Category Archives: Blogging Boats

Party Time. 13th 14th July

Cowroast Marina

A bus into Aylesbury for a hire car, £100 cheaper for the weekend than from Hemel Hempstead! The washing machine constantly on the go, an extra £5 added to the electric post needing to be used. We both packed a bag with party clothes, evening dingding was served three hours early, Tilly was left in charge. No magic food bowl?!

A grade 3 tidy up

If we’d wanted to we’d have been able to reach our destination on Oleanna, this would have meant some long days in the rain and on arrival it wouldn’t have been quite so handy. We could have taken the train and a bus or two, some distances to walk would have been involved but the fares were way more expensive than just hiring a car.

The Watford Flight is down there

Our route took us along narrow lanes, sign posts to Cheddington, glimpses of the Grand Union, through Ivinghoe, all places we know from the water. Grove Lock, around Leighton Buzzard, The Soulbury Three, Stoke Hammond. Then the roundabouts of Milton Keynes took us further east and up to the M1. We didn’t manage to glimpse a look at the Northampton Flight, or Long Buckby, but the big trees that accompany the canal to the Watford Flight were easy to spot after the service station. At Junction 18 we turned off, Crick, well the Holiday Inn at Crick.

Long corridors and bridges

We checked in, explored our compact room which of course was the furthest away possible! Mick flicked the TV on, Robbie Cumming making his way along the GU, only just managing to get through the Soulbury Three before it closed for winter maintenance, as if he didn’t know!

Time to join the party, Lizzie’s 50th Birthday party.

Lizzie with her Dad

What a lovely evening it was. People from most of Lizzies life, family, Watford Palace Theatre (where we first met in the 90’s), Cemex, the boating world, most of her current colleagues from Unusual were busy working on the Olympics in Paris, plenty to keep them busy out there.

Jeremy who was once the Production Manager at Watford Palace Theatre, He employed me to paint scenery for a while and the two of us interviewed Lizzie for the Scenic Artist job there shortly after she left college. Jeremy also helped Lizzie when she first bought NB Panda, moving her from Birmingham, Jeremy having lived on a boat during his Watford days. Our paths also crossed further north when we both ended up on the Yorkshire coast. He’s now quite a useful source of info on the Beverley Beck!

Over the last ten years we’ve gradually got to know various boaters through Lizzie. Noel and Carolyn, Noel had been the Harbour Master at Crick when we first bought Lillian, he managed to find a space for her in the run up to Crick Boat show in 2014 where we gradually moved on board.

Crews from NB Kamilli, NB Adagio and NB Leon before they sold her

Andy and Irene from NB Kamilli. Our bows have crossed a few times and hopefully they may do again this summer. The NB Adagio crew, I’ve lost their names now, but we wave whenever we pass the Cape of Good Hope.

Mick, John and Ali

Then John and Ali from NB Triskaideka. We’d once met on a street corner in Crick, only briefly, but Ali and I have been I touch recently. There was lots to talk about with them, very similar boaters to us with the same attitudes to boating and the waterways community. Plenty of red wine was drunk on our table and by the end of the evening we knew we’d be stopping to have a bottle or two more with them when our bows cross.

The Tuckeys

Several faces familiar from around Crick. One lady who worked for ABNB and Neil Stuttle who fits out boats. Then sat next to Mick were the Tuckey’s, yes the crane and boat movers. Lizzie used to help move boats around Crick marina before and after the boat show so has known them for quite some years. Both Mick and I asked them if they’d had lots of enquiries from boats on the Lancaster Canal, the sealock on the Ribble Link has developed a fault meaning boats could be stuck there through the winter. It was interesting as they are asked for quotes for such things, but people rarely tell them the reason, they had no idea about the stoppage despite having had numerous calls.

Cutting the cake

Plenty to talk about, some nice food and plenty to drink, we lasted until the big lights came on at the end of the night!

All a little bit tippsy!

In the morning we joined the masses for breakfast, plenty of people had stayed including Lizzie. Time to catch up again over a cooked breakfast before everyone headed off in their separate directions. A lovely time had by all, good to catch up with people, maybe we’d bump into them all again if we headed to Stratford, but we have other plans. Thank you Lizzie for having a big Birthday and for inviting us.

Not as good as one of Mick’s, but not bad

Back down the M1 being tailed by the Kamilli crew for about 20 miles. Then round Milton Keynes, past all the land marks back to Cowroast Marina and Tilly, who had done her job very well whilst we were away.

For the last week we’ve been trying to catch up with my college friend Jen who lives in Hemel, her current job not allowing her time to come and help us through some locks. As we had a car we headed back to Hemel, a slight diversionary route giving us more narrow roads and just missing Winkwell Swing Bridge back to the Fishery Wharf Cafe to meet up with her and her dog Monty a very well behaved Collie.

Fishery Wharf well worth a visit

Lots to catch up on, Jen is a fantastic scenic artist and used to work at the National Theatre. Now she freelances and has worked on various films and tv series. I believe she said she work on the props for the latest Ghost Buster film and currently is slapping paint on scenery for a new Netflix series about the Guiness family Last year she also painted some very wonderful panto cloths for Bury St Edmonds.

Mick, Pip and Jen.

