Category Archives: Cheese

The Smell Of Rain. 1st April

Hebden Bridge to above Holmcoat Lock 14

There will be a few days whilst we adjust to the clocks having sprung forwards, waking when you wake doesn’t tend to adjust very well, so we were a touch late pushing off this morning.

Green bike rack

Rain is now pretty much the norm and we dressed appropriately. Across the way a couple were being shown round a boat for sale, they came across as being very new to narrowboats. A bit further along there was a touch of boat moving happening. The Bronte Day boat was moved into the stubby arm, then a very familiar boat moved up and the cruiser we’ve been following pulled in behind. Did the cruiser have a problem? Was he having to return to work after the weekend and had found himself a mooring until he could move his boat again.

Hello again!

The familiar boat had been spotted yesterday. NB Petrichor* had been one of the boats moored below Hurlesdon during the first lockdown in 2020. The chap onboard, spent his time signwriting his boat, it took two coats until he was happy with it, it’s certainly holding up well. As we pootled past we both waved, the chap stood inside and waved back, not sure he recognised us, maybe I should have moved our yellow bicycle from the Tour de France onto that side as this was the man who’d designed it. A shame not to have chance for a chat.

Onto the water point, our tank depleted somewhat, the pressure wasn’t so good so we sat down and enjoyed a Hot Paw Bun whilst we waited, very good toasted.

I suspect if you did this lock at 3am you’d still get gongoozlers!

First lock of the day Blackpit Lock. Despite the rainfall we still managed to get a crowd of gongoozlers watching. I do love some of the theories people come up with. Today’s was that if we filled the lock up too much then it would force the bottom gates open! I made sure I stopped when the levels were level and pushed the top gates open to avoid the bottom gates failing.

I’d hoped to get a good photo of the mills along the next stretch, a possible painting, but they weren’t how I’d remembered them, not so picturesque, the rain wasn’t helping.

Looking back to Hedbum

A couple more locks, was this next stretch the location used in Happy Valley when Tommy Lee Jones was on a narrowboat? A hunt round the internet later on found the Wandering Turnip who gives a guided tour of the area. We’d for some reason always thought the scene had been shot along this stretch, but it turns out we were very wrong and had passed under Bridge 5 coming out of Sowerby Bridge. It also turns out we’d bought some broccoli in one of the locations a couple of days ago.

Onwards and upwards, this will be the theme for the next few days. At just about every lock we had soggy gongoozlers. A couple ran to watch, one of them from Germany asking if they could help, I asked them to help with the top gate whilst I walked on to the next lock, they were very happy to oblige.

Pulling in at Rawden Mill Lock the canal was shallow. Five years ago this pound was even shallower. We had difficulty getting into the side and ended up enlisting passersby to give me a hand to jump onto the bank. Thankfully today that wasn’t needed.

The offside of locks were very muddy, at the bottom gate it looked to almost be ankle deep just where you needed to stand to wind the paddle back down. Extra care walking round locks was required today.

Very muddy in parts

Two young ladies at another lock, one had never seen a lock in action, the other grew up near Saltaire and has helped push gates at Bingley. Then a couple who normally are on their motorbikes, but had opted for a canal side walk today, everyone helped with gates and chatted away.

Our aim for today was to reach a mooring where Tilly could have some shore leave. A small playground alongside the canal just after Lock 14 caught our eye, the railway and road a distance away too. The depth in places was shallow but we got moored up in the end.

Tilly took one look out of the backdoors and turned round to request I stopped it from raining. She tried again and suceeded in heading through the wire fence and into the play area. This is where you can go to learn woodcraft, I didn’t need any tutelage, I know all about trees!

A late treat cheese lunch as we dried off, the stove was built up ready for some jacket potatoes and settled down for the remainder of the day. Of course now we’d stopped so did the rain!

A lengthy phone call with my brother catching up on news from Hackney and then some frogging of a pair of socks. The ankle had become too tight with colour working, so I had to frog it down to before the heel turn. This will mean I fall slightly behind on my pair a week, but I’d rather every pair fits their sponsor and anyway I’m sure I’ll catch up with where I should be.

*Petrichor is the smell of rain. The word comes from the Greek words ‘petra’, meaning stone, and ‘ichor’, which in Greek mythology refers to the golden fluid that flows in the veins of the immortals.

As part of our Nebolink subscription we get a monthly report from them, listing all our journeys along with a map of where we’ve been. Though it might be interesting if I included these. So here’s where we travelled in March.

6 locks, 2.3 miles all of them soggy, 1 full water tank, 1 cruiser moored, 1 lockdown buddy, 27 gongoozlers, 6 helpers, 1 woodland playground, 1 cat amused for a while, 1 catch up, 1 missing Tara! 1 sock frogged, 3 treat cheeses started and yes the Wensleydale is very yummy!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/EneEghDzTjemD59K8

12 Stamps And Some Of The Good Stuff! 31st March

Hedbum Bridge

The towpath was a touch quieter this morning, were people still in bed having not put their clocks forward? We got cuppas ready and settled down for the Geraghty zoom. At 10:05 no-one had showed apart from us, 10:10 still no-one else. Were we the only ones to have sprung forward? No last week when we’d only bobbed into the zoom they had decided that as so many people would be away doing other things today there was little point, they’d just omitted to tell us. Oh well!

Easter breakfast

Before Mick was allowed to get the bacon and eggs out I needed certain things from the galley. Time to make some Hot Paw Buns. I tried a bit of an experiment and added a couple of extra grams of yeast and a teaspoon of Psyllium husk to see what effect that would have. The gooey mixture was left on the top shelf to rise for an hour whilst we had breakfast.

