Category Archives: Bridgewater Canal

The Verdict. 9th March

Hunting Bridge 7 to Wheaton Aston

Tilly headed out this morning and managed a whole half hour before returning home. We’d decided she would dictate when we moved on today, we needn’t have worried as she was home long before we’d finished breakfast. Despite there being very little footfall here it was deemed too unsafe to go to the toilet, so she came back to use her box instead! This mooring doesn’t seem to have floated her boat quite as much as last time so no Mrs Tilly stamp. It’s the lack of trees! Anyway I used it all up last time.

A little bit dense at the bottom

After cereal my loaf of bread was sliced open. Maybe a little bit too dense at the bottom. Once sliced we toasted some each. Gluten free bread always takes an age to toast, especially homemade. Hope we have sufficient gas to last this one loaf! Verdict, well a little bit heavy but maybe that was because I think my starter is a touch too liquid and I had to add some extra flour to the mix to help clean the dough off my hand. I’ll have another go at this recipe and see what happens.

Is this an orchard? Or vines near Chillington Bridge

Nature seems to be conspiring against our trip north, along with the canal system not playing ball. Our original plan, Trent and Mersey, Macclesfield, Huddersfield Narrow, work, then Huddersfield Broad, Calder and Hebble, Aire and Calder, River Ouse to York has been out of the window for a while due to the destruction of The Figure of Three Locks in the storms.

No they’re not, but neither are we!

We’re in no rush so had planned another route. Shropshire Union, across the Middlewich Branch, up the Trent and Mersey to the Anderton Boat lift and onto the Weaver. Back onto the Trent and Mersey, up to the Macclesfield, Peak Forest Canal onto the Ashton Canal. Then the Bridegwater to Leigh and the Leeds Liverpool, at Wigan we would turn right and head over the top to Leeds. I’d go to work then we could carry on to York.

I’ll be needing my walking boots back out! No urban towpaths anymore

However there is a new stoppage on the Macclesfield near Marple, an unstable embankment. We were really looking forward to cruising the Macc again, but this may no longer be possible.

Bet that made a good noise

The winter stoppages on the Shroppie are due to finish soon, but the storms have brought down numerous trees. Most have been cleared quickly, but at Woodseaves Cutting above Tyrley Locks trees have come down along with some of the cutting. Reports were that there were trees stood upright in the middle of the canal! Woodseaves is a magical place, a steep damp cutting. We’ve been waiting for a couple of weeks now for news that the way ahead is clear. A notice on Friday said

Engineers have inspected the affected area and are advising contractors the best way forward, to safely remove the trees that are blocking the navigation. A further update will be provided next week.

Crabbing along against the wind

Then Filance Lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal has been closed for much of this week due to concerns from boaters. So even if we changed our minds, there would be no point in retracing our steps and heading that way, well not until the end of the week and we’d rather carry on up the Shropie if possible.

Plans are having to remain fluid, but at the moment we can’t go far, so we’re taking it slowly.

Avenue Bridge

Not far today. Just to Wheaton Aston where we hoped to get a mooring on the services side of the bridge to get a delivery.

First Shropie Kingfisher

The Shroppie for the most part is made up of embankments and cuttings, it’s course quite straight with flights of locks. Today we saw plenty of the destruction that the storms had wrought. Every cutting we came through had evidence of trees having given up and fallen across the cut.

I so hated cross country runs, think the chap with orange arms hates them too!

Most trees along here are covered in ivy, some creating a waterfall from branches all very atmospheric but adding to the weight of branches in stormy winds, no wonder so many gave up the fight.


Others simply snapped with the strain. Several boats sadly had been moored in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up with trees on their roofs. Have to say we’d have moved Oleanna onto an embankment rather than hope for shelter around these trees!

A couple of hours after pushing off we arrived at Wheaton Aston Lock the wind was quite strong, so it took quite a bit of effort to get Oleanna away from the side to enter the lock. A lady came up to help with the offside gate as her boat was just winding to come back up, I loitered to close the gate for her.

