She would like me to thank you all for suggestions on the mystery birdie. Jennie came in first, followed by Anne, then Sue. The sausage roll really goes to Jennie’s son, but apparently if we keep quiet about it we’ll be able to eat it ourselves, so Shhh!
The birdie in question was apparently a Lap Wing. A strange name. A Lap is where I lie on an evening in front of the warm stove, then a Wing is what I leave, far too feathery for my liking! Although they are quite good for flossing between your teeth.
Life has suddenly become very busy for me and not so busy for others. There is so much exploring to do, trees to climb, digging, woofer avoidance, I’ve even sorted out my own shore based facilities.
My day starts off with extra snoozing, as I need to conserve my energy for the rest of the day. She and Tom sit in bed that bit longer than normal so I do my best to keep toes warm. But should a boat come by they both crane their necks round to see who it might be. This morning it was a boat that has come all the way from furthest Wales in the last few days, our friend Geoff Tom saw him and now we have, he’s not tied up the outside like everyone else has!
Then there is the game of pen. It is such a good way to wake up, the sound of a pen lid being clicked back into position ready for me to pounce. Some days this goes on for a while, but others She cries out in pain so the game is stopped. She seems to think I don’t clean my nails enough anymore. But it’s their fault for not moving the outside as much as they used to.
Lockdown Mooring 1 was great. A couple of trees, friends, side ways trees, a bank to watch from and a field to run around in. It was sunny and warm, lovely.
Then last Friday they let it go, untied it and let it drift away. She said I needed a break so to put my paws up and let them be busy instead. I kept an eye on them though, they weren’t that busy. I’d have been busier!!
The outside was then moved to Lockdown Mooring 2. Lockdown Mooring 2 had potential, blue skies, trees but not enough time to check it out fully before it was Dingding time.
Newspaper day came. They let Lockdown Mooring 2 outside go and headed to Nantwich outside. It’s not so good there so I wasn’t too disappointed not to be let out. She said I wouldn’t be going out there anymore, too many people who might have the lurgy durgy. So I sat in my window on the other side of the glass from the lurgy durgy people, they could admire me, but not touch, I was safe.
She and Tom went off to do the shopping. I normally get closed into the bedroom for a few minutes when they come back, but that day I was in there for ages and ages and then another age. When She let me out again everything smelt funny, a bit like when she cleans out my pooh box. Luckily it didn’t smell for too long.
This outside was cast aside wizzed round, briefly tied up again so they could top up on water. I got a clean pooh box too. Back we went out of Nantwich outside, wizzed round again, only to tie up Lockdown Mooring 2 outside again. Well what was that all about? They wasted a hole day just because it was newspaper day. I could have kept myself busy all day and when they tied this outside up again I’d have still been in it! They are so selfish at times.
Lockdown Mooring 2 outside is okay. It’s not as sunny as Lockdown Mooring 1 outside was, it’s colder too. There are fewer woofers and walkers, most probably due to the lower temperature. But the farmer has been preparing a great big pooh field for me, lots of fresh earth to dig up and use as cover, so I’ve only once had to step foot in my pooh box.
Some days, like today She does some work. I couldn’t help today as it was all tiny writing and then lots of numbers, I’m not so good at writing freepaw. But then she came for a walk with me along the towpath. We’d nearly got back when a man appeared with a woofer. The woofer didn’t see me but the man did. He made his woofer wait whilst I went down the bank into some friendly cover, no way was I going back onto the boat yet, there was still another two hours of shore leave left!
I’ve been told that I shouldn’t use the outside up too quickly as we might be here sometime. Tom wouldn’t let me out after dingding time, even though I can see in the dark! I’m pacing myself though and reckon I’ve about another twenty hours before it will all be used up, that’ll be fine won’t it?!
Over the last couple of days we’ve been discussing whether we should wear gloves whilst working locks now. Apart from when we venture to the shops this is when we might be in contact with the virus. So far I haven’t bothered, making a mental note of what I touch when back on the boat and giving those places and my windlass a wipe down.
Mick however today decided that he’d wear gloves to protect others as well as himself. Doing so makes you a touch more aware of what you touch. He wore his rubber coated gloves and I pulled out a disposable pair for working our way down Hack Green Locks.
I’ve also changed how I tie my hair up. A ponytail doesn’t quite keep it all away from my face when working locks and this gets quite annoying when you are trying to avoid touching your face! So today I decided to revert to pigtails. All good so far, except my hat doesn’t quite sit on top of them.