Tilly had another go at liking Hebden Bridge, but it didn’t last long and she resigned herself to sleeping for much of the day.

With a duck race on Monday …

I also decided to take one lot of rising out of the process of making Hot Paw Buns. So I mixed the fruit and spices into the gooey mass. Prepared the marzipan balls for inside and then rolled out a long sticky sausage to cut into twelve which in turn had their centres added and were rolled up into balls. All popped on a baking tray to rise again. Sadly the top shelf isn’t big enough for the tray so they took up space on the table.

Yesterday we’d omitted to buy some potatoes to go with our duck this evening and a visit to the cheese shop had to be made. Mick stayed onboard to hang up some washing. The Co-op was closed, the bakers open (however no queue today), Nisa and One Stop shops were both open and so was the cheese shop!

Cheese cheese cheese!

Now what on earth to buy? I chose a couple and then a third as the lady started to serve me. The third wedge of cheese I required a bit of assistance with. I wanted some proper Wensleydale cheese. In the 70’s Mum used to buy whole Stilton and Wensleydale cheeses, wrapped in their muslin. The top would be sliced off and kept to act as a lid and WO betide anyone who went in for a scoup! Slices cut into wedges were the only way cheese was consumed from these huge beasts of cheese. They kept exceptionally well. For a few years Father Christmas used to give me a small version wrapped in muslin, creamy but rather crumbly, my favourite cheese long before Wallace and Gromit were even a glint in Nick Parks’ eye.

…there’s a duck window display competition

This last Christmas I bought a small muslin wrapped cheese from Hawes dairy, sadly it was the modern version of Wensleydale, a disappointment to be honest. Today I wanted some of the good proper stuff! Yes they had Hawes, then there two more to choose from. I asked which was the better one. The mature one was wrapped in plastic, not a good sign so I opted for the other (when I get them out to eat I’ll let you know which one it is). This one had dark muslin, it’s been aged and turned and turned. The lady offered me a taste, but there was no need I could see this is what I was after. She agreed with me and commented about how so many people thought that Hawes Wensleydale was the true cheese, ‘but that means there’s more of the good stuff left for those who know!’

Back at Oleanna, marzipan paw prints were cut out and added to the buns. Mick was sent off for a bottle of cider to make gravy for the duck and some red cabbage had cinnamon, cloves, balsamic vinegar and sugar added to it to slowly cook on the stove top. The buns went in the oven with a tray of boiling water on the shelf below for the first ten minutes, covered in foil for the last ten minutes, then were left to cool having a sticky glaze added. The smell far better than the previous buns I’d made. Once cool enough we both enjoyed one with some butter melting into them.

Hot Paw Buns cooling just enough to eat

A much better bun, even Mick said they were better than the Bakery bought ones. My tweaks to my recipe had improved them and omitting a third rise I think had helped also. I’ll have to find time to amend the recipe page.

Late afternoon we had someone to meet. Alexandra Mathie is an actress I’ve know since the mid 90’s and she was one of the first people to be a lodger in our house in 2021, she lives here in Hebden Bridge. She has just returned from Sheffield having played Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible (review here). We sat and caught up on news of mutual friends and future plans over a pint at The White Lion for an hour. I’m not sure how long she and Angie have lived here, but she says that it simply isn’t the same. The town has become a destination for hen and stag does and on summer evenings the town isn’t somewhere they’d choose to go anymore. We’ve certainly heard the rowdy lads heading to the station over the weekend. It was so lovely to see her and there was an added bonus of gluten free beer on tap!

The lovely Alex

This evening we’ve enjoyed our Lidl duck. Not as good as those we buy for Christmas, but that was to be expected. A very full plate of food followed by a few chunks of Easter Egg. Tomorrow we’d best start working off the calories and carry on climbing up the valley.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2kg potatoes, 3 treat cheeses, 1 bottle cider, 12 paw stamps, 1 snoozy cat, 2 chocolate eggs, 1 Alex, 1 changed Hebden Bridge, 1 duck, 2 very full boaters.

Arriba Arepas. 13th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock

So where is all that rain that was meant to fall overnight? Have to say it looked like it would fall more on the western side of the country than over the Leeds area. Just have to hope it’s not landing on the Calder catchment area of the Pennines or we could be waiting for flood gates to reopen. Instead of the rain we got wind.

At the moment we are awaiting Woodnook Lock reopening. But further upstream there are four flood gates currently closed, meaning that we’d only be able to get as far as Stanley Ferry where the first one will block our way.

We need a new plug now!

A pottering kind of day for us. Mick got round to going through the items on The Shed shelves and the contents of the Nicholson’s shelf. I’d offered to do it, but wouldn’t know what he’d be wanting to keep. The aim was to be able to put the tool box back on the shelf as originally planned seven years ago. A couple of tupperware boxes were used to keep bits and bobs in, which now can live happily behind or alongside the tool box. We now have space on the Nicholson’s shelf for one of the guides, although these very rarely come out now, they only get read when we are on completely new water.

Tilly came and went. The blowy outside not much to her liking, but the ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies were!

I made some Arepas for lunch, corn cakes which are easy to make once you have the right flour. These were mentioned in panto last year, so I’d been wanting to make some. Back in the house I’ve had a couple of goes, todays recipe was possibly the best one I’ve tried, less sticky than the others. I also made some coleslaw to go in them with a slice of feta cheese that needed eating up. Very nice and a nice change. I’ll add them to the recipe section.

Arepas, click the photo to go there

I spent much of the day knitting Pair 11 of my sockathon. The pair I’d started yesterday sadly the yarn, which is yummy, was just too busy for what I was wanting to create, so it was frogged and I’ve started on a pair to match pair 10, well similar. I really must take photos of the finished socks I have in my box and get them in the post.

