Category Archives: Cats

Let Him Eat Pie. 13th June

Fox and Hounds to Double Bridge Moorings

Roofers at work

A pottering morning. The flat roof at the pub was being re-felted, this was keeping the pub cat busy being clerk of works from the top of it’s rather large cat tree. A very good vantage point on a normal day.

Overseen

At 12:30 we were dressed up and ready for visitors. We kept a keen eye out for a grey car, only to see our visitors arriving on foot. Marion, Mick’s sister and husband John had got the train up from Eastbourne then a bus out to find us, perfectly timed.

Ann-Marie and Dave had sung the praises of the Fox and Hounds steak and ale pie last week, the menu had looked good with plenty of options for all. It was certainly popular, thank goodness we’d booked as every table was full!

Mick was the only meat and gluten eater, so it was down to him to see if the recommendation was true. A new beer was sampled by Mick and John, it got the thumbs up. I tried a gluten free larger which was nothing special apart from it’s strength, I certainly wouldn’t be having a second one.

Christmas time!

Plenty of time for conversation whilst we waited for our food to arrive. A trip to Shetland, the most northerly bus stop and the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world had all been enjoyed. There was also the delivery of our Christmas present, far too heavy to post, so it had to be hand delivered. A Baked Potato Cooker that sits onto of your stove and given time will bake your spuds.

Marion had the most generous jacket potato with cheese and beans I’ve ever seen. John’s Haddock and chips looked very cripsy. I had a gluten free burger with bacon and a choice of cheese, I chose brie, possibly the best burger I’ve had in a long time, definitely homemade.

What a pretty looking pie

Mick of course had the steak and ale pie. What a pretty looking pie, pastry top and bottom with a crimped top edge. A gravy boat is always a good thing, I personally don’t like my food swimming in gravy but others do, it’s nice to have the choice. Served with green beans, broccoli and chips. The greens were a touch over done and we both agreed later that the chips although nice could have been triple cooked then it all would have achieved a full five stars from us.

Pip, John, Mick, Marion

A lovely lunch was followed by a cuppa back on board Oleanna before the south coasters had to head to catch the bus, hoping to avoid busy trains leaving London. Thank you for visiting and for the present.

Time to do a bit of cruising and find a suitable mooring for Tilly. Covers were rolled back, Nebo clicked on, today put on top of the cratch board. Yesterday I’d joined a Nebo group on Facebook. Two people had already mentioned they were having the same problem as us. We’d also received an email from customer support which said.

There was an error in the feedback we gave you previously, the errors are due to your SIM card trying to join the wrong network, so it is an issue with cell tower signals. We are not sure why your SIM can not get a lock on a suitable network provider, it is a roaming SIM that has full coverage in the UK and about 40 other countries.

They still thought positioning it with a clear view of the sky should improve matters, hence being on the top of the covers. We of course can’t do anything about the amount of trees, or being in the bottom of locks, the nebolink having first been developed for use on a cruiser in Australia out at sea.

Towpath strimming

We pushed off about 3pm. More and more trees. Surly we must run out of them soon! A touch grey today and jumpers and waterproofs required. We passed a chap trimming back the towpath, just a strimmer along the edges of the path not a full cut back.

A swing bridge to operate. I got myself ready to hop off just as we passed a Kingfisher in a bush, just at arms length away, you could almost have given it a stroke! I wonder if it’s a very good fake so the Lock Keepers can say ‘Did you see it, its always there!’

Zebon Copse Swing Bridge took quite a bit to unlock. The padlock awkwardly positioned but in the end it sprung open. A stone mile marker faced the offside.

Round down to the furthest southerly loop of the canal. Here what looked like tank traps lined up into the trees and partly across the canal. A pill box a good vantage point in both directions. We wondered how the occupants would have stayed warm, possibly a paraffin stove.

Our most southerly point this year

Just after a narrowing where Coxmoor Bridge once was we reached the most southerly point of the canal, also the most southerly we’d be cruising to this year, not enough time to head to Godalming.

Nice house, sadly not for sale

NB Olive had been on the previous mooring, one handy for their van. We hoped the next mooring would be free and just far enough away from the road for safe Tilly exploration. Plenty of room when we arrived and some very good woodland (surprisingly!) for Tilly to play in for a couple of hours before cat curfew.

Quite a nice mooring so long as we’re not under trees when it rains

The stove was lit, by now it was raining and Mick popped our Christmas present on top of the stove so that the paint could cure. We watched Heidi’s (The Pirate Boat) go at cooking an omelette in hers from 2 years ago. She got bored and bunged it inside the fire box for 8 minutes. The omelette charred around the edges, but what was edible was very tasty. We’ll have to wait for when the stove is lit all day before we try it out properly. As the weather is going at the moment that might be next week, we’d best get some potatoes in.

Right, Where to start?

The nebolink worked today, one patch missing and a straight line rather than following round the bends of the canal. Tomorrow I think we’ll try it back where it was under the cratch board.

0 locks, 2.7 miles, 1 swing bridge, 2 pints, 1 bottle, 1 orange, 1 fish and chips, 1 jacket spud, 35678 baked beans, 1 burger, 1 very good pie, 1 lovely lunch, 1 slightly damp cruise, 2 hours shore leave, not quite enough to judge it for a stamp.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Vwte1NmzoiEEK5yX7

6 Through 17. 10th June

Brookwood Country Park to Frimley Lodge Park

Last night putting the spare bedding away under the sofa I pulled it away from the wall that bit more than I’d done a day or two ago. Some bright blue! My Bumbag!!!!. How had it got there? Before heading to Scarborough I’d lifted the sofa to select some yarn for a pair of socks revealing access to the secret passageway. This is irresistible to Tilly, so I think between the two of us my bumbag had been in the right place to be assisted into the depths of the passageway. I’m pleased as now my camera and phone can be with me whilst cruising, plus I have my bank card back!

