Category Archives: Crochet

The Big Day. 25th December

Bridge 47, Alrewas

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast

After stockings came a glass of Bucks Fizz and breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, using a bit more of the parsley mountain now in our freezer. A festive chat with the London Leckenbys who were about to sit down to ham sandwiches and presents.

VHF for tidal waters and Trent Locks

Next Christmas presents. Thankfully delayed deliveries hadn’t managed to spoil our main presents. Tilly and I had clubbed together to buy Mick a new VHF radio as ours had gone faulty on the reflections flotilla, we’d ended up having to borrow one. Now that we seem to go on slightly more adventurous cruises we went for a better handheld radio than before. This should cover a larger distance. Mick put it on charge straight away and then had a go at turning down the squelch.


I got a cordless sander. I should also be able to get other tools that will use the same battery. When working on panto, Jo the props maker had a very small hand friendly cordless electric drill, so I’m hoping that might be the next tool to be added to the collection. We got plenty of other goodies too.

Time for a Christmas walk before any more booze was consumed. The last two years we’ve headed down to Scarborough sea front to have the wind clear away any cobwebs. This year we’re back on the canals, not quite the same as the north east wind making your cheeks ruddy, but just as good.

We chose to walk into the village, turning up Post Office Road. The Crown pub seemed to be popular as families turned up for a pint and lemonade.

The model cottages sitting facing each other both had wreaths on their front doors. At first I thought it a shame that they hadn’t consulted each other and gone for the same. But when I spotted the wreath on the red door, it made me laugh.

Mums and Dads

Baubles hung from a tree, this needed investigating. It is a memory tree for Mums and Dads, some of the baubles have messages written on them. Below there was a tin with a couple more baubles, were these for anyone to use or sat waiting for particular offspring to come and hang them on Christmas morning.

There was a nice looking house for sale, £620,000 for a five bedroom house, not bad. Although it feels lovely and light inside I think it’s lost some of it’s period character with the modern cupboards everywhere.

Back to the canal and a walk to look at the river levels. In the amber, Mick said it had gone down since yesterday, if it carries on in that direction that would be good. We walked down to the weir a short distance further on. The river swirled confused under the walkways and sped it’s way to the weir. Mick thought with enough umph we’d be fine going past.

A look inside the church, still warm from the mornings services. A big tree stood to one side, this with the smell reminded me of Christmas Days in the 70’s when we’d head to The Homestead for drinks with the Rowntree family in York. There in a hallway stood a tree as tall as the room, it’s base swathed in cotton wool. Trains, sledgers, animals decorated the snow below the poor tree that strained under the weight of SO many decorations. The sight kept my brother and myself transfixed, the coloured lights twinkling in the oak panelled hallway as the hubbub of adults came from the library where sherry and mince pies were handed out. At ten to one Peter Rowntree would call everyone silent, there would be a toast to Christmas and then a round of Happy Birthday for me. Today stood in All Saints I glanced up at the clock, ten to one, the time I was born.

In the churchyard many of the gravestones have been moved to the sides, this was done in the 70’s when the grounds had a change of layout. In the nearest corner to Oleanna stand the three wise men and their camels, followed by a donkey. His tail had been pinned on several times before.


Back to Oleanna, a few more Catnip Dreamies for Tilly had her gazing into nowhere for quite some time. I think she was just that little bit off her face!

The duck was pricked, stuffed and popped into the oven. Timings worked out for everything else. Bread sauce and cabbage put on top of the stove to reheat. Veg peeled ready to roast or steam. Sausages wrapped in blankets to keep them warm. It was as if we’d done Christmas dinner on the boat before! Well it’s actually easier here than in the house believe it or not.

Not normally one to watch the Christmas Day speech, lunch is normally timed to clash, but this year we thought we’d give Charles a chance as the pigs in blankets went in the oven. I think normal timings will resume next year.

Two plates brimming full were dished out, some roast potatoes had to be put back to make space for all the extras. All very nice, although my experiment of using oat milk for bread sauce won’t be repeated, it was okay but a little porridgy.

Full to the brim, Snowman was watched before the day moved to Birthday. Cake, candles a cup of much needed tea and then presents.

I got a gluten free recipe book, some waterproof thermal work gloves, some magnifying work glasses to help with model making and illustrations and a box of Pantomime yarn from Riverknits. I’m not sure I’ll knit the pattern the yarn came with or something else, not decided yet.

Another glass of wine accompanied Morecomb and Wise. A very good birthday and Christmas.

0 locks. 0 miles, 3 stockings crammed full, 5 bedoingee balls, 5 chocolate oranges, 2 styles of quality street wrappers, 1 vhf radio, 1 sander, 1 bottle of English fizz, 2 bottles wine, 1 packet of serious crack for cats, 1 spaced out Tilly, 15 pairs socks, 3 cans of beer, 4 spices, 7 silicone lids, 2 boxes matches, 1 pair of glasses, 1 book, 1 wifi camera, 2 plates only just big enough, 2 slices cake, 2 rather full boaters, 1 lovely day.

Floating On By. 30th July

Brampton GOBA mooring

Last night the moorings had filled right up. A group of cruisers breasted up and a narrowboat came along early evening wanting to try to get their stern into the git gap in front of us and lay their bow across ours. We offered them to breast up, but they had a dog and with our cratch cover and filled buckets on the bow it would have been difficult for them to get off. Fortunately for everyone a boat at the far end of the moorings decided to set off before any spikes or ropes had been sorted, so they swapped and a bankside mooring was taken.

Dried out friendly cover

This morning we allowed ourselves a cuppa in bed, it turned out that we would be the only boat not to move today. Bacon butties were followed by the Geraghty zoom, house buying before going on the market and Bedford were subjects covered today.

Mick headed off on the bike in the search of a Saturday morning newspaper, our first in quite a while, Tilly got on with enjoying a sausage day and I continued to make barrels and crates for panto. Every year I’ve made at least two barrels for my panto model, maybe I’ll keep these this time, just in case I need some again. They are quite time consuming.

1:25 barrels and crates

By the time Mick returned we were the only boat left on the moorings. I’d checked Tilly was still about every time someone pulled away, just incase as curiosity of the interiors of other peoples boats seems to be growing despite the rules! I’m just looking to see what boat improvements we might be able to make, so far nothing, but you never know!

A perfect day for kite flying

Around midday the moorings started to fill up again. It only took an hour for there to be no space left just as Ken and Sue came past in NB Cleddau. A bit of a blustery day and the current made it hard to hover for a quick chat before they floated on by. Five minutes after they left a boat pulled out, only to be replaced by another within two minutes. We may play leapfrog with Cleddau tomorrow, depends on who sets off first.

Box of bits

The remainder of the day consisted of model making for me. Tower of London, St Katherines Dock. By the end of the day my box of model bits was getting quite full and now I need to put everything into the model box to see what needs altering and tie things together.

Mick got the endoscope out. A giant crochet bag I made on the Lancaster canal years ago had gone for a swim yesterday. It wasn’t a very good bag, a try out for others I made, but it had become a very handy bit of padding. You could kneel on it when on a muddy nettle bank. This summer it’s been used under the plank quite often to save what’s left of our paintwork. Yesterday the plank had moved quite a bit and the bag had ended up falling into the river.

