Category Archives: Batteries

A Breakdown In Communications. 29th May

Above Days Lock to Wallingford

Not the best nights sleep. Yesterdays heavy rain made for a twitchy night. Had we been wise to moor here on pins? How high would the river come up in response to the rain? Were our ropes loose enough for fluctuating levels? How would the flow be when we came to move? Should we move? Sooner rather than later?

A lovely morning view

We both checked the internet for the levels. Overnight the river had come up by 6 inches. Would we now be stuck by red boards? The EA website gets updated at 11am each day so we wouldn’t know from there for quite some time. Mick took a walk along the bank towards the lock, wet grass soaking his trousers and shoes. The lock was normal and on self service. Time to make a move and go whizzing off down stream.

Looking back to Days Lock

Untying was planned, the bow rope last to stop us from drifting backwards and with Mick already onboard he’d be able to keep us steady into the flow. However the bow rope was quite slack, Oleanna had risen with the water and was now closer to the bank and this morning the wind was holding her into it. We followed our plan anyway, me trying to push the bow out against the wind, extra umph needed from a bow thruster to get the bow into the flow and Oleanna winding to head downstream.

Blue skies and fluffy clouds

A couple of boats had already been seen on the move and we followed a small cruiser in to the lock cut, they’d been moored on the weir stream overnight. I checked with their skipper if they’d be okay sharing with us which they were. They would head out first and I’d close up behind us. This of course wasn’t needed in the end as a boat was heading upstream and then a Lockie who was gardening appeared from nowhere and did the honours for us, the cruiser pulled in at the service mooring, we carried on.

Blue skies with fluffy clouds, that’s more like it! More boat houses I could live in. The fab big house on the bend near Shillingford still looks wonderful. Maybe one day we should walk the Thames Path which goes right outside the other side of the building so we can see the front door. If we lived there we’d give some ornamental tall grasses a trim to improve the view of the river.

Above Benson Lock there were plenty of moored hire boats, the recent yellow and red boards keeping them off the river, we’ve seen only a couple of Le Boats out and about. The cafe looked to be popular, maybe it would be a suitable place for a rendez vous, but our only choice of mooring nearby was on the weir side of the lock island, there’s a ferry that runs back and forth. However the moorings looked quite full and it would have meant winding to reverse into the weir cut, with the river running fast we didn’t fancy that.


Time to fill the lock, descend and then cross over the weir exit! Earlier this year a boat had lost it’s mooring and been swept towards the weir, only the bridge over it stopping the vessel from plunging over the top. Today the water crashed over the weir, where the navigation meets this there are green marker buoys to help keep you away from the build up of silt. We’d heard that these marker buoys had moved in the floods, so didn’t mark the channel well. They certainly looked to be further over towards the bank and the trees than we remembered, if you kept to the right side of them you’d almost certainly end up entangled in branches. After picking me up, Mick set off, cranking Oleanna up, the aim to pass through the green markers. It turned into a bit of a chicane but we made it through without touching the bottom or the trees, but very close to the buoys.

A space on the low bank

Not far now, we made note of possible moorings under the trees as we approached Wallingford, plenty of room should we need it. On the east bank there was a space, just not quite big enough for us, a few git gaps behind, we called out but no one heard us. The west bank was just about empty. We headed down stream through the bridge and then winded, no chance of running out of room to make the turn here. Upstream we headed, another call out to a narrowboat to see if they could move up, big thumbs up from inside and out they came to pull back six foot so we could moor. Thank you.

Earlier there had been a phone call, but not enough signal to hear anything. Mick had sent a message saying we were heading to Wallingford, he received a message saying a cuppa was being enjoyed at the cafe at Benson. Serious communication problems, Mick went off to try to find signal, Wallingford being added to our list of bad signal. Up on the bridge he got through to a French answerphone just as a car with two familiar faces came past slowing to say ‘Hello!’

Mick, Siobhan, Patrick and Pip

Siobhan and Patrick are friends of Micks from long long ago, they now live in Newcastle, Australia. Most years they come over to the UK to visit family and we do our best to meet up. They arrived earlier this week, had a few nights in London before driving down to stay with a friend in Benson, our cruising plans had just nicely managed to fit with their tour of the UK. Big hugs all round then a venue for lunch was found. We all got in the car and headed off to The Red Lion in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell a very pretty place.

A picturesque pub

Ham egg and chips, a burger, fish and chip and a vegetable tart were all enjoyed, better food and a quieter lunch than we’d had on Monday. Lots to catch up on, news of grandchildren, 70th birthdays, travel plans.

After a cuppa and more chats back at Oleanna it was time for them to head off and meet up with their friend in Benson. So lovely to see them both and Yes we do need to try to put a plan together to do a visit to Newcastle!

Brand new signs

As we’d returned to the boat there was a chap taking down the Town Council signs regarding mooring fees. New signs were going up, still the same fee but the moorings were now going to be overseen by District Enforcement. The chap chatted away, the moorings would be policed three times a week and anyone pulling up even just for the day (free) would need to register on line to moor there otherwise they’d be charged the penalty £100. Later in the day we wondered how we’d manage to register as our internet signal was seriously poor, at times there was nothing at all! This may be a problem.

We’ve only been able to moor in Wallingford by the bridge once before and we couldn’t remember if we’d looked round or not. Looking back on Lillian’s blog posts I suspect we didn’t as I had a migraine the day we arrived. So we headed out to have a bit of a walk around.

St Peter’s

In the early 12th Century Wallingford had many rights and liberties exceeding those of London and it is one of only four towns that were mentioned in the Magna Carta. The very recognisable spire of St Peter’s can be seen by all from the river, it is now a redundant Anglican church. Grade 2 listed it was built between 1763 and 1767, the spire added by Sir Robert Taylor ten years later. A local lawyer, Sir William Blackstone ( who’s books were widely used by the makers of the American constitution) paid for the clock face to be visible from his house. The church was deemed redundant in 1971.