Nice but not what I’d hoped for

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 passing boats, 1 blowy day, 1 shed sorted, 1 sock frogged, 0.75 of next sock knitted, 4 arepas, 24 Dreamies, 1 cat not loosing weight! 1 fire just on tick over, 1 galley sink plug needing replacement.

Sitting Higher And A Friendly Goodbye.

Firstly thank you to Chris and Rufus for helping the blog move earlier this week and to those who commented that they were hearing us loud and clear.

It’s a touch concerning who reads our blog!

Back in 2014 we were getting ready for a life afloat, a year on a boat was calling and work for me was starting to wind down, we’d not yet found NB Lillyanne but had hopes that NB Oleanna (Mark 1) wouldn’t be far away from being completed. Little did we know what was going on back then! But in the summer of 2014 as we were finally packing up the house to move onto NB Lillyanne our friends in Scarborough got together to wish us well on our travels, a nice gathering at a local pizza restaurant and a few pints later, a lovely evening was had.

Nowadays, we get to see our friends every now and again in Scarborough, but not really often or for long enough, so this had to be put right before we left for the spring and summer months. A gathering was organised at our house last Sunday afternoon and it just so happened to be half-term too.

Lamb and veg stew

Catering for a possible twenty was put into operation starting on Friday. The cheapest way to buy lamb was by the leg, this was roasted then chopped up to be added into a stew. A separate veggie stew was made up and potatoes were scrubbed and ready to be baked in the oven. The house was given a dust down and we awaited our friends to arrive.

From left to Right.
Pip, DUNCAN! Gill, Jenny, Jaye, Dawn, Mick, Charlie (down the front) Tucker and Lee just leaning in. Ben and Frank are missing from the photo.

Sadly some friends were too far away to join us, had family visiting or had come down with a lurgy, so the numbers dropped! Never the less we had a lovely afternoon, nibbles, cheese and puddings provided by our guests. Lots of catching up to do especially for Jenny and her son Charlie who live that little bit further afield and hadn’t seen some people for about ten years. A gathering like this simply would not be possible on Oleanna, we have difficulty having two of us in the galley never mind twelve!

Stocked up for the next year

Thank you all for coming and sorry to miss those from further afield or with a lurgy. We also topped up on Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil and Charlie and Ivy‘s goodies for the boat, delivered by Charlie.

Left overs

Because the numbers had dropped our freezer, which we’d been doing a very good job of emptying, has now been filled up again, but we’ll gradually eat our way through them, we’ll just have to vary our diet occasionally!

Tuesday, Mick picked up a hire car and we loaded it with cushions for the dinette and headed over the Wolds to Goole. Time to start putting Oleanna back together again before we move back onboard.

Mick checked the Bully Boy Batteries from his phone whilst I screwed the pan drawer back to the pull out corner cupboard. The old screws had only just managed to last seven years, so new holes and screws were needed, I also added some facing the opposite direction too so hopefully they will last a lot longer.

Now it was time to move things back into cupboards and drawers that had been moved for varnishing. The galley tops also got a very good clean.

Will they all fit?

Before lunch we needed to see if the new dinette cushions fitted. The new foam is a lot firmer so it took a touch more effort to squish them into position.

Hooray!

The one new corner cushion, replacing two, fits well. However the end back cushion now is a little bit too long at the bottom. It’s the same size as the old cushion which was also rectangular, but now it just needs to have a slight angle taken of the bottom for it to fit perfectly. For now this is fine. But if anyone happens to have an electric carving knife as we pass, I may borrow it to trim an inch off it. All cushions are now double sided, which the original ones weren’t, so if they start to look a touch dirty we can flip them over.

Left over cheese by the hatch

We could now sit and use the table again for lunch, in comfort. Much better than the old cushions.

Life Jacket hook position

The afternoon, we checked that the new shelf for The Shed would fit. It does but only goes in one way and still needs blocks to rest on before things can go back in the cupboard. The battery below it also needs some blocks of wood round it to hold it in position for the BSS, Mick is also thinking about shortening the cables to the battery. This all needs doing before the fire extinguisher can we put back on the wall. But I got chance to decide where and how other items would be stored in The Shed rather than just being piled up on top of each other. Our life jackets will happily sit behind the extinguisher on a big hook. Coat hangers on another deep hook above the power socket, this is only for storage as they get used in the pram cover for drying washing not for hanging coats on. The window vac will happily sit in a couple of big hooks on the cabin side, but the hand held vac is too bulky for hooks and there is nowhere to be able to attach a string to hang it from. I’ll make a bag for it which will be fixed to the cabin side also. This should then leave us with little needing to be piled at the bottom of the cupboard in future, just the Brompton bag and took box, Hopefully!

See you soon

It was starting to get late, so we packed up deciding that we’d need another visit before we move back on board to finish off jobs and I also want to give the bathroom a good clean too. As we loaded up the car Alastair came to say hello and handed Mick an invoice for the couple of little jobs he’s done in Oleanna’s engine bay for us this last week.

Hopefully we’ll be back down soon to finish off.

0 locks, 0 miles, 20 down to 12, 1 lovely afternoon with good friends, 5 litres rapeseed oil, 1 car, 7 cushions, 1 a touch too tight, 2 batteries playing nicely, 1 spotless galley, 1 pull out drawer, 1 stove top kettle under the sink, 2 boaters sitting higher, 1 plan for The Shed, 1 more visit, 2 of each back at the house, 1 slightly amended cruising plan.

