Category Archives: Flowers

Flippin’ Fishery. 9th July

Apsley Sainsburys to above Fishery Lock

Shopping list compiled this morning, Mick headed off with the bags, leaving me to not have to walk too far. Maybe we should have done a click and collect, it would have meant we’d got moving earlier. Never mind we only plan on cruising for a couple of hours a day.

The lock overflowing at night can be really quite noisy

We pushed over to the lock landing and I walked up to chat to the boat that was on the water point above. They’d not long started to fill their tank, might be an hour. We also needed water so we decided to ascend the lock and then breast up to wait, all in the rain!

How many bottles?!

Lunch was had whilst we waited for their tank to fill then we do-ci-doed as they entered the lock and we pulled onto the water point. Yellow water dealt with whilst the clean water filled, Tilly had a refresh of her pooh box too. All chores now done. As we were about to push off a car arrived by the services, two ladies brought out loads of plastic water bottles to fill at the water point. I’m not sure the boot of their car was going to be big enough once they were all full!

These houses make me think of beach huts

The smell of coffee wasn’t so strong at Apsley Top Lock, maybe the rain was keeping it at bay. Onwards. We really must visit the farm shop one of these days! But today was not that day again.

Watching our every move

At Boxmoor Bottom Lock a heron stood by the top gates, beady eye on us and the boat. It stayed put for quite sometime before it realised the lock wouldn’t be available for fishing for a while. This is another lock where holes have appeared. At the bottom end the towpath side the steps are cordoned off, a large hole obvious and parts of the concrete top looking to be slowly moving!

Fishery Lock is one that is kept empty, the paddle up waiting for us. I pushed the gate, not even a glimmer of hope. I crossed the gates in case the off side was holding the near side in, nope! I crossed again. Tried again. Mick gently brought Oleanna’s bow fender to the nearside gate and leant a hand. Flippin heck this took some doing! No handy walkers to lend a shove due to the rain, me trying to keep straight as I pulled to avoid aggravating my knee. Eventually it started to move, thank goodness.

Heffing jeffing gates!

Our plan had us moving up to nearer Winkwell, but there was a space with no tree cover, we pulled in, the mooring suitable for feline shore leave. Just as the spikes had been forced in the heavens opened fully, a major downpour. Tilly wasn’t impressed, but made sure she came and went as many times as possible demanding the door be opened frequently.

More painting, maybe it’s a bit too busy? I left it to dry and I’ll look again at it tomorrow to see how I feel.

Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be a touch drier.

Something prettier than the rain

4 locks, 1.6 miles, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 boxes wine, 3 big beetroot, 1 red risotto, 2 much going on, 5 boats moving, 1 soggy day.

You’re In Our Mooring! 8th July

The Grove Bridge to Apsley Sainsburys Mooring

A widebeam went past as we had our breakfast, then a narrowboat, I wondered if we’d catch the narrowboat up to be able to share.

Today was thankfully much drier than yesterday and the day before, the flow on the canal reminiscent of a river today, I don’t think we’ve ever noticed it along here before. As we pushed off the chap on the boat ahead of us was emptying water from containers on his deck. Several plastic bags filled with cans were piled up on the towpath, were these of his own drinking? Or is he a Womble?


Lady Capel’s Lock needed emptying. I looked for the hands in the garden behind the fence, they were still there, greener with age, still both right hands.

As I opened up the top gates I spotted dates all over the place. 1878 in the metal by the top gates, 1913 in the concrete topping to the lock. Then as I looked down as I pushed the beam there were date stamps in the raised black bricks, 1909, 1910, how many dates does one lock need! 1161, blimey that last one was old!

I never realised the Grand Union was SO old!

Below Hunton Bridge Bottom Lock a widebeam sat waiting their turn, the one that had passed us was rising in the lock. Maybe the narrowboat had overtaken them both. I walked up to help, both widebeams being single handers and an extra pair of hands to open and close gates would be welcome. The second widebeam really didn’t want to go in the lock. As the chap walked along his roof to climb off and tie her up she drifted backwards, stopping my gate from closing fully. She was pulled forward, my gate now able to move. She needed nudging another couple of times before both gates could be closed and the lock could be filled. When it was Oleanna’s turn she was much better behaved, but then Mick was stood at the helm to keep her in place.

I helped again at the top lock, time to admire the red roses and look at the cottages. The towpath side looked as if there are two houses, one with old windows, the other UPV double glazing. The double glazed side was on the market last year, not many interesting features. Today it sounded like work was happening somewhere inside, hammering and sawing. As we waited our turn our neighbour from last night walked past, a litter picker in one hand and a large plastic bag the other gradually being filled with cans. He is a Womble.

More help was on hand at North Grove Lock, a hire boat was waiting to come down so the chap on the widebeam was speedily raised and on his way. Then a charity widebeam arrived above, advanced crew walking the towpath suggested I hop on board Oleanna. Thank you but I’d rather be at the lock seeing my boat up and chatting to people, I get to talk to Mick all the time, why would I turn down the opportunity to talk to other interesting people. I helped the hire boat down, then it was our turn. Now there were many crew from the charity boat. They were obviously used to their widebeam, so I quickly requested the paddles to be lifted in the order we’d do them ensuring Oleanna wouldn’t biff about in the lock. One chap said ‘Our widebeam bumps about all over the place!’

M25 for the last time?

