Category Archives: Ice Cream

Castleford Locks. 10th March

Castleford Visitor Moorings

It started to rain last night and was still going for it this morning. Not torrential rain, but as the land is totally soaked right now the rivers were going to rise quickly. Here at Castleford Cut we are protected by the flood lock out onto the junction of the Rivers Aire and Calder. Last night we’d considered moving up to above Lemonroyd Lock where there is a nice mooring both we and Tilly like, but the rain this morning put us off. Currently we’re not in a rush so why get wet. Others including NB Nee Nah were off early, their aim to head to Leeds to await Woodnook Locks reopening at the end of the week. We decided to wait for the rain to stop, weather apps were checked, maybe early afternoon.

Make it stop!

The Geraghty zoom this morning included conversations on fitted wardrobes and levelling up funding, diesel on boats in London, cat flaps and Masquerade by Kit Williams.

We pottered away the morning. Mick started to look at the river levels, hmmm, going up as we’d thought they would. There had been a notice this morning saying that Ledgard Flood Gates on the Calder Hebble were closed due to rising water levels. This is some way upstream but the waters would soon arrive here.

A walk to look at the level board at the flood lock. Waterproofs were donned and a slippy walk was made until we reached the tarmac and the road that weaves it’s way round to the A656. Down the footpath and back at the cut. Here we could see the normally amber light was now red and flashing at us. The flood lock closed. We crossed the lock gates and walked down to see how high the water was.

2 inches in the red.

The level board has a very long red length, suggesting the river can rise very high. Today the river was sitting at about 2 inches into the red, we’d not be going anywhere today! At this end of the lock there are three lights each facing a different direction, all of these were amber, navigation possible to get off the river section and into the safety of the cut.

Three ambers

We crossed over the top gates, stood and wondered just why the flood lock here was such an odd shape. A little further on was a clue, a channel which is possibly used to fill the lock now but it showed obvious signs of it having been a lock in the past. Gate recesses and metal work from where gates used to be attached. A look at our Waterway Routes map confirmed that it had been a lock. I’d also spotted that there was another old lock shown on the map. Maybe the course of the cut had changed through the centuries, very likely.

Odd shaped flood lock

On our return to Oleanna we took a slight detour and spotted the old lock which used to connect the River Aire below the weir to the cut. Had this been to bring goods up from the river to avoid navigational difficulties down stream? Time to do a bit of history hunting.

Old maps showed that there had been the smaller lock from the river that we’d seen today, but they also showed Castleford Cut. Hunting round I found a very good article on a Castleford History blog A lot to read, but worth it if you are interested. Here’s a quick precis.

Waterway Routes showing two old locks

In the C17th the textile industry was on the rise in the West Riding. Goods were imported and exported via York, packhorse boats sailing up and down the River Ouse which connected with packhorse routes across Yorkshire. In the 1620’s permission was sought in parliament to build short cuts to avoid weirs on the Rivers Aire and Calder. But opposition from York Corporation meant the bills were rejected. By 1698 royal ascent was received for the plans, meaning Castleford would become an important place during the canal boom years, the village growing into a town.

The original cut came off the river where we’d spotted the old lock. From here is continued in a straight line, through where the dry dock is and then down back onto the river behind The Griffin Pub on the big S bend, this meant bypassing the weir. Much of this old route has now been built over so no evidence is visible other than the dry dock. On the map below this route is shown by the blue line. This was possibly the shortest/cheapest route and opened in 1699. Castleford now became a key point for the collection of toles with wool, cloth, grain and coal passing through.

1699 Blue, 1774 Purple, 1831 to Present day Orange

The amount of traffic built up during the C18th, the capacity of the locks on the Aire and Calder were becoming an impediment. In 1774 an act of parliament was passed for a series of improvements. The awkward angle of Castleford Dam Lock was one problem the silt build up here another. So another cut was cut, shown above in purple. It came out from the current dry dock at 90 degrees then another turn to the east before dropping down to the river at Middle Lock, the ruins of which we’d spotted very close to our mooring. This all opened in 1775, but really wasn’t an ideal solution.

The original lock from the river

Trade was good, a weighing station was built in 1819. At this time Castleford also became a place where passengers would arrive by coach from Leeds and join boats heading for Goole and Hull. The Packet Boat steps are still visible below Castleford Bridge on the Aire. But in 1834 the opening of the Leeds Selby railway saw passengers move to the rails and then climb onboard boats in Selby to head down stream on the River Ouse. AS passengers reduced in number freight increased and further improvements were considered to the navigation.

The ruins of Middle Lock back down onto the Aire

In 1819 John Rennie surveyed the navigation and commented on it’s bad design and how the old lock was in a bad state of repair. George Leather did a survey in 1824 finding that depth of the cut was seriously bad, less than 5ft in places (not just a problem today!), the tight turns frequently caused damage to the boats. Where the lock met the river and the next half mile downstream was prone to silting. Various suggestions were made, Rennie added a suggestion of a new flood lock north of the current one. Then Thomas Telford was brought in, 1827, straightening of the River Calder was added into the mix and he agreed on much of what Leather had proposed. Works started in 1829 and by 1831 the north and south cuts had been joined and the navigation became what we have today stretching to Bulholme Lock where it re-joins the river, bypassing the weir, meanders and silt (route shown in orange).

Wipe your FEET Tilly!

The river levels have continued to rise through the afternoon and evening 1.66m by the time we went to bed. Tilly climbed trees, I knitted and Mick found things to do avoiding sorting out the remaining contents of The Shed.

Sadly not trading today!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 old locks found, 2 bacon butties, 1 abandoned pushchair, 2 inches in the red, 1 soggy day, 21:10 generator turned off, 1 still going at bed time, 1/3 sock knitted, 6 sausages and roasted veg,1 boat trapped, 2 flashing red lights.

Goodbye Tilly Towers. 3rd March

Viking Marina, Goole

Nearly a cooked breakfast

Last night we ate the last bits and bobs from the fridge and freezer, but were left with some ice-cream, hash browns, tomatoes, gluten free crumpets and eggs. Only one thing for it, although we decided that vanilla chilled medication wouldn’t really go with poached eggs.

The last round of packing. Shower cleaning, some things left as Mick would be staying a night after returning the van. Tilly assisted with the idiot check, then there was only one thing left to pack.

Last week we’d managed to close Tilly and myself in the bathroom, Mick brought out the cat caravan and opened the bathroom door for me to pop her straight in, next to no stress until she realised what was happening. This was for her visit to the vet. Today things didn’t go as smoothly. Firstly Mick had efficiently popped the bag with puppy pads and just in case items in the van before I’d put a puppy pad in the caravan. I know what you’re doing! I’d be seriously stupid not to have noticed everything being packed up. It’s quite exciting really, but also concerning too. I tried being very interesting with the bathroom cupboards to lure her out from under the bed, it worked, but she just chose to then sit under The Shed bed instead. Then Tom brought the smiling big sucking noisy thing. It got closer and closer, only one thing for it, run to the bathroom for protection from She.

