Category Archives: Art Galleries

Halfway! 30th June

Paddington Basin

The boats on the pontoons reduced to two this morning, but by the end of the day we’d be joined by another two narrowboats and a little electric sailingy type boat. This had tarpaulins added to a frame over it so that the crew could sleep inside with some privacy.

The Geraghty zoom was a little depleted this morning, but we still covered subjects such as Strawberry eating squirrels, oppositional disorder and skeletons. Then it was time for breakfast, we’d nearly got everything but lacked a little on the bacon front. Being moored right outside an M&S foodhall is quite handy on such occasions, it’s just a touch expensive!

It all needed eating up, honest!

Mick was early, the shop not opening it’s doors until 11am and there was quite a queue. Yellow labels were around the shop, it would be worth me having a look before too long to see what bargains there might be. Whilst Mick cooked breakfast I scoured the shelves to see what we might have to eat this evening as we’d be at home tonight. With a lot of things less than half price I got us a feast.

Today Mick planned on heading off to explore Ealing stations that have been revamped with the dawning of the Elizabeth line. This being where he grew up along with being interested in trains it was an obvious way to spend his day. He caught the train out to West Ealing where the station has changed to a different road and platforms have moved through bridges. Then several buses took him to Ealing Broadway via Greenford. Ealing Broadway a very different sight to that I remember.

Ealing Broadway

Just before Mick left for his exploration a Police van had pulled up close to our mooring. Three Police Officers busied themselves putting a rib into the canal, no rush about it, it kind of felt like they were going for a Sunday jaunt up the Regents Canal. It took them time to get the engine mounted and even longer to get it going. Off they went and strangely enough they returned just as Mick did! Was this a coincidence? Or had he been on their jaunt too? Are the above photos his? Or was he on a mission with the police or helping with their enquiries whilst out on the boat?

I had planned a great day, for me. A bus ride down to the Thames and then some time at the John Singer Sargent exhibition at Tate Britain. Christine and Kathy had said how good it was, plus he’s one of my favourite artists. Then another bus journey was to take me to the National Gallery where the Last Caravaggio is on display, Caravaggio also another favourite.

My route was planned to make the best use of buses and therefore least amount of walking, however I’d be needing to walk around the exhibitions and my little walk into M&S today had proved to be quite painful with my knee. So sadly my very arty day was not to be, resting my knee more important.

Ends ends and more ends, what a Joy!

Instead I sat down and watched the second half of The Duke (2020), about the theft or borrowing of the Goya Duke painting staring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren based on a true story. This was as close as I’d be getting to the National Gallery today. Whilst I watched the court and the verdict I spent time weaving ends in on three pairs of socks for my sockathon. On one pair I’d started this process a week or so ago as there were a lot of ends! A LOT!! But the next four pairs are ready to have their photos taken and be popped in the post to their sponsors. So by the end of the 26th week of #pipssockathon2024 I have finished 26 pairs of socks. I also got a message from a friend who now sings songs with people suffering with Alzheimer’s, her socks had arrived and will be worn the next time she’s out singing, flashing her ankles at everyone. Thank you Cate!

The latest pile of socks

Well our sad git’s meal from M&S turned out to be quite a feast, posh chicken kebabs with caesar dressing, frites and some vegetables on the side. Not all of the frites were consumed, but we gave it a good try!

Frites with chicken on the side

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 Lizzie lines, 3 buses, 0 art galleries, 4 pairs totally finished, 1 very bored cat, 2 sad git kebabs, 4 portions of frites, 1 Mick and 3 police officers?

Would You Like A Bigger Table? 27th June

Ballot Box Bridge to Pontoon 6, Paddington Basin

A lie in, wonderful! First boat went past at about 7am then it was quite a while before anyone else was on the move. The boat behind us spent some time in setting up their sun shade over their bow, this involved lots of banging of metal locker lids and a touch of swearing.

Just round the bend on the other side of the bridge we found all the moored boats, closer to transport links, that is unless you have an e-bike or scooter as then your location doesn’t matter as you can zip along the towpath at great speed!

Out on the hard

Bright blue skies to start with warranted sun cream, but after half an hour cloud covered the sky, a wind whipped up and we even considered putting jumpers on.

A really awkward Elsan

At Alperton we considered pulling in to deal with our yellow water, but the railings around the elsan point would make this a really hard job, so we just hoped we’d be fortunate to be able to do it later. The Keep Out sign did amuse us, has someone tried to get in the Elsan?

The narrowboat up on the bank surrounded by new office blocks now sells crepes, more building work continues further along. Today long stretches of the towpath were being dug up. The concrete topping lifted which covers cables. Temporary pontoon towpaths carried pedestrians and cyclists around the works.

Towpath works

The aroma of Buddleia filled the air, almost totally masking out the spices from the food factories along the canal bank. One lady on a work boat trimmed sections of it away so she could tie her boat up on the off side.

Buddleia tastic

The number of moored boats along Ladbroke Grove seem to have reduced, but then the towpath being worked on is making it difficult. The area that for some reason says No Mooring had been taken over by boats.

A timber store? Workshop?

We’ve been here at roughly the same time of year before. Today we were surprised at the reduced amount of weed in the canal, we only had to clear the prop once and that was due to urban jelly fish near Little Venice. Also the type of London boater seems to have altered, there are far more cruisers than we remembered. Where the Westway hovers above the towpath, where once there have been cafes, art spaces, there now seems to be something like a carpentry shop, one cruiser had a rooftop extension made of sterling board and was that chap gaining access to his wood store via a canoe? There do seem to be more and more boats reusing house windows in their extensions, I quite like some of the effects.

Heading for Paddington Basin

This year C&RT have increased their pre- bookable moorings in London. Some which were once free are now chargeable, others that you’ve paid for for a few years have increased in price. The London boaters have been up in arms as more places have been designated for pre-bookable moorings and often you see photos of areas empty of boats. The idea is to be able to open London up to cruising boats and make the capital more accessible to all licence payers. We’ve done the turn up and with fingers crossed and hope to find a mooring, remembering where there was a gap to breast up should there be nowhere else. The last few times we’ve been into London we’ve made use of the bookable moorings and are very glad they exist for peace of mind. Booking this week had been a touch hard and I think we were only left with one option at the cheaper price which we booked. There seems to be lots more availability of the £35 a night moorings, not hard to guess why. A shame that many of these are the old Eco-moorings with electric. Maybe C&RT have priced these too high, or is there not enough demand yet for so many spaces? Only time will tell.

