Category Archives: Canal and River Trust

Closing Down. 27th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Today notices from C&RT have been coming into our inbox regarding the closure of lock flights due to low water levels in reservoirs. Levels have been kept low at reservoirs on the Leeds and Liverpool and the Macclesfield due to essential maintenance works. Now with the lack of rainfall, the levels will remain low, so not enough water at the beginning of the boating season to sustain normal boat movements.

As we’re not meant to be moving anywhere anyway it seems sensible for measures to be taken to conserve as much water as possible. So all the locks between Wigan and Bingley, and either end of the Macc are being padlocked and ashed up tomorrow lunchtime and measures are being taken so that vandalism won’t be possible.

So when the lockdown ends (which I don’t think will be anytime soon) we won’t be able to cross the Pennines by any route, the need to do so no longer exists for us, but it would still have been nice to be up on the Leeds Liverpool again. Another thought had been to spend some time on the Macc, but the poor old Macc hasn’t had any luck in the last few years.

Where we go, and when, will stay on the back burner for now, there are other things we need to do whilst the canal network closes down around us.

Sour dough Into the bowl to rise

This morning I decided I’d be making some bread today whether my starter was ready or not. I’ve been watching it closely and it definitely runs to a timetable. Nothing happens for a couple of hours, then it gradually rises over the next hour and a half. At some point in the next half hour it gives up bubbling and sinks again. It hasn’t been as bubbly as I’d liked, maybe my expectations were greater than its own. Maybe what it has been doing is all it will ever achieve and I’ve just been wasting flour. So this morning I fed it and returned the jar to the proving shelf. A timer was set for three hours time.

Town square

I re-read the synopsis for panto and took notes. The writer for Rapunzel is the same chap who wrote Aladdin and there are similarities. Along with a tower with one window and no door, I will need to create a Town Square (obligatory), a pub, a galleon and a medieval jousting match.

Cannons and rigging

My calf muscle has been rested for a few days so I decided to see how it would fare walking up the locks whilst the hours ticked by for my starter.

As I approached bridge 97 I could see there was some sort of kerfuffle going on, flapping of wings etc. I carefully walked up the bank to see what I could see. Two male Pheasants sparring with each other. No females standing on the sidelines, just a head bobbing stand off.

Boys will be boys

One chap looked pristine whilst the others feathers around it’s neck were bedraggled, he certainly wouldn’t have been my choice in such a state. Heads bobbed up and down and only occasionally did claws make contact. Stunning looking birds.

Once they’d made enough room for me to pass I carried on over the bridge and up the flight. Sandra from NB AreandAre had told us about an egg farm at the top of the flight. We already knew of the lady with her few hens, but on the other side of the Llangollen just a bit further along was a whole farm.

Egg shop

A red van was parked with it’s back doors open, a honesty box and prices on the eggs. Medium and Extra Large hens eggs along with some duck eggs. We currently have quite a few eggs on board so it was just as well I didn’t have any money on me. But we’ll be back when we need some. Apparently he normally has around 30 dozen to sell a day. His ladies looked quite happy out the back too.

Eggs anyone

My calf had survived the journey, so I’ll be taking more short walks for a while.

Happy ladies

The timer was just about to go off when I returned. Time to make necessary flour for a loaf. Oats and sunflower seeds needed grinding up and adding to various other starches and flours. I hoped that Maple syrup instead of coconut palm sugar would work. My starter had reached it’s normal maximum, so I poured off enough for the loaf, mixed everything together then put it into a t-towel lined bowl, wrapped it in plastic bag and left it to rise back on the shelf.

The recipe said two hours maximum, but hardly anything had happened. I decided to leave it the three and a half hours my starter normally takes to rise and this proved to be a good idea.

Risen a bit

Whilst it did it’s thing Mick worked his way though tax returns all of which mean he owes the tax man nothing again. I dealt with emails about my sketches and ideas for Dark Horses next production #unit21. So a day pretty much like the old days, three projects in one day.