Maybe I’m stupid after all!

Straight into the van. Cat caravan sitting on my knee, engine started up, we pulled out of the parking space. How far would we get today before having to stop to renew the puppy pad? Well, I am so proud of Tilly. After five minutes standing, shouting at the front of the caravan she retreated to the rear of it and sat down, keeping an eye on the outside moving past. Tom moved it far too quickly, surely that isn’t safe! She kept on shouting with a few intervals to compose herself, but we didn’t have to stop once, not once! So proud of you Tilly, so proud. No calming stuff at all today too, so proud.

I can still talk to you from in here

Straight into Oleanna, Tilly was set free. A quick shout check everywhere (she’d make a good Stage Manager) and then it was time to find a safe place. The Nicholson’s shelf was tried first, but that hasn’t been sorted yet so it wasn’t very safe clinging on the edge of it. The nice little hollow behind Tom’s pillow wasn’t there, it was full of mattress. Only one place left, the secret passageway behind the sofa. Squeeeeeze!

Lunch first. Yesterday we’d sterilised the water tank. When about a third full we’d added a bottle of Milton fluid, filled the tank up to the top, water run through the taps and then left it for about half an hour. Then the tank was emptied, the water pump working overtime. Tank refilled, we then used as much as possible. Today taps were run until they didn’t smell of Milton anymore, the kettle and Tilly’s water bowl filled from the tap alongside our mooring. The tank was emptied and then refilled again. We don’t do this often (possibly the second or third time ever) as when we’re on board all the time the water is used and replenished frequently.

Just where does it all go?!

Off loading the van meant we filled up the cabin quickly. I wanted to get The Shed sorted so things could go away, but Mick had other priorities. Popping Mick’s tool box on top of the wooden shelf on the ledge didn’t work as a temporary measure sadly. We did manage to get the hook up for the life jackets to live on, mainly so they could be put out of cat claw danger.

Green dribbles, again!

Hang on Tilly, who did the idiot check and totally forgot about the herbs and strawberry plants?! Well you wouldn’t let me outside this morning. Anyway, hadn’t you noticed, I’m only a cat!

Dinner cooking away

More things were stowed away, the bed was made up, we were finally finding places we’d be able to sit down. The last meals worth of lamb stew left from our gathering of friends went in the cast iron pot on top of the stove, two potatoes wrapped in foil were popped inside by the coals and dinner cooked as we tidied up. Tilly did manage to come out from behind the sofa and took up residence on the bottom shelf. Another busy day for us all.

My shelf!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 handy beds, 1 smiling monster, 0 stops, 1 very proud She, 1 squeezed cat, 1 Shed still not sorted, 4 life jackets hung, 1 bed made, 1 last lamb stew, 1 big click and collect order made, 1 pink sunset, 2 green dribbles again in the bathroom! 2 boaters and 1 cat back on board.

Sunset over Viking Marina

Cushions In The Closet, Have We Peaked Too Soon?

Has it really only been two weeks since I got back from Panto land? It feels like a lot longer, but then it also only feels like yesterday!

Now where did we get up to last year?

There has been the obligatory Morse watching whilst being pinned to the sofa by Tilly. Four episodes including, in my opinion, the best one, Masonic Mysteries where Morse is framed for the murder of a friend and no matter which way Morse turns there is another surprise for him.

Tilly has kept a close eye on my yarn tension

More socks have been knitted for Dementia UK. Not sure exactly how many pairs I’ve knitted this year but it’s somewhere over 30 and my fundraising page has just topped £1130! Thank you everyone who has donated and I hope those of you who have a pair of socks have cosy toes. At some point I’ll update the page I set up for my Sockathon, there’s quite a few pictures to upload.

Cards of the Christmas and other varieties printed, scored and folded

Boating photos from this year have been whittled down, a short list of about six presented for final vetting to Mick and Tilly for our Christmas card. Would the old printer upstairs upstairs be up to the job though? With a full set of new cartridges and a morning spent assisting the paper into the printer every couple of sheets the card factory got to work.

The first veg box since my return contained a lovely looking bright orange squash. What to do with it? I hunted round for a couple of recipes and decided to try two out, both requiring roasted squash. So the whole squash was roasted in one go and then divid up for the two dishes, Mushroom and Squash Lasagna and Squash Winter Herb and Crispy Butter Bean Pie. The latter involved three bulbs of garlic which were cooked before being added into the mix. Both will be made again, the pie for a special occasion as it takes a while to cook, but was very tasty. I’ll add links to the recipe pages.

The South Bay

One evening I was invited to a reading of a play that a local lady is hoping to produce. Earlier in the year I’d been approached to see if I could give some advice on it’s staging, but without a script this was impossible. It was nice to meet some new Scarborough faces, but the best bit was walking down to the top of St Nicholas Gardens and looking across the bay to the harbour where numerous boats had their Christmas lights up.

When we moved back to the house from Oleanna we brought all the dinette cushions with us. The covers desperately needing a wash or maybe even replacing. The seat cushions that we sit on the most have also lost most of their cushionness, so I measured them up and placed an order for replacements. The dinette makes into a bed, so any cushions apart from the one that isn’t normally out have been replaced with new firmer more suitable foam. We also had an odd cushion which we have never really understood why it existed, why hadn’t it been added onto one of the back cushions? This and the wedge shaped cushion that goes into the corner have now been made into one piece. Having just written this I don’t understand why it is wedge shaped and not just rectangular, I’ll have to look at it when the cushions go back on the boat, then remember for next time. At the moment I have a few samples of fabric but the final discission hasn’t been made. This will be a project for the new year.

Look who popped up as a screensaver. On the Marsworth flight back in our yellow days.

Why have the cushions gone in the wardrobe? Well a certain Second Mate/Thug has been enjoying clawing the old cushions, thankfully the one which has been affected the most is being replaced! I can’t help it if I have to find myself things to keep me occupied when the outside doesn’t move every day!!!

Mick has just about sorted out his planned upgrade to Oleanna’s batteries. Doubling Oleanna’s amp hours, but will there be enough room for him to be able to move them indoors? A visit in the next couple of weeks is on the cards to check on her and have a measure up.

It’s handy having quite a stash of yarn in the house

During November I’d joined a knitting challenge for Dementia UK, soon I was running out of things to knit! Mick just so happened to ask where his winter hat was. Ah that might just still be on the boat! Emergency hat knitting, this ended up being two hats one inside the other for extra warmth.