Recently she’s had an operation on her foot, so the two of us hobbled away from the cafe after a couple of hours.

Back at the boat we settled down for some food and a night in front of the TV, Dr Who with the Beatles. It was obvious what our nearest neighbours would be watching tonight, but thankfully after one rendition of Sweet Carolyn they must have headed to the pub garden to watch the game. A muffled roar from somewhere made us check the score. The quietness that followed suggested that Spain had scored more than one goal. Everyone returned to the marina quite quietly.

A nice quiet evening knitting

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Fiat 500, M1 twice, 1 very good party, 2 official photographers, 1 offer of crew, 1 problematic bridge, 1 tray, pair 29 well under way, 1 painter and hound, 1 free sausage, 1 nice cafe, 1 musical baddy, 1 quiet night in with Tilly, still 9.75 digits.

Not A Day For A Thumbs Down! 4th July

River Colne Aqueducts to below Black Jack’s Lock 85, Grand Union

Goodbye Slough Arm, maybe we’ll give you another go sometime

A boat whizzed past us this morning, they were aiming for the end of the arm. They apparently made it….. but did they make it back?!

We pushed off just before 11am, things to do today and a minimum three hour cruise. Left at the junction and we were heading northwards again. Another stretch of moorings where there was plenty of space. Where have all the boats gone? If we’d wanted we could have moored up below Cowley Lock, however Puss Puss’s boat was moored there so we’d have chosen to move on anyway. Puss Puss is now quite an old cat a stray who adopted some humans. He quite often used to head to the pub with them giving woofers little leeway!

Cowley Lock

A volunteer at the lock saw us coming and set it for us, bunting zigzagging above. He said how quiet the canal was, a lady had walked down to see if there was room below the lock, room for at least twelve boats today. The cafe here now seems to be gone and the pub is having a serious makeover, Mick wondered if it will still be a pub or a private house.

Rubbish dealt with and the water tank refilled we were on our way again. Slow going to start with past all the moored boats. One of the Uxbridge boys was on their mooring, we’d played leapfrog with them and another boat early in 2015 as they made their way up to the Lancaster Canal.

A long length of towpath is being worked on, all the permanent boats moved elsewhere. Now when I say all the boats moved elsewhere, there were still a couple tied up, one most definitely sat on the bottom not capable of moving anywhere. We turned onto the service mooring at Denham Marina, time to fill up with diesel. 138 Litres later at £1.04 we reversed back out onto the cut and headed up the lock.

The curvy building of Uxbridge

Mick climbed up to help with the gates, these have short beams and are weighted to help, but they are rather heavy for a painful knee to do both. The lock cottage is for sale again, or is it still for sale?

Good luck Larry

It felt apt to take a photo of our Larry for PM banner with Uxbridge in the background, we’d once been in town when the ex PM was buying himself a pasty from Greggs!

We pulled in for lunch a short distance on from NB Old Nick, waving as we passed. We’ve never met but read their blog. A short break as more miles needed to be ticked off today.

Denham Deep

Denham Deep was set against us so required the top gates to be closed and then emptied. Caution required as the lock is so deep, but keeping Oleanna back and adopting out GU paddle routine worked and brought her up quite quickly. A couple sat and watched, aghast, it was their first lock as Gongoozlers.

The older railway bridge

Now I had to be ready for photos. The HS2 viaduct could be seen stretching off into the distance across the lakes, but only glimpses could be seen from the canal between trees. Then high above us we were dwarfed by concrete overhead. A glance to the west revealed a rather pleasing curve, plenty of air around the structure.

We wondered for a while what the extra bits were and why there were only two of them. Now looking at my photos closer it is obvious that they were the next concrete sections heading along the viaduct to be positioned.

Another section making it’s way to be added

A chap waved from above, his tiny size emphasising how big the hole thing is. I wondered who the engineer was who designed it.

The Bear in the Barge is now called The River Garden, a shame as I used to like their pub sign, the new one is easily forgettable, in fact I forgot to take it’s photo! Wide Water Lock was set ready for us, new paint work just about dry! Up we came deliberating on a return trip to London, sadly not to be.

Now we wanted a mooring, one suitable for Tilly, TV signal and the internet. We should have checked the blog for thumbs up or down at our planned for mooring today. Plenty of room below Black Jack’s Lock we pulled in to a gap between trees. Tilly was given a couple of hours, which she used pretty well. Mick set about tuning in the TV.

Hello all the way up there!

I now checked the blog, on one occasion there was a upward thumb, good tv, another a downward thumb, no tv signal. Oh blimey what a day to be without live tv! Mick worked his way round things, thankfully we had good internet coverage and it was a relief when we got more than just ITV. Sometimes our tv won’t even use the internet if there is no terrestrial signal!

We settled down to watch an episode of Traitors. Then turned over for the election coverage. The family whatsap group constantly pinging with anticipation. I decided to turn the heel of a sock just at the wrong moment as the exit pole results were announced. Once turned I realised I’d knitted it in the wrong colour! Out it came and was redone whilst watching Blyth and Sunderland rushing to be the first to declare. Once nine or ten seats had been declared we headed to bed, Tilly had already given up and realised the fishing rod game would not be happening until much later today.

