Category Archives: Illustrations

TLC Day 8. 30th January

Salt and Pepper!

We called into Sainsburys to pick up an order from Ikea, I’d not had confirmation that it had arrived, but it should have been there since Sunday. The lady suggested looking for my delivery on DPD, she needed a QR code to scan before I could have my parcel. Then of course she needed to see some ID for me, which I didn’t have! Thankfully she believed me that I have a driving licence and handed over the order. Thank goodness we’d gone by car, it was a huge box! We chose some soup for lunch and then headed on to Goole, thankfully the sun was out today making for a pleasant drive.

More cupboard sorting, this time the cat proof cupboard. Illustrations for Seperate Doors, bits of panto model, some of these need to stay on board, others need to head for safe keeping at the house. Now we no longer live on board full time some things don’t need to be at hand should we want them. The big box of boat build details was packed along with the folder on Stillwater Narrowboats, that can be filed away somewhere upstairs upstairs, no need to look at that again.

One of my all time favourite illustrations for Seperate Doors

The office cupboard moved from port to starboard. I’d like to have a pull out shelf for the printer at some point, it now being on the starboard side means the power lead will reach a power socket. Whiltling things down is good, but I’m also mindful that we need to compensate for the weight of the new batteries and not end up on a list.

Very tasty

Mick ran the engine. I made a cardboard template for the shelf that will sit above the battery in The Shed. Pea and Ham soup, then a final tidy of various things, The Shed put back together. I could then hoover through and get ready to put a coat of Danish oil on the floor. With the hoovering done, Oleanna was winterised.

Glad you can’t see the diggers on the otherside of the Dutch River

Thankfully the day being bright, Goole looked like the Med today, I had plenty of light to be able to do the oiling. I took my time gradually working my way backwards to the bow. Making sure everywhere got an even coat, no slap dashing today. The last bit is always so hard to do from the bow steps leaning down past your toes to cover the last foot square. Done! The front door was locked, the oil can now cure over several days before anyone will walk on it.

Please dry evenly!

There will need to be another trip so that we can put everything back where it lives and give the bathroom a good clean. The Shed will need it’s new shelf and some hanging rods rather than rails, but we need to see what space we’ll have once the fire extinguisher is back on the wall.

Onion!

Mick will be along sometime soon to explain more about what’s been happening in the engine bay with the new Bully Boy Batteries. I’m now heading off to chain myself to the sewing machine to cover the dinette cushions, oh and a bit of knitting too! Hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you some of the finished socks, once their sponsors have received them.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 last trip, 1 engine ran, 3 Chippy lanyards, 1 panto car, 2 phone boxes, 1 Petiti tree, 1 hoover, 2 last soups, 1 onion, 1 careful coat of oil, 1 face looking forward to not wearing a mask again, 1 boys blood pressure creaping down each day.

What Did You Get? Betwixtmas 2023

Breakfast with tea not bucks fizz this year

Christmas Day was quite grey, but thankfully the drizzle/rain stayed away for us to have a walk down to the seafront and allow Frank to walk (without getting wet) the two miles to join us.

A grey seafront

Glasses of fizz were at hand to help with the final food preparations.

Gourmet sprouts

Frank had brought round three sprout stalks from his garden, so he set to. An hour and a half later, his sterling work had got enough diddy sprouts for maybe two of us, they were added to with extras from the bumper veg box I’d ordered.

All ready to tuck in

I’d seen good reviews for M&S gluten free bread sauce, so we had a taste test between theirs and mine. The Leckenby version made with brown seeded bread and some garlic, the M&S version very white and plenty of cloves. They both had good qualities, I think the decision was that they tied.

Only just fitted on our plates

Mammoth amounts of food took over our plates. We think that this year we managed to achieve the correct quantities of everything. Plenty and still quite an amount of left overs after Frank had finished. Cheese was put till the end of the meal (my Mum wouldn’t have approved!), but just as well as my birthday cake was extreamly rich! Five days later and we’ve still only managed to eat half of it. Chocolate and Hazelnut Celebration Cake and the cheese remained in it’s wrappers!

Cheese still untouched!

