One Cat, Two Servants. 25th April

Pierpoint Top Lock 55 to above Kent’s Lock 45

A little bit of a chug first thing to reach the next lock, one of the few pounds on the way up to Stoke where there’s enough time to boil a kettle, however not enough time to drink the cuppa you’ve just made!

First lock of the day

At Thurlwood Lower Lock both chambers were just about full, I opted for the narrower chamber as this was just a touch lower. We rose up keeping an eye out to make sure Oleanna wasn’t too wide, she wasn’t so all was fine.

I love these gardens

Compared to yesterdays weather today was miserable, damp in the air, cold, then rainy, very little sun shining down on us. The locks would keep us busy and hopefully warm. There’s an honesty hutch above Thurlwood Top Lock for eggs, however this morning it was empty, no chance of us getting a lucky green egg.

There was plenty of mooring available in Rode Heath, a nice mooring unless you are a cat! That outside has soo much pawtential, just need to ban all the woofers!

Now the four Lawton Locks. These were once all paired locks, one of them now a single, the other three only one lock operational. Lock 52 offside had fencing around it, some serious work going on. Had the skip boat we’d just passed got new gates for it? CRT decided to work on this lock out of the winter stoppage season as it’s paired lock was operational. Looking down below my feet on the working side, I did wonder if there was much solidity below me, there seemed to be a lot of air holding up the bricks!

Swapping locks

At just about every lock there was a boat coming down, we were following NB Autumn Haze up, a nice flow of boats through the locks, each rise fed by the next lock being emptied, efficient.

Waiting for the pound and lock to fill

Church Bottom and Top Locks are very close together. Nb Autumn Haze rose up above then the lady returned to lift a paddle to help fill the intermediate pound for us. Thank you.

We’d noticed on facebook this morning that NB Halsall would be making her way up the Cheshire Locks behind us, likely to do the whole lot in a day, few boats to serve. I placed an order and said where we hoped we’d be moored.

Obligatory photo even if it isn’t the same as when we were yellow

Next came a big deliberation. The need for a station tomorrow, the need for another in a few days time, a stock up on food, a location to return the faulty battery, meeting with friends and a desire to see a play. When should we go to the theatre? Today, stopping at Red Bull, transport back would be a problem. Should we see if we could get a booking this afternoon for the tunnel, moor up at Westport Lake and go from there? Should we delay seeing the play by a few days and get a bus back to Newcastle? All options were considered, we opted to pull up at Red Bull, a much better mooring for Tilly. She came and went for a couple of hours, her servants opening and closing doors for her, Dreamies on tap.

Anyone for a good strong cup of tea?

Theatre tickets booked, a bus sused out to get there, a message sent to Halsall incase we weren’t on board when they arrived. That reminds me I must pay them! Just as we were about to get smartened up ‘Coal Boat!’ Halsall pulled up along side, Rachel and Brian onboard. Not much time for a chat as they wanted to be on up to the next lock once they’d made our delivery. Diesel, more coal and a new gas bottle. Thank you as ever Halsall.


A walk up the hill to catch the 4A bus which took us to right outside the New Vic Theatre. We were here to see One Man, Two Guvnors their current production. In the cast several people we knew. Added bonus was our friend Bill happened to be watching the show too this evening, his partner Lisa (I used to work with in Scarborough) a stage manager on the show. I’d selected our tickets well, cheapest seats just because you have to walk along a row past other people to reach your own and the band would be in view throughout the show. It’s hard to get a bad view at a theatre in the round!

Hi NIck!

Mick said he hoped he’d not fall asleep as it was quite long. I knew there’d be little chance of that! What a show! Physical, farcical, at times hysterical. If you are having a bad day go and see this show, your face will ache from laughing so much. The whole company were brilliant, the energy from Michael Hugo and Nick Haverson exhaustingly funny.

Gareth, Nick, Pip, Bill, Mick

We met up with people in the bar afterwards, nice to be able to do such a thing rather than stand in the foyer waiting for people to come out from back stage. I ended up knowing five of the actors, Nick I’ve known since my college days and then lots at the SJT. Gareth could have passed me by without his long hair and beard, he’s been in a couple of Chippy pantos. Michael was in a show at Esk Valley Theatre I designed years ago, Alyce and Thomas stayed in our house last year. Sadly Conrad the director wasn’t about, I’ve worked with him twice, once here at the New Vic on a production of Oleanna by David Mamet.

What a great evening and so lovely to see everyone.

10 locks, 3.3 miles, 1 damp day, 1 canal turning orange, 2 hours, 2 bags excel, 1 gas bottle, 58 litres, 2 green tickets, 1 bus, 1 taxi, 6 actors, 1 DSM, £13 taxi, 1 great night.