Category Archives: Baking

Self Catering. 3rd April

Lockdown Mooring 2

Time to wake my sourdough starter up this morning. I let it warm up when out of the fridge and then gave it a feed popping it on the proving shelf, high up to do it’s stuff. It bubbled up, but not as far as it has done in the past, so I may need to keep feeding it for a couple of days before it’s really good for baking again. A shame really as I was keen to get a loaf baked so that a hefty hint could be put in for a cooked breakfast one morning soon, poached eggs so need to be on a slice of toast! At least it will give me time to work out which recipe to try next as I now have no sorghum flour.

Mid morning an email I’d been hoping for popped into my Inbox. Will, the producer at Chipping Norton was getting in touch regarding this years panto, Rapunzel. If the health of the world improves over the next few months they will be forging ahead with panto. Would I be interested in designing it? A different contract to normal due to the virus and uncertainty as to whether the show will be able to go ahead which is totally understandable. They are hoping that by August they will be able to make a decision, if they give it a green light then it will be full steam ahead.

Rapunzel at Chippy

I have said that as soon as a script is ready I’d like to make a start, even if it doesn’t go ahead. Something creative to keep my mind busy would be appreciated. Anyway I’d only be able to get so far with it before needing model making materials, cereal boxes are just a bit too flimsy.

Heading to pick up the shopping

Mid afternoon it was time for Mick to head off and pick up our shopping, blimey I’d forgotten how bright his cycling coat was! Off he headed down the towpath to join the A51 towards Sainsburys. I took advantage of having an empty table and stuck the model for The Garden together and took photos.

Just the right amount

It looked like we’d got the amount of shopping just about right for the Brompton bag and a rucksack. All our shopping had been put in plastic bags, I think this is standard practice at the moment due to coronavirus. A shame that whilst other pollutants decrease in use that plastic bags are making a come back.

I was ready to disinfect things that needed to come inside. Other items were left in a bag on the stern under the pram cover, they’ll stay there for three days before being brought in. Having the pram cover is great at the moment, we can leave anything out there for long enough should anything have been picked up on coats or shopping.

Tilly Tumbles on the towpath

My sister-in-law Jac called and we had a long catch up about her escape from Australia last weekend. Getting a flight home had been one problem, but because she has an Australian passport she also needed a form to be filled in by the equivalent of our Home Office for her to be allowed to board the plane to come back to England. This took quite a bit of doing and it was just as well it arrived back just in time as her passport was double checked at the airport.

Cute cat

She’s settled back at home now. There were no guidelines for quarantine from the government on her return, so she’s not being kept in the garden room for two weeks. Instead she’s been thrown into the mass of extra accountancy needed by the company she works for to claim things from the government. She’s not sure how long her work will continue for but at the moment there is plenty to keep her busy.

with Murder in her eyes

The London Leckenbys were looking forward to an Indian take away this evening. That is the downside of being out in the sticks on a boat, no take aways and no chips. This of course is good for us, but boy would I like some nice chips! Tilly on the other hand doesn’t need to have her food delivered, as she’s moved into catering for herself. Today I have witnessed the devouring of two small friends who’d been invited home for dingding! They were just an appetiser as she still insisted on us feeding her!

Courgette and Greens pilaff

This evening after we’d eaten, we headed to the National Theatre to enjoy One Man Two Guvnors via YouTube. A very funny adaptation by Richard Bean of The Servant of Two Masters by Goldoni, set in the 60’s. James Corden certainly earns his keep. It is still available to view until next Thursday. The only down side was an interval of only 30 seconds, far too short to get a glass of wine and some chilled medication, never mind a dash to the loo! However there is always the pause button.

Our view this evening

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles by bike, 4 plastic bags, 0 boxes of wine this time, 1 model totally finished, 6 moving boats, 1 returning boat, 1 new panto, 4 fingers crossed, 0 chicken left, 2 self catered meals, 1 play, 2 sides split.

