Category Archives: Cinema

Albion Picture Houses. 11th March

Castleford Cut Visitor Moorings

Tilly climbed trees whilst we enjoyed a cooked breakfast. Hash browns from the freezer rather than homemade, Mick’s are nice they just take a bit of doing.


The EA Gauge was starting to come back down today, slowly. Mick had a walk up to the lock this morning and the river was still in the red, a red flashing light to go with it another at the opposite end of the cut. We’d not be moving until the level returned to below 1.5m, so not likely to be today.

For the last month I’ve been looking at new cameras on line. I’m wanting to replace my old one as the lens shutter sticks, therefore the lens can be quite filthy affecting the photos I take, plus it’s been mended twice! A compact, fits in your pocket, reasonable zoom, good megapixels kind of camera. Well it’s proving difficult find under £400! It’s as if no-one wants them anymore because phone cameras are so good now. Well except if you spot a Kingfisher at 90 paces you want to zoom in and not end up with a pointillist image. Also I’ve got used to using the camera to zoom in on locks ahead to see what is happening, a phone isn’t capable of that. So I’ve started to look at second hand cameras, CEX had a few I wanted to look at in Castleford so we headed off for a walk into town.

Well the Sony Cybershot has a great zoom but the whole thing is far too big to have in your pocket or bumbag whilst working locks. Crossing some lock gates I’d end up getting trapped! So sadly no luck today. We also tried Cash Convertors another local shop, still no luck. The hunt continues.


A top up shop at Morrisons, not the biggest store and lacked some of our usual basic items, but fresh fruit and veg were stocked up on.

The walk back took us along Albion Street. A busy road. Here stood two buildings that had to have been cinemas, their facades giving away their early 1900’s age. The first moving picture was shown in 1905 by a touring company in the Queens Hall, a couple of years later films were a regular event. By 1911 another two venues were showing films and in 1912 four new cinemas were opened in the town which the year before had a population of just over 23,000.

Albion Old Picture House

The Albion Picture House sits on the corner of Wilson and Albion Streets. Quite a simple building but the shape giving away it’s history. By 1913 the Crown Picture Palace had opened up in Glasshoughton, it’s owner was in dispute with the central Castleford cinema owners as they were threatening to boycott anyone supplying him with films. It was forced to close only to open again in 1916, but burnt down in 1923.

Albion New Picture House

The Albion was rebuilt further along the road in 1927. It was converted to triple screens in 1975 and in February 1987 it showed it’s last film leaving Castlefield with no cinemas. Both buildings look like they have seen other lives, but now they look dormant, pretty much like most of the rest of the town centre.


Castlefield was greatly affected by the closure of the coal mines in the area. In 1984 the Wakefield area of Yorkshire had 15 collieries, by the end of the 1980’s only 4 remained. Frickley/South Elmsall and Sharlston closed in1993, Prince of Wales 2002 and finally Kellingley in 2015. Today the town looks dead, did it ever recover from the closures or has it been on a downward trend since the 1980’s? A stretch of houses along the south bank of the River Aire were all boarded up, due for demolition, part of the refurbishment of the area into part of the ‘riverside destination’. It’ll be nice to have gardens and pathways along the river. Hope it breaths new life into the area.

Sad sight

Thankfully Queens Mill is still open, Yorkshire Craft Beers, a tea room and the flour mill, the worlds largest stoneground flour mill. Along side it is Millenium Bridge, curving over the weir across the River Aire, joining both banks. Today there was quite a lot of water flowing over it.

Queens Mill and Millenium Bridge

River levels are still on the way down, but more rain is forecast overnight. The mooring here isn’t bad, but the evening and night time running of gennies from the permanent moorers across the way is really quite annoying. If we can we’ll move on in the morning.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 dry day, 0 suitable cameras, 5 bananas, 6 apples, 2kg potatoes, 2 cinemas on one street, 15 to 0, 21:30, midnight another! 2 boaters 1 cat hoping for levels to drop by morning.

Academy Award Winning! 4th 5th June

Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen EA Mooring

Our mooring had been chosen so as to be as close to Kings Lynn as possible and on Saturday morning Mick was picked up by Enterprise, at last we had been quoted a reasonable price for a hire car by them. He returned in time for us to join in with the end of the Saturday morning Geraghty zoom.

The car was packed. Biscuit bowl filled and the magic food bowl primed. Tilly was left in charge with instructions not to wind Freddie up too much whilst we were away.

Then we were off heading across country, avoiding motorways, crossing bridges over rivers we’ve been under years ago and others we’ve yet to navigate under. The biggest bridge of course being the Humber Bridge. We paused at Willerby Waitrose for a wee break and something for lunch, we also bought ourselves something for the evening.

We then took the scenic route over the Wolds via Wetwang so that we could have a look at the Scarecrow Festival. Our favourites Freddie Mercury outside the chip shop and the Queen with her corgies where we joined the road taking us to Sledmere.

A trip back to the house was for several purposes, one to add to the compost bins, two to check the house over before the next lodger moves in and to go to a party.

Our friends Dawn and Lee (Animated Objects) were having a joint fancy dress 50th Birthday party. The theme for the evening was the Oscars. You were asked to dress as a famous movie star or be dressed for a night at the Oscars.

