Category Archives: Coal Boats

Barry Humphery Would Have A Field Day. 22nd April

Milepost 6ish to Bramble Cuttings

I think if they repainted this it would disintegrate

Pootleing along the loooong pound this morning it was chilly, you could see your breath. We soon passed new fencing, high, blocking off the view to what used to be a sweet little tree house, at least the fence is wooden. Lion Salt Works, well worth a visit if you are in the area. Plenty of bags were piled up outside Thor, they make biocides and disinfectant.

The Four Counties coal boat

Round the bend to Wincham Wharf. In amongst the boats we could see NB Halsall’s bow. Last night we’d finished a bottle of gas just as the roast chicken was finishing. Rachel was just about to pull away from a boat, we checked on her gas stocks, ‘Plenty!’ We’ll hopefully see her before we’re out of her patch and if we don’t there is always the place in Stoke.

Tench and cranes

Now under all the bridges and pipes, passing the moored boats. At the far end a sea of cranes of different sizes surrounded a building. This will be a sustainable power station once built. Then we got a reminder of New Year 2016/17 as we passed NB Tench. We spent the evening sitting in her hold trying not to be cold with Heather Bleasdale, Alex (Tench’s then owner), Brian and some other people whos names escape me now. Good to see Tench again.

By now the gentle rain we’d woken up to had set in, with the occasional heavier interlude. A strip of land with what looks like planning permission for a house and a mooring, no details of who is selling it or any agents. A new house for sale a short distance on with a roof terrace.

Orchard Marina has water in it now, last year it was very dry. A few narrowboats sit at the far end, but it looks like there is still plenty of work to be done. HS2 was going to strtech right across this area, crossing the canal three times. As we’re north of Birmingham this won’t happen now. We wondered if the people whos homes had been compulsively purchased had been given the option to buy their property back?

Twisty trees

More old woodland along the east bank. Gnarldy oak trees covered in ivy, how much longer would these stay standing for, too wiggly for use in lock gates.

Down below in the wide valley the fields are lush green, if not covered in water. One was speckled in yellow. Were these buttercups, Mick thought more likely to be dandelions. He doesn’t like dandelions, so every year I give them a different name. In the past they have been daffodils, he likes them. This year they are gladioli, Dame Edna would have a field day in that field!

I can see space, lots of it!

Up ahead we waited to see if there’d be any space for us at Bramble Cuttings, a much sought after offside mooring. As it came into view it was empty! Brilliant!! We pulled in, made sure we moored consideratly then let Tilly out. Meowow!!

I claim this mooring!

Tilly’d just had time to climb a few trees in excitment and run around like a loon when another boat approached. They’d concidered pulling in, but they also had a cat and neither cat would want to share Bramble Cuttings. They carried on, we’d tied it up just in the nick of time.

Such a nice mooring

Despite the rain Tilly played out for quite some time. We were joined by another boat at the other end of the moorings and then mid to late afternoon a third boat pulled in inbetween. A woofer was on the mooring, so no longer just feline terratory, just as well I’d got bored of getting wet!

The next toe

A quiet afternoon as it rained outside, some knitting done. Micks hospital appointment was sucessfully moved to an afternoon so he can now have his 65 year olds aneurysm check. The boiler people insist on ringing us to make a new appointment, not the other way round! More dates of where and when we’ll be places were worked out with the hope of rendez vousing with foreign friends and family.

Did we ever take it slowly? Or have we always had places we need to be on certain days? One person I doubt we’ll see this year will be Heather Bleasdale as she is now busy exploring Irish waterways on GT the boat we got to meet two summers ago in Earith. She has blue skies over there!

0 locks, 6.4 miles, 1 prat doesn’t mean you can be too! £1.14 diesel on Halsall, 5826437393653 gladioli, 1 unconvinced Mick, 1st cat to claim, 2 neighbours, 1 soggy cat, 1 toe and heel turned, 5 weeks planned, 1 more boat on Lough Erne, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

Stop Talking Of Thunder Storms! 26th August

John Merricks’s Lake to Sileby Lock

Oh dear!

A cruiser came past as we had breakfast, out for a weekend jaunt. They’d just passed us when their engine just stopped. Had they been abducted by aliens? Had they reached their destination for the day? No they’d picked up a sleeping bag on their prop and were still trying to free it when we pushed off. Not much we could do to help.

Swans can be such scary things

Above the skies were moody, Mick made a comment about thunder storms. We’d once been along this stretch when the heavens opened, we then moored above Sileby Lock as the river level rose rapidly during the evening, then slowly fell the following day. I hoped he wasn’t jinxing our chosen mooring for the day.

Very moody

As we approached Junction Lock we could see that a Charity boat was just entering it. No-one looked behind them so they didn’t see us approaching. As they left the lock below we were already in position to refill the lock.

A lady with her young son stood and watched, twins in a pushchair were positioned so as to see us too, except Mum had forgotten that there was a blanket over the handle which blocked their view. They didn’t seem to mind.

Coming up to Cossington Lock the crew of the charity boat were closing the top gates, they’d almost certainly seen us, but carried on and walked to the bottom gate. The chap at the helm must have stopped them, got them to wind the paddles back down and return to the top gates to open them. Have to say they weren’t the sharpest pencils in the box. One ground paddle had been left up which only helped to refill the lock for us to be able to join them. I stepped back onboard leaving the crew to do their thing.

