Monthly Archives: Jan 2019

In the Picture. 24th January

Sainsburys …. still!

Today we’ve had a visitor, Izzy, who’d been taking photos of Oleanna last Saturday when we returned from our walk.

Izzy is studying Photography and Video at De Montfort University in Leicester, she is in her final year and working on her Major Project based around ‘canal life’. After we’d met at the weekend she got in touch with us via the blog and we arranged to meet up for her to take more photos and hear about our life on the boat and canals.

She was with us for a good couple of hours, we chatted through all sorts to do with our life on board, how we came to be on Oleanna, where we’ve travelled, day to day stuff and so on. This of course put us all at ease before she started to take some photos. When I say some, it was quite a lot, but we all know to get that one good photo you need to take several so it was fine. Photos inside, photos of us doing things (well posed really), standing outside being proud owners of Oleanna. Even Tilly got to have her photo taken I wasn’t too sure about it, her camera made funny noises!

Then Izzy recorded us talking about our life on the canal. Tilly managed to pay a visit to her pooh box whilst this was happening (a noisy affair) and then wanted to go out, I asked nicely, so she’s been recorded too.

There was plenty we forgot to talk about, even though we had questions in front of us, where our favourite places are (top of Bank Newton locks on the curly wurly, Tixall Wide,Bugsworth Basin, there’s plenty). We mostly talked about winter life, and forgot to mention long summer days sitting on the towpath having barbeques till late at night, listening to the owls and being close to nature, the history, the landscapes. Well we are in sitting by the stove and keeping cosy mode at the moment. Those sunny days will be back.

Izzy has visited several other boaters and her major project will consist of photographs and the recordings from us all, a documentary. We’ve promised to let her know if we’ll be somewhere picturesque where she can join us again to get action shots, hopefully in the sunshine. The tidal Trent isn’t one of those places and it’s likely to be a grey day when we travel downstream so we’ll have to think about other places.

We wish her all the very best and hope that her project comes together well.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 big posh camera, 4731 photos, 2 photos of the photographer, 2 boaters who managed to talk toilets (there’s a surprise!), 1 cat who demonstrated hers, 2 boaters kept occupied for the day, 1 camera fully dusted and working again, Hooray! 1 annoying wool order on the way, but is it coming from the US or England?

Todays photos are watermarked using Visual Watermark

How Many Photos Can You See?

Several people have commented that the photos on Tilly’s post today were blank, not visible. We can see them. So I’m going to try posting it again, but with the photos added in different ways. I’ve just done a test and no matter which way I add photos, watermarked or not I can see them, I’ve also tried with different browers.

If you get this by email I suspect you can see the photos, but it would be interesting to know.

Sorry for posting this again, but Tilly really wants her photos to be seen. 


This is simply not on!

Tom went to the marina this morning, where he’d taken their life jackets last week. For some reason he didn’t bother taking mine, just left it in the cat proof cupboard next to my super yummy treats! I‘m working on a way to get in there, several methods have failed so far, but I’ll keep on trying.

Anyhow, the man at the marina said their jackets weren’t back yet, and they hadn’t been sent off until Friday! Tom wasn’t too pleased at this as we are all waiting around for them to come back before we carry on to Yorkshire. They like to wear them on the river bits, I don’t really like to wear mine but if it means I can watch them moving the outside for a while then I’ll cope. I have asked if I could move the outside for them as I still have my jacket, but She isn’t convinced that I’d be able to move the tiller and not get distracted by the birdies.

So day in, day out we wait. Even the really slow boat has caught us up! The outside here is not very good, too many bikes and not enough friends to find. At times it really isn’t worth going out there at all. I go to the back door but when it’s opened I remember that all they have been doing is waiting, not moving the outside. So a quick walk down the cat walk is all I can muster, you’ve got to keep the steps up even whilst waiting.

I’m starting to run out of sleep, we’ve waited so long now. I even have to remind Her about the red dot, but that game is getting boring now.

Does the man at the marina not realise that here I am, stuck with this outside, waiting to get to Yorkshire for some proper shore leave. The Yorkshire outside is far superior to Nottingham’s and the outsiders don’t talk about ducks all the time!

They say I may not be allowed out when we’re on our way for a few days. Tom thinks I might be allowed shore leave at Hazelford Lock where it will be our own island, but She’s not too sure I’ll ever come back! It sounds quite good to me.

