Category Archives: Birds

One Last Night. 3rd April

Lightbank Lock 31 to between Warland Lower and Upper Locks 34, 35

There have been Facebook tales of empty pounds on the other side of the summit on the Rochdale, one of these pounds did have a lack of water five years ago. The tales have come from those heading towards the summit from the west as we did ten years ago. We’ll see what we face when we get there, at least we’ll be taking water with us.

Two boats came past, were these the boats that had been helped across an empty pound at dusk yesterday? It was too early for them to have crossed the summit this morning, the top locks unlock at 11am. We waited hoping for a lull in the rain. One came and went followed by another, it didn’t seem like we’d get a suitably long gap to cruise in, so we just set off knowing we’d get wet.

I don’t think I’d mess with this goose

The geese are squabbling. Canadian Geese disagreed with a White Chinese Goose. Blimey they are worse than Seagulls! We pushed off leaving them to continue with their argument.

Round and round and round

Lightbank Lock has short beams on the bottom gate requiring the use of a windlass to open and close them. This is most probably due to a house having been built in the 1990’s on the offside here that required road access, so space was lost to have full length beams. The lawn seemed ever so green and well kept, until I walked on it, perfect grazing for Reindeer as it was soft squidgy moss. The views up the valley would be breath taking on a sunny day, no sun for us however.

Quite a soggy landscape

At the next lock a line of CRT vans were parked, a very soggy Sheep dog trotted back and forth from buildings to vans. We carried on with our soggy mission to moor below the summit today ready for our booked passage tomorrow morning.

The railway now vanishes underground, far more trains on the line at the moment due to line works in Huddersfield, so trains have been diverted along this valley instead. The river also has wound it self away from us and the road now a field away, would this be a good mooring for Tilly? We tried pulling in, but the now peaty water hides shallows, beware streams entering the canal, here they deposit silt enough to halt progress if you get too close. Another lock was ascended.

Warland Lower Lock filled, the pound to Upper Lock dropped by a good foot. Here would be a good place for Tilly. I walked up to see if I could empty the next lock to help fill up the pound. Boats moored on the offside were still level, the lock only had a couple of feet of water in it. I headed back to help bring Oleanna into the side.

What’s that little white dot on the bridge?

The top lock beam has instructions to help retain water in this pound. The offside gate requiring to be closed last, the mitred gates sealing better this way. There are even instructions on how to close the gates if you are a single hander. Push the near side gate with force, which pushes the offside gate away, it will then come back and close second keeping the water in the pound.

As we tried to moor up, spikes resistant to the bank a chap walked along. He’d emptied the lock above and was coming down to check the lock gates had been shut as instructed. Mick had succeeded, following the instructions, the chap said we’d be surprised at how many people didn’t do it.

Someone scouting for a suitable nest sight

A white dot on a pipe bridge up ahead on closer inspection turned out to be a Canadian Goose. The chap said they had two pairs trying to find somewhere to build their nest, he spends his mornings doing his best to dissuade them as they leave such a sh**ty mess everywhere!

Our mooring for tonight would just still be within the boundary of Yorkshire, one last night for us, one last afternoon of Yorkshire playtime for Tilly. She spent quite a bit of time out in the field despite the rain. I suspect on a sunny day here would have received a stamp of approval.

The stove was lit, time for us to dry out and have a late lunch. It carried on raining, we pottered away the rest of the day. The next sock was frogged back and by the end of the day I’d knitted back up to the cuff. Sadly I have another pair that require something similar, but maybe I’ll knit pair 14 first.

4 locks, 0.8 miles, 2 to the summit, 1 last night in Yorkshire, 1 very soggy day, 1 soggy moggy, 1 sock frogged, 1 duck hash, 1 stove lit, 1 quite good field.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2400.4512833377053!2d-2.087134758571627!3d53.67933433140286!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTPCsDQwJzQ0LjQiTiAywrAwNScwNi44Ilc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1712237215619!5m2!1sen!2suk

Pan On The Roof. 4th October

Sykehouse Junction

The wind was less this morning, but due to pick up in the afternoon again. Time to get on with jobs!

Matching socks too

My improved dungarees came out for the first time. They are very bright and I’m hoping that after a few boat jobs they will be broken down a touch, otherwise I suspect the costume designer on panto will have them off my back, she likes orange and very bright colours. I cut up some of the left over yoga mat (from when I made the giant mug earlier this year) to pop into the new big knee pockets, hopefully I’ll have more chance of kneeling on these than the old smaller ones.

Various bits of equipment were dug out from under the dinette and we set to work. The two main things requiring attention the mushroom over the bathroom (which is leaking) and the centre line fairlead/cleat. I’ve touched this up before, but obviously not well enough and the screws have let water in, a big bubble of rust is trying to peel itself away from the cabin side!

We boat too much and don’t stop to do jobs enough!

Mick fought with the fairlead, a Frank screw needed drilling out. Then we moved to the mushroom vent. A bolt undone from the inside to take the cap off, then four screws to remove the stem. This mushroom’s talking to me! There had been a small bubble of rust visible before we removed it, but just lifting the stem up revealed the amount of rust that had been working away underneath! All the others will need doing, but not today.

Weighted down to stop them blowing away when the wind got back up

To get onto the roof I’d need to use the stern lockers. The pram cover would be better coming off, a perfect time to give the covers a spray of Wet and Forget. The covers were laid out on the grass, given a liberal spraying and left to dry. Hopefully we’d not have any rain for a few hours! Hopefully giving them a spray now will mean that instead of them going green over winter that they have a go at cleaning themselves. Well that’s the hope.