An awkward mooring

No time for tea in bed, we still had a little way to go before reaching our next booked locks. Kath had said it would only take us five minutes, but the depth of canal might have a different idea, we allowed half an hour, just in case. It took us 12 minutes, better to be sat waiting for a keeper than be late.

Just before the bottom of Brookwood Locks there was a boat moored on the offside. Their plank at full extent and ropes way off into the friendly cover. Spied through a window was a second mate of the feline variety. Activity soon followed, the plank being lifted, aerial laid flat on the roof, we had locking partners.

Into the first lock for today

Mick’s phone rang, the Lock Keeper had a flat tyre, someone else would be with us in about quarter of an hour to unlock the locks. By the time I spied a van pulling in up ahead NB Olive had joined us in the lock, it took a little bit of doing as the depth was shallow, we’d grounded out and the boats wanted to go the way they wanted to go rather than the way the tiller was encouraging.

Josh and Andy (Dad) have lived aboard their boat for three and a half years with (Mum) Diane. Some of you may have come across them Taylor’s Aboard A Narrowboat on youtube, we hadn’t, but then again we’ve never really got into youtube vloggers and it was only the cameras at the bow and stern and Josh filming the scenery that gave it away. I asked Josh what the name of their cat was. Which one? We have five! Well that made for six cats in the lock together. I hoped Tilly didn’t spot any otherwise there’d be hissing through the windows at locks and we had quite a few to do today!

Chris on his way to unlock

Chris the Lockie from yesterday arrived and walked down to unlock one paddle, the other out of use. Josh wound it up, the bottom gates hadn’t wanted to close fully and they still didn’t. A pull and push hadn’t helped even with two of us. Chris headed off to get a keb from his van.

Chris on the lock gate fishing out debris

Four poles were put together with a keb on the end, first he dragged along where my gate met the bottom cill, quite a bit of branches and gunk. The gate wouldn’t close still. More gunk was moved and removed, still no. Chris came over to my side of the lock and dragged it again, still no! He then climbed onto the gate and crouched past the paddle gear, balancing as he dragged along the cill (please don’t try this at home!). After several goes the cill was finally clear and the gates would close. Hopefully that would be our only problem today.

The morning had started off wet, but thankfully the rain didn’t return and we’d have some rather wonderful sunshine at times, the temperature however required the wearing of jumpers for much of the day. Andy and Mick chatted away at the stern, Josh and I chatted when we could be heard over the water. We soon got into a rhythm as we worked our way up the first three locks of the day. As yesterday there would be a boat heading downhill, so we were to leave the top gates open for them.

Deepcut Bottom Lock cottage

There was a gap in locks for about twenty minutes, time to make a cuppa and have a piece of flapjack, far too early for lunch but with 14 more locks to do today keeping the fuel levels up would be important. There was time to make that cuppa but not drink it despite the use of the electric kettle!

The start of the Deepcut Flight was more open, but the sky soon disappeared, more green canopy and dappled sunlight, how wonderful.

Mike explaining things to the helm

When we reached Lock 16 another Basingstoke Canal van came towards us, this was Mike, now with a new tyre. Another warm greeting. This time we had different instructions to follow once we’d passed the downhill boat. Mike decided to give instructions to Mick and Andy at the helm, some of the information they needed to know, but the whole crew could have been briefed at the same time, saving Chinese whispers. I managed to catch the tail end of the instructions regarding closing up and that some of the top gates won’t open fully. Mick filled me in on the rest.

Mike headed back up hill, the next time we saw him he was getting ready to follow the downhill boat, ashing up the top gates of the locks. A long pole as Chris had had but with what looked like a plastering trowel on the end, he also had a big bucket of whatever they use to ash the gates up. This gets sucked into the gaps around the gate by the water and bungs them up.

Mick waiting for Josh to lift a paddle to close the top gates and then give a big blast of the engine to lift the silt.

At the next lock we met the downhill boat, now we needed to help with the ashing of the gates. Once the two boats were up and out of the lock, Josh and I were to close the top gates but leave a gap of about 2ft, then one of us would lift a bottom paddle, which would make the top gates close by themselves. Once they were closed and the lock emptying, one of the boats would have loitered in line with the stop plank slot above the lock, they were now to give a big blast of the engine, this would pick up silt on the bottom of the canal and push it towards the top gates, doing part of the job of ashing them up.

Josh and I got into the rhythm of this, whoever was left on the offside of the lock would lift the bottom paddle before they walked up to the next lock.

What tranquil views, all that green, beautiful. What a shame it was accompanied, almost constantly by the sound of gunfire and artillery. The whole length of the locks is bordered by an army shooting range, or ranges. Looking at Google earth you can see the long lines, the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, there’s also Bisley Shooting Ground and the National Rifle Association.

Third lock from the top had it’s bottom gates closed and was obviously part full. Time to lift the paddles to empty it, the top gates obviously leak a lot. This was also the case at the very top lock. Here picnic tables are reserved for cream teas on Thursdays and a chap appeared from nowhere to sit with a cuppa, it only being Monday this was allowed.

He chatted away telling me about the lock cottage and how Peter Munt the old Lock Keeper used to keep a book with comments from boaters about the Deepcut flight and on Sundays served cream teas by the lock. How in the dry dock you weren’t allowed to make any noise, yet the planes flying into Farnborough and the shooting ranges were exempt. About the new huge housing development being built and how the run off water was having to be stabilised in a lagoon before it could enter the canal. That the SSI status of the canal was to do with the weed in it, I think the last one might have been a joke as the higher we got today the more and more weed appeared around our props. It was nice chatting to him, but by now both boats were out of the lock and it was time to lift a paddle, everyone was waiting for me.

The chatty chap

As agreed with the crew of NB Olive we would be mooring in different places today because of the feline crew. There is only one more lock on the canal which we can do at anytime without booking it, so we may or may not meet up to ascend Ash Lock. They took the lead and we slowly followed, long gone is the speed of the Thames, welcome to the speed of shallow weedy canals reminiscent of the Chesterfield Canal. Patience.

