Category Archives: Boat Electrics

A Breakdown In Communications. 29th May

Above Days Lock to Wallingford

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

A lovely morning view

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

Looking back to Days Lock

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

Blue skies and fluffy clouds

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

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

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


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

A space on the low bank

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

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

Mick, Siobhan, Patrick and Pip

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

A picturesque pub

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

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

Brand new signs

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

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

St Peter’s

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

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

Wallingford Town Hall

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

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

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

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

Archie Innie And Cary Outie. 21st May

Bridge 178 to Chisnell Lift Bridge 193

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

Kings Sutton Lock

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

New bolts to hold the bridge together

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

Lots of piling

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

We’ve limboed under here before

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

Random find on a wall

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

Aynho Weir Lock from the weir another possible painting

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

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

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

Thank you!

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

Name on the box

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


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

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

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


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

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

This weeks yarn selection

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

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

Dog Or Bear? 16th May

Bascote Railway Viaduct to Gibraltar Bridge 20

The forecast was for rain around 1pm today, so when we woke a touch early we decided to push off earlier than planned. Luckily our locking partners rise earlier than us anyway so we were all ready to push off at 9, rain coats handy in case.

There was activity up at the first lock, a single hander emptying it. I walked up to give him a hand. Not far ahead of him were two boats heading onwards to the next lock. The single hander said that this was the second time he’d set this lock, as when he’d opened it for himself those two boats had sailed straight into it! Cheeky!

The supportive two

I asked if I could help, I’d only lift the paddle on one side as I still had a wobbly head and didn’t want to cross the gates today, he was fine with that. As he rose a boat came from up ahead, advanced crew on a bike, we helped them down then it was Oleanna and Lotte Jane’s turn.

At Stockton Bottom Lock there are always plenty of boats to look at. A motor and butty just above were having the ropes over their sheets removed. The side hatch to a boat alongside the lock was open. Out of the gloom peered a black face. Was this a dog or a small bear? It was hard to tell, but it was certainly interested in what was happening at the lock.


A volunteer came from his hut at the bottom lock of the main flight, cuppa in hand, the single hander being assisted by another boater. The single hander was on a mission to move his Uncles boat from Scarisbrook on the Leeds Liverpool to Cropredy on the Oxford. A steep learning curve as he’d not been boating since he was a teenager, now he was single handing. When he’d set out he’d not known about the landslip on the North Oxford, so he’d had to turn round and head back to go through Birmingham. Today was the first time he’d seen a volunteer, none at Hatton, thankfully the volunteer finished his tea and helped the chap up the rest of flight.

Man on a mission

The boater who’d been helping was asking about the landslip, it is due to open tomorrow at 3pm for limited times as work is still on going in the cutting. He was facing towards Warwick and trying to make his mind up whether to turn round so as to avoid Birmingham.

We followed the single hander up the flight. I’d walk on up ahead to empty the full lock into the intermediate pound whilst Graeme filled the one below. This meant only opening one gate most of the time, my head still not keen on crossing gates so those at the helm did a sterling job of getting into the locks.

Waterproofs now required

After the first lock I swapped my jumper for a waterproof coat as drops of rain were starting to land, by the time we reached the top of the flight it was raining properly. Both boats pulled up on the rings just before Kate Boats. Time for a cuppa and regroup. Clare was on the hunt for a laundrette and up at Ventnor they could accommodate them, so with full waterproofs on they headed onwards without us.

Tilly made the most of a couple of hours of shore leave, but thankfully soon came in as we wanted to move to a lighter mooring and no overhanging trees. It turns out we chose the wettest part of the day to do this! Tying up opposite the long term moorers, a second outside for Tilly today. She wasn’t impressed as it was so wet! The front door also had to be checked to see if the weather was different at that end of the boat. I suppose it was okay

An afternoon of not much, the rain came and went, so did Tilly. So much so that she ran out of ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies! Luckily the man in red had left me several packets when we were in the boring inside in Scarboreugh, so She topped up the tub. However she didn’t let me carry on helping myself! Back to self catering I suppose. There was no need to bring a friend home to make a point, even trying to camouflage it behind a leaf didn’t work! Both Tilly and her friend were picked up and popped back on the towpath, well it was a touch too wet to entertain outside!

Oh! That’s just so mean!!!

10 locks, 2.8 miles, 1 soggy afternoon, 1 volunteer, 2 cheekies, 2 outsides, 1 friend, 1 leaf, 1 restocked Dreamies pot, help they are catnip flavour, 3 more pills, 1 battery delivery, 1 rocket diesel boiler, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Bloomin’ Heck. 14th May

Lidl to Bridge 41

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

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

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

He he!