Through Cossington Road Bridge we could see a coal boat, the red of gas bottles giving it away. This would be our next port of call. We pulled in alongside NB Hampstead, positioning Oleanna’s stern close to the diesel pump. I popped a rope around a stern dolly whilst Mick attached our stern to their mid. My line was too long to tie off on us and too far back to get to safely along the gunnel with my dodgy grip. I elected to hold us steady as the charity boat passed, then winded a little further ahead to return.

Topping up in the rain

We called out, no-one came. Mick rang the number on the side of Hampstead, Tracy appeared from another boat and came to serve us. Originally they’d hoped to be able to sell HVO, but the price they’d have had to charge would have been £2 to £2.20 a litre, so they have opted to stick with Red Diesel. Earlier this year Hampstead was repainted in their livery and is based here at Cossington Lock. They do travel north to Nottingham and south to Leicester. Here is a link to their Facebook page. At £1.09 a litre it wasn’t a bad price and we like to use coal boats as they support many a boater through the winter months.

Just a shame it really started to rain as the tank filled. Mick put the brollie up and I unrolled part of the cratch cover so I could stay dry in the well deck. The transaction was complete just as there was a little lull in the rain. As an after thought Mick asked how much their coal was, £14.50 for 20kg, we should have got a couple of bags, oh well, it is August still isn’t it?!


The banks of the river seemed to be encroaching. Piles of dying plants covered the banks, soon followed by yards and yards of Pennywort. Blimey it’s taking over the world here!

Very moody

We pulled in above Sileby Lock, the mooring by the small weir. Tilly was given five hours. She wasn’t too keen. The friendly cover too covering and wet! We had lunch.

It’s rubbish this outside!

A Saturday paper was a possibility and we’ve never ventured into Sileby before so once Tilly had stopped popping in and out, just incase things had improved, we closed the doors leaving her incharge and went for a nosy.


Two cricket matches were taking place at the club. ‘Come on Conway!’ the bowler a young blond chap who was getting a lot of praise from his team members. On our walk back the score was 68 for 1, not bad at all.

We’d never thought of Sileby as being more than a village, yet it boasts itself to be a town. The corner shop which advertised newspapers and magazines was lying, so we carried on down to Tesco Express. Here they provided us with our newspaper of choice and a few easy peel oranges and some cream cheese, I seemed to have ordered a lot of carrots so I’ll bake a cake to help stop them going to waste.

What a fine looking building, click on photo for more details

Just down the hill was a rather ornate looking building, 3 Cossington Road. Nice fresh paint and four door bells. What had this been before being carved up into flats? It used to be called Ebenezer House and was owned by Edward Martin, it was used as a Bank, solicitors and a dentists.

The 1891 census shows framework knitters, brewers and shoe making to be occupations for the locals. Clay pits were dug and bricks made that were used to build St Pancras Station. In 1901 James Newbold, a Baker and his wife Annie lived at 3 Cossington Road with their children Thomas, Fred and Annie, along with Fred Parker who was also a baker. These are the snippets of information I’ve found.

After laying empty for a few years the house was bought in 2019 and divided up into 3 one bedroom flats and a bedsit with communal outdoor areas. Rather nice, you’d just hope that the brook in front doesn’t flood.

We could have explored the other side of the railway which carved the town in half in the 1840’s but we decided to walk back across the fields and settle down for the rest of the day.

During the day we heard a rumble of thunder, but thankfully we didn’t relive the river rising, we’ll not have to keep an eye on our ropes overnight.

2 locks, 3.3 miles, 76 litres diesel, 0 coal, 1 unimpressed cat, 68 for 1, 1 village actually a town, 1 newspaper, 5 oranges, 150 grams cream cheese, 1 headache returning.

Smiles Everywhere. 25th July

Aristotle Bridge to Thrupp visitor mooring.

A cuppa in bed was allowed before we walked up to the deli. The cabinet by the front door is filled with wonderful looking pastries and Persian dishes. Sadly none of the yummy looking things would agree with me, so I just dreamt of filo pastry filled with cheese spinach and spices. We looked around the rest of the shop which does sell gluten free produce, however the mark up is really quite something, £6 for a box of cereal! Yesterday Mick had come for a look and spotted some spring roll wraps which were made from tapioca and rice flour. He considered buying me a pack but wasn’t sure about them. I decided I’d see what they were like, knowing they’d not be like tortilla wraps. The dishes in the freezer also looked appealing, but we’ve enough food on board right now without adding to it. We made our polite purchase and headed back to Oleanna.

I’ve missed seeing this boat

A pootle got us to the services, we trod water and waited to pull in then emptied the yellow water and topped up on fresh water. Tilly got a clean pooh box which she was desperate for! Then we carried on past the line of interesting boats on the Agenda 21 moorings to Wolvercote Lock. Here a single hander was just finishing going up, I closed up after him and set the lock ready for us.

I unlocked Perry’s Lift Bridge remembering that it so wants to lift itself, so I quickly walked across it letting it do it’s thing behind me. I then sat on the beam. There was a chap a short distance along the track mixing something on the floor. He walked up and sat on the other beam opposite me. He made some remark about Huel drinks, that was what he’d just been mixing. He then waved to Mick saying he was just helping. With Oleanna safely through the bridge I stood up, the chap didn’t. I asked him to stand so that I could cross the bridge, he stayed seated. His comment was something to do with the bridge being dangerous and he was waiting for me to walk back over it before he stood up!? Well it took some persuasion, but eventually he stood up. The bridge stayed put. ‘Isn’t your husband coming to help you?’ I replied that he wasn’t needed as I bent down to encourage the beam to lift and close the bridge sufficiently for me to add my weight to it for it to then be locked closed again. It was all a touch odd, the chap continued talking to me as I walked away, but I needed to catch up with the boat so politely made my way.

