Category Archives: Friends

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!

Sitting Higher And A Friendly Goodbye.

Firstly thank you to Chris and Rufus for helping the blog move earlier this week and to those who commented that they were hearing us loud and clear.

It’s a touch concerning who reads our blog!

Back in 2014 we were getting ready for a life afloat, a year on a boat was calling and work for me was starting to wind down, we’d not yet found NB Lillyanne but had hopes that NB Oleanna (Mark 1) wouldn’t be far away from being completed. Little did we know what was going on back then! But in the summer of 2014 as we were finally packing up the house to move onto NB Lillyanne our friends in Scarborough got together to wish us well on our travels, a nice gathering at a local pizza restaurant and a few pints later, a lovely evening was had.

Nowadays, we get to see our friends every now and again in Scarborough, but not really often or for long enough, so this had to be put right before we left for the spring and summer months. A gathering was organised at our house last Sunday afternoon and it just so happened to be half-term too.

Lamb and veg stew

Catering for a possible twenty was put into operation starting on Friday. The cheapest way to buy lamb was by the leg, this was roasted then chopped up to be added into a stew. A separate veggie stew was made up and potatoes were scrubbed and ready to be baked in the oven. The house was given a dust down and we awaited our friends to arrive.

From left to Right.
Pip, DUNCAN! Gill, Jenny, Jaye, Dawn, Mick, Charlie (down the front) Tucker and Lee just leaning in. Ben and Frank are missing from the photo.

Sadly some friends were too far away to join us, had family visiting or had come down with a lurgy, so the numbers dropped! Never the less we had a lovely afternoon, nibbles, cheese and puddings provided by our guests. Lots of catching up to do especially for Jenny and her son Charlie who live that little bit further afield and hadn’t seen some people for about ten years. A gathering like this simply would not be possible on Oleanna, we have difficulty having two of us in the galley never mind twelve!

Stocked up for the next year

Thank you all for coming and sorry to miss those from further afield or with a lurgy. We also topped up on Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil and Charlie and Ivy‘s goodies for the boat, delivered by Charlie.

Left overs

Because the numbers had dropped our freezer, which we’d been doing a very good job of emptying, has now been filled up again, but we’ll gradually eat our way through them, we’ll just have to vary our diet occasionally!

Tuesday, Mick picked up a hire car and we loaded it with cushions for the dinette and headed over the Wolds to Goole. Time to start putting Oleanna back together again before we move back onboard.

Mick checked the Bully Boy Batteries from his phone whilst I screwed the pan drawer back to the pull out corner cupboard. The old screws had only just managed to last seven years, so new holes and screws were needed, I also added some facing the opposite direction too so hopefully they will last a lot longer.

Now it was time to move things back into cupboards and drawers that had been moved for varnishing. The galley tops also got a very good clean.

Will they all fit?

Before lunch we needed to see if the new dinette cushions fitted. The new foam is a lot firmer so it took a touch more effort to squish them into position.

Hooray!

The one new corner cushion, replacing two, fits well. However the end back cushion now is a little bit too long at the bottom. It’s the same size as the old cushion which was also rectangular, but now it just needs to have a slight angle taken of the bottom for it to fit perfectly. For now this is fine. But if anyone happens to have an electric carving knife as we pass, I may borrow it to trim an inch off it. All cushions are now double sided, which the original ones weren’t, so if they start to look a touch dirty we can flip them over.

Left over cheese by the hatch

We could now sit and use the table again for lunch, in comfort. Much better than the old cushions.

Life Jacket hook position

The afternoon, we checked that the new shelf for The Shed would fit. It does but only goes in one way and still needs blocks to rest on before things can go back in the cupboard. The battery below it also needs some blocks of wood round it to hold it in position for the BSS, Mick is also thinking about shortening the cables to the battery. This all needs doing before the fire extinguisher can we put back on the wall. But I got chance to decide where and how other items would be stored in The Shed rather than just being piled up on top of each other. Our life jackets will happily sit behind the extinguisher on a big hook. Coat hangers on another deep hook above the power socket, this is only for storage as they get used in the pram cover for drying washing not for hanging coats on. The window vac will happily sit in a couple of big hooks on the cabin side, but the hand held vac is too bulky for hooks and there is nowhere to be able to attach a string to hang it from. I’ll make a bag for it which will be fixed to the cabin side also. This should then leave us with little needing to be piled at the bottom of the cupboard in future, just the Brompton bag and took box, Hopefully!