Wheaton Aston Lock

The water tank was topped up and I walked to see where we might be able to moor. A space just after the winding hole had our name on it.

Just by the water point and service block there is this in the ground. Was it the base to a crane? Fixings for some mechanism of water control? Or the base for a gun in WW2?

What was this?

As we were tying up rain started, by the time the covers were all poppered back into place it was heaving it down. Once the online shopping was complete we watched another Morse story, Service of the Dead. We’d seen this one not too long ago, so I knew Morse shouldn’t have been getting too attached to that woman!

They’ve found us!

1 lock, 4.82 miles, 1 solid loaf of bread, 4 crossed legs, 1 cloud given the go ahead, 1 Joe understudy, 8 trees down at least, 2 routes north blocked, 1 way open back through Birmingham! 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 handy mooring, 1st helicopter, 4 murders, 1 suicide, 1 stumble, 8 Jag review, 1 very wet afternoon.

Apologies if you got this post yesterday and are getting it again. The internet on the Shropie can be patchy and play tricks on you, as it has done. So sorry if you get this post a second time. Due to uncertain internet I may not be able to post every day.

Shore Leave Cancelled. 9th February


Tilly’s last bit of freedom for a while

Over the last couple of days we’ve watched boats come and go. People have been choosing where to sit out storm Ciara. We decided to stay put. The lack of trees here is appealing although there is Tilly’s giant climbing frame outside. Here’s hoping the chaps have secured it very well!

The white card model for The Garden has been started and will be continued today. The theatre it’s in is a cellar which has a vaulted roof and maybe I’ve got a touch carried away recreating a suggestion of this. It may have been a waste of time as the pillars may end up just being covered by a black serge curtain, but it’s more fun to make.

Model box coming together

Ballet shoes have arrived in Huddersfield for the actors, six months before the show. All fit apart from one actor who despite having size 6 feet in width they are around size 5 and 4 in length. This of course means his shoes are a touch dangerous as they are a bit like flippers. He has two pairs of shoes in normal life which have been made for him. Our budget will not spread to custom made shoes, so after asking various of my Costume friends for advice a few wider fitting pairs will be ordered in smaller sizes and maybe a combination of pairs will work for him.

Stormy view

Yesterday evening the winds began to build. Mick had tied all the planks and poles to the roof and brought the life buoy into the cratch to save it blowing away. We were then reminded about our ash can as we heard it’s lid blowning across the towpath! Thank goodness it wasn’t blown into the cut. It is now stowed under the pram cover.

I think we’ll stay in today!

Overnight the wind has blustered us on and off. The gusts increasing this morning. On Thursday we’d been to stock up on water and diesel at The Distillery and when we’d returned I’d used the fair leads on the bow to help us achieve ‘outies’ as the bollards are a touch too close together here.

Retying in the storm

There was concern for the fair leads this morning. So Mick has been out to brave the gusts and rain to retie us straight to the bollards. He’s also added a spring line with the hope that this will stop us from bumping around all day.

Watching Ciara from behind the curtains

Unless anything else outdoors requires attention we shall all be staying inside for the day. Especially Tilly as we really don’t want her to get blown away.

Stay safe my friends, stay safe.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 boat remoored, 1 spring line, 1 model on it’s way, 2 pairs to make one, 3 years since broken ankle, 5 years since first contact from CID, 0 shore leave, 1 protesting cat, 1 flood siren sounding in Hebden Bridge, Aire and Calder closed, Calder Hebble closed, 1 boat under a tree on the Shroppie, 15 inches down on the Bridgewater level, 31 yellow 5 white reaches on the Thames yesterday, but will they survive the storm!

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested!

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.


On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.


Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.


Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.


Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.


Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.


In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, oops! 9th May

Moorefield Bridge 6 to Dutton Breach Moorings, Trent and Mersey Canal

Who ordered this rain?! We certainly didn’t, oh well not far to go today, but we did have to move.

