Category Archives: Birthdays

Happy 8th Baseplate Day! 14th February

Well today marks the 8th anniversary of Oleanna’s baseplate being laid in Tim Tylers workshop in Newcastle under Lyme. It was another year and a bit before we finally moved on board to cruise her down to Crick to meet with Lillian and fully move onboard.

Mick stood at the stern 58ft 6 inches away, 8 years ago

If you want to look back and see Oleanna’s build this is a post from our first visit. Her story starts much earlier so here’s a link to the first Oleanna blog post, 1948 blog posts ago!

Currently we are gradually getting ourselves ready to move back on board, the date still a little bit up in the air.

Sunday in the Park with Mick

Mick went down to check on Oleanna on Monday. A chat with the bully boy batteries went well, the newly oiled floor had cured so the back steps could go back in. I’ve been busy covering new and old dinette cushions and today we should receive new cartridges for our life jackets, which are currently still inflated in a closed room well away from cat claws.

The world of canals and rivers is keeping us on our toes as regards to stoppages at the moment. There is a silt build up on the River Trent which needs dredging between Beeston and Cranfleet locks. The coal boat had serious difficulty passing that way a week ago and was having to wait for levels to rise again before attempting to return to base. Since then the Trent has gone back into flood.

Can we start packing yet?

The Don Doors on the New Junction are having issues with their gearbox so are closed to the canal currently. Even if we got past them Vazon Sliding Bridge is closed to boat traffic until mid March whilst strengthening works are carried out to the north canal wall.

However we’d planned on crossing the Pennines. The Rochdale, Lock 67 is suffering from subsidence which will be worked on next week. Lock 65 is also showing similar signs and will be looked at next week to see what should be done.

Round 1

The Leeds Liverpool has a navigation restriction near Burnley, Embankment 39, so it is still navigable. Works at Wigan have been slowed by the weather so the closure there has been extended by a week so that concrete has more time to go off, the concrete has as yet to be laid. Problems near Foulridge Tunnel seem to have been sorted.

Round 2

Then the Huddersfield Narrow and Broad. There are bridge works and a lock closure on the Broad along with repairs to a wash wall which should be finished mid March. On the Narrow locks on the east side are closed until the end of February, then there is a closure in Stalybridge which should open mid March.

Round 3

So at the moment the Leeds Liverpool is looking the most promising, followed by the Huddersfield canals. Further south there has been a substantial landslip on the North Oxford near Brinklow. We’d planned on heading southwards this way, but we strongly suspect it will take a while for this to be sorted so will have to head southwards through Birmingham. Or do we wait for the Trent to be sorted and out of flood then high tail it south along the Leicester Section?

Who knows! We’ll wait and see what is open when we set off.

Thank you Beth

In Sockathon News I now have sponsors for 29 pairs of socks and have raised £655 for Dementia UK. Pair 7 will soon be finished. I now have a very large box of yarn donations sent in from all over, details of which are on the Yarn Donations page. There are still a few more people who have pledged yarn donations so they will be added as yarn arrives. I think I may be knitting for a few years to use it all up! If you fancy a pair here’s a link to my JustGiving page

  • Thank you Debby for becoming pair 30!
My friend Morag looking across the harbour

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 years old! 4 routes from the north closed, 1 bathroom delayed, 1 best mate visit, 2 lodgers, 1 fair weather cat, 2 opticians appointments, 2 doctors appointments, 1 vets appointment, 1 gathering, 1 leg of lamb, 2 boaters nearly ready.

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

What Did You Get? Betwixtmas 2023

Breakfast with tea not bucks fizz this year

Christmas Day was quite grey, but thankfully the drizzle/rain stayed away for us to have a walk down to the seafront and allow Frank to walk (without getting wet) the two miles to join us.

A grey seafront

Glasses of fizz were at hand to help with the final food preparations.

Gourmet sprouts

Frank had brought round three sprout stalks from his garden, so he set to. An hour and a half later, his sterling work had got enough diddy sprouts for maybe two of us, they were added to with extras from the bumper veg box I’d ordered.

All ready to tuck in

I’d seen good reviews for M&S gluten free bread sauce, so we had a taste test between theirs and mine. The Leckenby version made with brown seeded bread and some garlic, the M&S version very white and plenty of cloves. They both had good qualities, I think the decision was that they tied.

