Category Archives: Food

Purrplexed. 8th April

Bent House Lock 46

An early start for Mick who headed off to Littleborough Station to catch a train just before 8am. Tilly and I stayed tucked up in bed and enjoyed a cuppa with the puzzles from Saturdays newspaper.

A day return to Scarborough woud have been about £70 at that time of day even with an old gits railcard, but Mick had booked his tickets in such a way that he got off peak tickets from Mytholmroyd, therefore costing £37.35 including a plus bus for around Scarborough.

View from the cratch today

On board, after the usual mornings activities I decided to give the interior of Oleanna a dust down and then a sweep through followed by a floor clean. Tilly kept out of the way for much of the time, the lack of wind and rain encouraging her to go outside.

Then it was time to investigate why our pullout corner cupboard is starting to ground and make grooves in the newly oiled floor! I’ve been wondering if the weight in the pan drawer, which is attached to the cupboard might be doing this. Maybe when I’d reattached it I’d screwed them together at a slight angle that gets exacerbated when the corner cupboard is pulled right out.

I emptied the cupboard and drawer so that I could detach the two. There lying on the floor was part of a circular piece of plastic. Was this off one of the castors? Yes. The plastic helps keep the wheel square and helps to keep the rubber wheel from flattening out under the weight. Without it the rubber wheel was flattening, a bit like a blown tyre on a car and therefore the plinth of the pullout cupboard was grounding across the floor, it having dropped by a couple of mm.

How were the castors attached? To blocks of wood, which of course had been attached from below not above. So to remove the castors we would need to remove the cupboard to be able to turn it on it’s side! A look later on from the opposite side by Mick suggests we might be able to just replace the wheel on the caster without dismanteling everything.

But where’s the top gone!?!

Tilly gave me a site report from low down. She was quite purrplexed about the whole situation. But hey hang on! There’s no top!! Someone’s stolen the top! I can’t hide in here anymore, there’s no IN to be IN! This is what the problem is, the IN, not the squishy wheel. I’ve left the pan drawer unattached until we can replace the wheel.

It’s okay there’s still an IN to be in here

Next it was time to restick some edging onto the side of the drawing board slot. This has been held on by tape for about a year. Some wood glue down between the main board and the strip, tape back on to hold it in place. There’s far too much stuff in the slot! It needs clearing out to leave enough IN for a cat.

Lunch was arepas with red cabbage, cheese and slices of apple, very nice.

Blues

Time to select the yarn for the next pair of socks. I’ve had quite a few requests for blue socks this year, so any yarn that was blue was laid on the bed. Three selected, I just need to decide how to knit them up.

Meanwhile in Scarborough Mick had caught the bus to the hospital, a blood test required by his GP, this was all very efficient. He then walked to the house to meet with our current lodgers. A coffee, chat and he picked up our post, including postcards about the York and North Yorkshire Mayor election. A few years ago we had lodgers put our postal votes on the top of a book shelf for safe keeping along with other post. Mick got the train to Scarborough especially to pick them up but couldn’t find them. They were found a few months later long after the poll. We now have a tray in the kitchen for post to go in.

You don’t need to be in there! Just checking it’s still got an IN.

Then he caught another bus out of town and headed to his dentist. His return to Seamer Station was thwarted by numerous school buses refusing to pick him up and then the next bus was ten minutes late, by which time he’d missed the hourly train from Scarborough!

I wonder what Clare made of this

In Littleborough the day had been a perfect one for cruising, no boats had come past though. I frogged another pair of socks to just past the heel, adjusted my needle size hoping this would rectify their tightness. I watched another Bake Off, more comdey biscuits and The Woman In Gold 2015,starring Helen Mirren. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann, starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting ‘The Lady in Gold’. She enlists a young lawyer to help her and they end up taking the Austrian Government to the US Supreme Court.

More yummy yarn

Mick returned home a while after 8pm. In amongst the post was a parcel from Rachel at Skein Queen, another rather yummy skein of yarn in white and blues. She’d also added in a pattern for a pair of socks. Thank you Rachel.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4ft edging re-stuck,16 tickets, 6 trains, 3 buses, 3 ignoring buses, 1 flattening wheel,1 pleasant day, 1 test, 1 set of clean gnashers, 1 puzzled Tilly, 1 skien, 1 patter, 1 omlette for 2, 1 normal result.

Finding The Needle. 5th April

Bent House Lock 46

With Storm Kathleen on it’s way in the next few days our ropes needed tightening, we’d bumped about a bit in the night and that was before Kathleen arrived.

I had no intention on venturing far today, the same couldn’t be said for Mick, he was going to set forth to the bright lights of the Trafford Centre!

eeek!

Last summer Mick had bought me a new laptop. A couple of days ago it lost it’s ability to fold closed, not much good for a portable device! The IT department had given it a good look over and nothing could be found in the hinge that shouldn’t be there and the surround to the screen was starting to come away. He sought IT support via John Lewis, chatted away to someone on the phone and was given a number to quote when he took it into a store. The nearest store to us currently is at the Trafford Centre, today a window of opportunity between rail strikes was to be taken.

Awkward to transport

He caught the train from Littleborough into Victoria, a tram to Deansgate and then another out to the Trafford Centre. Here he visited John Lewis, a chap looked at the laptop which had been carefully transported in it’s open state. It was still under manufacturers warranty so would be sent to Warrington to be mended, this may take 28 days! Mick said it would be really good if it was quicker and we’d still be in the area. If it returns quickly enough then we’ll even be able to cruise there on the boat to collect it, fingers crossed. There was an option for it to be sent to our home address, but this isn’t really an option for us. Mick will get a text when it is back at the store.

