Category Archives: Christmas

Over Budget. 12th February


A tidy up today, rationalising my work things. This always happens when we’re expecting visitors. Our friend Ali was in Birmingham for a few hours today, but the window of opportunity to meet up ended up being too short, so sadly we didn’t get chance for a catch up. On the plus side Oleanna is tidy again. We hope all is well with your Mum today Ali.

New socks

During the evenings I’ve been knitting some new socks for my esty shop. The yarn I used to use is no longer available, so I needed to knit up some new examples, which will all be for sale. With some daylight I wove all the ends in and took some photos. Hopefully over the next couple of days I’ll get them listed in my shop. I especially like the Kingfisher pair.

Mismatched stripes
Bold stripes

During the afternoon I made a start on costume drawings for The Garden. Drawn out in pencil, then the outlines inked in. I’m hoping to get them coloured up soon as right now is the prefect time to pick up some winter coats in charity shops, but I’ll need the thumbs up from Amy the Director first.

Sketch costume drawings

Mick did a trip to the bins and came back with a suggestion. The Malt House at Old Turn Junction is a Green King pub and at Christmas Kath, one of Mick’s sisters, gave us a gift card for the chain so that we could have a night out on her. A very thoughtful present that would only fill our bellies and not take up space in Oleanna.

With smarter clothes on we crossed bridge after bridge and made our way to the pub. We’ve been in once before with Bridget and Storm a couple of years ago. As ever the choice for me was between Hunters chicken, Tikka Massala or Ham egg and jacket potato. Well that was the official gluten free options. A jacket potato instead of chips means their deep fat friars are used for onion rings or things that contain gluten as well as chips. Luckily for me that isn’t a problem, so I had a couple more options.

Happy man with burger and a pint

Mick chose a Loaded Burger and I had chicken and chips without the bread and butter or curry sauce, this was okay but a touch bland even if they gave me extra chips to make up for it. A glass of wine and a pint of Abbott Ale went down very nicely, Mick however wasn’t allowed a second pint as Oleanna is still moored with tyre fenders at the moment and he might miss judge getting back on board!

We went slightly over budget, so after our food and the one drink we headed back to keep Tilly company with another glass of wine and a game of pawball.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 visitors, -1 cataract, 3.5 pairs socks, 11 costume sketches drawn and inked, 1 wine, 1 pint beer, 1 burger, 0.5 chicken, 1 mound of chips, 1 Happy Christmas meal, 17p over budget!

Vienna Postcard 4. 13th to 15th January 2020

31 hours

Real roses tend to loose their heads when used in magic tricks

Back to work Monday morning. Today we should have been doing some technical notes followed by a couple of dress rehearsals, the second one to be watched by Julia and Helene the Producers from the theatre. I spent the morning breaking down the water torture cabinet more. Then later I was able to add chains and padlocks.

Me on stage adding bits of dressing to the water torture cabinet

The afternoon was then spent going through sound and projection cues. Even though Sunday afternoon had been used as extra plotting time there were still issues. The projector was producing a distorted white rectangular light when we went into black out. One suggested solution was never go to black out! This didn’t go down well for obvious reasons.

Dan running through things out of costume

Then when the water torture cell came on (it has a tv screen inside it which runs footage) the projector also showed the footage! The projector wasn’t the right one for the job. This was the point that the projector was turned off never to be powered up again!

Even a Notfallplan wasn’t going to help

Everyone was getting nervous when sound cues were played back. This morning they had been finessed, this afternoon all that work had vanished and needed redoing. Poor Dan really needed to do a dress rehearsal but was thankful that he and Tim had done a run on stage on Sunday as there was no time left.

Dan with one of his tricks

So our first dress rehearsal was in front of the producers and photographer. My set still needed a few things doing to it, but there simply hadn’t been any time left after sorting the technical issues out. The dress went okay, but the producers had lots of questions afterwards.