Time to cruise under the M25, possibly for the last time this year. Hang on a minute! There was no scaffolding! Was this the first time we’ve been under with no scaff? A look back to 2014, scaffolding, not much of it, but still scaffolding. So I think yes this is the first time we’ve been under the M25 without scaffolding. We’re heading north properly now.

Home Park Lock

A helping hand to the widebeam again at Home Park Lock, the one in front of him had already pulled up. We both agreed it was most probably time for some lunch. Just as we were about to push off again a narrowboat came past, Mick asked if they could wait at the next lock, we’d not be long, but they already had a partner just coming into view.

Time to chat with the crew of NB Cheswold who were from Strawberry Island, they’d been to Henley and were now on their way back to Doncaster, their partnering boat would be mooring up in the next pound so they’d wait for us.

Boats fast approaching the top lock

Above the top Nash Mills Lock a boat had just pulled up to fill with water, an awkward tap right by the lock which is on a bend. I checked that he was filling with water and that I wouldn’t be stealing the lock from him. He was a little bit puzzled that I wanted to use the lock and was not willing to wait. I did say we’d reset the lock for him whilst he filled his water tank as Oleanna and her partner were fast approaching from below. Once we’d risen we left the gates, the chap was still filling with water.

Boat filling with water above

One more lock to share then we’d be looking for a mooring. The ideal place would be Sainsburys. Damn the mooring was full, three boats. However there was a space opposite, not quite so handy but hey! As we made manoeuvres to moor up a chap popped out from opposite. I could hear Mick say ‘Your in OUR mooring!’ How rude of him! That was until I heard the replying voice, it was Paul the boat mover. Our summer is now complete after seeing him, although we may cross paths again before the year is out.

Paul, you’ve made our summer

He and the boat behind were about to move off after topping up on shopping, 4pm far too early for a boat mover to stop for the day. We had chance to chat whilst we do-ci-doed, slotting in where they had been. Always good to see Paul.

Nash Mills Bottom Lock temporary repairs on both beams

A small shop was required for something to eat tonight, we’d stock up properly tomorrow. Mick picked up a Roku box to add to our TV set up. Our TV now 7 or 8 years old, hasn’t liked using the internet if there is no terrestrial signal, it turns out that it is one of a few TV’s that you’ll never be able to watch live BBC on iPlayer, something we’ve noticed through the years but didn’t know when we bought it. The new box should enable us to do all the things the TV has been reluctant to do. Mick has plumbed it in, so far so good.

Small boats to the left please

This morning my knee had been feeling just about back to normal. A few days resting coming out from London, then working locks at a steady rate must have done it some good, or so I thought! On the last couple of locks today it had started to twinge again and walking round Sainsburys it really wasn’t happy! Time to sit down and rest it after all there’s still 66 locks to Braunston, plus a detour planned!

9 locks, 3 shared, 4.5 miles, 2 widebeams, 1 busier canal than of late, 0 shore leave for Tilly, 1 interesting email thank you Mike, 1 slow day cruising, 2 pizzas with extra toppings, 4 pairs of socks in the post, 1 annoying knee, onedrive full!

Dead Good Mates. 19th June

Mytchett Visitor Centre

Ascot ready

A couple of people had told us how we must visit Brookwood Cemetery whilst we were in the area, with a couple of days to wait for our lock passage we decided to head there today. A walk over the canal to catch the no3 bus to Ash Vale Station and then the train to Brookwood. The train journey was much longer than I thought it would be, but then the bus had taken us further away before we’d started.

The gate

The station has an entrance into the cemetery, but just where was it. Station staff asked if they could help and we were told to go down the stairs to the barriers and ask a member of staff there, they would let us out. We did this and the chap pointed towards a gate through a subway, when we got there he’d buzz us through.

Brookwood Cemetery was conceived by the London Necropolis Company in 1849 to house London’s deceased when the capital was finding it hard to accommodate both living and the dead. In 1854 it was said to be the largest cemetery in the world, it is now the largest in Western Europe. It was consecrated on 7th November 1854 and opened to the public six days later when the first burials took place.

The military cemetery

Next to Waterloo Station in London a dedicated station was built giving access to the cemetery. Trains with passenger carriages reserved for the different classes and Hearse carriages arrived at the cemetery on it’s dedicated branch line. The original London Necropolis Station was relocated in 1902, but this was demolished after being bombed in WW2.

There were two stations in the cemetery, one serving the none-conformist side (North) and the other the Anglican side (south). Apparently the southern platform still exists in the ownership of the St Edward Brotherhood. Wakes would be catered for at the stations.

I really hope his tomb contains him and not Hops and Malt

The first grave we came across was immediately of interest. Gates and a wall surrounded the memorial of Ramadan Guney (1932-2006). Originally from Cyprus, he emigrated to Britain in 1958 where he set up a music business. In 1983 he purchased the burial rights for over 19 acres of Brookwood Cemetery, he subsequently acquired Brookwood Cemetery in 1985 from it’s owner Mr DJT Dally. His aim was to restore the cemetery back to it’s original park like setting. More can be read about him here. An interesting sack covers part of his memorial.

Facing Mecca

We walked around the north west boundary, colourful and interesting graves none very old. Many sat skew wiff in their allocated plots, presumably facing Mecca.

