Monthly Archives: Mar 2019

A Work Day Means Cat Freedom. 29th March


There is quite a bit of foot fall along the canal here, but the advantage of our mooring is that the towpath is set back and a little bit lower than the canal. There may be many a cyclist and dog walker down there but very very few actually come right past the boat. A nice mooring. 
Christmas tree going bonkers, but will it still fit inside this year?!

The doors were opened this morning for Tilly, the time limit today 8 and 3/4 hours. I like it when She works! I like it when it’s sunny too. 

Todays office

With the sun out we made the most of being near water points and did a load of washing, hoping it would dry on the whirligig (still a touch damp at the end of the day). I sat out and had a second read through of panto, making notes as I went along and working out what each scene would need. There is one scene still to be finalised which I suspect will be the busiest for props. Hopefully I’ll find out next week. 
Now with a list of scenes I’ll start to work out how much space is needed for them. The usual way things work in Panto is that you have a front cloth scene whilst the next set is being set up behind it and you tend to go back and forth, occasionally with another cloth part way up the stage to give you more options. The lack of flying at Chipping Norton restricts what you can do, a long with the stage being really quite small. But I now have a vague plan in my head ready for my meeting. Just need to get some reference images together.
Mick spent a lot of the day working on the new blog. We need to find a theme that I like and at the moment just about everything is available but over two themes. Neither of us are any good at code, so we need to find one that exists and doesn’t need too much fiddling with. Still work in progress. 
An hour working on my illustrations ended my work day, followed by a hunt for Tilly. 
Just had to check on them before disappearing again
What a great day! There is a little canal here as well as the big one. A handy sideways tree to cross over to the other side where there is a big field with plenty of grass to pounce in. I found some bunny friends who kept me occupied for much of the day. I’ve a long list of the things to do tomorrow.

Still sludge

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 load washing, 1 Christmas tree loving the sun, 9.25 hours, 1 cat who needs to learn how to tell the time again! 1 boat moving, 12 scenes, 1 not sorted yet, 2nd none existent, 0 boats, 1 car possibly, 3rd day and not convinced, 0 lemon puffs left, time to move on in the morning.

When At Lemonroyd 28th March

Castleford to near to the old Fleet Lock, above Lemonroyd Lock

Tilly’s fish kept her occupied this morning

No hold ups for us this morning and it appeared that today we got the wonderful weather we’d been promised for yesterday, sun all day long.

Surrounded by tuperware not the most accessible pump

Mick last night had walked up to look at Supreme Marine Boat Yard to see if they sold diesel. With no towpath access he walked over the bridge to look. There seemed to be nothing obvious at the yard. However when we pushed off this morning we could see the bold lettering on the side of a breeze block wall. But in defence of Mick, needing new glasses, everywhere was filled with cruisers. Not too inviting to pull up against to fill your tank. So we carried on.

Wonder what their second mate is called?

We passed NB Nelson’s Lady who we moored with at Crick a few years ago. This is the boat with the trike on the bow, although it was parked up on the towpath today. It also looks like they now have a second mate too. No one was in view so we couldn’t say hello, although they will remember us as being yellow.

Going through the flood lock

Castleford Flood Lock was open at both ends, so plain sailing through today. The lock is so big it looks like you’d be able to wind in it if it wasn’t for a few bits and pieces sticking up out of the water.

At the junction we turned right onto the River Aire, heading in the direction of Leeds, hoping to find a suitable mooring for Tilly.

The old route shown with dashed lines

Three and a half miles of river. We tried to spot where an old cut had been that is shown on the Waterways Routes map, but there were very few signs of where it had once been. On the old canal there had been Kipax Locks and Lemon Royd Lock, today these have been replaced by one very deep lock Lemonroyd Lock. At 14ft 7″ it is deep, with it’s length and width too there is one heck of a lot of water in that chamber.

Lock to the left, weir  to the right

Emptying the lock, Oleanna well back

We pulled up on the lock landing at some distance away. With the key in the panel I checked that Mick and Oleanna were okay before I started to empty the chamber. A thumbs up came back and I pressed the button. The paddles raise by themselves at intervals.

Calmly emptying

You really wouldn’t want to be down there!

Looking on the chamber side of the gates the level slowly lowers, the other side is totally different. This is certainly not a lock you want to nudge the gates of as it empties!

I had a little difficulty removing my key of power from the panel, it hadn’t given my that little clunk noise which most of these do when everything (gates and paddles) is back where it should be. In the end a twist of the key the wrong way in the panel gave me that reassuring sound.