Meanwhile Tilly and I got to grips with Micks tablet, from which I’m writing this. Then we wound some more yarn for sock pair 14. Ends needed weaving in on the last the pair of socks. Last night I’d heard something fall on the floor, most probably one of my darning needles which normally live tucked into my sheep tape measures wool. Sure enough this morning there was only one needle there not two. Best find the other one.

With my faithful assistant hunting for the needle

I hunted round on the floor, no sign of the 2 inch needle. I got a magnet from the notice board, this was used to see if I could lure the needle out from under the sofa, which is where it must have ended up. Tilly helped, pulling out the odd thing that’s been tucked under there for safe keeping. Nothing magnetic! Oh well just as well I’d another needle to hand.

Work on pair 14 started in ernest up from the toe. I wanted to do something a little bit random with it, but that necessetated it being pulled out several times all whilst watching Great British Bake Off. I especially liked Jodie Whittaker’s biscuit of Paul and Prue!

He heee!!!

By the time Mick returned with a few items of shopping I’d let my ordered side take over on the knitting, far less random than originally planned, the pattern was starting to come together. I asked him if he’d seen the needle. Yes he’d picked it up this morning and popped it on a shelf to be safe!

Late afternoon we had another visitor. Anne, Mick’s big sister who had driven down from Scotland today. We tried to work out when we’d last seen each other. Originally we thought it was Christmas 2019, then more likely Christmas 2018! But after Anne had left Mick remembered that we’d met up in Wiltshire in September 2019, not quite as long ago as first thought, but still too long ago. Of course we get to see each other on the Geraghty zoom quite often, but it really isn’t the same as being able to give her a hug.

Long chats over a cuppa and then there was the opportunity for a family airloom to head to it’s new home. The ‘Joan’ chair.

When Aunty Joan, Micks Aunty on his Dad’s side, was little she was given this little chair. None of Mick’s siblings actually remember this chair. About a year ago on a Hessle History facebook group there was a post about school teachers. There was a comment saying that they remembered Miss Geraghty from Penshurst Junior School, did anyone else? Several people had made comments saying what a great teacher she’d been, Mick chipped in saying what a great Aunty she was too!

Joan’s chair

A chap called Brian then replied that his Mum used to clean Miss Geraghty’s home and that he used to go with her. He would sit in this little chair and wait patiently for his mum. Joan, Miss Geraghty, one day said would he like to have the chair. So he ended up with it for several decades. On facebook Brian then offered it to Mick, so that it could return to the family, a rendez vous was arranged in the pub car park next door to where Joan used to live and the chair was handed over.

Our friend Frank did a little bit of mending and we did consider contacting The Repair Shop about it, but that would involve having to appear on TV which isn’t something Mick was too keen on doing. What to do with it then, well it should stay in the family and as we knew we’d be seeing Ruth this year we brought it onto the boat to hand down so that Daphne and Penelope can sit in it.

Leftover Lamb Biryani with added spinach and mushrooms

Another go at Lamb biryani this evening with the correct rice this time. It was very tatsy and theres still some lamb left in the freezer for another go.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 4 trams, -1 laptop, (blog posts may be a touch shorter for a while), 1 moving boat, 1 needle, 1 hour out of 8, 1 sausage day not made the most of, 1 sister, 1 diddy chair, 1 sock nearly completed, more space under the dinette.

Nieces. 4th April

Warland Lower/Upper Locks to Bent House Lock 46

Kindness

A drier start to the day, but chilly! We had our breakfast then started to make ready to head up Lock 35, swing the bridge and enter Lancashire ready for 11am when our booking was to cross the summit. As we were rolling the covers up a CRT chap walked towards us, windlass in hand. It was only 10am, but they were ready when we were. Brilliant.

Getting close to leaving

We both stayed on board and let Billy and Richard work the locks for us. Up Warland Upper Lock, we then crossed the border, Billy welcoming us to bright side! Oleanna has been in Yorkshire for just over six months and now finally we’ve escaped, a few weeks later than originally planned.

Up ahead at Longlees Lock 36 another chap emptied the lock and pushed open the bottom gate for us whilst the other two chaps closed up behind and walked up to meet us.

Richard to the left, Billy the right, Summit straight on

Up we rose to the 600ft that the summit pound sits on. Grey overcast, slightly damp in the air, gloves a necessity, we could see our breath! Brrr!!!

Lancashire ahead

As we pootled along the summit pound, streams cascaded off the hillsides. A toot of a horn as the CRT chaps passed us in their van waving, they’d reach the other side before us to unlock West Summit Lock 37.

Mick and Yorkshire behind

Currently to help reserve water you have to book to cross the summit of the Rochdale, there are slots for 2 boats each way, today we were the only boat to cross. Billy said they’d been at the summit from 8am, sorted water levels out down on the west side so they really didn’t know why there was the 11am time to cross. An hour to sort levels would be sufficient. So those boats we’d seen yesterday had most probably come over the summit early on.

The western end of the summit pound

I stayed on board to go down Lock 37 then stepped off when we reached 38 time to warm up and lend a hand, Billy and Richard would be with us for a few more locks yet. Ahead of us down the big hill into Manchester there is a section that earlier this week had been emptied by vandals, a group of CRT employees were busy running water down to where it needed to be, hopefully by the end of today it would be back in navigable order.

The three of us leapfrogged each other, one going ahead to set the next lock leaving two to lift paddles and open and close gates. Time to chat. Richard used to work as stage crew at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, his son works on Coronation Street in the props department and Billy had a nice holiday in Scarborough last year.

