Category Archives: Food

Beardy Crew. 29th December

Cape of Good Hope to Hatton Top Lock

Josh’s odd feet!

On Saturday morning after breakfast the London Leckenbys headed back to London town. This had always been the plan, but they left early as their house alarm had been triggered overnight. It must have been a faulty sensor or a busy spider as the house was fine when they returned. Plans are in the making for us all to meet up in York this summer, here’s hoping the Ouse plays along.

All quiet again

The rest of the day we filled with water and pottered about allowing Tilly freedom of the bank next to the boat.

Baking

Sunday morning and a spot of baking was needed. A batch of biscuits were shown the oven and the stuffing for sausage rolls was put together for later in the day. At around 10.30 two figures climbed over the gates of the lock behind us with a large suitcase. This was my old college friend Mike and his partner Chris.

Five or so years ago they helped us climb up Stoke Bruerne Locks and had expressed interest in helping out at flights of locks. We’ve not managed to get our acts together for sometime but with Hatton on the cards and Chris having spent Christmas with his Mum in Solihull a plan just neatly fell into place.

We’d last seen them in Camden when Oleanna was new, so it was lovely to spend some time with them again. Cuppas were turned down and we headed straight towards the flight. At Budbrooke Junction we turned right, the stern of NB Hadar just visible down the Saltisford Arm.

Will they all be empty?

As the bottom lock came into view so did a boat, just pulling out of the lock. Would all the locks be in our favour? We hoped so.

Chris
Mike

Mike and Chris hadn’t worked paddle gear like this before and were a touch rusty on how to do things. So a chat through and demonstration were given. By the time Oleanna had risen in the second lock we could adjust our method a touch, with only one gate needed to enter or exit the locks people could be used elsewhere sooner.

First lock ascended

By the time the locks were getting closer together we had got into a rhythm with one person heading on to the next lock whilst the other two wound paddles, opened and closed gates to bring Oleanna up. We quickly became an efficient team. Sadly Tilly still hasn’t learnt how to make tea which would have been nice with one of my biscuits halfway up the flight.

Heading up

There were plenty of people out walking the flight. Many making obvious comments about the number of locks we’d got left to do. At a couple of locks I managed to get keen and eager kids to help with gates, one young lad managing to move a gate all by himself.

Looking up the thick of the flight

No boats came down and most of the locks were in our favour, just a couple had refilled themselves and a few just needed leveling out again before the bottom gate could be opened. The sun was out so as we worked our way up hill layers could come off as we generated our own heat.

St Mary’s Church visible down in Warwick

We’d entered the bottom lock at 11:12 and exited the top at 13:37, 2 hours 25 minutes. Not bad.

Last lock of the day in the sunshine

There was plenty of rubbish to dispose of and the water tank got topped up again whilst I made sausage rolls for our now worn our crew for a late lunch. Mick moved us along to a mooring. We’d hoped to reach Rowington for the views today, but it would have been dusk by the time we got there.

The Hatton Arms, just down the way would stop serving food at 6pm which would be a touch early for us. So we decided to stay put, let the incessantly protesting Tilly out and I popped a chicken stew on the stove for us to enjoy later.

The evening was spent catching up on news of fellow college friends and major critiques of Dr Who and His Dark Materials amongst other TV programmes.

21 locks, 2.88 miles, 1 right, 1 boat down, 2 beardy chaps, 2 hrs 25mins, 8 sausage rolls, 8 biscuits, 7 joints of chicken, 1 annoying second mate, 1 battery removed.

The Cape. 27th December

Cape Top Lock

One of two moving boats today NB Merlin, they’ve come a long way from Bunbury

A tidy up of Oleanna which included removing the last few weeks worth of cat fur from the curtains. A batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough had been made yesterday so it was resting in the fridge ready to be sliced and cooked ready to fill the boat with a yummy aroma when our visitors arrived.