In the morning we’d opened our Christmas presents, before Birthday cake there were the tree presents. Mick got a new litter picker (not just for tidying up the towpaths but also to help pick things up once dropped in the engine bay on Oleanna. I got the Sarah Howells Gluten Free cook book and Frank got a pair of Pip socks, the last pair to be knitted this year. This makes it 34 pairs since April, I’d forgotten to add in a pair I made for my cousin at the beginning of May.

Blowing them out

Birthday presents followed. This pile quite often ends up with a few Christmas presents accidentally added, ambiguous wrapping, or just because.

A lovely day with fat bellies, lots of empty bottles and good company.

So what did we get?

We both got new waterproof coats.

Presents

A new barbecue. I’d considered a Cob as so many had sung their praises, but the price tag was a touch too much for Tilly’s pocket, so a slightly sterdier fold away version of the one we’ve had for the last eight or so years. It’s handy as it tucks away easily into one of the stern lockers. I got some Sketchers anti-slip trainers which are comfortable for my toe and the antislip looks as good as we’ve had before. Tilly got a flapping fish to remind her of our travels on the water. This did have to be removed after a while I just don’t understand why it didn’t die! I had resorted to numerous headbut bites and yet it still flipped around!

More!

Lots of other goodies. Books were all cookery books this year, a Tom Kerridge book didn’t make the photo. Tilly got a new (to her) food and water bowls so that she doesn’t have to move them from house to boat to house. I’ll have something to say about that Blue one on my own blog! Plus a LOT of Dreamies. You’d better start moving the outside again so I can have those! Pyjamas were also popular, between us we got three pairs. An ice bag, very handy for knees or heads. Socks, now just not any old socks! Thank you to Kath who got me the arty socks, Father Christmas for the chunky socks, but extra bonus points to the NB Cleddau crew for the Crazy Cat Lady socks. Thank you!!!

Sue cutting the cake, assisted by Jaye and of course Duncan!

We’ve had a few relaxing days since, interspersed by Sue’s 60th where her family and friends took over a local Indian restaurant. What a lovely evening, Happy Birthday Sue!

Can anyone guess which lock this is?

The painting for our downstairs toilet is coming on. A good project to do Betwixtmas. Soon I’ll have to set the drawing board up and sort out dimensions of the lean too that we’re wanting to replace, there’s also the boat cushion fabric to source, curtain tracks, some painting and more bloomin sealant to do in the house! Then there are the boat jobs on the list. But these can all wait for the new year I think, Oh and there’s the yearly round up to write and that always takes ages.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got some fab presents too.

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 pairs socks, 4 cook books, 4 bowls, 3 bags of dreamies, 1 fish, 1 wobbly thing, 3 pairs pyjamas, 1 bottle truffle oil, 2 waterproofs, 1 cold on the way out, 1 on the way in, 1 lodger with a tickly throat, 1 phone, 4 pens, 4 pencils, 1 bbq, 2 much birthday cake so if anyone is passing in the next few days please help us!

Back To Work. 20th September

Brayford Pool

With the forecast so abysmal we wouldn’t be going anywhere today. It actually didn’t live up to all the hype. We did have rain, we had some blustery wind too, but we’d been expecting far far worse.

Simple section

After yesterdays sight seeing it was a good day to do some work and spend the day sitting down. Yesterday I’d had a catch up chat with Jo the props maker for panto, I now needed to do some sketches of a prop she is making after gleaming more info from the director as to what he would like it to do. Jo will only be with us one day a week during early rehearsals so doing alterations won’t be possible overnight, so we all need to be on the same wave length now. Sketches and a storyboard were done, photographed to send to Jo, to make sure I’d covered everything we’d talked about and managed to tick things off John’s request list.

These will fit in the gaps…please!

With the thumbs up on the set print front, Gemma and I also had a phone conversation to go back over all the elements we are wanting to get printed. A few quotes needed adjusting due to additions or wrong dimensions having been given. With all the details correct she was now able to issue an order for the cloths and portals. I then needed to pack up the model pieces to be posted to Prompt Side. Notes were written on the backs of model pieces. Extra leaves were stuck to paper so that they could be slotted into gaps in the print so as to make use of any spare canvas. This all took far longer than expected, the model was as clean as I could get it, plans were printed out and everything packed into a big envelope ready to go tomorrow. I just have to learn Photoshop now.

