Category Archives: Fund Britains Waterways

Percy And Barry. 1st July

Paddington Basin to Ballot Box Bridge

Our next door neighbour

Our four nights in Paddington were up. I think I’d looked at us staying a touch longer but the pre-bookable moorings weren’t available in Paddington. There’s always more we could see and do, lots of people to catch up with, but we’d rather take our London fixes in small chunks.

Heading off to explore more waters

The small sailing boat, wrapped up it’s covers and headed off first, it was so short it had had no difficulty getting into the mooring next to us. A look around M&S before we left provided us with another sad gits meal for tonight. Then it was time to reverse out from our mooring, wind and head off. The moorings outside the station had emptied out and the length at Little Venice only had one boat on it. It felt as if people had been for the weekend and then left this morning, would those moorings be filled back up by the end of the day?

Leaving Paddington Basin

The service mooring was empty, time to top up on fresh water and deal with the yellow water, we already had the 25litre container to empty from when we arrived. Mick had checked the C&RT notices in case the elsan was out of order, a notice from quite sometime ago was still live, however everything was in working order. We did the necessary and then waited for the fresh water tank to fill. Another boat arrived laid out his hose to mark his place in the queue.

Barry Caffery

Then a chap came along a BBC Radio London mic in his hand, he quickly said he wasn’t recording but would we be willing to talk to him about the general election, they were doing a feature on Floating Voters today! Good job we don’t have a pump out toilet! We both agreed, making sure he knew we were visitors rather than London boaters. Barry chatted to us for a bit and then turned his mic on, asked us a bit about ourselves and then if we were excited for the General Election.

Hello David

Mick went first. Whilst he did his bit a bow came through the bridge behind us. It was obviously NB Albert Victor with David onboard, we did the Tideway cruise with David a few years ago, he was just on his way back to his mooring after the latest St Pancras Tideway cruise on Saturday. I managed to say hello, but not much else as I was aware that Mick was being recorded just behind me. Shame we didn’t get chance to chat.

Next it was my go. I tend not to talk politics on the blog, even though I suspect most of you know which colour we lean towards, Larry for PM! What were the important issues? I didn’t bother mentioning the obvious ones, NHS, Environment, etc, but the more personal ones, funding for the arts and waterways and just generally to have a government that cares about the people rather than lining their own pockets. We were also asked if we’d be staying up all night for the results. I suspect we’ll last for a while, then put our heads down to wake early hoping for a good result.

Heading outwards

I asked if I could have a photo of Barry Caffrey, he obliged, he could hardly not. Then he moved on to the chap waiting for the services, I think the fellow said no so Barry caught the eye of a lady walking along the towpath.

Our tank had finished filling without interrupting the interview. The chap waiting came to help push us out. His opinion on the interview, ‘Floating Voters! We can’t vote because we haven’t got an address. What’s the point in talking to us?’ Well, he was wrong. Everyone is entitled to vote even without an address, you have to declare yourself as homeless with an interest in a particular constituency. So at least one good thing will have come from the interview, that chap now knows he was entitled to vote, it won’t help him now, but in the future. For anyone wanting information on how to vote without an address here is a link to the Government website.

Onwards and outwards, past all the same sights we’ve seen before. The lack of weed still surprising us, also the lack of rubbish we normally encounter is greatly reduced, well apart from that from boaters doing work on their boats and just leaving it along the towpath! We tuned into BBC Radio London. The first interviewee Lyndsey, whom we’d just passed leaving Paddington, a continuous cruiser, with similar views to ours. She had been concerned with a recent pollution incident in London, cooking fat in the canal. Maybe this was why the canal seems to be cleaner than we’ve known it before as quite some effort was needed to clean up the fat.

We tuned back in for the next segment and were surprised to hear ourselves in full. A few moments of local radio fame!

Some of those recycled windows

Our aim today was to moor somewhere Tilly could go out. She’s been getting cabin fever and trying to squeeze herself between the gunnel and the top of the sofa to get into the secret passageway! This doesn’t work, but she keeps trying!