A doughnut in action

Tuesday there was time to finish the cabinet, with bolts and breakdown the chain making it look older. Then Bruno, the Viennese Frank Matthews started work on what are known as the ‘Doughnuts’. These on the transporter bridge connect the cables from the dolly at the top of the bridge to the gondola below. I could hear quite a lot of German being muttering under his breath, but in the end he succeeded in getting the tension right on the ropes both upwards and down to the stage.

Das Lange the nearest pub

The dress rehearsal in the afternoon disappeared again, so in the evening we had a preview in front of local teachers. It went well but with a few little glitches. Most of us retired to Das Lange for a few glasses of beer and wine, we’d got through the show, but there was still work to be done.

Healthy fruit for breakfast was followed by some egg and bacon

Wednesday morning I was given instructions to head off and do some sight seeing. My jobs list was short but lighting, sound and a new projector needed to attention. Helga was sent out to track down more rivet heads that I could use on the bridge.

Second time lucky

So I headed into the city to the historical centre. Walking in again I wish I’d wrapped up better as the temperature was low, it even started to try to snow at one point, sadly not for long enough. Young trees were wrapped up to protect them in parks and a few mounds of old snow lingered near the ice skating ring.

St Peter’s

I walked through the palaces, not really knowing what was around me, the balcony where Hitler addressed the crowds in 1938. The butterfly house reminded me of Kew garden with a touch of Jules Verne added. St Stephan’s and St Peters churches both still with their Christmas displays.

At Julius Meinl I was pulled inside to marvel at the number of different caviars for sale. I hunted round for things to bring back. The cakes looked fabulous, the cheeses so tasty, twelve types of tomatoes, tins of baked beans for 2.49 euros! I spent my time smelling and absorbing and refrained from buying anything other than what the ladies at the theatre had said was the best Austrian chocolate Zotter, they certainly make strange flavours!

How much?!

Whilst having some lunch I got a phone call saying the rivets had arrived. So I walked back to give them a coat of paint before they were added to the set. I’d only managed 8 miles walking today!

Pre-rusted rivets

In the morning a new projector had been brought in, but the image couldn’t be made a suitable size to satisfy us. So after another morning of work the projection in the show was cut for good. I could then get on with riveting the bridge with the help of Vernon. we managed two sides but ran out of time. He’ll finish them without me tomorrow.

Finishing touches

Another preview night and then it was time to pack up my belongings. Julia and Helene seemed happy. The show is great, it’s just a shame the icing on the Sacher Torte was missing, your average punter wouldn’t know it wasn’t there. Farewells and big thank yous to all the chaps at the theatre. They are a great bunch and very welcoming. By the end of my time there it felt like I’d been working with them for ages, a very good team.

Top of Act 1
The bridge and Dan in action

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested!

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.


On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.


Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.


Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.


Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.


Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.


In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

Kicking Heels And Packing. 5th 6th January

Oozells Street Loop to Cambrian Wharf to Oozells Street Loop

A bit of old amongst the new office blocks

Sunday we decided to go for a little bit of a pootle, we needed water and to dispose of our waste. The original plan was to cruise round the Icknield Loop and then the Soho Loop stopping at the services at Hockley Port, before returning.

A new fender!

But by the time we’d walked to Sainsburys for a few things for a roast in the evening and emptied the yellow water tank and pooh bucket, time had run away with us.

Paul’s boat

So instead we continued round the Oozells Street Loop, past NB Waterways Routes and turned left. Turning right isn’t an option here as you would be turning about 300 degrees without sufficient width. So we continued on to near Monument Road Bridge where you can wind at a short stubby arm.

No right turn here

We then cruised back into town and pulled up at the Cambrian Wharf Services. Here we knew the tap would be slow, but with a wash load in the machine and no moving boaters it didn’t bother us, so we stayed, had some late lunch, until the tank was full. The bins here were overflowing so not the right place to dispose of our waste.

Back into town to the services

There was one space left at Cambrian Wharf quite close to the pub, The Flapper. Normally this would have put us off pulling in, but the pub closed it’s doors for the final time on Saturday night. However the thought of being hemmed in on a pontoon wasn’t that appealing, so we returned to Oozells Street Loop.