Up on the roof the attachment of doom was put to use on the rusty roof. Grinding off the brown, back to shiny metal. The grab rail on the starboard side was done too. Then Fertan was brushed on and left to do it’s thing, a gentle spray of water a couple of hours later to help encourage it even more.

Cleaned off

Covers back on to finish drying, tools packed away inside. Another window got the full clean treatment, that leaves the kitchen windows, one full hopper and one porthole to do. By now I needed a sit down.

Boats came past throughout the afternoon, turning at the junction. Kingfishers chirped across the reservoir, I’d seen one hovering before diving when out doing the covers. Now two of them darted back and forth along the canal to our stern. Not enough time to grab a camera! Just a joy to hear and catch a glimpse of their electric blue.

More knitting in front of a film. Clemency (2019) about a Governor of an American Prison who has to oversee the death sentence. Her twelfth lethal injection will almost certainly be her last. A jolly film, not. Maybe I should look for another Carry On film to lighten up the afternoons knitting.

Very tasty

During the afternoon a beef and beetroot curry sat on the stove top gently cooking away filing the boat with yummy aromas. To accompany it I made us some pan fried onion bhajis. They went down exceedingly well. Glad I bought the chickpea flour in Doncaster.

0 locks, 0 miles, 9 hours! 1 mushroom removed, 1 fairlead removed, 2 much rust, 1 attachment of doom, 2 kingfishers zooming, 1 sock finished, 1 pan on the roof to keep the rain out, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Intelligent Alien Carrot. 16th September

Lincoln Visitor Mooring to Burton Waters Visitor Mooring

Wonder how much longer I’ll be strapping my toes together for?

Needing to run the engine in the morning to top the batteries up means there is hot water, so a morning shower is possible. At the moment this means taking off the strapping from my toes, being very careful not to knock my little toe in the shower, then once dry the strapping can be reapplied to help keep everything where it should be. It’s quite frustrating as I feel as though I should be able to do all sorts of things as it’s only a little toe, but when walking it is painful on and off, so I sit down again. But it’s only a little toe!

HONK!

Yesterday we’d discussed if we could get up to the cathedral with the minimum of walking. If we moored just through the Glory Hole we’d be able to catch the bus up to the top of Steep Hill. This however wouldn’t be fare on Tilly as she’d not like our location, we’d also possibly not like it with it being freshers week. If we headed out of the town could we get a bus back in. All these options were considered, what was the point if all I’d do when I got there was sit in a pew and not feel able to have a good walk round. The sights we’d planned on visiting in Lincoln will have to wait for ‘Next Time’!

Training

We did however need to move today our two days up. We pootled on into Brayford Pool where there would be plenty of room to wind. Several crews wearing high vis were out in ribs, presumably training for the emergency services, there have been crews each day on the canal since we’ve been close to Lincoln.

Here she comes

Round we went and then back to the services where we topped up with water, emptied the yellow water and pushed off again. The Brayford Belle came past, we’ve been getting things wrong for years, C&RT is actually the Canal and Riverboat Trust, who knew?

Our original plan was to head to the mooring at the Pywipe Inn, wind and moor up. We tried to wind opposite the pub, but the width of the canal encroached by sideways trees was not enough. Then we tried under the A46 road bridge, a hard edge on both sides. Not enough width again. Those Romans didn’t take into consideration 58ft 6″ narrowboats when they built the canal!

Paddleboarding popular in these parts

On we pootled, sitting outside the pub wouldn’t have been an ideal mooring for the weekend anyway. Instead we continued on to Burton Waters where we’d wind in the entrance of the marina, then reverse back to the moorings.

Turning to port

Just as we arrived so did a couple of boats coming towards us. Mick tucked us into the marina entrance and held us there for the boats to pass. Two beeps on the horn of the first boat, oh blimey he was wanting to turn to port, into the marina! Ah no, he always sounds his horn as he passes the marina just incase. We were fine and not in the way at all. Once they’d both passed Mick completed our turn and then started to reverse us back to the moorings.

In the last two days the banks have been mown. A shopping trolley we’d spotted in the long grass the other day was still there, the grass mown underneath it. At the moorings we could see where boats had been moored when the grass cutting had occurred, at least no-one would have grass stuck to their gunnels.

That looks familiar!

Four hours Tilly. Hmmm! Friendly cover up to my shoulders, I can stalk through that.

This afternoons film was a period piece, The Thing from another world (1951), I wonder why they felt they had to add ‘from another world’? Possibly the alien, made up from plant matter, a bit like an intelligent carrot was felt to be too much like a human by the producers, so it needed some clarification. Other than the THING being compared to a carrot I particularly liked that everyone was told to ‘Close the door’ when they came into a building, gusts of snow following them inside. Surely in the Arctic there would be some vestibule or curtain to help keep drafts out! The 1950’s Parker was obviously a very well insulated garment. The ending of the film was quite electrifying!

Electrocuted Carrot

0 locks, 3 miles, 2 winds, 2 failed winds, 1 canal 57 ft wide, 1 prescription collected, 0 cathedral this time, 1 stealth cat up the banks, 2 bipps means turn to port, 2 git gap cruisers, 1 boat pulled back, 1 sci-fi comedy, 1 roast chicken, 4th pair finished, 5th started, 1 helicopter crash at Great Heck! 0 hurt.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/6XqBCwtkZQzwBwZD7

Lining Up The Bucket. 11th September

Cromwell to Torksey

Beautiful, even if it’s mostly from planes

Would today be the day when I could upgrade from flip flops to something more substantial on my feet? Some slip resistant crocs made the grade, a cautious put on but after that there is plenty of room around my little toe. In the next few days we’ll see what they are like with socks.