Filling the lock

Mick held tight to the centre line passed round a yellow riser as far back in the chamber as possible. Thumbs up and I pressed the button to start filling the huge chamber. Once pressed I have no control, other than to press the emergency stop button, the paddles work themselves, slowly raising the level of water. Staying back in the chamber makes for a gentler rise.

People working on their boats

We’d been thinking of mooring up opposite Lemonroyd Marina for the rest of the day, but a lot of people looked like they’d taken root there. Anyway the aroma from the nearby sewage works was off putting so we moved along the cut looking for the next suitable place. 

A rather nice mooring

A small m was shown on our map just after a disused arm, nobody was there. We managed to get ourselves positioned between trees to make the most of the bright sunshine. Tilly was out straight away, the silver birch trees being conquered within minutes.



Whilst Tilly hunted, Mick chopped wood and did some work on the blog move, I got on with some work. I want to get my illustrations for the Separate Doors 3 report done before I launch into panto. Another half day will see them completed, then I can turn my attention to East End London in the 1960’s.

They were rather yummy

With quite a few off cuts of pastry left over from yesterday and half a pot of ricotta cheese I decided to put them to good use and made some Lemon Puffs. Well when at Lemonroyd I just had to!

Day 2 grapes removed and starter fed

2 locks, 1 straight through, 4.37 miles, 1 fish licked to death, 14ft 7″ deep, 1 trapped key, 1 very happy cat, 200 amp fuse, 1 bowthruster working again, 1 conspiracy, 2 paintings, 1 very lively friend, 5 lemon puffs, 2 left for tomorrow, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

I Was Being Busy! 27th March

Gateforth Wharf to Castleford

Asleep where she should be

Only having an hour I was a bit miffed with all the woofers this morning, so came home until they had all gone. Half an hour left on the clock Tom opened the back door again, no noticeable woofers and I was off. I still needed to check out what those deer had been up to the other day, so headed off down the field.

How time flies when you are looking for friends, there was so much friendly cover to check I was being kept very busy. She came calling. But I was still busy, so much more to do! The calls kept coming and coming until there was no chance of finding any friends, so I relented and stuck my head up above the field. 

It took quite a while to get back to Her. Then there was one of those pesky fishermen talking to Tom, putting really fat legs on. I wasn’t going to go anywhere near him. Eventually he went off with his big sticks and a game of stones was had before She rudely picked me up and passed me over to Tom on the boat. I was about to get left in this outside if I hadn’t come home. They wouldn’t do that to me would they?!

Gateforth Wharf is empty again

We were all ready for the off once the second mate was locked inside. Today we’d wanted to get a good days cruising under the bow, at least we’d only lost half an hour, I suspect it could have been longer!

Rubbish field now ploughed ready to be good again

Haddlesey Lock needed setting as paddles at both ends were lifted to help keep the pound topped up, but we were soon through it and turning out onto the Aire to wind our way back upstream. The weather had meant to be really good today, but it was cloudy and quite chilly out on the river.

Approaching Beal Lock

The top gates at Beal Lock were a touch obstinate again, not wanting to close. But with the assistance of the paddles and extra shoving they came together in the end so that we could make our way up, only to do the same as we left. Here we paused on the pontoon to empty the yellow water tank and have some lunch before heading onwards.

Bank Bloomin Dole

To our surprise Bank Dole Lock was full with the top gates closed. The boat I’d let through the swing bridge in Selby must have filled it, maybe they had only just gone through, or spent all night filling it!. We emptied it whilst trying to help a cyclist who was asking for directions to York (we only know it by water so couldn’t help much). The gates take so much to move them on this bloomin lock and then with only one paddle working!



It took getting on for half an hour to fill it, but at least it got there in the end.
Nothing to do with me!

The wind then caught us and made getting off the side very hard. With the overhang here Mick didn’t want to use a reverse Andy move as that might have trapped the stern under it. So pushing out the stern, blasts on the bowthruster. In the end we got away but sadly something must have got inside the bowthruster tube, we’ve a blown fuse again! We so don’t like Bank Dole!!

Ferrybridge Lock with the cooling towers and old A1 road bridge

We pootled along back to Ferrybridge Lock. Here the levels have equalised since the floods and we were able to go straight through the flood lock. Cooling towers straight ahead, only to turn under the road bridges before we bumped into them.