Well we don’t exactly have a huge wardrobe to rummage through to make up a costume. We just about manage to dress up smart, but we certainly don’t have ballgowns and tuxedos on board, or at the house! Expanding our wardrobe for one evening would be extravagant. Mick had thought of going as a Billy, the telephone engineer from Little Voice, we still have his old work t-shirts. But I came up with a better idea.

My model making skills were put to use. A rigid Alice band bought for me. With Mick having a bigger head he needed a stretchy head band. Then over the last couple of weeks I’ve been cutting out foamcor and card. Wires attached. Carving into it. A layer or two of tissue paper and pva. A couple of layers of filler which was then sanded. Paint, a touch more filler, then more paint. Wires threaded through head bands. Fittings, a layer of thin foam. Hey presto we had our own Academy Award Winners to wear.

Wallace, Gromit and Feathers McGraw from The Wrong Trousers.

All ready for the party

It was a lovely evening meeting up with old friends we’d not see in years and our Scarborough theatre family. There were a few people who couldn’t make it including Duncan and Jaye who sadly had got the lurgy. Hope you are both feeling better very soon.

The costumes were stunning. Dawn as Slimer and Lee as a Ghost Buster. Fleur and Ruth as Dick Tracey and Breathless Mahoney. Dawn did a quick change for the awards ceremony. There were several categories and blow me down we won the Cobbled Together Award!

A statuette, some wine gums and an assortment of LX tape, always handy to have either on a boat or on stage.

Our award

Sunday morning and it was time to make up the last bed in the house, cut the grass, do a bit of weeding and give the big shower a good scrub down. In the process we were spotted by our neighbours who came over to give us the latest news on the street, someone having just moved in a few doors down.

Sadly we didn’t get chance, yet again to give the back garden a good sort out, but green shoots were spotted on the boat Christmas tree. There is hope for it yet, if the weeds don’t choke it before we’re back next! I also found a small pile of post that had been put high on a shelf by someone, not with the rest that had been left on the dining room table. What was in that pile? Our postal votes! Grrr!!! Those lodgers have now lost another half point!

Thankfully the traffic leaving Scarborough wasn’t too bad, it can be horrendous most Bank Holidays, which was just as well as when we stopped to pick up something for our dinner Mick remembered that he hadn’t locked the front door! Back into town again.

We had a pit stop over looking the Humber Bridge in Hessle where Mick’s Mum’s ashes were scattered, it’s nice to say hello to her every now and again.

Hello Ruth

The drive back wasn’t too pleasant with rain for most of the way.

Tilly had held the fort well although she could have turned the heating on before we got back! The stove was soon lit and a pizza each popped in the oven. Freddie came to say hello too, much to Tilly’s disgust!

Go away smelly sniffy woofer!!!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 hire car, 2 buckets of compost, 2 head bands, 2 boaters ironed smartly, 50th birthdays, 1 Oscar, 1 Scarborough family, 2 many faces from way back when, 2 many chums missing, 1 lovely evening, 1 cut cable, 2 postal votes, 1 house all ready, 1 locked door, 2 sets of keys, 1 wave to Ruth, 1 wet journey, 1 happy cat, 1 sniffing imbecile!

Changes, 23rd August

Kings Sutton to Slat Mill Lock

A little damp to start the day required coats to be worn, but by the end of the afternoon we were back down to one layer as the sun showed its face. Maybe autumn is arriving. The other day I crunched my way over some cobnuts that had fallen from a tree, most mornings we have blackberries added to our cereal bowls picked whilst Mick waits for a lock to be set. Crab apples fill the hedgerows, there must be something other than jelly you can make from them? Dark Elderberries droop from high up and sloes are plumpening up. Then today I spotted a plum tree alongside a lock, sadly the fruit still too hard to pick, maybe in a weeks time it will be just perfect. Oh the bounties of autumn. When will we be lighting the stove again?

Grant’s Lock cottage

At Grant’s Lock some first time hirers were just about to make their way down, they’d been having a taster holiday with their two kids. The first day it had rained and they’d wondered what they’d let themselves in for, then the sun had come out and the damp day became a distant memory.

No roof

Waiting for the lock to fill I had chance to have a look round the lock cottage, staying outside for safety. Over the last few years it has gradually been vandalised and at some time in the last year it has been gutted by fire. The windows frames now just frame the destruction a fire can do.

The staircase was burnt away, not much left of the ceilings, the floor beams charred into nothing. The heat of the fire easily melted the gutters, the fridge door relaxed into a new shape and the door into the lean is just charcoal. Such a sad sad sight. It will either be pulled down, fall down (as there is little holding it up anymore) or someone may come along with a large wodge of cash to try to rescue it.

21 miles a day

As we pulled away three canoeists came towards us at speed. Little flags on their boats showed that they are raising funds for the Elysium Memorial in remembrance of service men and women who have taken their own lives. They are canoeing from Preston Brook Marina to Putney Bridge on the Thames 280 miles at about 21 miles a day.

Little boxes

The new estate on the outskirts of Banbury is still being built, little of any architectural merit going up.

The foundry that once used to add to the aroma of Banbury looks to have gone. No piles of clinker and moulds alongside the canal anymore. We wondered if the site will be turned into more canalside residential properties.

Boats were here there and everywhere. We paused to let others go through narrow stretches and then pulled in behind a boat on the water point below Banbury Lock to wait our turn. A quick check above the lock, the water point up there was also in use, so we stayed put. A request from Paul at Waterway Routes to do a few checks whilst we were in Banbury, the toilets here have been closed for ages, but are now reopened and he also wanted to know the position of the new footbridge, which is slightly different to the old one that was demolished a couple of years ago.