Through a gate in a high fence, cordoning off the military graves, fencing keeping the dead in. Here Commonwealth graves all chalky white line up, immaculate grass between them. Next the graves of the Americans, crosses standing still, bright green grass, stars and stripes fluttering from a high flag pole, eagle above the door to the chapel where those who’s bodies were never found are remembered. All had died either in the UK or the surrounding waters. 69% of American bodies were repatriated at the request of their families.

More lines of graves, 1st and 2nd World Wars. Some dates from after the wars, presumably died from injuries. The wonderful cottage garden plants around the graves wonderfully kept. We walked up to take a look at the lines of Chelsea Pensioners, the majority passing away in the 1960’s.

No upvc windows here

Lunchtime, but where could we get some food? None of the residents would require refreshments. We should have thought about this! We walked down The Gardens, a line of semi detached houses built in 1897. Were these built for gardeners in the cemetery? If there hadn’t been several vans parked outside and workmen in modern clothing I’d have thought we’d been whizzed back in time.


Behind The Cricketers we found the Yurt Café where we enjoyed a slice of Lemon Drizzle cake and a lovely cuppa, far cheaper than a posh pub lunch! Now it was time to find our way back into the cemetery, after all we’d not even started to look round! No pavement along the road that splits the cemetery into it’s two halves, I was relived to arrive at the entrance.

Now with a vague plan on who we wanted to see and a route to maybe follow we walked on down Avenues. A real mixture of graves.

Why was Private CE Wilburn (from Gosport) in a corner with no-one near, his commonwealth grave stone much akin to those we’d seen this morning.

Elephant trunks of trees

Large boughs of trees surrounded the grave of the Peyers family, Adrian Christopher had been a tenor opera singer, appearing in several productions with Opera Scotland and at the Royal Opera House.

Penny Privett who’d died in 2022 sat amongst some Victorian graves, the lay out far more haphazard than in the northern cemetery. Huge large trees give the dead shade on a sunny day, a deer appreciated it too.

It took a while for it to spot us

Mausoleums were dotted around. The family Wood perfectly positioned for a film shot. The metal door partially open behind a gate, a slab of stone missing from the roof, no coffins to be seen inside, all so atmospheric.

A Hammer House setting maybe

Nearby John Singer Sargent (1856 -1925) rests, best remembered for his Victorian and Edwardian society portraits. His grave is Grade II listed even if it is far less elaborate than many others in the inner ring, the most expensive place to be laid to rest in the cemetery.

John Singer Sergant

Heading towards St Edwards where monks will show you round, sadly the church doors were locked and we didn’t have enough time for a tour so we didn’t knock on their door.

Some of the graves are now surrounded by trees, framing them so wonderfully. Were they planted with this in mind in decades to come? One family upstages itself, a simple knot on one gravestone, 6ft in front a huge angle spreads their wings.

This is the side I’d rather be laid to rest. The thought of having so many dead mates around you for company, the long grass and shade from the tall tall trees. Such a mixture of ages and eras. You could come to visit everyday of the year and see something different.

We crossed over the busy road again to the north cemetery. Different nationalities remembering their loved ones in different ways. One lady had so many fake and real flowers around her grave it was hard to see who she was. A sultan in his own plot had become overgrown with thistles, we’d not seen thistles anywhere else!

We headed back to the gate into the station. Pressed the bell to be let back in.

I do like an atmospheric graveyard, but what a place! We’d only really scratched the surface.

Large and small headstones

We came away wondering who was the first to be buried there. On 13th November 1854 the following burials were recorded. Mrs Hore’s two still born male twins from 74 Ewer Street, Borough. Elizabeth Costello aged 3 months from St Saviours Workhouse. Henry Smith aged 31 from St Saviours Workhouse. Charlotte Edwards aged 74 from Chelsea. An interesting article can be found here. I wonder how many people lie there now.

Some shore leave when we got back

Thank you Heather and Mick for suggesting we visited and John for telling us about the railway.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 trains, 1 gate, 5 miles walked, 1 dodgy knee, 56745645634789 graves maybe! 2 slices of cake, 2 pots of tea, 1 hour of accompanied shore leave, that’s a touch better!

Increasing The Ballast. 7th June

Pyrford Marina, River Wey Navigations

The bears left in charge again

Final jobs in the house. Making up beds, a nice shower required the cubical to be squeegeed down again, hovering, sandwich making, crumbs from the toaster etc. Mick was finished before I was and stood waiting to take the bin out. I then ran round the house to do an idiot check and make sure everything was ready for our next lodgers, the car was packed and we were on our way at midday. Just a shame we’d left a block of cheese and some milk in the fridge! Frank would you like some cheese?

Our blue pompom bush has gone bonkers

We stopped off for some more cat litter. Tilly uses a mixture of wood and odour control litter, we in our separating toilet use wood litter to cover our deposits. Recently we’ve found that we prefer using a wood cat litter from Pets at Home. This is paler than the supermarket version and when some water is added it fluffs up nicely without being sticky for sprinkling. So we paused to purchase a bag as we left Scarborough.

An A1 sock

Our route back was slow, Mick chose to head southwards on the A1, our route north had been on the M1, lots of road works! It being a Friday afternoon plenty of people were also on the move. Not so many road works, but we did have quite a few slow sections, one where a car had pulled onto the central reservation under a bridge and then decided to get back into the line of traffic, causing the slow moving traffic to do an emergency stop! Why they couldn’t have signalled and waited to be let in, who knows! This route follows the River Trent, Nene and Great Ouse.

