Category Archives: Graffiti

Empty. 10th July

Fishery Lock to Sharpes Lane Bridge

The air looked like it had potential to be wet this morning, waterproofs put on over t-shirts just in case. A boat had not long gone past us when we pushed off ourselves, we’d not catch them up before the first lock though.

Very funny!

Two chaps were working on an old day boat below Boxmoor Lock, new engine boards and a lot of cushions, not sure the cushions really gave the luxury look suggested in the company name. The boat ahead was just finishing going up, the crew returned to lift a paddle, that was nice of them, maybe they’d wait at the next lock for us.

Boxmoor Lock

Our turn, the bottom gates were clogged a touch with towpath clippings, Mick tried to clear them before I filled the lock. New signs on the lock beams ask for the lock to be left empty, so I returned to lift a paddle. I suspect we’ll see more of these new signs as we climb towards the Tring summit.

Below Winkwell

Under the railway that had kept thundering past last night, we’ll not be shot of it for some distance, but we’ll also be glad of it too. The boat ahead was just finishing again at the next lock. One of the chaps shouted back to me that they’d wait at the next one for us. As we rose he walked back and said they’d operate Winkwell Swing Bridge and that we could go through first. This bridge has it’s off days so I was quite glad not to be the one pressing the buttons, but it behaved impeccably. Nine held up between the two boats.

I opened one gate at the next lock, Mick would move Oleanna over to let our lock partner in, I waved them in. The chap at the helm was obviously used to single handing, his crew vanished below and left us to it.

That’s the sort of sign I’d make

I hitched a lift to Winkwell Top Lock. There must have been another boat ahead of us as it hadn’t quite finished emptying when I got there. I opened up the second paddle to help and then one gate. As this was happening a boat arrived above NB Burnt Oak, I’ve seen them before, maybe even chatted to them. The lady came and helped, dropping a paddle and opening the other gate for us. Here another sign asked us to empty the lock a rather good home made one with a 2.5D model boat.

Our locking partners were stopping for lunch, we thought we’d carry on. But then changed our minds a short distance on, this would possibly be the last Tilly suitable mooring before Berkhamsted, so we found a space with no overhanging trees and tried to pull in. The pound was quite high, I’d been warned that the towpath further on was under water. A bit of jiggling about got us closer to the bank.

Tilly 5 hours! Brilliant!!! Off she went. A few returns and then gone for what felt like hours, so long I felt the need to just see her and called, but no sign, she was too busy.

Wow! This outside was great, plenty of friendly cover, I went self catering. This took quite a while as there was a banquet waiting for me. After I’d had my fill I returned inside to tell them all about it and get some Dreamies to finish off, maybe have a little kip. That’s when everything changed.


I wasn’t very well. Understatement there Tilly!

Sheee! I don’t feel too good

Someone’s eyes had been far too big for their belly! After a while things settled down and as cats do Tilly had some biscuits as she was now running on empty. A blade or two of grass did the trick outside. Then she returned inside and carried on being ill. Her food was removed and the doors closed. I’d planned an afternoon of painting and cooking, but spent most it washing the floor and making sure Tilly stayed on hard surfaces. Both of us were starting to wonder if this was more than over indulgence, had she eaten something really bad. We’d wait a while. Thankfully things calmed down.

Tilly sat on the drawing board slot eyes closed sat upright. I started to cook, a beef and beetroot curry popped in the oven and a batch of cheese scones, a necessity to use up the mass of yoghurt about to go off. Tilly gave head nudges, had a little snooze. After an hour or so she climbed onto the ‘Feed Me‘ shelf. Was this a good sign? No food until normal ding ding time though.

A small amount of whitefish food was put down. It was eaten. Half an hour passed, she was allowed a bit more. Phew, she seemed to be better. A long snooze before bedtime, then a short round of the fishing rod game before she snuggled up for the night.

4 locks, 2 shared, 1.5 miles, 1 bridge, 9 held up, 1 jaunty mooring, 3 push off required during the day, 5 hours curtailed to 3, 1 large friend or was it more? 1 very sickly cat, 1 clean floor, 1 last test match, 12 cheese scones, 2 meals worth of curry, 2 gf naan breads, 1 final, £1015 sockathon total, 9 pairs of socks still in need of toes.

Free The Paddington One! 2nd July

Ballot Box Bridge to River Colne Aqueducts, Slough Arm, Grand Union Canal

The diesel tank hasn’t been filled since Pyrford Marina, the gauge showing quarter full. Mick doesn’t like the tank to be so low, in fact it may only have been so low once and that was when we picked her up from Finesse in Sheffield, just enough diesel put in her tank for test cruises. The question was, how accurate is the tank gauge? Did we need to seek out diesel today or could it wait for another day or two. The tank was dipped, 10 inches, plenty to keep us going.

Serious clearing up by Ealing volunteers

We made our way back to Bulls Bridge, the moorings by Tesco empty today, well apart from the sunken boat! We pulled in, had lunch, made a shopping list, moved the Larry banner to the cratch for it to be seen better and then went shopping.

A better position for Larry

With everything stowed it was time to get Mick away from chatting to a chap doing his best to avoid polishing his boat, leaving it to his wife. We winded at the junction and started to head northwards. In the last two years quite a lot has changed. Today numerous cranes sat to the east, the start of some buildings. Tower blocks that were going up are now full of people and the landscaping we saw being put in is now tall with plants.