Top gates

Locks 40 and 41 have narrowed so will only take one boat at a time, no problem for us today as we were on our own. The intermediate pound I remembered from five years ago was low, we’d cautiously let water down to enable our crossing. As 41 filled the chaps confired, Richard ran water through 40 to help the low pound. It still seemed very low to me when he lowered the top paddle, two huge blocks of stone lower than where the water mark suggested normal height was. It was easily passable.

I wonder how this is pronounced?

Our last passage down here we’d encountered another low pound, well more like an empty pound! Today we were told we’d be fine, the levels would have sorted themselves out by the time we got there. The chaps helped us down 41, they got a call, they were needed at Lock 51. We waved goodbye and thanked them and off they went in their van to help someone else.

A few days ago they’d been called out to help a boat heading up from Manchester. They’d found them a pound to moor in and told them to stay put overnight and they’d return in the morning to sort the levels out ahead of them up to the summit. That same day they were called out at dusk as the boat had continued uphill and had run out of water. If only the boat had stayed put, it would have only meant sorting the levels out once not twice.

How much water?!

Considering we’d not had enough water in a pound behind us, we all of a sudden had too much. Water flowed over the top gates straight to the other end and over the gates there too. So much water! This made opening bottom gates a hard job, patience for levels to equalise required. Maybe another bum against a lock beam would have helped, but despite there having been several walkers now there were none! We waited and eventually I could feel a touch of movement, phew!

We carried on down the next few locks. Billy had said that our preffered mooring near Littleborough was occupied by two boats this morning. So we tried pulling in before we reached there on a nice wide stretch the railway set back from the canal. Sadly there was not enough depth even at several feet away from the bank, we carried on resolving ourselves to mooring below the next lock, close to the railway where Tilly would have to stay inside.

Pushed over to the lock side

But hang on! I zoomed in on the little notch by Lock 46. Unless the two boats were very short, they must have left this morning. Brilliant! Our chosen mooring was available, we pulled in on the far side from the lock, a field, geese and leaves from a cauiflower for company. Tilly approved and vanished for quite sometime.

Skin *ed!

A grade three hair cut was long overdue, so we set up the towpath barbers making use of the bench by the lock. There he is again! Smart once more.

Messages were sent to Ruth, Mick’s niece, who gathered her daughters together to come and find us. With little legs expected we decided to push over to the other side of the notch making getting on and off the boat safer. Tilly was called back onboard and we pushed over. A quick tidy up and then a peek over the bridge to see Ruth, Penelope and Daphne walking up to meet us.

Nieces

Penelope isn’t quite 5 and Daphne just under 2. It was quite exciting to be on the boat, Tilly was spotted in the hedgerow and then we did a guided tour. Of course rocking the boat was an exciting thing that had to be explained, especially why Penelope couldn’t make it work but Mick could. We had a lovely hour with them all and look forward to seeing them again in the next few days. You might be looking forward to it! I’ll be behind Tom’s pillow if anyone wants me.

Once they were gone we decided to push back over to the field. Tilly having just claimed the tree by the lock hopped on board, then hopped off again just as we pushed off. Panic! Why were you moving the outside with me in it !!?!! Only one thing for it. Speed maths, correct footing and ‘Don’t you DARE Tilly!’ laaauuuuuunch! Plenty of spare leapability, maybe even a cats length.

The best mooring in Littleborough

A mousakkish was put together from some bolognaise sauce we had left over, the stove lit. The second sock that I’d frogged was finished and the first toe of pair 14 was cast on, it’s a bit wierd knowing how far into the year we are by weeks.

11 locks, 2.54 miles, 2 helpful CRT chaps, 1 helpful volunteer, 600ft, 45ft lower than the Huddersfield Narrow, 2 much water, 3 foot down, 1 notch, 1 happy cat, grade 3, 1 niece, 2 great nieces, 1 hiding cat, 27 weeks 2 days in Yorkshire, 1 long leap, 10 years to the day of owning NB Lillyanne, 10 years of being boat owners, 2 glasses of wine each to celebrate.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/bhQxDnGtSqdGjtGD7

One Last Night. 3rd April

Lightbank Lock 31 to between Warland Lower and Upper Locks 34, 35

There have been Facebook tales of empty pounds on the other side of the summit on the Rochdale, one of these pounds did have a lack of water five years ago. The tales have come from those heading towards the summit from the west as we did ten years ago. We’ll see what we face when we get there, at least we’ll be taking water with us.

Two boats came past, were these the boats that had been helped across an empty pound at dusk yesterday? It was too early for them to have crossed the summit this morning, the top locks unlock at 11am. We waited hoping for a lull in the rain. One came and went followed by another, it didn’t seem like we’d get a suitably long gap to cruise in, so we just set off knowing we’d get wet.

I don’t think I’d mess with this goose

The geese are squabbling. Canadian Geese disagreed with a White Chinese Goose. Blimey they are worse than Seagulls! We pushed off leaving them to continue with their argument.

Round and round and round

Lightbank Lock has short beams on the bottom gate requiring the use of a windlass to open and close them. This is most probably due to a house having been built in the 1990’s on the offside here that required road access, so space was lost to have full length beams. The lawn seemed ever so green and well kept, until I walked on it, perfect grazing for Reindeer as it was soft squidgy moss. The views up the valley would be breath taking on a sunny day, no sun for us however.

Quite a soggy landscape

At the next lock a line of CRT vans were parked, a very soggy Sheep dog trotted back and forth from buildings to vans. We carried on with our soggy mission to moor below the summit today ready for our booked passage tomorrow morning.