Much better

After Ballot Box Bridge there was still plenty of room, we pulled in quite a good distance away from where we reckoned our neighbours with four cats would still be moored. This will do nicely! No mesh on the fence either! See ya!

Hello Simon

Another boat came into view behind us, another familiar boat, Simon Judge on NB Scholar Gypsy. Simon organised the tideway cruise this weekend for 34 boats. He’s also done the tideway between Teddington and Limehouse three times in the last few days! Nice to be able to have a chat with him, but then a boat came into view behind so he was on his way again.

Originally Tilly was given three hours, but when she came home after two we decided that it was curfew time, the speed that the bikes and scooters go at along here is comparable to that of cars. So as rush hour started we closed the doors and access to the secret passageway was attempted again.

Here’s where we travelled in June

0 locks, 7.7 miles, 1 wind, 65ft reversed, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank twice, 2 interviews, 2 passing boaters, 2 hours shore leave, 1 pink tablet, 1 knee rested for another day, 1 knitter in the top 15% of fundraisers last month.

Looking Up And Honking. 7th and 8th May

St Vincentes Street Bridge Moorings, BUMingham

Time to record the latest socks, with Mick out doing chores and picking up a hire car I could use the dinette table. Out came the white card and the next four pairs had their portraits taken. They were then packed up, labels at the ready to be printed. I had to wait for Mick to return as the printer had got a touch lost with the new router.

Recording socks for a future project

Mick packed a bag and made his way to move the hire car, the nearest parking spot during the day at the Arena at £5.50 for two hours, he didn’t want it to be any longer! Then he was on his way heading to Scarborough to sit and wait for the engineer to arrive tomorrow to upgrade the boiler. When he arrived it was 11 C and the sea fret was in, good job he’d taken a coat with him.


I went for a walk down to the Bull Ring Markets. I’d thought of buying us some fish for tomorrow, but I really didn’t want to have to buy three or four fish at once, everything seemed to be sold in trays for £15, or the fish were SO big they’d have lasted us a month! Instead I just had a good wander round.

The meat stalls you need a good stomach to look at, not just a lot of offal, but sheep and goat heads too. Fabrics and very sparkly outfits. A DIY stall which had lots of wheels, but they were the cheap variety that we’d not be able to remove the wheel, which is likely to be the only easy way to get our pull out cupboard working properly again without dismantelling the whole galley.

Lots of grapes

Outside the fruit and veg was being sold by the bowl full, £1 of ‘QUAL…I…TAY!’ I also didn’t need that quantity of anything, so just walked round and soaked up the atmosphere.

Nearly all soy sauce

Next into China Town to find a supermarket, plenty to choose from. I stood and studied the shelves for ages, hunting out gluten free sauces I might want to buy. A big bottle of low salt soy sauce, two of bags tapioca starch (commonly used in gf cooking) and some rice sticks/noodles. All just over £5 bargain.

On my way back to Oleanna I decided to walk through Piccadilly Arcade which links New Street to Stephenson Street. Over 100 years ago cinema goers would flock to the ‘The Picture House, New Street’ in order to escape their daily lives and become engrossed in a silent film. The cinema closed its doors in 1925 and was transformed into the Piccadilly Arcade. I have no idea what shops were in there as I immediatly looked up to the ceiling. Six big gilt frames surround large paintings, similar to those you’d expect to see in a church or fancy hall. Wow!

A Life In The Year of The Chinchillas, by Paul Maxfield. Each panel depicts a scene as if the ceiling has been taken away and you as the viewer are looking up to another world overhead and those who inhabit that world look down aware of your presence. Wonderful trompe l’oile, reminiscent of that you find in the top of a dome where chubby cupids look down on the congregation. Paul painted this in 1989, it’s doing well for its age. Seasons are depicted, birds, hot air balloons, parachutes, the false perspective is masterful. Two small panels give you the title and the other a man offers you a piece of paper, I am guessing this may be the artist wanting to give you the story behind the paintings, or is he inviting you to join the world above.

