Category Archives: Huddersfield Broad Canal

Let’s Leave Underpants Bridge For Tomorrow. 26th March

Mirfield to above Kirklees Top Lock

Tilly has expanded her interest in the secret passage behind the sofa. She has discovered that she can just squeeeeeeze herself through the smallest gap between sofa, pouffe and bookshelf to get there. Once in there she can been heard discovering all the secret delights the passage hides from those of us who cannot squeeze in there. Then after about ten minutes the meows change tone and her claws come out attempting to escape. This is impossible! No it’s not, I just haven’t found the correct route out! So the sofa needs to be pulled out to aid escape. A touch boring for us humans to have to do this at least once a day, but my main concern is that she goes in there to explore whilst we’re busy moving the outside and gets STUCK! I have never got stuck, only temporarily delayed!

A heavy box to block the entrance

The alcohol free lager has a use at last!

We pootled up towards Ledgard Flood Lock, from the EA website the river levels this morning looked to have gone down. Passers by asked if the lock was open, well it would almost certainly have it’s gates closed, but it should be workable and most probably be in the amber. ‘Levels!’ said one chap.

Ledgard Flood Lock

Sure enough the level had gone down, there was twice as much amber showing this morning as there had been yesterday. Hebble paddles had been left up at both ends of the lock to help feed Shepley Lock when used, these needed to be left as found. Mick dropped me off, we made a plan, I plotted my route round the lock to take the shortest amount of time when closing up after us and hopefully covering the possibility that a gate may swing open, all so that I could get to Oleanna as quickly and as safely as possible. If we were new boaters we wouldn’t have even considered this.

Through the last closed flood lock, we hope!

All went well, the pull towards the weir wasn’t that great for Mick and Oleanna to cope with, the only problem was a chap who stopped to chat with Mick as he did his best to hold onto Oleanna at the short landing. There are times when you may just have to be rude in life and this so nearly was one of those moments.

Battyford Lock

Onwards to Battyford Lock, a big bruiser of a lock always waiting with it’s top gates ajar! Here the level was that bit higher only just in the amber. Battyford Flood Gate was open, next stretch of river to cross to Cooper Bridge Lock. This is one of my favourites, Hebble Spike required, worn stone step by the top gate and the lock cottage. Today the cottage looked less cosy, it’s normally surrounded by trees, these have either gone or had a serious hair cut. The other reason for liking the lock is the two geese who live here. A chap was in the field with them, petting them and chatting away, a very rare temperament for geese to have.

Cooper Bridge Lock

Cooper Bridge Flood Gate was also open, here we carried straight on up stream, leaving the Huddersfield canals behind us, heading for the Rochdale. Another river section crossed off the list.

Picturesque canal side house

Kirklees Bottom Lock is over looked by drivers heading between Huddersfield and the M62, I’ve sat in traffic on that road many a time, longingly looking at the lock beams. The two Kirklees Locks require a spike to go uphill, then there’s a stretch of moorings with rings. A handy lunch break location. We both looked at each other, if we carried on we’d be off the rivers in Brighouse, but that is where we’d end up mooring for the night and Tilly has been cooped up inside for a couple of days, exploring the passage! Should we risk stopping for the day?

Looking back to Wakefield on the left and Huddersfield on the right

The door was opened and after a quick sniff and clawing claim of the tree she shot straight up into the branches, we’d be staying put today and hope the forecast overnight wouldn’t be too wet.

Tilly’s tree

Mick had another look at the voltage sensitive relay. He got it to delay switching off by 999 seconds, however it didn’t turn itself back on when he restarted the engine. Still work in progress and I really don’t mind turning the Nebolink on and off anyway!

Lamb biryani this evening, just a shame I had a moment and thought I was using brown basmati rice, which turned out to be just brown rice which didn’t want to cook through in the oven! After an extra half hour on the hob, it was still a touch munchy. Oh well, there’s still plenty more lamb, I may give the recipe another go in a few days time, but with the correct rice this time!

4 locks, 3.6 miles,1 straight on, 4 inches of amber, 4 hours shore leave, 1 brilliant tree, 12 handy bottles, 3 river stretches ticked off, 1 left to go, M62 bridge left for tomorrow.

Happy 8th Baseplate Day! 14th February

Well today marks the 8th anniversary of Oleanna’s baseplate being laid in Tim Tylers workshop in Newcastle under Lyme. It was another year and a bit before we finally moved on board to cruise her down to Crick to meet with Lillian and fully move onboard.

Mick stood at the stern 58ft 6 inches away, 8 years ago

If you want to look back and see Oleanna’s build this is a post from our first visit. Her story starts much earlier so here’s a link to the first Oleanna blog post, 1948 blog posts ago!

Currently we are gradually getting ourselves ready to move back on board, the date still a little bit up in the air.

Sunday in the Park with Mick

Mick went down to check on Oleanna on Monday. A chat with the bully boy batteries went well, the newly oiled floor had cured so the back steps could go back in. I’ve been busy covering new and old dinette cushions and today we should receive new cartridges for our life jackets, which are currently still inflated in a closed room well away from cat claws.

The world of canals and rivers is keeping us on our toes as regards to stoppages at the moment. There is a silt build up on the River Trent which needs dredging between Beeston and Cranfleet locks. The coal boat had serious difficulty passing that way a week ago and was having to wait for levels to rise again before attempting to return to base. Since then the Trent has gone back into flood.

Can we start packing yet?

The Don Doors on the New Junction are having issues with their gearbox so are closed to the canal currently. Even if we got past them Vazon Sliding Bridge is closed to boat traffic until mid March whilst strengthening works are carried out to the north canal wall.

However we’d planned on crossing the Pennines. The Rochdale, Lock 67 is suffering from subsidence which will be worked on next week. Lock 65 is also showing similar signs and will be looked at next week to see what should be done.

Round 1

The Leeds Liverpool has a navigation restriction near Burnley, Embankment 39, so it is still navigable. Works at Wigan have been slowed by the weather so the closure there has been extended by a week so that concrete has more time to go off, the concrete has as yet to be laid. Problems near Foulridge Tunnel seem to have been sorted.

Round 2

Then the Huddersfield Narrow and Broad. There are bridge works and a lock closure on the Broad along with repairs to a wash wall which should be finished mid March. On the Narrow locks on the east side are closed until the end of February, then there is a closure in Stalybridge which should open mid March.