Photo credit should go to Tilly for final adjustment of the photo

The journey up from London for the London Leckenbys took a while longer than they’d hoped as traffic had been bad, but they got to us before 1pm. With all the light industrial units closed for Christmas they were able to leave the car close to the water point. As Andrew said if their car was a Ferrari then they would have moved it elsewhere. But as it’s a damp VW with moss growing on it’s windows and has various battle scars from through the years he wasn’t too worried of it’s parking location.

Tea and biscuits were accompanied by opening our latest post and Mick’s last Christmas present, an under pillow speaker so that he can listen to cricket during the night, hopefully without disturbing me.

Vetting photos

A stretch of the old legs along the muddy towpath was called for, the weather not really having improved from yesterday sadly so we didn’t venture too far before returning to the boat and donning our glad rags to go to the pub.

The Cape of Good Hope is a well known canalside pub run by a couple of Kiwis. Ages ago when on Lillian we moored in the Saltisford arm and wove our way through the housing estate to sample their burgers. Today we’d booked a table to be sure we’d get one, but it wasn’t as full as it had been in the warmer months. Today we just had to negotiate the lock gates after a couple of aperitifs.

What to choose?

Warm and cosy inside we chose a couple of starters to share, followed by mains. Dough balls, for the youngest along with haloumi and veg kebabs for the second youngest.

Josh with a steak nearly as big as himself

Main courses were steak which came with a festoon of vine tomatoes. A very tasty Blade of Beef with wild mushroom jus. A lamb shank. Two wild boar and chorizo gourmet pies. They all hit the spot being very tasty and were washed down with beer and wine.

A tasty pie

The lock gates were a touch more problematical on the way back, but nobody got wet so that was a relief. Birthday cake for pudding got the thumbs up from my brother as Queen of Sheba cake is a fond memory for both of us from our teenage years.

Wine and conversation

Putting the boat into sleeping mode for five meant the stove had been allowed to burn itself out so that Josh wouldn’t cook on the sofa. Luckily there was still an amount of heat coming from it to keep the chill off until morning.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Merlin, 3 visitors, 8 biscuits, 4 slices fruit cake (thank you Nick), 1 damp walk, 10 muddy shoes, 4 muddy paws, 2 bottles wine, 3 pints, 2 bottles beer, 1 orange juice, 1 steak, 2 pies, 1 shank, 1 blade, 5 slices of chocolate, 1 afternoon and evening of conversation, 1 cat wanting a quiet life again, 1 apology to Duncan and Jaye due to poor phone signal.

Smelly Christmas. 25th December

Radford Smelly

What a lovely day

What a beautiful day. Blue skies hardly any wind, a perfect day for cruising. So we stayed put, there was far too much present unwrapping , eating and drinking to do.

The boy was very happy with his new gloves

Our stockings were filled with chocolate, pens, socks, pants and a grease gun. The best thing in Mick’s was a new pair of Pond Gloves. His old ones had sprung a leak a couple of years ago so needed replaceing. They are ever so good for when you have to reach down to clear something around your prop and well deserving of a Herbie award for best gadget 2019.

Hmmmm Yummmm

Breakfast, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon accompanied by a glass of Bucks Fizz. Very nice.

Very useful

Christmas presents followed. A mitten each to hold hot/or cold drinks. New jeans. Pearsons new guide to the Black Country. A guide book to Vienna. A novel. Felix The Station Cat book. Cat t-towel. A food goodie bag. An endoscope. A stripey top. All sorts.

Then we walked off the early morning fizz, a nice romantic walk along the towpath to ….. the bins! There were plenty of people about, most of whom stopped before they reached the really muddy section, but we carried on not wanting to return to the boat with our bags of rubbish.

Mouse!

Tilly came and went for much of the day. When she was home she unwrapped her presents. Ziggy and Finn (London Leckenby cats) had got her a small catnip mouse. Thank you!

Joa (Tilly’s number one fan), Mungo and Dog got her a box of crinkly noisy things that she spent quite a bit of time getting out of the box. Thank you, thank you! The catnip sardines from us didn’t go down so well, but the new bedoinge ball from Father Christmas was batted around for quite a while.

She saw to her own Christmas dinner, which Mick spotted and managed to close the hatch just in time before she brought it in to eat on the table cloth!!