Turning off the M25

Only one comfort stop was taken to eat our butties we’d made and seven hours after leaving Scarborough we were at the marina gates in Pyrford, I’d almost knitted a complete sock!

I think someone was pleased to have us home

First things first, give Tilly a cuddle. I gave the usual meow as I walked up to the boat and could hear excited relieved paws charge through Oleanna, then shouting took over. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!!???!!! You said it would be two BIG sleeps, well it was 6! That means you owe me 4 more meals. I had to save those biscuits just in case you’d gone FOREVER!!!!

Plenty of frantic head nudges, so many that I lost my glasses. I don’t think she’d liked the neighbours NO! They have woofers! Food was required, a top up of biscuits and some whitefish tonight. Tom came in and gave me a good ear rub, he also had a LOT of bags with him. I apparently can go in my box a lot now, but not too much yet as they want my litter for extra ballast. The wine cellar was filled up and most of the cupboards. Then Mick headed back out, this time to Tescos for a click and collect of fresh things also picking up a few more bits that we thought might be good to have, including some more cheese. Four more bags of shopping to stow!

Here’s hoping we don’t eat our way through all this extra ballast too soon. Where we’re heading in the next couple of weeks we’ll be needing to be as low as possible in the water!

0 locks, 0 miles, 253 miles by car, 3 bags litter, 6 boxes wine, 1 bag cat biscuits, 2 boxes pink food, 1 chicken, 3 loaves bread, 4 pints not 2! 2 bottles vinegar, 1kg potatoes, 0.75 of a sock, 6 sleeps not 2! 2 beds made up ready, 1 block of cheddar, 1 ecstatic cat.

Disposing Of The Evidence. 19th May

Claydon Top Lock to below Slatt Mill Lock

Two Sea Otters

Everyone was moving before us, well it was Sunday. There was breakfast to eat and the Geraghty zoom to join. More attendees this week, subjects included; final is a bit terminal, volvo coaches, Piaff and how to spend £26.4 million, we requested some to go towards new casters for the pull out cupboard onboard Oleanna.

Gorgeous poppies

At the locks we pulled in behind a down hill boat, helped them down, then another up before it was our turn. This gave me time to admire the huge red poppys in the garden alongside the lock, the roses over the arch a little past their best.

Two volunteers were at the hut by the third lock, one siting down for his lunch the other helping us but looking forward to his prawn salad. Todays tally board made it look like it had been a busy morning, there were still more boats to come.


Time for a little chat with the boat ahead at most locks, then the crew of uphill boats too. One lady had owned their boat for a month, they’d done holidays before but now they had their own, I felt very excited for them. Another boat was crewed by a local volunteer and his wife, they were having alternator problems so were heading to wind and then return to the marina to sort it.

A lovely sunny day, no need for us to stop as we’d fuelled ourselves with breakfast. Time to spot NB Herbie at Cropredy Marina, shame not to have coincided with them, one day we’ll manage it, maybe.

Last time we came through Cropredy Lock there seemed to have been a flood as lots of rugs and mats were hung over the picket fence drying. Today it looked immaculate, everything neat and tidy. Someone has left a deep message on a lock gate for those who stand and wait for levels to equalise.

There was a boat woman to say hello to moored below Cropredy Lock, but they were having a leisurely lunch at the pub, we waved anyway and left Anne a message on Facebook.

A field of golden buttercups with Curlews calling

We’d already passed where we needed to be today, but decided we’d continue that bit further and down Slatt Mill Lock, spikes required but a slightly wider towpath to be able to sit out, less footfall for Tilly and safer surroundings. The pound above is often quite shallow, but today the bywash seemed to be blocked, so the depth was the best we’ve known it. We dropped down and pulled in at the end of the lock landing. Spikes were hammered in and we settled down for the remainder of the day.

Keeping an eye on the towpath whilst I got on with important things inside

Time to do a touch of secret baking. I’d had my eyes on a recipe for a chocolate cake, but over the last couple of days I’ve been wondering if this was the cake I’d made myself last Christmas? This took a lot of eating for the two of us. Hmmm. With a EU banana mountain in our fruit bowl I changed tack, it’s been a long time since I made a chocolate banana loaf alla Christine Gemson. The bananas were perfect for it and needed using up.

Quick before anyone sees!

The advantage of secret baking is that you have to dispose of all the evidence, Mick kindly sat out on the towpath whilst the oven was on. Alongside the birthday baking a chicken tray bake did it’s thing for our evening meal.

Another message from another Boat Woman had come through, Kate Saffin was heading up from Banbury. I mentioned there was space in front of us if she wanted to stop, but as she’s headed to perform at Crick Boat Show next weekend she’s on a bit of a mission. As soon as I got a message that she was on her way from the next lock we kept an eye out for her arrival. The two of us headed to the lock to assist with her ascent and to be able to have a chat about all things Thames, Cavalcade, Alarum Theatre and Tooleys in Banbury. Single handing she’s quite a way to go along with having to be at meetings here there and everywhere. If you are going to Crick and fancy watching a performance Kate will be there telling tales of women boaters from the past, well worth watching. Hopefully we’ll get chance to catch one of her shows sometime this summer as we’ve not been for sometime.

Bye Kate have a good time at the show

Kate had timed her arrival and departure very well, when we got back on board there was 1 minute left on the timer for the secret contents in the oven. It was brought out and left to cool surrounded by an invisibility cloak.

