Category Archives: Grand Union Canal

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.

Panto Postcard 4, 2023

49.5 hours

Sunday, I actually managed to have a lie in! By the time I’d made my breakfast I realised the Geraghty zoom would be half-way through, I joined and it was lovely to see everyone. I then had a leisurely morning before wrapping up against the rain to walk up to Checkers for lunch.

In the past Checkers had a good reputation and I’d imagined the pub would be heaving, but not today. Glen at the theatre yesterday had mentioned that there was a new landlord so possibly a new chef too. A table had been reserved, which was in the glazed dining room (a touch chilly), not one of the cosy side rooms. Soon I was joined by Ian my cousin who lives in Fairford near Lechlade. Back in the summer we’d arranged to meet up when I was in Chippy. Recently a date had been chosen, sadly this also coincided with a mammoth singing of the Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall, so Sally and Sam were not able to join us. However Ian had been left to tend after the Leckenby zoo and was more than happy to meet up and chat away for a couple of hours.

Checkers chilly dining room

Sadly the food didn’t live up to my expectations. We both opted for Pork, I requested a gluten free one (no Yorkshire Pudding). When they arrived the poor person serving us, on her second ever shift, explained that they were both gluten free. Well one of them should have been but the other should have come with a Yorkshire. It took quite a while before it was explained to us that they had no Yorkshires! We opted for a dessert which was okay, but certainly nothing to write home about. A shame as a pub like this should have Sunday roasts to shout out about. But what more than made up for the food was a good long chat with Ian. Our families, the plane he’s building and how long he’ll be able to have it in England as it’s registered in France.

A lazy afternoon followed, doing my best to recharge my batteries before the final push of panto. Bake off was caught up on, a blog written and some sock knitting for Dementia Uk.

Bananas!

Monday. Jo was back, she’d spent the weekend fixing bananas together, hundreds of them! During the day bits of the show were worked on by the actors, the composers were about doing notes and we continued working on the set pieces the statues got a bit more shading as they’d looked a touch anemic under the lights.

Almost finished things

Early afternoon we were joined by the Pippins, time for the first dress rehearsal. This went well, some tightening up of scene changes to be done, but that’s quite normal, sadly my statues still looked amenic time to give them more shading.

Costumes still being added every day

Tuesday. Another dress rehearsal, but first more work on set pieces.

Waiting for the open dress to start

Days like this involve working whenever the actors are not on stage so through their breaks, so meals are eaten in the dark of the auditorium. Problematic scene changes changed to nearer the end of the show, a few things still array in the interval change. At the end of the day John had one note for me regarding the scene at the end of act 1, this has a lot of dressing which had been left to last. Things still needed working on, it showed, they were next on the list. A final chicken and chips from the burger van was deserved.

This didn’t end up being my final visit!

Wednesday. In early to paint t-chests, logos had been stuck on boxes last night, extra bananas were added to stands by Jo, she’s now an expert with the yellow bendy things.

I’d wanted colourful lanterns for the set, a couple of weeks ago the crafting group in the theatre had started to make some for me. Empty 2 litre water and lemonade bottles had been covered with lighting gel and cut out black paper, a bulb inside and they resembled colombian lanterns. Local schools had also been invited to make some, these were smaller versions. Sacks of them arrived and the little red shades on the balcony fronts were exchanged for them, the rest then used around front of house. If you come to see the show look up in the bar and you’ll see the kids handywork.

Preview 1. What would the audience make of the show? What would the actors make of it too? I believe only one of the company has been in panto before, many of the actors had not even seen one before starting rehearsals. I sat next to Mariana the Assistant Director who originates from Columbia, her only experience had been last year when she was invited to watch Dick Whittington.

The new shed now well and truly used

Earlier in the day John had mentioned to the actors that the audience would be made up of Scouts, Beavers and mostly Brownies. Brownies?! The company were a touch surprised that there would be an audience of brown people watching them, more surprised that John was pointing this out. It took a bit of explaining to them about Brownies.

All that work was worth it

Blimey the audience were noisy! This is an understatement! Next to Mariana sat friends of one of the Pippins, who got the majority of the sweets during the song sheet! They were so loud Mariana covered her ears for much of the show. What a baptism for the actors. Mariana asked if it was always like this, well no, it was one end of the audience spectrum they could expect to have.

Flutterbies drying in the shed

Thursday. Final bits to do. Butterflies were painted, their strings shortened for safety, Jo had finished yesterday evening, so the props jobs were split between me and stage management. Thankfully yesterday I’d got the balance of shading on the statues just about right and Nathan the Lighting Designer had found a good colour for them too, Hercules now had his own special colour.

My paints were reduced to those that may be needed for touching up during the run, everything else was tidied away. My possessions packed up, then finally I had finished painting things. Time to change into my civies.

The board yesterday

Mick arrived with a hire car. We loaded it, did idiot checks around the building. New cocktail glasses needed to be shown to John, then a prop failure needed sorting, so I left Mick to load the last of my possessions and move the car round to my digs for the night. Last minute sewing and sticking was required, all done with just enough time for a glass of wine to be enjoyed before the show.

Thank you Glen

What a difference in audience from yesterday. Far far quieter. They enjoyed the show, Tony was a little bit reluctant to join in mind, but Tom made up for it! At least on the first two previews the cast had had both ends of the spectrum of audiences, hopefully from now on they will get a reaction somewhere in between.

Adios Chippy

Notes after the show were given, just a couple of small jobs needed doing which could be left with stage management. We headed to the pub, hoping there’d be some food available, but sadly the kitchen was closed. Mick and I headed to another pub and the story was the same there too, the burger van got our custom, one last portion of chips before returning to have drinks with everyone at the pub. Final farewells were had.

