Category Archives: Coronavirus

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.

Christmas Eve 2023

Well it’s taken it’s time in arriving, this years Christmas. I think we did peek too early! But since the beginning of December when the London Leckenby’s were with us, we’ve gradually been getting ourselves ready for tomorrow. Several storms have passed over, the webcam on Oleanna was kept VERY busy with the last storm as the windows in the pram cover hardly had a still moment.

Lebkuchen

Presents bought and wrapped, food ordered. We’ve both had a hair cut. Christmas biscuits baked and delivered. One batch of mince pies baked and consumed. Tilly has slept most of the time. The windows in my work rooms have been touched up since having the new windows installed and my work table moved back into position, I’ve tentatively started work on a painting for our downstairs toilet. I suspect more will get done during Betwixtmass.

We’ve seen Animated Objects production of A Christmas Carol, won second prize in the raffle. Enjoyed the most festive Christmas show at the SJT, Beauty and the Beast, we were very unsuitably dressed as we’d not put on our Christmas jumpers and stuck out from the crowd!

A touch more knitting has happened. Sausage rolls have been baked and eaten. Tomorrow we’ll be joined by Frank, his normal invite for Christmas dinner has had to be cancelled due to Covid rearing it’s head again. Just as well I ordered an extra large veg box, plus Frank has provided us with plenty more sprouts.

The pre cooking has happened, stuffing, red cabbage, bread sauce, gravy and birthday cake. The cake is a new recipe, chocolate and hazelnut cake, it smelt wonderful as I mixed it up with all 6 eggs it required! Ganache still to be added once it’s cooled down.

Scarbados!

So just the gammon joint and dauphinoise potatoes to consume this evening, along with a glass or two of wine.

We’re ready, are you?

Stockings laid out in front of the fire. Sadly Mick has deemed it too windy to light the fire this evening! I so hope the big man in red remembers we’re in the house this year!

Panto Postcard 3, 2023

The door back to work
The stagger through
One line, that’s better
Time to give this chap some colour
Andrew in hospital a couple of days ago
The end!
Tom’s legs will have to do as SHE has deserted us!
A touch of plumbing happening

https://www.change.org/p/fundbritainswaterways?source_location=search

Finally a big Thank you for the donations to my sock knitting. Progress is much slower this week than last, but I am managing to do at least 30 minutes a day, just £60 short of my new target for the year.

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Fpip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=pfp-share

Panto Postcard 2, 2023

….Hours

My home for Saturday night was very comfortable. Rachel and Graham’s house I think dates back to the C17th. Flagstoned floors, steep spiraling staircase where crampons would be better than socks on the aged polished wooden treads and a natural posture of stooping an advantage to get through low doors. It was the bake house, the actual bakery out the back in another building. The front room was the shop, the worn flagstones suggesting it was popular. Shortly before Rachel and Graham bought the property it had been a restaurant, apparently very popular with Ronnie Barker. They have done extensive work on the building and what a wonderful place it is.

In an older part of Chippy

A very welcoming couple who insisted I had a cuppa and my breakfast with them, I could leave my bag whilst I headed off for the day and then pass the key onto Jo the Props lady who stays with them during panto.

The Dulux dog has taken over from Bagpuss

The S3 bus took me into Oxford for the day. I didn’t really want to walk too far due to my little toe still complaining, but I did want to enjoy a day doing something completely different to panto and make sure I had a good meal too.

One possibly for the Christmas list

First port of call Waterstones. I’ve been trying to find a copy of Dinner by Nagi Maehashi that had been the Jamie Oliver Cook Book Club book for October. Everything people have been making looks tasty, but I wanted to have a look and see how many of the recipes are gluten free adaptable before buying it. I didn’t find it, but got chance to look at other books that I can line up for my Christmas list.

A walk to the Ashmolean Museum. I know Mick and I visited here several years ago, but it required another look round. I headed for an exhibition on Kabuki prints.

Then headed upstairs to look at the paintings. Plenty of Mother and child scenes, followed by Baroque deaths.

Chiaroscuro shown off, some details away from the main subjects caught my eye, Isis and a statue of Satan. By the time I reached the Pre-Raphaelites and Pissarro paintings I realised I’d been here before, but a return visit was enjoyed. My favorite painting today was From Kolding Fjord, by Vilhelm Pter Kark Kyhn, 1876. So much open space and light.