Picnic anyone

Wolvercote Lift Bridge is still not there. Pipes coming up from a newish concrete base suggest it may end up having a hydraulic mechanism fitted. But for now the bridge deck sits under the A34 with a picnic bench sat on top of it.

I walked on to Wolvercote Junction. Here the single hander was waiting his turn, a boat was trying to get itself off the bottom and another boat sat in Duke’s Cut Lock waiting for the water to empty. Mick pulled in behind the single hander and I helped him up. There was time for chats about where we were both heading. He’s gradually aiming for the Macclesfield to spend the winter up there. We’d really enjoyed our 2016 winter on the summit pound.

Wanting to stop for lunch we were out of luck for a mooring below Kidlington Green Lock so carried on up it. I did a double take as I walked up. The yellow bag that had been over the off side bottom paddle had been removed, now back in working order. But the beam had been sawn off and replaced with one of C&RT’s improvised beams, big chunks of timber bolted together. This hadn’t been like this three weeks ago. Had there been notices about it whilst we’d been on the Thames? I had a vague memory of one.

Frankie and Ghost, Shadow was elsewhere

Up we rose and looked for a mooring. There was a gap ahead in front of three boats, one of which had it’s back doors open. As we approached slowly I called out ‘Hello!’ Out of the side hatch came the slightly puzzled face of Frankie, the puzzlement soon turned into a big Italian smile. There was time for us to have a good chat and catch up, Ghost came out to check on us, you could tell she was doing calculations to hop across to join us. I’m so glad we got to meet up this time.

Lunch was had and just as we were about to push off again a blue boat was pulling alongside us. Our turn to pop our heads out to see who it was. Graeme on NB Misty Blue. He pulled alongside and we had a bit of a chat, but boats appeared from both directions cutting our time short. We’d planned on heading through Thrupp today, but now if there was space we’d stop and meet Graeme for a pint.

There was also a rendez vous planned with NB Dusty the South Oxford coal boat. Recently Jock and Katy have sold up and the new chap onboard is Bob working Dusty for Juels Fuels. It was guaranteed that we’d meet him mid channel. The boats were tied together and drifted a touch as we filled up with diesel. Bob used to have a boat on the South Oxford about ten years ago, this was his first run down to Oxford since he’d taken over Dusty, he was surprised that he still knew quite a few people. 87 litres at £1.03. Thank you Bob.

We were surprised when we arrived at the two day moorings that there was still a space for us at 4:30pm. The three boats that had been ahead of us were all lined up one after the other in order of arrival. I needed to do some work before heading to the pub, so knuckled down.

Mick, Pip and Graeme after a few drinks

We had a very pleasant evening with Graeme at The Boat. Exchanging our cruising tales from the last couple of years and where we planned on heading next. He’d recently been on the St Pancras Cruising Club cruise to the Thames Barrier and then back upstream to Teddington. So very glad we bumped into him again and had chance for a proper catch up. The man just doesn’t stop smiling!

Food envy!

4 locks, 5.7 miles, 4 lift bridges, 1 left open, 1 a picnic bench, 1 with a weirdo, 87 litres, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 clean litter box, 2 smiling boaters met, 1 coloured storyboard, 3 glasses wine, 1 mediocre burger, 1 mediocre gammon, 1 very yummy looking liver and bacon.

Growling In The Dark. 5th June

Little Leigh Aqueduct to Croxton Flash

Good carvings

There was a wait to enter Saltersford Tunnel, entry between 30 and 50 minutes past the hour if heading south easterly. We tucked in behind another boat admired the tree carving by the mooring and had quite a chat until Tilly was spotted in a window by their greyhound! What a noise!! Their poor dog had to be put inside where Tilly was out of sight and out of mind.

Two behind

A third boat joined the queue and at bang on 11:30 we all set off, as we’d be heading further we were waved ahead to lead position. Tunnel mode engaged we wound our way through the tunnel where no light can be seen at the far end for quite a while, an S bend brings it into view and then out again. Behind us the thump thump of the following boats started to echo along the arched roof.

Nobody was waiting at the other end and we sailed across the open section to reach Barnton Tunnel. This tunnel doesn’t have a timed entry as you can see through it, however to be able to see through it you have to have your bow almost in the portal with someone stood on the bow. I made my way through Oleanna to do just that, Tilly excitedly following me as it might just be shore leave time!

A ray of light caught a cowparsley head just by the portal mimicking a tunnel light of an oncoming boat. Then I got a glimmer of light from the far end of the tunnel, it was clear. Thumbs up to Mick at the stern, I retreated back into the bedroom. The sound of Tilly’s bell could be heard at close quarters, the last thing I wanted to happen was for her to jump ship. We find growling at her a good deterrent and tends to stop her in her tracks, maybe we are the bigger cat in such situations. No! You just sound so stupid!

Coming through!

As we were approaching the far end a bow came into view, a day boat with plenty on board and their tunnel light shining in front of them. A beep on the horn saw them engage reverse gear pulling back from the entrance. ‘There’s at least another two boats coming through behind us’.

The canal now does a 90 degree turn under a road bridge, a boat came towards us. I popped to the bow to check for anyone else, the way ahead was clear. Buoys still mark the landslip at Soot Hill that occurred in December 2021, single file boats only.

Landslip to the left

The occasional glimpse across the Weaver Valley to new housing, then the more familiar factories. We remembered our first time here on a hire boat, Bergen Fjord, was that for Mick’s 50th birthday? There were so many boats moored that it felt like we had to walk for miles to get to see the Anderton Boat Lift. Our original plan for this year would have had Oleanna descend the lift and cruise the River Weaver, a stretch of water she’s not been on before (we’ve only done a small section on our shareboat) and ticking off the last Wonder of the Waterways.