4 locks, 6.4 miles, 1 left, 1 right, 138 Litres, 1 full tank water, 1 very long curvy concrete line, 1 high up wave, 2 hours shore leave, 0 live tv, 1 cat outdoors, 1 internet, 1 traitor, 9 seats, 1 late night but not as late as others.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/VUV2o3WHAB5xYmF46

Percy And Barry. 1st July

Paddington Basin to Ballot Box Bridge

Our next door neighbour

Our four nights in Paddington were up. I think I’d looked at us staying a touch longer but the pre-bookable moorings weren’t available in Paddington. There’s always more we could see and do, lots of people to catch up with, but we’d rather take our London fixes in small chunks.

Heading off to explore more waters

The small sailing boat, wrapped up it’s covers and headed off first, it was so short it had had no difficulty getting into the mooring next to us. A look around M&S before we left provided us with another sad gits meal for tonight. Then it was time to reverse out from our mooring, wind and head off. The moorings outside the station had emptied out and the length at Little Venice only had one boat on it. It felt as if people had been for the weekend and then left this morning, would those moorings be filled back up by the end of the day?

Leaving Paddington Basin

The service mooring was empty, time to top up on fresh water and deal with the yellow water, we already had the 25litre container to empty from when we arrived. Mick had checked the C&RT notices in case the elsan was out of order, a notice from quite sometime ago was still live, however everything was in working order. We did the necessary and then waited for the fresh water tank to fill. Another boat arrived laid out his hose to mark his place in the queue.

Barry Caffery

Then a chap came along a BBC Radio London mic in his hand, he quickly said he wasn’t recording but would we be willing to talk to him about the general election, they were doing a feature on Floating Voters today! Good job we don’t have a pump out toilet! We both agreed, making sure he knew we were visitors rather than London boaters. Barry chatted to us for a bit and then turned his mic on, asked us a bit about ourselves and then if we were excited for the General Election.

Hello David

Mick went first. Whilst he did his bit a bow came through the bridge behind us. It was obviously NB Albert Victor with David onboard, we did the Tideway cruise with David a few years ago, he was just on his way back to his mooring after the latest St Pancras Tideway cruise on Saturday. I managed to say hello, but not much else as I was aware that Mick was being recorded just behind me. Shame we didn’t get chance to chat.

Next it was my go. I tend not to talk politics on the blog, even though I suspect most of you know which colour we lean towards, Larry for PM! What were the important issues? I didn’t bother mentioning the obvious ones, NHS, Environment, etc, but the more personal ones, funding for the arts and waterways and just generally to have a government that cares about the people rather than lining their own pockets. We were also asked if we’d be staying up all night for the results. I suspect we’ll last for a while, then put our heads down to wake early hoping for a good result.

Heading outwards

I asked if I could have a photo of Barry Caffrey, he obliged, he could hardly not. Then he moved on to the chap waiting for the services, I think the fellow said no so Barry caught the eye of a lady walking along the towpath.

Our tank had finished filling without interrupting the interview. The chap waiting came to help push us out. His opinion on the interview, ‘Floating Voters! We can’t vote because we haven’t got an address. What’s the point in talking to us?’ Well, he was wrong. Everyone is entitled to vote even without an address, you have to declare yourself as homeless with an interest in a particular constituency. So at least one good thing will have come from the interview, that chap now knows he was entitled to vote, it won’t help him now, but in the future. For anyone wanting information on how to vote without an address here is a link to the Government website.

Onwards and outwards, past all the same sights we’ve seen before. The lack of weed still surprising us, also the lack of rubbish we normally encounter is greatly reduced, well apart from that from boaters doing work on their boats and just leaving it along the towpath! We tuned into BBC Radio London. The first interviewee Lyndsey, whom we’d just passed leaving Paddington, a continuous cruiser, with similar views to ours. She had been concerned with a recent pollution incident in London, cooking fat in the canal. Maybe this was why the canal seems to be cleaner than we’ve known it before as quite some effort was needed to clean up the fat.

We tuned back in for the next segment and were surprised to hear ourselves in full. A few moments of local radio fame!

Some of those recycled windows

Our aim today was to moor somewhere Tilly could go out. She’s been getting cabin fever and trying to squeeze herself between the gunnel and the top of the sofa to get into the secret passageway! This doesn’t work, but she keeps trying!

Much better

After Ballot Box Bridge there was still plenty of room, we pulled in quite a good distance away from where we reckoned our neighbours with four cats would still be moored. This will do nicely! No mesh on the fence either! See ya!

Hello Simon

Another boat came into view behind us, another familiar boat, Simon Judge on NB Scholar Gypsy. Simon organised the tideway cruise this weekend for 34 boats. He’s also done the tideway between Teddington and Limehouse three times in the last few days! Nice to be able to have a chat with him, but then a boat came into view behind so he was on his way again.

Originally Tilly was given three hours, but when she came home after two we decided that it was curfew time, the speed that the bikes and scooters go at along here is comparable to that of cars. So as rush hour started we closed the doors and access to the secret passageway was attempted again.