Was That A …. !? 2nd April

Lockdown Mooring 2

As we sat in bed with our cuppas this morning, the curtains of our large picture window (36″ by 18″ is large on a narrowboat) drawn open above our toes, a large furry shape dashed past. ‘Was that….. was that a horse?’ We tried peering out of the window at an acute angle, nothing could be seen. Then a few minutes later there it was again going in the opposite direction. If it wasn’t a horse the first time it certainly was now. My camera sat on the dinette table so my phone had to suffice as the horse/pony trotted on down the towpath on it’s own.

A Horse trotting on the towpath

Just where had it come from? On our walk the other day we’d seen a donkey in a field, but no horses. So it must have got onto the towpath quite a distance away. Hope it found it’s way home, we certainly didn’t see it again.

That was only the start of the days excitement.

Mick every now and then has a look to see if there are any delivery slots available at the supermarkets. This morning he spotted one with Morrisons in three weeks time. He grabbed it and checked our delivery details. Thanks to Jaq Biggs we have pin pointed a couple of places around Nantwich where deliveries worked for her in the past when she lived onboard NB Valerie. Normally with deliveries we book them and arrive the day before hoping there is space for us, there always has been up till now. Fingers crossed that there will be space on the embankment in three weeks time.

The fields around us have been turned over, what next

So our cuppas lasted longer in bed than usual as we put things into our basket. Some items not in stock, but we got enough to hold our delivery. Hopefully when we revisit in 19 days time milk will be back in stock! They were excited, but taking far too long over it! Where was my game of PEN!!! At least they added food for me. Plenty of wood pellets for the pooh box and some new odour control to add to it that we’re going to try, She said. We? Well I use shore based facilities now so have no need for such things, maybe they’ll add it into their pooh bucket.

Over breakfast there was even more excitement. Mick had been able to log into Sainsbury’s website and there was a Click and Collect slot available in Nantwich for tomorrow! Sainsbury’s have reserved all their delivery slots for the over 70s and high risk people, so we’d not been expecting one of those, but this would happily do us for the next week.

The Llangollen canal feeding the reservoir

We thought about what we would need to keep us going along with what would fit into our Brompton bag and a rucksack. Our Sunday chicken is still feeding us from last Sunday so it would be nice to have a change. A joint of lamb maybe, some fresh veg along with milk and bread. Mick will cycle the two miles to collect it tomorrow, so we are limited to what we can get. When we’d checked out we noticed that if we spent another few pounds then we wouldn’t be charged £4. So another few items fell into our basket.

What an exciting morning.

I had a read of a new script I’ve been sent. #Unit 21 will hopefully be the next Dark Horse show to tour this time next year. Not your average show, plenty of animated projections required, so someone who works in computer gaming has been part of the team for a while. Next week after my virtual production meeting for The Garden is over Amy and I will have a chat about the new show. I think I’m going to have to read it through a couple more times before then as it’s a little bit hard to get my head round in one sitting.

Late afternoon we walked up to Hurleston Locks. A route back via the A51 had been rejected as the road still looks like it is quite busy and without a footpath a risk to life so we headed for the reservoir instead.

Going up

A narrowboat had just gone up the first lock of the flight and was waiting for the second chamber to be opened up. Blimey it was windy! Even if the journey was essential, I don’t think we would have been doing so today! With wind and tooing and froing the chap kept forgetting to close paddles, but others managed to close them or pointed them out to him.

Blue and blustery

At the top lock we crossed over the wide plank on the top gate, no need to hold onto anything, we then climbed over the stile to join the path around the reservoir.

Views

The views from up there are fantastic, Oleanna just out of shot. We considered walking all the way round the water, but the wind was so blustery that it was doing it’s best to knock us off our feet. So instead we returned, pausing to wait for the narrowboat to finish at the locks. Here we met Barry who had succeeded in the full route round the reservoir, we managed to chat keeping our distance as we made our way back to our respective boats.

Still going up

Back on board we waited for the daily press conference on the BBC. We like to stay informed so watch them, but at times they are more party political broadcast than anything else. Look how good we are. 3 million lots of PPE (or whatever they quoted today) may sound a lot, but are they enough!!