There are plenty of antique shops, one of which Siobhan had remembered from when she worked in the area. We had a good look round at all the things no-one really needs. The shop went on and on forever!

Wallingford Town Hall

A couple of things were needed from Waitrose then we walked by the Town Hall, held up with extra wooden pillars bedecked with plastic ferns. The open area beneath was used for market stalls and the chamber above was used for Borough Courts and Quarter Sessions. Around the end of the 13th Century the town fell on hard times and shrank, only reviving in the 17th and 18th centuries with the vast growth of London and trade on the Thames. During Victorian times Wallingford had 50 pubs whilst only having a population of around 2000. Down a side street where half timbered buildings have been painted haphazardly in green and yellow and we wondered what the department store had been on St Mary’s Street.

Where St Mary’s meets St Martins a row of four terraced houses sits prominently over looking the junction. They are Grade 2 listed and are quite fine, their gable windows on the top floor hidden behind a wall.

Maybe next time we’re here we’ll explore more, there is what looks like an interesting walk around the town Link. So there is more to Wallingford than Midsummer Murders.

2 locks, 5.8 miles, 1 wind, 6 inches higher, 6ft too short, 1 broken cleat, 2 Australian visitors, 1 perfect rendez vous, 0 phone signal, 3 pints, 1 glass wine, 1 unimpressed Tilly, £12 a night, but not tonight, 1 more lovely day with friends, 2 equalised batteries (they sorted them selves a few days ago).

Archie Innie And Cary Outie. 21st May

Bridge 178 to Chisnell Lift Bridge 193

Blimey last night I had real difficulty in staying awake after we’d eaten and as soon as I got into bed my eyes closed and I was out for the count, very unusual for me. I’d had my first glass of wine since being on antibiotics, Colin my dentist had suggested I would be alright to drink again on Mick’s birthday, maybe waiting another day would have been better. This morning I woke up a good 90 minutes later than I usually do.

Kings Sutton Lock

Kings Sutton Lock sat full waiting for us, the second of the deep single bottom gated locks. Someone has been very busy chopping logs, maybe they are the only source of heat at the lock cottage here. We pootled our way along the next pound, some familiar boats spotted, but no-one to say hello to. No aroma of bacon cooking today as we passed the Pig Place, just a chap adding nails to the landing.

New bolts to hold the bridge together

As we came under the M40 we could see vans and work boats by Sydenham Lift Bridge 183. A couple of weeks ago there was a stoppage here as apparently a boat had run into the bridge, we don’t know how as the bridge is normally left open. As we passed through a carpenter was busy making handrails for the bridge and we could see that most of the bolts holding the platform together had been moved.

Lots of piling

At the C&RT work yard there was lots of new shiny armco piling, I wonder where this will be used. We’ve noticed sections where piling has been used quite low in the water and then the big sausage rolls used to keep the edge green, not too useful for mooring but certainly helping to keep the towpath in tact and wider than it has been.

We’ve limboed under here before

Nell Bridge Lock was also full, I checked the level below. The red green yellow board long gone, but plenty of head room today to get through the low bridge under the road. As I opened the bottom gate Mick told me of an oncoming boat, great I could leave the gate for them, I just had to cross over the busy road.

Random find on a wall

Yesterday had been sunny, today it was decidedly cold, we’d also made sure our waterproofs were close to hand. Someone must have thought so too as a hot water bottle lay on the wall over the top of Aynho Weir, random object found alongside the canal.

Aynho Weir Lock from the weir another possible painting

The lock was just about ready for us, just a little top up before I could open the gate. I know from experience along here to be patient, very patient when filling and emptying the locks especially the lozenge ones, they may look level but the gate will only give when it will give.

The lozenge shape ensures enough water heads down onto the canal to feed the next lock

We pulled in to Aynho Wharf, time to introduce ourselves. There under a few other boxes was one large Bully Boy box filled with our replacement battery. When we’d been thinking of somewhere we could get it sent to, various friends and acquaintances had been thought of, but here came to mind as Oleanna would be close to road access, the heavy box not needing to be moved very far. Sarah was very kind and was quite happy for us to have our new battery sent to them so that we could easily collect it.

Thank you!

A sack barrow was found and the big box brought out to Oleanna, the two of us lifted it onto the stern, it could stay there for a little while. 61 litres of fuel £1.24 a litre the most we’ve paid this year, but we wanted a top up and Aynho had been good to us. Sarah asked if we’d given the batteries names, maybe they would like to be named and that was what had gone wrong with the faulty one.

Name on the box

As we pulled away I looked down at the box, there was this batteries name, Archibald. Archibald would be going inside in The Shed, so Archie Innie. But what about the other one? What would be a suitable name to go along with Archibald? The first thing that came up on Google was about Archibald Alec Leach who was more commonly known as Cary Grant, I always have had a thing for Cary Grant. That was it, the second battery named, Cary Outie.


A little late for lunch we decided to pull in where we’d met with Paul and Christine on NB Waterway Routes last year just before Chisnell Lift Bridge. Tilly would have all the fields of long grass to play in, or so we thought! Well that’s just a rubbish outside, NO trees! She stayed up on the roof for quite a lot of the 4 hours she’d been given, meowing at us whilst leaning over the side above the hatch over the canal which always makes me really nervous.

Coo, I’ve not made one of these for ages!

