Category Archives: Model making

Empty. 10th July

Fishery Lock to Sharpes Lane Bridge

The air looked like it had potential to be wet this morning, waterproofs put on over t-shirts just in case. A boat had not long gone past us when we pushed off ourselves, we’d not catch them up before the first lock though.

Very funny!

Two chaps were working on an old day boat below Boxmoor Lock, new engine boards and a lot of cushions, not sure the cushions really gave the luxury look suggested in the company name. The boat ahead was just finishing going up, the crew returned to lift a paddle, that was nice of them, maybe they’d wait at the next lock for us.

Boxmoor Lock

Our turn, the bottom gates were clogged a touch with towpath clippings, Mick tried to clear them before I filled the lock. New signs on the lock beams ask for the lock to be left empty, so I returned to lift a paddle. I suspect we’ll see more of these new signs as we climb towards the Tring summit.

Below Winkwell

Under the railway that had kept thundering past last night, we’ll not be shot of it for some distance, but we’ll also be glad of it too. The boat ahead was just finishing again at the next lock. One of the chaps shouted back to me that they’d wait at the next one for us. As we rose he walked back and said they’d operate Winkwell Swing Bridge and that we could go through first. This bridge has it’s off days so I was quite glad not to be the one pressing the buttons, but it behaved impeccably. Nine held up between the two boats.

I opened one gate at the next lock, Mick would move Oleanna over to let our lock partner in, I waved them in. The chap at the helm was obviously used to single handing, his crew vanished below and left us to it.

That’s the sort of sign I’d make

I hitched a lift to Winkwell Top Lock. There must have been another boat ahead of us as it hadn’t quite finished emptying when I got there. I opened up the second paddle to help and then one gate. As this was happening a boat arrived above NB Burnt Oak, I’ve seen them before, maybe even chatted to them. The lady came and helped, dropping a paddle and opening the other gate for us. Here another sign asked us to empty the lock a rather good home made one with a 2.5D model boat.

Our locking partners were stopping for lunch, we thought we’d carry on. But then changed our minds a short distance on, this would possibly be the last Tilly suitable mooring before Berkhamsted, so we found a space with no overhanging trees and tried to pull in. The pound was quite high, I’d been warned that the towpath further on was under water. A bit of jiggling about got us closer to the bank.

Tilly 5 hours! Brilliant!!! Off she went. A few returns and then gone for what felt like hours, so long I felt the need to just see her and called, but no sign, she was too busy.

Wow! This outside was great, plenty of friendly cover, I went self catering. This took quite a while as there was a banquet waiting for me. After I’d had my fill I returned inside to tell them all about it and get some Dreamies to finish off, maybe have a little kip. That’s when everything changed.


I wasn’t very well. Understatement there Tilly!

Sheee! I don’t feel too good

Someone’s eyes had been far too big for their belly! After a while things settled down and as cats do Tilly had some biscuits as she was now running on empty. A blade or two of grass did the trick outside. Then she returned inside and carried on being ill. Her food was removed and the doors closed. I’d planned an afternoon of painting and cooking, but spent most it washing the floor and making sure Tilly stayed on hard surfaces. Both of us were starting to wonder if this was more than over indulgence, had she eaten something really bad. We’d wait a while. Thankfully things calmed down.

Tilly sat on the drawing board slot eyes closed sat upright. I started to cook, a beef and beetroot curry popped in the oven and a batch of cheese scones, a necessity to use up the mass of yoghurt about to go off. Tilly gave head nudges, had a little snooze. After an hour or so she climbed onto the ‘Feed Me‘ shelf. Was this a good sign? No food until normal ding ding time though.

A small amount of whitefish food was put down. It was eaten. Half an hour passed, she was allowed a bit more. Phew, she seemed to be better. A long snooze before bedtime, then a short round of the fishing rod game before she snuggled up for the night.

