Category Archives: Boat Yards

Hire Boat Rush Hour. 4th August

Bridge 100 to Broughton Road Bridge

More and more boats came past including the little green tug we’d encountered yesterday, maybe they’d been for water at Braunston last night. Eventually we found a gap in the traffic and pulled out continuing our journey towards Braunston.

Not a bad view from bed this morning

Below I busied myself cleaning Tilly’s pooh box and trying to encourage her back into the bedroom. If I was stood in the well deck she’d brave crossing the bedroom to peek out of the front window, but otherwise the bedroom was still a place to be very very wary of. There’s a monster in there I tell you!!!


The bangers spire came into view followed by Braunston Turn. Over the junction we could make out that there was a boat moored at Midland Chandlers, but when the water point came into view and that was free we made ready to moor up. Whilst I dealt with the water and rubbish Mick headed into the chandlers to see what they had in the way of switches. Sadly nothing that we could use. The Nebolink can wait a few more days until we find a switch more suitable.

Reading as we go

Onwards now north. I brought the new panto script out the back and as we pootled along the North Oxford Canal I read it through. A pencil should I need to make notes for set things and a blue highlighter pen to underline props as I went. Only one set thing I noted, I need to rehang a door to open the other way. Lots of blue for props and quite a few new chuckles.

This pound is always busy. Today boats seemed to come in threes towards us, just where were they all coming from? We’re normally on a canal or river away from the crowds at this time of year, so it maybe feels that bit more busy to us. We pootled onwards past the nice moorings north of Braunston, these all seemed to be busy.

Barby Straight we only encountered a couple of boats, but the last one must have been really deep draughted as we ended up being on the bottom at quite a tilt. Inside I could hear drawers opening, items falling, Tilly balls all rolling to the port side. The MONSTER’s back!!!! Just when I thought she was getting over the printer!

Lots going on here

Lots of work seems to have taken place near Hillmorton. New sheds with boats under cover being worked on. A little boat was out on the hard with the chalk marks of hull thickness, hopefully the results good for a prospective new owner.

Still pesky those bananas

We pulled into a space above the locks for lunch. During the morning reading the script I’d grown to like panto again, during lunch the emails started again and my top lip started to curl up. A quick response to one of them, the others could wait till we’d moored up for the day.

Time to drop down the three Hillmorton Locks. Time to find a gap in the passing boats! Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped for lunch, all of a sudden we were surrounded with boats wanting to descend the majority hire boats heading back to base. We trod water alongside a moored boat, the boat ahead got caught out by the flow coming from the weir. He decided to stay put on the off side and let us have the next available chamber on the towpath side.

Rush hour at the locks

So many crew at each lock. Some knew what they were doing, others didn’t and I winced at some of the practices. One boat insisted on lifting paddles halfway to empty the lock and then they were going to close the gates despite a boat heading uphill towards them.

Now we were meeting the next set of hirers coming out from the Rugby bases. It was noisy and chaotic to say the least. One boat had young crew sat in the well deck urging Grandad to open the gate ‘It must be ready now!’ as Dad chatted to me at the stern, narrowboating a favorite pass time for his family, costs him a fortune, grandad’s first time, want a boat of their own but wouldn’t know what to do if it broke down, couldn’t afford it anyway. I suggested they should look into a share boat, it works out cheaper than hiring every holiday. Eventually he moved the morse control and headed off to the next lock, his daughter having almost exploded in the welldeck at her Dad not getting a move on!

Into the bottom lock

The last lock down to the Rugby pound seemed quieter, a volunteer helped with the bottom gates and as we left she indicated to the following boat which of the paired locks they should aim for. All could be peaceful again. Time for the final scene of panto.

There was space on the armco closest to Rugby Station. We pulled in, then quite quickly moved along a boats length as we’d disturbed a wasps nest. Tilly was given two hours shore leave, preferring to use the stern and hatch avoiding the bow and the bedroom!

Panto emails kept me busy for much of the remainder of the day. A new print company wanting to charge £200 for a sample?! I’m sure their printing is very good, but we’re possibly looking at two companies doing different elements that all have to look the same, I want reassurance that I won’t end up with a right mishmash of colours. The carpenters were updated with my thoughts, new drawings needed.

Roast Pork, yum

A joint of pork came out of the fridge and an hour later went in the oven. A Friday night roast would help warm the boat up for the evening. As I started to collate a props list together Mick prepared the vegetables. A very tasty meal indeed and Act 1 props all listed. I even ended up with Tilly sat on my knee the bedroom starting to loose it’s scareyness.

3 locks, 10.3 miles, 0 journey on Nebolink, 1 left, 0 switch, 1 monster in THAT bag! 4 balls, 1 temperature gauge, 1 miss timed lunch break, 1 clean pooh box, 6 hire boats all at once, 1 spliff and a can of larger, 2 hours, 1 wasps nest, 5m not 3m, 1 long list of things to do, Act1 props done, 1 heel turned.

First Floor, No Thanks! 18th May

Calveley Lodge Swing Bridge to Hirst Lock.

Alarm required today as we’d need to be making another early start, however today we allowed ourselves to have breakfast before pushing off.

What a lovely bridge!

