Category Archives: Cathedrals

Continents. 29th September

Bramwith Junction to Doncaster Visitor Moorings

Tilly was allowed out first thing, she could decide when we would move on today. Off she went not to be seen for quite sometime! Clive came past with Peg and stopped for a chat, he’s got his car back from West Stockwith and the boat is plugged in, it should make life easier for a while.

Paws at rest

We’d run out of things to occupy us, time to move on, but still no Tilly. Time to be the mad cat woman on the towpath. I walked back towards the lock, my voice resonating across the canal. In the past Tilly has spent time in amongst the trees this way, today it looked like the friendly cover might be just a touch too dense for her. No noises came back. I walked up in the other direction. TILLY!! Minny meow!! Was that her bell? Was that a meow? Hard to tell with the wind. Maybe it was. Then up she popped tail held high skipping back to the boat. Time to move on.

Barnby Dun Lift Bridge

We pootled up to Barnby Dun, pausing to drop off rubbish and empty the yellow water. Then the key of power was put in the bridge panel. This road is so busy, do you wait for a gap in the traffic coming from three directions? Or just press the button no matter? The traffic died down, so I chose a moment without a car in view and set the sequence going, no white van to jump the lights today.

Once through and the bridge dropped you then have to wait for a gap in the traffic to be able to cross the road. I like counting the number of stopped vehicles, but just how many more had me waiting?

I recognise that whirligig

A dutch barge with a whirligig and washing drying in these parts is almost certainly Dolly Earl. Recently blacked and the gunnels repainted, no name visible. Mick made a note of the boat number, yep it was Dolly Earl! That’s a familiar boat ticked off our list for the year, I think we’re short of only one, the blue boat NB Jubilee Bridge.

Big Yorkshire locks

Wind swept us up to Long Sandall Lock, Mick opting to reverse and hover whilst the lock emptied. The huge vast lock filled, then I noticed the amount of Pennywort by the top gates. Could I open the gates without it getting in the lock? Yes.


Across the way was NB Northumbria, Paul used to look after the basin up in Sheffield. He bobbed his head out to say hello. We did our best to hover and chat with him as the wind buffeted us about. There was news of a new Finesse boat setting off from Sheffield in the morning, hopefully we’ll get to see her. I dropped Rachel the owner a line, they had their snagging weekend quite some time ago and have a bit of a major weekend cruise ahead of them, very exciting.

Paul suggested that the Doncaster moorings might be full, he’d counted boats on the move today, we hoped some would have stopped at Strawberry Island. He gave a suggestion of where to moor if Doncaster was full. Fingers crossed we’d not need it. There’s ground works going on with diggers perched high up on banks of earth, maybe this is where there used to be abandoned burnt out cars, I’ll have to take more note on our way back.


The Minster came into view, a zoom in on the camera, loads of space at the moorings! Brilliant! We winded to have the side hatch outwards and a better view from bed in the morning. During the afternoon another two boats joined us.

Weed boats

Rafts of Pennywort have taken hold here, two weed boats soon arrived. The one with chopping blades and a conveyor belt we’ve seen before, but the other was new to us. Long prongs on an arm at the front can hook a chunk of pennywort, this can be lifted into the air. The boat is propelled by two caterpillar tracks of rubber blades. This means that it not only moves in the water but it can ride up the bank too to deposit the weed well out of the water. Shame my video isn’t fully in focus but it gives you the idea.

Later in the day MIck made a comment about an island of Pennywort passing by. I peeked out, ‘that’s not an island, that’s a whole continent!’

Obviously the weed boats had missed this one

I walked up to Boyes in the town centre to see if they might have some bright pink long fringing for panto. Their haberdashery section was a disappointment, I’ll have to order online instead. They did however have engine oil, Mick will return with the bike for 10 litres.

Almost empty shelves

An afternoon of knitting for me in front of a film. Judy (2019) about Judy Garland’s career in the last year of her life when she performed on the London stage. Flash backs to her early career at the time of The Wizard of Oz. Another lonely sole, what a great performance by Renee Zellweger, no wonder she won quite a few awards. It was also Michael Gambon’s last film, so quite an apt choice.

Some of the miners portraits in A Rich Seam by Laurence Edwards

Another pair of socks went in the post today, another pair finished ready to have the ends woven in. That’s six pairs done, another two on the list.

1 lock, 5.7 miles, 1 lift bridge, 19 held up, 25 holding me up, 2 hours shore leave, 1 skipping cat, 1 sauce tasting woofer, 0 fringing, 1 walk not hobble, 1 parcel arrived.

Imp Hunting. 19th September

Brayford Pool, Lincoln

With not having a couple of days away we decided that today we’d be tourists as much as my little toe would allow. I’d thought we might have an early start, but Panto had other ideas. Overnight I’d been happy that my artwork could be scanned and stay in focus, today I needed to see if we could afford for all the print to be done by one company, Prompt Side. I worded an email to those who could make the money decisions, I’d already alerted Gemma the Production Manager that this was the way I wanted to go. I clicked the send button, started my breakfast. A few minutes later my laptop binged a response from John, backing my proposal. Yipee!!!! Gemma soon followed, she’d been through the budget again and clawed as much back from everywhere as she could, we’d have no contingency, but with the budget bulging at the seams we’d make it. Bigger YIPEEE!!!!

Casual chaps

Being at Brayford Pool meant we were really close to the bus stop for the bus that runs up the hill to the Cathedral. We walked over and waited. The bus runs every 20 minutes during the day and for a return it was £3.50 each, we’d certainly be using the return. The ride was all of ten minutes taking a wide route up to the top of the hill, still on steep roads, but an engine got to do all the hard work instead of us. We were dropped off right outside the front doors.

First though a post box was needed to post the fourth pair of socks to their owner. Gold boxes are harder to spot than red, but we found it in the end.

The West Facade

We walked back through Exchequer Gate to get the full view of the west face of the Cathedral. Impressive.

Looking down the nave

In 1072 Bishop Remigius started work on the cathedral, the diocese stretching from the Humber to the Thames. The hill was chosen for the location, it’s vantage point for miles around an obvious location. Twenty years later the Cathedral was consecrated, it stood for thirty two years before it was ravaged by fire. Then in 1185 the cathedral was partly destroyed by an earthquake, it left only the western front and twin towers standing. The original cathedral is easy to spot with it’s round arches and ornate carving, lattice work covers areas which in later years would have been left plain stone.