The railway now vanishes underground, far more trains on the line at the moment due to line works in Huddersfield, so trains have been diverted along this valley instead. The river also has wound it self away from us and the road now a field away, would this be a good mooring for Tilly? We tried pulling in, but the now peaty water hides shallows, beware streams entering the canal, here they deposit silt enough to halt progress if you get too close. Another lock was ascended.

Warland Lower Lock filled, the pound to Upper Lock dropped by a good foot. Here would be a good place for Tilly. I walked up to see if I could empty the next lock to help fill up the pound. Boats moored on the offside were still level, the lock only had a couple of feet of water in it. I headed back to help bring Oleanna into the side.

What’s that little white dot on the bridge?

The top lock beam has instructions to help retain water in this pound. The offside gate requiring to be closed last, the mitred gates sealing better this way. There are even instructions on how to close the gates if you are a single hander. Push the near side gate with force, which pushes the offside gate away, it will then come back and close second keeping the water in the pound.

As we tried to moor up, spikes resistant to the bank a chap walked along. He’d emptied the lock above and was coming down to check the lock gates had been shut as instructed. Mick had succeeded, following the instructions, the chap said we’d be surprised at how many people didn’t do it.

Someone scouting for a suitable nest sight

A white dot on a pipe bridge up ahead on closer inspection turned out to be a Canadian Goose. The chap said they had two pairs trying to find somewhere to build their nest, he spends his mornings doing his best to dissuade them as they leave such a sh**ty mess everywhere!

Our mooring for tonight would just still be within the boundary of Yorkshire, one last night for us, one last afternoon of Yorkshire playtime for Tilly. She spent quite a bit of time out in the field despite the rain. I suspect on a sunny day here would have received a stamp of approval.

The stove was lit, time for us to dry out and have a late lunch. It carried on raining, we pottered away the rest of the day. The next sock was frogged back and by the end of the day I’d knitted back up to the cuff. Sadly I have another pair that require something similar, but maybe I’ll knit pair 14 first.

4 locks, 0.8 miles, 2 to the summit, 1 last night in Yorkshire, 1 very soggy day, 1 soggy moggy, 1 sock frogged, 1 duck hash, 1 stove lit, 1 quite good field.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2400.4512833377053!2d-2.087134758571627!3d53.67933433140286!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTPCsDQwJzQ0LjQiTiAywrAwNScwNi44Ilc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1712237215619!5m2!1sen!2suk

12 Stamps And Some Of The Good Stuff! 31st March

Hedbum Bridge

The towpath was a touch quieter this morning, were people still in bed having not put their clocks forward? We got cuppas ready and settled down for the Geraghty zoom. At 10:05 no-one had showed apart from us, 10:10 still no-one else. Were we the only ones to have sprung forward? No last week when we’d only bobbed into the zoom they had decided that as so many people would be away doing other things today there was little point, they’d just omitted to tell us. Oh well!

Easter breakfast

Before Mick was allowed to get the bacon and eggs out I needed certain things from the galley. Time to make some Hot Paw Buns. I tried a bit of an experiment and added a couple of extra grams of yeast and a teaspoon of Psyllium husk to see what effect that would have. The gooey mixture was left on the top shelf to rise for an hour whilst we had breakfast.

Tilly had another go at liking Hebden Bridge, but it didn’t last long and she resigned herself to sleeping for much of the day.

With a duck race on Monday …

I also decided to take one lot of rising out of the process of making Hot Paw Buns. So I mixed the fruit and spices into the gooey mass. Prepared the marzipan balls for inside and then rolled out a long sticky sausage to cut into twelve which in turn had their centres added and were rolled up into balls. All popped on a baking tray to rise again. Sadly the top shelf isn’t big enough for the tray so they took up space on the table.

Yesterday we’d omitted to buy some potatoes to go with our duck this evening and a visit to the cheese shop had to be made. Mick stayed onboard to hang up some washing. The Co-op was closed, the bakers open (however no queue today), Nisa and One Stop shops were both open and so was the cheese shop!

Cheese cheese cheese!

Now what on earth to buy? I chose a couple and then a third as the lady started to serve me. The third wedge of cheese I required a bit of assistance with. I wanted some proper Wensleydale cheese. In the 70’s Mum used to buy whole Stilton and Wensleydale cheeses, wrapped in their muslin. The top would be sliced off and kept to act as a lid and WO betide anyone who went in for a scoup! Slices cut into wedges were the only way cheese was consumed from these huge beasts of cheese. They kept exceptionally well. For a few years Father Christmas used to give me a small version wrapped in muslin, creamy but rather crumbly, my favourite cheese long before Wallace and Gromit were even a glint in Nick Parks’ eye.

…there’s a duck window display competition

This last Christmas I bought a small muslin wrapped cheese from Hawes dairy, sadly it was the modern version of Wensleydale, a disappointment to be honest. Today I wanted some of the good proper stuff! Yes they had Hawes, then there two more to choose from. I asked which was the better one. The mature one was wrapped in plastic, not a good sign so I opted for the other (when I get them out to eat I’ll let you know which one it is). This one had dark muslin, it’s been aged and turned and turned. The lady offered me a taste, but there was no need I could see this is what I was after. She agreed with me and commented about how so many people thought that Hawes Wensleydale was the true cheese, ‘but that means there’s more of the good stuff left for those who know!’

Back at Oleanna, marzipan paw prints were cut out and added to the buns. Mick was sent off for a bottle of cider to make gravy for the duck and some red cabbage had cinnamon, cloves, balsamic vinegar and sugar added to it to slowly cook on the stove top. The buns went in the oven with a tray of boiling water on the shelf below for the first ten minutes, covered in foil for the last ten minutes, then were left to cool having a sticky glaze added. The smell far better than the previous buns I’d made. Once cool enough we both enjoyed one with some butter melting into them.

