Category Archives: Canal and River Trust

Mud Weight. 7th April

Lockdown Mooring 3

The gardeners were about this morning

Mick put the oven on first thing with our cast iron pot inside to warm up good and hot to bake the loaf. I didn’t hold out much hope when I unveiled it. When everything was heated up I lowered it into the pot on some greaseproof paper, put the lid on and slide it into the oven. Twenty five minutes later the lid came off, not the best view, but another twenty five minutes before it could sit on the shelf to finish cooking. I already knew it wouldn’t be the most appetising loaf I’ve ever made! Oh well I knew it was an experiment.

Not the most appetising loaf!

Mick spent some of the morning linking my phone to Zoom so that I could use it as a hand held camera to show my model better at my production meeting today. A cuppa was made and I sat down to see what changes to The Garden were going to happen.

Come play with me!

Dark Horse Theatre Company work with learning disabled actors, they have an Ensemble of qualified actors and students. The Garden was to be this years graduation show, sadly Lynda and Amy had made the decision to cancel all live performances last week. Rescheduling the show was getting more and more complicated, affecting their next production which is a big tour for them. However they had come up with an idea which would mean the play could still be heard and still involve everyone who’d been contracted.

A zoom meeting taken from a bad angle

Five of us discussed the possibilities of the play becoming a radio play. How could the actors record themselves? How different would the recordings sound as they got edited together? Posting out a recording device wouldn’t be possible as the actors are not that tech savvy and not everyone has help from family members where they live. So the play would need to be recorded onto phones, sound effects and atmosphere added. We actually decided that the quality of the recording would reflect the times we’re living in rather than sound as if it was done in a recording studio.

But what of my part? I know how the show was going to look, how would it look now. The play will be illustrated by me, eight or so drawings depicting moments from the play, then portraits of the actors for the credits (my own idea!). The hope is that we’ll produce something that can go onto YouTube, therefore reaching a larger audience and be accessible for all. So I’ve not as much work to do, no sewing, but a lot of drawing and painting, all of which can be done on the boat. The hope is that when people can be together again Dark Horse will put together an immersive exhibition of The Garden, we may even realise part of the design, so my model needs to be kept.

A smaller meeting followed between myself and Amy (the Director) regarding the show that will tour next year. They currently have a computer games animator working on the show and it’s getting to the point where he will need to know what people will look like, what costumes they will wear etc.

We chatted through the show in detail, a play about Adulting, set in a 1984 type world where you have to pass tasks to be allowed into the adult world. It is a highly technical show and I will need to seek advice from those more ofay with serious digital projection.

View by our mooring

Mick and Tilly kept quiet whilst my two hour meeting was happening. Mick had headed out to find milk whilst Tilly search for friends.

Late afternoon I headed out on my own again for a walk. This time I took the OS map with me and I headed out to walk in the opposite direction to yesterday. First walking along the canal to Bunbury. I passed a few boats moored along the cut, a tent in amongst the trees where a chap was collecting fire wood and a whirligig drying a bit of washing nowhere near a boat!

Bunbury

Bunbury staircase had both chambers empty, nobody had gone through, the walls were dry. Well we’d been the only boat along here to move yesterday so that wasn’t a surprise. In the window of the AngloWelsh office there were signs up trying to discourage people from walking the towpath. Below the lock the towpath is narrower than above so boaters who live there are getting twitchy.

Walking on water

Here I followed the road to the South. Lock Farm was readying itself for the cattle to cross the road for milking, the farm house a very fine looking building set back a touch from the road, all immaculate.

What a lovely farm house

I continued onwards to where Bird’s Lane headed off to the left. Here hedges have been carved into long wide triangular divides between road and fields.

Triangular hedges

At the righthand bend I came across a couple of ladies out for their daily walk. They moved with precision keeping at least two meters apart from each other and did a red arrows manoeuvre when I came into view to give me space too. Thank you ladies.

What’s that mid shot

Then across the fields, over stiles and little bridges to where I’d gone wrong yesterday. I’d turned left instead of keeping going straight, the kissing gate in a little dip so it had been out of view. Over the last bridge into the field below Oleanna and the canal. A black shape was just visible above the friendly cover, Tilly.

Is it?

Well, there I was minding my own friends when a She appeared in MY field! How dare She!! I’d just detected a friend and then got distracted. She seemed to know me, She called my name. Hang on how come She was in my field!? Hello!!! My friend could wait.

