Category Archives: Blogging Boats

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.

Turning Her Over. 11th December

Oleanna is never far from our thoughts, she’s always on mine!

I think Mick last visited Goole on his way to pick me up from Chippy so it was time to say hello and give her engine a run. He headed off on the train on a bright sunny day, these are few and far between at the moment, we seem to live with lights on in the house from when we get up to when we go to bed at the moment.

A good sky in Goole

One of the webcam’s Mick has set up onboard had a faulty SD card, so the SD cards were swapped between cameras enabling us to see when cars come and go, or people open up the gate and walk past in the middle of the night. The cameras would be very obvious should you want to steal Oleanna, they are more for our interest especially when it snows and to check she’s okay. Shame the camera wasn’t running to be able to see how the scratch happened on the cabin side.

Mick ran the engine, had his lunch courtesy of Greggs, checked the kettle worked and had a coffee. The router sim card was swapped over. In the past we have swapped it for the one at the house when we’ve moved ashore, taking the better one with us. But about two weeks ago we finally got fibre broadband installed at the house, so the better sim card can now stay on Oleanna, the contract for the poorer one runs out soon.

Hmm! That puddle is annoying!!!

The other job to do whilst there, was to measure the bottom section of a cupboard. This is a cupboard partly known as The Shed as it’s where tools etc are kept, but it was designed to hold a second Brompton bike and has a hanging rail for coats etc. The bike is no longer onboard as one bike is enough for our needs. The hanging rail doesn’t really get used as life jackets hats and scarfs fill up the bottom of the cupboard.

At least the lake on the entrance road to the marina has shrunk a touch

The plan when we upgrade our batteries is that we’ll hopefully move them inside into this cupboard. As they will be lithium this should be fine for the Boat Safety as they don’t gas, it will also mean they are less likely to get cold (Lithium doesn’t like charging when it gets cold). Mick took measurements of the lowest part of the cupboard which is affected by the swim. Unfortunately he didn’t measure how high the swim comes and how much more depth there is above it. The current batteries he is planning won’t both fit in the lower part of The Shed, who knows they might fit above. More measurements are required or a serious dig through boat information from when Oleanna was built. Work in progress.

I mentioned Chippy earlier on in this post. The company have just performed their 38th show out of 99(?). In the audience were the crew from NB Cleddau and NB Tentatrice. I hear the little chap at the back didn’t have an illuminated ball for the Carnival and that a few things got knocked over by the actors! Thank goodness though that the clock struck midnight!

Here are links to a few reviews if you are interested.

Muddy Stilettoes , Red Kite Days , Ox in a Box , Theatre Weekly ,

Daily Info , Banbury Guardian , The Stage which I think is behind a paywall, here is a quote incase you can’t get to see it all

‘The production has a bold look, courtesy of designers Pip Leckenby and Sophie Molyneux; the former’s set places the action behind a proscenium of painted jungle foliage, with a curtain of leaves pulled aside to reveal a quaint pueblo of coral-pink and dusty-yellow buildings. Molyneux’s costumes mash-up influences from flamenco and carnival, all ruffled sleeves and fringed mantles decorated with tropical fruit motifs.’

I had to put that one in as Designers don’t often get a mention!

I have donned my dungerees again and have started to repaint some window frames in my work room so that I can put everything back where it should be, then I’ll be able to do some painting of a different sort and draw up a new lean-to to get quotes.

The first batch of pastry for Mince Pies is resting in the fridge ready for rolling out in a couple of days. Last year I made frangipane topped pies with Adam’s added ingredient, I felt the topping required a bit of tweaking as it seemed to melt rather than rise. So we’ll see how this lot turn out. *Just realised I’ve omitted to add an egg to the pastry, no wonder it took a LOT of liquid to bring it together! I’ll have to double up the amount of everything, what a shame I’ll have to make at least two batches of mince pies! Suspect we might be needing your help to eat them Frank.

There’s a LOT of water about! Most rivers are full to overflowing, The Went Aqueduct on the New Junction Canal looks like the river and canal are not far off becoming one, all of the surrounding fields are lakes. The River Soar is starting to come down, some people are very aware of how high it got.

PS today 13th the Don Doors have reopened, so levels are dropping.

In knitting news the November Knitting Challenge for Dementia Uk managed to raise £171,867.96 which is fantastic.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 very muddy puddle, 1 engine run, 2 windows, 1 BORED cat, 1 extricated designer, 1 reverse to safety, 2nd Christmas show, 460!

Cushions In The Closet, Have We Peaked Too Soon?

Has it really only been two weeks since I got back from Panto land? It feels like a lot longer, but then it also only feels like yesterday!

Now where did we get up to last year?