Round 3

So at the moment the Leeds Liverpool is looking the most promising, followed by the Huddersfield canals. Further south there has been a substantial landslip on the North Oxford near Brinklow. We’d planned on heading southwards this way, but we strongly suspect it will take a while for this to be sorted so will have to head southwards through Birmingham. Or do we wait for the Trent to be sorted and out of flood then high tail it south along the Leicester Section?

Who knows! We’ll wait and see what is open when we set off.

Thank you Beth

In Sockathon News I now have sponsors for 29 pairs of socks and have raised £655 for Dementia UK. Pair 7 will soon be finished. I now have a very large box of yarn donations sent in from all over, details of which are on the Yarn Donations page. There are still a few more people who have pledged yarn donations so they will be added as yarn arrives. I think I may be knitting for a few years to use it all up! If you fancy a pair here’s a link to my JustGiving page

  • Thank you Debby for becoming pair 30!
My friend Morag looking across the harbour

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 years old! 4 routes from the north closed, 1 bathroom delayed, 1 best mate visit, 2 lodgers, 1 fair weather cat, 2 opticians appointments, 2 doctors appointments, 1 vets appointment, 1 gathering, 1 leg of lamb, 2 boaters nearly ready.

It’s Him Again! 27th September

Staniland Marina

With Agnes’s arrival moving it gave Mick a dry window of opportunity to head off to do some shopping before the rain was due to arrive. The shopping list was just being put together when I noticed a bright blue boat had just come up Thorne Lock, NB That’s It on their last leg to get back to Strawberry Island in Doncaster.

They hovered for a while to give us an update on Les. She’d been kept in at the hospital, in a cast up to her hip. Apparently she’d misjudged her footing when stepping off the boat, not just a break but also a crush injury from the boat! As Jo said, stepping off a boat is something we all do every day and don’t really think about it. We’ll all be thinking about it from now on.

Time to say our farewells to Jo and Brian. It was nice to meet them earlier in the year, to share some locks, then to share the last leg of the Tidal Trent. I suspect our bows will cross again in the future.

A while later Clive came past walking Peg their dog. More news of Les, her ankle will need pinning, possibly more, so she’ll be kept in for a while. They are hoping they can stay with their son on land for some of Les’s recuperation. Plans were made for tomorrow to cruise up to Bramwith with Clive.

A 1:1 drawing had been requested by the set builders for some wiggly bits on panto. Two pieces of A4 paper were stuck together and wiggles drawn out. They’ll make a template from this, then use a router to cut them out.

Apparently these were bought as a joke, tasty joke

No sign of Agnes with her wind and rain in the early afternoon, she’d postponed her arrival now till late afternoon. Some extra memory for my laptop (thank you for the prompt from Dave Scouts) was wanting to be ordered to assist with my touching up of panto bits. But we needed an address to send it to. Fran in Sheffield was happy for us to use her address and hopefully it’ll mean we get to see her soon.

Just how many toys does one cat need in a bedroom?!

Yesterday I heard that my host in Chippy this year would now no longer have room for me, due to family circumstances her house would now be filled with Grandchildren. However she’d seen Suzanne my previous host and suggested I got in touch with her. Unfortunately Suzanne hasn’t managed to sell her house, fortunately for me it means I can stay with her again. Phew!

Late afternoon, Tilly was snoozing in the escape pod, I was pottering on the computer and Mick was being a domestic goddess with the hoover when I heard a boat go into reverse alongside Oleanna. I peeked out the window. Ah! It’s that man again!!

It’s that man again!

Paul the narrowboat mover, third or is it the fourth time this year? We’d heard that he might be doing a move along the Trent, but it depended on whether the boat would be ready to be picked up in time to catch us up, also on when Wigan reopens for another move. He reversed into the space behind us. Rapidly moored up, ran to chat with the boat he’d been travelling with then came for a chat.

They’d set off from Torksey this morning and had been expecting Agnes to slow them down, but she was only just starting to have an effect. This meant we could have quite a chat with him rather than just a quick Hello. His next destination is Huddersfield in a few days time.

I wouldn’t trust this bit

Tilly did a bit of tree inspecting whilst we chatted. Paul having pulled up under an oak tree. I’m not too sure about this branch, but the rest should be fine tonight! At around 5pm it started to rain time to stop gassing and head inside.

As the evening progressed the wind picked up, the plastic curtain on the dry dock flapping and clapping away . A sheet of rain could be heard approaching and making it’s way along Oleanna’s roof. Agnes has arrived!

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 Photoshop, 60cm of wiggles, 1 pack of OHP sheets, 0 fringing purchased, 1 long blog written, 9 hours, 1 update, 1 Paul again, 1 dust free boat.

An Inch Short. 16th March

Bramwith Junction

What a grey day! Even Tilly wasn’t impressed, preferring to spend much of the day asleep inside. With rain forecast for 1pm we had a choice of moving off this morning or staying put. The next proper mooring can be quite popular, this time of year especially so as there is parking, water and bins. An hours cruise to find out and if full it would be another hour back again, bringing us into the window of rain opportunity!


We decided to stay put, we like this mooring even on a grey day. A walk around the junction was on the cards and there was enough time before we’d get wet.

As we walked down to Bramwith Lock we could hear an engine, then see a flag between the trees, coming along the New Junction. It was Pax a kind of cross between a Dutch barge and a trawler that had been in Goole. They turned towards the lock where some friends had already opened the gates for them.

A narrowboat arrived below the lock, pulling into the lock landing, as we walked past we had a chat with the chap. This was to be his first solo lock, the boat new to him, maybe only by a few days. We wished him luck and carried on to where a footpath heads off to the Don Doors.

The side you don’t get to see from the canal

Water was spilling over the edge of the aqueduct, more so than yesterday when we’d crossed it. I was amazed at how little space there is below the trough to the river flowing beneath. The sides of the trough have plenty of extra support to help it withstand sideways pressure when the river is in flood.

We climbed over the top to the other side, sadly no view along the New Junction as the guillotine gates were in the way. But it being so grey the pictures wouldn’t have been too appealing anyway.

Looking up the New Junction

Was that a Chiff Chaff? It was! A sign of spring.

I so love Blackthorn blossom

We crossed back over the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. The first Blackthorn blossom opening up hunting for the missing sunshine. Bees buzzed round. Was that a Woodpecker we could hear? Spring with all it’s new life.