My favourite

A walk round the covered market is always good, a couple of chilled medication retailers I considered trying out but decided something savoury first would be better. I headed over to Westgate, bought a new top but failed on buying yoghurt.

Now to find somewhere to eat. I’d spotted a Cosy Club on Cornmarket Street, the chain had been recommended for gluten free dishes. Time to try them out.

A glass of wine, very attentive staff who noted my intolerance and handed me a suitable menu. Thank goodness they had something I could eat other than chicken. Seabass with roasted new potatoes in a white wine sauce with leeks and peas. Very tasty. Followed by salted caramel and chocolate moose, even tastier! Sod all the calories, I deserved a lovely meal.

Oxford’s Cosy Club has only been open two weeks, maybe that’s why the staff were almost overly attentive. But it had a nice ambience and I’ll venture there again.

Sadly, or fortunately as I left so did the next bus heading for Chippy, I had an hour to kill. Only one thing for it, check on the levels of the Thames and the Oxford Canal. Plenty of room at the very end of the Oxford, one boat hanging off the end of the pontoon below Isis Lock, the water having some momentum. Two red lights flashed on the board at the lock, no-one would go down onto the Thames if they were sensible.

Back on the towpath

I walked along where Oleanna is quite often moored at this time of year, plenty of room opposite College Cruisers, then crossed over the footbridge to walk up through Jericho to wait for the next bus back, a nice boat fix in the dark.

Back in Chippy I picked up my bags and thanked Rachel and Graham for a lovely stay, then headed home, back across town to Suzannes. A blog to write, Mick to chat to on the phone and a glass of wine. A lovely day off.

Overnight I developed quite a sore throat. Most probably the cold that was heading around the panto company. Just incase, I did a covid test before having a shower. On drying my hair I took a look, two lines! The test I’d used had an expiry date of last week, I did another, this one in date and one that takes 30 minutes. However the second line only took five minutes to appear. Oh B********cks!

Seeing double twice

First thing inform Suzanne, I’d stay in my room as much as possible, ventilate my room and bathroom. Next inform Rachel and Graham who’d only the night before been saying how it was nice to have someone stay who was less likely to bring a lurgy into their house than an actor who stayed in the pub until all hours! Then the theatre.

The covid policy at Chippy this year is more about what not to do than what to do. You don’t have to do a test if you feel unwell. But if you do and you are positive then it’s 5 days at home, 5 days of not painting! Last year I’d had covid the week before starting painting, is this becoming a tradition?!

Mick asked if I wanted collecting and taking back to Scarborough. Yes it would be nice to be home, but he would then most likely get it and we’d have to keep our new lodger Annie from getting it too. So long as Suzanne and I thought we could work things so she didn’t catch it I’d rather stay put.

Breakfast in bed

So Monday became a day of breakfast in bed, chatting to Gemma, doing a sneaky shop to keep me going, mask on at all times in shops, narrowly avoiding an actor and Jo from the theatre. I’m more than likely to have caught it whilst at work, but I’m the only one who has tested.

In the evening I had a long chat with Tim who’s been making puppets for the show. He’d be doing some painting in my absence. Getting paint on things important, then hopefully when I return I can do the twiddly bits. He wasn’t too sure on the time scale he had. My opinion was not to rush things, take his time, check with me then hopefully I’d not be wanting to redo anything on my return.

Tuesday. My sore throat disappearing and a bag by the bed filling up with tissues, glad I’d been out to buy a box, but would one be enough!?

Scene painting via Whatsapp is a little bit odd, but at least I knew Tim would ask questions and I could see things first hand. I’d received a message from Imogen who’d been on placement with me the last two years, she’s now at college studying Theatre Design in Wales. She was back in Chippy this week, would I like another pair of hands? She didn’t know the situation, but soon did. At a zoomed production meeting it was agreed that she could come in on an evening and do some other jobs, marking out rostra ready for painting.