NB Preaux about to push off

Water filling, breakfast early, clear the cratch to make more room and exchange phone numbers with Steve and Deena on NB Preaux for just in case. An Anglo Welsh boat had pulled up last night, they’d been to walk their dog this morning and their boat name was on the list for passage through Cromwell this morning. Steve looked towards the lock the green light was on it was 7:35, Neil was ready for us. We still had a couple of jobs to do but would be along shortly.

Oleanna ready for the tide

As we pulled in and passed our ropes round the risers Neil asked if there was movement from anyone else, only the dog walker. He wanted to see the crew on the hire boat before hand, so they wouldn’t be joining us. The top gates closed behind the two boats, thumbs up that we were ready, the sluices were lifted and down into the dark of the lock we went.

Cromwell Weir

We’d agreed to go first as we’ve done this stretch maybe four times before. 7:50, off we went, up to our cruising speed, hopeful to reach Torksey in time for there to be sufficient water to get over the cill today. We’d be punching what meager tide there was before it would start to help us and give us a push.

Not sure we’ve seen the weir looking so high before, the tide not up to meet it. A sand bank had birds preening themselves in the morning sunshine, maybe we should have worn shorts and not long trousers!

NB Preaux following

We followed the red line on our charts, this normally feels a touch overkill, but this morning with the level low it felt important to keep in the channel, sandbanks lurk below. Behind NB Preaux followed, their speed not the same as ours.

Round a couple of bends, we caught another fisherman! Mick put Oleanna into reverse hoping that we’d not been caught too well, the fisherman pulled and wound his line, thankfully it came free.

Hello!

I maybe should have brought out a pencil to jot notes on our new chart, but the red line was what we needed and we followed it as closely as we could. A glance behind every now and again, NB Preaux coming into view then out again at the next bend.

Contender for Photo of the Week

What a glorious morning, not too hot, not much breeze, blue skies. One look along the river gave us 2 Herons, an Egret, Egyptian Geese and a Kingfisher darting along the edge of the banks.

Careful!

Cows walked to find tasty morsels silhouetted. Sheep scrambled over rocks preferring the nettles there, hopefully none of them would loose their footing and end up in the river!

Turbines

A cruiser came past heading to Cromwell, he had a loud hailer and wished us good morning, his wind turbine whizzing round on the bow. He was soon followed by a narrowboat. As always you meet boats on a stretch where you are trying to line up with landmarks. The pylon behind with the white domed windmill ahead. Line the pooh bucket up with it.

Gulls sat on top of marker posts, some having seen better days, now rusting away, few bright white anymore.

At Marnham Boat Club two chaps were tentatively backing a speed boat into the river, would it float before water came over the stern? And just how much effort went into the positioning of that life boy? Under Fledborough Viaduct, navigational notes should be amended here to left or the centre pier, rather than under the graffitti, now almost impossible to see until you are right underneath.

Lining up with the wires

Approaching Dunham Dubbs (is it one B or two?) I got out the new chart showing the recently added markers. A new line to follow up to the bend, then to follow the line of the western overhead wires.

The two new boards needed lining up, but where was the white post ahead of us? Two tractors cut grass, maybe they needed to do a little bit of pruning of a tree, then the post came into view. We lined the posts behind and the pooh bucket on the roof with the post ahead, we knew were we in the channel.

Dunham Toll Bridge

One day we’ll stop at the 48 hour mooring before Dunham Toll Bridge, but not today, the tide was busy going out and we were eager to get to Torksey.

Cottam Power Station

Past Butlers sunken island and great views of Cottam Power Station, the coal fired station now decommissioned (2019). Demolition works have already started on sight this year, the cooling towers and chimney stack will be the last parts to be demolished in 2025. Then according to Wikipedia the sight will become a ‘garden community’ with 1500 houses.

Not far now, a couple of big sweeps of the river before we got to see Jack’s Ferry, time to radio the lock and check if we were in time. He’d just had a call from NB Preaux, they were a little way behind us. We were told there was 3ft and a bit over the cill at the moment, the lock gates would be open ready for us, lights on green. We were to approach with caution and slow our speed right down. If at any time he thought we should abandon then the lights would go to red.

Torksey Lock!

We turned into the cut, one cruiser on the pontoon, plenty of space should we need it. The lights were red, the gates just opening, light went to green. A call on the radio, depth over the cill 3ft, we should be fine as we’re 2ft 6″. Mick slowed us right down, the shallowest point being the cill between the small lock and longer lock chamber. We’d made it, 10:41. Ropes were passed up to the top and now there was a short wait for NB Preaux.

Here they come

The Lockie gave them a call, but he had the wrong number. They’d told us their draught was 2ft, so they should be fine, but the Lockie had not been able to confirm that with them. As they approached they slowed right down and were told to pass a line round a riser in the longer chamber under the road bridge. Once we were all settled the gates were closed and the lock started to fill. Thumbs up from Steve and Deena, what a wonderful cruise it had been.

A pause to dispose of rubbish for us and then we sauntered on to the 3 day moorings, NB Preaux carrying on to explore further. Once we’d tied up, the rules were recited to Tilly who was FAR too excited to listen. 6 what?!! Wow!! See ya!

Torksey Lock and Cottam Power Station behind us

An early lunch, well we’d had breakfast far too early. Then a quiet afternoon. Phone signal not the best unless you stand on the bank or resort to Whatsap. I had a catch up call with Gemma from Panto, still waiting to hear back about the cloths and printing, I’d sent an email first thing, but now with poor signal it was hard to follow it up.