These are brilliant

I stayed as long as my neck would allow. I suspect I’ll go back when we visit again. This nearly made up for the Art Gallery being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays an exhibition I’d have loved Victorian Radicals. Hopefully we’ll be back before the exhibition is over.

The painting of David Bowie is now a Magpie by Annatomix

Back at Oleanna Tilly had the opportunity to go out, she didn’t make the most of it. It’s just far too busy to sit and wait for friends out there! I stir fried some left over chicken with some pak choi and settled down to some knitting. Well quite a lot needed to be pulled out, yesterday I’d knitted enough to work out the tension of my pattern and also two verions of spacing. Unfortunatly I preferred the spacing of the latter option, but fortunatly I’d calculated the number of stitches correctly, so I didn’t have to start all over again. Up in Scarborough Mick sat in the kitchen of the house, with two lodgers (one each side) it was a little bit odd knowing where to put himself for the evening, not wanting to invade anyones space.

I so love our bluebells

Wednesday. Mick would be waiting for the engineer in the house today, a shame he’d asked for an afternoon appointment At least it gave him time to cut the grass, remove a few trees from the lawn and enjoy our bluebells. We really must try harder to get a gardner to bring the garden under control when we’re not about.

Meanwhile here in BUMingham, I had my next visit to the dentist. Permenant fillings to replace the temporary ones I’d had in Leeds along with checking to see if a root canal was required! I left an hour and a half later with a very numb head, a big filling, no root canal required as that tooth was no more, my bank balance sighing with relief!

Hello Paul!

I had a slightly wobbly walk back to Oleanna over Liberty Place Footbridge, a quiet afternoon onboard with Tilly was required. In Scarborough the boiler was sorted and mid afternoon Mick headed back to BUMingham.

Thank you to Frances Phasey for the photo

The shoreside Whats app group for the campaign cruise to the Houses of Parliament was busy busy along with Rose ‘n’ Gin’s facebook page. The forecast looked suitable and the first boats on the cruise were given the go ahead at 03:08. Two locks full of boats headed out from Limehouse Lock heading down stream and out through the Thames Barrier. Apparently today marked the 40th Anniversary of the barrier being opened by Elizabeth II. The second part of the cruise was given the go ahead at 08:05, these boats would join the others heading up stream, leaving Limehouse at around 11:00 (three lockings). By the time the tide had turned and they were heading back in towards London the sun was out, oh what a lovely day to be out on the Thames.

Thank you Kev Maslin for your photo

More and more photos came through from London. One of my favourites by Kev Maslin, the twenty narrowboats stemming the tide infront of the Houses of Parliament. There are plenty more fab photos about, Scholar Gypsy has a blog post here

A trip boat had been hired for the VIPs, who included Sheila Hancock. I think everyone made quite a noise as you can see from Kev’s footage

Not the day either Mick or I had wanted, we’d have far preffered to be out on the Thames beeping our horn at the Houses of Parliament. I suspect Tilly is the only one who preffered her day.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 white car, 3 pairs posted, 500ml of soy sauce, -1 tooth, 1 sighing bank balance, 6 hourly pills, 20 plus boats bipping and honking, 1 very bored cat.


There In Spirit.

8th May Fund Britains Waterways Campaign Cruise

Before we left Scarbrough back in March our aim had been to head south to London so that we could join the Fund Britains Waterways Campaign Cruise to Westminster. Our route had to be carefully planned around stoppages and would have us cruising every day for around 4 hours. Unfortunatly we left Scarborough a week late and then the rivers in Yorkshire went into flood, holding us up for a second week. Medical appointments kept happening and trying to catch up on two weeks worth of cruising meant we simply wouldn’t make it and had to pull out.

Outside the Palace in November

A real shame as we’d booked a night at the Canal Museum. No other spaces were bookable in London two months in advance.