Passing the restaurant boats

A boat was on the service mooring at Little Venice. We wanted to fill with water so chanced being moved on and pulled up at the water point just through the bridge, tucking in as close as we could to the cafe boat. The tap is very slow, but before we could be in the way to anyone, we’d topped up and made our way across the pool towards Paddington.

There’s our mooring, ready and waiting for us

We’ve heard tales of pre-booked moorings being occupied when boats arrive and mooring rangers having to be called. But none of that for us today as we sailed straight into our space on the pontoons. Having the hatch face the bank means we get a lot of ankles walking past and snippets of phone conversations ‘Well the aorta is 85 years old!’ a particular favourite from today. We joined two other boats on the moorings, another had gone for a cruise around and returned later on. Paddington Visitor Moorings, also pre-bookable, stretch from the pedestrian entrance into the station to the basin on the hospital side. By the station was chocka, only one boat made use of the hospital side today.

Tilly was shown the outside, filled with lunch break workers. A wheelie suitcase put her off getting off the boat, hopefully she’ll accept we’re in Longbum and spend her time watching through the windows or asleep.

Paul’s got his eye on the ham, egg and chips!

Late afternoon we headed to catch the No 27 bus to Camden to meet up with Christine and Paul. For the first time in many years we have managed to catch up with all of our siblings within a few months. This evening we met up at Jamon Jamon a Spanish Tapas restaurant in Camden.

Plenty to choose from even if it was a little bit confusing for me at times with the allergens menu. Once our order was taken the waitress asked if we’d like to move to the far end where there was a larger table. We ended up needing this for the number of dishes we’d ordered. The Gambas were very fine and the Spanish version of Ham Eggs and Chips looked like it had come from a glossy comic. Very nice food and very good company as always, thank you both.

When eventually our No 27 bus arrived and brought us back to Paddington we decided to see if we could walk back to the boat a slightly different route. A large white tower block that was being built last time we were here now appears to be complete. Outside the front door was a very large orange stone with a small yellow one on top. Human? Who was the artist? Nothing to inform us of anything. A hunt round on the internet later and the artist is Ugo Rondinone. It’s certainly big and bold! On the wall of the hospital there was a rather pleasing painting/photograph mural of diving swimmers which I think is by Catherine Yass. More can be found out here.

Sun set

0 locks, 7.7 miles, 1 snub, 1 bag on prop, 0 weed, 1 straight on, 1 full water tank, 27 twice, 1 disappointed cat, 1 little girl at 11pm peering in, 1 sister, 12 dishes, 1 big table, 1 olive doggy bag, 1 lovely evening, 5G less frustrating.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/8N2PiD7oEW4ygaYd8

Panto Postcard 2, 2023

….Hours

My home for Saturday night was very comfortable. Rachel and Graham’s house I think dates back to the C17th. Flagstoned floors, steep spiraling staircase where crampons would be better than socks on the aged polished wooden treads and a natural posture of stooping an advantage to get through low doors. It was the bake house, the actual bakery out the back in another building. The front room was the shop, the worn flagstones suggesting it was popular. Shortly before Rachel and Graham bought the property it had been a restaurant, apparently very popular with Ronnie Barker. They have done extensive work on the building and what a wonderful place it is.

In an older part of Chippy

A very welcoming couple who insisted I had a cuppa and my breakfast with them, I could leave my bag whilst I headed off for the day and then pass the key onto Jo the Props lady who stays with them during panto.

The Dulux dog has taken over from Bagpuss

The S3 bus took me into Oxford for the day. I didn’t really want to walk too far due to my little toe still complaining, but I did want to enjoy a day doing something completely different to panto and make sure I had a good meal too.

One possibly for the Christmas list

First port of call Waterstones. I’ve been trying to find a copy of Dinner by Nagi Maehashi that had been the Jamie Oliver Cook Book Club book for October. Everything people have been making looks tasty, but I wanted to have a look and see how many of the recipes are gluten free adaptable before buying it. I didn’t find it, but got chance to look at other books that I can line up for my Christmas list.

A walk to the Ashmolean Museum. I know Mick and I visited here several years ago, but it required another look round. I headed for an exhibition on Kabuki prints.

Then headed upstairs to look at the paintings. Plenty of Mother and child scenes, followed by Baroque deaths.

Chiaroscuro shown off, some details away from the main subjects caught my eye, Isis and a statue of Satan. By the time I reached the Pre-Raphaelites and Pissarro paintings I realised I’d been here before, but a return visit was enjoyed. My favorite painting today was From Kolding Fjord, by Vilhelm Pter Kark Kyhn, 1876. So much open space and light.

My favourite

A walk round the covered market is always good, a couple of chilled medication retailers I considered trying out but decided something savoury first would be better. I headed over to Westgate, bought a new top but failed on buying yoghurt.

Now to find somewhere to eat. I’d spotted a Cosy Club on Cornmarket Street, the chain had been recommended for gluten free dishes. Time to try them out.

A glass of wine, very attentive staff who noted my intolerance and handed me a suitable menu. Thank goodness they had something I could eat other than chicken. Seabass with roasted new potatoes in a white wine sauce with leeks and peas. Very tasty. Followed by salted caramel and chocolate moose, even tastier! Sod all the calories, I deserved a lovely meal.

Oxford’s Cosy Club has only been open two weeks, maybe that’s why the staff were almost overly attentive. But it had a nice ambience and I’ll venture there again.

Sadly, or fortunately as I left so did the next bus heading for Chippy, I had an hour to kill. Only one thing for it, check on the levels of the Thames and the Oxford Canal. Plenty of room at the very end of the Oxford, one boat hanging off the end of the pontoon below Isis Lock, the water having some momentum. Two red lights flashed on the board at the lock, no-one would go down onto the Thames if they were sensible.