That’s grown!

Yesterday I’d decided to have another go at a sour dough starter. I’d come across a site explaining a bit more about them. The suggestion was to use a red cabbage leaf to help it get going, these have an abundance of natural yeast sat on their leaves (the white stuff). So as I started on the braised cabbage I popped a leaf into some sorghum flour and water. This method suggests stirring it frequently and feeding it every 8 hours. The quantities were a little bit large so I reduced them to start with, opting for a medium sized container. When I went to check it this evening,I lifted it down off the proving shelf. BLIMEY! A monster!!

Look at all those bubbles in 24hrs!

After 24hrs it had doubled in size. It was fed and put in a larger container. The quantities of flour and water became what ever I fancied (due to the wine I’d consumed), so I’ve possibly blown it now. But we’ll see whether I’m making bread in a days time or back to feeding it hoping and praying I haven’t killed it.

Duck with pinenut, apple and chestnut stuffing

The duck was cooked, roast veg roasted, new version of bread sauce reheated. Then we dug in. Our two plates straining under the amount of food. It was all very very tasty. There was no need for seconds and there will be plenty of left overs.

A very full plate!

Tree presents. A Christy Moore album for Mick and a new boaty cap for me.

We’d been given a firework Santa meant to go on top of your Christmas pudding or cake. With our low ceiling we decided it was most probably safer to light it out on the towpath. It played ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ as it erupted. Very good fun, thank you Christine. Here’s a link.

Cake with a cuppa!

After a suitable sipe it was time for birthday presents. I did very well. A day rucksack that packs away into itself. The follow up book about Felix and Bolt his assistant at Huddersfield station. A bottle of The Kings Ginger. Socks. A cast aluminium low casserole dish. A new waterproof coat from Mick. This is a sailing coat from Decathlon so hopefully it will be far more waterproof than my old coat.

Make a wish

Birthday cake, now iced with runny chocolate and candles. We managed to squeeze a thin slice in each and then retired to the sofa and the TV with Tilly curled up dreaming of mice.

0 locks, 0 miles, 14 pairs pants, 7 pairs socks, 0 ash can, 1 bottle booze, 5 chocolate oranges, 1 ruck sack, 1 endoscope, 3 sardines, 2 mice, 3 balls, 1 waterproof coat, 2 pairs scissors, 1 cap, 1 tasty duck, 1 birthday cake, 3 bottles consumed, 2 crackers, 0 games of Mind The Gap, 1 firework, 1 tasty vole followed by shrew, 1 moving boat, 1 very lovely birthday. Thank you

All We Want For Christmas. 23rd, 24th December

Radford Smelly to The Big Cat, Leamington Spa

Moving into town was the way forward. So the alarm was set and we had our first cuppa with breakfast and cruised the mile and a quarter into Leamington Spa. There were more boats moored up in town than there had been a couple of weeks ago, people had come in to do their shopping. Mick headed off to get the hire car whilst I had a good sweep through Oleanna.

Our mooring turned out to be far better than it would have been back near the lock, here we can get the car to within 100ft of the boat.

The tip!

First port of call, Princes Drive Recycling Centre. Blimey it was busy! Engine oil, old electrical items and our old printer went in the skips. Tilly’s spiny chasey toy (the red flying saucer in the middle) that she’s grown out of sat in the middle of the skip making me feel guilty. Unfortunately they wouldn’t take used antifreeze without an appointment, which happens on Thursdays, apart from this coming week!

Peanut butter!

Next Morrisons for peanut butter and some Coffee logs that we’d like to try. This did mean us sitting in traffic to get into the store, then more traffic to get to the petrol station and even more traffic to get out to just sit in traffic again to return to the boat to drop off the antifreeze. The whole trip, there and back, would have been much quicker by boat!

Bangers!!!

Time to head across country. 14 miles as the crow flies was a good 40 minutes by road. Soon we could see the Banger Spire calling us up the hill into Braunston village. There were two parcels waiting at the post office, luckily the chap let me show him a copy of a bill on my phone as proof of ID as I’d left my cards on the boat.