The road was busy at Millman Swing Bridge, but I think it always is. I put the key of power into the pedestal, waited for a gap in traffic then pressed and held the ‘Open’ button. Once Oleanna was through I pressed and held the ‘Close’ button, we were through in a jiffy. What a good design of bridge unlike Moss Swing Bridge yesterday!

Pretty and solid!

I walked on to Dobson Two Rise locks and started to set it for us, the towpath pawl on the bottom gate paddle wasn’t making any contact with the cog so I had to let it close so that I could check the upper chamber, the offside one worked, emptying the chamber. As I was walking back down a group of volunteers in blue arrived from litter picking. I was asked if I’d like some help, I then asked which side of the lock was best to use, the near side was the answer as the ground paddles on the other side are VERY stiff.

Conversation with the volunteers obviously turned to Moss Swing Bridge. Just about everyone has complained about it. Apparently C&RT are collecting together the complaints to hand over to the company who own it to try to get things improved. We’ll be adding our complaint to the many, hopefully something will happen.

With one volunteer watching, Oleanna gently rose up the staircase of two, we then paused to fill with water and dispose of our rubbish, the skip having just been emptied. The water tap was slow so we gave up when we were three quarters full, we’ll finish it above Bingley.

Next Mitchell Swing Bridge which had a problem a few days ago being stuck half open. C&RT had been out and got it moving again, however it was soo stiff I had to enlist Mick to give it a push from the towpath side, thankfully that worked.

I held a Yorkshire Water van up at the next bridge having just let one van through. The chap didn’t seem too bothered.

A little bit stiff today

We’d been told back at Dobson Two that there would be volunteers on at Field Three Rise and sure enough there was. Three volunteers who were trimming edges and cutting the grass, then there was an employee who was jet washing the stonework and lock beams. This lock has always felt a little bit left out to me. Being close to the sewage works, not the picturesque Dobson Two or close to Saltaire. Admittedly it’s normally raining when we come through so that won’t help with appearances. Once the jetwashing is done it will look lovely.

Field Three Rise getting some TLC

Three more swing bridges to go today. Dock Swing Bridge used to have to be wound round, I enlisted Mick to do that for us in 2014. Now it all operates by pushing two buttons.

Flying high

As we passed the boat yard by the junction where the Bradford Canal used to join the L&L a narrowboat was in mid flight about to be put back in the water. The chap giving instructions to the crane driver asked if we’d like a first floor adding to our boat. We declined as we’d not make it through bridge holes further on.

There was nowhere to stop in Shipley, all moorings taken.


Then through Saltaire. The obligatory photo taken.

Would the mooring above Hirst Lock be free? Or should we join a few other boats moored alongside the sport fields? I walked up to check, there was a boat. Maybe we could get in behind it and bang spikes in, but I remembered the earth to be minimum and stone blocks lurking beneath. We opted to reverse to a short length of armco where we got in, just about.

Looking back

Time for a quick lunch before Mick had an important phone call to answer and another to make. I got on with collating reference photos for panto before I had a zoom meeting with John the Director and Gemma the Production Manager.

Cricket is a mystery to me!

Unfortunately the internet in Saltaire isn’t too brilliant, so I kept dropping out. But ideas were exchanged, logistics talked about, future meetings set, hopefully for when we’ll be passing near by. Maybe we’ll be setting the alarm clock most days and try to moor up for lunch so that I can work the afternoons and Tilly can head of into the undergrowth to explore. Another early start tomorrow so we can arrive at Bingley in good time.

5 locks, 7 miles, 7 bridges, 29 held up at least, 6 volunteers, 0.75 filled with water, 0 rubbish, 3 decisions made, 1.5 hours of panto chat, 5 hours shore leave, 200ml of double cream, chocolate ganache can now be made.

Final Statistics. 1st January 2023

Willowbrook Moorings, Shardlow

Not a good trend!

Levels on the rise. I don’t see us moving for some time. The flood gates at Cranfleet have been closed since the 23rd December and levels are higher now. The lowest recorded height in that time that we can find was 1.13m and the flood gates were closed then. So this mornings height of 1.76m is going to take a while to head on down stream.

Water Explorer

Yesterday I made note of all our journeys that have been recorded through the years on Water Explorer. The chap who has been running it said the site would be taken down at the end of 2022. It’s still there, Oleanna recorded as the last moving boat. When the site vanishes so will all our vital statistics for both Oleanna and NB Lillyanne.

Our last journeys

At the end of each year I sit down and put our years cruise through Canal plan with the aim of getting a slightly more accurate distance than Water Explorer gives. Water Explorer will cut corners if there have been no way points, it also sometimes counts locks twice or not at all. Beeston Lock on the Trent usually gets counted twice for some reason. This year I will do the same, working out our back and forths on canalplan, which also isn’t totally accurate.

But for now here are our vital statistics (according to Water Explorer) dating back to 1st January 2015.

NB Lillyanne, starting heading up stream on the River Lee from Enfield 1st Jan 2015 to when we moved her for the final time on 2nd May 2017 to brokerage at ABNB in Crick.

Total Journeys505
Total hours recorded1550
Total Miles2565.76
Total Locks1714
These figures are from trips recorded, some journeys in the early days were missed.