See you soon

It was starting to get late, so we packed up deciding that we’d need another visit before we move back on board to finish off jobs and I also want to give the bathroom a good clean too. As we loaded up the car Alastair came to say hello and handed Mick an invoice for the couple of little jobs he’s done in Oleanna’s engine bay for us this last week.

Hopefully we’ll be back down soon to finish off.

0 locks, 0 miles, 20 down to 12, 1 lovely afternoon with good friends, 5 litres rapeseed oil, 1 car, 7 cushions, 1 a touch too tight, 2 batteries playing nicely, 1 spotless galley, 1 pull out drawer, 1 stove top kettle under the sink, 2 boaters sitting higher, 1 plan for The Shed, 1 more visit, 2 of each back at the house, 1 slightly amended cruising plan.

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

What Did You Get? Betwixtmas 2023

Breakfast with tea not bucks fizz this year

Christmas Day was quite grey, but thankfully the drizzle/rain stayed away for us to have a walk down to the seafront and allow Frank to walk (without getting wet) the two miles to join us.

A grey seafront

Glasses of fizz were at hand to help with the final food preparations.

Gourmet sprouts

Frank had brought round three sprout stalks from his garden, so he set to. An hour and a half later, his sterling work had got enough diddy sprouts for maybe two of us, they were added to with extras from the bumper veg box I’d ordered.

All ready to tuck in

I’d seen good reviews for M&S gluten free bread sauce, so we had a taste test between theirs and mine. The Leckenby version made with brown seeded bread and some garlic, the M&S version very white and plenty of cloves. They both had good qualities, I think the decision was that they tied.

Only just fitted on our plates

Mammoth amounts of food took over our plates. We think that this year we managed to achieve the correct quantities of everything. Plenty and still quite an amount of left overs after Frank had finished. Cheese was put till the end of the meal (my Mum wouldn’t have approved!), but just as well as my birthday cake was extreamly rich! Five days later and we’ve still only managed to eat half of it. Chocolate and Hazelnut Celebration Cake and the cheese remained in it’s wrappers!

Cheese still untouched!

In the morning we’d opened our Christmas presents, before Birthday cake there were the tree presents. Mick got a new litter picker (not just for tidying up the towpaths but also to help pick things up once dropped in the engine bay on Oleanna. I got the Sarah Howells Gluten Free cook book and Frank got a pair of Pip socks, the last pair to be knitted this year. This makes it 34 pairs since April, I’d forgotten to add in a pair I made for my cousin at the beginning of May.

Blowing them out

Birthday presents followed. This pile quite often ends up with a few Christmas presents accidentally added, ambiguous wrapping, or just because.

A lovely day with fat bellies, lots of empty bottles and good company.

So what did we get?

We both got new waterproof coats.

Presents

A new barbecue. I’d considered a Cob as so many had sung their praises, but the price tag was a touch too much for Tilly’s pocket, so a slightly sterdier fold away version of the one we’ve had for the last eight or so years. It’s handy as it tucks away easily into one of the stern lockers. I got some Sketchers anti-slip trainers which are comfortable for my toe and the antislip looks as good as we’ve had before. Tilly got a flapping fish to remind her of our travels on the water. This did have to be removed after a while I just don’t understand why it didn’t die! I had resorted to numerous headbut bites and yet it still flipped around!

More!

Lots of other goodies. Books were all cookery books this year, a Tom Kerridge book didn’t make the photo. Tilly got a new (to her) food and water bowls so that she doesn’t have to move them from house to boat to house. I’ll have something to say about that Blue one on my own blog! Plus a LOT of Dreamies. You’d better start moving the outside again so I can have those! Pyjamas were also popular, between us we got three pairs. An ice bag, very handy for knees or heads. Socks, now just not any old socks! Thank you to Kath who got me the arty socks, Father Christmas for the chunky socks, but extra bonus points to the NB Cleddau crew for the Crazy Cat Lady socks. Thank you!!!

Sue cutting the cake, assisted by Jaye and of course Duncan!

We’ve had a few relaxing days since, interspersed by Sue’s 60th where her family and friends took over a local Indian restaurant. What a lovely evening, Happy Birthday Sue!