An earlier than thought rendez vous was made just by the lift waiting moorings. NB Halsall was there waiting her turn for the lift, ahead of schedule she’d be heading down onto the Weaver a day early. We pulled alongside and got to meet Rachel, it’s been three years since we had a diesel fill from Halsall. 68 litres at £1.09 today. We know we’d be able to fill up cheaper somewhere else but it’s good to support the coal boats all year round as they are a god send in the winter months.


Next stop, the services block. Two boats were already pulled in. One turned out to be a hire boat the holiday makers just emptying themselves back into their camper van! What a good use of a water point in a busy place. We tucked in behind them, just clear of the entrance into the marinas. Soon there were four boats and more passing by. Eventually the hire boat was moved away.

Maybe the rust now holds this together

Lunch was enjoyed on the move as we passed Lions Salt Works, well worth a visit. Then it was time for me to go to work. The Town Square scene flats were cut out with basic details. What looks like it may work on paper doesn’t always work in 3D, especially when using false perspective. New lines were drawn, bits cut off, flats changed sides, more new lines drawn. When I was just about happy with shapes and sizes I found enough card to remake the flats, drawing full designs on them. Just the town clock to adjust now.

Meanwhile up on deck Mick brought Oleanna through the boat yard before the chemical works, three abreast chocka with boats. Then under the bridges carrying chemicals above boaters heads.

The quantity of traffic and moored boats suggested we’d be extreamly lucky to find a mooring for us at Bramble Cuttings. Three boats already sat there enjoying the picnic tables, Tilly would have to wait a while longer.

Not enough room for us at Bramble Cuttings

When were we last here? 2020, we must have wanted to go to Middlewich tip and then carried on finding space here, Mick got drenched. A day later we winded and headed back through Middlewich and up the Cheshire Locks to the Macclesfield Canal. It takes us a while now to remember such things.

Maybe by Croxton Flash we’d get a space? A boat was occupying the mooring we’d thought of. The chap on NB Stahl called out having been a reader of the blog, glad you found it useful.

Just round the bend was a space and someone had flattened the long grass beside the towpath, there’d be enough room for a barbecue. Tilly enjoyed herself, returning to use the onboard facilities and for her evening dingding, which did mean she was inside when we were outside.

Tonight’s kitchen

Salmon with ginger, lemon and soy sauce was accompanied by veg kebabs and some Jersey Royals.

0 locks, 11.2 miles, 2 tunnels, 2 mysterons, 1 full tank of diesel, 1 full tank of water, 1 annoying pick up and drop off hire boat, 3 flats re-re-done, 1 barbecue that may need retiring at the end of this summer, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Panto Postcard 3. 2022

77 hours

Spiceball Park, South Oxford Canal to Bridge 68, North Oxford Canal

Monday I was back on the bus to Chipping Norton, the bus this week being busy as the schools were back. It was also time for Mick and Tilly to start making a move northwards to make sure they were clear of any stoppages on the canal that would be starting in a weeks time. Mick had worked out a schedule which would have them near to Rugby Station for Sunday in case I’d be able to join them for the weekend.

Do you have to go?

Sometimes there are things far more important than theatre make believe, real life needed Pauls attention so we were a man down. This meant quite a few jobs that were on his list would end up on the back burner for a while and Louisa would be left to try to plug the technicians gap as well as move scenery around for rehearsals and for the pesky set designer.

I was joined by Elise who was set on the job of painting the pillars that will eventually get added to the set to finish off the portals. On stage I hid behind the backcloth and put a base coat of paint on some trees. This will help when someone comes to drill holes for fairy lights as I only want them to be in the green sections. Also having them a basic colour will assist when it comes to lighting if I haven’t had chance to finish them before lighting states get plotted.

Andrew Pepper the Dame adjusting his floppy hat

Publicity photos were taken, then we ended up the day putting a first coat of paint on the steps from the stage into the auditorium.

Leaving Banbury

Mick came across a boat jam after his second lock of the day. A deep drafted boat was stuck under bridge 157, the pound was about 8 inches lower than normal, was this going to be the case all the way up to the summit? Water was let down and the boat got moving again. Mick tried to help tow the boat, not to much effect, too much water was being lost at Little Bourton Lock a paddle was stuck up, allowing water to drain from the pound above. Mick notified C&RT and later in the day the lock was closed due to an obstruction in the paddle.

Queueing for the locks

Having got past the deep boat he aimed to moor above Broadmoor Lock, but the level there was also low and signs suggested it would get worse overnight, so he continued onwards and up Varneys Lock where levels were better.

Starting up the Claydon flight

Tuesday, Mick was delayed leaving as he met NB Dusty, a top up of diesel was worth having before waving goodbye to them for another year. He continued to work his way up towards the summit. He let a boat over take him, he’d be slower than them as he was single handing. Then as he reset the lock he was joined by the lady from the deep drafted boat, they opened the bottom gates and Mick returned to get Oleanna, only for the deep boat to come sailing past and steel the lock! Have to say Mick was not impressed.

Very wet at the summit

He made it up to the summit with lots of rain, a glance at his photo on my phone looked like the lock area was under water, but no it was just very very wet from rain. But by the time he moored up at one of our favourite moorings with a view the sun was coming back out.

How long before HS2 becomes part of the view?

Back in Chippy more things were based in and by mid morning I’d painted London.