John Carr’s bridge

The very first bridge here was built in 1198 an important crossing. Ferrybridge Old Bridge was designed by John Carr in 1797 (he established my Dad’s architectural practice in York) you can see many of his bridges around the north of England, this one is Grade 1 listed. It carried the Great North Road across the Aire. The next bridge to be built dominates the view as you leave the lock was built in 1967 to carry the old A1, now the A162.

A1M bridge

Further along is the new A1M road bridge bigger, higher, wider than it’s predecessors and further away from the cooling towers which opened in 2006. During my childhood and early driving years Ferrybridge was where you turned onto the M62 to head to Manchester, so those towers mean a lot to me.

Until next time

The power station sits alongside the river, the cooling towers no longer in use. The wharf where coal used to be taken from boats still stands, diagonal covered conveyors crisscross the view. Then as if they’d never been there the towers vanish out of view. Time to say farewell to the Norf.

Fairburn Railway Bridge

Getting on for an hour and a half the next reach of the river broadens, old industrial sites now greened over, the occasional basin off to the side. At Fairburn Railway Bridge chaps were erecting a mass of scaffolding. Huge pontoons surrounding the bridge on both sides leaving enough room for boats to pass through.

Blinding sun

NB Pearl

NB Pearl came past as we approached Bulholme Lock, the only boat moving today. Despite the lock being almost empty it took some time to level out with the river. The panel here has lights so you don’t have to guess when the water is level. One mental note for next time, the sluices all open on the starboard side as you come up, so it might have been better to pass a rope up on the port side as that is where Oleanna wanted to go!

with lights

Back to big locks

Numerous boats lined the cut, including Freda Carless we’d seen at Pollington. luckily there was a gap where the side is low, making getting on and off easier. A quick look round and we decided that here was not suitable for cats, we’ll move on tomorrow to find somewhere better for Tilly.

Starter started

With my organic grapes I started my sour dough starter, a thick sludge that I hope will become more fluid over the coming days. It’s been put on my proving shelf to keep warm ad out of Tilly’s way.


Then with some of my GF pastry I made us a couple of Salmon en croute. Duncan, it was very tasty! We’ve still got the other one to enjoy in a day or two.


This evening we have finally made the decision to move the blog. There is lots to get sorted before the move, I’m leaving most of it to my IT assistant. We’ll let you know before  the new blog goes live and we’re hoping to make the move as easy as possible, we may even be able to move all the millions of words I’ve written over the years so that they are all in one place.


5 locks, 1 straight through, 1 key of power operated, 14.04 miles, 1 proper days cruise, 1 AWOL busy cat, 1 ploughed field, 1 empty wee tank, 30 minutes, 200 amp fuse blown, 1 parking meter, 4 herons, 1  kingfisher, 7 oyster catchers, 1 low sided mooring, 2 yummy parcels of salmon, 1 blog on the move.

Okay For Another Year. 26th March

Selby Basin to Gateforth Wharf


I’m not impressed with this outside. I’d hoped that sleeping on it might have improved it, but it hadn’t. Apparently when ever Tom and She have been here before it’s been all green outside. The other apparently, is that I learnt to swim here. They won’t let me out even though the green was to blame for my dip that time. They did however do a little bit of outside moving this morning, this improved the view slightly, adding a tree.

As we pulled forward to fill with water today’s Lock Keeper came over for a chat. He was here to check the lock over and listen to any messages on the answer phone, then head off somewhere else.
Selby Rail Swing Bridge

Selby Lock is normally kept full as the bottom gates are a public right of way, a full lock is safer to fall into than an empty one. The top paddles automatically stay open to help keep the lock full. However, for some reason last week the lock managed to empty itself. This coincided with a big spring tide, which as it came in pushed against the bottom gates. Because the lock was empty the only thing stopping the gates from opening were the chains tethering them. The force of the tide was too much and the chains gave way, opening the bottom gates. After the tide had turned the gates slammed shut doing damage to the bottom cill beneath the water. 
This means that the lock is constantly emptying itself, a boil below the gates evidence to this. The lock is constantly being filled with the top paddles up and the canal constantly being topped up through Haddlesey Lock from the River Aire at the other end of the five mile long canal. Divers are needed to access the bottom gates and also one of the hydraulic pipes has split, necessitating replacement. 
As we chatted we could hear the sound of a boat approaching below the lock. The Lockie ran over to check it was a work boat that had come out from Goole, heading up to Naburn so that when the divers arrive they will have a boat to work from.
There are apparently a couple of boats wanting to come down from Ripon Boat Club, but they are stuck there for the time being. No chance the lock will be mended this week.
Mark and Mick, old school friends