Can anyone guess which lock this is?

The painting for our downstairs toilet is coming on. A good project to do Betwixtmas. Soon I’ll have to set the drawing board up and sort out dimensions of the lean too that we’re wanting to replace, there’s also the boat cushion fabric to source, curtain tracks, some painting and more bloomin sealant to do in the house! Then there are the boat jobs on the list. But these can all wait for the new year I think, Oh and there’s the yearly round up to write and that always takes ages.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got some fab presents too.

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 pairs socks, 4 cook books, 4 bowls, 3 bags of dreamies, 1 fish, 1 wobbly thing, 3 pairs pyjamas, 1 bottle truffle oil, 2 waterproofs, 1 cold on the way out, 1 on the way in, 1 lodger with a tickly throat, 1 phone, 4 pens, 4 pencils, 1 bbq, 2 much birthday cake so if anyone is passing in the next few days please help us!

Christmas Eve 2023

Well it’s taken it’s time in arriving, this years Christmas. I think we did peek too early! But since the beginning of December when the London Leckenby’s were with us, we’ve gradually been getting ourselves ready for tomorrow. Several storms have passed over, the webcam on Oleanna was kept VERY busy with the last storm as the windows in the pram cover hardly had a still moment.

Lebkuchen

Presents bought and wrapped, food ordered. We’ve both had a hair cut. Christmas biscuits baked and delivered. One batch of mince pies baked and consumed. Tilly has slept most of the time. The windows in my work rooms have been touched up since having the new windows installed and my work table moved back into position, I’ve tentatively started work on a painting for our downstairs toilet. I suspect more will get done during Betwixtmass.

We’ve seen Animated Objects production of A Christmas Carol, won second prize in the raffle. Enjoyed the most festive Christmas show at the SJT, Beauty and the Beast, we were very unsuitably dressed as we’d not put on our Christmas jumpers and stuck out from the crowd!

A touch more knitting has happened. Sausage rolls have been baked and eaten. Tomorrow we’ll be joined by Frank, his normal invite for Christmas dinner has had to be cancelled due to Covid rearing it’s head again. Just as well I ordered an extra large veg box, plus Frank has provided us with plenty more sprouts.

The pre cooking has happened, stuffing, red cabbage, bread sauce, gravy and birthday cake. The cake is a new recipe, chocolate and hazelnut cake, it smelt wonderful as I mixed it up with all 6 eggs it required! Ganache still to be added once it’s cooled down.

Scarbados!

So just the gammon joint and dauphinoise potatoes to consume this evening, along with a glass or two of wine.

We’re ready, are you?

Stockings laid out in front of the fire. Sadly Mick has deemed it too windy to light the fire this evening! I so hope the big man in red remembers we’re in the house this year!

Cushions In The Closet, Have We Peaked Too Soon?

Has it really only been two weeks since I got back from Panto land? It feels like a lot longer, but then it also only feels like yesterday!

Now where did we get up to last year?

There has been the obligatory Morse watching whilst being pinned to the sofa by Tilly. Four episodes including, in my opinion, the best one, Masonic Mysteries where Morse is framed for the murder of a friend and no matter which way Morse turns there is another surprise for him.

Tilly has kept a close eye on my yarn tension

More socks have been knitted for Dementia UK. Not sure exactly how many pairs I’ve knitted this year but it’s somewhere over 30 and my fundraising page has just topped £1130! Thank you everyone who has donated and I hope those of you who have a pair of socks have cosy toes. At some point I’ll update the page I set up for my Sockathon, there’s quite a few pictures to upload.

Cards of the Christmas and other varieties printed, scored and folded

Boating photos from this year have been whittled down, a short list of about six presented for final vetting to Mick and Tilly for our Christmas card. Would the old printer upstairs upstairs be up to the job though? With a full set of new cartridges and a morning spent assisting the paper into the printer every couple of sheets the card factory got to work.

The first veg box since my return contained a lovely looking bright orange squash. What to do with it? I hunted round for a couple of recipes and decided to try two out, both requiring roasted squash. So the whole squash was roasted in one go and then divid up for the two dishes, Mushroom and Squash Lasagna and Squash Winter Herb and Crispy Butter Bean Pie. The latter involved three bulbs of garlic which were cooked before being added into the mix. Both will be made again, the pie for a special occasion as it takes a while to cook, but was very tasty. I’ll add links to the recipe pages.