It just fitted in the bike bag

Then preparations for Christmas were started, the London Leckenbys were heading up to join us for a pre-christmas meal. Normally we don’t put decorations up for another couple of weeks, but because they were coming we had to get busy.

Last years boat Christmas tree has just about survived the year after a repot with some human made compost, so this has been brought in. But a bigger tree was really needed for the living room, where would we be able to get one from without a car? Nowhere that we found would deliver and the nearest veg/florist didn’t look like they’d be stocking any. One option left, a trip to Sainsburys with our trusty bike as sherpa.

Over several days Mick busied himself in the garden putting lights round bushes. I headed to the snicket to give the ivy a trim. Two wreaths were put together with lights and on the first day of December our decorations were up and illuminated!

Christmas baking. A batch of some rough puff pastry was made, a new recipe I wanted to try out. Then some Lebkuchen, these are my current favourite Christmas biscuits, especially when you poor the heated butter, treacle and maple syrup onto the spices, qworrr!

Christmas shopping this year has meant a walk down to the harbour, thankfully on a very nice sunny day before the snow arrived. I’d placed an order online and been told to ring the doorbell by the bow of a ship! I was taking ‘Buy it off a boat‘ to the next level. The doorbell was nowhere to be seen but thankfully a couple of people were stood on the bridge. My order arrived at a side door, the chap having to climb slightly up a harbour ladder to pass it to me safely, the tide was out at the time!

Buy it off a ship!

The coal man arrived along with snow and hail, Scarborough having a dusting of the white stuff just in time for the London Leckenbys arrival.

Who’s coming?

It has been at least ten years since the London Leckenby’s have visited us in Scarborough, us having lived on boats for much of the last ten years. This trip would also be their first by train, Andrew normally drives them up, but he’s still recovering from his stay in hospital. Quite a bit of work was needed to sort trains due to strikes and engineering work. Tickets were booked with only a couple of days to go. At Kings Cross they loitered for the platform to be announced, confirming the advanced knowledge we’d given them. Also knowing which carriage was likely not to be reserved helped, so they headed straight for it and thankfully got seats on what became a very very full train.

Nearly as good as my Mums Yorkshire Pud

Sausage rolls on arrival, sorry Frank forgot to take a photo! Then an afternoon lull, a walk to the beach not taken up as the pavements were really quite slippy. We caught up on their news and then got going with our Advent Saturday joint of roast beef with all the works. I’ve almost mastered gluten free Yorkshire Puddings so that my Mum wouldn’t know the difference. She’d certainly have been pleased that we had a slice each as a starter with gravy (not with the meat!) helped by the veg being a little reluctant to brown up.

Crackers were cracked, wine drunk, plenty of food eaten. Pudding, a warm Dorset Apple Cake accompanied by some Wensleydale Cheese, not quite ‘Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze’ but very nice and worth repeating.

Jac, Pip, Mick, Josh, Andrew

A lovely time was had by all. It was really lovely having them back in Scarborough.

Sunday morning and it was time to check that their return trains would be running. Well Transpennine Express did what they seem to do best and cancelled their first train. Mick came up with a couple of options for them. Their return journey was going to be 5 hours rather than the 3 on the way up, due to engineering work. It was decided that they’d head to the station and catch an earlier train, either to York where they could loiter in the pub, or to Hull where they could catch their the train earlier on it’s journey than planned. This meant quite a quick breakfast and exchange of presents before a cab arrived to whisk them back to the station.

Bye bye!

Almost 24 hours in Scarborough, we wished them a good journey and wished Josh good luck for his forthcoming interview for University. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him as I’d like to visit the very good chilled medication shop we visited last summer when on one of the Great Ouse tributaries. Their journey back changed again due to more cancellations, they had a good journey around the country arriving in London ten minutes earlier than originally planned.

My lovely fella

Sunday evening Mick and I headed out for what has now become our annual Chinese meal. Crispy aromatic duck a necessity to mark 21 years of us being together. A lovely way to round off the weekend.

Us out for a Sunday walk

It feels like we’ve already had Christmas now. The big day isn’t for another three weeks!

Have we peaked too soon?

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 snow showers, 5x50kg bags of coal, 2 veg boxes, 1 squash, 2 celeriac, 1.8kg top rump, 15 Lebkuchen, 1 Lasagna, 1 pie, 20 sausage rolls, 2 trees, 4 stars, 100m of flotilla lights, 1 bored cat, £1132, 30 plus pairs, 4 Morses, 2 wreaths, 4 new cushions, 3 weeks early, 21 years.

You may notice a couple of changes to the blog. Firstly the blog roll, this had stopped rolling as bloggers posted their posts, so we’re trialing a new plug in, not quite as clear as the old version sadly. Secondly Mick has added code to the blog to hopefully change the default colour of the writing to black without me having to change every paragraph each time I write a post. This was done with assistance from Copilot. I hope it works!

Panto Postcard 1, 2023

74.25 hours

Leaving me in the house all alone!

Last Saturday Mick picked up a hire car, we set Tilly’s magic food bowl and left her in charge of the house for a night. As we headed southwards we could catch glimpses of swollen rivers, flooded fields. The River Ouse as we soared above it on the M62 was running very fast and from the M1 Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station looked like it was sat on an island, Storm Babet had certainly left her mark.

Too much fencing to see properly!

First stop was Leicester. Ann, a blog reader had very kindly offered me her Overhead Projector to use for drawing out panto. It was very good to meet you Ann and chat about so many things we have in common. Hopefully next time we pass through Leicester we’ll be able to catch up at the cafe near the Cathedral for a cuppa and a slice of cake.

Back out of Leicester we started to make our way across country towards the Cotswolds. Signs warning of floods that had now drained away, a roundabout where cars had driven across it to avoid flood water. Then high up on the next hill we could see Chippy, my home for the next few weeks.

Southern beer

It was good to see Suzanne again and lovely to be in what feels like my room in Chippy. We headed into town for some food, a below average curry was had at the Spice of India followed by a pint at Checkers the Fullers pub next door to the theatre.

Sunday morning treat

Sunday morning we ventured out to find brunch, Suzanne had suggested The Straw Kitchen, but sadly it was closed so instead we went to the Rustic Coffee Bean for Eggs Benedict, nice slightly odd hollandaise and very slow service, but it filled us up. Time to drop off my work things at the theatre, Paul, Louisa and Andy were in hanging lanterns and getting ready to give the stage it’s first coat of paint for panto.

Ethel’s down, it must be panto time!

After waving goodbye to Mick and doing a spot of shopping I headed into work to find all the pieces of model that had been with builders and printers so that I could get the model ready to show the acting company. This took far longer than I thought as envelopes had been tucked away out of sight. I also spent a bit of time copying pieces of model onto transparencies ready for drawing out with the help of the OHP. Mick drove back north stopping off to check on Oleanna. He picked up bedding and life jackets and made sure the gas was turned off before carrying on back over the Wolds to Tilly.