It is!

When Tilly became convinced it was me her tail lifted above the grass and she trotted her way over to say hello. That tail is such a welcoming sight.

Hello!

This evening I sliced into the loaf. Heavy, thick, zero crumb, just as I thought. We tried a little taste each, very sour from having been left overnight. I finely cut some up to sprinkle on top of my Shepherdness pie. Too heavy to feed to the ducks, but not quite heavy enough to become a mud weight, it went in the bin.

My little thug

April is full of anniversaries for us. Today three years ago we hired a van, loaded it with essential possessions and bundled Tilly into her escape pod to drive to Sheffield. That day we moved onto Oleanna and Tilly claimed the bottom shelf of the bookcase as hers. Since then Oleanna has served us well, travelling over 3500 miles of canals and rivers and ascending and descending around 2300 locks. This year our travels will be much reduced, but one day we will be able to cruise again.

Staking her claim three years ago

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 towpath trimmed, 2 hours talking to Yorkshire, 2 shows, 8 illustrations, 1 box set, 1 animator chomping at the bit, 9th April milk, 0 water, 9 hours, 2.3 miles walked, 2 boats, 1 failed loaf, 3 years of Oleanna life.

A Faltering Starter. 6th April

Lockdown Mooring 3

Trying to give my sourdough starter a boost means that I’ve been creating quite a bit of discard. You need to empty out some of the starter before you feed it again, so that the ratios remain good and the existing starter is getting enough food. So I’ve been storing the discard in a jar in the fridge. Today the jar was getting quite full so it was time to use some, we also have quite a bit of milk for which the use by date is bordering on terminal. Time to make pancakes!

Bubbly yumness

Sourdough pancakes are not as quick to make as normal, mostly because I need to make oat flour, for this I use my stick blender which has a very sharp blade. I also add some ground almonds to make then a touch finer, but this makes it quite sticky, so you have to scrape it off the blades. Maybe I should just make my whole bag of oats into flour and save it for recipes.

Ready for toppings

Once mixed and left to rest for a short while they were cooked in batches of three and added to a plate in the oven to keep warm. Then enjoyed with various toppings. One nice breakfast.

Pushed out

Another load of washing was put through the machine making us very low on water again. So once Tilly had returned from her morning check of the estate we pushed off and headed backwards for water. The wind pushed us away from the side, then we reversed back through the bridge behind us and past all the moored boats.

Backwards for water

Outside the service block were three C&RT vans, a meeting or tea break going on inside. We disinfected the water point and attached our hose. The three chaps came out in turn from the building, they may have a van each, but one chap had no idea what 2 meters looked like with his colleagues. We kept our distance anyway.

Back at our mooring we settled back in. The view to our off side clearer now as I’d managed to remove Tilly’s artwork at last. Tilly headed off to find friends and I caught up with some work emails whilst Mick tried unsuccessfully to find the handle from the riddler on the stove that had fallen off the other day.

Our nearest neighbour

The Garden is changing due to the current state of the nations health. Live shows sadly will no longer be happening in July. But the play will go on, just in a different form. I’ll find out more tomorrow about my new involvement. I’ll still have work to do, but no need to go shopping or paint the set and everything will be done from home on Oleanna.

Reading up about my failing sourdough starter I decided that I needed to do something other than just feeding it. One person suggested that at the next feed I should have one third starter, one third flour and the third third water. So I would need to reduce the amount of starter I already had. It was a bit bubbly so I decided to risk making a loaf of bread.

A Buckwheat loaf was mixed and put on the shelf to rise and what bottled water I had left was mixed in with the remaining starter and fresh flour. With no more water I would have to put the starter in the fridge until I can replenish my stocks.

Across the bridge

An explore was needed to stretch my legs. A kissing gate from the towpath seems to be a popular route across the nearby fields. A quick look at the OS map and I set off to see what I could see.

Three kissing gates and a bridge later I had no idea which way the path went. We’ve never got round to downloading them onto my phone so Google earth was all I had. Sadly it wasn’t that much use. I knew which way I was supposed to be heading, but just couldn’t find a way there. I walked perimeters of fields looking for gates or stiles, but none showed themselves. In the end I gave up and retraced my steps over the dry ploughed fields, back around the kissing gates to the boat.