The timer went off the oven and cast iron pot were hot, time to see what baking my loaf would turn out like. The previous recipe had been using sorghum flour and had been a lot firmer, this was with buckwheat and had been like a thick cake batter. I carefully turned it out of it’s bowl onto grease proof paper and scored the top. It started to relax, so I quickly popped it in the pot and into the oven, fingers crossed.

A loaf with potentail

The end product looked not quite as risen as I’d hoped for, but it still showed much more potential than the last loaf I’d made. We’ll have to wait for the morning to see how it has turned out. The remains of my starter have been put into the fridge with the hope that it will pop back into life for the next loaf.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 flight walked up, 10 flights closed, dozens of eggs, 1 last feed, 1 sketch to redo, 5 amendments, 2 uv or not, 9 scenes, 2 boats again, 1 set breakdown, 3.5 hours, 1 loaf with potential, 1 very large friend!

Thirteen for Twelve. 24th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

‘Nine and a half hours Tilly and we want to see you at least twenty times today please!’

This sort of fell on deaf ears, well she is a cat! What did I expect!! After an initial roll around to leave her scent Tilly disapeared for a few hours, nowhere to be seen. Calling for her mid morning didn’t work, or maybe it did as she returned about half an hour later to say hello and have a drink, followed by a snooze. I think she was still a bit pooped from yesterday.

Out and about in the sunshine

Work for me again today. I wanted to get the initial sketches completed so that Amy can peruse them over the weekend, then I can do any amendments that she’d like along with things I’d like to do. Improving hands is top of my list! By the end of the day all sixteen drawings had been scanned and emailed to Leeds.

Cast portraits, just a couple to add

Mid afternoon an email from Will at Chippy Theatre dropped into my inbox with a synopsis for Rapunzel attached. A Zoom meeting will be arranged to meet the Director next week. This year John Terry is having a break from panto, so David Ashley is taking the reigns.

My sour dough improves with each day time feed, but as the stove is no longer alight it isn’t doing quite so well overnight. I gave it a feed at around midday. It takes a couple of hours before anything starts to happen, then it starts to bubble up the sides of the jar, expanding with air. After about three and three quarter hours it seems to reach it’s peak and within another twenty minutes it has sunk again. I’m hoping that it shows an improvement tomorrow so that I can make a loaf of bread again. But I have to be patient.

15:50
16:10

During the afternoon I’ve been messaging the greengrocer from the market. They do fruit and veg boxes so we’re going to give one a go. No idea what we’ll get, but when we last did a shop with them at the market I spent around £17, so I’ve ordered a £15 veg box. Their website suggested there were no slots left this month, but because they deliver to a house close to the canal near here we have been added in. Very exciting, just hope we’ll be able to eat it all.

This evening the C&RT boaters update arrived keeping us up to date with what the trust are doing. This is a weekly thing anyway, but today it informed us that around a third of the Trusts staff have taken furlough leave, operational staff remain at full strength to look after the network and support boaters needs. They are starting to do aquatic weed management, I wonder if that will happen here?

They are also extending current boat licences for a month from their current expiry date. So our licence which should run out at the end of March will now last us until the end of April next year. Wonder how they are doing this for Gold licence holders?

I so wish I could stretch like that, it looks so good.

Tilly decided to come home for a snooze during the afternoon. Waking with an hour left of shore leave she sat at the back doors gently reminding us she was there. Mick and I looked at each other and decided that it was actually dingding time and the back doors today would remain shut!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 walk round the reservoir, 1 leg rested on board, 2 calls from Val, 16 sketches scanned, 0 car accident that wasn’t my fault, 20 page synopsis, 3.75 hours optimum rise, 1 veg box sneaked in, 13 months for the price of 12.