I set about preparing tonight’s meal, a smoked salmon and camembert quinoa crust quiche, the oven being on went some way to warming us up. Mick got on with installing Archie Innie. The faulty battery had been sent back with the terminal bolts, the new one had come without any! He rootled through his tool box and boxes of bits and bobs and thankfully found two suitable for the job. The Shed was emptied, stern steps removed and Archie installed into his cubby hole. Cables attached, hello Archie!


Mick talked to him from his phone. Cary started to share his power, starting to get themselves levelled out. The engine was started up to assist, this will need a few more hours for them to get themselves sorted, hopefully tomorrows cruise will help.

The stove was lit, time to warm up. It then started to rain. Hopefully the weather won’t be too bad, we really don’t want the Thames to go back onto red boards, it’s only just come off! Time to start watching the EA levels and C&RT for Shipton on Cherwell, hopefully I’ll get to hand deliver a pair of socks this week if the river stays down.

This weeks yarn selection

This evening we watched the first of this weeks episodes of Narrow Escapes. Good to see Tim and Tracy again, we passed NB Sola Gratia last year on our way to the Thames, but we’ve not actually seen them since the day both boats climbed up to Titford Pump House back in early 2020, this I believe was the day they were picking up Ozzie, hearing assistance dog in training.

3 locks, 4.5 miles, 0 Frankie, 0 bacon, 61 litres, 1 new bully boy, 2 names, 1 disappointed cat, 1 really rubbish outside, 1 lodger heading home, 1 wet evening, 1 big quiche.

Bloomin’ Heck. 14th May

Lidl to Bridge 41

There were a couple of things we’d missed yesterday on our shop, so Mick valiantly headed all the way back to Lidl! Some double cream and dark chocolate baking necessities for next weekend! I sat and updated the blog before we moved up closer to Leamington Spa to do a couple of things in town.

Clare and Graeme were only a few bridges up ahead, they fancied listening to a pianist in a church this morning whilst we were busy, then the plan was to team up again to work our way up the locks ahead. Well that was the plan!

I stood up from the dinette table, all of a sudden it felt like we’d got ten bags of coal on the roof and Oleanna was very top heavy. I fairly quickly realised that it wasn’t Oleanna swaying, it was me. I steadied myself and carried on with the setting off jobs, slowly. Stepping onto the bow to untie the bow line I still felt wobbly. Was this vertigo? It felt a bit different. As we weren’t moving far I stayed up front and sat down, ready to moor up, less to do, hopefully less wobbly head.

He he!

There were loads of boats through Bridge 41, the most we’ve ever seen. We pulled in behind the long line, NB Lottie Jane a couple of boats ahead. Mick stood waiting at the stern for me to tie my rope, I needed his assistance, the thought of stepping onto the bow again not appealing. Time to sit down.

I had planned to check on possible presents here in Leamington Spa and visit a new mural which from photos looks amazing. But that simply wasn’t going to happen. Was this vertigo or something to do with the tooth I’d had taken out last week? My gum is still quite sore. Mick bobbed into town to do the things he needed to do and I called my dentist for advice. The receptionist booked me back in for an appointment this afternoon.


The news was passed to Clare and Graeme, Clare bringing me a get well soon purple iris. They would stay today too.

Arrangements to get our new Bully Boy Battery delivered to us was simpler than we’d thought. A boat yard we will be passing was very happy to receive a large heavy package for us and keep it safe until we arrive. We just have to get there now.

Mick and I caught the train back into Birmingham, so much for me saying goodbye to the city yesterday! A walk to catch a tram across town and then a sit down in the waiting room at the dentist.


Colin checked around my mouth. No normal signs of an infection, but the clot itself didn’t look normal. I was given two options and I opted for pills, he agreed. Three days of antibiotics, started straight away before I left the surgery. If I had any concerns I was to ring. No alcohol for me for the next week.

One good thing about the day was being able to admire the gardens at Leamington Spa Station. A few years ago we’d been on a tour around the deco station. The architecture, chrome and lovely doors are just one side to the station, the flower beds and hedges another. The topiary steam engine is still there plus these wonderful flowering shrubs, with such delicate flowers. Does anyone know what they are please? Sorry for the bad photos.

Back at Oleanna, Tilly gave me a head nudge then complained about being cooped up for two days in a row! Mick cooked dinner and I cast on sock pair 20. Hopefully my head will start to improve in the morning.

0 locks, 0.4 miles, 200grams dark chocolate, 200ml double cream, 1 bag carrots, 1 new broom, 1 wobbly head, 2 trains, 2 trams, 9 pills, 1 green engine, pair 20 cast on, 1 mural left for next time.

Forty Minutes With Darth. 13th May

Cape of Good Hope Moorings to Lidl, Myton Road Bridge

Time to put long trousers and jumpers back on, time to move on again. Saying that and actually managing it was another thing. Boats just kept coming, some pulling up on the waterpoint which we also needed. Yesterday Mick had done two loads of washing and there was another in progress, so we’d need a tank refill today for sure. Handily there is a tap below the Cape Locks as well as above so we opted to use that one, we just had to find a gap in the traffic.

Cape Locks

A gap spotted we staked our claim on the lock before anyone else appeared behind. We worked down the two locks swapping with a Carefree Boat, lots to chat about with the lady onboard. Then we waved our locking partners on NB Lottie Jane farewell, not goodbye. They were off to stock up on shopping and go sight seeing in Leamington Spa. We would be topping up with water and getting close to Warwick station, any more would be a bonus.

There she is!

We pulled up a little before Bridge 49. Now where was Tilly? She usually is excited to see what the outside looks like and asks to be let out. But none of that today. Just where was she? Not on her shelf, not the sofa, not on the Houdini shelf. I looked around the bed as best I could with the airer laid on it full of socks and pants, out of the way. No Tilly! Oh blimey, had she got out? I called for ages, and then a little meow came from between our underwear. She was perfectly camouflaged, on lovely clean things!

