Category Archives: Food

First Manual Of The Year. 24th March

Birkwood Lock to Midland Junction Bridge 40

No lazing about in bed today, time to get moving. With more rain in the forecast we wanted to cover as many of the river sections as possible before the levels rise again. Having said that we weren’t about to do an 8 hour day. The sun was out, waterproof padded trousers were donned just in case and to start with they were handy to keep warm.

First Stanley Ferry. Outside the C&RT workshops lay newly cut oak destined for Lock 69 on the Rochdale, it’ll be interesting to see what state the current gates are in as we pass. Then a full set, top and bottom gates were having the water treatment, swelling the oak before they get fitted on site. I couldn’t see any marks to tell me which lock these were destined for.

Stanley Ferry

Over the aqueduct, we’d called ahead yesterday to see if they had diesel. They normally do but their pump is being recalibrated on Friday and anyway they were closed today. This also meant we couldn’t stock up on coal. Through the swing bridge, holding up two ladies, a CRT fundraiser just setting up for the day.

Broadreach Flood Lock in operation

We managed to log on to the Geraghty Zoom on Mick’s phone as we went along the long straight towards Broadreach Flood Lock, although it took us quite some time to get the sound to work. Ahead the flood lock was closed so we waved our goodbyes to the sisters and got on with the task in hand, not that hard as the river was level with the cut, but both sets of gates needed to be operated and the sluices (even though I’d not opened them) closed before I could retrieve my key of power.

Back on the river I logged into zoom again, there was quarter of an hour before reaching Fall Ing Lock, so we listened in for a while before waving goodbye again. Subjects covered seemed to be about Scottish Islands and Ireland.

Fall Ing Lock, our first manual lock this year

Fall Ing Lock is big, deep and a stiff old lock, it would also be our first manual lock this year. Of course both top gates were open, Mick helped wind the hydraulic paddle gear to empty the lock and then I enlisted a Dad and son to help open and close the gate. Winding the top paddle gear I could tell it’s been months since I last did any of this!

I wonder if those jet washes would reach down to the boat?

A quick pause on the 72 hour moorings for Mick to pop to the garage for a couple of bags of coal. We have enough for a week, but wanted some more just in case. EcoCoal was bought, we’ve had it before, it created a LOT of ash, but at least we’ll stay warm.

A long sound of the horn brought us out onto the river again, heading upstream, behind us one of the old warehouse buildings looked like it was having a make over. Ahead Double Two looks to have let out space to an Escape Room. At one time I used to paint scenery for the John Godber Theatre Company in the workshop where shirts had once been sewn.

Thornes Lock, the first where you require a Hebble Spike. A few years ago we created an overlay on our Waterway Routes maps which showed which locks required a Hebble Spike. New phones etc meant we’d lost the useful information. Mick hunted through Canal World Forum to find the info he’d received back then, it’s now been added to our maps so we can be equipped at the correct locks.

A Hebble Spike paddle and spike laid on the beam

Both ends require a spike at Thornes Lock, well I certainly couldn’t get any windlass wound ground paddles to work. A group of cyclists arrived to cross the lock, one chap suggested starting to fill the lock with the other paddle as the one I was about to start with was VERY stiff. Well they were all very stiff! When they had come through earlier in the day there had been a lady trying to work the lock who had never heard of a spike and she managed to break her windlass on one of the ground paddles. I believe they managed to help her through.

Pine to left, hardwood to the right

Our spike is made of hardwood, I found splinters of a soft wood version below one of the mechanisms. Soft wood tends to splinter, hard wood tends to sink if dropped in!

The next flood lock was sat open for us, taking us back out onto the river again. At Broad Cut Low Lock we could see activity, a man in an orange jumper. I walked up to see what was happening and chatted away to the chap and lady who were ascending. He seemed ever so familiar. Mick joined the conversation as their boat slowly rose in the lock. When the chap mentioned they had a house in Wheldrake near York the penny dropped. This was Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, we’d shared the journey between Naburn and Selby back at the end of August in 2020 after we’d been stuck at Naburn when the Ouse was in flood. NB Isabella is their first narrowboat and Naburn was their first ever lock on her. Back then she was grey, today she’s red oxide. I’d been wondering if we’d ever come across them again, today was the day.

Once we were up the lock we pulled over for some lunch, left overs of Szechuan pork and courgette fritters, very nice, the pork seems to improve over a day or two. Heather and Richard had decided to stop for the day, there was only chance for a little bit more chat before I was needed at the next lock.

Hooray a locking partner!

An old Rose Hire Boat pulled out behind Oleanna from the moorings, we waited for her to join us in the lock, the lady very grateful to be able to share with us. She was the lady who’d met the cyclists this morning. Maybe she was now planning on sharing each lock with a different boat. She pulled in a distance ahead and tied her centre line to a fence post across the towpath! Maybe she’d also had a tipple or two at the pub at lunchtime.

