Category Archives: Breach

Boat Conference. 21st March

Bramwith Junction to Pollington Lock, Aire and Calder

A very chilly start

Time to put a plan together. Sitting around waiting for my glasses to arrive doesn’t get the water tank filled or other boat jobs done. So after breakfast and updating the blog we had a boat conference. These are actually quite rare, most discussions of our plans are held as we stand on the back of Oleanna, but today we needed to concentrate.

Our original plan had been to make use of the weeks whilst Thorne Lock was shut. The London Leckenby’s have a few days in York so we’d planned to join them, maybe even a boat trip into our home city as Jac and Josh have never done this and the tour guides on Oleanna know exactly where to stop to see our family home from the river. Various boat jobs to get done and do. Friends to catch up with around the area etc. Also being in the area for a change over of lodgers at the house would be handy. It all had fitted together quite nicely. Then after Easter we would head southwards on the Trent, the quick way south.

The Don Doors again!

But since the dates for the stoppage at Thorne Lock have changed we’ve been in a quandary. Spending time in York is very appealing especially since Andrew and I haven’t been in the city together for at least 6 years and that was for a funeral. Catching up with friends is something we’d wanted to do summer before last, but floods and the pandemic put paid to that as we were rafted up with other boats at Naburn for several days.

Should we stay and do all those things?

Should we leave before the lock closes in a couple of weeks?

We’ve spent a lot of time mulling this over and every day for the last week we’ve discussed it further, but still not come up with a plan. Today we needed a plan.

Our discussion actually was relatively short.

Swing

If the London Leckenby’s hadn’t been coming up to York then we doubt we’d have been considering heading that way at this time of year. We’ve upgraded to a Gold Licence this year and if we stayed on this side of Thorne Lock and then exited via the Pennines it would mean us loosing about a months worth of Goldness. Decision made, we will be heading south on the Trent as soon as the tides look suitable.

A list of things we need to do was drawn up. Approximate dates worked out and ,most importantly a phone call made to Keadby Lock to book our passage. Sadly there was only an answerphone to talk to, but we knew someone would call us back.

With water needed we pushed off along the New Junction Canal again. If my glasses arrive in the next few days we’ll aim to be near a station to get back to Doncaster to collect them.

Lift bridge ahead

We made our way back swinging and lifting bridges. Before Sykehouse Lock three narrowboats that passed us yesterday were moored up, they looked like they were settled for a few days of company, jobs and possibly even a barbeque.

As we came through the last narrowing where a swing bridge used to be the light at the lock changed to red, shortly followed by green. There were plenty of people around. The volunteer who must live there in the tower, another C&RT chap by the bridge and a couple of boaters, so there was plenty of help to move the bridge out of our way and then back once we were below it.

Water water everywhere!

At the end of the New Junction we turned left and headed towards Pollington Lock.

A couple of bank slippages are marked with yellow buoys. These were there when we walked the stretch shortly after the breach happened Christmas 2020. Short red posts and some spray paint mark the worst bits.

Blackthorn blossom

The visitor moorings below Pollington Lock were empty so we pulled up to the space closest to the water point and got the tap going. We very quickly remembered that the pressure is appalling at this tap, no sitting and waiting for the tank to fill, best to get on with other things and forget about it. Thankfully we can check our water gauge every now and then to know when the tank was full, the pressure so low that there’d be no boom from our tank and no major gushing of water coming out of the over flow, just a gentle trickle. It took longer than two hours to fill us up!

Handy picnic bench!

Tilly checked out the picnic table, but wasn’t overly impressed with the mooring. She’s managed to get on the other side of the ditch here before which makes for an interesting rescue. Mick however looked at the picnic table and realised what we’d be doing tomorrow!

1 lock, 7.32 miles, 3 swing bridges, 3 held up, 3 lift bridges, 6 held up, 2 outsides, 6%, 6th pair knitted, 2 plus hours to fill, 2 pairs of odd socks, 1 conference, 1 plan at last, 1 call booked, 1 useful picnic table and tap.

https://goo.gl/maps/CSMReDdA7iSvRyML8

Deluded Lentil Baseballs. 12th March

Sykehouse Junction to Opposite the cement works Goole

Tilly was allowed shore leave whilst we joined the Geraghty zoom this morning. For the last four weeks Mick has been involved in something to do with hire cars, so hasn’t been present for at least three of those weeks, so it was nice to see people again and have a catch up.

Then it was time to push off, would Tilly return? Well, a short while after I called for her there was a meow at the back doors. Inside, 2 Dreamies, padded trousers on, trip computer set and we were off.