Green Shoots. 13th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Whilst lying in bed with our cuppas this morning I turned the page on my puzzle book, the next one was titled Puppy Love. Mick immediately made a comment, ‘That was by David Cassidy wasn’t it?’ WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We just don’t get out enough anymore

At the age of five/six I only knew of one pop singer, Donny, Donny Osmond. Yes there were others such as David Cassidy, but no one outshone Donny for me. I was bought the single (my first) and remember the video that came with the song, Donny wandering through fields of red poppies. At the time I wasn’t too sure of the lyrics, it could have been Poppy Love or Puppy Love, it really didn’t matter so long as Donny was singing it. It was No1 for five weeks and I’m certain that I danced to it every time it was on Top of the Pops.

Mick then suggested it might have been sung by Jimmy Osmond ………………………..

JIMMY! Long Haired Lover from Liverpool !!!! Firstly Jimmy was only 9 years and 8 months old when the song was released in 1972, hardly the age to be thinking about such things. He did not have long hair for the 1970’s and he most certainly wasn’t from Liverpool. He also was not Donny.

Life on Oleanna is getting a touch trying!

Bacon butties

The towpath yesterday had been a touch busier with walkers, today cyclists were making the most of it. We headed out for a walk to check on Lockdown Mooring 3 and see if any green shoots had started to appear in the field opposite, none yet. We also miss the lapwings but they were nowhere to be heard today.

No Lapwings today

As people came past we’d move over into the longer grass them clinging onto the edge of the canal for everyone to get as much space as possible. One chap with his fishing gear and two kids just laughed at Mick when he suggested they shouldn’t be walking three abreast leaving only three foot between us and them.

Green shoots!

The towpath got too narrow for our liking, so we back tracked to Oleanna. The field behind us is already sprouting less than a week since the crop was sewn. Maybe last nights rain has spurred it into action. Wonder what it will be?

Getting better
Improving every day

Our covers are starting to look bluer, still a long way to go before they will be fully clean, but certainly after a rinse of rain they have improved.

NB Mountbatten

An engine could be heard in the distance? Yesterday one boat had come past and headed up the locks. Who could this be today? NB Mountbatten.

Mick flagged them down, a gas bottle had just run out, and whilst they were at it we’d have a top up of diesel. When we’d seen them last week Mick had said that if they came past before NB Halsall then we’d use them this time. Mick got the gas bottle out of the locker and Richard lowered the new one in. It all felt a little bit awkward. Mick would normally undo the filler cap on the diesel and maybe even fill the tank up, but Richard did all this , everyone doing their best to keep their distances.

Turning left to go up the flight

As they pulled away from us, Richard jumped off and went to empty the bottom lock. Ruth turned the tiller and got them lined up for the flight, hopefully annoying the fisherman and his kids. Fishing is currently banned on the waterways!

David Devant latest album, Cut Out And Keep Me

Instead of listening to the Osmond brothers I caught up on the latest episode of The Community Hall Roof Fund. David Devant and His Spirit Wife played their song Pimlico live on facebook from their respective houses in memory of Tim Brooke Taylor (original video with my friend Nick as a spectral roadie). Then we listened to the new audio episode of Peter Kay’s Car share, still funny without them being sat in the car.

Enjoy

One happy cat

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Mick trying to be funny, twice!!! 5 year olds heart throb, 1 stove re-lit, Act 1 again, 1 busy cat, 3 of us, 1 short walk, 2 narrow for safety, £32 gas, 37.3 litres diesel, 1 cat past curfew, 1 st leftover chicken meal.

They’re still fishing!

Hunting. 12th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Easter when I was a kid was quite often spent in Buttermere in the Lake District. We would stay at The Bridge along with many others who had become regulars for the weekend. The first sign that the Leckenbys had arrived was our dog Worthington running through to the rear bar to claim prime position in front of the log fire. I strongly suspect my life began in that hotel Easter 1966.

1977 The Lake District

The adults would play Hare and Hounds, the hare leaving a paper trail across the fells for the hounds to track them down. I suspect my brother and I were left with mum in the bar with her G&T whilst my Dad, Buddy and others were scree running on the peaks.