In 1186 Hugh of Avalon was appointed Bishop of Lincoln and he set about building a new Gothic cathedral with state of the art architectural features like flying buttresses, ribbed vaults and pointed arches. His death in 1200 was before the cathedral was consecrated, he was buried here. Frequent miracles were reported by pilgrims, Hugh became a saint and in 1280 his body was reinterred in a newly built Angle Choir in the presence of King Edward I.

1237 saw the central tower collapse, thought to be due to the pioneering building techniques used. In 1311 the tower was rebuilt, a wooden spire added to the top making it the tallest building in the world for 238 years at 160m!


Extensions were added, spires either fell or were removed through the centuries. In 1834 Great Tom, the bell was lifted into the central tower to strike the hour. More info can be found here and here.

By the time we had walked part way round, seeing the military chapels, the treasury, I was in need of a sit down and some food. The cafe is situated behind the cathedral through the cloisters, reaching there we had to walk through what felt like a wind tunnel. Good views up to the central tower.

Mick had a club sandwich, I had food envy, my jacket potato didn’t look as appetising even though it was very nice. I did manage to sniggle some chips which made up for it. Now we had to prioritise one thing before we left, we had to find the Imp!

Somewhere up there maybe

Our map showed us where abouts to look, near the Angel Choir, we stood and gazed up at pillars and carvings, scanned round. I think Mick resorted to Google for some assistance. There he was sitting up high peering over everyone.

There he is!

‘Legend has it that one day the Devil was in a frolicsome mood, and sent two naughty creatures to cause mischief on Earth. After allegedly stopping at Chesterfield, twisting the spire of St Mary and All Saints Church, the two imps went to Lincoln to wreak havoc in the city’s Cathedral.

Upon arriving, the naughty imps went inside the cathedral and started to cause mayhem, knocking over the Dean, smashing the stained glass windows and destroying the lights. In a bid to put a stop to their antics, an angel was sent to warn the imps off causing any more chaos. One of the imps hid underneath a table, whilst the other started throwing stones and rocks at the Angel in a final act of defiance – “Stop me if you can!” it cheekily retorted.

In a moment of anger, the Angel turned the Imp to stone. He has remained in the same spot ever since, sitting cross-legged on top of the pillar overlooking the Angel Choir – a constant reminder of how good will always triumph over evil.’

The second Imp is meant to be blowing a hoolie outside whilst he waits for his friend. It certainly was blustery out there. We carried on round. Side chapels with murals painted by a two year old (?!). These are the dates that Duncan Grant painted the murals, he was part of the Bloomsbury set and was a theatre designer as well as an artist.

A sit down to admire the choir. Lots of the carved figures have very long necks. Were they replaced after the reformation? We got caught up in a guided tour by the font, no way out but through them. We sat patiently and heard about how often, or not, the holy water in the font was changed and about the Dole windows where pilgrims could collect food and drink and enough money to pay for shelter for the night, this is where the term Dole comes from.

A slow hobble to look down Steep Hill was needed, we walked down a short section of it, it is steep, but I suspect it gets steeper. Then we found a bench to await the bus to return us back down the hill.

Steep Hill

There is still a lot more to explore in Lincoln, my toe lasted but I definitely needed a sit down. Next time we’ll visit the castle, next time we’ll walk along Steep Hill and explore more. Not sure when the next time will be though.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 set passed and approved, 1 very happy designer, 2 buses, 3 hours of hobbling, 1 imp, 1 vast cathedral, 2 cuppas, 1 club, 1 jacket, 1 catch up with Jo, 1 bored cat.

Back Again. 18th September

Burton Waters to Brayford Pool, Lincoln

Footpaths everywhere

Blimey the rain at 4am! Whilst Mick managed to ignore it I got up and closed all the windows that had already allowed rain in onto the sofa, dinette and Houdini shelf! The puddle had also returned in the bathroom. At times the rain was soo loud I found it impossible to get back to sleep, but I did in the end.

The Cathedral

As we were just finishing breakfast we could hear a strimmer start up, someone had come back to finish cutting the grass at the mooring. We decided this should speed up our departure so we headed out to roll up the covers and get moving, the chap however walked up the steps and vanished. He’ll have to come back another time now.

A familiar sight coming into Lincoln

We pushed off, heading back in to Lincoln. Today we had a mooring booked in Brayford Pool, £16 a night with electric included and plenty of noise from the freshers. A week ago we’d been told which berth would be ours so we were able to pull straight into our spot. Mick then headed off to check in at the office, then we settled in, the washing machine going on.

Pontoon B with a view of the Cathedral

Shortly after 13:24 we heard a train going past, the line is pretty close to Brayford Pool, this was our train, leaving without us!

Yesterday there had been a change of plan for this week. Mick had been bought a ticket to go on a trip around the Isle of Wight on the Paddle Steamer Waverley from Portsmouth with Marion and John for his birthday this year. I’d declined the offer, I’m not too keen on boats at sea, but I was going to meet a college friend I’ve not seen in decades. So today we should have been heading down to the south coast. However with strong winds forecast for Tuesday the trip had been cancelled and PS Waverley headed straight to Gravesend on Sunday for safe waters to sit out the winds. The trip on the Waverley will be rearranged for sometime next year. We could have still headed down to the south coast, but with my toe etc we decided to see if we could get our train fares refunded.

Boat name chalked on the dirt

A boaters discussion yesterday had us decide to still take the mooring in Brayford Pool. Maybe we’d get to see some sights? However that wasn’t for today.

Time to try to see what was happening with the scanning for panto. I’d tried emailing, now a phone call was needed. A lady answered the phone, as soon as I said who I was she apologised for the delay and that I was on Peter’s radar. It might not be until tomorrow that my model would be scanned. Nothing to do but wait.