Deepcut cutting

The cutting is bordered by more tall trees, a jumper definitely required in the shade at the bottom. A reservoir headed off to the north then the canal turned towards the south again, under the railway and soon the first mooring came into view alongside Frimley Lodge Park. A lady sat and watched as we came in, a bow rope thrown over a bollard at the bow and the stern brought in as close as we could get it, bunches of nettles between the two points. Once we were settled our position noted, the rules were read and Tilly was given a couple of hours shore leave.

Woofer stamps!

Tilly shouted at me for having walked into the park talking to the lady who was recommending the cafe. Well you were glibly walking away from the safety of the friendly cover to a huge manicured grassness. I could hear you so you had to hear ME! Anyway have you seen that sign there! That is not the right stamp of approval! That stamp is the wrong shaped paw print! Is this woofer land?!

Tilly got over her initial concerns and made use of the outside not returning for quite a while. She’s still deliberating as to whether it should have a Mrs Tilly stamp of approval pasted over the woofer one.

Pah!!!!

This morning when we came to set off I flicked the switch on the nebolink as normal (the voltage relay switch not as yet connected, I can’t remember why). Usually within the time it takes to roll up the covers I have received an email to say Oleanna is on the move, this morning no such email arrived. I tried turning it off, then back on again, still nothing. On the map Oleanna showed as being stationary. I left it switched on in case signal was poor. By the end of the day it still hadn’t moved. Mick undid various things to see what he could see, the red flashing light flashed, power not a problem. He tinkered some more, still not working. A message was sent to Nebolink support, we won’t hear back until tomorrow as they are based in Australia.

It no working!

To celebrate our reaching the top of the locks today we enjoyed a roast chicken and a glass or two of wine.

£650,000 click photo

17 locks, ?miles, 6 second mates, 20ft of pole, 1 keb, 1 trowel end, 1 downhill boat, 1 flat tyre, 2 Lock Keepers, 1 none stop chatting man, 64716316569665896668836116449 rounds of ammo fired, 1 none working Nebolink, 2 paw prints!?! Hmmmm

https://maps.app.goo.gl/L86HKce4BWQ3fBTF7

No Fanfare. 25th May

Aristotle Bridge

As we were enjoying our cuppa in bed a couple of boats went passed, the first one we didn’t recall having been moored on the quiet moorings yesterday. However the second one we did, a few boat lengths up which would mean Tilly would be allowed shore leave if we moved there. We got up and dressed, pushed off and pulled back into the gap two boat lengths on. The doors were opened and Tilly was given an hour of exploration. We knew she wouldn’t like it, but she had to make her own mind up otherwise we’d never hear the end of it!

The trees and sideways trees had serious potential, just a shame about the mini Shes and Toms playing on the squeaky swings!

A few more boats came past, were they heading away from the Thames having come up stream? Or had they been waiting for the river to go down and given up?

Across the way from us was a Willow tree, signs of branches having been pruned in times gone by suggests it gets in the way. We certainly felt like we were on a narrow bit of the canal as boats squeezed past us. Not ideal but as there were limited moorings we had little choice.

The bough in the water on the left used to be upright

The next boat to come along was maybe going a touch too fast passing moored boats, but that didn’t end up being the main concern. It was more that the boat hit the tree, we could see a couple of the bows rear up, the tree possibly being moved and certainly one bough broken off. Mick opened up the hatch to check if everyone was okay, the chap at the helm saying ‘I didn’t see that tree!’ Crew at the bow seemed to think they were alright as they continued onwards. Mick and I looked at the tree when we could see it all. One bough in the cut, to the side so not a hinderance to navigation, but several cracks could be seen on the remaining boughs. As soon as there was space elsewhere we’d be moving!

Cracks and rottenness waiting to give way more

We only had to wait a short while before another boat moved off the moorings. We pushed off and pulled in again two more boat lengths along. Mick got the what3words of the tree and called it into C&RT. It being on the offside we’re not sure what they could do about it, but we felt they should know there was an unstable tree. When Mick got through to the area he thought we were in, he checked with the chap on the phone. This chap was covering everywhere today not just London and Oxford. He’d pass our report onto the relevant team, no more we could do.

Click photo for details

A walk into Oxford took us along Kingston Road. A variety of houses to admire. Buying a house in this part of Oxford you’ll require around £1 million for a two bedroomed terraced house with a garden. One house has it’s front door on the side of the house, a very narrow set of steps lead up to it. Any kitchen white goods would require lifting over the railings to get in and occupiers would need to be of a certain shape and size to gain entry.

I hope that plant has blue flowers

A walk around Gloucester Green Market, lots of vintage stalls today plus many food outlets. We considered having an early lunch, but it was way too early, so we just looked and then carried on across town. A click and collect order from M&S then a look around John Lewis to see if they had a suitable tablet for use out on the stern of Oleanna. Mick is wanting a rugid one that will withstand being rained on, but the selection was quite poor, birthday money would stay unspent.

Another one

We headed to the lower floor of Westgate where several street food outlets offered Mexican, Chicken, Burgers and Noodles. We chose the noodles as it was easy to identify their gluten free options. Very nice, lacking a touch on my chosen protein, but still tasty and a nice sit down.

Noodles!

A top up shop at Sainsburys, then Mick requested we got the bus back to Oleanna. As he stepped onto the bus he produced his brand new shiny bus pass for the first time. No fanfare, no recognition from the driver that this was a landmark moment in someone’s life. We however smiled and the S1 will mark the start of Mick’s free bus travel. I still had to pay £2!

A fountain pen

A quiet afternoon back on board. Tilly came and went not liking this outside. The tree still stood. By the end of the day we were one of two boats left on the quiet moorings. A chap opposite looked like he was setting up for drinks at the end of his garden, but despite clearing leaves and rearranging his sun shade sails the garden remained empty all evening.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4.5 miles walked, S1 bus home, 2 out of 3 bows still vaguely upright, 1 very much in the water, 1 bumped and scraped boat, 3 moorings in one day, 2 outsides, 2 pots of noodles, 1 sister in law present, 1 cinnabar moth, pair 21 nearly finished.