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Forty Minutes With Darth. 13th May

Cape of Good Hope Moorings to Lidl, Myton Road Bridge

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

Cape Locks

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

There she is!

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

Poor signage for those coming the other way on foot

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

Moor Street Station

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

Might have to have a go at making these

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

Old Union Mill

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

Crescent Theatre

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

Where has everyone gone?!

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

Goodbye Brum until later in the year

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

Near to Tescos, click the photo

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

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

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

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

Is This REALLY BUMingham? 6th May

St Vincents Street Bridge Moorings

Hang on! I thought they said they’d tied up that BUMingham outside!?! Too few bricks to be BUMingham. Maybe She can’t navigate so well anymore.

This doesn’t look right!?!

Our neighbours were due to depart around 9, so we needed to be up and dressed. Tilly was given the rules and the back door opened up for her to explore. There may be trees here and quite a lot of friendly cover, but the towpaths of Birmingham are busy with runners, cyclists and woofers. NO chance of a stamp of approval here!

We had a cuppa onboard Oleanna and pointed out moorings to Clare and Graeme in their Pearsons guide. They are headed towards Crick and had been concerned about how long it would take to get there. A look on Canal plan last night suggested they’d need to do under 2 hours of cruising a day to arrive in time for the show. They could take it easy and hopefully we’ll be able to catch them up too.

See you soon!

As NB Lottie Jane moved away Tilly was encouraged back on board, we untied and pulled Oleanna up onto the last rings on the moorings. A space large enough for a boat infront of us, so no git gap. The doors were opened again, Well this outside isn’t as good as the last one! A slow morning, catching up on blog writing, this was at first slightly problematical as Oleanna’s router seemed to have died last night, Mick occasionally resets the router and last night it didn’t power up again. Time to teather to a phone.

Taking it to bits, but would it go back together again?

The theory was that the switch was maybe faulty, so he took it to bits to see if a piece of wire could be used to get it working again, but it was deemed too complicated to try, turning circuit boards over, disconnecting everything and then it still may not have worked. Time for a new router, the last one had served us for seven years after all.

Not just a simple case of buying one off the shelf, it needed to work on 12 volts, which doesn’t tend to be noted on the Argos website or the outside of the box. Would they allow him to open the box to see? We both went for a walk into the city, I had some secret mission to do myself, it being May!

I left Mick to it and headed off towards the Bull Ring. Here there were so many people! Just what were people queueing for? Wing Stop had a controlled queue that zigzagged round, the store full. Chicken wings must be a favourite round here.

Look at those!!!

Another queue was outside a new cafe EL & N, it has only been open for three weeks. Billed as the most Instagrammable cafe in the world it is very pink! Flowers cover the walls. I peeked in through the window at the wonderful looking cakes. No I didn’t go in, no lables for anything glutenfree. A later look on their website and despite a huge menu with the usual thing about allergens, there were only two items on the whole menu marked as gluten free, plus they automatically add a 12.5% service charge to your bill! But should you want a cubed croissant and can cope with gluten this looks like the place to go, certainly many thought it was worth queueing for.

Cambrian Wharf used to be filled with boats

I picked a few items and several birthday cards, May is very busy for birthdays, then dropped into Tescos for a few bits before heading back to Oleanna. My route took me around Cambrian Wharf. The mooring durations have changed in Birmingham this year. The pontoons used to be half longterm moorings and half visitors. Today only three boats were moored up, it’s now all longterm mooring, although the space alongside the top Farmers Bridge Lock is 4 days. Most of the central moorings are now 4 days during the main season (April to October) and 14 during the winter months. Where we are moored is 14 days all year. Double check the signage, a quick glance may have you thinking you could stay for 14 days as 4 day moorings are not often seen on the network. The new mooring times will be reviewed again next January.


Mick had been shown a router at Argos, but not been allowed to open the box to check if it was suitable for our needs. So there was nothing for it but to get on a bus to a Currys. Here the shop assistant took the wrapper off and opened up the box. Marvellous it ran on 12volts, SOLD! However when back onboard Oleanna it required a a different power plug which fortunatly Mick was able to sort. £85 and slightly quicker and still able to use the same external aerial. He had considered a 5G router, but they are still a touch too expensive.

This evening yarn has been selected for sock pair 19. I’m hoping to create something Joyous and musical with this pair, maybe adding a little bit of embroidery ontop.

0 locks, 40ft pulled up, 1 puzzled cat, 1 farrrr too busy outside, 1 rendez vous planned, 1 dead router, 1 supermarket order altered for collection, 2 buses, 1 alive router, 4 birthday cards, 1 bag of secret things, 0 treats to eat, 3 leeks, 1 pot humous, 2 rows or 3? 2.