4 locks, 2 shared, 1.5 miles, 1 bridge, 9 held up, 1 jaunty mooring, 3 push off required during the day, 5 hours curtailed to 3, 1 large friend or was it more? 1 very sickly cat, 1 clean floor, 1 last test match, 12 cheese scones, 2 meals worth of curry, 2 gf naan breads, 1 final, £1015 sockathon total, 9 pairs of socks still in need of toes.

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

Gentleman Fishmonger. 30th September

Doncaster Visitor Moorings


A box of eggs had been hiding in plain view and their time was up, so it was scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast. A shopping list was put together, then we walked into town, time to visit the deli!

Hang on the sign above the door was different, a budgie in a cage sat by the front door not shelves of exotic fruit and veg. A young lady tinkered with the door. We checked they were open, they were. Blimey it’s changed!

Still a fab cheese and meat counter

Scicluna started off as a deli stall on the market 47 years ago, it grew in popularity but the restraints of a market stall became too much and after 36 years Josephine moved the business into the shop where it stands today and where I head every time we visit Doncaster. A year ago Josie chose The Gentleman Fishmonger, Martyn Peppard to help move the business into the next age. DN1 was born. Well the shop has changed quite dramatically, the final alterations only happened a couple of weeks ago. Painted black from floor to ceiling, the counters have moved, all the sacks of grains and flours have gone, replaced with dispensers. The wall of spices is now condensed and the boxes of different types of flours are more ordered. There is still a huge variety of fresh veg and bread, it’s just that someone else, not Josie, has sorted everything out.

No more sacks

Half the shop is now a kitchen and fine dining room, with taster menus. The reviews very good suggesting Michelin stars should be on the cards. I’m sure the food is excellent, but the price tag a touch too high for a Saturday lunchtime, a serious celebration needed.

Todays purchases

Some tapioca starch was found easily, then a small bag of Gram Flour (I’ve an urge to make onion bhajis), a bag of gluten free suet jumped off the shelf too (I miss steak and kidney pudding), we’ll see what it’s like. The cheese counter called us over. A small slice of three cheeses added to our purchase. I’d been worried that the deli would have changed without Josie at the helm anymore, but it just feels like they have removed some of the vast array of ingredients, tidied the place up so other people can find things not just Josie. Still very much worth a visit.

The Wool Market

We’ve not been into the Wool Market before. Several street food vendors have stalls including Hand Pulled Italian Coffee?! It certainly seemed to be popular. Maybe Doncaster is becoming a very foody place.

Into the market for a nosy, a pork pie for Mick. I refrained from buying any haslet, three flavours of this Lincolnshire delicacy on offer today. I’ve only ever had it on school geography field trips, it can stay in my memory thank you! Then into the fish market. The Gentleman Fishmongers stall was by far the most popular with hoards of people crowded round. I was tempted, but this week we need to stick to our list and we’d got treat cheeses.

Trainers! But can I walk in them?

This morning I’d tried on my trainers for the first time since breaking my toe. I got them on, but walking in them was a different matter, back to the crocks. But after an hour it was time to sit down, I left Mick to do the shopping and returned to Oleanna.

Big model

Time to get on with the song sheet for panto. My work boxes had been dug out from under the dinette and a backing was painted up similar to parts of my portal design. Then it was scanned and popped into Photoshop. Faded, colours, saturation contrast changed. Then the words added. I just wanted to add a border.

Altered colours

This took sometime, but I got there in the end, saved and printed out a copy. Ah …. I’d got a spelling mistake and had saved it without all the layers! Time to start again, well I need the practice. Except I couldn’t get it to do a border! Grrr.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 cheeses, 2 flours, 1 suet, 1 pie, 10 litres oil, 1 chicken on second attempt, 3 goes at songsheet, I thought I was getting the hang of this! 1 Saturday roast chicken.

Floating Fish. 21st September

Brayford Pool to Torksey Top Side Visitor Moorings

The water tank filled as we had breakfast, the last load of pants and socks had been dried in the washing machine, it was time to head off. However there was first the matter of getting my model pieces into the post, we’d not be near a Post Office for a few days. Mick headed off to the nearest post office only to find a huge long queue outside, everyone holding passports in their hands. Were they all foreign students requiring stamps of some sort in their passports? Mick didn’t loiter long as the queue wasn’t moving, instead he walked another mile to the next Post Office, my model was on it’s way.

