Category Archives: Historic Boats

Extra Jumpers Required. 12th May

Castleford Visitor Moorings to Clarence Dock/Potato Wharf/Leeds Dock what ever you want to call it!

Grey but not wet thank goodness, just chilly! Brrrrr!!!

Our plan to fill and empty at the services was thwarted as three boats were moored in the way, maybe they’d just finished filling and emptying, one chap stuck his head out to ask if we needed water, he’d move back if we did. We’d already decided to carry on and do the necessaries further on. The flood lock was closed and a boat had just come through, NB Tumbleweed who used to write a blog. Hellos were exchanged.

Passing boats

The downstream panel took forever for the Lock Ready light to illuminate. Maybe because the lock is just vast it took it’s time. It took so long that I even removed my key and started again to see if that would help. Eventually the light illuminated, I lifted the sluices, Water Level light came on, gates open, Hooray!

Another boat was waiting to come through from the other end, so it made sense for the chap to use his key. The level board at this end of the lock looked to be on the cusp of amber, would yesterdays rain raise the level anymore and would we have problems with closed flood gates?

Steps to accommodate all size of boats

The right navigation was chosen rather than the left and we headed on towards Leeds, I wish I’d brought my gloves out the back it was that chilly. Lemonroyd Lock soon appeared with it’s downstream lock landing built for all sizes of boats. Full as expected, I waited to get the thumbs up from Mick that he’d tied Oleanna up before I lifted the sluices to empty it.


Lemonroyd Lock replaced two locks and is just so vast, Oleanna always look so mini. A gongoozling family arrived, they live on the Ashby and have helped many a boat through locks before (can’t have been on the Ashby). The chap wondered why I wasn’t using a windlass, I showed him the panel of buttons, can you imagine the pressure on normal gate paddles! I enlisted their help in opening the gates, pressing another button. Mick pulled onto the water point for a delayed top up of fresh water and an empty of yellow water, making use of the elsan.

Tilly thought it looked quite nice here, but we still had further to go, even though we were both cold already and both of us were quietly wishing we could stop.

A gravel barge sat moored up a short distance on, is this where they come to empty their holds? Piles of fresh aggregate suggest so, but there wasn’t any sign of any means of offloading it.

At Woodlesford Lock a lady recognised us as being in the Jonathan Wilson facebook group. As soon as she mentioned her boat name NB Freedom I recognised them, we’ve seen them around here before and down on the Thames. NB Ecky Thump also familiar from Blue Water Marina last year.

Thwaite Mill well worth a visit

At Fishpond Lock we had a tern diving for fish as I emptied the lock, it remained hungry. Thwaite Mill visitor mooring was available, slightly overgrown.

So very sad

Knostrop Lock next. By the top gates there were bunches of flowers marking a memorial to a 14 year old lad, who on the Easter weekend had jumped into the lock to swim, shortly after a gravel barge had been through. He disappeared from view, thought to have been caught in a current created by the barge. All very sad.

Signs at the lock reminded boaters of the limited opening hours at River Lock up onto the Leeds Liverpool Canal. The levels drop at Granary Wharf leaving boats sat on the bottom, so for the time being the lock is only opened for two hours a day between 1 and 3pm. The signs suggested there is space for three boats below the lock, we’ll have to look at these when we go through, we were hoping to stop sooner.

Wibbly wobbly

The service and mooring pontoon have a build up of silt below them making the deck rippled. We’d not be mooring there unless we really had to.

Two hire boats came towards us, a new company to us The Boat Co North. Mick was later to meet a single hander from the USA, he helped him through his first push button lock. Hope he managed to get to Woodlesford today.

At Leeds Lock I opened and closed gates, lifted paddles as Mick tried to hold Oleanna still in the now short lock. If you are coming down this lock, keep away from the top gates as you may get caught on some wood jutting out. As Oleanna finished her ascent I walked up to peer over the wall into Clarence Dock to see if there’d be room for us. Bingo there was!

Time to breath in in locks

In the last few days we’ve heard that the visitor moorings here had long since gone, others have stayed but not known what the time limit was. Time to check for ourselves. The old signs are just visible, then a new bright blue sign declared the pontoon to be Visitor Mooring 2 days. Brilliant and an Oleanna sized gap waiting for us. Add to that an electric post still with a small amount of credit left.

On previous visits here we’d been able to buy electric cards I think to the value of £5 from the C&RT office across the river. Sensible size for two days and available to purchase when the office was open. These cards are unique to Leeds Dock/Clarence Dock what ever you call it. However now you have to order them £10 credit and get them posted out to you at an extra £2.95! For a bit of card the size of a credit card! Not very user friendly, the sooner C&RT install meters that you can log onto and pay for what you use anywhere on the network the better. But that won’t be for sometime as it would cost money and that is short at the moment. So we remain grateful to a previous boater who left some credit on a post.

The remainder of panto was read, notes taken. Tilly was slightly stroppy as there’d be no shore leave here. We remained very cold until Mick had lit the stove and the interior of the boat started to warm up. It was only two days ago we were sitting without jumpers in the evening, today we’d really needed thermals and just adding another jumper this evening really wasn’t going to cut the mustard!

Click photo for recipe

Crispy Lemon Chicken tonight. A new favourite.

5 locks, 1 flood lock, 10.1 miles, 3 hire boats, 1 ex-blogger, 1 JW boat, 1 hungry Tern, 1 bored cat, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, £1.20 credit, 1 stove lit, 0 knights having a wee.

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.

Solid. 16th & 17th December

‘Avecoat Marina

It’s been going to happen, inevitable really with -6 or -7C overnight. Oleanna this morning was frozen in solid. No sea legs required on board this morning. The sliding galley window above the cooker is also frozen shut and the condensation on our bedroom window in the morning is solid! Oh for double glazed windows and thermal break frames! But where does all the moisture in the air go to in such situations? It’s still there. Does it just find another cold surface to condensate on? Like in the back of cupboards, under the gunnels? I think I’d rather see it and mop it up than discover damp clothing.