NB Oleanna, starting on 28th March 2017 from Finesse Boats in Sheffield to 31st December 2022 to Willowbrook Moorings.

Total Journeys1279
Total Hours recorded4164
Total Miles6242.72
Total Locks3694

So our Total statistics from Water Explorer

Total Journeys1784
Total Hours5714
Total Miles8808.48
Total Locks5408

At some point I will work out Oleanna’s statistics for the year as I normally do, but that will have to wait for tax returns and giant props to be made, along with zooming along the River Trent back to Yorkshire.

Final positions

Mick spent some time in the engine hole today. Trying to see what he might be able to find. Did we have a problem, or was it that something wasn’t pushed home properly? A new battery for his multimeter was needed, the power on board totally turned off for a half hour. The alternator was working. But can we trust it?

Boarded up

He got a phone call from the chap at JD Narrowboats who was wanting to check that we’d got plugged in somewhere and were we sorted. He also sent us a link to a new alternator he’d found on ebay. How very kind of him. Mick is thinking on what to do. We intended on buying a new alternator and when the current one failed we could swap them over and send the original one off to be mended if possible, then we’d have a spare. But should we do it now or wait until we’re back in Yorkshire? Should we go for the ebay one at half the price of a Beta one? Well you get what you pay for!

A lovely building

This afternoon we went for a walk to have a look at the river. We followed the muddy towpath through the old port of Shardlow. Since our very first visit nothing much has changed. Several of the old warehouses still stand boarded up, calling out to be refurbished into offices, housing or some other use. One of my favourite buildings has already been converted into a home, Soresby Warehouse built around 1820.

Derwent Mouth Lock 1 on the Trent and Mersey Canal

Derwent Mouth Lock, the last lock on the Trent and Mersey sat half empty today. In normal times this would have been only about a quarter empty, but with the river in flood! Below, the level at the lock landing today would mean stepping down off Oleanna, normal times it would be one very big step up to the bank.

The river level boards are well in the red as expected.


We walked back on the other side of the canal, past the pubs, lovely houses and the not so lovely more modern buildings. What a busy place this must have once been.

Their TV is a projector onto the end wall of the house, huge!

A pause to look over the garden wall by the lock. The river, here unnavigable, rushed by faster than the River Ouse passes Selby Lock. The house here has spent quite a bit of money on their Christmas lights, multi coloured fairy lights in all the bushes and trees in the garden and then multicoloured bulbs along the eaves the excess gathered together inside their phone box.

In need of a lick of paint

Pork and apple stew tonight with dumplings. I chose to cook it mostly on top of the multifuel stove meaning the dumplings didn’t go crispy.

Pork and apple stew, click the photo for the recipe.

Our viewing of the new series of Happy Valley was interrupted by a call from my bestestest friend over in Sydney. Emma was out for a morning walk with her dog Moose. It was lovely to have a good catch up.

0 locks, 0 miles, WE this year, 234 journeys, 743 hours, 1248.12 miles, 565 locks, 3 mile walk, 0 twinging calf, 1 not so sure cat, 1.84m river level at 11pm, 1 stew, 6 dumplings, 30 minute catch up, 1st Happy Valley season 3.

Two Reds. 30th December


The levels appeared to have peaked this morning and were just starting to come down. We knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere today.

Phone reception is almost none existent inside the boat in Shardlow so it was no surprise when Micks phone received a text message from Adrian at C&RT. He’d tried calling to see if we were still wanting our booking tomorrow to go through Stoke Lock, Cranfleet Flood Gates were still closed. He already knew the answer as did we, Mick texted back confirming that we’d like to cancel our booking. He also asked what would happen from the 3rd of January at Stoke Lock, would we need to book? The answer was that there would be plenty of people about to pen us through when we arrive, hopefully soon afterwards the lock will be back to self operation. Adrian would stand the team down for lunchtime tomorrow.

Wall? What wall!!

Mick spent sometime sat out the back making phone calls to cancel all our Trent lock bookings. We’re hoping we may still be able to make the window of good tides next week, but who knows what the river will do and when Cranfleet Flood Gates will reopen. Cromwell Lock said that they’d be able to get us to Keadby one way or another, maybe missing out on a stop at West Stockwith. One slightly worrying thing was that despite us both remembering Mick having talked to Keadby Lock they didn’t seem to have us in the diary! Glad we hadn’t got to the M180 Bridge and radioed ahead with no-one expecting us! Doesn’t matter now, and we’ll double check when we booked it next.

Mick also called Shardlow Marina. Oleanna was due an oil change, the price of oil was a touch more than he was wanting to pay, maybe it would be cheaper to get the bus and buy some from Halfords? He decided to pay the extra and got on the bike and headed off.

When red lights shows it is not recommended for craft to proceed beyond this point due to flood conditions

Down the towpath at the Shardlow EA flood gates two red lights showed. Both the River Soar and Trent are closed. We’ve stayed this side of the flood gates just in case the river comes up even more!


Tilly did more calculations regarding the wall. She eyed up the wooden signposts again, checked them for claw stability, then decided the call of Dreamies was greater than achieving her goal of getting to the top of the wall.