The Last Pull Down. 24th May

Shipton Bridge to Aristotle Bridge

Byebye Fin

Chores to start the day, yellow water tank to empty whilst it was on the towpath side, then we moved onto the services. A boat was already filling with water, so we pulled along side one of the boat club boats to be able to use the second tap. This of course meant that the water pressure dropped so both hoses trickled into tanks, at least we were filling whilst the washing machine did it’s thing. Tilly’s pooh box got a refresh and the bathroom a bit of a clean, rubbish disposed of, all sorted.

Aubrey’s Lift Bridge

There was an offer from someone to work the bridge, but I’d already got the key of power in my hand, I wasn’t going to be deprived of a possibility of stopping cars. Up the bridge went, one car stopped from exiting Annies Tea Rooms. There are lots of signs about regarding paying for parking now, Annies has a few free spaces, but the rest are now pay as you park.

Plenty of room in Thrupp to moor this morning, had everyone moved on towards Oxford and would we be able to find a mooring there, the river Thames still rising and some reaches on red boards.

Pair 21 coming along nicely

We soon caught up with the boat we’d been following yesterday, chatting at the locks, somehow I was always left to close the bottom gate for them, hmmm!

Still temporary

The bottom gate was closed at Roundham Lock, the temporary beam that had appeared last summer is still doing it’s best to hold on, wonder if it will get an upgrade this coming winter? A dad sat for a rest from cycling, a little lad in a trailer and little girl had been perched on his cross bar. As I went to open the top gate she walked up, I asked if she’d like to help, a quite ‘Yes Please’ was her answer. She did the same at the bottom gate and as I thanked her she said something like ‘my pleasure’. The family climbed back onto their bike and peddled off.

Normally this is where we would stop for the day, a good outside for Tilly before entering Oxford. Not a jot of armco to be had, it was chocka block. We would have to wait for lunch.

Drinkwaters Lift Bridge 231, was one of the first to be converted to hydraulic windlass operation, saving the boater on the offside constantly coming out to assist in lifting the bridge. We caught the boat ahead up again at Dukes Lock, one of the bottom paddles playing up, a little bit of tinkering and it rose, a joint in the gear possibly wearing away.

Thames on red boards at Dukes Cut

I closed the bottom gate and Mick filled the lock for us. Once down we aimed for a possible mooring at the junction, red boards towards the Thames and a boat just about to come out of the lock there, the Sea Otter we’d been following earlier in the week returning from Oxford giving up on a cruise on the river. The mooring was not really suitable, a wade through long grass to struggle to pull the boat in not worth the effort.

Wolvercote Bridge, THAT bridge! The one everyone hated before it was dismantled and left under the A34 bridge. Today after several years there is a new oak bridge. No need for a chain to pull it down, no chain to be stollen, no need to jump up and shimmy along the beam to try to use your body weight to pull it down, no need to enlist passing cyclists to push or pull it, no sitting on the beam to keep it open then hope you’d be able to close it again. All that is required, a windlass and several turns of the hydraulic pump to lift it and then lower it. All the fun and games gone!

The Last sit down

Perrys Lift Bridge however is still manual, the last one I think. This bridge always seems to be weighted in favour of being open to the canal. You unlock it with the key of power and quickly run across to the offside to aid it to open. I then assumed the seated position on the beam making sure it didn’t move whilst Mick brought Oleanna through. Someone has added a piece of wood to the beam, which gives a handy hand hold to be able to lift the beam back up. An umph then a dash to stand on the bridge to keep it closed whilst you turn your key of power to lock it again. I’m slightly sad that this may well be the last time I sit on a lift bridge beam on the Oxford.

At Elizabeth Jennings Bridge a boat was moored on the water point, has been three days apparently! How wonderful city boating can be, glad we filled up in Thrupp. No point in stopping now, well there wasn’t anywhere to moor up anyway!

Wolvercote Lock

At Aristotle Bridge the boat ahead was just pulling in, they nudged up a space to give us room on the end. At last we could moor up, however the proximity to the bridge, not a busy one, meant no shore leave for Tilly. Constant traffic tends to be a deterrent, but the occasional car can set Tilly into panic and send her high tailing it back to the boat, possibly in front of those threatening tyres! Sorry Tilly.

Time to watch the last episodes of Narrow Escapes. A good mix of all types of boaters and everyone came across really well, just some continuity was out for those who know. The voice over saying ‘a day trip to see how NB Barbarella handles on tidal waters‘ the edit suggesting this was from Alrewas onto the tidal Trent, Cromwell lock some 25 hours cruise away! We’ve really enjoyed the series and I believe they are looking at making a second one.

A lufted bridge

4 locks, 6 miles, 3 gates to close, 5 moveable bridges, 1 left open, 1 to sit upon, 1 straight on, 3 boats at the junction, 0 shore leave, 3pm lunch, 1 boat hoping for levels to drop, 1 boat happy to sit it out, along with everyone else.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/hWMfoypfva5wGvJf8

Soggy Socks And Paws. 16th April

Bollington Underpass

No tea in bed this morning, Lemsip instead. Fortunatly Mick was starting to feel improved. He did plenty of chores, filling the coal skuttle, got another bag of coal off the roof. Emptied the ash pan and left the bin on the stern deck for ease of access. Between us we emptied the yellow water tank. Then he packed a bag.

Why can’t she clean her paws before coming in?!

A doctors appointment, dentist, an engineer coming to sort something on our new boiler and a turn around of lodgers have all nicely fitted into a few days, so Mick was headed back to Scarborough. We could have stayed in Manchester making the journey back shorter, but for a few days that wouldn’t have been so good for Tilly. A bus would take Mick to Altringham where he’d then get a tram before a train to York, then another to Scarborough. I wonder when/if they will ever reinstate the through trains to Scarborough?

