Panto Postcard 4. 2022

75.5 hours

Bridge 68, North Oxford Canal to Coventry Basin, Coventry Canal

Another long week in Panto land and some more cruising for Mick and Tilly.

Monday I arrived in the theatre to find sliders being cut down to size and lots of magnetic catches and door handles having been attached, all good news. But then I soon heard that Abi the Director had tested positive for covid over the weekend whilst at home in London. The cast were given various options, the one they chose was that John the Artistic Director of Chippy Theatre and the writer of panto would stand in for Abi until she returned and Abi would join when she could via zoom. Our Production Manager Gemma was also unwell so she stayed at home an extra day.

Counter getting close to completion

I got on with painting what ever I could without being in the actors way. A list of scenes required for the following days rehearsals is sent out so it takes a little bit of working out what I might be able to paint and when. The wings of the stage were sorted by Stage Management to hopefully help make the technical rehearsals easier.

In the evening we were joined by a couple of chaps to help with setting up the sound equipment and drilling holes in trees for fairy lights. By the end of the evening two out of the four trees had lights and a lot of the sound system was up and running.

The River Avon in Rugby

In Rugby, Mick and Tilly stayed put on the boat. Mick did venture out for his covid booster jab, four weeks after we’d tested positive.

Painting ovens and doors in the wings

Tuesday. More setting up of sound with Matt the Sound Designer about for one day. The aim was for levels to be set for the songs and cues to be programmed into the desk so that only minor adjustments would hopefully be needed. Songs were sung by the company accompanied by the two man band.

Dicks solo being sung in front of the Pippins and Becky the composer

Gemma joined us for a few hours but she was obviously still not well. She did her best to keep her distance, helped get sliders rehung and sorted a few bits out, but mid afternoon she headed to her digs to hopefully get some sleep.

Mark the Lighting Designer had a lighting session in the evening, meaning I was either painting by torch light or had a lot of light. This gave me the chance to get some black lining done to the sliders for Piccadilly Circus. There’s still plenty more to do on them, but at least I made a very good start.

Newbold Tunnel

In Rugby, Mick moved Oleanna up nearer to Tescos, did a good shop. Topped up with water and headed onwards through Newbold Tunnel. Over the weekend we’d discussed where might be easiest for me to get back to the boat next weekend, Rugby was a little bit problematical and quite a bit of a walk to reach the boat. We’d decided that Coventry would be better.

Wednesday. Gemma tested positive for covid this morning. Hopefully she hadn’t passed it on to anyone whilst she’d been in the building, but more importantly she could head home to recover.


Conversations were had about outstanding jobs. I can lend my hand to quite a few things, but it would all take time. Better to have someone who knew what was needed and free me up to carry on painting and helping where needed.

The Technical rehearsals begin

In the afternoon we started to Tech. This is where all the elements come together on stage. Sound, lighting, costumes, props, actors, musicians and set. Due to many reasons there were gaps in costumes, props and set pieces. Not ideal, but unavoidable. Everyone did as well as they could, one thing became obvious was that we still needed someone to help program the sound.

Loads of room!

Mick carried onwards. In winter months moorings that are normally chocka block can be empty, this was the case at All Oaks Wood. I think we’ve managed to pause there before for lunch once, but today he had a choice of where to pull in. Tilly made the most of a good outside!

Thursday. A long day of technical rehearsals. Days like today I spend mostly sitting in the dark, taking notes, attending to things as they arise. I decided to try to do small jobs whilst sat in the dark like signs, sorting out the new song sheet.

It was not me who emptied the chilled medication fridge leaving only vanilla!

Then when the actors have a break there is some time to get a bit of painting done. Wet things need to be dry before costumes are back on stage, so timing jobs can be a touch tricksy. Following rehearsals there are a couple of hours to get more jobs done. Jo the prop maker was about, so conversations turned to treasure chests and snakes.

Mick carried on moving. The journey from Rugby to Coventry can be done in under eight hours, but with a week to do it in he was pacing himself. Today he moved a touch further than he’d originally planned, through the new swing bridge at Rose Narrowboats, stopping a short distance before Hawksbury Junction, meaning there was space before other boats for Tilly to explore.

The Greyhound busy on a Friday morning

Friday. Mick decided to stay put, having a walk up to the bins at the junction a highlight of the day. The Greyhound was busy even quite early in the morning.