Three miles or so on is Murderers Bridge (Colham Bridge) where in 2015 we said our final goodbye to our first second mate Houdini. Today Tilly was shouting on the top step Free the Paddington One! Tree filled outsides for boat cats!! Friendly cover for all!!! This election has really gone to her head!

Cowley Peachy Junction

At Cowley Peachy Junction we turned westwards onto the Slough Arm. We only cruised the first stretch back in 2015 when we couldn’t get further due to ice. I’m not sure where we moored for the night back then, today we tried pulling in just after the entrance into Packet Boat Marina, Mick managed to get off with a rope, but that was it, Oleanna wasn’t going to come in any more.

The moorings further along looked busy, we chanced it, hoping for a space. Several boats moored up, most looked like they were busy doing jobs. One space between boats might have been long enough, we carried on, a space at the end, better for Tilly. A chap chatted and helped with ropes. A fellow came over from his campsite on the offside for a cuppa. Akeem, I think that was his name, was very chatty, he was busy doing up a boat ready for sale, a coat of red oxide going on the exterior today.


When asked where we’d come from he said, ‘Oh you can’t moor in Paddington anymore!’ We explained that we’d paid and were quite grateful to know we had a mooring waiting for us. Through the years we’ve taken our chances in London like everyone else, reserved moorings when they were free, squeezed onto the Eco moorings when people have overstayed and paid to tie up in Paddington. I suspect we’d still visit London no matter what the mooring situation was, as we’ve both lived there and have friends and family we want to see. But now it’s reassuring to know we’ll have somewhere to tie up on arrival. Time will tell if there are now too many bookable moorings. Many visiting boaters won’t flock to London until they know the system is working, hearing tales of booked moorings being occupied on arrival doesn’t help the situation. London boaters choose to look when the moorings are empty. Yes they are not as full as they were when they were cheaper and the locations fewer. Only C&RT will know the true figures as they can see the bookings and get feed back from their mooring rangers.

A very vocal Tilly today

We settled in and Tilly was given a hours shore leave, at least it stopped her charging back and forth shouting about her rights and how once Larry was PM things would change, Salmon and real real chicken for dingding every day!

0 locks, 9.9 miles, 2 lefts, 1 wind, 2 boxes wine, 1 hour shore leave, 26.5 pairs knitted, 1 very political cat, 1 card returned, 1 knee improving, not much walking being done though.

Is There A Festival Going On? 24th June

Shepperton Village Moorings to Footbridge 207A, Grand Union Canal

Just the ticket

A lie in at last, with Saturdays newspaper, followed by a bacon butty. It’s felt like we’ve been getting up extra early forever! With covers rolled up we pushed off and winded a little before 11am, a rower appearing from nowhere, Mick had to call out to him so we didn’t collide.

Round the rest of Desborough Island and then joining back to the rest of the Thames we made our way down stream. As we pulled into Sunbury Lock I said to the lock keeper that we’d be needing a transit licence, a small rib was following us into the lock so we were to pull in on the lock landing below and return for our licence.

Hampton Lock and the first hollyhocks we’ve seen in flower

The EA no longer do transit licences so we had to buy a 24 hour licence. The lockie took pity on us and reduced Oleanna’s size so that she fitted into the next category below, still £50.50 for a day! A week had been £79. My inner Yorkshire voice shouted ‘OW MUCH!!!!’

Onwards down stream, the river wider and thankfully quieter than yesterday. Contrasting neighbours opposite each other at one point.

Knitting whilst passing the Palace

We shared Hampton Lock with a couple of cruisers and a small rib, everyone would be faster than us leaving so we waved them on. Today I was a little bit behind on last weeks pair of socks so my knitting was out on the stern keeping me busy. Only a few rounds to knit before the cuff, the casting off had to wait until we were moored up.

Willing for there to be a gap big enough for us

Approaching Teddington the moorings looked chocka block. Was everyone just staying one night? Not everyone could be waiting for the tide down to Brentford! Several gaps not big enough for us, then one that looked hopeful. A chap from another narrowboat waved from his hatch and then came out to catch a rope, the pull from the weir making it a little hard to pull into the made to measure mooring. He had just been to see the Lock Keeper we should make our way up to the lock at around 16:55. He had a similar story to us about when he’d called them a week or so ago to check what time he’d be needing to leave, he’d been told 11am. We reckoned the Lock Keeper had been looking at that days tides not those of the 24th of June.

Cranes and pontoon at the locks

A late lunch then we walked down to chat to the keeper ourselves. There were cranes and pontoons in front of the Launch lock, this is the lock we’ve been through the most at Teddington, it’s almost big enough to take nine Oleannas. We’d not be using that lock today as there is a £4.5 million refurbishment taking place, funded by Defra. So instead every boat is going through the Barge Lock. The full lock measures 198.12m long by 7.54m wide, big enough to take 33 Oleannas. However there is an extra set of gates a third of the way down the lock, these were in operation today, a small cruiser heading through.