My Chippy home for the last four weeks

Last night at Suzanne’s, a final tidy up and pack on Friday morning. Chance to have a final chat before handing my key back and starting to head for home. First things first, breakfast, well brunch. We headed to The Straw Kitchen at Whichford Pottery a short drive north. Suzanne had recommended it and Louisa from the theatre had worked there at one time.

We were their first customers to arrive and selected a Super Brunch each. Mick had his with a homemade muffin, mine came with GF toast.

Very Yummy indeed

Wow it was very tasty! A bit of a shame that we wouldn’t be able to visit again easily. Afterwards we had a wander around the pottery shop where local ceramicists sell their wares. Some very nice items, but a touch too expensive for our pockets. Then we had a look outside where giant thrown outdoor pots would cost even more, several thousands of pounds, but the skill and strength to throw such pots is immense.

I’d considered trying to visit Andrew in London on our return journey, check in on him after his stay in hospital. But the extra hours of driving would have been unfair on Mick, so we headed northwards instead. The journey took a while longer than expected, a lorry having crossed the central reserve on the M18 and traffic for no obvious reason elsewhere.

The bottom of Hatton

At just gone 4pm, Scarborough was getting dark, the silhouette of Tilly could be made out in one of the bay windows SHOUTING!!! It took a couple of seconds for her to realise who I was after being away for four weeks FOUR WEEKS Do you know HOW many big sleeps that was?! Tom is alright, but he’s not She!

Where have you been ?!

Partially unpacked we made use of the car and did a big shop, then put some clean clothes on and walked up to the Stephen Joseph Theatre for our friend Jaye’s party. This was to celebrate her receiving her state pension, she’d decided to spend it on having a party.

Most of our Scarborough friends were there, sorry not to see you Ali. A suitable surprise cake had been organised by Duncan for the birthday girl. A lovely evening, after a couple of drinks we headed back home, it had been a long day for Mick and an even longer four weeks for me. Time to cuddle up with Tilly and recover.

I Read That Blog Too! 9th August

Bridge 67 that was to Welton Hythe, Leicester Section, Grand Union Canal

Leg inspection this morning

Time to make up for yesterday, we were ready and pushing off a little before 9:30, several boats had already passed us heading towards the locks, would there be a queue? Thankfully not. The volunteers were chatting to a chap and his dog at the bottom lock the lefthand chamber sat ready for us.

Up the bottom lock

At the middle lock it looked like both of the paired locks were full, a crew just opening a gate on the right side to bring a boat down, I indicated to Mick to head for that lock. However on arrival the other lock was two thirds full and the boat coming into the other lock were being very very careful and taking their time. I indicated to Mick the other lock and emptied it. We were up and able to assist the crew of the downhill boat with their gates before we headed on to the top lock.

Careful

Once up on the long pound I disappeared below for a panto chat with the production manager regarding the budget. More quotes were in and she was aiming to have a chat with the set builders about the changes I’d drawn up over the weekend. In my reckoning we’ve saved just about enough, but there was still one more quote to come in. Gemma is hoping to get the final figures together and approved by the end of the week, she goes on holiday next week, I’d quite like my next fee, but I’m also likely to be in a dodgy area for phone and the internet! Fingers crossed.

It was so nice to have the sun back out and blue skies helping to lift spirits. Plenty of people were out sanding back, applying coats of paint to their roofs. I’d been hoping to do the same last weekend, but the rain and having to work had put paid to that.

B.. Ba.. Bang… Braunston!

We considered stopping at one of the moorings just short of Braunston, but that would still leave us behind where we were hoping to be, and anyway that would mean taking mushroom vents off the roof to attack the rust! Mick thought it a better idea for us to carry on.

There was space for a second boat at the first water point, we pulled in, tying up as best we could. The lady from the other boat explained that her husband had headed into the village to do some shopping whilst they filled with water, ‘You know how it is mooring in Braunston, so busy!’ We declined her offer of us using the tap she was plumbed into as there was a second tap. As we started to fill her boat started to overflow, she turned the water point off, her expanding hose then decided to pop out of her tank and into the canal. Eek! ‘You’ll want to run water through that before you stow it away’. She dithered and chatted away, then just popped the end of the hose back into her water tank, eoow! The muck and stuff that ends up in canals, I hope they don’t get poorly tummies.

Braunston Turn

Chores finished we pushed over to the towpath where there was a handy space for lunch.

Through Braunston. Well there had either been a mass exodus since the boat at the waterpoint had come through or she was just trying to cover her back for sitting on a water point! We slowed at the entrance to the marina having spotted NB Pea Green and Kay. She’d been concerned about Tilly and there is always concern for Monty her cat who is of many years. Good to see her again.

The bottom lock of the Braunston flight was emptying, I walked up to lend a hand. The crews from the two boats had obviously got to know each other, both heading for Cropredy. One boat was under the impression they’d just be able to moor up easily at Cropredy, I said to the enthusiastic lady that a week ago it was already rather full. She said she’d read a blog post on the 1st of August saying as much. I smiled to myself strongly suspecting they were my words she’d read. I refrained from saying that I’d read that blog too, I always proofread posts before publishing them. Instead I was given information on how wet Blisworth Tunnel had been. I wonder is she is a frequent reader or had just come across my post in a google search.

We were joined by a hire boat from North Kilworth Marina. This boat had a bow thruster and a solar panel, things not often associated with hire boats. This was their second hire boat and they were loving. They made good company up the flight.