Monday. The proper start of fit-up and readthrough with the company. Meet and greet with breakfast nibbles a very full room of chatter. John the Artistic Director greeted me with a ‘Welcome Home!’ hug, this year is my fifth panto in Chippy. There was plenty to do in the auditorium sorting the print from Promptside so I missed the read through but headed up to do the model showing, then watched all the actors faces as Sophie the costume designer revealed to them what they’d be wearing in the show.

Headers going up

With Gemma (Production Manager) and Chris (Carpenter) we carefully positioned the print onto the portals, somethings not quite as I’d expected, but others spot on. The canvas was stapled round the flats, the portals hoisted out and fixed together, then it was time to climb a ladder and sort out the best way to overlap the print. I don’t like heights, but managed with Nathan (Lighting Designer) footing the ladder to trim things and get them lined up ready for sticking at a later date. Wow the print looks SO good! One happy relieved designer.

Jo arrived mid afternoon with a van load of props that she’s been buying and making over the last couple of months. She used to stay for a few days each week, but she now has a job that pays a steady wage, so had to head back home in the evening.

Hooray for fish and chips!

Ade and Lou joined us Monday evening in the pub, the annual fish and chips all round with a glass of wine, lovely to see them again. I’d recently sent them photos of King’s lock on the River Soar, the cottage they’d rescued from demolition in their youth, they’d never seen the water so high and certainly never so high above the lock. There is now a stoppage somewhere around there as some of the towpath got washed away.

Tuesday. Lots of things to draw out ready to be cut out. I started off really well, one of the corners of the stage became a dark place to aid the use of the overhead projector. That was until I only half touched the orange bar on the projector and blew the bulb. Luckily being in a theatre there was a technician around to check things over and when it was confirmed that it was the bulb Paul managed to find a suitable replacement and I was up and running again drawing statues.

I was also joined today by Lileth who in the past has been one of the Pippins in panto, local children who beef up the company. Lileth had asked if she could help with painting and props this year and it being half term this week was an ideal time. I had warned her that she would get painty, I’m not sure she’d just realised how painty! I set her on priming pieces of scenery I’d been needing first.

Some of the team in the pub

By the end of the day, flats had been put together, a truck base had been made for the dressing table, rostra was fixed together and lots of priming was left to dry. Unfortunately we’d ended up having to work a bit too late to get food in one of the pubs, so I had to visit the burger van, fortunately their chicken and chips is still pretty good after a long days work.

Colour and white things

Wednesday. Front cloth and backdrop up. As many jobs worked through as possible before loosing Chris and Gemma. More priming of things, Lileth was getting a touch bored of white and magnolia so I gave her some green to do on sheets that will be cut up for foliage and flowers. I drew up the town flats and started to lay in the base colours.


An hour was spent in the rehearsal room working out how the tea chest rainforest would work with puppets. My original ideas for it where way too tall so at the end of the day I had a video call with Jo to explain how I thought it should work. Less will be more thankfully, I hope!

Health and safety chats

Late afternoon the actors and Pippins arrived to be shown round the stage and be given a health and safety chat. Instead of doing a model showing to the Pippins we were in a good place to be able to position the scenery on stage to show them, admittedly most things were white, but that will change in the coming days.

Admin staff making lanterns for the show

We also had a go at the transformation of Cinderella into her posh frock. Masking props were dispensed with, her costume just needs some slight alteration so as not to give the game away too much. Let’s face it most of us know that she gets a flouncy frock and a coach!

Thursday. Sadly Lileth was ill today, so the list of jobs I had for her were now mine. Rehearsals started on stage, so from now on I have to be careful with what I choose to work on, so that it is dry in time to go on stage.

Starting to get coloured in

So whilst I waited for the town set not to be needed I took things out front of house to work on. This included the three statues, one of which has quite a heavy base and as I moved him he clonked my foot hitting my little toe that I’d broken six/ seven weeks ago. At first it was okay, but soon I realised that maybe an icepack would be a good idea, along with raising it for a while! Thankfully I’d brought my crocks with me incase.

Pesky statues!

By the end of the day the town flats had colour on them, statues were primed and I managed to use a plaster to strap my toes back up, hoping that I’d only bruised it, but suspecting I’d done more.

Friday. On my own again. Mission Town Square was in full operation. This scenery is wanted for a photo call on Monday and the first scene in pantos always takes quite a lot of work, so I spent the day concentrating on it.

Hot chilled medication!

Songs with LOTS of props were rehearsed and I wished that the chilled medication wasn’t made out of foam and hot glue. A visit to the chemist in Chippy meant I had a better means to strap my little toe up, this and some pain killers made quite a difference thankfully. In the evening the overhead projector came out again and more things were drawn out ready to be jigsawed.

Saturday. Time to pack a bag, today I needed to move digs as Suzanne had her family arriving for a family get together over the weekend. In past years I’ve always headed home to the boat or up to meet Mick in Goole on the first weekend, but Scarborough is just that bit too far to reach after work on a Saturday night.


The Pippins were in again today, songs and piles or should I say mountains of props required. Some stand in items were needed and found, then lists sent to Jo the props maker. Meanwhile in the wings the town set got more colours, the carriage got based in, wheels finished.

After lunch the stage was ours, it was time to brave climbing a ladder and glue down the overlapping portals. I’m not keen on heights, I’d rather have one hand holding onto a ladder, but to be able to apply glue to the back of the printed cloth meant I couldn’t hold on. After one portal my little toe was complaining quite a lot, there’s some painting needing to be done up there, but that can wait for another day. Once I’d finished my bits Paul followed and stapled the remainder of the cloth away and tidied things.

Over the week Louisa had been working on extra leaves that would be used to cover joins and hopefully add an extra layer to the portals. The canvas the leaves had been printed on has a tendency to fray a LOT, so coloured glue was needed to seal them before they could go up. Thankfully they worked and look really rather good, thank you Louisa for your jigging and glueing.

Portals having their final leaves added

Only one element was still needed for the photos on Monday, the foliage which needed jigsawing out. Paul and Louisa had hoped for a finish at 6pm, but as they started to jig out the shapes time slipped away. I felt bad but Paul kept saying that that was what they were there for, I’d just hoped they could have had an evening with their families. By 10pm I’d got well into painting the shadows and highlights onto the town flats, but still more to do along with painting hundreds of flowers on Monday for the photo call.