A wise precaution before cruising the tide

We pottered away the time waiting for the tide. I wound some yarn for my 26th pair of socks. The boats about us were preparing themselves for the tide. I suggested Mick should check the weed hatch, he lifted the cover and found cloth and weed wrapped round the prop shaft, it hadn’t felt like there was anything there, but best to be clear before heading out onto the tide.

There seemed to be quite a few narrowboats going. One chap seemed quite nervous asking if anyone had done it before. Well we had several times but not in this direction, however we would know where to turn in. We were let out from our mooring to go ahead of the surrounding boats, third into the lock, another three following in behind.

We nudged up as far as we could behind a long hire boat, passed our ropes around the bollards. As I looked behind us I could see the last boat on our side had pulled in. The lady at the bow was just passing her rope around a bollard and the chap at the back was trying to do the same, except the boat was moving out. Oh blimey he suddenly vanished behind his boat, a leg into the air. I shouted ‘Man Over Board’ and pointed. Only for the Lock Keeper to take it as a joke, he then suggested it was someone jumping off the bridge behind the lock! Very thankfully the chap had been clinging on tight and managed to haul himself up out of the water, only his bottom half wet. Have to say I was very surprised that the Keeper had just joked about the whole thing and not even gone to check if anything was happening!

Richmond Hill ahead

Quite a high tide, we didn’t drop much, maybe just a foot before the bottom gates were opened. Six narrowboats came out of the lock, several cruisers below having to manoeuvre themselves out of the way. Fourth in line we followed on slowly. The boat ahead had said his engine wasn’t that powerful so he wouldn’t be going that fast, he was right. Oleanna was just about tick over, she really wanted to go faster and so did we. We waited for some rowing boats to be clear before making the move, another rowing boat quite close behind us. You should always keep an eye open behind you as boats can appear from nowhere.

That felt better, we’d need to be a distance away from each other by the time we reached Brentford anyway to make the turn.

£2 million minus £1

The view is always different going in the opposite direction. An house for sale on Eel Pie Island £1 short of £2 million! This afternoon the sun shone on the buildings high above the river on Richmond Hill as we rounded the bend towards Richmond.

Time to paddle

Here you could see how high the tide was , lapping it’s way up the streets, some people having to paddle to walk the bank of the river.

The line of narrow boats was causing a bit of a stir on the river. A chap with some rowing boats asked if there was a festival or something going on, he was used to seeing maybe a couple of narrowboats, but not six!

Richmond Weir

Around Richmond half tide lock and round to the east side of Isleworth Alt. I tried to see if I could see the moorings behind as a friend of a friend had been interested in buying a boat there recently. We also passed Isleworth Drawdock where you can hire a section of the river that dries out at low tide. There may be a problem with our bowthruster, possibly weed from the Basingstoke Canal in the tube. Mick had considered stopping here, but it can wait a while the fuse has been changed and another is on order.

Just as I was getting ready to take the compulsory photo of the lion on Sion House Mick requested a photo of a plane flying overhead coming in to land at Heathrow. Oh blimey, both things requiring a photo and limited time to take them. I only just got the old BEA livery in a photo, the lion still isn’t wagging it’s tail! There were several cranes outside Sion House with lights, something was being filmed.

Waterway Routes, it’s handy knowing exactly where you are

We checked our maps, we were soon to turn in at Brentford. The lead boat could be seen making the turn, the hire boat following soon after. Rowing boats were heading up stream, Mick made the turn earlier so as to avoid them, the tide now dropping and taking us with it, the gap between boats just enough.

Boats turning in towards Brentford

The C&RT Lock Keeper was waiting and waved the first two boats into the lock, we were to wait, the second chamber not in use. We trod water below the lock and were soon joined by the next two boats and then the final one made the turn in.

Only room for two boats at Thames Lock

Above Thames Lock is also tidal water, so the difference in height when we arrived wasn’t great, the paddles required lifting before the gates could be opened for us to go through. On up to the Gauging Lock where a C&RT volunteer was waiting for us. He asked how many more boats were coming, two more, he’d wait and pen them up.

A good mural we’ve not spotted before

We pulled in to the services, our yellow water tank on the right side to be emptied, it didn’t take too long before we were ready to push off again. Our next job was to find a mooring. Of course by now we were the last boat of the six. The first two had carried on up to below Hanwell, but there were still four boats looking for spaces. Room right by the railway bridge wasn’t appealing, we moved onwards and found a space just big enough for us round the bend. Here we had to play woofer shit hopscotch and deploy our big buoy fenders. It was way past cat curfew, so Tilly had to make do with fresh air coming through the hatch.

Tomorrow we’ll be up early early, the aim to get up the Hanwell flight before the temperature rises and hopefully find a mooring where Tilly can go out.

5 locks, 17.1 miles, 2 lefts, £50.50, 1 late lunch, 6 narrowboats, 4 first timers, 1 lovely passage, 1 space left, 0 shore leave, 1 very warm evening, 2 many bright lights, pair 26 cast on.

Supportive. 15th May

Bridge 41 to Former Bascote Railway Bridge 26A

Time of departure was checked this morning with our neighbours, the boat between us had already departed before 8am, we’d not be so early! It was decided to see how I fared at the locks, crossing lock beams with a wobbly head was not on the cards so that would be left to Graeme.