A balcony for all that secret food

We snook past Daresbury, nobody taking advantage of the inclement weather on the balcony to eat their secret scones. My drawing board came out, but I only managed to draw a couple of cart wheels before we reached Waters Meeting. Here the Runcorn Branch of the Bridgewater heads off to the west and the main canal continues to Preston Brook tunnel where it ends. The busy M56 crosses overhead at the junction and heralded our arrival at Midland Chandlers.

We pulled in on the mooring and squelched our way into the shop. Our mooring pins have served us well through the last five years, but many of the rings on them have cracked or even snapped off and several are now quite bent. Time for a couple of new ones. A new bottle of Fertan and a spare key to open the water cap as we have had a spate of them jumping overboard recently.

As we paid I looked up at the clock 12:15. The next window to get through Preston Brook Tunnel was in 15 minutes, could we make it in time? Or would we have to wait another hour? We quickly pushed off and made our way towards the tunnel portal, we reckoned we’d just make it for the ten minute window to head south.

Claymoore Boats base

Claymoore Boats went out of business earlier this year and the gap where their fleet once moored is very obvious. It’s as if the boats just evaporated, very sad.

Going in and off the Bridgewater

A boat came towards us slowing our progress, would we be in time? Yes, we arrived at the north portal well within the ten minute window, our bow entered the tunnel at 12:32, Phew! We believe it’s a short distance into the tunnel where the boundary is between the Bridgewater Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal. At last we had left Peel Holdings water.

Fifteen minutes of tunnel

Oleanna in Tunnel mode, life jackets on and the big torch shining up at the roof of the tunnel we made our way through, popping back out into daylight fifteen minutes later where several boats were moored waiting for the north bound ten minute window. As nothing was following us we let the chap at the front of the queue know so that he could get ready.

Familiar numbers on a Trent and Mersey Lock

A lock! Well sort of a lock, we’d even forgotten to get a windlass out for it. As we approached Dutton Stop Lock a boat was coming towards us. The level in the lock was in between, so I went to set the lock for them, lifting a paddle to top it up by an inch (it’s only about 2 inches deep). A Diamond Resorts boat, a lady came to help leaving the rest of the crew with the boat. She waved them on, they waited, we opened the gate, she waved them through again. ‘Oh is it for us?’ Err yes! At first it looked like they were about to bow haul their boat which made me wish I’d set the lock for us instead.

Our turn

Eventually the boat was in the lock. The lady lifted the bottom paddle slowly, not wanting to cill their boat! You could tell that they were all having a Great time! Bickering at every opportunity, the lady had suggested as much. As they picked up the last crew member, I said ‘Enjoy!’I wonder how long they will all be on board for. A small space with four grumpy people doesn’t make for a happy holiday.

Quite a view

We pootled onwards in the constant rain to the Dutton Breach site. Here more rings have been added to the original few where the view is the best. Only two boats moored up today so we managed to get in pole position, on the line of the breach.

Tilly admiring the view

From here the view should be great across the valley to Dutton Railway Viaduct, it is, just a shame that a hawthorn hedge has been planted so there’s no view from inside your cabin anymore.

The box is getting fuller

After lunch we dried off, I put a pot of bolognese on the stove top to cook away and fill the boat with tasty smells. Then I did more drawings and made model bits and pieces, the box is getting quite full now. It’ll soon be time to put it all in the model box and see if it all works together and what things I want to change.

Just going to check out My boat

Tilly did her Cheshire Cat bit, having a good nosy up and down the towpath. I even have my own boat here this time. I promise I didn’t go on board.

I demand more Dreamies for not standing on your plans today with my wet paws

1 lock, 4.84 miles, 1163m of tunnel, 3 mysterons, 2 foot prints, 2 new spikes, 1 key, 1 bottle fertan, 1 Happy boat! 2 waiting, 50 minutes more like 1 day, 2 barrows, 1 nick, 3 candelabra, 1 Cheshire Cat, 1 assistant wanting a raise in Dreamies, 3 very noisy peacocks.