Boats were then to congregate at Limehouse on the evening of the 7th, a safety briefing at the Cruising Association and then today we’d have been up very early to catch the out going tide to head through the Thames Barrier. Boats would wait for the tide to turn and head back in to London, being joined by more boats penning out at Limehouse all heading to the Houses of Parliament as the campaign cruise. Going through the barrier would have been very exciting and scary, but being part of the cruise for ‘national and local government to act now and protect the public benefit and natural capital of our waterways’ was may more important.

We have watched the progress of NB Rum’a’Gin who have cruised down from Doncaster via the Leeds Liverpool Canal. If we’d not had to have so many days and trips back to Scarborough maybe we’d have tagged along with them, but it just wasn’t to be.

Thank you Hazel Owen for the use of your photo

We’ve also looked at getting a train to London to join those standing on Westminster Bridge supporting the cruise, but this week train strikes have counted that out too. A coach was looked into, but quite quickly discounted, I think it was going to take 8 hours to get there and back!

So we may not be present for the campaign cruise, but our hearts will be there chearing them on.

If you’d like to add your support please sign the petition here.

Or even better head to Westminster Bridge today for 12:15pm. The boats are due to start arriving around 12:30. More details can be found here.

All the best to those on the cruise from NB Oleanna.

This Way Out, Me Duck. 27th April

Between Locks 44 and 45 to Barlaston Winding Hole

No need to be up at the crack of sparrows to be through the tunnel at the first opportunity to get to see a matinee or catch the gas suppliers in Etruria, both these had been sorted on Thursday. However we were wanting to cover some miles. Our schedule had us mooring below Stoke Bottom Lock, not the nicest of places. Plus if we wanted to have some time with friends on Sunday it would be worth cracking on today.

Artwork on the hut between the paired locks at Plants Lock

Just as we rolled up the covers a boat came up the lock behind, it would be very rude to pull out infront of them, so we took our time and followed. Both of the paired locks were empty so the lady opened up the offside lock for us as she waited for her boat. Not many of the Cheshire Locks you can do this on at the moment as so many of the pairs are reduced to just one working lock.

We pulled in at the services, water, yellow water and rubbish dealt with before walking up to the next lock. A single hander was coming down with the assistance from another single hander, a young lady who was headed for Chorley and was covering as much ground as she could in a day. She asked how many more locks there were on the T&M, Thirty odd not a problem. I suggested she made that cuppa she’d planned on making before she got too far down the locks.

Last lock up to the summit of the Trent and Mersey

Up the last two locks to the summit. As Oleanna got within stepping off height for Mick I headed to Lidl. A few things required but mostly a copy of our Saturday newspaper as we needed to check if Mick’s letter regarding the Fund Britain’s Waterways had been published. I’d timed things very well, one copy left in Lidl and when I got back to Oleanna Mick had moved her out of the lock so an oncoming boat could use it, then he’d backed up to the towpath entrance to pick me up, he’d not even had to step off with a rope to wait.

Straight on! We passed a boat coming from the tunnel. The helm said we might be lucky as two boats had been waiting, we might be able to tag onto the back of the south bound passages. I put Oleanna into tunnel mode. All cabin lights on, curtains open, life jackets and waterproofs on, torch to have at the stern.

Is that a Keeper waiting for us?

As we approached we could see no waiting boats, just a C&RT Tunnel Keeper. As he looked up I beeped our horn and turned the tunnel light on, A quick chat with him to make sure we remembered the horn signals should we breakdown, we’d obviously been through before and a warning to mind our heads. Straight in, another bit of perfect timing.

Thank you

Into the tunnel at bang on 11am, following two boats ahead of us. Wet and chilly in there today. As navigator I make sure that we know which way is the closest should we need to get out of the tunnel ( a game really). In most tunnels this is just conveyed to the crew with ‘That way Out’ behind us or ‘This way out’ ahead of us. Mick confirms that he has heard, which means he is still stood behind me at the helm and hasn’t fallen off. But Harecastle always deserves the recognition that we are passing between the north and the south, after all the River Trent historically marked the divide between north and south. So here my wording is that bit different. ‘Tha’ knows!’ to the north and ‘This way out, me duck’ to the south.