There has been the obligatory Morse watching whilst being pinned to the sofa by Tilly. Four episodes including, in my opinion, the best one, Masonic Mysteries where Morse is framed for the murder of a friend and no matter which way Morse turns there is another surprise for him.

Tilly has kept a close eye on my yarn tension

More socks have been knitted for Dementia UK. Not sure exactly how many pairs I’ve knitted this year but it’s somewhere over 30 and my fundraising page has just topped £1130! Thank you everyone who has donated and I hope those of you who have a pair of socks have cosy toes. At some point I’ll update the page I set up for my Sockathon, there’s quite a few pictures to upload.

Cards of the Christmas and other varieties printed, scored and folded

Boating photos from this year have been whittled down, a short list of about six presented for final vetting to Mick and Tilly for our Christmas card. Would the old printer upstairs upstairs be up to the job though? With a full set of new cartridges and a morning spent assisting the paper into the printer every couple of sheets the card factory got to work.

The first veg box since my return contained a lovely looking bright orange squash. What to do with it? I hunted round for a couple of recipes and decided to try two out, both requiring roasted squash. So the whole squash was roasted in one go and then divid up for the two dishes, Mushroom and Squash Lasagna and Squash Winter Herb and Crispy Butter Bean Pie. The latter involved three bulbs of garlic which were cooked before being added into the mix. Both will be made again, the pie for a special occasion as it takes a while to cook, but was very tasty. I’ll add links to the recipe pages.

The South Bay

One evening I was invited to a reading of a play that a local lady is hoping to produce. Earlier in the year I’d been approached to see if I could give some advice on it’s staging, but without a script this was impossible. It was nice to meet some new Scarborough faces, but the best bit was walking down to the top of St Nicholas Gardens and looking across the bay to the harbour where numerous boats had their Christmas lights up.

When we moved back to the house from Oleanna we brought all the dinette cushions with us. The covers desperately needing a wash or maybe even replacing. The seat cushions that we sit on the most have also lost most of their cushionness, so I measured them up and placed an order for replacements. The dinette makes into a bed, so any cushions apart from the one that isn’t normally out have been replaced with new firmer more suitable foam. We also had an odd cushion which we have never really understood why it existed, why hadn’t it been added onto one of the back cushions? This and the wedge shaped cushion that goes into the corner have now been made into one piece. Having just written this I don’t understand why it is wedge shaped and not just rectangular, I’ll have to look at it when the cushions go back on the boat, then remember for next time. At the moment I have a few samples of fabric but the final discission hasn’t been made. This will be a project for the new year.

Look who popped up as a screensaver. On the Marsworth flight back in our yellow days.

Why have the cushions gone in the wardrobe? Well a certain Second Mate/Thug has been enjoying clawing the old cushions, thankfully the one which has been affected the most is being replaced! I can’t help it if I have to find myself things to keep me occupied when the outside doesn’t move every day!!!

Mick has just about sorted out his planned upgrade to Oleanna’s batteries. Doubling Oleanna’s amp hours, but will there be enough room for him to be able to move them indoors? A visit in the next couple of weeks is on the cards to check on her and have a measure up.

It’s handy having quite a stash of yarn in the house

During November I’d joined a knitting challenge for Dementia UK, soon I was running out of things to knit! Mick just so happened to ask where his winter hat was. Ah that might just still be on the boat! Emergency hat knitting, this ended up being two hats one inside the other for extra warmth.

It just fitted in the bike bag

Then preparations for Christmas were started, the London Leckenbys were heading up to join us for a pre-christmas meal. Normally we don’t put decorations up for another couple of weeks, but because they were coming we had to get busy.

Last years boat Christmas tree has just about survived the year after a repot with some human made compost, so this has been brought in. But a bigger tree was really needed for the living room, where would we be able to get one from without a car? Nowhere that we found would deliver and the nearest veg/florist didn’t look like they’d be stocking any. One option left, a trip to Sainsburys with our trusty bike as sherpa.

Over several days Mick busied himself in the garden putting lights round bushes. I headed to the snicket to give the ivy a trim. Two wreaths were put together with lights and on the first day of December our decorations were up and illuminated!

Christmas baking. A batch of some rough puff pastry was made, a new recipe I wanted to try out. Then some Lebkuchen, these are my current favourite Christmas biscuits, especially when you poor the heated butter, treacle and maple syrup onto the spices, qworrr!

Christmas shopping this year has meant a walk down to the harbour, thankfully on a very nice sunny day before the snow arrived. I’d placed an order online and been told to ring the doorbell by the bow of a ship! I was taking ‘Buy it off a boat‘ to the next level. The doorbell was nowhere to be seen but thankfully a couple of people were stood on the bridge. My order arrived at a side door, the chap having to climb slightly up a harbour ladder to pass it to me safely, the tide was out at the time!