Coming up the lock

Another Denzil Washington film this afternoon Inside Man (2006). A bank heist with a difference, Denzil a NYPD hostage negotiator and items locked away in safety deposit boxes. Only problem was that our internet signal was patchy too, so it took a long time to watch it. As the afternoon progressed rain set in, we closed up the covers and settled down.

2 locks, 16.9 miles, 1 right, 2 boats not 4, 1 fisherman nearly caught, 1 bright sunny day, 2 new markers, 2 upstream boats, 3 ft, 2ft 10, 2 boats onto the Fossdyke, 6 hours, 5th sock finished, 6th started, 1 happy cat, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://goo.gl/maps/6vZAUh4qTHoo8tf89

Another Plunge Into The Depths. 6th September

Stoke Lock to Hazelford Lock low side

Oleanna likes Stoke Lock

A volunteer was spotted this morning and when we were ready to push off Mick radiod ahead, ‘Come in on the green’. I hobbled to the bow to be on rope duty, Mick slowing Oleanna right down for ease of passing the rope around the riser without having to step onto a locker. Down we went to the next reach of the river.

Hazy hazy out there this morning. Looking back up stream a chap was waist deep fishing in the froth near the weir. We soon heard on the radio that someone was on our tail approaching Stoke Lock.

Tilly’s Level Crossing

Onwards down stream in the haze, Tilly wasn’t bothered about waving to the lovely ladies in Burton Joyce who’d rescued her, I wonder if that’s the level crossing she was found near.

Moo!

The banks were filled with Egyptian Geese, Lapwings, Mallards, Egrets, Canadians and Cows. Such a lovely stretch of the river.

At Gunthorpe the gates were open ready and waiting for us. I hobbled to the bow, passed my rope round THE riser. We then had a wait as the boat behind us had just about caught up, the lockie reopened the gates and we had a five minute pause. Down we both went thankful of there being a Lock Keeper on duty today, the pontoon below sits right in the current from the weir so is hard to access on a normal day with two able bodied crew.

As we headed further northwards the sun was doing it’s best to burn through, our view clearing all the time. What a pretty reach. Now we had Herons and sheep sheltering in the shadows from the sun. Cruiser Brenda overtook us, his pace just a touch more than ours. I sat and wove ends on on the socks I’d knitted for Mick and myself.

Approaching Hazelford Lock we were asked to slow down as a boat was about to come up. Brenda and Oleanna slowed our pace and ended up treading water for a while. With the green light we were in the lock and descending down. Here Brenda carried on towards Newark, here we pulled in against the lower part of the moorings.

Shady sheep and Harry the Heron

At the moment it takes time for us to moor up. I’m not able or confident about stepping onto the bow to tie us up as I normally do whilst Mick sorts the stern out. But I can lasso a bollard and hold the rope until my glamourous assistant is available. The bank is high, the river level low currently, so getting on and off the boat is that bit more tricksy. As I stepped back inside I heard a clunk splash clunk. What was that? Mick’s two month old phone plunging into the depths!

We’d just been saying if it wasn’t for Gunthorpe Lock and if there were a few more moorings along the Trent we’d really like it! Not anymore!

Tilly was read the rule book from cover to cover and then given five hours shore leave.

Why?

What NO Fishing! Pah!! Oh hang on I remember, up the top it’s really really good! Apart from returning to stock up on Dreamies and have a little bit of a cool off she made use of her hours of freedom and thankfully stuck to all the rules today.

What to have for tea tonight? Here we’d thought a barbeque would be good, but how would I get off the boat? A trial attempt was needed. The bow is higher than the stern and after sussing out walking backwards along the gunnel would give me more room to get my bum on the bank then a big pull up aided by Mick it was possible. However the rest of the big steps were quite hard going to reach the wider area at the top. Maybe, maybe not.

A hitchhiker, a Red Veined Darter?

Mick then set to with net, pole and a torch to see if he could at least retrieve his phone from the depths. It actually worked, even with the depth being nearly deeper than our boat hook! At least with the sim card retrieved he could use an old phone until he gets a new one.

Base camp

In the end we decided to set up bbq base camp a few steps up the bank, it would be a shame not to watch the sun set. The steps made for a good table and seat for me. If only the weir wasn’t so loud it would be so tranquil here. Well until we heard what we thought was a microlight. How wrong were we! Two speed boats came round the bend below the lock racing high up on the plane!

They had to slow down otherwise they’d crash into the lock or weir. Such small boats can stop very quickly and did so right alongside us. Such small boats can make one very big wake, poor Tilly sat inside being buffeted about all over the shop.

One chap headed up to work the lock, which seemed to take forever, especially as the two boats zoomed round in circles! The paddles were lifted, then dropped, the gates remained shut. Then the lights went out, had they broken the lock? Ten minutes later the lights came back on and soon the gates opened, we heard a zoom into the lock, then the gates closed. Ten minutes later we could hear them speeding off into the sunset.

Sunset medication

Peace and quiet again (excluding the weir) to enjoy our chilled medication just as the sun was saying goodnight.

3 locks, 9.7 miles, 9.75 digits still, 3 lock keepers thankfully,1 low mooring a touch too high, 1 soggy shivering phone, 3rd drowned phone, 5 hours of long awaited freedom, 1 big haul of blackberries, 1st pair socks finished, 2 pork steaks, 4 veg kebabs, 1 hobbling chef, 2 high speed morons shattering the peace, 2 plans maybe 3 for next year, 1 including the Trent, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://goo.gl/maps/WK55yCamscqFbpqB9

Don’t Let The Swans Through! 20th August

Between Locks 21 and 22 to Ellis’s Bridge 86

moo!

