Panto Postcard 4, 2021

Apologies, as this will be a short postcard this week, so I’ll stick to last Saturday as that was a very busy day both here and up North.

Mick was up seriously early and on a train at 5 something silly o’clock, he was heading to Goole to try to make the most of what hours of daylight there were. I on the other hand had a little bit of a lie in, well it was going to be a long day for me. Between the two of us we spanned 23 hours.

The curtain going sideways on Act 2

At Chippy Theatre it was time for us to be joined by Will Burgher the Lighting Designer who came in to watch a run of the show. The Pippins were also in and the three teams took it in turns to do scenes. Minimum scene changes happened so it was a little bit hard for me to make notes on what I still needed to work on, but it was good to see the show from start to finish.

I think it was Thursday that I’d received a message from Ann Marie and Dave from NB Legend, they had pulled up in front of Oleanna. We’d hoped our paths would cross earlier this year around Trent Lock, but we were just a bit too quick in passing on our way down to London. Legend has been down the Trent visiting all the off shoots, Boston, up the Chesterfield and when they came off the river at Keadby they had headed on up to Sheffield. We actually thought our paths might have crossed at Bramwith Junction a week or so ago, but due to Oleanna being poorly that hadn’t happened. Instead the boats met in Goole and they helped to keep an eye on Oleanna from the bow whilst Wendy and Martin kept an eye on the stern.

Mick arrived in Goole at 8am and cycled the mile to Oleanna, there was time for a cuppa and a catch up with Ann Marie and Dave before he needed to be on his way.

Heading west

By 9:30 the pram hood had been dropped and Oleanna was winded to face west. Mick waved goodbye to Goole, NB Legend and WB Lullabelle most probably for the last time this year and headed out through the caisson.

The breach site

He motored on along the long straight passing the breach site and on to Sykehouse Junction where we turned left onto the New Junction Canal. This had been planned to happen three weeks earlier and Bridget and Storm had kindly offered to come and operate the bridges for Mick, but today he was going to single hand them.

Some are lift bridges

Now when I operate lift or swing bridges I keep a tally of how many vehicles I hold up. Admittedly I’m not single handing, trying to work the bridges as quickly as possible to hold up as few vehicles as possible, but I was a touch disappointed when Mick told me he held up ‘a few, not many, but a few’! That’s no good for the numbers!

Approaching Sykehouse Lock, is that a green light?

He worked his way along through the first lift bridge. As he approached the second bridge Kirk Lane Road Swing Bridge he thought he could see a green light at Sykehouse Lock. But at distances the lights can be a touch confusing and once he got that bit closer it was most definitely amber, self operation. I’d passed on my knowledge of this lock to him as there is a swing bridge over the centre of it and to be able to operate the panels at either end you need to insert your Key of Power into the panel by the swing bridge and open the bridge to the canal before either of the gate panels will work. However as he approached the amber light turned to green, there is an enthusiastic volunteer who can quite often be found at this lock and today it was Mick’s lucky day. The lock was set and waiting for him, he didn’t have to step off the boat once. Thank you.

By 1pm Oleanna had passed through the last of the six moveable bridges. Ahead lay the Don Doors, two guillotine gates that can be dropped when the River Don goes into flood stopping the river from backing up along the canal from the aqueduct. Earlier in the week I’d seen the River Ouse in flood so there was a possibility that the Don was high, but thankfully not high enough for the doors to be closed.

Don Doors in the distance

In Chippy by now we’d finished the run. The show was running at a half hour too long, some trimming would be needed, there is nothing worse than an over long panto, yet Rapunzel hadn’t felt too long. Dash headed home to work out what could be cut over the weekend.

Notes after the run

Reaching Bramwith Junction Mick battled a touch with the wind to turn the sharp left to Bramwith Lock. Sadly no help on hand here so the ladders were used to get on the boat once she had descended. By 2:30 he’d passed through Bramwith Swing Bridge and was on his way to Thorne.

This left Thorne Lock with it’s swing bridge to do, all operated by the Key of Power, well apart from the road barriers that are manually swung into position. Then it was the renowned Princess Royal Swing Footbridge.

Don’t Look!

Mick moored up and went to operate the bridge, he followed the instructions to the T, but the very particular barriers on the far side got the better of him! Two barriers pull out and lock into position, you then cross back over the bridge and pull out the barriers on the control panel side. This means that unless you are as skinny as a heron you cannot get back across the bridge to wiggle the far side barriers to encourage them to locate properly. Fortunately a local came along and knew what to do. The bridge opened, Mick brought Oleanna through and another local closed the bridge and returned the key to Mick, handy as the bridge landing on that side has deteriorated so much it would have been just about impossible to get off Oleanna safely and tie up.

Oleanna’s home for a few months.

Not much further on they had reached their destination shortly before it got dark. Mick turned Oleanna into Blue Water Marina, her winter home this year. We’d hoped to be able to return to Viking Marina in Goole, but Laird had no room for us, our mooring from last winter now occupied by a go faster cruiser. Mick secured Oleanna to the short pontoon that we’d been allocated, closed her up and headed to the station. Today’s mission was accomplished, winterisation will happen on another visit.

Back on stage the technicians spent the afternoon adding more lights, they were meant to be focusing the lights on stage and then moving to the front of house bars handing over the stage to me to paint. I got myself ready with pots of paint, brushes on sticks and the model to follow. We were all in a position for me to start painting a little later than originally planned, they carried on working in the auditorium until I’d painted too much of the stage for Will to be able to play Hopscotch anymore.

The stage flooring was recently resurfaced which should have made for a nice floor, but somehow the boards were laid rough side up, this made the painting of washes quite a bit harder than it should have been. When Ash left at 11pm I thought it might take me another four hours to finish painting the floor and get two coats of glaze on it, but time just evaporated.

Once the washes were complete I stopped for something to eat, then thankfully enough of it was dry for me to add green hedges, the heating in the auditorium having been put onto it’s highest setting to aid the drying. Next came white and purple for a touch of floweriness. Gavin hunted round for several fans to help with the drying and by 3am I was applying the first coat of glaze. This should have had two hours before the second coat was applied, but by the time I’d finished getting into all the nooks and crannies it felt dry enough to walk on. The second coat went on in 18 minutes, the roller sleeve was left in a bucket of water to be cleaned out properly on Monday and I was out of the door just before 4:30am.

Floor finished

A long day for both of us.

3 locks, 17.6 miles, 9 bridges, ? held up, 3 lefts, 1 lockie, 2 helpful locals, 1 winter mooring reached, 2 weeks late, 1 run, 30 minutes too long, 1 hour late starting, 9 hours of floor painting, 2 coats glaze, 4:30am, 1 pooped Pip.

2 thoughts on “Panto Postcard 4, 2021

    1. Pip Post author

      A long day for me Ade. I don’t think I’ve ever caught a train at 05:30 before. A longer day for Pip though.


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