Push Back

Back at Oleanna the hose was wound up, a trustee of Brayford Pool stopped to chat to Mick, our next door neighbours had just come back from having their Covid jabs. They were very chatty about all things Brayford Pool, turning in at Keadby and the announcement from C&RT about the license fees going up. Thankfully his opinion was a similar one to ours, we all knew it was coming, nobody likes a price hike, if it wasn’t for the funding cuts, etc. We’d also like to add we are all boaters and the divisive comments appearing on social media are prejudiced, sad and so disappointing. Bringing in a Continuous Cruiser licence was always going to bring out such opinions. I do my best not to be political on the blog, but the human race sometimes really disappoints me!

Once the covers were rolled up and the chatting had stopped we pushed back leaving our mooring in sunshine. Thank you Lincoln, we’ll be back, don’t know when, but we’ll be back. We wanted to stop at the services, but they were occupied, someone looked like they were heading for a shower, we’d not wait for them, our yellow water could sit in its container for a while longer.

Floating Fish!

As we got close to the Pyewipe Inn we started to spot fish, a few big ones at first, all very much dead, floating on the surface of the canal. Then more and more, hundreds of them. In the hot weather there have been instances of fish dying, lack of oxygen in the water. The water here looked cloudy, cloudier than normal. Was this run off from fields or some nearby industry causing this? We made a comment to some fishermen, they said they’d report it. They didn’t really need a rod and line in places, you could have just gone along with our landing next and scooped the fish out! Thankfully past the entrance to Burton Waters Marina the water cleared to it’s more normal brown colour and the dead fish gradually declined in number.

On through Saxilby, the chip shop mooring very full today. C&RT had been and chopped up the boughs from the willow tree that had cracked and the narrowboat that had been close to possible danger had been pulled back to the end of the mooring, away from the willows.

Only one moving boat today

On the banks towards Torksey there were a couple of diggers on the top of the bank. Were these cutting the grass? No, it was piling work going on on the other side of the flood bank. Hopefully it was far enough away from the moorings for us not to hear it.

Cottam on the horizon

Cottam Power Station came into view, our destination for today almost reached. One boat on the moorings, we pulled up a suitable cat gap away. I ventured onto the bow today for the first time since breaking my toe, very cautiously stepping round the cratch board to tie up, I’ve so hated just standing there with a rope in hand waiting for Mick to moor us up, it’s as if I can’t be trusted to do it properly! I’ll remain extra cautious for a while, uneven surfaces are awkward at the moment even whilst wearing anti-slip crocks.


Four hours Tilly! It took a while for her to sus that the world improved greatly at the top of the bank. An hour later, moek mho mi mgset, muffled cat conversation could be heard coming down the bank. ‘DOORS!‘ A while later she returned again. Oh blimey! Thankfully I was able to rescue this friend, Tilly was now grounded for the remainder of the day despite her protestations. She really needs to mend her ways!


All this was going on whilst I was trying to get some knitting done in front of Dunkirk (2017). What I’d class as a quiet action film. Not much dialogue, quiet underscored music of the evacuation from Dunkirk, very modern British. Stories from the sea, land and air. Think I’d have enjoyed it better had there not been so many interruptions and miscounted stitches which required pulling out!

Socks have started arriving with their owners. Another pair finished today, just a shame the lady who requested them hasn’t responded to my messages. If I don’t hear back there will be a size 7 pair of socks up for grabs in return for a donation.

And breath

0 locks, 10.4 miles, 1 wind, 1 full water tank, 1 parcel on its way, 1 box approved, 1526 fish, 1 toe improving, 4 hours curtailed to 3, 1 grounded cat, 1 spoilt afternoon, 5th pair finished, 300,000 men evacuated.

