Panto Postcard 1. 2021

59.5 hours

Monday morning I was in the theatre early. Time to hunt out my paint orders and old paint I would be needing this week. The dressing room that we normally use for a props office (until the Dame takes it over) was piled high with Panto Post. I found most of my things tucked under a pram in the wings of the stage.

I then met up with the new Producer Suzette who gave me a lift out of town to Alfred Groves and Sons in Milton-in-Wychwood where I would be working this week. A while later Gemma arrived with the advance pieces of set for me to paint. These are the pieces that will be needed early on in the fit up or will end up being high up.

Ready to prime

We collected more things from the theatre, like a table chair and ladder. All pieces of scenery were laid out and by the end of the day everything had a prime coat of paint on them. Taxis were booked for the rest of the week to get me back and forth.

Meanwhile up in Yorkshire. Mick did a few things whilst still having use of the car, he’d hoped to be able to buy a new part for the kitchen tap which is dripping again, but one will have to be ordered on line. Once he’d returned the car he and Tilly made ready for the off. Because Bulholme Lock was still being operated by a Lockie he wanted to take advantage of not having to single hand it. He was beaten to it by the gravel barge Farndale, heading back to Hull sitting high in the water. With big beasts of boats now using the waterway it’s wise to find secure moorings as mooring spikes are unlikely to withstand the movement.

Being dismantled

Mick descended the lock and headed downstream towards Ferrybridge. More buildings have been demolished around the power station and the old coal wharf is gradually being dismantled. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t there to see it, although jealous at the same time.

Oak assisted drawing

Tuesday. My taxi arrived and whisked me out to Groves, the driver I would see several more times this week. Despite it being unseasonably warm I had paint that wasn’t drying! So I spent the day drawing everything out. To aid this I hunted around some skips in the yard outside, nearby carpentry workshops supplied me with offcuts I could use as a yard stick. Fixing a pencil to the end means you can draw from a distance and supposedly get better curves. The only sticks I could find had been oak, a touch heavier than I’m used to, along with the lack of practice my curves were not so good, but that could be sorted with paint.

1 kettle and a glass of wine

A short day today as I had a ticket to see The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the theatre. Blackeyed Theatre are touring the production for which I have several connections. It was adapted and directed by Nick Lane, the Company Stage Manager Jay and one of the actors Zack are all people I have worked with, they are part of my Hull Truck family. It was great to see the show, but better to see Jay and Zack. We headed to the pub where they were staying for a couple of drinks after the show. I of course took a kettle with me, now I could have hot drinks at the paint shop.

Only three towers left at Ferrybridge

Back in Yorkshire. Mick had moored overnight in Knottingley allowing Tilly to have a bit of shore leave. The river level had risen and the flood lock was closed behind him. Good job he’d come through the day before as it’s a very long lock to single hand in.

Next stop was just below Whitley Lock. He’d arrived as someone else had below, the lock got a touch confused so even though it was almost in his favour it was emptied to bring the other boat up which seemed to sort the problem out. The crew from the other boat helped Mick down. He then pulled up on the visitor moorings and let Tilly out.

Wednesday. At last I had dry paint! I could start to add more. I spent a lot of the day either bending over or on my knees laying in and blending the yellow stonework on Rapunzels tower, both inside and out. It took forever and my knees were not my friend by the end of the day. I did treat myself by starting to add some colour to the Cotswold Thunderbolt pieces. Being able to stand up to do this was a joy, I needed to move the other pieces up off the floor and also get some heat as it was starting to get chilly. The weather had been fooling me and I’d not even thought about heating until then.

Gravel barge in Whitley Lock

It was raining at Whitley. Mick decided that he would leave when they moved up to Tilly, so she got busy outside. Just as well he’d managed to tie up to rings as Farndale came past with a full load of gravel. One of our fender hooks broke and sadly a rope fender dropped into the deep Yorkshire water.

A full Fusedale

Half an hour later Fusedale the other gravel barge came past fully laden. I suspect Mick knew they were on their way as he’ll have had the VHF radio on. The gravel barges don’t have to drop crew off with the key of power, there are Lock Keepers on duty for them.

Around about midday Mick and Tilly pushed off although they didn’t go very far, just to Heck Bridge as it started to rain. A strange noise from the domestic water pump made him investigate, it had sprung a small leak. He called Laird at Viking Marine to see if they had a 24 volt one in stock and he did. So later in the afternoon they pushed off again mooring above Pollington Lock.

Up against the walls

Thursday. A chilly start, I was glad I’d taken my thermals with me to work today. I thought I’d be getting a work placement to help me for a couple of days this week and had planned on standing all the set pieces up with their assistance, but because of all the paperwork and regulations they won’t join me until next week.

Cafes, carpenters, bakeries, chilled medication, all sorts at Groves

The big gas heater above my head sadly doesn’t work, so I put in a request back to the theatre for assistance moving things and some heat. The flats are not that heavy and maybe I could have done them on my own, but one wrong twist and I’d be out of action, so not worth it. John the Artistic Director arrived to help move things about, so much easier with two and now my knees could take a break. Another two colours were added to Rapunzel’s tower and I started to base in one of the houses for the town square.