Oh BUMingham!!!

Tilly requested to go out. We told her it was just the same, but she insisted. Each alcove into the car park had to be checked just incase there was anything interesting. There wasn’t so she returned tail hung low.

This is one very stubbornly boring outside

Then there was the horrible job of returning everything to the Christmas hamper. The tree was allowed one more night inside before it was returned to the cratch and normal temperatures.

Naked again

Monday morning and it was time to sort myself out. The back steps were lifted and my paint brush bag brought out from storage. A small selection of brushes and a nice natural sponge were put to one side before the bag was returned to it’s hidey hole.

These don’t get worn that often

The big black bag came out from storage along with my red winter boots. Some thermals, something I would consider smart, but others maybe not.

Tilly has been caught several times today trying to get into the big bag, but I’m afraid it isn’t her way out of Birmingham. Mick will do that soon.

Nothing! Not me!!

Schedules, tickets and euros are packed. I’ve checked in for my outbound flights and now have boarding passes on my phone. So tomorrow I will jet off to Austria to work. I’m hoping it will be fun and that I’ll get chance to have a bit of a look round Vienna before I come home. Mick will please Tilly no doubt and find her an outside that appeals more than here.

Money and guide

Mick may post about what they get upto whilst I’m away and I may post a Viennese postcard or two if there is time. But for now, we’ll see you soon.

0 locks, 1 mileish, 2 lefts, 1 wind, 1 straight on, 1 too familiar mooring, 1 roast chicken, 2019 Christmas packed up, 1 big black bag, 105 euros, 15A window, 1 cat with cabin fever, 1 eye test, 2 boaters kicking heels.

The Cape. 27th December

Cape Top Lock

One of two moving boats today NB Merlin, they’ve come a long way from Bunbury

A tidy up of Oleanna which included removing the last few weeks worth of cat fur from the curtains. A batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough had been made yesterday so it was resting in the fridge ready to be sliced and cooked ready to fill the boat with a yummy aroma when our visitors arrived.

Photo credit should go to Tilly for final adjustment of the photo

The journey up from London for the London Leckenbys took a while longer than they’d hoped as traffic had been bad, but they got to us before 1pm. With all the light industrial units closed for Christmas they were able to leave the car close to the water point. As Andrew said if their car was a Ferrari then they would have moved it elsewhere. But as it’s a damp VW with moss growing on it’s windows and has various battle scars from through the years he wasn’t too worried of it’s parking location.

Tea and biscuits were accompanied by opening our latest post and Mick’s last Christmas present, an under pillow speaker so that he can listen to cricket during the night, hopefully without disturbing me.

Vetting photos

A stretch of the old legs along the muddy towpath was called for, the weather not really having improved from yesterday sadly so we didn’t venture too far before returning to the boat and donning our glad rags to go to the pub.

The Cape of Good Hope is a well known canalside pub run by a couple of Kiwis. Ages ago when on Lillian we moored in the Saltisford arm and wove our way through the housing estate to sample their burgers. Today we’d booked a table to be sure we’d get one, but it wasn’t as full as it had been in the warmer months. Today we just had to negotiate the lock gates after a couple of aperitifs.

What to choose?

Warm and cosy inside we chose a couple of starters to share, followed by mains. Dough balls, for the youngest along with haloumi and veg kebabs for the second youngest.

Josh with a steak nearly as big as himself

Main courses were steak which came with a festoon of vine tomatoes. A very tasty Blade of Beef with wild mushroom jus. A lamb shank. Two wild boar and chorizo gourmet pies. They all hit the spot being very tasty and were washed down with beer and wine.

A tasty pie

The lock gates were a touch more problematical on the way back, but nobody got wet so that was a relief. Birthday cake for pudding got the thumbs up from my brother as Queen of Sheba cake is a fond memory for both of us from our teenage years.