Back Again. 18th September

Burton Waters to Brayford Pool, Lincoln

Footpaths everywhere

Blimey the rain at 4am! Whilst Mick managed to ignore it I got up and closed all the windows that had already allowed rain in onto the sofa, dinette and Houdini shelf! The puddle had also returned in the bathroom. At times the rain was soo loud I found it impossible to get back to sleep, but I did in the end.

The Cathedral

As we were just finishing breakfast we could hear a strimmer start up, someone had come back to finish cutting the grass at the mooring. We decided this should speed up our departure so we headed out to roll up the covers and get moving, the chap however walked up the steps and vanished. He’ll have to come back another time now.

A familiar sight coming into Lincoln

We pushed off, heading back in to Lincoln. Today we had a mooring booked in Brayford Pool, £16 a night with electric included and plenty of noise from the freshers. A week ago we’d been told which berth would be ours so we were able to pull straight into our spot. Mick then headed off to check in at the office, then we settled in, the washing machine going on.

Pontoon B with a view of the Cathedral

Shortly after 13:24 we heard a train going past, the line is pretty close to Brayford Pool, this was our train, leaving without us!

Yesterday there had been a change of plan for this week. Mick had been bought a ticket to go on a trip around the Isle of Wight on the Paddle Steamer Waverley from Portsmouth with Marion and John for his birthday this year. I’d declined the offer, I’m not too keen on boats at sea, but I was going to meet a college friend I’ve not seen in decades. So today we should have been heading down to the south coast. However with strong winds forecast for Tuesday the trip had been cancelled and PS Waverley headed straight to Gravesend on Sunday for safe waters to sit out the winds. The trip on the Waverley will be rearranged for sometime next year. We could have still headed down to the south coast, but with my toe etc we decided to see if we could get our train fares refunded.

Boat name chalked on the dirt

A boaters discussion yesterday had us decide to still take the mooring in Brayford Pool. Maybe we’d get to see some sights? However that wasn’t for today.

Time to try to see what was happening with the scanning for panto. I’d tried emailing, now a phone call was needed. A lady answered the phone, as soon as I said who I was she apologised for the delay and that I was on Peter’s radar. It might not be until tomorrow that my model would be scanned. Nothing to do but wait.

Someone reminding me that they exist

A tenth sock was cast on and we watched Tom Hanks try to fend off Somali pirates in Captain Phillips (2013). Barkhad Abdi who played the lead pirate in the film won a British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for an Oscar. It was his first acting job, he and the other three pirates all came from the same block of flats in Minneapolis. On the films opening night, Abdi apparently gave up his job driving limousines for his brother. He earnt $65,000 where as Tom Hanks earnt $15 million!

During the afternoon I got an email through from Chippy, they had had a phone call from a lady called Ann offering us the use of her overhead projector. Ann reads the blog and has used her OHP for similar things in the past so knew how helpful it would be. Thank you Ann, I look forward to meeting you.

Late afternoon I stopped what I was doing as an email came through from Peter at Promptside. His short comment accompanying it said, ‘Here’s the scan, I think it looks good.’ Oh thank goodness!!!

I opened the link, zoomed in. My scan had been 11MB this one was 161MB! Chris on NB Elektra had managed to up my scan to about 40MB. I did a quick comparison, obviously it was so much better, but the most important thing was that it was all in focus, you can even see brush strokes and tiny hairs, the later not intended! It will need a touch of touching up, but ohh the relief!

0 locks, 2.9 miles, 1 mooring, 2 loads washing, 1 film, 2 windy for paddle steamers, 1 change of plan, 0 trains, 0 connections to catch, $65,000, 1 more sock, 1 more film, 1 OHP, 161MB! 1 relieved designer, 1 bored cat, 1 new plan despite a foot, 11 years.

Polish And A Pootle. 13th August


Tea in bed and no plans on venturing far today. We managed breakfast before joining the Geraghty zoom, subjects included ants (a recurring topic), 3 cranes, wrestling, puppetgate and season tickets.

Go away I’m BUSY!!!

We pottered away the morning as did Lizzie on NB Panda whilst Tilly kept herself busy in the friendly cover. The ivy twitching every now and again kept her on her toes.