Reversing out from the junction

Across the way from where we’d moored was a line of buoys marking a relaxing bank, so we didn’t want to get close to it whilst winding. Instead Mick reversed Oleanna back to the junction, good job we’d got the weedhatch cover back in enabling better reversibility. At the junction we turned to face Goole and retraced our wake. Today was chilly and blustery stood on the stern. We discussed our options for escaping Goole, again. If there are enough boats interested then the Trent-Link group will put together an appeal to C&RT regarding Thorne Lock. For us a nudge of dates would be good, freeing up the Easter weekend I suspect would please local boaters.

Someone knows the grass is always greener.

Near Sugar Mill Ponds there has always been a dutch barge moored along the towpath. When we came past last week it wasn’t there, we wondered if it had moved moorings. Then it had returned. Today it had vanished again! Just where does it go to? Maybe for water, diesel? There was a choice of spaces opposite the cement works so we pulled in a touch further away from the boats with woofers. Here is the prefect place to bring a car alongside.

Drax

Across the way the moorings outside the Auction house were chocka block. We wonder if mooring is discouraged during the week when they are open, or is it that no-one will notice you mooring there when they are closed?

Hello Lisa!

A large pot of chilli was made in my cast iron casserole and popped on the stove to gradually cook for the rest of the afternoon, saving on gas.

Chilli gently bubbling away

With a visit from Frank on the cards we needed to stock up on a few things, especially potatoes to go with a roast. Mick headed to Tescos whilst I headed to Boyes for some glue and some baby yarn. Tescos supplied us with a new rectangular ceramic lasagne dish, not pyrex, but identical to the one we used to have. So now I can cook reasonable portion sizes again.

The title of the post? Our location on what3words, I found it amusing.

0 locks, 6.11 miles, 1 reverse, 0 dutch barge, 2 gaps, 0 shore leave, 1.5 kg potatoes, 2 types glue, 1 oven dish, 3 meals worth of chilli, 0.75 sock knitted, 1 bakewell tart started.

https://goo.gl/maps/mnc2B2j7mYHVMRdZ6

Hire Boat Aroma 27th February

Bramwith Junction to Goole Boat House Marina, Aire and Calder Navigation

Houses and boats have their own advantages. In our house in the mornings I can get out of my side of the bed, walk round it and then along the landing to the bathroom. If this is done in the dark I usually bang my knee on the bottom of the bed having misjudged it’s size. On Oleanna I usually have to manhandle Tilly out of the way and then crawl over Mick’s feet to reach the bathroom side of the bed. However it is impossible to bump one’s knee and the loo is only a couple of paces away rather than a major hike across Scarborough!

A new day

The view from bed in the house is a fairly good one, although the window is not well aligned to the bed. On the boat our big window is perfectly positioned, it was designed that way. Once the condensation is removed (if only we didn’t breath overnight) the view from Oleanna’s bed can be fantastic, this morning we had such a view, the sun rising across the fields and the frost glinting on the grasses. Other days we can be staring straight at some piling or at the cabin side of another boat. The good mixed with the not so good, but the view does change often and that is one thing I miss when in the house.

Not a full English, but it did the job

With limited food supplies on board, intentional for our one night stay, Mick cooked up bacon butties for breakfast, hire boat aroma filled Oleanna for hours.

Winding with the wind

Then with winter layers donned we rolled back the covers. That wind was there again which meant we needed to think about pushing off, or not pushing as the case was. The wind wanted to push Oleanna away from the bank, so we used this to our advantage. We both untied the bow, so that we knew we’d be able to keep hold of her. I hopped onboard the bow with the rope, the wind gradually pushing the bow out into mid channel, thankfully only a passing canoe to worry about this morning. Then Mick headed to the stern, undid the rope and chain there and managed to get onboard before the stern was pushed out too. By now Oleanna was just about 90 degrees to where she’d started off, a short burst of the engine had our wind completed and we were now facing the New Junction Canal.

The Don Doors hung above our heads as we crossed the aqueduct. A line of flood debris just visible suggesting the recent flooding had been very close to the height of the canal. Flood water still sitting in the surrounding fields.

The five and a half miles of the New Junction is dead straight but crossed at frequent intervals by roads which all have a moveable bridge. All but one of these is key powered. Big swing bridges and lift bridges can hold the traffic up, but this morning being a Sunday there were more cyclists about than cars or vans. At one bridge a boat was moored on the bridge landing, secure for the storms last week (don’t blame them), but in the way today.