Hot Paw Buns cooling just enough to eat

A much better bun, even Mick said they were better than the Bakery bought ones. My tweaks to my recipe had improved them and omitting a third rise I think had helped also. I’ll have to find time to amend the recipe page.

Late afternoon we had someone to meet. Alexandra Mathie is an actress I’ve know since the mid 90’s and she was one of the first people to be a lodger in our house in 2021, she lives here in Hebden Bridge. She has just returned from Sheffield having played Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible (review here). We sat and caught up on news of mutual friends and future plans over a pint at The White Lion for an hour. I’m not sure how long she and Angie have lived here, but she says that it simply isn’t the same. The town has become a destination for hen and stag does and on summer evenings the town isn’t somewhere they’d choose to go anymore. We’ve certainly heard the rowdy lads heading to the station over the weekend. It was so lovely to see her and there was an added bonus of gluten free beer on tap!

The lovely Alex

This evening we’ve enjoyed our Lidl duck. Not as good as those we buy for Christmas, but that was to be expected. A very full plate of food followed by a few chunks of Easter Egg. Tomorrow we’d best start working off the calories and carry on climbing up the valley.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2kg potatoes, 3 treat cheeses, 1 bottle cider, 12 paw stamps, 1 snoozy cat, 2 chocolate eggs, 1 Alex, 1 changed Hebden Bridge, 1 duck, 2 very full boaters.

400 Spiced Buns. 30th March

Hebden Bridge

A touch of a lie in then Tilly sampled the towpath. Hedbum Bridge! Far too many woofers and the wave of walkers along the towpath after a train arrives isn’t conducive to feline fun. Plus there is very VERY little friendly cover! The flower beds are very well kept in the park!

I’ve actually braved it twice!

We had a slow morning. I spent quite a bit of time trying to sort out lodgers in the house in the coming months. We get quite a few returning actors who want to stay with us which is fantastic. The only problem comes when someone who would stay for 9 weeks is taking their time thinking about it and someone else wants to book just 3 weeks which would overlap with them. We obviously would prefer someone for 9 weeks, but at the same time if they don’t want to stay we’d rather not have the house empty.

Next on the agenda was to hunt out the bakery we’d visited five years ago, it was coming up to Easter then. Saker Bakery on Market Street also has a shop in Todmorden and is most definitely worth a visit. The shop was full, we joined the queue. The menu board outside advertised the loaves available today, Black Russian, Sour Dough, plenty more and at the bottom were Spiced Buns.

The aroma filled the street, trays of freshly baked buns. ‘Two Hot Cross Buns Please’ everybody’s first line. Some added a loaf. One Japanese lady only want the one bun, but as she wanted to pay by card she had to up it to two. I suspect Spiced Buns are not just for Easter, as from this bakery they normally come with a CND logo on them rather than a cross, but today the chap didn’t have time for this so had resorted to mostly crosses , he did have 400 to do! Mick opted for two buns and a loaf of wholegrain with molasses.

Flour

Next it was to Valley Organics. Here was full too, I knew exactly what I was after, Chestnut flour and some Tapioca Starch. Tapioca is used in a lot of gluten free baking as it adds a chewy texture to things. Chestnut flour makes wonderful gf pastry and this is the only place I’ve seen it for sale (suspect on our next visit to the Gloucester Sharpness canal I’ll find it too).

Hebden Bridge

We then had a wander about, the market was full of interesting things nobody really needs. There was a new (to us) cheese shop, we’ll come back to have a closer look and another bakery that had some fantastic looking vanilla slices, sadly they stayed in the window, but Mick did buy himself a pork pie.

Vanilla yummyness

Back at Oleanna Tilly tried and tried to go outside. We managed to put dog walkers off using our ash bin for their pooh bags. Tillys and our toilet were refreshed and we smartened ourselves up for an evening out.

Portsmouth!?!

The 592 bus heads between Burnley and Halifax, we caught it and headed towards Todmorden following the canal and river all the way. The hire boaters that had arrived in Hebden this morning were working their way up the locks, wonder how far they got before dark? It was also interesting that most of the river is corralled in by walls. At Tod the bus veered away from the canal and river heading up another steep sided valley towards Burnley. The sun shone on the hill tops as the road wound itself up the hill.

We hopped off at The Staff of Life pub where we had a rendez vous. Two friends from Croydon College, a couple of years above mine, Alan and Doug. I try to meet up with Alan when we are near and Doug helped us down the Rochdale 9 into Manchester five years ago.

Alan, Doug, Amanda, Pip and Mick’s hand

We had a very nice meal in the pub. The others had walked over the tops to get there so deserved their pudding more than we did. We then walked down the hill a short distance to Eagles Cragg Brewery. Here they open their doors on the last Friday and Saturday of the month for themselves and anyone else who like to join them sampling their ale. Mick had already sampled some at the pub and had a second pint, sadly they haven’t managed to filter a beer yet for them to have a GF beer, but the chap said that maybe next month they’d have one.

There was a DJ playing half of my Dad’s record collection, so the music was good, just a shame it was really quite loud which made it hard for us to carry on our conversation without shouting. After a pint Mick and I headed for the bus stop, just outside and made our way back to Hebden Bridge. If you find yourself in the area at the end of a month it’s well worth a visit.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 hot cross buns, 1 special loaf, 1 chicken supreme, 1 gammon steak, 2 college friends, 1 girlfriend, 1 Mick’s hand, 2 bags flour, 100,000 all-time views of the blog!

Bit Different To The Cromwell We’re Used To. 28th March

Sainsburys Brighouse to Salter Hebble Lower Basin

Mick did a few chores before we pushed off. Time to start climbing up towards the hills.