I left needing food, stopping off at the burger van again. Then managed to remember to head to the other end of town to my digs for one night. Rachel and her husband were still up and welcomed me into their house, I’d collected a key yesterday. The house has stone flagged floors, wonky staircases, which is rather steep up to the top floor where my room was up in the eves, you have to duck to get in through the door. What a characterful house with lots of history, but I’ll tell you more about that in the next panto postcard.

Another Plunge Into The Depths. 6th September

Stoke Lock to Hazelford Lock low side

Oleanna likes Stoke Lock

A volunteer was spotted this morning and when we were ready to push off Mick radiod ahead, ‘Come in on the green’. I hobbled to the bow to be on rope duty, Mick slowing Oleanna right down for ease of passing the rope around the riser without having to step onto a locker. Down we went to the next reach of the river.

Hazy hazy out there this morning. Looking back up stream a chap was waist deep fishing in the froth near the weir. We soon heard on the radio that someone was on our tail approaching Stoke Lock.

Tilly’s Level Crossing

Onwards down stream in the haze, Tilly wasn’t bothered about waving to the lovely ladies in Burton Joyce who’d rescued her, I wonder if that’s the level crossing she was found near.


The banks were filled with Egyptian Geese, Lapwings, Mallards, Egrets, Canadians and Cows. Such a lovely stretch of the river.

At Gunthorpe the gates were open ready and waiting for us. I hobbled to the bow, passed my rope round THE riser. We then had a wait as the boat behind us had just about caught up, the lockie reopened the gates and we had a five minute pause. Down we both went thankful of there being a Lock Keeper on duty today, the pontoon below sits right in the current from the weir so is hard to access on a normal day with two able bodied crew.

As we headed further northwards the sun was doing it’s best to burn through, our view clearing all the time. What a pretty reach. Now we had Herons and sheep sheltering in the shadows from the sun. Cruiser Brenda overtook us, his pace just a touch more than ours. I sat and wove ends on on the socks I’d knitted for Mick and myself.

Approaching Hazelford Lock we were asked to slow down as a boat was about to come up. Brenda and Oleanna slowed our pace and ended up treading water for a while. With the green light we were in the lock and descending down. Here Brenda carried on towards Newark, here we pulled in against the lower part of the moorings.

Shady sheep and Harry the Heron

At the moment it takes time for us to moor up. I’m not able or confident about stepping onto the bow to tie us up as I normally do whilst Mick sorts the stern out. But I can lasso a bollard and hold the rope until my glamourous assistant is available. The bank is high, the river level low currently, so getting on and off the boat is that bit more tricksy. As I stepped back inside I heard a clunk splash clunk. What was that? Mick’s two month old phone plunging into the depths!

We’d just been saying if it wasn’t for Gunthorpe Lock and if there were a few more moorings along the Trent we’d really like it! Not anymore!

Tilly was read the rule book from cover to cover and then given five hours shore leave.


What NO Fishing! Pah!! Oh hang on I remember, up the top it’s really really good! Apart from returning to stock up on Dreamies and have a little bit of a cool off she made use of her hours of freedom and thankfully stuck to all the rules today.

What to have for tea tonight? Here we’d thought a barbeque would be good, but how would I get off the boat? A trial attempt was needed. The bow is higher than the stern and after sussing out walking backwards along the gunnel would give me more room to get my bum on the bank then a big pull up aided by Mick it was possible. However the rest of the big steps were quite hard going to reach the wider area at the top. Maybe, maybe not.

A hitchhiker, a Red Veined Darter?

Mick then set to with net, pole and a torch to see if he could at least retrieve his phone from the depths. It actually worked, even with the depth being nearly deeper than our boat hook! At least with the sim card retrieved he could use an old phone until he gets a new one.

Base camp

In the end we decided to set up bbq base camp a few steps up the bank, it would be a shame not to watch the sun set. The steps made for a good table and seat for me. If only the weir wasn’t so loud it would be so tranquil here. Well until we heard what we thought was a microlight. How wrong were we! Two speed boats came round the bend below the lock racing high up on the plane!

They had to slow down otherwise they’d crash into the lock or weir. Such small boats can stop very quickly and did so right alongside us. Such small boats can make one very big wake, poor Tilly sat inside being buffeted about all over the shop.

One chap headed up to work the lock, which seemed to take forever, especially as the two boats zoomed round in circles! The paddles were lifted, then dropped, the gates remained shut. Then the lights went out, had they broken the lock? Ten minutes later the lights came back on and soon the gates opened, we heard a zoom into the lock, then the gates closed. Ten minutes later we could hear them speeding off into the sunset.

Sunset medication

Peace and quiet again (excluding the weir) to enjoy our chilled medication just as the sun was saying goodnight.

3 locks, 9.7 miles, 9.75 digits still, 3 lock keepers thankfully,1 low mooring a touch too high, 1 soggy shivering phone, 3rd drowned phone, 5 hours of long awaited freedom, 1 big haul of blackberries, 1st pair socks finished, 2 pork steaks, 4 veg kebabs, 1 hobbling chef, 2 high speed morons shattering the peace, 2 plans maybe 3 for next year, 1 including the Trent, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

And This Little Piggie Went ….. 3rd September

Sainsburys, Nothingham

A lie in with the Saturday newspaper, great. Should we then head to County Hall steps for a night before continuing our way down stream? Maybe. Or possibly carry on to Stoke Lock and hope for the low bank mooring where we’d be happy to let our resident thug out again. We’d have breakfast and then make or minds up.

Walking through from the bedroom I managed to clip my right little toe on the cupboard below the stove. I’ve successfully moved between bedroom and the main cabin numerous, thousands of times before without injury. Today I was not so fortunate. I immediately sat on the sofa, knowing that this wasn’t just going to be ten minutes of feeling foolish and a sore toe, it felt different. I looked down.

My little toe that normally sits tucked in beside the next little piggie was aiming itself towards the bow of the boat! Ah! Argh!!!

DIY ice pack peas

Two paracetamol, a small bag of frozen peas applied, foot raised. Phone call to 111. It took a while for Mick to get a postcode of our location, Sainsburys (what 3 words not suitable). Phone signal can be problematic inside a boat, so he stuck his head out the hatch. The person needed to talk to me, fortunately if I leant backwards towards the window I could be heard. She took my details and said someone would call back within the hour, if they hadn’t then we should make our way to an A&E. I wasn’t to eat or drink anything, no breakfast!

Within the hour Mick’s phone rang and it was a nice lady who asked lots more questions. She referred me to the nearest Urgent Care Centre, Seaton House, a mile away as a crow flies, just at the right hand bend on the canal, we know it quite well having visited there twice in the past.

The Geraghty zoom was missed. Apparently toe strapping and elevation were topics today.