Only just fitted on our plates

Mammoth amounts of food took over our plates. We think that this year we managed to achieve the correct quantities of everything. Plenty and still quite an amount of left overs after Frank had finished. Cheese was put till the end of the meal (my Mum wouldn’t have approved!), but just as well as my birthday cake was extreamly rich! Five days later and we’ve still only managed to eat half of it. Chocolate and Hazelnut Celebration Cake and the cheese remained in it’s wrappers!

Cheese still untouched!

In the morning we’d opened our Christmas presents, before Birthday cake there were the tree presents. Mick got a new litter picker (not just for tidying up the towpaths but also to help pick things up once dropped in the engine bay on Oleanna. I got the Sarah Howells Gluten Free cook book and Frank got a pair of Pip socks, the last pair to be knitted this year. This makes it 34 pairs since April, I’d forgotten to add in a pair I made for my cousin at the beginning of May.

Blowing them out

Birthday presents followed. This pile quite often ends up with a few Christmas presents accidentally added, ambiguous wrapping, or just because.

A lovely day with fat bellies, lots of empty bottles and good company.

So what did we get?

We both got new waterproof coats.

Presents

A new barbecue. I’d considered a Cob as so many had sung their praises, but the price tag was a touch too much for Tilly’s pocket, so a slightly sterdier fold away version of the one we’ve had for the last eight or so years. It’s handy as it tucks away easily into one of the stern lockers. I got some Sketchers anti-slip trainers which are comfortable for my toe and the antislip looks as good as we’ve had before. Tilly got a flapping fish to remind her of our travels on the water. This did have to be removed after a while I just don’t understand why it didn’t die! I had resorted to numerous headbut bites and yet it still flipped around!

More!

Lots of other goodies. Books were all cookery books this year, a Tom Kerridge book didn’t make the photo. Tilly got a new (to her) food and water bowls so that she doesn’t have to move them from house to boat to house. I’ll have something to say about that Blue one on my own blog! Plus a LOT of Dreamies. You’d better start moving the outside again so I can have those! Pyjamas were also popular, between us we got three pairs. An ice bag, very handy for knees or heads. Socks, now just not any old socks! Thank you to Kath who got me the arty socks, Father Christmas for the chunky socks, but extra bonus points to the NB Cleddau crew for the Crazy Cat Lady socks. Thank you!!!

Sue cutting the cake, assisted by Jaye and of course Duncan!

We’ve had a few relaxing days since, interspersed by Sue’s 60th where her family and friends took over a local Indian restaurant. What a lovely evening, Happy Birthday Sue!

Can anyone guess which lock this is?

The painting for our downstairs toilet is coming on. A good project to do Betwixtmas. Soon I’ll have to set the drawing board up and sort out dimensions of the lean too that we’re wanting to replace, there’s also the boat cushion fabric to source, curtain tracks, some painting and more bloomin sealant to do in the house! Then there are the boat jobs on the list. But these can all wait for the new year I think, Oh and there’s the yearly round up to write and that always takes ages.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got some fab presents too.

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 pairs socks, 4 cook books, 4 bowls, 3 bags of dreamies, 1 fish, 1 wobbly thing, 3 pairs pyjamas, 1 bottle truffle oil, 2 waterproofs, 1 cold on the way out, 1 on the way in, 1 lodger with a tickly throat, 1 phone, 4 pens, 4 pencils, 1 bbq, 2 much birthday cake so if anyone is passing in the next few days please help us!

Panto Postcard 4, 2023

49.5 hours

Sunday, I actually managed to have a lie in! By the time I’d made my breakfast I realised the Geraghty zoom would be half-way through, I joined and it was lovely to see everyone. I then had a leisurely morning before wrapping up against the rain to walk up to Checkers for lunch.

In the past Checkers had a good reputation and I’d imagined the pub would be heaving, but not today. Glen at the theatre yesterday had mentioned that there was a new landlord so possibly a new chef too. A table had been reserved, which was in the glazed dining room (a touch chilly), not one of the cosy side rooms. Soon I was joined by Ian my cousin who lives in Fairford near Lechlade. Back in the summer we’d arranged to meet up when I was in Chippy. Recently a date had been chosen, sadly this also coincided with a mammoth singing of the Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall, so Sally and Sam were not able to join us. However Ian had been left to tend after the Leckenby zoo and was more than happy to meet up and chat away for a couple of hours.