Knitting and watching

Wednesday, nose drying up now, but a second box of tissues was provided by Suzanne and left outside my door. Instructions for the days jobs were passed to Tim and Imogen via Whatsapp and Instagram. I got my knitting needles out as it was 1st November and I’m taking part in a knitting challenge to knit for 30 minutes a day during the month. Normally this wouldn’t be too hard, but with panto I thought it would be a challenge, thankfully I’d brought with me enough yarn for three pairs of socks. My hope is that by the end of 2023 I’ll have raised £1000 for Dementia Uk. The socks I’ll be knitting now are Christmas presents, so I’ll be donating myself, but if you’d like to make a donation please don’t hold back here’s the link!

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Fpip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=pfp-share

Zenb Agile in with soup yum! Catching up on Bake off

Detectorists is keeping me amused as I knit away. This evening I added some quick cook pasta into half a pot of soup and made a rather nice dish. Shortly afterwards I felt my body lift, it had wanted some pasta, definite improvements happening.

Thursday. More knitting, A Christmas Special and onto the third series of Detectorists between messages regarding painting. Should things be sanded down between coats, thankfully not, I think if theatre paints required that I’d have given up scene painting years ago. A stool and new brushes arrived at the theatre and Suzanne and I managed to avoid being in the same air space for another day.

I spent sometime hunting round the internet for suitably sized clock hands. Clocks are important in Cinderella! Thankfully I found some of suitable lengths then passed them on to someone else to order and make work.

On the covid front I felt improved, although I seem to be getting tinnitus now and I’m not sure how long I will last before needing a sit down.

A flipping banana dog toy!

I felt the need for a canal fix today, so tuned into Heidi on The Pirate Boat. Well I thought I’d escaped the world of panto filled, with bananas, then Heidi headed to the back cabin to recount a ditty or two. Bonny, her rescue dog was playing, what with? Only a flipping banana! Did I spot Irene from NB Free Spirit in the background in the pub?

There she is in sunny Goole

Friday. Our car hires through Enterprise this year have meant that we have enough credit for a days hire, so Mick has hired a car for the day to head to see Oleanna and do an oil change. Sunny in Goole, still no new neighbour. The mattress to remeasure so that I can order us a new one, I’ve misplaced the last measurements he’d taken.

Somehow a scratch has appeared on the O of Oleanna. It’s near to a fender, but doesn’t look like that could have made such a scratch! If I was there I’d have given it a clean down and taken time to touch in the paint, hopefully saving us getting a rust patch over winter. But I’m not there and instructing Mick to do something about it …. well! He’s good with oil and cables. Here’s hoping I can get to it in the not too distant future.

That’s not good!

More knitting for me today and possibly a short walk to get some supplies in, I just need to avoid the roofers and Suzanne, oh and the rain!

Out on the canals this week the weather has been affecting some. Boats have been tied up hoping to avoid problems with Storm Ciaran. The River Trent has risen again, trapping many who’d been hoping to move to winter moorings or avoid winter stoppages, Newark Flood gates are closed again. On the Leicester Line some of the bank has been washed away during the high levels a couple of weeks ago, the pound is now drained and a notice has just come through with them hoping to be able to shore up the towpath to allow passage again, update due next week.

The webcam in York, the River Ouse is quite full!

But in Wigan boats are on the move again. After our friends on NB That’s It got just over halfway up the flight about seven weeks ago, only to be turned round due to a blown cill, the flight reopened this Tuesday. Paul the boat mover was one of the boats down the flight on Tuesday and plenty more have followed in the following days. The winter stoppages on the flight have been postponed for another week to help with boat movements, just hope the cill that looks like it’s in trouble at lock 70 hangs on for a while longer!

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe, afloat and gets to where they need to be soon. And here’s hoping I can get back up to speed on panto quickly!

Returning Home. 7th June

Morris Bridge 15 to Burrow’s Bridge 85, Shropshire Union Canal

Two boats had already gone past us by the time we were on the move this morning, well our first lock would be Minshull Lock more commonly known on Oleanna as the Queuing Lock. However both boats seemed to have pulled over, one for a comfort break for their dog the other to explore Yankee Candles. Would this mean we’d be first to the lock?

Some of the moorings on the Middlewich Branch are lovely, big views across rolling fields, the prime spots taken, but still plenty of room.