The seed drill is out now

The last lot of my gluten free puff pastry had been defrosted during the day and was used to top a chicken and mushroom pie. This had to wait to be eaten until after 8pm as we wanted to join in with the round of applause. Oleanna beeped her horn and we applauded the masses who are working so hard. A distant boat horn could be heard in reply and the busy farmers in the fields tooted their horns too. We may be out in the middle of nowhere but we can still be heard.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 horse, twice, 1 delivery slot, 1 click and collect slot, 9 hours actually equates to 15 cat hours, 5 left, unit 21, 4 boats, 1 going up the locks, 1 very blowy day, 9 hellos to Lucy’s readers, 1/3 pastry, 1 chicken pie, just the stock to use now, 1 tractor, 1 seed drill, 8pm horn blowing, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Heads Above Water. 27th March

Lockdown Mooring 1 to Lockdown Mooring 2, Cornes Bridge 96.

Back on the 16th March just about every theatre in the land closed it’s doors to the public, by the 17th all venues were dark, only a ghost light left lit in the middle of many a stage. Since then theatre companies have been doing all sorts of things, many adding online material that can be accessed for free.

From Thursday next week the National Theatre will be launching National Theatre at Home. One of their shows will be available on line for 7 days, starting with One Man Two Guvnors staring James Corden.

Animated Objects Theatre Company in Scarborough known for their large scale community projects and giant puppets have added various art projects for families to do at home, including building a biplane from a toilet roll and a cereal box. If you fancy having a go, just scroll down their website and Lee will show you how to do it.

Other theatres have launched campaigns to help raise funds so that when Coronavirus is all over they will be able to open their doors once again for people to join together in one room to enjoy live theatre. One such theatre is Chipping Norton, with it’s Heads Above Water campaign.

Chippy got in touch with performers and creatives who’ve worked there over the last few years and asked them if they could produce something to go on their social media for World Theatre Day, which was today. Now, I’m not a performer and would rather not have to appear in shot, but wanted to do something for the day. I make models, so that’s what I did. If you listen carefully you’ll hear Tilly’s bell.

This morning my little offering was all over their social media, along with Dames singing ditties or showing off their patent leather boots, King Rat threatening to raid fridges for Cheddar!

Today we needed to do some essential travelling. Our water tank was getting low and we also would need some shopping in the next couple of days. So much to Tilly’s distain there was no shore leave this morning, instead we pushed off and headed towards the lock where the new (to us) water point is.

We had an escort

Coming towards us was a boat, the chap at the tiller was well away with the fairies, I did consider shouting out to him but he spotted us just in time to avoid running into us. Once we’d passed all our neighbours we pulled in and started to fill with water.

Chiff Chaff

A load of washing was on the go and Tilly’s pooh box got a good clean and fresh litter. Mick walked down to the Chandlers to see if they might just have some milk, which they did, a touch more expensive than it would have been at a supermarket, but it was here and meant we could hold off going to the shops for a day longer.

Hello Blossom

The tap didn’t have that much pressure so the tank would take a while to fill. I gave my brother a call to see if there was any news on Jac and plane tickets. A day ago she’d managed to get hold of a ticket back to the UK from Melbourne which would be leaving Monday lunchtime. The first Andrew had known about this was in the middle of the night when he had an alert from his bank asking how money had been spent on Jac’s account in Melbourne when she’d also paid to watch something on TV in Hackney! She is however going to be checking with the flight centre every day to see if she can get a flight earlier.

Lockdown Mooring 1, narrow towpath

Tank full, it was time for us to reverse to the winding hole, where we turned, passed our mooring from the last week and headed back to Barbridge Junction. I popped up to the bow to see if anyone was coming, clear both ways I waved Mick onwards and we turned towards Nantwich.

Barbridge Junction

Our hope was to find a space near to Hurleston Junction where the towpath is wider, then we might be able to sort the boat covers and do some jobs on Oleanna without constantly avoiding walkers. But as we got near three boats were tucked in before the junction and once through Bridge 97 the 2 day visitor moorings were just about full.