Thank goodness Mick didn’t have a Vicar of Dibley moment!

But first he had to negotiate the underpass! This leads from the towpath to Little Bollington where he’d catch a bus. With all the rain this year this has become a small lake and with a bus due Mick had to walk through it, deeper than his shoes! Soggy feet for the rest of his journey. I had been thinking of a walk into Dunham Massey, if I do I’ll be digging my wellies out!

I hope I can do better than the gaffa tape

Tilly and I pottered away the day. Some mending of Mick’s slipper required. It was coming away from it’s sole and he’s worn a hole in the toe of it! Being sheepskin and very good for keeping your feet warm they need mending as the left foot is still very much in good order. Uhu used as a contact adhesive stuck the sole back on. Then I cut a patch to cover the toe from an old Ugg boot that moths had attacked in the house. I’ll leave the glue to go off overnight and then have a go at stitching the patch on. I’m not looking forward to that bit!

Lots of dry toes

A few last ends to weave in on some socks. Six pairs now waiting to be sent off. First they needed their photos taking. Then the next pair were cast on whilst watching The Duchess 2008. The period drama based on the true story of Georgina Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. The line on the poster says it all really, ‘There were three people in her marriage.’ It stars Keira Knightley and Ralph Feinnes and won Best Costume Design in the Academy Awards. The frocks were rather lovely.

Plop!

The weather has improved, less windy but still the occasional thunder storm. At one point today I wondered if we were taking on water, a distinct bubbling noise coming from close to the hull. It turned out to be rather large hail stones landing in the canal.

I spent as much of the day with my feet up. Over the last week my left foot has become a touch uncomfortable, a bit like having your shoe lace tied too tight. The top of my foot had become a touch fat at the end of days working locks, but last night my ankle had blown up too. Not sure I’d get a shoe on it, so it has been elevated on a stool for as much of the day as possible. It doesn’t hurt, so I’m not sure what has happened.

A rather nice sunset to do the washing up by

My plan to walk round Dunham Massey, have a bus ride into Altringham to visit Alty Market are on hold. I need my ankle to be better for the Cheshire Locks, it would also be handy if it fitted into a shoe!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 bus, 1 tram, 2 trains, 1 doctors appointment, 6 pairs ready, 1 very wet sock, 1 slipper stuck down, 1 sheepskin patch cut, 4 muddy paws, 119 photos on a none moving day, 1 flooded underpass, 1 fat ankle.

15.25 pairs knitted

37 pairs spoken for

36.75 to go

£825 raised so far

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1704636205453?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Fpip-leckenby-1704636205453&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=pfp-share

A Wave To BBC. 10th April

Canal Wharf, Littleborough to above 1st Laneside Lock 54, Slattocks

Hello!

Alarm set for before 7am! All because of the weather which we were hoping to beat today. No time to lie in bed with a cuppa, we were up and having breakfast, listening out for our Sainsburys delivery between 7:30 and 8:30. The beep beep of the van reverseing towards the canal caught our attention at 7:45, time to stow our purchases.

Goodbye Littleborough

By 8:20 we were ready to push off leaving the squabbling, nest sitting geese to it, time to head to the next mooring in towards Manchester.

New houses look like they will be going up soon along the south east bank heading to Smithy Bridge, two geese stood guard ontop of the earth works. Apparently there are plans to build 1000 new homes around Littleborough. Past Clegg Hall with a terrace of workers cottages, a long line of windows on the top floor for good light in the work rooms.

Stopped these two chaps who didn’t understand why the bridge went nowhere

This must be the longest pound on the Rochdale, around an hours cruise with no locks. But to keep you on your toes there are a couple of swing bridges. I went with my handcuff key and key of power just incase, just as well as they both got used.

Propmate kept out should we need it later

The canal at times was shallow, aided by supermarket trolleys, eroded banks, picking places to pull in took a bit of time. Then picking up some plastic on the prop required a stop. We tried pulling into the side but didn’t succeed, electing to just pause in the middle to get the prop mate out and clear the prop. No passing traffic so we weren’t in anyones way.

For the last few miles I’d been spotting what look like metal flowers attached to the off side. Outlines of three white petals with a yellow centre, at one lock this was accompanied by some leaves. On one of the bridges there is a mural of the same flower. Maybe a canoist has put these up where the plant growns?

Hello Rochdale

Just as we pulled in towards Rochdale, our slightly slower progress then planned, meant we got the first rain drops falling, we’d not beaten the weather! The empty lock looked to have wet sides, were we following that boat that had been on the water point? How much further had they got yesterday before they gave up? Would we catch them up and maybe have a partner for the rest of the locks into Manchester? We’d see.

I filled the lock, spotting that a bottom gate paddle had been left slightly up. Gongoozlers came and watched, three young chaps asked Mick for a lift. I think this is just a standard thing to say for youngsters, a little like when I’ve got my painting clothes on and people say ‘You’ve missed a bit’. Very original! They helped with the gates though.

Another chap arrived at the next lock promising to help with the gates, which he did. Well he helped with the top gates, not the bottom cranked beams! He was wise in this decision. Wet underfoot there was nowhere to push your feet against. Despite my slip resistant shoes it took forever to push the bottom gate open and then close it again behind us. There obviously used to be some other means of opening and closing these gates as there is a curved track in amongst the stonework.

Below Moss Lower Lock

Just below the lock there is an arm heading off to the north. This led to Drake Street where three arms were kept busy. In it’s hay day the Rochdale Canal saw around 50 boats a day transporting goods to and from the mills. I wonder how many boats cross the summit in a year now? On the Rochdale Canal facebook group there seems to be a campaign to pursuade the council to redevelope the warehouses and arms and get them reconnected to the canal. This would be wonderful, but would need to get an instant good reputation as somewhere to moor. It would be nice to feel you could explore Rochdale.