The South Bay

One evening I was invited to a reading of a play that a local lady is hoping to produce. Earlier in the year I’d been approached to see if I could give some advice on it’s staging, but without a script this was impossible. It was nice to meet some new Scarborough faces, but the best bit was walking down to the top of St Nicholas Gardens and looking across the bay to the harbour where numerous boats had their Christmas lights up.

When we moved back to the house from Oleanna we brought all the dinette cushions with us. The covers desperately needing a wash or maybe even replacing. The seat cushions that we sit on the most have also lost most of their cushionness, so I measured them up and placed an order for replacements. The dinette makes into a bed, so any cushions apart from the one that isn’t normally out have been replaced with new firmer more suitable foam. We also had an odd cushion which we have never really understood why it existed, why hadn’t it been added onto one of the back cushions? This and the wedge shaped cushion that goes into the corner have now been made into one piece. Having just written this I don’t understand why it is wedge shaped and not just rectangular, I’ll have to look at it when the cushions go back on the boat, then remember for next time. At the moment I have a few samples of fabric but the final discission hasn’t been made. This will be a project for the new year.

Look who popped up as a screensaver. On the Marsworth flight back in our yellow days.

Why have the cushions gone in the wardrobe? Well a certain Second Mate/Thug has been enjoying clawing the old cushions, thankfully the one which has been affected the most is being replaced! I can’t help it if I have to find myself things to keep me occupied when the outside doesn’t move every day!!!

Mick has just about sorted out his planned upgrade to Oleanna’s batteries. Doubling Oleanna’s amp hours, but will there be enough room for him to be able to move them indoors? A visit in the next couple of weeks is on the cards to check on her and have a measure up.

It’s handy having quite a stash of yarn in the house

During November I’d joined a knitting challenge for Dementia UK, soon I was running out of things to knit! Mick just so happened to ask where his winter hat was. Ah that might just still be on the boat! Emergency hat knitting, this ended up being two hats one inside the other for extra warmth.

It just fitted in the bike bag

Then preparations for Christmas were started, the London Leckenbys were heading up to join us for a pre-christmas meal. Normally we don’t put decorations up for another couple of weeks, but because they were coming we had to get busy.

Last years boat Christmas tree has just about survived the year after a repot with some human made compost, so this has been brought in. But a bigger tree was really needed for the living room, where would we be able to get one from without a car? Nowhere that we found would deliver and the nearest veg/florist didn’t look like they’d be stocking any. One option left, a trip to Sainsburys with our trusty bike as sherpa.

Over several days Mick busied himself in the garden putting lights round bushes. I headed to the snicket to give the ivy a trim. Two wreaths were put together with lights and on the first day of December our decorations were up and illuminated!

Christmas baking. A batch of some rough puff pastry was made, a new recipe I wanted to try out. Then some Lebkuchen, these are my current favourite Christmas biscuits, especially when you poor the heated butter, treacle and maple syrup onto the spices, qworrr!

Christmas shopping this year has meant a walk down to the harbour, thankfully on a very nice sunny day before the snow arrived. I’d placed an order online and been told to ring the doorbell by the bow of a ship! I was taking ‘Buy it off a boat‘ to the next level. The doorbell was nowhere to be seen but thankfully a couple of people were stood on the bridge. My order arrived at a side door, the chap having to climb slightly up a harbour ladder to pass it to me safely, the tide was out at the time!

Buy it off a ship!

The coal man arrived along with snow and hail, Scarborough having a dusting of the white stuff just in time for the London Leckenbys arrival.

Who’s coming?

It has been at least ten years since the London Leckenby’s have visited us in Scarborough, us having lived on boats for much of the last ten years. This trip would also be their first by train, Andrew normally drives them up, but he’s still recovering from his stay in hospital. Quite a bit of work was needed to sort trains due to strikes and engineering work. Tickets were booked with only a couple of days to go. At Kings Cross they loitered for the platform to be announced, confirming the advanced knowledge we’d given them. Also knowing which carriage was likely not to be reserved helped, so they headed straight for it and thankfully got seats on what became a very very full train.