As we worked our way through the bridges I could just make out the light at Sykehouse Lock, amber, self service, not that surprising as there wouldn’t be much traffic about. However as we got closer I could spy movement in the lock tower. The light turned green, then red, then green again, there was a lock keeper on duty.

Coming into the lock

Over Sykehouse Lock is the only manual swing bridge. Boaters operating the lock have to move the bridge before the panels at either end of the lock will work, but a lock keeper can do things in the order they want to. As he came down from the tower with his two dogs a car came across the bridge, there was a long chat before barriers were closed, both dogs returned to the right side of the bridge and it could be opened, all the time we were getting closer.

Once in the lock he asked us to move up so he could close the bridge behind us. Then the water dropped and we could be on our way again. We were now on the pound where the breach had been at the end of 2020. There are mooring restrictions from Went Aqueduct, Pollington Lock to the bend where the breach happened, sections of the piling having fallen in towards the canal when there was a lack of water. Buoys mark the areas well.

Up at the reservoir boats were speeding by, a perfect day for it. We just hoped it would calm down when we reached Goole. We turned right, passing more buoys and headed straight for Drax power station, the only power station in the area still with its full complement of cooling towers.

Due Norf to Drax

Then at the 90 degree bend we had reached the breach site. Mick passed through here last year, but today was my first time. From studying all the drone photos last year I knew where the pumps had been, where the walls of the cofferdam had crossed the cut. Now other than the fence over the big culvert looking new and clean concrete and piling edged with rubber buffers you’d hardly know what a state the place had been this time last year. The fishermen I suspect are glad of a slightly better surfaced carpark on the opposite bank too.

There are loads of new signs along the straight towards Goole warning of Animal Escape ramps. These have also been improved and look like new stone has been added to them.

On reaching Goole there was next to no room on the visitor moorings, we spotted Wendy waving frantically from the windows of Lullabelle (a fellow Goole Escapee from last year) as we made our way to the diesel point on the Boat House side. Mick gave Dave the new owner of the marina a call and soon Adey arrived to show us where we’d be able to moor for a few days by the dry dock, Viking Marina had been full when we’d tried there.

Oleannas mooring for a few days

Thankfully the wind wasn’t so bad as we manoeuvred Oleanna into her mooring. Adey was very helpful and chatted away for ages about what the plans are for the marina. Mick even ended up with a mud weight, a thing he’s been after for years.

A late lunch, then Mick headed off by bike to catch a train back to Thorne to retrieve the car whilst I did the most important job of pre-ordering a celebration meal for when we move back on board.

A handy weight

On Mick’s return we loaded the car with things we didn’t need and useful bags and boxes which would get filled in the next few days. Electrics, gas and water all turned off, another shovel of coal on the stove and we were ready for the off. Just one thing to do before heading back to Scarborough, say hello to Martin and Wendy on Lullabelle.

11.99 miles, 1 lock, 3 swing bridges, 3 lift bridges, 8 cars, 3 bikes held up, 1 lockie, 2 bacon butties, 1 self turning boat, 1 tidy breach site, 2 many buoys, 1 widebeam, 1 mud weight, 1 Chinese takeaway on order, 1 waving Wendy, 1 hungry cat.

https://goo.gl/maps/1cMnid47YhZvbUNi6

One Thirty. 12th February

Time seems to have been standing still here in Scarborough.

Jobs are gradually being ticked off the lists. On the house jobs list all the woodwork in the two hallways and staircases has been rubbed down, filled, undercoated and glossed. This took a long time and a lot of patience, I know I could have done it better but even my patience was running thin. The back bedroom curtains are now lined. Patching the wall paper in the hallways is partially done.

Mick has serviced the life jackets. All four were inflated and left in the boat cupboard overnight to see if they held the air. This extended to being a week before Mick finished the job, all still filled with air and well out of reach of Tilly’s claws. She decided to explore a bathroom cupboard instead. Finally our gutters have been sorted at the back of the house and our neighbours Dad came and fitted a new shower tray for us. The plumbers had quoted £3500 for a new surround and tray, all we wanted was the cracked tray replacing. Lisa’s Dad did it for a tenth of the quote and a good job too.

Rebekah and Alice

I had a day and night over in Huddersfield working on #unit21. Final costume fittings with only one job left to do, or so I thought! I then watched a dress run through. In the evening I had planned to get the floor marked out and based in, leaving the top coat of green for the Saturday morning, but there was a dance class booked to use the main room. Their hour turned into two and a half! So by the time I’d got the flooring laid out I only had time to draw the lines out before I gave up.