Volunteers in black

There were plenty of C&RT volunteers along the next stretch. CRT black/navy coats, none of the bright blue on show, have the uniforms been changed? They were busy litter picking and one chap was hanging over the edge near Ganny Lock trying to chop away seedlings growing out from the stone work. The area certainly looked very well looked after, plus the garden at the lock cottage was filled with Hyacinths.

Ganny Lock with chain and extra gate support in the middle

At Ganny Lock the offside bottom gate has been tethered with a chain to some scaffolding, anchoring it to the ground, then an angled plate has been welded onto the other gate, presumably to help keep the offside one from being pushed too far by water pressure. This confused me for a while, should I move the nearside gate? Except that meant trying to move both gates at once!

Cromwell Lock

The towpath was now far far busier than we’ve seen this year. Some sunshine and it almost being Easter weekend had a lot to do with it. Two young lads and their Mum seemed to be between every lock, requesting we blow our horn. A couple of ladies stood and watched as we worked up Cromwell Lock. I felt impressive as I lifted a Hebble paddle with great ease, only to realise it was doing absolutely nothing in the way of water management!

A shorter Cromwell than we’re used to

The Hebble locks are quite short but wide. Further up they are even shorter. Our first trip through them was on NB Lillyanne who was 59ft 6″ without fenders going downhill. This necessitated going diagonally in the locks, positioning her so that as the water dropped she would miss the cill and then be able to nudge under the bottom gate walkway. A slow and careful process. Oleanna was built a foot shorter so as to make these locks, and one on the Huddersfield Broad, easier for us to manage. Going uphill you have the advantage of your bow being able to span over the cill, but that then lines up the well deck drain holes with the water coming in from gate paddles.

Holiday chalets filling up for the weekend

A few locks have ground paddles, but on those without I lifted the opposite gate paddle, slowly. Once it reached a certain height the water calmed on the surface, but then travelled to the other side of the lock bouncing back to push Oleanna the opposite way.

In amongst the hills

The two locks into Elland feel more urban, the straight length of canal and people crossing over the locks. But looking back the hills are now starting to show themselves.

We pulled over onto the visitor mooring by the Barge and Barrel, a C&RT work boat sat right in the middle. Lunch was required before we carried onwards. However if we’d continued we’d have missed the afternoons rain! Thankfully it wasn’t too much of a down pour.

A cob seeing us off!

Woodside Mills and Long Lees Locks were worked. Then under the new road bridge, not open yet, up to the Salter Hebble Locks. The bottom one of these has a guillotine gate and to reach it you walk through the old horse tunnel. Blimey the noise going through there was impressive, the bywash running directly under your feet!

Key of power to lift the gate and paddles at the bottom end. In came Oleanna and then it was back to winding a windlass on the top gates, a little more room in this lock than the next two would give us.

Guillotine Gate on the bottom Salter Hebble Lock

But we’d had enough for the day. Space on the visitor moorings pulled us in. Tilly was allowed out but she didn’t appreciate the heavens opening and getting a soaking, so she retired to dry off in front of the stove for the rest of the day.

This evening we’ve had Liver and Onions. I think I’ve only ever cooked liver once before and that was in my student days. I followed the Hairy Bikers recipe and it was very tasty. There’s enough liver left in the freezer for another day too.

8 locks, 4.2 miles, 0 moving boats, 250 grams liver, 15 minutes dry shore leave!

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Breakfast At Brighouse. 27th March

Kirklees Top Lock to Sainsburys, Brighouse

Thankfully it wasn’t raining when we woke, over our cuppa in bed we decided to make our final move off the river before breakfast, after all we’d only an hour left to reach our goal and to end up missing it for a day or so because of a bowl of cereal, well. As we rolled the covers up ready for cruising a cruiser appeared up the lock behind us. No point in rushing to share a lock as that would be too risky in these short locks, we quite often have to go diagonally to fit, tucking in behind one of the bottom gates.

Underpant Bridge and Trees!!!!

It’s a shame we couldn’t have moored a little further on as the woods had Tilly’s name stamped all over them, but we would have been closer to the M62, the noise level considerably more than where we’d been last night.

Open, but no idea of level

Anchor Pit Flood Gate was open waiting for us, we looked around to see if we could see the level board, tucked away in the corner of a gate recess, I only had time to spot it’s location but not the level it showed, hopefully it was amber. Since we’ve been keeping an eye on levels the EA website has shown the level at Brighouse to be 0, a constant 0. This is no help what-so-ever! Thankfully Gaugemap does show heights, minus heights. The level seemed to have gone up by a couple of inches since yesterday, so thank goodness the flood gate was still open.

An unuseable landing

The cruisier had pulled up on the lock landing, here it is actually quite long, except the end of it is fenced off as there’s not much left that would take anyone’s weight. There was nowhere I could hop off to help him up the lock. He waved us on. Mick and I both tried shouting that we were over long and that he should go first, he stopped chatted to someone, waved again. We weren’t about to jump the queue so waited patiently for him to return to his boat and get out of the way!

Up at the lock were two chaps who were gauging whether to come down onto the river. The gauge here was touching red. They were moving an ex Shire Cruise hire boat to Castleford for some work to be done with the aim of purchasing it. This meant it was still insured by the hire company and they were waiting to see if they were happy for them to proceed onto a river in the red! This meant there were plenty of hands to help.