Village meats

Then we joined the queue at the butchers. The chap in front was picking up his Turkey, a lady on crutches had a large order and another lady had the wind knocked out of her when she was told the price of her fillet of beef joint! She asked if they could make it a touch smaller, but the butcher explained he could but it would still cost the same price! Hope they know how to cook 3kg of beef fillet.

A pie did manage to get added to our shopping

Our order was as expected, sadly no gluten free bangers.

Lots of plumbing bits

Midland Chandlers only had imperial allen keys and open metal buckets for ash, but we did get a grease gun and spare water hose parts before heading back towards Leamington Spa.

Busy in there today too!

Screwfix provided us with Allen keys, then we joined traffic going into Sainsburys. Once parked we started on our main food shop. Five bags of goodies, everything we wanted and an opportunity to use our nectar points, a good cheap shop.

Shopping

The only thing left was an ash bin.

Homebase, No, but they did have some Gorilla Tape that is Crystal clear to mend a hole in the pram cover.

Lidl, No.

A Hardware shop in town, No.

They were closed!

A Fireplace and stove shop on Rugby road, No.

Leamington Lights

Time had run out so we returned to Oleanna fully laden but missing an ash bin, we’ll have to order one to be sent somewhere, but we don’t quite know where at the moment. Maybe a last minute note to Father Christmas might work?

24th December

Not an inspiring view at 7:30

Tilly and I had already decided last night that we wouldn’t be staying in town for Christmas. The view wasn’t much this morning when I opened the curtains, it was still dark. After a cuppa in bed, Mick headed off in the car to see if Morrisons would sell him a bottle of gas. Even though they’d just had a delivery this morning they didn’t have the right sized bottle for us, never mind we’ll get some up towards Birmingham.

Yarn heaven again

A quick breakfast and then it was time to return the car to Enterprise. I hitched a lift and then walked up to Wool Warehouse. The yarns that I first used for socks in my Etsy shop is now discontinued, so I was wanting to check out an alternative.

They just had to be bought!

There were far more colours to choose from and Oops! I came home with seven balls. I had to have the red and blue. And I wouldn’t be a boater if I hadn’t got the colourway called Kingfisher. So that’s January sorted.

More graffiti, just by the footbridge

We pootled up the way to the next winding hole, I hopped off at Morrisons for a couple of bits and by the time I returned to the canal Mick was just pulling up to wait for me. Back to Clemens Street Bridge where we topped up the water tank as I gave the floor a good wash. Then we were on our way again, retracing our steps to Radford Semele. We were surprised nobody else had turned up there, maybe they all know about the TV signal.

Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without sausage rolls

The remainder of the day has mostly been about cooking. First lunchtime sausage rolls.

Pinenuts for the stuffing and cider gravy reducing

Then stuffing, gravy and bread sauce.

Cracking before it sinks

Followed by a Queen of Sheba cake. This will get iced tomorrow.

Braised cabbage

Then the braised cabbage got to sit on the stove top for an hour or so. The smell of it is so yummy! All of this lot will end up in the outdoor fridge overnight.

Then came the maple and mustard ham with dauphinoise potatoes. Yum!

One happy cat showing off her white bits

Tilly had a few good hours on the towpath, only having to escape from a grey hound once. We all agree this is a better place to spend Christmas, maybe not quite as nice as on the Oxford Canal, but I suspect there will be fewer boats moving tomorrow.

How does Santa Tom get through the air vent? He won’t get an ash bin through there!

The stockings are out and we are wrapped up and ready for tomorrow.

0 locks, 4.47 miles, 1 wind, 32 coffee logs, 1 duck, 1 gammon, £112 for a fillet, 2 parcels, 2mm allen key, 1 last pounce, 3 peanut butters, 5 bags shopping, 0 ash pan, 0 gas, 700 grams yarn, 8 sausage rolls, 1 new recipe for bread sauce, 1 vat of gravy, 1 pot of stuffing, 1 pan of cabbage, 1 ham, 8 sliced potatoes, 1 cake, 8 oz of chocolate, 3 stocking, 2 boaters and a cat all excited.