Inside I took over the dinette table. Foamcor was measured out and cut up to make the base shapes of some giant sugar lumps and milk pods, the sort you get in hotels. I caught up on the Christmas Day radio 4 play which was directed by an acquaintance, The Signalman. All the edges of the shapes were covered in masking tape, this should stop the contact adhesive from eating into the foam when I come to cover them in yoga mats.

Held in place till it’s dry

Whilst the PVA glue was out I made use of it to re-stick some edging strip that was coming off in the bathroom. An off cut of foamcor proved useful to get the glue in behind the veneer. Masking tape used to hold it in position whilst the glue dries.

Mick got on with the oil change in the engine bay. He’s saved doing the filters until tomorrow, we doubt we’ll be on our way for a few days.

This evenings meal made use of the last ham, ham stock which I’d drained off when I roasted the joint. I made it into a stew with a potato, carrot and peas. The stew bubbled away on the stove top for an hour before I made use of the last of the stuffing, making a sort of topping out of it. It then went inside the oven to finish off. Verdict, tasty maybe a little bit salty, but a good invention to use up the last of the leftovers from Christmas.

Yesterday and today we watched Mayflies, a story of a man diagnosed with cancer and his wish to control the end of his life. What a jolly bit of TV to have between Christmas and the New Year! Some very good performances, but a box of tissues was very much required. To jolly things up we’ve watched episodes of Ghosts, Mick has nearly caught me up.

Glad I can’t make the mug to go with them!

0 locks, 0 miles, £60 oil, 4 bookings cancelled, 1 oil change, 6 inch sugar lumps, 1ft milk pods, 1 pot of stew, 2 many tears, 1 near death experience, 1 red lever, 20 catnip Dreamies spilled on the sofa, 2 swirling cats eyes!

Misty Morning. 6th October

Shiplake to Pangbourne

The stove isn’t being kept in overnight as yet so on a chilly morning it’s hard to crawl out from under the duvet, but we succeeded this morning. Breakfasted and on our way at 8am, today would be a busy day.

Such calmness after yesterday

As we pushed our mooring away the mist on the river rose and swirled around us. It reminded me of one of my first trips out in the theatre van in Scarborough. Heading to Bempton to find props for a show we drove through my first proper experience of sea fret. The mist drifting through the transit vans cab from one window to the other right in front of our noses. Today with the low sunlight catching it at the right angle it was magical.

Still misty water

Shiplake Lock was on self service so I did the honours. The lock was empty but the bottom gates didn’t want to open, it took forever for the lock to go through the sluice cycle before the gate button would work. The still water below the lock reflected trails in the sky. Oh what a beautiful morning. I just needed to find my gloves!

The lock island here has sheds with large tents. Earlier in the year these are all occupied, but now in October there were only a couple of tents erected, the rest removed and most probably stored til spring. We pulled in to top up on water. A Kris hire boat arrived and the couple on board had difficulty with their ropes as a gentle breeze caught them and pushed the stern out across the river, so we went to help, the chap on board saying he’d rather be on a narrowboat! It turned out that they used to own a shareboat with Carefree Cruising as did we. Their boat was an earlier one and the syndicate has just sold it, each of them getting a nice return.

Hold back!

At Sonning we had to put the brakes on as a cruiser was heading downstream under the bridge. It’s easier for us to stop as we were facing the current. We paused for a second boat to come through and then made our way up to the lock which was on blue boards, self service. However there were plenty of people around the lock and one came to open the gates, a large tug and skip boat came through leaving one chap on land to work the lock for us.

Hollyhocks replaced by courgettes?

The massive display of Hollyhocks we’d seen last year are now reduced to one rogue plant still with a couple of flowers showing. Get the Lock Keeper chatting about the hollyhocks and you’ll never stop him!

New moorings

Paul from Waterway Routes had asked us to check on reports he’d been having about new moorings at Sonning Lock. The reports had been correct a new length of good edge has been added to the nearest length of moorings, add to that nice new bollards. This does however mean that there are now signs saying to see the Lock Keeper as the moorings are chargeable.

No room for us today!

Our hopes of a mooring close to Tescos were dashed for the first time. In the past there has either been just one space left that we’ve shoehorned ourselves into or someone has been about to leave. Today we tried one space, but it was far too shallow and the stump of a tree overhung it. We regrouped, stocks onboard were low, but I was certain I’d be able to rustle up three meals, we carried onwards.

Cranes and boats everywhere

Next was diesel. Could we remember which of the boat yards was known for being the cheaper one, above or below Caversham Lock? I thought it was below so we pulled onto the service pontoon. A chap who was craning boats in and out shouted to help ourselves, ‘Okay, but how much is it?’ £1.39! Yes please the cheapest we’ve paid in months and on the Thames.

Once the tank was full we headed into the shop to pay. What a curious shop! Did we want to buy a hat? A ceramic bust of Churchill, some slippers, Javanese puppets, a tin train, a model ship with rigging, a clockwork rower or a Dalek? Eventually someone came to take our money, they were having a busy day moving boats.