We filled up with water then ascended the lock, plenty of people around to watch us work and plenty of people wanting to cross over the top gates as always. The lift bridge with it’s hydraulic mechanism was a breeze. Then we were into the building site.

We’d arrived at the builders lunch break so there was no noise from what I think will be a cinema on the north east bank. Far more noise was being made with saws, hammers, drills just by Tooleys were volunteers were working on Fellows Morton and Clayton boat Kilsby, once the work is completed the boat will offer educational trips, story telling and theatre to the community. Historic Narrowboat Hardy sits a short distance away still waiting to be restored, at least she’s afloat.

New bridge

We pulled in right underneath the new footbridge, not yet open as it currently leads into a building site. Time for a bit of top up shopping. Mick headed over the canal to get foody things whilst I headed into Castle Quays to the post office. I sent off samples of black canvas for #unit21 and the art work for the cloths in Rapunzel so that they can be printed.

Lock 29 lots of yummy things

Lock 29 at first looks like it is a new bar facing onto the canal, maybe where you’d eat whilst staying at the new Premier Inn next door. But inside there is lots of space, lots of tables and lots of stalls selling food and drink of all kinds. Fudge, Greek food, fresh bread, smoothies, all sorts.

In the shade of Banbury

After lunch on board and a quick return visit to Holland and Barrett we pushed onwards. Looking back, at what might become a wind tunnel. The new buildings are not as encroaching as we thought they’d be. I wonder how noisy the moorings will be at night once the building works are completed. The lack of afternoon sunshine for solar will put many off mooring here, but the proximity to the new Lidl is a bonus.

The overgrown hippo by Malc and Dinks

Malc Weblin passed away in June this year at the age of 85. As you passed his and Dink’s cottage there would always be a smile and a big wave from him. Today two people sat in the conservatory, I’m assuming one was Dink, her companion gave us a wave. As nice as it was it wasn’t quite the same.

Waiting our turn, a long way back

At Hardwick Lock we were second in line, we helped with the boats ahead and then rose up ourselves.

The two cats painted into the little windows at Bourton Lock are still keeping guard, although someone has added a touch of green writing to the front wall!

Bends on the Oxford Canal tend to bring surprises. Todays surprise was going to be possibly the most surprising we’ve ever had!

Sure enough round the bend came a narrowboat, just as it came into the view so did something over head!

Blimey that was low

Very low over our heads swooped the grey undercarriage of an RAF Hercules. It was huge!! No warning, it just appeared over the top of the trees and carried on almost skimming the hillside. Thankfully both boats managed to keep on course.

Now should we catch up to where we should be? Or should we stop at the award winning mooring below Slat Mill Lock. We decided on the latter, by now the afternoon was fading, if we carried on it would be way past Tilly’s dingding so there would be no shore leave for her. Several boats were already moored up but we managed to slot in.

That’s a lot of people on a narrowboat

Tilly had a couple of hours whilst I cooked us a quinoa crust chicken, bacon and leek quiche. Mick tried to get the TV onto the SJT website so that we could watch the production of Home, I’m Darling that Vicky our ledger had been in. But sadly the internet signal wasn’t good enough or something wasn’t quite right for us to watch the play. Hopefully tomorrow things will be better.

4 locks, 6.47 miles, 1 lift bridge, 1 new bridge, 1 missing bridge, 1 burnt out cottage, 1 bath tub, 1 range, 16 yellow tiles, 240 glucosamine and chondroitin complex, 1 new Lidl, 1 low flyer, 1 award winning mooring, 0 night at the theatre.

We Don’t Do Boats. 14th July

St Pancras Cruising Club

Mick rang back a company he’d tried yesterday to see when an engineer might be able to come out to look at our dead washer/dryer. We’d been given several options yesterday regarding payment and we’d decided that £125 to fix it wasn’t too bad, a new one being at least £300, if they couldn’t fix it then £55 would be the call out charge. However when he tried calling the department to see when they would be able to visit the phone just rang and rang and rang. He gave up.

Not much of a view in St Pants

Google suggested several other firms. ‘Sorry we don’t cover that area’ was quite a common response. Others suggested they’d be able to get someone out to us this afternoon. ‘What’s your postcode?’ This was given, handy to be at the Cruising Club and have an address. Then Mick would say we were on a boat. ‘Oh, we don’t do boats. Houses yes, boats no!’

St Pancras Lock

A notice was put on the London Boaters group, but the only suggestion was to buy a new one as they are so cheap now. We’d rather see if it can be mended, but we might just be giving someone some money to look at a totally dead machine.

Eventually a company was found who didn’t have a problem coming out to us on a boat. An appointment made for tomorrow afternoon. Mick called the Harbour Master, Tony to see if we could stay a bit longer in the basin. This was fine and a key holder for the gate into the car park would be found to let the engineer in.

Mick headed off to find a new connecting hose for the washing machine, a longer one would help when pulling it out from it’s cupboard. 2.5m would do and be handy even if we end up having to buy a new machine.


Back onboard I, at last, had a chat with Gemma (Production Manager for Panto). We talked painting the set, a quote for more than my design fee had come in from a scenic artist. I know you can earn more money painting than designing, but when I’d already said I’d paint the show for a top up on my fee! Logistics in our pandemic world make things a little more complicated than before, but hopefully with a bit of thought things will work out.