What Did You Get? Betwixtmas 2023

Breakfast with tea not bucks fizz this year

Christmas Day was quite grey, but thankfully the drizzle/rain stayed away for us to have a walk down to the seafront and allow Frank to walk (without getting wet) the two miles to join us.

A grey seafront

Glasses of fizz were at hand to help with the final food preparations.

Gourmet sprouts

Frank had brought round three sprout stalks from his garden, so he set to. An hour and a half later, his sterling work had got enough diddy sprouts for maybe two of us, they were added to with extras from the bumper veg box I’d ordered.

All ready to tuck in

I’d seen good reviews for M&S gluten free bread sauce, so we had a taste test between theirs and mine. The Leckenby version made with brown seeded bread and some garlic, the M&S version very white and plenty of cloves. They both had good qualities, I think the decision was that they tied.

Only just fitted on our plates

Mammoth amounts of food took over our plates. We think that this year we managed to achieve the correct quantities of everything. Plenty and still quite an amount of left overs after Frank had finished. Cheese was put till the end of the meal (my Mum wouldn’t have approved!), but just as well as my birthday cake was extreamly rich! Five days later and we’ve still only managed to eat half of it. Chocolate and Hazelnut Celebration Cake and the cheese remained in it’s wrappers!

Cheese still untouched!

In the morning we’d opened our Christmas presents, before Birthday cake there were the tree presents. Mick got a new litter picker (not just for tidying up the towpaths but also to help pick things up once dropped in the engine bay on Oleanna. I got the Sarah Howells Gluten Free cook book and Frank got a pair of Pip socks, the last pair to be knitted this year. This makes it 34 pairs since April, I’d forgotten to add in a pair I made for my cousin at the beginning of May.

Blowing them out

Birthday presents followed. This pile quite often ends up with a few Christmas presents accidentally added, ambiguous wrapping, or just because.

A lovely day with fat bellies, lots of empty bottles and good company.

So what did we get?

We both got new waterproof coats.

Presents

A new barbecue. I’d considered a Cob as so many had sung their praises, but the price tag was a touch too much for Tilly’s pocket, so a slightly sterdier fold away version of the one we’ve had for the last eight or so years. It’s handy as it tucks away easily into one of the stern lockers. I got some Sketchers anti-slip trainers which are comfortable for my toe and the antislip looks as good as we’ve had before. Tilly got a flapping fish to remind her of our travels on the water. This did have to be removed after a while I just don’t understand why it didn’t die! I had resorted to numerous headbut bites and yet it still flipped around!

More!

Lots of other goodies. Books were all cookery books this year, a Tom Kerridge book didn’t make the photo. Tilly got a new (to her) food and water bowls so that she doesn’t have to move them from house to boat to house. I’ll have something to say about that Blue one on my own blog! Plus a LOT of Dreamies. You’d better start moving the outside again so I can have those! Pyjamas were also popular, between us we got three pairs. An ice bag, very handy for knees or heads. Socks, now just not any old socks! Thank you to Kath who got me the arty socks, Father Christmas for the chunky socks, but extra bonus points to the NB Cleddau crew for the Crazy Cat Lady socks. Thank you!!!

Sue cutting the cake, assisted by Jaye and of course Duncan!

We’ve had a few relaxing days since, interspersed by Sue’s 60th where her family and friends took over a local Indian restaurant. What a lovely evening, Happy Birthday Sue!

Can anyone guess which lock this is?

The painting for our downstairs toilet is coming on. A good project to do Betwixtmas. Soon I’ll have to set the drawing board up and sort out dimensions of the lean too that we’re wanting to replace, there’s also the boat cushion fabric to source, curtain tracks, some painting and more bloomin sealant to do in the house! Then there are the boat jobs on the list. But these can all wait for the new year I think, Oh and there’s the yearly round up to write and that always takes ages.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got some fab presents too.

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 pairs socks, 4 cook books, 4 bowls, 3 bags of dreamies, 1 fish, 1 wobbly thing, 3 pairs pyjamas, 1 bottle truffle oil, 2 waterproofs, 1 cold on the way out, 1 on the way in, 1 lodger with a tickly throat, 1 phone, 4 pens, 4 pencils, 1 bbq, 2 much birthday cake so if anyone is passing in the next few days please help us!

Cushions In The Closet, Have We Peaked Too Soon?

Has it really only been two weeks since I got back from Panto land? It feels like a lot longer, but then it also only feels like yesterday!

Now where did we get up to last year?

There has been the obligatory Morse watching whilst being pinned to the sofa by Tilly. Four episodes including, in my opinion, the best one, Masonic Mysteries where Morse is framed for the murder of a friend and no matter which way Morse turns there is another surprise for him.

Tilly has kept a close eye on my yarn tension

More socks have been knitted for Dementia UK. Not sure exactly how many pairs I’ve knitted this year but it’s somewhere over 30 and my fundraising page has just topped £1130! Thank you everyone who has donated and I hope those of you who have a pair of socks have cosy toes. At some point I’ll update the page I set up for my Sockathon, there’s quite a few pictures to upload.

Cards of the Christmas and other varieties printed, scored and folded

Boating photos from this year have been whittled down, a short list of about six presented for final vetting to Mick and Tilly for our Christmas card. Would the old printer upstairs upstairs be up to the job though? With a full set of new cartridges and a morning spent assisting the paper into the printer every couple of sheets the card factory got to work.

The first veg box since my return contained a lovely looking bright orange squash. What to do with it? I hunted round for a couple of recipes and decided to try two out, both requiring roasted squash. So the whole squash was roasted in one go and then divid up for the two dishes, Mushroom and Squash Lasagna and Squash Winter Herb and Crispy Butter Bean Pie. The latter involved three bulbs of garlic which were cooked before being added into the mix. Both will be made again, the pie for a special occasion as it takes a while to cook, but was very tasty. I’ll add links to the recipe pages.