A Touch Further Than Planned. 22nd December

Longhole Bridge to Radford Smelly

A lovely day

Today we were going to be passing our last water point before Christmas, so as the heating had been on first thing I made use of the hot water and had a shower before we set off. The sun was out again as we ventured further towards Leamington Spa.

Rusty and unloved

The first lock along this stretch is quite a distance from any road, you can tell this by the lack of paint and amount of rust on the gates and paddle gear. The paddle I opened to empty the lock made a slightly worrying hissing noise as the water ran through below, but it survived in one piece and didn’t explode.

Once down our second lock of the day we pulled over to top the water tank up. There is an Elsan here, all very clean. A sign in the hedge by the tap says that it is out of use currently due to health and safety reasons for the operative emptying the cess pit. Notes have been added to the sign suggesting it has been out of action for sometime.

A lovely elsan
Shiny new box

On the side of the elsan a new looking box was labelled Cesspit telemetry. Is this elsan still out of use? Hunting round the stoppage page on the C&RT website it suggests that it was reopened on the 7th November this year. There certainly isn’t anything on the actual elsan suggesting you can’t use it.

*We have now had confirmation from C&RT through Paul Balmer of Waterway Routes that this Elsan is now fully open. Someone will be along to remove the sign that had been missed.*

No rain today

Down Fosse Middle Lock a boat came towards us, so we could leave the gates open for them and carry on to the next lock not that far away.

Oleanna now with added lights, that you can’t see in the day time

We were now looking for a mooring as close to Radford Bottom Lock as possible. Here is an ideal place to bring a car to load and unload things. But the moorings above the lock were some distance away and a chap was practicing firing an air pistol at the trees there, not an ideal spot for Tilly! The towpath was also very muddy.

Boats ahead!

As we got closer to the lock we could see that a pair of boats had just ascended, so we carried on down the lock hoping for somewhere there to pull in. Here the designated winter moorings started. There was a gap, but we decided to carry on to below the church in Radford Semele for the day. This was further than planned and not handy for car access, but better for Tilly tonight.

An extra lock than planned

Tilly had a good couple of hours whilst I got on with writing lists. The big food shopping list being the main one. A batch of puff pastry was mixed and popped in the fridge, I’ve added a touch more Xantham gum and water than usual to see if that would make it less crumbly whilst rolling it out. The first roll and turn went very well, the second and third a touch messier. I’m sure it’ll taste fine once it’s got sausage meat inside it.

Now that’s a bargain!

I’ve checked back on previous visits here for TV signal. Last years visits fall into the posts that have lost their photos and when we moored here on Lillian it was before I’d started to do the thumbs up/down for signal quality every day. No wonder no body is moored here, the only channels we can get without the internet are shopping channels. We really don’t want a new mattress even if it is such a bargain!

The last of our boat warming bay leaves from Frank, well he did bring us two carrier bags full!

5 locks, 2.69 miles, 4 boats moving, 1 topped up tank, 1 boat a bit too far, 1 happy cat, 2 sides A4, 3 more turns to go, 42 bayleaves left, 1 possible change of Christmas mooring, £520 saving.

Mistaken Identity. 21st December

Basecote Aqueduct to Longhole Bridge 31

Sunny!

See, what did I say! The sun came out and what do they do? They move the outside!

That isn’t strictly true. Whilst we had breakfast Tilly was allowed to head off and explore, we’d only got a couple of hours to cruise today, so there was no rush to leave. Mick headed off on a bike to get our Saturday newspaper and hunt for blueberries.

Returning with everything he called for Tilly, who he’d spotted up the towpath. We’d want to make a move now so I put on my boots to go out and encourage our crew back on board. Mick pointed up the towpath, a cat sat some distance away and a lady dog walker held onto her two woofers, not moving a muscle.

Mick did say he couldn’t see properly, which was true when I questioned if it was Tilly on the towpath. The cat turned to head into the sideways trees flashing an almost total white front. Too much white, but I went to look anyway. The lady with the dogs stood her ground until I got closer.