Kingfishers could be heard darting along the canal, then as we made ready to push off more of the high pitched calls could be heard from the pond/small lake just behind our mooring. Maybe we should have got chairs out last night and sat down there waiting to see them.

St Wiston’s Church and cows

One more lock and a mile before we reached where we should have been last night. Here the towpath is narrow, so we’d not have felt happy having a barbecue even if the wind had died down. However the view is good across to St Wiston’s Church all the meadows were filled with buttercups on our first visit here back in 2015.

Newton Top Lock had a sign on it’s top gates, warning to not let the swan family down as they would then fight with another family. We took our time, once the lock was full I leant against the gate to keep it shut until Oleanna’s bow had been positioned in such a way to hopefully exclude the swans, Dad was the ring leader, but we kept him out, the gate closing as close to the rudder as was possible. Thankfully today there were no signs about C&RT running water down the locks, this next section used to have problems with low levels.

RIP

Below the second lock sat a boat, moored on the lock landing. Someone has written the reason for the boat being there on the lock gate.

Top Half Mile Lock is one where the camera has to come out. For some reason I like the tree alongside it, it’s on my favourite tree list. It has a pleasing shape, it’s position by the lock makes it photogenic no matter what season you pass in. I took lots of photos, then struggled as usual to try to keep the lower gates closed.

Cherry Pickers galore

Behind the hedge, across a golden field three cherry pickers had people hard at work, the electrification of the Midland Main Line, no trains today.

A half mile until the next few locks, each and everyone of them empty, we were following someone towards Leicester, most probably NB Raggamuffin who passed us yesterday, they’ve not been seen since.

Those bottom gates are annoying, requiring to be closed before filling up the lock, cracking a top paddle at Bumble Bee Lock 29 is the only way to keep those gates closed. When we dropped down the gates opened themselves, Mick pushed Oleanna over to shut the offside gate and lower the paddle. We both held the gates closed for a while, they lulled us into a false sense of security staying shut until our backs were turned. Oleanna had by now positioned herself below the lock so that it was hard for Mick to step back on board despite having taken a centre line with him. I however could get on almost at the bow, then walk through the cabin, disappointing Tilly as I went as we’d not stopped for the day.

Bloomin gates!

Once we were both back onboard we glanced behind us, both gates wide open again as they had been when we’d arrived above! Heyho.

A suitable mooring was soon found a distance away from the road, maybe deep enough to eat out this evening after a small amount of nettle pruning. Tilly wasn’t impressed though the sideways trees not interesting enough and quite dense and don’t ask me about the footfall! I don’t know where it falls from!

A catch up phone call to the London Leckenbys was made, news of holidays, birthdays, house sales, future plans and Andrew and Josh’s current backpacking in Scotland were exchanged. Mick interrupted me, a Policeman had stopped to ask if either of us had seen a young lady. In the photo she was wearing a mortar board and thick rimmed black glasses, the Police were concerned for her. There had been numerous people come past since we’d stopped, but none I’d really taken much notice of. I hope they find her safely at a friends.

Blue, fluffy, golden, green

The amount of footfall including bicycles put us off sitting out, instead our meal was cooked in the oven. Baked Basa with garlic and lemon with roasted vegetables. Basa a first for us, just a white fish really, nothing to write home about.

It was okay

During the day a visit to the leak on the Stainforth and Keadby had been made by the chap who runs the Trentlink group on facebook. He’d come across two banksmen. The foliage around the area had been cut back so that the leak could be monitored more easily, the rest of the stretch still quite overgrown. More photos and a video were on view. It’s a worry as there’s quite a lot of water where it shouldn’t be, but the levels in the cut remain at normal height due to the pound being fed from the River Don.

8 locks, 3.7 miles, 1 photographic tree, 4 troublesome gates, 1 missing person, 1 outside not being awarded with any stamps, 1 heel turned.

https://goo.gl/maps/Xhj4fc3TG2jMUybN8

Timeshare Mooring. 18th August

Union Wharf to between Bridges 8 and 9 Market Harborough Arm

Mick had checked his weather app and rain would be with us at midday. The rain begged to differ and arrived at around 9:30am. Oh well, there was that phone call to make to the printers. Scott was helpful whilst not being as helpful as I’d hoped. Basically the print I received was the best they could do. A higher resolution scan of my model would do better, but it seems that most printers no longer do scanning, the majority of clients handing over their work in digital format. Enlarging to 25 times is a specialist job. He’s hoping he can help, he went away with questions to ask, I went away with places to find who’d be able to scan to a much higher resolution.

A hunt round google gave me many places that scan documents and images 1200/2400 dpi. I think I’d need to scan my model to about 9600 dpi! I passed the information on to John to keep him in the loop, the jury is still out. The best solution to this would be for me to paint the portals, guaranteed to get the best result. Next would be the company we’ll be using to print the cloths, they would be £1500 more, now we know why. I’ll see if I can find somewhere on our route to scan the model, get another sample. Thank goodness we don’t need it next week!

One good thing about the emails this morning was that I found out that the set builders had been given the green light, something that it would have been nice to know!

With the rain getting less wet we set off with the brompton and headed down into town to do a big shop. A pause to look in at the hardware shop. Wilkos, several people buying Christmas trees, we don’t need any lights after our purchase for the flotilla last year. The market looked inviting, but nothing grabbed me. So into Sainsburys for a stock up to last us to Leicester.

