Monthly Archives: Jul 2018

Tying Up The Outside. 30th July

Hook’s Bridge 36 to Mill Bridge 8

P1370359smP1370362smSunday we woke to rain, not of the heavy variety, just the sort that is adamant to get you really soaked when you least expect it. Just as well I was having a work day, we’d bought suitable things for a breakfast, the Tour de France was arriving in Paris and that Tilly isn’t too bothered about rain. She is however bothered about wind and it was gusty. She had several excursions out onto the towpath to explore. When she returned towels were quickly deployed onto surfaces she wanted to sit on. I’m hoping my model survived a few near muddy paw prints as I’d taken over the dinette.

P1370366smThe rain kept coming until the evening, when the sun came out just before it was due to dip under the horizon. This produced the most vivid of greens in the reeds opposite and picked out the purple flowers.

Today we needed to be making a move again, I’ve a meeting this week and still had some work to do. So with Mick at the helm, waterproofs ready just in case and Tilly asleep on the bed we pushed off.

First thing they untied the outside and let it go, they do this quite often, it’s not unusual. It drifted off into the distance. Every now and then she would go outside and they’d tie up the outside to stop it from getting away. There were several of these outsides, but we didn’t stay long at any of them. The first one was hard to hold onto as another boat was passing through ‘Too quick!’ The hose was connected here and the wet box under the floor at the front filled.

P1370373smThen they let this outside go replacing it with another a while later. This one had more promise, trees, sideways trees, a bit of friendly cover, but I wasn’t allowed out. I’d have appreciated it more than them, they just sat inside and ignored it! What a waste. They let this one go too.

The next I wasn’t too sure about. It took a bit to tie it down, there was a man complaining about it, don’t blame him, it smelt! I stayed looking out of the bedroom window ready to persuade them to let this one go too! She came in to find a cheque book, apparently the last time it was used was when they bought me from the rescue centre two and a bit years ago. Luckily they gave up on this outside and pushed it away and kept on moving.

P1370381smHow long before the outside was fully changed? It was getting boring inside. She was inside most of the time, not keeping me company but doing interesting things. In between snoozes I kept an eye on what she was doing. Putting things in and out of boxes. Two boxes, just my size. One had lots of little bits in it the other had thin obstructions stopping me from gaining access. She kept putting more and more things in it from the other box. I watched just in case one of these became empty enough to make room for me, but that didn’t happen. In the end I decided to make space for myself. I scooped out a little thing. Hey this was similar to finding a friend, I could have loads of fun. She didn’t agree, she was angry.

P1370384smTom got close to an outside and as she went to tie it up she saidIf you touch anything, I mean anything, you will die!’ Blimey, maybe these little things were poisonous. I decided to watch her instead. Once the magic music had been played and she’d written down the numbers of this outside the doors were opened up. I was given two and a half hours and if I could come back with a new model chair that would be good.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 10.35 miles, 1 big sigh from nature, 1 very soggy day, 1 full water tank, 0 recycling done, 2 bags rubbish, 1 lunch break, 1 rope bridge, 1 frontcloth, 5 flown pieces, 1 squashed chair, 1 white card model complete, 1 poisonous toy, 4 outsides, 93.5 litres diesel, 75p, 1 bored Tilly.