With my left shoe on, my right shoe in a bag we set off to head to Sainsburys for a taxi. A few years ago I fractured my ankle, so the problem of getting on and off a boat was one we’d overcome before. A bum shuffle across the welldeck, up onto a locker then swing legs round, pull the boat as close as possible to the towpath then a big pull up. Job done.

Professional ice pack from the triage nurse

A taxi was with us within minutes of Mick phoning, then it took what felt like an age to drive the mile, it might have been quicker by boat! I was triaged within an hour and then a while later taken through to meet Brian a locum paramedic. He wanted me to have an x-ray, suspecting a dislocation. The problem was getting someone to authorise an x-ray.

The radiographer confirmed I’d broken my toe. Another wait then back to see Brian. He called April in to join us, she headed off to check my x-ray. I had a choice, leave it as is and it would heal at a jaunty angle or they could manipulate it back to face the right way before strapping it up. April suggested the later would be better.

Brian had mentioned about gas and air, but April just told me to take long deep breaths. I’m not going to say it didn’t hurt, but it was far better than I was expecting. The two of them then strapped my toes together handed Mick a roll of tape, job done. Before leaving I made sure I asked questions, I’d made the mistake of not asking when I lost my finger and ended up having to have more physio in the end. Vitamin C was prescribed by April, wine by Brian. I checked if calcium would be good, they agreed to add chilled medication to my prescription.

One little toe strapped up

A taxi back to Sainsburys, another hobble back to the boat, I managed the bow steps without having to bum shuffle. Despite Tillys protests we would be staying put for the day.

I’d broken my toe at about 9:15 and was back on the boat, foot up at 14:00. Thank you to everyone at the Urgent Care Centre and to Mick for heading to Sainsburys to find chilled medication with vitamin C included. Apparently it works better if he gets to have some at the same time too!

A variety of chilled medication with vitamin C

As I’ll be sitting on the sofa a touch more than planned, bang goes the painty jobs on Oleanna for a week or so, I’ve opened up my Sockathon again. Lots of Boat Women had shown interest on Facebook and I still have quite a bit of donated yarn left, so I may as well keep my fingers busy. Four pairs already on the list, if you’d like to be added then please let me know your size and one word. That word could be your favourite colour or something about you and I’ll see what I can come up with from my stash of yarn. I’ve asked people not to donate until I know I’ll get to their pair as I won’t be knitting a sock a day this time.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 stubbed toe, 1 little piggy who went wee wee wee all the way to an urgent care centre, 2 taxis, 1 very bored cat, 1 tub chilled medication, 2 glasses wine, 1 roll of strapping, 2 elderberry stains, 1 cauliflower cheese masterclass, 1 departure delayed, 1 boat not so keen on Nottingham!

An Extra Shower. 29th August

Zouch Lock to Zouch Lock

Ahead of ourselves. Should we stay that way or let the days catch up with us? A day sat still could mean some much needed maintenance work on Oleanna, rust around the mushroom vents needs sorting before winter.There’s the grab rail that I’ve been meaning to do for a couple of years too. Don’t mention the gunnels or cratch board!

Forecast rain and still having a headache put me off. We decided to move.

That’s a good view!

Three boat lengths up there was a newly vacated gap with a better view. We moved up and gave Tilly some shore leave, hoping she wouldn’t get confused following her scent back to where we’d just left.

A morning of pottering. There was one job that could be done. I dug out my pencils, pens, watercolours and paper. Time to do a new first night card for one of our lodgers. Tanya is on her third visit, so the house and a compilation of Scarborough views have been used, time for a new one.

Drawn out

I went through the photos I’d taken on our Scarborough walks during the second lockdown, shortlisting a few. Another photograph found on the internet was used along with mine for the composition. This was drawn out and inked in.

I could have sat at the dinette all day, but wanted to stretch my legs and see if a walk would help dissipate my headache. I plotted a route, showed it to Mick, made sure Tilly was inside and set off, crossing the bridge over the canal and the field alongside our mooring to meet the road.

Hooked up

The boats at Zouch Marina have poles to rise up and down on, they also have a contraption similar to a caravan hook up which attach to the boats bows. These must be to help keep the boats in position when the river goes into flood.

Not very picturesque

I took the chance to get off the busy A6006, only to find the footpath was fenced in and overgrown with nettles, a new development planned for the other side of the fence. More main road before turning down Wide Lane in Hathern. I’d hate to think what they were comparing Wide Lane to when they named it, cars having to park on the pavement. One half timbered house had dormer windows in it’s roof line, most probably a framework knitters cottage, looms tended to be in top rooms where extra light could be sought.

£650,000 with swimming pool!

Next door a rather lovely house is for sale, sadly it’s not by the river so no mooring opportunities.

Hathern in the 19th C got the name Wicked Hathern. Rev Edward Thomas March Philips spent more than 50 years in the village trying to civilise his parishioners who liked to spend more time in the pubs than his pews. Cockfights and drunken brawls in the graveyard prompted the priests outbursts, the village being dubbed Wicked Hathern. Pubs still outnumber the churches 5 to 2, but I believe things have calmed down.

Sheltering from the rain

By now it was drizzling. I took refuge in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, the door open and organ music emanating from inside. A family of three sat by the organ, Mum cutting things out from a paper, Dad I couldn’t tell what he was doing and a young person possibly about seven or eight was sat at the organ, playing away pretty well. Not sure if they were using the pedals, I suspect their legs weren’t long enough to reach. I had a quick look round but didn’t want to disturb the practice.


Small children in school uniform came from the direction of the school, an ice cream van sat waiting for new customers. I had no money on me so I couldn’t sample their wares, anyhow it was drizzling even more now.

Soggy isn’t it!

I could have waited out the rain under a tree, but decided that it looked to have set in, so carried on. A horse gave me a soggy knowing look as I reached it’s field. I crossed over towards the weirs.

A large curved gate holds back the water, presumably this is used in times of flood to speed the water down stream. Then I crossed over the curved weir and got chance to see just how many boats are kept along the arm, at least five. They must have to limbo under the footbridge to get in and out.

Moorings tucked away

Back to the towpath and back to Oleanna, I was by now soaked! Straight into the shower and my soggy clothes got a wash.

Chopped again

Time to put some colour on my drawing. Base colours, then a touch more detail. As this dried, so had the outside world. Mick had requested a haircut so without the aid of my assistant, she was more interested in the trees, I got to work with the clippers. A smart boyfriend again.

The final shadows were added to my painting. It just needs scanning now and making into a card. I’ll also need to run off one of the house for our other lodger as it’s her first visit. Those who know Scarborough will know the subject matter.