Bag dipping

It’s quite heavy so Mick hoped it hadn’t gone far, he’d tried fishing it out with the boat hook and now tried to use the endoscope to find it rather than aimlessly fishing in the murky water. But his phone didn’t want to talk to the cameras wi-fi, and then the power pack ended up getting wet! So we apologise now if someone picks the bag up on their prop.

I’ll have to make another, just a shame all my scraps of fabric are back at the house. Maybe it’s time to donate some really worn out t-shirts to be reused.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 sausage day, 1 Saturday newspaper, 1 box full of white bits, 1 exhausted cat.

New Pages

For a while now I’ve been meaning to add a couple of extra pages to the blog, at last I’ve got round to doing it.

I quite often get asked for the recipes for things I’ve made. Sometimes these are recipes taken from the internet, other times things I have made up. Having a place to note the made up dishes will be handy for me to be able to make them again. Above this post, you should be able to see a new menu item Oleanna Recipes. This is where those recipes will go.

When you see a blue arrow on a post it will mean I’ve added a new recipe.

You’ll notice another new menu item RedLockMakes. This is where I’ll showcase things I’ve made or current projects. Today I have added details of a fundraiser I am doing through March, keeping me busy now my Theatre Design work has finished. I’m hoping once March is over to have a bit of time to do more painting to add to this page. The red arrow will mean there’s something new to see too.

#unit 21 and stormy weather, 13th to 19th February

An early Sunday lunch was enjoyed before we got in the car to drive over to Huddersfield. This visit I’d be staying four nights so being nearer to the theatre would be good so I booked into the Premier Inn at Apsley Basin. This not only meant I’d be able to pop into Sainsburys on my way to and from work but I’d also get to see boats every day.

Boats and us!

My chauffer stayed or a cuppa before heading back to Scarborough.

Valentines cards

Monday morning and I found a couple of cards in one of my bags. Somehow the postman had delivered a small box of chocolates and cards to me which I opened whilst waiting for my lateral flow test to to do its thing.

Then it was time to head on up to the theatre to wait for the set to arrive on the back of Grahams trailer. The last time Graham and I worked together was also on a Dark Horse Theatre production, seven years ago, Snakebite. There was a time where I saw more of Graham than I did of Mick! Once the set was in the building Graham and I started to bolt the sections together whilst Penny (the Stage Manager/Lighting Designer) started to rig the lights and soft black masking.

By lunchtime the floor was laid, the flats were in position. Graham had rigged the lift door mechanism and then explained it to me. The warmth of the building had helped by tightening up the fabric the set had been covered in. Ripstock doesn’t like the cold and even just a few degrees can mean a baggy set.

After lunch I proceeded to stick green neon gaffa tape onto the set whilst the sound was sorted for the show. Penny followed on with focusing the lights. Down in the dressing rooms I sewed names into costumes and adulting badges were added to the front of the overalls.

Tuesday, Penny plotted the lights, sound and computer animation whilst I hunted round every clothes shop in Huddersfield for a vest top which I hoped would cover up a pink sports bra. I returned with a few choices and later in the day one of them did the job.

After lunch we were joined by the actors to do a technical rehearsal. Making sure the actors knew where to stand in light, where to stand out of view. Making sure the sound levels were suitable and that the lighting states did the job whilst not overpowering the animation on the set.

This normally would be done in full costume, but we saved that for a tech run later in the afternoon. After work I treated myself to a hot meal next door at Table Table, there are only so many wraps you can eat in a week!

Hair and make up

Wednesday started with a full dress rehearsal. Make up and hair were added into the equation. With three of the Dark Horse staff members on hand to do space buns I managed to avoid having to lend a hand.

An audience and Penny with all her screens

Two shows today. The first with quite a large audience. A local learning disabled school along with representatives from theatres the show may tour to next year. Then in the evening we had an audience of friends and family.

The shows were development showings, half the show with full production values. Although if Dark Horse manage to get more funding for the show next year then we will add neon lights into the set rather than having to rely on neon tape.

Both shows went down well and I got chance to have a catch up with the Assistant Producer from the SJT in Scarborough.

Subdued crochet compared to my socks

Normally on Panto Postcards I do a tally of how many hours I’ve worked. Well with most of the work having been done in advance the days were short. Monday and Tuesday starting at 9am and finishing at 6pm, I was glad I’d taken some crochet along with me as there was quite a gap between shows.

All gone!

Then once the final audience member had left the auditorium it was time to take everything down. This took all of 35 minutes. The original plan had been to ferry all the set over to the rehearsal space, but because of Storm Dudley it was decided to take it to the office instead. Better that people didn’t fly away.

A couple of drinks in the pub next door to wind down was followed by some chips which I managed to eat all of on the way back to my hotel. The second photo is of an empty box overlooking the canal basin whilst Dudley did it’s worst, nothing to do with the wine I’d drunk!

Thursday morning Mick arrived to pick me up. It was time to celebrate Christmas with the London Leckenbys. The four hour drive wasn’t too bad as the worst effects of the storm had passed. A pizza followed by some chilled medication was enjoyed at Wells Street Pizza in Hackney.

Friday we managed to avoid the worst effects of the fresh air Storm Eustice was blowing around. Jac and Josh headed off to do a bit of shopping and get a hair cut at Bermondsey Market, but neither Mick or I fancied sitting on a double decker bus at the height of the storm. Instead we got to watch the womens curling instead.

Christmas presents were unwrapped in the evening. Mick got a hedge trimmer and a webcam. I got a big saute pan, a red fleece top, a new duvet cover and the latest Andy Griffee hard backs. A very good haul, worth the trip to London.

More watery mysteries

Saturday we said our farewells, hopefully we’ll get to see Andrew Jac and Josh next just before Easter. We’d managed to miss the really bad weather again for our trip back to Scarborough, although we did have torrential rain, then sunshine. When we turned onto the M18 we then got sleet which by the time we turned off the M62 had turned into snow, much of it looking like it would be hanging around.

Snowy Wolds

A road closure meant we had to divert to Bridlington and as soon as we ducked under the railway line all of the snow vanished, Scarborough was having quite a pleasant day!

My pretty little Thug

Tilly’s magic food bowl was totally empty and the biscuit bowl had been licked clean too.

Good job they came back when they did as Tom hadn’t left ANY reserves!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 hire cars, 24 hours work, 7 actors, 21 strips of neon gaffa, 100 dabs of glue, 1 baggy set, 1 tight as a drum set, 2 showings, 1 happy director, 4 nights, 4 pizzas, 1 family Christmas, 1 whole salmon, 2 storms, 1 snowy landscape, 1 cat happy to have us home.

PS. One Designer looking for work.

One Thirty. 12th February

Time seems to have been standing still here in Scarborough.

Jobs are gradually being ticked off the lists. On the house jobs list all the woodwork in the two hallways and staircases has been rubbed down, filled, undercoated and glossed. This took a long time and a lot of patience, I know I could have done it better but even my patience was running thin. The back bedroom curtains are now lined. Patching the wall paper in the hallways is partially done.

Mick has serviced the life jackets. All four were inflated and left in the boat cupboard overnight to see if they held the air. This extended to being a week before Mick finished the job, all still filled with air and well out of reach of Tilly’s claws. She decided to explore a bathroom cupboard instead. Finally our gutters have been sorted at the back of the house and our neighbours Dad came and fitted a new shower tray for us. The plumbers had quoted £3500 for a new surround and tray, all we wanted was the cracked tray replacing. Lisa’s Dad did it for a tenth of the quote and a good job too.