Here’s where we travelled in June

0 locks, 7.7 miles, 1 wind, 65ft reversed, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank twice, 2 interviews, 2 passing boaters, 2 hours shore leave, 1 pink tablet, 1 knee rested for another day, 1 knitter in the top 15% of fundraisers last month.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/nE5CeyRg3qwvJwfg9

Basingstoke Bouffant. 11th June

Frimley Lodge Park

A day to rest, a day standing still was the plan.

We enjoyed our cuppas in bed. Enjoyed a cooked breakfast that only just fitted onto our plates. I caught up with blog writing, new waters always have loads of photos to sift through, I think I’d taken around 200 yesterday!

Yummo

Other things needed to happen too, the engine needed a service. Not a full 750 hour service. The engine oil, gear box oil were changed along with the air filter. The diesel filter will be changed another time, we need to get one before the next 250 hour service.

The engine needs to be warm for a service, but not too hot. We thought of moving up to the next mooring a short distance further on. I went to do a recky. A clearer bank to moor to, it also looked as if the depth was better. It was just the abundance of school kids playing hookie, or appearing to be that put me off. Lots of squealing from one girl about the geese, the lads being overly unsupportive. This wasn’t the main part of my report back, they would move on soon, well the goose freaked girl ran a mile when one of them got out.

Frimley Lodge Park

Just by the mooring is the Frimley Miniature Railway, not in operation today, but the sheds were a good place for youths doing deals and the aroma was quite pungent! We’d leave them to it and stay put for the day. They did move on as I walked back through the park, at great speed in a car!

So Mick ran the engine for a while, then donned his overalls. He gave the new oil pump a go that we’d bought in Lidl a few weeks ago, all good.

Servicing

I caught up with writing cards, mostly condolence cards sadly. There have been too many deaths in the last couple of weeks. Several not unexpected of ninety year olds, but also Jack Brady a large quietly spoken actor who used to work at Hull Truck, still in his fifties.

Then I turned my attention to lighter matters, a retirement, on-line card needed signing and photos sending and then reminiscences to add to a 60th birthday book.

Mick had been in touch with Nebo regarding our none working Nebolink, this didn’t work yesterday to record our journey up the locks. They suggested that the position of the unit may be at fault, gaps in our tracking suggested this. Well up till yesterday the majority of our journeys have been recorded, a few gaps, mostly when in the bottom of locks, or so we thought. So Mick ran through the trouble shooting that they suggested, each one requiring an hour between them. The unit was unscrewed form under the 20mm thick wooden cratch board and popped on the roof. Turned off then on again. Nothing, not even a change of location. He then tried checking the sim was in properly. Nothing. Followed by a hard restart. Nothing.

Yarn selection for the next pair of socks

Another email was sent with screen shots showing satellite locations that Mick’s phone had picked up from under the cratch board. We’ll see what the next step is tomorrow when Australia wakes up.

Frank fancied our cheese, so a catch up chat with him and important key identification, we’d given him one a few years ago, just in case. Phone signal in the boat wasn’t so good, so I opened up the towpath side of the cratch, just flinging the cover onto the top so I could sit comfortably on a locker to chat. There were a couple of things we’d forgotten to put out at the house so Frank was to call when he got there.

A moving boat!

Tilly and I had a bit of a play on the towpath. We inspected what Mick was up to in the engine bay. A glance down the towpath and I spotted a woofer off the lead. As we’ve now had at least two moments of woofers rudely running up to Tilly and barking I suggested that maybe we should both get back on the boat. The bow a little bit away from the bank. I stepped on, so did Tilly. She then decided that she’d rather watch the woofer from a higher position and jumped up to be on the cratch.

WHAT THE……..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My calculations had been correct. My potential and kinetic energy perfect. Despite my landing being on the top of the cratch, the cover slipped under my weight, slipped over the edge, slipped over the edge with me on it. I slipped over the edge and then downwards the mutual attraction caused by gravity pulled me towards the water. SPLASH!!!!!

Oh crikey. I turned to see Tilly, head above the water facing the boat, I had to adjust my position to assist, by which time there was nothing to grab onto. Turning towards the bank there was nothing there either!!! This way Tilly, this way. Thankfully she swam towards me, I managed to get both hands under her and hoiked her out and into the welldeck. Rescue successful. Now attention turned to the amount of water there was in Tilly’s fur and everywhere in the boat!

Soggy Moggy

One continuous puddle from the welldeck through the bedroom, bathroom, across the sofa and floor, across the dinette to the drawing board slot, where she’d managed to soak a little into the towel there. The towel and Tilly were picked up put in the bathroom both doors closed and given as much of a towel rub as I was allowed to do. I apologise to other boaters for soaking up SO much water and reducing the canal depth by at least a paws worth!

Encouraging her to sit on her bed to dry off took a bit of time, but we got there in the end. Then the mopping up could start whilst Tilly licked herself dry. A full hour, thank goodness the canal is an SSSI.

Gradually Tilly dried out, under her collar always remains slightly soggy for a while. At least the water had got rid of all the dust she’d been rolling in on the towpath. In it’s place was super soft bouffanted fur. The locals pay a fortune for this look, mine was all DIY!

For the rest of the day Tilly stayed in, not wanting to venture far. The afternoon was cold enough for us to light the fire, so the damp one took up her position to make the most of it. We got soggy bums from sitting anywhere, thankfully our bed had missed the tidal wave she’d brought in with her.

