Monthly Archives: Dec 2017

‘How Do You Know Nothing Is Coming?’ 29th, 30th, 31st December

Llangollen Basin to Whitehouse Bridge 26W
P1200515smThe last couple of days we’ve had my brother and his family staying with us, our first overnight guests on Oleanna. They drove up from London on Friday arriving with us early afternoon. Here in Llangollen it had snowed overnight, nothing like a couple of weeks ago, but enough to turn most green things to white. A half inch covering had been sat on the pontoons when we woke but by the time the London Leckenbys arrived much of the snow had melted, but the hill tops still looked pretty.
An afternoon of chatting and receiving our last presents from them. Josh had bought me some very good stripy wellies, unfortunately my calf muscles mean that they fit a little bit too well and it took some effort for Mick to pull them off again. We’ll see if I can exchange them for some with wider tops. Mick received a new coal scuttle. Since selling Lillian we have been managing with a small red bucket which holds just enough coal to get a fire started. The space we had for a scuttle is limited, but I had found one on ebay that was the right dimensions and to our taste so had pointed Andrew in the right direction.
What was going on? I go out to check over my estate for a few hours, but when I came back there are all these people cooing and meooing at me, sat just where I wanted to sit. They had filled the boat up with so much stuff the only place I could sit was up on my shelf! Good job I was the only one that would fit up there.