We wanted to get that bit further on today despite being warned by the cyclists that we’d not want to be stopping anywhere between Horbury and Mirfield. Up on the hill in Horbury we spied the tower of St Peter’s and St Leonards Church, this is where John Carr the founder of my Dad’s architectural practice is buried. We visited back in 2019

Mick closing up as I set the next lock

We carried on to the Figure of Three Locks. There are only two locks, but their name almost certainly comes from the meanders in the River Calder along side. One of these meanders broke loose after Storm Ciara in February 2020 causing millions of pounds worth of damage to the locks. They were closed for 14 months whilst masses of work was undertaken. Currently the top lock ground paddles are slightly stuck open. Instructions on the notice regarding this were helpful, lift the two gate paddles and let the lock almost empty before opening the ground paddle (this is almost impossible to lift any earlier, but is required to fully empty the lock). Whilst I lifted paddles on the top lock, Mick closed up behind.

The figure of three in the river

A short distance further we came across the mooring we’d got our eye on. Handy bollards to tie to, but also a few motorbikes across the way, riding up and down muddy tracks, obviously a favourite place for youths on a fair Sunday afternoon. Hopefully they would have their fun and then leave us in peace, which is exactly what happened.

Sorry Tilly, this is as close to this outside as you are going to get.

A celebratory leg of lamb went in the oven with all the sides forming a very nice roast. We’ll now have lamb for several days. Yarn was selected for my next pair of socks, a far simpler pattern for these as the last three pairs has taken it’s toll a little, but that’s my own fault. I may not be able to show them at there best until much later in the year as several people will have to get together with their socks for them to make sence.

That’s blown!

7 locks, 9.3 miles, 1 bridge, 2 ladies held up, 1st manual lock of the year, 1 flood lock operated, 20kg of coal, 2 boaters from 2020, 1 lock shared, 2 or 3 tipples, pair 13 cast on, 1 leg of lamb, 3 more lamby meals this week, 2 late for shore leave, 1 disgruntled cat, 1 blown bow thruster fuse!

Bumpy Crosses. 23rd March

Birkwood Lock

It was obvious that we’d found a good mooring for today, the slight cutting giving us some shelter from the strong wind. On the other side of the cut the trees bent over, here we got moved around but nowhere near as much as if we’d been moored at King’s Road Lock which is very open.

WOOF Away with YOU!

We quickly decided that today would be a sausage day for Tilly, although to start off with she wasn’t that keen on going out. The number of woofers I had to see off from inside and the sudden rain and the blowyness! Maybe the stamp of approval should be removed for this outside!

After a cuppa in bed there was only one thing for it, breakfast! Chewing not that much of a problem now, so we enjoyed the full works.

Over the last few days Mick has been trying to decipher instructions for the voltage sensitive relay he bought from Bimble. He’s wanting to wire it into the Nebolink which tracks our movements. At the moment I have to flick a switch in the cratch to start the nebolink recording, the plan is that when the engine is started up the voltage sensitive relay will spot this automatically and start the nebolink. When the engine is turned off it will do the reverse.

‘If the delay time in P-1 mode has been set, in P-4,the relay will act according to
setting of P-1 when voltage detection exceed the upper limit and lower limit range
(reference to the P-1 mode),when voltage detection between the upper limit and
lower limit range ,set “0N H” relay released, set “0N L” relay closed).’

However Mick needs to program the box so that it reacts at the correct voltage. He’s read the instruction manual, gobbledygook, translated English that still could be a foreign language. Tom from Waiouru has also had a go at finding a different manual, slightly better. Bimble when asked just referred Mick to the manual. By mid afternoon he’d managed to program the switch with voltages. He just wanted to see if he could add a delay to it switching off, so when we pull up at water points it won’t think we’ve ended our journey straight away. Although Nebo would most probably send us a report for each journey, it would also put them all together for the day.

All this was done whilst stood by the electrics cupboard and The Shed. Not a problem, but it meant my chosen activity for the day had to wait as I wanted to be in the galley. But that’s narrowboat life for you.


I’ve been wanting to experiment. Easter being not too far away, I wanted to try out a couple of different Hot Cross Bun recipes. Back in the house I’d made a rather tasty Challah bread, recipe from Loopy Whisk who seems to have some good gluten free recipes. The challah had a good texture and flavour which might lend itself to Hot Cross Buns. I was going to give this recipe a try with amendments to add the fruit I like and of course marzipan.

Unfortunately, the recipe required 1 egg and 2 yolks plus some for an egg wash, I only had 2 eggs! Fortunately Loopy Whisk’s Hot Cross Buns recipe only needed 1 egg plus egg wash. I opted to try that instead and adjust for my fruit.

Mugs were filled rehydrating cranberries and raisins. Another with the yeast and milk mixture. A third with a psyllium husk gel, this is used to add stretch to gluten free bakes and Loopy Whisk seems to like to use a lot of it.

Lots of fruit

Her recipes only need to be left to rise once. This proved a touch difficult as the shelf on Oleanna designed for the purpose is more suitable for bowls or bread tins than a baking tray. So the tray had to perch on the Houdini shelf in the window, close to the stove for some warmth, but maybe with a draft. They didn’t rise as well as I think they should have, maybe the amount of fruit, maybe the marzipan centre.