The second lock that was hard to fill

The third lock from the top required the top gates to be encouraged to open as we’d reached the point where the water coming in wasn’t beating the water leaking out the bottom gates. With the next pound quite low we decided to close the top gates to hopefully save water even thought there was a boat waiting to come down above the next lock. I walked up to explain as they were doing that thing we all do when we see gates being closed in front of you. Thankfully they understood.

The next lock was even worse. We needed everyone to push on gates to get the level to equalise, this took quite a bit of umph, we got there in the end still with enough water left in the pound above for boats to move. The amount of time this had all taken, it was a very good job we’d closed the gates on the next lock as there may not have been enough water left to get over cills.

The hire boat headed for the tunnel first, they were hoping to get up Watford today. We were just heading for where we’d be able to get moored for the day.

Tunnel mode engaged, cabin lights, torch at the stern pointing to the right, life jackets. In we went, Mick’s least favourite tunnel on the network. We conferred on where the big wiggle was 400 to 300m from the far end? We thought so. In we went.

Passing

It was soon obvious that we’d meet at least two boats in the dark, we also got a bonus third one. A wiggle just at 400m was followed by another where we’d remembered. A forth boat was holding back being very patient to enter the tunnel when he knew there was a clear way ahead at least for a while. At least if he met someone it should be beyond the wiggles.

Blue sky and a view

Maybe we were distracted by passing boats but I only counted one mysteron today, I thought there were three!

Turning left to head northwards

Space under trees in the cutting, this didn’t appeal. We carried on knowing it was very unlikely that we’d find a space on the prime stretch before Norton Junction and we were right. Instead we decided to opt for our old favourite mooring, a left onto the Leicester Section then a short pootle to opposite Welton Hythe Marina.

Hooray for towpath dust!

Tilly was given an hour and a bit of shore leave. As she stepped off a slight limp was still noticeable, but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. A touch of towpath dust and mouse magic did the trick.

Down the bank into the field behind us Mick foundsome Giant Puffballs the size of his foot. I believed they were safe and good eating. Some internet browsing was down. Instructions on how to identify them suggested that they were easy, next to no poisonous fungi having a similar look. I started browsing recipes, cut in slices and fried in breadcrumbs was popular. What to do? I didn’t want to miss out of a free culinary delight, but also didn’t want us to be poorly.

That’s pretty big!

One minute I was down the bank picking one of them. I weighed it 1.5kg. It was obviously tasty as plenty of grubs were having a feast. I chopped some off. White with a tinge of yellow to it. Hmmmm! What to do?

Various comments suggested it should be white when cut into, if yellow it was starting to mature and get ready to send out it’s spores. Should we, shouldn’t we? In the end we chickened out, there being a bit of yellow would mean we’d not be trying it at it’s best. I later conferred with a couple of people who said white was best and maybe a smaller one would be better especially with some bacon for breakfast. One lady did say we’d be very bored with it by the time we’d eaten it all.

North

Tonight we had spaghetti bolognaise.

9 locks, 10.8 miles, 3 canals, 1 water tank full, 1 hose in the cut, 2 solutions, 2 boxes, 1 banana, 1 left, 1 old favourite, 1.5kg of puffball, 2 fungi wimps, 7,000,000,000,000 spores per ball, 1 limp improving, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://goo.gl/maps/94kdK1nZWtEXT1s66

You Have Reached Your Destination.

Lechlade

Nine weeks ago on the 9th May we moved back onboard Oleanna, leaving Goole on the 10th. Today we’d reached our planned destination, Lechlade.

The above map taken from data provided by our Victron Inverter

Our vital statistics for our trip down are as follows

Nebo 366.54 miles 270 locks

Canalplan 364 miles 1.25 furlongs 270 locks

Our Victron Inverter 403.5 miles (?)

Nebo’s map of our journey

Interesting how both maps have gaps in them, both in different places.

So,now where?

We need to make our way back northwards, currently there is only one route open to us, the River Trent.

Apologies to those who get their updates by email. You won’t be able to see the map from victron as it was embedded in the post. The IT department may see if he can replace this today, but you have already received the post, so you won’t be reading this bit anyway!

Sitting On The Bottom. 22nd June

Bascote Bridge 27 and Former Railway Bridge 26A to Napton Water Point, almost, Oxford Canal

A nice cuppa in bed this morning, we seem to be snoozing in a little bit later each day. However when Mick got up to walk through the cabin things were not quite as they’d been an hour earlier. Somehow the boat had developed quite a list! Water was rushing past the windows down towards Bascote Staircase.

In the past when we’ve moored in this pound it’s been further towards Long Itchington on the aqueduct. There the level can fluctuate over night, but we’ve never been sat on the bottom like here. We’ve also not noticed water rushing by! Was someone just filling up a pound below or was there something far more serious going on? We both put our shoes on, Mick got the Brompton out to cycle down the towpath to see what was happening.

Terry from NB Barley Twist behind us was also out watching the water zoom past. As we compared notes on our boats listing the flow of water slowed, then it stopped, then it came back. The paddles at the staircase must have been up and now were closed. We stood down, now we just needed the level to rise again to get us off the bottom.

A short while later a chap walked by with a windlass in his hand. Mick asked what had been going on as we were on the bottom? The chap said a low pound and the pump wasn’t working. He carried on walking.

A little while later another six or so people walked past all with windlasses in their hands. Then a few more. They were all wearing dark blue t-shirts, it must be a fund raiser. A while later the first boat came past a sign stuck to the side of a Willow Wren hire boat. Walk for Matt. As we had our breakfast more windlass carrying walkers passed us by followed by another three narrowboats all from Willow Wren.

Terry and Chris were going to explore the village but returned saying that the towpath was flooded ahead, so they’d move down by boat. A while later we were on our way too, the level had come up enough for us to get moving.