The weather forecast for next week is looking like there should be a thaw, but how long will it take? The only boats trying to move at the moment are the coal boats, and a few odd bods. NB Bargus one of the coal boats on the four counties ring had been forging on until today when 3.5inch thick ice stopped Jason’s progress. NB Mountbatten on the Llangollen, managed 50 yards before the ice was too thick, so Richard ended up reversing back to his mooring, another attempt to move will be made tomorrow.

All the groups are full of discussions about breaking ice. Back in the day there were special icebreaking boats with extra pointy bows to help cut through the ice. Some boats had rigs that the crew could hang onto as they rocked the boat from side to side cracking the ice.

Footage of our next door neighbour breaking ice was come across thanks to a link from Brian on CWF. I wonder if they’d be willing to have a few turns around the marina on Monday to break everything up for us.

A tap on the roof mid afternoon turned out to be a chap from across the way. He had our new water pump! Mick very quickly fitted it and water pressure was restored. It’s noisier than the last good one, but we can cope with that.

Wonder if it’ll give us turbo power?

Mick tried leaving our ash pan next to the water tap, he also poured hot water over it. No joy, still frozen. He then walked up and down trying taps and found one still with a flow a bit further along. Time to fill the tank. The immersion heater was turned on and later on in the day I enjoyed my first shower since London. Oh it’s good to have clean hair again.

Ooo water again!

Later on in the day Oleanna broke free from the ice and was bobbing about again as we moved around inside. Fingers crossed it keeps thawing.

Frost caught by the sun

Saturday, both of us were wanting to head back into town to the Ventura Retail Park to do more shopping. However getting there was proving so complicated. Two buses each way, or a longish walk at both ends of one bus. Buses only every two hours made it hard either to have sufficient time to do shopping or to be back on board for a festive zoom. Looking at the maps we decided we’d do our best to pull in once past Fazeley Junction, then we could walk to the retail park. Here’s hoping we manage to get moving with enough time to conclude our Christmas shopping!

We’ll be following that blue boat

Mick popped over to the office to pay for the new water pump. Word is that at least two boats are hoping to be able to escape on Tuesday. NB Capricorn being one of them is moored further into the marina than us. Hopefully they will do the job of breaking what ice there is, if they manage to escape we will be close behind them.

Cuddling coal

Our coal, delivery arrived just before lunchtime. 10 bags of unknown smokeless coal. Here’s hoping it’s good as our roof and well deck are now filled with it.

Across the road from the marina we’d spotted some ruins when we arrived. I headed over with the garden sheers hoping of finding some ivy to make a wreath.

Alvecote Priory

Alvecote Priory was founded in 1159 by William Burdett who on returning from a crusade stabbed his wife as he’d believed she’d been unfaithful, the monastery was founded for his penance. The ruins that can be seen today are from a house which was built using the stone from the Benedictine Priory. A large arch stands at one end and hidden nearer the canal is quite a substantial Dovecote which would have been two storeys and been able to house 350 birds.

Big arch and me

The trees and bushes around the area provided me with three differing types of ivy and some old seed heads were also picked. The seed heads are quite fragile, but if they survive they will add a bit of interest to my wreath.

The iron came out and was used to add patches of felt to a 40 year old duvet that is currently adding insulation to us over night. Sadly the fabric is starting to give up and leave feathers everywhere. If I can keep it going for a while longer before I sew it into another cover, that will be good.

Fuzzy felt duvet

Mick headed to try to find a parcel and send another on it’s way. There is plenty of stuff that’s been thrown onto the ice of the canal, including a supermarket trolley under Bridge 70. If it’s still evident when we reach the bridge we’ll have a go at hoiking it out.

The surface of the canal is now showing signs of a thaw, puddles appearing on top of the ice. The tap by our mooring was back working, so a top up of the tank was soon followed by plenty of clothes going through the washing machine.

Grumpy chops

A catch up festive zoom with the Scarborough chums was had with festive hats, mince pies and lots of cheer. Good to see those who could make it and sending festive to cheer to those who were battling with snow to be with family or plumbers.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 new pump, 1 boat frozen solid, 2 pottering days, 2 awol parcels, 1 on it’s way, 10 bags coal, 1 boat starting to free up, 2 loads washing, 6 chums, 1 bag of ivyness.

Clouds and puddles

Twenty Years! 3rd December

Between Locks 5 and 6 to Alvecote Marina

A Saturday newspaper was picked up this morning along with some chesty cough mixture, Mick is having difficulty brushing off the cold I gave him.

Watching the lock empty

One boat came past before we pushed off, hopefully the first lock of the day would be in our favour. Mick walked on ahead after giving Oleanna’s bow a push out for me, I tootled on behind waiting for the top gate to open.

Nebo notes were easier to make on entering the locks today as we were without a volunteer, so there was more time to note our position before the lock started to empty. Have no idea why my Nebo recorded 1.5 miles further than Mick’s as our phones were sat next to each other for most of the trip!

One coming up!

We passed an up hill cruiser and then on a longer pound I could see someone setting the next lock, it had been half empty so the chap set it in their favour, we were a long way off.

Crossing the bottom gate

Mick worked the locks, at some he adopted my method of opening the bottom gates. Standing in the middle and pushing them apart, kicking one into it’s recess and then fully opening the other gate. Neither of us are willing to step over from one open gate to a closed gate as others do. Mick says he’s not sure if my method saves any time, he also isn’t too happy doing it. To which I say, if he’s not happy doing it then he shouldn’t. I know that new or metal gates are harder to move, but that comes with experience.

I had a go at closing the bottom gate using a boat hook. I’m not tall enough to do this, so gave up after the third attempt. I felt a touch of a fraud at one lock as I waited for Mick to return from setting the next lock to close the top gate.

Boat hook replacement

Moving gates is the reason I’ve been told not to work locks until my calf is better, but it really doesn’t feel right stood on the back of the boat alongside the beam and not closing it!