This outside will NOT be awarded a stamp of approval, the woofers can keep it!

A pause to clear the weedhatch

A few boat movements today, a patrol boat that looked like it was picking up rubbish. Later on a boat pulled up on the mooring ahead of us and an hour or so later another boat came past. As it approached I was busy stripping a chicken, the bow looked familiar. We both said at the same time, ‘Is it Jubilee?’ Sure enough stood at the stern were Jan and John (Halfie). Mick waved to them as they passed.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 recky trip, 2 many youths, 1 interesting railway, 5 messages, 2 condolence cards, 4 photos, 10 litres oil, 1 air filter, 1 pattern designed, 1 new stitch practiced, 24th pair cast on, 1 very soggy moggy, 1 clean boat floor, 1 hour drying, 1 stove, 1 free bouffant, 1 t-towel and towel, 1 cloth, 1 pint milk removed, 1 cheese block donated to Frank, how were your beans on toast?

Which Wey To Go? 4th June

Shepperton Village Visitor Moorings to Pyrford Marina

This morning we needed to leave the Thames, once we’d breakfasted we pushed off into the current still flowing quickly around the island. As we passed the top of the island we tried to count the number of woofers, we couldn’t as they were all too busy having fun running around with their walkers making a blur of wagging tails.

Quite a pack!

People were already enjoying a morning coffee at D’Oyly’s on D’Oyly Carte Island, the sun doing it’s best to show it’s face. We brought Oleanna round to the junction below Shepperton Lock, here so many channels weave around, weir cuts, islands, it’s quite confusing as to which wey to go. Having been here before we knew which wey the Wey was. Straight on, but left of straight on. There is a green sign to help you.

The stop lock gate was open, so we pulled in to moor below Thames Lock and walked up to find the Lock Keeper. We’d arrived at a busy time, the lock was just about to be filled for two boats coming down off the River Wey, there were two Lock Keepers, one in training. We were asked our draught, 2ft 6″, the Stop Lock would be needed to raise the level below Thames Lock to get us over the cill. The gate behind us was closed and we were instructed to mind our lines when they emptied Thames Lock, the two downhill boats would then come into the stop lock, keeping to their left and once we could get round and into the lock we could do-ci-do with them.

Getting ready to do-ci-do

The stop lock rose by about a foot, giving us enough depth over the bottom cill of Thames Lock. Our ropes were taken up to the top of the lock, popped round bollards and returned to us, the stern line passed round a yellow post, the gates closed behind us and then we had to wait for the other two boats on the stop lock to be set free out onto the Thames. Then we were gradually raised up in the lock, the sluices giving a big arc of water into the lock, finally after several minutes the plume of water was submerged and quiet returned.

Waiting to go up

Time to sort out our licence. We explained to the Lock Keeper what we were wanting to do and it was decided we’d be wanting a return transit licence and then maybe a single transit licence when we returned. We paid a deposit for a windlass to fit their sluices, a very long handle, we’ll compare our collection to see if we have anything already suitable for the next time we visit.

Then we were on our wey, just as another boat was arriving wanting to descend. The lady who was in training has waited three weeks with no boats and now today was the busiest day this year!

A much slower river than the Thames

I sent a message ahead to inform crew of another boat that we were now on our/the Wey (I’ll stop this soon I promise!). It was 2019 when we cruised the River Wey, run by the National Trust. Here you are asked to leave lock gates open when you leave a lock, but always close the sluices. You must use fore and aft lines and turn your engine off, when ascending a lock the stern line must be passed round the yellow post right at the back of the lock, this stops your boat from being dragged forwards as the lock fills. All these things we remembered, this time it didn’t feel wrong leaving gates open.

This wey!

Weybridge Town Lock goes off the river at a right angle just after a bridge, you can’t see if the bottom gates are open, so I walked up to check, it was in our favour. With the bow line on the roof of the cratch and a boat hook to grab it we were sorted and made our way up the lock.

Coxes Lock

On to Coxes Lock below the big mill. The lock was against us so we made use of the lock landing being on the port side to empty the yellow water tank whilst we could. This did mean another boat came from above and reset the lock for us just as we’d finished our chores. This is the deepest unmanned lock on the River Wey and the bottom gates are really quite heavy, a bar on a chain means you can pull them closed without having to stand right on the edge of a large drop.

Mick helping out

A message from ahead, filling with water and then they’d be on their wey towards us.

New Haw Lock

New Haw Lock with it’s awkward cranked metal beams requires some umph to close, the road most probably an addition after the navigation was built. But as the lock fills you have time to admire the pretty lock cottage.

Without!

A long straight passing under the M25 again, we were now without. The graffiti here was worth taking note of, well about half of it, some very fine work. Past the end of the Basingstoke Canal and straight on. Was this where we moored for our day out to Brooklands? Woods surround the canal, but the sound from the M25 lingers totally out of place with the view.

Up ahead the bow of a narrowboat came into view. Two people sat in the bow, was this them? Someone else stood up in the welldeck, it was! A wave between boats and then a slowing down. Ann-Marie and Dave on NB Legend were giving Mum and Dad a cruise down to New Haw. There was chance to say a quick hello and that they would come and find us later on.