What are these for?!

Mick braved the weather and headed to Morrisions to do a shop that would hopefully last us until we get off tidal waters next week. The bike went with him as a sherpa. Fridge and cupboards restocked and a few more boxes of wine added to the cellar.

A few phone calls were made to Lock Keepers to book our passage along the tidal Trent. Hopefully the winds will have calmed down before our planned passage.

Puppet v trees

After tea I put together an email regarding the complicated prop for panto for John’s approval. Hopefully he’ll like it then Jo will be able to crack on with making it.

A full day of work.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 tourist attractions, 346295 students being noisy again, 1 box sorted, 4 model pieces packed ready to go, 8 hours, 3 boxes wine, 100 woofer poo bags!!! 0 woofers on this boat! 1 passage , 1 familiar buddy boat.

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.

KL4SEE

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.

https://goo.gl/maps/hYdFNHYakd5GmUuc7

The Big Day. 25th December

Bridge 47, Alrewas

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast

After stockings came a glass of Bucks Fizz and breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, using a bit more of the parsley mountain now in our freezer. A festive chat with the London Leckenbys who were about to sit down to ham sandwiches and presents.

VHF for tidal waters and Trent Locks

Next Christmas presents. Thankfully delayed deliveries hadn’t managed to spoil our main presents. Tilly and I had clubbed together to buy Mick a new VHF radio as ours had gone faulty on the reflections flotilla, we’d ended up having to borrow one. Now that we seem to go on slightly more adventurous cruises we went for a better handheld radio than before. This should cover a larger distance. Mick put it on charge straight away and then had a go at turning down the squelch.

Sander

I got a cordless sander. I should also be able to get other tools that will use the same battery. When working on panto, Jo the props maker had a very small hand friendly cordless electric drill, so I’m hoping that might be the next tool to be added to the collection. We got plenty of other goodies too.

Time for a Christmas walk before any more booze was consumed. The last two years we’ve headed down to Scarborough sea front to have the wind clear away any cobwebs. This year we’re back on the canals, not quite the same as the north east wind making your cheeks ruddy, but just as good.

We chose to walk into the village, turning up Post Office Road. The Crown pub seemed to be popular as families turned up for a pint and lemonade.

The model cottages sitting facing each other both had wreaths on their front doors. At first I thought it a shame that they hadn’t consulted each other and gone for the same. But when I spotted the wreath on the red door, it made me laugh.

Mums and Dads

Baubles hung from a tree, this needed investigating. It is a memory tree for Mums and Dads, some of the baubles have messages written on them. Below there was a tin with a couple more baubles, were these for anyone to use or sat waiting for particular offspring to come and hang them on Christmas morning.

There was a nice looking house for sale, £620,000 for a five bedroom house, not bad. Although it feels lovely and light inside I think it’s lost some of it’s period character with the modern cupboards everywhere.

Back to the canal and a walk to look at the river levels. In the amber, Mick said it had gone down since yesterday, if it carries on in that direction that would be good. We walked down to the weir a short distance further on. The river swirled confused under the walkways and sped it’s way to the weir. Mick thought with enough umph we’d be fine going past.

A look inside the church, still warm from the mornings services. A big tree stood to one side, this with the smell reminded me of Christmas Days in the 70’s when we’d head to The Homestead for drinks with the Rowntree family in York. There in a hallway stood a tree as tall as the room, it’s base swathed in cotton wool. Trains, sledgers, animals decorated the snow below the poor tree that strained under the weight of SO many decorations. The sight kept my brother and myself transfixed, the coloured lights twinkling in the oak panelled hallway as the hubbub of adults came from the library where sherry and mince pies were handed out. At ten to one Peter Rowntree would call everyone silent, there would be a toast to Christmas and then a round of Happy Birthday for me. Today stood in All Saints I glanced up at the clock, ten to one, the time I was born.