Poor signage for those coming the other way on foot

I had an early lunch before heading for the station. On arriving I didn’t seem to be able to find Platform 1. I went under the tracks, the steps to the platform were cordoned off. At the main approach to the station I couldn’t get onto the platform so went into the ticket office, still no way to reach the trains. I asked a member of staff who directed me round lots of fencing, all the signage pointed towards those either leaving the station or having arrived by car!

Moor Street Station

Half an hour later I was arriving at Birmingham Moor Street Station. It felt like walking into a heritage railway. All painted in Great Western Railway colours, lovely old signage, what a treat.

Might have to have a go at making these

I had an hour on my hands, I’d hope to spend it wisely buying birthday presents, but those requested were not available at M&S in Brum! I paused for a sit down outside the library, maybe I could get things sent to the Leamington Spa branch for tomorrow, first delivery would be a day later, we were not wanting to hang around for a whole day. Maybe a rethink, maybe a delivery further along our route would work.

Old Union Mill

Normally I approach my dentists from the canal, today I walked along the other end of Sheepcote Street. This meant I got to see Old Union Mill, which was constructed in 1810 by Birmingham Flour and Bread Company, it remained in operation until 1927 and has recently been used as office and artist studio space. A redevelopment is planned to convert the mill into office units and buildings that had been built to the rear in the 1990’s, these will be demolished and new apartments built in their place. However right now it is an all day car park.

Crescent Theatre

Crescent Theatre was also passed. Earlier this year we’d had a look to see if we might be able to make it to Birmingham to see their production of Alan Ayckbourn’s House and Garden. Two linked plays, played simultaneously by the cast in two separate auditoria, one the house the other, you guessed it, the garden. I worked on the original production in Scarborough in 1999. Alan likes to set challenges for himself and his staff. In Scarborough the actors had to run up and down stairs between the auditoria, certain sound cues would be held until actors arrived, a dogs bark signalling the plot could continue. It was very hard work to create both House and Garden sets especially when on the opening weekend there was also a wedding booked on the House set with photographs in the Garden. We still had things to do, so hid in the dining room waiting for the wedding guests to leave so we could finish painting things before the evening show and then followed them into the garden to do a touch of pruning! A production was mounted at the National Theatre in 2000, adjustments had to be made as the journeys for the actors were longer, the curtain call was most certainly longer. So it would have been great to have seen the show here in Birmingham, but we didn’t make it.

Where has everyone gone?!

A hygienist appointment with Thomas, or as I know him Darth Vader. He was the hygienist I saw after lockdown when he had to wear a full mask whilst inflicting cleaning pain to my gums and teeth. Thankfully this was my last visit to the dentist and once I’d paid up I was on my way back to Moor Street Station, walking past Ozzie at New Street Station, time to say goodbye for a few months.

Goodbye Brum until later in the year

Back at Oleanna Mick had news about our faulty battery that we’d returned, we were needing a new one, but to receive this we’d require an address. We put our thinking caps on, maybe a friend could take it in for us, or perhaps a boat yard we’d be passing.

Near to Tescos, click the photo

It was only 4pm, so we decided to move on a touch and get stocked up with food before we head to more rural waters. A space showed itself at Lidl so we pulled in. A joint of pork was popped in the oven to roast whilst we filled a trolley full of shopping. Tilly wasn’t impressed as it meant she’d be staying in, no shore leave today. Just a shame she wasn’t still pooped from yesterday!

I wonder if the buses deliver dingding, or do they take you on a ride whilst dining?

This afternoon the rain returned, here’s hoping the tree we’re part moored under doesn’t keep us awake all night.

2 locks, 1.6 miles, 2 trains, 40 minutes with Darth, 0 bumble bee table cloth, 1 boat in Brum, 1 farewell to Ozzie, 1 very bored cat, 1 joint of pork, not enough carrots!

But Which Way! 1st May

Above Longford Lock to Penkridge 48hr mooring

Only half a mile to travel today as we needed to be in Penkridge for a couple of reasons. Pootleing in towards Penkridge Lock we were surprised at there only being one boat moored here. The mooring directly below the lock can be a bit bumpy when the paddles are lifted, but it’s handy for town.

Click photo for details

We passed another house for sale, only over 55s can purchase this one, a bit different from yesterdays house by the M6.

Not much foot space on the back today

With not much space available at the stern due to the bully boy battery I was glad to get off and get the lock ready for us. No-one on the water point! Are we really in Penkridge? Where is everyone?

Once up the lock we pulled in at the services. Set the water filling, emptied the yellow water, disposed of rubbish etc. A chap came along from the moorings with a wheelbarrow to empty his cassettes, he was very chatty. We chatted away and lifted the bully boy battery box off the stern of Oleanna. That was one task achieved, now to get the battery to a UPS access point in town. That wheelbarrow looked handy! But we didn’t ask as we had another solution in mind.

Ooo, I wonder?

By the time the water tank was full there was a boat waiting in the lock and another had just pulled up below. We were in Penkridge! A queue forming for the services, it’s just we were at the front of it for once. Mick pushed Oleanna off and over to the moorings opposite whilst I stayed to guard the battery, it may not be working and be exceptionally heavy but we still didn’t want anyone to struggle away with it. Once Oleanna was secure Mick came back and called for a taxi, £5 to the access point, I left to have an early lunch and get myself ready for an afternoon in Birmingham.