A few boats had come past this morning and the lady from the boat behind us had been out for a walk with her dog and cat. We pushed off at nearly midday, well Tilly had been out finishing off her friends!
The communications mast from the Secret Bunker hid behind the trees for much of the mile to the locks. We wondered how much toilet roll was stashed away down there in the cold war and if it still might be there.
Our new modus operandi for working the locks seemed to work well. That was until I spotted bedoingee lambs in the field alongside the locks and had to take a photo!
My camera would now need a wipe down. One little lamb obliged when a bedoing was requested and both Mick and I bounced up and down to keep it company.
The locks were easy work, followed by wiping things down and disposing of gloves. I think the top of the cabin sides of Oleanna will end up being very clean at this rate.
A zoom in to the hill tops just in view confirmed that we could see Mow Cop on the horizon a familiar sight from the Trent and Mersey and Macclesfield Canals.
Then a dart of blue, quickly followed by another! Two Kingfishers sprinted ahead of us. We kept our eyes glued to where we thought they might have landed. The camera worked overtime pointing in their general direction and I was lucky to get one reasonable shot with the two of them. I wonder if they were by their nest as it’s now breeding season.
We pootled along soon reaching the outskirts of Nantwich. A long line of boats greeted us, did this mean the embankment was full? No it meant the usual boats that stay in one place for a fortnight were doing just that, close to a bridge and away from visitor moorings.
Along the first stretch of 2 day moorings we spotted Jellicoe the butty for NB Mountbatten. Here is a possible mooring for a supermarket delivery, but as none are available we decided to continue on towards the aqueduct. Last time we passed here NB Valerie was moored along the embankment. Today another green boat sat on the same mooring.
As we rounded the bend of the embankment we could see that there was plenty of space up ahead near the service block and the ramp down to the roads below. We crossed the aqueduct and found ourselves a place, furthest away from the road as possible.
Our shopping trip was put on hold until tomorrow when we’ll face others in the queues at the tills. So Tilly got to reacquaint herself with the hill we’re sat on. Too much footfall for her liking, but better than BUMingham.
During the afternoon I received an email that I really hadn’t expected. Dark Horse have decided to continue with The Garden. They don’t know when or if it will get to be seen by an audience, but want to continue as if it will be. So this afternoon I have scanned my drawings and emailed them off to my friend Graham for a quote. I will colour up the model and in April we’ll have a virtual production meeting via Zoom. Depending on when the show goes ahead will depend on how much I can achieve of my design as I’m not sure charity shops will be open for me to start collecting costumes.
Late afternoon the laptop was handed over to the IT department. It’s all very well arranging for meetings to take place over the internet, but you really need to have a working microphone and camera for such things. After an hour or so, both were working. Mick is now going to see if he can connect my camera up to the laptop at the same time so that I can walk people through the model more easily than with the laptop.
2 locks, 3.93 miles, 2 outsides, 0 friends, 4 muddy paws, again! 1 job to continue, 2 Kingfishers, 2 pairs gloves, 2 antibac wipes, 2 pigtails, 1 last of everything fresh stew, 1 sister-in-law in Australia, 6 weeks lock down in China starting to lift, 0 new measures here.
Lane Head Bridge to Urban Moorings, Lycetts Basin Bridge
A day full of sunshine. We soon passed where Vernon (Production Manager in Vienna) used to play as a child on the Short Heath Branch. His grandmothers cottage apparently was demolished and replaced by the current houses in the 1930’s and she moved to a council house. His Grandfather was night watchman on the arm and his uncles were day boat men delivering coal to Wolverhampton till the early 1960s.
Today NB Senior Moment was occupied both by humans and several Pekineses. Maybe they’d just come back from a cruise or were preparing for one.
We pootled onwards, the canal seeming far cleaner than it had done a month ago. In the bottom of someones garden I spied a curled up mass of fur, could it be alive? It opened it’s eyes to check us out as we passed. A couple of hundred yards later another battered and torn fox walked along the canal edge. They both looked like they’d been in a fight and had seen better days.
Approaching Rockery Bridge I got ready to hop off and see if this Sainsburys might have some arrowroot. I wizzed round the store and found some with baking powder and baking soda, I just hope my starter perks itself up in the next day or two!
Mick carried on and moored up on the first set of bollards, lunchtime. As we ate a boat came past, the first boat we’ve seen moving since we left Brindley Place! yes we did see some heads on Tividale Aqueduct, but not the actual boat.