A small boat in an expanse of water

The single hander came round from Bramwith Lock heading towards Long Sandall. He’d been helped up the lock so still had his first solo lock to come. We wished him well, his next obstacle being Barnby Dun Lift Bridge.

Pootling along

A looooonggg LOUD horn could be heard. Was that someone annoyed to be held up at the lift bridge?

Then another blast. Within a few minutes we could see where it had come from, Exol Pride! I so hope the single hander had been warned about the big blue boat, suspect the Looooonggg blast had been suggesting he got out of their way!

There she goes

We stood and watched as Exol came past, a slight change of engine note before the junction, was that for us or just an adjustment before crossing under the Don Doors? The canal took a good half hour before it returned to calm.

A little after 1pm it started to rain. With whistling wind accompanying it we were glad we’d decided not to move today. Instead I sat in front of the stove and knitted, nearly a whole sock today, just short by an inch or so. Mick pottered on the computer whilst Tilly inspected the insides of her eye lids.


Today we added another option to our escape routes southwards.

  1. Out of Keadby to Cromwell
  2. Head across the Pennines, most probably by the Huddersfield Canals.
  3. Head down the Ouse to Trent Falls and onto the Trent that way.
  4. Cancel a trip to York by boat to meet with family and get through Thorne Lock before it shuts. Have a day trip by train instead.

The jury is still out.

It’s time to add a recipe to the Baking section. Tonight we enjoyed the last slices of my Bakewell Tart.

Click on the photo to get to the recipe

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 walk, 3 waterways crossed, 1 solo boater, 1 Pax, 1 big blue boat, 4 signs of spring, 1 reluctant cat, 1 inch short of a sock.

Knocking The Drawer

Opposite the Concrete works to Sykehouse Junction, New Junction Canal

You could hear Franks brain already at work when Mick got up to make our morning cuppa. To give the freezer more ventilation should the drawer be raised? This would involve raising the whole dinette, trimming the cushions to fit, then they wouldn’t fit to make up the bed. A solution with far too many knock ons.

Why won’t it come out!

First thing though was to be able to get the freezer drawer out of the dinette. For a while it’s been sticking part way out, only just enough space to get the lid off and access the contents. Was this down to something underneath the drawer on the floor? We knew there was a problem with condensation in the drawer as the freezer isn’t particularly well insulated, so that might be causing the problem.

Give it an hammer!

In the past we’ve tried pulling the drawer out to access little catches on the sides which would release the drawer from the sliders, but we could never find the catches. They were possibly on the part that was no longer sliding far enough out to be visible. Frank brought his hammer out and started hitting one section of the sliders back in to the dinette. One slider was obviously having issues and the drawer had quite a bit of play on it.

Eventually the slider gave in releasing the drawer. It moved out just that bit more, then nearly all the way there, then out to it’s full extent! We haven’t had this happen for at least a couple of years!

Freezer out in the open air

Mick disconnected the freezer then it was lifted out of the drawer. Time for breakfast! A bowl of blueberry porridge all round to celebrate.

The sliders were unscrewed from the base of the dinette. There had been no little catch on them, just a lot of screws and you needed the drawer to be fully out to access them all. The troublesome slider was examined. It was bent out of shape. The problem was that the drawer once pulled out of the dinette had nothing to rest on, it was hanging in mid air held only by the sliders. The combined weight of the drawer, freezer and it’s contents had bent the slider, stopping it from working correctly.

New sliders 650mm long and heavy duty sliders were needed. Nothing was available locally, just online. If replaced something to support the overhanging drawer would be needed to stop the situation from recurring.

The outside workshop

For now we could slide the drawer in and out without the sliders. Frank took the drawer outside and cut redundant sections out of the sides whilst retaining it’s structure, hopefully this will enable more air to circulate. Holes were also drilled in the base of the drawer, these won’t help at the moment as the drawer will sit on the floor for a while, but once it is lifted up a touch then air should be able to flow underneath it better. Everything was given a rub of candle grease to help it run more freely.

The floor under the freezer is made up of quite a few sheets of wood, possibly three. This isn’t necessary and a section of at least one (dinette structure) could have sections removed giving more air circulation. Then Frank decided that we’d be better off if the drawer ran on wooden runners, the front edge of it would need some support when it gets pulled out. We may add gliss domes to the leading edge, these are frictionless. Frank hadn’t brought his router with him, the easiest way to cut out the floor, so the remainder of the job will be finished another time.

Thank you so much Frank for your help and leaving us with some of the Bakewell Tart!

Just as Frank was setting off to head back to Scarborough, Lisa and Al arrived for a quick catch up. Their boat was a close neighbour when we moored at Viking last year, Al keeping an eye on Oleanna when the breach happened.

Ooo a yummy yarn donation

Lisa and I have quite a few other things in common, Scarborough and knitting. Lisa is an Indie Dyer and had seen I was busy with my sockathon, she’d come to make a donation. What a generous donation it was too! A bag of interesting bits and bobs, three 50 gram skeins and some baby yarn for my baby socks, far better than anything I could find in Boyes. Thank you so much Lisa for your wonderful donation! Link to Lisa’s Etsy yarn shop there’s some lovely yarn. Best keep my needles knitting!

1978 Austin Allegro for sale at Spicers soon

Two weeks into the challenge and the total amount that has been raised by knitters across the UK so far is £102,000. Brilliant!

Tilly had been making the most of the morning, dipping under the new fencing to head off and explore. It is thought that with the new Siemens factory close by, the rail track that runs along the side of the canal will be used to test the new Piccadilly Line tube trains, it may also be reinstated up into the docks. Today people were working on the track, sounded like they were cutting back vegetation. Tilly had been keeping an eye on them!

By the time we wanted to move Tilly had claimed most of the area including the VERY dusty road as her own.

With water supplies very low we pushed over to the water point to fill the tank. The bins here haven’t been emptied in the last couple of weeks, so we kept our recycling for another bin on another day. We then winded and headed out from Goole.

Goodbye blue Goole for now

Was this to be the last time in Goole for a while, well as there are few places to fill with diesel around the patch we aim to cover in the next few weeks, I suspect we will be back to top up.