Was it the wine? Was it the chicken?

Chicken and chips with a dubious glass of pink wine was had at Nandos, think I prefer the kebab wagon in Chippy. Over night I got to spend more of my time in my Travelodge bathroom than in the bed as something had disagreed with me somewhat!

I’d planned an early start, but that wasn’t going to happen. I’d planned a walk along the Broad canal into town, but a more direct route conserved energy. During the day I gradually worked my way painting white lines followed by green, fortunately the paint dried pretty quickly. I’d hoped to be back in Scarborough early afternoon, but that wasn’t to be and thankfully Mick was at the station to help with my bags. At least I’d managed to get the majority of jobs done.

The following day I took it easy, Downton Abbey and some crochet with Tilly on the sofa. Thankfully by the evening my appetite had returned so I could enjoy National Yorkshire Pudding day with roast pork.

During this week word came from Huddersfield that a zip had broken on a set of overalls. Replacing them wasn’t an option, no larger sizes were available either. So they were sent to me arriving along with the butchest zip I could find. I have now learnt/made up how to add an extra 3 inches (just to be safe) to the sides of the overalls and how to put a zip in. Here’s hoping it works.

Someone’s on the move

With a train strike on Sunday we’ve hired a car to get me to Huddersfield ready for the fit up on Monday morning. This of course means we had a car available for today. Now how should we make use of it? Well it was way past time to say Happy New Year to Oleanna!

Leaving me behind!

A really rather wet, windy, horrible day. Heading over the Wolds we were deprived of the views but the amount of snowdrops more than made up for it. When we’d last done the trip to Thorne all the fields were brown, now they are green with fresh life growing. The tide was out on the River Ouse as we crossed the M62 bridge. I could see why going round the wrong side of Howden Dyke Island would be a bad thing with the amount of silt to the north western side.

Not the best photo of Howden Dyke Island

During the week Mick had noticed that Oleanna was no longer hooked up. He’d given Sarah a call at the marina to check everything was alright. It was, Oleanna had been moved as the pontoon she was moored on was being replaced. During one of the recent storms a small cruiser i the marina had been lifted up by the wind. It was tied well to it’s pontoon which also got lifted off it’s supports. The boat was found in the middle of the marina still attached to it’s pontoon!

There she is!

There she was right at the far end of the marina breasted up against two other boats. Not the easiest of access, but we managed. Mick found a spare socket to hook us up to and turned the electric heating on. Then we enjoyed our picnic lunch sat by the hatch which remained firmly closed despite the view being rather good.

Mick had intended to do an oil change but the weather put him of somewhat. Instead he pottered, checked Oleanna over and ran the engine.

Down below I got on with my task for the day, some TLC for our multi-fuel stove. Last winter the top plate had started to show a little rust, the stove not having been lit for seven months. Today it was time to do something about it.

A good wire brushing on the top plate removed much of the orange, followed by some fine grit sandpaper. The rest of the stove just needed a freshen up. The big hoover came out to suck away all the dust. The hearth was cleaned too.

Drying the stove

Everywhere then got a good wash down. Only problem was it would take quite a while to dry off, handy that we’d bought a second hand hairdryer a few years ago when we planned to put plastic up at the windows in winter. Today it got used for the first time.

Stir it up

I hunted round in the painty cupboard and found the tin of stove black paint. This had been bought for Lillian’s Squirrel stove before we sold her. Thankfully the paint was still good inside, it just required a very good stir up.

Doors off and bits masked off

All the chrome bits were masked off, the door glass removed for cleaning. Then I gave everywhere a thin, hopefully even coat of paint. The hearth got a coat too to tidy it up.

Paint going on

That paint smells! So glad I’d decided to this job now when we wouldn’t have to put up with the smell all evening. Touch dry in fifteen minutes. Well that was hard to tell as the clock at the back of the galley had said 1:30 when we arrived and still said it when I’d finished painting.

Looking smart again

The doors slotted back on easily, the glass back in the door. Just like new apart from the knob on the riddle handle that needs replacing as the thread has worn away. On our next visit we’ll light a small fire to bring the stove up to temperature to help the paint cure. Then hopefully all the smellyness will be over and done with when we move back on board.

All ready to spill stew on again

A chat with Sarah suggested that there is still problems getting hold of Calor Gas. We have an empty bottle on board which we’d like to replace. Hopefully her next order of LPG will be successful, she’ll put our name on one of the bottles if it is.

Bye bye

Everything onboard was turned off again, taps left open should the temperature drop before we’re back next. Power was unhooked, the cable tucked away. Hopefully next time she will have been moved back to her mooring and a new pontoon making it a lot easier to get on and off.