Not being much of an assistant

I decided that as we wouldn’t be moving today that I’d do some work. The drawing board came out and my assistant sat by and watched as I drew up some basic plans for the set of #unit 21. This didn’t take too long, I just need to get them scanned now and sent off for a friend in Leeds to give me a quote.

Mick had another trip to make to Christine’s. A new propmate had arrived for us to replace the one now sat on the bottom of Limehouse Basin. The design has changed a bit since we bought our original one. Now made from pipe with a bent handle and it comes with a wrist strap already attached! Hopefully this one will be with us for longer than the old one.

Being cooped up in the boat all day I had a walk around the Kings Cross development. A meander of a walk took me through the new buildings, many empty. Landscaping and seating is everywhere making for a green environment.

Wish I could look inside

I walked past York Road Station, one of the original stations on the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. Opened in 1906 it was designed by Leslie Green and connected to the platforms by two lifts. It closed in 1932, discussions have been made about reopening it, but as it’s quite close to Kings Cross the £21million (2005 estimate) needed to bring it up to modern day standards it is unlikely to happen.

Cinema across the water

A cinema screen plays to an audience on the steps across the canal. A couple of films are shown a day along with the Tour De France at lunchtimes. All the restaurants and bars were packed, as much as they can be and the whole area had a hubhub about it.

Art covers walls and expensive shops fill an area which used to be full of railway lines delivering coal.

It being Wednesday night it was club night at the Waterpoint the old water tower that overlooks the basin. A glass of wine and being sociable was on the cards, hopefully with a visit to the roof of the tower.

Looking SW

Our luck was in and we got shown up onto the roof. From here views down to St Pancras Station, BT tower, a bit of the London Eye and the numerous cranes which are on the site of the new Google building.

Looking SSE

Northwards is mostly railways and tower blocks, but all the same with the sun gradually going down it was still quite a sight.


The roof is what used to be the water tank which used to hold 17,000 gallons of water which was used to fill the tanks of the steam locomotives. In one corner is the ballcock, pretty much like a toilet ballcock only far bigger!

St Pancras Station

The tower used to be situated along the lines at St Pancras, however it was in the way of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link HS1 so it had to be moved. The tower was split into three, the top two layers moved to behind the lock cottage. A new bottom third was built and the top two thirds were craned in on top. The Cruising Club are custodians of the water tower, it is currently their club house. You’ll find it open to the public several times a year.

Looking NNE

The whole area around Kings Cross was a huge coal depot. Where the basin is now used to have railtracks running over the top of it. The gas holders have been moved from their original site and new buildings built within them to suggest the old tanks. Using this link you can see how much the area has changed since 1892 by sliding the button on the bottom left.

Today a new C&RT notice came in

Aire & Calder Navigation Main Line
Location: Lock 11, Ferrybridge Flood Lock, Aire & Calder Navigation

Navigation Closure

Monday 19 July 2021 08:00 until Friday 13 August 2021 16:00

A stoppage is required to replace the downstream gates and cills. Check and repair downstream sluices.

Here’s hoping the end of this stoppage coincides with the breach site reopening.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 washing machine, 1 engineer booked, 2 new quotes, 1 conversation, 1 set drawn up, 16 more panto photos, 1 dormant station, 2 glasses up on the roof.

Tideway Tilly. 10th July

A photo heavy post! If you click on a photo it should enlarge.

Limehouse Basin to Ontario Bridge 205A Grand Union Canal

Not much of view this morning!

Tilly seemed keen to be out this morning despite the not so inviting view from our bedroom window. Today we’d be heading out onto the Tidal Thames so no shore leave for cats, no matter how much they shout!

One of the last jobs to do today was put Tilly’s escape pod back together ready should there be any necessity to abandon ship. She also quite likes to sit in there anyway.

Final briefing

At 10:30 all crews congregated in the car park for our final briefing. An extra sheet of paper was passed round which detailed the distances between bridges on our cruise upstream. We were reminded to keep looking behind us as that is where the danger can lie, make sure our anchors were actually attached to our boats and just to hold our course and not to turn into waves as they can come from any and every direction. VHF radios were handed to crew who didn’t have their own, ship to ship being on channel 8.

Simon watching the lock open up

St Pancras Leader, Simon, would radio VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) when they left the lock and the third lock leader would do the same when the last and final boat entered the tide way, Tail end Charlie would be Oleanna today. There wouldn’t be much commercial traffic on the river, but plenty of Clippers and speed boats. The weather forecast wasn’t so good, everyone prepared for rain which was just trying to start.

Moving into position

The first locking of four boats was at 11:15. Limehouse Lock can hold three narrowboats abreast and as two boats were short they could sit one behind the other. We watched as the boats pulled into the lock, each passing ropes round the risers on the lock walls, these are positioned directly under the bollards above.

Waiting for NB Chance to take her position in the lock

The pull as the lock starts to empty, radial gates not paddles, is strong necessitating ropes needing to be passed round a T stud to help you keep hold.

We watched as the lock emptied and then the boats departed. NB Thermopylae led the way followed by NB Chance, NB Misty Blue and NB Mobius brought up the rear. Each boat motoring out of the lock and turning right onto the Thames keeping a distance between each other.

Next lock full

The next boats were ready and waiting for the lock to be refilled, we headed back to Oleanna for a final briefing with our second mate, move the towline to the bow and untie ourselves from the mooring.