Back on the towpath

I walked along where Oleanna is quite often moored at this time of year, plenty of room opposite College Cruisers, then crossed over the footbridge to walk up through Jericho to wait for the next bus back, a nice boat fix in the dark.

Back in Chippy I picked up my bags and thanked Rachel and Graham for a lovely stay, then headed home, back across town to Suzannes. A blog to write, Mick to chat to on the phone and a glass of wine. A lovely day off.

Overnight I developed quite a sore throat. Most probably the cold that was heading around the panto company. Just incase, I did a covid test before having a shower. On drying my hair I took a look, two lines! The test I’d used had an expiry date of last week, I did another, this one in date and one that takes 30 minutes. However the second line only took five minutes to appear. Oh B********cks!

Seeing double twice

First thing inform Suzanne, I’d stay in my room as much as possible, ventilate my room and bathroom. Next inform Rachel and Graham who’d only the night before been saying how it was nice to have someone stay who was less likely to bring a lurgy into their house than an actor who stayed in the pub until all hours! Then the theatre.

The covid policy at Chippy this year is more about what not to do than what to do. You don’t have to do a test if you feel unwell. But if you do and you are positive then it’s 5 days at home, 5 days of not painting! Last year I’d had covid the week before starting painting, is this becoming a tradition?!

Mick asked if I wanted collecting and taking back to Scarborough. Yes it would be nice to be home, but he would then most likely get it and we’d have to keep our new lodger Annie from getting it too. So long as Suzanne and I thought we could work things so she didn’t catch it I’d rather stay put.

Breakfast in bed

So Monday became a day of breakfast in bed, chatting to Gemma, doing a sneaky shop to keep me going, mask on at all times in shops, narrowly avoiding an actor and Jo from the theatre. I’m more than likely to have caught it whilst at work, but I’m the only one who has tested.

In the evening I had a long chat with Tim who’s been making puppets for the show. He’d be doing some painting in my absence. Getting paint on things important, then hopefully when I return I can do the twiddly bits. He wasn’t too sure on the time scale he had. My opinion was not to rush things, take his time, check with me then hopefully I’d not be wanting to redo anything on my return.

Tuesday. My sore throat disappearing and a bag by the bed filling up with tissues, glad I’d been out to buy a box, but would one be enough!?

Scene painting via Whatsapp is a little bit odd, but at least I knew Tim would ask questions and I could see things first hand. I’d received a message from Imogen who’d been on placement with me the last two years, she’s now at college studying Theatre Design in Wales. She was back in Chippy this week, would I like another pair of hands? She didn’t know the situation, but soon did. At a zoomed production meeting it was agreed that she could come in on an evening and do some other jobs, marking out rostra ready for painting.

Knitting and watching

Wednesday, nose drying up now, but a second box of tissues was provided by Suzanne and left outside my door. Instructions for the days jobs were passed to Tim and Imogen via Whatsapp and Instagram. I got my knitting needles out as it was 1st November and I’m taking part in a knitting challenge to knit for 30 minutes a day during the month. Normally this wouldn’t be too hard, but with panto I thought it would be a challenge, thankfully I’d brought with me enough yarn for three pairs of socks. My hope is that by the end of 2023 I’ll have raised £1000 for Dementia Uk. The socks I’ll be knitting now are Christmas presents, so I’ll be donating myself, but if you’d like to make a donation please don’t hold back here’s the link!

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Fpip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=pfp-share

Zenb Agile in with soup yum! Catching up on Bake off

Detectorists is keeping me amused as I knit away. This evening I added some quick cook pasta into half a pot of soup and made a rather nice dish. Shortly afterwards I felt my body lift, it had wanted some pasta, definite improvements happening.

Thursday. More knitting, A Christmas Special and onto the third series of Detectorists between messages regarding painting. Should things be sanded down between coats, thankfully not, I think if theatre paints required that I’d have given up scene painting years ago. A stool and new brushes arrived at the theatre and Suzanne and I managed to avoid being in the same air space for another day.

I spent sometime hunting round the internet for suitably sized clock hands. Clocks are important in Cinderella! Thankfully I found some of suitable lengths then passed them on to someone else to order and make work.

On the covid front I felt improved, although I seem to be getting tinnitus now and I’m not sure how long I will last before needing a sit down.

A flipping banana dog toy!

I felt the need for a canal fix today, so tuned into Heidi on The Pirate Boat. Well I thought I’d escaped the world of panto filled, with bananas, then Heidi headed to the back cabin to recount a ditty or two. Bonny, her rescue dog was playing, what with? Only a flipping banana! Did I spot Irene from NB Free Spirit in the background in the pub?

There she is in sunny Goole

Friday. Our car hires through Enterprise this year have meant that we have enough credit for a days hire, so Mick has hired a car for the day to head to see Oleanna and do an oil change. Sunny in Goole, still no new neighbour. The mattress to remeasure so that I can order us a new one, I’ve misplaced the last measurements he’d taken.

Somehow a scratch has appeared on the O of Oleanna. It’s near to a fender, but doesn’t look like that could have made such a scratch! If I was there I’d have given it a clean down and taken time to touch in the paint, hopefully saving us getting a rust patch over winter. But I’m not there and instructing Mick to do something about it …. well! He’s good with oil and cables. Here’s hoping I can get to it in the not too distant future.

That’s not good!

More knitting for me today and possibly a short walk to get some supplies in, I just need to avoid the roofers and Suzanne, oh and the rain!

Out on the canals this week the weather has been affecting some. Boats have been tied up hoping to avoid problems with Storm Ciaran. The River Trent has risen again, trapping many who’d been hoping to move to winter moorings or avoid winter stoppages, Newark Flood gates are closed again. On the Leicester Line some of the bank has been washed away during the high levels a couple of weeks ago, the pound is now drained and a notice has just come through with them hoping to be able to shore up the towpath to allow passage again, update due next week.

The webcam in York, the River Ouse is quite full!