As we passed through Leamington Spa I waved to old work colleagues who live close to Europa Way Bridge. The murals here have been changed, the kingfisher that had been tagged is now a seagull and the not so hot painting on the side of the steps is now a rather good wolf. Unfortunately there was no time to slowly walk up to take a look at the new mural influenced by Alphonse Mucha, next time I will definitely go and find it. Leamington Mural Festival is worth stopping to take a look at if you have the time, sadly we didn’t.

The moorings at Radford Smelly were busy as ever, there feels to be more boats here, most probably due to the landslip near Brinklow. I wonder if the Hillmorton Locks will hold the record for most used lock on the system this year?

Diving helmet

In the parking area below Radford Bottom Lock there were lots of vans, men in high-vis. There were pipes laid along the floor and the divers helmet gave away their purpose. Bridges are being surveyed along the Grand Union today, we’d forgotten about it having other things to concern us, but luckily we’d come across them as they were finishing up here and moving on to the next location.

A boat was just coming down in the lock, nicely resetting it for us. Just enough time to dispose of rubbish before entering the chamber. Only opening one gate at the lock meant ending up on the wrong side to get back onto Oleanna, but with both boats stopping just above the top gates I could walk across the sterns, far better than crossing the gates for me today.

Sunny jolly day

We pulled in for NB Lottie Jane to fill with water at Fosse Wharf and for us to dispose of yellow water. A cuppa was had along with some date slice Clare had made whilst the hose filled their tank. One boat came down and another two went past us heading uphill, oh well we’d be resetting the locks now. Well that’s what we thought, but both boats ahead of us pulled over for a lunch break so we could carry on.

At Wood Lock there was activity. The lock having started to refill itself was still in our favour and the crew set it for us and opened the gates. Time to have a chat as our boats arrived and worked uphill. One boat was a hire boat with a lovely Doberman Rottweiler cross, the other had been planning on a trip to Cambridge, but due to Salters Lode being silted up they have decided to do the Warwickshire ring hoping that they’ll be able to head to the Great Ouse later in the year.

HS2 is progressing. Huge mounds of earth to the north of the canal, a pile driver busy here getting the supports in place. There was a bird kite flitting about in the wind, was this here to assist the crane driver with the wind direction?

Now to Bascote. As the boats entered the bottom lock I looked up ahead. Oh blimey the next pound looked to be down by at least three feet! Would there be enough water to get us over the cill. Mick explained to Clare that if she couldn’t get out of the lock it would be best to reverse back into it until the level could be sorted. Mick led the way, we reckoned Oleanna would have the deeper draught of the two boats. Sticking to the middle Oleanna got about two thirds of the way across the pound slowly, then stopped, aground.

Very low pound and Lottie Jane stuck for a while

The next lock was already empty, so I opened a top paddle and let some water down. Thankfully the wave lifted Oleanna just enough so she could carry on. However the wave pushed Lottie Jane’s bow over, pushing her stern onto the mud. Clare let the wind help, pushing the bow back once the water had calmed, a supportive shove from Graeme also helped to get the stern off and we were on our way again, thankfully without having to let too much water down.

Safely in the bottom of the staircase

Bascote staircase was set ready for us, meaning one of the two chambers must leak. In came the boats and up they came, the middle paddles taking quite some winding! We were soon up the top, below I could see the next boats arriving, hope they’d looked ahead and seen the low pound, at least they’d have our lock full of water to add to it.

Nice house

The lock cottage is under offer. What a nice cottage, with a mooring! Click the photo for details. I think I’d have plumped my sofa cushions up for the photos though.

Time to find a mooring. Once through Bascote Bridge 27 we decided to pull in. We normally pull up on the aqueduct, but with so many boats about we opted for the first mooring big enough for two boats. Plenty of room when we arrived, but within a couple of hours we’d been joined by several more boats.

He he!

Tilly had four hours and made pretty good use of them. They kept chatting to the Kwiwis and distracting my self catering attempts! An afternoon followed of sussing out how to embroider crotchets, minims will come tomorrow.

Pair 20

During the day I’d received an email from a lady at Dementia UK thanking me for my fund raising. So far I’ve raised £885 which is brilliant as that will cover the cost of a 12 week training course for a new Admiral Nurse, developing their dementia expertise so that families at breaking point receive the tailored support they desperately need. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. There are still more pairs available for sponsorship!

Snugburys chilled medication

10 locks, 5.9 miles, 1 missed mural, 1 deep canal diver, HS2, 4 cuppas, 4 hours! 2 supportive crew, 0 widebeam in Leamington, 2 scoops, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

At Least They Didn’t Get in Our Hair! 9th June

St Vincents Street Bridge Moorings, BUMingham to Bridge 14 Stratford upon Avon Canal

The hire car was returned before breakfast, overnight parking had been free on the bridge. Yellow water pumped out, plants (which we’d left at the house when we moved on board) positioned in the bow and on the roof. We were ready for the off.

Karen and Bill with their fairly new Electric boat

As we came past the Lego/Arena moorings a lady waved and called out to us, it was Karen who’d been training crew on Tuptonia the guide boat last year. Back then she was eagerly awaiting her new boat NB Electric Dragon and here they were, heading back to their mooring after the Electrika Boat Show at Brinklow last weekend where they’d been showing their boat. We hovered for a while to have a catch up and to meet Bill. Hopefully see you somewhere out and about for a longer catch up sometime Karen.