As we pootled back along the same stretch of water we discussed our escape plan. At the moment the Huddersfield Narrow is looking like the most obvious route. The Trent still our preferred route. If everything were to fall into place, good weather, tides, amount of fresh, lack of wind, Keadby Lock opening hours it would be silly of us not to have a plan in place to go round Trent Falls again. So we shall work out two routes to cover all eventualities.

Hello Wendy and woofer

At Sykehouse Junction we turned left towards Doncaster and pulled in where we’d been a few days ago. We used outies just in case Exol Pride turned up. Sure enough just as the sun was setting it did, slowing to turn towards the New Junction and the Went Aqueduct.

Here she comes

Once they had just about crossed the aqueduct the engine was switched off, a generator kick started, this was where they would moor for the night. Suspect we’d get complaints if we blocked the navigation in such a comprehensive way.

Handy mooring for the night

0 locks, 6.01 miles, 1 left, 1 wind, 1 holey drawer that moves! 1 road claimed, 1 grey cat, 3 bags of yummy yarn, 1 full water tank, 1 very full bin, 1 clean pooh box, 2 outsides, 1 big blue boat, 2 plans to plan.

Deluded Lentil Baseballs. 12th March

Sykehouse Junction to Opposite the cement works Goole

Tilly was allowed shore leave whilst we joined the Geraghty zoom this morning. For the last four weeks Mick has been involved in something to do with hire cars, so hasn’t been present for at least three of those weeks, so it was nice to see people again and have a catch up.

Then it was time to push off, would Tilly return? Well, a short while after I called for her there was a meow at the back doors. Inside, 2 Dreamies, padded trousers on, trip computer set and we were off.

Reversing out from the junction

Across the way from where we’d moored was a line of buoys marking a relaxing bank, so we didn’t want to get close to it whilst winding. Instead Mick reversed Oleanna back to the junction, good job we’d got the weedhatch cover back in enabling better reversibility. At the junction we turned to face Goole and retraced our wake. Today was chilly and blustery stood on the stern. We discussed our options for escaping Goole, again. If there are enough boats interested then the Trent-Link group will put together an appeal to C&RT regarding Thorne Lock. For us a nudge of dates would be good, freeing up the Easter weekend I suspect would please local boaters.

Someone knows the grass is always greener.

Near Sugar Mill Ponds there has always been a dutch barge moored along the towpath. When we came past last week it wasn’t there, we wondered if it had moved moorings. Then it had returned. Today it had vanished again! Just where does it go to? Maybe for water, diesel? There was a choice of spaces opposite the cement works so we pulled in a touch further away from the boats with woofers. Here is the prefect place to bring a car alongside.


Across the way the moorings outside the Auction house were chocka block. We wonder if mooring is discouraged during the week when they are open, or is it that no-one will notice you mooring there when they are closed?

Hello Lisa!

A large pot of chilli was made in my cast iron casserole and popped on the stove to gradually cook for the rest of the afternoon, saving on gas.

Chilli gently bubbling away

With a visit from Frank on the cards we needed to stock up on a few things, especially potatoes to go with a roast. Mick headed to Tescos whilst I headed to Boyes for some glue and some baby yarn. Tescos supplied us with a new rectangular ceramic lasagne dish, not pyrex, but identical to the one we used to have. So now I can cook reasonable portion sizes again.

The title of the post? Our location on what3words, I found it amusing.

0 locks, 6.11 miles, 1 reverse, 0 dutch barge, 2 gaps, 0 shore leave, 1.5 kg potatoes, 2 types glue, 1 oven dish, 3 meals worth of chilli, 0.75 sock knitted, 1 bakewell tart started.

Sausage Day. 11th March

Sykehouse Junction

A Sausage Day! Was I going to like it? Well yes! But I still don’t know what it means as it involved no sausages what-so-ever! Not sure She even knows what it means. But I’d be quite happy to have more sausage days.

Checking on the solar

As soon as Tom was up and dressed the back doors were opened, She recited the rules to me and I was off into the friendly cover. I think She said something about 8 hours, but I wasn’t listening at that point! Who would when it’s a Sausage Day!?

I came back quite a few times as requested. My ‘Thank you for coming home‘ Dreamies however have been reduced in number! Apparently we are on an economy drive, therefore my Dreamies allowance has been cut by 33%. She and Tom have cut their wine allowance by 57%. I wonder where this economy is that we’ll drive too, hopefully we won’t be going by car!

The underside of the weedhatch

The weedhatch cover was removed and laid out on the towpath and given a good scrub all over to remove silt and then left in the morning sunshine to dry off whilst we had breakfast. As just about all of it had been blacked previously I held back with the Danboline, I’ll use this for the handles which sit above the water line and use blacking below.

Once it was dried I scraped away any loose paint and grease, gave it a sand and a good brush down before applying a coat of blacking. This was then left in the now fading sunshine to dry off for as long as possible. Too sticky to do the handles these will have to wait for another day.

Shall I put that screw somewhere handy for you Tom?

Mick spent a bit of time looking at the freezer drawer, trying to remove the back as access was needed to replace the handle that became detached earlier in the day. Either the back is glued in or has a screw or two from the bottom which currently is impossible to access as the drawer no longer comes out fully.

Weaving ends in

The afternoon was spent weaving ends into my first three pairs of socks, daylight a must for such a job. For the next few pairs I’m changing yarns, from DK to 4 ply. This means more stitches to knit and more rows, so each sock will take a touch longer. New patterns were worked out and in the evening the next sock was cast on.

A wheel of socks

Thank you so much to everyone who has sponsored me. The target on my Facebook page today was reached and another donation from two of Tilly’s friends has brought my Justgiving page to 75% of my targeted amount. I may have to buy some suitable yarn for baby socks when we get back to Goole as I don’t think I have enough suitable yarn to knit premature baby socks.

View from the stern

Today official news has come through regarding the stoppage at Thorne Lock on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. This was originally meant to be in place by now, opening back up around Easter. We have planned the beginning of our cruising year around this, then when re-open we would head up stream on the Trent, a fast route down the country.

Did someone mention sausage!?

But today in sausage terms we’ve been dealt a Cumberland Sausage! The lock will now close on April 4th and be closed for six weeks, reopening 23rd May. This would have us leaving the area at a similar time as last year when we’d been held up by the breach and covid, therefore not making the most of our Gold licence.

We could of course leave the area before the stoppage starts, but that would mean cancelling various commitments we’ve now made. What to do? We have several options.

