Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network
Frank

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested! https://oleanna.co.uk/2019/05/23/the-plan-20th-may/

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.

Finished!

On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.

Cornwall

Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.

Pasty

Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.

Pantotastic

Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.

Family

Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.

Christmas

In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

Oozells To Look At. 4th January

Oozells Street Loop

The chap across the way had been running his engine until 11pm both nights we’d been moored opposite the giraffe. The first night we considered going over to see if everyone was alright on board, but it’s quite a long way round. So on the second evening we were relieved to hear the engine going, but not for the length of time it ran for! So this morning we decided to move.

NB Sola Gatia had been round on the Oozells Loop along with another boat, both had moved off. So we decided to move round the corner and see if it would be any quieter, less foot fall for certain.

Oozells Street Loop

There was plenty of room for us, so we chose to tie up in the middle, leaving room for boats infront and behind, but we’d be away from both bridges.

In the afternoon we headed into town. Should we walk down into the Jewellery Quarter to look at museums? Go to the Art Gallery? Or go to the top of the Library?

There’s Lillian down there, lovely and yellow

Back in October 2014 Mick had discovered the wonderful gardens and views from the library whilst I was working. He even managed to get a photo of NB Lillyanne (Lillian) moored at Cambrian Wharf. When I had free time we tried again, but high winds meant we could only stay indoors as the gardens were closed.

Going up
and up

Today we went to the top, to the viewing gallery and the Shakespeare Library. Then we walked down the 90 steps to the garden. From here we could see for miles. If we hadn’t moved Oleanna this morning we’d have got a photo of her too from up here, but now she was tucked away behind the Sealife Centre.

No Lillian today
The boat with the noisy engine on the right

Below was busy and the new trams came and went from the station.

New trams

It was a touch late in the afternoon by now to pay to go into a museum, so we opted for the Art Gallery and headed straight for the Pre-Raphelites and Burne Jones. Mick said we’d been before, but neither of us could remember when. It turns out that after we’d been to see Dippy the dinosaur we had a little look round, that was only 18 months ago!

She is meant to be asleep

The same paintings caught my eye. One study for Burne Jones painting Briar Rose is my favourite, I prefer it to the final painting.

A study in perpsective

But this time we also got to see a bit more of the display. Superduperspective by Patrick Hughes could not be ignored. It’s first view should be straight on, an image of paintings from the gallery in two corridors. But then as you move round you realise the whole thing is 3D and painted in such away to trick your eye. When fooled the furthest parts of the painting are actually the closest to you. Very clever use of shading, but a touch nauseating too.

But the wrong way round

0 locks, the same 0.14 miles mentioned yesterday, 150 yards from engines running, 1 library, 1 art gallery, 100 Euros, 1 adaptor, 1 bored asleep cat, 1 sock finished.

Very pretty

Door To The Imagination. 24th August

Radcot Meadow to Kelmscott Manor

Webs

The spiders overnight work was being shown off by the morning dew, a very pretty sight to open the curtains to.

Radcot Bridge

Not far today, but we were still up and away early to hopefully find a mooring. Passing all the glamping teepees and tents by Radcote Bridge (the oldest on the Thames) we wondered how many slices of pig were being fried up for breakfast.

Rowing

A rowing boat was heading towards us, nothing surprising there. This turned out to be a novice team rowing from Lechlade to Teddington raising funds for the NSPCC. Their back up team running the towpath warned that they weren’t so good at steering, well they’ll have a problem when they come to the next twists and turns!

Wonderful view

After a mile and a half we reached Grafton Lock, although on self service there was a Lockie doing his checks, he opened up the bottom gates and worked us up. Another boat appeared from above which he worked down too, how long would it be before he could head off to the next lock?

The cratch will remain rolled up tonight
That rope will help us to get up the bank

Today the Twists and turns have been replaced by pill boxes, they felt as though they were every few hundred yards as we made our way to where we wanted to moor, The easy moorings were full, round the bend was full also. Signs on posts stood high above the friendly cover so it looked like there might be more places to moor round the next bend. We pulled into the cover, no chance of me getting off at the bow, but Mick managed with a scramble.

Pinned in at the front and tied round the post at the stern we had a handy rope to help clamber up the bank. Why here? Why not go on further? Well just through the trees we could see the reason Kelmscott Manor, William Morris’s holiday home.

Kelmscott Manor

In 1871 William Morris and fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti took out a years lease on the house, it was to provide them with a country retreat away from London and the pressures of work. Originally built around 1570 the Elizabethan house had captured Morris’s imagination. The lease was continued, Rossetti moving out in 1874 being replaced by Frederick Startridge Ellis, Morris’s publisher.