Late afternoon sun

After two hours, the oddly short time my recipe suggested, my loaf of bread looked no different. I left it high up on the proving shelf to see if things would improve after a few more hours. After seven hours up there there was some rising happening, but it was now too late to get the oven and cast iron pot up to temperature and bake it. So I risked leaving it overnight, it was just an experiment anyway.

What a texture

0 locks, 0.38 miles, half backwards, 7 pancakes each, 1 full water tank, 5 clean windows, 2 meters please! 3 shows cancelled, 1 change of tack, 1 show that will go on, 3 woodpeckers, 1 failing starter, 1 lumbering loaf, 2 friends, 1 failed walk, 1 PM in intensive care.

Come In Number 51**87 Your Time Is Up. 30th March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Last year we finally managed to put a name to some birdsong. What we now know to have been Chiffchaffs had started to sing around early March time and normally when we were in a certain part of the country, mostly around Crick. This of course was because this tended to be where we were at that time of year. We’d asked a few people if they knew what the bird could be as we tried to replicate its song, ‘Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep’. I know, it wasn’t much help! But then a friend made a remark about how the Chiffchaffs had arrived. I looked it up and there was the birdsong we’d been puzzled about. Chiffchaff song

Birds gathering!

Here on our mooring we’ve heard a song that isn’t in the normal range. I’ve hunted round on identification sites, but not come up with the right song. So I’m putting it out to our readers to see if you can help.

Our surroundings are canal, hedges and fields which seem to be pretty dry in amongst the open countryside, so that’s the habitat sorted. Now for a description. It sounds like a cross between a human whistle and a kazoo. One long note that may go up or down. We don’t hear it that often so whom ever it is doesn’t sit on a branch and sing their heart out. So please any suggestions. A sausage or spinach and feta roll to whomever comes up trumps. I have to include a veggie version as I think Laura might just see this, she is a bit of a specialist in birds.

Today it was back to work for me. I’ve a week before my virtual meeting for The Garden so wanted to get my model painted. The main set I’d nearly finished last week, today I needed to tie it into the floor. At the moment I’m not sure if we’ll be able to afford a floor. Dark Horse have various rolls of flooring in their small store, so I was going to have a look at them and see what could be used. There may of course not be enough and there isn’t an extra £350 in the budget to buy new, so I may just have to cope with the floor in the cellar theatre.

Some floor

During the afternoon I managed to get everything painted, toned down a touch (it’s not panto!), just need to add some poetry to the seasons and the model will be finished.

The first boat to go past us today was a hire boat from Norbury Junction. At some point last week the hire company had asked on Social media if anyone saw this boat to get them to call the hire base. Hire boats were being recalled. The boat had passed us early last week heading to Middlewich, today they were heading back towards base, I don’t think they got the message very quickly!

The Garden gate

Another four boats came past during the day, one returned presumably after filling with water or shopping. Then a second hire boat from Rose Boats, this must be one of the two out on a long hire.

From today all manned locks, tunnels and bridges on the network have been closed to traffic, unless there is good reason and then they will need to be booked. One boat with good reason came by today, NB Halsall.

I really must wash Tillys art work off that window!

NB Halsall normally cruises the Four Counties Ring selling coal, diesel, gas and doing pumpouts. They will continue to trade for as long as they are allowed to. They ask for you to pre-order, unlock diesel caps, make access easy for them and then to stay inside your boat and at all times to observe 2m distance. Payments by bank transfer, card or if you really can’t do it any other way then cash.

Diesel 4p cheaper than ten days ago

As they came through the bridge behind us they tooted their horn. This morning we’d asked for a top up of diesel and some coal. They pulled up besides us and whilst Roberta topped us up with diesel Lee loaded three bags of coal onto the roof. I noted how much we owed them and payment was made over the internet.

Bye bye

Before they headed off towards Nantwich we checked when they’d be back round. This pound is on their round every two weeks, so as long as they stay well we will be looked after. As they pulled away from us hands were washed. A big Thank you to the Halsall Crew.

Walking with Tilly

0 locks, 0 miles, 9 hours, 5 taken, 5 boats, 1 model painted, 1 new script, 1 chicken stripped, 4 maybe 5 meals! 3 bags coal, 21 litres, 550m cat walk, 0.5 field ploughed, 1 urge to make scones.

Phew! 29th March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Today we’ve been watching Flight Radar 24, keeping an eye on Jac returning from Australia. Because her light left Melbourne late there was only 45 minutes for her connection in Doha. Here her flight number had changed so it took us a little while to find her again. But once we had it, QR007, we followed her from Turkish air, across Europe, over the north sea, through to her approach into Heathrow across London in the early afternoon. We then just had to wait for news from my brother to say all was well.