Dave and NB Legend

Soon we arrived at Pyrford Marina, we turned in and pulled up onto the service mooring, the water tank started filling, rubbish disposed of and the button pressed to call the office. No answer came so Mick walked over returning with someone to fill our diesel tank, £1.05 at 10% split, the cheapest we’ve had this year. Mick had been given instructions as to where we were to moor, we could then head back to the office to pay.

Bow tied to a short stumpy pontoon and stern to a post, we had a late lunch before going to pay our bill. The marina isn’t cheap, but no marinas are in this part of the country, they did come and put £10 electric on the post for us. The washing machine went into overdrive. Washing was hung up to dry all over the place by the time Ann-Marie and Dave arrived for a cuppa and a catch up.

Ann-Marie is from this part of the country and a few years ago they got stuck on the Basingstoke Canal for months, a lock gate was broken and by the time a new one could be made the canal would not have enough water for them to be able to fill the locks, then there was winter maintenance on the horizon and a lot of lock gates were going to be removed. A window of opportunity arrived with enough water before the canal closed. As they made their way down the locks gates that would normally be firmly closed behind them and ashed up to save water leakage were actually being taken out by crane.

Bye!

Mick last saw them in Goole October/November 2021, they kindly kept an eye on Oleanna for us whilst I was working on Panto and Mick returned to the house for a few days. I’d last seen them in 2019 as we were both heading for the Thames from the Kennet and Avon, they would be following us up stream. That however didn’t go according to plan. Mick and Oleanna managed to battle their way upstream with the Thames in flood, NB Legend didn’t have enough engine power and they ended up mooring on the high sided bank at Wallingford. Here they stayed with the river in flood, adding posts to keep them from going over the bank, then lockdown happened, they were moored there when the levels went down, stepping onto the roof from the bank, seven months in all. There have been other stories of incidents, go to their blog to read about the Trent, Eeek!!

Earlier this year they made the decision that they would move back onto land, the network just about cruised and grandchildren to watch grow. So this was most probably the last time our bows would cross as NB Legend will be going on the market later this year. So glad we ended up in the same place at the right time. They have projects planned, converting a van into a motorhome, there’s no keeping them still. All the best for your future adventures.

4 locks, 5.8 miles, 1 long windlass, 2 bows passing for the last time, 4 loads washing, 75 litres, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 very bored cat!

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Disposing Of The Evidence. 19th May

Claydon Top Lock to below Slatt Mill Lock

Two Sea Otters

Everyone was moving before us, well it was Sunday. There was breakfast to eat and the Geraghty zoom to join. More attendees this week, subjects included; final is a bit terminal, volvo coaches, Piaff and how to spend £26.4 million, we requested some to go towards new casters for the pull out cupboard onboard Oleanna.

Gorgeous poppies

At the locks we pulled in behind a down hill boat, helped them down, then another up before it was our turn. This gave me time to admire the huge red poppys in the garden alongside the lock, the roses over the arch a little past their best.

Two volunteers were at the hut by the third lock, one siting down for his lunch the other helping us but looking forward to his prawn salad. Todays tally board made it look like it had been a busy morning, there were still more boats to come.

Sunshine

Time for a little chat with the boat ahead at most locks, then the crew of uphill boats too. One lady had owned their boat for a month, they’d done holidays before but now they had their own, I felt very excited for them. Another boat was crewed by a local volunteer and his wife, they were having alternator problems so were heading to wind and then return to the marina to sort it.

A lovely sunny day, no need for us to stop as we’d fuelled ourselves with breakfast. Time to spot NB Herbie at Cropredy Marina, shame not to have coincided with them, one day we’ll manage it, maybe.

Last time we came through Cropredy Lock there seemed to have been a flood as lots of rugs and mats were hung over the picket fence drying. Today it looked immaculate, everything neat and tidy. Someone has left a deep message on a lock gate for those who stand and wait for levels to equalise.

There was a boat woman to say hello to moored below Cropredy Lock, but they were having a leisurely lunch at the pub, we waved anyway and left Anne a message on Facebook.

A field of golden buttercups with Curlews calling

We’d already passed where we needed to be today, but decided we’d continue that bit further and down Slatt Mill Lock, spikes required but a slightly wider towpath to be able to sit out, less footfall for Tilly and safer surroundings. The pound above is often quite shallow, but today the bywash seemed to be blocked, so the depth was the best we’ve known it. We dropped down and pulled in at the end of the lock landing. Spikes were hammered in and we settled down for the remainder of the day.

Keeping an eye on the towpath whilst I got on with important things inside

Time to do a touch of secret baking. I’d had my eyes on a recipe for a chocolate cake, but over the last couple of days I’ve been wondering if this was the cake I’d made myself last Christmas? This took a lot of eating for the two of us. Hmmm. With a EU banana mountain in our fruit bowl I changed tack, it’s been a long time since I made a chocolate banana loaf alla Christine Gemson. The bananas were perfect for it and needed using up.

Quick before anyone sees!

The advantage of secret baking is that you have to dispose of all the evidence, Mick kindly sat out on the towpath whilst the oven was on. Alongside the birthday baking a chicken tray bake did it’s thing for our evening meal.