Painted bits and bobs

Lizzie started to give Panda a wash, followed by some polish. I got on with giving the new bits of model a lick of paint and glitz. I’m hoping that any time now I get the thumbs up that we are in budget on panto so I know I can put my model making things away for good, rather than having to dismantle one end of the dinette to get a couple of things out time after time.

It’s busy in Welford!

So many boats came past, a mass exodus in the morning, then the next batch of hopeful moorers arriving. At one point there was a short boat heading towards the basin, another following behind (keeping themselves back) as another came from the basin. This down hill boat kept going, no reducing it’s speed as the short boat was trying to pull into the offside and step off to pull themselves out of the way. The wind caught their bow which headed for the gap between us and the boat behind, all the time the downhill boat carried on ploughing on, comments of ‘Doesn’t he know you pass on the right!’ This chaps wife suggested he stop and wait, thankfully he did as he was told otherwise there’d have been carnage in Welford.

We’d offered to help Lizzie back down the lock and because of the wind Mick also offered for us to stay onboard and help her moor when she got back to North Kilworth Marina, extra hands on ropes may come in handy.

Glistening Panda

So once the second coat of polish on the port side had been polished off Panda Lizzie took her to wind and we headed to the lock. We managed to swap with an uphill boat so could leave the gates. With all three of us on Pandas stern it was quite cosy. As navigator I gave directions and beeped the horn when we arrived at the junction and the entrance to the marina. Of course here there was little wind and Lizzie chose to back into her spot so that the starboard side could have a wash and polish next time she visits. All this washing and polishing puts us to shame, but then Oleanna has cruised over 600 miles this year with many more still to come. One day the lid on the bottle of polish will get cracked open after at least two years onboard.

Reflected sky on the hatch

North Kilworth has a nice layout to it. Access roads weave around the basins with plenty of shrubs breaking up the view and wind. We spotted several boats that had been out for the weekend and at least one widebeam!

Panda back home

Lizzie gave us a lift back to Welford there’s already a date in the diary for next year when we hope to meet up whether it’s by boat or not.

Roast chicken for us tonight.

Blue cruising for 20.32 hours

Brian from NB Harnser has been concerned that one of us would forget to switch our Nebolink on to record our journeys. Well it turns out that yesterday I ended up turning it off twice, therefore turning it back on. So overnight Oleanna’s progress has been recording none stop, eventually as she hadn’t moved after an age I received a report and map of where she’d been. What a lot of blue!

Another aside. Well done to those boats who made it to the gathering in Birmingham today. If we’d been heading northward on the west side of the country we’d most certainly have been there with you all. NB Freespirit had their stern in view on the local news last night.

If you’d like to sign the petition showing your support for Fund Britains Waterways here is a link.

1 lock for Panda, 2 milesish for Panda, 2 rights 1 left for Panda, 0 miles for Oleanna, 2 coats polish, 6 hours! 1 annoying woofer, 1 bratwurst day, 4 model pieces painted, 1 roast chicken, 1 lovely weekend with boaty friends.

Pantone Tastic. 7th August

Broughton Road Bridge

Those mushrooms in the fridge needed eating up, so I had to make some mushrooms on toast ala Pip this morning, sorry Mick!

Emails back and forth to the printers. Update from me to Production Manager and Director. A new coach drawing done. Sideways trees checked over a few more times.

Go away, I’m recharging my solar!

Mick still in Scarborough was being kept busy too. A chap had come to measure up for wooden double glazed windows to replace the single glazing. Numerous questions were phoned through to me. If we had one type of stop on the highest window in the house we’d loose the squiggly bit, we like our squiggly bits so a key option was okayed. A cottage style was rejected, but brass furniture approved, all whilst I was drawing up the coach.

On his way to the station Mick popped into Clockhandyman and purchased a switch to add to our Nebolink set up. Then he caught three trains back to Rugby.

Time for a detour

A Google for copy shops came up with The Printing Works, time to get my updated plans scanned and copied. The usual walk across the park towards the station was closed due to an emergency closure on the bridge across the Avon, just a short detour required to get back on track. The very helpful chap took his time, concerned about the grey background on the scans. I checked them over, not a problem you could see all the information required, they wouldn’t be for display.