Ah ha that’s why there’s so many walkers

As I was just lifting the paddle at Itchington Bottom Lock two people came bouncing along with windlasses in hand, more Walkers for Matt, they were from the last two boats, six in all. I got chance to chat to one of them.
Matt was an England under 21 Rugby player who broke his back during a training session, he is now paralysed from the neck down and breaths with the aid of a ventilator. He was determined to concentrate of the things he could do and get busy living. At first fundraising went towards helping Matt with his rehabilitation, now funds go towards running The Get Busy Living Centre where people can have support and rehabilitation to live their lives with their disability. The walkers today were raising money by walking the Warwickshire ring from Rugby in a week, some people were walking for a day, others the whole week, some were recipients of help from the foundation.

By the time we reached the bottom of the Stockton flight we’d not seen NB Barley Twist anywhere, they must be ahead of us, climbing the flight. A volunteer stood behind some fencing, I said hello and was asked if I was with the charity boats, no but they were hot on our heals.

Nb Barley Twist heading up to empty the next lock

He ummed and ahhed as I asked him if Barley Twist was up ahead. I could then see that they were about to exit the second lock up. The volunteer seemed a bit grumpy to be honest, I didn’t know if he was going to stay behind his fence. ‘Well it would be good if you could share with the boat in front’. Well yes it would! I walked up to see if Terry and Chris would wait for us. They’d obviously had some grumping from the volunteer too, well we all have off days.

Looking back down the flight

Mick and I worked our way up to meet NB Barley Twist and then carried on up the flight. The charity boats soon appearing behind us, mob handed. Thankfully the volunteer now came out from behind his fence and worked up the flight ahead of us, emptying locks and opening a gate. Our opinions of him soon changed.

Chris on the sunny side

It was warm in the sunshine. Chris and I changed sides every now and again so we took it in turns to wind the stiffer paddle on the off side. Very cheery people to share the flight with.

At the top we all thanked the volunteer for his help. Grumpy must just be his general demeaner!

NB Barley Twist pulled in opposite what used to be Willow Wren Training Centre, which is now Podtastic. We waved our locking partners goodbye as they tucked into some shade, we wanted to get that bit further today.

Podtastic!

A boat ahead got to the bottom of the Calcutt three and started to ascend. I walked up to help close gates etc, the chap from the boat mumbled something about what they were doing, which certainly wasn’t waiting for us at the next lock. A boat came down then it was our turn, we checked behind us, one boat just in view, almost certainly the charity boat with it’s partner close behind, we went up.

Last of the broad locks for a bit

A rather warm volunteer appeared, he set the next lock for us and on hearing that the charity boats would soon arrive he headed down to empty the locks behind us. At the top a boat sat on the water point, it’s hose attached to the tap but not the boat. We asked if they’d finished, they obviously had so we pulled in infront of them disturbing their lunch.

The lady with the ruck sack is on day 6 of the walk

As our tank filled the charity boats came up the top lock. A lady who’d been walking this morning, apparently doing the whole 7 day walk had had a pit stop at the cafe. The crew on the boat checked in with her before she carried on walking towards Braunston tonights resting place. I just hope they managed to find space for six boats near a pub so she didn’t have to walk any further than necessary. This weekend it’s Braunston Historic Boat Rally!

I popped to the bow to check for oncoming traffic at Napton Junction. One boat coming out from the marina, then the coast was clear. Past the hire base, plenty of boats at home today. Then we were quickly reminded that we were back on a more popular canal.

Three in a row

Mick brought us to a halt as three boats were headed towards us at the next bridge, moored boats slowing everyone’s progress. We held our position to let them all through.

Every mooring from here on was full. A hire boat had moored with pins, possibly with bow, stern and centre line, the only one that wasn’t hanging in the water was the centre, this was being held onto by one of the crew.

Would we find a space? We slowly made our way, hungry and hot really wanting to stop sometime soon, please! All the spaces full before the bottom of Napton. Then a gap, would it be big enough? Certainly the two boats either side of it had space where they could move up. We tried but required another 8ft, no-one stirred inside their boats, we carried on.

At the end of the visitor moorings we just managed to pull in, just about on the bend. Not ideal, but the only choice according to a lady who’d walked down the flight hoping to find herself a mooring. Tilly was given three hours and a serious reminder of the rules!

Some work for me and boat jobs for Mick. Our shower mixer has become not so mixable, not a problem in the winter but a touch too hot when you want a cool shower on a hot day. A new one was bought in Birmingham and this afternoon it was fitted along with a new shower head. We both enjoyed a nice cool shower.

13 locks, 6.8 miles, 1 right, 6 charity boats, 1 lonely Red Indian, 1 pound down, 20 walking windlasses, 1 full tank water, 3 coming through, 3 big git gaps, 0 boats moving up, 1 bendy mooring, 1 more in front of us, 3 hours, 0 friends today, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 mixer mixing, 1 closed lock ahead!

https://goo.gl/maps/bbUgVSdnNwSnYbPX8

Plane, Santa And Trefoil. 21st June

Radford Smelly to between Bascote Bridge 27 and Former Railway Bridge 26A

A few boats had been on the move this morning before we got going, so we suspected we’d be following uphill boats. We pootled to the first lock which was just about full. A jolly chap from Chorley (well that’s where his boat suggested he was from) was very grateful that I opened the gate for him and lifted the paddle, all whilst Mick disposed of our rubbish at the bins.

Cheery Chorley Chappie

Yesterday we’d planned to reach this next pound where there are clearings in the woods alongside the towpath, but time had got away from us. Maybe next time.