Culvert to the left, new tunnel to the right

Another longish pound. Some of this is a new channel. The canal had been built over and culveted for road building, so a new course was required along with the roundabout having to be rebuilt when the canal was restored. You can see where it used to go before you head into Edinburgh Way Tunnel. Mick remembers the road works lasting forever, the route to Anne (his sisters house) from the M62 affected for months.

Artwork alongside the lock

As we came into Castleton the lock ahead was just about full. Either the top gates leaked masses or a paddle had been left up. This is lock 51, the Lock Keepers had been called to it the day we crossed the summit. The offside gates are worked with your windlass and chains as a carpark for a mill now gets in the way. This does mean that access along the off side of the lock is for very skinny people or those who don’t mind limboing! I am neither of those. I closed the near side paddle and then noticed the rack went a lot further down than the one on the off side. If the offside paddle was still up by what might be inches then we’d be waiting an age to empty the lock.

I hopped onto the bow of Oleanna and Mick moved her up to the offside gate, here I could step off. Sure enough the paddle was up by a good few inches. I hopped back onto the bow and we headed for the lock. The lock beam has notches cut in it so that it goes over the top of the ladder handrail. We’d nudged the gate coming in, it needed to be opened again and then things aligned properly once more. With one bottom paddle lifted it was taking an age to empty, time to try to access the offside paddle. I managed to position myself in amongst the beam chains and lent over. I could have engaged the pawl if I’d flicked it with my windlass, but then there would have been no way of taking it off. So I just wound it up and held it until the lock levelled.

Hello somewhere over there

At Blue Pits Middle Lock I waved to Anne’s old house. Ten years ago you could just about see it, five years ago new houses blocked the view, now trees hide everything. I waved none the less.

Under the M62, the pontoon towpath was in situ today. This is also a new channel, the original used to pass a little further west with the Heywood Branch heading off to the west. If you look behind you you can see the way boats used to travel. Blue Pits New Lock 53 is a concrete affair, nothing old about it. It takes ages to fill and it’s surroundings were very bog like, I was quite glad the gates didn’t leak at either end which meant I didn’t have to wade through to operate the paddle on the off side. Puzzling why the bottom gates have these signs on them, they are usually on top gates.

?

A boat was moored on the next bend, a perfect mooring for spotting trains as the line sits at a height a field away. If we’d been half an hour earlier we’d have been treated to a steam train!

Not much further we reached Slattocks, bollards marking our destination for the day. We quickly unrolled the covers, headed inside to give Tilly the disappointing news that there’d be no shore leave today, but more importantly it was time to dry off.

Tension ans stitch swatch

The last pair of socks I’d frogged were finished off this afternoon. A swatch was knitted with the new blue yarns for the next pair. I was considering giving Broken Seed Stitch a go, but I think that would be better suited to two solid coloured yarns rather than varigated. Instead they will end up being very stripy socks.

5 locks, 6.6 miles, 2 swing bridges, 1 man and 2 dogs held up, 1 almost tunnel, 4 boxes wine, 1 pork joint for the weekend, 2 hours early, 1 orangutan, 0 shore leave, 1 annoying towpath cat, 14th pair started, 12 meatballs, 2 soggy boaters yet again, 1 boat ahead still not caught.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/TVGkQ3s2suEkmRjF9

Let’s Leave Underpants Bridge For Tomorrow. 26th March

Mirfield to above Kirklees Top Lock

Tilly has expanded her interest in the secret passage behind the sofa. She has discovered that she can just squeeeeeeze herself through the smallest gap between sofa, pouffe and bookshelf to get there. Once in there she can been heard discovering all the secret delights the passage hides from those of us who cannot squeeze in there. Then after about ten minutes the meows change tone and her claws come out attempting to escape. This is impossible! No it’s not, I just haven’t found the correct route out! So the sofa needs to be pulled out to aid escape. A touch boring for us humans to have to do this at least once a day, but my main concern is that she goes in there to explore whilst we’re busy moving the outside and gets STUCK! I have never got stuck, only temporarily delayed!

A heavy box to block the entrance

The alcohol free lager has a use at last!

We pootled up towards Ledgard Flood Lock, from the EA website the river levels this morning looked to have gone down. Passers by asked if the lock was open, well it would almost certainly have it’s gates closed, but it should be workable and most probably be in the amber. ‘Levels!’ said one chap.

Ledgard Flood Lock

Sure enough the level had gone down, there was twice as much amber showing this morning as there had been yesterday. Hebble paddles had been left up at both ends of the lock to help feed Shepley Lock when used, these needed to be left as found. Mick dropped me off, we made a plan, I plotted my route round the lock to take the shortest amount of time when closing up after us and hopefully covering the possibility that a gate may swing open, all so that I could get to Oleanna as quickly and as safely as possible. If we were new boaters we wouldn’t have even considered this.

Through the last closed flood lock, we hope!

All went well, the pull towards the weir wasn’t that great for Mick and Oleanna to cope with, the only problem was a chap who stopped to chat with Mick as he did his best to hold onto Oleanna at the short landing. There are times when you may just have to be rude in life and this so nearly was one of those moments.

Battyford Lock

Onwards to Battyford Lock, a big bruiser of a lock always waiting with it’s top gates ajar! Here the level was that bit higher only just in the amber. Battyford Flood Gate was open, next stretch of river to cross to Cooper Bridge Lock. This is one of my favourites, Hebble Spike required, worn stone step by the top gate and the lock cottage. Today the cottage looked less cosy, it’s normally surrounded by trees, these have either gone or had a serious hair cut. The other reason for liking the lock is the two geese who live here. A chap was in the field with them, petting them and chatting away, a very rare temperament for geese to have.

Cooper Bridge Lock

Cooper Bridge Flood Gate was also open, here we carried straight on up stream, leaving the Huddersfield canals behind us, heading for the Rochdale. Another river section crossed off the list.