Union Wharf from the water

After lunch we pushed off, winding in Union Wharf Basin hire boats about to set off. We immediately pulled back in to empty our yellow water tank, the hire boat overtaking us. However just round the bend they were being shown how to pull in, so we overtook them and carried on out of town, our aim to find Tilly a suitable mooring for a few hours before dingding time.

The back gardens are large and pretty. One yesterday was having the grass cut by a robot, we wonder does it have to cut the grass every other day so as to keep on top of it. Maybe we should get one for the house, then the garden would look after itself, well the grass would. Wonder what a robot would make of cat poo in the middle of a lawn though?

A heavy guard

The towpath workers had packed up for the weekend. The bucket from a digger left so diesel theft would be hard.

A cormorant dived and fished, two mouthfuls of silver wriggling fish swallowed as we passed. A Kingfisher started to escort us along a wooded stretch, only to be bombed by a bird of prey. Diversionary tactics employed and it darted back past us to give the now following hireres a flash of electric blue.

Hello!

They were now hot on our heals, we pulled over to let them pass. They’d hoped we’d work the swing bridge ahead. Instead we decided to pull in for the day, a gap between us and a sign warning of a boat cat roaming. The cat’s owner soon walked by, his cat was likely to venture as far as us, but tends not to go out until dark. Between the two cats we’d found a timeshare mooring, Tilly would be in (we hoped) long before dark.

Time to tidy things away. The unruly pile of stuff on the dinette was all put back where it belonged, under the seat of the dinette, in the office cupboard, the cat proof cupboard got a tidy and things slotted in there too. Drawing pens, watercolours and sketch book still accessible. The corner of the dinette reclaimed. What a lovely feeling.

0 locks, 2.9 miles, 1 wind, 1200 not enough, 2 boxes wine, 0 christmas trees, 4 bags on a bike, 1 wet morning, 1 robotic lawn mower, 1 speedy boat, 2 cats timeshare, 2 pizzas, 1 green light for the build, 1 booking made for North Lock.

https://goo.gl/maps/d3EeG1kU7UJjW5oN9

Pivoting Up The Thames. 11th July

Rushey Lock Meadows to Lechlade Cow Field

Oh blimey, how did that happen? We both slept in, not done that in ages. This of course meant we were later than planned in leaving this morning. With rain forecast for the afternoon we hoped we’d not get a soaking.

That’s how much further

The chair that had gone for a swim yesterday had been left in the cratch overnight. It was nice and humid in there this morning, the chair was moved to stand in the shower, I didn’t want it in the wardrobe for a while (where it usually lives) until it is most definitely dry.

Yesterday afternoon we’d been joined by another boat, they pushed off a good quarter of an hour before us, would we catch them up to be able to share locks? Todays cruise had to make up for not moving yesterday and would consist of many twist and turns as the Thames wiggles it’s way upstream.

A breakfast stop

A group sat on the bank, their three boats pulled ashore by Old Man’s Footbridge. The smell of breakfast wafted onto the river. We waved, but they were all too busy tucking into their bacon and eggs.

Radcote Lock

The Self Service sign was out at Radcote, but there was someone about at the lock. As I walked up a Lock Keeper opened up the sluices to empty the lock, he then said he’d see us at the next lock.

Towards Radcote Bridge is a nice looking campsite, motorhomes were parked up amongst the trees and geese preened themselves on the bank. Moorings, then the tents and shepherd huts. The tents looking plump like meringue kisses fresh out of a piping bag. Through the little arch which looks like someone missed the road above.

Opening the top gates with the long pole

Sure enough the Lock Keeper was at Grafton Lock, he emptied the chamber for us and then pushed the gates open. As we rose numerous birds busied themselves over our heads. House Martins. There are thirty nests around three sides of the lock cottage, around sixty birds and they were preparing for their third brood of the year. The Lock Keeper said they were very good tenants, they wake at 7:30am and go to bed at 8:30pm. He was obviously very proud of them.

We pulled in to top up the water tank, the last water point before Lechlade. A load of washing had been on. Tilly’s pooh box had a clean, she was obviously crossed legged so it got an extra rinse after an emergency wee! Then I had a shower. The water tank was full to the brim and everything that required water done.

Nice

Lunch was eaten on the move. Not many big houses sit alongside the upper River Thames, but those that do are obviously rather nice, it is the Thames after all!

There’s a mooring in there somewhere!

The moorings at Kelmscott were empty, not surprising as the house is only open Thursday to Sunday. Signs hide amongst the undergrowth suggesting more moorings. We used one of these when we visited the house four years ago, it required a safety rope to be able to clamber up and down the bank from one of the handy mooring signs.

More wiggles, was it an M or a W? A line of trees came into sight time after time after time.

Turquoise and orange

Buscot Lock was also manned. Here flower troughs make up the display of flowers. I spotted that we’d picked up a hitchhicker. A caterpillar? As we pivoted round more wiggles I tried looking it up. Not a caterpillar, possibly a Sawfly Larvae, hope it wasn’t after my wild strawberry plants.

Mick worked the tiller hard getting us round the bends. Oleanna seeming to sit still whilst the world pivoted round us. Then St John’s Lock the last lock on the navigable Thames. Here we paused, emptied the yellow water tank and disposed of rubbish before heading for the lock. Just as I was about to close the bottom gates a boat came into view, we waited to share, they could close the offside.