Checkers chilly dining room

Sadly the food didn’t live up to my expectations. We both opted for Pork, I requested a gluten free one (no Yorkshire Pudding). When they arrived the poor person serving us, on her second ever shift, explained that they were both gluten free. Well one of them should have been but the other should have come with a Yorkshire. It took quite a while before it was explained to us that they had no Yorkshires! We opted for a dessert which was okay, but certainly nothing to write home about. A shame as a pub like this should have Sunday roasts to shout out about. But what more than made up for the food was a good long chat with Ian. Our families, the plane he’s building and how long he’ll be able to have it in England as it’s registered in France.

A lazy afternoon followed, doing my best to recharge my batteries before the final push of panto. Bake off was caught up on, a blog written and some sock knitting for Dementia Uk.

Bananas!

Monday. Jo was back, she’d spent the weekend fixing bananas together, hundreds of them! During the day bits of the show were worked on by the actors, the composers were about doing notes and we continued working on the set pieces the statues got a bit more shading as they’d looked a touch anemic under the lights.

Almost finished things

Early afternoon we were joined by the Pippins, time for the first dress rehearsal. This went well, some tightening up of scene changes to be done, but that’s quite normal, sadly my statues still looked amenic time to give them more shading.

Costumes still being added every day

Tuesday. Another dress rehearsal, but first more work on set pieces.

Waiting for the open dress to start

Days like this involve working whenever the actors are not on stage so through their breaks, so meals are eaten in the dark of the auditorium. Problematic scene changes changed to nearer the end of the show, a few things still array in the interval change. At the end of the day John had one note for me regarding the scene at the end of act 1, this has a lot of dressing which had been left to last. Things still needed working on, it showed, they were next on the list. A final chicken and chips from the burger van was deserved.

This didn’t end up being my final visit!

Wednesday. In early to paint t-chests, logos had been stuck on boxes last night, extra bananas were added to stands by Jo, she’s now an expert with the yellow bendy things.

I’d wanted colourful lanterns for the set, a couple of weeks ago the crafting group in the theatre had started to make some for me. Empty 2 litre water and lemonade bottles had been covered with lighting gel and cut out black paper, a bulb inside and they resembled colombian lanterns. Local schools had also been invited to make some, these were smaller versions. Sacks of them arrived and the little red shades on the balcony fronts were exchanged for them, the rest then used around front of house. If you come to see the show look up in the bar and you’ll see the kids handywork.

Preview 1. What would the audience make of the show? What would the actors make of it too? I believe only one of the company has been in panto before, many of the actors had not even seen one before starting rehearsals. I sat next to Mariana the Assistant Director who originates from Columbia, her only experience had been last year when she was invited to watch Dick Whittington.

The new shed now well and truly used

Earlier in the day John had mentioned to the actors that the audience would be made up of Scouts, Beavers and mostly Brownies. Brownies?! The company were a touch surprised that there would be an audience of brown people watching them, more surprised that John was pointing this out. It took a bit of explaining to them about Brownies.

All that work was worth it

Blimey the audience were noisy! This is an understatement! Next to Mariana sat friends of one of the Pippins, who got the majority of the sweets during the song sheet! They were so loud Mariana covered her ears for much of the show. What a baptism for the actors. Mariana asked if it was always like this, well no, it was one end of the audience spectrum they could expect to have.

Flutterbies drying in the shed

Thursday. Final bits to do. Butterflies were painted, their strings shortened for safety, Jo had finished yesterday evening, so the props jobs were split between me and stage management. Thankfully yesterday I’d got the balance of shading on the statues just about right and Nathan the Lighting Designer had found a good colour for them too, Hercules now had his own special colour.

My paints were reduced to those that may be needed for touching up during the run, everything else was tidied away. My possessions packed up, then finally I had finished painting things. Time to change into my civies.

The board yesterday

Mick arrived with a hire car. We loaded it, did idiot checks around the building. New cocktail glasses needed to be shown to John, then a prop failure needed sorting, so I left Mick to load the last of my possessions and move the car round to my digs for the night. Last minute sewing and sticking was required, all done with just enough time for a glass of wine to be enjoyed before the show.

Thank you Glen

What a difference in audience from yesterday. Far far quieter. They enjoyed the show, Tony was a little bit reluctant to join in mind, but Tom made up for it! At least on the first two previews the cast had had both ends of the spectrum of audiences, hopefully from now on they will get a reaction somewhere in between.