The next lock was also full and a boat just arriving, soon followed by their partner. We came up alone, still no-one in sight behind. Our third lock was empty so we could head straight in, as I wound a paddle up two more boats appeared from above to make use of the lock as soon as we left.

Bow decoration

Yesterday we’d not finished filling with water and our yellow water was in need of disposal. But as the water point came into view it was already occupied, by an uphill boat. Dilemma! Should we wait to use the elsan and water point, or team up with them for the next locks. They were just rolling up their hose, we went ahead to set the lock and wait for them.

The modern trefoil

NB Tuptonia is a Girl Guides boat, we’d seen it at Lapworth at the weekend, a young crew on hand learning the ropes. Today however there were seven adults on board, two trainers, 3 novices and two people were being assessed to be skippers. All of a sudden we were mob handed.

I walked between Wood Lock and Welsh Road Lock chatting to Karen one of the trainers. She is currently awaiting the launch of a new boat built by Ortomarine, very exciting. We chatted bathrooms, gallies and toilets etc.

The redundant conveyor

The HS2 crossing wasn’t as impressive as when we last came through. The temporary bridge, possibly a conveyor belt over the canal, is now laying redundant in a field and there are just big banks of earth on both sides of the cut.

Leaving together

We carried on working up the locks, Mick was guaranteed to tell those at the helm that he used to be a Brownie, his Mum having been a Brown Owl when he was young.

Sorry I didn’t get anyone else’s name, Karen in pink

At Bascote I went ahead to set the last lock before the staircase, but suspected I should hold back when it came to the two rise. Here skippers were under assessment, photographic evidence was required for their reports. Everything went as it should, top chamber full, bottom empty, then the two boats were worked up with the many turns of windlasses.

We’d now reached the pound we’d been aiming for today, should we crack on with our locking partners or give Tilly a good afternoon of shore leave. We decided to stop, pulling in short of where we normally moor on the aqueduct at Long Itchington. Here the towpath is still more rural, after the next bridge it has had a make over suitable for cyclists.

Not quite the full crew

NB Tuptonia carried on, hoping to rise up the Stockton flight today as they are on a mission to relocate the boat to Weedon for the next seven weeks. Here it will be hired out to all sorts of groups not just guides and scouts. We hope that there are two new Skippers by the end of the trip and that it isn’t too much of a squeeze getting through all the historic boats at Braunston. We also look forward to meeting with Karen on her new boat sometime in the future.

I’m busy! Go away!!

Tilly headed off into the friendly cover. Stop distracting me I’m busy! Rule 1 was broken yet again and part way through the afternoon she decided to compare our new neighbours boat to Oleanna. No going on other boats! Rule 4 broken! At least she didn’t stick her head through their curtain to have a good look!

The drawing board came out again and another three sheets of panto drawings were updated.

Click on photo for recipe

Quinoa smoked salmon and camembert quiche for dinner tonight, yum!

10 locks, 4.5 miles, 7 shared, 1 busier canal than of late, 7 crew, 0 chilled medication at Welsh Road Lock, 0 water top up, 20 litres yellow water mellowing, 1 quiche, 2 1m x 2m rostra, 1 friend! 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 not very popular cat!

Rain Stops Play. 20th June

Cape of Good Hope to Radford Smelly

Rain. It was expected. So now is the little puddle that appears below the bathroom mushroom vent, handily positioned so that you stand in it as you walk through the bathroom! Thankfully it does this to remind you every time it rains that when it’s dry you really should take time to have a good look outside. It will be the vent that I noted had rust around it. Must make time to sort it!

Recurring puddle!

Well it was a good job we’d had the offer of Jane’s help at the locks yesterday as the original plan had been for today. This would have made for either a very wet day or a delayed start. Instead we took shelter from the showers inside.

Mick had a phone appointment with his doctor. Then whilst moving money around I managed to alert my banks fraud department and I got locked out of my online banking. This took quite a while to get sorted and convince the chap at the other end of the phone that my building society uses Barclays Bank for deposits. I’m glad that their system worked, it means our funds should be safe. However listening to the current scams he listed I was very worried for the human race. One scam now is that you are supposedly contacted by your bank because a data breach has occurred and your money needs to be moved to safety. You are then asked to withdraw your money in cash from your compromised account and requested to leave it in an envelope on your front door step, where someone will collect it and take it elsewhere to be deposited in a more secure account. Like their OWN!!!

Anyhow things were sorted in the end and I wasn’t being scammed in the process.

Gradually the rain eased, what to do? How far should we go today? A day ahead of ourselves. But Mick would need to pick up a prescription in Leamington Spa. Would the prescription be fulfilled today or would there be a longer wait for it?

Goodbye Cape

We decided to drop down the two Cape Locks and head into Leamington Spa, top up with water, then he’d see if his new pills were ready. If not we’d loiter close by.

Blimey the lock gates were heavy today, especially the bottom gate of the second lock. That took some shifting, maybe I’d not eaten enough for lunch!

Building building

On both sides of the canal where Kate Boats hire base used to be building works are on going. New homes everywhere.

More Brink graffiti art

Round the bend under the bridge we spied a space on the moorings by Tescos, we pulled in and did a top up shop to last us for the next week. The fridge is now even more rammed full than it was a few days ago.

How can you not love this painting

Next stop was for water by the student flats, maybe we’d stay here for the night. I had a little walk to check on the cat by Muck Rock, still there looking fine as ever. Little tell tail sign that some numpty has at some point had a go at improving it! Thankfully their poor attempt is only just visible on the mouse.

Too fat!