Chunky bumpy crosses

Hot Paw buns have a marzipan paw print on top, these would have a standard cross. Well except I don’t have a piping bag on the boat, so the flour and water mix was added with a spoon and ended up being quite bulky and bumpy. Baked we waited for them to cool off, a must with gf baking as otherwise the crumb can be very sticky. Then we enjoyed one with a cuppa.

Buttered whilst still warm

Verdict. Nice. Still wonder what a challah version would be like. Not a patch on Hot Paw Buns. Must check I’ve all the ingredients required to make a batch next weekend.

Rain showers came and went, the wind got windier. Here’s hoping it calms down for tomorrow.

0 locks, 0 miles, 7 sausage hours, 2 cooked breakfasts, 12 hot cross buns, pair 12 cast off, 2 many woofers, 0 tapioca starch left, 0 eggs, 1 switch still to be worked on, 1 more flood gate open, 1 to go!

Will We Ever Escape?! 21st March

Above Lemonroyd, still!

Porridge for breakfast with added diddy fruit. Think it will be a few more days before a Full English is back on the menu. Tooth situation improving, I’m only on paracetamol now.

Diddy fruit

The light behind us was red and flashing this morning, levels on the river deemed too high still. Ahead we waited for news at Bank Newton, would the lock there reopen today? If so our plans would possibly change . From our current mooring if we headed up the River Aire into Leeds it would be 6.4 miles before we got off rivers. If we stick to our original plan of the Rochdale it would be 26.6 miles before no more river sections could scupper our cruise. As the morning progressed we started to get our heads into gear regarding heading into Leeds, currently there are no flood gates or locks closed that stand in our way.

A big blue widebeam came past, we’d seen it last year at the top of Greenberfield. They headed towards the lock, the red light still flashing. A while later Mick walked to the bins, had a chat with Ruth from NB Lily Rose, they are still in the marina awaiting delivery of a new fridge. He said we may be changing our plans and head to Leeds, but River Lock is currently only open three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, so we’d have to wait for next week. As he walked back he checked the river level below the lock, almost amber, the widebeam was now below the lock heading downstream, a C&RT van pulled away, the flashing red light no longer flashing, just a steady RED!


A stoppage notice came through, Lemonroyd Lock has a ‘mechanical and electrical failure. Engineers will be on site morning of Friday 22nd March to investigate and rectify.’ BOO!!!

Then another regarding Bank Newton, ‘the navigation is now open.’ Hooray!

I wandered up to the shops a few easier items to eat required. On return notices were coming through about the flood locks on the Aire and Calder, all were open or user operable apart from Bank Dole, which is closed due to a silt build up at Beale Lock. We’d now be able to get up to Wakefield.

As usual this was followed by an update on the flood locks and gates on the Calder Hebble. All flood locks and gates were now open apart from Anchor Pit and Ledgard. We’d now be able to reach Mirfield!

Except Lemonroyd our nearest lock has a fault!

We hatched a plan, in the morning we’d wind, fill up with water and then wait for the lock to be mended, fingers crossed!

Today is the 21st March, #WorldDownSyndromeDay. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome and the day has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012 to raise awareness. The ‘Lots of Socks’ campaign encourages you to wear your boldest, brightest, mismatched socks, so when people ask you about them you can tell them all you know about Down Syndrome. This years campaign is End The Stereotypes.

Four Odd Socks

Not many people got to see our socks today, but that didn’t matter. In the words of Dark Horse Theatre Company, ‘we put a pair of odd socks on & celebrate the individuality and talent of people with Down Syndrome!‘ I certainly know some very talented actors.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 broken lock, 10 flood locks/gates open, 2 closed ahead, 2 sad git courgettes, 4 odd socks, 1 widebeam, 1 set of unintelligible instructions, 1 favourite lodger booked in, 1 Mrs Tilly’s, NO!

Meatball Hide And Seek. 19th March

Near Swillington Pipe Bridges to near Lemonroyd Marina to near Swillington Pipe Bridges

A busy day ahead for all of us.

I was awake with the sunrise in Scarborough. I popped my painty jumper over my pyjamas and started on the gloss surround followed by two coats of emulsion in the bathroom. A bit more tidying up/hiding things was needed, I also needed to track down what had happened to the keys we’d left with Duncan (not that Duncan!). It turned out that he’d added Micks and my instructions together and returned all sets of keys to where they’d started off.

All finished with a sensible mirror and shelf. It’s only taken 14 or so years

Some lovely bird had left it’s calling card all the way down the bay window, so that needed cleaning off as the window cleaners had only just been. All this under time pressure, I really didn’t want to have to return to the house to do a few things.

Meanwhile Mick moved Oleanna back towards the marina. Alongside the road he tied to the last post and banged a spike in. The Sainsbury’s driver called to ask if he could be early, which was fine with me I just hoped Mick was where he said he’d be. A couple of substitutions today, nothing that should be a problem.