In the churchyard many of the gravestones have been moved to the sides, this was done in the 70’s when the grounds had a change of layout. In the nearest corner to Oleanna stand the three wise men and their camels, followed by a donkey. His tail had been pinned on several times before.

Stoned!

Back to Oleanna, a few more Catnip Dreamies for Tilly had her gazing into nowhere for quite some time. I think she was just that little bit off her face!

The duck was pricked, stuffed and popped into the oven. Timings worked out for everything else. Bread sauce and cabbage put on top of the stove to reheat. Veg peeled ready to roast or steam. Sausages wrapped in blankets to keep them warm. It was as if we’d done Christmas dinner on the boat before! Well it’s actually easier here than in the house believe it or not.

Not normally one to watch the Christmas Day speech, lunch is normally timed to clash, but this year we thought we’d give Charles a chance as the pigs in blankets went in the oven. I think normal timings will resume next year.

Two plates brimming full were dished out, some roast potatoes had to be put back to make space for all the extras. All very nice, although my experiment of using oat milk for bread sauce won’t be repeated, it was okay but a little porridgy.

Full to the brim, Snowman was watched before the day moved to Birthday. Cake, candles a cup of much needed tea and then presents.

I got a gluten free recipe book, some waterproof thermal work gloves, some magnifying work glasses to help with model making and illustrations and a box of Pantomime yarn from Riverknits. I’m not sure I’ll knit the pattern the yarn came with or something else, not decided yet.

Another glass of wine accompanied Morecomb and Wise. A very good birthday and Christmas.

0 locks. 0 miles, 3 stockings crammed full, 5 bedoingee balls, 5 chocolate oranges, 2 styles of quality street wrappers, 1 vhf radio, 1 sander, 1 bottle of English fizz, 2 bottles wine, 1 packet of serious crack for cats, 1 spaced out Tilly, 15 pairs socks, 3 cans of beer, 4 spices, 7 silicone lids, 2 boxes matches, 1 pair of glasses, 1 book, 1 wifi camera, 2 plates only just big enough, 2 slices cake, 2 rather full boaters, 1 lovely day.

Going White. 16th July

Brampton Old Mills EA Mooring

Curtains remained closed this morning. Our port side had shade until about 8am, then the sun started creeping around the trees opposite, thankfully today wouldn’t be too hot.

Tilly headed off to explore, we’d not heard the woofer since last night, so we hoped it had left the island. A small tepee tent had sprung up just along the island from us and there was an aroma of sausages cooking on a wood fire.

Shady hunting

The Geragthy zoom included topics such as honesty, choral societies and how we might reuse the sheets we’d bought. One suggestion being that we might make sails to aid our return to Denver, it would certainly save on diesel. We could even use our new fan should there be no wind to help us move, but that would mean running the engine!

Time to work out how to attach our sheets to the cabin side. All the planks and poles would come in handy, I’d often wondered why we had kept three boat hooks on the roof, but today they’d be useful. The sheets were draped over the cabin side, the top foot put over the roof and into the gutter with a pole to weight it down. This was fine until it came to adding the next length. Tape was deemed to be necessary.

No hospital corners here

I still intend to repaint the grab rail so taping things to it wouldn’t be a problem. The big roll of gaffa I’d liberated from a theatre came in handy for this purpose. The sheets stretched from the front of the cabin to part way along the sign writing at the stern. Thought now is required on how to keep the sheets hanging down when there is a breeze never mind the forecast 14mph winds in a few days.

White side

Mid morning a narrowboat appeared and headed to see if it could get in behind us. Being about 50ft there should have been just about enough space if she could get into the side. The depth turns out to not be that great all the way along the mooring here. The lady managed to get off with ropes and Mick helped get her bow rope. In the end she was moored at a touch of a jaunty angle but the bow close enough to get on and off.

Neighbour

As the morning progressed we kept our eyes open for shady places to sit out, only a small patch that was constantly on the move. Mick trimmed back a few nettles to make a slightly larger area. After lunch the area had expanded enough for two chairs to be in the shade.