10 locks, 4.1 miles, 2 boat women, 1 hour baking, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

No One Told Me It Was A Sausage Day! 12th May

Cape of Good Hope Friendly Cover and Sideways Trees

Communications have broken down! This morning She said I had an hour and a half, so despite this being a good outside (She is dubious about this) I stuck to the time scale I had been given. They talked to the screen that talks (reduced family this morning, Tromso and the Humber), then I came back for my Dreamies and what did they do? Had breakfast! So that was another hour I could take, but no-one told me so!!!

Tom nearly forgot the hash browns!

I took the situation into my own paws, if they were going to sit about ALL day someone had to be active. Kwiwi Tom and She went off exploring, but they didn’t take me, I was already far too busy! The friendly cover is quite dense in parts here, some stretches there are pretty flowers too. The trees and sideways trees kept the outside cool, whilst She and Tom got a little overheated on the inside.

Pretty spiky flowers

A touch of self catering was required to supplement my biscuits, then I thought I’d best return to check they were alright. Tom had been busy washing things, not Oleanna, don’t be silly, it was ‘too hot for that’ She said.

Socks taking up ALLLLL the space

A power nap was required, just a shame there wasn’t much room for me. She and her bloomin socks! All the stringy stuff is still filling up a pull out box that I want to be in. At least she opens it up once a week and I can check to see if I’d fit. She says a nice Boat She wanted a second pair of socks so there are only twelve pairs left. I’d need two pairs to keep my paws warm in winter, but I’m holding back in case anyone else wants some. She says ‘I’m not sure @justgiving accept Dreamie donations’

I don’t like tunnels, She and Tom don’t like this one! And it isn’t on the Oxford, even I know that!

After an exceptionally long hour and a half I was locked in, so She could go out. She said she was ‘only going to get a pint of milk‘, I saw her going to the pub! She never takes me to the pub!!!

Casting off pair 19

Later in the afternoon I heard She say ‘well that was a load of effort all for nothing!‘ Over the last few days She’s been getting messages from an Indecisive She who isn’t happy with their inside, when would She be moving into our inside in Scarboreugh! Well Indecisive She isn’t anymore. Well She is, she isn’t! So much twoing and throwing!

I’m not so good at reading, it’s all fuzzy

We all watched to see if the pink boat could squeeze through a tunnel. But instead of that we got to watch someone’s watch instead!

Plenty of friendly cover

Now if Tom or She had told me that today was going to be a sausage day I’d have pacepawed myself better. But I kept having to make the very most of it all, it was exhausting. I came in inside several times to see if it might be dingding time, it was only on the last visit that it actually was! What a relief!!

Only room for me on the floor now! Night night

Some poultry pink dingding and then I could sleeeeeeee……………p

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 lumpy cup of tea, 1 fresh pint, 1.5 hours turned into 9! 1 pooped boat cat, pair 19 finished, £885 raised so far, 7 lots of thank you for coming home Dreamies, 3 friends, 17 trees climbed, 2 loads washing, 0 thunder storms as forecast, 2 1 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, It’s already got one!

All Bar Two. 4th May

Between Bridges 7 and 8 Shropie to Urban Moorings, Wyrley and Essington Canal, BCN

A short distance further on there was a winding hole, time to turn around. Through Bridge 8 is the first cutting of the Shroppie. All of the cuttings have large trees clinging on to the banks either side, landslips quite a common occurance. For a while the towpath along this stretch has been closed, not that you’d know it with the number of walkers bypassing the fences! A tree had come down and then a very large crack in the towpath were taped off. Nothing the size of the landslip on the north Oxford or further along the Shroppie, but still another section for C&RT to mend.

Busy at the junction!

We winded and then headed back to Autherley. The stop lock was busy, one boat coming onto the Shroppie and another winding on the Staffordshire and Worcester. When it was our turn for the lock we dropped off some rubbish at the bins then turned right back onto the Staffordshire and Worcester, then left to start our ascent of the Wolverhampton 21.

The first two locks were full. Did these locks leak on the top gates, or were we following someone up the flight? At the third lock I noticed that as I wound the bottom gate paddles up, accumilated rain water from last night that had been gathered in the cogs. I looked on ahead there was a boat. After zooming in on them I worked out that they were also climbing the locks, they were also the first boat through this morning. They’d had the advantage of most if not all the locks being empty. Oh well I’d be emptying them all for us.

I used to stand on the bottom gates and push one side open with a kick, but my knees this year have already told me this would be unwise. Not many of the bottom gates actually have a handrail anyway, so today there was a lot of walking round locks to be done.

Stepping off to close the offside gate

The sun was out, it started to warm up. On locks where Mick could step off below and bring a rope up with him, we adopted this to save me walking round the lock to close the bottom gates. Oleanna obliged by entering the locks on most occasions, but on two the depth over the bottom cill must have been very slight as she stopped part way into the lock.

Pretty when the sun’s out

At lock 17 we met a downhill boat, 16 would be empty for us. I spotted the remaining palm trees mentioned in NB Bonjour’s blog from a week ago. At lock 15 a lady stood and watched, she then had a go opening and closing the bottom lock gate. We made her day.

Lots of wild flowers

Maybe breakfast should have been suplimented this morning as by half way up I was starting to feel a touch peckish, the galley slave hadn’t thought ahead either so there was no handy flapjack to keep us going, just a sip of water was all that was on offer!

Look at that sunshine!