Onwards, picking up a big branch which necessitated reversing and changing course before we continued much further. Our original plan had been to head for the offside moorings in Wolverhampton, hopefully stopping at Urban Moorings for some coal on the way.
As we came under Swan Garden Bridge we could see the end of the arm where Urban Moorings sits. A bench looks down the canal with Fender Fred watching for boats.
Could we see anyone? We slowed and crept our way along. Towards the end was a mooring, by some new looking sheds. A lady was stood by a door and said hello. We asked if they had any coal and if so, what variety. ‘Excell 20kg bags, £10 a bag’. Yes please. We pulled in as more and more people appeared from the sheds all wearing high-vis.
What a welcome, help to moor up too. Conversations about where we were heading turned to them saying that they had a visitors mooring £8 including electric a night. Mick and I were having a similar conversation at different ends of the boat, him saying we’d have a chat about it, me saying ‘We’ll be staying the night then’ images of the washing machine going round round in both our heads.
Once tied up we were given guided tours of the moorings. Neither of us had realised just how big the site was. Originally Commercial Wharf the arm and land around it, there were Lime Kilns a wharf and slipway where boats were maintained. The boats, Ampton boats, were used for transporting coal along the flat Wolverhampton level and Wyrely and Essington Canal, no need to descend any locks so they were built longer and a touch wider, their holds could carry 45 to 50 tons of coal.
The site was used as a boat yard until 1992 when the last boat left the dock. Several boats had been restored here including NB Tench.
Urban Moorings CIC are a group of boaters who are wanting to create mooring sites that boaters actually want, integrating history, ecology, art and volunteering. They redevelop moorings very slowly ‘Slow Regeneration’ without having to spend millions of pounds doing so. The moorers live on site, their aim is to turn derelict and unprofitable sites owned by C&RT into self managed boater run moorings.
These very friendly ladies have been here for three years, built moorings, brought electric and water onto site, made gardens for nature to inhabit where lime kilns used to be. They must have spent years clearing away buddleia and now sheds seem to be taking over. An office, a workshop, a bits and bobs exchange, more moorings planned. Recently they advertised on facebook that they were now selling coal and gas. Today they received 100 bags of Excell and moved their gas cage into position. There had also been a volunteer day to kick start the creation of a community garden. What an Oasis.
Four/five dogs inhabit the area, but they offered to put them all away if Tilly wanted some shore leave. We both looked around. She would absolutely love it here if the scent of woofers wasn’t too much for her. But we decided that the look of underneath the decking on our mooring would be far too interesting and it would be a very soggy and painful extrication for both her and us. Another day kept inside, Saturday isn’t that far off!
After all the chatting, oh Kate Saffin was also here having volunteered for the day, we eventually managed to get hooked up, washing machine on, yellow water disposed of. If our solids container had been more advanced it could have been emptied here too. That is something we’ll think about, if we can store our solids during the first stage of composting and deposit it when next we pass then we’ll be using our toilet as fully intended.
They do seem to have thought of everything one could want and have plans for even more here. All profits go back into the project, so any support either through volunteering or purchases will be used to improve what they have to offer. Good luck to them, we’ll certainly be putting them on our map as a good stopping place. More information here Urban Moorings CIC
Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.
Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.
The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.
Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.
During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.
Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.
Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.
Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.
Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.
At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.
With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.
Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.
Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.
On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.
During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.
A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested! https://oleanna.co.uk/2019/05/23/the-plan-20th-may/
We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!
A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.
A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.
Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.
Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.
We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.
Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.
With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.
On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.
The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.
Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.
The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.
As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.
On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!
An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.
Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.
With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.
At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.
Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!
The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.
Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.
Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.
Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.
At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.
Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.
With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.
Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.
We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.
Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.
In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.
The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.
Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019
According to Canalplan
Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.
This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.
838.2 engine hours
That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.
1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.
Even though my sour dough starter seems to have faultered again I had a big jar of discard ready to be used, so this morning I had a go at some sour dough pancakes. These can either be started the night before or a little while before you want to cook them. Leaving them over night develops the flavour, but as my discard is a touch dubious I just mixed the mixture this morning.
With a plate on top of the stove I cooked a half portion of the the recipe and kept them warm under a t towel until I’d finished the batter up. Verdict, very nice. Just wonder what they’d be like with proper discarded starter.
Tilly had been allowed out this morning, she was being kept busy. I was just about to go out and do my mad cat woman shouting when she appeared, Mick opened the hatch and we were three again. Time to move on.