Another message from another Boat Woman had come through, Kate Saffin was heading up from Banbury. I mentioned there was space in front of us if she wanted to stop, but as she’s headed to perform at Crick Boat Show next weekend she’s on a bit of a mission. As soon as I got a message that she was on her way from the next lock we kept an eye out for her arrival. The two of us headed to the lock to assist with her ascent and to be able to have a chat about all things Thames, Cavalcade, Alarum Theatre and Tooleys in Banbury. Single handing she’s quite a way to go along with having to be at meetings here there and everywhere. If you are going to Crick and fancy watching a performance Kate will be there telling tales of women boaters from the past, well worth watching. Hopefully we’ll get chance to catch one of her shows sometime this summer as we’ve not been for sometime.

Bye Kate have a good time at the show

Kate had timed her arrival and departure very well, when we got back on board there was 1 minute left on the timer for the secret contents in the oven. It was brought out and left to cool surrounded by an invisibility cloak.

10 locks, 4.1 miles, 2 boat women, 1 hour baking, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

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No One Told Me It Was A Sausage Day! 12th May

Cape of Good Hope Friendly Cover and Sideways Trees

Communications have broken down! This morning She said I had an hour and a half, so despite this being a good outside (She is dubious about this) I stuck to the time scale I had been given. They talked to the screen that talks (reduced family this morning, Tromso and the Humber), then I came back for my Dreamies and what did they do? Had breakfast! So that was another hour I could take, but no-one told me so!!!

Tom nearly forgot the hash browns!

I took the situation into my own paws, if they were going to sit about ALL day someone had to be active. Kwiwi Tom and She went off exploring, but they didn’t take me, I was already far too busy! The friendly cover is quite dense in parts here, some stretches there are pretty flowers too. The trees and sideways trees kept the outside cool, whilst She and Tom got a little overheated on the inside.

Pretty spiky flowers

A touch of self catering was required to supplement my biscuits, then I thought I’d best return to check they were alright. Tom had been busy washing things, not Oleanna, don’t be silly, it was ‘too hot for that’ She said.

Socks taking up ALLLLL the space

A power nap was required, just a shame there wasn’t much room for me. She and her bloomin socks! All the stringy stuff is still filling up a pull out box that I want to be in. At least she opens it up once a week and I can check to see if I’d fit. She says a nice Boat She wanted a second pair of socks so there are only twelve pairs left. I’d need two pairs to keep my paws warm in winter, but I’m holding back in case anyone else wants some. She says ‘I’m not sure @justgiving accept Dreamie donations’

I don’t like tunnels, She and Tom don’t like this one! And it isn’t on the Oxford, even I know that!

After an exceptionally long hour and a half I was locked in, so She could go out. She said she was ‘only going to get a pint of milk‘, I saw her going to the pub! She never takes me to the pub!!!

Casting off pair 19

Later in the afternoon I heard She say ‘well that was a load of effort all for nothing!‘ Over the last few days She’s been getting messages from an Indecisive She who isn’t happy with their inside, when would She be moving into our inside in Scarboreugh! Well Indecisive She isn’t anymore. Well She is, she isn’t! So much twoing and throwing!

I’m not so good at reading, it’s all fuzzy

We all watched to see if the pink boat could squeeze through a tunnel. But instead of that we got to watch someone’s watch instead!

Plenty of friendly cover

Now if Tom or She had told me that today was going to be a sausage day I’d have pacepawed myself better. But I kept having to make the very most of it all, it was exhausting. I came in inside several times to see if it might be dingding time, it was only on the last visit that it actually was! What a relief!!

Only room for me on the floor now! Night night

Some poultry pink dingding and then I could sleeeeeeee……………p

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 lumpy cup of tea, 1 fresh pint, 1.5 hours turned into 9! 1 pooped boat cat, pair 19 finished, £885 raised so far, 7 lots of thank you for coming home Dreamies, 3 friends, 17 trees climbed, 2 loads washing, 0 thunder storms as forecast, 2 1 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, It’s already got one!

But Which Way! 1st May

Above Longford Lock to Penkridge 48hr mooring

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

Click photo for details

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

Not much foot space on the back today

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

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

Ooo, I wonder?

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

St Michael and All Angels

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

Is this just art or a useful sign post?

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

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

Hello!

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

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

Loads of room in Birmingham

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

Here’s where we travelled in April

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

https://maps.app.goo.gl/tFXgHbWvbBmwXc3o6

The Three P’s. 20th April

Pickering’s Bridge to Longacre Wood Trent and Mersey Canal

Another pretty frosty morning, no photo sorry as I actually wanted a bit more sleep before having to function properly.

Warm enough to knit outside today

A flat pootle today along the Bridgewater. We planned to stop at Thorn Marine to see if their chandlery might have a 200amp slowblow fuse for the bowthruster, we need to replace the spare that is no longer spare. I also wanted to stock up on Fertan and white spirit for when I start repainting the gunnels, grabrails, welldeck, locker lids, patches of rust. A boat was moored on their service mooring, but we found space under the bridge to tie on rings.

Red and fancy

As Mick went into the chandlery, I headed off with a shopping bag. Yesterday we’d forgotten to buy more potatoes, a roast chicken just isn’t right without roasties, especially when there is duck fat to use up! With a Sainsburys Local not far away I set off to walk into Stockton Heath.