A back door open kind of day, until it rained!

Leave via the Pennines, Leeds Liverpool, Rochdale or Huddersfield Canals. None of these would get us south for a while. The there is the other option, Trent Falls. We did this last year and if everything fell into place, weather, tide, locks, we’d choose this option. Mick even suggested seeing if we could do Naburn to Torksey in one day!

The jury however is still out.

For anyone interested in travelling the Trent there is a newish Facebook group Trentlink – Safe Navigation of the Tidal Trent. The aim is to encourage people to use the Tidal Trent in a safe way, offering advice and maybe even buddying up with more experienced boats for the trip.

Other news, Selby Swing Bridge which has only just been reinstated has broken down. From 14th March passage will be possible with 48 hours notice, C&RT will manually operate the bridge for you until the running gear has been refurbished.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 sausage day, 8 hours towpath freedom, £50 donations, 1 coat of blacking, 2 patterns, 7th sock, 1 happy cat, 1 less handle, 16 not 15mm Forstner bit, 1 Cumberland Sausage, 2 boaters needing to come up with an alternative plan.

#unit 21 and stormy weather, 13th to 19th February

An early Sunday lunch was enjoyed before we got in the car to drive over to Huddersfield. This visit I’d be staying four nights so being nearer to the theatre would be good so I booked into the Premier Inn at Apsley Basin. This not only meant I’d be able to pop into Sainsburys on my way to and from work but I’d also get to see boats every day.

Boats and us!

My chauffer stayed or a cuppa before heading back to Scarborough.

Valentines cards

Monday morning and I found a couple of cards in one of my bags. Somehow the postman had delivered a small box of chocolates and cards to me which I opened whilst waiting for my lateral flow test to to do its thing.

Then it was time to head on up to the theatre to wait for the set to arrive on the back of Grahams trailer. The last time Graham and I worked together was also on a Dark Horse Theatre production, seven years ago, Snakebite. There was a time where I saw more of Graham than I did of Mick! Once the set was in the building Graham and I started to bolt the sections together whilst Penny (the Stage Manager/Lighting Designer) started to rig the lights and soft black masking.

By lunchtime the floor was laid, the flats were in position. Graham had rigged the lift door mechanism and then explained it to me. The warmth of the building had helped by tightening up the fabric the set had been covered in. Ripstock doesn’t like the cold and even just a few degrees can mean a baggy set.

After lunch I proceeded to stick green neon gaffa tape onto the set whilst the sound was sorted for the show. Penny followed on with focusing the lights. Down in the dressing rooms I sewed names into costumes and adulting badges were added to the front of the overalls.

Tuesday, Penny plotted the lights, sound and computer animation whilst I hunted round every clothes shop in Huddersfield for a vest top which I hoped would cover up a pink sports bra. I returned with a few choices and later in the day one of them did the job.

After lunch we were joined by the actors to do a technical rehearsal. Making sure the actors knew where to stand in light, where to stand out of view. Making sure the sound levels were suitable and that the lighting states did the job whilst not overpowering the animation on the set.

This normally would be done in full costume, but we saved that for a tech run later in the afternoon. After work I treated myself to a hot meal next door at Table Table, there are only so many wraps you can eat in a week!

Hair and make up

Wednesday started with a full dress rehearsal. Make up and hair were added into the equation. With three of the Dark Horse staff members on hand to do space buns I managed to avoid having to lend a hand.

An audience and Penny with all her screens

Two shows today. The first with quite a large audience. A local learning disabled school along with representatives from theatres the show may tour to next year. Then in the evening we had an audience of friends and family.

The shows were development showings, half the show with full production values. Although if Dark Horse manage to get more funding for the show next year then we will add neon lights into the set rather than having to rely on neon tape.

Both shows went down well and I got chance to have a catch up with the Assistant Producer from the SJT in Scarborough.

Subdued crochet compared to my socks

Normally on Panto Postcards I do a tally of how many hours I’ve worked. Well with most of the work having been done in advance the days were short. Monday and Tuesday starting at 9am and finishing at 6pm, I was glad I’d taken some crochet along with me as there was quite a gap between shows.

All gone!

Then once the final audience member had left the auditorium it was time to take everything down. This took all of 35 minutes. The original plan had been to ferry all the set over to the rehearsal space, but because of Storm Dudley it was decided to take it to the office instead. Better that people didn’t fly away.

A couple of drinks in the pub next door to wind down was followed by some chips which I managed to eat all of on the way back to my hotel. The second photo is of an empty box overlooking the canal basin whilst Dudley did it’s worst, nothing to do with the wine I’d drunk!

Thursday morning Mick arrived to pick me up. It was time to celebrate Christmas with the London Leckenbys. The four hour drive wasn’t too bad as the worst effects of the storm had passed. A pizza followed by some chilled medication was enjoyed at Wells Street Pizza in Hackney.

Friday we managed to avoid the worst effects of the fresh air Storm Eustice was blowing around. Jac and Josh headed off to do a bit of shopping and get a hair cut at Bermondsey Market, but neither Mick or I fancied sitting on a double decker bus at the height of the storm. Instead we got to watch the womens curling instead.

Christmas presents were unwrapped in the evening. Mick got a hedge trimmer and a webcam. I got a big saute pan, a red fleece top, a new duvet cover and the latest Andy Griffee hard backs. A very good haul, worth the trip to London.

More watery mysteries

Saturday we said our farewells, hopefully we’ll get to see Andrew Jac and Josh next just before Easter. We’d managed to miss the really bad weather again for our trip back to Scarborough, although we did have torrential rain, then sunshine. When we turned onto the M18 we then got sleet which by the time we turned off the M62 had turned into snow, much of it looking like it would be hanging around.

Snowy Wolds

A road closure meant we had to divert to Bridlington and as soon as we ducked under the railway line all of the snow vanished, Scarborough was having quite a pleasant day!

My pretty little Thug

Tilly’s magic food bowl was totally empty and the biscuit bowl had been licked clean too.

Good job they came back when they did as Tom hadn’t left ANY reserves!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 hire cars, 24 hours work, 7 actors, 21 strips of neon gaffa, 100 dabs of glue, 1 baggy set, 1 tight as a drum set, 2 showings, 1 happy director, 4 nights, 4 pizzas, 1 family Christmas, 1 whole salmon, 2 storms, 1 snowy landscape, 1 cat happy to have us home.