Sam and Mick chatting about trains

Second to last lock and the bottom gates were open, a boat just entering from below. We pulled in to wait our turn. Mick walked up to help with the bottom gates as I wondered if the chap climbing the ladder was Sam from NB Red Wharf. Our bows have crossed several times through the years normally just long enough for a quick chat. Today there was a touch longer as his boat rose in the slow filing lock. Sorry I didn’t walk down to chat too, I’d done too much walking yesterday. Tilly sadly didn’t sit in the window to say hello, well it was time for my mid morning snooze!

Bye Sam, see you again, somewhere, sometime

By now dark clouds were starting to take over from the blue sky we’d been treated to so far. The number of oak trees along this stretch gave us such wonderful views, if only the sun had been shining the orange trees would have glowed their glorious colours. They were still pretty good.

Orange oak leaves

The temperature was very chilly as we pootled our way along the five miles to todays destination, Alvecote Marina. We pulled in at the service point and Mick went to check in, whilst I did my best to rinse the bow rope that had landed in some dog shit residue! The chap came out to point us towards our mooring for the next few days. Some thought went into where to place us. In the end we were directed towards an old 70ft working boat Victoria. It turns out I’d taken a photo of the exact mooring as we’d come past.

Is that our spot?

We decided to go bow end in which made our mooring easy, this would make it easy to fill with water, hook up we can do from either end. The short thin green pontoons not ideal, but stepping off the bow will just require an amount of care. A nappy pin was needed to tie the bow, then we could head indoors to warm up.

Tilly was not pleased. No shore leave whilst we are here, she made her feelings known!

Some research over the last few days had been done on Chinese Takeaways in Tamworth with delivery. Once a year I risk Chinese food, avoiding battered dishes, but hoping not to regret pancakes and hoisin sauce with crispy aromatic duck or soy sauce hidden in most dishes (Joan’s Home Kitchen in Goole an exception as she’d cook especially without gluten). Eat Well was chosen, £3 delivery charge, ordered on line, cash required for payment. At first our delivery slot wasn’t possible, we’d have to wait 85 minutes, hopefully it would be worth it.

Here’s to us

Mick headed out to wait in the car park of the Samuel Barlow pub, not currently open. A phone call from the driver discovered that he was on the wrong side of the canal, torches were flashed and after a short walk the food was handed over.

The duck was good, followed by Crispy Beef and Kung Po Chicken. Very generous portions, I was quite surprised at the amount of meat we got in each dish and one large rice between us was just right. A very good takeaway. We even got two fortune cookies each, my fortunes more upbeat than Micks.

Don’t know what this means about the next twenty years!
What twenty years has done to us!

6 locks, WE 6.15 miles, Pip’s Nebo 6.3 miles, Mick’s Nebo 5 miles! 3 passed, 1 Sam, 2 chilly boaters, 1 dog doo rope, £10 not £18, 1 mardy cat, 1 Chinese, 20 years together, I’m not old enough to have been with him for 20 years, surely!

Darth Vader. 16th September

Sheepcote Street Bridge

What makes people decide to become dental hygienists? Picking away at peoples teeth. Last year I got to meet quite a few.

This year things are different, masks, visors and an extra £20 for the full Darth Vader experience. To get the most out of my appointment today I paid the extra for the PPE and was treated to the tinnitus inducing water jet. After forty minutes I was done and I think Tom was looking forward to some time without the big black mask clamped to his face, but that would depend on his next victim!


Back at Oleanna we had a visitor, not from outer space, but from Bristol. Paul from Waterway Routes was up in Birmingham for the day and had called in for a catch up and a cuppa. We’d last seen him in February last year. Whilst we’ve been cruising we are in touch with him quite often with updates for his maps when services are moved or new bridges built across the canal.

A touch of sun on our mooring

It was very good to see him, lots to chat about, so we finally waved him goodbye at around 2pm. We’d originally planned to head out of the city today, but felt it was a touch too late in the day to push off. Instead I spent some of the afternoon putting a coat of gloss on the grab rail scratches. The finished result doesn’t look pretty, patchy at best but at least it will stop rust from forming and keep things in order until next spring when I plan on rubbing them all back and doing a proper job.

Chatting with our new neighbour on NB Bancroft I discovered that this was the chap who set up Boat Mail. We had quite a lengthy chat about Tilly, getting medical assistance whilst on the cut, and what was happening to the balconys on the flats above us. Two chaps with harnesses had been removing wooden flooring and replacing it with metal for a safer balcony. The noise they created was really quite piercing at times, we considered moving but knew it wouldn’t go on all night.

Loving the logo

Today the big screen opposite was showing Womens Twenty 20 cricket. I think Mick would be quite happy if my dentist appointments in future could coincide with test matches. He’d put a chair on the roof of Oleanna and watch the match all day long with radio commentary in his ear.

The Roundhouse

I had a walk over to see what the Roundhouse looks like from the road. Quite an impressive building, a shame really that we’d not get chance to have a look around properly. The courtyard slopes down to the archway, leading out through what is now seating for The Distillery and then out onto the canal. The rest slopes upwards to the building. It was originally used as stables and stores housing up to 50 horses. Now run by a charity set up by C&RT and the National Trust it has recently undergone a refurbishment. There are guided tours, office spaces, kayak tours head out from here and there will be a café, the building opened in July this year. It is now on our ‘next time’ list.

NB Scorpio and Butty Leo have been brought out for the weekend, moored up in front of the building ready to do boat trips.

I also wanted to have a closer look at the mural that has been painted on one of the modern walls by the canal. This has been painted by Annatomix a local artist and illustrator depicting a rusty shire horse. Her portrait of David Bowie caught my eye a few years ago down near the Bull Ring. Her style is quite distinctive using facets, she’s particularly partial to foxes.

0 locks, 0 miles, 40 minutes with Darth Vader, 1 visit from Paul, 1 coat of top coat, 1 splodgey grabrail, 2 harnesses, 1 new balcony, 1 noisy afternoon, Ohouse, 50 horses, 1 mural, 3 curries, 0.5 portion pilau rice, 2 nan breads, 1 last night in BUMingham, Hooray!!!