Aqueduct Marina

Aqueduct Marina, where we once spent a week iced in on NB Winding Down, we also picked her up there once in thick fog after she’d been blacked, we only made it out onto the canal that day.

What! No queue

No boats in the queue! Hooray!! Just one coming down to help. Soon we were joined below by two more boats, we were the front of the queue. It can be quite a wait as the lock is really quite deep.

NB Merlin moored at the barbecue mooring

Onwards we pootled, plenty of space at the barbecue mooring before Venetian, in fact just one hire boat NB Merlin, do Ian and Irene from NB Free Spirit still own her?

Cholmondeston Lock ahead

Now we were being transported back three years. This is where on the 22nd March 2020 we moored up for the night, slotting in between boats, laughing at a chap who was obviously coughing on purpose to avoid having anyone too close! The following morning we woke with a feeling that maybe we should retrace our steps and go back up Cholmondeston Lock as we had no idea what was ahead. That evening was when lockdown was announced.

Coming up onto the ‘Home’ pound

Today two volunteers helped at the lock which had been our last ascent before lockdown on 23rd March, and our first descent on 10th June when we had to start moving again. It’s been three years since we’ve been on the Nantwich pound, it felt quite odd to be back.

Lockdown Mooring 1

Where boats had been moored for weeks on end there was a queue for the lock. Venetian Marina was one of the places you could get parcels sent to, the very helpful lady there taking in Mick’s birthday present. Soon we passed what we called Lockdown Mooring 1, where we’d stayed for the first few days before we needed to fill with water. It hadn’t been an ideal place to be, a narrow towpath when everyone was doing their best to keep a minimum of 2 meters.

Barbridge Junction

More boats headed towards us at Barbridge Junction two came under the wide arched bridge, the way ahead was clear for us then. Here we turned left towards Nantwich and the south. Some familiar boats still on their moorings, others that had been abandoned for months now gone.

The fairies used to live at the bottom of this garden.

The pretty garden with flag flying high and a ramp for ducks. A wind sock? When and why? I waited patiently to see how the fairies were doing at the bottom of a garden, sadly their toadstool house now grown over with plenty of dead plants. Sad. The boat that had a repaint during lockdown still looks as fresh as it did three years ago.

No scrabble boaters hauling water down the hill

The white posts in the banks of Hurleston Reservoir, are there more than there were when we were in residence? ‘No mooring’ signs now sit at the bottom of the embankment, this had been where several boats had sought refuge away from the increased number of towpath users. No Scrabble boat, or the chap who was signwriting his boat, he’d also designed the yellow bicycle that we’d bought when in Hebden Bridge for the Tour de France back in 2014. Neighbours we just started to get to know towards the end of lockdown when our personal parameters were all clearly drawn.

Hurleston Junction sign post

A couple sat on the bench at the junction. The last people we’d seen sat there had been the owners of NB Somona, a Finesse boat that followed Oleanna out of their workshop. No sign of the testosterone filled pheasants on the bridge. Sadly no wheelie shoppers either, I so wonder who?what?why?

To our great surprise ‘Home’ only had a couple of boats moored on it. Normally this mooring is filled to the brim, yet back in 2020 this became where we moored for most of our time. Sharing it with passing boaters heading for water/shops/diesel. Our spot straight in front of the big gap in the hedge was free, we were tempted to stop for lunch. The field this year is just grass, no crop to watch grow. A good wide towpath where we could sit out, have barbecues and wonder just how far Tilly had managed to venture each day. We carried on.

Past the Flag Bubble mooring, their wide sitting out area overgrown now. No potatoes in the field opposite. Was this the cow that fell into the canal and gave us all an exciting day! The Lapwing mooring, the bus and Lamas, the horses who were always a bit frisky!

Coming into Nantwich we wondered if one boat had been moored in the same spot for three years on the one day mooring. We slotted in at the end of the embankment moorings where we’d been for the Beast from the East. Gosh this pound holds a lot of memories.

I love these almshouses

Lunch first then we both headed out. Mick to see if the chandlers had a float switch for the bilge pump, sadly not. They could order one, it would be here in two days, however we wouldn’t. I walked into town, far busier than when I’d last visited, no lines of queues for the essential shops either. Unfortunately WH Smiths didn’t have any mountboard. The lady suggested there might be an art shop up the street opposite, but the only interesting shop I found was a cheese shop, worth a visit next time.