The sun came out just as we were about to leave!

Our route back to Scarborough was slightly longer than the way there. It took us to New Bridge over the Aire and Calder, I was able to get my first view out of the window of the breach site. Today you’d hardly know what it looked like last year. Then onwards to B&Q in York to pick up some neon pink paint for #unit21 props.

Neon!

0 miles, 0 locks, 2 staircases, 2 curtains, 1 new shower tray, 1 chair, 1/2 a dodgy chicken, 1 glass rose too much, 1 emergency zip replacement, 3 more inches, 1 hire car, 1 service postponed, 5 year old stove paint still stinky, 2 poo buckets forgotten, 1 cuddly Tilly, 1 pair of handknitted first night neon odd socks (neon to match the show, odd for down’s syndrome).

2021 An Adventurous Year

Time for the annual round up. Put the kettle on or pour yourself a glass of something stonger, put your feet up, this is a long post.

Looking out into a cold world!

As midnight turned from 2020 to 2021 we saw the old year out and new one in at the house in Scarborough, a quiet affair with just the three of us.

January and February brought ups and downs with them. Oleanna rose and fell with the water level at Viking Marina due to the breach at New Bridge whilst the country locked down. Despite the restrictions on travelling we made use of having a hire car for a few days at the beginning of the year to keep an eye on Oleanna.

Jobs around the house continued, our bedroom was redecorated and reclaimed from troublesome tenants. Tilly and I ventured out into the nearby park for the occasional walk, dependant on the number of woofers and the weather of course.

We walked, we ate, we drank, did our best to stay well and I started on the design for Chipping Norton’s panto in my reclaimed work room.

The spare living room was used as a workshop doing some work for Animated Objects, scrimming giant sci-fi guns and then painting model buildings all for The Odyssey. Beetroot burgers were made and pancakes consumed.

Then March came along and some easing of restrictions. Colour came back in nature with the daffodils popping up and my panto model started to get coloured in. A design for some origami paper arrived ready to be folded up to be part of 1000 ships display that would happen a couple of months later along the Yorkshire coast.

With new freedoms we had a couple of trips to Goole to check on Oleanna. First one was to swing her round and finally put fire extinguishers on walls all ready for her Boat Safety Inspection which she passed with flying colours and a comment that we seemed to like CO and smoke detectors, well I’d rather have too many than not enough!

The cofferdam at the breach site was completed and an access ramp created. My posts about the breach put us in touch with several people in Goole and at the beginning of April The Goole Escape Facebook group was formed. Due to the breach and lack of water in Goole Docks no leisure boats were allowed to use Ocean Lock out onto the Tidal Ouse. A joint calm voice was needed to try to find a way out for those boats wanting to leave, including us.

Of course March was also when Mick and I got our first vaccinations. Who’d have thought having a jab would put a smile on peoples faces! Not that you could really see them behind all the masks. A bathroom got a make over and we discovered parts of Scarborough we’d never been to before.

April was a very busy month. With lodgers on the horizon house jobs needed finishing. The roof needed attention along with a wall in my work room, both jobs were for the professionals. Pictures went up on walls, finally. The bathroom needed finishing with Frank fitting us a new bath surround.

Mid month out attention moved back to Oleanna. Way back when, we’d booked her in at Goole Boathouse to be blacked. We had a night on board before moving her from one marina to the other to come out of the water. She was jet washed down and the chaps began applying layers of 2 pack to her hull. We visited most days with jobs to do ourselves. Mick busied himself inside whilst I ground back rusty bits on the gunnels, repainted them and the tunnel bands. Inside the oak floor had a good clean and then was treated to two coats of oil. The weather had been perfect for it and she went back in the water a week after she’d come out, enough time for the 2 pack to cure. She looked smart again, well the cabin sides still needed a good wash!

Whilst in Goole we met up with David, Karl, Wendy and Martin, four members of The Goole Escape group. David had managed to negotiate with ABP passage for leisure boats through Ocean Lock at Goole Docks, this was limited to specific times of the tide. So escape was now possible but everything would have to come together to make a sensible plan. We wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks and hoped that there wouldn’t be a mass exodus before we could join people.

As I carried on trying to finish my panto model Mick made good use of his time doing a VHF radio course, we’d need to be able to use the radio to meet the criteria for going through Goole Docks and out onto the Tidal Ouse. Tilly visited the vet and got a years worth of flea and wormer treatments, we were all set to move back on board.