The other thing to note on these moorings is the very wide wide beam. This boat has been stuck here for months, not sure which blogger was the first to note it’s position. For some reason people don’t realise that the Grand Union along this stretch wasn’t built for broad beam boats, it was built for narrowboats. The broad locks helped move narrowboats quicker along the navigation, but the bridge holes may look wide but are not wide enough for wide boats. This wide beam must have been craned into the canal somewhere, then it got stuck in a bridge hole. The offside grab rail has a big dint in it and scrapes which are now rusting away. Infront of them are more curved bridges which they won’t fit through. So they are stuck. I wonder how long for?

Once we’d got bored of topping up with water, Mick cycled into town to see if his prescription would be ready. Thankfully it was, the system had worked very efficiently today. Now what? Should we stay or carry on a little while? Students were returning from a days learning and even though it doesn’t look like their windows open there was a very interesting conversation echoing out from a kitchen. If everyone got chatting like this it would make for a very noisy evening. We moved on.

Drawings

There was space on the armco below Radford Smelly so we pulled in just as the cricket was getting very interesting. Tilly was given half an hour and I got on with updating working drawings for panto whilst Australia gradually whittled away the runs.

Ooooo!

2 locks, 4.5 miles, 1 very wet morning, 1 puddle, 1 lake of a towpath, 0.75 hours to unblock my account, 5mg not 10, 1 full water tank, 1 cat, 1 stupid wide beam, 0.5 hours shore leave, 1 tense match, 3 sheets of drawings complete.

https://goo.gl/maps/UcEcJ7wQKsqPA2uz7

Appointment With A Stranger. 19th June

Rowington Embankment to Cape of Good Hope Visitor Moorings

Shrewley Tunnel

Up early again! Breakfasted and on our way just gone 7:30, we had about an hours cruise before we’d reach the top of the Hatton flight. Shrewley Tunnel was really quite wet, Mick had remembered his waterproof, I’d forgotten and got quite damp and chilly. Yesterdays rain had helped reduce the temperature so I soon popped on a fleece, knowing full well it wouldn’t stay on long.

Heading to the top lock

Two people climbed off a hire boat at the end of the moorings above the flight. Were they just going to have a look at what lay ahead or were they about to set off? Would they have already picked up a boat to partner with? When they reached the lock they started to fill it, no sign of their boat following them, maybe they were just generous souls!

We checked to see if they were willing to share the flight with us, they were, but not sure when their boat would be arriving, the men were being tardy at pushing off, we could go ahead if we wanted to. Many hands make light work of the Hatton flight so waiting a few minutes would save many more minutes further on.

Starting the flight

Philippa, Helen, Keith and Steve (?) were experienced hirers, out for two weeks. They’d already done the Avon Ring so had decided to use up their remaining days by descending Hatton, winding and returning tomorrow. The hire company had said that Birmingham was a bit grotty, so not to bother!

Is that a C&RT volunteer?

With three of us on the lock side I walked ahead to open up the next lock which was already full. I was also keeping an eye out for volunteers and a stranger. A volunteer was spied watching us from the bridge down the flight, then the blue and red vanished, maybe we looked as though we’d got everything sorted, we would do soon.

There was someone walking up the flight with purpose, could this be someone heading for a bacon butty at the cafe or might it just be the stranger I was looking for? She looked across at the boats in the lock, Oleanna tucked behind the ABC hire boat. We’d been a little bit early for our rendez vous and had jumped at the chance to share the flight. I called across, ‘Hello are you Jane?’ ‘Yes’, came the reply, ‘You must be Pip!’.

Coming down

Jane is a colleague of my old college friend Emma who lives in Warwick. I’d messaged ahead a few days ago with the hope that we’d be able to meet up. Plans were put together and could they bring along their friend Jane who is wanting to buy a boat to live on. This then morphed into us having an extra pair of hands for the flight if we could do it on Monday morning. Never turn down the offer for assistance when faced with 21 broad locks!

Us ladies soon split up into two teams that would leapfrog each other down the flight. Philippa and Helen walked on down to the next lock to set it whilst Jane and I got chatting. I knew next to nothing about Jane other than she was keen to help today. She’d been on several holidays and earlier this year she’d done a helmsman course in Braunston where she learnt the normal things along with single handing and how to break ice! Therefore I didn’t have a novice on my hands.

Waiting for an uphill boat

On our way down we met two boats coming up, one with a couple of boys in blue assisting them, another had been helped up the first three but they were now on their own.

Philippa and Helen waiting to open the lock

Thankfully the sky was a touch cloudy, not too much to give concern, but enough to help keep the temperature down. Jane and I had a good old chat about all things boat, crafts, etc as we walked between locks and as we waited for Mick and Keith to bring the boats into our lock. We didn’t get chance to chat to Philippa or Helen as we were leapfrogging each other.

Just about halfway down

Mick checked to see if we required refreshments at the halfway point, but we were fine. Working every other lock with someone to chat away to makes for a less gruelling trip down the flight, certainly far far better than it just being the two of us, which we have done before.

Halfway!

Jane and I got to work the last lock of the flight, we maybe should have waited a touch longer before winding up our paddles so that Philippa and Helen could climb back on board with ease, instead they had to climb down a ladder, maybe they didn’t know about the steps down below the lock which would have been far easier.

There had been conversations at the helm of the hire boat that maybe Keith should swap with one of the ladies. This was turned down. The ladies were working the locks today, he and Steve were going to do them tomorrow, that’s if Steve has finished reading his book at the dinette by then.

We pulled over onto some armco and popped the kettle on. Some choc chip cookies had been freshly baked this morning, time for a well earned sit down for all of us.

Thank you Jane

Thank you so much Jane for joining us today, your enthusiasm for boats and the canals shone out, it was a pleasure having you as crew. I hope your house sale speeds up and then you can start in earnest to look for your boat and home. I hope our paths cross again soon.