I tried a picture framers shop, he could sell me some Conservation Mount but it would be £15! I could get a sheet twice the size I need with delivery for £10, he was trying to make an extra fiver. I decided to manage with what I have until I know where I’ll be able to buy some at half the price.

Nantwich Embankment needs some care to walk on. The bank is subsiding somewhat, the path drops by about six inches in parts, quite alarming. C&RT are keeping an eye on it, safe solutions as their signs suggest are hard to come by. A few more miles to do before we could pull up for the day. We checked the look of the stop gates at the next bridge hole, they looked like they’d help hold water back should anything happen at the embankment.

The last lockdown mooring was passed just below Hack Green locks. We only ventured out here once lockdown restrictions had started to be lifted, getting a feel for moving again before we had to start heading our way back towards Yorkshire and the house.

Hack Green

The lock was in our favour so we held up a hire boat with at least six chaps and their twenty or so empty bottles on the roof. Going up the second lock of Hack Green I had the assistance of a boat mover who’d stopped to have a bowl of ice cream, he was making the most of being on a boat with a working freezer, good man.

Hack Green top lock

Now we’d left the Nantwich pound. Today we’d spent 5 hours 13 minutes on our ‘Home’ pound, three years ago we spent 80 days. As Mick said, Michael Palin went round the world in 80 days! We pulled up a short distance further on, Tilly was given 1hour 30 minutes which ended up being extended.

Oleanna has been looking very grubby since we left Goole, so Mick suggested that maybe we could give her a wash. As he’d offered to help I put an hours worth of work on hold to take him up on it. Between the two of us the roof was given a very good wash, then the port side got a good going over. Drying her off in the shade meant I couldn’t quite see what the end result was going to be, hopefully a lot better than when we’d started, let’s face it she couldn’t be any worse!

Tilly enjoyed most of her extra towpath time, that was until the complaining Magpies contained one bird who simply wasn’t going to put up with her any longer. Tilly came running back to the boat all bushy tailed with a swooping Magpie close behind her. The second time this happened we decided it was her dingding time.

A strangely emotional day for us being back in Nantwich and reliving the days we spent here in lockdown. Perhaps it was good that we were only passing through, perhaps ‘next time’ we’ll stay longer and see if we get to spot the Wheelie Shoppers again.

4 locks, 12 miles, 1 left, 2 many memories, 5 hours 13 minutes, 80 days, 1 slipping embankment, 2 failed shopping missions, 0.5 day closing, 0 pies! 1 possible new digs, 0 wheelie shoppers.

https://goo.gl/maps/AL4gqcyEbTNRJkm8A

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.

Hmmm!!!

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.

https://goo.gl/maps/aZETkkBg7nKQP4hJ9

Firmware and Footwear. 5th April

Goole/Scarborough

Last Fridays post was filled with woolly goodies. Two more Independent dyers had sent me some yarn for my sockathon. What kindness! The two parcels together most probably had enough yarn for 14 pairs of socks. Thank you so much to Jem (Under The Olive Tree) and Beth (Beehive Yarns) for your generous and wonderful support.

I had a day out to Leeds to visit the Hello Stranger Yorkshire exhibition. Lots of photos from shows over the last four years and how the pandemic was coped with and how the industry has changed since. Designers were invited to add their details to a map of Yorkshire. One colour string showed where Yorkshire designers lived, the other where people from outside Yorkshire have worked. As I fitted into both categories and neither I decided to have both colours of string on my label.

I made sure my return to the station included the wonderful markets and the Exchange. Must remember all that fish when we pass through Leeds in a few weeks time!

Saturday morning started with me casting on the first pair of socks. These were to be knitted in yarn that I had bought for the challenge, matching the logo colours of @dementia-uk. In the post that morning I received a card from their Fundraising Officer wishing me luck, what a lovely touch, especially hand written, my sister-in-law would approve.