Adios Chippy

Notes after the show were given, just a couple of small jobs needed doing which could be left with stage management. We headed to the pub, hoping there’d be some food available, but sadly the kitchen was closed. Mick and I headed to another pub and the story was the same there too, the burger van got our custom, one last portion of chips before returning to have drinks with everyone at the pub. Final farewells were had.

My Chippy home for the last four weeks

Last night at Suzanne’s, a final tidy up and pack on Friday morning. Chance to have a final chat before handing my key back and starting to head for home. First things first, breakfast, well brunch. We headed to The Straw Kitchen at Whichford Pottery a short drive north. Suzanne had recommended it and Louisa from the theatre had worked there at one time.

We were their first customers to arrive and selected a Super Brunch each. Mick had his with a homemade muffin, mine came with GF toast.

Very Yummy indeed

Wow it was very tasty! A bit of a shame that we wouldn’t be able to visit again easily. Afterwards we had a wander around the pottery shop where local ceramicists sell their wares. Some very nice items, but a touch too expensive for our pockets. Then we had a look outside where giant thrown outdoor pots would cost even more, several thousands of pounds, but the skill and strength to throw such pots is immense.

I’d considered trying to visit Andrew in London on our return journey, check in on him after his stay in hospital. But the extra hours of driving would have been unfair on Mick, so we headed northwards instead. The journey took a while longer than expected, a lorry having crossed the central reserve on the M18 and traffic for no obvious reason elsewhere.

The bottom of Hatton

At just gone 4pm, Scarborough was getting dark, the silhouette of Tilly could be made out in one of the bay windows SHOUTING!!! It took a couple of seconds for her to realise who I was after being away for four weeks FOUR WEEKS Do you know HOW many big sleeps that was?! Tom is alright, but he’s not She!

Where have you been ?!

Partially unpacked we made use of the car and did a big shop, then put some clean clothes on and walked up to the Stephen Joseph Theatre for our friend Jaye’s party. This was to celebrate her receiving her state pension, she’d decided to spend it on having a party.

Most of our Scarborough friends were there, sorry not to see you Ali. A suitable surprise cake had been organised by Duncan for the birthday girl. A lovely evening, after a couple of drinks we headed back home, it had been a long day for Mick and an even longer four weeks for me. Time to cuddle up with Tilly and recover.

Borderline. 24th May

Curley Wurleys to Barrowford Visitor Moorings

Off not quite as early as planned, there was the yellow water tank to empty and the view to enjoy for just a short while longer before pushing off. We then got to enjoy the view this way and that for a while before the hawthorn blossom took over.

The Cross Keys

East Marton Double Bridge, The Cross Keys Pub high above sadly closed.

East Marton Double Bridge

Rolling hillocks of fields, all lumpy and bright green. The farmers were busy cutting the grass in the sunshine, up and down.

It took us a while to reach Greenberfield Locks which would take us up onto the summit pound of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. A chap was busy at the bottom lock, he waved us on as he opened the bottom gates for a big widebeam. He’d been helping his mate down the flight a single hander with the use of only one arm, so a true single hander.

The middle lock was emptied for us by a volunteer and then we were urged to catch up another narrowboat who was waiting in the top lock. These guys were out for a week from Skipton, they’d be going as far as Foulridge before returning.

We were now at the highest and wound our way round Barnoldswick, Barlick if you are local. No time today to head into town for a pork pie, we wanted diesel and gas.

Cobweb and Oleanna together

Pulling in at Lower Park Marina, Oleanna was stern to stern with NB Cobweb. We’d been hoping to meet somewhere, maybe share the Wigan flight. NB Cobweb is owned by Vicky and her husband David, years ago Vicky used to work front of house at the SJT in Scarborough. Earlier this year we’d just missed each other at Bramwith Lock, a comment on a post on facebook made me realise we knew each other. Sadly no-one was onboard today, their plans have changed so we won’t be sharing locks with them, maybe another time.

A fill up of diesel and a new bottle of gas and we were on the move again. We paused at Salterforth Bridge to dispose of rubbish and recycling. The Anchor pub here is also closed. Such a shame that these once thriving pubs are no more.

