Category Archives: Cats

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?!

Fully Charged. 16th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock to Lemonroyd Marina

Thankful for just about a full nights sleep, maybe things were improving. I popped some painkillers just in case, which was just as well! As we had our breakfast Tilly was allowed shore leave, she went self catering and would have liked to join us at the table, however we turned her away at the hatch, our breakfast of blueberry porridge far less crunchy than hers!

Some feline comfort

Mick headed off on the Brompton to get a newspaper and a few supplies. He returned with news. He’d had a phone call from Alastair in Goole saying the part for our engine had arrived, he was on his way!

A short while later we had a knock on the roof, this was Sue and a friend (sorry I can’t remember your name) from the marina, they or another boat were ready to come out to give us a tow into the marina later in the afternoon. We updated them with our news, hopefully we’d be able to run the engine again soon and head that way under our own steam, we’d let them know.

Cleaner cabin side

It took us several days, admittedly slowly to reach Lemonroyd, it took Alastair 40 minutes! Mick walked up to the nearby car park to help Alastair find us. The sun was out, things were starting to look up. I decided to give the cabin side a wash down with canal water, get rid of the mud splatter we still had from Goole, a general covering of something pale washed off too, general Goole docks dust. A full on proper wash still awaits Oleanna, but this certainly made me feel better.

Smiling as ever!

Alastair sat in the engine bay chatted away, found a suitable tool to remove part of the broken fixing that had sheared off and been left on the engine side of things. The replacement part and pipe were put on. Mick was instructed how to tighten the connectors should he need to in future, they turn the opposite way to how you’d think. The engine was started up and left to warm up to check for any leaks, none. Jobs a good’un! Hooray!!!! Thank you Alastair for coming out to us as soon as the part arrived. We’ve still not heard back from RCR!

Lunch, then we untied, winded and headed for the marina. Yes we could run our engine now to charge the batteries, but with the new bully boys this would use a LOT of diesel as they were down to about 30% after three days of no engine. So instead we’ve opted to go into the marina for a couple of nights to recharge the batteries, fill up with water, do some washing and most importantly have showers!

Red flashing light ahead

Alex the marina supervisor was there to help us tie up. An ap needed for us to be able to have electric was donwloaded. Sadly a miss understanding had us thinking that the mooring fee included electric, it didn’t and the minimum we could add was £10. The invertor hummed away as the batteries charged most of the afternoon. The water tank was filled and we both had lovely showers. first load of washing done. By the time it was bed time we’d used more than £5, but the batteries were fully charged.

Oleanna, about to be hooked up and recharged

Pair 11 of my Sockathon came off the needles as we watched Traitors Australia. I managed a good evening, pain relieved by Ibuprofen taken with food. A return visit to the dentist most definitely on the cards.

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 1 wind, 1 right, 40 minutes drive, 1 small part, 1 cuppa, 1 engine mended, £10, 5 familiar boats, 1 bored cat, 2 full bully boys, 1 full water tank, 4 Ibuprofen, 4 paracetamol, 2 cocodamol.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Msbz6dFwVTCeq9Hk6

11 pairs knitted

36 pairs spoken for

41 to go

£795 raised

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

Castleford Locks. 10th March

Castleford Visitor Moorings

It started to rain last night and was still going for it this morning. Not torrential rain, but as the land is totally soaked right now the rivers were going to rise quickly. Here at Castleford Cut we are protected by the flood lock out onto the junction of the Rivers Aire and Calder. Last night we’d considered moving up to above Lemonroyd Lock where there is a nice mooring both we and Tilly like, but the rain this morning put us off. Currently we’re not in a rush so why get wet. Others including NB Nee Nah were off early, their aim to head to Leeds to await Woodnook Locks reopening at the end of the week. We decided to wait for the rain to stop, weather apps were checked, maybe early afternoon.

Make it stop!

The Geraghty zoom this morning included conversations on fitted wardrobes and levelling up funding, diesel on boats in London, cat flaps and Masquerade by Kit Williams.

We pottered away the morning. Mick started to look at the river levels, hmmm, going up as we’d thought they would. There had been a notice this morning saying that Ledgard Flood Gates on the Calder Hebble were closed due to rising water levels. This is some way upstream but the waters would soon arrive here.

A walk to look at the level board at the flood lock. Waterproofs were donned and a slippy walk was made until we reached the tarmac and the road that weaves it’s way round to the A656. Down the footpath and back at the cut. Here we could see the normally amber light was now red and flashing at us. The flood lock closed. We crossed the lock gates and walked down to see how high the water was.

2 inches in the red.

The level board has a very long red length, suggesting the river can rise very high. Today the river was sitting at about 2 inches into the red, we’d not be going anywhere today! At this end of the lock there are three lights each facing a different direction, all of these were amber, navigation possible to get off the river section and into the safety of the cut.