To The Chip Shop Please. 28th July

Former Railway Bridge 34A to Carleton Bridge Winding Hole to Hook’s Bridge 36
P1370244smTilly stayed close to home on Friday, not venturing too far. The battlefield excursion had obviously had some difficulties for her that she’d rather not relive. Another hot day, if these temperatures into the 30s are going to be the norm in future summer months we may have to look at replacing our bathroom flooring. On Lillian the floor was made of ceramic tiles, Oleanna has Karndean flooring, it looks nice but doesn’t stay as cool. Tilly still tends to flop in her hotter moments onto the bathroom floor (so it must be cooler than the wood), on occasions hugging the base of the compost toilet.
I read a post on facebook about someone who’d been wondering if their cat would be more comfortable in the heat without their fur, they had done some research on the internet. Cats fur acts as an insulator, so keeps them warm in the winter and helps to keep them cool in the summer. So if you shaved them you would be removing their natural protection, you also wouldn’t have much of your hands or face left! Apparently cats are okay up to temperatures of 40C. Our old cat Houdini once managed to get herself covered in some oil like substance and had a costly weeks B&B at the vets having baths to try to remove it. Her body reacted and she lost fur from her belly and legs, only her paws escaped, leaving her looking like a clipped poodle. It took months for her fur to regrow back, so we will not be subjecting Tilly to such embarrassment, but maybe a cool slab to lie on instead.
P1370266smAfter a day back at work it was time for us to move on again, there was a Saturday newspaper to get after all. We decided to cruise up to Market Bosworth and walk up into town. The dishwasher was put on shortly followed by the washing machine, we’d be filling up today. Outside the temperature necessitated the wearing of jumpers, it wasn’t even 6am!
A cooling 3 mile pootle brought us towards the moorings on the outskirts of town. These were very busy, the penny dropped, The Rails and Ales Festival was on at the station, boats were breasting up. Luckily for us there was space on the marina visitor moorings, the sign says £5 a night and we only wanted a couple of hours.
P1370285smP1370290smGetting on for a mile walk uphill to the town was worth it as the square opened up in front of us. P1370302smP1370306sm
We visited the pharmacy for more antihistamine tablets, the newsagents for our newspaper, a few bits from the small Co-op and then visited the greengrocers/florists Rose and Radish. A few bits of veg plus a couple of tasty looking things from a bakers display. Next door to the butchers, Lampard’s, for some bacon and black pudding. All the meaty goods were hidden away so no impulse purchases were possible today, but we had enough of what we wanted.
P1370317smP1370324smIn the corner by the tea rooms we could see some steam rising. Not scone rage, but two mini steam powered traction engines. Each could carry a couple of passengers but were having difficulty reversing. Relieved of passengers each engine was pushed backwards to turn, a lady got back on along with her dog and was asked where to? ‘To the chip shop please’.
P1370299smA toot of a whistle and a wait for cars to get out of the way and then they were off rumbling over the cobbles and turning left towards the chippie, The Batter of Bosworth.
P1370335smBack down the hill plumes of steam were rising near the station, so we decided to have a look. The steam was coming from full size traction engines all lined up, the railway only running diesel today avoiding any possibilities of sparks starting line side fires. We got so far and then realised that there was an entrance fee, £5. Not much, but as we only wanted a little look it wasn’t worth it. The 80 beers in the engine shed could be consumed by others today.
P1370275smP1370339smAfter eating our baked goods we pushed off. Gusts of wind were building, just what was wanted to assist with winding! Mick opted to cruise on ahead for a mile to the next winding hole to turn rather than reverse the 200 yards to the marina entrance whilst I stayed below to do a bit more model making. Winding was relatively easy, especially as  nobody was around to watch and we returned to fill with water. The moorings were still full, so much so that one boat was moored by one of the taps. Enough space for us to pull in and fill up, but should anyone else have arrived there would have been grounds for complaints.
P1370273smBy now we had drizzly rain, our waterproofs were needed. Once I’d pushed the bow out I carried on model making leaving Mick to find us a suitable mooring. No need for trees today, in fact we wanted to avoid them if we could with strong gusts of wind and rain forecast. Back out into the countryside Mick tried pulling in a couple of times but the depth stopped him. It was proper rain now. Then within sight of the banners at the Battlefield Visitors Centre there was plenty of depth and room for us, no armco but chains would do.
P1370357smWe could now settle for the evening, long pants and jumpers on, a soggy moggy coming and going, washing hanging in the pram cover, lots of fresh veg for our tea resulting in steamy windows. All the while listening to the rain on the cabin roof.
DSCF7114smP1370255sm0 locks, 6.41 miles, 2 palaces, 1 wind, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 mini traction engines, 1 diesel, 0 steam engines, 80 pints to sample, 1 box of drugs, 1 paper, 1 cheese straw, 1 tart, 1 vine of tomatoes, 1 head of broccoli, 200gms mushrooms, 1 stir fry, 2 pints milk, 1 big box of wine, 6 rashers, 0.5 ring of black pudding, 1 blustery wet afternoon, 1 soggy Mick, 1 soggy happy Tilly, 1 refreshed countryside, 10 degrees cooler, 2 boaters who can breath again.