The matchstick markers on the paddles

Now to find a mooring, a downhill boat had said there was plenty of space. True but would any of it be deep enough for us? By now the wind had picked up. We tried pulling into one space, far too shallow. Another was reversed back to, rubble filled it’s depth. Forwards. On the slight bend it seemed to be deep enough. Mick tried bringing us in, the wind having other ideas.

Now, where to moor?

Our locking partners headed on further towards Ha’Penny Bridge. Pulling in to the bank they were pushed away. They headed on to wind and then try again.

Oleanna was reversed. we’d take a run up at mooring this time. A couple walking their dog offered to take ropes for us, which was very much appreciated. With them clinging on to Oleanna we eventually managed to get spikes into the ground and be tied up. The couple then headed off to help our locking partners moor up too.

Thank you for holding ropes

Tilly was given the ground rules, but we knew she’d not be enamoured with our mooring, no friendly cover or trees within scurrying distance. Then the heavens opened. It was even less popular!

During a drier moment there was a knock on our roof. Time to pay our mooring fees. This chap lives on a widebeam moored on the field, he collects the fees for the local farmer. They are the only boat to be allowed an electric fence around them to help keep the cows away. These cows are known for chewing ropes, licking paint and playing with pram and cratch covers! Thankfully the farmer has moved them to another field for a few weeks as the grazing here needs to recover, so we won’t have any problems with them during our stay.

£5 a night or £25 for a week, we paid the later.

4 locks, 9.3 miles, 1 lock shared, 2 gates, 1 clean pooh box, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 horse fly bites, 7 nights, £25, 0 cows.

https://goo.gl/maps/boTREtnWjL4U9jkdA

Swooping Kazoos. 10th May

Viking Marina to Pollington Lock

Both of us were awake around 6am, after trying to pretend we were still asleep for a little while we gave up and got up. A cuppa each then it was time for Mick to take the van back to Scarborough. I originally was to get a lift to Tescos for a few bits but when we got to the gate and noticed the lake on the approach road had grown overnight and I’d have to wade back through it, it was decided that Mick would pick things up on his return as he’d have a Brompton with him.

Across the marina

What a lovely morning. Blue blue skies as I tidied away more things in the boat.

By 9am there was much activity going on in the marina. The boat crane was being moved about. I headed out for a nosy and to keep an eye open for our Sainsburys delivery. The boat crane was heading for a cruiser out on the hard, a lorry sat waiting to transport it to the Broads for adventures new. All this would take time, but would it coincide with my delivery arriving?

Heading to waters new

The nice delivery lady pulled up as close as we dared and was happy to move should the lorry want to leave the marina. We were speedy with popping everything into bags and thankfully had plenty of time before the lorry wanted to leave.

Time to repack items headed for the freezer, a chicken to joint. Mick phoned, his mission to take things to the tip in Scarborough from the house before returning the van had failed, the tip being closed on Wednesdays! Then trains had been cancelled between Scarborough and Hull due to a goods train becoming separated from it’s engine. Thankfully Mick was allowed to change his route and return via York, normally a more costly route.

A bite to eat was needed then we went to check out of the marina, handing in our gate fob. Three months and two days Oleanna had been in residence. In that time we’d only managed to use 18 units of electric, far different than when we stayed a couple of years ago and the electric bill exceeded £300! We are wiser now than then.

Once the ropes and fenders we’d left tied to the pontoon were recovered, the cratch and pram hoods rolled and folded away, life jackets on we were ready. We reversed away from the pontoon, winded and headed out of the marina, turning left towards Goole docks.

Big ships in the docks

Time to fill our diesel tank. Mick had paced out the gap between the big gravel barges and the floating drydock, we might just fit. He reversed Oleanna into the diesel point the bow came round with a few inches to spare, made to measure. 50 litres, the domestic price now lower than £1. We paid our dues and then said our farewells. Thank you Laird.

Such a happy boat

The wind was starting to pick up, just as we were wanting to wind. It helped to a certain point then hindered the last part of the manoeuvre, but we got round in the end. Time to head along the very familiar straights, a cruiser just beating us to the way ahead.

Fishermen lined the banks a match in full flow meaning not many responded to our Hellos. We did see a few fish being reeled in. On we pootled, darkening skies threatening to soak us.

Drax, the only power station left in the area

Past the breach site. The cooling towers of Drax gradually getting further away, bye bye to the NORF.

Ducks, Herons, Swans, Grebes and the occasional Lapwing kazooing overhead. Oh it’s so nice to be back out in nature again.

Straight on please

At the end of the New Junction Canal we continued heading westwards, waving to our friend David who moors at the far end. The last few years we’ve taken the fast route southwards on the River Trent, but this year we’ve opted to cross the Pennines before making our way southwards.

How much further? The skies were really starting to turn dark. Patches of blue sky and low lying rainbows brightened our view. It was a touch later than we’d hoped and Tilly deserved some shore leave, so we pulled in on the visitor moorings below Pollington Lock.

Pollington ahead!

Once our location was noted from What3Words, Nebo stopped and cruising report on it’s way, I recited the rules to Tilly.

You have one hour. No Friends home dead or alive, or putting them on the roof for later. No jumping in, no bullying, no going on other peoples boats. She ran to the stern doors, once opened she shot out, towpath time!

Tail held high

I accompanied her for a little walk to the far bench, her tail held high as she followed me, then this was followed with thank you head nudges. There wasn’t really enough time for her to explore further as she required her quota of ‘Thank you for coming home!’ Dreamies.

She and me back where we belong

A touch more unpacking before we tucked into Toad in the Hole with some rather nice mushroom and onion gravy. That’s the sausages used up from the freezer in the house, the chicken stock was still solid so will be used tomorrow.