So far I’ve managed to knit a sock a day, that’s an average of 8 hours clicking a day. I go to stretch my legs each day so that my natural posture doesn’t take to being a seated one. The occasional move from one chair to another also helps. Podcasts are listened to when I’m going round in circles and we’ve taken to watching an episode of Downton Abbey each day, starting from the very beginning. We may have to up to two episodes a day as there are 50 in total. Blimey some of those servants are really really horrible!

Mick has been seeking out new insurance quotes for Oleanna. For some reason our renewal quote from GJW had gone up whilst reports on social media suggest other peoples have gone down. Craftinsure are by far the cheapest for both contents and the boat, however some things are not covered such as laptops. Why are they so much cheaper? How are they so much cheaper? Do they pay out without hassle if you need to claim? All questions Mick is seeking the answers to before we commit ourselves to a new policy.

Oleanna on a sunny day

The days, weeks and months are ticking away. Time to visit Oleanna and give her engine a run, check her over and now that we have a date we need to be back on the boat for, give notice on our mooring. Mick took the train down to Goole an easy and familiar ride now, whilst I sat on the sofa knitting.

The daffodils at Oleanna’s stern are long past their best and the scraped paintwork turning orange on the gunnels shows that she hasn’t moved anywhere for sometime. Hopefully there will be time to give things a good rub down and repaint before too long.

Clear view to NB Ivy

Mick sent me a photo looking out through the new window in the pram cover. A vast improvement from the old one which not only had holes in it but had become a touch white making the view a bit foggy. The boat opposite our bow has had a change of name, a very wise change by Lisa.

Mick ran the engine and went to see Laird and also had a catch up with Alastair. Sadly Viking Marina are out of diesel at the moment, so the tank still hasn’t had a fill. Then it was time for Mick to plug the laptop into Oleanna’s brain and give the inverter a firmware update. This new version means we can control the charging of the lithium batteries more, especially when the temperatures are really low which lithium’s do not appreciate.

Daffodils and gunnels past their best!

With everything locked up, Mick headed back to the station with the intention of being back in Scarborough to eat with me before I headed out for the evening. Sadly there were problems on the tracks. A vehicle had run through both barriers of a level crossing at Gilberdyke. This meant all trains had to run slowly and that Mick’s train which normally would have continued on to Scarborough stopped in Hull.

The chandelier at The Bike and Boot

The next train northwards followed a slow train and by the time it had reached Bridlington it itself had been cancelled as the train behind had just about caught it up! In all it took Mick four hours to return to Scarborough by which time I’d cast on the toe of sock 5 and decided to give myself an evening off. Spent at the Bike and Boot with old female friends I used to work with at the SJT. It was very nice to see every one in the flesh, many I’ve only seen on zoom get togethers over the last few years and those have gradually petered out.

The Chippy model box waiting for me to be creative

Another parcel has arrived at the house. The empty model box for Chippy Panto, all ready for me to start designing. It made sense for it to come here, rather than us trying to guess where to get it sent to in a months time.

For those wanting to know what panto will be this year, I can now confirm it will be ‘Cinderella’. But not just any old Cinderella, this one will be set in Latin America! So the music will most certainly be toe tapping. Sadly the budget won’t stretch to a visit to South America for research purposes, the internet will have to do!

The Sockothan continues and if I continue at the current rate then I should manage to beat last years pairs by several! Thank you so much to those near and far (Hello Canada!) who have sponsored me. Thank you also to those who’ve requested socks. All socks on my list are guaranteed to be knitted in April so make sure you’ve made your donation on the JustGiving website. I may be opening the challenge up for more sock requests in a weeks time, so if you feel you missed out first time around you’d best keep an eye on the blog.

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_source=copyLink&utm_medium=one_page&utm_content=page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_term=24d4cbd0b51e43b6b706a2a67292be11

Us!

So much yarn, 5 socks, 5 days, £100 cheaper, 2 barriers, 1 notice given, 1 inverter updated, 8 hours each, 67% of target, 1 evening off, 6 old friends, 1 slightly numb bum, 2 circular needles, 9 years of boat ownership!

The Gates Of Goole. 8th February

Bramwith Junction to Viking Marina, Goole, Aire and Calder Navigation

Good Morning

Sunrise on this mooring is wonderful, the windows needed a touch of decondensationing before we could really appreciate it with a cuppa in bed. It was another chilly morning, a breeze had got going which would help with winding when we set off.