0 locks, 0.1 miles, 3 boats worth, 1 busy cat, 4 more paracetamol, 2 damp a day for jobs, 1 new card, 3 very soggy miles walked, 2 weirs, 7 year old organist, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Dove And Pigeons. 23rd August

Friars Mill Pontoon


A slow morning with a slow brain and pills. Thankfully when I have a migraine I don’t loose my appetite. Mick cooked us a breakfast whilst the engine ran and the washing machine turned, being moored by a tap is a very handy thing.

Also having the engine running meant that the local pigeons stopped tap dancing on our roof. Well maybe it wasn’t tap dancing, more like football with a stone. They’d been running up and down above us for ages and what sounded like a stone kept being dropped and picked up.


We’d had plans of visiting all sorts of places whilst we were in Leicester. Visiting the Van Gogh Immersive Experience would have sent my head all over the shop. A walk to the National Space Centre too far and it didn’t appeal this time. We’ve walked past Richard III grave muttering that he should be in York on a previous visit. Paying to get into Richards visitor centre also didn’t appeal, after all I might get part way round and want to leave.

So what did we do instead?

We visited the Dulux Decorator Centre!

Why? I hear you say. Well when we were sorting out our new windows for the house I’d chosen a cream and a grey to match as close as possible to the existing paintwork. The wooden windows will come ready painted. For some reason the paint suppliers weren’t able to match our original colours, in fact Dulux don’t recognise our original paints either anymore. So back in March I’d collected together paint charts and compared them to what we already had. Finally we sorted the cream colour. Then we added a new door into the mix.

Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower

We gave the go ahead for the new door just last week and they have been ordering in materials including the paint. Of course for the same reason there had been with the cream, the paint suppliers couldn’t now match the grey, Dove. They could do Dove Grey or Dove White, maybe just Dove was too common! So today we needed to look at paints .

Alice Hawkins

The poor young chap at Dulux. All I wanted to do was find three maybe four paints as close to my original choice as possible so I had options. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him why I wanted to match one of their colours, but I did. We went around the houses for ages before showing me a Sikkens chart of wood stains. No I wouldn’t be putting that on my nice new wooden windows. Today was not the best day for me to be doing this, at one point I nearly put everything down and walked out of the shop, but instead the young chap went and rang Sikkens returning saying they could match any paint colour. He soon returned with a RAL and BS colour chart and we found two good options, Mick had found other brands and I finally walked away (after apologising for maybe being a touch short with the assistant) with four options. Thankfully the best one got the thumbs up from the suppliers.

We sauntered into the city, a walk round the market. Then through an arcade to find some chilled medication and a sit down in the shade. Not bad medication, last years in Cambridge still out ranks most ice cream. Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Strawberry and a nutty milk chocolate one were sampled between us.

Medication time

We gained enough energy to have a look around the Guildhall behind the currently closed Cathedral. I’d like to tell you lots about it, recount tales from it’s history, but today I started to read the information boards, but quickly gave up, all those words were too much for me. So here is a little bit of info from the website.

Poxy masks

Starting with its Great Hall built in about 1390, a tour of Leicester Guildhall will take you through the centuries and many uses of the site. From its first role as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi, to a public performance space where even Shakespeare may have acted, to the home of one of the oldest public libraries, the town hall and even a police station.

The Great Hall

The hall with it’s stage, oak panelling, one section rather new and quite well stained to match.

The Parlour

The Mayors Parlour with more oak panelling, stained glass.

One lady looking round thought that modern day prisoners should be made to wear these!

The Library with wonky floors and ancient heavy books all behind glass.

Pick Pocket!

The cells where pick pocket Peter McVoye was held.

We then made our way back to Friars Mill to keep Tilly company. A nice Indian takeaway was enjoyed by us from Simply Indian. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get to see something else.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 loads washing, 4 greys, just not Dove, 1 poor assistant, 3 scoops each, 0 information retained, 0 axe throwing, 1 cuddle with p**ed of Tilly, 5-1, 1 speaker turned down, 1 speaker nudged up, 1 leftover takeaway rice in the fridge for fried rice.

Timeshare Mooring. 18th August

Union Wharf to between Bridges 8 and 9 Market Harborough Arm

Mick had checked his weather app and rain would be with us at midday. The rain begged to differ and arrived at around 9:30am. Oh well, there was that phone call to make to the printers. Scott was helpful whilst not being as helpful as I’d hoped. Basically the print I received was the best they could do. A higher resolution scan of my model would do better, but it seems that most printers no longer do scanning, the majority of clients handing over their work in digital format. Enlarging to 25 times is a specialist job. He’s hoping he can help, he went away with questions to ask, I went away with places to find who’d be able to scan to a much higher resolution.

A hunt round google gave me many places that scan documents and images 1200/2400 dpi. I think I’d need to scan my model to about 9600 dpi! I passed the information on to John to keep him in the loop, the jury is still out. The best solution to this would be for me to paint the portals, guaranteed to get the best result. Next would be the company we’ll be using to print the cloths, they would be £1500 more, now we know why. I’ll see if I can find somewhere on our route to scan the model, get another sample. Thank goodness we don’t need it next week!

One good thing about the emails this morning was that I found out that the set builders had been given the green light, something that it would have been nice to know!

With the rain getting less wet we set off with the brompton and headed down into town to do a big shop. A pause to look in at the hardware shop. Wilkos, several people buying Christmas trees, we don’t need any lights after our purchase for the flotilla last year. The market looked inviting, but nothing grabbed me. So into Sainsburys for a stock up to last us to Leicester.

Union Wharf from the water

After lunch we pushed off, winding in Union Wharf Basin hire boats about to set off. We immediately pulled back in to empty our yellow water tank, the hire boat overtaking us. However just round the bend they were being shown how to pull in, so we overtook them and carried on out of town, our aim to find Tilly a suitable mooring for a few hours before dingding time.

The back gardens are large and pretty. One yesterday was having the grass cut by a robot, we wonder does it have to cut the grass every other day so as to keep on top of it. Maybe we should get one for the house, then the garden would look after itself, well the grass would. Wonder what a robot would make of cat poo in the middle of a lawn though?

A heavy guard

The towpath workers had packed up for the weekend. The bucket from a digger left so diesel theft would be hard.

A cormorant dived and fished, two mouthfuls of silver wriggling fish swallowed as we passed. A Kingfisher started to escort us along a wooded stretch, only to be bombed by a bird of prey. Diversionary tactics employed and it darted back past us to give the now following hireres a flash of electric blue.


They were now hot on our heals, we pulled over to let them pass. They’d hoped we’d work the swing bridge ahead. Instead we decided to pull in for the day, a gap between us and a sign warning of a boat cat roaming. The cat’s owner soon walked by, his cat was likely to venture as far as us, but tends not to go out until dark. Between the two cats we’d found a timeshare mooring, Tilly would be in (we hoped) long before dark.