But in Wigan boats are on the move again. After our friends on NB That’s It got just over halfway up the flight about seven weeks ago, only to be turned round due to a blown cill, the flight reopened this Tuesday. Paul the boat mover was one of the boats down the flight on Tuesday and plenty more have followed in the following days. The winter stoppages on the flight have been postponed for another week to help with boat movements, just hope the cill that looks like it’s in trouble at lock 70 hangs on for a while longer!

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe, afloat and gets to where they need to be soon. And here’s hoping I can get back up to speed on panto quickly!

2022 Back To Exploring

Time for the annual round, a long post so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

The New Year kicked off with winter maintenance in the house. Having two hallways proved time consuming refreshing the woodwork and patching up the worst of the wallpaper. But this was broken up with weekly walks to see the sea. I resumed work on the development showing of #unit21 for Dark Horse and a Christmas present of a cheese making kit proved very tasty in creating my first ever Yorkshire Curd Cheese Cake from scratch. I plan on having a second go at this soon!

In February work progressed in Huddersfield towards opening night, the floor painted, final costume fittings and then the set and lighting added. All while Mick serviced our life jackets and Tilly grew more and more bored of life in the house.

Once the show was opened we had a trip down to London to catch up with the London Leckenbys for a belated Christmas, on our way back we visited Oleanna. When ever we could we visited Blue Water Marina to do jobs and have a pack up lunch. The stove was reblacked, walls washed down and cupboards sorted through.

Then at the end of February, Mick and I left Tilly in charge of the house, we packed enough clothes and food for a couple of days boating and headed to Thorne to move Oleanna through Thorne Lock before a winter stoppage began. Blimey it was chilly out there, but wonderful to be back afloat and moving Oleanna to Goole. Now we were all set to move back onboard and have a few weeks of pootling about in Yorkshire.

Back at the house we made it ready for the first of this years lodgers. Our boat Christmas tree was retired into the back garden where we hoped it would thrive, this of course was before we knew a drought was on it’s way! Tilly said goodbye to the dragon that lives up the chimney, left Seville and Valencia to look after the house before having to endure the car trip back to boat life.

After a few days sorting ourselves, including having one of Joan’s gluten free Chinese takeaways, we unplugged Oleanna and backed out from our mooring at Goole Marina (Boat House). We spent the next three weeks bobbing about between Pollington Lock, Doncaster and Goole. Maintenance jobs were ticked off the list.

Alistair did engine and weedhatch jobs, Frank joined us a couple of times to do carpentry jobs, our galley drawers no longer have a life of their own, the covers had a good scrub and a spray of Wet and Forget to help them keep clean.

In March I’d set myself a charity challenge, to knit as many pairs of socks in the month as I could. Nine pairs knitted for people in return for sponsorship, I also got a very generous donation of yarn from Lisa on NB Summer Wind.

Our plans had had to change as Thorne Lock still hadn’t closed, but was about to! Plans to visit York and West Yorkshire were abandoned, we’d bought ourselves a Gold Licence for the year so wanted to make the most of it. So on March 24th with all the jobs done we turned our backs on Goole and set off into the sunset to see where 2022 would take us, all three of us grinning from ear to ear.

We made our way to Keadby ready for our booked passage on the tidal River Trent, the fast route south. A phone call from a boating friend in need of support meant we’d be doing our best to make use of the spring tide to reach Cromwell in one go despite the weather forecast. We spent a couple of days doing what we could to help in Newark before we needed to be on the move again.

On upstream to The Trent and Mersey keeping up our cruising hours and Tilly hoping we’d stop with enough time for her to explore each day before cat curfew.

Up to Fradley then onto the Coventry Canal, we played leapfrog with NB Free Spirit for a couple of days.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Curdworth Flight then a turn left onto a section of the Grand Union we’d not been on before at Star City. Up Garrison Locks, Typhoo Basin and then the Ashted Locks where we now have the measure of that Tunnel! A mooring space at the top of Farmers Bridge had our name on it. This was handy for a road trip to swap lodgers and for visits to the dentist. It also meant we were in shot when a group came to jump the top lock!

Fast forward to 6:15

Our route out of Bumingham saw us through Edgbaston Tunnel, down Lapworth followed by Hatton. A pause was needed for Tilly’s annual visit to a new vet, the one here the closest to the canal we’ve visited so far, also handy for The Cape of Good Hope!

At Napton we joined the Oxford Canal and headed for Braunston, pausing to stock up on goodies from the butcher. On the Grand Union we made our way up over the hill and started our descent down The Long Buckby flight back towards tidal waters.

On the 1st of May we turned left at Gayton Junction onto the Northampton Arm dropping down the flight to the River Nene. We’d only been this way once before and that was when we’d just bought Lillian (NB Lillyanne) back in 2014. We bought ourselves a second Abloy key, showed our Gold Licence to the chap at Northampton Marina and started our journey down stream, time to explore.

A decision was made to head down to Peterborough taking note of places we’d want to visit on our return journey. We worked our way through the guillotine locks, many button operated and others with the wheel of cardiovascular overload.

Tilly loved many of the moorings apart from those in Peterborough where crowds surrounded the boat and meant returning from shore leave was impossible for several hours.

In two weeks we reached the end of the river at the Dog in a Doublet Lock. Here the river becomes tidal, we’d save that trip for another time and turned back upstream to head for the Middle Level.

Here we wanted to explore all the drainage channels, but decided we’d do that on our return too. So we took the direct route and crossed the low lying waters in three days arriving at Salters Lode on Mick’s birthday. The levels out on the tidal stretch of the Great Ouse needing to be just right to get through the lock, turn and head upstream to Denver Sluice.

A lovely GOBA mooring was found on the River Wissey and eventually the sun came out for a birthday barbeque, we’d made it to the Great Ouse.

The remainder of May was spent exploring the River Wissey, Ely and The Little Ouse. Brandon Lock sits at the most easterly point on the connected navigable network for boats Oleanna’s size. Sadly a build up of silt stopped us from getting her bow into the lock, but we did get her as far east as was possible, ticking off the fourth point of the compass.