Someone reminding me that they exist

A tenth sock was cast on and we watched Tom Hanks try to fend off Somali pirates in Captain Phillips (2013). Barkhad Abdi who played the lead pirate in the film won a British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for an Oscar. It was his first acting job, he and the other three pirates all came from the same block of flats in Minneapolis. On the films opening night, Abdi apparently gave up his job driving limousines for his brother. He earnt $65,000 where as Tom Hanks earnt $15 million!

During the afternoon I got an email through from Chippy, they had had a phone call from a lady called Ann offering us the use of her overhead projector. Ann reads the blog and has used her OHP for similar things in the past so knew how helpful it would be. Thank you Ann, I look forward to meeting you.

Late afternoon I stopped what I was doing as an email came through from Peter at Promptside. His short comment accompanying it said, ‘Here’s the scan, I think it looks good.’ Oh thank goodness!!!

I opened the link, zoomed in. My scan had been 11MB this one was 161MB! Chris on NB Elektra had managed to up my scan to about 40MB. I did a quick comparison, obviously it was so much better, but the most important thing was that it was all in focus, you can even see brush strokes and tiny hairs, the later not intended! It will need a touch of touching up, but ohh the relief!

0 locks, 2.9 miles, 1 mooring, 2 loads washing, 1 film, 2 windy for paddle steamers, 1 change of plan, 0 trains, 0 connections to catch, $65,000, 1 more sock, 1 more film, 1 OHP, 161MB! 1 relieved designer, 1 bored cat, 1 new plan despite a foot, 11 years.

Intelligent Alien Carrot. 16th September

Lincoln Visitor Mooring to Burton Waters Visitor Mooring

Wonder how much longer I’ll be strapping my toes together for?

Needing to run the engine in the morning to top the batteries up means there is hot water, so a morning shower is possible. At the moment this means taking off the strapping from my toes, being very careful not to knock my little toe in the shower, then once dry the strapping can be reapplied to help keep everything where it should be. It’s quite frustrating as I feel as though I should be able to do all sorts of things as it’s only a little toe, but when walking it is painful on and off, so I sit down again. But it’s only a little toe!


Yesterday we’d discussed if we could get up to the cathedral with the minimum of walking. If we moored just through the Glory Hole we’d be able to catch the bus up to the top of Steep Hill. This however wouldn’t be fare on Tilly as she’d not like our location, we’d also possibly not like it with it being freshers week. If we headed out of the town could we get a bus back in. All these options were considered, what was the point if all I’d do when I got there was sit in a pew and not feel able to have a good walk round. The sights we’d planned on visiting in Lincoln will have to wait for ‘Next Time’!


We did however need to move today our two days up. We pootled on into Brayford Pool where there would be plenty of room to wind. Several crews wearing high vis were out in ribs, presumably training for the emergency services, there have been crews each day on the canal since we’ve been close to Lincoln.

Here she comes

Round we went and then back to the services where we topped up with water, emptied the yellow water and pushed off again. The Brayford Belle came past, we’ve been getting things wrong for years, C&RT is actually the Canal and Riverboat Trust, who knew?

Our original plan was to head to the mooring at the Pywipe Inn, wind and moor up. We tried to wind opposite the pub, but the width of the canal encroached by sideways trees was not enough. Then we tried under the A46 road bridge, a hard edge on both sides. Not enough width again. Those Romans didn’t take into consideration 58ft 6″ narrowboats when they built the canal!

Paddleboarding popular in these parts

On we pootled, sitting outside the pub wouldn’t have been an ideal mooring for the weekend anyway. Instead we continued on to Burton Waters where we’d wind in the entrance of the marina, then reverse back to the moorings.

Turning to port

Just as we arrived so did a couple of boats coming towards us. Mick tucked us into the marina entrance and held us there for the boats to pass. Two beeps on the horn of the first boat, oh blimey he was wanting to turn to port, into the marina! Ah no, he always sounds his horn as he passes the marina just incase. We were fine and not in the way at all. Once they’d both passed Mick completed our turn and then started to reverse us back to the moorings.

In the last two days the banks have been mown. A shopping trolley we’d spotted in the long grass the other day was still there, the grass mown underneath it. At the moorings we could see where boats had been moored when the grass cutting had occurred, at least no-one would have grass stuck to their gunnels.

That looks familiar!

Four hours Tilly. Hmmm! Friendly cover up to my shoulders, I can stalk through that.

This afternoons film was a period piece, The Thing from another world (1951), I wonder why they felt they had to add ‘from another world’? Possibly the alien, made up from plant matter, a bit like an intelligent carrot was felt to be too much like a human by the producers, so it needed some clarification. Other than the THING being compared to a carrot I particularly liked that everyone was told to ‘Close the door’ when they came into a building, gusts of snow following them inside. Surely in the Arctic there would be some vestibule or curtain to help keep drafts out! The 1950’s Parker was obviously a very well insulated garment. The ending of the film was quite electrifying!

Electrocuted Carrot

0 locks, 3 miles, 2 winds, 2 failed winds, 1 canal 57 ft wide, 1 prescription collected, 0 cathedral this time, 1 stealth cat up the banks, 2 bipps means turn to port, 2 git gap cruisers, 1 boat pulled back, 1 sci-fi comedy, 1 roast chicken, 4th pair finished, 5th started, 1 helicopter crash at Great Heck! 0 hurt.

Will We Ever Get Up There? 15th September

Lincoln Visitor Moorings

The alarm was set early and Mick headed off for a dental appointment in Scarborough. The only appointment he’d been able to get was too early to catch a train hence the hire car. The journey was pretty foggy until he reached the Humber Bridge where the sun had burnt it’s way through, then it was an easy drive over the Wolds.

After his appointment he had a little drive out to Langdale End where great friends used to live and where he stayed when he first moved north. More changes to the Manor House. Back in Scarborough he went to pick up a repeat prescription only to find it had been sent to Superdrug in Banbury! A new one was done and will be ready for collection in Lincoln.

Calcium and vit C with lots of maple syrup too!

Meanwhile back on board Tilly and I enjoyed Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast, maybe a few two many, but at least there were two of us to share them! Our nearest neighbours moved off and the Brayford Belle started it’s trips up and down the canal, commentary blasting out about the Romans and linking Lincoln to Torksey, Nottingham and York. I got to hear the same bits three times today.