Buy it off a ship!

The coal man arrived along with snow and hail, Scarborough having a dusting of the white stuff just in time for the London Leckenbys arrival.

Who’s coming?

It has been at least ten years since the London Leckenby’s have visited us in Scarborough, us having lived on boats for much of the last ten years. This trip would also be their first by train, Andrew normally drives them up, but he’s still recovering from his stay in hospital. Quite a bit of work was needed to sort trains due to strikes and engineering work. Tickets were booked with only a couple of days to go. At Kings Cross they loitered for the platform to be announced, confirming the advanced knowledge we’d given them. Also knowing which carriage was likely not to be reserved helped, so they headed straight for it and thankfully got seats on what became a very very full train.

Nearly as good as my Mums Yorkshire Pud

Sausage rolls on arrival, sorry Frank forgot to take a photo! Then an afternoon lull, a walk to the beach not taken up as the pavements were really quite slippy. We caught up on their news and then got going with our Advent Saturday joint of roast beef with all the works. I’ve almost mastered gluten free Yorkshire Puddings so that my Mum wouldn’t know the difference. She’d certainly have been pleased that we had a slice each as a starter with gravy (not with the meat!) helped by the veg being a little reluctant to brown up.

Crackers were cracked, wine drunk, plenty of food eaten. Pudding, a warm Dorset Apple Cake accompanied by some Wensleydale Cheese, not quite ‘Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze’ but very nice and worth repeating.

Jac, Pip, Mick, Josh, Andrew

A lovely time was had by all. It was really lovely having them back in Scarborough.

Sunday morning and it was time to check that their return trains would be running. Well Transpennine Express did what they seem to do best and cancelled their first train. Mick came up with a couple of options for them. Their return journey was going to be 5 hours rather than the 3 on the way up, due to engineering work. It was decided that they’d head to the station and catch an earlier train, either to York where they could loiter in the pub, or to Hull where they could catch their the train earlier on it’s journey than planned. This meant quite a quick breakfast and exchange of presents before a cab arrived to whisk them back to the station.

Bye bye!

Almost 24 hours in Scarborough, we wished them a good journey and wished Josh good luck for his forthcoming interview for University. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him as I’d like to visit the very good chilled medication shop we visited last summer when on one of the Great Ouse tributaries. Their journey back changed again due to more cancellations, they had a good journey around the country arriving in London ten minutes earlier than originally planned.

My lovely fella

Sunday evening Mick and I headed out for what has now become our annual Chinese meal. Crispy aromatic duck a necessity to mark 21 years of us being together. A lovely way to round off the weekend.

Us out for a Sunday walk

It feels like we’ve already had Christmas now. The big day isn’t for another three weeks!

Have we peaked too soon?

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 snow showers, 5x50kg bags of coal, 2 veg boxes, 1 squash, 2 celeriac, 1.8kg top rump, 15 Lebkuchen, 1 Lasagna, 1 pie, 20 sausage rolls, 2 trees, 4 stars, 100m of flotilla lights, 1 bored cat, £1132, 30 plus pairs, 4 Morses, 2 wreaths, 4 new cushions, 3 weeks early, 21 years.

You may notice a couple of changes to the blog. Firstly the blog roll, this had stopped rolling as bloggers posted their posts, so we’re trialing a new plug in, not quite as clear as the old version sadly. Secondly Mick has added code to the blog to hopefully change the default colour of the writing to black without me having to change every paragraph each time I write a post. This was done with assistance from Copilot. I hope it works!

Much Loved Boat For Sale

Friends we’ve never met, Marilyn and David, (now are quite unlikely to meet) are selling up their boat NB Waka Huia.

I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your photo Marilyn

After years of spending summers on the UK Waterways they are going to spend more time closer to home in New Zealand exploring in their camper van.

Details of Waka Huia can be found here

We wish them many more happy adventures.

Polish And A Pootle. 13th August

Welford

Tea in bed and no plans on venturing far today. We managed breakfast before joining the Geraghty zoom, subjects included ants (a recurring topic), 3 cranes, wrestling, puppetgate and season tickets.

Go away I’m BUSY!!!

We pottered away the morning as did Lizzie on NB Panda whilst Tilly kept herself busy in the friendly cover. The ivy twitching every now and again kept her on her toes.

Painted bits and bobs

Lizzie started to give Panda a wash, followed by some polish. I got on with giving the new bits of model a lick of paint and glitz. I’m hoping that any time now I get the thumbs up that we are in budget on panto so I know I can put my model making things away for good, rather than having to dismantle one end of the dinette to get a couple of things out time after time.

It’s busy in Welford!

