Panto Postcard 3. 2022

77 hours

Spiceball Park, South Oxford Canal to Bridge 68, North Oxford Canal

Monday I was back on the bus to Chipping Norton, the bus this week being busy as the schools were back. It was also time for Mick and Tilly to start making a move northwards to make sure they were clear of any stoppages on the canal that would be starting in a weeks time. Mick had worked out a schedule which would have them near to Rugby Station for Sunday in case I’d be able to join them for the weekend.

Do you have to go?

Sometimes there are things far more important than theatre make believe, real life needed Pauls attention so we were a man down. This meant quite a few jobs that were on his list would end up on the back burner for a while and Louisa would be left to try to plug the technicians gap as well as move scenery around for rehearsals and for the pesky set designer.

I was joined by Elise who was set on the job of painting the pillars that will eventually get added to the set to finish off the portals. On stage I hid behind the backcloth and put a base coat of paint on some trees. This will help when someone comes to drill holes for fairy lights as I only want them to be in the green sections. Also having them a basic colour will assist when it comes to lighting if I haven’t had chance to finish them before lighting states get plotted.

Andrew Pepper the Dame adjusting his floppy hat

Publicity photos were taken, then we ended up the day putting a first coat of paint on the steps from the stage into the auditorium.

Leaving Banbury

Mick came across a boat jam after his second lock of the day. A deep drafted boat was stuck under bridge 157, the pound was about 8 inches lower than normal, was this going to be the case all the way up to the summit? Water was let down and the boat got moving again. Mick tried to help tow the boat, not to much effect, too much water was being lost at Little Bourton Lock a paddle was stuck up, allowing water to drain from the pound above. Mick notified C&RT and later in the day the lock was closed due to an obstruction in the paddle.

Queueing for the locks

Having got past the deep boat he aimed to moor above Broadmoor Lock, but the level there was also low and signs suggested it would get worse overnight, so he continued onwards and up Varneys Lock where levels were better.

Starting up the Claydon flight

Tuesday, Mick was delayed leaving as he met NB Dusty, a top up of diesel was worth having before waving goodbye to them for another year. He continued to work his way up towards the summit. He let a boat over take him, he’d be slower than them as he was single handing. Then as he reset the lock he was joined by the lady from the deep drafted boat, they opened the bottom gates and Mick returned to get Oleanna, only for the deep boat to come sailing past and steel the lock! Have to say Mick was not impressed.

Very wet at the summit

He made it up to the summit with lots of rain, a glance at his photo on my phone looked like the lock area was under water, but no it was just very very wet from rain. But by the time he moored up at one of our favourite moorings with a view the sun was coming back out.

How long before HS2 becomes part of the view?

Back in Chippy more things were based in and by mid morning I’d painted London.

This years London with the Pharoah from my first Chippy panto on a back stage door.

I then took myself off to sit in the Dames dressing room (which I kindly vacate for her every year) to join a zoom funeral for an old family friend near York. My brother and wife had managed to go and later on in the day I was filled in about the wake and news of other friends we’ve not seen for ages. Ian’s tribute to Janis was so touching.

A touch of privacy needed today.

During the day Louisa and I sat down and went through lists. What could we achieve and what would we need extra hands for. A carpenter would be very useful as we’d a little list of jobs more suited for someone with the right skills and tools. I also put in a request to start on the floor painting early this year. If I could work around the lights being rigged it would save me a lot of work on Saturday.

Paw prints are appearing around Chippy

Wednesday. It was time to sit in the auditorium for a bit whilst one scene was rehearsed, costumes were tried on and safety pins added for adjustments. Today I was back on my own, Elise had done a good job of getting things based in, time for the arty bits to start happening on top.

Long Johns and shower caps

In the evening whilst lights were rigged up stage and in the auditorium I made a start on the cobbled floor. Four decorator sponges were just the thing with three colours of paint.

Pinged lines and sponged cobbles

Mick made his way across the top of the Oxford Canal. Not far onwards he crossed the HS2 works. Here concrete was being erected to form a bridge over the canal. Would this be the start of the rail line or just a temporary bridge whilst the works are happening. Further on there is still the big mound of earth where it’s been for years.

Once he dropped down the two Marston Doles locks he was through the locks which would be closing next Monday, Oleanna won’t be trapped until near Christmas now. However the pound he’d planned on mooring in was being dredged by C&RT so he dropped down the top lock of the Napton flight as well.

Later on in the day he had a tap on the roof, it turns out that he was just in the perfect spot for C&RT to off load the dredgings. The chaps helped Mick haul Oleanna out of the way.

Swing that skirt around!