Brayford Belle

More knitting the start of the eighth sock was done in front of Olivia Coleman in Them That Follow (2019) where a religious sect incorporate snake handling into their services. Love, pregnancy, snake bites made for a cringing mornings viewing.

More of a pudding flapjack

Some apple crumble flapjack was made, the apples purchased to accompany some blackberries for a crumble a few weeks ago. But we’ve not managed to forage enough blackberries, so some flapjack will keep us going.

Will we ever make it to the Cathedral?

In the afternoon I decided to have a little walk to see how I fared. The start of freshers week in Lincoln meant the area around Brayford Pool was busy with young people walking round with their parents in tow. I made it as far as a bench with a view across the pool up to the Cathedral. Is this the closest I’ll get to it this visit?

Under the Brayford Way Bridge

We’ve been to Lincoln at least twice before, but never managed to get up to the Cathedral or Castle. We’ve headed here for several reasons, one was to be tourists and finally tick the Steep Hill and the buildings that lie at the top of the ascent off the next time list. As I walked back to Oleanna my toe hurt. Maybe the next time list will remain until next time!

My little thug watching the students arrive

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 trip to Scarborough, 1 monastery extension, 1 more film, 0.8 of a sock, 1 bored cat, 1864 hobbled paces, 2 tidal locks booked, 1 aching toe.

2022 Back To Exploring

Time for the annual round, a long post so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

The New Year kicked off with winter maintenance in the house. Having two hallways proved time consuming refreshing the woodwork and patching up the worst of the wallpaper. But this was broken up with weekly walks to see the sea. I resumed work on the development showing of #unit21 for Dark Horse and a Christmas present of a cheese making kit proved very tasty in creating my first ever Yorkshire Curd Cheese Cake from scratch. I plan on having a second go at this soon!

In February work progressed in Huddersfield towards opening night, the floor painted, final costume fittings and then the set and lighting added. All while Mick serviced our life jackets and Tilly grew more and more bored of life in the house.

Once the show was opened we had a trip down to London to catch up with the London Leckenbys for a belated Christmas, on our way back we visited Oleanna. When ever we could we visited Blue Water Marina to do jobs and have a pack up lunch. The stove was reblacked, walls washed down and cupboards sorted through.

Then at the end of February, Mick and I left Tilly in charge of the house, we packed enough clothes and food for a couple of days boating and headed to Thorne to move Oleanna through Thorne Lock before a winter stoppage began. Blimey it was chilly out there, but wonderful to be back afloat and moving Oleanna to Goole. Now we were all set to move back onboard and have a few weeks of pootling about in Yorkshire.

Back at the house we made it ready for the first of this years lodgers. Our boat Christmas tree was retired into the back garden where we hoped it would thrive, this of course was before we knew a drought was on it’s way! Tilly said goodbye to the dragon that lives up the chimney, left Seville and Valencia to look after the house before having to endure the car trip back to boat life.

After a few days sorting ourselves, including having one of Joan’s gluten free Chinese takeaways, we unplugged Oleanna and backed out from our mooring at Goole Marina (Boat House). We spent the next three weeks bobbing about between Pollington Lock, Doncaster and Goole. Maintenance jobs were ticked off the list.

Alistair did engine and weedhatch jobs, Frank joined us a couple of times to do carpentry jobs, our galley drawers no longer have a life of their own, the covers had a good scrub and a spray of Wet and Forget to help them keep clean.

In March I’d set myself a charity challenge, to knit as many pairs of socks in the month as I could. Nine pairs knitted for people in return for sponsorship, I also got a very generous donation of yarn from Lisa on NB Summer Wind.

Our plans had had to change as Thorne Lock still hadn’t closed, but was about to! Plans to visit York and West Yorkshire were abandoned, we’d bought ourselves a Gold Licence for the year so wanted to make the most of it. So on March 24th with all the jobs done we turned our backs on Goole and set off into the sunset to see where 2022 would take us, all three of us grinning from ear to ear.

We made our way to Keadby ready for our booked passage on the tidal River Trent, the fast route south. A phone call from a boating friend in need of support meant we’d be doing our best to make use of the spring tide to reach Cromwell in one go despite the weather forecast. We spent a couple of days doing what we could to help in Newark before we needed to be on the move again.

On upstream to The Trent and Mersey keeping up our cruising hours and Tilly hoping we’d stop with enough time for her to explore each day before cat curfew.

Up to Fradley then onto the Coventry Canal, we played leapfrog with NB Free Spirit for a couple of days.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Curdworth Flight then a turn left onto a section of the Grand Union we’d not been on before at Star City. Up Garrison Locks, Typhoo Basin and then the Ashted Locks where we now have the measure of that Tunnel! A mooring space at the top of Farmers Bridge had our name on it. This was handy for a road trip to swap lodgers and for visits to the dentist. It also meant we were in shot when a group came to jump the top lock!

Fast forward to 6:15

Our route out of Bumingham saw us through Edgbaston Tunnel, down Lapworth followed by Hatton. A pause was needed for Tilly’s annual visit to a new vet, the one here the closest to the canal we’ve visited so far, also handy for The Cape of Good Hope!

At Napton we joined the Oxford Canal and headed for Braunston, pausing to stock up on goodies from the butcher. On the Grand Union we made our way up over the hill and started our descent down The Long Buckby flight back towards tidal waters.

On the 1st of May we turned left at Gayton Junction onto the Northampton Arm dropping down the flight to the River Nene. We’d only been this way once before and that was when we’d just bought Lillian (NB Lillyanne) back in 2014. We bought ourselves a second Abloy key, showed our Gold Licence to the chap at Northampton Marina and started our journey down stream, time to explore.

A decision was made to head down to Peterborough taking note of places we’d want to visit on our return journey. We worked our way through the guillotine locks, many button operated and others with the wheel of cardiovascular overload.

Tilly loved many of the moorings apart from those in Peterborough where crowds surrounded the boat and meant returning from shore leave was impossible for several hours.

In two weeks we reached the end of the river at the Dog in a Doublet Lock. Here the river becomes tidal, we’d save that trip for another time and turned back upstream to head for the Middle Level.