At about 1km still to go we could see the doors at the southern portal open up to let a boat through. Harecastle has no ventilation shafts, so to deal with the fumes that modern boats produce there are doors closing the entrance at the south end. Then big fans are used to suck the air and fumes through the tunnel. As they kicked in the atmosphere in the tunnel became foggy and very noisy. At about 100m to go the fans were turned off and the doors opened letting light flood in.

Cup of strong tea? Or Heinz Tomato Soup?

Lots of people don’t like Harecastle and it seems to have been given a nick name, which we don’t really understand, Scarecastle Tunnel. It is one of the few tunnels were someone actually knows you are in there. If you have probelms you beep your horn once every 30 seconds and they will come and rescue you. You just need to face forwards so you know when to duck.

I do NOT like tunnels, stop it!!!

Onwards past Westport Lake, Stoke boats, and Middleport Pottery. Maybe one day we’ll have time to moor up and have a look around the pottery, on our way back? A pause for lunch on some handy rings and then onwards towards Summit Lock.

The mural starting to weather

We’d thought about mooring at Festival Park when we’d wanted to go to the theatre the other day, all moorings were full today. Inside the pub a lady was waving with great enthusiasm, Mick waved back. A minute or so later I got a message, it was Helen from NB Avalon 2, she was the waving lady. Hello!

Going down now

As we approached the lock someone was opening the top gate, no boat in the lock, how nice of them. Then we realised their boat was coming from the services, Mick backed away and let them come round the steep bend and into the lock. We helped them down and then followed on after them. I went ahead and helped them to close up at the lock below, then lifted a paddle to start filling it as Mick lifted a paddle on the top lock.

We worked our way down the Stoke locks. Some new graffiti and wall art to look at as we went. Not much was new until we came to Goods Yard. Here a new neighbourhood is being developed, 174 homes, hotel, workspaces, bars, shops and a green public space. The building closest to the canal looked like it had been an old warehouse and behind it a new build in rusting metal had echos of a red brick mill. The site used to be a goods warehouse where goods were craned between the railway and canal. For more info go here.

Getting greener

Past Shuffelbottoms, past the shingled boat which seems to becoming greener every time we pass, then the shooting range where you can see all the dints in the metal surround created from people missing the targets!

At Trentham Lock a couple were walking their parents dogs, they were walking as little as they could, so the chance to help with the lock was a good distraction. Rain was forcast for 5pm and sure enough just after we’d pulled in before Barlaston down it came. It wasn’t too much to put Tilly off a good explore. This is where I rounded up a fox once, they don’t think I remember places, but I do!

click photo for a nosy

Some baking preparation for tomorrow was needed, a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a little while, required a rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight, perfect. We settled down to Turkey Schnitzel and tomato spaghetti infront of the stove. Quite a long day, a bit reminiscent of our boating holidays and shareboat days.

10 locks, 11.9 miles, 1 tunnel, 1.65 miles underground, I hate tunnels! 3rd boat through, 1 letter, 30 minutes lunch, 1 damp descent, 1 waving woman, 1 hour only! 0 fox, 0 time to find one! 7.5 hours cruising, 1 bowl of lemony mix, pair 17 cast off.


This is our 2,000th post on the Oleanna blog. I remember the days when I used to get excited for the 100th or 200th post on the NB Lillyanne blog!

Back in 2014 we started our life afloat on Lillian (NB Lillyanne for new followers) a temporary boat whilst we waited for NB Oleanna to be built, we’d already waited quite a while! Lillian was bought with the previso that once we finally moved on board NB Oleanna we would have the year afloat that we’d been looking forward to for so long.