The South Bay

One evening I was invited to a reading of a play that a local lady is hoping to produce. Earlier in the year I’d been approached to see if I could give some advice on it’s staging, but without a script this was impossible. It was nice to meet some new Scarborough faces, but the best bit was walking down to the top of St Nicholas Gardens and looking across the bay to the harbour where numerous boats had their Christmas lights up.

When we moved back to the house from Oleanna we brought all the dinette cushions with us. The covers desperately needing a wash or maybe even replacing. The seat cushions that we sit on the most have also lost most of their cushionness, so I measured them up and placed an order for replacements. The dinette makes into a bed, so any cushions apart from the one that isn’t normally out have been replaced with new firmer more suitable foam. We also had an odd cushion which we have never really understood why it existed, why hadn’t it been added onto one of the back cushions? This and the wedge shaped cushion that goes into the corner have now been made into one piece. Having just written this I don’t understand why it is wedge shaped and not just rectangular, I’ll have to look at it when the cushions go back on the boat, then remember for next time. At the moment I have a few samples of fabric but the final discission hasn’t been made. This will be a project for the new year.

Look who popped up as a screensaver. On the Marsworth flight back in our yellow days.

Why have the cushions gone in the wardrobe? Well a certain Second Mate/Thug has been enjoying clawing the old cushions, thankfully the one which has been affected the most is being replaced! I can’t help it if I have to find myself things to keep me occupied when the outside doesn’t move every day!!!

Mick has just about sorted out his planned upgrade to Oleanna’s batteries. Doubling Oleanna’s amp hours, but will there be enough room for him to be able to move them indoors? A visit in the next couple of weeks is on the cards to check on her and have a measure up.

It’s handy having quite a stash of yarn in the house

During November I’d joined a knitting challenge for Dementia UK, soon I was running out of things to knit! Mick just so happened to ask where his winter hat was. Ah that might just still be on the boat! Emergency hat knitting, this ended up being two hats one inside the other for extra warmth.

It just fitted in the bike bag

Then preparations for Christmas were started, the London Leckenbys were heading up to join us for a pre-christmas meal. Normally we don’t put decorations up for another couple of weeks, but because they were coming we had to get busy.

Last years boat Christmas tree has just about survived the year after a repot with some human made compost, so this has been brought in. But a bigger tree was really needed for the living room, where would we be able to get one from without a car? Nowhere that we found would deliver and the nearest veg/florist didn’t look like they’d be stocking any. One option left, a trip to Sainsburys with our trusty bike as sherpa.

Over several days Mick busied himself in the garden putting lights round bushes. I headed to the snicket to give the ivy a trim. Two wreaths were put together with lights and on the first day of December our decorations were up and illuminated!

Christmas baking. A batch of some rough puff pastry was made, a new recipe I wanted to try out. Then some Lebkuchen, these are my current favourite Christmas biscuits, especially when you poor the heated butter, treacle and maple syrup onto the spices, qworrr!

Christmas shopping this year has meant a walk down to the harbour, thankfully on a very nice sunny day before the snow arrived. I’d placed an order online and been told to ring the doorbell by the bow of a ship! I was taking ‘Buy it off a boat‘ to the next level. The doorbell was nowhere to be seen but thankfully a couple of people were stood on the bridge. My order arrived at a side door, the chap having to climb slightly up a harbour ladder to pass it to me safely, the tide was out at the time!

Buy it off a ship!

The coal man arrived along with snow and hail, Scarborough having a dusting of the white stuff just in time for the London Leckenbys arrival.

Who’s coming?

It has been at least ten years since the London Leckenby’s have visited us in Scarborough, us having lived on boats for much of the last ten years. This trip would also be their first by train, Andrew normally drives them up, but he’s still recovering from his stay in hospital. Quite a bit of work was needed to sort trains due to strikes and engineering work. Tickets were booked with only a couple of days to go. At Kings Cross they loitered for the platform to be announced, confirming the advanced knowledge we’d given them. Also knowing which carriage was likely not to be reserved helped, so they headed straight for it and thankfully got seats on what became a very very full train.

Nearly as good as my Mums Yorkshire Pud

Sausage rolls on arrival, sorry Frank forgot to take a photo! Then an afternoon lull, a walk to the beach not taken up as the pavements were really quite slippy. We caught up on their news and then got going with our Advent Saturday joint of roast beef with all the works. I’ve almost mastered gluten free Yorkshire Puddings so that my Mum wouldn’t know the difference. She’d certainly have been pleased that we had a slice each as a starter with gravy (not with the meat!) helped by the veg being a little reluctant to brown up.

Crackers were cracked, wine drunk, plenty of food eaten. Pudding, a warm Dorset Apple Cake accompanied by some Wensleydale Cheese, not quite ‘Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze’ but very nice and worth repeating.

Jac, Pip, Mick, Josh, Andrew

A lovely time was had by all. It was really lovely having them back in Scarborough.

Sunday morning and it was time to check that their return trains would be running. Well Transpennine Express did what they seem to do best and cancelled their first train. Mick came up with a couple of options for them. Their return journey was going to be 5 hours rather than the 3 on the way up, due to engineering work. It was decided that they’d head to the station and catch an earlier train, either to York where they could loiter in the pub, or to Hull where they could catch their the train earlier on it’s journey than planned. This meant quite a quick breakfast and exchange of presents before a cab arrived to whisk them back to the station.

Bye bye!