Old Turn

Then it was second right, we held back for a trip boat to come through Worcester Bar, then we were heading through Gas Street to The Mailbox.

A wise old Bargee watching on

BUMingham had got busy whilst we weren’t looking, far more boats moored up. Should we stop for water, no there was a queue as ever, we carried on.

The going was slow, especially when a hire boat had no idea we were there and pulled out right infront of us. They went slowly past moored boats as you should but thankfully sped up when past. At Selly Oak they’d caught another boat up that was going at tickover no matter, so we all patiently tick on. Thankfully this was where we’d be stopping and just in the nick of time as we had a click and collect at the big Sainsburys. I bobbed into the store for some extra painkillers whilst Mick headed to the van in the car park with our brompton. The driver reckoned we’d be able to get a trolley back to the boat and apart from having to drag it a little through the cinder track to the towpath it worked. Much easier, just the trolley to return.

An early lunch, then we were on our way again along a very familiar route. Bournville was chocka with boats, don’t think we’ve ever seen it so busy. The graffiti tree is still there and so are the lumps and bumps under the water. At Kings Norton the way ahead onto the Stratford Canal was clear, I gave Mick a thumbs up, Oleanna managing to be in the background of a group photo.

We knew we were being followed a little way back, so mentioned this to aboat coming towards us. Sure enough as we looked back over our shoulders both boats arrived at the junction at the same time, both wanting to turn the direction the other was coming from. It’s quite a steep turn anyway, but with another boat in the way! It took until they were out of our view for them to sort.

Guillotine Lock

The nose of a boat could be seen through the guillotine gates of Lock 1, it then reversed back. We thought they’d gone back to let us through, but they were mooring up.

The sunshine had been lovely, but now the dappled light through the trees was refreshing and welcome. At Bradwood Tunnel we timed our passage, the sign suggesting it would take 16 minutes, well it only took 4.5 minutes. Most of that time was spent watching bats darting back and forth at the far end of the tunnel. I tried and tried to get a photo, only succeeding with several blurs, marked with arrows.

Some nice shade

The hire boat ahead of us had just pulled in to fill with water at the cream cottage, so we carried on again, our tank half full, it’ll be filled soon. Round another bend, a deer clung onto the offside bank munching away at greenery, all too quick to get my camera out.

Mick had a phone call from his doctors surgery. They discussed a tweek in his medication, a new prescripton sent to a pharmacist on our route. He’s not to start taking it until a week before he can have a blood test, which has to be in Scarborough as blood test results haven’t been linked up around the country yet. So this will have to be planned with a turn around at the house, moorings, Tilly being left in charge etc.

The power of one button!

Shirley Lift Bridge came into view. It always seems to move another mile further on every time we come this way! 12 cars held up here. Should we now stop after the railway bridge or carry on some more? This is where we tend to normally stop, but another hours cruise would be better. We carried on, stoppping just after Dickens Heath but before Lady Lane Wharf, think we spent a new year here. It was quite late in the day, only an official 45 minutes left of feline shore leave. I extended this and gave Tilly an hour. She came back just before 6 and was reminded she’d still got more time. This she took along with another 45 minutes. This is the first time this year I’ve had to walk the towpath being the mad cat lady, but she soon appeared through a hedge a distance away and came running back for her dingding.

Hooray!!! A proper outside!

1 guillotine on the flat lock, 1 straight, 1 right, 1 left, 11.9 miles, 6 boxes wine, 1 joint pork (which may need to be slow cooked!), 12 pills, 1 fat face, 1 lift bridge, 12 held up, 1 shallow canal, 1 Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval.

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.

Cheering Dave On. 14th April

Trafford Park to Patricroft Bridge to Bollington Underpass

Subjects on the Geraghty zoom included Woodcraft Folk, empty lofts, line drying and phonics. Joans little chair was being enjoyed as a place to sit for the latter by Penelope.

More moving boats than we’ve seen all year

Yesterday Mick had started to show the symptoms of a cold. A drug run to Asda was required. I headed off, the car park thankfully only partly full and most of the shops still closed. Asda was open and provided me with Lemsips and tissues. If Mick has the lurgy I am more than likely to follow soon. I hope Paul doesn’t come down with it too.

Sadly not wide enough here to wind

As I arrived back Mick was rolling up the covers ready to push off. We’d thought we might be able to wind before the Barton Swing Aqueduct, but a chap on the boat behind us last night said he couldn’t turn there and his boat was shorter than Oleanna. We cruised on northwards to be able to head south. Across the aqueduct, a line of boats could be seen in the distance following us. We got winded before they came past.

Back over the swing aqueduct and back past Kellogs. Yesterday it had smelt of coco pops, we weren’t too sure what was being produced today. Right at Waters Meeting and onwards heading south now, the correct direction.

Runners in the marathon

As we approached Edge Lane Bridges it was time to cheer on the Manchester Marathon runners. An old collegue from the SJT, Dave Jackson was taking part, so he deserved a shout out when ever the course came close. ‘Go on, Dave you can do it!’ He won’t have heard us, but hopefully our support helped him over the 26 and a bit miles.