So many boats came past, a mass exodus in the morning, then the next batch of hopeful moorers arriving. At one point there was a short boat heading towards the basin, another following behind (keeping themselves back) as another came from the basin. This down hill boat kept going, no reducing it’s speed as the short boat was trying to pull into the offside and step off to pull themselves out of the way. The wind caught their bow which headed for the gap between us and the boat behind, all the time the downhill boat carried on ploughing on, comments of ‘Doesn’t he know you pass on the right!’ This chaps wife suggested he stop and wait, thankfully he did as he was told otherwise there’d have been carnage in Welford.

We’d offered to help Lizzie back down the lock and because of the wind Mick also offered for us to stay onboard and help her moor when she got back to North Kilworth Marina, extra hands on ropes may come in handy.

Glistening Panda

So once the second coat of polish on the port side had been polished off Panda Lizzie took her to wind and we headed to the lock. We managed to swap with an uphill boat so could leave the gates. With all three of us on Pandas stern it was quite cosy. As navigator I gave directions and beeped the horn when we arrived at the junction and the entrance to the marina. Of course here there was little wind and Lizzie chose to back into her spot so that the starboard side could have a wash and polish next time she visits. All this washing and polishing puts us to shame, but then Oleanna has cruised over 600 miles this year with many more still to come. One day the lid on the bottle of polish will get cracked open after at least two years onboard.

Reflected sky on the hatch

North Kilworth has a nice layout to it. Access roads weave around the basins with plenty of shrubs breaking up the view and wind. We spotted several boats that had been out for the weekend and at least one widebeam!

Panda back home

Lizzie gave us a lift back to Welford there’s already a date in the diary for next year when we hope to meet up whether it’s by boat or not.

Roast chicken for us tonight.

Blue cruising for 20.32 hours

Brian from NB Harnser has been concerned that one of us would forget to switch our Nebolink on to record our journeys. Well it turns out that yesterday I ended up turning it off twice, therefore turning it back on. So overnight Oleanna’s progress has been recording none stop, eventually as she hadn’t moved after an age I received a report and map of where she’d been. What a lot of blue!

Another aside. Well done to those boats who made it to the gathering in Birmingham today. If we’d been heading northward on the west side of the country we’d most certainly have been there with you all. NB Freespirit had their stern in view on the local news last night.

If you’d like to sign the petition showing your support for Fund Britains Waterways here is a link.

1 lock for Panda, 2 milesish for Panda, 2 rights 1 left for Panda, 0 miles for Oleanna, 2 coats polish, 6 hours! 1 annoying woofer, 1 bratwurst day, 4 model pieces painted, 1 roast chicken, 1 lovely weekend with boaty friends.

Another Day Another Rendez Vous. 12th August

Houdini’s Field to Welford Marina

NB Cleddau was ready for the off before us this morning, they’d originally planned on being out for a few days, but due to a last minute appointment they would now have to head back to the marina. They pushed off in shirt sleeves and once winded at Elkington Bridge they returned with coats on a touch chilly in the breeze. Good to see you both, until somewhere next year.

It wasn’t until 11:30 before we pushed off and soon we were making plans for our next boat rendez vous. Plenty of boats on the move, many we’d seen in the last couple of days, everyone making the most of the drier weather and pootling up and down the summit pound.

Harvested

As we’d sat out last night we could hear the combines busy harvesting in the fields, today we got to see where they’d been, bales lined up in the fields. A constant drone from more fields followed us.

A pause for lunch, a quick chat about the wind and if it would affect plans. No plan A was still on the cards, no need to abort as yet, if we could find a suitable mooring for two boats.

Right please

Another half hour and we’d reached Welford Junction. We made note of plenty of room along the hard edge before the junction, enough for at least three boats on rings. Oleanna turned right towards Welford, we’ve not been up here for an absolute age.

Busy lock

We passed one boat coming towards us, would we be lucky in finding a mooring? As we approached the lock two boats were waiting to go up, fingers were crossed. I walked up to help. A boat came towards the lock to come down, there was space to moor before you reached the end, still fingers crossed.

One in , one out

The boat in front of us was a hire boat, I chatted to the lady. I asked if she would like some help, she checked she knew what to do. ‘Red before White’, they’d come up Foxton. I explained the difference with normal locks rather than staircases and checked she’d know what to do on their way back down tomorrow.

Our turn!

Another downhill boat, then it was our turn and time to find a big mooring! We were in luck, our preferred mooring was available and there was room for two Oleannas, we pulled in and tucked ourselves up to the boat in front. Mick then noticed a woofer with this boat and went for a chat with the owner, always best to make them aware we have a cat. We pulled Oleanna back to leave a safety gap between feline and canine. The chap sat down had a hold of his dog, when we got the thumbs up Tilly was allowed out. The dog was interested, but soon it was obvious that they’d both do their own thing.