Rebekah and Alice

I had a day and night over in Huddersfield working on #unit21. Final costume fittings with only one job left to do, or so I thought! I then watched a dress run through. In the evening I had planned to get the floor marked out and based in, leaving the top coat of green for the Saturday morning, but there was a dance class booked to use the main room. Their hour turned into two and a half! So by the time I’d got the flooring laid out I only had time to draw the lines out before I gave up.

Was it the wine? Was it the chicken?

Chicken and chips with a dubious glass of pink wine was had at Nandos, think I prefer the kebab wagon in Chippy. Over night I got to spend more of my time in my Travelodge bathroom than in the bed as something had disagreed with me somewhat!

I’d planned an early start, but that wasn’t going to happen. I’d planned a walk along the Broad canal into town, but a more direct route conserved energy. During the day I gradually worked my way painting white lines followed by green, fortunately the paint dried pretty quickly. I’d hoped to be back in Scarborough early afternoon, but that wasn’t to be and thankfully Mick was at the station to help with my bags. At least I’d managed to get the majority of jobs done.

The following day I took it easy, Downton Abbey and some crochet with Tilly on the sofa. Thankfully by the evening my appetite had returned so I could enjoy National Yorkshire Pudding day with roast pork.

During this week word came from Huddersfield that a zip had broken on a set of overalls. Replacing them wasn’t an option, no larger sizes were available either. So they were sent to me arriving along with the butchest zip I could find. I have now learnt/made up how to add an extra 3 inches (just to be safe) to the sides of the overalls and how to put a zip in. Here’s hoping it works.

Someone’s on the move

With a train strike on Sunday we’ve hired a car to get me to Huddersfield ready for the fit up on Monday morning. This of course means we had a car available for today. Now how should we make use of it? Well it was way past time to say Happy New Year to Oleanna!

Leaving me behind!

A really rather wet, windy, horrible day. Heading over the Wolds we were deprived of the views but the amount of snowdrops more than made up for it. When we’d last done the trip to Thorne all the fields were brown, now they are green with fresh life growing. The tide was out on the River Ouse as we crossed the M62 bridge. I could see why going round the wrong side of Howden Dyke Island would be a bad thing with the amount of silt to the north western side.

Not the best photo of Howden Dyke Island

During the week Mick had noticed that Oleanna was no longer hooked up. He’d given Sarah a call at the marina to check everything was alright. It was, Oleanna had been moved as the pontoon she was moored on was being replaced. During one of the recent storms a small cruiser i the marina had been lifted up by the wind. It was tied well to it’s pontoon which also got lifted off it’s supports. The boat was found in the middle of the marina still attached to it’s pontoon!

There she is!

There she was right at the far end of the marina breasted up against two other boats. Not the easiest of access, but we managed. Mick found a spare socket to hook us up to and turned the electric heating on. Then we enjoyed our picnic lunch sat by the hatch which remained firmly closed despite the view being rather good.

Mick had intended to do an oil change but the weather put him of somewhat. Instead he pottered, checked Oleanna over and ran the engine.

Down below I got on with my task for the day, some TLC for our multi-fuel stove. Last winter the top plate had started to show a little rust, the stove not having been lit for seven months. Today it was time to do something about it.

A good wire brushing on the top plate removed much of the orange, followed by some fine grit sandpaper. The rest of the stove just needed a freshen up. The big hoover came out to suck away all the dust. The hearth was cleaned too.

Drying the stove

Everywhere then got a good wash down. Only problem was it would take quite a while to dry off, handy that we’d bought a second hand hairdryer a few years ago when we planned to put plastic up at the windows in winter. Today it got used for the first time.

Stir it up

I hunted round in the painty cupboard and found the tin of stove black paint. This had been bought for Lillian’s Squirrel stove before we sold her. Thankfully the paint was still good inside, it just required a very good stir up.

Doors off and bits masked off

All the chrome bits were masked off, the door glass removed for cleaning. Then I gave everywhere a thin, hopefully even coat of paint. The hearth got a coat too to tidy it up.

Paint going on

That paint smells! So glad I’d decided to this job now when we wouldn’t have to put up with the smell all evening. Touch dry in fifteen minutes. Well that was hard to tell as the clock at the back of the galley had said 1:30 when we arrived and still said it when I’d finished painting.

Looking smart again

The doors slotted back on easily, the glass back in the door. Just like new apart from the knob on the riddle handle that needs replacing as the thread has worn away. On our next visit we’ll light a small fire to bring the stove up to temperature to help the paint cure. Then hopefully all the smellyness will be over and done with when we move back on board.

All ready to spill stew on again

A chat with Sarah suggested that there is still problems getting hold of Calor Gas. We have an empty bottle on board which we’d like to replace. Hopefully her next order of LPG will be successful, she’ll put our name on one of the bottles if it is.

Bye bye

Everything onboard was turned off again, taps left open should the temperature drop before we’re back next. Power was unhooked, the cable tucked away. Hopefully next time she will have been moved back to her mooring and a new pontoon making it a lot easier to get on and off.

The sun came out just as we were about to leave!

Our route back to Scarborough was slightly longer than the way there. It took us to New Bridge over the Aire and Calder, I was able to get my first view out of the window of the breach site. Today you’d hardly know what it looked like last year. Then onwards to B&Q in York to pick up some neon pink paint for #unit21 props.


0 miles, 0 locks, 2 staircases, 2 curtains, 1 new shower tray, 1 chair, 1/2 a dodgy chicken, 1 glass rose too much, 1 emergency zip replacement, 3 more inches, 1 hire car, 1 service postponed, 5 year old stove paint still stinky, 2 poo buckets forgotten, 1 cuddly Tilly, 1 pair of handknitted first night neon odd socks (neon to match the show, odd for down’s syndrome).

Back To Life On Land. 20th November to 3rd December


Well it’s been two weeks now since I returned to Scarborough. From rushing around on panto for five weeks calm has now been restored.

Different sticker this time

The day after I got back we both had our Covid boosters. Mine was at the Rugby Club where I joined another 1399 people being jabbed from my doctors surgery. Mick headed to a nearby church to get his and was offered a flu vaccine at the same time, so he had one in each arm. Five days later I got my flu jab at Boots. Mick ached a bit and we both had sore arms for a while, but nothing to complain about really.

Normally after opening Chippy panto we have a few days relaxing in Oxford before heading northwards dodging stoppages. The first year we got to see quite a bit of a festival of light around the city and two years ago we watched the Thames rise and rush past moored boats on East Street, we were glad to have been on the canal!

This year being in Scarborough didn’t stop us from what now has become a bit of a tradition, sitting on the sofa recuperating and watching a few episodes of Morse. I think two years ago we started the box set at the very beginning, the first episode and first murder having taken place opposite our mooring in Jericho. We decided to carry on where we left off, this years first episode being ‘The Last Bus to Woodstock’ Quite apt as I’d avoided that situation the other week when returning from visiting the London Leckenbys. There had been an old lady on my bus, but I doubt she was as nosy as the one in Morse.

The valley in the spring

Then ‘The Last Enemy’. This started with a narrowboat pootling along in the sunshine, quite badly steered, which ended up in the off side vegetation. Immediately our brains started to whirr, where was this? Short pontoons on the off side, slight bends, a building in the background. Hang on, the body was found just about opposite to where we’d moored at Thrupp a few months ago! Thankfully the inaccuracies of the canal system quickly struck (as they do in Morse) with talk of divers searching at the next lock. This would either be Shipton Weir Lock which is upstream or Roundham Lock which is quite a long way for body parts to have drifted to. It was nice to see Thrupp back in the 80’s, I wonder if any of the boats on the moorings are still the same? The Boat Inn certainly has changed a touch.