Long and straight. This is a stretch I quite often spend down below working, not today. I got to see all the houses, cyclists, dog walkers, pubs, moored boats, runners. Just about every bridge we went under we could see heads bobbing up and down running along. The trams all crammed with people, Manchester is one busy place. By the time we reached Timperley the majority of runners must have passed. The broom coach possibly already picked up the straglers, those determined to continue asked to carry on running on the pavements so that the roads could reopen.

A house for sale by the Linotype Works. £435,000 for 3 bedrooms. Work is still on going. The top of the facade currently removed, new terracotta pillars added. It will be interesting to see what it ends up looking like when it’s finished. Behind the facade, walls of breeze blocks suggest something not so special will but onto it.

Trees and bird song again

Now the countryside came to meet us. Bird song rather than pedestrian chatter. Mud rather than tarmac. Quite a lot of mud, in some places you would definatly require wellies. We made our way towards a favourite mooring just close to Bollington Underpass. Here the bank to the north is good cat country. To the south is Dunham Massey and a bus into Altringham.

Yep, She promised it would be better.

We moored up. Tilly was given 3 hours and off she went. She came back a few times as walkers or dogs came past. But then nothing was seen of her for a couple of hours, she returned with just nine minutes to go before cat curfew would be called.

That’s a joint of pork!

After last Sundays disappointing roast pork, we’d got ourselves a joint. The skin was scored and librally salted, a little bit of sechuan seaweed sprinkled on top too. Potatoes, parsnips and carrots roasted in some duck fat, coloured up wonderfully and the crackling was good and crisp. There’s plenty left over too for the next few days.

0 locks, 11.5 miles, 1 wind, 2 trips across Barton Swing Aqueduct, 2 boxes tissues, 16 cold pills, 16 lemsips, 2 pints milk, 2 packets gf mini cheddars, 5 shouts for Dave, 1 submerged decorator, 18 moving boats (more than we’ve seen all year!), 1 favourite mooring, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 proper joint for 8.

Selfridges Isn’t Just For Footballers! 13th April

Thomas Telford Basin to Stretford Marine to Trafford Centre Visitor Moorings

Last night was nice and quiet in the basin. Only one goose sitting on a nest so there wasn’t another goose to squabble with and the human residents were quiet too. Before we headed to bed Mick logged onto our C&RT account to book our Bridgewater passage. The Bridgewater Canal is run by Peel Holdings therefore not covered by our C&RT licence. There is an agreement where boats can transit the Bridgewater Canal to reach C&RT waters, Leeds Liverpool, Rochdale or Trent and Mersey. It used to be that you could just enter their water without booking, so long as you only stayed 7 days. Now you have to book this via the C&RT website. There is also an option to extend you visit by 3 days. This is intended to be used within 28 days so boats can visit Liverpool and then return without having to stay off the Bridgewater for several weeks before booking again. This may come in useful for us, so Mick ticked the 3 day extra box.

Breakfasted, and wrapped up reasonably warm we pushed off, thanking the residents for our peaceful night. The entrance in and out of the basin is a tight one, but we know Oleanna can manage it, it just takes a bit of patience to get round.

Time for the Rochdale 9. I’m not sure how many times we’ve done these locks, maybe four times? Dale Street Lock 84 was surrounded by rubbish this morning, a council worker arrived to pick everything up from those who’d sat on the benches drinking last night. Water flowed over the top gate by several inches, not unusual for the Rochdale 9. Some of the locks have bywashes, others don’t.

I lifted a paddle to bring the water in the lock up to match that above. We brought Oleanna in and I lifted a paddle to empty it. Over the top gates there are handrails on both sides. These are very narrow and the hoik up onto the lock beam is quite high. Sixteen years ago I sprang up onto the beam and crossed over without thinking about it , today my knees make me nervous of such things, but both paddles were needed to level the lock with the water below. I crossed the gates twices then realised I should be able to walk round over the road bridge. This made me happier.

Piccadilly Lock

Now down into the depths for Piccadilly Lock 85. Today it was dark, relatively clean and we were on our own. I wondered if the top gates when they were replaced had been made higher, they certainly looked it. Climbing up to get over to the other side was not appealing, could I manage to empty the lock using only one side?

I lifted the paddle and watched as the water emptied. Gradually Oleanna descended. The bottom gates here have a windlass operated chain to open them as the building above has encroached on the space. This is usually quite hard to operate. I waited, worked out which way to turn my windlass. Water still rushing over the top gates, would it ever level out? I waited for the water below the lock to calm, tried the gate, waited some more. Then I could feel the gate just giving a little, phew I wouldn’t have to climb over the top gates.

Only accessible by canal

Access to the next lock is only by boat, sixteen years ago I remember climbing down some steps to it, but this route has now been blocked off, I suspect to keep people from the pubs on Canal Street away from the waters edge. Here I made a mistake, in that I lifted the bottom paddle on the offside. This ended up not being enough to empty the lock fully. Mick climbed the ladder, lifted the other paddle, my gate now opened. Maybe if we’d left it a few more minutes it would have obliged. If I’d started on the other side it maybe would have been easier as I needed to be that side to get back on the boat anyway.

Under bridges and buildings

Back on board we headed to Princess Street Lock. Here rainbow planters cheered up the banks, it was starting to rain. Several runners ran up the towpath and wanted to continue along the canal, only to find they were running onto a pontoon that led nowhere! Then more runners came, and more, and more! How many? I asked one chap if he was the last, no reply. When Oleanna was out of the gates Mick warned me that there were more runners to come all wearing kahki.