Oleanna looking forward to her trip up the Thames

Tilly was warned that that the outside we’d be moving today was likely to be quite lumpy bumpy for a while, she retired to her escape pod and waited to see what happened.

NB Coracle was lead boat, followed by NB Small World then us at the very back. As the lock gates fully opened Andrew on NB Coracle said ‘Let’s go boating!’ It was 11:48 we were 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Leaving Limehouse Lock, the river was big but not as big as leaving Goole

I closed the cratch cover up and moved through Oleanna to the stern. I was soon pleased that I’d thought to move bottles from the galley shelves and counter tops as the river was most certainly lumpy. We turned into the flow of the tide heading upstream.

Speed boats zipped past their wakes moving across the river. They were towards the south bank, we were towards the north bank, the waves kept coming and coming, first this way then that. You said it was going to be lumpy! You didn’t say that we would be looping the loop!!!!

Tilly wasn’t happy, she was shouting at the back doors! I have to admit that I wasn’t too happy either as Oleanna rose and fell with the waves. Please excuse the out of focusness of this footage as my camera had no idea what it should focus on! This is by far the lumpiest water we’ve encountered. As a child I used to be seasick every time I even stood near to a boat, so today I did my best to keep calm and looked round at everything to keep my mind off the swell.

We fell in line behind the lead boat and NB Small World, one yellow buoy coming a touch close to us. The river was moving us along, at one point I couldn’t hear the engine, Mick had put Oleanna into tickover as we had been gaining on the boat ahead.

Behind us Canary Wharf, ahead old warehouses, the River Police jetty.

Shard ahead

The Shard came into view, then as we rounded the bend at Wapping the view opened out.

Quite a view!

The Walkie Talkie, St Pauls, BT Tower, City Hall and of course Tower Bridge. Wow!

Dora May just off centre with a blue and cream wheelhouse

At Tower Moorings we tried to spot Dora May that used to belong to my friend Kathy. She is still moored there, wheelhouse positioned with a great view over to Tower Bridge.

Just look at that! Tower Bridge built between 1886 and 1894

We managed to line ourselves up briefly for a photo we’ve been dreaming of for years, under the central span of Tower Bridge.

Then we got back in line with the two boats ahead and headed for span 1 to the north side. It is quite an impressive bridge to walk over, but more so to pass under.

We waved to the south bank of the river where Mick’s sister Christine had positioned herself.

Christine’s over there somewhere!

No chance of spotting her, but thankfully she spotted us.

There we are
Past the clipper terminal
Tower of London

I especially like the one in front of the Tower of London.

HMS Belfast and The Shard

The bridges now come thick and fast as did the swell.

Bridges lining up ahead

Trying to take photos clinging on, trying to stay upright at times was quite hard.

London Bridge Hospital looks like a new coat of white paint has been added, keeping it crisply clean, soon followed by Hays Wharf. This wonderful deco building once a wharf now contains consulting rooms and the cardiology department for the hospital.

Follow my leader under the correct spans of the bridges as waves buffeted themselves against Oleanna.

Tate Modern (opened 2000) and the wibbly wobbly Millennium Bridge (opened 2000, reopened 2002).

The Samuel Pepys pub is where Mick used to drink when he worked almost next door for BT in the red brick building.

More bridges, more sights, more big trip boats.

Pillars where old railway bridges used to be. The Oxo tower (originally a power station supplying the Post Office, built at the end of the 19th Century) more shiny tower blocks.

Waterloo Bridge (opened 1942, fully opened 1945), The National Theatre (opened 1976). Have to say I was a touch disappointed that the National hadn’t brought the horses out from War Horse onto the terrace to see us pass as they did for the Queen!

Not much traffic behind

Frequent glances behind brought different views as well as checking if we were being followed.

Hungerford Bridge (opened 1864) and the Golden Jubilee Bridges (completed 2002)

Then Hungerford Bridge and the Golden Jubilee Bridges. Were we early? We looked up as we came under the bridge.

A pair of shoes, legs, a radio 2 news presenter stood phone in hand ready to capture us as we passed below.

Us with the London Eye
A line of narrowboats
Lumpy water!

Thank you Adam, hope you got to work on time.

London Eye and County Hall

The London Eye (opened 2000), County Hall (1922), Tattershall Castle (a steamer built in 1934 and was used as a Humber Ferry) and onwards to the Houses of Parliament (finished in 1860) and Westminster Bridge (opened 1862).

Heading up stream

Such a shame Big Ben is still swathed in scaffolding, maybe we’ll just have to come and do the trip again in the latter part of 2022!

As we passed the exclusion zone in front of the Houses of Parliament I shouted out a few comments to those who run our country. I so hope they heard and will take heed of my words!

Under Lambeth Bridge ( 1932) with the MI5 offices (1929) with it’s gold roof.

Tamesis Dock

A boat sat out of the water a structure held it upright. I wonder if those eating and drinking at Tamesis Dock knew they weren’t afloat.

Mick tried pointing out another building he used to work in. ‘That one with all the windows’! It turns out Mick used to work next door to the MI6 building on the south bank, well before it was built.

Vauxhall Bridge Built in 1906

By now the river traffic was easing, the swell gone. Under Vauxhall Bridge, the four towers of Battersea Power Station (completed in 1955) rose from the redevelopment below.

Next week will see the return of the open-air cinema and theatre at The Coal Jetty. Apartments are being sold and retail and restaurants are already open. We do wonder what the residents will think of living next door to the Super Sewer though! I’m sure it will all be below ground.