Make this blowy stuff stop!

A little after 5pm we got the text we’d been waiting for. Everyone was now at home in Hackney and all was well. This is a big relief to us, so I can only guess how relieved Andrew and Josh are to have her home. We’ll try catching up with them in the next few days.

The sun and it’s warmth have vanished, today we had grey skies again, with the odd patch of blue, but a keen wind was bitterly cold and made the outdoors uninviting. Once we knew Jac was back in the UK we ventured out, giving ourselves a rest from door duty for Tilly.

A roller tree

Today there was only one way we would be walking and that was up to look at Hurleston Locks. Lock 4 has been rebuilt over the last five months as the sides were gradually slipping inwards making the chamber narrower and narrower. Modern boats were okay if they lifted their fenders (which you should do anyway) but any boat with even a hint of middle aged spread had no chance. C&RT had even put lock keepers on duty to assist with passage.

Hurleston Lock 4

But on Friday the flight reopened, and a long line of boats headed up onto the Llangollen Canal. The bottom lock has had the towpath side of the chamber rebuilt, the top coping stones reused and the gates all look like they have been there for few years too. Here’s a link to a time lapse of the work .

Where’s that coming from?

A small trickle of water runs down the towpath close to the bottom gates, seeping out from below the top layer of hardcore that was added to widen the access. Here’s hoping that this isn’t a bad sign.

Looking uphill
and downhill

We walked up to the top of the flight, the views below reaching to Mow Cop and the Macclesfield Canal where we’d hoped to cruise in a months time, all plans on hold, in fact we have no plans currently other than to stay put and stay safe.

Looking down the flight

Containers and machinery still fill the field alongside the top lock. We checked to see if there was still a rubbish bin here, there is, so we can get rid of our mackerel rubbish from yesterday.

Still a construction site

Above the lock there is a long line of boats. All of them very handily moored for water. Maybe they’d moored here with the plan of descending the locks once they opened, but now with only essential movement allowed they have decided to stay put. A couple face away from the locks, so maybe they ascended the flight over the weekend.

Boats boats and more boats

Back at Oleanna, Tilly came and went during the afternoon. The wind put her off staying out for long periods of time. Over the next few weeks we may wish we’d installed a catflap, but then again it does mean we get to increase our daily steps!

Only one boat came past today, an Anglo Welsh hire boat NB Merlin, Ian and Irene’s boat from Bunbury. Will this be the last hire boat we’ll see for sometime, they have all been recalled to base and bookings cancelled.

Our busy neighbour, wonder what might get grown in that field and will we see it being harvested?

This evening we got out the chicken we bought at the butchers yesterday, all 2.5kgs of it! I thought it had been rather a heavy bag. Normally a chicken weighing 1.8kgs feeds us for a week, so this one will last a touch longer. We thought of inviting people round for Sunday Dinner to help us, but…..

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 boat passing, 1 very windy day, 2 waves at AreandAre, 1 walk up 4 locks, 1 walk down 4 locks, 1 trickle of water, 1 very busy farmer across the way, 1 chicken enough for a family of 6, 1 sister-in-law home, 1 happy Leckenby family.

Sunday Photo 29th March

Geraghty Zoom. 28th March

Lockdown Mooring 2 to Nantwich to Hurleston to Lockdown Mooring 2

An Alarm! An Alarm!!! Well we had a LOT to do today. Tilly soon gave up thinking there would be any shore leave this morning when we only had a cuppa before pushing off, breakfast was on hold until we reached Nantwich.

Moody skies today

Last night I’d been in touch with Sandra on NB AreandAre, they were moored on the embankment and the news was that there was plenty of room. So under grey skies we pootled our way in towards town, we weren’t the first to move today, two boats had already come past, the first before the alarm had gone off.

Slotting in behind AreandAre

We pulled into a space, quickly had breakfast and then settled down with our cuppas for the weekly Geraghty Zoom. Richard was otherwise engaged in Dhaka but this week we were joined by Christine and Paul in London. Everyone waved, chatted away, caught up with the last weeks news and wondered who was being stored in Kaths old fridge freezer, no sign of Sean today!

Geraghty Zoom

A text came through from my brother saying that Jac had managed to get an earlier flight, it had already been delayed once but should be leaving Melbourne in four hours. Everyone crossed their fingers.