By the seaside

Our first Sunday walk in Scarborough had us waving to Jaye and Duncan on the way down to the South Bay to have a look at the sea. Not the longest of walks, but good to see that Scarborough was still there and have a few cobwebs blown away.

Banbury Guardian

Rapunzel Panto, Chipping Norton Review

Reviews of the panto have been coming in. So far everyone seems to love having panto back on stage. Chippy is a favourite with many, I even get a mention or two! Sadly a week after I left a Pippin tested positive, the companies PCR tests all came back negative so the show could go on after a days cancellation.

Oxford Mail

But at the beginning of this week one of the main cast had two lines show on their lateral flow test, everyone was sent back to Banbury for another PCR. Unfortunately a second positive was found in the company. The shows have been cancelled this week and so long as no-one else gets two lines the understudies will go on next week, I bet they are busy in their living rooms rehearsing. JJ who plays the Dame seems to be catering for those affected and leaving tuperware food parcels on door steps, I so hope they all stay well.

Hello! It’s me!!!

I have a shadow where ever I go, Tilly occasionally goes out to explore, but more of her time is spent moaning and complaining. I ask her every day when we’ll be back on the boat and moving the outsides again, so far She hasn’t given me a reasonable answer!

What are they doing to that TREE!?!

Thank you for the messages from people regarding the weather last weekend, I believe Scarborough was on the news. It was very windy and we had snow in town, plenty more up on the moors and wolds. Footage of wave dodgers filled social media as always.

Our street ended up being closed to traffic as there was a tree happily rocking away in the storm on Saturday. The council came to check it over, but it was too windy to do anything about it. They returned on Sunday to start to chop it down and on Monday afternoon it was ‘Timber!’ So much boaters gold!

Red Onion and Feta Quiche

Mornings have been spent doing a bit of work for #unit21 which will be here before I know it. Plenty of costume shopping and rearranging the build budget. The green light for the build was pressed this week so it’s all systems go, well for my friend Graham. I’ll do a days costume fitting before Christmas and then that should be it for me for a while.

We’ve had deliveries, smokeless coal, 2 veg boxes (so far) and the milk lady is back delivering three times a week. Our Christmas food order is in, just needs a final tweak. Now present deliveries are starting to arrive.

I keep making a mental list of which jobs need doing in the house this winter. One corner of the kitchen needs attention from where the leaking roof has left it’s mark. We’re not convinced all is sorted in that corner yet, the guttering hasn’t been clipped down fully so waved around in the storm and some roofing felt now encourages drips down onto the window sill below! We’re waiting for the roofer to call us back! The cosmetic side of the repair will wait a while longer.

That experiment turned out to be a bit messy!

I decided to give my knees another week off before getting on with some decorating. Sanding all the woodwork in the hallways is going to take some doing before I can give it a fresh coat of paint and some of the wallpaper needs replacing. One pair of curtains also need lining , if this is all I manage to get done this winter it will be fine as right now we don’t have the money to do more major decorating jobs. A plumber has been to check the two boilers over, the old one needs some work which hadn’t been picked up during gas safety checks when the house was rented out. So money is better spent there this year.

Just a bit of extra ventilation!

A couple of days ago Mick caught a train down to Thorne to visit Oleanna. A final oil change before winter hadn’t happened, so he was wanting to get it done sooner rather than later. He was prompted to visit as Sarah at the marina had called saying that there was a kitchen window open. Had we left this open on our brief visit? Or had someone else opened it?!

Train timings meant he had time to pick up some oil from Boyes in Goole on his way. Sure enough the window was open, thankfully the weather last weekend must have been blowing from the port side so had avoided coming in. It certainly looks like it was us who left it open. Unfortunately in amongst the new filters onboard there wasn’t the one needed for the oil. So other than running the engine for an hour and closing the window Mick had had a bit of a wasted journey.

I’ve been trying to go for walks everyday to keep my knees working. Walking in the footsteps of the local yeti and seeing the sea is a good thing. My left knee seems to be behaving other than feeling a bit stiff. Hopefully this will pass and I’ll do my best not to kneel when I start decorating.

Hello Frank

After being back for ten days I dropped Frank a message and sure enough he was round for a cuppa the following day. There were slight complaints about the lack of biscuits on offer! If he times his visit well this week he’ll be able to try out the sample batch for this years Christmas biscuits. It was very good to see him and hopefully Mick has planted a seed or two about some carpentry jobs we’d like him to do on Oleanna this winter.

We now have two bookings for our house next year from the SJT, which is great. If anyone fancies a few days relaxing by the sea in Scarborough we can highly recommend our friends house, Friths. Fleur and Ruth have worked their socks off over the last year making their house cosy, quirky and very welcoming, it has just recently opened for bookings.

Mike from Alchemy has spotted Oleanna on Google Street view, when she was out for blacking earlier this year at Goole Boathouse. That means that both our boats have appeared at one time or another. A shame we weren’t in shot this time, we were certainly around as the stern doors are open.

Mushroom and cabbage risotto

The latest news on the towpath grapevine regarding the breach on the Leeds Liverpool Canal is that it will reopen hopefully March next year. The latest C&RT notice says they are installing more secure dams either side of the breach. Designs for the repair are well developed and structural works are in the detailed design stage so that materials can be ordered ready for the new year. We’re not as yet sure which way we’ll be heading when we set off, but having the Leeds Liverpool as an option would be good. In the meantime we need to decide on whether we should be buying a Gold Licence for the coming year. These run from January to December, we’d trade in our standard licence for the few months remaining on it and then we’d be able to spend more time on EA waters during the year. We just have to decided where we’ll be going.

Candlelit Chinese take away to celebrate our 19th year together

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 failed oil change, 1 closed window, 2 weeks of resting, 9 costumes bought, 1 budget rejigged, 2 veg boxes, 1 emergency rug, 2 tax returns submitted, grade 3, 1 box of filters, 4 jabs, 1 bored cat, 1 street view, 3 Morse’s, 1 new variant, 1st waterways painting, 2 go Gold or not? 1 Pip glad to be cooking again, 19 years with my fella.

Panto Postcard 6, 2021

46.75 hours

Sunday. What a lovely day off spent with family. Finn the feline version of a silver back was first to say good morning to me, I was honoured as he rarely makes his way upstairs. Then Ziggy made sure I had enough feline attention by sitting on me and demanding I leave the crochet blanket alone to give her plenty of chin rubs.


The day was spent chatting with Andrew and Jac followed by an early lunch. A joint of lamb with plenty of vegetables and masses of cauliflower cheese. All was very very yummy and just what was needed to refuel me for the journey back to Chippy. I even got to take a generous doggy bag back with me!

Google had been good on the way to Hackney with it’s timings, I aimed for an earlier bus than suggested, just missing it. Then with the volume of people at Paddington it was slow going getting up into the station, I was there a minute before my train departed, but there was no mention of which platform, so I missed it! A change of route however got me back to Oxford in time for a bus back to Chippy before they became hourly.

Just a bit of prop veg

Monday. Jo returned with a mass of giant prop veg. Those turnips nearly looked good enough to eat and her leeks made from yoga mats were a triumph! We were joined by Tim for a second day helping to work the way through the remainder of the prop makes.