I Do Like A Good…..Bosworth?! 26th July

Former Railway Bridge 34A

Time for a day off work and time to explore. This did however mean that Tilly wasn’t allowed shore leave this morning, it was my turn to venture away from the boat.

As we were getting ourselves  sorted to go out (sun cream, water etc) a familiar bow came past. It was The Blue Boat, Pat and Roy were stood on the back heading towards Market Bosworth. They are easily recognisable to us due to the design Pat painted around their porthole at the bow, but we disappear into the crowd now, no longer being yellow. Sadly I didn’t manage to get out the front quick enough to say hello, hopefully we’ll be around when they come back. Seeing them means that our summer is now complete, as our paths have crossed the last three years.

P1370123smBeing moored by the old railway line we walked up over the bridge and towards the Bosworth Battlefield Centre. Following the course of the old tracks meant we had plenty of shelter from the sun on what was to become the hottest day of the year, so far. Boards along the track described what happened back in 1485 when King Richard III lost his life at the battle of Bosworth.

P1370136smP1370137smThe walk took us past a spring that King Richard may have drunk from on that fateful day in August, a cairn was erected over the well in 1813. Today it was damp, but we didn’t fancy a drink preferring our bottle of water.

P1370149smBosworth Battlefield Centre was set up in 1974 at Ambion Hill Farm. Based on written theories this was thought to have been the site of the battle on the 22nd August, 1485. Exhibitions were first on display in cow sheds, these gradually expanded and in 1985, the 500th anniversary the new display was visited by the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 2005 Heritage Lottery Funding was given for a survey to try to work out where the actual battlefield was.

P1370127smThis survey took five years to complete and brought together written, topographical and field research. A huge area was covered by metal detectorists and core samples were taken to try to find Shakespeare’s Marsh (yes he’s even here!).  The results proved that the battle actually occurred a mile south west of Ambion Hill, an area covering both sides of Fenn Lane was found to have numerous lead cannon balls.

P1370213smIn 2010 the new exhibitions were put in place regarding the actual location of the battlefield. You can visit the actual site on a guided walk from the centre, £17 for the day but bring your own packed lunch and drinks! A commemorative sundial was put on the top of Ambion Hill to mark the battle and the Battle of Bosworth Trail was opened. By the end of the day we’d walked around the trail, other than the sun dial and spring, it is just a walk with boards telling you about the battle. It doesn’t actually take you to any sites that were associated with the battle, because it wasn’t here, however you can nearly spot the actual site from a good vantage point near the sundial.

P1370158smThe exhibition was very good, it boasts that it is award winning. Modern with flaps to lift and buttons to press.

P1370177smA detailed description of the actual battle using re-enactment footage, a 3D map, suits or armour and coats of arms has to be the centre of the display.

P1370183smP1370185smYou can see how far you could fire an arrow, dress up as knights, watch four accounts of what happened, that Stanley chap was a bit of a wimp (I know his elegancies were split but!).

Plenty to see and you get to vote for who you thought was the best King, Richard or Henry. With our York connections we had no difficulty in our decision.

P1370194smP1370190smBosworth was the last major battle in the Wars of the Roses between the houses of York and Lancaster. Richard III reign began in 1483 after his brother died and Edward V was declared illegitimate and therefore ineligible to be king. Edward and his younger brother then disappeared from the Tower of London never to be seen again and Richards popularity started to decline. Henry Tudor from the House of Lancaster took advantage of Richards difficulties and challenged the throne landing in Wales and drumming up support as he marched is army towards London. Richard mustered his troupes and intercepted Henry near Market Bosworth. It was here that Richard was killed on the battled field, his bloody naked body taken to Leicester and processed through the streets before he was buried in Grey Friars, to be found  500 years later under a car park.

P1370236smP1370238smLunch in the Tithe Barn before we continued our walk around the site of the none battlefield. This brought us down to Shenton Station on The Battlefield Line. Sadly the last returning train had already left and at this end of the line there were no engines to look at, just the station. This has been taken over by two glass artists. Inside on the hottest day of the year was a lady demonstrating how to make a keep sake memory glass stone. The one she was making had bubbles in it which were created by  adding ashes, the ashes she was using today came from a Yorkshire Terrier and was a commission for it’s owner. There were lots of lovely bowls and vases, I nearly bought baubles for Christmas presents, but glass is not the easiest thing to post and space on board is more limited than normal at the moment.