Todays office

I set up an outside office and continued to work on my sketches for panto. This year I have yet another boat/ship. One line in the script ‘stoke the boilers’ suggests it’s a steam powered ship. Then there are comments of sails, no problem, plenty of such ships to use as reference, just how to incorporate it into the design?

Maybe something like this

I was very fond of last years ship and I can’t replicate that one. A big steam funnel centre stage will use up too much stage space, but maybe I’ve succeeded in a way round it.

I rather like these

Then there is an island called Petiti which we don’t want to be too much of a colonial island to conquer, after all this is Chippy 2022 panto. At the moment I quite like the look of Singapore’s Supertrees, but Abi the director suggested it might have an edible feel to it all. Maybe I can turn the trees into ice cream cones?! Who knows.

During the day the river has been busy. Plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine and warmth. Our neighbours on the island have been joined by others, they’ve been for a paddle in their canoes and by the sounds of the clinking glass consumed a few bottles of beer between them. The lady on the boat next to us (really wish we’d got her name) headed off to try to find the old lock on the island. Not sure if she was successful, maybe we’ll have a look tomorrow.

Blanket to help keep the bedroom cooler

As the sun moved round our port side went into shade. We popped a cream blanket over the bedroom on the starboard side, hoping that might help to keep it cool for later. The sheets on the port side were lifted onto the roof meaning the windows on that side could then help with ventilation.

This evening I had a go at making Quesadillas. I kind of had the ingredients, but it was a version of a recipe by the gfblogger on instagram. They were nice, but maybe some proper chipotle paste would be better than the chilli dressing I had on board. I’ll be giving them another go at some point as they require very little heat.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 sheets cut in half, 14m of white cabin side, 1 white blanket for the bedroom, 1 small patch of shade turns into 1 huge area by mid afternoon, 1 wasps nest, 1 weekend long party (must have a boat to access it), 3 canoes, 1 rib, 10 hours shore leave, 1 very pooped cat who really needs to start drinking water!

Memories. 13th July

Paxton Pits GOBA Mooring

A slightly cooler day again. Looks like we need to make the most of such days before the temperature totally soars.

Not much blue there!

Time to print out my references and get cracking on a story board for panto. The printer came out of the office cupboard. A calm attitude is required with our printer as it tends to be a touch annoying at the best of times, preferring to be fed paper one way, then the other, the paper drawer on the bottom has a major design flaw too! My demeanour was good this morning until I printed out the pages. Loads of lines, everything a touch too pink and yellow!

They are only for ease of reference so not too important, but it would be handy for me to be able to see what the pictures include. I tried again, worse! I could see the blue was just about gone but the printer knew better than me! Maybe changing all the ink cartridges would help?

The spare cartridges I thought we had were ones from the last time this happened, I’d kept them because none of them were showing as being empty, but that was at least a year ago and they were all now long dried out! So until I can get replacements I’ll have to make do.

A few boats came past during the day. One cruiser loitering with intent to pull alongside us, but they decided against it in the end.

Washing and a neighbour

I was just about to set up an outside office as Mick was adjusting a load of washing on the whirligig, then he started to talk to a narrowboat. ‘Are you looking for somewhere to moor?’ The answer was yes. So we offered our port side to them. As the boat approached I realised it might be some time before I’d get to start work as we knew the boat.

Back in November 2014, NB Still-Waters was one of the shells we’d seen sat outside the workshop of Stillwater Narrowboats. We’d been on a day trip to see how our new build narrowboat was going, we’d been a touch concerned to have heard nothing for quite sometime from the builders. The place was deserted apart from a few shells, none of which looked to be ours. If you don’t know the story here’s a link to the first blog post.

Their surname is Waters

Thankfully now enough time has passed since the CPS took the builders to court, so we no longer tell tales of wo to each other, but have conversations about cruising plans and where we’ve both been. We passed ropes over our t-studs and I apologised in advance if Tilly happened to go on their boat.

I managed a few hours of putting sketches together under the shade of a nearby tree. Tilly exhausted from another full days exploration returned and did a double take.

My paws are all clean!