The Cotswold Thunderbolt

The local BBC reporters came to film us getting ready to open the show. A few interviews were recorded and then Ash and Gav got to wheel the cannons across stage at speed, which of course was the bit that was used.

I know how to live!

The dress rehearsal from Saturday was finished off, followed by a full dress with another set of Pippins. This then left the evening to do work. I decamped into the bar and spent several hours sewing velcro onto ribbons, sadly the bar wasn’t open!

Tuesday. More fairy lights went up in the auditorium and we were joined by the ushers for the final dress rehearsal when photos were taken. There were still notes to work on and the show was running a touch too long for days with two school shows. Whilst cuts were discussed long into the evening glittering happened in the auditorium, adding that bit of eco sparkle to the show.

Drying leaves

Wednesday. I spent all morning in the land of latex glue. The auditorium needed a good leafing. I got into my stride with three plastic bags where leaves could be glued and left to dry as I stuck the driest onto the balcony fronts. The morning soon disappeared and it was time to clear everything away as we had two previews.


The first preview was filled with a school and a group of about 30 adults. Sadly after a couple of songs a fault developed with the sound so the show had to be stopped as nobody could hear the music. People ran round to find the fault and ended up replacing a faulty cable which seemed to do the trick. But by the time we were ready to start again there was a very long line of kids waiting for the toilet! The delay of around twenty minutes meant that the schools bus would arrive before the end of the show, so it was decided to get to the song sheet and then say farewell to the kids, the adults then more than made up for the lack of bums on seats whilst the show finished.

Rudi and Rapunzel with the portrait

The second preview went much better, even the cannons did their best to impress and soak! The old Producer Will was in to watch, which was lovely as he put together the team and contracted us all before he left to go freelance.

Still my favourite set

During the show I realised what was missing from one of my sets. The interior of the tower had been bothering me, it was because it didn’t have any panto shadows. So the set was put on stage ready for some attention first thing in the morning.

Almost finished England on the Wold

Thursday, I was just about first in. Shadows painted before the cast arrived to work through the cuts that would be put in today. I had a few more notes to do before having a really good tidy up. Paints were labelled and stored back in the shed. The model was removed from the model box of the theatre, I keep a few bits as mementos but the rest has served its purpose so just ends up in the bin. All my possessions were collected together and piled up in the shower, the only place left in the building with space!

Just a few more leaves were added and the very last one recorded for posterity. I used a few leaves and added strawberries for my first night cards, the remaining ones were all packed up and put in the attic for someone to find in years to come. Out of the 3588 leaves I’d cut for the show I think I had about 900 left and if I’d had one more day I’d have used them all up.

In fact it’s loads of scaf clamps

At bang on 4pm I got a message, Mick had arrived in Chippy! A hire car had been picked up this morning in Scarborough. The car was loaded and the shower made available to the cast again.


The evenings performance was a socially distanced one, only 65 in the audience, but they all seemed to enjoy it. Maybe it was because there were lots of the team in as it was our last evening. Mick enjoyed the show and I was especially pleased that the Pippin team on tonight included my favourite, she tends to steal the show when she’s on stage.

Time to say Goodbye to panto

After the show I joined the rest of the team in the stalls for notes. This actually was more of a goodbye to many of us who’d be leaving tomorrow. Tiredness and emotion took over a touch for me. After spending almost 18 months talking about the show and the design having been worked on for a year, there it was on the stage in front of an audience. We were all back doing what we love and sharing it with an audience. I’d avoided going to the pub for four weeks and kept my distance, worn my mask for eleven hours a day (sometimes more) but now hugs could not be refused.


Time to eat. Only one thing I could eat, and that was fish and chips at the Blue Boar.

Chipping Norton is where Bagpuss resides of course

Friday. No time to sleep in, there was more to pack in the car and time to say goodbye to Suzanne. Thank you once again for my Chippy Panto home.

Festive breakfast/lunch

Then we were on our way heading northwards. We paused to pick up some breakfast at Leicester Forest East Services. Last time we’d stopped here was when we moved NB Winding Down from Elton Moss, on that occasion we’d had three weeks of boat life and were deafened by the chairs in the dining area being scraped on the floor. Sandwiches would do us today.

There she is!

We turned off the M18 at junction 6 and wove our way through Thorne to reach Blue Water Marina. There sat Oleanna tucked in with her new friends, a few with familiar names about the place.

It’s been strange not being able to go home to the boat whilst working on panto this year, my life having developed a north south divide! So it was good to see her in her winter home. Time to collect a few things I would want before it was time to say Toodle Pip to her for the time being.


The rest of our journey back to the house was filled with autumnal scenes up over the Wolds. Drax the only power station in the area still with it’s full compliment of cooling towers was busy working hard.

Yes it is me, I’m home now!

Sat in the bay window on our return was Tilly. I got a bit of a telling off to start off with but she soon remembered that I give better head nudges than Mick. Well first you’d gone and left me, then Tom did too! He’d even left me with the magic food bowl which had only popped once! I’d got bored of waiting for it to pop again. I was soon pinned down to the sofa by Tilly, Mick gave me a glass of wine and I caught up on Bake Off again.

Pinned down

Three weeks ago on the day we moved Tilly back to Scarborough, we were contacted by the SJT regarding a lodger for 6 weeks next spring, hopefully our first of several. So this year we know when we’ll be back on Oleanna, well hopefully if the plague doesn’t get out of control!

Protecting the bench

This does now mean that unless there is something boaty to write about, the blog will be going into hibernation again, hopefully not for as long as last winter as we’ll be back on board before C&RT’s winter maintenance is finished. In the meantime we’re working on a few new things to be included on the blog.

Now where’s that stoppage list gone?

for now

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 missed train, 1 huge leg of lamb, 2 feline cuddles, 4 last days, 2667 leaves stuck, 21 leaf cards, 6 ribbons, 1 last night visit to the pub, 1 Oleanna visit, 1 ikea bag of stuff, 1 shouting cat, 1 warm lap, 1 designer pinned to the sofa, 1 panto opened, 1 Pip taking it easy for a while.

Panto Postcard 5, 2021

72 hours

Sunday, a day of rest all round. After spending nine hours leaning over painting the floor I needed to check I could still walk. After a bit of a lie in and breakfast I headed out for a walk to get some food. I walked up to Marks and Spencers Food Hall buying a pie and some stir fry vegetables, along with some other bits and bobs to keep me going.

Which one did I buy?

This coming week I would more than likely be trying to paint things with the lights going on and off so I popped into Mountain Warehouse to buy myself a head torch. In past years I’ve ended up borrowing someone’s, but that wouldn’t be possible with covid around. I had quite a choice, narrowed it down to two, then one.

Feet up, baking and crochet

Much of the rest of the day was spent lying on my bed with my feet up. A couple of colours were added to my crochet blanket and two episodes of Great British Bake Off were caught up on. Once I’d watched Dr Who it was very much time to go to bed.

Cinnamon buns

Monday. Ed the sound designer joined us, checking the system and making sure the actors on stage would be able to hear Barney the Musical Director as well as him being able to hear them. Will the Lighting Designer focused lights leaving me with just my head torch behind the backdrop.

Most of the scenery would pass by now, still finishing touches needed, but most of that could now happen in breaks when the lights were on. So I turned to smaller things, the bunch of parsley. The Designer arrived and had changed her mind how this should look! She doesn’t always get in the way, but today she insisted that I start again!