Shhhh…. Secret Scones! 8th May

Grantham’s Bridge 25 to Moorefield Bridge 6

Despite the weather being of a very wet nature today there were plenty of boats on the move. Maybe because it’s the Bridgewater Canal and C&RT licence holders have 7 consecutive days on the canal before the enforcement officer jumps out from behind the hedges at you, so the majority want to keep moving. So did we, we wanted to tick off a few hours of cruising. Well that was Mick’s choice as I’d be down below working on my Panto model.

Before we set off though there was an important job to do, print out forms so that we can vote by proxy in the forthcoming European Elections. We’d missed the boat on the local elections so Mick had made the journey to Scarborough so that at least one of us voted. Dawn our usual proxy voter will be away so yesterday we’d approached our friend Duncan to see if he’d be willing to visit the Polling Station for us. Duncan was, so we needed to inform the officials in Scarborough. We just needed to find a post box now.

Brolly time

Mick donned his waterproofs and took the umbrella out the back. Many people with pram covers cruise with them up on wide canals, some people think that rainy day cruising is why you have them. Our opinion differs. Yes they keep the stern dry when it rains, but the visibility is really bad. Even with the front rolled up you end up with tunnel vision. So we tend to drop the pram cover, wear waterproofs and when needed use an umbrella. The cover gives us more space when moored up and really helps with draughts through the back doors. It also means Tilly has a place to nosy at the world when she isn’t too sure about it whether from inside or on the top of it!

No Sooty today

Every now and again I’d look up to see familiar sights. No Sooty in the window at Lymm in Matthew Corbetts house, which is always immaculate.

Rubbish boat

Near Thorne Marine the engine tone changed slowing right down. Under the bridge coming towards us was Waterwomble. A wide beam that collects rubbish along the Bridgewater, we just managed to squeeze past each other.


A couple more miles and I could tell Mick was pulling in, it was lunchtime and he’d found a cheery yellow field to moor opposite. Having crossed the Pennines we’ve missed much of Spring springing, we’ve been too high. Now we are surrounded with plenty of greenery, rapeseed fields and the hedgerows are full of Hawthorne blossom.

Next crop

We decided to let Tilly decide if we’d be continuing today. After a couple of short explores she gave up, not enough friends to justify the time getting wet! From here it was a short walk to a post box, so I stretched my legs and walked along to post our proxy form whilst Mick brought Oleanna to meet me at the next bridge.

That looks like a good potting shed

In Moore there is a big house on the off side with a high walled garden with little windows through into out houses. One day I’d like to have a nosy around, the house on Google earth looks like it’s had extension after extension.


A short distance on we both spotted the tower. ‘Shhhhhhhhh!!! Secret!!’ we said in unison with fingers on lips. Daresbury National Science and Innovation Campus. Here they have a Vandegraff Accelerator in the tower and do nuclear research. Since first coming past 11 years ago we’ve kept our voices down, its’ a secret place where secret things happen, they drink secret milkshakes and eat secret scones whilst giving each other secret handshakes. So Shhhhh!!!

Tilly was reluctant to go out but once the rain stopped she was happy hunting for friends. The wall covered in brambles however proved a little problematic when it was time to come in, I found a suitable gap which she managed to jump in one.

Hawthorne blossom

Six hours worth of work have been ticked off, still a few days more of flat cruising before the Cheshire Locks start so I should get most of the model made before I’m needed again. I’m quite looking forward to giving my fingers a rest and working nice narrow locks again.

0 locks, 8.81 miles, 1 constantly wet day, 1 vault, 1 morris minor, 1st yellow field, 2 outsides, 4 soggy paws, 1 troublesome wall, 1 brolly, 3 new yummy treats, 2 Duncan mentions (3 now!),  1 tower, 1 power station, 3 secret falafels, 1 strawberry milkshake, 2 chocolate, 1st bag of excell in an age, it’s nice to have a fire that behaves again.