Just before 11am there was a tap on the window. Mark an old friend of Mick’s had come to visit. He was originally going to join us for the trip up to York, but as that was now cancelled he’d come to say hello. A guided tour, cups of tea and a catch up followed. 
All ticked off for another year

An hour earlier than expected Mick got a call from the RCR engineer, he was only a few minutes away so we gave him our location and sure enough two minutes later his van passed Oleanna. We have gold membership with RCR (the equivalent of the AA for boats), which has a benefit of a free engine inspection once a year. Mick does all the servicing, but it’s nice to get a qualified pair of eyes giving her the once over. As last year Oleanna got the thumbs up on everything, she’s good for another year.
Selby Abbey again

Whilst this was happening I popped off to get a few bits of shopping we’d missed yesterday, walking that bit further to Sainsburys. Here on the shelves they had organic grapes! Something I’ve been looking for for a while now. This means that I can now start a sour dough starter to be able to make bread, the grapes are needed for the natural yeast on them.

After we’d had some lunch it was time to get going. Mark and Mick winded Oleanna by the lock gates, the closest we’ll get to York this year.
Leaving Selby behind

Plenty of bikes and cars to hold up this afternoon at the bridge.
Now you see it

Now you don’t
We pootled our way out of town, a Kingfisher flashing his blue at us. A mile or so out of town it was time for Mark to hop off at a bridge (the edges of the canal tend to be quite shallow elsewhere).
The boys in the sun

We waved our goodbyes and carried on to find a suitable place for Tilly. Gateforth Wharf was empty again, so we pulled in and let the cat out.
Another year another licence

0 locks, 3.88 miles, 1 swing bridge, 12 cars, 7 bikes, 1 pedestrian held up, £2.50 grapes, 1 visitor, 1 box of red, 1 Lockie, 1 engineer, 21 points checked, 3.5 hours, 2nd time at Gateforth (sorry Naughty-Cal), 12 months new licence, 2 poor boaters next week it’s the insurance!

Abandoned. 25th March

Gateforth Wharf to Selby Basin

This morning Nigel rang, the Lock Keeper from Selby. Our passage up to York had been booked for Wednesday this week and he was calling with the news that the lock wouldn’t be mended anytime this week. Divers were needed, the recent big spring tides had affected the lock and it would take some time to sort. Last night we’d decided that if we couldn’t go up to York this week then we’d abandon our trip. Hopefully sometime next year we’ll be able to go that way and take Oleanna up the river for the first time.

Good name

A shame as the weather forecast for Wednesday looks really nice for a cruise and checking the webcam in central York the river looks like is is just about back to normal, people sitting out on the bank drinking. We know we’ll be back, at some point.

There are no winding holes on the Selby Canal so we still had to go all the way to Selby to be able to turn at the basin. We also wanted to top up on shopping and had arranged for an RCR engine inspection tomorrow.


We pootled along in the sunshine, clouds of Blackthorn blossom clinging to the hedgerows, a wonderful site.

A cruiser slap bang in the middle of the moorings!

At Selby Boat Centre a boat stuck out across the cut, it was being worked on, having it’s outboard motor seen to, so being stern end in was needed, a good job it was a short boat. We’ve stopped here once before and had to breast up to have a look in the chandlers, we were after chain for our anchor and new mooring ropes. The chap we’d moored alongside sold us some ropes as the chandlery wasn’t manned. Mick returned on a later day buying a length of second hand chain which did the job.

Selby Boat Centre

The last obstacle coming into the basin is a swing bridge. The road over it doesn’t seem that busy until you stop the traffic, then vehicles and pedestrians flock to wait to cross. As I hopped off the boat with the key of power I could see that a boat was coming towards us from the basin. I reached the panel before their crew got off and waved them through. The bridge was open for longer meaning more people had to wait.

Selby Lock out onto the tidal Ouse

Bottom gates padlocked shut

Once moored up we walked up to the lock to have a look. Nobody about, all gates closed, those facing out onto the river were padlocked in position so that they couldn’t swing open with the tides. The tide was heading out to the North Sea, not much detritus going with it though. We’ve been told to wait for a tree to go past before exiting the lock in the past. Going in and out of Selby Lock is a treat that will have to wait for another time.

Tide going out below the lock

We walked into town for some shopping. I also wanted to see how far away the nearest vets was. Tilly is due her annual injections in the next couple of weeks, but the vets here is just that bit too far to carry her in her Escape Pod. She hates cars and panics making it very hard to hang on to her carrier. I’m hoping we’ll reach Sowerby Bridge in time where there is a vet just across one road from the basin there.

