Pre-Christmas Family Christmas. 7th to 10th December

Castle Quays to Sovereign Wharf

On Friday after breakfast we moved Oleanna the great distance of 0.16 miles up to Sovereign Wharf. Planning a weekend away we’d booked her in for a few days so that we could leave her plugged in to the electricity and not have to turn the fridge and freezer off, there’s still a lot of fish pie mix to be eaten!

As we set off a C&RT man was walking down the towpath and he announced to us that the way ahead was now open. The dams had been removed and he soon returned with the Canal Closed sign from the lock. Think he was a little bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be going that far, we were also a bit disappointed not to be the first boat through.

Not an inch spare

Sovereign Wharf is only open on Fridays, so it was a good job we were turning up then. We’d already been informed of our mooring which was right outside the office so made to pull in. The gap to us looked a touch too short and after pulling the bow in our suspicions were confirmed. Ian the chap from the wharf had come out to welcome us and quickly checked for space up ahead of us, there was none, and then went to the boat behind asking if he could nudge them backwards. With another 18inches we slid in sideways, fender to fender, a nice snug fit. Once we’d paid, been given a key to the gate and checked about a couple of deliveries we were hoping for we plugged Oleanna into the electric to get the batteries up to full power. The electric kettle could now be used and so could our Alde boiler for heating, without using any gas.

At round 2.30pm NB Dusty pulled up alongside us. They had just been a few boats behind us in the morning, but they seemed to be having a good chat with everyone so it had taken quite  a time to reach us. A small top up of diesel, a new gas bottle and some more coal. This was going to be the last time we’d see them and we wanted to be stocked up to keep warm over the next few weeks.

Bye then

The stove was left to burn itself out and the boiler took over the heating. Our plan was to leave the boiler on to keep Oleanna at a reasonable temperature whilst we were way, so that we wouldn’t get complaints from the feline one. However the post we were plugged into kept tripping out. A few resets and some adjustments to settings on the inverter were done and we hoped that the post would stop tripping out.

A sudden sharp hail storm covered the ground before we were ready to leave, luckily stopping in time for our walk to the station. One big bag and a shopping bag did us for the way to London, clothes, presents and a couple of bottles of wine. Our train tickets had been a bargain, but we should have thought a bit more about the time we were heading into London on a Friday evening. The train was rammed, standing room only as was most of the tube journey from Marylebone to Bethnel Green. The final leg on the bus wasn’t too bad, but it was nice to have room again as we walked around the corner to my brothers.


There was a fire lit, Christmas tree was up with loads of presents under it, a very festive house. We enjoyed a lovely meal catching up on all the news.

FishFinn helping with decorationsPip made a wreathSaturday we spent preparing for the afternoon, when we were joined by three of Mick’s four sisters. Sadly Anne lives a touch too far away for her to have joined us for the evening. Thank you very much to Andrew and Jac for offering to have a get together at their house, it did mean there was plenty of good food to go round (Andrew inherited a bit more of my Mums genes than I did, he also has a bigger cooker).

Mick, Kath and MarionJohn, Kath, Jaq and her pavlovaPaul, Christine and MIckPaul, Ziggy and ChristineLots of presents were exchanged, much wine and salmon consumed and a lot of conversation. Sadly we were all to busy to get a group photo of everyone and the time for Marion and John to leave to catch a train back south caught up with us too soon. A very lovely evening with both our families together.

Victoria Park

Sunday was a far more leisurely day. No visitors, time to read the weekends papers and be sat on by Finn and Ziggy, who both seemed to enjoy having new knees to sit on. After a lazy breakfast and returning tables back to where they’d come from Mick and I headed out for a walk across Victoria Park. The last few days I’d been suffering from a twinging calf muscle and by the time we nearly reached the other side of the park it was reminding me I should be taking it easy! However the lure of the Hertford Union Canal was strong, so I hobbled onwards so that we could have a look to see if any boats were on the move.

Long legsHertford UnionOver looking the canal by the top lock (one gate left open) there was a boat waiting it’s turn at the next lock as it was being set for one to come up. We loitered for a while, but everything was taking quite a time and it was a touch too chilly to loiter for long. So we slowly walked back across the park between numerous football matches as the sun elongated our shadows across the grass.

This morning we were up in time to say Goodbye to Josh, the first to leave the house this morning. He was heading to school to start on a week of exams, I’m sure we didn’t have exams when I was 12!

Swag bagMarylebone station

Then we had to try to find means of carrying everything back to Banbury and Oleanna. Our siblings have been very generous with presents and we also had a few months worth of post along with a couple of large parcels of our own. I was very glad I’d thought to pop in an Ikea bag, as we left with a very full wheeled holdall, a brimming Ikea bag and another carrier with all our swag. Mick had studied our routes to Marylebone last night trying to find the one with the least amount of walking due to our luggage and my leg. In the end we had a lift from my brother to a bus stop where we caught the No 30 to Baker Street, from where we walked round the corner to the station. We’d allowed plenty of time and managed to get seats all the way back to Banbury where we caught a taxi back to the Wharf.

So they left me. For days and days and days and weeks! They have never left me this long before. My magic food bowl worked very well and provided me with tasty morsels.


But they were away sooo long that I had to eat the bits I’d left in case they never returned. The smell of fresh baking and Hot Cross Buns didn’t help from next door! Along with the lack of food and no shore leave (within the sight of trees and good looking things to climb) they left me with NO heating! They said it would be 18C whilst they were away. It was for about an hour, then it stopped. Good job it isn’t like it was this time last year otherwise they’d have returned to an icicle of a cat! The boiler tried to turn on a couple of times, but that was all, it didn’t succeed. So I was left for a life time in the cold with limited food supplies whilst they were stroking other cats in that London place.

In a box for warmth

When they came back today I was really pleased that I was given an extra dingding and they put the heating on, but this took ages so I had to sit in a box until it got warm.. Tom swept the chimney and then lit the stove, so it is now getting warm again. I have commandeered the end of the sofa nearest the stove to make up for it, if they think I’m moving then they’ve got another think coming! Well until they give me some more dingding, then I might just move.

The electric post had tripped out again fairly soon after we’d left. The gizmo Mick added to the electrics cupboard means that we can check to see what power is being used and what state the batteries are in from afar. On Saturday Mick asked a chap on a neighbouring boat if he could turn the power back on for us, this he did. But we suspect that our boiler was wanting a bit more power than the post could provide each time it wanted to fire up, so it tripped again almost straight away. This meant there was no point in getting  it switched back on again, we just hoped Tilly would survive, she has a fur coat after all.

0 locks, 0.16 miles, 1 tight squeeze, 1 nudge up, 4 bags coal, 30 litres diesel, 1 gas bottle, 1 empty wee tank, 1 Christmas rose, 2 bottles wine, 4 years, £22 return for both of us, 1 train, 2 tubes, 3 London Leckenbys, 1 fire, 18C more like 5C, 2 warm cats, 3 nights on a sofa bed, 3 nights in the freezing cold, 2 salmon, 600grms sugar, 7 egg whites, 1 wreath, 1 helper, 3 sisters, 10 for dinner, 1 very jolly lovely evening, 1 lazy morning, 1 walk in the park, Back to the Future 2, 1 blue bag not enough for lots of presents, 1 lift, 30 Bus, 1 slow walk, 40 minutes early, 1 train, 1 cab, 1 cold boat and cat, 0 food left, 4 chilly paws now defrosted and hogging the fire, 30%, 1st load of washing in the machine.