Three ambers

We crossed over the top gates, stood and wondered just why the flood lock here was such an odd shape. A little further on was a clue, a channel which is possibly used to fill the lock now but it showed obvious signs of it having been a lock in the past. Gate recesses and metal work from where gates used to be attached. A look at our Waterway Routes map confirmed that it had been a lock. I’d also spotted that there was another old lock shown on the map. Maybe the course of the cut had changed through the centuries, very likely.

Odd shaped flood lock

On our return to Oleanna we took a slight detour and spotted the old lock which used to connect the River Aire below the weir to the cut. Had this been to bring goods up from the river to avoid navigational difficulties down stream? Time to do a bit of history hunting.

Old maps showed that there had been the smaller lock from the river that we’d seen today, but they also showed Castleford Cut. Hunting round I found a very good article on a Castleford History blog A lot to read, but worth it if you are interested. Here’s a quick precis.

Waterway Routes showing two old locks

In the C17th the textile industry was on the rise in the West Riding. Goods were imported and exported via York, packhorse boats sailing up and down the River Ouse which connected with packhorse routes across Yorkshire. In the 1620’s permission was sought in parliament to build short cuts to avoid weirs on the Rivers Aire and Calder. But opposition from York Corporation meant the bills were rejected. By 1698 royal ascent was received for the plans, meaning Castleford would become an important place during the canal boom years, the village growing into a town.

The original cut came off the river where we’d spotted the old lock. From here is continued in a straight line, through where the dry dock is and then down back onto the river behind The Griffin Pub on the big S bend, this meant bypassing the weir. Much of this old route has now been built over so no evidence is visible other than the dry dock. On the map below this route is shown by the blue line. This was possibly the shortest/cheapest route and opened in 1699. Castleford now became a key point for the collection of toles with wool, cloth, grain and coal passing through.

1699 Blue, 1774 Purple, 1831 to Present day Orange

The amount of traffic built up during the C18th, the capacity of the locks on the Aire and Calder were becoming an impediment. In 1774 an act of parliament was passed for a series of improvements. The awkward angle of Castleford Dam Lock was one problem the silt build up here another. So another cut was cut, shown above in purple. It came out from the current dry dock at 90 degrees then another turn to the east before dropping down to the river at Middle Lock, the ruins of which we’d spotted very close to our mooring. This all opened in 1775, but really wasn’t an ideal solution.

The original lock from the river

Trade was good, a weighing station was built in 1819. At this time Castleford also became a place where passengers would arrive by coach from Leeds and join boats heading for Goole and Hull. The Packet Boat steps are still visible below Castleford Bridge on the Aire. But in 1834 the opening of the Leeds Selby railway saw passengers move to the rails and then climb onboard boats in Selby to head down stream on the River Ouse. AS passengers reduced in number freight increased and further improvements were considered to the navigation.

The ruins of Middle Lock back down onto the Aire

In 1819 John Rennie surveyed the navigation and commented on it’s bad design and how the old lock was in a bad state of repair. George Leather did a survey in 1824 finding that depth of the cut was seriously bad, less than 5ft in places (not just a problem today!), the tight turns frequently caused damage to the boats. Where the lock met the river and the next half mile downstream was prone to silting. Various suggestions were made, Rennie added a suggestion of a new flood lock north of the current one. Then Thomas Telford was brought in, 1827, straightening of the River Calder was added into the mix and he agreed on much of what Leather had proposed. Works started in 1829 and by 1831 the north and south cuts had been joined and the navigation became what we have today stretching to Bulholme Lock where it re-joins the river, bypassing the weir, meanders and silt (route shown in orange).

Wipe your FEET Tilly!

The river levels have continued to rise through the afternoon and evening 1.66m by the time we went to bed. Tilly climbed trees, I knitted and Mick found things to do avoiding sorting out the remaining contents of The Shed.

Sadly not trading today!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 old locks found, 2 bacon butties, 1 abandoned pushchair, 2 inches in the red, 1 soggy day, 21:10 generator turned off, 1 still going at bed time, 1/3 sock knitted, 6 sausages and roasted veg,1 boat trapped, 2 flashing red lights.

Empty Horizon. 9th March

Whitley Lock to Castleford Visitor Moorings

Untangling the ropes

The bow and stern ropes got their turn in the washing machine this morning, then we pushed over to the water point below the lock. These big key of power Yorkshire locks have traffic lights, nearly always on amber for self operation. If there is a lockie on duty then you get red and green lights too, but along this stretch this is a rare occurrence.

As we tied up to fill with water Mick pointed out that there was no amber light, in fact there was no light at all! Had a bulb gone, or was there something more serious wrong with the lock? It had been working yesterday as a boat had come down and one gone up. Once the tank was filling I walked up to see what was what.

NO lights!