A very jolly lock beam

We worked the cruiser up. He’d bought the boat in Goole and was moving it to Northampton. Because Vazon Sliding Bridge is out of action at the moment he was having to cross the Pennines to head south. First he’d thought of doing the Huddersfield Narrow, but they don’t allow cruisers through the tunnel. Now he was faced with all the Rochdale Locks. He’d then planned on going up the Ashton and up the Peak Forest onto the Macc, he had no idea that the Marple flight was closed. We later told him he’d need to book Tuel Lane Lock if he wanted to be through before the weekend, then the summit pound, then the Bridgewater. What he’d thought would be a relatively easy trip was turning out to be far longer, he’d already asked work for an extra ten days off. This all sounds familiar. When we first crossed from Manchester on the Rochdale on Lillian ten years ago, we teamed up with a single hander, who’s Nicholsons guide was so old that he ‘d taken a wrong turning leaving Manchester. His guide didn’t show the Rochdale being open, after twenty odd locks with us he asked when he’d reach the Bridgewater Canal!

Next it was our turn up the bottom lock and off the river, our last stretch of river for a while that could hold us up. I’d checked the blog from when we were here last, I knew that lifting the gate paddle anything but slowly would fill our well deck with water, so I took it cautiously, lifting the Hebble paddle second just to finish off.

Crossing the pound

The chaps on the hire boat had kindly emptied the top lock for us and helped close gates. Once up Mick reversed Oleanna onto the water point. Time for a celebratory shower as the tank filled up.

The hire boat headed for the lock, the company must have given them the go ahead. By the time they reach Castleford the chap at the helm will have got the hang of pointing the boat in the right direction, just as well as it’ll be his home!

We can all breath a sign of relief now

We moved onto the moorings, told Tilly this was Bumhouse and she’d not like it, even worse than Bumingham! She settled down as we settled down for breakfast, which was very nearly lunch.

A prescription was ready and waiting for Mick in Sewerby Bridge, so he caught the 9 minute train to pick it up. Sadly the Chemist was closed for lunch on his arrival so his return was delayed somewhat. A look in Screwfix for a new kitchen sink plug, nothing suitable without replacing the whole thing, we’ll cope for a while longer.

Could Boyes solve our problem?

Next was a restock at Sainsburys. the wine cellar needed topping up and we’d not stopped off in Mirfield for a duck. Sadly no ducks on the shelves here, but there was a Lidl not far away. Thankfully they had what we wanted and some bananas which seem to only be available in Lidl at the moment. A quick visit to Boyes to see if they could help with a plug, a rubber universal one was on sale for £1.10, so we’d not be wasting much money if it didn’t do the job.

Lots of fancy banks around town

By the time we’d stowed everything we decided we’d stay put for the night, an extra rope from the stern would stop us from swinging about on long ropes, it’s always been windy here. To celebrate being off the rivers we treated ourselves to fish and chips Blakeley’s do a gf batter and as we wanted haddock rather than cod even Mick’s fish was cooked to order, very nice it was too.

2 locks, 1.5 miles, 1 ex hire boat, 1 cruiser, 1 full water tank, 1 clean Pip, 1 bored cat, 4 boxes wine, 0 plug, 1 months drugs, 2 trains, 1 duck, 6 big bananas, 0 hot cross buns left, slow internet, fish and chips twice!

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Let’s Leave Underpants Bridge For Tomorrow. 26th March

Mirfield to above Kirklees Top Lock

Tilly has expanded her interest in the secret passage behind the sofa. She has discovered that she can just squeeeeeeze herself through the smallest gap between sofa, pouffe and bookshelf to get there. Once in there she can been heard discovering all the secret delights the passage hides from those of us who cannot squeeze in there. Then after about ten minutes the meows change tone and her claws come out attempting to escape. This is impossible! No it’s not, I just haven’t found the correct route out! So the sofa needs to be pulled out to aid escape. A touch boring for us humans to have to do this at least once a day, but my main concern is that she goes in there to explore whilst we’re busy moving the outside and gets STUCK! I have never got stuck, only temporarily delayed!

A heavy box to block the entrance

The alcohol free lager has a use at last!

We pootled up towards Ledgard Flood Lock, from the EA website the river levels this morning looked to have gone down. Passers by asked if the lock was open, well it would almost certainly have it’s gates closed, but it should be workable and most probably be in the amber. ‘Levels!’ said one chap.

Ledgard Flood Lock

Sure enough the level had gone down, there was twice as much amber showing this morning as there had been yesterday. Hebble paddles had been left up at both ends of the lock to help feed Shepley Lock when used, these needed to be left as found. Mick dropped me off, we made a plan, I plotted my route round the lock to take the shortest amount of time when closing up after us and hopefully covering the possibility that a gate may swing open, all so that I could get to Oleanna as quickly and as safely as possible. If we were new boaters we wouldn’t have even considered this.

Through the last closed flood lock, we hope!

All went well, the pull towards the weir wasn’t that great for Mick and Oleanna to cope with, the only problem was a chap who stopped to chat with Mick as he did his best to hold onto Oleanna at the short landing. There are times when you may just have to be rude in life and this so nearly was one of those moments.

Battyford Lock

Onwards to Battyford Lock, a big bruiser of a lock always waiting with it’s top gates ajar! Here the level was that bit higher only just in the amber. Battyford Flood Gate was open, next stretch of river to cross to Cooper Bridge Lock. This is one of my favourites, Hebble Spike required, worn stone step by the top gate and the lock cottage. Today the cottage looked less cosy, it’s normally surrounded by trees, these have either gone or had a serious hair cut. The other reason for liking the lock is the two geese who live here. A chap was in the field with them, petting them and chatting away, a very rare temperament for geese to have.

Cooper Bridge Lock

Cooper Bridge Flood Gate was also open, here we carried straight on up stream, leaving the Huddersfield canals behind us, heading for the Rochdale. Another river section crossed off the list.