We went to the Corn Mill for a meal in the evening, which had been recommended by other boaters. The menu wasn’t quite what I was expecting having been to other Brunning and Price pubs, but then they don’t treat their pubs as a chain, but as individuals to suit their location. My fillet of Bass was nice, the burgers and fish and chips were tasty, however the puddings and beers were exceedingly nice. We had a very good evening sat in  the conservatory over looking the raging river below.
P1200529smThe sleeping arrangements worked as we’d expected, glad I’d managed to get that extra six inches on the dinette bed. You want your guests to be comfy, but not too comfy. It is times like this that we miss the extra two foot of cabin space that Lillian had, more things had to be moved around to make up the beds. With the stove out Josh was comfy on the sofa with the pouf pulled out to make it longer (he has grown since last we saw him). The dinette bed pulls out like a dream. I decided that my sleeping arrangements would be confined to the normal bedroom on top of my normal crew.
P1200535smAfter getting a Saturday paper and a few bits that hadn’t been available yesterday we ended up having one of those family lazy days. This would normally involve reading the new books you’d got for Christmas or playing a board game. However the London Leckenbys had left the new game in the south and all the books had been perused days ago. We considered walking up to Castell Dinas Bran but nobody could summon up the energy as it looks like a fairly vertical climb. Local Hero was eventually watched as I got food together for late afternoon. A very nice leg of lamb from the butchers was accompanied with roast veg, green veg and plenty of wine, followed by a warm Dorset Apple Cake with a side of chilled medication. All very tasty even if I do say so myself.
P1200538smThis morning after bacon butties and listening to Tilly complaining at not being allowed out we waved goodbye to Andrew Jac and Josh. We may end up seeing them a little bit sooner than planned as they are wanting some decorating doing in their house and I’ve been given first refusal of the job. It’ll be put into the mix for next year and we’ll see what we come up with. After a lovely couple of days with family we were now back on our own again, gosh we lead a quite life!
P1200548smOn the way back to Oleanna, we had chance to have a chat with Geoff from NB Seyella who had arrived at the basin yesterday. Nice to finally get chance to meet him properly, our bows have crossed several times this year and it was good to hear that Meg (their dog) was improving and enjoying slightly longer walks.
Before we made our move to leave we made use of the last bit of electricity and packed away all the spare bedding into vacuum bags under the sofa. We now had reclaimed the cabin space. I however had lost my new elevated sleeping position with views on both sides! With one final top up of the water tank we unhitched the hook up cable and pushed back. This is the longest we’ve stayed put in one place since leaving Kings Marina a couple of years ago (and that was only because of medical necessities) and today it felt odd to be leaving. We’ve very much enjoyed our time in Llangollen and winter is by far the best time to be here as the views are much better. Our feeling is that we will be back, maybe even next winter as we didn’t manage to do everything we’d wanted to.
P1200551smP1200559smThe strong  gusts of wind had now died down which made winding in the basin easy, we waved goodbye to Geoff and headed back out onto the cut for the first time in fifteen days. I walked ahead to check for oncoming boats in the narrows, but we only met boats where the canal widens out. Heading down stream is so much easier, Oleanna slowed a bit on the narrows but still made progress. The weather changed from sunny to wet back to sunny as we made our way along the arm. As we got closer to Trevor we met more boats, one a short hire boat and two canoes all at the same time and then the trip boat just after the final narrow section of canal.
P1200588smP1200600smComing up to the junction we could see that there was a boat crossing the aqueduct, but as we were heading downstream we knew we’d reach the junction before them and pulled in to let them pass. Mick lined us up for our crossing, but at the far end of the Pontywhatsit we could see another boat had already started to cross. So Mick stepped off with the centre line and we waited.
P1200597smP1200609smThere were plenty of walkers on the aqueduct and today we got to add another stupid question to the list gongoozlers come up with. Unfortunately I don’t think you can hear the original question on the video, ’How do you know nothing is coming?’ ‘There’s nobody there!’ A 336yrds of straight aqueduct in front of you would sort of suggest that really. But a chap in the same group then asked ‘How do you know it’s your go’?’ !!
P1200629smP1200637smOur crossing was easy, Mick smiling away at the tiller and me grimacing doing my best to distract myself as we passed over the 126ft drop. Once over, back on land I hopped off and wound up the lift bridge. By now we were getting low on day light hours, so wanted to stop sooner than  later to be able to let Tilly out for a while, so we carried on and pulled up shortly before Whitehouse Tunnel. The doors opened up and Tilly wthout even thinking about it jumped off the right side of the boat and headed off down the bank. Thank goodness she was accepting this outside. At bloomin last! Somewhere new to explore. As the stove was lit and the gas kettle put back into service the heavens opened, we’d stopped just in time.
We’re not big New Years Party goers so here will just be fine for our chink of glasses at midnight. Tomorrow we need to get through New Marton Locks which close on Tuesday for maintenance and onto Ellesmere to restock the food cupboards.
Wishing all our friends family and readers a Very Happy New Year, may it be even better than 2017.
Also a big Happy Birthday to Storm for today, Kathy and Jeremy for tomorrow.
IMAG0254smDSCF7121sm0 locks, 6.2 miles, 1 wind, 1 lift bridge, 3 extra sleeping, 2 many strange noises at night, 2 more presents, 6 months of post, 1 thank you to Joa (we’ve got it at last!), 2 big family meals, 2 lovely relaxed days, 1 snowy morning, 1 estate well and truly claimed for the next time, 3 guests survived our composting toilet, 1983 Local Hero, 1 boat moving again, 2 stupid questions, 1 day too many, 1 cold on it’s way out, I hope.

That Inbetween Bit. 26th 27th 28th December

Llangollen Basin

After all the build up and excitement for Christmas we are now into that bit that lies inbetween.

P1200481smP1200483smPresents have been played with, homes found for them (especially important if you live on a boat) and old tired things sent to the bin or bagged up ready for the charity shop.

The fridge is still holding it’s breath in, crammed full of left overs.

P1200504smThe cheese that hasn’t been touched yet, gradually getting smellier each time you open the fridge door.

The empty bottles clinking their way to the recycling bins.

P1200472smThe realisation that you forgot to do pigs in blankets which means there are even more sausages and bacon in the fridge than you thought. Is it physically possible to eat sausages three times in one day?

Intentions of going for walks never materialising.

The tickly throat that started a few days before Christmas actually meaning it now and needing drugs at regular intervals.

The second Christmas dinner not using up all the leftovers.

A good tidy up so that when family arrive there might actually be space for them and their things.