As he scanned and printed we chatted about what I did, he got a sneaky peek at a photo of my model. He very kindly let me borrow a Pantone swatch book so that I could identify the shades of blue I’d used on my portals. This is so the printers can add in a coloured border that will wrap around our scenery instead of it being white. I promised to email a photo when the show was up and running so he could see how it all came out.

Pantone charted

New sets of plans were popped in the post as I walked back to the boat. Then it was time to make the new bits for the model. A simpler coach, two bits of handrail and a dustbin. MIck was back shortly before I’d finished. Over the next few days I’ll have to dig my paint box back out from under the dinette to paint them, but hopefully the majority of everything is now done. Time to get back to boating life.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 trains, 4 window phone calls, maybe it should have been me that went to Scarborough, 15 scans, 12 copies, 2 envelopes posted, 2 hand rails, 1 dustbin, 1 coach, 2 plates of pork fried rice, 1 switch.

Working Out The Rain. 22nd 23rd July

College Cruisers, Oxford to Aristotle Bridge

The paperboy decided to have breakfast before going to pick up a Saturday paper, the weather app he’d looked at suggested the forecast rain would start around 11am. Well it was wrong, it started around 9am and continued with only a couple of short lulls well into the evening. Mick put on his waterproof coat and went shopping with a brolly in hand.


The drawing board came back out and on Saturday I spent all day updating working drawings so that the set for panto could be built from them. I added in a few suggestions from one of the builders, with the hope that they would assist in reducing the cost of the build. My original sketch drawings are done with two things in mind. One to assist in making the model and to get pricings done. They tend to have a bit too much information on them, so simplifying them for building was needed.


Mick listened to what cricket commentary there was from Manchester, most of the recorded interviews he’s heard before and remembered. Tilly spent much of the day asleep, occasionally sticking her head out the back just incase the weather had improved, it hadn’t!


Boats came past, one with many a sticker in it’s windows. This was NB Scholar Gypsy, the crew however not known to us, we waved from inside anyway, but I suspect we weren’t seen as the person on the helm was forging on in the rain.

Gingery Salmon with lots of green

The staff at the hire base worked away through the rain. Boats were washed whilst having a second rinse by the rain. Then the numerous hire crew arrived early afternoon, they were chatted through the boat, then each one in turn headed off down the canal, most to Isis Lock to wind below and return. They then moved their belongings on board for their time away, slightly soggy at the edges.

Sunday. The Geraghty zoom included Jeremy Paxman, cherries, cricket (of course), season tickets for QPR and Scottish blueberries.

Our 48 hours was now up, but still being in Oxford was needed for Monday morning to access a bus out to Chippy. Thankfully the S3Gold service follows the canal for a distance northwards of Jericho, so we set our eyes on the quiet mooring by Aristotle Bridge.

First things first was to dispose of some rubbish. The bins at College Cruisers are C&RT bins, but are often not accessible due to the hire fleet being in. This morning however all but one boat were out, so we pushed Oleanna across the cut and got rid of the fishy packaging from our salmon last night.

as it says

We were now opposite NB Huffler. Margaret could been seen through the window and Tony stuck his head out of the hatch. Margaret hasn’t been very well recently, requiring visits to A&E to help monitor her heart rate. Things were improving, but another visit to the hospital was on the cards. We wished them well and hopefully they’ll be back on the move soon.

Pipe smoker

We now pootled on up the cut, only 0.6 of a mile, but just far enough. The back gardens along this stretch are worth a nosy at along with the backs of the houses. However at this time of year the amount of leaves obscures the views too quickly for photos. We pulled in towards the end of the quiet mooring, surprised at how many boats were moored there.

Tilly headed off into the ditch between the canal and playingfield. Across the way a couple were trying to trim a Spaniels fur, it really wasn’t enjoying the experience and kept shouting about it.

I got on with more drawings, once they were complete I then set to taking photos of the model. A new coloured storyboard will be put together in the coming days for reference.