A C&RT workboat appeared to be on the lock landing at Tib Lock 89. Some helpful person had however untied it’s mooring lines and possibly had a rifle around in a cupboard. Only brooms to disturb in there. I retied it to some railings and a mooring ring, hopefully leaving enough room for a boat on the lock landing. Not sure how long it will last before someone else decided to untie it though.

Blossom instead of graffitti

Trees on either side of the lock were filled with pink blossom. The flag stones on the offside covered in a layer of slippy green that even my anti slip trainers couldn’t cope with. Working carefully we descended.

Very very high!

At Albion Mills Lock the building work we’ve been under has now finished, the tall building stretching high above the canal. Panels stand out from the building looking like someone has stuck sheets of steel deck haphazedly onto it. Here I ended up having to enlist some one to help with the lock gate, we’d waited quite a while for the level to equalize.

A good place to shelter from the rain

Tunnel Lock 91. Here a chap had made himself a home tucked up by the gate chain mechanism, well under cover of the building next to it. The offside here looked even greener, serious lack of footfall to keep it clear. The top gates were also high and very green too! I hoped that one paddle would do the job, it maybe had, but would the gate open!?! I asked the chap if people had difficulty with the gate and he said most did, it was rare for this gate to be opened. The chain slipped rather than doing anything productive. I’d have to walk round, climb over the beam, be hissed at by a goose to open the gate.

The End

Just before Dukes Lock 92, who should we pass but the boat from Littleborough. Had they come down the locks last night or early this morning? They were making use of the last moorings before reaching the Bridgewater Canal.

If only the sun had been out!

The top gates were open so Mick sailed straight in. Here there is no bywash, apparently it was bombed in WW2 and never replaced, so excess water comes over the top gates. Gongoozlers who didn’t mind getting wet loitered on the bridge to watch our progress. Paddles lifted and then patience was needed for the levels to equalise. The first time we ever did this lock was on NB Bergen Fjord and the bottom gates really didn’t want to open, we ended up with two windlasses on the chain gear. Now I know to wait for the water below to calm right down, take the strain on the chain. My first go had a small amount of movement, maybe if I adjusted my windlass to give me more umph then it would open. I took the strain again, one extra turn had the gate open just that bit, the levels equalised and I easily opened the gate. Looking back at the amount of water still coming over the gates I was surprised at how easy it had been.

Maybe one for a painting

Should we stop or continue? We continued in the rain, we were wet now anyway. A cuppa and some flapjack as we cruised our way out of Manchester as another huge running club ran the towpath. ‘Come on guys lets see if we can beat the boat!’


The Bridgewater is very familiar water, the sights in the rain were passed easily. At Waters Meeting a narrowboat came past, pram hood up as they do round here. We followed it to the left. He pulled over just before Stretford Marina so we could pass, only to find out we were pulling in to the services.

A flat cap wearing chap in a blue coverall took our ropes and asked what we were after. Diesel and coal please. The chilled medication cabinet was empty despite all the adverts outside! He pulled the long hose out and topped up our tank whilst I topped up our water. He chatted away to Mick. There were comments about having to stay alive as the state pension keeps going up, but how anyone actually spends it all puzzled him. He’d been to buy himself a new fountain pen, spent over £800 on one with a pot of ink. The shop assistant in Selfridges had seemed a bit off with him, ‘I brush my cap every day! Anyhow Selfridges isn’t just for footballers you know!’ What a character, he plays the flute and owns two baroque flutes.

A roaring trade

We winded Oleanna, time to head north. Left at Waters Meeting, we pulled up on the last rings outside the Trafford Centre. After a late lunch with the last of the flapjack we headed into retail hell. A Saturday afternoon at the Trafford Centre not my idea of a good way to spend our time, but a neccessary one. At John Lewis we waited and waited to be served. Numerous shop assistants walked past, none asking could they help or that someone would be with us soon. Eventually Mick managed to get someone to go into the back room for my laptop which was now mended with a new hinge, Hooray!

A new SD card for my camera was required, but despite there being numerous staff about the place none were available to unlock the rack so we could purchase one. I felt that MIck was on the border of a Geraghty strop, we left the store. Game had what we were looking for, it took some time to pursuade the staff that it would work in a camera and they weren’t just for games consoles. A very quick visit to Primark for a couple of t-shirts and we were out of there.

But it looks so good!

Time to sit down at last.

It’s nice to have my laptop back, I don’t keep aiming for the delete button and turning it off!

9 locks, 6.3 miles, 5.35 miles walked, 2 lefts, 1 extra bum, so much water, 91 Locks of the Rochdale finished, 32 miles traversed, 1 bored cat, 63.7 litres, 40kg coal, 1 laptop, £800 pen! hope the ink was free, 1 immaculate flatcap, 1 Bridgewater licence, 1 SD card, 0 flapjack left.

Parcel Collection 1st October

Doncaster Visitor Moorings

Mick glanced up from making tea, ‘There’s a boat coming’. Heading towards us was the bow of NB Siochanta, the newest Finesse boat with it’s owners Rachel and, oh I don’t know his name, sorry. They were on a bit of a mission to move the boat down to Thorne where it’s being lifted out for transportation to Liverpool. They’d set off from Sheffield yesterday morning and got drenched, today the weather would be kinder to them.