Trees!

A while later Tilly and I wondered back to the lock with a windlass. A woofer coming towards us meant avoidance tactics and a return to the boat for Tilly. A boat was ascending and my arrival with a windlass confused them a touch, especially when I closed the top gate behind them.

There she is!

I kept a keen eye open down the cut and as soon as I saw the bow of NB Panda I lifted the paddles to empty the lock for her. Lizzie has had other things keeping her away from boating for a while and today Welford would be Panda’s first lock in a couple of years!

A perfect fit

Thankfully Panda fitted in the gap in front of us. Drinks on the terrace for a second night in a row. Then we walked down to The Wharf where thankfully we’d booked a table. Blimey it was busy, a band playing outside and just about every table taken inside.

Steaks all round

The menu was pretty good, although the gluten free options were limited to the normal suspects. We all opted for a steak and glasses of wine, very nice. Mick persuaded us all to have a pudding, these filled us all up to the brim!

Mick, Pip and Lizzie!

A good evening had by all and a nice catch up with Lizzie.

If you’d like to show support to The Fund Britains Waterways then please sign the petition Link here

1 lock, 2 nebo voyages, 6.7 miles,1 right, 2 days of rendez vousing with boats, 6 boats assisted through the lock, 2 hours, 1 big woofer, 1 G&T, 2 Pimms, 3 steaks, 6 glasses wine, 2 sundaes, 2 scoops chilled medication, 3 very full boaters.

https://goo.gl/maps/MsDysuUZNyXGkZwC9

The Wasp…The Next Generation. 11th August

Crack’s Hill to Houdini’s Field

Still in the field!

We tootled along, passing the boat in bits in the field, surely by now there’s no hope for this, it’s been there as long as we can remember admittedly in slightly different positions.

The summit pound takes big wiggles and bends to make it’s way northwards. From our mooring last night to our planned mooring today I think you could cut the distance at least in half if you could go in a straight line. But follow the contours we must.

Hello Yellow!

As we approached Yelvertoft Marina I thought I recognised the pram cover on the stern of NB Lillyanne our old boat, not much further on and it was confirmed by her yellow cabin sides glowing from her mooring, the purple coach lines now very faded. Today we weren’t just going to pass by, we turned into the marina, a top up of diesel required.

He he! A new Wasp

As we got through the narrow entrance I spotted that the boat moored alongside Lillian (NB Lillyanne) was called NB Blackbird! Well what are the odds of that? When we first bought Lillian our friends Bridget and Storm were living on their boat NB Blackbird. Our two boats cruised together when we left Crick back in 2014, the yellow and black boats known as The Wasp. Of course this Blackbird is a different boat, but we’re pleased Lillian has a suitable friend next door.

Glad to hear Tim and Elizabeth are still her owners

Yelvertoft insist that you declare a percentage on diesel, Mick declared 10% propulsion. We have to run our engine a lot more at the moment, even after a good days cruise we need the batteries to be at least 90% charge at 8pm to keep the fridge and freezer going overnight.

Back out onto the cut, waving goodbye to Lillian once more we pootled along. The armco at Yelvertoft water point still sticks out ready to help scrap your gunnels ready for painting. This way then that, I wonder if anyone ever found our lost broom that was blown off the roof. That’s the bridge where I hobbled to a hire car for a check up with my broken ankle. All very familiar territory.

As we came through the wooded section towards Bridge 27 we could see the mooring we were after was available. Houdini’s field the bench end. We pulled in making use of the rings and not our nappy pins. Tilly was given a good 6 hours of towpath exploration. Then we took cover inside, happy to move up for the right boat. Several boats went past, none of them stopping further along where there was a large gap in the moorings.

The right boat

About an hour after we’d arrived the right boat did arrive. We pulled Oleanna along making space for them. NB Cleddau with Ken and Sue. Should they head to wind now or tomorrow? They decided to stay put keeping hold of the mooring. Last summer we’d spent quite a bit of time with Ken and Sue on the Great Ouse and River Nene, so it was lovely to manage to meet up again.

As we stood on the towpath hearing of their plumbing problems Tilly came out from the hedge, saw that there were new people to be wary of. She immediately headed straight for the bow of Cleddau, jumped into the welldeck and inside. Hey hang on! Who’s changed the inside whilst I was inside?!?! Our hotbox isn’t there! Where’s transgender mouse? Sue stepped onboard and Tilly made a quick exit. Putting two and two together, Tilly had followed her nose, the bow of Cleddau now where our side hatch or stern had been when she’d last been on the towpath. She and Tom could have at least have called me when they were moving the outside with me in it!!!!