Wine and conversation

Putting the boat into sleeping mode for five meant the stove had been allowed to burn itself out so that Josh wouldn’t cook on the sofa. Luckily there was still an amount of heat coming from it to keep the chill off until morning.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Merlin, 3 visitors, 8 biscuits, 4 slices fruit cake (thank you Nick), 1 damp walk, 10 muddy shoes, 4 muddy paws, 2 bottles wine, 3 pints, 2 bottles beer, 1 orange juice, 1 steak, 2 pies, 1 shank, 1 blade, 5 slices of chocolate, 1 afternoon and evening of conversation, 1 cat wanting a quiet life again, 1 apology to Duncan and Jaye due to poor phone signal.

A Bright Flash. 26th December

Radford Smelly to Cape of Good Hope

Yesterday we had bathroom doors not able to shut due to the amount of heat the sun was providing on the starboard side. Sadly today this wasn’t going to be the case as it was raining before we got up and it stayed a damp grey day. Just a day to go cruising!

What a grey day

I’d woken with images of my sour dough starter having taken over the cabin overnight. But it was still contained to the proving shelf and when I looked into the bowl it hadn’t done anything over night. I swapped out the cabbage leaves for newer ones and fed it, hoping things would improve. Unfortunately nothing happened to it all day, so it was another failed attempt. But this one definitely has worked the best, maybe if I’d fed it with the right quantities whilst sober. I’ve certainly not given up yet. It will have to wait now until I return from Vienna, as I don’t want to leave the responsibility of feeding it to Mick whilst I’m away. It does mean we’ll have to have some more braised cabbage on my return, oh dear, never mind!


Time to make a move. We pootled up to the winding hole, winded and headed back into town. Past the cat and water point and pulled in by Morrisons. We’ve visitors coming so needed a few things. Many of the shelves were bare, Christmas cakes were reduced and a huddle stood round waiting for the price reduction of the turkeys. One lady infront of us at the checkout had three birds and other stuff, her bill around £25! Well that’s certainly worth waiting for. If only our freezer was bigger.

Feline canal observers

Back at the boat, as we rolled back the covers a blue boat came past. It had been moored in town with us and then was the only moving boat yesterday. The chap at the helm said they’d had to turn round as the kids (presumably grand kids) had managed to block the toilet with paper. Their maserator hadn’t appreciated it! What a lovely thing to sort on Boxing Day! Maybe we’d be sharing the locks with him and his blocked loo.

No trains today

My new coat did a good job the drizzle preferring to roll off it than soak into it. I may be able to fit an extra layer under it after all the Christmas food and chocolate have become memories.

At Tesco’s we passed the blue boat. With McDonalds as well as Tescos, they had plenty of shore based facilities until the toilet gets sorted. We left him to see if reversing the macerator would help unblock it.

Moored boats

All was quiet at the boat yards, Kate Hire base had one car in the car park. Nowhere to get any gas, we still have a brand new bottle so we’ll be fine for a while, even if we need to use it for heating. Having guests means the sofa will be used as a bed, the stove is too close for this to be safe so we’ll let it burn out.


Below the two Cape Locks a Kingfisher darted in front of us, brightening up the day no end. Then at the top lock a big boxer dog came to say hello and provided my new coat with it’s first mud.

Cape Bottom Lock

We’d expected a few boats to be moored here, but we seem to be the only ones. It’s most probably because the TV signal is poor again! Tomorrow we’ll pull back and top up with water and await the arrival of our first visitors.

2 locks, 4.85 miles, 1 wind, 0 turkeys for us, 1 wee tank, 75% off turkeys, 3 packs of bacon, 1 loaf bread, 3rd starter destined for the bin, 1st left overs meal, 1 damp drizzly day, 2 late for Tilly, 1 Kingfisher.

Smelly Christmas. 25th December

Radford Smelly

What a lovely day

What a beautiful day. Blue skies hardly any wind, a perfect day for cruising. So we stayed put, there was far too much present unwrapping , eating and drinking to do.