One year we joined in with an Easter Egg hunt at a friends house in York. This was the first hunt I’d ever been on. It was very well organised, each of us with a little basket to collect our chocolate in, special eggs had our names iced on them. I came away with quite a collection I seem to remember.

Amazing what you can fashion with a toilet roll, pink ribbon and some micropore tape

Then there was the year Granny and Pompom came to stay with us and I made myself an Easter bonnet out of pink ribbon. I remember it well, better than that jumper!

Now onboard Oleanna, Easter usually brings with it the not so secret secret purchasing of Easter eggs. These are then normally hidden until our Sunday morning cuppa in bed when we produce them from their hiding holes, “Happy Easter!!!” Well that is how it’s been since we moved to living on a boat. This year however it was different.

Not with the veg

The not so secret secret purchase hadn’t been possible for normal eggs, due to lack of space in our shopping bags, restocking the wine cellar was far more important! But two small bags of Mini Eggs had been squeezed into our bags amongst the cabbage and carrots, so we wouldn’t do without.

Not under the back steps

The shopping on Thursday had been unpacked, disinfected or left for three days before being brought inside. Mini eggs were deemed to need disinfecting to be brought indoors. The new regime takes time and means that things don’t always end up being put where they normally would go. The last I saw of the packets of mini eggs was on the counter top as the Milton solution dried.

Not in the mug cupboard

Just where had they gone! We had a proper Easter Egg Hunt on our hands. Mick had a look in the obvious places that they could have gone. Nothing!! A girl look was needed!

No
Nope

Just where oh where had they gone?!

Oops! Panic bought chocolate

Drawers were opened up. The shopping bag drawer now filled with chocolate!

Even Tilly couldn’t find them

Not there.

I really must get round to tidying these

Nor there.

Still no

What about……..

?

YES!!!!

The first place I should have looked, at least it was the last!

Hooray!!!

To walk off some of the chocolate we took our rubbish for a walk up the locks to the bin. The big containers have gone from the works enclosure at the top of the locks.

Easter can happen now

Then we decided to follow the route I’d taken yesterday, just cutting it short to avoid the boggy patch. As we approached Stoke Manor we noticed a black plastic bag on top of a post. Then we turned down the lane and got to Stoke Manor Farm. Here was another black bin bag, what were they covering?

There’s another walking person under the black bag

Public Footpath signs. Is this because someone is isolating and don’t want people traipsing through their farm yard? Is it fear? Well I have to say it made our mind up, we’d follow the footpath on our maps across their yard along the Public Right of Way.

Path to the bridge

We headed across the fields and took a different path to reach Bridge 99. The fields seemed to be just a touch greener today, maybe Mother Nature had been hard at work overnight.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Easter egg hunt necessity, 2 bags of eggs, 2 bin bags, 0 Easter epic, 2.4 miles walked, 1 roast chicken, 0.75″ too wide, 1 pulled out sock, 1 nosy neighbour, 1 worrying car.

A Handful Of Pots And An Apology. 11th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Firstly an Apology to the BBC. She and I would like to apologise to the BBC (and Gordon Buchanan, he’s my favourite) for suggesting that they hadn’t checked their facts the other day in relation to cats not being allowed out at the moment due to Covid-19. In fact the BBC had been given unclear information from the BVA. The BVA said they “had given information that related to both general guidance as well as specific advice for cats from self-isolating or infected households, but not made the distinction clear.

“The article suggested that veterinary advice was to keep all cats indoors, but BVA has since explained that this advice is only in relation to cats in infected households or where people are self-isolating.”

We on Oleanna apologise for suggesting that the BBC hadn’t checked their facts. Sorry to Gordon, my favourite is the Polar Bear Family and Me, it’s dead good, luckily Gordon didn’t become their dingding!  

So sorry to Adam, Gordon and their colleagues, we like the BBC.

I wish She and Tom would make my dingding wizz round like this. Gordon is great!