Wind Burn. 29th April

Off the Stone Visitor Moorings to Broken Ankle, Great Haywood

What a good tree!

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

Only two of us today

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

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

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


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

Stop swiming!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

First of the year

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

Yarns for pair 18

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

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

Lift Those Fenders. 24th April

Rookery Moorings to above Pierpoint Top Lock 55

To avoid having to stop for lunch and to give all the other boats headed for the locks chance to get going we loitered, long enough for a breakfast. Along the Cheshire Locks there are places you can moor, you can take it steady rather than climbing the hill all in one go. This time we are aiming to do the majority of locks in a couple of days.

I wish gf black pudding was as good and as big as fully glutenified

We set off a little after 11am, a bit of a pootle to reach Wheelock where we wanted to dispose of rubbish and yellow water and if there was room top up the water tank. Just tucked onto the end of the water point was a share boat, the crew stood having breakfast. Then there was a git gap to a boat filling with water, their hose just reaching their tank, another gap not long enough for us. No chance on topping up on water. We pulled into the next space and did the neccessary, the share boat coming past just before we were ready to push off ourselves.

Between the Wheelock Locks

A lot of the Cheshire Locks are paired, one lock sitting side by side with another. Some chambers have been converted into bywashes, others are simply not in working order at the moment, but the bottom few were still in working order. So we were able to use the lock alongside the other boat.

As they rose up I noticed that they had all their fenders down, six, three each side, those rubber pipe fenders that once they get detached from your boat get strangley attracted to other boats props or in and around lock gates inhibiting their function to hold water. Should I mention that it wasn’t such a good idea to cruise with them down?

As they finished in Wheelock Top Lock a boat was heading towards them. Their crew lowered paddles, one walking all the way round the lock to then walk on ahead, the other standing waiting to close the gate, which would be better left for the on coming boat.

Click the photo for more info

Quite a few boats were coming downhill, so the locks worked well, one out, one in. At Lock 63 I had time for a chat to the other uphill boat whilst our lock emptied. Up ahead some of the paired locks are narrow and should they end up in one of those with their fenders down their boat may well get stuck! ‘We always put them up on the Middlewich branch and Llangollen Locks, but she’s been recently blacked so we’re wanting to help protect that.’ I understood, keeping your lovely black bottom black is one thing, however getting jammed in a lock another. She did say they’d not lost a fender, yet!

When their boat had risen they lifted all their fenders and then headed onwards to the next lock, a single on it’s own. Time for a queue.

So pretty with the sun out today

Locks 60 and 61 have the near side locks padlocked off at the moment, these are the narrow chambers I’d warned the boat ahead of. We waited our turn. Then I’d work Oleanna up to a height that I knew Mick would be able to step off at before I walked on ahead to the next lock to set it. Would there be a boat coming down, should the gates be left for them?

Cheshire countryside

A boat was coming down. I phoned Mick and he left the gates for the downhill boat, only for them to tell him in a strong German accent as they passed mid pound, that they were stopping for lunch. With a boat hot on our tail, Mick had told their crew there was a boat on it’s way down. They would now be waiting below the lock for a boat that wouldn’t arrive. One of us would need to head back to close the gate and inform the boat behind us that the lock was theirs. Mick did the honors. This did now mean we weren’t hot on the tail of the boat ahead.

The folly Mow Cop

When the sun was out it was so gorgeous. Warm, bright green and yellow, stunning. Our first view of Mow Cop between the trees. Then when cloud came over an extra layer was required to keep the chill off. I now remembered that I like these locks, only downside is there are only a couple of pounds long enough to boil a kettle in.

M6 traffic flowing well today

Under the M6. We passed a few boats we’d seen yesterday, some stopped for lunch others for the day. Above the Pierpoint locks we discussed whether to stop in this pound, our scheduled stop, or continue onwards to Rode Heath. Here we’d not have numerous woofers walking past and Tilly trying to reach the good trees on the far side of the field, so we pulled in and settled for the remainder of the afternoon.

Mick checked the batteries, as he does most day with the use of an old phone. There was something not right. The inside battery didn’t seem to be working as it should. It had been charging, but now wasn’t giving out any of it’s power. The Shed was emptied, voltage across the terminals checked. 4.8 volts which should have been 26.7ish. This was not good, it was as if the battery had turned itself off.

One coming down

A phone call to the chap we’d bought them from. Mark asked if Mick could send him screen shots from the Battery managment system, but if what Mick was saying was the case the battery would need to be returned, it sounded faulty. Thank goodness we got two, our capacity with just one battery is better than we used to have so we should be fine.