The original build didn’t go as it should have and we started to look for a new boat builder. Jonathan Wilson was the man to build us our boat, the delay had been handy as living on Lillian gave us some better ideas for the build, and some things we knew we’d not be wanting!

It took us until 7th April 2017 to move Tilly and a third of our possessions on board. That is when our year afloat started. The life suited us, so we just kept on going, an end date never entering our minds. Then covid came along. If it hadn’t been for our troublesome tenants during the first lockdown in 2020 I’m fairly sure we’d still be full time live aboards. But our house needed to be reclaimed. Would we prefer life on land to life on the water? Would we be able to afford both house and boat? We knew one thing, we wouldn’t be letting it out to long term tenants again!

So now, we spend as much of our time afloat as we can, actors lodging in the house for much of the year whilst we cruise the network. Time in the house is spent doing jobs, reclaiming and improving things for both us and those who stay there. The house just about pays for itself all year round, fingers crossed. Time on the boat has always been about travelling, more so now to make up for being static for a few months a year.

Some jobs on board have slipped in the last few years. The gunnels haven’t been touched since Oleanna was out for blacking in 2021. The grab rails have been patched but not finished. The roof is still in need of a very good wash, we’ve either been moving or it’s been raining so far this year, well that’s my excuse! The cabin sides really need a polish. But these things all take time and we’d rather be moving than doing chores. We’ve never been shiney boaters at heart.

July 2019 on the River Wey

We’ve had some questions recently regarding our new Bully Boy Batteries and how they are doing. Paul said we’d left our readers on tenterhooks after mentioning that they seemed to be charging at different rates, or something along those lines. Well I think Mick’s answer was that he’s stopped wondering why they are doing this and has just accepted it. With our new batteries we certainly don’t have the concerns over capacity as we used to, especially at the end of last year when we were down to just two of our original batteries. Because they have so much more capacity they take longer to charge, so if we are staying put for the day and want to run the dishwasher the engine goes on. This does mean we also get a full tank of hot water. But some days we’ve had enough capacity to use our immersion heater to heat the water using electricity therefore the engine is not required. We expect this to happen more and more in the summer when the solar panels provide a lot more power.

August 2022

USB rechargeable lights in cupboards. These are proving to be pretty good, so far. The one that is in The Shed has had to be charged, mainly because it is used several times a day. The others in the pull out corner galley cupboard light up every time I go in there and have made me realise that at some point I’ve taken the square baking tin to the house, hence a round batch of flapjack the other day.

I’ve also had a few people ask me if I’ll be designing Chippy Panto this year. Well, no I’m not. Before I arrived in Chippy for rehearsals last year I’d already decided that this year I wanted to boat through the summer and be able to enjoy it. Last summer we’d cruise in the mornings and just about every afternoon I would work. Over the last six years I’ve designed the last five pantos in Chippy which I have really enjoyed. Designing and painting my designs is what I really love doing, being part of a building with a family feel is very special. But last year I started to miss boating, not being able to return home to Oleanna at weekends is hard too. So in January I got in touch with John before he got in touch with me about this years Panto. I shall miss it, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to go and see Jack and the Beanstalk later this year, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out Chippy panto.

Rapunzel 2021

This of course will free up my afternoons so hopefully this year Oleanna will get some much needed touching up, if it ever stops raining! I do still need to feed my creative soul and I’m hoping that doing some paintings of places on our travels will do this for me.

So along with this being our 2000th post, we’ve had 3,068 comments, 17,431 photographs, 172 subscribers, on 16th June 2021 we had the most views, Friday is the most popular day at 9am, views from 96 countries, Thwaite Mills on 31st March the most viewed post, 733 likes (I suspect this is actually higher and mostly from Ade), hang on he’s just liked another! 1,845,360 words written, not including this post!

*Some of these figures may be inaccurate as I’ve had to collect the info from various places

This last Christmas I had an old friend ask what we would do with Oleanna when can no longer boat, whether that be through our physical ability to boat or should the waterways start closing around us due to lack of funding. I said we’d still keep her, find somewhere for her to be, maybe on land if needs be, where we could still stay on board. But here’s hoping our floating days will continue for many years more. We’ll keep writing the blog and sharing it with those who want to read it and hopefully we’ll get to meet a few more of you along the way.