Maybe it’s something to do with Shhhhh but I can’t put a link to where we are! See it’s a secret. Shhhh!

Around And Around. 6th 7th May

Dunham Massey to Sale to Granthams Bridge

Spending time in the Boozer on a bank holiday Monday

Bank Holiday Monday was spent working for me, numerous bar stools, optics and giant mixers, it’s what every bank holiday should be filled with. Tilly roamed the fields below and Mick got round to swapping the fuel filter back to the new one. However, this new filter, bought from RCR, has a different profile to its gasket and he’s not too sure if it is sealing properly. Time with the engine running will tell.

A little bit too long to turn anywhere, he realised his mistake and carried on to the winding hole half mile further on

Many of the boats we’d seen over the last couple of days have passed us again today, all heading back to their moorings after a couple of days out over the long weekend. By the end on the day we were the only boat left on the embankment.


During the day I’ve woken my Sour Dough starter up. I can keep it in the fridge for a fortnight without it needing any attention, but to keep it alive it then needs a feed. Now that I’ve got some sweet rice flour, I wanted to have a go at making a different sour dough loaf. This time without any added yeast, this would prove to me whether it was working or not. So, during the day I woke it up by putting the container in some warm water bringing it up to room temperature. Then I fed it with more brown rice flour and water. This then had to sit for an hour or so before I could decant off an amount to make the sponge for my loaf. Various flours and more water were mixed together and then left covered overnight for the sour dough to ferment.

Tilly’s playground shortly before sunset

As I seem to have ended up with a lot of starter, I also decided to take advantage of it having just had a feed and made some pizza dough for tomorrow night. The dough was kneaded and then put in an oiled bowl and sealed tightly with clingfilm and left for 24 hours to do its thing.


Ready to rise

Before we set off I checked the pizza dough, it was sweating away in it’s own little world, hopefully a good sign. The bread sponge I added the remaining ingredients to, sprinkled my new bigger 2lb loaf tin with sunflower seeds and poured the batter in. Scattered a few more seeds on top and then placed it on the proving shelf for it to prove itself.


Now we could cruise. We pootled up to the next winding hole, turned around and headed back to Sale whilst I got on drawing up the next few settings for panto. I now know which piece of scenery will be the big heavy b**tard, last year it was a revolving door.

Around again

Just past where we wanted to moor up Mick winded and turned us around again. We gave my parcel a little bit more time to arrive and had lunch before heading into the Post Office. Here I was told that they didn’t accept personal mail and that I would be charged for it! I don’t think the chap I was talking to knew about Post Restante. Most of the time receiving mail this way is easy, in smaller villages by canals it’s a pleasure, but every now and again it is so frustrating, especially as the chap who’d checked on Saturday had been so helpful.

I managed to get the phone number so that I can call in a couple of days time to see if it might have arrived. The chap said he would check it when it arrived and make charges accordingly. We’ll see, I just want my parcel!

We’d taken a bike with us to act as a mule, which was just as well as leaving Sainsburys we had four very heavy bags.

A favourite of mine

Tomorrow the weather forecast is for rain all day and the Bridgewater clock is starting to run out of ticks, so Mick wanted to get as far as we could today. I stayed up top for a while so that I could see what was happening at the Linotype Works. This is one of my favorite buildings along here. The site around it is being redeveloped into housing. Last time we passed a couple of years ago the site was cleared and ready to go, today lots of terraced houses have risen up.

Nothing special, but they could be worse

They are okay, nothing special and could have been so much worse. It does make me smile though that they want to boast about the date they were built, not quite in the same style as the main building.

Back below my loaf had now risen by a third, it had only taken 5 hours. The sour dough starter doing its thing. The oven ready to go and a kettle of boiling water to add to a tray to create some steam, I carefully, without knocking the tin popped it in the oven.

The Dames car kept me busy for some time. I could create a wonderful vehicle, but there’s only 3 ft to get it on stage, and it needs to seat four! I may have to come up with two versions of this, but we’ll see.