Here we wanted to explore all the drainage channels, but decided we’d do that on our return too. So we took the direct route and crossed the low lying waters in three days arriving at Salters Lode on Mick’s birthday. The levels out on the tidal stretch of the Great Ouse needing to be just right to get through the lock, turn and head upstream to Denver Sluice.

A lovely GOBA mooring was found on the River Wissey and eventually the sun came out for a birthday barbeque, we’d made it to the Great Ouse.

The remainder of May was spent exploring the River Wissey, Ely and The Little Ouse. Brandon Lock sits at the most easterly point on the connected navigable network for boats Oleanna’s size. Sadly a build up of silt stopped us from getting her bow into the lock, but we did get her as far east as was possible, ticking off the fourth point of the compass.

There was a trip to Hull Truck to meet old friends at a gala evening followed by a meet up with Micks family back in the Fens. At the end of the month we got to know Neil the seal at Ten Mile Bank moorings as he basked in the sun and took sunset dips in the river.

The Jubilee was seen in at Denver, we lit our guiding lights as a Lancaster Bomber flew overhead heading to see the Queen. The Relief Channel gave us a good mooring to be able to have a trip away to celebrate Dawn and Lee’s 50th Birthdays in Scarborough, we went as Wallace and Gromit and won an Oscar!

Another visit to Ely to see the Cathedral, Farmers market and meet up with Heather from NB Bleasdale, the first of many this summer. The River Lark was explored, the end of navigation reached with a handy mooring outside a pub.

We headed for the Cam, our paths crossing for the first time with Ken and Sue from NB Cleddau. Then onwards in to Cambridge where we visited colleges, ate chilled medication and had a day trip to Duxford so that Mick could sit in the pilots seat of a Trident 2, a seat his Dad had sat in on many a flight.

Oleanna squeezed along each of the three Lodes, Wicken, Burwell and Reach. Wicken Lode a magical place and a day visit to Anglesey Abbey with it’s wonderful gardens.

Then we headed onto the Old West a river with a very different feel than the Ely Ouse. A pause was needed when we reached Earith for us to have a tour of Heathers new to her boat GT. Once off the tidal water we were on a different Great Ouse again. Here St Ives, St Neots and Hemingford gave us sunsets, D shaped locks, huge meadows and wonderful towns and villages to explore.

As the temperatures started to rise I needed to do some work. Cruising happened in the mornings, my Panto script and sketches were done in the shade of what trees we could find. White sheets were bought and we hoped for a mooring with shade for the really hot days that were to come. Tilly took to lying on the floor and we took to wearing wet t-shirts to help us to keep cool. Thankfully the hot blast only lasted a couple of days then the temperature dropped and we could continue to head upstream.

July 21st we reached the navigable limit of the River Great Ouse, having to reverse some distance to be able to turn round and return to Bedford for the River Festival.

Here we met up with Ken and Sue, Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice and Heather again. Plenty of things to see, do and hear. The boat parades, raft races, vintage cars, all sorts kept us busy for the two days.

Now at the end of July we alternated the days between cruising and my work. More beautiful days cruising and more wonderful sunsets, one day off to visit Cambridge for some more chilled medication and to see the Hockney exhibition.

August saw more hot days. Trips to London to celebrate birthdays, panto meetings, catch up with best friends and travellers over from Australia.

On the 15th August we crossed back from Denver Sluice to the Middle Level having really enjoyed our three months on the Great Ouse. Now water levels were a worry along with having enough time to reach Oxford for me to go to work in October. We made the decision to come back and explore the Middle Level another year, maybe we’ll cross The Wash to get there!

By the end of August our progress up stream on the River Nene slowed to a halt. First one lock broke then another two ahead of us. We’d recently been accepted to join the Reflections Flotilla on the Thames to mark the Queens Jubilee in a few weeks time, now that time was ticking away.

When we did get moving again we had to make up our cruising hours. With the news of the passing of the Queen we didn’t know if the flotilla would still be going ahead, we carried on at pace waiting for news. Back up the River Nene, turning onto the Grand Union, working our way southwards. The news came through that the flotilla would go ahead, but now in remembrance of the Queen.

With a couple of days to spare we squeezed into the Eco-Moorings by Islington Tunnel. Two days of catching up with family and more friends over from Australia before we joined boats heading along the Regents Canal towards Limehouse Basin. An afternoon of activity saw numerous narrowboats festooned with white lights.

On the 24th of September the Thames barrier was closed and we all headed out of Limehouse Lock up stream to Chelsea where we clung onto buoys until the early evening when the flotilla started to muster.

Getting on for 150 boats all displaying white lights got into formation and headed down stream. Crowds stood on the illuminated bridges and Tower Bridge opened up in a royal salute as we passed underneath. What a truly amazing day.

Now we had to head towards Banbury, back round the Regents Canal as a leak in the engine bay needed testing on the calm waters of the canal rather than the tideway. By the time we reached Brentford we were confident with Oleanna’s engine again. On the Thames Tilly got a birthday present of a night on a Cliveden Island. Sadly we got an unexpected present on our arrival in Oxford, a second red line on a covid test! Panto painting couldn’t be put off so we made our way gradually up the Oxford Canal keeping our distance from people at locks and taking maximum doses of paracetamol.

A week of painting in Banbury before I moved to Chipping Norton to stack up the hours over the next four weeks getting the 50th anniversary panto ready. Rendez Vousing with Oleanna at weekends in Banbury and Coventry kept me sane. Mick had to single hand across the summit of the Oxford Canal to avoid the first of the winter stoppages.

All three of us were back onboard by mid November, covid free and vaccinated. We took things slowly now, time to rest up, meet friends, gather family and pootle towards Christmas. Our 20th Anniversary was celebrated with a Chinese takeaway at Alvecote Marina, a planned stop which ended up being extended due to plummeting temperatures. The canal froze, there’d be no moving the outside for Tilly!

Temperatures lifted dramatically and the ice just about vanished in a couple of days, we could now be on our way to Christmas. Alrewas was a good place to spend the festive days, a very good butchers and a village with lots of character and humour.

Bookings in the New Year had been made for passage on the tidal River Trent for us to reach Yorkshire, but this would not be. The Trent had risen before Christmas, Cranfleet Flood Gates were shut ahead of us, so no New Year at Hazelford Lock. Instead our alternator played up and we sought out a mooring to hook up to and see in 2023.