Nearly as good as my Mums Yorkshire Pud

Sausage rolls on arrival, sorry Frank forgot to take a photo! Then an afternoon lull, a walk to the beach not taken up as the pavements were really quite slippy. We caught up on their news and then got going with our Advent Saturday joint of roast beef with all the works. I’ve almost mastered gluten free Yorkshire Puddings so that my Mum wouldn’t know the difference. She’d certainly have been pleased that we had a slice each as a starter with gravy (not with the meat!) helped by the veg being a little reluctant to brown up.

Crackers were cracked, wine drunk, plenty of food eaten. Pudding, a warm Dorset Apple Cake accompanied by some Wensleydale Cheese, not quite ‘Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze’ but very nice and worth repeating.

Jac, Pip, Mick, Josh, Andrew

A lovely time was had by all. It was really lovely having them back in Scarborough.

Sunday morning and it was time to check that their return trains would be running. Well Transpennine Express did what they seem to do best and cancelled their first train. Mick came up with a couple of options for them. Their return journey was going to be 5 hours rather than the 3 on the way up, due to engineering work. It was decided that they’d head to the station and catch an earlier train, either to York where they could loiter in the pub, or to Hull where they could catch their the train earlier on it’s journey than planned. This meant quite a quick breakfast and exchange of presents before a cab arrived to whisk them back to the station.

Bye bye!

Almost 24 hours in Scarborough, we wished them a good journey and wished Josh good luck for his forthcoming interview for University. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him as I’d like to visit the very good chilled medication shop we visited last summer when on one of the Great Ouse tributaries. Their journey back changed again due to more cancellations, they had a good journey around the country arriving in London ten minutes earlier than originally planned.

My lovely fella

Sunday evening Mick and I headed out for what has now become our annual Chinese meal. Crispy aromatic duck a necessity to mark 21 years of us being together. A lovely way to round off the weekend.

Us out for a Sunday walk

It feels like we’ve already had Christmas now. The big day isn’t for another three weeks!

Have we peaked too soon?

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 snow showers, 5x50kg bags of coal, 2 veg boxes, 1 squash, 2 celeriac, 1.8kg top rump, 15 Lebkuchen, 1 Lasagna, 1 pie, 20 sausage rolls, 2 trees, 4 stars, 100m of flotilla lights, 1 bored cat, £1132, 30 plus pairs, 4 Morses, 2 wreaths, 4 new cushions, 3 weeks early, 21 years.

You may notice a couple of changes to the blog. Firstly the blog roll, this had stopped rolling as bloggers posted their posts, so we’re trialing a new plug in, not quite as clear as the old version sadly. Secondly Mick has added code to the blog to hopefully change the default colour of the writing to black without me having to change every paragraph each time I write a post. This was done with assistance from Copilot. I hope it works!

AA 89. 7th October

Viking Marina

Back in the saddle

Up early, Tilly left with a full bowl of biscuits, but how to get both of us with dry feet to the station? Albert Street always has a puddle close to the main gates of the marina, at the moment it is really rather deep. Mick dug out his wellies and I re-acquainted myself with riding the brompton bike. Having the bike with us would assist me in the mile walk to the station, although when we got near to the main road I decided that I was a touch wobbly so walked instead.

Train in view

We were early for the train north, no bad thing as we didn’t want to get caught out if ships had been moving around the docks necessitating a swing bridge to be closed. Today we alighted the train in Seamer, the last stop before Scarborough. I found somewhere to perch whilst Mick cycled off to pick up a van. The one we’d booked had a couple of things wrong with it, but when an engine warning light lit up Mick was offered another van with a long wheelbase. More than enough room for us, just a bit more awkward to maneuver.

Class 37 Victorious

Into town to the house, we needed to pick up a few things for our move, crates, cool box and cat caravan. We knocked on the door, always a strange thing to do at your own house. We picked up the bits, checked on a reported leak in the kitchen then headed off leaving our lodgers to get ready for work.

Yummy!

Thank goodness we’d booked a table at EatMe for lunch as they were fully booked. We enjoyed burgers each, always worth a visit. Then there was time to kill. After walking into town my foot didn’t fancy going any further, a look at the sea would have to wait, so we sat ourselves on the sofas in the foyer of the SJT. This turned out to be a good move as our friend Lee walked in and had time for a catch up chat.