Almost 24 hours in Scarborough, we wished them a good journey and wished Josh good luck for his forthcoming interview for University. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him as I’d like to visit the very good chilled medication shop we visited last summer when on one of the Great Ouse tributaries. Their journey back changed again due to more cancellations, they had a good journey around the country arriving in London ten minutes earlier than originally planned.

My lovely fella

Sunday evening Mick and I headed out for what has now become our annual Chinese meal. Crispy aromatic duck a necessity to mark 21 years of us being together. A lovely way to round off the weekend.

Us out for a Sunday walk

It feels like we’ve already had Christmas now. The big day isn’t for another three weeks!

Have we peaked too soon?

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 snow showers, 5x50kg bags of coal, 2 veg boxes, 1 squash, 2 celeriac, 1.8kg top rump, 15 Lebkuchen, 1 Lasagna, 1 pie, 20 sausage rolls, 2 trees, 4 stars, 100m of flotilla lights, 1 bored cat, £1132, 30 plus pairs, 4 Morses, 2 wreaths, 4 new cushions, 3 weeks early, 21 years.

You may notice a couple of changes to the blog. Firstly the blog roll, this had stopped rolling as bloggers posted their posts, so we’re trialing a new plug in, not quite as clear as the old version sadly. Secondly Mick has added code to the blog to hopefully change the default colour of the writing to black without me having to change every paragraph each time I write a post. This was done with assistance from Copilot. I hope it works!

Postponed Birthday. 2nd October

Doncaster Visitor moorings to the site of Small Hedge Swing Bridge, New Junction Canal

Some blueberries were required before pushing off, so Mick headed to the market to see what he could find. I tried calling Peter at Prompt Side so that we could talk through setting up and saving images for print. But he was busy setting up the days printing jobs, he’d ring back.

Mick topped us up with water, NB Northumbria arrived with Alfie on the roof, time for another chat before we pushed off.

Pushing off shouldn’t really be a problem, except the weed boats were back, three of them today. Two caterpillar boats and one conveyor boat. They were collecting pennywort from around the moorings to deposit on the opposite bank. Happily going back and forth without any thought that other boats might be moving. Eventually we managed to catch a gap and sped off.

Long Sandall

The moorings above Long Sandall Lock were empty, a rare sight, sadly we weren’t wanting to stop here today. The lock had just been filled for a boat coming up, the top gates opened and the two boats swapped places, perfect timing. Back down the lock and onwards to Barnby Dun.

Only 16 held up at the bridge today.

Now it was decision time. Should we moor back at Bramwith Junction? Or should we carry on onto the New Junction Canal? Flood locks on the Aire and Calder were closed yesterday so rivers were on the rise. It would be a real pain to be held up on the wrong side of the Don Doors if they had to be closed due to rising levels. We’d cross and then find a mooring as soon as we could. Well that was the plan.

Under the Don Doors

At the junction we waved to David and Clive. Les from NB Christopher B is expecting an operation later this week and will be kept in hospital until she is mobile. The River Don looked higher than normal, but still a difference between it and the canal. Maybe we were being over cautious.

Nowhere to moor, we’d have to carry on. Perhaps just off the end of a bridge landing? No, it was too close to the road for Tilly to be allowed freedom. Onwards, a flag on my map looking like it was the only possible place to moor before Sykehouse Lock.

Lift!

Low Lane Swing Bridge swung, Top Lane Lift Bridge lifted, only problem was I couldn’t open the gate to get out! I had to climb the fencing. Kirk House Green Lift Bridge took a lot of jiggling for my key to turn to power it up, but soon we were on our way.

The light at the lock was red, a volunteer on duty. We’d already come farther than we’d really wanted to, but just after the narrowing where a swing bridge had once been we saw our opportunity a bar on the piling suitable for chains.

Birthday girl on the catwalk

Time for Tilly to head back out and explore. Yesterday was her eighth birthday, but it was no fun for a cat being cooped up in Doncaster, so today we needed a mooring for her and her postponed birthday. Hooray!!! Lots of friendy cover, no woofers, no nobody, BRILLIANT!!!!

A treat cheese lunch was enjoyed, hairs were removed from the songsheet artwork that I’d forgotten, then it was emailed off for approval by John. I took a couple more windows out and gave them the full clean before needing to sit down again.

Clockwise from left. Yarg, cheddar with Scarborough seaweed, feta (left over from a tray bake) and Wookey Hole cheddar.

The perfect mooring for a cat, but phone signal nearly non existent, no good for my photoshop phone call. The internet was also slow, apart from when watching a film. Stronger (2017) is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Mick was astounded at the amount of swearing it contained, what would our parents have thought! Have to admit to giving up with twenty minutes to go when Jeff and his girlfriend started to have a very loud argument after she’d told him she was pregnant. I’ll watch the rest another time, I’d just had enough of them shouting at each other.

1 lock, 8.8 miles, 1 left, 3 bridges, 19 held up, 2 more windows, 3 weed boats, 1 plumber contacted, 1 scaffolder contacted, 4 hours of birthday frolics, 8 years old! plus 1 day, 1 heel turned, 1 very shouty film, 1 stove lit.

Gentleman Fishmonger. 30th September

Doncaster Visitor Moorings

Yumnum

A box of eggs had been hiding in plain view and their time was up, so it was scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast. A shopping list was put together, then we walked into town, time to visit the deli!

Hang on the sign above the door was different, a budgie in a cage sat by the front door not shelves of exotic fruit and veg. A young lady tinkered with the door. We checked they were open, they were. Blimey it’s changed!