You said nothing about catching another boat! When did we get an extension? You’ll have difficulty moving the outside up and down with that alongside us! As she walked along our roof she shouted! She even hopped onto their roof to take a look and have a sniff around. This behaviour is discouraged and she soon came back onto Oleanna.

However later in the afternoon she wanted to check out the sleeping arrangements on Still-Water! There was no stopping her going inside and having a jolly good nosy. Why haven’t we got one of those things?! What things?! Those things?!

Not a bad view out of the cratch this evening

Today also marks the seventh anniversary of an unexpected visit to the QMC in Nottingham. A day for memories, and not good ones.

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 pages of pink/yellow references, 4 sketches, 1 needing redoing, 2 loads of washing, 1 Still Water neighbour, 6 fritters, 1 noisy nosy parker! ! grounded cat.

New Pages

For a while now I’ve been meaning to add a couple of extra pages to the blog, at last I’ve got round to doing it.

I quite often get asked for the recipes for things I’ve made. Sometimes these are recipes taken from the internet, other times things I have made up. Having a place to note the made up dishes will be handy for me to be able to make them again. Above this post, you should be able to see a new menu item Oleanna Recipes. This is where those recipes will go.

When you see a blue arrow on a post it will mean I’ve added a new recipe.

You’ll notice another new menu item RedLockMakes. This is where I’ll showcase things I’ve made or current projects. Today I have added details of a fundraiser I am doing through March, keeping me busy now my Theatre Design work has finished. I’m hoping once March is over to have a bit of time to do more painting to add to this page. The red arrow will mean there’s something new to see too.

Setting Off.

Us and Freddie

It feels an absolute age since I’ve written anything, well it’s nearly three weeks since my last post! When writing a daily blog I get into a routine, when I stop it takes a while for me to come down as it were and not have to take photos constantly, think of a title to sum up the days events etc.

Instead I fill the day with decorating or doing a bit of work for #unit21 which will be here very soon. Full on rehearsals start next week , with there only being two shows it will all be done and dusted by mid Feb. Then we’ll be on the final push to finish things in the house before moving back on board.

This morning we’ve discussed our cruising plans for the year. Despite Mr Johnson starting to relax covid restrictions and suggesting that even self isolation may be removed by the end of March I have decided that the party I was planning for the summer will be delayed by a year. So it won’t be quite the half century, half decade, half year birthday that I’d planned, instead it will be 55.5 +1. There are other reasons too.

Look at the size of that pipe fender!

Last year we wanted to see family and catch up with a few friends. This was important to us and dictated where we should cruise, we also managed to fit in some adventures too. Then panto came along, then we waited for Christmas followed by the New Year. Times, restrictions and things to be waited for. Now we busy ourselves with jobs around the house whilst we wait for our first lodger of the year to arrive. So instead of waiting for July and a party we will be heading off to cruise and explore new places and waterways. Hopefully covid will have receded a touch more by summer 2023 and we will feel more relaxed about gathering friends and family together for a big weekend, it will also give us more time to plan it!

So, where will we be going?

Well you’ll just have to be patient and wait and see!

I’m being very patient!

Have to say, now we know what our plan is, we can start to look forward that bit more. There are various jobs that need doing on Oleanna before we head off. We could do with the weather being a touch warmer so that our bubble carpenter can pay her a visit and Mick might finally get round to giving her an oil change!

There’s that lighthouse again!

News from Towpath Talk is that C&RT have temporarily suspended commercial craft on the Aire and Calder to investigate harm being caused to wildlife. On a stretch of the canal in Knottingley there have been significant numbers of dead fish. Reduced loads and slower speeds had been adopted by the gravel barges but still the fish are dying without explanation.

The title of todays blog doesn’t actually refer to us, as setting off is still a little while away. But this morning Mick received a phone call from an old friend. Chris was obviously excited, as finally after a couple of months of living on his narrowboat whilst the boat builders have been finishing things off, today was the day he’d be leaving Debdale Marina and heading off to continuously cruise the system.

Which way?

At midday he untied NB Elektra, got himself to the entrance of the marina where he was going to toss a coin, left or right? Right it was. He has just over a month to reach Watford Locks which are currently closed for maintenance, then he will most probably have to toss a coin again at Norton Junction to see which way he will then head. It reminded us of our excitement when we pushed out from Crick Marina in 2014 and headed towards Braunston with NB Blackbird.