Some wonderful terraced houses with ornate terracotta tiles and lots of red brick buildings that Manchester does so well. I also spotted an F type Jaguar, 2 Porche, a Lotus all within my short walk to Sainsburys. I think Stockton Heath may be for Footballers!

A wellie woofer

I was on the look out for the three Ps. Potatoes, a Saturday Paper and Porridge oats. Only standard white potatoes and expensive porridge available, I made note where newspapers were and went to see what Aldi round the corner had to offer. Somehow some pate managed to go into my basket along with other P’s, oh well!

I’d checked there were papers at Sainsburys, but not which flavours. I suspect our flavour had been where there was now a big empty space. I asked the assistant where there was a newsagents, ‘Morrisons across the bridge in the village’. That would be across the ship canal towards Warrington, not too much further to walk.

Not a good photo click it for details, there’s a train set in the attic.

Morrisons tend to have a good gluten free isle, so I picked up a few things there, some Pepper crackers, Pudding of the black variety, some sPread and a Paper. At least they all began with P, well sort of!

Back at Oleanna, Mick had disposed of the yellow water, not had any luck with a fuse, forgot what else he was meant to be buying other than a bag of coal. He had also found a recycling centre which had a skip for general rubbish. Bins are scarce on the Bridgewater so despite there being signs for no pedestrians, Mick made use of it.

The last cooling towers at Fidlers Ferry, soon to be blown up

Plenty of people were on their way to Walton House and Zoo. I’d not heard of it until recently, I think it was Are and Are who visited. The towpath was extreamly muddy not encouraging us to pull in. Families with pushchairs, children clinging onto Grandads hands tried their best to walk round the quogmire of mud. Another place to visit maybe later in the year. We paused for lunch then continued.

Click photo for details, right next door to the Post Office

Should we take a detour down the Runcorn Arm? We went there on NB Winding Down and headed off to the lauch of The John Godber Company in Wakefield years ago. It deserves another visit, even if it’s only just to show Oleanna and Tilly what they’ve been missing all these years. However it has been added to the next time list as we still don’t know if we need to put another day aside for Mick to return to Scarborough in the next couple of weeks.

Shhhhh!!!! Black milkshakes!

Shhhhh! Lots of building work around Daresbury. A new black stealth building has gone up, wonder what will go on in there? Shhhh! A touch further on there were lots of earthworks going on. It looks like there is going to be building work on both sides of the canal here, a huge housing development.

New housing estates

The time for Preston Brook Tunnel south bound passage is at half past the hour for ten minutes. Would we make it in time? A call in to Midland Chandlers would be handy, for those things Mick hadn’t managed to get at Thorn Marine, but would that mean we’d miss the next window of oportunity?

NB Spey

Too close to call, we pulled in. No fuse, expensive white spirit but Fertan on offer. We then had to stand and wait whilst the chaps had a little chat. Was there enough time? Outside NB Spey was moored up, Where there’s brass was an interesting read when Tom posted regularly. He’s now busy with a book and album.

A boat came towards us from the tunnel, we slowed down to pass. With a window of only ten minutes to enter the tunnel we still wondered if we’d make it. No need to worry, we entered the tunnel just as our clock said 15:30!

Preston Brook Tunnel

The tunnel was a little bit wetter than we remembered, with the tunnel light on and a torch poitning to the roof at the stern we could see the drips approaching. Someone seems to have ripped several of the arrow signs off the walls that inform you of which way out is nearest. I didn’t spot the halfway mark either. My job as navigator is to make sure we both know which way is out, so I felt a touch redundant.

Seventeen minutes later we popped out the other end, no waiting boats, just sunshine.

Lock 76 Trent and Mersey Canal

Dutton Stop Lock 76 was in our favour, up we rose the 2 inches, now properly onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. Where to moor for the night? Should we head to the rings at the breach site which are very popular moorings. But now the hedge has grown there is little view down across the valley which was the main attraction there. Or we stop where the wood was thick with trees and wild garlic. A length of armco showed itself, we pulled in, tied up and Tilly was given two hours. So NOT enough time! Just a tease amount of time!

Meeoweewow!

Two ladies stopped for a chat, Tilly showed off her climbing prowess, then got spooked by bicycles and then ommited to see two woofers. There was however enough time to get on the roof and the chap was good at popping his dogs on leads. Then Tilly was off into the thick of the aroma. Mick picked some wild garlic, I made some garlic butter which went ontop of a lamb hotpot. The recipe I looked at which suggested this had a very misleading photo, the top of their hotpot had no way seen any wild garlic as it was golden brown and not green! It was a very tasty hotpot and there was some butter left over for our chicken tomorrow.

Lamb hotpot with wild garlic potatoes

1 lock, 9.4 miles, 1 tunnel with 3 mysterons, 2 chandlers, 3 P’s, 2 many posh cars, 20kg coal, 1litre fertan, 15grams wild garlic, 1 green hot pot, 1 astounded cat, 1 Mrs Tilly’s stamp of approval.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/R9kng1mvKRnxHZCD9

2,000!

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2019 on the River Wey

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

August 2022

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

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

Rapunzel 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Smiling as ever!
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