St Michael and All Angels

The station is a bit of a walk away, but nice to walk through town. The Co-op has moved, there are two now at opposite ends of town. I walked up through the church yard filled with graves and blossom. The 12:45 had me passing alongside the Wolverhampton flight, no boats in view. In to Birmingham New Street, I just needed to find my way out now! Easier said than done!! I thought of following directions on the bright sign post, but the direction of Brindley Place was blocked by red and blue lounges! I ended up walking out of the wrong exit and taking quite a while to get to somewhere familiar, thank goodness I had an hour to spare.

Is this just art or a useful sign post?

Not one boat on the Oozles Street loop and only five moored by Lego, loads of room. I walked the now regular route up onto Sheepcote Street to my dentist, a regular check overdue. After my emergency visits to a dentist in Leeds six weeks ago I’ve known I still had a problem. Colin started with his friendly chat asking about our travels, but I knew time was short and this wouldn’t just be a see you in six months visit.

5 xrays later, I had a choice to make, keep a tooth and spend money on it, or loose it. It’s one of my main chewers so at the moment I’ve opted to keep it, just could do with a set design fee to pay for the work! Three new appoitments in the diary, hopefully coinciding with us being in Birmingham or an easy train journey back. I suspect there will be more once the first stage of treatment is done.


It’s easy finding your way into New Street Station, I just wish it was simple coming out of it. I was soon back alongside the Wolverhampton 21, one boat spyed going down. Recent reports from NB Alchemy and NB Bonjour have been that the majority of the locks were empty as they came down the flight, which will be good for us when we go up.

Mick had moved a touch further on, not very far but away from where he felt we were on the end of the lock landing. I’d noticed he’d been on the move with messages coming from our Nebo link, even if it didn’t show an actual journey as he’d only moved 50 yards or so.

Loads of room in Birmingham

A catch up between ourselves. A chat about possible places for me to return to the dentist from and did we need to have a trip to Scarborough to fill up our compost bins. An email was sent to somewhere we’ve made deposits before to see if they still take them. After finishing off the chilli I’d made last night, we settled down to watch the next episode of Narrow Escapes. No need for the stove today as the temperature had risen. Infact we had the side hatch open until after 8pm listening to the moorers enjoying their first evening sitting out this year.

Here’s where we travelled in April

1 lock, 0.4 miles, 2 budges up along the way, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing, 1st in the queue, 1 empty yellow water tank, 1 bully boy on its way, 2 trains, 1 expensive tooth, 1 membership signed up to, 15% discount not to be missed, 7 more lemon biscuits, 1 broken down boat heading to Ireland? 1 miffed off cat.

Through The Arched Hedge. 30th April

Broken Ankle, Great Haywood to above Longford Lock, Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

Swans nests are way better than those made by geese

Windy but sunny this morning, the world would be filled with green and blue. We considered going across the way for a cooked breakfast, but stuck to our cereal as that would be quicker.

Tixall Gate House

We turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, passing the Anglo Welsh hire fleet. Yesterday we’d put off coming round the corner and heading for Tixall Wide due to the wind and wanting to visit the farm shop. Arriving at 10/10:30 would mean having more chance of grabbing a mooring with a view of Tixall Gate House, this morning there were several up for grabs, but we needed to be further on today. The newly surfaced towpath looks good, but the armco still looks like it’s the same, only one stretch has had sandbags added to raise the bank from the water a touch.

At Tixall Lock we rose up infront of the nice lock cottage, a possible for a painting, if we ever stay put long enough for me to get one started! The next length of towpath has also been upgraded, a cyclist proved it was ride worthy.

Pair 18 coming along nicely

By now we both realised we were over dressed, big coats no longer required, the strong wind was almost warm. It was warm enough for me to bring my knitting out onto the stern to work my way towards a heel turn and still be able to keep an eye on things passing us by. This is another stretch of canal I’ve rarely seen in the last few years as there are several miles on the flat so I’ve been working below.

Around Stafford, the land to our west was exceptionally boggy and brown, a flood plane, but far browner than we remembered. I wonder how long it’s been under water for this year? A fisherman sat with his kit neatly tucked away by the hedge where there was an arched opening for him to pass his rod through. On closer inspection all the fishing pegs were marked out thus, grass neatly trimmed both by the cut and the hedge and an hedge opening at each.

Once up Deptmore Lock we pulled in for lunch, a nice sunny spot but would we ever get off the bank due to the wind? This took quite a bit of doing and thankfully we could hold our line without going too fast past moored boats. We were now being followed by a hire boat, Shutt Hill lock the lady came up to help, but hardly said a word. As we pulled away she closed the gate and ran back to the bottom gates, maybe they were trying to do the Four Counties Ring in a week!

At Park Gate Lock we’d just about caught the boat ahead of us up, only one top paddle working on the lock meant it took a long time to fill. As we worked our way up a boat came out from the wharf, took it’s time to wind blocking off the canal for a while. Was this a new boat, boxes covered where the mushroom vents would be, the paintwork looked new, apart from below the gunnels. Bourne Boats used to be based here. There were no signs and two rusty shells sat out on the hard were not really a good advert for them. Does anyone know if they are still trading?

The hire boat caught up with us again and this time there was chance for a chat. Four Counties in ten days. We watched as the new boat was manouvered back into the wharf and then under a crane. As it was lifted it was obviously not positioned quite right and was brought back down to the water to find it’s balance.

£975,000 click photo for details

Should we stop early? The wind was one thing, the depth below us another making our progress really quite slow. This of course would be no different tomorrow, but the wind may have died down. As we passed under the M6 we made the usual comments about the house alongside, lovely gardens, but maybe the need for noise cancelling headphones. Then we spotted it was for sale! Blimey! Just how much would it go for if they didn’t have the motorway as a next door neighbour? *The agent has removed the house from their website, but you can still get a shaded look at it from the link.