Down the last narrow lock we pulled in and disposed of all the rubbish we’d been accumulating. With no recycling bins until the new year everything ended up in the big skip at the service block. People say where there are no recycling bins the rubbish still gets sorted rather than going to landfill, I hope so.
We then pushed across to the water point and topped the tank up, the washing machine had been run this morning, so it took a little bit of time to fill. With the boat moored on the port side we emptied the yellow water into our container for disposal, the towpath won’t be on the right side for a while so best to make use of it now.
Last year we did these chores on Christmas Eve along with quite a few other boats, but today we had everything to ourselves. The sun was out and we pushed on to Napton Junction. The original plan had us continuing straight on here, but today we turned right for the first time, into Wigrams Turn Marina.
There were plenty of people about, maybe live aboards or just folks preparing for a Christmas cruise. The service mooring was empty so we filled it. We’d guessed that it being run by the same company as at Cropredy the diesel price would be the same, but sadly no, 97p a litre, 11p more! Good job we only wanted a top up and four more bags of coal went on the roof. We are now stocked up for Christmas and hopefully into the New Year, the roof is a touch full and hard to see over!
We winded and then back at the junction we went straight on, onto the Grand Union. First thought was to stop above Calcutt Locks, but then we decided to go down them, the top one almost full.
Back onto wide locks with their candlestick/bomb shaped paddle gears. Winding winding winding. Then that hard to describe fluttering noise, as the water lowers around the large openings of the paddle gear on the chamber sides, almost like Hannibal Lecter’s noise when he meets Clarice,
Down the three locks, then we sought out a length of Armco where Tilly could go out. On the off side a group of old boats are clustered, many with memorable names, Adamant the last one not in steam today. We pulled in and gave Tilly half an hour, she returned in good time, then was a touch miffed at the doors staying closed.
As the evening progressed the wind built up along with torrential rain, this of course coincided with the gas bottle running out. We knew it would as it always does just after you’ve been somewhere you could get a new one. We’re hoping for a lull in the rain tomorrow to get down the Stockton flight without getting too wet.
Hunting round for a printers to do copies of my plans I noticed a group of possibles behind the marina opposite. I chose one to aim for and set off with my tracing paper roll under my arm. After I’d crossed the canal the roll had to be tucked inside my fleece as it had started to rain. They were wrapped in a plastic bag, but all the same I didn’t want to end up with a wrinkly set.
In what seemed to be someones garage I opened the door and enquired if they did A2 copies. No came the answer from a chap hidden behind numerous toner cartridges, but there was a place in Aldermaston. That was no good to me, they’d be closed on Sunday when we might just pass through. They could however do me a couple of copies that covered the whole drawing, that would do me.
Modern printers are like old TV sets they take forever to warm up and get going. A test copy was done, which took forever to appear at the far end of the garage. This was fine and he set about doing my copies for me. once this machine got going it didn’t hang around! They charged a minimum of £7.50, was that okay? Just over 30p a sheet that was great, an A2 would have been around £2 a go!
Now with a bigger roll I looked like I was hiding a shot gun under my fleece. I met Mick at Sainsburys where we stocked up on perishables. Back at the boat we had lunch and then pushed off.
Okay so we didn’t go far, just around the corner to wait for the marina service mooring to become free. Then we pushed over doing ‘an Andy’ to get the stern in against the strong wind. Newbury has no C&RT water points, but here you can top up your tank for £2, if you spend enough on other things it’s free. We managed 50 litres diesel and a bag of coal, so we got the H2O for free. I put a load of washing on to make the most of it.
When the new rulings come in for Diesel the chap said they wouldn’t sell to passing boats anymore. How many other places will go the same way?
This all took time and it was nearly four by the time our tank gave it’s boom to tell us it was full. So we pushed back over, mooring just before Greenham Lock. All was good, with empty and full tanks as required and a clean pooh bucket, happy boaters.
Whilst Tilly explored this stretch of narrow land between canal and river I drew up a template for the pattern in the Boozer for Panto. This recurs on several bits of set, so being able to draw it out quickly will be a great help. With this then cut out I could start putting things away.
For months now the corner of our dinette has had a model sitting in it along with boxes of paints and my model making box. It is normally tied away better than in this photo. I’d hoped that the Production Manager for Vienna might manage to pick the model up this weekend, but we are too far off his route, so it will be sent by courier instead, we’ll have to put up with it for a while longer. Everything else though could be packed away again and stowed under the seating until next year.