There was a trip to Hull Truck to meet old friends at a gala evening followed by a meet up with Micks family back in the Fens. At the end of the month we got to know Neil the seal at Ten Mile Bank moorings as he basked in the sun and took sunset dips in the river.

The Jubilee was seen in at Denver, we lit our guiding lights as a Lancaster Bomber flew overhead heading to see the Queen. The Relief Channel gave us a good mooring to be able to have a trip away to celebrate Dawn and Lee’s 50th Birthdays in Scarborough, we went as Wallace and Gromit and won an Oscar!

Another visit to Ely to see the Cathedral, Farmers market and meet up with Heather from NB Bleasdale, the first of many this summer. The River Lark was explored, the end of navigation reached with a handy mooring outside a pub.

We headed for the Cam, our paths crossing for the first time with Ken and Sue from NB Cleddau. Then onwards in to Cambridge where we visited colleges, ate chilled medication and had a day trip to Duxford so that Mick could sit in the pilots seat of a Trident 2, a seat his Dad had sat in on many a flight.

Oleanna squeezed along each of the three Lodes, Wicken, Burwell and Reach. Wicken Lode a magical place and a day visit to Anglesey Abbey with it’s wonderful gardens.

Then we headed onto the Old West a river with a very different feel than the Ely Ouse. A pause was needed when we reached Earith for us to have a tour of Heathers new to her boat GT. Once off the tidal water we were on a different Great Ouse again. Here St Ives, St Neots and Hemingford gave us sunsets, D shaped locks, huge meadows and wonderful towns and villages to explore.

As the temperatures started to rise I needed to do some work. Cruising happened in the mornings, my Panto script and sketches were done in the shade of what trees we could find. White sheets were bought and we hoped for a mooring with shade for the really hot days that were to come. Tilly took to lying on the floor and we took to wearing wet t-shirts to help us to keep cool. Thankfully the hot blast only lasted a couple of days then the temperature dropped and we could continue to head upstream.

July 21st we reached the navigable limit of the River Great Ouse, having to reverse some distance to be able to turn round and return to Bedford for the River Festival.

Here we met up with Ken and Sue, Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice and Heather again. Plenty of things to see, do and hear. The boat parades, raft races, vintage cars, all sorts kept us busy for the two days.

Now at the end of July we alternated the days between cruising and my work. More beautiful days cruising and more wonderful sunsets, one day off to visit Cambridge for some more chilled medication and to see the Hockney exhibition.

August saw more hot days. Trips to London to celebrate birthdays, panto meetings, catch up with best friends and travellers over from Australia.

On the 15th August we crossed back from Denver Sluice to the Middle Level having really enjoyed our three months on the Great Ouse. Now water levels were a worry along with having enough time to reach Oxford for me to go to work in October. We made the decision to come back and explore the Middle Level another year, maybe we’ll cross The Wash to get there!

By the end of August our progress up stream on the River Nene slowed to a halt. First one lock broke then another two ahead of us. We’d recently been accepted to join the Reflections Flotilla on the Thames to mark the Queens Jubilee in a few weeks time, now that time was ticking away.

When we did get moving again we had to make up our cruising hours. With the news of the passing of the Queen we didn’t know if the flotilla would still be going ahead, we carried on at pace waiting for news. Back up the River Nene, turning onto the Grand Union, working our way southwards. The news came through that the flotilla would go ahead, but now in remembrance of the Queen.

With a couple of days to spare we squeezed into the Eco-Moorings by Islington Tunnel. Two days of catching up with family and more friends over from Australia before we joined boats heading along the Regents Canal towards Limehouse Basin. An afternoon of activity saw numerous narrowboats festooned with white lights.

On the 24th of September the Thames barrier was closed and we all headed out of Limehouse Lock up stream to Chelsea where we clung onto buoys until the early evening when the flotilla started to muster.

Getting on for 150 boats all displaying white lights got into formation and headed down stream. Crowds stood on the illuminated bridges and Tower Bridge opened up in a royal salute as we passed underneath. What a truly amazing day.

Now we had to head towards Banbury, back round the Regents Canal as a leak in the engine bay needed testing on the calm waters of the canal rather than the tideway. By the time we reached Brentford we were confident with Oleanna’s engine again. On the Thames Tilly got a birthday present of a night on a Cliveden Island. Sadly we got an unexpected present on our arrival in Oxford, a second red line on a covid test! Panto painting couldn’t be put off so we made our way gradually up the Oxford Canal keeping our distance from people at locks and taking maximum doses of paracetamol.

A week of painting in Banbury before I moved to Chipping Norton to stack up the hours over the next four weeks getting the 50th anniversary panto ready. Rendez Vousing with Oleanna at weekends in Banbury and Coventry kept me sane. Mick had to single hand across the summit of the Oxford Canal to avoid the first of the winter stoppages.

All three of us were back onboard by mid November, covid free and vaccinated. We took things slowly now, time to rest up, meet friends, gather family and pootle towards Christmas. Our 20th Anniversary was celebrated with a Chinese takeaway at Alvecote Marina, a planned stop which ended up being extended due to plummeting temperatures. The canal froze, there’d be no moving the outside for Tilly!

Temperatures lifted dramatically and the ice just about vanished in a couple of days, we could now be on our way to Christmas. Alrewas was a good place to spend the festive days, a very good butchers and a village with lots of character and humour.

Bookings in the New Year had been made for passage on the tidal River Trent for us to reach Yorkshire, but this would not be. The Trent had risen before Christmas, Cranfleet Flood Gates were shut ahead of us, so no New Year at Hazelford Lock. Instead our alternator played up and we sought out a mooring to hook up to and see in 2023.

This year we’d been wanting to explore again. This year we cruised miles of new water, made new friends, got too hot, got iced in, got stuck, got to be in the first illuminated flotilla on the Thames for 300 years. What a great year it has been.