All the anti-vandle locks seemed to work, the boat still two locks ahead of us dutifully resetting them. Lock 3 was about a third full when I walked up. A boat could be seen entering Lock 2, only one paddle would unlock on the bottom gates so it took a while to finish emptying.

Passing Ferrous

A phone call to Mick to leave the top gates on the next lock was just in time to stop him. We swapped with NB Ferrous in the next pound, quite a distinctive boat that we’ve seen before. More details about her can be found here.

Wolverhampton Top Lock

Only two out of the 21 locks had been set in our favour today. The climb up to the Wolverhampton level had taken us just under 4 hours. Time was ticking away we had a rendez vous and a deposit to make, no time to stop for a late lunch, the only thing on offer an M&S gf millionaires shortbread which was halved for us to share.


Not far to go to Horseley Fields Junction where we turned onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal, very slowly through the stop lock. I checked our instructions from Jennie at Urban Moorings, we were to pull up alongside one of the moored boats on the main channel. We got the bow in and I passed a rope around the grab rail of the moored boat, Mick then put power on to bring the stern round, just at the moment of something spinning round and attaching itself to our prop! Reverse didn’t help, Mick had to resort to the propmate to clear it. Then the stern was brought round and we tied up alongside Urban Moorings.

A trolley was brought to aid the transport of buckets. Two buckets were trundled round to the huge compost bins made from sleepers, the lid of the current bin left open for our deposits to be deposited in the correct section where they will b eleft for around 14 months before being used on flower beds.

Urban Moorings an oasis of green

As always we had a very warm welcome from the moorers. Here they accept contents from separating toilets from passing boaters and I believe they now also have a club which local boaters can join. A guided tour of the moorings is always on the cards, improvements, more sheds, a community room, flower beds, fruit and veg, an abundance of greenery everywhere.

C&RT offered them some funding a little while ago to help provide C&RT services, a bin store, elsan etc. They have got so far in sorting the area, but not recieved the funding to finish it yet. They also hope to expand the moorings on the other side of Lycetts Basin which would free up a space to become a service mooring. Then they would be able to sell diesel, gas and coal more easily to passing boaters. The council has also given them premission to take over two more buildings by the site. One they hope will become a bigger community room, the other a cafe in the old toll house by the stop lock. Hopefully our donation will go towards something new for us to see the next time we pass.

Stop for a brew, they’ve plenty of kettles

Whilst I got the tour Mick chatted away about the big fire that had happened at the junction. Apparently the moorings weren’t known about, so they weren’t evacuated, but thankfully all the smoke was being blown away from them.

If we wanted we could stay the night, moored up as we were. This was appealing as we were a little bit pooped from the flight, we also really wanted our lunch! Back onboard we broke the news to Tilly that there’d be no shore leave today, too many woofers and a couple of resident cats on the moorings. They were welcomed, but I wouldn’t be!

A slow afternoon for us followed by a nice roast chicken dinner. Very well deserved.

22 locks, 7.2 miles, 1 right, 2 lefts, 2 empty, 19 full, 3 junctions, 1 warm sunny day, 2 buckets deposited, 1 donation made, 1 very warm welcome, 1 miffed off cat.

It’s Neither. 26th April

Between Locks 45 and 44

An early start for Mick who left the boat before 8am and walked up the towpath to the station. NB Halsall was above the top lock and by the time Mick got on the train they were pulling in behind a few other boats waiting for the first passage through Harecastle Tunnel. After stoaking the fire, Tilly and I enjoyed a cuppa in bed.

It’s a nice day to go friend hunting

Boats started to come past, an almost constant stream of them up towards the tunnel, being met by down hill traffic. Most boats slowly passed as their crews walked from lock to lock. Others sped past aiming for a lock in their favour, this made for a bumpy morning.

Halsall early this morning

A walk up the towpath to visit both Tescos and the new Lidl. Lidl doesn’t have much in the way of gluten free items so the extra paces were worth it for my prefered breakfast cereal and yoghurt. The remainder of my list was done at Lidl. Last time we were through here I don’t think the store had opened, so it was nice to see that there was access to the towpath just above the locks. As I headed back down the hill, NB Autumn Haze were just turning onto the Macclesfield and another boat we’d seen in Middlewich was climbing the last couple of locks to the summit of the Trent and Mersey.

Meanwhile, Mick’s journey back to Scarborough had him pass the cooling towers in Willington. The River Ouse in York was back within it’s banks and boats were moored at the bottom of the Museum Gardens. In Scarborough he made his way to the hospital where he was almost an hour early for his appointment. A wait of twenty minutes before he was seen. His ultrasound to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm took about ten minutes. It was clear, no babies and no aneurysm. So no knitting of diddy baby socks required.

The most we’ve seen of our bluebells for years!

After lunch he headed to the house to pick up a box from when the bully boy batteries were delivered, bulky but light he managed it back to the station and started his return journey. Connections meant that he was back in Kidsgrove a little before 9pm.

Pre-raphaelite knitting

Tilly and I had a quiet afternoon. She tried to bring a friend home, but didn’t suceed and I gave the inside of Oleanna a bit of a tidy and sweep through. Then the sock knitting came out and I watched Effie Gray (2014). The film is based on the true story of Euphemia Gray, a Scottish model and writer. She married John Ruskin and moved down to London to live with his parents. Their marriage was never consumated and was finally annulled leaving Effie free to marry again. Her second husband being John Everett Millais the Pre-Raphaelite artist. Throughout there are numerous images based on paintings of the time. A suitable film for a Friday afternoons knitting.