The first of May was that day. We’d hoped that Tilly would remember the boat after seven months on shore, within about two seconds of being back it was obvious she knew where she was. News that Goole caisson gates were now open and cruising up towards the breach site was possible we headed off to give Oleanna a good run and so that Tilly could venture back onto dry land. It was very good to be back on the move again. On our second such trip Tilly remembered how to swim!

Whilst in Goole Mick took his Short Range VHF Radio exam and passed. I carried on painting my panto model. We both had our second vaccinations. Heather Bleasdale came to visit joining us for an outdoor lunch. We got to know the Goole Escape Committee and discussed plans. We watched work going on at the breach site. Mick had a birthday and Joan’s Home Kitchen provided us with a celebratory meal a couple of days before we hoped to escape.

On 21st May an escape committee meeting was had early on, the weather looked hopeful for the tide in the afternoon, we were booked in at Ocean Lock. Our escape was to be via Selby, the Lock keeper was called there and our plan confirmed. At lunchtime we moved up to fill the diesel tank and await the other escapees, Sea Maiden and Lullabelle. Given the go ahead by the docks to proceed we were soon passing through to Ocean Lock where there was plenty of space for the three of us. At around 14:30 the large lock gates opened to reveal our way out of Goole onto the Tidal Ouse.

All three boats arrived safe and sound

We headed upstream following Sea Maiden being pushed along with the tide. Would we make it to Selby before the tide turned. Each boat arrived individually and was locked up into Selby Basin. We’d made it, now all we had to do was escape Selby as the swing bridge out of the basin there was broken.

We waited. Tides, times, weather and the amount of fresh coming down stream all had to fit together. Bridget and Storm came to visit. We twiddled our thumbs. The Environment Agency came and closed the flood barrier. We twiddled our thumbs. Daily escape committee meetings were held. By the 27th everything was looking to fit together apart from one thing, Keadby Lock would not be manned at a suitable time for us to get off the river. Sea Maiden and Lullabelle decided to stay put in Selby. Heather Bleasdale was joining us for the trip but Oleanna would be out on the river on her own heading to Trent Falls.

What a day that was! David’s advice was spot on. Leaving Selby just before 10am Oleanna zoomed downstream with the out going tide. We followed our charts keeping to the channel. At the Apex light Mick swung Oleanna round to head upstream onto the Trent our progress slowing instantly.

We then crawled our way to find where we should wait for the tide to turn. Two hours of very little, drifting on our anchor. We’d picked the day well, it was wonderful out there.

When Oleanna started to move round a touch more we managed to pull the anchor up and found our way back into the main channel to head upstream with the incoming tide. One plan had been to moor up in Gainsborough, but we decided to carry on and arrived at Torksey just as the last light was fading at just gone 22:00, 64 miles in a day, I doubt we’ll ever beat that.

Over the next few days we made our way up the Trent, dug out our windlasses to work locks in Nottingham. Once we rose up Derwent Mouth Lock onto the Trent and Mersey we had completed our escape. The going would now be much slower along shallow canals and plenty more moored boats to slow down past.

Now we should make our booked mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, every day would be a boating day unless the weather was either too hot or far too wet to cruise. Along the Trent and Mersey, pausing to stock up in Alrewas. At Fradley we turned onto the Coventry Canal to head southwards. We gave a tow to NB Burghley Girl to the bottom of Atherstone.

At Hawkesbury Junction we did the 180 degree turn onto the North Oxford Canal, through Rugby and up Hillmorton. NB Kamili with Andy and Irene passed as we arrived in Braunston where we paused for another butchers, then up the flight and through the tunnel.

Straight on along the Grand Union. On route we stopped for a drink with Lizzie at Bugbrooke. Paused for a hot day under some trees near Milton Keynes. Had a diversion along the Wendover Arm for a night. Picked up extra crew, my old college friend Jen, for a day through Hemel Hempstead. Came across our first sightings of HS2 cutting it’s way across the landscape.

At Bulls Bridge we turned left onto the Paddington Arm. On our trip into London we came across our friends Pete and Clare on NB Billy, it turned out we’d be neighbours at Rembrandt Gardens for a few days. We arrived on time and the next day headed across London by bus to Hackney to see the London Leckenbys for the first time since Christmas 2019.

Plenty more family to catch up with. Kath came for lunch, we had a trip to Eastbourne to see Marion and John, a lovely lunch with Christine and Paul. So good to see everyone again and not just on a computer screen every Saturday.

Happy Birthday Big Brother

Andrew’s 60th Birthday was celebrated, nothing fancy just good to be able to be together for it, we’d achieved our second goal of the year.