Victoria Railway Bridge rebuilt and widened in the 1960’s
Chelsea, originally Victoria Bridge, rebuilt in 1937
Albert Bridge, built 1873, suspension bridge incorporated in 1884-7 and final alterations made in 1973

Victoria, Chelsea and Albert Bridges. The question is who was Chelsea? Did she have a bit of a fling with Albert getting between them!

Albert Bridge painted in pastel shades has a touch of a Wedgewood feel to it.

Battersea Road Bridge built 1885

Battersea Road Bridge was followed by numerous house boats.

House boats side by side

I wonder what it’s like living on one of those with the tides coming and going.

Lots Road Power Station, built in 1904

Lots Road Power Station which used to produce electricity for the underground is having a makeover. The internal structures have been removed and 800 tonnes of steel have been used to retain the exterior façade. Along with four new buildings the development will provide 420 residential units.

Hanging under Wandsworth Bridge ( built in 1940) is a dishevelled bail of straw. It’s an ancient bylaw of uncertain heritage that if a bridge arch is open to river traffic, but with restricted headroom, then a bundle of straw should be hung from the bridge as a warning. At night time it is replaced by a white light.

Fulham Railway Bridge (1889) and Putney Bridge (1886)

Down stream of Putney Bridge (1886) is where the Oxford Cambridge boat race starts, the course passes under Hammersmith Bridge, Barnes Bridge and finishes just before Chiswick Bridge a distance of four miles.

Fulham Football Club is having major works. The riverside stand at Craven Cottage was demolished and is being redeveloped into more than just a football stand. Floating pontoons are being used in the building work and an exclusion zone around these is in force on the river marked with yellow buoys.


Now we started to encounter rowers as we approached Hammersmith Bridge (1887). An area along the southern bank has been marked out for the rowers to use, keeping normal river traffic away from the area.

Hammersmith Bridge currently closed

Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to motor traffic since August 2019 after cracks were discovered in the bridges pedestals. The closure was extended to pedestrians, cyclists and normal boat traffic last year. It is however open for pre-booked transits which are subject to a lot of conditions. One of which is that you have an abort plan should the bridge be closed in front of you. This would entail winding and stemming the tide in a predetermined section of the river, contact with VTS would be made and then we would wait for slack water before returning all the way to Limehouse Lock with the outgoing tide.

All three groups had to pass under the bridge in an hours window. Thankfully no abort signal was given and we as Tail end Charlie passed under the bridge at 13:38, well within the hour. Phew!

Under Barnes Railway Bridge ( built in the 1890’s), more rowers and paddleboarders.

Chiswick Bridge built 1933

We received a phone call from Simon checking our location at 14:00, we could confirm we were under Chiswick Bridge and all was fine at the back of the flotilla.

Boats ahead under Kew Railway Bridge

A zoom in on the camera to Kew Railway Bridge confirmed we were catching up the second group. NB Combs Lass and NB Galatea were just passing under the bridge, it was the first time we’d seen them since Limehouse.

Kew Bridge built in 1903

Kew Bridge a wide span bridge was to be the last we’d pass under, the Tower of Kew Bridge Pumping Station watching our approach towards Brentford Junction.

Liquidity ahead

Passing islands to our starboard side we could see the sculpture Liquidity by Simon Packard. This to boaters helps mark the entrance of Brentford Junction on the Thames, to locals it caused a big hoo-ha when it was first erected as it blocked the view from new flats and a local restaurant to the river.

This was where the flotilla would split. Three boats could be seen continuing on up stream towards Teddington. NB Thermopylae now at the back. The third locks worth of boats veered off at the Junction and headed for Thames Lock. Here NB Albert Victor was joined by NB Coracle our lead boat and we joined NB Small World in the second lock to rise up to the semi tidal stretch at the bottom of the Grand Union Canal.

It wasn’t me!

I had chance to check on everything below, half expecting Tilly to still be in a tizz and maybe for her to have suffered from seasickness. I was greeted by a cat who was trying to be quite cool about everything, even if she was a little bit shouty! There was also a bit of a puddle in the main cabin. Oh dear.

However it didn’t take me long to realise that this was just water and it must have come in through our hatch despite the outer doors being closed. There was water on the surround. In absolute torrential rain with howling gales we’ve had water come in having been forced up under the doors. This must have happened when we were in the really lumpy water.

Thames Lock which takes us onto semi-tidal water

Heading to the bow to open up the cratch I also noticed a very small amount of water had made it’s way up under the front doors. These are raised off the floor of the well deck and have a frame that sits quite a bit higher than the doors. Water will have come in through the well deck drains on the choppy sections of the river and some of that made it’s way inside!

Maybe if we plan to do more rough cruises we should look at adding extra protection to these areas, the amount of water wasn’t alarming, but it would have been better to have come in to a dry boat.

A lock keeper was also on duty at Brentford Gauging Locks bring us up off the tidal water and onto the canal proper. We were now bunched up and a queue had formed at Clitheroe’s Lock. I headed up to help , other crew walking on ahead to set Osterley Lock.

When we reached the final lock of the day NB Albert Victor was waiting for a partner, so NB Small World joined them, leaving us to lock up on our own. The off side bottom gate refused, despite a bit of a waggle back and forth, to open fully, so it was one boat in at a time. On leaving half a tree trunk floated above the lock gates. NB Small World pushed it out of the way, but by the time I’d refilled the lock it had drifted back down to be in the way again!