No longer the border

Now we discussed the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. Two houses in Barlick flew rose flags of different colours. Was the sign further along the canal in the correct place? It was once upon a time, but today according to the OS map, we’d crossed the border below Greenberfield Locks.

Gongoozling on high

Approaching Foulridge memories came back of a conversation I’d had with my brother nine years ago, Jac his wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully today Jac was busy celebrating her 60th birthday in London, maybe the festivities weren’t quite what they’d had in mind as Andrew tested positive for covid at the weekend. Happy Birthday Jac!

Waiting for the green light

Mick checked the times for Foulridge Tunnel. On the hour to ten past heading westwards, we’d be stopping for lunch then. One boat came through eastbound, then we pushed off as the lights turned green. The mile long tunnel was damp in places, we’re out of practice as I nearly missed the three air shafts or mysterons.

Now most definitely in Lancashire we pootled on to the visitor moorings. Here we settled in and debated whether it would be too breezy for a barbecue again. The asparagus wouldn’t last much longer.

Tilly burrowing her way through the grass

Tilly was a touch miffed with the amount of footfall until she found the wooded area with fantastic friendly cover. Here she kept herself very busy for a couple of hours, which required being called back to the boat. I got to do my mad cat woman performance to a passing crowd.

We decided to brave the breeze and set ourselves up in a line along the mooring for a barbecue. Maybe we should have stopped a touch further on where the bank was flatter. It was still a very pleasing evening sitting out as the sun fell behind the hill opposite our mooring, just a shame the asparagus went black almost as soon as it went on the grill! The pork and veg kebabs were very tasty.

3 locks, 10 miles, 1640 yrds of tunnel, 3 mysterons, 73.6 litres diesel, 13kg gas, 11 fronds of asparagus, 4 veg haloumi kebabs, 2 pork steaks, 1 jolly good wood, 1 near meeting, 60!!!

https://goo.gl/maps/oAyjJZnPzCRjRLQL7

Pushing The Pin. 22nd May

Skipton

Frank was up and eating breakfast before we were, he was keen to get himself over to Leeds to see a mate on his way back to Scarborough. Soon the boat was empty and the fridge looked depleted again.

Time for us to do a stock up shop. I wrote quite a long list whilst Mick had yet another phone call, I’m beginning to think he’s having a bit of a fling with someone at Royal London!

He headed off with the bike to do a big shop, leaving me with complaining Tilly, I think she’s forgotten that she’d rejected our mooring as being rubbish the other day. We’d considered moving on through Brewery Swing Bridge, but the sun felt like it would do a better job with the solar where we were.

First ideas

Time to get the panto sketch book out and start doing a few scribbles for ideas. The basic shape of Chipping Norton was traced from a previous years sketch book and then I used a pin to push through several pages marking the corners, speeding up drawing it out time and time again for a story board.

I came up with four ideas of a basic setting. Some maybe better than others. I’ll see what else comes to mind in the next couple of days before I start working my way through the whole show adding in the different scenes.

Another covid test done, both negative, we were safe to make a visit to our friends.

Margie and Robert live by the canal, we last visited them late summer 2020. It was lovely to see them both, plus there was an added bonus of their niece Alison having just arrived for a visit. I’d not seen Alison since we were most probably in our twenties, so it was lovely to have a catch up with her as well.

An exchange of parcels was made, some post for us and the very last pair of Dementia socks to be handed over. Robert immediately popped them on followed by his sandals, to which Margie said ‘I could fancy you wearing those!’ Sadly I didn’t get a photo, maybe Alison can get him to pop them back on before she leaves.

We headed out to Wildwood for a meal. The youngsters walked via the canal so that Alison could meet Oleanna whilst the elders drove. The restaurant is in part of the Town Hall and apart from it not having any level access and the toilets being on the second floor it was very nice.

A starter!

Mick and Robert opted for starters, Mick’s garlic bread arrived the size of a main course so had to be shared out. The goats cheese and mushroom penne was very tasty, plenty of choices for gluten free.

Pip, Alison, Margie, Mick and Robert

We were so busy chatting away that the restaurant had to turn the big lights on to help persuade us it was time to leave. On our return walk Tilly popped her head through the curtains to meet Alison, she then sat in the window puzzled as to why we’d carried on walking past!

A lovely evening, followed by more birthday presents sent from London which included a heater for our engine bay, very exciting.