We heard there was a space at St Pancras Cruising Club for a long boat like Oleanna, so we took advantage of a more secure mooring close to Kings Cross whilst we had a visit back to Scarborough. Checking on the house, lodgers changing over and seeing the latest Ayckbourn play with Bridget and Storm, it all made for a good weekend away. I then headed off to Huddersfield for a couple of days work with Dark Horse, fitting costumes for a photo shoot.

There was to be a Tideway cruise from St Pancras Cruising Club and with one space left we jumped at the opportunity. Ten boats made their way to Limehouse, we breasted up with NB Misty Blue, Graham turned out to be another Goole Escapee. Three lock-fulls of boats headed out onto the Tideway on the morning of 10th July, special permission had been sought to go under Hammersmith Bridge which was closed to all forms of traffic at the time.

Tilly thought we were mad taking her onto such rough water, I was a little perplexed too! Very glad that I was the official photographer, clinging on as we did more than bob up and down! Tower Bridge, The National Theatre, Christine, Adam, The Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station. So many sights, what an experience!

The further west we got the calmer the water got. We were glad when Hammersmith Bridge was passed as there had always been a chance that it might close to boat traffic at anytime due to safety reasons. We turned off at Brentford along with several other boats and continued up to Hanwell where we had a very sociable evening at The Fox with everyone. Thank you Simon for mentioning the cruise to us.

Sadly our washing machine hadn’t liked the lumpy water so for the next month we cruised meeting up with engineers on route hoping it could be mended. Back through London, pausing at St Pancras again. Then down to the Herford Union to cut across to the Lee and Stort. We had another mooring booked on the Lee awaiting our arrival, alongside NB Billy.

Then up the Lee and onto the River Stort. We’d only ventured so far up the Stort during our first winter on Lillian, this time we headed all the way to Bishop Stortford. Our return journey was held up slightly due to the river going into flood overnight so we had to wait for it to lower to get under the bridge at Roydon.

Back through London we made use of the new Eco-moorings near Islington Tunnel, a handy stop off with electricity. Here we met up with Nick an old friend from York and Adam called in for a catch up after working the breakfast shift at Radio 2.

Goodbye Christine!

At the end of July we pushed on and left London behind us, returning to Bulls Bridge.

We headed up to Uxbridge for cheap diesel and finally got our washing machine mended. We turned around and headed back to the Hanwell flight, stowed the garden back in the shower and headed out onto the Thames again where we turned right towards Oxford.

With a weeks license we couldn’t dawdle, although a broken lock gate at Boveney Lock did hold us up overnight so our license would be extended. A space was spotted below Cliveden so we treated ourselves to a night moored in the grounds of the big house. We paused for a socially distanced chat with Sue on No Problem XL, good to see her looking so well. Henley Regatta was almost ready as we passed through and our favourite mooring above Days Lock did not disappoint. All too soon we turned up Sheepwash Channel and ascended Isis Lock back onto the Oxford Canal.

Whilst in Oxford I managed an actual face to face meeting with Dash the Director for Chippy Panto. He seemed happy! Then we made our way up to Thrupp where we’d booked ourselves in at the cruising club for a few days whilst the London Leckenbys came to visit and we had a trip back to Scarborough and we got to see the show at Esk Valley for the first time since we’ve been living afloat.

I had a day trip to Chippy where I did a final model meeting over zoom from a dressing room, but also had chance to measure things up. Then we were off up the Oxford Canal, mooring in our favourite spots, it was a touch busier than it normally is in the winter.

A pause to visit Village Meats in Braunston and we spotted our old share boat NB Winding Down so we stopped to say hello. On up the flight sharing with a boat full of actors, then left up to Crick for the first time in ages.

A prearranged boaters meeting at Houdini’s Field worked brilliantly, NB Panda and NB Kamili convened and we all enjoyed each others company over a fantastic barbeque outside so everyone could feel safe and Tilly could roam about. Oleanna was treated to a very good wash and brush up before we were on our way again. We now needed to get her north before I started on Panto.

News came through that the breach on the Aire and Calder had been mended and nine months after the canal had sprung a leek it was mended and open again. Boats could now move through the area, mooring however is still restricted.

Following the Grand Union we headed down the Stockton Flight to Leamington Spa. Tilly and I had a few hot days on our own moored at Radford Smelly then we were on our way again. An obligatory burger at The Cape of Good Hope the night before we teamed up with NB Mad Hatter to ascend the Hatton flight. One day my old college friend Emma will not have an excuse to helping us up the flight, this time we met for a cuppa and a catch up the following day.