The first sign of a gap in the moorings we pulled in, close to the community gardens. Tilly’s paw was already clinging onto the bathroom porthole her nose sniffing the fresh air, the trees here already having been given feline approval. As soon as our location had been noted with co-ordinates and what3words the rules were recited to Tilly and she was given 2 hours shore leave.

Tideway Tilly back on dry land

Time for a well deserved cup of tea!

Graeme and David with everyone else behind them

This evening we joined everyone else who’d come off the river at Brentford along with Simon who’d made it over from Teddington for a meal at The Fox. This is a pub Mick knows well as he used to live about 200 yards away. I was famished, but had also forgotten about the portion sizes. A portion of chicken wings arrived as a starter, I’d been expecting 4 or 6, but 12! Mick and I should have shared them. Sadly they had run out of rainbow trout so I chose pork belly with mash, Mick had sausage and mash. All the food was very tasty as expected.

VHF and laminated sheets

A very good evening wrapping up an incredible day. The rain had held off, the planning had been spot on, the waves added extra adrenalin, advice was shared, lead boats knew the river, tail boats were VHF qualified. Thank you very much Simon for offering us the final space on the cruise. Thank you also to St Pancras Cruising Club, from start to finish we felt we were in safe hands.

Waterway Routes under new improved rain shield which wasn’t required today

5 locks, 18.75 miles, 2 rights, 34 bridges, 3rd locking, 10th in line, 1st St Pancras cruising cat, 1 lumpy river, 1 shouty cat, 2 puddles, 1 sister-out-law, 1 fellow blogger, 1 boat in tickover much of the time, 4 rice crispie cakes, 0 flying pigs, 4 power stations, 3 lock keepers, 2 hours shore leave, 1 fox, 807 photos, 1 very nice meal, 1 fantastic day.
A fab photo of Group 1

For more photos of the trip from the front of the flotilla follow this link to Scholar Gypsy

Adam has also published a post with his photos this morning, showing the second group of boats as they headed for Westminster Bridge. A link to his blog Briar Rose

Kath. 27th June

Rembrandt Gardens

Living under trees for days on end isn’t good for solar, it also isn’t so good for our batteries. This morning we woke to no power, none what-so-ever! The battery bank had turned itself off to protect itself, only one thing for it turn the engine on. Fortunately it was 8am, but we did feel bad about it being a Sunday morning and having new neighbours very close to our stern.

Ooo a coal boat!

Despite the engine running we had a lazy morning reading the Saturday paper in bed, that was until we heard the unmissable sound of a coal boat engine popping it’s way into Little Venice. NB Emu had just turned out from the Regents Canal, paused, and then reversed back down under Westbourne Terrace Bridge. Mick gave them a call to see if we could have a top up of diesel when they returned.

Our neighbours also were after a top up, which gave us the opportunity to apologise about having to run the engine early on a Sunday morning. Mick asked the chaps on Emu about their supply of Calor gas, they stopped getting it direct from Calor a while ago and since then they haven’t had any problems. Brian from NB Alton on the Macclesfield Canal is having serious trouble getting hold of stock or anyone to talk to about the matter, he’s pulling his hair out about the situation.

Goodbye to the Scouts

After breakfast we gave Oleanna a good tidy up, my work things had been packed away yesterday, now she needed a wipe down and a sweep through before our lunch guest arrived.

Picnic lunch had indoors due to grey skys

Mick has lots of sisters, four in fact. Today we had a visit from Kath, whom I used to work with at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Over the last 18 months we’ve seen quite a lot of each other on zoom, but not in the flesh. So it was lovely to see her again and spend several hours just chatting and being in each others company.

Big brother and Little sister

Having been on the boat for the last two days I decided to have a walk around the block once Kath had left us. I headed along the path under Harrow Road Bridge. The permanent moorings here have created a barrel garden stretching alongside their boats. The half barrels are filled with lots of lovely flowers, very pretty and creating a bit of a buffer zone to their boats.

I walked down into Paddington Basin. NB Billy on the outside pontoon, another boat just tying up, but still several spaces available. There is a big screen that will show Wimbledon and a cinema screen that over looks the winding hole. I wonder what films have been shown here, would it be best to sit on the roof of your boat or better to hire Goboat to watch the main feature?

Liz West‘s installation under the Westway

I worked my way round the end of the basin, waved to Billy, then carried on to walk back down under the Westway and Harrow Road. This was mainly so I could get a photo of Oleanna across the way on our Rembrandt Garden mooring.

Nestled under the trees

My circular route was completed by crossing Westbourne Terrace Bridge and then Warwick Avenue Bridge bringing me back to Rembrandt Gardens. Not a long walk but enough to stretch me legs. It was now time to get baking as I had an important birthday cake to make.

Chocolate and egg whites

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 power, 8am engine, power restored, 1 cat unimpressed with the outside, 84 litres, 90p, 1st sister,1 pate, 1 salami, 1 ham, 3 cheeses, 1 absent Shropshire blue, 1 lovely afternoon, 1 queen of sheba.