Bear Crew. 1st September

Nethercote Bridge 101 to Daventry Road Bridgeish 19, Grand Union Canal

Short back and sides

A slower start today, the grey in the sky putting us off pushing off. We watched the gold silver final of Boccia in Tokyo over breakfast, catching a glimpse of Fran, Mick’s niece every now and then. Gold for David Smith! A farmer in the field opposite was trimming the hedges and as we passed we admired the sunflowers in a wide border of wild flowers, just about the only colour we got to see today.

I hopped off at Bridge 108 to walk to the junction. Crab apples are starting to fall from the trees, leaving areas of the towpath a touch treacherous in places. The blackberries around here seem to be a touch later in ripening than those on the South Oxford, there will be so many of them in a week or two.

Camp site

Just before Napton Junction I spotted a new set of steps leading through the hedge. This leads to Wigrams Camp Site, I was walking so as to have a nosy. The site was empty today, but I could see the service block and the camping field, not as big as I’d imagined, I wonder how many motorcaravans and tents they would accommodate?

Turning at Wigrams Turn

I walked round and checked down the Grand Union, no boat in sight so I gave Mick a thumbs up to make the turn.

Next to the camp site there is a holiday cottage for 2 and a B&B with several double rooms and a summer house. All very interesting! Further enquiries are needed.


I walked on down to Calcutt Locks, a couple of boats had just left the top one, so we pulled in. A boat had just been pulling away from a mooring so we waited to see whether they would join us, but they just came towards the lock and winded. We descended on our own as another boat was waiting to come up.

Calcutt Top Lock

The locks were quite busy, another pair coming up the second lock, one turning in to top up on diesel the other carried on upwards. By now there was another boat waiting to come down so we waited for them to catch us up with their teddy bear captain sat on the roof.

Bear Captain

The lady asked how long we’d been out, I said ‘since May and you?’ ‘Since Saturday’, they had been for a jaunt up to Dunchurch Pools and were now heading back to their mooring below the locks. She also asked if there was a winding hole above the Stockton Flight, they’d never been that way. Descending the two locks I almost got her full life history, I managed to keep my urge to open gates at bay despite them being ready for a good five minutes.

As they turned into Ventnor we waved towards NB Herbie and carried on. Passing all the old workboats around Tomlow Road Bridge, Gort looks like it’s had a nice new paint job.

Gort all smart

Not much further on we pulled up before Gibraltar Bridge, this would mean that if my delivery arrived with Lizzie today we’d be able to meet her at The Boat a few bridges on, but if not Tilly would have fields to play in for the afternoon.

A load of washing was hung out on the whirligig. I made some scale model actors for my model and took photographs to send to the Director.

A sneak peek

Mick climbed into the engine bay to tighten the stern gland and see why we seem to be getting quite a lot of water in the bilge at the moment. He discovered that the greaser (which you turn every day to help keep the stern gland water tight) hadn’t been working. The new bits he’d added and old pipe weren’t working so well. So he rejigged everything and with a different combination of bits he got it working again. This should now help stop so much water from coming in as the prop rotates.

So shiny they don’t look real

This evening we’ve watched a second programme regarding 9/11. Yesterdays programme had been about several survivors and todays was the day of President Bush. Both programmes had us transfixed to the TV and were very moving. It feels like only yesterday that I was in the paint shop at the SJT chatting to Mick’s sister Kath when Stephen Wood came in and told us that the twin towers had collapsed.

3 locks, 4.88 miles, 1 right, 1 gold medal, 1 bear, 55.5 possible venue, 1 stern gland greased, 9 model people, 30 photos, 1 very slow internet connection, 5.25 hours shore leave, 2 moving transfixing programmes.

Changes, 23rd August

Kings Sutton to Slat Mill Lock

A little damp to start the day required coats to be worn, but by the end of the afternoon we were back down to one layer as the sun showed its face. Maybe autumn is arriving. The other day I crunched my way over some cobnuts that had fallen from a tree, most mornings we have blackberries added to our cereal bowls picked whilst Mick waits for a lock to be set. Crab apples fill the hedgerows, there must be something other than jelly you can make from them? Dark Elderberries droop from high up and sloes are plumpening up. Then today I spotted a plum tree alongside a lock, sadly the fruit still too hard to pick, maybe in a weeks time it will be just perfect. Oh the bounties of autumn. When will we be lighting the stove again?

Grant’s Lock cottage

At Grant’s Lock some first time hirers were just about to make their way down, they’d been having a taster holiday with their two kids. The first day it had rained and they’d wondered what they’d let themselves in for, then the sun had come out and the damp day became a distant memory.

No roof

Waiting for the lock to fill I had chance to have a look round the lock cottage, staying outside for safety. Over the last few years it has gradually been vandalised and at some time in the last year it has been gutted by fire. The windows frames now just frame the destruction a fire can do.

The staircase was burnt away, not much left of the ceilings, the floor beams charred into nothing. The heat of the fire easily melted the gutters, the fridge door relaxed into a new shape and the door into the lean is just charcoal. Such a sad sad sight. It will either be pulled down, fall down (as there is little holding it up anymore) or someone may come along with a large wodge of cash to try to rescue it.

21 miles a day

As we pulled away three canoeists came towards us at speed. Little flags on their boats showed that they are raising funds for the Elysium Memorial in remembrance of service men and women who have taken their own lives. They are canoeing from Preston Brook Marina to Putney Bridge on the Thames 280 miles at about 21 miles a day.

Little boxes

The new estate on the outskirts of Banbury is still being built, little of any architectural merit going up.

The foundry that once used to add to the aroma of Banbury looks to have gone. No piles of clinker and moulds alongside the canal anymore. We wondered if the site will be turned into more canalside residential properties.

Boats were here there and everywhere. We paused to let others go through narrow stretches and then pulled in behind a boat on the water point below Banbury Lock to wait our turn. A quick check above the lock, the water point up there was also in use, so we stayed put. A request from Paul at Waterway Routes to do a few checks whilst we were in Banbury, the toilets here have been closed for ages, but are now reopened and he also wanted to know the position of the new footbridge, which is slightly different to the old one that was demolished a couple of years ago.

We filled up with water then ascended the lock, plenty of people around to watch us work and plenty of people wanting to cross over the top gates as always. The lift bridge with it’s hydraulic mechanism was a breeze. Then we were into the building site.