Below Pollington Lock

Mick single handed down Pollington Lock. There is still no mooring along this stretch of water following the breach last December.

Slipping banks

Lengths of the piling holding the bank up slipped when the water level was low and parts of the bank have followed the piling splitting away from the bank.

Buoys on the way to Drax

Buoys mark the areas to give a wide berth of up to the New Junction Canal and around the bend where Drax Power Station comes into view (the only power station in the area still with all it’s cooling towers).

Breach site

Then the right hand bend and past the breach site.

All new

New piling over the big culvert and concrete now have a big rubber strip along the top edge. Two small manholes sit where there were ones before the breach.

Rubber edging

A new wooden fence is in place and grass seed is just starting to take hold around the area.

All the big machines, pipes, generators have long since gone.

New roof for a new life

Past New Bridge 21 you can moor again and further on the almost ruin of a house is in the process of getting a new roof. It’ll be watertight before they remove the bricks and breeze blocks in the windows. Mick carried on past Rawcliffe and through Goole caisson. Both diesel points in Goole had boats moored on them so he winded and returned to moor at the far end. He walked back to Viking Marina to get a water pump. Laird had quite a few and was selling them at a discount price, without a guarantee as several of them had proved to be faulty. If they didn’t work at all he’d either replace it or give you your money back. Mick bought two in case and soon found one didn’t work. Maybe they were a batch lot that dropped off the back of Del Boy’s cruiser!

Not a bad view when I looked up from my work

Friday. A heater was meant to have been left for me to pick up at the theatre this morning, but was annoyingly absent. John would sort it later in the morning. I based in more of the town flat and then started to add extra bits to the ship.

John visited me twice, once with a heater that didn’t work, then with one that did, Hooray!

I then spent the remainder of the day lining in the tower pieces. By the end of the day I had finished several pieces of set, a few just need a few finishing touches which would be better done when they are upright.

I’ll do anything for your kebab!

I requested to the taxi driver to take me to Sainsburys, I’ve been to most supermarkets this week, so that I could get something in stock for tomorrow. But Sainsburys seriously let me down with very few things I could eat without buying a mass of veg, I tried the Co-Op too and gave up, rewarding myself for a good days work with a chicken doner and chips. These I find are best eaten on a bench, they taste better in the open air! The aroma attracted some company from a local beggar who just missed me putting the box in the bin. Even a very big head nudge didn’t work.

Exol Pride’s new home?

Mick returned the none working water pump, got another, but doesn’t hold out much hope. He stocked up with food spotting that Exol Pride seems to have a new mooring near the coal tipper. We wonder if this is because it was all getting a touch too busy with the gravel barges also using the same moorings. He topped up with diesel at Goole Boat House and headed back out of Goole to just before New Bridge. Tilly prefers it out there. The unfortunate thing is that just as he was about to pull in he noticed that the engine temperature was rising, it kept on rising. Mick moored up.

The skin tank wasn’t hot, there was little hot water, but the engine was most certainly hot. Was this a recurrence of what happened on the Thames two years ago? Or had the water pump on the engine gone? A phone call to RCR in the morning when he might be able to get a touch closer to a road.

Finished, Rapunzel’s window when it’s cut out

Saturday. Somehow my taxi this morning had been cancelled, I got it sorted and got out to Groves for a bit after 10. I managed to join the Geraghty zoom for a short time whilst I opened up tins of paint. Lovely to see everyone even if briefly.

Going a bit gingerbread

Time today was precious as it was my last day here and the set pieces would be collected tomorrow. I ended up finishing several other pieces but by the end of the day I had no idea if the roofs for the towers were right or not as I had to leave then drying. Paint was all packed away, my possessions collected together and hopefully I left the place in a reasonable state as I ran hobbled to catch my taxi. My left knee is very much looking forward to doing next to nothing tomorrow.

I could do no more, before my taxi turns up

Mick decided to move to Rawcliffe this morning where there are bollards to moor to and an easier place for an engineer to get to the boat. Oleanna managed to hobble the distance but was getting very hot and bothered as she arrived.

A nice local engineer came out, listened to Oleanna’s woes and history. He doesn’t think it is the pump on the engine, but thinks the system is gunked up again as it did on the Thames. He feels that the system needs a good flush through with a power hose. He thinks that maybe the level of anti-freeze wasn’t correct in Oleanna’s early days and that a flushing out means that we can start from scratch again. We’ll see, Oleanna now has an appointment with a jet wash on Monday, if she can get there!

3 locks, 27.65miles, 1 straight on, 4 winds, 3 water pumps, 1 too hot engine, 11 taxis, 1/3 of the set, 3 heaters, 1 working, 1 lovely space to work in, 3 supermarkets visited, 0 digs cat, 1 scrounging cat, 1 friendly landlady, 2 ex truckers, 1 show, 31 pots of paint, 1 fat knee!

2 thoughts on “Panto Postcard 1. 2021

  1. Dave (Scouts)

    Careful you’ll make Tilly jealous if you start giving head bumps to strange cats/
    Hope you get Oleanna fixed.

    1. Pip Post author

      Thanks Dave, I have to get my feline fix somehow and I had no choice, head nudge for my Kebab!

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