Trying to find a home for the third fire extinguisher, still not solved. But instead realising there is a small leak coming from the shower tray.

P1200466smA cat who despite being bored of it here would rather be outdoors than in.

Planning food for five not two and wondering where you are going to put it all.

Wondering if the forecast weather will put a kibosh on arrangements.

P1200468smBoats have gone and more arrived, even in the dark.

Gold Licence put off for a year. But a booking to go onto the Monty made.

A Kate Filled Christmas Day

Llangollen Basin

The big man visited us during the night and left all three of us plenty of goodies to open in bed. Tilly wasn’t too impressed by the refills for the lint roller, but Father Christmas must have known what she was getting as her main present as her stocking was full of balls. I’m really looking forward to see how many friends I can attract with the fat balls in trees!

In London my nephew Josh had set up a motion detected camera on Christmas Eve to see if he could disprove the existence of Father Christmas. Unfortunately for Josh the batteries ran out before anything could be detected and recorded, or was this just the magic of the man in red!

P1200336smScrambled egg with smoked salmon accompanied by some Bucks Fizz went down well before we opened our Christmas presents.

P1200340smP1200349smThis year Oleanna had joined in with the present giving. I never thought I’d be the sort of person who’d be pleased to receive a mop and sweeping brush. These have telescopic handles and quite easily sit under the gunnel in the bathroom. The broom is especially designed for narrow spaces, what more could you ask for.

P1200346smP1200342smMick’s quandary on the socks and sandals front was solved and here he is wearing his warm Pip made jumper.

P1200440smP1200442smI got a box of holes! All apart from two are big enough to get my arms in. They kept putting balls inside it and I kept taking them out. Why would I want balls inside a box of holes!

P1200365smP1200371smBefore we got settled into cooking we headed off on a walk to the Chain Bridge and Horseshoe Falls.

P1200377smP1200396smThe Horseshoe Falls was designed by Thomas Telford and diverts water from the River Dee into the canal. The last section of canal is very shallow and only the horse drawn trip boats can now make it this far, they have slight V shaped bottoms which must just fit down the shallow channel. When Thomas Telford was appointed as the general agent for the Ellesmere Canal in 1793 he had no experience of waterways and together with William Jessop they came up with the engineering that makes the canal so famous today. As a result Telford became one of Britains most famous engineers.

P1200356smPlenty of people were out for a Christmas morning stroll along the canal and despite the drizzle gradually turning into rain we enjoyed ourselves. A few boats were moving, NB Harnser came down to the basin to wind and wave.

P1200433smAn Anglo Welsh boat came to moor, but the gusting wind made manoeuvres very difficult for them. Plenty of people came out to offer advice, but in the end they had succeeded in winding so returned back onto the cut where there wasn’t going to be quite so far to be blown!

P1200451smOur Christmas dinner was exceptionally tasty, the duck one of the best we’ve had. All the accompanying veg made a mountainous plate of food and we have more than enough to keep us going over the next few days. A lull with another glass of wine to watch Dr Who before it was time to open my birthday presents and cards and blow out the candles.

P1200459smMy cake, a Queen of Sheba Cake, was maybe a little bit under cooked, the recipe I have is really quite vague as to temperature and cooking times. The advantage is that it’s meant to be gooey in the middle anyway, just this time it was bordering on runny.

P1200461smA lovely day all round.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 over full stockings, 1 horseshoe, 10 CD’s, 1/3 by Kate, 1 broom, 1 mop, 11 pairs socks, 1 tumblehome fitting tree, 19 holes! 5 balls, 1 very tasty duck, 27 noisy ducks, 1 new Dr, 4 empty bottles, 1 window vac, 2 overly full boaters.


Ready! 24th December

Llangollen Basin

Today has been busy. After realising last night that we had no birthday candles, they had been culled when we moved boats, we had to buy some today.

Most of the day has been spent chopping, bubbling, stirring, baking, rolling, cutting, baking, crumbing, steeping, saucing, mixing, baking, cooling, eating, slicing and icing, with a little bit of wrapping up too!