P1370227smReturning to the boat the doors were opened so that Tilly  could explore for the remainder of the afternoon. Our shady spot and closed curtains had managed to keep the interior of the boat coolish, but the temperature soon rose to join that of outside with the doors open.

Tilly came and went a few times but then was gone for a bit too long! Before we ate I did my mad cat woman impression walking up and down the towpath calling and meowing into the hedgerows. After we ate I did the same, then an hour later. The wind had picked up, could she no longer find her scent trail back to the boat, was it the presence of the Blue Boat (this happened on the Macc a couple of years ago). I hung a jumper of mine out the back to give her a familiar smell to follow if she was lost. I’d have also put her litter tray out but it was fresh. The sun dropped below the horizon and we stayed calm, watched TV and waited. I was just about to put shoes on and get the big torch out when there was a thud on the stern, a very hungry Tilly was home, Phew!

It was a long walk to the real battlefield and as they weren’t going to find it I had too! Just some fields, nothing to see really, quite boring.

0 miles, 0 locks, 1 day off, 1 blue boat, 0 battlefields, 1 spring, 2 kings, 1 amputee, 1000 dead, 4 stories, 240m, 2 jacket potatoes, 2 late for trains, 1 very hot lady, 1 alarm, 1 hot boat, 3 hours turned into 6! 1 battlefield, 1 familiar smell, 1 very hot day.

Turning Towards The Dawn. 25th July

Bulkington Bridge to Former Railway Bridge 34A, Ashby Canal

P1370022smBoth of us were awake before the alarm clock this morning (it’s not set very often), so instead of trying to get back to sleep we had a cuppa in bed and then made ready to move. Our plan had been to set off early to try to beat the heat of the day and we succeeded to start off with.

P1370032smP1370043smAfter pushing the bow out I walked along the towpath. My legs and waistline wanted some exercise after sitting at the dinette table for days model making. At 6am we passed Avril’s school soon followed by Charity Dock. Here the only signs of life were the cockerels wanting to come out from their shed, they were quite adamant about it! Jumpers were certainly needed, but we’d both refrained from putting on long trousers.

Mick crept Oleanna past all moored boats, the early morning water ahead showing the bow wave that she pushes. This is the reason you should slow down as you approach moored boats, not just as you pass them. Hopefully nobody stirred from their sleep, I tried to keep on the brittle yellowed grass to quieten my footsteps.

P1370057smA stretch of legs on such a morning was lovely and it gave me the opportunity to check that the way ahead was clear at the junction. It of course was, the sun rising directly above the Ashby Canal.

P1370071smP1370074smMick swung Oleanna’s bow round the tight turn, having to reverse a little to get lined up for the narrow bridge hole and what once was a stop lock.

P1370081smThe sun was blinding but stunning. A water vole startled that it wasn’t on it’s own swam across the cut in front of us, reaching up the wooden boards to clamber out. This is the third one we’ve seen in the last week, not having seen one before other than on TV.

Our aim now was to find a suitable mooring for a few days. Temperatures set to be high again tree cover was needed. Last night we’d decided to head for the old railway bridge but if there was anywhere suitable before hand then we’d stop sooner.

P1370088smI headed below and got my model out from it’s cupboard. Time to set up scenes and see where I’ve got to. The last week has been spent drawing things up and making them, but due to the lack of space it has been hard to have the model box out to look at things in situ as I make them. With such a small model, getting to look at it from a suitable height can be tricksy, so some elevation was required. None of the shelves on the boat have enough depth so in the end a couple of empty wine boxes found themselves with a new purpose. They did the trick.

P1370109smMy hour or so of looking meant I had quite a few things to alter or adjust. Sadly the Dames tuperware cruiser needed remaking, at least I now knew how to make it. Was it possible to make it narrow enough to fit through a narrow auditorium door? Or was it going to have to arrive in several pieces? Would the box office table get in the way? All things you wouldn’t have to consider in a bigger theatre.

Outside Mick gradually warmed up at the helm and poolted Oleanna along. The water point by Watling Street was free so we tied up and replenished Oleanna’s tank whilst having breakfast. A shady spot showed itself by the Farm shop, but the depth was far from enough for us. Even nudging back and forth we still couldn’t get close enough to the edge, on we went.