Birthday presents from the London Leckenbys

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 empty fridge, 1 big shop, 1 full fridge, 4 versions, 1 pair socks, 2 octogenarians, 2 parcels full of presents, 5 bowls pasta, 1 giant garlic bread, 1 puzzled Tilly.

A Slowly Birthday. 20th May

Keighley Golf Club to Skipton 3 day Visitor Moorings

Presents

Another early start, but time to have tea in bed along with some birthday surprises. Presents and cards were opened. A new pair of jeans, a Boot Buddy and a limited edition print by Ant Savage. The boot buddy was from Tilly to assist when one treads in woofer deposits. If you haven’t come across Ant Savages work then they are worth a look, lino prints of bendy narrowboats among other subjects.

A bacon butty then we were on our way, pushing off just after a boat that had been moored behind us on the bridge landing for the night. Well that would have been the case except we very quickly made scraping noises, we were stuck on something. Reverse didn’t work, forwards neither, trying to push the stern out, nope! Persevering worked in the end.

The cow bridge

The pound to Skipton keeps you busy, lots of wonderful green views, with plenty of swing bridges. The chap on the boat ahead of us handed over the tiller to his wife and went ahead to open the bridge. Brilliant we’d got a boat to leapfrog the bridges with. Well that’s what we thought!

The bridge opened, the boat ahead gradually made it’s way through. We weren’t sure if the lady on board had seen us. She tried to pull over to the side, but it didn’t really work. The bridge closed behind us and the chap walked along the towpath to where his boat finally touched the bank for a second. We were still behind. Hmm not a leapfrog.

Swing Bridge after swing bridge

At the next bridge the chap hopped off again, but had serious problems moving the bridge, so I joined him, extra bum power required. Both boats came through. He explained that his wife has MS so her balance isn’t so good, possibly also her spacial awareness. This explained why she was finding it hard to pull into the side to let us leapfrog.

We pootled on behind, they clung to the towpath which we thought was a suggestion for us to pass, so Mick cranked Oleanna up a gear as we got closer to Silsden. The back gardens immaculate as ever. Here hire boats waited for the next set of guests to arrive, this is where we’d hired our first boat from together, the start of our journey to living afloat.

Not upgraded yet

Paul from Waterways Routes had asked us to make note if the towpath here had had an upgrade. His maps not only show moorings and services but also what type of towpath runs alongside the navigation. The next stretch had not been upgraded to cyclable, rough and bumpy, it would remain purple on the Waterway Routes maps, also no new moorings to report.

Birthday Boy

The next few swing bridges were opened, either by myself walking between them or we were now starting to meet other boats coming the other way and one heading towards Skipton. Maybe we’d now got a three boat leapfrog, even if one boat couldn’t leap over the others.

It’s getting busy now!

It turned out that the other boat we’d caught up with was a hire boat from Skipton and their handling skills were still being developed. Warehouse Swing Bridge was operated stopping and starting for us, then I hopped off to swing the little footbridge after I’d taken a photo of Oleanna going through Parson’s Bridge 186 to add to our collection.

Oleanna going through

Milking Hill Swing Bridge was being held open by a day boat. Just how many passengers are these little boats allowed? We counted fifteen!

A very pretty stretch

The woods here would have been spectacular a few weeks ago with a sea of bluebells. Shame we missed it.

How many to operate a swing bridge?!

At Bradley Swing Bridge we managed to become lead boat, others dropping behind or pulling in for lunch. The day boats from Skipton were now coming thick and fast along with the trip boats. Assistance was required at Snaygill Swing Bridge to get it moving. Maybe I’ve lost some umph, or have the bridges just become harder to move?

Now the uninterrupted length in to Skipton. We pulled in on the water point and filled up the tank very quickly as the pressure was so good. Where to moor up? Along this stretch where a high wall and a carpark are the view? Round past the Springs Branch where the footfall is heavy? Or further on? We opted for the more central position as it would be handier for a visitor to find us.

A late lunch was followed by Birthday Cake. Maybe the omitted milk would have made it slightly more moist, we’ll see the next time I make it. A message was sent of out location to Frank. This was soon followed by him calling. When were we meeting up? Today? NOt Thursday?!!! Blimey, good job I’d sent him the message when I did as he had a two hour drive from Scarborough on busy roads.