I wrote a shopping list worked out a menu for the next week/ten days not knowing what we’d find in the shops today. The two of us headed into town with the bike should we need it.

The streets were as expected almost empty, no school kids having their last sneaky fag outside the school gates today. I wonder how many of them will now have to give up as unless they volunteer to do the shopping, come clean with their parents or exercise on their own, they will run out.

Couples walked from shop to shop in town, we headed to Clewlows first, the butchers. Here a large white table had been positioned in front of the door and posters were hung in the window. Advance orders. Damn! A young chap came to the door and said that if they had what people were after then they’d be able to serve us. A family asked if they had chicken breasts, not till Tuesday came the reply. They settled for a couple of pounds of beef and two packs of bacon. Whole chickens they could do, but no pies without them being pre ordered. We’ll think about that for next time.

Preorder only

Two market stalls stood opposite St Mary’s church the market hall firmly closed. One sold cheese and eggs, the other a very good fruit and veg stall. As most of our shopping was for fresh veg I handed over a big bag and the chap started to fill it. 6 apples, bunch bananas, 2 baking potatoes, okay 3, as I walked round I kept seeing things and he kept up with me, his steps for the day increasing as he walked too and fro from my bag. Everything I wanted apart from Blueberries.

Only part of our veg haul

Next Holland and Barrett. Two customers in the shop at any one time. I waited and then went to see what was in stock. Last week the Free from isle in Morrisons had more or less been bare so I picked up various things including some expensive pasta and a bag of short grain brown rice. I scanned the items myself and paid contactless, better than the lady infront who only had a £50 note! Is now the time for those who print their own cash to get them into circulation?

Standing in line

At Morrisons an orderly 2m gapped queue wrapped around one side of the building. It took nearly as long to snake our way around the barriers as it did for the queue to reach the door. Here a security guard said we couldn’t go in together, we had to remain 2m apart. We obviously hadn’t got the memo about this. Mick headed in with the trolley, we’d already discussed that I’d do the shopping and I had the list.

The store was a surprise. Plenty of fruit and veg. The meat isle was pretty well stocked. Infact in some areas there was simply too much stock and items had been reduced. A small loaf of bread for 8p, we’d just got one from the bakers in town for £1.90!

The atmosphere was calm, the supermarket musac unnerving in the back ground. There was even toilet roll, not much of it mind. The occasional shopper with phone in hand chatted away to someone at home conferring on what to buy.

Sad git bargains

We walked round trying to pretend we weren’t together, gradually ticking everything off our list. In the corner of the meat isle there was a reduced, ‘sad gits’ section. Cheap fish. That was our dinner sorted for tonight.

Outside we realised we’d forgotten something! Chocolate!

Mick loaded the bike as I walked over to Aldi to join their queue. Another orderly affair, being invited into the store as the first isle cleared. A large sign on the chocolate said that I’d be limited to four of one item. Now did that mean I could get four dark chocolate bars and four milk with almonds, or four bars of chocolate. I did the later otherwise I’d have been panic buying. The lady in front of me suggested I went first with my few purchases, very kind of her.

Too many words to bother reading

Signs at the bottom of the ramp up to the embankment politely ask walkers, runners etc to avoid lengths of the towpath where boaters are moored. The C&RT sign is too wordy to read so has had little effect it was still quite busy. This morning we’d seen a Policeman on a bike on the towpath, out checking on people who might be isolated. Later on social media there were photos of the tacks that had found themselves in his tyres! We already knew we wouldn’t be staying.

Back at Oleanna Tilly was locked in the bedroom as each shopping bag was unloaded slowly, items disinfected as they came inside, others left in a bag on the stern for a few days along with our coats.

Lunch and a shower before we headed to the winding hole, passing a boater saying it wasn’t safe here, ‘Get out to the countryside!’ People are so frightened.

We pulled up at the water point, topped up the tank, disposed of rubbish. All good for about a week. We pushed off and continued back towards Hurleston.

Where narrow meets broad

Shortly after we’d passed where we wanted to be we came across NB AreandAre moored with a couple of other boats. The horn was bipped, we jestured that we’d be turning and be back in a few minutes.

The moorings before bridge 97 were completely empty now. Everyone must have been waiting for the locks to open and then sprinted up onto the Llangollen last night.