Loads of boats

A printed C&RT poster stood on a pole at the end to try to discourage towpath use. A chap busied himself cutting wood on his workbench. NB Mountbatten and Jellicoe were breasted up awaiting the locks up onto the Llangollen to reopen. Several dogs ran about enjoying themselves. We could have slotted in, but decided to see if another mooring on our map might be free.

Men still at work at the locks

We pootled onwards, the next spot occupied. A week ago there’d been half as many boats on this stretch. A short distance on we tried pulling in, the Shropie shelf keeping us a touch too far out for our tyre fenders. Through the next bridge and we tried again. We were in luck, here was better too due to fewer trees so the solar panels could earn their keep better.

Who thought the Shropie shelf would pay off

A late lunch and only a few hours for Tilly on the towpath. Here the path is wider and we have the added advantage of an extra 18 inches of Shropie shelf to help with our buffer zone.

Walking with Tilly

The sour dough pizza dough seemed to work quite well, it’s not as sour smelling as my old starter was. A large oven tray was covered with the dough and baked for 10 minutes before I added the toppings.

Sour dough pizza

Tuna, red onion, sweetcorn (with added peas!) and plenty of cheese. It turned out rather well a touch more bready than previous versions.

A Shropie sunset

0 locks, 3.62 miles, 0.3 in reverse, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 straight, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 2 pints milk, 1 sister-in-law booked to come home, 11 boats moving including us, 18 inches extra buffer, 1 walk with Tilly, 1 game of stone, 1 very large pizza with leftovers, 1 little film, 1 coal boat first up Hurleston Locks.

The Stuff Of Life. 26th March

Lockdown Mooring 1

My Dad, Fatso (as I used to call him), had a saying as he cut a slice of bread and passed it across the dining table speared on the end of the bread knife, The stuff of life at the point of death. Well we’ve not reached that point yet, but today I had a request to make some bread. Some full fat, glutenous bread. Luckily for Mick the baking drawer had a bag of flour for such emergencies, the use by date the end of the month.

So we might have stocked up on gf black pudding!

Whilst I was at it I woke my sour dough starter up and gave it a feed. My sorghum flour stash was nearly out, so I’m trying to ween it onto brown rice flour, with the hope that it will still be happy. A warm up, feed and it was left to start bubbling and expanding.

Rising

Micks loaf was mixed and kneaded then left to rise on the proving shelf, where it did it’s thing in an hour was knocked back put in a tin and left to rise again. Then into the oven, followed by five minutes out of it’s tin upside down.

My friend Graham sent through a quote to build the elements of the set for The Garden. This got me back looking at my budget and getting myself totally confused for a while. I’ll have another look in a few days once the model is finished.

The Stuff of Life

Mick hunted round for some boat insurance quotes, our premium seems to go up every year despite Oleanna no doubt loosing value. Specific questions regarding policies need to be answered before we commit to a company.

My attention turned to the little project I’d started yesterday. I now needed a cast for my little show. The last two years panto photographs were gone through and actors auditioned. Those selected were all made the same size, printed out and then cut round. Placards were updated and everyone fixed in position, so nobody could upstage the others.

Tilly bring her friends near

Now was the time to film some footage. But where? For it to work I built a little stage out of books on top of the thin cupboard between the galley and dinette. This meant I could raise and lower things. Camera position was next. My sewing box and the shoe box I keep model bits in were just about the right height.

All will be revealed tomorrow

Filming began. I hadn’t remembered my lines, I only had two!

The boat rocked as Mick stepped on and off the bow.

Tilly decided to come home and see what was happening.

The timer on the oven kept binging.

But in the end after numerous takes I got a couple that were good.

The evening was spent editing. I’d hoped I could crop the sides of the footage, but this simply wasn’t within my skill set so I would have to cope with lots of people seeing our mountain of washing up in the background, along with the oven fan and Tilly ringing her bell!