A few items were needed, mallet and spikes mostly, so we headed out to see what we could find. Boyes came up trumps with a mallet and Pennine Cruisers sold us two new shiny spikes. No suitable container for sawdust though or high ball glasses. We’ll carry on looking.

At 6pm Frank arrived, a hunt for a free parking space was successful and then we headed over to Bizzie Lizzie’s for fish and chips, followed by a drink in one of the many pubs.

Ooo! Skipton, why can’t we skip it!?!

0 locks, 8.9 miles, 12 bridges, 1 left open, 6 maybe held up, 1 brother positive, 1 very slow boat to Skipton, 2 boaters who’d forgotten how busy it can get, 5o many day boats, 2 many sailors hats, 1 rejected mooring, 1 Frank stirred into action, 1 full cooler box, 2 spikes, 1 mallet, 3 of each, 3 beers, 1 boy turned 65.

https://goo.gl/maps/5AL7wZDEyG7YMRKH8

In The Footsteps Of Barry. 19th May

Hirst Lock to Keighley Golf Club

Pitter patter on the roof this morning, rain! No choice but to get moving though as we wanted to ascend Bingley this morning. Passages up and down the five and three rise happen twice a day with the assistance of Lock Keepers so arriving before 10am would be a good thing.

The first arched bridge

First we had Hirst Lock. These locks are a lot kinder when shared, but nobody else was on the move. The woods round these parts must have been spectacular a couple of weeks ago, a haze of bluebells, sadly now past their best. Maybe next time we’ll cruise the L&L in early May to catch them.

Dowley Gap Two Rise

A cat sat watching us as we arrived at Dowley Gap Two Rise. The top chamber required topping up and the bottom emptying. There was a lot of walking round to be done.

Now the weather was drying up and we pootled along to the bottom of Bingley. We wondered what this stretch looked like before the A650 and railway were hemmed in by the 1980’s looking stone walls and before the railway existed. Just after we’d pulled up joining three other boats a steam train came past, shooting it’s smoke high above the walls (from Carnforth, heading to York).

One boat was descending as I popped up to say Good Morning to the Lock Keeper. He was pleased we’d be making a second pair, pairs are easier in the locks. A chap from the hire boat we’d be sharing with asked if we’d be going up straight after the two lead boats, because theoretically they could have three pairs in the Three Rise at once. Well no you couldn’t as the following boat would have to steal the water from the boat ahead. So you need to leave a chamber in between uphill boats.

Leaking gates

It took Oleanna 22 minutes to rise up the Three Rise. The Lock Keeper setting ahead and a jolly volunteer keeping an eye on paddle winding. At Bingley you need to take note of what the Lock Keepers say, conserving water is one thing, but keeping your boat safe is another. It took a while for the chap from the hire boat to understand that you shouldn’t just open paddles, a close eye on bows and sterns were required before another two turns could be made.

The Five

The pound between the Three and Five seemed low, but there was just enough water to get us in line below the Five. The bottom lock was emptied for the lead boats then the Lock Keepers headed up the flight to get the upper chambers ready, each one filled ready to be emptied into the next one.

Sitting at the bottom of the five

Tilly sat in the window to admire the view, well the sideways view was of rather good looking trees!

I headed up to reset the bottom chamber, getting to walk up the side Barry (the renowned Lock Keeper) used to inhabit. The bywash at the bottom having moments of gushing water as chambers filled and over spilled above us. The lead boat was assisted up the staircase by the Lock Keeper whilst the lady volunteer assisted us. A pause at one point as the gates into the second chamber ahead hadn’t quite closed for us to empty the one in between. Water cascaded over the top of gates, the Lock Keeper ran round, the bywash below gushed again. We paused a while to let them get ahead of us.

Thankfully we’d recalled a Lockie a few years ago suggesting to have our cratch cover closed due to leaky gates, helping to deflect the water away from the welldeck. We know of one boat this year that has turned around due to so much water spraying over their tug deck, this was before they got to the Three and Five Rises.

Water gushing from their roof

Oleanna and the hire boat would enter each chamber far enough for the bottom gates to be closed and then nestle back towards the bottom gates. Despite this the roof of the hire boat was a third wet and water rushed down along the sides of the grab rail, nowhere for the water to drain other than right down to the stern, causing two waterfalls one each side of the stern bulkhead.