Deep in the sideways trees I could see a fluffy cat keeping a close eye on what was happening. Definitely not Tilly. I walked back with the lady, keeping an eye open for Tilly, only to spy her busy in the hedge alongside Oleanna. Once her business had been dealt with she trotted back on board, we were ready for the off.

Below the aqueduct and embankment the River Itchin was sprawling itself across the fields, the level must have risen somewhat after yesterdays rain fall as neither of us remembered it from when we’d arrived.

Lines of pumpkins

Shortly before Bascote Bridge there was a pumpkin graveyard. What looked like a whole field of pumpkins lay unpicked (if you pick a pumpkin, maybe you cut them?) in lines in the field. Some were flattened, others still sat bulbously orange and proud above the earth. Why had this crop just been left to rot in the field?

We stopped at the water point, topping up and to make use of the bins, emptying our yellow water into our container too.

Here I got a text from someone. ‘Hi Pip how old are you this year cos John and I were talking about u and could not remember how old you were in comparison to us’. Earlier in the year I’d thrown my phone out of the side hatch, a new phone was set up quickly, but I’d lost several numbers, this was obviously one of them. Who was it from?

Going through all the Johns I knew there was only one I could think of. I asked ‘Is that Jane?’ Then proceeded to let her know how old I would be this year and wished them both a Happy Christmas.

The top chamber was very low

Onwards to Bascote Staircase. With a two chamber staircase you need to have the top one full and the bottom chamber empty, no matter which direction you are going in. The top one looked ever so empty, the old openings towards a side pond visible, these normally lay well below the water. Whilst it filled I walked down to the next lock, topped it up and opened the gate in readiness for us.

Looking back at Bascote

The paddle gear was bloomin stiff on some of the bottom gates, or have I lost the umph to get them moving? Swapping sides I found easier paddles and emptied one chamber into the next, then down and on wards to the next two locks.

A short pootle and we reached Welsh Road Lock, no chilled medication on sale today sadly. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of water today the bywash hardly noticed me filling the lock.

Yes I think I do!

Below we hoped for a space next to a big field, we opted for the second mooring. Last year when we’d come this way in the summer the levels had been low and we had difficulty in getting into the side, none of that problem today.

Lots of water

Mick got the remaining lights out and arranged them on the cratch and around the wreath whilst Tilly explored our new surroundings.

I busied myself inside. Time to pack summer away properly. For months we’ve been lifting things on and off our bed, time to stop doing that and find homes for things. Our clothes were edited to winter only. With new vacuum bags I packed things away and realised I’d manage to fit the summer duvet in with them too. The outdoor chairs wouldn’t fit under the bed with the new bag so the wardrobe was rearranged too.

Are those newt fences?

There was a gap under the bed, what could go there? I decided to rationalise my yarn stash. Keeping sock, glove and my nice Riverknits yarn out, everything else went into a vacuum bag and managed to shrink into the space. Yarns that were left out were organised most going into the pouffe at the end of the sofa, just leaving me with my cardigan to finish off. The pouffe gets used when we need to use the sofa as a bed, so it was good to whittle down all the stuff that had come to rest on it.

During the afternoon I got to thinking more about the text I’d received. I’d had no reply, signal was bad, but still, it felt a little bit odd. With scams on the rise I wondered if maybe it had been an opportunist trying to get my date of birth, after all who doesn’t know a John. I mentioned it to Mick. I’d not actually given away the exact date, but how old I would be in four days time!

A steep ladder back at the locks

I sent a message to friends who would have Jane’s number and waited to see if it was her. No reply came. Mick agreed it was possible someone was trying to get info, he checked the number on various websites to see if it might have cropped up before. Nothing.

If it was someone up to no good, what would I be able to do about it? I didn’t want to ring John, in case it wasn’t them. Time would tell, we just had to wait.

Sausages!