Reading Town Hall

Caversham Lock had a keeper on duty, we asked her if we could stop at the end of the lock landing to head to the shops. Thankfully she was fine about it. We headed to Aldi who supplied us with much of what we wanted, but there were a few annoying gaps. Mick took the majority back to the boat whilst I tried M&S in the Station, then M&S in town, then Sainsburys finally had some cereal I could eat without added slugs or flies.

I love this house, ship weather vane and a bell in the tower

On we pressed, water diesel and food stocks replenished. Would we be able to make up for time we’d lost yesterday? We passed the wonderful house with the nautical theme.

£325,000 click on the photo for details

A summer house was being shown to prospective new owners with it’s grass and 70ft mooring. Nice.

Above Mapledurham we disposed of our rubbish, then continued on to try to find a mooring. The first place we were about to pull into we were warned was too shallow by a chap chopping wood. On to Pangbourne, we’ve never managed to find a space here, but today there was room along the high bank.

Sort the woofers out!

Tilly wasn’t overly keen due to lots of footfall and woofers, but when next door came back with his dog and started to sand things she decided she’d rather be inside. At least we’d got back on track today and achieved all the chores.

4 locks, 13.2 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 3 bags rubbish gone, 88.02 litres diesel, 3 bags shopping, 4 shops, 0 room for us, 1 postbox, 1 Lara, 1 last Pangbourne space, 2 hours shore leave, 1 final goodnight to Janis x

Up With The Dogs. 16th September

Berkhamsted to Apsley Sainsburys Mooring

A boat that had pulled in behind us last night was still very much asleep this morning as we pushed off, no chance of sharing locks with them. The paths were busy, the occasional runner, but mostly dog walkers. One lady was a dog runner, although she only got to do the occasional bit of running as her dog had plenty of other ideas!


Brentford had been our original planned route, but to get up to Teddington we may only end up using the Tideway. When we re-joined the Grand Union at Gayton Brentford was 77 miles away, now 33.

On past the familiar landmarks of Berko, the totem pole, the lovely house with all the hanging baskets and an owner who last year asked if Oleanna was named after the David Mamet play.

Today the lock cottage looked particularly fine, the edges of the grass around the lock very trim. A lady popped out to say hello, she loves the boats going by and commented on Oleanna. I returned the complement as the cottage looked so fine, had it had a new coat of paint? The lady said that it had and that they’d only been moved in a month. I don’t remember it looking a state before, but now it looks totally loved and immaculate.

What an immaculate house

The landlord of The Rising Sun was one of the dog walkers returning home as we dropped down the lock. It was chilly out there this morning, one chap by a lock, walking his dog, in his pyjamas and dressing gown, hope they were fleecy lined!

Filling at the Rising Sun

I’ve noticed that my breakfast doesn’t kick in until we’ve been cruising for an hour. Working the first locks of the day I wonder how I’ll be by lock ten, twelve, sixteen! But this soon fades as breakfast filters through to my muscles and brain.

That’s a good one

Down the locks where you should leave a paddle up, the gods of the southern waterways bequeathing us a fat fender. The locks had already been used, the sides wet, no paddle left up, maybe someone new to these parts. Sewer Lock smelt ripe today and we wondered who paid who for the clean water to come into the canal below the lock.

Bourne End Lock seems to have had a change of identity, now Winkwell Top Lock, followed by Winkwell Middle Lock and Bottom Lock (which has retained it’s name). Winkwell Swing Bridge now has one of the small control posts with two illuminated buttons. A pause for the traffic to clear and I turned my key of power, four held up today.

What a pretty hull

New houses are being built behind the moorings, I wonder what the boat owners make of their new neighbours? Lots of activity at Hemelmarina, a new high up poly tunnel protected a Tjalk. Some work having been done on it’s hull and a new lick of paint, what pleasing shapes these boats have. It seems as if Tjalks are a speciality of the yard as there are quite a few on hard standing and below the lock, one for sale at £22,000 in need of a fitout.

Sharing again

At the lock we’d caught up with the boat ahead a single hander, he waited for us at Boxmoor Top Lock. He’d bought his boat in Wigan and had spent the last three or so weeks cruising 12 hours a day to reach Watford. He’s a builder and has been bored of commuting across London to site, so he’ll move his boat to be close, we’re not sure he’s aware of the continuous cruising rules.

Fishery Lock

We soon got into a rhythm and worked our way down the locks towards Aspley. At the top lock we’d filled the chamber, just opened the gates when a clicking noise was heard from the bottom end of the lock. A chap had started to lift the paddle. Lots of shouts from all three of us stopped him in his tracks. He’s only been a boater for three days and is heading to Wigrams to a mooring for a year before he sets off to explore the network.

Plenty of C&RT boats

The Sainsburys mooring was available so we waved goodbye to our builder partner and tied up at the far end. We were stopping before 3pm, it was time for lunch. A shopping trip to stock up on food for a Leckenby get together at the weekend and enough supplies to see us into London. Mick went off in search of spare bulbs for our nav lights. Oleanna being five years old it would be sods law for a bulb to go just before the flotilla.