At Bingley there are four seasonal Lock Keepers (2 of which share a job). The Lockie chatted about the seasonal staff in Leeds and the difficulties they were having recruiting this year. From last year one chap has retired, another hasn’t returned due to ill health, the third one, well lets just say there are still people out there who don’t respect Lock Keepers as they should.

Out the top

As we reached the top chamber it was time to put waterproofs back on as the sky turned black, thankfully we didn’t get too wet before the swing bridge was swung for us to leave the top of the Five, fifty minutes after entering the bottom.

On the same contour as Skipton

We’d thought about filling with water, but the tap by the café was being used and the hire boat wanted to top up, we’d last til Skipton. Now to find a mooring, suitable for Tilly and in time for Mick to have another important phone call.

New improved bridge

Micklethwait Swing Bridge has had an upgrade since we last came through and had to call for assistance. A raised platform with a small pedestal with Open and Close buttons. Other bridges didn’t have such good sight lines so a quick walk from checking the road to the pedestal was needed before more traffic came.

The good views start

Cygnets, new houses, the views across to Keighley. A splash of serious colour from two rhododendron bushes in a garden made us hope that we’d timed our arrival along this stretch to perfection. Sadly we’re at least two weeks too early for the masses of rhododendrons to be in full flower. Maybe next time we come this way we’ll have to do it in early June!

More swing bridges, one operated by a hire boat, another by C&RT as they were in the middle of replacing the post it gets secured to.

The Piano Boat more a raft really

We passed the Piano Boat, a raft comprising of all sorts that the owner bow hauls along the L&L. A peek in through one of the bay windows revealed a drum kit.

So much lush green

We’d thought of mooring near Riddlesdon, but that was too close to roads for Tilly. Onwards to where we thought we’d moored before, but sadly we were too deep to pull in close enough to the bank. Onwards pulling in to try time after time, Mick’s arranged phone call getting closer and closer all the time.

JUMP!

Booths Swing Bridge has always been hard to secure in position. Today it had been left a few feet from where it should be, no chance of securing it. I tried to give it a push. Nothing! Was this the bridge our locking partners out from Leeds had mentioned that you needed to jump on the opposite corner to help get it moving. I jumped and tried again. Nothing! I enlisted Mick to come and do the jumping and sure enough this helped greatly to get it going, phew!

A short distance onwards we tried pulling in again. The depth not our friend, but this would do for the time being, for lunch and Mick’s phone call. Mick hopped off to bang spikes in.

Where were the bow spikes? I normally leave them sticking out from a spare pooh bucket. They weren’t there. Ohh! We both realised what must have happened. This morning I’d untied the bow and thrown the rope to Mick as the bow was quite a way from the bank. I’d then headed off to set the lock and Mick had been more occupied with the position of the bow rope so I wouldn’t have to stoop to get it, he’d forgotten to pick up the spikes and the good hammer. So if you are now the new owner of two spikes and a yellow hammer may they serve you well. Luckily we have spares, but will need to get replacement ones for when this happens again. Maybe a visit to a chandlers for Mick’s birthday is needed!

Tilly headed off to check on the golfers below as we had lunch and then Mick’s phone rang bang on time. Tomorrow is Mick’s birthday, he will now be of an age where he will receive his private pension. A small one he’d been getting for a few years had suddenly had a boost, he checked this with the person on the phone, the new amount was correct, what a lovely birthday bonus.

During the afternoon I watched Encanto, a Disney film set in Columbia. The settings pretty much spot on with my reference photos I’d collected. The music was very catchy, even Mick was tapping his toes.

Shhhh!

Then a spot of secret baking. A new recipe for a chocolate fudge cake from a book I got at Christmas. I omitted to add the 70ml of milk, and when I realised my mistake it was already starting to rise, so I let it be. Within ten minutes I could smell that it was cooking well and needed to be covered in foil as the top had caught! Was it the amount of sugar in it? Was it that our oven has decided to be a touch too hot? I’m sure it’ll be edible though, fingers crossed!

11 locks, 3 staircases, 11 bridges, 1 left open, 25 held up, 1 wet start, 2 shallow, 2 boaters jumping on bridges, 2 late for bluebells, 2 early for rhododendrons, -2 spikes, -1 mallet, 1 very dark chocolate cake!

https://goo.gl/maps/NCsXFmiFCfAZnzud9

2022 Back To Exploring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fast forward to 6:15

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

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

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