Sock shot from Jane, a complete stranger who has sponsored a pair of socks

Whilst Tilly decided this outside wasn’t so good, our thoughts turned to where the faulty battery could be picked up from whilst we still need to be on the move. Also how to package it up for the journey, we’ve obviously not got the original box and packing on the boat. Hmmm? I wonder if….?

12 locks, 3.9 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 2 git gaps, 6 fenders lifted, 2 locks reduced to 1, 567874965367689 gladioli, 1 beautiful day, 1 boat half way up the hill, 230 amp hours.


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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2019 on the River Wey

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

August 2022

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

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

Rapunzel 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Smiling as ever!
Click photo to go to petition

Let’s Leave Underpants Bridge For Tomorrow. 26th March

Mirfield to above Kirklees Top Lock

Tilly has expanded her interest in the secret passage behind the sofa. She has discovered that she can just squeeeeeeze herself through the smallest gap between sofa, pouffe and bookshelf to get there. Once in there she can been heard discovering all the secret delights the passage hides from those of us who cannot squeeze in there. Then after about ten minutes the meows change tone and her claws come out attempting to escape. This is impossible! No it’s not, I just haven’t found the correct route out! So the sofa needs to be pulled out to aid escape. A touch boring for us humans to have to do this at least once a day, but my main concern is that she goes in there to explore whilst we’re busy moving the outside and gets STUCK! I have never got stuck, only temporarily delayed!

A heavy box to block the entrance

The alcohol free lager has a use at last!

We pootled up towards Ledgard Flood Lock, from the EA website the river levels this morning looked to have gone down. Passers by asked if the lock was open, well it would almost certainly have it’s gates closed, but it should be workable and most probably be in the amber. ‘Levels!’ said one chap.

Ledgard Flood Lock

Sure enough the level had gone down, there was twice as much amber showing this morning as there had been yesterday. Hebble paddles had been left up at both ends of the lock to help feed Shepley Lock when used, these needed to be left as found. Mick dropped me off, we made a plan, I plotted my route round the lock to take the shortest amount of time when closing up after us and hopefully covering the possibility that a gate may swing open, all so that I could get to Oleanna as quickly and as safely as possible. If we were new boaters we wouldn’t have even considered this.

Through the last closed flood lock, we hope!

All went well, the pull towards the weir wasn’t that great for Mick and Oleanna to cope with, the only problem was a chap who stopped to chat with Mick as he did his best to hold onto Oleanna at the short landing. There are times when you may just have to be rude in life and this so nearly was one of those moments.

Battyford Lock

Onwards to Battyford Lock, a big bruiser of a lock always waiting with it’s top gates ajar! Here the level was that bit higher only just in the amber. Battyford Flood Gate was open, next stretch of river to cross to Cooper Bridge Lock. This is one of my favourites, Hebble Spike required, worn stone step by the top gate and the lock cottage. Today the cottage looked less cosy, it’s normally surrounded by trees, these have either gone or had a serious hair cut. The other reason for liking the lock is the two geese who live here. A chap was in the field with them, petting them and chatting away, a very rare temperament for geese to have.

Cooper Bridge Lock

Cooper Bridge Flood Gate was also open, here we carried straight on up stream, leaving the Huddersfield canals behind us, heading for the Rochdale. Another river section crossed off the list.

Picturesque canal side house

Kirklees Bottom Lock is over looked by drivers heading between Huddersfield and the M62, I’ve sat in traffic on that road many a time, longingly looking at the lock beams. The two Kirklees Locks require a spike to go uphill, then there’s a stretch of moorings with rings. A handy lunch break location. We both looked at each other, if we carried on we’d be off the rivers in Brighouse, but that is where we’d end up mooring for the night and Tilly has been cooped up inside for a couple of days, exploring the passage! Should we risk stopping for the day?

Looking back to Wakefield on the left and Huddersfield on the right

The door was opened and after a quick sniff and clawing claim of the tree she shot straight up into the branches, we’d be staying put today and hope the forecast overnight wouldn’t be too wet.

Tilly’s tree

Mick had another look at the voltage sensitive relay. He got it to delay switching off by 999 seconds, however it didn’t turn itself back on when he restarted the engine. Still work in progress and I really don’t mind turning the Nebolink on and off anyway!

Lamb biryani this evening, just a shame I had a moment and thought I was using brown basmati rice, which turned out to be just brown rice which didn’t want to cook through in the oven! After an extra half hour on the hob, it was still a touch munchy. Oh well, there’s still plenty more lamb, I may give the recipe another go in a few days time, but with the correct rice this time!

4 locks, 3.6 miles,1 straight on, 4 inches of amber, 4 hours shore leave, 1 brilliant tree, 12 handy bottles, 3 river stretches ticked off, 1 left to go, M62 bridge left for tomorrow.