We enjoyed our buffalo sausages this evening. They were nice, quite meaty, but we wouldn’t rush back to stock up the freezer with them, not at £5 a pack. My cardigan knitting came back out and I started the button band whilst we finished catching up on His Dark Materials ready to watch the last episode tomorrow.

Below the locks

Just before lights out a text came through on a chink of signal to my phone. The same number! It wasn’t Jane after all. But who was it?

My cousin Julie, who used to be married to a John, but now has her brother John living with her. At least that explained it. From now on though I won’t go giving away personal information until I know who’s asking.

5 locks, 2 a staircase, 2.15 miles, 2 outsides, 32 pumpkins, 269 squashed pumpkins, 2nd set of lights, 1 new vacuum tote, 1 sheep or equivalent of yarn under the bed, 1 bag for charity shops, 1 John not that John, 1 our John, 1 our Julie, 0 scam, 1 lesson learnt.

Filling The Roof. 18th December

Napton to nearly Gibraltar Bridge 20, Grand Union

Even though my sour dough starter seems to have faultered again I had a big jar of discard ready to be used, so this morning I had a go at some sour dough pancakes. These can either be started the night before or a little while before you want to cook them. Leaving them over night develops the flavour, but as my discard is a touch dubious I just mixed the mixture this morning.

It would only go to waste otherwise!

With a plate on top of the stove I cooked a half portion of the the recipe and kept them warm under a t towel until I’d finished the batter up. Verdict, very nice. Just wonder what they’d be like with proper discarded starter.

Tilly had been allowed out this morning, she was being kept busy. I was just about to go out and do my mad cat woman shouting when she appeared, Mick opened the hatch and we were three again. Time to move on.

Last narrow lock for a while

Down the last narrow lock we pulled in and disposed of all the rubbish we’d been accumulating. With no recycling bins until the new year everything ended up in the big skip at the service block. People say where there are no recycling bins the rubbish still gets sorted rather than going to landfill, I hope so.

We then pushed across to the water point and topped the tank up, the washing machine had been run this morning, so it took a little bit of time to fill. With the boat moored on the port side we emptied the yellow water into our container for disposal, the towpath won’t be on the right side for a while so best to make use of it now.

Napton Windmill

Last year we did these chores on Christmas Eve along with quite a few other boats, but today we had everything to ourselves. The sun was out and we pushed on to Napton Junction. The original plan had us continuing straight on here, but today we turned right for the first time, into Wigrams Turn Marina.

Wigrams Turn

There were plenty of people about, maybe live aboards or just folks preparing for a Christmas cruise. The service mooring was empty so we filled it. We’d guessed that it being run by the same company as at Cropredy the diesel price would be the same, but sadly no, 97p a litre, 11p more! Good job we only wanted a top up and four more bags of coal went on the roof. We are now stocked up for Christmas and hopefully into the New Year, the roof is a touch full and hard to see over!

Straight on to Christmas

We winded and then back at the junction we went straight on, onto the Grand Union. First thought was to stop above Calcutt Locks, but then we decided to go down them, the top one almost full.

Calcutt Top Lock

Back onto wide locks with their candlestick/bomb shaped paddle gears. Winding winding winding. Then that hard to describe fluttering noise, as the water lowers around the large openings of the paddle gear on the chamber sides, almost like Hannibal Lecter’s noise when he meets Clarice,

Just a
few apples

Down the three locks, then we sought out a length of Armco where Tilly could go out. On the off side a group of old boats are clustered, many with memorable names, Adamant the last one not in steam today. We pulled in and gave Tilly half an hour, she returned in good time, then was a touch miffed at the doors staying closed.

A good name

As the evening progressed the wind built up along with torrential rain, this of course coincided with the gas bottle running out. We knew it would as it always does just after you’ve been somewhere you could get a new one. We’re hoping for a lull in the rain tomorrow to get down the Stockton flight without getting too wet.

Payment to my brother for our postal service for the year. Lots of smoked fish from the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse.

4 locks, 1 narrow, 3 wide, 3.98 miles, 1 right, 1 wind, 1 straight on, 4 bags coal, 26.78 litres, 20 minutes, 1 sock finished, 1 toe.