This year we’d been wanting to explore again. This year we cruised miles of new water, made new friends, got too hot, got iced in, got stuck, got to be in the first illuminated flotilla on the Thames for 300 years. What a great year it has been.

So our vital statistics for 2022 according to Canalplan are

Total distance is 1249 miles, 6½ furlong and 555 locks . There were 88 moveable bridges of which 29 are usually left open; 156 small aqueducts or underbridges and 18 tunnels,  a total of 7 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 227 miles, 1 1/2 furlongs of narrow canals; 363 miles, 2 furlongs of broad canals; 85 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 269 miles, 1 furlong of small rivers; 234 miles, 7 1/4 furlongs of large rivers; 69 miles, 6 furlongs of tidal rivers; 176 narrow locks; 232 broad locks; 54 large locks; 2 locks on major waterways.

731.7 engine hours

1156.1 litres diesel, 5 (although we’ve got 1 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 28.5 litres oil, 3 oil filters, 1 fuel filter, 2 air filters, 1 water pump, 2 new belts, 690kg coal, 1 overnight guest twice, 6 packs Dreamies (not enough!), 56 friends, a record breaking 41 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval (4 in one day!), 15 pairs socks, 2 shows designed, 9 lodgers, 2 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 30 boxes of wine delivered, 2 lost unicorns.

Thank you all for joining us on our journey. Wonder where we’ll get to in 2023?

Levels. 20th August

Ashline Visitor mooring to Peterborough Embankment, River Nene

Pulling back

Alarm set for early o’clock, breakfasted and ready to push off before 8am. NB Per Angusta were ready too, as we were booked to go through Stanground Lock first they backed away and let us lead the way.

Soon we were at the sharp bend by Briggate Bridge. Coming the other way this had been really easy, but today with the increased flow it proved quite a challenge.

It may look like a handbrake turn

Mick swung the stern over to start to turn the 90 degrees. Across the bend Oleanna ground to a halt, silt below was stopping our progress right on the bend. We would need a run up, thankfully NB Per Angusta wasn’t too close behind. We managed to back off a distance and then went for it. Oleanna rose up, listed, the engine given more wellie to counter act the strong flow and try to ride over the silt. She worked hard and gradually worked her way free and around the bend. As we pulled away I kept an eye on the boat behind, the dazzling sun inhibiting the view.

It looked like they had a similar problem, getting so far and then having to back off again to give it another go, we hoped they got round as the bend soon vanished behind us.

A flash of blue, then another. We had an escort, two Kingfishers guiding us across the last few miles of the Middle Level. The pair darted ahead as soon as we got close, resting up to make sure we caught up again before they headed onwards. Then when we reached the end of their territory the braver of the pair sat and watched us go past before dashing back to find their mate.

A field of sunflowers all in bloom, cranes ready to move cranes, the brick chimneys and the aroma of chips, we were getting closer to Stanground. We were early.

We pulled in on the lock landing. Tilly checked the notices, no mention of cats, but woofers were certainly not welcome here. It looked good, could we tie it up for the rest of the day? The answer was no as Tina the Lock Keeper arrived ready to lock us through.

Tina ready for us, Alley Cat keeping an eye on our bow

The bottom lock gates were open, the top sluices/slackers/paddles open too producing the flow we’d been pushing against for the last couple of days. Tina walked up to the top gates, closed the slackers then came and waved us in requesting we passed her the centre line on the off side.

Oleanna was tied to a bollard, Mick told to put her in forwards gear and just to keep her there whilst the lock filled. A slacker was raised the level started to rise along with Oleanna. With just a couple of inches to go Tina released the rope. She warned us of a big build up of weed above the top gates, best course of action would be to power on through it, the wind last night had nudged most of it towards the electric sluice but there was still a big patch for us to push through.

Peterborough here we come

We thanked Tina, the gates opened, a distant view of Peterborough Cathedral just visible with a rainbow flag flying high. Time to leave the Middle Level for the River Nene. Yes there was a lot of duck weed, but we’ve been through worse at Selby. We were soon clear of the slightly browning weed, the first of the boats coming the other way just arriving, ready to go straight into the lock.

We passed another couple of boats, one NB Petroc. I knew I knew the name, bloggers, well the previous owners were bloggers.

Left please

With need of some shopping we turned left at the junction, pulling in soon where there was a gap before the services. Here it was obvious the level was up, the bottom step covered with an inch of water, but the mooring rings and bollards were still reachable. Mick did the gentlemanly thing and stepped off the back and paddled to pass our ropes through rings and we were soon moored up.

A touch of paddling required

We’d made it to the Embankment before 10am, got ourselves sorted and were in time to join the end of the Saturday morning Geraghty zoom. Then it was time to make shopping lists, Mick would head off to stock up on food whilst I got on with work.

Tilly was given the afternoon for shore leave. Although we got quite loud protests at our mooring skills. They really are a worry leaving a good chunk of watery outside between Oleanna and the proper outside! I had words then did my calculations and leapt to dry land.


Tilly jumped a good 10- 12 ft to the second dry step. The chap on the boat behind put his dog on a lead, owner and woofer watching Tilly’s every move and listening to her complaints. They tied this outside up before, it was rubbish then. Now it’s even more rubbish as it was so far away and a cat should not have to get wet paws, after all I’m told not to fall in! Well at least the trees have got more than a comb over now. Only one thing for it, more cat napping in my escape pod today.

Don’t know why I went to all that effort, it’s rubbish round here!

Mick headed back into town to pick up a few items for me, just in case things as I doubt there will be many suitable shops along the River Nene for model making supplies. He returned with black card and some silver gift tags, the later will be useful to suggest fairy lights.

During the afternoon I heard back from Abi regarding Petiti, the troublesome scene. One of the versions I’d sent to her yesterday had been based on my original idea and this is the one that came out on top! It still needs a bit more work, but it is the direction we will now be heading in. If only we’d stuck to it in the first place I’d have saved a lot of time, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

One scene down, too many to go

Todays aim was to get Piccadilly Circus painted, by 7pm I’d achieved my goal, well apart from painting a locksmiths barrow. In previous years when painting the sets I’ve managed to draw the scenery out by hand. This year I will be seeking the assistance of a projector, overhead or digital, which will speed the drawing process up no end.