A new bit of hospital

Front door was locked, I’d most probably already missed the bus so headed off through the park to walk to the hospital for my appointment. The daffodils are just starting to come out and the sunshine made for quite a warm walk. I was early and possibly jumped the queue at the breast screening clinic. Kind of wished they’d made me wait for another ten minutes as I wouldn’t have been half so clammy to be manipulated onto the scanner. But it did mean that once my boobs had been squished in all directions I left the hospital perfectly timed for the next bus into town.

Goodbye North Sea, see you in a while

An hour before the next train I went to see the sea, the big wheel being put back up, again! for the summer and got myself a gf wrap from M&S for lunch. This took me all the way from Scarborough to York to eat, 50 minutes! Biting and chewing quite a problem at the moment.


Mick stowed our shopping. Had they got confused with a substitution? 1 box of wine had been swapped for three bottles of wine, another seemingly for 12 bottles of alcohol free Corona! Once he’d stowed everything, it was obvious the beers were extra, someone else’s shopping! Two problems with it, it contains gluten and just where to put 12 bottles? Frank do you drink Corona? Would you like it?

The Ouse in York had gone down a touch revealing the amount of silt that will greet moorers at Easter. In Leeds I had chance to check out boats in Granary Wharf, pretty full and four boats moored above Office Lock, are some of these moorings new permanent moorings?

Mick had moved Oleanna back to the last silver birch and Tilly was busy in the friendly cover as I got back to the boat. River levels were down enough, Woodnook Lock now open, should we make a move today? To reach a good mooring it might take us three hours, we decided to wait til tomorrow as it would be getting dark when we arrived.

But you always say I should use the shore based facilities!

Next problem, what to eat this evening? Our shopping didn’t consist of easy none chew food. I goet some meatballs cooking with a tomato sauce to have with rice, I could cut them up very small. Mick took over cooking for the last bit, he counted the meatballs. ‘There’s only 11 meatballs!’ ‘There were 12 when I last looked’ One of them was playing hide and seek!

By the time I’d slowly eaten my meal Mick had finished his, done the washing up and cleaned the hob. I’m normally the first to finish! The leg of lamb we got may have to be liquidized if things don’t improve soon!

Another two episodes of Traitors Australia 2. We’ve started shouting at the absolute stupidity of the Faithful now, thank goodness we moved out of the marina as only the birds and fish can hear us.

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 2 winds, 3 boxes wine, 3 bottles, 12 alcohol free free beers, 1 coat gloss, 2 coats emulsion, 1 clean window, 1 house ready, 4 squishes, 1 bus, 3 trains, 50 minute lunch, 11 no 12 meatballs, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval (does the same place count again Tilly?), 1 pedicure required, 5 left, can they really be SO stupid?!

Confusing The Tooth Fairy. 18th March

Lemonroyd Marina to Above Lemonroyd Lock, Swillington Pipe Bridge

Alarm set, no time for tea, we were off walking round the marina to meet with a taxi. This driver was a little bit dull. He really didn’t get that a bike ride of several miles to reach a bigger supermarket, that only takes a matter of minutes by car, was of no interest, neither was the location of the taxi companies office! I had other things on my mind. He did become slightly less dull when he said he’d be heading to Scarborough for Easter on his scooter.

The receptionist at the dentist sent me back up the fancy stairs to await my appointment, this morning I wasn’t the only person waiting. Eva, the nice Irish dentist, asked questions. I’d been taking note of where the pain started, it had changed a bit since last week and the general conclusion was that this time it had to be my wisdom tooth. She prodded poked, x-rayed. One thing for it, it would need to come out!

Calming fishes

It was quite a relief how little time it took to be extracted. I’d imagined there would be quite a battle, but no. ‘An extraction is £150, I hope that’s alright?’ Well it had to be she’d already pulled it out, or maybe I should have haggled!

I waited for the taxi home biting on the dressing whilst watching pretty fish swimming round and round. I wasn’t really in the mood or capable of a chat on the way back and just gave directions to the driver as we neared the marina.

Mick filled the water tank. The last load of washing finished spinning before we unplugged and made ready to push off. No-one was in the office to return our gate key so we passed it on to Ruth, Simon and Wilfred their dog on NB Lily Rose. The penny suddenly dropped as we chatted away, we’d come across them at Thorne Lock last October when a barrier hadn’t been closed properly on the bridge. They’ve only just set off on their life afloat and will be very glad to put rivers behind them! They’ll be heading a different way to us, depending on how fast they move we may see them again in Lancashire.

Bye bye Lemonroyd Marina. Thank you

We pulled out of the marina and winded, heading back to almost the same mooring we’d left two days ago. Just past the last silver birch, we positioned ourselves better to catch as many sunrays as we could between the trees.

I’d wondered if I would feel a touch rotten this afternoon after my visit to the dentist. I certainly felt hungry. After careful eating I made the decision to head for Woodlesford Station to catch a train back to Scarborough. If I didn’t go today I’d need to be on an early train tomorrow for a routine hospital appointment.

Only a trip boat moving in York today, the moorings under water

Three trains later I arrived in Scarborough, picked up some food on the way to the house and then set to work.