Christmas tree, ash can and bucket positioned to help with social distancing

Ten boats have come past today, two winding and returning. One pulled in nearer the bridge behind us. A few boats that have been moored here have moved off, presumably heading to do some shopping. We’ll need to move tomorrow for water and then shopping too. Hopefully we’ll find another mooring that is deemed good for Tilly, although I think a day inside catching up on her sleep is called for.

A third stamp of approval?

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 65 C&RT notices regarding only essential movement being allowed, 10 boats, 2 kayaks, 1 loaf bread, 1 pizza dough fermenting, 1 fridge nearly bare, 22 takes, 1 edited, 1 whatsap’d for tomorrow, 3 Insurance quotes, 0 news on Jac, bakers dozen cast, 1 cat upstaging, 15 minutes at home, 1 plus friends consumed.

Paw Hygiene. 18th March

Cool Pilots, not that I’ve seen any!

Paw Hygiene

Tom cut into the bread She made yesterday.

Nice looking loaf

She seemed to be quite pleased with it, it looked a touch boring to me, no good crunchy bits at body temperature. She and Tom decided to have a cooked breakfast and with that I was told I had 8 and a half hours. Woo Hoo!! Brilliant!

Not enough meat for my liking

Blimey it’s squelchy this outside! Last night it had rained and it kept trying to today, but that didn’t matter I was too busy to notice. I decided I’d have a treat dingding too, so went off to see who was around in the sideways trees.

Look at that squelchyness

It took a while but I managed to have a first and second course for morning dingding, a snack late morning too. She wouldn’t let me stock pile though, I’m not allowed to bring friends home and not allowed to leave them on the roof for later, Pah! What happens if we tie up BUMingham again!?

This stretch was particularly good

Tom spent sometime trying to find the lady up our chimney. He took everything out of the stove. Cleaned the glass so much that it disappeared!

Look it’s gone!

Put the in/outy bit back together with the hope that he’d be able to tickle the lady out. He then prodded the big brush down from outside. That didn’t work either, so he tried the vacuum cleaner!

Will she come out of there?
No sign of her yet

Still nothing, he eventually lit the fire again. Either she’d vanished over night or Tom would smoke her out. At least she’s stopped whistling.

How did that happen?

She is very unhappy with my paw hygiene. I was told I had to come home every now and then to show myself, so I did, several times. I get some Dreamies too, which I just managed to squeeze into my tummy. Lets face it there’s always room for Dreamies.

I didn’t do that!

She blamed me for the table getting all dirty. She blamed me for making the cushions all muddy. She blamed me for a filthy floor.

Paw hygiene included between your toes apparently

Then when I sit down to have a good wash I’m instructed to make sure I wash between my toes and to sing a song whilst doing it. I’d rather recite poetry. The first verse is all you need though!

There are lots of things people are doing to try to keep busy. You can watch the stars now during the day. Listen to radio programmes from around the globe. Watch plays. Listen to folk music (you may have to join the group). Have a walk around art galleries whilst sitting down!

All my own work

I decided to create a painting. She wasn’t happy with that either! Little does she know I did one on the bathroom window too!

An hour before my curfew we all settled down in front of the stove to see what was to be said today on the TV. More about social distancing and kids not having to go to school anymore. Have to say I’m not doing too well on the social distancing bit, it is so hard as my friends are just far too tasty!

It’s dry under here

Having exhausted my friends and myself, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. She finished making a lasagne for their dingding. She was quite proud of it, all made from scratch. She says she doesn’t need pasta from the shops anymore. What she does need is flour that isn’t flour and that apparently is in short supply too.

Totally homemade

As much as my dingding smelt nice I was just a touch too full to enjoy it.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 aviator shades, 2 boats gone, 3 friends, shhh it was 5 really, 1 long sideways tree, 1 squelchy outside, 0 lady up the chimney, 1 loaf bread, 1 lasagne, 15,000 and something in Ocado queue, 1 well deserved Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval.