Work boats round here are big

The water point at Ye Old Number 3 pulled us over, here we emptied the yellow water for disposal later and topped up the water tank. Then we pushed off just as it started to rain. Mick would continue until he’d had enough, which wasn’t that far in the end. He pulled us in about half an hour away from Lymm, a suitable place for Tilly to pounce for an hour. But sadly, the internet is appalling here. I now need to think of a suitable symbol for the internet, to go with the thumbs up/down/sideways for TV signal.

Sunflower seed sour dough
Pizza dough about to explode

The bread looked good and had to be sampled, tasty with a very crunchy crust. The pizza dough had certainly been happy. It was a touch scary the way the clingfilm had expanded as the dough had fermented. An extra five minutes in the oven before putting the toppings on worked well. It was a very tasty chicken pizza.

Yummy, better than the one ten days ago

0 locks, 14 13.73 miles (a bit of a guess today), 2 winds, 1 filter swap, 4 tables, 8 bar stools, 1 mixer, 3 pumps, 1 loaf bread, 1 explosive bowl of dough, 0 parcel, 48 hours left, 1 car, 23 bars, 1 very big hinge, 3 boxes wine, 1 big pizza, 7 pounces, 0 friends except Ben.

Ten Hours, Is Exhausting! 5th May

Dunham Massey

Blimey, no chance of sleeping in this morning! The sun rose opposite our bedroom window and was dazzling even with our eye lids closed. This of course isn’t helped by the four legged member of our crew not closing the curtains after she’s had a good nosy. We keep asking her to close them, but she just keeps ignoring us!

Close the curtains when you’ve finished please!

Sadly the bright blue sky and sun didn’t hang around all day, but then again it didn’t rain that much. It didn’t really matter to us as today was to be a work day for me and a full shore leave day for Tilly. Because of work, I may not be posting every day for a while, especially if we haven’t moved. We’ll still be here, just a little bit busy.

10 hours! Pawtastic!! I even got two outsides today. Both had big banks, one had trees near the top and all the way down, the other had trees right down at the bottom with a little stream and good pouncing friendly cover all the way down there. I did have to share some of this with the Moos. I don’t understand these huge things, they eat the friendly cover and never seem to find friends, they certainly don’t pounce! What is life without friends and pouncing I ask you?!


Mick pottered away the day, drying the washing on the whirligig between short rain showers. I worked my way through references, printing off the most important ones for ease of looking and then set to making a London Boozer, 25 times smaller than it will be.

When the boat ahead of us moved off we decided that we’d move up, they had a better view over both sides of the embankment. Tilly was encouraged home before we pulled Oleanna along. We’ve learnt that she’d only get confused if we moved the outside with her in it, so better that she’s tucked up inside. The TV signal seems to have improved too, just as well with the last day of the Tour de Yorkshire keeping Mick busy and the final episode of Line Of Duty tonight.

Boozer doors

Today we have been astounded at the number of boats passing us. Around about 1pm there seemed to be a constant stream passing us. As we are quite near a narrow section there was even a queue at one point to get through. Since the New Year we’ve been in areas that are not highly populated with boats and now we are back amongst the throng. We’ve possibly seen more moving boats today than all year put together.

The London Leckenbys have been training hard for the Moonwalk next weekend. Last Sunday they conquered a 21 mile walk and tomorrow they will have a leisurely stroll of 12 miles, just to keep the legs limbered up. Next Saturday at 9pm Jac and Andrew will be setting off from Clapham Common to walk the 26.2 miles around the capital, taking in the sights as they walk through the night. A big thank you to those who have sponsored them, they are almost up to £1800, just brilliant. I hope Jac has sorted a good disco bra to wear as this years theme is Disco Inferno, I suspect there will be quite a few influenced by Madonna.

0 locks, 200ft, 10 hours, 2 snoozing for more energy, 16 pointless Moos, 4 friends, 3 trees, 7 annoyed crows, 7 sheets reference, 4 sliders, 4 doors, 1 final episode or will there be a sixth series?