Still a fab cheese and meat counter

Scicluna started off as a deli stall on the market 47 years ago, it grew in popularity but the restraints of a market stall became too much and after 36 years Josephine moved the business into the shop where it stands today and where I head every time we visit Doncaster. A year ago Josie chose The Gentleman Fishmonger, Martyn Peppard to help move the business into the next age. DN1 was born. Well the shop has changed quite dramatically, the final alterations only happened a couple of weeks ago. Painted black from floor to ceiling, the counters have moved, all the sacks of grains and flours have gone, replaced with dispensers. The wall of spices is now condensed and the boxes of different types of flours are more ordered. There is still a huge variety of fresh veg and bread, it’s just that someone else, not Josie, has sorted everything out.

No more sacks

Half the shop is now a kitchen and fine dining room, with taster menus. The reviews very good suggesting Michelin stars should be on the cards. I’m sure the food is excellent, but the price tag a touch too high for a Saturday lunchtime, a serious celebration needed.

Todays purchases

Some tapioca starch was found easily, then a small bag of Gram Flour (I’ve an urge to make onion bhajis), a bag of gluten free suet jumped off the shelf too (I miss steak and kidney pudding), we’ll see what it’s like. The cheese counter called us over. A small slice of three cheeses added to our purchase. I’d been worried that the deli would have changed without Josie at the helm anymore, but it just feels like they have removed some of the vast array of ingredients, tidied the place up so other people can find things not just Josie. Still very much worth a visit.

The Wool Market

We’ve not been into the Wool Market before. Several street food vendors have stalls including Hand Pulled Italian Coffee?! It certainly seemed to be popular. Maybe Doncaster is becoming a very foody place.

Into the market for a nosy, a pork pie for Mick. I refrained from buying any haslet, three flavours of this Lincolnshire delicacy on offer today. I’ve only ever had it on school geography field trips, it can stay in my memory thank you! Then into the fish market. The Gentleman Fishmongers stall was by far the most popular with hoards of people crowded round. I was tempted, but this week we need to stick to our list and we’d got treat cheeses.

Trainers! But can I walk in them?

This morning I’d tried on my trainers for the first time since breaking my toe. I got them on, but walking in them was a different matter, back to the crocks. But after an hour it was time to sit down, I left Mick to do the shopping and returned to Oleanna.

Big model

Time to get on with the song sheet for panto. My work boxes had been dug out from under the dinette and a backing was painted up similar to parts of my portal design. Then it was scanned and popped into Photoshop. Faded, colours, saturation contrast changed. Then the words added. I just wanted to add a border.

Altered colours

This took sometime, but I got there in the end, saved and printed out a copy. Ah …. I’d got a spelling mistake and had saved it without all the layers! Time to start again, well I need the practice. Except I couldn’t get it to do a border! Grrr.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 cheeses, 2 flours, 1 suet, 1 pie, 10 litres oil, 1 chicken on second attempt, 3 goes at songsheet, I thought I was getting the hang of this! 1 Saturday roast chicken.

Firstly I’m NOT Your Babe! 9th September

Kiln Pontoon

Last night a couple of odd things happened.

The pontoon was quite busy with comings and goings. A bike or maybe a shopping trolley came past a couple of times, the noise of wheels on the ramp very recognisable. Then soon afterwards there was a very strong stink of sewage. Blimey it stank! Where was it coming from? Mick stuck his head out of the hatch and could see a cassette being passed onto a boat. Could this have been the source of the stink? No proof, possibly just a coincidence. Thankfully the aroma passed after half an hour or so.

Then whilst reading in bed I kept hearing what sounded like small quiet wheels on the ramp, maybe someone was being considerate as they passed us. I twitched the curtains. There was a chap stood quite close to Oleanna. I opened the curtains some more, he looked up and down the pontoon and said, ‘Oh sorry I’ve got the wrong boat’. I closed the curtains.

A while later around midnight, I heard the noise again. I really wanted to be able to see without opening the curtains. Tilly assisted, a cat can get away with being very nosy. Once she’d got bored of being a voyeur she, as always, left the curtains ajar. The chap was stood just three feet away from our window. If he was peeking in I could certainly peek out! I opened the curtains wide.

‘Ah Babe … does it cost to be here?’

‘Firstly I’m NOT your Babe! What are you doing?’ He said something about looking for somewhere in the morning, well only quarter of an hour ago he’d got the wrong boat! ‘Well it’s full as you can see and I’d like you to move away from our boat!’. He turned, I said ‘Goodnight!’, he replied ‘Goodnight’ as he started to walk up the ramp. By the time Mick had opened up the hatch there was no sign of the chap anywhere, hopefully he’d gone.

Tilly and I stayed awake for sometime, trying to make a mental note of what the chap looked like, listening out for anymore noises on the ramp. Thankfully we eventually both went to sleep.

A very settled boat

The small cruiser in front of us had been showing interest in heading to Lincoln, they hadn’t realised that you need to book Cromwell and Torksey Locks in advance. Current manning of such locks is based on bookings and if there is no-one in the book for a certain day there may be no-one on duty to penn you through. We also suggested that they should have an up to date chart, parts of the river are very shallow and just sticking to the middle doesn’t always work. They had a very old Nicholsons. This morning they’d rung Cromwell and been told they could go anytime, the tide was so weak at the moment it wouldn’t make a difference. Off they set. Mick pulled us forward so that we no longer overhung the pontoon.

A tasty collation

A newspaper and a touch of shopping was required, also some shore leave for me to access how my toe was holding up. It was already rather hot outside, inside Waitrose was wonderfully cool. We picked up a paper and scanned round the sad git items for a cold collection this evening. It ended up being quite a financial outlay, but we’ll have yummy things for the next few evenings and not have to turn the cooker on.