Whistling Away. 17th March

Audlem between locks 11 and 12 to Coole Pilate Visitor Moorings

A sliced loaf of bread was found at the Co-op whilst Tilly stretched her legs outside. I finished off making a ball of gluten free pasta which will get turned into Lasagna tomorrow and fed my sourdough starter to get it all bubbly and frothy ready to make bread. Then a load of washing was put on.

Homemade buckwheat pasta

There was a chap in the engine bay of the boat ahead, the one that had broken down yesterday. The oil Mick had given them had ended up in the bilges, an O ring needed replacing and with that done the engine was fixed.

This morning we conferred with other boaters about what we should do with coronavirus escalating. It was good to hear someone else’s measured opinion, we were in agreement to continue cruising. Out if interest Mick checked for any available slots for online shopping at places along the Shropie. No slots available in the next three weeks from all the supermarkets and Ocado we were 7889th in the queue! We’ll be walking to get shopping.

I sent an email to Dark Horse to see if any decisions had been made regarding the show I’m working on for them. Most of their actors are likely to be in the high risk category so rehearsals will be cancelled. Later in the day I got a reply, the actors would be finishing tomorrow, then on Thursday a plan would be formulated, the outcome of this would be relayed to me on Monday, totally understandable. The model can stay safe and sound in a cupboard until then.

Just below the lock

It was approaching midday when we pushed off. Just as I walked up to the next lock I could see a lady with a windlass in hand coming up to the lock which was empty. We opened the gates and chatted away. They were on a Chas Harden hire boat and doing the four counties ring in two weeks. The bywash below the lock was a touch of a surprise to the chap at the helm.

Enjoy your holiday

Once we were down I was left to close the lock whilst Mick pulled Oleanna onto a mooring on the offside. It’s so much easier to empty the yellow water tank moored up on the port side. Once the tank was empty we pushed over to the water point outside The Shropie Fly.

A few enjoying the sun and a drink at safe distance

It was good to see people sat drinking up the sun and pints, not many but a few were spaced out at the tables. Tilly kept them amused by sitting in a window and keeping an eye on them.

Only one high lighted pooh on the whole flight

We were just beaten to the lock by a shareboat and then waited for another boat to come up from the next lock down. We swapped with then and then swapped with another boat in the next pound. It’s always busy along here, but we are always the last boat through so there’s nobody around to help us.

What a lovely view

Once down the bottom lock we toyed with mooring with the great view but decided to carry on to Coole Pilate. The wind got up, it got chilly, but then despite it’s strength straight across the canal Oleanna resisted the push, so some engine had to be used to get us into the side.

The visitor mooring here is long, currently there are four boats all spaced out with plenty of room for others to join. Should we need to we’ll happily nudge up to the nosy neighbours in front.

Our nosy neighbours

Tilly headed off to explore after claiming several of the picnic benches as hers. I mixed up my loaf and set it to rise for six hours on the proving shelf, it wasn’t as sticky as last time.

Outside the wind picked up and for the first time our chimney started to whistle! Maybe the height of the flue and angle of the wind were just perfect for it. All evening it continued, only one note mind. Mick tried adjusting things, he even lowered the flue to the short length, this altered the note by a semitone. The only way to stop it was by opening the stove door! Needless to say we put up with the noise instead.

4 locks, 2.37 miles, 1 plastic loaf, 1 sourdough loaf, 1 batch cookies, 1 ball of pasta, 7889th, 3 uphill boats, 1 downhill, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 1 cat with crossed paws, 1 orange pooh, 1 windy blowy afternoon, 1 nosy woofer, 2 hours shore leave, 4 muddy paws, 1 whistling chimney, 1971 Mrs Didcock on Blue Peter, enjoy.

The Downward Trend. 16th March

Coxbank Moorings to Audlem between locks 11 and 12.

Mick had just put his dressing gown on this morning and walked through to put the kettle on when a chap stopped for a conversation. Were there any shops? Yes down in Audlem. Their boat had broken down, their gear box didn’t have any oil in it. Mick got dressed and went out to see if he could help, taking with him the bottle of left over oil from engine services. They topped up the gear box and they continued on their way. The boat is an old one, but new to them.