PS. One Designer looking for work.

One Thirty. 12th February

Time seems to have been standing still here in Scarborough.

Jobs are gradually being ticked off the lists. On the house jobs list all the woodwork in the two hallways and staircases has been rubbed down, filled, undercoated and glossed. This took a long time and a lot of patience, I know I could have done it better but even my patience was running thin. The back bedroom curtains are now lined. Patching the wall paper in the hallways is partially done.

Mick has serviced the life jackets. All four were inflated and left in the boat cupboard overnight to see if they held the air. This extended to being a week before Mick finished the job, all still filled with air and well out of reach of Tilly’s claws. She decided to explore a bathroom cupboard instead. Finally our gutters have been sorted at the back of the house and our neighbours Dad came and fitted a new shower tray for us. The plumbers had quoted £3500 for a new surround and tray, all we wanted was the cracked tray replacing. Lisa’s Dad did it for a tenth of the quote and a good job too.

Rebekah and Alice

I had a day and night over in Huddersfield working on #unit21. Final costume fittings with only one job left to do, or so I thought! I then watched a dress run through. In the evening I had planned to get the floor marked out and based in, leaving the top coat of green for the Saturday morning, but there was a dance class booked to use the main room. Their hour turned into two and a half! So by the time I’d got the flooring laid out I only had time to draw the lines out before I gave up.

Was it the wine? Was it the chicken?

Chicken and chips with a dubious glass of pink wine was had at Nandos, think I prefer the kebab wagon in Chippy. Over night I got to spend more of my time in my Travelodge bathroom than in the bed as something had disagreed with me somewhat!

I’d planned an early start, but that wasn’t going to happen. I’d planned a walk along the Broad canal into town, but a more direct route conserved energy. During the day I gradually worked my way painting white lines followed by green, fortunately the paint dried pretty quickly. I’d hoped to be back in Scarborough early afternoon, but that wasn’t to be and thankfully Mick was at the station to help with my bags. At least I’d managed to get the majority of jobs done.

The following day I took it easy, Downton Abbey and some crochet with Tilly on the sofa. Thankfully by the evening my appetite had returned so I could enjoy National Yorkshire Pudding day with roast pork.

During this week word came from Huddersfield that a zip had broken on a set of overalls. Replacing them wasn’t an option, no larger sizes were available either. So they were sent to me arriving along with the butchest zip I could find. I have now learnt/made up how to add an extra 3 inches (just to be safe) to the sides of the overalls and how to put a zip in. Here’s hoping it works.

Someone’s on the move

With a train strike on Sunday we’ve hired a car to get me to Huddersfield ready for the fit up on Monday morning. This of course means we had a car available for today. Now how should we make use of it? Well it was way past time to say Happy New Year to Oleanna!

Leaving me behind!

A really rather wet, windy, horrible day. Heading over the Wolds we were deprived of the views but the amount of snowdrops more than made up for it. When we’d last done the trip to Thorne all the fields were brown, now they are green with fresh life growing. The tide was out on the River Ouse as we crossed the M62 bridge. I could see why going round the wrong side of Howden Dyke Island would be a bad thing with the amount of silt to the north western side.

Not the best photo of Howden Dyke Island

During the week Mick had noticed that Oleanna was no longer hooked up. He’d given Sarah a call at the marina to check everything was alright. It was, Oleanna had been moved as the pontoon she was moored on was being replaced. During one of the recent storms a small cruiser i the marina had been lifted up by the wind. It was tied well to it’s pontoon which also got lifted off it’s supports. The boat was found in the middle of the marina still attached to it’s pontoon!

There she is!

There she was right at the far end of the marina breasted up against two other boats. Not the easiest of access, but we managed. Mick found a spare socket to hook us up to and turned the electric heating on. Then we enjoyed our picnic lunch sat by the hatch which remained firmly closed despite the view being rather good.

Mick had intended to do an oil change but the weather put him of somewhat. Instead he pottered, checked Oleanna over and ran the engine.

Down below I got on with my task for the day, some TLC for our multi-fuel stove. Last winter the top plate had started to show a little rust, the stove not having been lit for seven months. Today it was time to do something about it.

A good wire brushing on the top plate removed much of the orange, followed by some fine grit sandpaper. The rest of the stove just needed a freshen up. The big hoover came out to suck away all the dust. The hearth was cleaned too.

Drying the stove

Everywhere then got a good wash down. Only problem was it would take quite a while to dry off, handy that we’d bought a second hand hairdryer a few years ago when we planned to put plastic up at the windows in winter. Today it got used for the first time.

Stir it up

I hunted round in the painty cupboard and found the tin of stove black paint. This had been bought for Lillian’s Squirrel stove before we sold her. Thankfully the paint was still good inside, it just required a very good stir up.

Doors off and bits masked off

All the chrome bits were masked off, the door glass removed for cleaning. Then I gave everywhere a thin, hopefully even coat of paint. The hearth got a coat too to tidy it up.

Paint going on

That paint smells! So glad I’d decided to this job now when we wouldn’t have to put up with the smell all evening. Touch dry in fifteen minutes. Well that was hard to tell as the clock at the back of the galley had said 1:30 when we arrived and still said it when I’d finished painting.

Looking smart again

The doors slotted back on easily, the glass back in the door. Just like new apart from the knob on the riddle handle that needs replacing as the thread has worn away. On our next visit we’ll light a small fire to bring the stove up to temperature to help the paint cure. Then hopefully all the smellyness will be over and done with when we move back on board.

All ready to spill stew on again

A chat with Sarah suggested that there is still problems getting hold of Calor Gas. We have an empty bottle on board which we’d like to replace. Hopefully her next order of LPG will be successful, she’ll put our name on one of the bottles if it is.

Bye bye

Everything onboard was turned off again, taps left open should the temperature drop before we’re back next. Power was unhooked, the cable tucked away. Hopefully next time she will have been moved back to her mooring and a new pontoon making it a lot easier to get on and off.

The sun came out just as we were about to leave!

Our route back to Scarborough was slightly longer than the way there. It took us to New Bridge over the Aire and Calder, I was able to get my first view out of the window of the breach site. Today you’d hardly know what it looked like last year. Then onwards to B&Q in York to pick up some neon pink paint for #unit21 props.