So our vital statistics for 2022 according to Canalplan are

Total distance is 1249 miles, 6½ furlong and 555 locks . There were 88 moveable bridges of which 29 are usually left open; 156 small aqueducts or underbridges and 18 tunnels,  a total of 7 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 227 miles, 1 1/2 furlongs of narrow canals; 363 miles, 2 furlongs of broad canals; 85 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 269 miles, 1 furlong of small rivers; 234 miles, 7 1/4 furlongs of large rivers; 69 miles, 6 furlongs of tidal rivers; 176 narrow locks; 232 broad locks; 54 large locks; 2 locks on major waterways.

731.7 engine hours

1156.1 litres diesel, 5 (although we’ve got 1 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 28.5 litres oil, 3 oil filters, 1 fuel filter, 2 air filters, 1 water pump, 2 new belts, 690kg coal, 1 overnight guest twice, 6 packs Dreamies (not enough!), 56 friends, a record breaking 41 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval (4 in one day!), 15 pairs socks, 2 shows designed, 9 lodgers, 2 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 30 boxes of wine delivered, 2 lost unicorns.

Thank you all for joining us on our journey. Wonder where we’ll get to in 2023?

Not The One In Wales. 28th June

Burwell EA Mooring

Our neighbours were off before we’d even got our cuppas in bed this morning, heading off to make the most of being on a boat for a week. We weren’t tardy either this morning and found ourselves waiting for the No 11 bus towards Cambridge at 10am.

Sitting on the top deck gave us great views, it’s almost hilly round here! There are interesting buildings in many of the villages and plenty of thatched roofs to admire whilst passing at their height. If we had more time it would be interesting to have a look around St Cyriac and St Julitta churches, both share the same church yard. The Maltings in Burwell with it’s quirky roof line. Burwell Museum and Windmill, only open Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Or walk round Lode where numerous thatched cottages require there to be boxes of chocolates on every street corner. Sadly they all passed too quickly for photos, well except the later where the bus has to do a three point turn to continue on its route!

Anglesey Abbey

We alighted and walked round the corner to the entrance of Anglesey Abbey. Not an abbey and not in Wales, but a rather fine house cared for by the National Trust. With huge gardens and access into the house we were to have a busy day. The offer of a garden highlights tour soon to start was not to be missed and we’re glad we went along as we’d have had no idea what we were looking at.

Wild flower meadow

Jean was a very knowledgeable guide who first took us to see the wild flower meadow. The meadow is left alone for much of the year, the paths cut frequently but the main area only getting one cut a year once all the flowers have set their seeds. She pointed out Common Birds-Foot-Trefoil, known as Eggs and bacon due to its colouring, Knotweed in amongst the grasses.

Pyramid orchids and a rare Lizard Orchid that has appeared in the gardens this year.

Mothy webs

We paused at a shrub covered in cobwebs, competing with Miss Haversham’s table covered. This was caused not by spiders but by a moth that weaves it’s silk, the caterpillars eat the shrub beneath before turning into small white moths. Today a few of the adults flitted about, a resting one on someone’s finger. This looked very much like the little things that have been appearing on Oleanna’s cabin sides over the last few weeks. Inside the cratch we’ve had incredible webs, that we’ve been putting down to new very keen spiders, but maybe we’ve got moths in there!

We walked through avenues of trees all given celebratory names, Coronation, Jubilee. Then areas of wood with perfectly positioned statues.

Into the rose garden, just finishing it’s first flush of blooms. Here we heard how the roses were cared for, planting in cardboard boxes is a new method to try to ease the influence of the soil in the beds, far cheaper than replacing all the soil every time new roses are planted. We took in the aromas from the blooms, very reminiscent of childhood making rose petal scent.

Around the exterior of the house we were shown the trained pear tree and then on to the herbaceous border garden where delphiniums towered high at the back of the flower beds. This was the garden currently in it’s prime. I could name loads of the plants but I can’t remember them all so photos will have to do.

The Fairbourne brothers who owned the house from the 1930’s loved gardens and the whole layout would have one garden coming into bloom as another passed it’s best. The next garden over had recently been planted out with Dahlias which would take over as the display garden in a couple of months time.

What amazing flowers

A very worthwhile tour to have done, one that will change through the seasons.

The Oak Room for after dinner drinks influenced by Coe Hall in Long Island

Anglesey Abbey started out as a hospital in 1135 and by the early 13th Century it had been converted into an Augustinian priory. Of course when Henry VIII came along (1536) the priory was dissolved. The ruins of the priory formed the core of the present house, which was built in the early 17th century. The house changed hands many times through the centuries, with not much changing.

Queen Elizabeth II bed

In 1848 the Reverend John Hailstone bought the house and made various changes to it’s fabric, removing Jacobean dormer windows and creating the stable block. It was probably him who changed the name from Anglesey Priory to Abbey, the latter sounding far grander.

Urban Huttlestone Rogers Broughton (Lord Fairhaven) and his brother Henry bought the house in 1926. They had inherited £1million each when their father died, their family were very very wealthy Americans from oil refining. Urban was granted his Fathers Barony and became the 1st Baron of Fairhaven. The brothers agreed that the first to get married would sell their share to the other, so when Henry married in 1932 he sold his share to Urban. The house and estate complimented their horse stud at Barton and being close to Newmarket. Now they could enjoy the races in the summer along with shooting in the winter.

Between 1926 and 1930 the brothers altered the house, adding a new porch, spiral staircase and engine room. They also converted the stables into garages. In 1937 Lord Fairhaven extended the service wing and built the Library and in 1939 he added the Tapestry Hall. Money being no problem meant that anything that took Fairhavens fancy could be bought. This makes for an eclectic collection of objects and works of art.

Numerous paintings line the walls, collections giving rooms a theme. One corridor is filled with paintings by an artist Etty known for his historic nudes.

Numerous tapestries hang in corridors and down staircases. Some are old, others obviously commissioned with images of the house. There were one or two that seemed a little bit familiar as though elements had been included from the Marlborough Tapestries at Blenheim.

The Opening of Waterloo Bridge

But all eyes are encouraged towards the Library. A large high ceilinged room, books line the walls, desks each end and sofas by the fire. Opposite hangs the main feature. A couple of months ago the largest known painting Constable painted returned from being cleaned. The Opening of Waterloo Bridge 1817, now reveals crowds waving from buildings and one figure is thought to be the Price Regent as it is the only figure wearing a wig. The volunteer in the room was obviously very proud as he talked about it.