By the Brewhouse door

The house and surrounding area gave inspiration to Morris for 25 years, influencing his poetry, textiles, wallpaper designs. The traditional architecture of the area reinforced his convictions about the integrity of craft-based work and design and the importance of conserving ancient buildings for future generations.

From the croquet lawn

Morris managed to secure a 20 year lease of the house and later after his death in 1896, Jane his wife continued to be a tenant moving from London to live in the house full time. In 1913 she managed to buy the freehold of the manor along with 9 1/2 acres of land. In 1914 May, their daughter, inherited the house and in 1938 when she died she left the house to Oxford University. By the 1960’s The Society of Antiquaries of London was looking after the house and serious works were needed to save it from major problems with the stone slating and wall masonry, damp and timber decay. Much work was carried out and by 1967 the house was ready for it’s new lease of life and to have visitors.

The Green room which currently isn’t green

Entrance to the house is by timed entry ticket, this gave us enough time to look at some of the grounds and the posh William Morris tat in the shop. A one way route round the house was in operation and volunteers guided you through the house and were on hand to answer questions.

Table and chairs

Many items have remained with the house from Morris’s time and before. These items living up to Morris’s maxim, Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. That reminds me we need to reapply this to Oleanna.

Burne-Jones zodiac drawing
Rossetti portrait of Jane

Morris fabric hangs from many walls, and wonderful embroideries by his wife and daughter accompany drawings by Burne-Jones, Rossetti, and furniture from other Arts and Crafts designers. Albercht Durer and Breughel works hang on walls all important influences on Morris.

Sussex
Chairs

Various styles of Sussex chairs with their dark wood, rattan or rush seats sit comfortably all around the house.

Light
Window latch

Tapestries. light fittings with reflectors.

Reflecting upstairs

A circular mirror hangs on the staircase wall echoing the Portrait of John Arnolfini and his Wife by Jan Van Eyck.

Windows
framing views

Windows framing views of the garden literally held in place by the window catches.

Intricate embroidery

A recent acquisition is the wonderful ‘The Homestead and the Forest’ cot quilt. A circular Thames encircles Kelmscott Manor and outside are animals from across the world.

Meow
Grrr

Lions, cats, flamingos, crocodiles.

Loft steps

A loft staircase, takes you up to the attic rooms. Here is what captured Morris’s heart and ours.

Look at those beams

The rooms below are very nice with great views, but you really can’t beat the slopping roof and exposed beams of an attic room.

You just have to mind your head

This house doesn’t just have one room up here, it has several. I’d quite happily live up on the top floor of the house. What wonderful rooms.

A door painted by the Scott-Snells

A steep spiral staircase brings you down the house, pausing at first floor level there was a display of paintings by Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell who leased the house for a few years after May died. Then back down to the ground floor.

Built to accommodate three

The gardens are worth a view too, a brewhouse, three seated privy, a mulberry tree and Medlar tree sit around the house.

The Mulberry tree

We could have headed back to the boat for lunch but decided on sampling the cafe. My usual safe jacket potato was followed by a very nice slice of gluten free carrot cake, Micks coffee and walnut cake also got the thumbs up, all at reasonable prices.

William in contemplation

A look around the village was next. More lovely houses with their tile stone roofs. Past the pub to St George’s Church. A simple small village church where William Morris, his wife and two daughters are buried. Interesting that William gets a loop on his M’s on the stone, but the others don’t.

M with a loop

Inside the church is simple, but hidden behind the small organ in the north transept are medieval wall paintings dating from before 1280 depicting Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.

Medieval paintings

Normally when we visit churches of this size we are the only visitors, possibly for days, but today we had plenty of company. Shame we were the only ones to pop some coins through the whole in the wall to help with the upkeep.

St George’s

The manor was well worth a visit. This year it has been open from April to the end of August on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Only two more days to visit this year. Then the whole operation will close down for major works to take place enabling them to accommodate more visitors and do much needed remedial works on the house. If all is going well they will open for limited time next year, but the house will reopen to visitors in 2021 the 150th anniversary of when William Morris first moved to the house.

Which way?

After avoiding the hot outside all day, then avoiding the woofers and people, then avoiding the wobbly lads on day boats I headed out to see what I could see. I’d been warned that the friendly cover shouldn’t be pounced in as this outside might be missing some floor in places. So I headed across the field to a large wood pile. This was very interesting to climb and poke my arms in. A few friends kept me amused for a while but it was all over too quickly when She came calling for me.

Morris’s bed

1 lock, 3.04 miles, 0 bacon for us, 1 clambering mooring, 12:10 entry, 1 Elizabethan house, 3 floors, 2 peacocks, 1 wonderful attic, 2 slices cake, 2 cups of tea, 3 seated loo, 200 lbs of Mulberries, 1 little church, 4 in one, 3 hours, 1 big log pile, 1 cooling breeze, 1 cardigan back to where it should be.