The other major thing that required painting was a portrait of Gothel the witch. I’d been hoping to catch Amy in costume at some stage before now, but had missed her on Saturday. Luckily she had taken some dressing room selfies of herself so I was able to use one of those. I’d been wanting to do a version of the Mona Lisa, it took a while to get her arms not looking stumpy.

Back in Scarborough the roofer returned. The old gutters were replaced and the mass of down pipes moved to nearer the ridge of the roof, hopefully meaning that the water will spread across the roof and not just be a torrent down the corner of the house. The bill for the work turned out to be more than the chap had said, we thought his quote had included scaffolding, but now that was an extra £300!

Still a lot of detail to add

Tuesday. Sound check day, I wondered if Gavin could actually count past two. Barney was moved onto stage. Trying to give him enough space for all his kit, keyboard, headphones, peddles, squeeze box, microphones, cameras, monitors as well as be able to change the scenery in front of him all took time.

Fairy lights going up

Gemma returned and set about adding the fairy lights to the portals, I’d hoped someone would take this on. Due to a lot of previous layers on the portals we wouldn’t be able to push the lights through from the back, this is by far the neatest way. Instead they were cable clipped onto the front, it was quite fortunate that I wanted to cover the surface with thousands of leaves. Once the lights were up Gemma started sticking the greenery up.

Just about finished

Out in the garden Jo was busy with the big cannons. She’d had a brain wave overnight and done some research, I could assist with my boaters knowledge of amp hours and batteries. I got on with the final pieces of scenery, the cucumber sandwich slidders, all the time gradually adding more paint to Gothels portrait.

Wednesday. Mick caught trains down to Thorne, not as easy to get to as Goole was. On Saturday he’d not been able to meet up with any of the marina staff and by the time he arrived it was getting too late to winterise Oleanna. So he introduced himself to Sarah, received the marina rules and handed over some money. The mooring here is a touch more expensive than it was last winter in Goole, but it does include an amount of electricity in the price.

Diddy damp trap

Mick emptied the damp traps, refilled them with new crystals and positioned them around the boat. The water was turned off, the system drained and the shower head laid in the shower. Cupboards were opened up to help with air circulation and the Alde boiler was set to come on when the temperature drops to 3C, a few degrees lower than last winter.

A panto must at Chippy

Time for the technical rehearsals to start in Chippy. The sweet chest had been tracked down, it had been sold off at the last Panto sale by mistake! The new owner will have it replaced with a chest that isn’t so important to panto.

Waiting to start

Last night lighting states and sound levels had been programmed into the boards for the first part of the show, today we’d add the actors, costumes, scenery and props. Teching can be a slow process especially when there is SO much going on. Visual gags and luminous lettuce kept us all amused.


Thursday, more technical rehearsals. These days I spend watching, taking notes, helping solve any problems. But I’d also decided that baby Rapunzel needed to have a crocheted blanket! Yes we could have gone out and bought one, but it would have been hard to find a good one to match the show. Instead Jo supplied me with some green yarn with gold flecks and I borrowed a lamp so that I could see to crochet in row G whilst I wasn’t needed. In breaks more leaves were added to the portals and Gavin’s feet! He seemed to have a homing instinct to them whilst the latex glue was drying.

Friday. The Cotswold Thunderbolt was erected on stage and we had chance to add the rigging. A chap called Tim joined us to help Jo work on props whilst we continued with the technical. We worked our way through Act 2 until the actors ran out of hours. Then it was time to dry tech the ending of the show.

Wide ribbons had been made up by Valerie a local volunteer, Jo had fibre glassed the giant strawberry which was flown out. With big clamps to temporarily hold ribbons to the balcony fronts we tried out the ribbons and raised the strawberry. This all worked. We then dry teched the end sequence (without actors), it all slotted together as planned! High fives all round.

Saturday. Today we should have been doing the first of three dress rehearsals. Each team of Pippins get to have a dress, but we still hadn’t teched the end of the show with everyone, the five minutes was likely to take about two hours! So in the morning we did a dress rehearsal of Act 1. Imogen my work experience joined us and did her best to cut leaves to decorate the pram whilst sitting in the dark. We then positioned ourselves in the balcony to release the ribbons several times as we finished the technical.

The strawberry, Gemma and Dash

Then followed a busy afternoon, trying to tick jobs off the list, painty jobs that could dry before actors returned in costume. I’d set myself an alarm and at 5:30pm it went off, time to wash brushes, get changed and head to the correct bus stop and leave Chippy for a night away.

Gothel green

This time I was heading to Hackney to see the London Leckenbys. Google suggested a route, S3 bus to Oxford, grab something to eat at the station, a train into Paddington, Bakerloo line then Central line followed by the 388 bus to Hackney Wick. A busy journey but not as alarming as the one to Doncaster had been two weeks ago. Unfortunately I got off the bus a little bit early so arrived about five minutes after I should have, but still before 9:30. Cheese and wine on my arrival with a guided tour of their new improved house, before sinking into bed in what used to be Josh’s room.

0 miles, 0 locks, 5 trains, 2 buses, 2 tubes, 7 tech sessions, 0.5 dress, 6 lateral flow tests, 1 head torch bought, 1 head torch misplaced after 3 hours! 1 boat winterised, 1 portrait, 1 pram, 1 MD squeezed in, 1 backing flat squeezes out, 1 asm, 1 blanket to make, 1 more long week to go.

Panto Postcard 2. 2021

70.75 hours

Cheese and Ham Muffins

Sunday. What a lovely day. Time for a cuppa in bed for me. I didn’t really plan on doing that much as I’d had a busy week and knew that the following week would be even busier! Not having my breakfast chef on hand I put together a treat breakfast. Two toasted muffins with cheese and ham. Very tasty, but not a patch on one of Mick’s breakfasts. I then spent most of the morning trying to catch up with The Great British Bake Off, played on the laptop whilst crocheting and most importantly keeping my legs up.

Crochet and baking

During the last week my knees have taken a battering, an old war wound on my left knee used to be sorted with a good rub. But sadly now the effect only lasts a few minutes. So keeping my feet up was a very important job today, also having the opportunity to do some crochet was good. My blanket is now of a size that Tilly and it cannot live comfortably on my knee at the same time.

Gluten free fish and chips

In the evening I joined Gemma (Production Manager), Chris (Production Carpenter), Ade and Lou (Set Builders) for a drink and some food at the Blue Boar where we could get a table. It was good to see the team again, have a drink and of course have fish and chips (gluten free version available).

Meanwhile in Yorkshire, Mick had been up early to move Oleanna for her rendezvous in the morning in Goole. Thank goodness it wasn’t further! His first hop before Oleanna was over heating got him about half way from Rawcliffe Bridge. Time to let the engine cool down before the next hop just to inside Goole caisson.

The lift mooring

Then the final hop was into Viking Marina, to the boat lift. Oleanna wouldn’t need to come out of the water, but this was a space that was available. Our mooring from last winter now has a boy racer cruiser tied up to it, but we could still claim to be neighbours with Lisa and Al’s boat. The trip of 2.5 miles had taken Mick and Oleanna 6.5 hours.

Meet and greet

Monday. A very busy day for me at Chippy, read through and fit up all rolled into one along with meeting a sixth form work placement student (Imogen) who’d be joining me several times this week. I collected all my model pieces together and using blue tack put it back together as best I could in the time I had before being asked questions by the builders, showing my face at the meet and greet. Blimey that was odd, everyone being masked, trying to talk to each other and be heard, whilst at least 20 other people were trying to do the same thing!