First Lollipop Lock gates

The M6 stays with the canal for quite a way. Once up Longford Lock we decided to pull in with the motorway opposite, here Tilly would have more fun even if there was a fence cutting the school off from the towpath. Straight out, then the complaints started . But there’s a fence! It’s high! Things look great on the other side. Mick went out to check on her, there she was on top of the fence, wire mesh variety. I was practicing my tight rope act! Thankfully she made it down by herself rather than by us wrestling our way through the hawthorne hedge.

Time to pack the faulty bully boy battery up. The Shed was emptied, steps removed and the battery pulled out. It was put on the stern deck so as not to be in our way overnight and hopefully I’d be able to pack it up out there.

What’s that woofer doing?!

Originally I’d thought of making boxes to surround it in the original box, but these would have to be so strong to hold the batteries weight. Instead I opted to cut widths of cardboard, stick them together and then these would help keep the battery away from the sides of the box. Tilly came to help, but kept a beedy eye on the woofers as they walked past. It took a while to have packing strong enough, but then the box was taped up ready to be sent off tomorrow. All we need to do now is actually get it to a drop off place for UPS, easier said than done!

Packing wadges

4 locks, 9.7 miles, 1st Lollipop, 0.5 pair of socks, 1.5 cardboard boxes cut into strips, 6 layers for strength, 1 tight rope walking cat, 1st proper sunny day without coats.

Wind Burn. 29th April

Off the Stone Visitor Moorings to Broken Ankle, Great Haywood

What a good tree!

Wanting to package up the failed bully boy battery to send back, we’d be needing some extra packaging. We have the original box, but not the foam that surrounded the battery. Mick had found some bubble wrap in the house but something else would be needed too. B&M might just be the place so we walked back into town. Nothing that we could buy apart from brown paper, which I suspected we’d need a LOT of. I could reduce the size of the box, Mick wasn’t convinced. But then I spotted a lady who’d been stacking shelves and on her trolley she had a lot of cardboard, this would be way better than paper with the added advantage of being free.

Only two of us today

Back at Oleanna we made ready to push off, the sky occasionally grey, waterproofs just incase. It hardly rained but they were useful to help keep the wind from really chilling us to the bone.

Aston Lock marks the halfway mark of the mile posts on the T&M

Not many locks today, 4 in all to reach our destination. At Aston Lock a boat was just exiting, another waiting below. I managed to get the half way on the Trent and Mersey photo but didn’t have a peek over the wall at my favourite garden shed! The bottom gate beams are rather high, too high to hurdle over. A touch too low to limbo under, well my knees wouldn’t appreciate it anymore. So having realised I was on the wrong side of the lock I walked all the way round to get back to Oleanna.


Today we realised we’d missed seeing new born lambs, they are all quite chunky, ready for some rosemary and garlic, and have lost their be’doingeeness of the really young. To make up for it however we got chased by a swan, who was dead set on attacking our stern button, protecting his youngesters possibly still being sat on, we didn’t see mum.

Stop swiming!

Then our first sighting of goslings followed by a long line of cygnets. They got themselves on the other side of the boat from Mum and Dad. No matter how many times we told them to stop swimming they carried on all calling out for help!

At Preston Brook we’d seen Dante’s doppleganger modeling a life jacket, but today we got to see his demise. Cast aside on a storage bin he laid on his side with his two friends. No white or tan fur visible anymore having lived on a boat roof for years. What a sorry state he was in, past rescue sadly.

A pause for lunch when we got a distance from the railway. Then onwards. Plenty of posh houses.

Salt Bridge is always admired, but why is it only fancy on one side not both?

As we approached Great Haywood there was a space opposite the cafe. It had been really windy all day, surprisingly so. Our original aim was to moor at Tixall Wide, but it can be busy there and if there was no room for us we’d have had to carry on in the wind. Time to stop, we were both quite red with wind burn.

Too close to the road for peace of mind so Tilly was kept indoors today, sorry! But it looked soo SOOOOO good! We headed off to look round the farm shop see if there was a treat we could buy without taking out a mortgage on the house.


At the Anglo Welsh base there was a crane and lorries. Boats were being lifted out and sent on elsewhere, someone suggested to the K&A. Lifting boats in this wind was not something I’d have enjoyed doing. When we last moored here I managed to break an ankle. The Margees had helped us move Lillian up to the services for me to get off easier and not have to hop up the bank to the road. When I returned from the hospital that day there was a crane here, not to assist me on and off the boat I haisten to add. Today we walked over to the shop, me taking care when stepping on and off curbs.

The shiney apples almost put us off. But our first sighting of asparagus couldn’t be missed. We added to our basket some gf sausages (just because they existed), a pork pie, a couple of cheeses (not an overly exciting selection!) and then maybe a tub of Snugburys Chocolate Brownie Chilled medication went in too. A guess on how much it would be was out by a bit, well £10!

First of the year

The mince I’d got out of the freezer this morning would now wait for tomorrow, instead we had the asparagus followed by expensive sausage and mash.

Yarns for pair 18

We then sat down to watch the first episode of Narrow Escapes on Channel 4. First impressions are good and it was nice to see what things Carrie likes as I’m knitting her and her Mum some socks in my sockathon later in the year, this will be Della’s third pair in aid of Dementia Uk. There’s still some pairs in need of sponsorship! The first toe of pair 18 were cast on as we watched. How ever did she think she’d fit that chandelier onto her boat!?!

4 locks, 9.1 miles, 1 windy day, 2 free boxes, 2 bottle tomatoe ketchup, 1 sad sight, 1 miffed off Tilly, 2 boats flying, 1 basket of polished apples, 1 pie, 6 sausages, 750ml chilled medictaion, 20 spears asparagus, 2 boaters with smelly yellow water, 1 lodger and 1 house still in one piece.