Mick’s Christmas present

The VHF radio was turned on in case we could hear Exol Pride or one of the gravel barges radioing the bridges. It crackled a few times, but nothing was audible we decided that we were unlikely to meet a big barge mid channel today, anyway we’d likely see them miles off as most of the canal we’d cover today have very very long straight stretches.

Left straight on not right straight on

Sadly my back hadn’t improved overnight, so Mick was on duty for anything low down, but I’d see how I did operating the bridges along the New Junction. We winded and headed left. The Don doors open and waiting to let us across the aqueduct.

Don Doors

The step up from Oleanna to work the first bridge was a touch high, but I managed it without too much of a problem. Key of Power in and the bridge turned.

Next Top Lane Lift Bridge nobody held up here. The road surface had big chunks out of it waiting to be resurfaced. Then Kirkhouse Lift Bridge where I managed to hold up two cars, one a C&RT van.

Now the long long length with little to break it up. A zoom in with the camera wasn’t clear enough to make out what colour light there was at Sykehouse Lock. The house that had been for sale last year now has two big barges moored outside it, both in need of a bit of money spending on them, wonderful shapes though.

Sykehouse Lock with Sykehouse Lift Bridge partially open in the background

As we got closer to the lock we could see that the volunteer who must just about live in the control tower had spotted us, the light was green, but the swing bridge was still closed. We pootled on up closer.

A Great Egret

On one of the banks was what looked like a Heron, but it was far too white. When it took off we agreed that it was the size of a heron, held it’s legs and neck like a heron. So it must be a heron. Now I’ve been able to look at the photo closer I believe it to be Great Egret. According to the RSPB website they believe there to be 8 to 12 breading pairs in the country and around 72 birds that winter in the UK.

Lock open but not the swing bridge

The chap came out from the tower with his dogs, crossed the bridge to close the barriers and then pushed the bridge clear for us. Another C&RT chap walked past, a number checker, and asked if we’d seen a big barge moored by the house. We had, along with a second boat. He set off to walk the near 2 km to take down their numbers, then walk back again. That job must keep him fit around these parts.

Thank you

Down the lock we went. We spied people at the next swing bridge who looked like they would operate it for us, which they did. The chap in high-vis was taking photos of the bridge, it was having an inspection.

Up ahead at Sykehouse Lift Bridge there were three C&RT vans and four chaps. The hut by the bridge suddenly sprang into life as we arrived a cloud of black smoke coming from an exhaust in the wall. There must be a generator in there for emergency power. They left us to work the bridge, taking notes of things as it raised and lowered. It’s apparently the time of year when all the bridges are inspected. They all headed over to check a barrier after I closed the bridge and didn’t seem too phased by the huge biff the bridge made when it finally made contact with the ground! It certainly made both Mick and myself jump.

Norf ahead

Straight on to the junction with the Aire and Calder where we turned back towards the east. This stretch, well all of today’s waters are so very familiar, yet things have changed since last March. Drax was churning out power and the breach site still looks in good order.

The giant log cabin by the Alpacas has windows now and an almost completed roof. Then the building nearer to Rawcliffe has new windows and it’s roof is finished, it also has some new render and looks quite smart.

Goole ahead

The last slight bend and we were on the three mile straight to Goole.

Back through the gates of Goole we were back where we’d spent so much of 2020 and 2021, stuck due to the breach and lockdowns. Hopefully the gates won’t close on us this time! The visitor moorings were full, but across on the 14 day moorings there was plenty of space. The big grey boat that has been moored outside the Auction place is now for sale, if you’ve got £350,000!

Left by the black and white boat please

Mick swung Oleanna to the left into Viking Marina and we made our way into the corner where we’d moored before. On our pontoon a big cruiser, but to the other side of it a new pontoon. We pulled in, meeting our new neighbour, tied up and headed to the office to check in.

Hello Viking, Hello Lisa!

It was good to see Laird again and Alastair who did some work for us last year. Mick has a short jobs list for Alasdair whilst we’re at Viking. Once we’d paid our mooring fees and got a fob it was time for lunch, do the chores and pack our bags. Due to my bad back we actually left with less than we’d arrived with, Mick carrying everything.