The Library was made from reclaimed ash from Waterloo Bridge

If you peek through the leaded windows behind the desk you can make out graffiti, etched by Fairhavens guests. Several of the royal family’s names appear here, sadly my photos didn’t come out, Elizabeth R is there.

Down below stairs the kitchens are open for viewing. An old range is accompanied by several electric cookers. Behind the bars in the safe sit shelves of crockery and a bust of Winston Churchill.

When Fairhaven entertained, three guests his preferred number, dinner would be served at 8.03 in the dinning room, giving the guests three minutes to walk from where they’d had pre-dinner drinks. Then every evening just before 9pm a radio was brought through to the dinning table on a sliver tray so that the news could be listened to.

A house that went on and on, room after room filled with such an eclectic collection of alsorts and then a garden that stretches on for what feels like mile after mile and then some more. What a place, what a very rich chap!

Lunch

After the house we retired to the cafe for a jacket potato each and a pot of tea. Another walk round the grounds, taking in the Mill this time, sadly it’s closed at the moment. Then it was time to walk back to catch the bus back and give Tilly a head nudge or two.

Us

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 1 huge house, 1 even larger garden, 2 avenues, 56545378 moths, 1 lizard orchid, 8ft Constable, 1 cat up high, 1 parrot, 1 replica ceiling, 2 jackets, 1 mill, 1 very good day out, now it’s time to go boating again.

A Tale Of Two Colleges. 23rd June

Fort St George, Cambridge

When in a University city such as Oxford or Cambridge we feel we should visit a college or two. With a lot to choose from we chose two which couldn’t be more different from each other.

The choir

First was the tourist attraction of Kings College. I wanted to visit the college as it is where a chorister kicks off Christmas Eve singing Once in Royal Davey Daddies City. To be honest I hadn’t come across this until Mick came into my life, now every year either the TV or radio are on for us to listen. The chapel is also quite a visual treat.

The way in

Entrance is best booked in advance, if you can book a week in advance you’ll get £1 off your ticket. The entrance is down Senate House Passage which leads to the north door of the chapel.

Just look at that!

As soon as you walk in the ceiling and stained glass grab your eyes. I love fan vaulting so I was always going to enjoy our visit. A sit down was needed to appreciate the pleasing structure way over head. One area caught the eye, a very smiley sun just off symmetry, a helium balloon that someone had lost grip of. I wonder how long it will take for it to loose it’s attraction to the ceiling?

King Henry VI laid the foundation stone in 1444, King’s one of his two ‘royal and religious’ foundations, the other being Eton. Both the school and college were to admit a maximum of 70 scholars drawn from poor backgrounds, boys from Eton were guaranteed entry to Kings. From his original plans only the chapel was ever built and that took almost a century. Subsequent Kings took on the college, it’s building paused during the Wars of the Roses.

Lots of light and detail everywhere

The anti-chapel is overwhelmingly carved. Half crowns stand out from the walls, back lit. Tudor heraldic emblems fill every space left around the stained glass windows.

The west window

The dark oak screen which houses the organ was a gift from Henry VIII and bears his and Anne Boleyn’s initials. It’s not as elaborate as many choir screens, but not many date back to this time. He also commissioned the stained glass windows for the north, south and east sides of the chapel, split in two with Old Testament at the top and new Testament below. Sitting looking up at them there is a lot of bright blue sky.

You get big choirs in Cambridge

The choir stalls line the sides, seats going on forever, no wonder the choir is famed.

Rubens

Below the East window stands The Adoration of the Magi, painted by Rubens in 1634. During my A level Art I studied Rubens, I think the best essay I ever wrote at school was about his portrayal of naturally curved women.

Dodgems at Dawn

You then get the chance to walk around some of the outside areas. Today the Front Court was off bounds as the May Ball was being cleared away. It appears that this years thing is bumper cars, we came across them elsewhere in Cambridge today too. The gatehouse and screen, separate the college from the city’s streets and it’s people, the architecture ornate and delicate dates from the 1820s.

Flower meadow

Behind the court lies the Back Lawn, the majority grass. Don’t stand on it whatever you do! Then directly in front of Kings Chapel the grass has been sewn with wild flowers, a sea of waist high daisies with paths leading down to the River Cam. Very pretty and tasty for the bees.

As we crossed over the Bridge we looked back, the whole place shouted MONEY at us. We’d done THE tourist college with it’s spectacular ceiling and old masters, and Keep of the grass signs, now it was time for something very different.

Murray Edwards College

On the north west side of the city, up Huntington Road lies Murray Edwards College. Originally founded as New Hall in 1954, the first year had just 16 women students in buildings on Silver Street, it set out to try and address the low number of women undergraduates at Cambridge University . It was able to relocate to Huntington Road when the Darwin family donated their home The Orchard. The college buildings were opened in 1964 with the capacity for 300 students. In 2005 the college was renamed after it’s first President Dame Rosemary Murray and Ros and Steve Edwards who made a large donation to the college.

Fountain Court

Architects Chamberlain, Powell and Bon had designed the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates in London, they were chosen along with the builders WC French who had built the original motorway bridges on the M1. See, I told you it was completely different.

The Dome

The dining hall known as The Dome is made up of precast concrete, 4 inches thick, flanged so that they overlap each other with glass panels in between. The dome soars high above the first floor, your eye naturally pulled to it’s centre. Four staircases spiral down to the ground and lower floors, one in each corner.

More of the Fountain Court

Large wooden glazed doors invite you into rooms where the texture of the concrete has either been left ruff almost like the sea bed, or polished smooth. Cream brickwork on curved walls surrounds the Fountain Court with its blue lined troughs of water and of course it’s fountains.

Long glazed corridors with large windows, many open today for fresh air create open walkways from parts of the college to the next. For me this was reminiscent of parts of York University and parts of the house my Dad built as our family home.