Another day of nine hours of shore leave in one place! She says I need to get good at spending time in one outside and it not moving so much, so I spent quite a bit of time snoozing today on the bed instead, well it was a warm day. I did say hello to everyone on the Geraghty Zoom before putting my head down. Tom listened to the cricket and guess what? England actually won!! Again!!!

Zoom!

I decided to see if I could get a better look at those wonderful chimneys back up the canal. With the OS ap now downloaded onto my phone I set off on a three mile walk.

Muddy towpath by the bottom lock

My route took me up by the locks. We’ve been a touch concerned about the amount of water leaking onto the towpath by the bottom lock at Hurleston. Mick this morning saw a CRT chap and asked him about it. The works at the lock haven’t as yet been signed off by the contractor, but apparently there is an artesian well by the lock and that is where the water is coming from. It does seem to be getting wetter each time we walk up there.

The quiet A51

I walked along the back of the reservoir and then looped round onto a footpath that runs alongside the A51. This led to a gate onto what must have been the original road still with cats eye down the centre.

Dead end road

A short distance on I got to view the front of Stoke Manor, a wonderful redbrick front with bay windows. It is apparently now owned by the County Council and has been split into flats.

Stoke Manor

Flat five does however have 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, so I doubt they are pokey places. The only interesting thing I could find out about the Manor was that during World War 2 it was used to house landgirls.

A handful

The chimneys are so tall and from one angle they resembled a hand. Very fine indeed and worth the stroll to see them.

Just how many pots?

I then followed the footpath through Stoke Manor Farm out onto freshly sewn fields. A sign asked me to keep to the footpath which wasn’t so obvious. But I soon could make out where others had walked before me, from one tree to the next.

Okay

The earth was soft and warm beneath my feet, the small sprigs of green starting to rise towards the sun. Just a scattering of green across the landscape. Maybe I’ll have to return in a few weeks time to see how it’s doing.

Keeping to the path

I could have crossed over at the next canal bridge but decided to continue to the far end of the fields where Barbridge sits. My map suggested that the path should continue between two houses, but my way was blocked.

Green shoots

A couple were busy in their garden, so I asked them which way the path went, it turned out to be on the other side of their house. I thanked them and then very quickly discovered the path had become a bog!

The Boggy Firs

One of those hop skip and jump moments, hoping that speed would mean I could levitate across the top, my weight not breaking the surface. But gravity knew better and my trainers sank into the mud!

Muddy feet!

I soon rejoined the road then the towpath and headed back southwards, making a note of a stretch where there might be tree cover should the weather get very hot before lockdown is lifted. Who knows if we’d get into the side here, but it might be worth a try should we seek shade.

Posts all over the place

The white posts on the reservoir had been photographed by the C&RT chap Mick had spoken to this morning. However he hadn’t asked about them. There are quite a few sets of posts, possibly three lines of them down the embankment each heading off on a different bearing.

Not all in straight lines

This evening we’ve had the nearest meal we can have to an Indian Take Away as every place we’ve seen in Nantwich is now closed. Two dishes from Morrisons, along with my first sag aloo ( I made enough to last a second meal) and an attempt at gluten free chapatis.

Potatoes at the ready and chickpea flour weighed out
Rolled out

The chapatis I made with gram flour (chickpea flour) some oil, cumin and fennel seeds and some water. This makes a dough/paste that you then roll out and fry in a dry pan. They ended up looking a touch drier than normal chapatis, less stretch which is to be expected with a lack of gluten. They were tasty and softened up a touch under the t-towel that kept them warm. I may try a different recipe next time which has arrowroot in it, or maybe one with yoghurt, we’ll see.

Yummm!

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 miles walked, 10 on zoom, 2 handheld cameras, 314 Boothferry Road in Dhaka, 1 boat moving, 1 cat out past curfew! 21 pots at least!, 2 soft fields, 2 muddy feet, 24 posts at least, 4 chapatis, 2 mains, 1 side, 1 rice, 1 test match victory, 1 phone call, 2 boaters sleeping on things.

Just which way will the future have us going?

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.