0 miles, 0 locks, 2 staircases, 2 curtains, 1 new shower tray, 1 chair, 1/2 a dodgy chicken, 1 glass rose too much, 1 emergency zip replacement, 3 more inches, 1 hire car, 1 service postponed, 5 year old stove paint still stinky, 2 poo buckets forgotten, 1 cuddly Tilly, 1 pair of handknitted first night neon odd socks (neon to match the show, odd for down’s syndrome).

2021 An Adventurous Year

Time for the annual round up. Put the kettle on or pour yourself a glass of something stonger, put your feet up, this is a long post.

Looking out into a cold world!

As midnight turned from 2020 to 2021 we saw the old year out and new one in at the house in Scarborough, a quiet affair with just the three of us.

January and February brought ups and downs with them. Oleanna rose and fell with the water level at Viking Marina due to the breach at New Bridge whilst the country locked down. Despite the restrictions on travelling we made use of having a hire car for a few days at the beginning of the year to keep an eye on Oleanna.

Jobs around the house continued, our bedroom was redecorated and reclaimed from troublesome tenants. Tilly and I ventured out into the nearby park for the occasional walk, dependant on the number of woofers and the weather of course.

We walked, we ate, we drank, did our best to stay well and I started on the design for Chipping Norton’s panto in my reclaimed work room.

The spare living room was used as a workshop doing some work for Animated Objects, scrimming giant sci-fi guns and then painting model buildings all for The Odyssey. Beetroot burgers were made and pancakes consumed.

Then March came along and some easing of restrictions. Colour came back in nature with the daffodils popping up and my panto model started to get coloured in. A design for some origami paper arrived ready to be folded up to be part of 1000 ships display that would happen a couple of months later along the Yorkshire coast.

With new freedoms we had a couple of trips to Goole to check on Oleanna. First one was to swing her round and finally put fire extinguishers on walls all ready for her Boat Safety Inspection which she passed with flying colours and a comment that we seemed to like CO and smoke detectors, well I’d rather have too many than not enough!

The cofferdam at the breach site was completed and an access ramp created. My posts about the breach put us in touch with several people in Goole and at the beginning of April The Goole Escape Facebook group was formed. Due to the breach and lack of water in Goole Docks no leisure boats were allowed to use Ocean Lock out onto the Tidal Ouse. A joint calm voice was needed to try to find a way out for those boats wanting to leave, including us.

Of course March was also when Mick and I got our first vaccinations. Who’d have thought having a jab would put a smile on peoples faces! Not that you could really see them behind all the masks. A bathroom got a make over and we discovered parts of Scarborough we’d never been to before.

April was a very busy month. With lodgers on the horizon house jobs needed finishing. The roof needed attention along with a wall in my work room, both jobs were for the professionals. Pictures went up on walls, finally. The bathroom needed finishing with Frank fitting us a new bath surround.

Mid month out attention moved back to Oleanna. Way back when, we’d booked her in at Goole Boathouse to be blacked. We had a night on board before moving her from one marina to the other to come out of the water. She was jet washed down and the chaps began applying layers of 2 pack to her hull. We visited most days with jobs to do ourselves. Mick busied himself inside whilst I ground back rusty bits on the gunnels, repainted them and the tunnel bands. Inside the oak floor had a good clean and then was treated to two coats of oil. The weather had been perfect for it and she went back in the water a week after she’d come out, enough time for the 2 pack to cure. She looked smart again, well the cabin sides still needed a good wash!

Whilst in Goole we met up with David, Karl, Wendy and Martin, four members of The Goole Escape group. David had managed to negotiate with ABP passage for leisure boats through Ocean Lock at Goole Docks, this was limited to specific times of the tide. So escape was now possible but everything would have to come together to make a sensible plan. We wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks and hoped that there wouldn’t be a mass exodus before we could join people.

As I carried on trying to finish my panto model Mick made good use of his time doing a VHF radio course, we’d need to be able to use the radio to meet the criteria for going through Goole Docks and out onto the Tidal Ouse. Tilly visited the vet and got a years worth of flea and wormer treatments, we were all set to move back on board.

The first of May was that day. We’d hoped that Tilly would remember the boat after seven months on shore, within about two seconds of being back it was obvious she knew where she was. News that Goole caisson gates were now open and cruising up towards the breach site was possible we headed off to give Oleanna a good run and so that Tilly could venture back onto dry land. It was very good to be back on the move again. On our second such trip Tilly remembered how to swim!

Whilst in Goole Mick took his Short Range VHF Radio exam and passed. I carried on painting my panto model. We both had our second vaccinations. Heather Bleasdale came to visit joining us for an outdoor lunch. We got to know the Goole Escape Committee and discussed plans. We watched work going on at the breach site. Mick had a birthday and Joan’s Home Kitchen provided us with a celebratory meal a couple of days before we hoped to escape.

On 21st May an escape committee meeting was had early on, the weather looked hopeful for the tide in the afternoon, we were booked in at Ocean Lock. Our escape was to be via Selby, the Lock keeper was called there and our plan confirmed. At lunchtime we moved up to fill the diesel tank and await the other escapees, Sea Maiden and Lullabelle. Given the go ahead by the docks to proceed we were soon passing through to Ocean Lock where there was plenty of space for the three of us. At around 14:30 the large lock gates opened to reveal our way out of Goole onto the Tidal Ouse.

All three boats arrived safe and sound

We headed upstream following Sea Maiden being pushed along with the tide. Would we make it to Selby before the tide turned. Each boat arrived individually and was locked up into Selby Basin. We’d made it, now all we had to do was escape Selby as the swing bridge out of the basin there was broken.

We waited. Tides, times, weather and the amount of fresh coming down stream all had to fit together. Bridget and Storm came to visit. We twiddled our thumbs. The Environment Agency came and closed the flood barrier. We twiddled our thumbs. Daily escape committee meetings were held. By the 27th everything was looking to fit together apart from one thing, Keadby Lock would not be manned at a suitable time for us to get off the river. Sea Maiden and Lullabelle decided to stay put in Selby. Heather Bleasdale was joining us for the trip but Oleanna would be out on the river on her own heading to Trent Falls.

What a day that was! David’s advice was spot on. Leaving Selby just before 10am Oleanna zoomed downstream with the out going tide. We followed our charts keeping to the channel. At the Apex light Mick swung Oleanna round to head upstream onto the Trent our progress slowing instantly.