Picturesque canal side house

Kirklees Bottom Lock is over looked by drivers heading between Huddersfield and the M62, I’ve sat in traffic on that road many a time, longingly looking at the lock beams. The two Kirklees Locks require a spike to go uphill, then there’s a stretch of moorings with rings. A handy lunch break location. We both looked at each other, if we carried on we’d be off the rivers in Brighouse, but that is where we’d end up mooring for the night and Tilly has been cooped up inside for a couple of days, exploring the passage! Should we risk stopping for the day?

Looking back to Wakefield on the left and Huddersfield on the right

The door was opened and after a quick sniff and clawing claim of the tree she shot straight up into the branches, we’d be staying put today and hope the forecast overnight wouldn’t be too wet.

Tilly’s tree

Mick had another look at the voltage sensitive relay. He got it to delay switching off by 999 seconds, however it didn’t turn itself back on when he restarted the engine. Still work in progress and I really don’t mind turning the Nebolink on and off anyway!

Lamb biryani this evening, just a shame I had a moment and thought I was using brown basmati rice, which turned out to be just brown rice which didn’t want to cook through in the oven! After an extra half hour on the hob, it was still a touch munchy. Oh well, there’s still plenty more lamb, I may give the recipe another go in a few days time, but with the correct rice this time!

4 locks, 3.6 miles,1 straight on, 4 inches of amber, 4 hours shore leave, 1 brilliant tree, 12 handy bottles, 3 river stretches ticked off, 1 left to go, M62 bridge left for tomorrow.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/GHVey9rqSdSWnkkW8

Bumpy Crosses. 23rd March

Birkwood Lock

It was obvious that we’d found a good mooring for today, the slight cutting giving us some shelter from the strong wind. On the other side of the cut the trees bent over, here we got moved around but nowhere near as much as if we’d been moored at King’s Road Lock which is very open.

WOOF Away with YOU!

We quickly decided that today would be a sausage day for Tilly, although to start off with she wasn’t that keen on going out. The number of woofers I had to see off from inside and the sudden rain and the blowyness! Maybe the stamp of approval should be removed for this outside!

After a cuppa in bed there was only one thing for it, breakfast! Chewing not that much of a problem now, so we enjoyed the full works.

Over the last few days Mick has been trying to decipher instructions for the voltage sensitive relay he bought from Bimble. He’s wanting to wire it into the Nebolink which tracks our movements. At the moment I have to flick a switch in the cratch to start the nebolink recording, the plan is that when the engine is started up the voltage sensitive relay will spot this automatically and start the nebolink. When the engine is turned off it will do the reverse.

‘If the delay time in P-1 mode has been set, in P-4,the relay will act according to
setting of P-1 when voltage detection exceed the upper limit and lower limit range
(reference to the P-1 mode),when voltage detection between the upper limit and
lower limit range ,set “0N H” relay released, set “0N L” relay closed).’

However Mick needs to program the box so that it reacts at the correct voltage. He’s read the instruction manual, gobbledygook, translated English that still could be a foreign language. Tom from Waiouru has also had a go at finding a different manual, slightly better. Bimble when asked just referred Mick to the manual. By mid afternoon he’d managed to program the switch with voltages. He just wanted to see if he could add a delay to it switching off, so when we pull up at water points it won’t think we’ve ended our journey straight away. Although Nebo would most probably send us a report for each journey, it would also put them all together for the day.

All this was done whilst stood by the electrics cupboard and The Shed. Not a problem, but it meant my chosen activity for the day had to wait as I wanted to be in the galley. But that’s narrowboat life for you.

Ingredients

I’ve been wanting to experiment. Easter being not too far away, I wanted to try out a couple of different Hot Cross Bun recipes. Back in the house I’d made a rather tasty Challah bread, recipe from Loopy Whisk who seems to have some good gluten free recipes. The challah had a good texture and flavour which might lend itself to Hot Cross Buns. I was going to give this recipe a try with amendments to add the fruit I like and of course marzipan.

Unfortunately, the recipe required 1 egg and 2 yolks plus some for an egg wash, I only had 2 eggs! Fortunately Loopy Whisk’s Hot Cross Buns recipe only needed 1 egg plus egg wash. I opted to try that instead and adjust for my fruit.

Mugs were filled rehydrating cranberries and raisins. Another with the yeast and milk mixture. A third with a psyllium husk gel, this is used to add stretch to gluten free bakes and Loopy Whisk seems to like to use a lot of it.

Lots of fruit

Her recipes only need to be left to rise once. This proved a touch difficult as the shelf on Oleanna designed for the purpose is more suitable for bowls or bread tins than a baking tray. So the tray had to perch on the Houdini shelf in the window, close to the stove for some warmth, but maybe with a draft. They didn’t rise as well as I think they should have, maybe the amount of fruit, maybe the marzipan centre.

Chunky bumpy crosses

Hot Paw buns have a marzipan paw print on top, these would have a standard cross. Well except I don’t have a piping bag on the boat, so the flour and water mix was added with a spoon and ended up being quite bulky and bumpy. Baked we waited for them to cool off, a must with gf baking as otherwise the crumb can be very sticky. Then we enjoyed one with a cuppa.

Buttered whilst still warm

Verdict. Nice. Still wonder what a challah version would be like. Not a patch on Hot Paw Buns. Must check I’ve all the ingredients required to make a batch next weekend.

Rain showers came and went, the wind got windier. Here’s hoping it calms down for tomorrow.

0 locks, 0 miles, 7 sausage hours, 2 cooked breakfasts, 12 hot cross buns, pair 12 cast off, 2 many woofers, 0 tapioca starch left, 0 eggs, 1 switch still to be worked on, 1 more flood gate open, 1 to go!

Decisions. 20th March

Above Lemonroyd, still!

Still not a good nights sleep for me sadly. I don’t think my dental problems are over just yet. Things are better, I’m leaving things be for a few days in case it’s just the aftermath of having a wisdom tooth out. Shame I managed to stock up on my cereal whilst in Scarborough, but it’s too munchy to eat right now, porridge it is.

This morning it was raining. The river levels were down, amber light showing at the lock behind us, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. There was a decision to make.