Constant Companions is Alan Ayckbourn’s 89th play. Three intertwined stories of humans and android lovers filled the round stage at the SJT. The audience kept very amused but also slightly concerned as the androids say that they will miss us when we’re gone, as in the human race! A very good afternoon followed by many hellos in the foyer with lodgers past and present, plus the assistant producer from Dark Horse. Lovely to see everyone.

Goolish cakes on Falsgrave

Time to head back to Goole, over the Wolds arriving back at the marina after dark. Getting the extra long wheelbased van into the parking area was a bit interesting, but Mick managed to do it leaving enough room for other vehicles to get passed without having to bump into Oleanna. Tilly cuddles and cheese on toast to end the day.

She knows, but we’re not talking about it

0 locks, 0 miles, 0.5 miles by bike, 1 giant puddle, 1 train, 1 extra long van, 2 burgers and chips, 1 Lee, 0 Duncan, 1 Connor, 89th play (heading to Bowness and Newcastle Under Lyme), 2 androids, 1 run down, 1 van ride, 1 happy cat.

The View’s Better Up Here. 28th September

Staniland Marina to Bramwith Junction

As Mick popped the kettle on for our morning cuppa Paul was getting ready to push off. A quick goodbye and see you somewhere next year was exchanged. Off he headed, he and his travelling companions hoping to time their arrival on the New Junction Canal with all it’s bridges to avoid rush hour. Hopefully last nights storm won’t have brought any trees down on Paul’s route, it was quite passive here in Thorne.

Here he comes

An email from Clive came through he was about to leave the moorings by the service block. Mick walked up to the lock to see if there was a volunteer on duty, there was, so we could concentrate on getting ourselves ready to push off. A number checker walked past, we chatted with him. His next job today was to locate the sunken boats along the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. One was just by us, all possessions removed, the boat left to sink. It will cost C&RT around £3000 to remove it, we’d spotted at least another three on our way from Keadby!

Bye bye Thorne

As the swing bridge at the lock was pushed out of the way we pushed off, we had a convoy.

Next pair ready to post

Somewhere in amongst all the boats at Staniland are a pair of my Sockathon socks, well they were actually being worn to work today. We waved to Della wherever she moors. Onwards under the railway to the M18. Where had the near breach happened a few weeks ago? We decided that we’d most probably already missed it so where the undergrowth had been cut must have grown back. The new houses looked more settled in Stainforth now, still more being built. The lovely old boats still catch our eye as we pass them.

NB Christopher B following

Soon we were at Bramwith Swing Bridge. I hopped off and pressed the buttons, two boats through, only one car and a bike held up. Onwards to the lock. Earlier a boat had passed us, it was waiting at the lock. For the owner this would be their first ever manual lock, this would be our last manual lock this year. I checked that they were okay with sharing with a narrowboat and this was fine. Did they want to stay up top and watch what happened whilst holding onto a rope, or get back on their boat to bring it up.

First ever manual lock

A wave came from down by the moorings, David our friend from the Goole Escape Committee. Big hugs, he looked so well, a different man from last year, even from earlier this year. Mick, David and myself worked the cruiser and Clive up the lock. The latest on Les was that she will be having an operation and likely to be in a wheelchair for a while. Clive headed off, winded at the junction and then pulled into a gap on the moorings. Our arrival had been timed well as he could talk to the mooring ranger who had stopped by to see David.

Last windlass lock for a while

Next it was our turn up the lock. We seemed to be out of practice as no matter which paddle I lifted first Oleanna had different ideas than to stay on one side of the lock! Oh well. We pulled in to top up on water and have a better chat with Clive.

We nearly pulled in at the end of the permanent moorings, but we’d not have a view, so onwards to the junction to where we nearly always moor. David had warned us that the towpath hadn’t been mown for sometime, so we might have difficulty pulling in. Carefully stepping off we made it, chains round the horizontal bar. The sheers then came out to trim the friendly cover by the stern, bow, hatch and windows. Tall bracken obscured the view to the east, so this got a little trim too, although it was really quite dense Mick gave up after a while.

I can see fur miles!!!

The view’s better from up here! Tilly spent quite a bit of time on the roof, a good vantage point for seeking out friends.

An updated props list was needed, requiring a quick read of the rehearsal draft of the script. David joined us for a cuppa and a catch up. He’d just had news that he’d got a volunteer job, very exciting and perfect for him. It was so good to see him, he has come so far since early last year. Still a way to go, but every day he feels he’s making progress.