At Stoke Golding we pulled in just after the wharf and bridge. Not totally to the side and the sun would soon be behind the trees, this would do. The doors opened and Tilly was let out to explore. We soon realised our mistake. The local ducks were adamant that we’d give them some white sliced and we were grating along the bottom. The odd noise is fine in such places, but here we just had to breath!

Tilly seemed to be enjoying herself, but luckily she returned for a drink and the doors were quickly closed behind her. Onwards. Now the sun was at it’s height. Mick covered in a layer of sun cream steered us on, a couple more miles and we dropped off our rubbish. Not far now to the old railway bridge, but would it have been taken by someone else? I stood on the bow hoping it would be free and that the depth would be sufficient. One boat was moored a short distance away but the bridge was free. Wonderful shade from most sides. We pulled in, I hopped of the bow just as it started to scrap along the bottom. The stern was a bit out too. We tried going forwards a bit, then pulling back again to try to find a position where we would touch the bank. This wasn’t going to happen. But as we were a suitable distance from the bridge and the canal was wide enough we decided to call it a day. We only scrape the bottom as boats come past and the shade is very good, it’ll do us nicely.

P1370114smDSCF7114sm0 locks, 12.72 miles, 6am cruising, 3 cockerels, 1 confused cat, 1 right, 1 rising sun, 3rd mooring, 2 outsides, 4 hours turned into 6, 1 new playground, 2 repurposed wine boxes, 11 hours working day, 2nd tuperware, 2 more scenes to go, 1 full stage watched, page 30 passed!

Boats Boats Everywhere! 22nd 23rd July

Deepest Darkest Frank Country, Bulkington Bridge 14

It turns out that we are moored in the middle of where our friend Frank grew up. In the past he has pointed to the maps in Nicholsons, his sisters school, where he used to go and watch the trains, where he and his friends used to play alongside the cut. We took notice but never really clocked where these places were. Well just around the bend in front of us is Avril’s school and the Co-Op in Nuneaton is where Frank got his first football boots from, his parents lived near our current mooring and he would cross the bridge behind us to go watch the trains. We are in deepest darkest Frank Country

P1360967smA couple of days of work for me. In the mornings the drawing board has come out from it’s slot so that I can draw up the set for a couple of scenes, then it’s put away to make space for me to make the model of those scenes in the afternoons. Sunday morning Mick managed to keep himself enough space to sit at one end of the sofa and watch The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery which just happened to be on. It’s still rather funny even if you are only listening to it.

P1360970smIn the afternoon Mick had to relocate himself to the towpath for some space. He’s even opened up a book to read, we’ll see if he gets further than page 30 before it joins the other part read books onboard!

P1360958smDuring the morning  plenty of boats came past, nothing unusual in that, it’s very busy along here. However one was strange. As it came past I waved at a lady inside the cabin, she waved back. I then looked up to see that there was nobody at the helm. Maybe they’d just bobbed inside to grab something? No the back doors were shut. It must have had remote control as the tiller was moving and the boat was in full control as it passed us and the other boats moored up. Early last year we shared Calcutt Locks with a chap who steered his boat from the lock top with a remote control. It’s just weird seeing a boat steering itself, like a ghost boat.

IMAG0557smIMAG0558smLate morning a boat pulled into the gap behind us. As he moored he spotted Tilly on the towpath, he’d keep his dog on a lead. The pram cover comes in handy for such moments. If I lie close to it, I can spy woofers along the towpath, but they find it hard to see me, only my head visible, even then most don’t see me.

A catch up with my family in London on the phone informed us that there was quite a lot of post. Some of it important for Mick’s pensions. So instead of us finding somewhere for it to be posted to, Mick decided to have a day trip to London to pick it up. After helping me get the drawing board out Monday morning he headed off to Bedworth Station to catch a train to Nuneaton and then into London. There was quite a bundle of post, some reminding him that he hadn’t filled a form in, other envelopes included items that needed to be included with the form, so the trip was worth it.

I made use of his visit by giving him a shopping list of items I could do with for my model. 4D is a great model shop in the East End, they sell just about any variety of tree so long as it’s to scale along with plenty of other scale things. I was after some lengths of wood and dowel and they were just the place to get them from.