A Gurney And A Cinema Inside A Cinema. 5th 6th February


Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral was extensively rebuilt from 1250 and took around 275 years to complete. The red sandstone gives the interior quite a dark feel, good job there are lots of lights, it must have quite eerie just in candle light.
As we entered the organ stuck up with a very capable organist at it’s helm practicing several pieces, air could be heard circulating up to the pipes from below. Music is always a good thing in such big churches, not only is it nice to listen to (when in good hands), but it makes the place more welcoming and less like you have to tiptoe around so as not to disturb other’s prayers.
A cheeky pint

Builders hard at workCassette or compost?Works were on going on a lego model of the Cathedral, the higher parts of the building either not built yet or just removed to be able to see the interior. For £1 you can add a brick, but there was nobody around to enable us to build one tiny part.
Gurney Stove

Dotted around are large black stove like things, radiators. Closer inspection revealed them to have a hinge on the back and the start of a pipe from the rear. The Gurney Stove was developed by a surgeon, Goldsworthy Gurney, who had an interest in engineering. In 1825 he patented a steam carriage, going on in 1842 to patent a system of heat recovery from light fittings. In 1852, Gurney was appointed to investigate the ventilation problems in the House of Commons where he flashed off large quantities of gunpowder in the chamber to observe the motion of the air currents, he was said to have posed a greater risk than Guy Fawkes!
His interest in heating led him to invent a new type of warm-air stove. It was described as a metallic vessel having a number of plates extending from its outer surface, standing with the plates vertical in a shallow trough of water. This provided humidification to counteract the drying feeling caused by the warm air. He soon sold the rights for his invention to the London Warming & Ventilating Company which advertised itself as ‘Proprietors of the Gurney stove’. The largest sized stove was 1 m in diameter and 2.7 m high. It consumed about 200 kg of coke a week and was said to be capable a heating a space of 120 000 ft3. By 1897 an advert claimed ‘over 10 000 churches, schools, government and other public and private buildings successfully warmed by our system’. Some working examples still exist, some in  Chester Cathedral. We considered getting one installed on Oleanna, but that would mean the ballast needing to be altered and the only space big enough would be in the bathroom with both doors open or closed all the time!
Part of the West WindowA Westminster Window

The West Window catches your eye when you first enter with it’s predominant blue, The Holy Family by W.T. Carter Shapland in 1961. The Westminster Windows also stand out. Three windows installed by Alan Younger to mark the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Benedictine Abbey on the site. The windows were a gift from the 6th Duke of Westminster and replaced 19th Century glass that was damaged in WW2.
P1220953smLiz West's installation

In the Chapter House is an installation by the artist Liz West, Our Colour Reflection. This piece takes up the whole room. Over 100 circular coloured mirrors sit at differing heights on the floor, reflecting coloured light from the windows up to the ceiling and in turn showing to the viewer dots of coloured reflection. It’s a rather mesmerising piece and deserves a visit whilst it is here.

Straight on from the Northgate Staircase

We had a second visit to the Storyhouse on Tuesday, this time to visit the cinema to see Darkest Hour. A very good performance from Gary Oldman as Churchill and an enjoyable film. Artistic licence has been used when Churchill uses the tube, which apparently wasn’t the right sort of carriage for the line in question.
Familiar Deco detailsThe cinema box where the balcony used to beThe cinema itself was interesting. Going into the older part of the building up the original staircase to what is now called the mezzanine, the skirting boards reminded me of what I would have been doing at this time of year at the SJT  in Scarborough over a decade ago, giving the front of house some TLC with a paint brush. I have to say I prefer the colour scheme here to the original Odeon salmon pink. The cinema itself seats 100 and is a pod like box which has been installed where the circle used to be. Walkways for the library curve round it with work spaces retaining much of the feel of the balcony and the restaurant and bar being sited underneath.

Inside the cinema

Inside the pod the red theme of the building continues. You enter either side of the screen and step down to your spacious seats. These seats have plenty of leg room and for those with little legs who find their feet dangling there are extra cushions available to assist. By the end of the film I wished I’d picked one up. On Tuesdays and Thursdays before 5pm you can get cheaper seats if you are over 60. Mick decided to age himself by a few months to make use of the saving. With no Box Office as such in the building you purchase your tickets online or at one of the kiosks in the building, so self service really, having your ticket checked in entering.
Sat behind us were two visually impaired people who were being given head sets for the audio description of the film. The staff were setting up their headsets and said to let them know if they had any problems. Sadly and awkwardly we had a problem, the headsets leaked sound. So all the way through the film it sounded like someone was listening to loud music through headphones as they do on trains. At one point I thought that there must have been a technical problem as the noise coming from behind didn’t sync with the film and was getting louder and louder. This of course was actually the very good sound system in the cinema with an effect very similar to the head sets. As we left we managed too have a word with one of the ushers, not a complaint as we believe in accessibility to all, just that maybe someone should look at the design of the headsets. Unless you sit near someone with them on, you’d never be aware of the problem.

The Story House

Our other observation was next time we will book seats nearer to the screen. Because access into the cinema is from either side of the screen you are aware of anyone sneaking out to the loo, ushers checking people are okay and the occasional library user who has lost their way whilst trying to find 851 in the Dewey Decimal Classification. Maybe entrances at the back of cinemas were a good idea after all.

Sometimes post finds us all by itself.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 loads washing, 18 inches of blanket, 100 mirrors, 6 giant black stoves, 1 not so naughty seat, £1 lego bricks, 500g dried plums, 2 tea balls, £2.50 off for 60’s, 3 stepped skirting, 1 booster block required, 1 blanket also, 851 Italian Poetry,  1 invite accepted, 1 snowy day in Chester.