1 lock, 5.19 miles, 1 lumpy bend, 1 engine at full tilt, 2 Kingfishers, 1st through, 1 keeper cat, 1 left, 1 inch above, 9 inches higher than last time, 28 shaggy trees, 4-0, 1 pride city, 1 disappointed cat, 1st solution approved, 1 designers assistant, 1st scene painted.

Ely Busy. 7th August

Stretham Ferry GOBA to right under Muckhill Railway Bridge to Jubilee Gardens, Ely

A slightly relaxed start to the morning, time for a cuppa in bed followed by a bacon buttie. Then we pushed away the outside a little after 10, almost all the other boats having left already.

Sadly not open today!

We slowly pootled along passing Stretham Pumping Station, plenty of moorings there, the EA moorings before the bend at Popes Corner were half empty.

Approaching Popes Corner

A day boat was just about to push off from the Fish and Duck, we slowed to let them set off and then pulled in onto the service mooring. A top up of diesel, a bottle of gas and a fill of the water tank, we decided to pay the nominal fee for the water in case we couldn’t top up in Ely. We chatted with the chap about where we’ve been and how come he seems to be the only place with gas, his reply was ‘we get it via a back route’!

Man handling the gas bottles

As the water finished filling up another boat load of day trippers arrived and listened to instruction and then headed off for the day in the sunshine. Normal instructions are to keep to the right, today it was keep to the centre and move over if you meet another boat.

Somewhere in the distance….

A left turn for us between paddleboarders and cruisers and soon Ely Cathedral could be seen on the horizon.

Ely Cathedral

There was space on the GOBA mooring just south of the town, so we pulled in. Well we tried and tried. The bow came close enough to launch myself off, but try as we did Oleanna really wouldn’t come in close enough for us to use our plank without us being on a list to start with. In the end we gave up, waited for a gap in the passing traffic and carried on in to Ely.

A space with NB Still-Waters

There were a few spaces, but sadly none quite long enough for us. In places they were three abreast. Arriving late in the morning hadn’t worked for the first time, maybe people were arriving or staying to have lunch before heading off today. One space was available right by and almost underneath the Railway bridge. We pulled in as trains rumbled over head and the smell of either cow pooh or the pumpout wafting in the air.

Dragon or Eel?

Boats were moving all the time, so I walked back to see if enough space had been made. Still the same gap we’d tried earlier. Then another which might just fit us. I rang Mick, but no answer came.

Ely, busy!

Arriving back at Oleanna Mick seemed to be dealing with gas bottles, except all his cash cards lay on the roof. Pulling his phone out of his pocket he’d also pulled his wallet out which fell straight into the river. He’d managed to get his main wallet out, but somewhere below the surface lay another card, his old gits oyster card! We decided to stay put, fishing mor important than a good nights sleep. Eventually Mick was successful and all his cards were laid out to dry.

Petiti, I hope!

I got all my model bits out and spent a couple of hours taking photos. For some reason the bulb on my angle poise flickered and my camera wasn’t going to focus properly, so my phone did the best job it could.

A band just where it should be

A space had become available by the Italian restaurant, so we winded and headed back through Ely, spotting a space sooner at the bottom of Jubilee Gardens. As we pulled up a brass band were playing in the band stand, Concerto de Orange Juice. I like a brass band me, so did of plenty others.


0 locks, 6.31 miles, 1 left, 45 litres, 1 gas bottle, £5! 1 wind, 205 photos of a model, 3 moorings, 2 successful, 1 noisy and stinky, 0 shore leave, 1 brass band, 1 props list.

14 Days Anywhere! 29th June

Burlow Lode EA Mooring to Stretham Old Engine GOBA Mooring, Old West River

Time to do some boating again and leave the Loades behind.


What a grey morning! The waterproofs were at the ready. After a long chat with the fishermen who’d set up behind us about the National Trust wanting to flood the land, how bad the fishing was and how much the house across the way was on the market for (£1,050,000, it comes with a building plot with planning permission), we were ready to push off.

Slow going again until the way ahead got wider, followed by the Terns again.


Is this a hovercraft sat in the field?

Labradors at the ready

At the two bridges there were several dog walkers, one lady on one side of the water another two opposite, they were waiting for us to pass before getting their dogs to swim across to each other. The dogs were being very patient and loving it at the same time.

Looking up Wicken Lode

NB Ivy May turned out from Wicken Lode a short distance in front of us, they’d had two days moored at the end and really enjoyed it. Today there was space on the EA mooring despite some overstayers, but who knows their circumstances.

Following NB Ivy May

A boat was moored in the middle of the lock landing which is also a water point. NB Ivy May just about managed to get in front of them and we did our best to squeeze in behind, but had to stick out across the cut as we were about four foot too long for the gap. Our next water point wouldn’t be until Friday, a load of washing had just finished, so we needed to fill the tank. NB Ivy May disposed of rubbish and then made their way through the lock whilst we filled with water. Eventually the boat in the middle moved up after Mick had suggested that the owner may believe he can moor anywhere for 14 days even water points, but that it was very selfish to other boaters requiring to use the services. He didn’t have a hose and was going to fill up using jerry cans, I also suspect he didn’t have a key either as he looked a touch perturbed when he returned to see the water point closed and us heading off into the lock.

The water point above the lock

By the time we reached the lock it had reset itself. The top gate almost closed, letting a small flow through and the bottom gate open that bit more. It took a little while for me to work out what was what as you can see next to nothing of the lock from the controls at either end, but we were soon through and on our way again.

Goodbye Lodes

Straight on past the pub, the river view tables all full, people waving as we went past. A narrowboat came towards us, quite a long way over and heading for a big willow, thankfully the two dogs on the roof managed to stay onboard.

Ely and gulls

The heavens opened as Ely Cathedral showed itself again on the skyline.

Popes Corner, time to turn towards the west and onto the River Old West. There are several EA moorings on the first bend but we had our sights set on the GOBA mooring at Stretham Old Engine, hopefully there would be space for us and it be a suitable place for a supermarket delivery.