P1360976smP1360980smTilly and I kept ourselves busy, she came and went having a drink on every visit, whilst I got on designing some boats. Two in fact, one for our romantic lead to woo his lovely princess in and the other more brash the Dame’s gin palace cruiser. Whilst I toyed with angles to create a suitably sized tuperware, numerous boats cruised past. I was surrounded by boats. Today has been one of the hottest so far, yet this didn’t deter the masses from cruising. Only about a third hire boats making the most of their holiday. There were several who pulled in for lunch taking advantage of the overhanging trees. One stayed for several hours, their big black poodle shouting as they moored up followed by smelly smoke every now and then.

Our mooring did well. Only about an hour of direct sunlight mid afternoon, which did heat up the cabin somewhat and necessitate me closing the hatch so that I could see what I was doing. But the rest of the day was nearly pleasant.

P1360990smP1370003smOnce Mick was home and my model stowed away again we sat out on the towpath and enjoyed the burgers and kebabs we’d bought in Nuneaton. A suitable way to celebrate living onboard full time for four years. I so hope the bears are still alright guarding our possessions in the attic in Scarborough.


0 locks, 0 miles, 214 boats, 2 at 1:25, 2 days work, 5 trains, 2 tubes, 2 buses, 5 pension letters, 2 birth certificates, 1 pyramid that isn’t there, 1 papyrus ground row, 1 sarcophagus, 1 nice woofer, 1 good vantage point, 1 smelly noisy woofer, 2 hole days of work, 2 burgers, 2 kebabs, 1 very slow cooking bbq, 2 corn, 4th home grown salad, 4 years of floating along full time.

Early Jam Potential. 20th and 21st July

Cat Junkie Mooring to Hawkesbury Junction to Bulkington Bridge 14, Coventry Canal

I like work. It is great!

It means that I get to spend all day everyday out doing what I want to do. But having said that after four days and a couple of previous visits to this outside I had just about used it all up. Being outside all day everyday is exhausting. It would be stupid to come back inside when still allowed outside, so for the odd little snooze I decided to make myself comfy in the pram cover.

There were still friends to be found and I brought them back to be near to Oleanna, not inside as I’d have had to introduce them then and that would shorten play time! So a rustley area in amongst the trees was a great place to play, not too much friendly cover so I tended to win at hide and seek.

Tom must be getting bored, he even did some more washing of Oleanna! That’s three days running he’s had the buckets out. She’s hoping that he gets very bored and washes the pram and cratch cover soon.

P1360817smOut of the four days we’ve been here I managed to get nearly three days work done on my model. A rough plan of what to make each day means I know when I’m falling behind, modelmaking always takes longer than you think. Luckily my plan has six spare days worked into it. By the end of Friday I’d almost got to where I wanted to be and managed to have a chat with Gemma the Production Manager, there is a lot to catch up with as we worked together twenty years ago in Scarborough, I suspect we won’t run out of conversation before the show opens.

P1360820smP1360825smSaturday morning arrived and the need for some fresh veg, a newspaper, some water, a rubbish bin and a different outside for all of us meant we had a boating day. It also meant that Tilly wouldn’t get chance to make acquaintances with a Water Vole we’d spotted a couple of times. This morning it obliged us by sitting munching on grass opposite our bedroom picture window. Tilly was the one who spotted it first.

P1360835smP1360845smWe let the morning rush hour pass before we ourselves pushed off and pootled to the winding hole just ahead of us. Here we winded and headed back past Springwood Haven heading for Nuneaton. The canal skirts around the town and other than visiting supermarkets we’ve not really had a look round. Today we moored up by Tuttle Hill Bridge and walked into town.

P1360863smIt being Saturday there was a market which was busy and far bigger than I’d imagined. We managed to buy quite a bit of the fruit and veg we wanted on the stalls but a few bits meant we’d still need to visit a supermarket to fill the gaps. My supply of tracing paper was running low, WHSmiths only sold A4 pads so we hunted round for Staples which luckily came up trumps with a pad of A3. I should be able to fit most of my drawings onto these sheets. It means more sheets of drawings, but they are a lot easier to get copied at this size. I also won’t have a huge roll of drawings knocking around the boat for weeks.