The boy was very happy with his new gloves

Our stockings were filled with chocolate, pens, socks, pants and a grease gun. The best thing in Mick’s was a new pair of Pond Gloves. His old ones had sprung a leak a couple of years ago so needed replaceing. They are ever so good for when you have to reach down to clear something around your prop and well deserving of a Herbie award for best gadget 2019.

Hmmmm Yummmm

Breakfast, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon accompanied by a glass of Bucks Fizz. Very nice.

Very useful

Christmas presents followed. A mitten each to hold hot/or cold drinks. New jeans. Pearsons new guide to the Black Country. A guide book to Vienna. A novel. Felix The Station Cat book. Cat t-towel. A food goodie bag. An endoscope. A stripey top. All sorts.

Then we walked off the early morning fizz, a nice romantic walk along the towpath to ….. the bins! There were plenty of people about, most of whom stopped before they reached the really muddy section, but we carried on not wanting to return to the boat with our bags of rubbish.


Tilly came and went for much of the day. When she was home she unwrapped her presents. Ziggy and Finn (London Leckenby cats) had got her a small catnip mouse. Thank you!

Joa (Tilly’s number one fan), Mungo and Dog got her a box of crinkly noisy things that she spent quite a bit of time getting out of the box. Thank you, thank you! The catnip sardines from us didn’t go down so well, but the new bedoinge ball from Father Christmas was batted around for quite a while.

She saw to her own Christmas dinner, which Mick spotted and managed to close the hatch just in time before she brought it in to eat on the table cloth!!

That’s grown!

Yesterday I’d decided to have another go at a sour dough starter. I’d come across a site explaining a bit more about them. The suggestion was to use a red cabbage leaf to help it get going, these have an abundance of natural yeast sat on their leaves (the white stuff). So as I started on the braised cabbage I popped a leaf into some sorghum flour and water. This method suggests stirring it frequently and feeding it every 8 hours. The quantities were a little bit large so I reduced them to start with, opting for a medium sized container. When I went to check it this evening,I lifted it down off the proving shelf. BLIMEY! A monster!!

Look at all those bubbles in 24hrs!

After 24hrs it had doubled in size. It was fed and put in a larger container. The quantities of flour and water became what ever I fancied (due to the wine I’d consumed), so I’ve possibly blown it now. But we’ll see whether I’m making bread in a days time or back to feeding it hoping and praying I haven’t killed it.

Duck with pinenut, apple and chestnut stuffing

The duck was cooked, roast veg roasted, new version of bread sauce reheated. Then we dug in. Our two plates straining under the amount of food. It was all very very tasty. There was no need for seconds and there will be plenty of left overs.

A very full plate!

Tree presents. A Christy Moore album for Mick and a new boaty cap for me.

We’d been given a firework Santa meant to go on top of your Christmas pudding or cake. With our low ceiling we decided it was most probably safer to light it out on the towpath. It played ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ as it erupted. Very good fun, thank you Christine. Here’s a link.

Cake with a cuppa!

After a suitable sipe it was time for birthday presents. I did very well. A day rucksack that packs away into itself. The follow up book about Felix and Bolt his assistant at Huddersfield station. A bottle of The Kings Ginger. Socks. A cast aluminium low casserole dish. A new waterproof coat from Mick. This is a sailing coat from Decathlon so hopefully it will be far more waterproof than my old coat.

Make a wish

Birthday cake, now iced with runny chocolate and candles. We managed to squeeze a thin slice in each and then retired to the sofa and the TV with Tilly curled up dreaming of mice.

0 locks, 0 miles, 14 pairs pants, 7 pairs socks, 0 ash can, 1 bottle booze, 5 chocolate oranges, 1 ruck sack, 1 endoscope, 3 sardines, 2 mice, 3 balls, 1 waterproof coat, 2 pairs scissors, 1 cap, 1 tasty duck, 1 birthday cake, 3 bottles consumed, 2 crackers, 0 games of Mind The Gap, 1 firework, 1 tasty vole followed by shrew, 1 moving boat, 1 very lovely birthday. Thank you