We had chance to say hello and have a short chat as they silently cruised past. They had their snagging visit quite a while ago in Sheffield so their maiden voyage had been a long time coming. Big beaming smiles on their faces, including Sprocket’s. Hopefully we’ll meet up with them somewhere sometime and be able to have a longer chat with them.

Futures Past and Present, click photo for more info

The Geraghty zoom included chainsaws, giant nail brushes, belisha beacons and covid. A full house this morning.

Have you forgotten something?!

A train journey up to soggy wet Sheffield. Gosh the train was busy, but thankfully we managed to get seats for the half hour journey. A post on the gluten free Sheffield facebook page had suggestions of where we’d be able to get some lunch, not too far from the station. Kollective Kitchen had been selected and a table for three booked. Fran Mick’s niece soon joined us.

Some catching up to do, very nice food to eat and a parcel to be handed over, well hardly a parcel, not much bigger than an envelope. I had a Shakshucka, Fran a loaded croissant and Mick bbq benedict which was bbq brisket on toast with poached eggs and hollandaise, I nearly had food envy, but mine was soo tasty! We all chose a cake for pudding too.


Alongside the cafe is Site Gallery. We went into a darkened room to see the current exhibition. Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom is learning to play the drums and cameras had been positioned in and around the drum kit. In the darkened room were screens of all sizes showing the images. We watched, sat down and watched, walked behind the screens. It didn’t really do anything for any of us. Time to leave.

Lovely to have a catch up with Fran and thank you for the delivery.

Fran, Pip and Mick

Back at Oleanna Mick slotted the new RAM into my laptop. I watched a youtube video that said it would teach me all about Photoshop in 17 minutes. I picked up a few pointers and then had another go at the songsheet. Second go and I had what I was wanting, just a shame I’d forgotten to remove the hairs that seem to appear on everything I do at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be able to remove these.

Baked beans on toast this evening. I checked the gauge of my latest pair of socks. Using a mixture of yarns the tension was looser than I’d expected, meaning that they would be bordering on being a touch too big. They were pulled out and I started again. Size 9, these may take a little while to knit up!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 new shiny boat, 2 smiling boaters, 1 waggy tailed woofer, 5 siblings, 2 trains, 1 soggy Sheffield, 1 niece, 1 lovely lunch, 1 small envelope, 16, 1 songsheet, 14 hairs, 8 but don’t tell her!

Muller Or Ski? 2nd September

Beeston to Sainsburys, Nottingham

A walk into Beeston this morning to post the design for one of my cloths to Promptside. I’ve been in contact with Peter regarding the scan of my artwork and it may be that layering up leaves hasn’t helped, a scanner focuses on one level. He suggested I send him some artwork and they will do a test print. If it turns out rubbish then I will have to re-do the model of the cloths and portals. But if anyone can get the print to work it will be them, fingers crossed.

Canary Girls

I passed a mural on my way, depicting the Canary Girls of WW1 who worked at the National Shell Filling Factory in Chilwell. During the war it filled 19 million shells with high explosives. On the 1st of July 1918 eight tons of TNT exploded destroying a sustantial part of the factory and killing 134 people of whom only 32 could be identified, another 250 were injured. The following day the factory was up and running again.

On my way back I walked along Humber Road wondering why it was called thus as it’s quite a long way from the Humber Estuary. Then a rather nice looking building came into view. Now a dance and fitness studio it had the look of a posh garage.

The Humber Factory

Circular motifs were on the walls with men walking round in circles. Then I spotted a blue plaque. This is where Thomas Humber the engineer made bicycles, motorcycles and cars before moving to Coventry, his factory opening in 1880. In 1868 he had developed a safety bike where the pedals drove the rear wheel. He then produced his Spider Bicycle an early form of ordinary bicycle, Penny Farthing. By 1892 he was employing 1200 people at the Beeston works and when he branched out into motorcar production it rose to 1800.

Time to move on. We rolled up the covers and pushed off from our tight mooring.

A Muller of Yoghurt pots

Each time we come through Nottingham we feel that there are more and more moored boats. Today this was most certainly true. Little communities of cruisers have grown up along stretches of the canal. One chap was busy doing his washing, his twin tub powered from a genny. We wondered what a collection of cruisers would be called? Maybe a Muller or a Ski of Cruisers.

Castle Marina is still in the process of replacing it’s pontoons, but there seem to be more boats in residence than there were in January when we last came through. We pulled up just past the main entrance through to Sainsburys and managed to find suitable rings to tie to.

A restock shop was required and with the weather set to get warmer again we had another look for a barbeque. Only the disposable ones were available, but we did managed to pick up some kindling for when we next light the stove. The shopping trolley accompanied us back to Oleanna and everything was stowed away. By now it was quite late in the day so we decided to stay put for the night much to Tilly’s dismay as she is still grounded.

This chap had a drum and cymbals on his extended bike

0 locks, 3.2 miles, 1 cloth on it’s way, 4 miles walked, 0 shore leave, 2 boxes wine, 2 much christmas, 0 bbq, 1 fridge stocked up.