We then crawled our way to find where we should wait for the tide to turn. Two hours of very little, drifting on our anchor. We’d picked the day well, it was wonderful out there.

When Oleanna started to move round a touch more we managed to pull the anchor up and found our way back into the main channel to head upstream with the incoming tide. One plan had been to moor up in Gainsborough, but we decided to carry on and arrived at Torksey just as the last light was fading at just gone 22:00, 64 miles in a day, I doubt we’ll ever beat that.

Over the next few days we made our way up the Trent, dug out our windlasses to work locks in Nottingham. Once we rose up Derwent Mouth Lock onto the Trent and Mersey we had completed our escape. The going would now be much slower along shallow canals and plenty more moored boats to slow down past.

Now we should make our booked mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, every day would be a boating day unless the weather was either too hot or far too wet to cruise. Along the Trent and Mersey, pausing to stock up in Alrewas. At Fradley we turned onto the Coventry Canal to head southwards. We gave a tow to NB Burghley Girl to the bottom of Atherstone.

At Hawkesbury Junction we did the 180 degree turn onto the North Oxford Canal, through Rugby and up Hillmorton. NB Kamili with Andy and Irene passed as we arrived in Braunston where we paused for another butchers, then up the flight and through the tunnel.

Straight on along the Grand Union. On route we stopped for a drink with Lizzie at Bugbrooke. Paused for a hot day under some trees near Milton Keynes. Had a diversion along the Wendover Arm for a night. Picked up extra crew, my old college friend Jen, for a day through Hemel Hempstead. Came across our first sightings of HS2 cutting it’s way across the landscape.

At Bulls Bridge we turned left onto the Paddington Arm. On our trip into London we came across our friends Pete and Clare on NB Billy, it turned out we’d be neighbours at Rembrandt Gardens for a few days. We arrived on time and the next day headed across London by bus to Hackney to see the London Leckenbys for the first time since Christmas 2019.

Plenty more family to catch up with. Kath came for lunch, we had a trip to Eastbourne to see Marion and John, a lovely lunch with Christine and Paul. So good to see everyone again and not just on a computer screen every Saturday.

Happy Birthday Big Brother

Andrew’s 60th Birthday was celebrated, nothing fancy just good to be able to be together for it, we’d achieved our second goal of the year.

We heard there was a space at St Pancras Cruising Club for a long boat like Oleanna, so we took advantage of a more secure mooring close to Kings Cross whilst we had a visit back to Scarborough. Checking on the house, lodgers changing over and seeing the latest Ayckbourn play with Bridget and Storm, it all made for a good weekend away. I then headed off to Huddersfield for a couple of days work with Dark Horse, fitting costumes for a photo shoot.

There was to be a Tideway cruise from St Pancras Cruising Club and with one space left we jumped at the opportunity. Ten boats made their way to Limehouse, we breasted up with NB Misty Blue, Graham turned out to be another Goole Escapee. Three lock-fulls of boats headed out onto the Tideway on the morning of 10th July, special permission had been sought to go under Hammersmith Bridge which was closed to all forms of traffic at the time.

Tilly thought we were mad taking her onto such rough water, I was a little perplexed too! Very glad that I was the official photographer, clinging on as we did more than bob up and down! Tower Bridge, The National Theatre, Christine, Adam, The Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station. So many sights, what an experience!

The further west we got the calmer the water got. We were glad when Hammersmith Bridge was passed as there had always been a chance that it might close to boat traffic at anytime due to safety reasons. We turned off at Brentford along with several other boats and continued up to Hanwell where we had a very sociable evening at The Fox with everyone. Thank you Simon for mentioning the cruise to us.

Sadly our washing machine hadn’t liked the lumpy water so for the next month we cruised meeting up with engineers on route hoping it could be mended. Back through London, pausing at St Pancras again. Then down to the Herford Union to cut across to the Lee and Stort. We had another mooring booked on the Lee awaiting our arrival, alongside NB Billy.

Then up the Lee and onto the River Stort. We’d only ventured so far up the Stort during our first winter on Lillian, this time we headed all the way to Bishop Stortford. Our return journey was held up slightly due to the river going into flood overnight so we had to wait for it to lower to get under the bridge at Roydon.

Back through London we made use of the new Eco-moorings near Islington Tunnel, a handy stop off with electricity. Here we met up with Nick an old friend from York and Adam called in for a catch up after working the breakfast shift at Radio 2.

Goodbye Christine!

At the end of July we pushed on and left London behind us, returning to Bulls Bridge.

We headed up to Uxbridge for cheap diesel and finally got our washing machine mended. We turned around and headed back to the Hanwell flight, stowed the garden back in the shower and headed out onto the Thames again where we turned right towards Oxford.

With a weeks license we couldn’t dawdle, although a broken lock gate at Boveney Lock did hold us up overnight so our license would be extended. A space was spotted below Cliveden so we treated ourselves to a night moored in the grounds of the big house. We paused for a socially distanced chat with Sue on No Problem XL, good to see her looking so well. Henley Regatta was almost ready as we passed through and our favourite mooring above Days Lock did not disappoint. All too soon we turned up Sheepwash Channel and ascended Isis Lock back onto the Oxford Canal.

Whilst in Oxford I managed an actual face to face meeting with Dash the Director for Chippy Panto. He seemed happy! Then we made our way up to Thrupp where we’d booked ourselves in at the cruising club for a few days whilst the London Leckenbys came to visit and we had a trip back to Scarborough and we got to see the show at Esk Valley for the first time since we’ve been living afloat.

I had a day trip to Chippy where I did a final model meeting over zoom from a dressing room, but also had chance to measure things up. Then we were off up the Oxford Canal, mooring in our favourite spots, it was a touch busier than it normally is in the winter.

A pause to visit Village Meats in Braunston and we spotted our old share boat NB Winding Down so we stopped to say hello. On up the flight sharing with a boat full of actors, then left up to Crick for the first time in ages.

A prearranged boaters meeting at Houdini’s Field worked brilliantly, NB Panda and NB Kamili convened and we all enjoyed each others company over a fantastic barbeque outside so everyone could feel safe and Tilly could roam about. Oleanna was treated to a very good wash and brush up before we were on our way again. We now needed to get her north before I started on Panto.