Props list amending

The stove took the edge off an autumn evening and provided the means to cook a couple of jacket potatoes to accompany a pie each. The sous chef was in charge this evening, he declined to cover his pie in foil when I could smell something was cooking well. It apparently still tasted good, my pie had a nice golden crust in contrast.

A dark crust

1 lock, 4.7 miles, 1 bridge, 1 held up, 3 Kingfishers, 1st lock for one, 420th for us this year, 2 boats not in the right place, 1 hedge trimmed, 4 hours, 2 friends, 1 stove lit, 1 catch up, 2 jackets, 1 new props list, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Wi8H82u4jANERVPCA

Another Day Another Rendez Vous. 12th August

Houdini’s Field to Welford Marina

NB Cleddau was ready for the off before us this morning, they’d originally planned on being out for a few days, but due to a last minute appointment they would now have to head back to the marina. They pushed off in shirt sleeves and once winded at Elkington Bridge they returned with coats on a touch chilly in the breeze. Good to see you both, until somewhere next year.

It wasn’t until 11:30 before we pushed off and soon we were making plans for our next boat rendez vous. Plenty of boats on the move, many we’d seen in the last couple of days, everyone making the most of the drier weather and pootling up and down the summit pound.

Harvested

As we’d sat out last night we could hear the combines busy harvesting in the fields, today we got to see where they’d been, bales lined up in the fields. A constant drone from more fields followed us.

A pause for lunch, a quick chat about the wind and if it would affect plans. No plan A was still on the cards, no need to abort as yet, if we could find a suitable mooring for two boats.

Right please

Another half hour and we’d reached Welford Junction. We made note of plenty of room along the hard edge before the junction, enough for at least three boats on rings. Oleanna turned right towards Welford, we’ve not been up here for an absolute age.

Busy lock

We passed one boat coming towards us, would we be lucky in finding a mooring? As we approached the lock two boats were waiting to go up, fingers were crossed. I walked up to help. A boat came towards the lock to come down, there was space to moor before you reached the end, still fingers crossed.

One in , one out

The boat in front of us was a hire boat, I chatted to the lady. I asked if she would like some help, she checked she knew what to do. ‘Red before White’, they’d come up Foxton. I explained the difference with normal locks rather than staircases and checked she’d know what to do on their way back down tomorrow.

Our turn!

Another downhill boat, then it was our turn and time to find a big mooring! We were in luck, our preferred mooring was available and there was room for two Oleannas, we pulled in and tucked ourselves up to the boat in front. Mick then noticed a woofer with this boat and went for a chat with the owner, always best to make them aware we have a cat. We pulled Oleanna back to leave a safety gap between feline and canine. The chap sat down had a hold of his dog, when we got the thumbs up Tilly was allowed out. The dog was interested, but soon it was obvious that they’d both do their own thing.

Trees!

A while later Tilly and I wondered back to the lock with a windlass. A woofer coming towards us meant avoidance tactics and a return to the boat for Tilly. A boat was ascending and my arrival with a windlass confused them a touch, especially when I closed the top gate behind them.

There she is!

I kept a keen eye open down the cut and as soon as I saw the bow of NB Panda I lifted the paddles to empty the lock for her. Lizzie has had other things keeping her away from boating for a while and today Welford would be Panda’s first lock in a couple of years!

A perfect fit

Thankfully Panda fitted in the gap in front of us. Drinks on the terrace for a second night in a row. Then we walked down to The Wharf where thankfully we’d booked a table. Blimey it was busy, a band playing outside and just about every table taken inside.

Steaks all round

The menu was pretty good, although the gluten free options were limited to the normal suspects. We all opted for a steak and glasses of wine, very nice. Mick persuaded us all to have a pudding, these filled us all up to the brim!

Mick, Pip and Lizzie!

A good evening had by all and a nice catch up with Lizzie.

If you’d like to show support to The Fund Britains Waterways then please sign the petition Link here

1 lock, 2 nebo voyages, 6.7 miles,1 right, 2 days of rendez vousing with boats, 6 boats assisted through the lock, 2 hours, 1 big woofer, 1 G&T, 2 Pimms, 3 steaks, 6 glasses wine, 2 sundaes, 2 scoops chilled medication, 3 very full boaters.

https://goo.gl/maps/MsDysuUZNyXGkZwC9