For those of you who have followed Oleanna from the beginning in 2015, a BIG BIG Thank You for reading all our ramblings through the years. I doubt if anyone other than ourselves has read every single post. For what started off as a diary for us to look back on in years to come, for family and friends to keep up with our travels, we now have a lot of new friends, some we’ve yet to actually meet. We find looking back on posts interesting, after all there is useful information in amongst the breakfasts, socks and stamps of approval. Thank you for coming along with us.

Smiling as ever!
Click photo to go to petition

All Hail Let Loose. 15th April

Bollington Underpass, Bridgewater Canal

Overnight we were woken on several occasions with torrential rain or was it hail beating down on Oleanna. This continued throughout the day and evening, interspresed with bright sunshine every now and again. Strong strong winds whistled round, rocking Oleanna. Maybe our position on the embankment had given us a windy mooring, maybe it was like this everywhere.

Extra poppers needed popping on the cratch cover. Doing this I somehow tweeked my back. After 91 broad locks and walking into Manchester I go and tweek it by sitting on a locker and pressing a popper!

Hail bounced up under the mushroom vents, landing on the dinette table, sofa and bed.

The weather, nose blowing (we’ve now both got colds) was not conducive for a visit to Dunham Massey! Even Tilly curled up on the sofa for much of the day in switched off mode. So what to do?

Breakfast of course, it was medicinal honest!

I got the blog upto date and then spent time weaving ends in on socks. There will be several pairs going in the post very soon, when I find the next post box.


Mick did some route planning. Now we are over the Pennines, we feel a touch more confident in planning our route southwards. There are people we’d like to meet up with, trips back to Scarborough to be factored in, dentists and would we be able to support the Fund britains Waterways campaign cruise on the Thames from a bridge? We now have a plan and just need to see if friends and family will be free as we pass.

Not so good

Surprisingly quite a few boats came past, all at speed to keep their line in the blustery wind. Mick popped his head out the hatch. A boat that had moored up after we’d arrived was on the off side. Was this intentional by the owner to avoid the worst effects of the fresh air? Or had their spikes been pulled out by wind and passing boaters? He waited for the next bout of hail to pass and went to have a look.

This outside is very troublesome! It needs extra tying up

The wind assisted for a bit, pushing the boat back across to the towpath, with our boat hook Mick managed to catch it. The ropes had been tied to the spikes so there was still a means of attaching the boat to the bank. He hammered in the stern pin, then gradually worked his way along. Centre line followed by the bow. All single pins, just how far had they been hammered into the soft ground. Now they were hammered down as far as they possibly could be, hopefully the boat would be staying put.

Pulling her back in

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 outdoor shoes for me today, 1 dormant cat, 319.5 miles to reach our goal, 4 lemsips, 1 stove lit, 5 pairs socks ready for photos and posting, 1 tweeked back, 1 fat foot, 2 boaters falling to bits here!

Is That Near That Lemonroyd Place? 15th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock

Not a good night.

The co-codamol that had work yesterday evening was topped up when we went to bed, by 2am its effects had worn off. Next dose at 04:15 didn’t have any effect. At 06:00 we were on the phone to a rather sleepy sounding lady from 111. When asked for our location she said ‘Is that near that Lemonroyd Place?’ She was very helpful, however there were no appointments in Leeds for today, Bradford or Harrogate were the nearest she could find. We’d done a bit of online hunting for ourselves this morning so opted for a Dentist in Beeston (south west Leeds) they had an appointment at 08:30.

As I got dressed Mick called for a taxi, then we walked down to the marina to meet it. The driver was very chatty and my toothache faded away for a while, but only for a while, as we drove round the southern side of Leeds in rush hour.

