Wooly Bo**ocks. 11th September

Sprotbrough Visitor Moorings to Doncaster to Kirk Sandall

This morning there were things to catch up on. Earlier this week I had sent an email to Vienna wishing the theatre out there all the best for reopening. The show that followed A Regular Little Houdini had to close only days after it had opened due to the pandemic. Educating Rita has opened their autumn/winter season, playing to half their normal capacity. One of the producers had replied that it was a relief to be open again, but a constant worry that they will be able to continue all the way through their season. A few months ago I was offered their next show, if I’d have accepted, my model and technical drawings would have arrived with them this week and I would no doubt have been answering numerous questions from Vernon their Production Manager.

Winding to head downstream

Vernon also got back in touch, he feels very lucky to be back working again, but playing to a half filled auditorium all socially distanced is odd, a very different feel than playing to a small audience. He would normally be heading back to England to work on Buxton Panto, but as most pantos have been cancelled I suspect he’ll be staying in Vienna this year.

I’d also heard from Dark Horse Theatre Company, who are wanting to mount an exhibition of The Garden, my illustrations have been requested for framing to be part of it.

The SJT canopy a few weeks ago

The box office at the Stephen Joseph Theatre opened for general sale this morning for their Autumn/Winter season. As we are staying north this winter I wanted to see if tickets would be available for a couple of shows. Reaching the website I found myself in a virtual queue in sixth place, I went off to brush my teeth whilst waiting. With reduced capacity, less than a quarter of the normal audience I was keen to try to get tickets today. Having arranged to meet up with Bridget and Storm to see matinees I was glad to find tickets close together but still distanced for us all. Two groups of two with an isle or a few seats between us, perfect, well maybe not quite where I would normally choose to sit in The Round, but who knows what the staging will be like, I’m not sure Graham (the designer for one of them) knows yet either!

Putting dates in the diary to see some live theatre had lifted my spirits, now it was time to enjoy the weather and head back down stream to Doncaster.

A lovely day to be out on the river, we winded and headed back to Sprotbrough Lock. A boat had just pulled in behind us, they said it was still quite busy in Doncaster. Oh well, we’d just have to breast up if that was the case as we really could do with a stock up shop.

That is NOT his tail!

Climbing off at the lock there were a couple of sheep knocking about. One lay on the track giving some grass a second chew, whilst the other was trimming back the growth. I have to say I did a double take. Was this a ram or just a sheep with a long tail? Blimey no! A ram with wooly testicles. I never knew they grew wool down there. As I walked past I hoped rams were friendly sorts and didn’t have to display their testosterone levels like bulls do. He just looked up and gave me a look as if to say ‘It’s cool man!’ Well his nether regions certainly weren’t cool!


The lock was full, they automatically refill, and we were soon making our way down back onto the river. We zoomed back downstream. A passing narrowboat said that there was a Lock Keeper at Doncaster Lock. As we approached I could see someone with a life jacket on and some blue, but not as much as normal. They stood at the top panel, we could see the sluices open and as we got closer the gates started to open, all the time the light showing amber. Was this crew for another boat? Or a Lockie?

When we could see that there was no boat in the chamber we headed on in. The chap was a Lockie in training, he’s allowed in the hut, but not allowed to press any of the buttons, hence the light being amber. A few hand signals would have helped, he might have been opening the gates and letting loose half of the boats from Strawberry Island. Oh well, he did the honours, the lock dropping incredibly slowly. We thanked him and then rejoiced, there was space for Oleanna on the moorings.

Shopping time. First port of call, Scicluna, my favourite deli. I followed the one way arrows, which others didn’t and found where the masses of different sorts of flour are. I knew they’d have what I was after, but finding it took a while, I think there must be over 50 types in this shop. Then the cheese counter pulled me in, a couple of treat cheeses were added to my shopping, I made sure I paid before I could see anything else!


We had a look in the indoor market buying a pork pie for Mick and a couple of good salmon fillets for a barbecue. Next the Post Office to send off The Garden drawings recorded delivery to Huddersfield so that they can be framed for the exhibition.

South Yorkshire Cooplands make the best Chocolate Concrete

This was followed by a visit to Sainsburys. We’d already realised that the comprehensive shopping list we’d written up had been left on Oleanna so we did our best to remember everything. This we succeeded in doing but when back onboard we both realised that we’d forgotten to add batteries for the Co/Smoke detector to the list both written and mental!

It was still before 4 so for Tilly’s sake we decided to move on, hoping there might be space at Long Sandal Lock.

Very full moorings

Sadly the moorings here were even fuller this time. 48 hours had been exceeded by one boat and then Dolly Earle and it’s friend had breasted up in the other space. No choice but we had to carry on.

Going down

No Lock Keeper at the lock, so I did the honours. But where to stop for the day? We didn’t want the fly problem returning. A small ‘m’ on our map showed us where we’ve stopped before near Kirk Sandall, so we pulled up with still a couple of hours left before cat curfew, although the amount of woofers being walked didn’t go down too well!

Stocked up on flour

3 locks, 7.62 miles, 1 wind, 1 lock keeper, 1 space to shop, 2 treat cheeses, 3 bags flour, 0 space to store them! 16 drawings in the post, 1 box wine, 0 chocolate concrete, 72 hours at least! 1 blowy woofer filled mooring, 0 flies, so far, 8.