We’d arrived at the builders lunch break so there was no noise from what I think will be a cinema on the north east bank. Far more noise was being made with saws, hammers, drills just by Tooleys were volunteers were working on Fellows Morton and Clayton boat Kilsby, once the work is completed the boat will offer educational trips, story telling and theatre to the community. Historic Narrowboat Hardy sits a short distance away still waiting to be restored, at least she’s afloat.

New bridge

We pulled in right underneath the new footbridge, not yet open as it currently leads into a building site. Time for a bit of top up shopping. Mick headed over the canal to get foody things whilst I headed into Castle Quays to the post office. I sent off samples of black canvas for #unit21 and the art work for the cloths in Rapunzel so that they can be printed.

Lock 29 lots of yummy things

Lock 29 at first looks like it is a new bar facing onto the canal, maybe where you’d eat whilst staying at the new Premier Inn next door. But inside there is lots of space, lots of tables and lots of stalls selling food and drink of all kinds. Fudge, Greek food, fresh bread, smoothies, all sorts.

In the shade of Banbury

After lunch on board and a quick return visit to Holland and Barrett we pushed onwards. Looking back, at what might become a wind tunnel. The new buildings are not as encroaching as we thought they’d be. I wonder how noisy the moorings will be at night once the building works are completed. The lack of afternoon sunshine for solar will put many off mooring here, but the proximity to the new Lidl is a bonus.

The overgrown hippo by Malc and Dinks

Malc Weblin passed away in June this year at the age of 85. As you passed his and Dink’s cottage there would always be a smile and a big wave from him. Today two people sat in the conservatory, I’m assuming one was Dink, her companion gave us a wave. As nice as it was it wasn’t quite the same.

Waiting our turn, a long way back

At Hardwick Lock we were second in line, we helped with the boats ahead and then rose up ourselves.

The two cats painted into the little windows at Bourton Lock are still keeping guard, although someone has added a touch of green writing to the front wall!

Bends on the Oxford Canal tend to bring surprises. Todays surprise was going to be possibly the most surprising we’ve ever had!

Sure enough round the bend came a narrowboat, just as it came into the view so did something over head!

Blimey that was low

Very low over our heads swooped the grey undercarriage of an RAF Hercules. It was huge!! No warning, it just appeared over the top of the trees and carried on almost skimming the hillside. Thankfully both boats managed to keep on course.

Now should we catch up to where we should be? Or should we stop at the award winning mooring below Slat Mill Lock. We decided on the latter, by now the afternoon was fading, if we carried on it would be way past Tilly’s dingding so there would be no shore leave for her. Several boats were already moored up but we managed to slot in.

That’s a lot of people on a narrowboat

Tilly had a couple of hours whilst I cooked us a quinoa crust chicken, bacon and leek quiche. Mick tried to get the TV onto the SJT website so that we could watch the production of Home, I’m Darling that Vicky our ledger had been in. But sadly the internet signal wasn’t good enough or something wasn’t quite right for us to watch the play. Hopefully tomorrow things will be better.

4 locks, 6.47 miles, 1 lift bridge, 1 new bridge, 1 missing bridge, 1 burnt out cottage, 1 bath tub, 1 range, 16 yellow tiles, 240 glucosamine and chondroitin complex, 1 new Lidl, 1 low flyer, 1 award winning mooring, 0 night at the theatre.

Pairs. 21st August

Muddy Slipper to Somerton Meadows

Rain, that’s what was forecast and what we woke up to. In no rush to get wet and it being a Saturday we logged into the Geraghty Zoom. Subjects today, the Scottish Tooth Fairy and the Sylvanian Family. By the time we’d caught up on each others news the rain was waining, Tilly had come home and a pair had come past us, the motor boat and butty had been moored in Oxford when we’d left. This meant we didn’t rush to push off as there was likely to be a wait for us at most locks today.

Shoe evolution

Yesterday at one of the locks my feet had had difficulty gripping onto the brickwork whilst pushing a gate open. I wear slip resistant shoes but my current pair have been worn for more than a year. A check of the sole confirmed that the grippy soles had been worn down, time for a new pair. Handily we’d ordered new shoes last winter so they just needed digging out from under the dinette.

The three stages of boat trainers

Time to move shoes up the evolutionary scale. New bright shoes, boat shoes, need to be quickly broken down so as not to upstage everything around you. Next pair up the scale, comfy stretched to fit where it matters most, toned down through use, these now move on to become painty shoes. The old painty shoes, I believe they moved up the scale maybe on the last panto I painted, or during lockdown 1. The toes have been re-stuck to the soles a couple of times, they have served me well, but now the next step up the scale is into the next C&RT bin.

Both of us had been fooled into thinking it was autumn again, the winter waterproof trousers came out, but at the first lock these were found to have been a big mistake, I replaced mine with shorts!

Dashwood’s Lock some months ago had a gate beam failure. A temporary beam has been constructed and a notice tagged to the gate says to exert minimum force in moving it. Coming down the lock was a day boat, it was their first time on a boat and one of them was suggesting that they use the boat to push the bottom gate open! Well this of course would not work as they would be pushing the gate very much closed. We chatted and I told them to wait for the water to settle below the gate before pushing the beam, then things would be easy.

Butt joints and threaded bar

I pushed the bottom gate open, blimey that beam flexes, so much so you think it will break even with the smallest amount of force! I can understand the construction of the temporary beam, but if they’d turned it through 90 degrees there would have been considerably less flex in the wood and adding a few diagonals into the mix would also help. It worked even though it felt like I might be catapulted across the adjoining field!

Blue cabin paint

Coming out of the lock the top gate pushed back into its recess it’s beam overhung the water. With only half an inch between Oleanna’s cabin side and the big foot square metal end, I pulled it away from possible scraping distance. The end of the beam has obviously come very close to quite a few blue boats before.