The flight had taken us 2hours 22 minutes. Time to look back on previous passages. Back in 2013 (our first descent) we’d teamed up with another hire boat with six crew, today we’d beaten the 2 hours 30 minutes, in fact today was the fastest we’ve descended the flight. May 2016 was 3 hours 15 mins and February 2017 Mick managed the flight in 46 hours 34 mins due to my broken ankle and a storm holding us up for a day.

Hatton Bottom Lock

Todays time however didn’t beat our record which was when we teamed up with Nb Cygnet and had my brother and nephew as extra crew, when we managed to head up the locks in 2 hours 15 minutes. Maybe today if we’d not had to wait for the two up hill boats we’d have just beaten it.

We poolted on to around the corner almost opposite The Cape of Good Hope to moor for the day. Only one other boat when we arrived, but by the end of the day the moorings had filled up, including our locking partners from today, now ready to face the flight again tomorrow.

A jot of work this afternoon saw me go back through all the scenes of Panto, a few more notes taken and some of them worked through before it was time to freshen up and head to the pub.

Emma and her husband David had just arrived. It’s a couple of years since we last saw Emma and longer since we met David. Lots to catch up on and a lot of cat talk, they currently have seven in their house!

Burger burger burger

Normally I have a Kiwi Burger with a gluten free bun, but today I decided to try their gluten free option of fish and chips. Mick went to order our food, only to be told that the gluten free batter was made with beer. This isn’t that unusual as it’s normally made with gluten free beer, but today it sounded as if the gluten free batter would be made with normal beer, hence making it NOT gluten free! Maybe something was lost in translation, but it really didn’t make sense and as some of the first things I gave up because they weren’t agreeing with me were beer and fish and chips I really didn’t want to risk it. So instead I had one of their lovely burgers. At least I knew what I’d be getting.

A lovely evening with friends to end a good day at the locks.

21 locks, 6 miles, 1 hire boat with 4 crew, 1 inside, 1 valiant volunteer Jane, 0 volunteers to assist us, 1 super speedy descent, 3 cookies, 1 left, 4 hours shore leave, 1 model just about complete, 3 burgers, 1 fish fillet, 4 rustic chips, 7 beers, 2 glasses wine, 1 very lovely evening.

https://goo.gl/maps/mP6y1gKqNvkNi1VXA

Zooming The Waterways. 13th March

Last week Mick got a call from Sean at SPL Covers saying he’d finished repairing Oleanna’s pram and cratch cover, he’d returned to the marina and popped them back on. The only thing was that when the main part of the pram hood was taken away Mick had popped the sides inside Oleanna for safe keeping. With snow and possible high winds forecast we wanted to get the sides back on as soon as possible to keep the weather off.

Mick considered heading to Goole the same day, but he’d only get about 50 minutes before he’d need to be on a train heading back to Scarborough. Taking the bike would make this more possible, but should a ship be entering or leaving the docks at the wrong moment, he’d end up missing the train and have to spend the night on Oleanna. So instead he headed to Goole the following morning, a light dusting of snow having appeared overnight. We hoped that the Wolds wouldn’t get a major dumping so that the route would stay open. Thankfully the east coast only got sleet.

Cratch cover back on

Photos were the last thing on Mick’s mind as he put the sides back on the pram hood, it was far too cold! I’ll just have to wait to see the new window first hand. He was back safe and warming up in the house mid afternoon and Oleanna was now snow and wind proof once again.

A while ago I answered an online survey to do with C&RT. I can’t quite remember what it was about, but did remember ticking a box to say I’d be willing to take part in more market research. This led to a phone call inviting me to take part in a zoom focus group this evening. I had to answer some questions prior to the meeting all to do with my relationship to the waterways and how I felt about Canal and River Trust. Some of my answers were short, others far longer, especially the one about the Trust’s strengths and weaknesses.

The focus group this evening was made up of five liveaboard boaters. I was the only one sat in a house! We introduced ourselves, two boats were on the Grand Union, one on the Mon and Brec, the other I can’t remember where they said they were. Ages ranged from twenties to sixty five.

We were asked about many things to do with the waterways, what they meant to us, wellbeing, nature, the environment, history and our thoughts on C&RT. Tag lines were discussed. The drop in funding and reduction of maintenance. The big thing that came across from all was C&RT communication skills and at times how bad they are. Yes there were the comments regarding maintenance and facilities, but there was also very much a feeling of let us boaters help, involve the boating community, encourage us to respect what we have and to help keep it in good order. Looking after the waterways will then bring nature, wellbeing along with it.

Sunday walk at the seaside

The lady conducting the focus group said that there were other people being brought together from different user groups, presumably different types of boaters, paddleboarders, fishers, swimmers. All being asked to comment on the same tag lines. It would be interesting to hear how the different groups commented.

We then had a rushed evening meal before settling down infront of the laptop again. This time we were joining Kate Saffin for a talk about the Boaters Strike in 1923. On 13th August 1923 the canal in Braunston made the national headlines. The traffic on the canal was brought to a halt after Fellows Morton and Clayton had announced that the boaters were to have a pay cut of 6.5%.

Boats blocked the arm, an attempt to remove tons of tea and sugar cargo from the boats by FMC was thwarted on the first attempt. Police were drafted in for a second attempt, which was very noisy but three boats were finally unloaded.

Striking boaters

The strike continued for 14 weeks. Children got to attend the village school (now the village hall), the longest they’d ever be in class. Socialising was possible with friends and family they’d only normally get to see passing on the cut.