Good lengthy EA mooring

Another speed check, we were well within it at 42 seconds. Plenty of others were going that bit faster!

The chimney of the old engine showed itself, then the mooring. One boat and a handful of fishermen, but plenty of space for us. We pulled in and settled down for the rest of the day, making amendments to our big shopping order.

Bookend pigeons

A little walk round late afternoon we had a little nosy at the museum. Sadly it is only open on Sundays, maybe every Sunday or maybe the second one each month! Too long for us to hang around to see inside.

Our mooring for the night

Stretham steam engine replaced four windmills that had been trying to drain the surrounding fens for years, they’d struggled to cope with flooding and were at the mercy of the weather. The engine was built by Butterleys in 1831 costing £4950 and it scooped water up into the Old West River. The coal to drive the engine arrived by barge, chunks of 2 to 3ft piled high in the yard, these had to be broken up before they could be burned, the engine using a quarter of a ton an hour. It was one of only three drainage beam engines left in the Fens. It was used for over a hundred years and then was replaced by electric pumps. What a shame we won’t see it running.

1 lock, 8.05 miles, 2 straights, 1 left, 1 shower to be missed, 14 days! 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish,1 order completed after 12 goes, 1 closed museum, 1 fishing tennis fan, 1 looping the loop Spitfire.

Behind The Curtains. 17th June

Cawdle Fen GOBA Moorings to Little Thetford EA Moorings

Opening up the hatch

Plans change when you are on a boat. We’d planned to stay put today as we’d be experiencing the hottest day this year, so far. But as we had our cuppa in bed we decided to move on. Not sure if Tilly’s tale from yesterday of woofer chasing was the truth, we didn’t want to be sat all day with the doors closed for her safety, or with them open wondering how safe she was with three roaming woofers about. The advantage of being on a boat is that if you don’t like your neighbours you can move, not that we didn’t like them, we just wanted Tilly to be able to come and go in safety.

Bye bye

So even before breakfast was considered we pushed off and aimed for the next mooring south. Dipping under the bridges Ely Cathedral vanished behind the concrete.

Soham Lode

We passed Soham Lode which looks like it was once navigable, today no entry signs and a huge mass of weed prevent access.

Moorings ahead

Two miles on the banks are high again and the EA mooring came into sight, plenty of boats there, but a gap big enough for us and maybe a cruiser too. As we pulled closer I spotted a woofer on the boat that would be behind us, hopefully the owners would be a touch more responsible than those we’d just left.

Doors open

Mick had a chat with them, the dogs (two of them) are likely to chase, but do no harm, the owners would keep an eye on them. There was however a request, could we hold off letting Tilly out for a while as one of their dogs was about to have a shower and that job was hard enough without a cat being added to the mix. We obliged, which wasn’t hard as Tilly wasn’t chomping at the bit to go out due to the heat.

Please can we have a cool outside again

The sun was now heating up the port side nicely, curtains drawn to help deflect some of the heat. Covers were poppered in place, sides rolled up to try and give a touch of shade and encourage the breeze in through the open doors. Tilly looked out a couple of times, we walked up to the top of the bank, plenty of friendly cover to keep her busy on the other side, but it was way too hot for her. The escape pod or bathroom floor became her preferred positions for much of the day.

180degrees at 32C

As we had breakfast I cooked some pasta which was then cooled and popped in the fridge for our evening meal, best to get any cooking out of the way before the temperature rose even more.

Tilly sticking to what shade she could find

We pottered the day away inside behind the curtains, the breeze making things bearable inside. As the sun moved over head and started to heat up the starboard side the curtains were opened and closed accordingly, we could now have the hatch open, windows were taken out to encouraging the breeze even more.

Mick spent time moving my email from one provider to another. Quite often my messages end up in peoples spam folders so we’re hoping the move will eliminate some of that.

I set about trying star darning on a t-shirt. My t-shirts get holes easily and I tend to look like quite a scruff in some of them. I chose one and gave it a go, if I can extend their life by another year that would be great. Practicing on my cheapo t-shirts hopefully I’ll be good at it by the time I get to those with sentimental value. I soon learnt that smaller stars were better than bigger ones which with the cotton I was using looked like they will catch on things quite easily.

The maximum temperature reached 32C, the highest temperature recorded today a little before 4pm in Cambridge not that far south of us. Thank goodness or that 16mph wind. I got the cool mat out for Tilly. Last year she’d rejected it, Well it smelt funny and who in their right mind would want to curl up on plastic in this heat! She at least sniffed it, tried to see what it was hiding on the floor and then walked away. Maybe next time she might actually stand on it!

Back they go again

The river was far busier than we’d expected. Plenty of people out and about enjoying the sunshine. We had cruisers of all shapes and sizes. One with six topless chaps came past the captain shouting over his engines so that the world could hear him ‘They (referring to narrowboaters) shout to tell you to slow down and all we do back is say’ a hand gesture involving one finger followed! We said nothing but thought plenty. Strangely enough Oleanna then bumped around for a half hour as the river gradually calmed down.


As the temperature started to drop we all headed outside. The solar connection box still needed fixing back onto the roof and with rain forecast for tomorrow it needed doing today. Mick debated on rewiring the panels to be in parallel again. Just because he doesn’t like thick wires was not a reason to keep them as they were. I asked if he’d regret keeping them in series when it came to the winter. Well he thought he would, so the wiring was revisited.

Checked and ready to go back on

A rim of black tack was put around the connection box base, some Captain Tolley’s creeping crack dripped on where the cables came out from the roof, just in case. Then the four screws were done up, the black tack that had squeezed out between the cabin top and box was neatened off. Job done.


Well then we found that one of the cables going into the box wasn’t fully tightened up! Mick tried to rectify this without us removing everything off the roof again. Here’s hoping it’s all weather proof!

Thankfully the temperature gradually dropped during the evening and hopefully we’ll be able to get a reasonable nights sleep.

0 locks, 2.17 miles, 1 final goodbye to Ely, until we come back! 3 woofers down to 2, 0 shade, 2 hot or cats, 2 boaters 1 cat sitting in the dark, 1 cool mat rejected again, 1 connector reconnected, 6 lobsters, 32C, 1 hole in the side!