Paper pasted in the bath for ease of cleaning up

We’ve had a bit of work done in a bathroom which now needed a touch of decorating. Some undercoat and a long length of lining paper was applied so that painting could be done in the morning. The kitchen just needed finishing off, a few items put away and the half used tube of white bathroom sealant was found to take back to Oleanna for the shower there.

Yarn yummyness!

In amongst the post was a parcel. Becca from Bluebell Yarns had promised to send me some of her yarn. A wonderful skein of greeny blue, one of purple and some 100% wool mini skeins of bright colours, useful for doing cuffs of socks. What a wonderful surprise. Thank you!

A shame it was cold by the time I’d finished it!

My treat curry and onion bhajis took a long time to eat, the smaller I chopped it up the easier it was to eat. I topped up on pain killers again, wonder how much longer I’ll be taking them for? A single bed in The Shed tonight, all other beds are made up for imminent lodgers. Then I realised I’d not asked for my wisdom tooth so that I could leave it under my pillow for the tooth fairy. Bet she’d not have found me anyway!

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 2 taxis, -1 tooth, 1 key handed over, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval (not sure if an outside can have two stamps, one for each visit?), 1 full water tank, 0 dirty washing, 3 trains, 1 bath used as a pasting table,1 bathroom prepped for top coats, 1 red light turned to amber, 45 minutes to eat my food, £0 for my tooth!

Arriba Arepas. 13th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock

So where is all that rain that was meant to fall overnight? Have to say it looked like it would fall more on the western side of the country than over the Leeds area. Just have to hope it’s not landing on the Calder catchment area of the Pennines or we could be waiting for flood gates to reopen. Instead of the rain we got wind.

At the moment we are awaiting Woodnook Lock reopening. But further upstream there are four flood gates currently closed, meaning that we’d only be able to get as far as Stanley Ferry where the first one will block our way.

We need a new plug now!

A pottering kind of day for us. Mick got round to going through the items on The Shed shelves and the contents of the Nicholson’s shelf. I’d offered to do it, but wouldn’t know what he’d be wanting to keep. The aim was to be able to put the tool box back on the shelf as originally planned seven years ago. A couple of tupperware boxes were used to keep bits and bobs in, which now can live happily behind or alongside the tool box. We now have space on the Nicholson’s shelf for one of the guides, although these very rarely come out now, they only get read when we are on completely new water.

Tilly came and went. The blowy outside not much to her liking, but the ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies were!

I made some Arepas for lunch, corn cakes which are easy to make once you have the right flour. These were mentioned in panto last year, so I’d been wanting to make some. Back in the house I’ve had a couple of goes, todays recipe was possibly the best one I’ve tried, less sticky than the others. I also made some coleslaw to go in them with a slice of feta cheese that needed eating up. Very nice and a nice change. I’ll add them to the recipe section.

Arepas, click the photo to go there

I spent much of the day knitting Pair 11 of my sockathon. The pair I’d started yesterday sadly the yarn, which is yummy, was just too busy for what I was wanting to create, so it was frogged and I’ve started on a pair to match pair 10, well similar. I really must take photos of the finished socks I have in my box and get them in the post.

Nice but not what I’d hoped for

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 passing boats, 1 blowy day, 1 shed sorted, 1 sock frogged, 0.75 of next sock knitted, 4 arepas, 24 Dreamies, 1 cat not loosing weight! 1 fire just on tick over, 1 galley sink plug needing replacement.

Castleford Locks. 10th March

Castleford Visitor Moorings

It started to rain last night and was still going for it this morning. Not torrential rain, but as the land is totally soaked right now the rivers were going to rise quickly. Here at Castleford Cut we are protected by the flood lock out onto the junction of the Rivers Aire and Calder. Last night we’d considered moving up to above Lemonroyd Lock where there is a nice mooring both we and Tilly like, but the rain this morning put us off. Currently we’re not in a rush so why get wet. Others including NB Nee Nah were off early, their aim to head to Leeds to await Woodnook Locks reopening at the end of the week. We decided to wait for the rain to stop, weather apps were checked, maybe early afternoon.

Make it stop!

The Geraghty zoom this morning included conversations on fitted wardrobes and levelling up funding, diesel on boats in London, cat flaps and Masquerade by Kit Williams.

We pottered away the morning. Mick started to look at the river levels, hmmm, going up as we’d thought they would. There had been a notice this morning saying that Ledgard Flood Gates on the Calder Hebble were closed due to rising water levels. This is some way upstream but the waters would soon arrive here.

A walk to look at the level board at the flood lock. Waterproofs were donned and a slippy walk was made until we reached the tarmac and the road that weaves it’s way round to the A656. Down the footpath and back at the cut. Here we could see the normally amber light was now red and flashing at us. The flood lock closed. We crossed the lock gates and walked down to see how high the water was.

2 inches in the red.

The level board has a very long red length, suggesting the river can rise very high. Today the river was sitting at about 2 inches into the red, we’d not be going anywhere today! At this end of the lock there are three lights each facing a different direction, all of these were amber, navigation possible to get off the river section and into the safety of the cut.