0 locks, 0 miles, 14 tickets, 7 trains, 10 minutes of ultrasound, 0 girls, 0 boys, 0 aneurysm, 3 bags shopping, pair 17 nearly finished, 1 barred cat and friend.

A Wave To BBC. 10th April

Canal Wharf, Littleborough to above 1st Laneside Lock 54, Slattocks


Alarm set for before 7am! All because of the weather which we were hoping to beat today. No time to lie in bed with a cuppa, we were up and having breakfast, listening out for our Sainsburys delivery between 7:30 and 8:30. The beep beep of the van reverseing towards the canal caught our attention at 7:45, time to stow our purchases.

Goodbye Littleborough

By 8:20 we were ready to push off leaving the squabbling, nest sitting geese to it, time to head to the next mooring in towards Manchester.

New houses look like they will be going up soon along the south east bank heading to Smithy Bridge, two geese stood guard ontop of the earth works. Apparently there are plans to build 1000 new homes around Littleborough. Past Clegg Hall with a terrace of workers cottages, a long line of windows on the top floor for good light in the work rooms.

Stopped these two chaps who didn’t understand why the bridge went nowhere

This must be the longest pound on the Rochdale, around an hours cruise with no locks. But to keep you on your toes there are a couple of swing bridges. I went with my handcuff key and key of power just incase, just as well as they both got used.

Propmate kept out should we need it later

The canal at times was shallow, aided by supermarket trolleys, eroded banks, picking places to pull in took a bit of time. Then picking up some plastic on the prop required a stop. We tried pulling into the side but didn’t succeed, electing to just pause in the middle to get the prop mate out and clear the prop. No passing traffic so we weren’t in anyones way.

For the last few miles I’d been spotting what look like metal flowers attached to the off side. Outlines of three white petals with a yellow centre, at one lock this was accompanied by some leaves. On one of the bridges there is a mural of the same flower. Maybe a canoist has put these up where the plant growns?

Hello Rochdale

Just as we pulled in towards Rochdale, our slightly slower progress then planned, meant we got the first rain drops falling, we’d not beaten the weather! The empty lock looked to have wet sides, were we following that boat that had been on the water point? How much further had they got yesterday before they gave up? Would we catch them up and maybe have a partner for the rest of the locks into Manchester? We’d see.

I filled the lock, spotting that a bottom gate paddle had been left slightly up. Gongoozlers came and watched, three young chaps asked Mick for a lift. I think this is just a standard thing to say for youngsters, a little like when I’ve got my painting clothes on and people say ‘You’ve missed a bit’. Very original! They helped with the gates though.

Another chap arrived at the next lock promising to help with the gates, which he did. Well he helped with the top gates, not the bottom cranked beams! He was wise in this decision. Wet underfoot there was nowhere to push your feet against. Despite my slip resistant shoes it took forever to push the bottom gate open and then close it again behind us. There obviously used to be some other means of opening and closing these gates as there is a curved track in amongst the stonework.

Below Moss Lower Lock

Just below the lock there is an arm heading off to the north. This led to Drake Street where three arms were kept busy. In it’s hay day the Rochdale Canal saw around 50 boats a day transporting goods to and from the mills. I wonder how many boats cross the summit in a year now? On the Rochdale Canal facebook group there seems to be a campaign to pursuade the council to redevelope the warehouses and arms and get them reconnected to the canal. This would be wonderful, but would need to get an instant good reputation as somewhere to moor. It would be nice to feel you could explore Rochdale.

Culvert to the left, new tunnel to the right

Another longish pound. Some of this is a new channel. The canal had been built over and culveted for road building, so a new course was required along with the roundabout having to be rebuilt when the canal was restored. You can see where it used to go before you head into Edinburgh Way Tunnel. Mick remembers the road works lasting forever, the route to Anne (his sisters house) from the M62 affected for months.

Artwork alongside the lock

As we came into Castleton the lock ahead was just about full. Either the top gates leaked masses or a paddle had been left up. This is lock 51, the Lock Keepers had been called to it the day we crossed the summit. The offside gates are worked with your windlass and chains as a carpark for a mill now gets in the way. This does mean that access along the off side of the lock is for very skinny people or those who don’t mind limboing! I am neither of those. I closed the near side paddle and then noticed the rack went a lot further down than the one on the off side. If the offside paddle was still up by what might be inches then we’d be waiting an age to empty the lock.

I hopped onto the bow of Oleanna and Mick moved her up to the offside gate, here I could step off. Sure enough the paddle was up by a good few inches. I hopped back onto the bow and we headed for the lock. The lock beam has notches cut in it so that it goes over the top of the ladder handrail. We’d nudged the gate coming in, it needed to be opened again and then things aligned properly once more. With one bottom paddle lifted it was taking an age to empty, time to try to access the offside paddle. I managed to position myself in amongst the beam chains and lent over. I could have engaged the pawl if I’d flicked it with my windlass, but then there would have been no way of taking it off. So I just wound it up and held it until the lock levelled.

Hello somewhere over there

At Blue Pits Middle Lock I waved to Anne’s old house. Ten years ago you could just about see it, five years ago new houses blocked the view, now trees hide everything. I waved none the less.