The majority of time consuming jobs have been done, so tomorrow we should just have to pop the duck in the oven and roast it.

Happy Christmas from all three of us.

We are even ready for the big man.


If You Put It On Stage They’d Never Believe You. 23rd December

Llangollen Basin

P1200225smP1200226smThe sunrises here are rather wonderful, as the sun starts to rise above the hilltops it casts an increasing golden glow across the western hills. A wonderful sight to wake up to.

IMAG0228smWe knew that some shops would be open tomorrow, but the really important one wouldn’t be. We also had to make sure we got our Saturday paper for the TV guide.So after our cuppa in bed we headed into town to finish our food shopping. The shops we wanted were all close together and busy. First Dee Valley Green Grocers. A small shop that had taken over much of the pavement and a couple of parking spaces opposite and orders lay in boxes waiting to be collected up the street. Certainly a popular shop, one lady was disappointed that they had no fennel, but that was the only thing missing that we could spot. That was our first heavy bag on the bike.


Next Porters Deli. Some gluten free oatcakes and then which cheeses? I ended up going for two favourites, Cornish Yarg, Mature Wensleydale and then an unknown Mature Caerphilly. Thinking about it I should have got some Shropshire Blue too, but we can’t let the cholesterol levels get too high.

Mick popped into the bakers whilst I stood in line at Gwyn Davies, the butchers. The counter was heaving with meaty goods. I had my list and was going to stick to it, just the choices of smoked bacon or not and which sausages to get. I wonder if they bring the retired butchers in for such days with their knowledge and patter. Most customers were known and when my duck was brought from the back it was accompanied by two more for those spotted waiting in line. Once the butcher had my name he made sure he used it, ‘Is that duck okay for you Mrs Leckenby?’ ‘That’s a nice piece of gammon Mrs Leckenby’, ‘Just four rashers of smoked Mrs Leckenby’, ‘They wouldn’t be a secret recipe if I told you what was in them Mrs Leckenby’. My Mum, the Mrs Leckenby would have loved him, this Miss Leckenby did too. Another heavy bag to add to the bike and we were done and back at Oleanna for a late breakfast an hour after we’d left.

P1200236smMick set about getting sooty and swept the chimney for the first time. Taking the baffle out of a Bubble stove is far far easier than on a Squirrel. The hole stove got a good hoover out before he laid a fire for this evening. I set about rationalising the kitchen. We are both as bad as each other, things don’t always get put away and the worktops were getting quite cluttered. So things went back into cupboards and plenty of space was made for all the cooking that will be happening in the next couple of days. I even decided to reclaim the cupboard that was the Finesse cupboard, most things found new homes and some bits went in the bin, hope we don’t end up needing them!

Next I set too sorting out the dinette bed. When Oleanna was built we asked for this to be able to turn into a small double, which it does very easily. Only thing is that one section of the back support was fixed, leaving one end of the bed six inches narrower than the other, very awkward to get a sheet around if nothing else. I’d had a look at it a few weeks ago and bought a piece of foam to plug the gap.

P1200244smP1200261smThe back support was fixed in with two screws at the top, then a couple more at the bottom which went into a piece of 2×2 which was in turn fixed to the base. I’d originally thought we’d need to add a spacer behind the support to hold it in the right place. But because it was cut to fit at an angle all it needed was to be rescrewed to the 2×2, which was now loose, this all fits back where it came from and stays put without being screwed into position.

P1200247smP1200254smNext I cut a six inch piece of foam to fit the gap, using my trusty 33 year old bread knife. It is slightly raggerdy edged, but this is liveable with. It fits the gap nicely and who knows I may even cover it someday to match the dinette cushions. Next I fitted a fitted sheet onto the cushions and pinned where a new seam was needed. With the dinette back in sitting order and my sewing machine out from the depths I then ran a line of stitches on the sheet to hold it into it’s new slightly narrower size. We can now have guests to stay. Good job as we’ve got some next week!