Busy busy busy

I did the model showing, followed by Helen showing the costume designs, then it was the read through, so much better read by the actors than read in my head. Plenty of ‘Chill out Hilda!’

Ade and Lou concentrated on building a platform for Rapunzel to get to her tower, whilst Gemma and Chris busied themselves rigging portals and cloths. I managed to get quite a few things drawn out so that they could all be jigsawed out to the correct shape. Jo (Prop maker) arrived with many goodies in her van, including the giant strawberry.

In Goole Mick and Alastair were being busy. First the antifreeze in the cooling system was drained off. Then pipes and the gear box oil cooler were removed. Lots of rusty crud was blocking these. A pressure washer was then fitted to the system and the whole thing was given a good wash through.

The system was put back together filled with water the engine started up. After about ten, fifteen minutes it became clear that the crud was not the only problem as Oleanna’s temperature started to rise again. Alastair decided that a pressure test would be needed to check if the head gasket had gone! This could only be done when the engine was cool, so it was decided to do that the following morning as it was already late in the afternoon.

Chocolate fuelled drawing out

Tuesday. More drawing up for me today and with the help of Imogen lots of furniture had a base colour applied, Imogen could well be a useful find. Ade and Lou headed home leaving a box of their fresh pressed apple juice for us all to enjoy. Chris and Gemma carried on rigging pieces of scenery with the help from Ash and Gav the two in house technicians.

Base colours on the town flats

By the end of the day I’d managed to get some paint on more pieces of scenery and solutions for the cinema screen to be able to fly in and out had been found. One tower has a hinged door in it the other has a section that can be removed with care, hopefully this won’t need to happen too many times. A good day in Chippy.

Heading back to Viking before she over heats

However in Goole investigations continued. Alistair set about doing a pressure test at 8am. This had to be done first thing as the boat lift was needed today. Thankfully Oleanna passed the test and so the head gasket is good, phew! He was sent over to the visitor moorings whilst the lift was being used. Mick headed off to do some shopping and once the mooring was free again he moved back over for more investigations.

The water pump

The water pump was removed and then taken to bits. Ah Ha! This was the problem, Mick had thought it might be. For those unfamiliar with what the inside of a pump should look like, there should be 6 fins that pump the water through the cooling system, Oleanna’s for some reason only had 1.5, the rest having disappeared into the rusty crud.

It should not look like this!

A phone call was made to RCR as the job could now be passed back onto our breakdown cover. A new water pump was placed on order, but no-one was sure when it would arrive. Oleanna certainly wouldn’t be going anywhere, she was hooked up so Mick and Tilly could have power again. The marina sadly isn’t a suitable place for Tilly to explore so cabin fever was soon to set it.

Wednesday. Covid policy at Chippy Theatre is to do two lateral flow tests a week which have to be photographed and sent in to Annette the Company Stage Manager. There is also a thermometer by the pass door into back stage. Tuesday morning I’d offered up my forehead at which point the unit flashed red, displaying a large L. I tried again, the same thing happened. I removed myself from the building whilst the thermometer instructions were checked. As I thought, my temperature was too low, thankfully that meant I was allowed to enter the building and get on with work. The same happened again today, six times before my icy heart warmed up enough!

This was a delivery to the pub next door, honest!

The theatre has arranged for the theatre bar to be open on an evening for the company to drink in, hopefully reducing the chance of someone picking up Covid by mixing with the general public in a pub. I’d already decided that a bottle of wine back at my digs was preferable to going to the pub, plus I’m unlikely to be doing that anyway as I’ll be at work till late most evenings anyway.

The backdrop was flown out, red bands added to the portals, they still need to go gold, some of them were trimmed to fit better. As I’d designed the tower last January/February I knew getting in and out of it might be quite a tight fit, so I was the one who had to try it for size first. Thankfully I fitted meaning Rapunzel would have quite a bit of spare room as she is half my size.

I spotted a problem with part of the set. A tent that needed to be on wheels. A discussion was had about it. One side saying if they’d have known it was to be a truck (on wheels) then it would have been built completely differently. The other side said it had always been a truck and that the drawings most probably said as much. In fact the drawings had sketches explaining what would happen to the tent truck. A carpenter would be found to amend the tent.

Green wires!

Mick busied himself on Oleanna. There was the green wire to solve from the alternator belt incident. He also took apart our original domestic water pump and gave it a good clean as suggested by Alastair. This worked a treat, so it was put back to work. The new faulty one was also taken to bits and the switch was found to be faulty. Mick managed to mend this whilst Tilly climbed on the ‘Feed me’ shelf at regular intervals throughout the day. Well I had to occupy myself with something if there was no shore leave! Tom got himself a gate key and blatantly chatted to Toms outside, coming and going at will, leaving me to snooze in front of the stove!

My bowl is empty. Feed me!

Thursday. Test day for me and another day of being cold hearted!

Mine is a bit brighter

Today the actors moved into the theatre to rehearse. I moved into the auditorium and spent the day painting the groundrow, which I thought I’d based on a David Hockney painting of the Yorkshire Wolds. However on visiting the Co-op it appears I’ve been influenced by the mural there!

Dash (Director) had quite a few questions and found it quite novel that they could be answered by me within minutes, it’s not often a Designer is in the rehearsal room all day every day. It’s nice for me to hear where ideas are coming from rather than just getting the request on an email at the end of the day.

In Goole Mick waited for the new water pump to arrive. We’d been hoping to have Oleanna back along the New Junction Canal by now, maybe at Bramwith Junction. Extra crew, Bridget and Storm had been enlisted to work the lift bridges for Mick, but by now they had been stood down several times. The pump would be coming from Beta and should be delivered by midday on Friday.

Fusedale alongside the new dry dock at Viking Marina

Fusedale turned up for refuelling at Viking Marina, Laird was expecting it to require 850 to 1000 litres!

Friday. Chris returned for the day, a few hours of his work saved the technicians several days worth and I know things will work now including the tent truck, Hooray! Scenes were rehearsed, a lot of long hair climbing in and out of windows. How to support your long hair and a witch at the same time became a bit of a theme for the day.

The Pippins joined

Then in the late afternoon the Pippins joined the actors. The Pippins are local school kids, in three teams who add to the chorus of panto. Two hours with lots of singing and dancing on stage whilst I hid behind the backdrop working away.

All but the blooms done

By the end of the day the town flats were complete apart from some purple blooms.

Around 11am a delivery arrived in Goole, a water pump! You can now see what damage the old one had very clearly. Alastair fitted the pump, the system was filled with antifreeze mix and the engine started up. Everything seemed fine.

A working gauge to show the water pump working!

The new green wire also did it’s job, the temperature gauge showed a constant 80, this hadn’t shown a reading since the belt incident. Hooray! on two counts. By 2:30pm everything was deemed good to go, only thing was it was far too windy to move Oleanna. Mick would most probably have got her as far as Lisa’s boat and ended up being blown alongside and pinned there. Laird from the marina was fine with Mick staying for another night.

Peeking through the set

Saturday, a slightly later start for me today, just as well as the covid policy at the theatre has changed. Every morning before going into the theatre we all now have to do a lateral flow test. This is so that during rehearsals the actors can all be unmasked, but whilst moving around the theatre masks are to be worn. As I spend my life going from here to there and back again, I wear my mask pretty much all the time. I won’t be changing this even if everyone is testing daily, even though the back of my ears are red roar! I so feel for those who’ve been wearing masks all day every day for the last 18 months.