After lunch Mick set off to Newark Castle Station to catch a train back towards Nottingham. Time to look round the signal box at Lowdham Station. The chap from Lowdham Railway Heritage started with a bit of a history of signalling on the railway. In early early days the signaller would time how long it was since the previous train had passed. The next train could be let past at slow speed after 5 minutes had elapsed or at full speed after 10. This was fine as long as the train in front never broke down but if it stopped for any reason a following train would plough into it. Not good. So signals were invented making use of electrical connections down telegraph wires alongside the track to the next and previous signal boxes. This enabled the signalers to communicate via a series of bell codes to see if the line was clear or not and set their signals and points accordingly.

There followed a demonstration with one chap working the signal box another two pretending to be at other boxes along the line. A delayed coal train had to be shunted out of the way to let an express passenger train through. There was also a goods train to be shunted into sidings, a train stopping at Lowdham station to be dealt with and level crossing gates to be opened and closed as necessary. All very busy. The signaler got a little bit lost at one point but the other two knew what should be happening so kept him on track.

An enjoyable but hot afternoon.

Back on Oleanna the day got hotter. The fan from last year had been plugged in meaning Tilly had to take diversions along the back of the sofa to get past it, fans are scary things! Curtains were kept drawn on the sunny side of the boat and when the sun had moved over to catch the port side I damped one of Tilly’s towels and hung it over the mesh in the side hatch hoping to cool any breeze that came in.

Flight

This afternoons viewing was a Denzil Washington film, Flight (2012), where Denzil is a pilot who turns up for work still drunk from the night before and high on coke. He somehow manages to crash land the plane after mechanical failure saving nearly everyone on board. The investigation that follows shows him in a different light to the hero he is hailed as.

Tilly the hot princess

This evening at around 9pm the aroma from last night returned, not quite as pungent but it lingered for much longer. No signs of anyone doing anything with cassettes today.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 walk to Waitrose, 2nd pair socks finished, 52 sts not 48, 1 wonky heel to be pulled out, 1 very hot day inside, 1 prowler, 1 stinky stink.

Plane, Santa And Trefoil. 21st June

Radford Smelly to between Bascote Bridge 27 and Former Railway Bridge 26A

A few boats had been on the move this morning before we got going, so we suspected we’d be following uphill boats. We pootled to the first lock which was just about full. A jolly chap from Chorley (well that’s where his boat suggested he was from) was very grateful that I opened the gate for him and lifted the paddle, all whilst Mick disposed of our rubbish at the bins.

Cheery Chorley Chappie

Yesterday we’d planned to reach this next pound where there are clearings in the woods alongside the towpath, but time had got away from us. Maybe next time.

The next lock was also full and a boat just arriving, soon followed by their partner. We came up alone, still no-one in sight behind. Our third lock was empty so we could head straight in, as I wound a paddle up two more boats appeared from above to make use of the lock as soon as we left.

Bow decoration

Yesterday we’d not finished filling with water and our yellow water was in need of disposal. But as the water point came into view it was already occupied, by an uphill boat. Dilemma! Should we wait to use the elsan and water point, or team up with them for the next locks. They were just rolling up their hose, we went ahead to set the lock and wait for them.

The modern trefoil

NB Tuptonia is a Girl Guides boat, we’d seen it at Lapworth at the weekend, a young crew on hand learning the ropes. Today however there were seven adults on board, two trainers, 3 novices and two people were being assessed to be skippers. All of a sudden we were mob handed.

I walked between Wood Lock and Welsh Road Lock chatting to Karen one of the trainers. She is currently awaiting the launch of a new boat built by Ortomarine, very exciting. We chatted bathrooms, gallies and toilets etc.

The redundant conveyor

The HS2 crossing wasn’t as impressive as when we last came through. The temporary bridge, possibly a conveyor belt over the canal, is now laying redundant in a field and there are just big banks of earth on both sides of the cut.

Leaving together

We carried on working up the locks, Mick was guaranteed to tell those at the helm that he used to be a Brownie, his Mum having been a Brown Owl when he was young.

Sorry I didn’t get anyone else’s name, Karen in pink

At Bascote I went ahead to set the last lock before the staircase, but suspected I should hold back when it came to the two rise. Here skippers were under assessment, photographic evidence was required for their reports. Everything went as it should, top chamber full, bottom empty, then the two boats were worked up with the many turns of windlasses.

We’d now reached the pound we’d been aiming for today, should we crack on with our locking partners or give Tilly a good afternoon of shore leave. We decided to stop, pulling in short of where we normally moor on the aqueduct at Long Itchington. Here the towpath is still more rural, after the next bridge it has had a make over suitable for cyclists.

Not quite the full crew

NB Tuptonia carried on, hoping to rise up the Stockton flight today as they are on a mission to relocate the boat to Weedon for the next seven weeks. Here it will be hired out to all sorts of groups not just guides and scouts. We hope that there are two new Skippers by the end of the trip and that it isn’t too much of a squeeze getting through all the historic boats at Braunston. We also look forward to meeting with Karen on her new boat sometime in the future.

I’m busy! Go away!!

Tilly headed off into the friendly cover. Stop distracting me I’m busy! Rule 1 was broken yet again and part way through the afternoon she decided to compare our new neighbours boat to Oleanna. No going on other boats! Rule 4 broken! At least she didn’t stick her head through their curtain to have a good look!

The drawing board came out again and another three sheets of panto drawings were updated.

Click on photo for recipe

Quinoa smoked salmon and camembert quiche for dinner tonight, yum!

10 locks, 4.5 miles, 7 shared, 1 busier canal than of late, 7 crew, 0 chilled medication at Welsh Road Lock, 0 water top up, 20 litres yellow water mellowing, 1 quiche, 2 1m x 2m rostra, 1 friend! 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 not very popular cat!