Doesn’t the marina man realise all this waiting is torcher!! Just get Tom and Her jackets back so we can get going, we don’t want to miss the next tide and wait even longer with this outside!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 outside, 0 life jackets, 0 friends, 2 pathetic trees conquered, 4 Dreamies at a time to stop the boredom, 3 sleeps left this month, the rest are all used up.

2 boaters who will definitely be servicing their own jackets next time!

Watson Fothergill, Stan and Ollie. 22nd January


Geoff stopped by this morning to say goodbye, they were going to make the most of a bright crisp morning and head out of town. Our paths may cross later in the year when we both head southwards.

Some of the morning was spent taking photos of my latest makes for Etsy and uploading them to social media, by the end of the day I’d sold another item and possibly have a new commission, more money for the wine fund!

After lunch we walked up into town, there were a few bits we wanted which I hoped we’d find in Victoria Market. This is situated on the top floor of Intu where John Lewis is. Despite there being quite a few empty stalls, especially in the meat and fish section, there was still a good selection. We found our way to Aladdin’s Cave, which had one of the items on our list. Here they sell all sorts of bits and bobs that would need quite a rootle to find the thing you need, but worth a visit for that curtain track fitting nobody else has anymore. Then on to Wilko for most of the remainder of our list.

Wandering around the streets of Nottingham you see also sorts of wonderful Victorian buildings. Today one stopped us in our tracks and deserved a closer look.

17 George Street was designed by architect Watson Fothergill in 1895 as offices for himself, above the door it says as much. Built in the Gothic Revival style this elaborate building shows off the architects style acting as a three dimensional catalogue. Details include terracotta panels depicting Classical, Medieval and Elizabethan building construction; busts of architects who influenced Fothergill’s style (including Pugin); and a beautiful ornate oriel window. Watson Fothergill was a local architect, his stamp can be seen around the city, but not too much further afield.

A turning lorry in 2015 badly damaged the oriel window. Bonsers were called in to do the rebuilding and conservation works to return the building to its former glory. They did a very good job, if I hadn’t found the article I’d never have known.

Back at The Broadway Cinema to use our £5 vouchers to see Stan and Ollie. We had our free cuppas in hand and found good seats all the time being played the Laurel and Hardy theme tune, with this playing round our heads we wouldn’t take our time getting back to the boat later.

What a lovely film. Funny and touching. The performances are very good. Steve Coogan as Stan is superb all the mannerisms perfectly done. John C Reilly is also great as Ollie. The film covers a grueling music hall tour that the ageing comedy duo undertook across the UK and Ireland in 1953 as they struggle to get another film made (a comic adaptation of Robin Hood, quite apt for us). Lack of publicity means they play to almost empty houses at the beginning of the tour, people thinking they have long since passed away. It focuses on their personal relationship and has some wonderful scenes from their show, the double door routine is very funny. So well worth us coming back to see it, especially for £5 each. Image result for stan and ollie

0 locks, 0 miles, 5 litres damp crystals, 6 fat balls, 3 sachets descaler, 1 block sawdust, NO 17, £5 tickets, 2 great performances, 1 more nice mess, 2 giant crochet baskets, 1 sale, possibly another.

This post done using Tom’s second work around with photos. Maybe a little bit easier, but you still can’t watermark your photos. I’ve done this using a different program

Heading Upstream. 21st January

County Hall Steps to Sainsburys

We pushed off late morning and instead of winding straight away we went to see what was beyond Wilford Suspension Bridge. With the low sun ahead of us we were glad the river was wide and we’d be unlikely to bump into anyone. The river was far quieter than it had been over the weekend, just a couple of rowers out stretching their limbs.

Pootling upstream of the bridge didn’t really come up with any sights for us, just what seemed to be a long right hand bend. We could have carried on to Wilford Toll Bridge (the head of navigation) but got bored before we got there. What we missed was a modern span between the Grade 2 red bricked original bridge. It now carries the tram, pedestrians and bikes across the Trent.

As soon as we winded the blue sky took over, another lovely winters day to be on the river, well for a short while.

We ran down stream to just beyond Meadow Lane Lock where we winded and then returned to the pontoon. The lock was full, we suspected we knew who’d got here before us this morning, so I went up to empty it for us whilst Mick held onto Oleanna.