The Town Square

With the model packed up and ready to go we sat down and enjoyed a roast chicken. Very nice, it’s been a while. I just need to now factor into our menu a lot of beetroot as Mick wasn’t aware I’d bought a bunch. It might be beetroot and chicken salad for us this week.

0 locks, 0.6 miles, 1 very wet day, 1 drier day, 1 disappointing outside, 1 model finished, 14 sheets of drawings finished, 130 photos, 1 Sunday roast.

Last Of The Matchsticks. 21st July

Kings Lock, River Thames to College Cruisers, Oxford Canal

It was busy this morning. A Sea Otter that had pulled in infront of us last night pulled out and winded. It seemed like they’d done this in front of a blue boat that had just come up the lock. A second glance at the blue boat, hang on that’s Graeme on NB Misty Blue! We stuck our heads out of the kitchen window and shouted across. Graeme was last seen on the Great Ouse last summer, we’d both escaped Goole after the breach in 2021 and the same year both boats had taken part in the first Tideway cruise under Hammersmith Bridge. Today there was only chance for a quick exchange of words, Graeme has never cruised the Upper Thames, he looked excited to be on new waters.

There be dragons

A few more boats came and went before we were ready to push off, we let a small cruiser go ahead, not knowing if we’d have been able to fit alongside them. I walked down to help with the bottom gates and the skipper said they would wait at the next lock for us.

Last matchstick lock

Our last matchstick lock on the Upper Thames. I like these with their matchstick markers on the paddles, even using the long pole to open and close the bottom gates. I’ve been wondering if the gates on the Thames last longer than those on broad locks on the canals. On the Thames they like you to open both gates, the long pole saves you from having to walk all the way round. Having both gates open avoids the edges getting worn from boats only using the one. Yes many boaters manage to avoid grating their way into a lock, but many don’t. We all see how much water gets lost through gates where a groove has been worn and then C&RT have another running repair to do.

We don’t!

Maybe we all should adopt opening both gates at broad locks. I know we have tended not to, but maybe we should start. Yes it will take longer to go through locks, Mick usually has a boat hook with him as he enters or leaves a lock so that he can catch a gate that opens itself. Every little thing may help reduce the maintenance costs.

We pootled along, passing other moorings we’d considered stopping at yesterday, we’d chosen well being away from busy roads.

Thank you for waiting

Sure enough at Godstow Lock the little cruiser was waiting for us, gates open and more than enough room for us to go along side. I made sure I kept hold of the bow rope, keeping Oleanna well away from the cruisers hull. A boat was heading towards the lock, this made our leaving a lot easier, meaning we could all get back on our boats and leave the gates for someone else to sort.


Port Meadow stretched out in front of us, the cattle wetting their feet at the waters edge. Cranes on the horizon and the tower of St Barnabas Church in Jericho, our chosen destination for today.

Looking across to Jericho

A boat came towards us, that would make a good picture I thought so got my camera out. The chap at the helm did the same in return. A big wave and smile followed, it was Paul the Narrowboat Mover on his latest job.

Hello Paul

Good to see him again. Only one more boat to tick off our summer list this year and that’s the blue boat normally found further north, NB Jubilee Bridge.

Well our time was up on the river. We could have stayed until midnight, but we chose not to. A left onto Sheepwash Channel, ducking under the railway lines and squeezing past the old swing bridge. Our next job to fill with water below Isis Lock.

A small cruiser was tied to the end of the pontoon, we managed to pull in in front of him, Oleanna’s bow overhanging by quite a way. Mick took the hose just as a chap stepped off the cruiser behind. Maybe he’d only just pulled in and was wanting water too, maybe he’d been there a while. Soon he was filling umpteen plastic bottles from the tap. Mick found another one closer to the lock, we draped our hose across and started to fill our tank.

Facing the canal

A boat reversed towards Isis Lock, we were nearly full. Our hose was sorted and the reversing boaters intention confirmed, he was heading for the river. I helped with the lock, then the boats swapped places, Oleanna heading into her first narrow lock for two weeks. A few turns of the windlass and we were back up on the Oxford Canal.