Picturesque canal side house

Kirklees Bottom Lock is over looked by drivers heading between Huddersfield and the M62, I’ve sat in traffic on that road many a time, longingly looking at the lock beams. The two Kirklees Locks require a spike to go uphill, then there’s a stretch of moorings with rings. A handy lunch break location. We both looked at each other, if we carried on we’d be off the rivers in Brighouse, but that is where we’d end up mooring for the night and Tilly has been cooped up inside for a couple of days, exploring the passage! Should we risk stopping for the day?

Looking back to Wakefield on the left and Huddersfield on the right

The door was opened and after a quick sniff and clawing claim of the tree she shot straight up into the branches, we’d be staying put today and hope the forecast overnight wouldn’t be too wet.

Tilly’s tree

Mick had another look at the voltage sensitive relay. He got it to delay switching off by 999 seconds, however it didn’t turn itself back on when he restarted the engine. Still work in progress and I really don’t mind turning the Nebolink on and off anyway!

Lamb biryani this evening, just a shame I had a moment and thought I was using brown basmati rice, which turned out to be just brown rice which didn’t want to cook through in the oven! After an extra half hour on the hob, it was still a touch munchy. Oh well, there’s still plenty more lamb, I may give the recipe another go in a few days time, but with the correct rice this time!

4 locks, 3.6 miles,1 straight on, 4 inches of amber, 4 hours shore leave, 1 brilliant tree, 12 handy bottles, 3 river stretches ticked off, 1 left to go, M62 bridge left for tomorrow.

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With Added Waterfall. 25th March

Midland Junction Bridge to Mirfield Visitor Moorings

Glum damp boating day

With six more river sections to cross we needed to move today despite it raining, actually because it was raining we needed to move to try to beat any rising water levels.

Dampness

Waterproofs on, life jackets, time to get damp.

First up Millbank Lock, ground paddles spike operated. Ground paddles are where you have to be careful with your spike, if you drop it into the hole beneath the paddle it will sink.

Hebble Ground Paddle

We’ve never visited the Dewsbury Cut, we’d considered pootleing down there this time, but that would add an extra hour to the damp soggy day. Maybe on the way back if we return over the Huddersfield Narrow.

Thornhill Double Locks next. This is where we managed to knock Lillian’s tiller out of the cup back in 2014, the intermediate pound gets quite low on filling the bottom of the two locks. Today the bottom lock was very full, constantly being topped up from a stream that was coming down the path from the lock cottage and waterfalling into the lock chamber. Mick did his best to keep Oleanna away from it, just in case it lined up with a window, thankfully they were all closed anyway.

Thornhill Double Locks with added waterfall

The second lock was emptied as Oleanna finished rising in the bottom lock, making sure we’d have enough water to cross the intermediate pound.

Long Cut Flood Gate was open, we checked the river level as we went through, green! Along the river section to Greenwood Lock, here the ground paddles didn’t work, so the gate paddles were lifted with care.

Out through a flood gate

Out through Greenwood Flood Gate where the river was also in the green, this was boding well, apart from the constant rain. At Shepley Lock I headed up to set it. A lady asked if I had a spare windlass, well we have plenty on the boat and I knew Mick would be hovering and not tied up at the lock landing, they tend to be short and bollards not helpfully spaced. She asked if you could use the lock without a Hebble Spike.

Shepley Lock

The bottom gates are windlass operated, the top had one windlass gate paddle, but the other paddles are all spike operated. You most probably could fill the lock from just the gate paddle, but you’d have to take great care not to fill the bow of your boat. The other factor might be the bottom gates and how much they leak. The lock may fill to a level where the amount of water leaving the lock through gaps in the gates is the same as coming in through the one paddle. She headed off to get dry and I opted not to try bringing Oleanna up with the one paddle, I also wanted to get dry.

We pulled in towards the end of the moorings. Mooring spikes hammered into the very soft earth, hopefully there’d be no passing boaters to pull them out, this was unlikely, however the trip boat from across the way had just been for a jaunt. Mick put cross pins in, our standard mooring, but this should hopefully help.

WIPE YOUR PAWS!

Tilly was allowed out. Well what a bloomin tease! A great long green mesh all the way in front of the totally climbable trees! Not a single gap underneath it. What’s the point i having trees if you can’t get to them! How rude!!! She went back and forth trying to find a gap. Coming back for a Dreamie break every now and again. I didn’t manage to get towels on the new dinette cushions in time and her paws were VERY muddy.

In the amber at Ledgard

In the afternoon it stopped raining, we walked down to have a look at the next flood lock. Ledgard is the only flood lock still closed according to the stoppage notice. The lady at the lock earlier had said that she’d been told that when work was done on the weir the level was set too high, so therefore the next river section is often too high to navigate. So far the river level boards had been green today, the one here showed just about an inch into the amber. As far as we could tell the lock wasn’t locked and we’d be able to operate it ourselves so long as we left the correct paddles up to help feed Shipley Lock. I made note of the heights on the EA gauges, one at the weir and the next one upstream. 0.33 and 0.36 respectively. This would give us an idea in the morning as to whether we’d be staying put or carrying on.

A visit to the smart canalside Lidl for a few bits, especially eggs and yeast for Hot Paw Buns. They had whole ducks, one of those might be nice for easter, but we decided we’d pick one up when passing by boat rather than carry it back along the muddy towpath.

5 locks, 3.5 miles, 2 flood gates, 1 soggy day, 2 green, 1 amber, 2 easter eggs purchased, 2 levels noted, 1 droaning mooring, 3 river sections ticked off, 4 more to go.

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