Once up we pulled in at the water point to fill up the tank. This morning the gauge had got down to one line above empty, so it was more a full fill than a top up. The pressure from the tap was incredibly poor, just slightly more than a trickle. We didn’t remember this tap being so bad, maybe something happened when C&RT closed the showers and other facilities after they’d been vandalised. The hour and a half it took to fill kept us busy. A full sweep through, empty the yellow water tank, a relaxed lunch and dispose of the rubbish.

By the time we got the boom from the tank to say we were full the blue skies had vanished. Onwards up Castle Lock, a handy hint if going up here don’t stand facing your boat as it comes into the lock. Why? All the pigeons roosting under the bridge fly out straight at you!

As the moorings at the back of Sainsburys came into view so did the stern of a familiar boat, the possible reason Meadow Lock had been full. NB Seyella has made their way down from being trapped up on the Leeds Liverpool Canal for most of the summer, they came up the tidal Trent last week so we knew our paths would cross at some point. We’d last seen them on New Years Eve 2017 in Llangollen basin. Today we had a catch up with Geoff on the towpath, much easier to do this than when passing on the river.

2 locks, 2.57 miles, 2 winds, 1 stretch of new water, 90 minutes to fill, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 1 blogger boat, 2 long at the water point to go to the pictures, 1 giant crochet bag finished, 1 cat not fooled, we’re back where we were!

Roll, Fold, Turn, Rest. 20th January

County Hall Steps

A busy day down on the river, we’ve had all sorts of boats come by. Rowing boats with 1 to 8 rowers, canoes, a trip boat, a couple of narrowboats and a dragon boat. We are no longer on own here as both narrowboats pulled in to join us. Tilly has been doing her best to go out, except only a couple of minutes later she is back at the hatch desperately wanting to come back in, she really doesn’t like here!

This morning Mick gave the Lock Keeper at Cromwell a call. We knew that we’d have to wait for a passage on the Tidal Trent, due to the tides and day light. The chap was helpful as they usually are, we could make our way to Torksey just about anytime we wanted, but the next good time to leave there to head to Keadby would be in a couple of weeks time. To reach Keadby in daylight (and when the lock is open) he suggested two days. Keadby had just rung him to say that the lock was in need of dredging, so we should check before we head out onto the tideway. With this information we can now plan our journey downstream a bit better and just hope Keadby is dredged so as not to hold us up any longer. Looking back to when we picked Oleanna up from Sheffield two years ago we were very fortunate with the tides. We managed to catch an early tide that carried us all the way from Keadby to Cromwell in one go and hadn’t had to hang around waiting for it.

Today we got to sample my first attempt at homemade gluten free puff pastry (recipe link). Yesterday I started the process mixing up gf self raising flour, salt, xanthum gum, eggs with some water, this had to be kneaded for a few minutes and then left to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours. A full block of butter (beware arteries!) was pummelled into a flat sheet between some greaseproof paper and set hard in the fridge for an hour. Then the timer was kept busy through the rest of the day. Once the pastry was rolled out, butter added and the whole thing folded it was left to rest for an hour. The timer would go, pastry turned through 90 degrees, rolled out again and folded back into three, wrapped up and left to rest for another hour. This process was done five times.

I really was not convinced it was going to work. The eggs we had weren’t large to start with so the pastry was maybe a little bit dry, I did add a touch more water. With each fold the pastry cracked and butter could be seen. The last fold looked like there was only a mottling of pastry around the butter. Mick was more confidence than me. The pastry was wrapped up one last time and left in the fridge overnight, something to do with GF flour taking longer to absorb moisture. We waited to see what the morning would bring.

With three sausages about to go out of date I had the opportunity to make some sausage rolls. The sausage meat had other things added and it was time to see what magic the fridge had mustered overnight.

The raggedy edges didn’t look too promising and the butter in places had stuck to the clingfilm (well it’s called that for a reason!). I chopped a slice off the block and put the remainder in the freezer, if it was no good it could always go in the bin. Rolling out it decided to do what it wanted, creating a crinkly shape that I couldn’t control. Sausage meat added to the middle. Then I came to roll it up, I’d made a mistake, I’d dusted the top with flour so the rolling pin didn’t stick, but not the greaseproof paper I was rolling it on, it had stuck. I carefully prised it away and created a roll, was everything just going to melt into a runny mess in the oven?!