Round a few over grown bends a boat we thought we recognised came into view. A large grey cratch cover over the welldeck, plum red cabin sides that have seen far better days and the name still on the side, NB Sola Gratia. This used to be Tim, Tracey and Guide Dog Oakley’s boat. Tim and Tracey along with Ozzie and Guide Dog Loki have now moved onto the new NB Sola Gratia and trade as The Doggie Boat.

Stick um up!

Next Lower Heyford where a couple had just finished filling from the reeeeaaallly slow tap still at gun point from the rabbit on the off side.

Mill Lift Bridge

Another boat was just coming through Mill Lift Bridge, the chap with the key of power tried several times to remove his key, but it doesn’t get released until the bridge is down, he kindly stayed and let us through.

Could this be Allen?

Allen’s Lock, here we caught up with the pair, their motor just finishing rising, the butty pulled in to the lock landing as there were boats above waiting to come down.

With the next boat coming down the motor was reversed up to the top gates. When the lock was empty the chap then bow hauled the butty in, his wife stood at the stern helping to steer into the lock. All done very efficiently.

A lady from a boat behind wandered around her phone held high above her head to try to find signal, no chance, Allen’s Lock is a black spot for phone, internet and TV, we once made the mistake of mooring here.

See you at the next one

Just over half a mile on and we caught the pair up again at Heyford Common Lock. The usual exchange of how far you going today, another lock for them, we might go further. Well that was until the heavens opened! We quickly decided that if there was space at Somerton Meadow then we’d pull in and call it a day, thankfully there was plenty of space. A late lunch with a disappointed cat as the rain hammered down outside.

Noisy fun

During the afternoon not many boats came by. A group on paddle boards and canoes had dogs with them, they loitered just behind us being really rather noisy screaming in the rain with their dogs barking. I’m glad someone was having fun! Maybe we’re just turning into grumpy gits. They moved away after a while of both Tilly and Mick staring at them from under the pram cover.

Then the sound of an old working engine could be heard getting closer. A Russell Newbery, then the diamonds on the bow flash gave her away, it was Tyseley the Mikron boat.

Tyseley got stuck behind Southcote Lock on the Kennet and Avon on 29th July and had been waiting patiently for the lock to be mended. The shows have continued, set and cast moving from venue to venue by van without their accommodation on Tyseley close by.

Somerton Meadows

I think it was Thursday when they managed to get going again, Marianne at the tiller and crew joining as and when needed along the network. They have quite a distance to cover to catch up with the shows, so Tyseley is a flyboat for the next few days. No time to stop and chat, just a passing hello and good luck on their mission. It’s a real shame we’ve not managed to coincide with the shows this year, we’ve either been a bit too far ahead or just a day or so behind them, even then because of reduced capacity they have been sold out.

That’s a funny looking plane

I sent Marianne a message giving her a heads up regarding the pair in front, hopefully she would pass them today and be far enough ahead on her mission to not get delayed.

As the evening continued the sun came out briefly, Tilly headed off to explore, she knows here well and I cooked us a roast chicken. Potatoes, beetroot, onion, garlic from our veg box, the last of Frank’s beans and two miserly carrots that Sainsburys sent us. Sainsburys did however manage to give us a box of Lynda McCartney burgers and a box of Soleros that we didn’t order, not noticed until the driver was long gone. Think I’d have rather had bigger carrots though.

The mist kept rolling in leaving only shadows of trees

Mist rolled in across the fields and the evening became one of trying to plan October and November around stoppages, panto and another lodger in the house. It’s all getting a touch awkward.

3 locks, 4.82 miles, 1 bridge lufted, 1 new pair, 1 floating pair, 0 signal,1 very wet afternoon, 1 dripping Marianne on a mission, 2 blogging boats,1 roast chicken, 12 roasties, 1 mist creeping across the meadows.

Weeeeed! 19th July

Marshgate Bridge to Ordnance Road Bridge 38, Enfield

A much quieter night thank goodness, but the heat absorbed by the boat yesterday kept us nice and overly hot as we tried to sleep last night, so today we hoped we’d find a shady spot for the afternoon.

Alarm was set to try to get cruising by 8am which we just about managed. Another boat had pushed off much earlier leaving a gap two boats up, we were leaving another.

Mid stream weed clearing

Three and a bit miles to our first lock at Tottenham, this should have taken us about an hour. But the amount of weed in the navigation gradually slowed us down so much that we had to cut the engine mid stream. First Mick tried to clear the trailing weed with the boat hook, then the weed hatch was investigated. Masses of weed and a few plastic bags were pulled out, thankfully there isn’t that much of a flow on this pound so we stayed almost stationary in the middle.

A chap shouted across from his boat that he’d had to do the same three times yesterday. When the engine started up again it was obvious that we still had stuff on the prop, our progress upstream was slightly better, but only slightly.

As it says

A gap showed itself under a willow tree, we pulled in and tied up to clear the prop properly. Despite the shade this wouldn’t be a place to stay for the rest of the day as we were by a outflow of some sort which constantly trickled and had an certain aroma to it! Mick requested a bag to stuff the weed into for disposal later, he managed to fill it. At least we’d been cutting a way through for following boats.

Well NB Small World soon came into view, they too stopped mid channel to clear the prop. Another boat headed downstream, a few blasts of reverse weren’t going to help, but they kept trying!

Now with a clear prop we set off again, hoping to last until we’d reached Tottenham Lock which we did thankfully. We had a widebeam pull out in front of us, but he was just nudging up from underneath a bridge to the next available spot. A weed cutter was just heading out from it’s mooring, hopefully our route back will be clearer, although I suspect the weed grows pretty quickly.

Fire Engines

It took us 2.5 hours to reach Tottenham, we’d hoped to be stopping late morning, but we knew we still had some distance to go before we’d find any available shade. As Mick dropped me off to set the lock four fire engines and a ladder tender turned up sirens blaring, they turned down the road just alongside the lock. There was no sign of what the emergency was and by the time I’d walked up to the lock control panel the engines were turning round and one by one heading away, a false alarm perhaps.


Time for the key of power. A quick refresher on how these locks work and I pressed the button to open the bottom sluices. On the Yorkshire locks there is a panel situated at each end of the locks, this is because most of them are so big. Here two narrowboats have plenty of space but only one panel is required.