An afternoon of props lists for panto going back and forth, making sure I knew how John saw various things. Saws with ribbons, 6ft or 10ft, who is making what. There are various items that I’m surprised the costume department are taking on rather than leaving them to Jo. A bit more reference of Columbian Farmers was needed.

I heard that a sample has been printed, where should it be sent to? That old thing a postal address whilst on a boat constantly moving. If it had been a couple of days ago it would have been easy, but now. I tried calling Crick Post Office, they have always been very helpful with post there, but I didn’t want to presume that was still the case. I knew I should have asked out of interest yesterday when I was there.

Pimms o’clock

I then tried calling the Post Office at Welford, a lady answered the phone. They definitely did Post Restante, she seemed a bit bewildered that I was asking, but it’s best to check. I’m not sure if I got the details to the printers in time for the post today, fingers crossed it will be waiting for me and we won’t have to wait for it.

Ken, Sue, Mick and Pip

Drinks on the terrace were enjoyed with Ken and Sue, followed by us all sitting out to eat enjoying the warm evening and a few glasses of wine. All of a sudden it was as if someone had turned the lights out, it had gone dark! Time to pack everything away and retire into our boats, torches required to make sure we’d found everything.

What a lovely evening.

If you’d like to support Fund Britains Waterways please sign the petition. Link here

0 locks, 4.4 miles, there’s only 1 yellow, 1 wasp, 53.7 litres, 10%, 1 right, 1 left, 1 wind, 1 right boat, 1 mooring with a bench, 2 insides, 1 pooped cat, 4 glasses of Pimms, 8 glasses wine, 1 very pleasant evening, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

PS The house boat with the crane was left over from Crick Boat show it has now been sold. According to Ken and Sue it is headed to Brighton.

https://goo.gl/maps/CwpRm3nTMmg2Nheg8

Squeeeezing Through Cropredy. 1st August

Sovereign Wharf to Top Lock Claydon

With breakfast out of the way Mick headed to meet our Sainsburys delivery. The chap had followed his sat nav and was in a residential cul-de-sac that I’d never heard of. A quick look at a map and phone call later he knew where to head and could be seen arriving through the hedge. Mick transported everything back to the boat on a trolley. As I stowed everything he topped up the water tank, time for us to head onwards.

Every lock out from Banbury we would meet a boat coming downhill today, no need to reset the levels and always someone around to help close the bottom gates.

Looking that bit tidier than a month ago

The house at Bourton Lock has had a touch of TLC in the last month. The shutters have a fresh coat of paint and the scrawled graffitti has vanished. I wonder if one day anyone will live there again.

As we passed crews they all exclaimed at how busy it was in Cropredy, boats breasted up and only a gnats hair to get through in places! There was certainly plenty of traffic, three boats awaiting their turn above Slat Mill Lock, our arrival perfectly timed.

Now the towpath was filled with boats, only a few spaces left. Rounding the bend by the cow field a boat coming towards us went aground on the silt, it’s alway deceptive that bend. As we got closer we realised who it was, Paul the boat mover again. He’d been trying to take a photo of us and found the bottom a bit too quickly. See you somewhere, sometime no doubt Paul.

Slow going, no let up on moored boats. It’s still about ten days before Cropredy Festival, hopefully everyone who wants a mooring has arrived. NB Watt Way was tucked in amongst the boats, we’d been on the Great Ouse with her last year. NB Derwent 6 with Del and Al were chatting away to a walker. By the services trading boats had taken root, add to this kids eager to go canoeing and an off side mooring it made for a touch of squeezing past. Busy busy!

Twitchers

The lock cottage by Cropredy Lock had a big banner pinned to it, Rock at the Lock and the lock gates had posters for various events this coming weekend, both shows from Mikron will be here, sadly we won’t be, we’re just that bit too far ahead of Mikrons tour this year. We did wonder where Tyseley would be moored, hope someone gives them an off side mooring.

Once past the marina the moored boats thinned out, but we still met plenty of downhill boats, most heading onwards to Banbury today. We looked back, all the moorings taken in Cropredy, the 24hr moorings (we speculated) would have the same boats on them for the next ten days.

We rounded the bend below Claydon Locks and pulled in for some lunch, blimey that had taken what felt like forever to get this far. Tilly’s excitement and near dash for the front door was thwarted, we needed to move some more today, the sideways trees would still be there next time.

Photo for Adam

Only one down hill boat on the Claydon flight NB Debdale just dropping down the bottom lock. Pounds were low between most locks the levels a good foot down. Instead of walking on ahead leaving Mick to close up behind, I stayed incase he grounded, but thankfully the levels weren’t that low.