P1360861smAmongst the none descript buildings of Nuneaton we spotted quite a few rather nice Deco buildings. The Co-op, sadly no longer a Co-op looked very fine with it’s name boldly displayed on the fin.

P1360851smThe Ritz Cinema also looks like it was once a gem. Frank did you ever visit it on a Saturday morning? (Our friend Frank comes from these parts and his Father is possibly the only person to have ever be sent away from Coventry). Sadly now closed the cinema is Grade 2  and was designed by Verity and Beverley for the Union Cinema Circuit in 1937. According to the Historic England website, you would enter the building on the curved corner into a foyer with a grand staircase, which led to a single large auditorium with a balcony.

P1360853smP1360857smThe decor is highly coloured incorporating Art Deco, Neo-Egyptian and Chinoiserie. A link to some very colourful photos here. Large fretwork panels of lotus leaf motifs and coffered ceilings suggest it was once a wonderful magical place to visit. Sadly the building is boarded up awaiting a new life, whether that involves being converted into a theatre (I know of one of those in Scarborough) or the owners are just waiting for it to fall down and the site then to be redeveloped, who knows. But certainly some of the locals loved this place. A mural on the doors reminds you of kids Saturday mornings at the flicks and pictures of film stars below the canopy conjure up the atmosphere. Not seen a picture of Johnny Weismuller in decades.

P1360868smLast port of call on the way back to Oleanna was at Frank Parkers Butchers. I’d spotted it from the car the other day and on our walk into town the queue meant it was definitely worth a look inside to see if their boasting of being a Butchers of Distinction was correct. It was, so a pork and stilton pie along with a couple of burgers and steak and haloumi kebabs made their way into our shopping bags for a barbecue tomorrow.

P1360872smAfter lunch we pushed onwards Southwards. We needed water if nothing else today and the nearest tap was at Hawkesbury Junction a few miles away. On our route we made note of possible moorings again. If the forecast for the next few days is correct we’ll be wanting tree cover again. Today we noticed for the first time the amount of very plump ripe Blackberries, the best were around allotments in Nuneaton. Frank would have insisted on us stopping so that he could do his mountain goat impression to pick plenty. Maybe I’ll make some jam this year. At the junction with the Ashby we carried straight on, we may head back up there later in the week for a change of scenery, but we hoped today we’d find somewhere to moor ahead of us.

P1360903smP1360913smP1360917smP1360920smAny boater who has passed this way will have seen Charity Dock. Here there is a boat yard which has scrap piled up behind all the cruiser boats which block the entrance to the dock. Then along the linear moorings the residents have been creative with shop mannequins and all sorts. I was ready with my camera to play ‘Where is The Stig?’ The display changes quite frequently, around Halloween cobwebs and witches hats are added. Plenty to look at and today was the first time we’ve really noticed the tree covered in wooden masks.

P1360955smHawkesbury Junction seemed busy but the water points were free. The pressure on the tap was tiresome so we made use of the time to chat to NB Timewarp who sell tillerpins and very tasty fudge. We’re hoping to get our old tillerpin of a cat chromed so enquired if they knew anyone. Limekiln chandlery at Stourport was our best bet, shame we didn’t know that when we were stuck there earlier in the year!

P1360947smOnce the tank was full we headed to the junction, winded and reversed to the loading mooring. We were going to off load but we didn’t think it would be a problem. Once all the packaging from the solar panel along with our waste was in the bins we were ready to find a shady mooring. A couple of miles back we’d noted a tree covered cutting with armco where there was space with another boat and we were soon tied up ready for whatever the next few days brings us.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 9.73 miles, 5 stalls, 1 stretch limo, 2 water voles, 15 minutes of proper rain, 1 cat tucked up inside, 2 straights, 2 winds, 2 burgers, 2 kebabs, 1 pomegranate, 1 pork pie, 2 colours of cherry tomatoes, A3 tracing, 2 bags fudge, 1 shady mooring, 3 whole days, 2 hours stretched into 4, 1 exciting new outside.

Sticky! 19th July

Cat Junkie Mooring

With breakfast and the morning rush hour over I sat out to read Act 2 of panto before setting up the dinette for another day of work.