Up came Oleanna, fresh white paint leaving it’s mark on our ropes.

With not far to Stonebridge Lock I walked onwards to operate the panel, NB Small World only just having exited. We’d been wanting to stop for water, but there was hardly any space for us to pull in so onwards.

We passed boats we’d seen when we came along here back in January 2015. Two cruisers made into a catamaran. Plenty of boats protesting that boaters rights are being eroded and abut a section of the navigation which has now become a safety zone for rowers, cutting down on mooring space.

New film and TV studios

Three grey arched buildings stood out as being quite new and interesting. Google maps has them as the Troubadour Meridian Water Studios. This turns out to be a new film studio complex. At the moment there are three huge studios another three are planned in a couple of years time. More info here.

Nice and cool

If it wasn’t for all the traffic going over head we might have moored under the North Circular, it was lovely and cool down there. There were signs that people live there, a couple of comfy beds alongside the canal along with other home comforts.

Alfie’s Lock

At Alfie’s Lock we waited for a widebeam to exit the lock and then joined a chap who had novice crew with him today. Alfie’s lock was busy, plenty of people sitting outside the lock cottage along with a few gongoozlers pausing on their bike ride or walk.

Do not let the geese in the lock or the swans

Alfie’s lock used to be called Pickett’s Lock, but was renamed in 2015 after the long serving lock keeper Alfie Saggs to mark his 86th birthday. When we passed through the lock that January there was a box requesting a fare of a Bounty bar for safe passage through the lock, these were meant to be Alfie’s’ favourite. We made sure when we returned that we left one for him. Today it looks like the cottage has new occupants, the bounty bar box is gone but Alfie’s name is on the gate and there is still a warning regarding the geese who reside above the lock.

Our lock partner asked for the paddles to be raised with caution, no baffles on the gate paddles can give a rather bumpy ride. So one turn at a time until we’d both ascended. There is a water point here, but you have to sit in the lock to use it, so not the best position, we decided we’d wait a while to top up the tank. I did however pause to check out the new bin store on the towpath here, although I omitted to check whether there were recycling bins along with standard ones. These are not marked on our Waterway Routes map, but are likely to be in the next update once we’ve passed on the grid reference to Paul. Apparently some of the facilities have been upgraded on the Lee, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled.

Mick couldn’t find a C&RT notice about this

Just before the next lock Ponders End there was a tap, time to top up. After a while our partners arrived and headed into the powered lock. They seemed to be there forever with nothing much happening. Maybe the training of the crew was taking time. A sign gaffered onto the bridge however explained, the powered lock was out of action, so the twinned manual one should be used.

We shared the lock again and our companions stopped for a beer or two at the Navigation leaving us on our own again. We passed NB Brocky with it’s wooden cabin, pointy bow and steam funnel.

To our east large reservoirs hide behind big banks, tall pylons follow the line of navigation. To the west large warehouses back onto the canal, noisy both day and night according to Clare and Pete on NB Billy!

Gate panel at Enfield Lock

It’s amazing what you remember from six and a half years ago. The hefty weight of lock gates, those that seem to flex more than move, pylons. The locks that have powered gates but maybe still need a windlass. Glad I thought of that as at Enfield the gates are powered the buttons being covered by a metal panel. Then all the paddles are windlass operated.

Enfield Lock

As we passed the lovely terraced houses on Government Row we hoped for a mooring with shade. We spotted one, but would it have enough depth? The water being so clear I didn’t think we’d be in luck, but fortunately we managed to get into the side, well almost!

Government Row

The doors were opened up and Tilly set free to explore whilst we had a late lunch. What we’d hoped would take us 4 hours had taken us 6.5 hours due to so much weed. This mooring turns out to more or less being where we were to see in the New Year 2014/2015.

Thank heavens for shade

We watched the press conference from Checkers and Downing Street, Freedom Day not quite fitting it’s own bill. As covid cases rise around the country our cruising plans are changing. The current play at the SJT is cancelled for ten days due to a cast member testing positive and other members of the company are now having to self isolate, I hope our lodger is okay. We will keep wearing our masks in shops and on transport, we’ll also be doing our best to avoid crowds.


5 locks, 9.47 miles, 1 key, 1 windlass, 1 boat trimming the weed, 3 very slow boats, 1 full water tank, 2 boaters keeping their eyes open, 1 very hot day, 1 shady mooring, 10 days no shows, 6.5 years, 10 weeks to new measures.

Our friends Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice have decided to hang up their windlasses and sell their lovely, much loved boat. If you are thinking of a life afloat or just your summers, you really should take at look at her. We’ll miss the opportunity to meet up with Jennie, Chris and Monty on the canals, but hope to be able to see them when we are in their part of the country. Tentatrice for sale.

Farewell HS1. Hello Hackney! Breach 55 17th July

St Pancras Cruising club to Marshgate Bridge 15, River Lee Navigation

Aire and Calder Breach Site 17/7/2021

Back in Yorkshire it looks like it’s been a lovely day and a good one for drone flying, Mark has been back to the breach site today. Thank you Mark for letting me use you photos.


The breach site has been without water for quite sometime now, there are plants growing on the silt on the southern side. The little boats are back that were used to get across the canal in the early days of the cofferdam, it also looks like the small tug is back on site.


In the above photo you can see that the access road has had a change in direction. It now leads across the eastern side of the cofferdam to what looks like a little pool of water.


This is where, when the cofferdam was built, they discovered a void behind the original piling on the south side. This had a temporary fix done to it to make the dam water tight. Now the top has a new concrete edge, a more substantial fix having been made.


Back on the north bank it looks like they have started to remove some of the aggregate that was being used as an access road. Parts of it have been dug out.


The piling now has a top edge, capped off to neaten it off. The concrete over the drain below has now been brought out to meet the level of the piling, neatening it all off. The surrounding bits of towpath have been filled in and levelled off.


Here’s hoping that when they raise the water levels everything remains water tight. Then the next stage will be removing the cofferdam and reopening the navigation.