Three ambers

We crossed over the top gates, stood and wondered just why the flood lock here was such an odd shape. A little further on was a clue, a channel which is possibly used to fill the lock now but it showed obvious signs of it having been a lock in the past. Gate recesses and metal work from where gates used to be attached. A look at our Waterway Routes map confirmed that it had been a lock. I’d also spotted that there was another old lock shown on the map. Maybe the course of the cut had changed through the centuries, very likely.

Odd shaped flood lock

On our return to Oleanna we took a slight detour and spotted the old lock which used to connect the River Aire below the weir to the cut. Had this been to bring goods up from the river to avoid navigational difficulties down stream? Time to do a bit of history hunting.

Old maps showed that there had been the smaller lock from the river that we’d seen today, but they also showed Castleford Cut. Hunting round I found a very good article on a Castleford History blog A lot to read, but worth it if you are interested. Here’s a quick precis.

Waterway Routes showing two old locks

In the C17th the textile industry was on the rise in the West Riding. Goods were imported and exported via York, packhorse boats sailing up and down the River Ouse which connected with packhorse routes across Yorkshire. In the 1620’s permission was sought in parliament to build short cuts to avoid weirs on the Rivers Aire and Calder. But opposition from York Corporation meant the bills were rejected. By 1698 royal ascent was received for the plans, meaning Castleford would become an important place during the canal boom years, the village growing into a town.

The original cut came off the river where we’d spotted the old lock. From here is continued in a straight line, through where the dry dock is and then down back onto the river behind The Griffin Pub on the big S bend, this meant bypassing the weir. Much of this old route has now been built over so no evidence is visible other than the dry dock. On the map below this route is shown by the blue line. This was possibly the shortest/cheapest route and opened in 1699. Castleford now became a key point for the collection of toles with wool, cloth, grain and coal passing through.

1699 Blue, 1774 Purple, 1831 to Present day Orange

The amount of traffic built up during the C18th, the capacity of the locks on the Aire and Calder were becoming an impediment. In 1774 an act of parliament was passed for a series of improvements. The awkward angle of Castleford Dam Lock was one problem the silt build up here another. So another cut was cut, shown above in purple. It came out from the current dry dock at 90 degrees then another turn to the east before dropping down to the river at Middle Lock, the ruins of which we’d spotted very close to our mooring. This all opened in 1775, but really wasn’t an ideal solution.

The original lock from the river

Trade was good, a weighing station was built in 1819. At this time Castleford also became a place where passengers would arrive by coach from Leeds and join boats heading for Goole and Hull. The Packet Boat steps are still visible below Castleford Bridge on the Aire. But in 1834 the opening of the Leeds Selby railway saw passengers move to the rails and then climb onboard boats in Selby to head down stream on the River Ouse. AS passengers reduced in number freight increased and further improvements were considered to the navigation.

The ruins of Middle Lock back down onto the Aire

In 1819 John Rennie surveyed the navigation and commented on it’s bad design and how the old lock was in a bad state of repair. George Leather did a survey in 1824 finding that depth of the cut was seriously bad, less than 5ft in places (not just a problem today!), the tight turns frequently caused damage to the boats. Where the lock met the river and the next half mile downstream was prone to silting. Various suggestions were made, Rennie added a suggestion of a new flood lock north of the current one. Then Thomas Telford was brought in, 1827, straightening of the River Calder was added into the mix and he agreed on much of what Leather had proposed. Works started in 1829 and by 1831 the north and south cuts had been joined and the navigation became what we have today stretching to Bulholme Lock where it re-joins the river, bypassing the weir, meanders and silt (route shown in orange).

Wipe your FEET Tilly!

The river levels have continued to rise through the afternoon and evening 1.66m by the time we went to bed. Tilly climbed trees, I knitted and Mick found things to do avoiding sorting out the remaining contents of The Shed.

Sadly not trading today!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 old locks found, 2 bacon butties, 1 abandoned pushchair, 2 inches in the red, 1 soggy day, 21:10 generator turned off, 1 still going at bed time, 1/3 sock knitted, 6 sausages and roasted veg,1 boat trapped, 2 flashing red lights.

1st Stamp Of 2024. 5th March

Viking Marina to Sykehouse Junction, New Junction Canal

When I woke I popped the emersion on, yesterday I’d let it run for 90 minutes and the water was at best almost hot. I hoped for better this morning. In the end I gave it a boost by adding in the central heating and ended up with enough hot water for a shower.

Mick was soon on a train back from Scarborough, the house ready for our first lot of lodgers, just the plants to pick up at some point. I decided to give Tilly’s scratch post a make over, well the base of it which has lasted almost ten years, 8 with it’s current owner. Stripping off the old cover took some time, but with pliers and a flat headed screw driver it all came off in a dusty mess. New fabric was cut to size and then stapled on the back, the post was bolted back on and a square of fabric stapled over the bolt and washer to save it scratching the newly oiled floor. Job done, still a bit wobbly, but Tilly hasn’t complained about it yet.