This years London with the Pharoah from my first Chippy panto on a back stage door.

I then took myself off to sit in the Dames dressing room (which I kindly vacate for her every year) to join a zoom funeral for an old family friend near York. My brother and wife had managed to go and later on in the day I was filled in about the wake and news of other friends we’ve not seen for ages. Ian’s tribute to Janis was so touching.

A touch of privacy needed today.

During the day Louisa and I sat down and went through lists. What could we achieve and what would we need extra hands for. A carpenter would be very useful as we’d a little list of jobs more suited for someone with the right skills and tools. I also put in a request to start on the floor painting early this year. If I could work around the lights being rigged it would save me a lot of work on Saturday.

Paw prints are appearing around Chippy

Wednesday. It was time to sit in the auditorium for a bit whilst one scene was rehearsed, costumes were tried on and safety pins added for adjustments. Today I was back on my own, Elise had done a good job of getting things based in, time for the arty bits to start happening on top.

Long Johns and shower caps

In the evening whilst lights were rigged up stage and in the auditorium I made a start on the cobbled floor. Four decorator sponges were just the thing with three colours of paint.

Pinged lines and sponged cobbles

Mick made his way across the top of the Oxford Canal. Not far onwards he crossed the HS2 works. Here concrete was being erected to form a bridge over the canal. Would this be the start of the rail line or just a temporary bridge whilst the works are happening. Further on there is still the big mound of earth where it’s been for years.

Once he dropped down the two Marston Doles locks he was through the locks which would be closing next Monday, Oleanna won’t be trapped until near Christmas now. However the pound he’d planned on mooring in was being dredged by C&RT so he dropped down the top lock of the Napton flight as well.

Later on in the day he had a tap on the roof, it turns out that he was just in the perfect spot for C&RT to off load the dredgings. The chaps helped Mick haul Oleanna out of the way.

Swing that skirt around!

Thursday. Painting followed by a Production Meeting and then time for a stagger through of panto once the Pippins arrived after school. Mark the lighting designer joined us, unfortunately an updated lighting plan hadn’t got through to Louisa, so quite a bit of the rig needed adjusting. I negotiated some more time getting ahead with the floor.

Salted Caramel or Lemon?

I am being very good around the chilled medication store in the foyer which is where bits and bobs tend to get painted.

I think someone is hoping for an understudy part. Most mornings I get a hopeful look from the shelter created from old pieces of scenery.

A field of buffalo chilled medication makers

Mick dropped down the rest of the Napton flight today. How come when I’m not with him the Buffalo are around in big numbers!

Napton Windmill

He wended his way around the hill with the windmill. Thankfully he continued straight on at Napton Junction and pulled up near Flecknoe. During the day he came across a couple we’d met a couple of years ago. They had been the owners of NB Burghley Girl whom we’d towed, they now hire a couple of times a year.

NB Southern Cross stopped to top up our coal supplies

Mick ended up nudging along, due to a neighbour deciding that they’d be deaf. A third of a mile further along the noise was gone, or maybe their reason for being noisy had moved on and they were alone again!

Friday. More lighting, in fact rehearsals were moved away from the stage so that there would be time to catch up on amending the lighting rig. By the end of the day they’d managed to get ahead of themselves. Luckily the lights didn’t go out on stage until the evening so plenty of things got painted in full light before I had to resort to a head torch.


Mick and Tilly continued onwards to Braunston. The Bangers spire showing itself before Braunston Turn.

Mick’s managing without a navigator thankfully

There was space to moor outside Midland Chandlers so Mick picked up a stern navigation light which will get wired in properly sometime over winter. He then pootled onwards to find somewhere nice for Tilly to head off and explore for the rest of the day.

Saturday. A long day for me. I was first in the building. Checking what scenery would be needed for rehearsals today so as not to get the wrong things painty.

Some carbs to keep me going

Several things were finished off today before the lights went back out for Mark to finish focusing the lights. I was then hot on his heals, not wanting to be in the theatre into the early hours.

The stage was swept and then mopped. After two weeks of rehearsals the paint was really rather mucky. Unfortunately the stage ended up getting a much wetter wash than I was expecting and trying to mop up any excess water had the possibility of lifting the cobbles I’d already painted. So whilst it dried I got on with other bits.

Lining in with the aid of a stick

Once dry I added a touch more colour to some of the cobbles and then started to black line them all. When I start doing something like this I think it’ll take about 90minutes, but I always under estimate. Luckily a chap came to pick up some costume tails and this gave me a chance to stand upright and notice the time! I had another two visits from people checking on me before it got too late.

Soup and a bagel whilst watching paint dry

A stop to have some soup, as is the tradition on floor painting nights, hoping everything would be dry once I’d finished. Then the first coat of glaze was quickly followed by the second, maybe a little bit too quickly, but I really didn’t want to be waiting another hour. Fingers crossed I’ve not been too quick.

Finished apart from a little bit of gold in the corners

Mick on the other hand had a far more relaxed day.

He’d considered pulling in before Hillmorton Locks at what we call Bridget’s Mooring. But the mooring already had two felines so he kept moving and opted to descend the three locks and pull in close to Rugby golf club. Tilly could have fun trying to see what was at the bottom of the holes.

Sunday. Mick nudged up towards Rugby hoping that the internet signal would improve for the Geraghty zoom this morning. For me it’s a day of rest. Someone is in the theatre rehanging doors and adding handles, but I’m just taking it easy updating the blog. Getting to Rugby was proving quite hard, getting back even harder for work Monday morning. Hopefully next weekend I’ll have a bit more time.