Click image for more info

Yesterday an order for some magnetic nav lights had been placed. For some reason when Oleanna was built the white stern light was omitted. Heading out onto the Thames at night we really should have the correct navigation lights as part of the flotilla. Yes no-one will be able to miss us because of the 1000 plus fairy lights, but we still should show a white light. One day we’ll get one fitted by someone happy to drill into Oleanna’s hull.

Blue Moon

Preparations for the family meal were started today. The menu has been planned out to fit in with our cruising. This afternoon I made a big pan of bolognaise sauce, Which has just fitted into the packed fridge, tomorrow I’ll make some buckwheat pasta dough and a pudding.

16 locks, 5.13 miles, 5 locks shared, 1 C&RT nod, 1 paddle, 1 big fat fender, 0 shore leave, 1 full fridge, 1 big vat of bolognaise sauce, 1 boater heading for London, 1 boater heading away from London, 4th props list on it’s way.

Have The Rules Changed? 27th August

Fotheringhay Castle to Oundle Marina

Such a pretty boat

Another earlyish morning with the hope of avoiding people out to enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend, not that we have a problem with them, it’s just easier to avoid them if they’re not already in the water and still at home.

The wide beam not the first to leave their mark on the bridge

We got to see how much paint the wide beam had left on the bridge yesterday, just another gouge in the 1722 structure. Last chance for a photo of the church before we turned our back on Fotheringhay.

Goodbye Fotheringhay

We’d noted a narrowboat moored up facing the opposite direction to us, could this mean the next lock would be set in our favour? Yes! I was grateful as it was our next manual wheel operated lock and all I’d have to do was lower the guillotine gate once. Having enough hands to lock the wheel once finished is something I’ll need to master as there’s a lock some way ahead that is very hard to do by one person.

Tansor and Cotterstock both look like places to have a good wander around, even if they are only small. On the list for next time, suspect we’ll need to catch a bus or have a lengthy walk from Oundle.

Shopping mooring for Oundle

Now the river works it’s way southwards around the east side of Oundle, under several bridges to Ashton Lock. Ahead we could see the buoys that mark shallow water below the lock, a right hand bend immediately below it. The bow of a boat appeared, Mick slammed on the breaks and then reversed back to give them room to manoeuvre. Would we be passing them on the wrong side, did it really matter just so long as neither boat got stuck in the mud.


It took a while and eventually the bow came round followed by the stern. The main thing for us was that the lock, another manual one was sat waiting for us, only one movement required again! As we left the lock another boat appeared heading down stream, they were also very pleased that the lock was in their favour.

I think someone should look where they are going!

Two canoes, neither knowing which side to pass us on were avoided. Then a rib with two chaps fishing from it coming under a bridge. Had they clocked us? They were moving, both with lines in the river. One chap seemed to be steering, occasionally as they moved along at speed. Another boat passed on the wrong side. Have the rules changed? Has nobody informed us that the rules have changed?

At last passing on the right

Then a cruiser came round the next bend. They were facing towards us, straight at us! Their course was corrected slightly, then their bow faced us again, which way would they go, we only had a small distance further to starboard that we could move. In the end, in the nick of time they moved over and we finally passed someone on the right.

Essential lock equipment for the Nene

Lower Barnwell Lock was empty, a lady just walking over the bridge to the control panel. The guillotine gate started to lower. I bipped the horn. I beeped the horn. We were just about there! I BEEEEPED the horn! At last she spotted us and raised the gate again, very apologetic she was.

Hello Ken!

The narrow entrance to the marina, only just noticeable. Plenty of room on the Cruising Club moorings, but today we breathed in and turned into the marina, wide open water. We’d been told to head to the services, these weren’t at first obvious, but there was a bit of a give away, NB Cleddau with Ken and Sue chatting to the lady. Cleddau had almost got to Irthlingborough Lock when they heard it was broken about ten days ago. They’d returned down stream to the marina to await the lock reopening.

Pontoon sharing

We pulled in on the same pontoon, settled in, a very friendly welcome from all. A quick health and safety check revealed a fence with Tilly sized gaps under it right alongside an intermittently busy road. Sadly this means that for the next couple of days I’ll have to cope with a bored cat.

A bored bundle of cat

Mick had a lift from Ken and Sue into town to do a small food shop whilst I got my model box out. It was time to work my way through the show and make notes. As expected I ended up with two sides of A4! Several scenes just need a touch of a tweak, others need a bit more, but Christmas at the Tower of London looks great, even though I say so myself. The biggest job still to do is the front cloth which due to it’s nature will happen over several days.

The big glasses of Pimms

At 6pm my model was packed away, time for Pimms on the terrace with Ken and Sue. Very civilised. The setting sun put a limit on the time we were prepared to sit out, Ken’s timer for his tray bake encouraged people into their boats to eat. Mick had found some sad gits sausages at the Co-op so we had sausage and mash.

4 locks, 7.39 miles, 4 boats heading down stream, 1 trolling rib, 8 Kingfishers, 1 marina mooring, 7 trips, 1 load of washing, 1 bored cat, 2 x A4, 1 butterfly net, 1 pair snow shoes, 4 large Pimms, 6 bog standard sausages, 1 supermarket order started.