Once Mick was back we went over to check out and pay our electric bill with Laird. A meter reading was done, but the one from when we arrived had gone awol. A historical one was found on the system but we’d never have used that much. Mick checked to see what our inverter thought we’d used, a bill of £32 sounded far more like it for 5 months and everyone was happy. We thanked Laird, returned to Oleanna for a spot of lunch then it was time.

Green coiled up ropes

The Nebo switch was switched on (voltage sensitive relay will be added soon) and push back was at 14:32. It was nice to be leaving the build up of diesel and urgh that had surrounded us in the marina. Mick reversed Oleanna out of our mooring, winded in the marina and then turned us to face west.

Marinas serve their purpose for us, but it’s not our natural habitat, at least this year we didn’t feel hemmed in amongst other boats having a bank side mooring. Downside of the mooring however was the amount of mud that got splashed up from puddles.

Goole caisson

Through Goole Caisson which had been closed for maintenance until ten days ago.

Weather tight

Along the long straights, a slight kink at Rawcliffe. Under the M18. Past the chunky tree house which now has a completed roof, not sure how it was five months ago, but it looks more weather proof than I remembered. Past the breach site and round the bend.

The steam from Drax cooling towers just visible in the background

Drax came into view behind us, time to wave the NORF goodbye. Well Drax will stay in view for a while, but this stretch of canal now has the feeling of the start or end of a years boating. We’re having to admit to ourselves that we are no longer full on live aboards / continuous cruisers.

It’s good to be outside and moving again

Round the next bend and towards Sykehouse Junction. Now where should we moor? Part of the bank along the New Junction is cordoned off as the metal top is leaning towards the canal. Or do we go just past the junction and moor with chains round the metal bar where Kingfishers fish? We opted to turn into the New Junction and pull up on the stretch of moorings that hasn’t been affected, easy to tie to and no wet knees.

Tilly’s excitement from inside the boat could be heard for miles! No photographic proof as she was darting from window to window checking out the outside. This is the most active she has been in five months. Our location was noted before the rules were recited, then she was off like a shot, staring into the friendly cover and pouncing. We have a happy cat once again.

Drax, Sykehouse Junction and Tilly, free again

A roast chicken was prepared, spitting on the clean oven glass, and enjoyed.

To make up for Tilly’s very exciting day I got the flea and tick spot on treatment out, never a popular thing to do and it means no head nudges will be given for a couple of days, but needs must!

Tonight will be the first test of our new batteries. Mick is confident all will be good in the morning.

0 locks, 6.5 miles, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 boat back out on the cut, 2 happy boaters, 1 ecstatic cat, 1 roast chicken, 1 tank of proper hot water, 1 blog writer trying to remember how to do maps! 1st Mrs Tilly stamp of approval of 2024.

Stocking Up. 4th March

Viking Marina, Goole


Time to get stocked up on essentials, well after a cuppa in bed. The food order was in with Tescos for a click and collect. With only one bag of coal on the roof, which we’d just opened, we needed to stock up. Viking Marina don’t sell coal, across the way used to, but there was no mention of it on their website. Whilst we’d been on board for the TLC week there had been a coal wagon arrive, sadly we’d not taken note of the company, but a quick scout round on the internet brought us to Coopers Fuels in West Cowick.

Bags of warmth

6 bags of 25kg of Excel were bought and popped in the back of the van. Now it was time to pick up the shopping, however…. I had a voice message from a lady at Tescos saying that all their systems were down so no-one had been able to pick our shopping. We could move the click and collect to the afternoon or evening or just cancel it. We had no option but to cancel our order, the van was due back in Scarborough late afternoon and there was still a visit to the tip to be done to get rid of the old dinette cushions. We’d have to go and shop the old fashioned way.

Hope they’ll move the outside soon, I don’t think much of this one!

Big signs were everywhere. They could only accept transactions with chip and pin, not even cash sales. They’d had a big upgrade to their computer system last night, this morning not even the scan and shop things worked! A big shop takes quite a bit of thinking about so I was glad I had access to the order in an email. We worked our way round the store as efficiently as possible. Blimey I hoped there would be room for everything back on board!

Not quite the right spelling

Back to Oleanna to off load, coal on roof, fridge and freezer items put away. I got a lift into town and Mick headed back across the Wolds to finish off in the house and return the van.

Big hooks half the price of B&Q!

A visit to Boyes was a must. Suitable screws to use in The Shed, roller sleeves for painting the gunnels, something to be able to store my rice pancakes in and new fun fur for Tilly’s scratch post. Fun fur was only available in a seriously shaggy length and at quite a price, so instead I bought a pair of Teddy fleece pillowcases, half the price for twice as much.

Pizza tray, pancakes, net cover.

Items onboard a boat should ideally have more than one purpose, so a pizza tray for the oven was big enough and not too chunky to store my pancakes flat, it will also keep pizzas from dirtying the oven shelves. With the net cover over the top to hold everything together, job done.

Still a bit more space left

Back on board it was warm, the stove was turned right down. Time to repack food for the freezer, everything comes with so much air around it! Mince was split into meal size quantities, a chicken jointed and skinned, five meals from one bird.