The Porter was very friendly, gave us both a sticker for the Women’s Art Collection along with a big white folder with details of where we could go and the artworks held within the college and it’s 14 acres of gardens, and yes we’d be allowed to walk on the grass!

The collection is formed of modern and contemporary art by women, the largest of it’s kind in Europe. It was founded in 1986 and has expanded since then with donations and loans from artists. The college houses more than 500 works, including pieces by Barbara Hepworth, Tracy Emin, Rebecca Fortnum to name just a few. Every corner you turn there is another work, at the bases of staircases sculptures sit.

As we left we turned round, numerous potted plants sitting on the front steps a black cat lurking in there somewhere, we decided that we preferred it here to Kings. More inclusive, relaxed, warm, arty, airy, grass between your toes friendly. Well worth a visit and it’s free! Thank you Bridget for pointing us in the colleges direction.

Todays Menu

We now walked back into the city, one last thing on the list of essential things to do in Cambridge to tick off the list, Jack’s Gelato!

That’s better!

The queue was far shorter late afternoon and it was just the right length to have made the very hard decision of which flavour to have. To save any bickering between us we both chose Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt. Mick had a standard waffle cone, I paid the extra for a gluten free one, a rare thing! We sat down on the wall outside King’s College our backs turned towards the money and enjoyed our well earned chilled medication.

0 locks, 1 walked over twice, 0 miles, 7 miles walked, 2 colleges, 513 years apart, 1 spectacular ceiling, 1 mesmerising ceiling, 1 organ screen, 1 walkway of roses, 1 Ruben, 2 Tracy Emin and a Barbara Hepworth, £11, £0, 2 chilled medications well deserved.

We Don’t Do Boats. 14th July

St Pancras Cruising Club

Mick rang back a company he’d tried yesterday to see when an engineer might be able to come out to look at our dead washer/dryer. We’d been given several options yesterday regarding payment and we’d decided that £125 to fix it wasn’t too bad, a new one being at least £300, if they couldn’t fix it then £55 would be the call out charge. However when he tried calling the department to see when they would be able to visit the phone just rang and rang and rang. He gave up.

Not much of a view in St Pants

Google suggested several other firms. ‘Sorry we don’t cover that area’ was quite a common response. Others suggested they’d be able to get someone out to us this afternoon. ‘What’s your postcode?’ This was given, handy to be at the Cruising Club and have an address. Then Mick would say we were on a boat. ‘Oh, we don’t do boats. Houses yes, boats no!’

St Pancras Lock

A notice was put on the London Boaters group, but the only suggestion was to buy a new one as they are so cheap now. We’d rather see if it can be mended, but we might just be giving someone some money to look at a totally dead machine.

Eventually a company was found who didn’t have a problem coming out to us on a boat. An appointment made for tomorrow afternoon. Mick called the Harbour Master, Tony to see if we could stay a bit longer in the basin. This was fine and a key holder for the gate into the car park would be found to let the engineer in.

Mick headed off to find a new connecting hose for the washing machine, a longer one would help when pulling it out from it’s cupboard. 2.5m would do and be handy even if we end up having to buy a new machine.

Hello!

Back onboard I, at last, had a chat with Gemma (Production Manager for Panto). We talked painting the set, a quote for more than my design fee had come in from a scenic artist. I know you can earn more money painting than designing, but when I’d already said I’d paint the show for a top up on my fee! Logistics in our pandemic world make things a little more complicated than before, but hopefully with a bit of thought things will work out.

Not being much of an assistant

I decided that as we wouldn’t be moving today that I’d do some work. The drawing board came out and my assistant sat by and watched as I drew up some basic plans for the set of #unit 21. This didn’t take too long, I just need to get them scanned now and sent off for a friend in Leeds to give me a quote.

Mick had another trip to make to Christine’s. A new propmate had arrived for us to replace the one now sat on the bottom of Limehouse Basin. The design has changed a bit since we bought our original one. Now made from pipe with a bent handle and it comes with a wrist strap already attached! Hopefully this one will be with us for longer than the old one.

Being cooped up in the boat all day I had a walk around the Kings Cross development. A meander of a walk took me through the new buildings, many empty. Landscaping and seating is everywhere making for a green environment.

Wish I could look inside

I walked past York Road Station, one of the original stations on the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. Opened in 1906 it was designed by Leslie Green and connected to the platforms by two lifts. It closed in 1932, discussions have been made about reopening it, but as it’s quite close to Kings Cross the £21million (2005 estimate) needed to bring it up to modern day standards it is unlikely to happen.

Cinema across the water

A cinema screen plays to an audience on the steps across the canal. A couple of films are shown a day along with the Tour De France at lunchtimes. All the restaurants and bars were packed, as much as they can be and the whole area had a hubhub about it.

Art covers walls and expensive shops fill an area which used to be full of railway lines delivering coal.

It being Wednesday night it was club night at the Waterpoint the old water tower that overlooks the basin. A glass of wine and being sociable was on the cards, hopefully with a visit to the roof of the tower.

Looking SW

Our luck was in and we got shown up onto the roof. From here views down to St Pancras Station, BT tower, a bit of the London Eye and the numerous cranes which are on the site of the new Google building.

Looking SSE

Northwards is mostly railways and tower blocks, but all the same with the sun gradually going down it was still quite a sight.

Ballcock

The roof is what used to be the water tank which used to hold 17,000 gallons of water which was used to fill the tanks of the steam locomotives. In one corner is the ballcock, pretty much like a toilet ballcock only far bigger!

St Pancras Station

The tower used to be situated along the lines at St Pancras, however it was in the way of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link HS1 so it had to be moved. The tower was split into three, the top two layers moved to behind the lock cottage. A new bottom third was built and the top two thirds were craned in on top. The Cruising Club are custodians of the water tower, it is currently their club house. You’ll find it open to the public several times a year.

Looking NNE

The whole area around Kings Cross was a huge coal depot. Where the basin is now used to have railtracks running over the top of it. The gas holders have been moved from their original site and new buildings built within them to suggest the old tanks. Using this link you can see how much the area has changed since 1892 by sliding the button on the bottom left.