Tilly woke up just as I was putting the cushions back and made sure that she claimed them by rolling all over the place and running along the dinette sideways, those poor cushions!
Our forth and final meal from the left over pork this evening. Left over stew, just about anything that I could find went into this in my cast iron pot which was left to bubble for a couple of hours. With a large jacket potato each it was very tasty. The joint may have been large, but it did us five main meals so that’s just over £1 a go. Not bad.
Earlier than advertised the Michaelmas Fair firework display started. We tried looking out of the hatch but we were too far away with too many trees in the way to see anything. Oh well, we just listened instead.
0 locks, 0.24 miles, 52.4 litres, 1 bag Glow, 1 full tank water, 1 empty wee tank, 1 clean pooh bucket, 24 copies, 1 chicken, A1 template, 1 corner reclaimed, 1 set loaded ready for Monday, 3 yellow boards, the rest still red, 2 free days hooray!
This morning I noticed a natty little thing on the ferry that crosses from our mooring to the SS Great Britain. On the bow of the boat is a metal hoop which pivots, controlled by a cable from the helm. As the ferry is brought in and lined up to the jetty the metal hoop is lowered over a post. The driver then walks to the bow flips down the ramp which covers the watery gap, passengers get off or on, she then flips the ramp back up returns to the helm and lifts the hoop off the post and away they go. This means that the ferry can be a one person operation as nobody is needed to tie ropes. Here’s a link to a video I took of it this morning (warning it’s 35MB!).
Two more loads of washing were put through the machine, hoping to use up some more electric before we left. This helped pass the time whilst I composed a long email to the theatre in Vienna with photos of the model for A Regular Little Houdini. With the final rinses happening we headed to the nearby Tesco for a few supplies and then we were ready for the off.
Once the ropes were carefully untied from the wobbliest wobblesome pontoon, the wind helping to push Oleanna away from it, we winded and set off for a little tour of the harbour before we left.
Down towards the Underfall Yard where we turned, mow eastward bound.
We headed back past the SS Great Britain, we then cruised down past the electric cranes and turned into Bordeaux Quay and The Waterfront winding at the far end before then passing under Prince Street Bridge, leaving the harbour.
We would have liked to stay for longer but sadly time is limited before I start work and the cost of mooring here is a little off putting. A week would cost us around £160, cheaper than a hotel and we’d get all our washing done, but still a touch costly.
As we cruised our way out of town storm clouds gathered behind us. Waterproofs were gathered from inside. Straight through Netham Lock and we were back onto the river. Gradually more trees surrounded us, gradually the sky became darker. The forecast originally had been for rain at 4, then 2, but it got started at midday. We hoped for a mooring as soon as we got back onto C&RT waters.
Hanham Lock was in our favour so we rose the 15 inches or so. There was a space on the pontoon at The Chequers Pub, but we’d have had to shrink a touch to fit. Onwards in the rain, waterproof trousers were now required. Mick valiantly stood at the helm whilst I made tea and lunch to have on the go, but his sandwich stayed inside for fear it would get too soggy.
Keynsham Lock and some kind sole had left the top paddles open, so this very slow lock took even longer in the rain than it needed to. Mick hung back away from the lock whilst I emptied it, the flow from the lock would have necessitated mooring up fully on the lock landing. Then we rose slowly, very slowly. The last 2 foot taking a life time !
It still rained. Not even an inch spare on the pontoon here. Onwards to Ferris Railway Bridge where thank goodness there was space for two next to the one that had taken up residency. We settled down and started to dry off.
There was just enough phone signal for me to have a chat through the props list for Panto with Jo the prop maker. Good job I don’t really use my phone much as it took us a good hour and a half to work our way through the show. Jo will start work on collecting materials in the next week then she’ll start by making the prop car and mod scooters.
This morning I received photos from Australia of the knitting project I was busy with earlier in the year.
This is Billie at a week old with the blanket I knitted for her. Billie is the great niece of my bestest friend Emma. Nellie, Billies Mum, was very pleased with it, so was Chief their woofer.
3 locks, 1 straight through, 11.41 miles, 2 more loads washing, £3 left on the post, 1 tour of the harbour, 2 misleading forecasts, 2 soggy boaters, 3rd mooring lucky, 1.5 hours talking smash, pub stools and mod scooters, 0 shore leave for Tillyagain!1 sour dough woken, 1wk old Billie all wrapped up.