Later I may watch GBBO and do some of the crochet blanket I haven’t touched since I was last in Chippy. I’ve hobbled up the hill to M&S for something nice for my evening meal. I suspect I’ll be having an early night before panto gets going again tomorrow.

24 locks, 35.57 miles, 1 straight, 1 left, 1 nav light, 1 deep stealer, 1 paddle reported, 1 stoppage, 1 paddle mended, 1 full diesel tank, 1 roof full of coal, 6 long days, 1 bus, 2 bottles wine, 1 floor finished, 1 funeral, 1 missing, 1 poorly outlaw, 1 gangplank, 1 prow, 2 arches, 2 rocks, 1 cut song sheet, 1 day off.

Faces At the Window. 21st September

Ballot Box Bridge to Colebrook Eco Moorings, Regents Canal

We’d planned to be on our way by 7:30 but that didn’t quite happen, it was nearer 8 by the time we’d pushed off. The journey in towards London always takes time, add into the mix weed and other boats, it can always take longer.

A new development sits up high, hang on was that a boat up there? NB Pavo, we’d seen the boat about. Our deduction from down on the canal is that this boat has found itself a pool of water to sit on off Canal and River Trust water a bit like the boat on the South Oxford Canal. Maybe it is going to be an office for someone, or maybe it’s just a big water feature for the complex.

More boats all individual, more paintings on walls.

Very slow boats

Soon we could see a breasted up pair ahead of us some distance away, each bend brought them closer and closer, each bend gave them shallow water that they needed to pole off, it was the Polish coal boat. We caught them up and slowly followed them, tick over then neutral then tick over again. There was nowhere suitable for them to pullover to let us pass until their bow got stuck again. They freed themselves leaving a gap just wide enough for us to go through between them and a moored boat, we were waved on.

Kensal Town brings with it office windows to look into. From above Ainsley and Nicholas peered back down on us, nosy blighters! Duck weed covered the whole canal by now. The bubbles at Westbourne Terrace Bridge doing their best to hold the mass of green back and away from Little Venice. The water point was free, we pulled in to make use of the tap and bins and make a brew.

Left at Little Venice, Rembrandt Gardens moorings were full, we hoped our booked space further along would be available.

At least it won’t go yellow!

The steep bank outside one of the posh houses on the Regents Canal has been clad in astroturf, their gardeners no longer having to mow that part of the garden, they might just have to weed it instead in years to come.

Warthogs biffed at large balls containing edible treats. A lazy Colobus Monkey lounged in what used to be the Snowden Aviary it is now a walk through monkey valley exhibit with high up perches for the monkeys.

There’s Heather!

Stood waiting for us at Hampstead Road Locks was a familiar figure, Heather, she’d walked up from St Pancras to help us with the locks. No volunteers on today and thankfully I remembered which gate had a problem last year, so I used the other one.

Heather set off to set the middle of the three locks. A trip boat set the bottom lock for us, all easy going. Around us the new buildings we’ve seen going up over the last few years all look complete, walkways criss crossing everywhere.

A short pootle and we arrived at St Pancras Lock, two volunteers on duty, one of whom we’d done the Tideway with last year. Sadly there was no room for us to moor at the cruising club this time, but there was plenty to chat about as the lock was set in our favour.


We waved goodbye to Heather and David and carried on our way, we’d be seeing them both at the flotilla. The Queen had done her washing and watched us go by as we approached Islington Tunnel.

This looked hopeful

The tunnel was clear, I zoomed in with my camera. One boat in view on the Eco Moorings where we’d booked for two nights. There was a possibility that the boat was breasted up and there’d not be room alongside the towpath. We carried on through the tunnel.

Maybe not so hopeful!

By the time we’d reached the other end the boat I’d seen was breasted up, in fact it was the third boat out from the towpath. All along the Eco-moorings the boats were breasted up apart from one small gap. Was someone overstaying? Had the C&RT website calculated the wrong length of mooring available?

Mooring spaghetti

We pulled through the next bridge and I walked down to check on any spaces below the lock. Every space was full with boats breasted up. Pooh! Only yesterday Mick had tried to look to see if there were any spaces available at the other eco-moorings, but as we’d already got a booking it wouldn’t show us. We’d past a space on the other side of the tunnel, admittedly by a building site, but we’d have been bank side there enabling Oleanna to finish being washed.


Only one thing for it, to reverse back into the space that was available, do the best we could mooring at a jaunty angle and try to sus out when those we were blocking in would be wanting to move off. The angle did have one benefit, we’d be able to open our hatch! Soon after mooring the Puppet Barge came past, thankfully there was enough room for them.

That’s a big one!

We settled in and explained to Tilly that there would be no shore leave for the foreseeable future. The hook up cable came out and after quite a bit of grring from Mick we had power, £10 credited to our account. We’d be able to do washing and use the electric kettle. Cheryl from a few boats up (NB Firecrest) came to say hello as she reads the blog.

Onion Bhaji

This evening we caught a bus and headed over to Kentish Town to meet up with Christine and Paul for an Indian meal at the Bengal Lancer. A very nice meal with great company and the delivery of our nav lights. These came in a really rather big box, four times the size of the lights! We just need a battery for the white one now and somewhere to strap it to. Thank you Christine for the use of your address.

4 locks, 11.73 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 left, 1 tunnel, 1 Heather, 1 David, 1 Ainsley, 1 Nicholas, 1 Queen, 40ft mooring, 58ft 6 boat, 1 jaunty mooring, 1 mission nearly accomplished, 3 nav lights, 0.5 clean boat, 1 harrumphy cat!