Key in the panel, I turned it clockwise. No lights, the sluice that keeps the lock full when not in operation was up, normal, but usually on turning the key any open sluices close, then a light illuminates saying the lock is ready. Nothing happened. I pressed a few buttons. At the top there is a fault light, even this wasn’t illuminated but I looked for the ‘instructions below’. Only instructions on how to use the lock in normal situations and the emergency phone number, good job the fault light wasn’t lit! I went to remove my key, a good original BWB key, it was trapped and wouldn’t turn. I called Mick, he’d call C&RT and let them know.

Float and other keys were removed from the one that was now trapped. I walked to check if the light at the other end of the lock was lit. NO, nothing. I returned to Oleanna to discus what to do and await a person in blue. Except as I got nearer to the boat the traffic light came on, amber! There must be power. Back up to the panel, my key would release now. I tried the buttons, the lock would empty and then the gates would open. I called Mick, he then called C&RT to stand them down. It must have been a power cut, thinking about it later the hand dryer in the toilet hadn’t worked either, power cut.

Too big for Oleanna

Up the lock, Mick fishing out one of the biggest fat fenders we’ve come across. The god of the Yorkshire waterways was being a touch too generous. We could think of instances when such a large fender would come in handy, but just where do you keep something SO huge? The roof? We left it on the bank, I suspect the original owner will pick it up when it’s spotted.

Passing under the M62 I waved in case our friend JG was passing overhead. When ever we see him he asks about Whitley Lock, maybe one day we’ll coincide with him there. A mile further on we pulled in at Whitley Bridge, tucking in on the end of the moorings. Our planned cruise still had another three hours and it was just about lunchtime.

A mile down the road there is a shop, a visit was required for a Saturday newspaper and some alternative cat food. Since moving back onboard Tilly has decided that pink poultry food isn’t to her liking and after a week I was getting concerned that she had taken my comments about being an extra 100grams heavier this year to heart. Fortunately the shop also sold pink fishy flavours, our first attempt at getting her to eat before trying blue or any other coloured cat food.

Boats rusting away

The sky line here is very different from when we first cruised these waters no Eggborough Power Station that used to dominate the horizon. The old site of Kellingley Colliery sits abandoned, a few diggers but nothing much happening.

Old big boats take up the offside moorings at Bank Dole Junction. The lock here is closed due to a build up of silt down on the River Aire. We turned left heading to another landmark of my youth, Ferrybridge, all cooling towers now stolen from view.

The visitor moorings were filled with various cruisers that seem to have taken up root with their possessions’, across the way a narrowboat looked like it was settling for the day. I hopped off to operate the lock (a fall of a foot currently), while Mick chatted to the other boat who had just decided that there would be nicer places to moor further on. The two boats sharing the long flood lock.

We’d just left the lock when a lady appeared behind us, key of power in the panel and pressing buttons here there and everywhere. The gates reopened behind us, a boat must be coming down stream. We slowed our progress when we saw it coming at quite a lick under Ferry Bridge. I’m glad we’ve done the tidal Thames as the wake this boat left was nearly on a par with that from an Uber boat.

John Carr’s Ferry Bridge from under the A162 road bridge

With no cooling towers to marvel at the landscape of the River Aire is now bland, brown and bland. No curves to catch the light, maybe one day someone will come up with a new purpose for cooling towers and we’ll start building them again. The last three towers had originally been kept for a future gas-fired power station, but were demolished 17th March 2022.

A queue!

NB Nee Nah was quite a distance ahead, only visible every now and then on the meandering river. Cold was starting to set in, inside the cabin would be nice and toasty, Tilly oblivious to the efforts we go through to find her interesting outsides to tie up. Round the last bend of the river we could see Bulholme Lock, there sat NB Nee Nah and another narrowboat, their crew already emptying the lock. Would all three boats fit? We hung back in case, also not wanting to barge in ahead of the first boat. They waved us in.

The three boats tucked in with room to spare and rose up the lock. Would there be enough room for us all to moor? Mick offered to breast up with the original boat should the need arise. Two spaces were visible, we headed to near the coal shoot, NB Nee Nah opting for the first space near the lock. The last boat came past just after we’d moored. Plenty of git gaps! Hope they found somewhere.

Too late for Tilly shore leave. A batch of shortcrust pastry was made up and left to rest in the fridge for an hour. A leftover roast chicken, tarragon and feta pie (minus the leeks) was made accompanied by jacket potatoes. Very nice it was too.

3 locks, 10.8 miles, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 full tank of water, 4 clean ropes, 12 pouches 1+ fishy pink food, 1 bowl devoured, 1st sock of 10th pair finished, 1 big pie, 2 jackets, 1 big river section done, 15.5 fingers and 4 paws crossed for not too much rain in the coming days, 23:45 when the genny across the way stopped!