The wiggly edge got trimmed, rolled out thinner and some cheese added then rolled up again. Egg washed and ready, the oven was set to slightly hotter than I’d normally do sausage rolls, hoping the heat would help fluff everything up. Only time would tell now.

After 15 minutes they were turned round, after 22 lifted onto their sides to crisp off the bottoms (which actually looked like they didn’t need it), then the full 25 minutes was over and they came out and onto the cooling rack. They looked good, but was that the egg wash or was there lamination in there too?

Verdict, amazingly good lamination (layers of pastry for those who don’t watch Bake Off), absolutely no soggy bottoms (which was a regular occurrence with shop bought pastry), crispy, flaky, certainly not chewy (as shop bought gluten free pastry) but maybe a little bit too thick (rolling pin operator error). Well a success! I was a touch surprised.

As we’d consumed around a third of a block of butter we had an afternoon stroll along the river bank heading downstream.

After Trent Bridge there are numerous rowing clubs the nicest was the University Boat House built in the 1930’s. Trent Lock, the first on the Grantham Canal looked very shallow. It is no longer connected to the canal as roads have been built  blocking it’s route. Built in 1797 it was used to transport coal to Grantham and closed in 1936.

From Lady Bay Bridge The Hook (a nature reserve) now stretches northwards covering approximately 15 hectares. We followed the river path passing familiar sights. New flats are going up opposite the 1km mark and the Ewings still have their curtains closed at Southfork Ranch.

We walked as far as the sailing club, the weir at Holme Lock just in view. Our return walk crossed The Hook where linear moles seem to have moved in, leaving long lines of earth. We came back along streets filled with high end bathroom and kitchen shops bringing us back to Trent Bridge. Not quite 10,000 steps but enough to make up for lunch.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3.6 miles walked, 2 weeks to wait, 8 sausage rolls, 2 cheese things, 243 layers (possibly), 1st attempt a success, 2 pairs gloves added to Etsy, 1 giant crochet project started, 1 bored cat!

PS This post has been written using Tom’s work around for adding photos. It takes forever, no offence Tom.

Toilet Survey. 19th January

County Hall Steps

Luckily we are awake just shortly before the weekend rowers start. They are mostly okay, it’s just their trainers who shout or talk through loud hailers from the banks cycling up and down that are a touch annoying.
Cob Emporium

Mick last night had loosened off our ropes so any passing boats, or movement inside was making us bob around a lot. He soon tightened them up, being awake should the river level change we’d be able to adjust them.
Trent Bridge

A walk to find our Saturday newspaper took us through the car park at County Hall and along some streets behind. We were successful on our first attempt so carried on to look at Trent Bridge (cricket ground). All the gates were locked, no match today!
Flood levels

A few more steps were needed before returning to the boat so we crossed over Trent Bridge (the bridge) to walk up the other side of the river. Along side the bridge on the West bank are flood markings carved into the stonework. The flood in 2000 was nowhere near the height of that in 1875 which was the second highest recorded. Many streets were flooded, there are numerous etchings of trains battling their way through the flood water.
An artists impression of 1875 floods.

On 17 –18th March 1947 the Trent which had been rising ever higher, overtopped its banks in Nottingham. Large parts of the city and surrounding areas were flooded with 9,000 properties and nearly a hundred industrial premises were affected some to first floor height. The suburbs of Long Eaton, West Bridgford and Beeston all suffered particularly badly. Two days later, in the lower tidal reaches of the river, the peak of the flood combined with a high spring tide flooded 2,000 properties in Gainsborough. Luckily for us the river is behaving at the moment.

Submerged Steps

Walking past Wilford Suspension Bridge we decided to look at the other mooring marked on our Waterway Routes map. Here there are the big steps too, these continue down into the water, so mooring on this side of the river would mean us having an 18inch gap before we got to dry land. We decided to stay put even though Oleanna looked very lonely all by herself.


If you fancy a riverside property in Nottingham there is one just by the bridge with a lot of original features, one of which is no central heating! But the views across the river to the war memorial are great.

Lonely Oleanna

We returned to the boat to find a couple taking photos of Oleanna. Izzy is doing a project on Narrowboats so we had quite a long chat through the hatch. They had visited Foxton and I suggested a few more places to visit too.