I opened the front door to one of those wonderful cut glass doors and surrounds that Edwardian houses do so well. Inside was a wonderful hallway with plaster panels and a statement staircase, it was almost enough to distract me from my pain!

What a lovely set of steps

Xray, poking about. It could be a wisdom tooth over growing, it could be a touch of decay on the tooth destined for a crown, but which one? The later was chosen, numbing done, no pain evident from the wisdom tooth, it looked like we’d found the culprit. A temporary filling and £125 later I was waiting for a taxi home, Mick and Tilly had stayed at Oleanna in case RCR arrived with a replacement part. The return taxi driver used to work in the post office in Fulford where I grew up, he’d most probably served my Dad!

Back onboard, Mick had tried calling RCR to see what progress had been made, they’d call back. With water and electric running low he’d called Lemonroyd Marina to see if they might have room for us, they did, we just needed to get there! As part of our bronze RCR cover they will tow you to the nearest marina, but when Mick called them to see if this was possible we were told to flag down the first passing boat. Well, there aren’t any due to the river being in flood, this also did mean that it would be hard for RCR to get a boat to us too. However there was a possibility of a tow from someone at Lemonroyd, the marina manager would ask round for us. Two offers came, one for Saturday when the wind had calmed down, the other Sunday.

Colour work Pattern

Alastair the engineer at Goole was more than likely to be coming out to us, as he works for RCR and this was how we first got to know him a few years ago. Mick called him, we were on his radar, the part not arrived, it would most probably be Monday or Tuesday. A while to wait but we’d now got a tow organised and tomorrow we’ll be plugged in and by a tap, oh for a shower!

As the day progressed the anaesthetic wore off, as it did so the pain returned! Hopefully it was caused by the treatment I’d had and would improve in a few hours. Back on the paracetamol, a dose of Ibuprofen taken after dinner, it’s been suggested that I avoid Ibuprofen after taking so much of it when I lost my little finger, but sometimes needs must. I spent the evening sipping water which eased the pain for a few minutes. Think I’ll be up and down all night going for a pee if the pain doesn’t keep me awake!

Blue skies, however the tree was in the way of the solar

At least the sun made an appearance.

Over the last couple of days rumours have been spreading that the current stoppage on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal at Vazon Sliding Bridge which was due to reopen next week will be extended for another 9 weeks! A post on the Trentlink group suggested that this is almost certainly going to be the case, Network Rail just need to confirm it with C&RT.

With our current engine problems, river flood gates closed ahead of us, medical appointments, the quick route south on the Trent now unlikely to open for a couple of months (closing our alternative route south), our plans for the early part of the year are no longer possible. We’d been aiming to join a Fund Britains Waterways campaign cruise on the Thames. This was timed to happen just after Cavalcade. Boats would head out of Limehouse Lock onto the Tideway and cruise down stream through the Thames Barrier, wait for the tide to turn then head up to West Minster, joined by more boats coming out from Limehouse, arrival timed for the end of PMQ when all boats would sound their horns. We simply haven’t got enough time to get there anymore.

Not a good day.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 taxi’s, 1 smiley lady, 2 possibles, 1 temp filling, 0 part, 2 offers of a tow, 1 red flashing light, 1 lazy day, 1 statement staircase, 1 snoozy lady, 2 disappointed boaters.

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.

Fund Britain’s Waterways Campaign Cruise. 14th November 2023

Wet Streets
Elizabeth Tower

Narrowboats Arriving
Outside the Palace
Boats turning. And my old office in the background
He never missed the bollard
Downstream of Tower Bridge
South Quay, West India Dock

Panto Postcard 3, 2023

The door back to work
The stagger through
One line, that’s better
Time to give this chap some colour
Andrew in hospital a couple of days ago
The end!
Tom’s legs will have to do as SHE has deserted us!
A touch of plumbing happening

Finally a big Thank you for the donations to my sock knitting. Progress is much slower this week than last, but I am managing to do at least 30 minutes a day, just £60 short of my new target for the year.