P1200233smTomorrow there is lots of precooking to do for the big day, including Christmas sausage rolls, Christmas biscuits and my birthday cake needs baking. We half expect to see our friend Frank turning up as he used to in Scarborough, timing his arrival just as things were coming out of the oven!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 late breakfast, 1 bag King Edwards, 2 lemons, 12 brussels, 5 onions, 2 red, 1 tree, 1 red cabbage, 5 carrots, 4 parsnips, 14 sausages, 1 gammon joint, 1 duck, 4 streaky, 4 thick smoked, 1 black pud, 1 loaf, 24 oat cakes, 3 treat cheeses, 1 Saturday paper! 1 load of washing on the whirligig, 1 chimney sweep face, 1 pair white gloves, 1 galley sparkling, 6 inches makes a difference, 1 complete 4 foot bed, 1 outside well and truly used up, can we move on now, pleeease!

Comfy Bottoms And The First Wave. 22nd December

Llangollen Basin
We were up early in case our diesel delivery came at dawn. But we needn’t have been quite so early as Richard on NB Mountbatten had needed some assistance from Ruth to get him through a bridge hole so that he could continue back to base whilst Ruth came to visit us by van. NB Mountbatten was heavy with coal, therefore the going would have been exceedingly slow up to the basin. The decision to not come up to Llangollen was so that Richard stood a chance in being able to get back to base in time for Christmas Day. Ruth appeared with three cans of diesel for us and a siphoning hose to empty them into our tank. The stoppages along the canal next month will mean that a lot of their deliveries will be by van, I believe a bigger van is on their Christmas list.
P1200208smWhen Richard delivered our coal in Ellesmere we were in Scarborough. We’d left instructions to put the coal on the roof. He’d been concerned at doing this as our roof was so clean and had rung Ruth to check. Our roof is far cleaner than many but nowhere near as spick and span as many boats we’ve come across. But it was nice that he checked. Mick asked if it was possible for us to return our empty Calor gas bottle (currently living on our stern) and have it kind of on account for when we need a refill. This would mean that we wouldn’t have to live with it for the next month and we would definitely be seeing NB Mountbatten again before we leave the Llangollen. This was fine and we all annotated our receipts. With the diesel tank topped up we felt happier, we’ll easily last til we see them the next time.
With a bike and shopping list in hand we headed off to Aldi to do the first wave of shopping. Tomorrow we’ll buy the fresh veg and meat in town. On our way back we split up, Mick returning to Oleanna with a laden bike and me to the Post Office to collect a large parcel from my brother. At least today they didn’t try offering me other peoples parcels, but signing for a parcel delivered to them proved a bit interesting and took time with both members of staff helping. I did feel sorry for the lady behind who just wanted one stamp.The parcel was heavier than I’d expected, the chap did offer to help me to my car with it! But I managed to get back to the boat without my arms dropping off.
The afternoon was so warm that we had all the doors open for quite sometime. Really hope it doesn’t stay quite so warm, as it will mean that we won’t have an overflow fridge out the back  under the pram cover.
Mick headed back to Wrexham for more secret shopping whilst I finished off the stool cushion tops. Indiana Jones kept me company as I crocheted the third and final top. We can now have guests for food and all be able to sit comfortably. Plus they all stow away nicely still in the drawing board slot. A good tidy up and stowing of much of my craft bits and bobs was needed so as to make space for the Christmas present pile. So glad the storage in the pouf is generous as it is now very full.
P1200221smThe basin has had more arrivals today. Everyone so far has a pontoon of their own, still space for a few more before boats will have to share. There is another cat! But at least they are as far away as they can be, so we won’t have to share too much of the basin. Our new neighbour is NB Perseus, a very individual boat.
0 locks, 0 miles, 3 more boats, 1st wave of shopping, 2ft square parcel, 0 visit to Paul, 60 litres diesel, 0 empty bottle, 6 bottles of wine, 3 stools complete, BBC1 in perfect order.