Now there’s a film to watch, Bugsy Malone

We winded and returned, pausing mid stream alongside NB AreandAre. We’ve not met Sandra and Barry before although our paths did cross many years ago now. I’ve just been having a look through their blog for July 2014 and sadly NB Lillyanne (our yellow boat) is just out of shot in Hebden Bridge for the Tour de France. At the time they were The Homebrew Boat, who wouldn’t stop to have a look! It was very nice to finally get chance to chat today, they are our nearest neighbours so I suspect we’ll see them again in the next week or so.

Lillian with her bikes

0 locks, 5.68 essential miles, 2 winds, 2 straights, 1 screen of Geraghtys, 1 chicken, £17 of fresh veg, 2 boxes of wine, £2.69 bag of pasta, 60p half price macaroni!, £1.90 bread, 8p bread, 4 bars chocolate, 1 bag gf self raising, 1 disinfected shop, 1 full water tank, 1 new pooh bucket, 2 mackerel with roast potatoes and onions, 0 shore leave, 1 very long chilly day, 3 years since we test drove Oleanna, 1 Jac on her way home!!!!

Our test drive in 2017
Muddy battered and warn 2020

The Stuff Of Life. 26th March

Lockdown Mooring 1

My Dad, Fatso (as I used to call him), had a saying as he cut a slice of bread and passed it across the dining table speared on the end of the bread knife, The stuff of life at the point of death. Well we’ve not reached that point yet, but today I had a request to make some bread. Some full fat, glutenous bread. Luckily for Mick the baking drawer had a bag of flour for such emergencies, the use by date the end of the month.

So we might have stocked up on gf black pudding!

Whilst I was at it I woke my sour dough starter up and gave it a feed. My sorghum flour stash was nearly out, so I’m trying to ween it onto brown rice flour, with the hope that it will still be happy. A warm up, feed and it was left to start bubbling and expanding.

Rising

Micks loaf was mixed and kneaded then left to rise on the proving shelf, where it did it’s thing in an hour was knocked back put in a tin and left to rise again. Then into the oven, followed by five minutes out of it’s tin upside down.

My friend Graham sent through a quote to build the elements of the set for The Garden. This got me back looking at my budget and getting myself totally confused for a while. I’ll have another look in a few days once the model is finished.

The Stuff of Life

Mick hunted round for some boat insurance quotes, our premium seems to go up every year despite Oleanna no doubt loosing value. Specific questions regarding policies need to be answered before we commit to a company.

My attention turned to the little project I’d started yesterday. I now needed a cast for my little show. The last two years panto photographs were gone through and actors auditioned. Those selected were all made the same size, printed out and then cut round. Placards were updated and everyone fixed in position, so nobody could upstage the others.

Tilly bring her friends near

Now was the time to film some footage. But where? For it to work I built a little stage out of books on top of the thin cupboard between the galley and dinette. This meant I could raise and lower things. Camera position was next. My sewing box and the shoe box I keep model bits in were just about the right height.

All will be revealed tomorrow

Filming began. I hadn’t remembered my lines, I only had two!

The boat rocked as Mick stepped on and off the bow.

Tilly decided to come home and see what was happening.

The timer on the oven kept binging.

But in the end after numerous takes I got a couple that were good.

The evening was spent editing. I’d hoped I could crop the sides of the footage, but this simply wasn’t within my skill set so I would have to cope with lots of people seeing our mountain of washing up in the background, along with the oven fan and Tilly ringing her bell!

Christmas tree, ash can and bucket positioned to help with social distancing

Ten boats have come past today, two winding and returning. One pulled in nearer the bridge behind us. A few boats that have been moored here have moved off, presumably heading to do some shopping. We’ll need to move tomorrow for water and then shopping too. Hopefully we’ll find another mooring that is deemed good for Tilly, although I think a day inside catching up on her sleep is called for.

A third stamp of approval?

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 65 C&RT notices regarding only essential movement being allowed, 10 boats, 2 kayaks, 1 loaf bread, 1 pizza dough fermenting, 1 fridge nearly bare, 22 takes, 1 edited, 1 whatsap’d for tomorrow, 3 Insurance quotes, 0 news on Jac, bakers dozen cast, 1 cat upstaging, 15 minutes at home, 1 plus friends consumed.

And STOP. 23rd March

This morning we could feel something in the water around us. A few boats were moving, most coming past us to wind and then head back towards Venetian Marina. We walked down the towpath to check out if there was space at the barbeque mooring as we’re wanting to clean our boat covers. One boat was pulling away leaving one, there would be space for us.