This is our 2,000th post on the Oleanna blog. I remember the days when I used to get excited for the 100th or 200th post on the NB Lillyanne blog!

Back in 2014 we started our life afloat on Lillian (NB Lillyanne for new followers) a temporary boat whilst we waited for NB Oleanna to be built, we’d already waited quite a while! Lillian was bought with the previso that once we finally moved on board NB Oleanna we would have the year afloat that we’d been looking forward to for so long.

The original build didn’t go as it should have and we started to look for a new boat builder. Jonathan Wilson was the man to build us our boat, the delay had been handy as living on Lillian gave us some better ideas for the build, and some things we knew we’d not be wanting!

It took us until 7th April 2017 to move Tilly and a third of our possessions on board. That is when our year afloat started. The life suited us, so we just kept on going, an end date never entering our minds. Then covid came along. If it hadn’t been for our troublesome tenants during the first lockdown in 2020 I’m fairly sure we’d still be full time live aboards. But our house needed to be reclaimed. Would we prefer life on land to life on the water? Would we be able to afford both house and boat? We knew one thing, we wouldn’t be letting it out to long term tenants again!

So now, we spend as much of our time afloat as we can, actors lodging in the house for much of the year whilst we cruise the network. Time in the house is spent doing jobs, reclaiming and improving things for both us and those who stay there. The house just about pays for itself all year round, fingers crossed. Time on the boat has always been about travelling, more so now to make up for being static for a few months a year.

Some jobs on board have slipped in the last few years. The gunnels haven’t been touched since Oleanna was out for blacking in 2021. The grab rails have been patched but not finished. The roof is still in need of a very good wash, we’ve either been moving or it’s been raining so far this year, well that’s my excuse! The cabin sides really need a polish. But these things all take time and we’d rather be moving than doing chores. We’ve never been shiney boaters at heart.

July 2019 on the River Wey

We’ve had some questions recently regarding our new Bully Boy Batteries and how they are doing. Paul said we’d left our readers on tenterhooks after mentioning that they seemed to be charging at different rates, or something along those lines. Well I think Mick’s answer was that he’s stopped wondering why they are doing this and has just accepted it. With our new batteries we certainly don’t have the concerns over capacity as we used to, especially at the end of last year when we were down to just two of our original batteries. Because they have so much more capacity they take longer to charge, so if we are staying put for the day and want to run the dishwasher the engine goes on. This does mean we also get a full tank of hot water. But some days we’ve had enough capacity to use our immersion heater to heat the water using electricity therefore the engine is not required. We expect this to happen more and more in the summer when the solar panels provide a lot more power.

August 2022

USB rechargeable lights in cupboards. These are proving to be pretty good, so far. The one that is in The Shed has had to be charged, mainly because it is used several times a day. The others in the pull out corner galley cupboard light up every time I go in there and have made me realise that at some point I’ve taken the square baking tin to the house, hence a round batch of flapjack the other day.

I’ve also had a few people ask me if I’ll be designing Chippy Panto this year. Well, no I’m not. Before I arrived in Chippy for rehearsals last year I’d already decided that this year I wanted to boat through the summer and be able to enjoy it. Last summer we’d cruise in the mornings and just about every afternoon I would work. Over the last six years I’ve designed the last five pantos in Chippy which I have really enjoyed. Designing and painting my designs is what I really love doing, being part of a building with a family feel is very special. But last year I started to miss boating, not being able to return home to Oleanna at weekends is hard too. So in January I got in touch with John before he got in touch with me about this years Panto. I shall miss it, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to go and see Jack and the Beanstalk later this year, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out Chippy panto.

Rapunzel 2021

This of course will free up my afternoons so hopefully this year Oleanna will get some much needed touching up, if it ever stops raining! I do still need to feed my creative soul and I’m hoping that doing some paintings of places on our travels will do this for me.

So along with this being our 2000th post, we’ve had 3,068 comments, 17,431 photographs, 172 subscribers, on 16th June 2021 we had the most views, Friday is the most popular day at 9am, views from 96 countries, Thwaite Mills on 31st March the most viewed post, 733 likes (I suspect this is actually higher and mostly from Ade), hang on he’s just liked another! 1,845,360 words written, not including this post!

*Some of these figures may be inaccurate as I’ve had to collect the info from various places

This last Christmas I had an old friend ask what we would do with Oleanna when can no longer boat, whether that be through our physical ability to boat or should the waterways start closing around us due to lack of funding. I said we’d still keep her, find somewhere for her to be, maybe on land if needs be, where we could still stay on board. But here’s hoping our floating days will continue for many years more. We’ll keep writing the blog and sharing it with those who want to read it and hopefully we’ll get to meet a few more of you along the way.

For those of you who have followed Oleanna from the beginning in 2015, a BIG BIG Thank You for reading all our ramblings through the years. I doubt if anyone other than ourselves has read every single post. For what started off as a diary for us to look back on in years to come, for family and friends to keep up with our travels, we now have a lot of new friends, some we’ve yet to actually meet. We find looking back on posts interesting, after all there is useful information in amongst the breakfasts, socks and stamps of approval. Thank you for coming along with us.

Smiling as ever!
Click photo to go to petition

Fully Charged. 16th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock to Lemonroyd Marina

Thankful for just about a full nights sleep, maybe things were improving. I popped some painkillers just in case, which was just as well! As we had our breakfast Tilly was allowed shore leave, she went self catering and would have liked to join us at the table, however we turned her away at the hatch, our breakfast of blueberry porridge far less crunchy than hers!

Some feline comfort

Mick headed off on the Brompton to get a newspaper and a few supplies. He returned with news. He’d had a phone call from Alastair in Goole saying the part for our engine had arrived, he was on his way!