P1360773smMick gave the roof another quick wash and we waited for it to dry. Where better to store the solar panel other than on the roof. We laid it roughly in position.

Our original panel sits above the bathroom, just fitting between mushroom vents, the second one fits just behind it nestling between more mushrooms and the chimney. The box that connects the panels to the boat electrics was positioned so that we could add a second panel, so this now sits between the two of them.

Before anything else could be done Mick wanted to check that the panel worked. Nothing worse than sticking it down to discover it was faulty. The volt meter came up with the right answer and we could proceed.

P1360775smP1360780smThe panel was positioned centrally between mushroom vents and between the grabrail and chimney, leaving what we hope is a suitable gap for water to drain along the grabrail. Then we drew round it so as the know where to put the silicone sealant to fix it down.

P1360784smA wide band of masking tape was put down with the hope of containing any excessive silicone and giving us a neat clean edge once we’d finished. My concern was would the first bits of silicone start to skin over by the time we were ready to lay the panel on top. We’d avoided buying instant grab products so that we would have the chance to give the panel a bit of a squidge around before final positioning. A test was needed, not totally scientific, but worth doing. Some of the packaging was put on the roof in the sun and a bead of silicone applied to it and left for the length of time I thought it may take us to apply it to the whole area. Mick watched a stop watch and I made us wait, every few minutes checking on the sample to see if it had skinned over. After ten minutes I deemed that we’d waited long enough and there was no sign of a skin forming, so unless applying it to the roof rather than cardboard made a difference I thought we’d be safe and not end up with a lumpy bumpy panel. The panel we have is a flexible one, but that only really means that it is not rigid, there is only so much flex it is capable of, sitting on a curved roof is fine, but pulling it off when half stuck would not be good.

P1360788smP1360790smSilicone applied with a constant bead around the outside (hopefully to keep any water from creeping underneath, then a wiggle to help hold it in position and a few more across the centre for good measure. We lifted the panel onto the roof. Once in position we worked any air out from the centre before rubbing down the outside edge. Happy with position and adheardness (not a word until now) I tidied up the excess that had squidged out and then removed the masking tape. All very nice and neat.

P1360795smDuring the afternoon I got on with making my model whilst Mick decided to connect the panel. The box that covers the connecting wires was unscrewed from the roof. The panels come with connectors on the ends of their wires, but these are bulky. Finesse when installing our first panel had removed the connectors and joined the cables with chocolate blocks which were then protected by the box from weather. A quick call to Photonic Universe to check that this wouldn’t affect a warranty on the panel and all was okay. However the cables were thick, too thick for two to go into each block. Springwood Haven provided Mick with some spade connectors which he then crimped onto the cables which fitted better. Bigger chocolate blocks may be needed, but for now this would do.

P1360797smAll of the fittings that are attached to Oleanna’s shell have a layer of what I call Black Tack. We used to use it every now and again at the theatre (can’t remember what for now, Ali would know though) and I believe it is a product that is used to hold car windscreens in. It’s black sticky and never dries out. Mick tried to save what had been under the box, but deemed it wasn’t suitable anymore. So with some of the silicone he made sure that the cables into the box wouldn’t allow water in and gave around the base a good amount to help seal this too.

I requested that I should be the one to tidy up afterwards, it should be a boy job, but patience for such things doesn’t come too easily to my boy. I had an inkling that it was already too late for this part of the installation to be as neat as the first part. The problems with clear silicone is that it is hard to see, it gets everywhere, onto everything and then onto other things as well! Mick had applied it to his arms as well as his hands, he was pretty waterproof. I quickly discovered that whilst it was wet it would gradually work off with white spirit. Next time I’ll be masking out the whole roof and putting Mick in a paper disposable suit before he is let loose with silicone again!

P1360805sm0 locks, 0 miles, Act 2 read, 1 solar panel adhered neatly, 1 new strip chocolate blocks, 1 waterproof Mick, 0.4 litres of white spirit, 1 cleaner roof, 2 tormentors, 2 treads, 1 front cloth all not finished, 14 hours!!! Yes you heard correctly, 14 hours, 2 friends brought to the playground, 1 brilliant day all day, 2 showers, 1 barbecue, 1 thirsty conpooperatedly tired cat.