Morning!

Over breakfast another three boats headed down hill, no point rushing we’d be resetting the locks anyway.

Straight into the flight, the boat ahead of us was only one lock down with another boat in front of them. No point in walking on to set the next lock as it was already full with a boat sat in it.

Having a rest before helping at the lock

A local old fella walked up and had a chat. He walks the flight every morning, sits on the bench at the top for five minutes before returning back down the flight in time for the pub to open. We did our best to keep our distance, but he insisted on helping with the bottom gates. A lovely fellow.

The boat ahead lifted paddles for us on just about all the locks once they’d closed the bottom gates. A cheery wave back and forth for acknowledgment.

Waiting our turn above

Progress was slow, then even slower. The downhill pack had met an uphill boat, a hire boat. We joined the boat ahead of us in the next pound to wait and I loitered to help close the bottom gates with the lady from the hire boat coming up.

Joining the downward trend

Then we’d just manged to space ourselves out again when another boat was coming up. I zoomed in on my camera. Down the flight I could hear a ‘putput’ engine. As the boat rose in a lock the chap stepped off, climbed in the hold and reappeared with a bag of coal on his shoulder. A coal boat. But which one?

Working our way down

Not in need of diesel, a gas bottle still with a few days left and the sunny day making us wonder if we would be needing any more coal this year (I know I’ve tempted fate now) we decided to wait until we hopefully see NB Halsall and not in the middle of a flight of locks.

Good to see Mountbatten

The boat rose in another chamber and it was obvious that it was NB Mountbatten. We’d met Richard and Ruth whilst on the Llangollen a couple of winters ago. Soon afterwards NB Mountbatten had come down Hurleston Locks and so far has not been able to return. The bottom lock has for years been getting narrower and narrower, excluding older boats with a touch of spread. Richard has continued doing deliveries up the canal by van, but had to trade by boat along the Shropie main line.

Looking back up the flight

However this winter Hurleston Bottom Lock has been rebuilt by C&RT. A few days ago we saw on facebook that NB Mountbatten had been invited to give the newly built lock a go. They ascended the lock about half way and fitted. They are now looking forward to getting back onto the Llangollen to trade by boat again, still a little while before the Hurleston flight reopens, but I’m sure they will be the first up the locks.

Gradually getting closer

Back at Audlem we finished descending the main thick of the flight and pulled in in the sunshine. The side hatch was opened to let fresh air in, the back doors left open and Tilly came and went. The bank by the towpath is really quite good in this outside, I can be busy without too many woofers causing me concern. What a lovely spring day.

No Chilled Medication for cats though!

A walk to the bins, a look around the book shop and then up to the shops for a few bits. We managed to support the local butcher by buying a red pepper and the co-op provided us with milk, potatoes but no bread.

In the craft section of the book shop

Mick tuned in the TV and the afternoons news came on. Boris Johnson giving us the news regarding new measures concerning Coronavirus. Measures that will see our older friends stuck at home for their safety. Then ‘Social Distancing’, avoid going to pubs, theatres, large gatherings. All measures we understand to help contain the curve of the virus. But within an hour a large proportion of my friends in the theatre world were out of jobs, theatres closing across the country.

What a face

During the evening we have thought about our plans. We will continue to cruise so long as nothing stops us from doing so. If restrictions come in that stop us moving then we will find a section of canal where we have services and access to shops, Tilly will just have to cope with the same outside for some time. Various facebook groups are being set up along stretches of canals so that local communities of boaters can look out for each other. We’ll be looking for them as we travel and seeing if we can help.

9 locks, 0.84 miles, 1 boat rescued, 1 boat broken down again, 2 ahead, 2 passed, 4 hours! 2 friends, 1 pepper, 1 bag potatoes, 2 pints milk, 2 lego models, 1 step further, 1 loaf started, 1 batch of pasta started, wonder if my sourdough will produce toilet paper? 1 crazy world.