Claydon Top Lock

Up the last lock onto the summit pound we pulled in at the far end of the visitor moorings, plenty of space here. Tilly was given a couple of hours to explore and she made the most of her time. Mick looked at details of how to install our Nebo link.

Gluten free Toad in the Hole, click photo for recipe

As today is Yorkshire Day our evening meal had to contain some Yorkshire Pudding, so I made up a Toad in the Hole. The sausages took quite a while to brown off, but the gluten free batter rose wonderfully. Happy Yorkshire Day.

12 locks, 7.2 miles, 2 many boats everywhere, 1 reader, 24hrs my foot! 2.5 hours, 1 summit reached, 1 skein of yarn not wound that’ll be rectified tomorrow, 1 big tray of Yorkshire Pud.

https://goo.gl/maps/ZEbD5RFKbqcNrQtB7

Working Out The Rain. 22nd 23rd July

College Cruisers, Oxford to Aristotle Bridge

The paperboy decided to have breakfast before going to pick up a Saturday paper, the weather app he’d looked at suggested the forecast rain would start around 11am. Well it was wrong, it started around 9am and continued with only a couple of short lulls well into the evening. Mick put on his waterproof coat and went shopping with a brolly in hand.

Drawings

The drawing board came back out and on Saturday I spent all day updating working drawings so that the set for panto could be built from them. I added in a few suggestions from one of the builders, with the hope that they would assist in reducing the cost of the build. My original sketch drawings are done with two things in mind. One to assist in making the model and to get pricings done. They tend to have a bit too much information on them, so simplifying them for building was needed.

PAH!!!

Mick listened to what cricket commentary there was from Manchester, most of the recorded interviews he’s heard before and remembered. Tilly spent much of the day asleep, occasionally sticking her head out the back just incase the weather had improved, it hadn’t!

Hello!

Boats came past, one with many a sticker in it’s windows. This was NB Scholar Gypsy, the crew however not known to us, we waved from inside anyway, but I suspect we weren’t seen as the person on the helm was forging on in the rain.

Gingery Salmon with lots of green

The staff at the hire base worked away through the rain. Boats were washed whilst having a second rinse by the rain. Then the numerous hire crew arrived early afternoon, they were chatted through the boat, then each one in turn headed off down the canal, most to Isis Lock to wind below and return. They then moved their belongings on board for their time away, slightly soggy at the edges.

Sunday. The Geraghty zoom included Jeremy Paxman, cherries, cricket (of course), season tickets for QPR and Scottish blueberries.

Our 48 hours was now up, but still being in Oxford was needed for Monday morning to access a bus out to Chippy. Thankfully the S3Gold service follows the canal for a distance northwards of Jericho, so we set our eyes on the quiet mooring by Aristotle Bridge.

First things first was to dispose of some rubbish. The bins at College Cruisers are C&RT bins, but are often not accessible due to the hire fleet being in. This morning however all but one boat were out, so we pushed Oleanna across the cut and got rid of the fishy packaging from our salmon last night.

as it says

We were now opposite NB Huffler. Margaret could been seen through the window and Tony stuck his head out of the hatch. Margaret hasn’t been very well recently, requiring visits to A&E to help monitor her heart rate. Things were improving, but another visit to the hospital was on the cards. We wished them well and hopefully they’ll be back on the move soon.

Pipe smoker

We now pootled on up the cut, only 0.6 of a mile, but just far enough. The back gardens along this stretch are worth a nosy at along with the backs of the houses. However at this time of year the amount of leaves obscures the views too quickly for photos. We pulled in towards the end of the quiet mooring, surprised at how many boats were moored there.

Tilly headed off into the ditch between the canal and playingfield. Across the way a couple were trying to trim a Spaniels fur, it really wasn’t enjoying the experience and kept shouting about it.

I got on with more drawings, once they were complete I then set to taking photos of the model. A new coloured storyboard will be put together in the coming days for reference.

The Town Square

With the model packed up and ready to go we sat down and enjoyed a roast chicken. Very nice, it’s been a while. I just need to now factor into our menu a lot of beetroot as Mick wasn’t aware I’d bought a bunch. It might be beetroot and chicken salad for us this week.

0 locks, 0.6 miles, 1 very wet day, 1 drier day, 1 disappointing outside, 1 model finished, 14 sheets of drawings finished, 130 photos, 1 Sunday roast.

https://goo.gl/maps/gE7rcdAjP4o9WVkMA

How Much Further?! 9th July

Pinkhill Lock 24hr moorings to Rushey Lock Meadows

The covers were rolled up after breakfast then we sat down to chat with the Geraghtys, we’ve missed a few zooms recently so it was good to see those who were there and hear of a recent visit to near York.

Moo!