Time to tidy things away. The unruly pile of stuff on the dinette was all put back where it belonged, under the seat of the dinette, in the office cupboard, the cat proof cupboard got a tidy and things slotted in there too. Drawing pens, watercolours and sketch book still accessible. The corner of the dinette reclaimed. What a lovely feeling.

0 locks, 2.9 miles, 1 wind, 1200 not enough, 2 boxes wine, 0 christmas trees, 4 bags on a bike, 1 wet morning, 1 robotic lawn mower, 1 speedy boat, 2 cats timeshare, 2 pizzas, 1 green light for the build, 1 booking made for North Lock.

Cheese On Toast?! 17th August

Bungalow Bridge 59 to Market Harborough Visitor Moorings

Boats were on the move before us, six came from the direction of Foxton, would this mean that the top six locks would be in our favour? No. Foxton isn’t like that, in fact few places are, yet we always joke about it. We pushed off just as our nearest neighbours were coming back from stretching their legs, they’d be following us very shortly.

First in line!

As we rounded the bend to the top of the locks we were very surprised not to be joining a queue. I hopped off and walked down to find the Lock Keeper with the book to check in.

Not spotted the chap with the cuppa before

Here as at Watford the staircase locks mean one way traffic only. Here there is one place you can pass, a pound between the two staircases of five. The book holder was just above the halfway point with a boat going down hill, they now swapped with a hire boat that had been waiting for them in the middle pound. Our instructions, when this boat came up, we’d be going down, at the moment there were no uphill boats.

Giant chilled medication served at the top

We waited patiently at the top, had a look around the old stables, sadly it was far too early for chilled medication. Once the hire boat had come up we pushed off and into the top lock. Boats had arrived at the bottom so we’d get to the middle pound and wait for them to come up. The boats behind us would have quite a wait before it was their turn.

Red before white. The Lock Keeper pushed and pulled the towpath side gates for me. A new volunteer was being shown the ropes as it were, they’d be starting in the book shop at the top, but it’s handy for them to know what the flight is about so they helped with the gates too and were given bits of information as we descended.

Looking down

The first gongoozlers joined us at the very top lock, some following us down, some just getting in the way of paddle winding, but they are happy to stand back to watch.

Boats were coming up the other set of five, we were making good progress down, a pause required before dropping down into the middle pound as the red paddle needed lifting for an uphill boat and it was by their chamber, then I could lift the white paddle. In this order it saves the water from our chamber just flowing over the bywash instead of being used to fill the lower chamber.

It’s all the way over there

The Lock Keeper had a handy hook to lift our centre line from the roof as we passed under the bridge, now we were to pull into the side and wait for four boats to come past before we could continue on down.

Passing in the middle pound

One lady on an uphill boat walked away from the chamber below, ‘I’ve left the gate for you, oh and the paddle’s still up over there’. But what about those boats following you? She soon turned round and went to close up behind herself. The last boat up, wound the red paddle up long before the white was even thought about. Mick and I jumped back on board to loosen ropes as the level dropped, Oleanna did a jolt as the stern line was untied.

A forty minute wait before we could continue on downwards. More and more gongoozlers at this end of the flight, one lady with her kids grew up having boat holidays, she explained to the kids how it worked, but didn’t stop them from balancing on posts close to the water! I asked the Lock Keeper, ‘4000 boats go through the locks on an average year, has anyone ever counted the number of gongoozlers?’ One sunny August day someone had had a go and they’d numbered 2000. I’m so glad we didn’t have that number around us today, it would be impossible to see Mick at the helm.

Going down in the bottom lock

At the last few locks there was no need to push gates we’d got ourselves gate pushers on both sides. Mick pulled the stern into the landing below the locks, handed over a key of power and then started to swing Oleanna round to head towards Market Harborough. I walked round to do the honours, passing the bottom lock now waiting for the first of the uphill boats who would most likely wait in the middle pound like we had for the downhill boats behind us.

Bye Foxton

The bridge worked nicely, the bridge landings thankfully not required as a day boat was trying to tie to the bollards to head for a pub lunch. Winding your rope round a bollard six times might just do the trick, I wonder if anyone at the hire base shows them how to tie up?

The easy swing bridge

At Foxton Swing Bridge I could see someone wearing blue. This bridge often seems to have problems, I wondered if someone was posted here to open and close it, but the bridge didn’t move. I walked over to see what was happening. Two chaps were working on it. One suggested we moor up and have lunch, the other said to give him a few minutes and they’d swing it open for us. This they did and we were on our way again.

As the crow flies Market Harborough is a couple of miles away, by canal it’s more like five. We pootled along passing the winding hole where we’d turned on our hire boat NB May all those years ago, not enough time to get all the way to Market Harborough. An aroma in the air was hard to fathom. Could it be cheese on toast? Maybe with a touch of yeast extract added? No it turned out to be J.G. Pears they do something with food waste, maybe they’d had a lot of cheese on toast arrive!

Towpath improvements on a break

It’s been quite some years since we came this way. Four years since we came down Foxton heading straight to the north. A footbridge has gone and now a long stretch of towpath is being upgraded right in to Union Wharf. As we progressed closer to the town the works gradually progressed from bare earth, timber sides, hardcor, fresh earth on the edge, tarmac and sausage roll planting along the edges. We wondered if the planting would end up being all along here making it hard to moor out of town.

Union Wharf Basin

Brilliant a space at the end of the moorings, except it was for permit holders only. Thankfully there was a space further along and a boat pulled out meaning we wouldn’t have to moor directly on a big bend. Tilly was allowed out and we sat down for a late lunch.

Barking, barking close to the boat! Where was Tilly? We rushed out to see Tilly on the top of a garden fence a woofer barking below. Between us and the woofers owners the situation was solved, she took her dog inside, I encouraged Tilly back to the boat where the doors were closed. Tom had spoken, I wasn’t allowed out again, apparently I don’t understand urban areas with gardens, sheds, french windows and woofers in their outsides. So not fare!

Nice painting

A walk to the Co-op and Post Office. The Co-op (new to us) too pricey and not much choice for provisions for the next few days. We got what we really needed and will take the long walk through town tomorrow for a good stock up.

Co-op cheese on toast!

Back at the basin more boats had arrived, many taking up a paid for mooring with electric right by the restaurant. One poor hire boat came back to base early, saw that it was far busier than expected, winded a headed back out only to return an hour later looking fed up and very hungry. They found somewhere to moor in the end as they didn’t come past again.

10 locks, 2 sets of five staircase, 6 miles, 40 minutes wait, 1 right, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, £2.95 for four half slices of cheese on toast, 1 cat grounded, 1 woofer silenced, 1 spoil sport Tom, 1 horrid She! 2 spot on wormers, 1 pint milk, 2 loaves of bread, 1 coach in the post.