Next painting in progress

So if you are in need of a boating fix you can glide along the canals with Chris as he has a webcam mounted in the bow. A week or so ago he cruised to Leicester, we watched occasionally and were surprised at how well we recognised where he was despite there being few major landmarks to help us. If you are out walking the towpaths you won’t be able to miss him and NB Elektra as she is painted black and magenta and when the weather warms up a bit he’ll no doubt be wearing his pink hat.

Us and the North Sea

Right that’s my excuse for writing a blog post used up. Mick when are you going to change the oil so I can have another fix?!

Bye for now.

Red Arrows? For Tom

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.

News came through that the breach on the Aire and Calder had been mended and nine months after the canal had sprung a leek it was mended and open again. Boats could now move through the area, mooring however is still restricted.

Following the Grand Union we headed down the Stockton Flight to Leamington Spa. Tilly and I had a few hot days on our own moored at Radford Smelly then we were on our way again. An obligatory burger at The Cape of Good Hope the night before we teamed up with NB Mad Hatter to ascend the Hatton flight. One day my old college friend Emma will not have an excuse to helping us up the flight, this time we met for a cuppa and a catch up the following day.

On up Knowle to Catherine de Barnes, then Camp Hill Locks, the Ashted flight and Tunnel (!) followed by Farmers Bridge into Birmingham. The city centre is still full of building and tram works but with the sun out it looked stunning. We also caught up with Paul Balmer from Waterway Routes before carrying on with our journey.

A night at Hawne Basin filled the diesel tank up. A night at Dudley Port Basin got the cupboards filled. A pause at Urban Moorings meant we could donate our deposits and the next day we descended from the Birmingham plateau down the Wolverhampton 21.

Along the Staffordshire and Worcester we managed to have a mid stream catch up with Barbara from NB Bessie Surtees. At Great Haywood I managed a catch up with Kay from NB Pea Green as she set up to trade for the day and Mick filled Oleanna’s water tank.

Heading north on the Trent and Mersey we pulled in for lunch and a surprise hello to Barry and Sandra from NB AreandAre whom we’d got to know last year in the first lockdown. In the afternoon we were joined by Bill and Lisa for a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. Now we swung off the Trent and Mersey and onto the Macclesfield with it’s wonderful bridges.

It would have been nice to take our time but we had a rendez vous to make. The end mooring at Marple was free and from here we headed into Manchester by train to join the London Leckenbys for a meal of big red fish. The following day my old school friend Morag joined us for a night on board with some serious catching up to be done.

Our next deadline loomed, Standedge Tunnel. We dropped down the Marple flight, crossed the aqueduct and turned right at Dukinfield Junction onto the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We knew we were in for some hard work to climb our way over the Pennines, last time we’d enlisted crew to help as I was one handed. This time we’d be going solo. Apart from the very first lock it wasn’t too troublesome. The work is rewarded with stunning views.

Standedge Tunnel did not disappoint. Because of social distancing Mick got ride ride up front in the cratch leaving the helm to a C&RT volunteer. Bumps and scrapes made Oleanna wince along with us, but we all got through in one piece with no damage. Tilly wasn’t too happy about the trip, but at least I can now boast to the local cats in Scarboreugh that I’ve been through the longest deepest highest tunnel on the canal network whilst they just lazed around on their shed roofs!

On our way down the other side Oleanna had a belt that went taking out quite a few wires in the engine bay. RCR were sent for, the engineer suggested we’d need to remove a pulley on the alternator to be able to remove trapped wires, this could not happen where we were. We could move but the batteries would not charge. The only way to top up our electric was with the solar panels. Emergency power conservation went into operation, blogs were hand written, the freezer turned off and we gradually ate our way through our defrosting supplies. Every day Mick managed to pull more wire from the alternator and soon there was no need for an engineer again, just a new belt needed fitting.

We made our way down to Huddersfield and arrived the day before I had a production meeting at Dark Horse. After walking to my meeting I han