GT. 1st July

Ewell Fen GOBA Mooring to West View Marina EA Mooring

Today we had a rendez vous around midday so no shore leave for Tilly whilst we had breakfast. We pushed off and pootled our way towards Hermitage Lock passing more pumping stations, a cruiser and quite a few canoes. The canoes were almost certainly a batch of Duke of Edinburgh teenagers, maps out, rucksacks getting dribbled on and plenty of smiles.

Four of the twelve boats we saw today

A sign came into view, 3/4 mile to go to the lock, call the lock keeper. He was just penning a boat through, so would reset the lock for us.

The lock has a road bridge over the middle of it, chains hang from the chamber sides as well as below the concrete bridge, we’d have plenty of head room today going up onto the tidal river. A sign on the top gates and one before we’d entered the lock warned us of low water levels on the next stretch. A little like at Cromwell on the River Trent the tide only really affects the river here on spring tides and the lack of fresh water coming down stream isn’t helping with levels at the moment. So if you are deep drafted you need to keep it slow and steady coming out of the lock.

Left 4.5hrs cruise compared to 8hrs to Denver on the right

Once out of the lock the Hundred Foot Drain or New Bedford River heads off to the north east, tidal to Denver and Salters Lode. This is the fast route back to the Middle Level, we may or may not go this way on our return.

Another route to Denver but access is denied

Then pretty soon the Old Bedford River follows off to the north east too, a straighter version of the new river, on our maps it’s marked as none navigable for nearly half of it’s length, we won’t be going that way.

That’s a bit of a haul up out of the water

Earith soon comes into view a village that was once a port. Most of the wharves and warehouses have long gone, but there are still a few signs of it’s past. This is where Jewson and Son’s was founded.

Egrets today but no seals to watch

West View Marina was soon upon us, would there be room on the pontoon for us today. As we approached it appeared to be full, but two narrowboats hid the visitor moorings from us, they were empty, we pulled in a little before midday.

Heather with chilled medication

A quick tidy up ready for our visitor who soon arrived by bus, calling in at the marina office to pick up a chilled medicated lunch for us all, Magnums which had to be eaten quickly as Heather had been waylaid on her way to us.

We spent time catching up on news and on one of the many tangents we went off on we discovered we’d both worked for Theatre Projects. Heather had been a PA to Richard Pilbrow and I’d made models of new theatres for them over a couple of years as I finished college, possibly twenty years apart but we both knew the directors of old.

Heather’s new boat

With a cuppa consumed after the ice creams we walked over to take a look at Heather’s new (to her) boat, a Pedro. Every now and then on rivers we’ve started to spot Pedros and found their shape pleasing and being made from steel a touch more solid than your average cruiser.

Guilden Tass was bought last year with the intention of taking her over to Ireland to cruise the waterways there. Work is on going, taking it’s time, but one day she’ll have her prop back on, have had her hull blacked and be back in the water.

Loads of room to sit, a touch out of place due to on going works

Cruisers are a different beast to narrowboats, width and an indoor position to steer from as well as one right on the very top, but most of all they have wheels not tillers. Indoor is spacious, although the toilet/shower less so. All very exciting, I wonder if she will be back on the water before we leave the area?

Covers over the outdoor wheel and morse control

We left Heather to have some boat time on her own, she beamed as she slid the door closed behind herself. Another cuppa later on before we walked her to the bus stop to say goodbye and then have a nosy around the village. Have to say there wasn’t much to see other than a few nice looking houses and a very busy road. We did find the post office which may provide us with a newspaper tomorrow morning.

Ice skating at Earith, is that GT in the back ground?

1 lock, 3.66 miles, 1 visitor, 3 magnums, 1 Pedro, 2 boat Heather, 2 many cushions, 0 prop, 1 steep ladder, 0 shore leave for complaining Tilly, 2 Egrets, 1 list of places to visit, 1 very small world, 6 courgette fritters still needing a touch more refining.

Sideways Snow. 31st March

Thorne Lock to Thorne Services Visitor Moorings

A phone call to Sean to see if he’d be visiting Thorne today or tomorrow came up with the answer we’d been expecting. The weather was not suitable for him to fit boat covers so he wouldn’t be making a trip to Thorne this week. Only one thing for it, the Senior Citizen Railcard would be put to use and Mick would go and collect it from Cottingham, which is north of Hull. We checked the times and prices of tickets, then checked a split ticket website and managed to get £5 off if Mick got one return to Brough and another to Cottingham.


In a lull between snow storms we headed out, Mick to the station and myself to Sainsburys for some milk as we’d run out. I thought today might not be so interesting, other than the sideways snow, so took a photo of The Little Shop. It’s one of those shops I really want to go in, but sweeties from a big jar are not something we need. Maybe next time I’ll have to arrange to have a young person with me, the need then will be greater.

Back at Oleanna I had some lunch and set about weaving ends in on my socks. Then the world got busy!

Across the way a narrowboat was being brought down the slipway back into the water. No bung in the exhaust just the engine running to keep any water from going into the engine. Once floating the boat was winded alongside us, then it vanished! Where had it gone? I’d sat down to do some more weaving for just a couple of minutes and it had vanished. It must have gone into the dock opposite.

Then another narrowboat arrived. The tractor came down the slipway to meet it, but the prevailing wind really wasn’t helping things, the bow missed the opening and as they went into reverse the boat was blown down past us, necessitating a more powerful return.