Meanwhile back in London

Mick in the blue

We dropped into the Geraghty Saturday morning zoom for about ten minutes before paying for our mooring and making ready to push off. Graeme had his crew arrive, Roy and Jamie.

Mick walked down the gunnel of the boat in front of us and pulled our bow rope, pivoting Oleanna so that her nose poked out from the other boats. Terry from NB Flora Dora gave us a final push with a pole as Mick cranked the engine up, our extrication from the basin far easier than we’d thought it would be.

Oleanna leaving St Pancras

The sun was out, the sky blue, we were both lathered in sun cream, the world looked good. Once in the lock Mick got out his new propmate ready to clear the prop, making sure he put his hand through the string. There had been no point in doing so before we got out past all the weed in the basin.

Misty Blue

NB Misty Blue soon followed us out and the two boats were ready to descend towards the Lee Navigation.

St Pancras Lock

With plenty of crew our cruise would be plain sailing. We dropped down St Pancras Lock and said our goodbyes to the basin, thank you all for making us feel welcome and giving us somewhere to be whilst we headed to Scarborough, Huddersfield and attempted to sort the washing machine. But I have to say I won’t miss the trains early in the morning.

Last of the gas holders in their original place

A short distance on by Goodsway Bridge there is part of one of the gas holders left to mark where they had originally stood. Then on to Islington Tunnel. A lady moored on the offside just before the tunnel ask if we could lend a hand. Last night they had their rowing boat stolen, it was used to break in to a charity boat on the other side of the tunnel. If we could see it could we make sure it was tide up safe for her to collect later.

We had to wait for a trip boat to come through then the way was clear, NB Misty Blue following on behind. The rowing boat was tied up on the moorings so safe for now, maybe the lady would be able to get someone to tow it back through the tunnel for her.

Swapping at City Road Lock

A boat was just coming up City Road Lock, so we swapped over and waited for our lock partners to join us.

Lots to see. Interesting boats, graffiti all with the sun beating down on us.

A couple of volunteers were on duty at Old Ford Lock, they helped us down meaning we could stay on board and get ready to turn left onto Ducketts Cut, The Hertford Union Canal. With only three locks and 1.2 miles long the canal is easy, it cuts the corner on going down to Limehouse Basin and back up to the Olympic Park, which is 4.7 miles and 6 locks.

Misty Blue led the way, onto new waters for her and her crew.

More colourful boats, the Dad of the flamingo we’d seen up near Tring a few weekends ago and C&RT signs that are now totally unintelligible! We think the mooring sign used to say 4 hours, but we’re not sure!

Loads of spray cans, it must cost a small fortune

At Old Ford Lower Lock a chap was busy creating on the wall alongside. For as long as we can remember this wall has always had graffiti on it. Today it was getting a refreshed look. The face of a green man was appearing as the chap worked away. I was interested in how they work.

As a Scenic Artist I usually have reference to work from, a scale model, this chap kept looking at his phone. The chap said the wall was usually planned out before hand, but not always sometime it was just how the mood took him. He was however following whatever was on his phone quite religiously. I said I looked forward to seeing how it turned out when we return in a week or twos time. He said it was going to be a really good one, but that it would have been painted over by the time we come back.

Here is where the two boats parted company.

Misty Blue heading south

Graeme and crew on NB Misty Blue turned southwards with the aim of cruising round City Mill River to see the stadium, his crew being West Ham supporters.

We turned northwards up into Hackney Wick. Blimey the river was busy! Moo canoes filled the water, the towpath was chocka, bars and restaurants were filled to the gunnels, the whole area alive and buzzing.


The graffiti artist who has the ‘I ♥ Eggs’ as their tag has decorated one of the bridges. They have moved on from just their tag that appears near St Pancras, now there are fried eggs to accompany it.

We moored by the Copper Box for our first Christmas afloat in 2014, large areas of the land surrounding it have changed so much. It was what felt like desolate wasteland before, now it is filled with buildings.

Gainsborough School and footbridge

We passed under the footbridge from Josh’s old junior school where we once moored on Lillian, this stretch now permanent moorings. Onwards northwards the only gaps in the moorings were too shallow, but we knew somewhere we’d be able to moor.

Up ahead tucked in behind a bush we could make out a riveted hull, then the red and green of the cabin side came into view, we slowed down and prepared to pull alongside NB Billy. An exchange of messages yesterday with Clare meant we’d be passing today, but they had decided to stay another night at Hackney Marshes and offered for us to moor alongside.

See you somewhere up the way

We’d only really just got settled when NB Misty Blue came past, sadly Old Ford Lock was closed on the Lee so their trip around the loop hadn’t been possible. As we are heading in the same direction our paths are likely to cross again in the next week or so.

Clare and Pete returned from a bike ride round the Marshes. We decided to do a do-si-do, for us to be on the inside and them on the outside. This would mean we were ready for them to push off in the morning and Tilly could have shore leave without passing over another boat. We swapped sides, possibly confusing a boat who thought it’s luck was in as both boats pulled out, but then snuck back into the same spot.

NB Billy

NB Billy should have been long gone, but they had had an incident with a large chunk of tree and their prop a week ago. A lot of damage was caused and necessitated being in dry dock for a day, their prop blades were distorted, it sheared off 8 bolts from the shaft coupling and dumped their propshaft into their bilge. But all is just about right now, just a bit of packing needed in Billy’s stern gland.

As we chatted Tilly came and went, her calculations went slight array when she attempted to leap from the stern which os moored out at quite a distance. A big splash, one soggy cat extricated herself from the cut onto the bank and ran inside, to be grabbed by me with a Tilly towel. I’d told her not to go off the back! It was all planned, a nice cooling dip!

Tilly having a bath after her dip

Now we have yet another dirty towel needing washing with no washing machine!

8 locks, 5.83 miles, 1 tunnel, 0 mysterons, 2 lefts, 3 canals, 1 Goole escapee partner, 5 crew, 1 propmate, 1 hot day, 1 prearranged mooring, 1 Billy, 1 soggy moggy, 1 do-si-do, 1 noisy towpath, 1 bouncy castle, 54,674 cases!