Fifty to Sixty boats blocked all routes into Braunston. The population of the village swelled from just over 1000 to 1300, putting great pressure on the local facilities. Back then the boaters didn’t use elsans or pumpouts, they normally emptied their potties behind their boats as they set off, the prop churning it into the water. With no boats moving for weeks, it must have been horrendous.

Alarum Productions have been awarded funding from the Arts Council to produce a ‘full-on’ community project in Braunston to mark the 100th anniversary of the strike. Braunston 1920s : 2020s. Telling stories from the 1920’s which has a lot of parallels with the 2020’s. Writing and drama workshops, local history research will all come together in June to produce promenade performances around the village, telling stories where they happened coinciding with Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally.

Decorating and other jobs continue in the house. I’ll be glad when I don’t have to climb up and down a ladder to sand, paint or paper. Next it’ll be curtains.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 months flea, 12 months worms, 1 extra month, 1 travel sickness pill, 5 boaters opinions, 1 Eat Me brunch, 300 strikers, 1 bedroom nearly papered, 1 onion, 4 knobs, 1 more shade of blue, 1 contract, 1 weather tight Oleanna.

2022 Back To Exploring

Time for the annual round, a long post so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

The New Year kicked off with winter maintenance in the house. Having two hallways proved time consuming refreshing the woodwork and patching up the worst of the wallpaper. But this was broken up with weekly walks to see the sea. I resumed work on the development showing of #unit21 for Dark Horse and a Christmas present of a cheese making kit proved very tasty in creating my first ever Yorkshire Curd Cheese Cake from scratch. I plan on having a second go at this soon!

In February work progressed in Huddersfield towards opening night, the floor painted, final costume fittings and then the set and lighting added. All while Mick serviced our life jackets and Tilly grew more and more bored of life in the house.

Once the show was opened we had a trip down to London to catch up with the London Leckenbys for a belated Christmas, on our way back we visited Oleanna. When ever we could we visited Blue Water Marina to do jobs and have a pack up lunch. The stove was reblacked, walls washed down and cupboards sorted through.

Then at the end of February, Mick and I left Tilly in charge of the house, we packed enough clothes and food for a couple of days boating and headed to Thorne to move Oleanna through Thorne Lock before a winter stoppage began. Blimey it was chilly out there, but wonderful to be back afloat and moving Oleanna to Goole. Now we were all set to move back onboard and have a few weeks of pootling about in Yorkshire.

Back at the house we made it ready for the first of this years lodgers. Our boat Christmas tree was retired into the back garden where we hoped it would thrive, this of course was before we knew a drought was on it’s way! Tilly said goodbye to the dragon that lives up the chimney, left Seville and Valencia to look after the house before having to endure the car trip back to boat life.

After a few days sorting ourselves, including having one of Joan’s gluten free Chinese takeaways, we unplugged Oleanna and backed out from our mooring at Goole Marina (Boat House). We spent the next three weeks bobbing about between Pollington Lock, Doncaster and Goole. Maintenance jobs were ticked off the list.

Alistair did engine and weedhatch jobs, Frank joined us a couple of times to do carpentry jobs, our galley drawers no longer have a life of their own, the covers had a good scrub and a spray of Wet and Forget to help them keep clean.

In March I’d set myself a charity challenge, to knit as many pairs of socks in the month as I could. Nine pairs knitted for people in return for sponsorship, I also got a very generous donation of yarn from Lisa on NB Summer Wind.

Our plans had had to change as Thorne Lock still hadn’t closed, but was about to! Plans to visit York and West Yorkshire were abandoned, we’d bought ourselves a Gold Licence for the year so wanted to make the most of it. So on March 24th with all the jobs done we turned our backs on Goole and set off into the sunset to see where 2022 would take us, all three of us grinning from ear to ear.

We made our way to Keadby ready for our booked passage on the tidal River Trent, the fast route south. A phone call from a boating friend in need of support meant we’d be doing our best to make use of the spring tide to reach Cromwell in one go despite the weather forecast. We spent a couple of days doing what we could to help in Newark before we needed to be on the move again.

On upstream to The Trent and Mersey keeping up our cruising hours and Tilly hoping we’d stop with enough time for her to explore each day before cat curfew.

Up to Fradley then onto the Coventry Canal, we played leapfrog with NB Free Spirit for a couple of days.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Curdworth Flight then a turn left onto a section of the Grand Union we’d not been on before at Star City. Up Garrison Locks, Typhoo Basin and then the Ashted Locks where we now have the measure of that Tunnel! A mooring space at the top of Farmers Bridge had our name on it. This was handy for a road trip to swap lodgers and for visits to the dentist. It also meant we were in shot when a group came to jump the top lock!

Fast forward to 6:15

Our route out of Bumingham saw us through Edgbaston Tunnel, down Lapworth followed by Hatton. A pause was needed for Tilly’s annual visit to a new vet, the one here the closest to the canal we’ve visited so far, also handy for The Cape of Good Hope!

At Napton we joined the Oxford Canal and headed for Braunston, pausing to stock up on goodies from the butcher. On the Grand Union we made our way up over the hill and started our descent down The Long Buckby flight back towards tidal waters.

On the 1st of May we turned left at Gayton Junction onto the Northampton Arm dropping down the flight to the River Nene. We’d only been this way once before and that was when we’d just bought Lillian (NB Lillyanne) back in 2014. We bought ourselves a second Abloy key, showed our Gold Licence to the chap at Northampton Marina and started our journey down stream, time to explore.

A decision was made to head down to Peterborough taking note of places we’d want to visit on our return journey. We worked our way through the guillotine locks, many button operated and others with the wheel of cardiovascular overload.

Tilly loved many of the moorings apart from those in Peterborough where crowds surrounded the boat and meant returning from shore leave was impossible for several hours.