That way

The afternoon was taken up with working my way through my tax return as Nottingham Forest fans walked to and froe from the City Ground in their thousands.
My earnings for the year were so small it wasn’t giving me the option to enter my self employed earnings and therefore be able to pay Class 2 NI. Reading the notes it suggested that if my earnings were likely to be higher next year then I should fill out the relevant sections, the only way to do this was to lie in the initial questions. All is now filed and my NI payment is waiting to be sent in a few days time.

First blossom

Now to the title of this post. When we attended the composting toilet workshop held by Kate Saffin in Banbury before Christmas, she said that she was compiling a boaters toilet survey. This was to cover all types of toilet, how they are used and what facilities there are on the waterways, if there are gaps in services which could be rectified. Her survey has now gone live. No matter what sort of toilet you have/plan to have/ are thinking about, the survey has relevant questions. With the information collated (all anonymously) gaps in services, better solutions can be found, evidence passed on to C&RT, the EA, Avon Trust etc and hopefully improvements made. You can even vote for the best kept facilities on the network, so it’s not all about things that could be improved. The greater number of people to fill the survey in, the greater body of information to pass onto the navigation authorities. Kate puts it all a lot better in the welcome section of the survey.

Here is the link

0 locks, 0 miles, 5000 steps each not enough!, 2 bridges, 1 newspaper, 12 sprouts, 1st blossom, 30,000 fans, class 2 paid, 1 very uncertain cat, 1 quieter evening.

Giant Steps Or Little Cat. 18th January

Sainsburys to County Hall Steps, River Trent

Despite the students across the way being quiet since we’ve been in Nottingham we decided to move away for the weekend. It would also give us a change of scenery.
Before we could move off we had that triple nectar points voucher to use at Sainsburys. To our surprise we were down to our last box of wine, despite us having two alcohol free days a week since the start of January. So a biggish shop was done, extra points added to our account. Did we get a voucher? Yes …. but for home and car insurance! They obviously haven’t been fooled by us this time and know we’ll be back next week when they will give us another triple point voucher.
With everything stowed we had lunch and then pushed off. We’d originally thought of winding and going back out to Beeston, there had been space there with the winter moorers but the proximity of the road would make me reluctant to let Tilly out. There is space closer to town where she’d be fine on the towpath apart from the cyclists. 
Waiting to fill Castle Lock
@2019 Leckenby
Nottingham old BW warehouse
In the end we decided to head down Castle and Meadow Lane Locks back onto the river and moor at County Hall steps. The river having behaved itself shouldn’t cause us problems  and it is away from the road there so Tilly would be allowed out.
Station Street Bridge

Curving wall cut off and steps installed

Not quite enough layers on meant we got a touch chilly heading through town, we were glad the stove was glowing inside keeping Tilly nice and warm. Station Street Bridge, just after the big 90 degree bend looks like it used to be a roving bridge. It still is, but has had part of it’s curving wall removed and steps have replaced the slope. A new section of railway bridge was being slotted in between two older bridges near the station.

Trent Bridge ahead

Above Meadow Lane Lock we disposed of our rubbish before descending. I could see that there was plenty of space for us down on the steps so once back on board we swept round to face Trent Bridge, passing under it and on towards the steps. Two cruisers and a widebeam were moored up, so we pulled in at a good distance away from the bridge and car parks some distance behind the other boats. 
The flow of  the river meant the bow was constantly wanting to pull outwards and the distance between rings meant our ropes would be tight, not a good thing on a river. So we repositioned ourselves so we had some spare rope. As soon as we were happy with everything the other boats pulled out, winded and headed towards the lock, maybe we smell!
Funny wall this
This outside has a wall, but no ordinary wall. The blocks are big and they can walk up them, I have to jump them one at a time to get to the top. Across the elevated towpath there are good sideways trees, but far too many bicycles to get there. This all made me quite panicky as waiting at a safe distance for a gap meant the people had no legs, some of them no bodies only heads. What sort of outside is this!?!

Giant steps or little cat?

Tilly ran back and forth in quite a tizz before eventually she plucked up the courage and went to check out the sideways trees. She wasn’t there long.
During this evening the rowers have subsided in number but been replaced by very noisy teenagers just above our mooring, They all must be very deaf!

2 locks, 2.4 miles, 6 boxes, 1 useless voucher, 90 degree bend, 180 degrees onto the river, 8 giant steps, 1 little cat, 3 rowers, 17 VERY NOISY teenagers.