A Pollington sky

0 locks, 8.6 miles, 2 winds, 1 left, 1 van returned, 3 cancelled trains, 3 diversion trains, 2 boxes cereal, 6 bags, 4 boxes, 2 moving cruisers, 1 chicken jointed, 18 units, 50 litres, 1 mass fishing match, 1 hour, 1 walk, 6 sausages, 14782 compressed photos, 1 blogger trying to remember what to put at the end of the days list!

https://goo.gl/maps/2hbjA9H6b7ifurEt8

Sharing. 30th March

Ten years ago today we stepped off our shareboat, NB Winding Down for the last time. Well Mick visited her again when showing prospective purchasers around. But the 30th March 2013 was the end of a three week cruise when we’d moved her from the then Carefree Cruising base at Elton Moss near Sandbach to a new base at Welton Haven on the Leicester Section.

We’d really enjoyed our near four years as shareboaters. Four weeks a year onboard the same boat (despite every owner bringing and leaving their own cling film!) had been made the most of.

A week iced in at Aqueduct Marina where we only got to move to top up with diesel and have a pump out.

A March trip when we had to buy ourselves sun hats and suncream and ventured down the Anderton Boat Lift onto the River Weaver. We hope to return this year to spend more time on the river.

The odd extra week came our way that other owners couldn’t use. Hmmm!

It was an affordable way to spend our holiday weeks from work afloat.

Ten years ago we didn’t know where to go for breakfast after packing the car to set off back home, we ended up on the bridge over the M1 at Leicester Forest East Services. Following three weeks of the tranquillity of the waterways the chair scraping noise from mid morning diners was SO loud it had us in stitches.

In the last ten years we sold our share, bought NB Lillyanne to keep us going until we had Oleanna built. The start of our original build wasn’t so good and we had to start all over again, but it was certainly worth it, as Oleanna is a far better boat than she would have been.

NB Winding Down we think is now based at Aston Marina outside Stone. Originally she was blue, then green and very recently she has returned to being blue again, just as we’d got used to spotting her in bright green. Maybe we’ll pass her this year and be able to say hello again.

Up in Scarborough it’s been a busy time. The back bedroom has been decorated. New curtains made for the living room and dining room on one side of the house. The sample of the front cloth for panto last year is now stretched on a frame and hung on a wall. The room may now have to be called the wave room as it also contains a set of photos of wave dodgers in the North Bay here in Scarborough.

Last week we had a day out to Bempton, hoping to see Puffins. Despite both of us having lived in Scarborough since the 1990’s neither of us had been. Sadly it was far too windy for the Puffins so we had to make do with thousands of Gannets instead.

The duvet that sprung holes last year now has a new cambric cover. My painting dungarees have had an upgrade, new elastic, a patch and new pockets for extra kneeling pads, which I’m hoping to make out of some giant mug yoga mat offcuts. They are now considerably more colourful and maybe a little bit in theme for this years Chippy Panto. Yes, I am returning for my fifth panto at Chippy. I can’t say any more about it at the moment as they haven’t announced anything yet. But it promises to be very colourful and toe tapping, it may have the audience dancing in the aisles!

The house is a very full house at the moment with two lodgers and tonight it will be opening night of Comedy of Errors at the SJT. We’re heading along to see the show and await to see what a lobster has to do with the Shakespearian comedy!

#unit21 played it’s last two shows at The Storyhouse in Chester last week. What a show! It was a shame to not be there for the final performance, but Chester is a long way from Scarborough. I’ll be meeting up with some of the Dark Horse actors in a few weeks time on a different project.

We keep in touch with the waterways. Our friend Chris on NB Elektra has a live bowcam so we can get a pootleing fix. He’s currently on the Shropie and it looks like it’s been raining this morning. We tend not to watch so many vlogs, but do pop by The Pirate Boat to catch up with Heidi every now and again. It’s nice to see a few bloggers are back out and about on the water too. NB Bonjour, NB Briar Rose, NB What A Lark, NB Hadar, NB Ali’s Dream to name a few. I’m getting quite home sick.

Our planned cruise now has slight alterations due to a family get together and work commitments for me. So we now have a firm date for when we’ll need to be back on board and heading towards the Pennines.

Saturday will see me taking up route on the sofa or my Mum’s nursing chair to knit. My Sockathon will start after breakfast on the 1st April. I need to average a pair of socks every three days, hopefully I’ll manage more, but we’ll see. Donations of yarn are starting to arrive. I’ve collected my sock yarn stash together along with needles and the patterns from last year. I just need to work out what gauge each yarn will knit up at, I’m hoping I can do this by comparing yarn using wraps per inch rather than knitting a swatch for each yarn. Fingers crossed, or should that be needles crossed! Any suggestions of things I can listen to or watch whilst knitting would be appreciated. We don’t have Netflix or anything you have to pay for.

I’ve promised myself a walk each day so that I keep moving, I can’t cease up, there are lots of locks to do soon. I will also be helping Tilly to make her Hot Paw Buns as Easter is getting close.

Fundraising so far? I’ve just about reached two thirds of my target! Thank you so much to those who’ve donated already. Still a way to go once I start knitting. If everyone who’s visited the blog this last week chipped in £1 I’d be sailing towards my target of being able to train up an Admiral Nurse with the skills and knowledge to support families affected by Dementia.

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_source=copyLink&utm_medium=one_page&utm_content=page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_term=682c2841ecbd49eb84a4298d0675e447

0 time to write lists, 2 skeins to make into cakes!