Under the M62, the pontoon towpath was in situ today. This is also a new channel, the original used to pass a little further west with the Heywood Branch heading off to the west. If you look behind you you can see the way boats used to travel. Blue Pits New Lock 53 is a concrete affair, nothing old about it. It takes ages to fill and it’s surroundings were very bog like, I was quite glad the gates didn’t leak at either end which meant I didn’t have to wade through to operate the paddle on the off side. Puzzling why the bottom gates have these signs on them, they are usually on top gates.


A boat was moored on the next bend, a perfect mooring for spotting trains as the line sits at a height a field away. If we’d been half an hour earlier we’d have been treated to a steam train!

Not much further we reached Slattocks, bollards marking our destination for the day. We quickly unrolled the covers, headed inside to give Tilly the disappointing news that there’d be no shore leave today, but more importantly it was time to dry off.

Tension ans stitch swatch

The last pair of socks I’d frogged were finished off this afternoon. A swatch was knitted with the new blue yarns for the next pair. I was considering giving Broken Seed Stitch a go, but I think that would be better suited to two solid coloured yarns rather than varigated. Instead they will end up being very stripy socks.

5 locks, 6.6 miles, 2 swing bridges, 1 man and 2 dogs held up, 1 almost tunnel, 4 boxes wine, 1 pork joint for the weekend, 2 hours early, 1 orangutan, 0 shore leave, 1 annoying towpath cat, 14th pair started, 12 meatballs, 2 soggy boaters yet again, 1 boat ahead still not caught.

Not A Chip In The Air. 1st September

Trent Junction to Beeston, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

We winded and headed along Cranfleet Cut. There would be few trains today due to a train strike, the sign marking where HS2 was planned to cross now looks a touch forgotten about.

What were the holes for?

The stone work along the bank has lots of holes in it. What were these for? Did there used to be a wooden structure that was supported by the holes? Is it to aid drainage from the land behind? If anyone knows please tell us.

Up ahead we could see volunteers at the lock. As we approached they all stood up and walked over to close the paddles and open the gates. Four chaps in blue with life jackets. Well I’d be superfluous if I hopped off so I stayed on board, allowing them to operate one of the few remaining manual locks for us this year.

Check your quarter wave

Now down on the river we zoomed our way towards Beeston. The level seemed to be a touch low, we could see where walls lerk below the surface ready to catch you out should you stray over to the eastern bank. We passed Barton Island where recently a boat sank, a problem with it’s weedhatch. They came past us yesterday being towed to a boat yard on the Soar somewhere.

The wooden houses by the river. Various styles. I like the slightly quirkier ones which look like they’ve been cobbled together from bits and bobs. A new one going up, a lot of sterling board being used, wonder what it’ll be clad in?

We pulled up on the long pontoon before Beeston Lock, a chap pulled his boat almost to the end, but not quite. A pause for us to empty the yellow water ready for disposal at the elsan, no notice that the services have been vandalised recently.


Up at the lock boats were coming from everywhere, well from Nottingham. I checked to see what people were doing, all stopping for water, just what we were after too. The lock was sorted to being in our favour, we dropped down to the canal level, only about a foot today, then pulled over to wait in line for the water point to become free.

5 miles to get back on the river again

The tap took it’s time to fill everyones tanks and bottles, you would think a place like Nottingham would have more than two taps!

Now to find ourselves a mooring. At first it didn’t look hopeful, but then I spied two gaps either side of a dutch barge. The second one looked like it might just be long enough for us, the chap from the dutch barge came out to help pull us in sideways, a couple of inches spare front and back, brilliant.

QUICK!!! I got on the internet, time to see if I could book a table for this evening, even Tilly didn’t know what was going on, Why wasn’t she giving me the rules and writing down the magic numbers?! 5:45 or 8pm. I opted for 8, my request had been received, but would it be accepted? An hour went by before I got confirmation of our booking. Hooray! We could go to the Victoria Hotel.

The Victoria Hotel

Apparently I am grounded. As there is no ground inside I really don’t know what it means. She says I’ve broken rule number 1 four times in the last 3 days. Only one thing to do, sulk!

Tonights menu

Our table sat waiting for us at the Victoria Hotel in the Middle Room, every other table packed. People stood at the bar to order drinks and food whilst others stood in front of the blackboard menu, also available on their website. What a choice, what a popular place. We’ve eaten here once before in 2016, but not managed to either get a mooring or a table since.

We made our selections, drank our wine and watched other peoples meals come out from the kitchen. Not one chip could be smelt, not one burger on the menu. One sausage or two with your mash though.

I’d chosen a Moroccan Lamb Tagine which came with rice and some slices of bread instead of couscous and a nan bread. Mick had a chicken skewer with pitta bread and a salad. Puddings were also partaken, Pistachio Chocolate Brownie for me and Bakewell Tart for Mick. All very very tasty. So glad we got a table.

As we finished our meal people lurked in doorways, waiting for tables to clear or for no shows. The kitchen stays open, so if you are lucky and get somewhere to sit they will serve you. Then the drinkers gradually take over, some sitting reading the newspapers with a pint, one chap inhaling some rather good looking cheese on toast.

On our return to Oleanna I counted six maybe seven campervans pulled up, thankfully noone would be opening their curtains in the morning to see us staring back at them. Tilly wasn’t interested in us at all, no knee sitting, just one very big sulk!

2 locks, 5.1 miles, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 troughs of strawberries tidied up, 1 table booked, 1 sulky cat, 1 very good meal, 1 pub definitely worth visiting, 0 chips seen or smelt.