The tight turn at the junction. To head north use the left canal, south the right turning under the bridge.

Another early start to do some jobs before rehearsals started again. My lunch tends to be eaten in the next technical session, making use of as much stage time for jobs as possible. Abi is now very much in the room, joining by zoom, sending messages by Whatsap.

Laptop in the centre of the auditorium so Abi can join us

Today after rehearsals, Dan who’d helped set up the sound equipment and has been helping with programming stayed around to help with various jobs on stage. Some black tabs were not quite in the right place so needed adjusting. A tree needed extending, it’s track moving higher. But the most important job was to get a cloth rigged so that it could be lowered in to view and pulled out of view, it’s been out of view for three weeks.

A Curlywurly in the dark whilst taking notes

Chippy Theatre has a bit of a fly tower, but it is nowhere near tall enough to be able to fly cloths fully in and out. So the cloth has to work like a very big Roman Blind, pulling itself up on itself. We got all the cords in place, but lacked somewhere to tie it off to. So that we don’t now see too much of the cloth it’s been tied off to a cleat for other scenery, a better solution needs to be found.

Nice to see the cloth again after three weeks.

Saturday. A morning of technical rehearsals. There is still more to do on Monday sadly.

Last year I did one of these every day during panto

Also sadly today we were missing Becky, the composer, another case of covid. I am so hoping that I still have some natural immunity left as I spent much of yesterday sat next to Becky. This morning I did a test after spending time with Gemma, I’ll be doing a test before returning to work on Monday.

A nearly finished scene

All the trees were up and fairy lights working giving Mark the opportunity to light the next scene. We mostly worked our way through the scenes that have the Pippins in so as to make the most of their time in the theatre. Having three teams of Pippins means doing everything three times, one team are in costume the others not. We now just have to finish teching the rest of the show on Monday.

Mick moved on again in the morning, turning left at Hawksbury Junction and heading under the bridge decorated with swans. We last came this way about five years ago and today Mick saw a big difference. New houses and just generally better kept, possibly assisted by the City of Culture. Tilly however wasn’t that impressed!

Coventry Basin

After rehearsals I became unpopular asking for the trees that had only just gone up to be taken down. My aim for the day was to get the last two remaining trees painted, having them flat this would take about half the time. It didn’t take too much to get them down thankfully.

Trees finished. Well I might add some glitter if I get chance.

The last couple of hours I was on my own and was glad to not have to climb a ladder. By 18:10 the trees were painted, brushes washed up. By 18:25 the theatre alarm was set and I was heading for the bus stop and Banbury.

Goodbye Chippy, see you Monday

A train then another bus to save me walking across Coventry where Mick met me and we walked up the hill and over the ring road to Oleanna in the basin. Time for head nudges with Tilly, something to eat and slump in front of the tv.

He’s here!

Sunday. A Sainsburys delivery was early, I left Mick to deal with it as it was early early, but it did mean we could have a nice breakfast.


This was followed by the Geraghty zoom where we were all relieved to be joined by Anne who has just had a spell in hospital.

Work in progress

A slow day, much needed, but sadly I still had some work to do. A new song sheet needed designing and the best time to do it was today. Thankfully it didn’t take too long. The day will end with a roast chicken and packing my bags to head back to Chippy tomorrow. Hopefully no more cases of covid this week, fingers crossed.

Had to say hello to James

18.16 miles, 1 lock, 1 left, 1st Christmas tree, 3 positives, 4 trees, 8 pillars, 6 tech sessions, 3 teams, 0 red fabric, 7 safety pins, 2 buses, 1 train, 8 diddy maracas, 1 bored cat.

4 thoughts on “Panto Postcard 4. 2022

  1. Ade

    Fab looking breakfast and glad you made it home. Phew I’m tired just reading it. You must be sleeping stood up!
    Another great instalment.

  2. Dave (Scouts)

    Have to see what you think of Coventry. We picked up Hector from Armada boat hire near Newbold and went up to Hawkesbury but decided to head up the Ashby. Might hire one of their other boats at Easter and go towards Coventry this time

    1. Pip Post author

      Our visit to Coventry this time is only short. Back at the end of July and the start of August in 2018 we had several days in the basin. It would be worth looking back at those posts.

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