Celendine

Back at the boat I was receiving emails about my Dark Horse show, they were wanting my opinion on how the show might be realised with current restrictions. Obviously the play can only be performed once restrictions are lifted. I sent an honest reply back. Some elements won’t be affected much if on-line orders don’t get affected. Costumes, another matter. With social distancing I wouldn’t be able to do fittings with the actors, worst case scenario the actors would have to wear their own clothes, should the show go ahead. But my strong belief is that when restrictions are lifted, theatres and theatre companies will need to have a show up their sleeve, one that can be built and rehearsed quickly. So I can finish the design, we’ll have our meeting in a couple of weeks over the internet and then time and restrictions will guide us as to how much will be possible. My next payment will be on completion of the design, due in two weeks, this will go straight out to renew our boat licence.

The feeling we’d woken with was growing inside. If a lock down of the country was imminent then we wanted to be somewhere we’d be able to get water, shopping, diesel etc. We had lunch, headed to the winding hole in front of us, turned the boat and headed back to Cholmondeston Lock.

Back past our mooring

Here a boat was waiting below to go up, they were emptying the lock, we nudged in behind them. The chap opened up the gates and came to move his boat, I walked up and closed the gates for them and then operated the towpath side paddle whilst the chap did the off side.

We chatted from opposite sides of the lock. He was moving his freshly painted and spray foamed boat towards Birmingham. Tomorrow he’d pick up timber in Nantwich so that he could start to fit the boat out and then a friend was coming to help him up the rest of the way. When asked where we were going I explained that we felt movements would be restricted soon, so we wanted to be above the lock.

Venetian Marina

Once we’d ascended the lock ourselves, gloves were removed, hands washed, windlasses disinfected, we pootled along to the next winding hole. Here we winded again then reversed to some Armco. Hatch to the towpath. Here will do, it has a farmyard smell to it, we may get used to it.

Whilst we’d been moving we’d had emails from other boaters who’d been feeling the same vibe. An email from C&RT had come through asking boaters to limit themselves to an area. We would now be staying on this pound.

Approaching the lock

During the afternoon we turned the BBC on, the usual press conference at 5pm wasn’t going to happen, a COBRA meeting was taking place. All Brits who were abroad were being urged to return home as soon as possible. There would be a broadcast at 8:30pm.

Mr Johnson with fists clenched announced the new measures from No 10. We knew this was coming and to a certain extent it was a relief to finally hear it.

At 11:00 this email from C&RT dropped into Mick’s inbox.

Following the most recent announcement from the Prime Minister regarding the UK’s response to the coronavirus crisis, we are asking leisure boaters to stop all non-essential travel. As a result, and to help those who live-aboard (along with those who would need to travel to their boat in order to move it) we are suspending the requirement to move every 14 days. The suspension will be kept under review in line with revised government guidance, applying initially until 14 April.
 
We ask everyone to be considerate and make sure at least a minimal amount of essential movement is maintained to keep vital boater facilities and services accessible to those that need them. We will continue to maintain boater facilities and pump out cards are available from our online shop. (We will be urgently reviewing the implications for face-to-face sale of pump out cards and facilities keys from our public offices). 
  
Please click here for the latest updates to our Frequently Asked Questions and up to date advice on where to get support.
 
Colleagues whose roles are critical to the safe management of the waterways, for example those managing water levels, those carrying out statutory inspections of canal structures, ensuring essential facilities for boaters are available etc will continue their day to day work. 
 
We will be doing whatever we can to support our customers and protect the waterways so we can return to enjoying them fully when the crisis is over. We will keep the situation under active review and update you in line with changing circumstances and guidance.
 
Thank you for your patience and forbearance and please stay safe during these unprecedented times.
 
Richard Parry
Chief Executive
Canal & River Trust

So from now until further notice we will only move for water and shopping. We’ll try to combine the two. Tilly will have to adapt too, rationing of the outside may have to be brought in.

Tilly trying not to use this outside up

Stay safe, stay well, stay at home my friends.

1 lock, 0.83 miles, 2 winds, 1 determined theatre company, 2 unnerved boaters, 1 set of covers that can wait, 1 pound, 3 water points to choose from, 1 town for shops, 2 Dreamies not 4, 1 pongy mooring, 1 country on lock down.