She Swallowed A…. 29th September

Gurnett Aqueduct to Clarence Mill

I’m growing concerned for my safety.

The other day She was complaining that a fly had flown at speed into her mouth. Then a day or two later as She drank her cup of tea she suddenly spat it out, a large spider was lurking in the depths of her mug! So far I’ve not noticed any birds being consumed, but they may have chicken tonight. I’m keeping my distance, just in case.

If you don’t hear from me again I’ll have been sent in to sort things out!

A curvy accommodation bridge

Slow progress at times along the summit pound today. The levels have been down up here, but this morning it only looked to be an inch lower than the overflow at the aqueduct. At one point we were passing another boat to find both of us were sat on the bottom!

We pootled our way through Macclesfield, familiar local boats from our winter up here five years ago. Bridge 43 is another roving bridge with a high wall concealing an accommodation bridge nestled up alongside it.

The off side vegetation was getting a strim as we crossed above the houses. Then we hunkered down under the big wall that holds the top part of Macclesfield away from the canal.

The site where a culvert had problems a few months ago is only obvious now by the new mortar in amongst the stones of the canal bank, a new top to the dry stone wall and a large pile of aggregate hiding behind. The canal was closed for sometime earlier this year.

At least it hasn’t taken as long as the wall by Black Road Bridge. This used to hold someone’s garden up off the towpath and has gradually disintegrated through the years. At least this towpath closure is sturdier than the one in Wolverhampton that people just ignored.

Passed the Hovis Mill the 1 day moorings were just about full, we’ve very rarely seen boats moored here as it’s been hard to pull in and you are requested not to run your engine. The pontoon moorings were full, the end boat being NB Rosie out for a cruise from Teapot Hall.


As we pootled along we discussed a topic that people often ask. Which is your favourite canal? Well our favourite mooring is above Bank Newton Locks, the curley wurlys on the Leeds Liverpool. But is our favourite canal the Macc? A lovely flight of locks, little industry, great hills and views, a reliable coal boat to look after you, the beautiful bridges. It might just be our favourite.

Clark Lane Bridge

A strange noise could be heard as we reached the far side of Macclesfield. Raaaag aaaandd Boooooonnne! As we moved round the tone of the call changed, Rag and Bone through a loud hailer was echoing around the streets.

A little porch

Then Clark Lane Bridge curls the towpath back to the otherside, at Kerridge someone has built themselves a little porch.

Adelphi Mill, Bollington

Then as it started to rain a little bit more heavily we came round under Greens Bridge to the sight of the Adelphi Mill. Today lots of room on the visitor moorings, but we were after pulling in at Bollington Wharf, their service mooring empty.

A Bollington Day Boat

A chap was having a couple of containers filled with red diesel and chatted to Ann Marie. Then it was our turn to fill up Oleanna’s tank, the price higher than we’d paid at Hawne Basin a few weeks ago, but that’s hardly surprising. This morning Bollington Wharf had had a delivery, the price per litre having risen by 8p. Last Saturday they’d had a bit of a rush on with four boats queued up for a top up. Brian arrived and sorted out five bags of coal for us, positioning them on our roof mats as low as he could get them. If you are ever on the Macc this is where to come for a top up of diesel or bits of work that need doing. Last year they mended a gas locker hinge for us whilst we waited. There is also NB Alton that does a fortnightly run along the summit pound, so they will come to you. They certainly looked after us the winter we were here.

The bright colours of the diesel pump and day boats cheered up a thoroughly wet day. Nice to have a catch up too.

Clarence Mill

We pushed off and now hoped for a space on the embankment by the aqueduct. This was chocka block, not even a nudge around would have made enough space for us. But luckily round the bend in the shadow of Clarence Mill the newish bollards were empty. We pulled up and claimed them.

Handy bollards

Whilst finishing battening down the hatches for the day, an alarm sounded. Not the sound of Mick pressing the button to stop the engine, it was a different pitch. ‘That’s not meant to happen is it?’ ‘No’ The engine was over heating, just as well Mick was about to turn it off. This first happened on the Thames a couple of years ago, a loose pipe connecting the calorifier to the engine. It had come loose again , therefore there wasn’t enough water in the cooling system.

Everyone round here loves White Nancy

We managed a shopping trip down to the Co-op to stock up on chocolate between showers and then just left Tilly to explore the wet outside for the remainder of the afternoon. She did her best to get really quite soggy. I revisited the budget for #unit21, still need an updated price on a couple of things. News came through from Chippy that sight lines had been checked with a mock up of a tower made from cardboard and that my paint order had been placed. So at least I’ll have lots of lovely colours to play with.

Could this be our nosy neighbour from this evening?

Later in the afternoon Mick lifted the engine boards and sure enough the pipe was loose again. He checks this and tightens it on every service. The next service is due in 40 hours. So maybe an in between services check is required.

It turns out that there is at least one train driver who keeps a note of passing boaters in Stoke. Thank you Michael for your email. We’ll keep a beady eye open for you when we’re next on your patch and wave until you see us. Michael’s boat was one of those stuck in Goole this year, hope the move up the Ouse wasn’t too wet and windy for you today.

0 locks, 4.58 miles, 88 litres, 0 panic buying, 1 feline visitor twice, 2nd time being very nosy, 100kg coal, 530grams dark chocolate, 500grams granulated sugar, 1 rag and bone, 1 alarm, 1 loose pipe, 1 wet day.

A Productive Day. 14th September

Cast Iron Roving Bridge

Rain. Well it had been forecast.

