch disappointed though as it was there each time we passed through the lock last year. I had a good hunt round to see if it had been moved to somewhere else, but no. I may have to buy a new dog for the next time we are here and leave it tucked in the fence again.
New additions to the lock cottage were sandbags and planks around the fencing. When we had all the rain a few weeks ago the levels of the canal were affected, so these must have been positioned here then to try to help protect the cottage from unwanted water.
Not much further until we turned into Cropredy Marina. Of course the wind built itself up today because it knew we’d be pulling in here! Wonderful gusty wind too, just perfect for manoeuvring around a large open space, not!
We pulled onto the service mooring letting the wind push us into the side, a fat fender at the ready as some of the timber edging was missing and large bolts were sticking out. We headed straight into the office where we were given a warm welcome. The lady gave us a choice of berths all close to the entrance and services. I chose the one that would suit Tilly the most with no track for vehicles right by the boat.
We were asked to pull in bow first as the edges of the marina are all soft and reedy, we’d noticed everyone was facing the same way. After parting with some money we reversed Oleanna back quite a distance into the marina. The wind was doing it’s best to push us off course, but Mick gave Oleanna a good run up to slot into our chosen berth.
Well this is a funny outside! Just how many boats does it take to tie it up?! Hundreds! I had to check a few to see that they were holding onto it, they all were. Not surprising as it was very blowy out there, it got right up my bum!
There’s some friendly cover, but it all looked suspiciously like it would end up being a wet pounce if I found anyone so I refrained. A couple of interesting trees too, but they were on the other side of a very little canal. I did calculations but very quickly concluded that the little canal might be little but it was too big for my pouncing capabilities. So instead I kept Tom and She busy coming and going. For some reason they didn’t want me using the back door, I didn’t see a problem in it.
Mid afternoon Mick headed off in a taxi. This afternoon there was a reunion in London for the Lloyds Bank telecoms department where Mick used to work. So he headed off to catch the train, leaving Tilly and myself in charge of the washing machine. As electric is included in our mooring fee we will be washing everything whilst here. The stove will be allowed to go out and the Alde boiler will use the electric to heat the boat.
We’ve been busy packing presents and finishing off my Christmas knitting. I’m one pair of socks down on what I wanted to achieve, but my Etsy order must come first. I may just have enough time to do one more pair before the last post, we’ll see.
2 locks, 1.76 miles, 1 left, 1 big reverse, 0 cows, 1 hook up, 1 refill of water, 3 loads washing, 1 load drying, 2 many boats for Tilly, 1 clean pooh box, 1 taxi, 2 trains, 1st sweet potato wedges, 1 good view of the pooh sucky machine.
The last push this morning as we wanted to be pushing off. About time too !!!
There is a lack of post offices where we’re heading so last night I’d packaged up presents that needed to go in the post, printed off a few cards all that was left this morning was to find addresses and take them to the post office in Castle Quay.
Whilst I was busy Mick cycled down to Morrisons for some of their peanut butter. Three jars were purchased (it’s the best in our opinion, only made with peanuts and nothing else), sadly their gluten free aisle isn’t what it was last year and there was no gf black pudding!
Once the post had been posted and a couple of things picked up from other shops there was one thing left to do. I took a deep breath and walked into The Cutting Bar for my annual haircut. I’d considered going elsewhere after last year, but here I could just walk in without an appointment. Only wanting a straight line cutting it should be cheap and I was determined to not let them put loads of gunk on my head..
There was a short queue, but after about ten minutes I was directed towards the sink. Here the lady who’d been sat on the desk gently washed my hair, she took so long I’d have been able to do it twice and have a shower at the same time.
Then another lady took over. I felt like I should say, ‘Bless me, for it has been twelve months since my last hair cut’. But instead I just asked for it to be cut as short as possible but still able to go back into pig tails. My lovely hair dresser in Scarborough knows what this means, this lady though added a couple of inches on, most probably hoping it would encourage me back sooner, little does she know!
I was very quick off the mark when she reached for the blow drier and a hair brush. I’d noticed this year there were signs saying you could have a rough blow dry for £2 extra. This would be enough to get rid of the damp before going out into the cold again, but hopefully not involve all the brushing and curling under to give me a lions main. I had made the right decision, thankfully.
No products, no curling, no extra body. Phew! My ordeal was over for another year. At my reckoning it was going to cost me just over £20, so imagine my surprise when she said £15.95 please! Who was I to argue? This was £3 less than I thought it would be before the blow drying. Then the penny dropped as I walked out the door, I’d been charged the Senior rate! Excuse me, I’m not even 55 yet!! Blimey has my face become that haggard!?!
As I got back to the boat, Mick had just started to reverse back to the water point. I was picked up and handed a windlass to lift the bridge. We filled the tank and put on winter cruising clothes, time to make a move.
Last year as we left Banbury we came across ice outside Dink and Malc’s house, today it was clear. As ever a friendly wave from inside the conservatory and a big thumbs up from Malc as we passed. I wonder how many times he has to wave a day in the summer months to passing boaters.
Up Hardwick Lock, under the M40 and on to Bourton Lock. Here the lock cottage looks much the same as ever. All the windows shuttered up, wonder what it’s like inside.
We decided to pull up before Slat Mill Lock in an Herbie Award winning mooring. But before we reached there we crunched through our first bit of ice this winter. No body had been this way for a while we thought as we broke the cat ice ahead of Oleanna.
Up ahead on the end of the straight was a moored boat, we wouldn’t be on our own, but there was still plenty of space. We tied up and opened the doors for Tilly.At last! A new outside!!
The evening was taken over by a phone call (whilst stood on one leg outside on the towpath freezing) to a new director for A Regular Little Houdini. Josh who offered me the job has sadly had to stand down as he has not been allowed to take time off Emmerdale to get the show up and running in Vienna. So this evening I had a lengthy chat with Tim the new director who will also be lighting the show. He is very much playing catch up.
Have to say it’s nice to have someone taking the lead. Communications between one member of the team have been somewhat lacking. I got a response to an email three weeks after I’d sent it. Constant badgering for information isn’t what I’d signed up for, so I have to admit I’d slightly given up. Hopefully now Tim is in the picture things will start happening, they’d better as the set goes into the theatre in a months time!
2 locks, 3.38 miles, 0.21 backwards, 1 lift bridge lifted twice, 3 parcels, 3 jars peanut butter, 6 inches shorter (bet you can see the difference this time Tom), 1 boater feeling older than she is, £5 saved, 1 confirmed, 1 turned down, 2 waves, 1 patch of ice, 1 new director, 16 emails, 2 fingers crossed things start to happen now.