On up Knowle to Catherine de Barnes, then Camp Hill Locks, the Ashted flight and Tunnel (!) followed by Farmers Bridge into Birmingham. The city centre is still full of building and tram works but with the sun out it looked stunning. We also caught up with Paul Balmer from Waterway Routes before carrying on with our journey.

A night at Hawne Basin filled the diesel tank up. A night at Dudley Port Basin got the cupboards filled. A pause at Urban Moorings meant we could donate our deposits and the next day we descended from the Birmingham plateau down the Wolverhampton 21.

Along the Staffordshire and Worcester we managed to have a mid stream catch up with Barbara from NB Bessie Surtees. At Great Haywood I managed a catch up with Kay from NB Pea Green as she set up to trade for the day and Mick filled Oleanna’s water tank.

Heading north on the Trent and Mersey we pulled in for lunch and a surprise hello to Barry and Sandra from NB AreandAre whom we’d got to know last year in the first lockdown. In the afternoon we were joined by Bill and Lisa for a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. Now we swung off the Trent and Mersey and onto the Macclesfield with it’s wonderful bridges.

It would have been nice to take our time but we had a rendez vous to make. The end mooring at Marple was free and from here we headed into Manchester by train to join the London Leckenbys for a meal of big red fish. The following day my old school friend Morag joined us for a night on board with some serious catching up to be done.

Our next deadline loomed, Standedge Tunnel. We dropped down the Marple flight, crossed the aqueduct and turned right at Dukinfield Junction onto the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We knew we were in for some hard work to climb our way over the Pennines, last time we’d enlisted crew to help as I was one handed. This time we’d be going solo. Apart from the very first lock it wasn’t too troublesome. The work is rewarded with stunning views.

Standedge Tunnel did not disappoint. Because of social distancing Mick got ride ride up front in the cratch leaving the helm to a C&RT volunteer. Bumps and scrapes made Oleanna wince along with us, but we all got through in one piece with no damage. Tilly wasn’t too happy about the trip, but at least I can now boast to the local cats in Scarboreugh that I’ve been through the longest deepest highest tunnel on the canal network whilst they just lazed around on their shed roofs!

On our way down the other side Oleanna had a belt that went taking out quite a few wires in the engine bay. RCR were sent for, the engineer suggested we’d need to remove a pulley on the alternator to be able to remove trapped wires, this could not happen where we were. We could move but the batteries would not charge. The only way to top up our electric was with the solar panels. Emergency power conservation went into operation, blogs were hand written, the freezer turned off and we gradually ate our way through our defrosting supplies. Every day Mick managed to pull more wire from the alternator and soon there was no need for an engineer again, just a new belt needed fitting.

We made our way down to Huddersfield and arrived the day before I had a production meeting at Dark Horse. After walking to my meeting I handed over the model and we stocked up on supplies before heading off east along the Huddersfield Broad Canal.

The Board locks are just that, but they are short. On Lillian we’d nearly got stuck here, but Oleanna was built a foot shorter so we knew we were fine, we still had to take great care in descending the locks diagonally. This continued on to the Calder and Hebble, taking our time and using our Hebble spike. The rebuilding work done at the Figure of Three locks, after flooding washed huge parts of the structure away, are only noticeable due to the new stonework.

Bigger locks were welcome, using the key of power once past Wakefield. The sun shone wonderfully for my last full days boating this year as we made our way to Castleford. Here we hired a car to get me down to Chipping Norton to start work on Panto whilst Mick and Tilly stayed on board with the plan to move Oleanna to a winter mooring in Thorne.

Whilst I painted the set working all the hours I could, Mick and Tilly gradually made their way eastwards. They passed through the breach site and headed to Goole to top up on diesel. On their way back towards the New Junction Canal the engine started to over heat, a problem that had happened a couple of years ago on the Thames.

The following day he winded and slowly made his way to Rawcliffe Bridge for easier access for RCR. Little could be done there and then, so Mick and Alastair (engineer) arranged to meet at Viking Marina in Goole. Oleanna managed the two and a half miles in three stages. After her cooling system had been flushed through the problem hadn’t gone away. The water pump was removed and was obviously the problem. A week later with a new pump Mick moved back out onto the cut and joined Lullabelle (a fellow Goole Escapee).

Taking a long weekend off panto, I headed up to join Mick and Tilly to help move them back to Scarborough. Wendy and Martin kept an eye on Oleanna for us whilst we settled Tilly back into the house, I knew where I was! Pah!!