Just about all our neighbours moved off all sporting their wet weather gear. We on the other hand sat indoors to stay dry. We’d most certainly chosen the best day to ascend the locks into Birmingham.

Tilly ventured outside when the rain dulled a little, but still nothing had changed to alter her opinion of BUMingham.

Into reverse

During the morning we heard a low deep engine coming. Was it a trip boat or could it be a coal boat. The bow came into sight, it was NB Roach. I waved to the chap on board as Mick made his way out of the pram cover, we were after a new gas bottle and he had some on board.

NB Roach with quite a load on

With quite a few boats moving about he wasn’t able to stop straight away. Another boat hailed him too for some coal. He gradually reversed back into the space behind us and tied up. £35.50 so not bad and we’d rather stock up now as there are still rumours of shortages further north. He’s heading for Worcester then onto Stourport for next Monday, back up to Stourton Junction hoping that the lock in Kidderminster is operational after a big fire and subsequent pollution in the canal there.

I spent the day working. All of a sudden emails were flooding in regarding Panto. These needed attention and the props list needed up dating and forwarding to Jo who is already working on the show.

Our super powerful torch comes in handy at times

Then it was time to put the finishing touches to my #unit21 model. Adjustments of lines on the floor a bit off here and there to make the overall proportions look better. Then it was time to take some photos to update Amy on the model.

I updated the technical drawings ready to scan and send to Graham for a new price. Different covering materials were sought out and samples requested so that projection can be tried out. A very productive day for me.

Soggy woofer on the roof

Mick spent his time lighting the stove and generally keeping warm, he also walked to Sainsburys for a few bits.

Tilly, after a couple of checks on the outside, retired to bed for just about all of the rest of the day. A very productive day asleep I think you’ll find!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 boats left, £35.50 gas, 1 day behind already, 1 soggy day, 1 model finished, 1 big torch, 1 happy director, 4 new samples, 1 panto set builder, 0 production manager, 1 updated props list, 1 bored cat, 1 cosy boat.

Puzzle. 3rd September

Bickley’s Bridge to below Wood Lock 19

Another morning of pleas at the back door, Tilly was given an hour of shore leave whilst we had breakfast, today she didn’t get distracted but did require mad cat woman to call for her. With all three of us onboard we pushed of around 10:30.

Pushing into Bascote Staircase

First stop the water point and bins by Bascote Bridge. A dish washer load had been going, once that was so far through it’s cycle the washing machine was put on, Tilly’s pooh box had a good clean and rubbish was disposed of. Shortly before the water tank made it’s ‘I’m full!’ boom we could hear NB Hadar approaching, they and their families hire boat pulled in to wait for the services.

Downerty down

Bascote Staircase requires the top chamber to be full and the bottom to be empty, there will always be one chamber requiring to be set, this morning it looked like we were following someone as the top needed filling. As Mick brought Oleanna into the top chamber Hadar and family were approaching, hand signals suggested they’d be descending together, one of the crew came to join us to help us down.

Heading to the last of the Bascote flight

The next two locks also required filling before we could enter and they are just a touch too far to walk ahead to set and come back to open and close gates. Behind us the Hadar crew worked well with their extra pairs of hands.

Model railway

The chilled medication sign is now tucked away at Welsh Road Lock, instead you can buy half a dozen eggs for £2. In the back garden there is a model railway set all laid out, just a bit too far away to have a good look.

As we worked our way down the lock we could hear Hadars engine thumping away in the distance, or was it getting closer? I think the only time we couldn’t hear it was when it was stationary.

Don’t go too far!

The next pound is where HS2 will cross. Huge earth works are on going here, on the south bank of the canal a digger perched high up flattening out an embankment. To the north you can certainly see the route the line will take through a dip in the hillside, is this a man made or natural dip?

Wood Lock always seems to be the shabbiest of the locks along this stretch, the paintwork peeling off the paddle gear. We worked our way down pulling in a short distance below the lock, this would do us for the day and we’d be able to let Hadar and family go past.

Wood Lock rusty paddle gear

Yesterday I’d asked for my panto felt order to be chased as it still hadn’t arrived, well that was how it seemed at my end, no parcel had arrived for Lizzies attention. Mid morning I was forwarded a copy of the signature the delivery driver had received, most certainly not Lizzies. But if someone had signed for it, last Thursday, where was it?!

Bye bye Hadar

Lizzie and the chaps at Unusual checked everywhere again, but there was nothing. Oh blimey! I was starting to write an email when I got a message from Lizzie, she’d found the parcel, at The Wharf pub across the road! Their address is very similar, but the parcel did say Unusual on it, oh well now we just needed to sus out getting it to us without being too much hassle for Lizzie. A rendez vous tomorrow lunchtime was made, a what3words location sent, we just have to get there in time.

NB Puzzle in June

Plenty of boats have came past us during the afternoon, including one called Puzzle. ‘Didn’t we share some of the Trent and Mersey with that boat? A lady with her daughter?’ Don’t know why I ever ask Mick such things, but I do. Looking back through photographs there was NB Puzzle back in June, but were the colours on the cabin side the other way round from the one I’d just seen? Maybe, maybe not. Cream top and bottom with black in between. Or had it been black top and bottom with cream in between? Could there have been two boats built at the same time, both called Puzzle but painted the negative of each other? Could this be why they were called Puzzle so people would be puzzled about if they’d seen the boat before or not.

Wish I’d taken a photo now!

6 locks, 2.6 miles, 1 thumping boat behind, HS2, 5.75 hours, 1 dropping pound, 4 paddles checked, 1 boater puzzled, 1 parcel at the pub, 4 shades of green, 1 week late.