All that friendly cover being trimmed

We’re wanting to cross the Pennines via the Rochdale canal which is open. Woodnook Lock on the Wakefield Branch of the Aire and Calder reopened last Friday after a stoppage. However the next flood lock, Broadreach has been closed since the 10th March. The Aire and Calder followed by the Calder Hebble both have river stretches, all with flood locks or gates on them, quite a few of these are closed at the moment.

Today we could cruise for about three hours to above Kings Road Lock and moor there. One step closer to the next stretch of river, one ticked off. However, shops are further away than they are here and the only service available is a water point. We could carry on to Stanley Ferry, but it’s not as nice there for Tilly. Here we also have the advantage of transport should we want to go anywhere.

First decision made, it was raining, we’d stay put for the time being.

By the afternoon the light at the lock had turned red! We’d be staying now no choice.

Up ahead of us on the Leeds Liverpool there have been a couple of closures, Greenberfield and Bank Newton. Greenberfield reopened today and the towpath telegraph suggests Bank Newton will open before the weekend. To go this way we’d still have the River Aire to cope with, but once up River Lock into Granary Wharf we’d be free from flood locks and rising levels. We went that way last year, it’s our favourite canal, but we’d really hoped to cross via the Rochdale. This decision has been differed for the time being.

A day of Tilly finally going out, Mick trying to understand the instructions on how to program the voltage sensitive relay switch he’s bought for the Nebolink (still unfathomable) and me knitting. My latest sock frogged back and altered a touch so the secret message would be clearer, it also means the knitting of it and it’s partner should be quicker.

Just who would win the silver?!

Mid afternoon, we couldn’t wait any longer, we had to finish off Traitors Australia Season 2. Not quite the outcome we’d been hoping for, but maybe better than we could have imagined when starting on the first episode. Thank you Adam for helping feed our addiction. We now just have to go cold turkey and start watching all the other things that have been recording on the PVR.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 load of translated mumbo jumbo, 1 amber turned to flashing red, 1 fair weather cat, 1st chiff chaff, 1 frogged sock, 1 trimmed towpath, 1 heel turned, 1 lazy day, 1 tasty tuna macaroni cheese. No you are not having another Mrs Tilly stamp of approval for here!

Meatball Hide And Seek. 19th March

Near Swillington Pipe Bridges to near Lemonroyd Marina to near Swillington Pipe Bridges

A busy day ahead for all of us.

I was awake with the sunrise in Scarborough. I popped my painty jumper over my pyjamas and started on the gloss surround followed by two coats of emulsion in the bathroom. A bit more tidying up/hiding things was needed, I also needed to track down what had happened to the keys we’d left with Duncan (not that Duncan!). It turned out that he’d added Micks and my instructions together and returned all sets of keys to where they’d started off.

All finished with a sensible mirror and shelf. It’s only taken 14 or so years

Some lovely bird had left it’s calling card all the way down the bay window, so that needed cleaning off as the window cleaners had only just been. All this under time pressure, I really didn’t want to have to return to the house to do a few things.

Meanwhile Mick moved Oleanna back towards the marina. Alongside the road he tied to the last post and banged a spike in. The Sainsbury’s driver called to ask if he could be early, which was fine with me I just hoped Mick was where he said he’d be. A couple of substitutions today, nothing that should be a problem.

A new bit of hospital

Front door was locked, I’d most probably already missed the bus so headed off through the park to walk to the hospital for my appointment. The daffodils are just starting to come out and the sunshine made for quite a warm walk. I was early and possibly jumped the queue at the breast screening clinic. Kind of wished they’d made me wait for another ten minutes as I wouldn’t have been half so clammy to be manipulated onto the scanner. But it did mean that once my boobs had been squished in all directions I left the hospital perfectly timed for the next bus into town.

Goodbye North Sea, see you in a while

An hour before the next train I went to see the sea, the big wheel being put back up, again! for the summer and got myself a gf wrap from M&S for lunch. This took me all the way from Scarborough to York to eat, 50 minutes! Biting and chewing quite a problem at the moment.

!!???!!

Mick stowed our shopping. Had they got confused with a substitution? 1 box of wine had been swapped for three bottles of wine, another seemingly for 12 bottles of alcohol free Corona! Once he’d stowed everything, it was obvious the beers were extra, someone else’s shopping! Two problems with it, it contains gluten and just where to put 12 bottles? Frank do you drink Corona? Would you like it?

The Ouse in York had gone down a touch revealing the amount of silt that will greet moorers at Easter. In Leeds I had chance to check out boats in Granary Wharf, pretty full and four boats moored above Office Lock, are some of these moorings new permanent moorings?

Mick had moved Oleanna back to the last silver birch and Tilly was busy in the friendly cover as I got back to the boat. River levels were down enough, Woodnook Lock now open, should we make a move today? To reach a good mooring it might take us three hours, we decided to wait til tomorrow as it would be getting dark when we arrived.

But you always say I should use the shore based facilities!

Next problem, what to eat this evening? Our shopping didn’t consist of easy none chew food. I goet some meatballs cooking with a tomato sauce to have with rice, I could cut them up very small. Mick took over cooking for the last bit, he counted the meatballs. ‘There’s only 11 meatballs!’ ‘There were 12 when I last looked’ One of them was playing hide and seek!

By the time I’d slowly eaten my meal Mick had finished his, done the washing up and cleaned the hob. I’m normally the first to finish! The leg of lamb we got may have to be liquidized if things don’t improve soon!

Another two episodes of Traitors Australia 2. We’ve started shouting at the absolute stupidity of the Faithful now, thank goodness we moved out of the marina as only the birds and fish can hear us.

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 2 winds, 3 boxes wine, 3 bottles, 12 alcohol free free beers, 1 coat gloss, 2 coats emulsion, 1 clean window, 1 house ready, 4 squishes, 1 bus, 3 trains, 50 minute lunch, 11 no 12 meatballs, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval (does the same place count again Tilly?), 1 pedicure required, 5 left, can they really be SO stupid?!