A short while later we had a knock on the roof, this was Sue and a friend (sorry I can’t remember your name) from the marina, they or another boat were ready to come out to give us a tow into the marina later in the afternoon. We updated them with our news, hopefully we’d be able to run the engine again soon and head that way under our own steam, we’d let them know.

Cleaner cabin side

It took us several days, admittedly slowly to reach Lemonroyd, it took Alastair 40 minutes! Mick walked up to the nearby car park to help Alastair find us. The sun was out, things were starting to look up. I decided to give the cabin side a wash down with canal water, get rid of the mud splatter we still had from Goole, a general covering of something pale washed off too, general Goole docks dust. A full on proper wash still awaits Oleanna, but this certainly made me feel better.

Smiling as ever!

Alastair sat in the engine bay chatted away, found a suitable tool to remove part of the broken fixing that had sheared off and been left on the engine side of things. The replacement part and pipe were put on. Mick was instructed how to tighten the connectors should he need to in future, they turn the opposite way to how you’d think. The engine was started up and left to warm up to check for any leaks, none. Jobs a good’un! Hooray!!!! Thank you Alastair for coming out to us as soon as the part arrived. We’ve still not heard back from RCR!

Lunch, then we untied, winded and headed for the marina. Yes we could run our engine now to charge the batteries, but with the new bully boys this would use a LOT of diesel as they were down to about 30% after three days of no engine. So instead we’ve opted to go into the marina for a couple of nights to recharge the batteries, fill up with water, do some washing and most importantly have showers!

Red flashing light ahead

Alex the marina supervisor was there to help us tie up. An ap needed for us to be able to have electric was donwloaded. Sadly a miss understanding had us thinking that the mooring fee included electric, it didn’t and the minimum we could add was £10. The invertor hummed away as the batteries charged most of the afternoon. The water tank was filled and we both had lovely showers. first load of washing done. By the time it was bed time we’d used more than £5, but the batteries were fully charged.

Oleanna, about to be hooked up and recharged

Pair 11 of my Sockathon came off the needles as we watched Traitors Australia. I managed a good evening, pain relieved by Ibuprofen taken with food. A return visit to the dentist most definitely on the cards.

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 1 wind, 1 right, 40 minutes drive, 1 small part, 1 cuppa, 1 engine mended, £10, 5 familiar boats, 1 bored cat, 2 full bully boys, 1 full water tank, 4 Ibuprofen, 4 paracetamol, 2 cocodamol.

11 pairs knitted

36 pairs spoken for

41 to go

£795 raised

It Just Came Off In My Hand! 14th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock

Time to pack some socks up. We wouldn’t be going anywhere today as the lock light was flashing red, the river had come up overnight. It may not have rained here very much but up stream on the Pennines it certainly had, down at Castleford the level had risen higher than when we’d been there.

River Aire levels at Castleford

Mick wanted to tinker in the engine bay. The new batteries are not doing quite what he’d expected, one charges more than the other. So whilst I did sock things he took the engine board up. Power was turned off for a while. I took photos of a couple of pairs of socks, then they were labelled and packed up. Postage paid, address labels printed and attached when the power came back on. I just needed to find a post box now.

Socks ready for the post

Maybe we’d go for a walk and shop after lunch.

Since having the new batteries, when we are stationary we’ve been running the engine whilst running the dishwasher, this gives the batteries a top up whilst the dishes wash and gives us hot water for showers. It’s been working quite well and a massive difference to last year when no matter how long we’d cruised during the day we’d need to give our depleted battery bank an extra charge before 8pm to have enough power to see us through the night. None of that now.

Such a small thing

Mick appeared from the engine bay. We had a problem. In his hand was a pipe/connector this was from where the engine connects to the calorifier. We once had a problem with this connection on the Thames. It’s position is where Mick finds himself sitting to do things in the engine bay. Today he’d noticed it was leaking, so he had a go at tightening it with a spanner. Instead of tightening it came off in his hand!

Now we can’t run the engine, now we can’t move, now our water reserves are getting low (we should have topped the tank up to the top the other day rather than being eager for breakfast!). Add to this the lack of sunshine, solar being the only means to charge our batteries without the engine. Economy mode engaged and a phone call to RCR.


Stephanie called him back, Mick sent photos, a new part would need to be ordered then an engineer would come out to fit it, hopefully it would be that simple. However something had sheered off so there may have to be some drilling involved too. Oleanna’s W.O.C. number was required so the correct part could be ordered. Mick pointed out that we would run out of battery power without the engine, there was talk of hiring a generator should we need one.

After lunch I headed off to do some shopping and post socks. We are half way along one side of a triangle to the nearest shops, the rail line making a direct route impossible. I walked up towards Woodlesford then up the main road, past the Co-op and on to Lidl. A top up shop of essentials, a bigger shop could happen another day, after all I’m still hobbling.

The road back to Lemonroyd Marina

Back at Oleanna Mick was still waiting for RCR to call back. They didn’t. Electric saving measures were implemented although we did allow ourselves to watch the first episode of Traitors Australia Season 2 (you are a bad influence Adam!).

The last few days I’ve had a bit of niggling tooth ache. For years I ignored such pain quite successfully, my relationship with my teeth wasn’t good for many years. Today the pain increased. Paracetamol was doing nothing. Thankfully Paracetamol and Codeine gave me a few hours of relief, something would need to be done. Was it a tooth that is on the cards for a crown? Could I get to Birmingham to my dentist tomorrow morning? Was there somewhere in Leeds I could go?

Oh what a day!

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 engine running, 1 gas boiler, 0 showers, 1 hour TV, 1st sock of pair 11 finished, 1 broken bit,1 painful tooth, 3 miles walked, 1 camera suggestion.