Ooo, new gates!

Two boats in the mean time had just come up Thorne Lock, they stemmed the wind waiting to get past. Once they were clear the rumble of a big boat came close, in front of it a big skip boat filled with generators and big hoses. C&RT getting ready for the work at the lock. Earlier on I’d seen a chap setting out mesh on the grass on the offside, maybe this is where the generators will be positioned next week.

Cabin top dropped to get under low bridges.

Then another skip boat came past, Robin Hood pushing the new lock gates. These will have been made at Stanley Ferry and most probably have come all the way by water. The top of Robin Hood’s cab had been dropped to get under the railway bridge in Thorne.

Lots of big blue boats

The two boats and their skips breasted up on the lock landing, hopefully there will be a volunteer on duty for the weekend to help single handers through.

Is that our cover?

Mick soon arrived back with a very natty package including handle, we had our cratch cover back.!

Goodbye Staniland, we did try waving to Jonathan.

In what we thought was a lull in the weather, we untied. Mick kept Oleanna on the mooring until I’d got the bridge open, stopping a reversing bin wagon in the process (not sure how many you get for one of those!), then he zoomed her into the lock avoiding being pushed this way and that by the wind.

Going Down Thorne Lock

A chap came over to chat and watch. Next week he’s picking up his first narrowboat from Lymm, cruising up the Bridewater, up the Rochdale 9, Ashton canal, over the Pennines via the Huddersfield Narrow and along the Aire and Calder to Thorne to moor. Thankfully he’s getting help with his first ever locks on the Rochdale 9, but then single handing from there. He hadn’t been aware of Thorne Lock closing on Monday for over a month. I wished him luck and told him to take his time and enjoy himself.

One space left

We pootled to the services, but would there be space for us? One side of a pontoon was available so we could get water, phew! Here is a 24 hour visitor mooring behind gates with the services, until tomorrow unless other wise signed all visitor moorings have been 14 days. We slotted in and started to fill the water tank. This would take a couple of hours as the pressure could compete with all the slow taps on the network. We also did a load of washing and got the dishwasher earning it’s keep.

The cratch cover went back on, the zips all sewn back in by machine, much better than my hand sewing. SPL had also darned a couple of little tares, one that had been there since it was made, the other possibly from a tussle with NB Billy a couple of years ago or when we’d got too close to a lock gate. Not bad for £25 plus a train fare to Cottingham.

By now we were both very cold. What was the likelihood of someone passing wanting water? It was getting dark after all. We decided that we’d stay put for the night and if no-one else had moved off in the morning we’d pull out and leave a space available.

The last batch of socks

My aim of knitting ten pairs of socks during March was achieved, admittedly the tenth pair being a diddy pair. All adult socks were packed up and addressed ready to be sent off. I’m going to let my fingers and needles have a bit of a rest for a few days, hopefully I won’t get twitchy fingers and start on something else.

1 lock, 0.37 miles, 4 trains, 1 cratch cover, 1 boat through the impending stoppage, 1 swing bridge, 1 reversing bin wagon held up, 2 tugs, 4 gates, 2 boats swapped, 1 hour of sideways snow, 20 frozen digits, 1 full water tank, 10 pairs, 1 March Challenge completed.

Waiting! 30th March

Thorne Lock

Mick emailed the person who developed the blog roll plugin as there had been no response to the support ticket. The first post on his website was about the Falkirk Wheel! Soon afterwards there was a reply. The chap said he’d look into the plugin with regards to PHP 8.0. It’s nice to be able to see the latest posts on blogs as they are published and Mick spent ages hunting for a plugin that would roll. The blog will stay put on the current PHP until we hear that the problems have been solved.

Look what Oleanna caught overnight

Much colder today, we were glad the stove was lit. Just before lunchtime Mick popped over to the chandlers but the Marine 16 hadn’t arrived yet. We’d wait and try later.

Rain mostly came all day, sometimes heavy, sometimes not so, but it didn’t encourage any of us to head out into it. We postponed filling with water until tomorrow. Our mooring here is nicer than any below the lock in Thorne, especially for Tilly. But then today she only headed out properly for about ten minutes returning soaked by rain. She did try several times to come in for ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies, but I knew she’d not stepped paw off the boat onto land, so no reward!

The last adult sock this March

I spent most of the day knitting, finishing off pair nine. The last four pairs of socks all need their ends weaving in which is a job for tomorrow. With only one day left of the challenge I wouldn’t get another pair of adult socks knitted, so I started on some premature baby socks. They are so diddy!


Another visit to the chandlers and still no Marine 16. It’s not imperative that we get some, it would just be nice.

More importantly there was no phone call about our cratch cover. The chap had said he would be in Thorne this week so would drop it back with us. We need it back before we head onto the Trent, we’ll call him in the morning as time is starting to run out.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trips to the chandlers, 0 Marine 16, 0 cratch cover, 9th pair, 1 diddy sock finished, 1 fishing line caught, 1 wet cold day, 10 minutes shore leave, 1 big crane boat arrived on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal assisted by Little Shuva, 4 days till the lock closes.