Selby Abbey

0 locks, 1 broken, 3.84 miles, 1  swing bridge, 4 cars, 1 bike, 1 dog, 10 pedestrians, 1 pram held up, 2nd boat through, 0 duckweed, 2 padlocks, 2 far, 2 noisy, 4 bananas, 5 bramleys, 1 box cereal, 0 wine (too far to carry any), 1 meeting arranged, 2 tickets booked, 1 dinner date with brother and nephew booked.

Now That Is A Field! 24th March

Haddlesley Lock to Gateforth Landing

Chocolate Box bridge this morning

Whilst they had breakfast I was allowed out for an hour. There really wasn’t much point I’d checked out all the good holes and found any friends to be found yesterday, so I stayed close and was home well in time for them to move the outside again.

The Selby Canal isn’t that long, just over five miles long, so we didn’t want to use it all up too quickly. So we planned on stopping at one of two places we’d reach before getting to the outskirts of Selby.
The sun was out and our solar panels are starting to earn their keep. 250 watts this morning until a shadow is cast over them. With Mick’s remote battery monitor ( for want of a better name, it does more than just monitor the batteries) we could see how much less power there is being generated if you hold your arm up casting a shadow over the panel, 50 watts less. We still have our stove going so the chimney can cast a shadow on one of the panels depending where the sun is.

Coming in to moor with an audience
We pootled along to the next mooring, Gateforth Landing. There has always been a boat moored here when we’ve come past, but today it was free. With quite a high wall it was hard to step up off the bow, but we managed and tied up. With no roads nearby, only the towpath and a footpath leading into Gateforth it would be a better place for Tilly, the trains on the East Coast Main Line don’t worry her!
When she’d finished the tying up chores, I was given the rules. Six and a half hours!!! Wow!

One way

The other way

Tree stumps, plenty of friendly cover. Before I got to check out what was behind the sideways trees she was calling me back and trying to pick me up. I wasn’t having any of that! I still had six hour and twenty six minutes left!!


From across the field we could hear screaming. Not kids playing screaming, but serious screaming. There were a couple of horses galloping across the field. My first thought was that it could be a hunt, I wanted Tilly back in doors if it was. A cat was killed last year in Norbury by hounds and this was not a fate for Tilly.

Soon we realised that there were only two horses, one had bolted, the rider screaming as it sped across the field. She soon fell off and her horse continued out of sight. There were a couple of people with them and the girl who’d fallen stood up quickly. At quite a distance away from us we couldn’t help, but for quite sometime we could hear the horse still disturbed.

Now this IS a Field

With all this going on I went to have a look. For as far as my cat vision could see there were fields. Fields with things growing in them, just for me! It tasted quite good,even the local deer must have agreed as they were munching it a mile away.

Hard to get a good look round

This outside sadly doesn’t get a Mrs Tilly stamp. Why when there is so much to do? Well it’s because it’s far too high. When I get off the boat I always have a quick look round to be aware of my surroundings. But here all I can see is a big stone wall, behind that is a bit of a hill, so I have to sit up very tall to check it’s safe. One time there was a rudy great big horse! I did see that one, because it was sooo big!

Trial with ink and colour

The first colours being laid in for the front cover

I got my paints and fine drawing pens out. Scanned the illustrations I’ve been doing to the highest resolution my scanner would let me, this was just in case I seriously messed up inking and colouring them in, then I’d have chance to go back and do them all again.

A try out with pens and watercolour on a sketch that won’t be used gave me the confidence to ink in the cover drawings and start to add some colour to them. I still need to work out the background for one of them, but that will come as I work on them.
What’s over there?

During the afternoon a walk was called for, but Tilly was out. She soon showed her white tipped tail when we clambered off the boat. Instead of leaving her in charge she came with us for our walk, admittedly it wasn’t as far as we’d have gone without her. It also takes time as she gets distracted by any movement. But having her bound back to join you is great and quite often funny as she turns and does her cartoon arched back at you, for no reason what so ever.

Busy now!

0 locks, 1.28 miles, 2 chocolate box swans, 250 watts, 0.5 hours engine as we cruised, 1 high mooring, 2 fallen trees, 3 benches, 2 nails,  2 huge fields all mine, 1 bolted horse, 6 screams, 5 deer, 3 inked in sketches, 2 colours, 1 happy tired cat.