Gav down the trap

Time to draw up the tents and when the acting company had left for the day the scaffolding tower was erected so that I could reach Rapunzels tower to touch up the paintwork and finish bits that couldn’t be done before. The technicians dug out old equipment to see if it worked from under the stage and then Gav did a very good job of being ballast at the bottom of a ladder for me whilst I painted a coat of gold on the arches. At 6:15 an alarm went off on my phone, time to wash up, pack up, get changed and run away for the weekend!

In the afternoon Mick returned the key fob for the gates to Laird, thanked him and then moved Oleanna out from the marina. The doors were opened up and Tilly was set free to explore once more.

0 locks, 3.1miles ish, 1 new water pump, 2 mended domestic waters pumps, 1 big flush through, 1 pressure test passed, 0 blown head gasket, 34 litres antifreeze mix, 3 lateral flows, 1 theatre with doors open, 19 cast, 3 carpenters, 5 long days, 1 normal day, 2 soups, 1 brolly, 3.5 meters of hair, 1 new leaking roof, 1 tent on wheels, 4 panto masks,12 hours a day, 1 weekend off, WOOHOOO!

Just As Long To Walk As Drive. 13th August

Jericho to Thrupp Cruising Club


Up early to beat the hire boats back into College Cruisers. Late yesterday afternoon NB Hannah May had arrived and arranged for a diesel top up this morning. Movement could be heard across the way at 8:20 so we made sure we were ready to push over once they had been filled up. We did a do-ci-do and took on 40 litres, at £1 a litre we didn’t fill the tank, just enough to keep us going until further up the Oxford.

Fish fish fish!

We pushed back over to the towpath just as the first of the holiday makers were arriving back. Next job was to pick up the things missing from our shopping trip yesterday. I headed off to Waitrose which was kind of on route to Aldens Fish Market.

I chose to walk along the Thames, the patched pipe under Osney Bridge not really doing it’s job as loads of water was pouring out into the Thames. Glad it’s not on our water meter! The temporary pipe over the bridge is quite colossal.

Mind your fingers!

At the fish market I was good, I had a look around dreaming of filling the freezer but only bought what I’d come for, a side of salmon. The lobsters would remain safe under their board for a while longer.

Back at Oleanna it was time to push off as we had a rendez vous to make. The moorings had filled up yesterday maybe people only come into Oxford for the weekend. We met a few boats as we headed out of town, either at locks or along narrow sections which necessitated us pulling in and hoping to not end up in the offside vegetation.

Contended snooze

The cruiser with the cats is still along the Agenda 21 moorings, only two felines on the roof today and no sign of the old chap.

Speed bumps have been added to the towpath on several stretches.

Sitting on the beam to hold it open

Now for the bridges. Bridge 234 still wants to be open as soon as you unlock it. I braced myself for Wolvercote Lift Bridge 233. Here the bridge quite often requires an extra pair of hands to get it lifted and out of the way and the bridge landing has an overhang which has scarred many a hire boats cabin side. Well today the problem simply wasn’t there.

The bridge lies in several parts on the offside under the A34. No bridge beams to struggle with pulling them down and then keep the bridge raised whilst your boat goes through. A couple of cyclists appeared on the offside a touch puzzled as to what they were going to do.

Drinkwaters Lift Bridge

A boat was coming down Dukes Lock so we swapped with them and rose up to meet the next lift bridge. Drinkwaters Lift Bridge 231 was about to close for major rebuilding work when last we passed. During the works the approach walls collapsed and had to be rebuilt. It is now operated by windlass from the towpath side. No longer a fight to unlock it with your key of power, just 30 turns to lift and 14 to drop it.

How did that get there?

Our usual stop on the way out of Oxford had a couple of boats moored up. A solitary sunflower stood high in the field alongside the lock. We swapped with a boat as we arrived and another came into view as we left, perfect timing all round.

New wood at Roundham Lock

Next Roundham Lock, where through the last few years the bottom gate beam has been shored up to last that bit longer a section of armco was the last bodge job we’d seen. But today there are new beams at both ends of the lock.


Approaching Thrupp we had to stop quickly as the bow of a boat suddenly came into view past a large bush on the off side. We pulled in, trying to avoid the worst effects of the overhanging brambles on the cabin sides.


The visitor moorings in the village were quite empty, we considered pulling in, but we carried on to the lift bridge. I did the honours, stopping a very new boat from coming through as Mick was in the bridge hole. They then did their best to negotiate the bridge themselves without loosing any paint. A touch more use of power may have assisted them, but give them a few more months and they’ll be a touch more bold with their manoeuvres.

Thrupp water point and Cruising Club

We pulled in at the water point and went to find the lady at Thrupp Canal Cruising Club. Whilst boats are out on summer cruises temporary moorings are available for a small fee, we’d booked one a couple of weeks ago. Sue (?) showed us to our mooring, ever so welcoming and anything they could help with we just had to ask. As soon as we were tied up Tilly was off out to explore, not returning for quite sometime!


Meanwhile on the other side of the River Cherwell, just over a kilometer as the crow flies, the London Leckenbys were pulling up at Willowbrook Farm campsite and setting up their tents for the weekend. Once they’d settled in they then drove round the 9km to join us and walked up to the boat with a rusk sack full of contraband, before returning the car to the site and walking the 1.8km on well marked paths back.

Footpaths across the meadows

When we’d first come up with the idea of trying to find a campsite close to Oxford and the canal, Thrupp came up as a possibility. A newish eco campsite on a working farm that produces halal meat. Then about a week ago Jac noticed the not so fine print ‘Strictly No Alcohol Allowed On Site!’ Not quite the right place to have a relaxing beer in front of your tent, but you have to respect other cultures. So bottles of gin and wine were brought round to ours and we wouldn’t go to the campsite for a bbq, instead both evenings would be spent on Oleanna.


We’d considered going for a little pootle to find a suitable bit of towpath not too far away for the evening, returning before it got too dark, but just off the side of the TCCC moorings was an area with a bbq and picnic bench. This would do us.


Family were set with jobs of chopping. The other week they had made a tabbouleh not realising I wouldn’t be able to eat the buckwheat, today we made one using Quinoa which was very tasty. Veg and haloumi kebabs were skewered, a potato salad made up. The side of salmon required cutting in half to fit on the barbecue, a grating of ginger, pinch of sugar, soy sauce and lemon juice added then a good wrapping of foil.

Tucking in

Our usual barbecue stove was lit along with two disposable ones that had come from London. The salmon cooked quickly so was nudged to the sides for the veg kebabs to cook in the middle meaning the disposable bbq’s were only really just getting going when we’d just about finished eating!

The latest Thrupp yarn bomb

A lovely if a touch blowy evening sat outside. Cheese was enjoyed back onboard after we’d tidied up outside. Then the head torches were brought out to aid the walk back to the campsite, hopefully the London Leckenby’s weren’t too noisy on their return!

4 locks, 6.51 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 bridge in bits, 40 litres, 1 side salmon, 1 mooring, 1 campsite, 0 alcohol, 1 happy cat, £646 saved, 1 family get together, 1 yummy meal, 2 beers, 2 G&T’s, 2 bottles wine, 5 head torches for 3, 1km, 9km, 1.8km, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.