Time to make a move, we had a destination in mind for the day a few hours cruise away. The sun was out, blue skies that every now and then were covered with cloud.

The Thames now wiggles and winds it’s way. A look at our map for moorings, did we remember them from four years ago. One came past, yes we’d stopped there maybe for a night.

Hollyhocks

No other boats seemed to be heading the same direction as us, in fact there were few boats on the move at all. At Northmoor Lock I hopped off with the boat hook so as to be able to grab the bow line once in the lock, the rope having been left on top of the cratch for ease. More wonderful Hollyhocks and roses at the lock cottage.

Could this have been where I was a bridesmaid?

Onwards upstream. New Bridge, was this the pub where my cousin had his wedding reception back in the 70’s. A check of photos later suggests not as there isn’t a stone bridge featured in the photos.

At Shifford Lock the sign said Self Service, but as I walked up to open gates a volunteer came out from the hut, we’d disturbed his lunch break. Yesterday had been a really busy day for them, 26 boats, today we were one of just a few. This was where we’d hoped we might be able to moor for the night. The volunteer pulled a face, he didn’t say we couldn’t but he also didn’t welcome us. The mooring on the back of the lock island is reserved for electric boats until 4pm, so he was right to discourage us.

Volunteer opening the gates for us

I then asked if we could pull up right at the far end of the lock landing so we could have lunch. Another face pulled, the Lock Keeper would be back at 2pm and he’s quite strict! I spied a water point, we’d fill up and have lunch, sorted. This we did and were soon on our way again.

New hide

I checked the blog for where we’d moored four years ago. One place was not far away, we kept our fingers crossed that it would be free, even if Tilly had stayed out to really late there! As we rounded the bend it was obvious the mooring isn’t used so much anymore due to the overgrown friendly cover on the bank. Peeking from inside was also a sign saying no mooring, Nature Reserve. Fair enough, they wouldn’t want Tilly out looking for friends! What a shame it was a lovely mooring. A new hide stands opposite.

Safely passed

Where should we try next? Next possible was at Tadpole Bridge. More wiggles to navigate, this time with canoes and paddleboarders thrown into the mix, several not knowing they should pass on the right.

Would there be space at the pub? Would we have to go in for a pint? Would the sausages I’d defrosted have to wait for tomorrow?

Pippin facing down stream

NB Pippin sat tied to two posts. Behind there would have been space for us except there was a canoe. Mick called out to the owners of Pippin, despite the front door being open no-one was home. No-one came to the canoe. We decided to pull alongside Pippin . This was all happening as the latest test match in Leeds was getting very close to a conclusion. As the English team scored runs Mick stood out the back of Oleanna incase someone returned to Pippin.

Across the way a young lad went overboard from his canoe. Dad took photos of the poor lad clinging on for dear life. Plenty of drinkers enjoyed sitting by the river, just not the people we wanted to see. Oleanna was far longer than Pippin and getting off would be tricksy, Tilly certainly wouldn’t be allowed out here. We conferred. We could stay, not an ideal mooring or carry on, the next mooring on our map at least 90 minutes away. Onwards!

A Lock Keeper was on duty at Rushey Lock, they’d just penned down a boat so the gates were open for us. As we ascended I asked if being a good gardener was one of the qualifications required to be a Thames Lock Keeper, the lady nodded. Mick asked if there was anywhere to moor nearby, we had recollections of Sue from WB No Problem XL having a favourite mooring here. The Lock Keeper described it’s position not five minutes up stream. Right then left and there it would be.

The right needed negotiating as a boat was just coming round it. Then to the left. Yes we remembered it now, have to check to see if we stayed here last time or not. No-one else was moored so we had the pick of the bank. Where I hopped off there was a sign warning of a wasps nest, we pulled along a touch further and banged our spikes in. This would do us, far Far better than the pub mooring.

What a lovely mooring

Tilly was given three hours, the long grass something to be negotiated. I did a couple of hours painting in banana palms before we set up outside to cook the sausages that had been destined for a toad in a hole. Just enough veg for kebabs too, I just need to get reacquainted with cooking on lumpwood charcoal again to reduce our carbon intake! Everything was cooked through and edible just a bit dark on the outside.

What a lovely mooring to watch the sun go down. Thank you Sue for having mentioned it years ago and to the Lockie confirming it still existed and giving us directions.

Setting sun

3 locks, 13.2 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 sneaky lunch break, 0 room for us, 1 git gapped pub mooring, 3 lovely gardens, 2 close calls, 1 perfect mooring all to ourselves, 37 half leafs painted, 6 sausages, 2 and a bit kebabs, 0.5kg potatoes, 1 sunset.

https://goo.gl/maps/9doQwctj1yhBrgzQ8