Thursday. Painting followed by a Production Meeting and then time for a stagger through of panto once the Pippins arrived after school. Mark the lighting designer joined us, unfortunately an updated lighting plan hadn’t got through to Louisa, so quite a bit of the rig needed adjusting. I negotiated some more time getting ahead with the floor.

Salted Caramel or Lemon?

I am being very good around the chilled medication store in the foyer which is where bits and bobs tend to get painted.

I think someone is hoping for an understudy part. Most mornings I get a hopeful look from the shelter created from old pieces of scenery.

A field of buffalo chilled medication makers

Mick dropped down the rest of the Napton flight today. How come when I’m not with him the Buffalo are around in big numbers!

Napton Windmill

He wended his way around the hill with the windmill. Thankfully he continued straight on at Napton Junction and pulled up near Flecknoe. During the day he came across a couple we’d met a couple of years ago. They had been the owners of NB Burghley Girl whom we’d towed, they now hire a couple of times a year.

NB Southern Cross stopped to top up our coal supplies

Mick ended up nudging along, due to a neighbour deciding that they’d be deaf. A third of a mile further along the noise was gone, or maybe their reason for being noisy had moved on and they were alone again!

Friday. More lighting, in fact rehearsals were moved away from the stage so that there would be time to catch up on amending the lighting rig. By the end of the day they’d managed to get ahead of themselves. Luckily the lights didn’t go out on stage until the evening so plenty of things got painted in full light before I had to resort to a head torch.


Mick and Tilly continued onwards to Braunston. The Bangers spire showing itself before Braunston Turn.

Mick’s managing without a navigator thankfully

There was space to moor outside Midland Chandlers so Mick picked up a stern navigation light which will get wired in properly sometime over winter. He then pootled onwards to find somewhere nice for Tilly to head off and explore for the rest of the day.

Saturday. A long day for me. I was first in the building. Checking what scenery would be needed for rehearsals today so as not to get the wrong things painty.

Some carbs to keep me going

Several things were finished off today before the lights went back out for Mark to finish focusing the lights. I was then hot on his heals, not wanting to be in the theatre into the early hours.

The stage was swept and then mopped. After two weeks of rehearsals the paint was really rather mucky. Unfortunately the stage ended up getting a much wetter wash than I was expecting and trying to mop up any excess water had the possibility of lifting the cobbles I’d already painted. So whilst it dried I got on with other bits.

Lining in with the aid of a stick

Once dry I added a touch more colour to some of the cobbles and then started to black line them all. When I start doing something like this I think it’ll take about 90minutes, but I always under estimate. Luckily a chap came to pick up some costume tails and this gave me a chance to stand upright and notice the time! I had another two visits from people checking on me before it got too late.

Soup and a bagel whilst watching paint dry

A stop to have some soup, as is the tradition on floor painting nights, hoping everything would be dry once I’d finished. Then the first coat of glaze was quickly followed by the second, maybe a little bit too quickly, but I really didn’t want to be waiting another hour. Fingers crossed I’ve not been too quick.

Finished apart from a little bit of gold in the corners

Mick on the other hand had a far more relaxed day.

He’d considered pulling in before Hillmorton Locks at what we call Bridget’s Mooring. But the mooring already had two felines so he kept moving and opted to descend the three locks and pull in close to Rugby golf club. Tilly could have fun trying to see what was at the bottom of the holes.

Sunday. Mick nudged up towards Rugby hoping that the internet signal would improve for the Geraghty zoom this morning. For me it’s a day of rest. Someone is in the theatre rehanging doors and adding handles, but I’m just taking it easy updating the blog. Getting to Rugby was proving quite hard, getting back even harder for work Monday morning. Hopefully next weekend I’ll have a bit more time.

Later I may watch GBBO and do some of the crochet blanket I haven’t touched since I was last in Chippy. I’ve hobbled up the hill to M&S for something nice for my evening meal. I suspect I’ll be having an early night before panto gets going again tomorrow.

24 locks, 35.57 miles, 1 straight, 1 left, 1 nav light, 1 deep stealer, 1 paddle reported, 1 stoppage, 1 paddle mended, 1 full diesel tank, 1 roof full of coal, 6 long days, 1 bus, 2 bottles wine, 1 floor finished, 1 funeral, 1 missing, 1 poorly outlaw, 1 gangplank, 1 prow, 2 arches, 2 rocks, 1 cut song sheet, 1 day off.

2 thoughts on “Panto Postcard 3. 2022

  1. Ade

    Good post Pip.
    Certainly earned your corn this week!
    Well done to Mick on getting up and over to beat the stoppage single-handedly.
    Fingers xed for a visit back home this weekend.

    1. Pip Post author

      Cheers Ade, I’ve still got a long way to go! We’ve changed our rendez vous for next weekend, so I’ve more transport options, plus it will keep Mick occupied.

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