Time to select the yarn for the next pair of sockathon socks. I’m wanting to do some colourwork on this pair. Last week I tried a couple of methods for carrying floats across the back. At first I thought the ladderback Jacquard wasn’t worth it, but trying on the sample made me change my mind. Yarn selected I wound it into cakes and cast on the toe.

With Mick away for the night I cooked up some Tiger Prawns with fried rice whilst he ordered a full on gluten pizza from Pizza Tempo back in Scarborough. Tilly and I then caught up on Pottery Throwdown, a favourite.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 bags coal, 7 bags shopping, 2 pillowcases, 5 cushions to the tip, 14mm and 12mm in case, 1 full fridge, 1 full freezer, 1 wine cellar restocked, 10 prawns, 1 pizza, 1 boat all stocked up.

9.1 pairs knitted

32 pairs spoken for

42.9 to go

£715 raised

Goodbye Tilly Towers. 3rd March

Viking Marina, Goole

Nearly a cooked breakfast

Last night we ate the last bits and bobs from the fridge and freezer, but were left with some ice-cream, hash browns, tomatoes, gluten free crumpets and eggs. Only one thing for it, although we decided that vanilla chilled medication wouldn’t really go with poached eggs.

The last round of packing. Shower cleaning, some things left as Mick would be staying a night after returning the van. Tilly assisted with the idiot check, then there was only one thing left to pack.

Last week we’d managed to close Tilly and myself in the bathroom, Mick brought out the cat caravan and opened the bathroom door for me to pop her straight in, next to no stress until she realised what was happening. This was for her visit to the vet. Today things didn’t go as smoothly. Firstly Mick had efficiently popped the bag with puppy pads and just in case items in the van before I’d put a puppy pad in the caravan. I know what you’re doing! I’d be seriously stupid not to have noticed everything being packed up. It’s quite exciting really, but also concerning too. I tried being very interesting with the bathroom cupboards to lure her out from under the bed, it worked, but she just chose to then sit under The Shed bed instead. Then Tom brought the smiling big sucking noisy thing. It got closer and closer, only one thing for it, run to the bathroom for protection from She.

Maybe I’m stupid after all!

Straight into the van. Cat caravan sitting on my knee, engine started up, we pulled out of the parking space. How far would we get today before having to stop to renew the puppy pad? Well, I am so proud of Tilly. After five minutes standing, shouting at the front of the caravan she retreated to the rear of it and sat down, keeping an eye on the outside moving past. Tom moved it far too quickly, surely that isn’t safe! She kept on shouting with a few intervals to compose herself, but we didn’t have to stop once, not once! So proud of you Tilly, so proud. No calming stuff at all today too, so proud.

I can still talk to you from in here

Straight into Oleanna, Tilly was set free. A quick shout check everywhere (she’d make a good Stage Manager) and then it was time to find a safe place. The Nicholson’s shelf was tried first, but that hasn’t been sorted yet so it wasn’t very safe clinging on the edge of it. The nice little hollow behind Tom’s pillow wasn’t there, it was full of mattress. Only one place left, the secret passageway behind the sofa. Squeeeeeze!

Lunch first. Yesterday we’d sterilised the water tank. When about a third full we’d added a bottle of Milton fluid, filled the tank up to the top, water run through the taps and then left it for about half an hour. Then the tank was emptied, the water pump working overtime. Tank refilled, we then used as much as possible. Today taps were run until they didn’t smell of Milton anymore, the kettle and Tilly’s water bowl filled from the tap alongside our mooring. The tank was emptied and then refilled again. We don’t do this often (possibly the second or third time ever) as when we’re on board all the time the water is used and replenished frequently.

Just where does it all go?!

Off loading the van meant we filled up the cabin quickly. I wanted to get The Shed sorted so things could go away, but Mick had other priorities. Popping Mick’s tool box on top of the wooden shelf on the ledge didn’t work as a temporary measure sadly. We did manage to get the hook up for the life jackets to live on, mainly so they could be put out of cat claw danger.

Green dribbles, again!

Hang on Tilly, who did the idiot check and totally forgot about the herbs and strawberry plants?! Well you wouldn’t let me outside this morning. Anyway, hadn’t you noticed, I’m only a cat!

Dinner cooking away

More things were stowed away, the bed was made up, we were finally finding places we’d be able to sit down. The last meals worth of lamb stew left from our gathering of friends went in the cast iron pot on top of the stove, two potatoes wrapped in foil were popped inside by the coals and dinner cooked as we tidied up. Tilly did manage to come out from behind the sofa and took up residence on the bottom shelf. Another busy day for us all.

My shelf!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 handy beds, 1 smiling monster, 0 stops, 1 very proud She, 1 squeezed cat, 1 Shed still not sorted, 4 life jackets hung, 1 bed made, 1 last lamb stew, 1 big click and collect order made, 1 pink sunset, 2 green dribbles again in the bathroom! 2 boaters and 1 cat back on board.

Sunset over Viking Marina