A space was found opposite College Cruisers, boats being made ready for this weekends hirers. An early lunch for us whilst Tilly reacquainted herself with the isthmus between canal and Castle Mill Stream.

Emails for panto required attention. With my final model meeting next week today would be filled with budget questions. Set build quotes were in, they ranged from £40,000 to £16,000. The highest from a company who obviously didn’t want the job. I so wonder how much my friend Graham in Leeds would have quoted. Not sure if he was approached or not this year, I know it wouldn’t have been £40,000 for sure!

The remainder of the day was spent finishing off painting notes on the model. Hooray! Finished!! Then time was taken doing a paint call, this means when I’m in Chippy I can check to see what colours they already have and what to order.

Our time on the Thames is over, we’ve enjoyed the upper reaches, a touch of a shame that I’ve had to work most of the time. But at least I’ve been able to enjoy the cruise there and back. We’ve a couple of places we need to be in the next couple of weeks, after which we have to decide where to go and by which route?

3 locks, 2 navigations, 3.5 miles, 2 lefts, 2 friends spotted, 1 full water tank, 39 x 2 litre bottles, £2,000 to shave off, 1 long list of paints, 48BG 54/244 base, 2nd night of spag bol, 1 development still not started!

A Somber Eynsham. 20th July

The Ferryman Inn to King’s Lock

What’s he doing? At 3:30am? Why’s he going out the back? I could hear the zips on the pram cover and the doors being opened. Apparently we’d developed a list and Mick had gone out to loosen the ropes and try to push the stern out. By the time it was daylight we were on a jaunty list again, further pushing out required, would we now be able to reach the bank to untie?


Supplies had got very low, in fact we’d run out of milk of all varieties, only one thing for it a cooked breakfast, well as much of one as Mick could manage with what was available.

Yesterday you had to walk down the gunnel a few feet to be able to get off the boat, this morning you had to get to the centre and then hope that knees were capable of hoiking you up onto the bank. He made it and ended up having an hours wait for our supermarket delivery. Heavy bags were split and then passed in through the side hatch, thankfully nothing landing in the drink.

Cupboards, wine cellar and freezer replenished. Our battery capacity is just about managing to keep up with our needs so we’ve decided to keep the freezer on, it definitely needed restocking.

Above Pinkhill Lock the picnic moorings were empty apart from one cruiser, they were leaving and followed us towards the lock. Here a volunteer and Lock Keeper opened the gates and we were asked to nudge as far forward as possible, the cruiser slotted in behind.

Conversation at the bow was about flying Spitfires, at the stern it was far more sollom. There was mention of a Lock Keeper who had passed away and a planned memorial service.

The toll bridge

On leaving we let the cruiser pass us, they were aiming further than us today. Past all the same boats on the meadows that had been there nearly two weeks ago we pulled up behind the cruiser as the lock was being filled. The chap on board said the Lock Keeper would penn us down separately. In they went the gates closed behind them.

The bottom paddles were raised slowly and the chap from the cruiser walked round to the little cabin by the lock adding a bunch of flowers to several others. The Lock Keeper who had died was the very nice man we’d met the day we arrived on the Thames nearly two weeks ago. Nik Vallely, had passed away on the 10th July, a big sign stood by the lock cottage saying Private House, Do Not Disturb. How very sad.

Eynsham Lock

The Lock Keeper on duty is here until things get sorted, his normal patch further downstream. He apologised for not penning us down with the cruiser but he’s not accustomed to the dimensions of Eynsham Lock yet. Another EA chap walked up for a chat. The funeral is being held at the lock on the 28th July at 12:30pm. There were discussions about cutting grass, I suspect the lock and surrounding area will be immaculate for the day.

A pause to drop off rubbish and then we were on our way downstream, no room at the moorings below the lock today. The river now wider and more boats nestled into the banks.

Kings Lock mooring

At Dukes Cut Junction we turned towards King’s Lock and pulled in on the lock moorings leaving space for a shorter boat between us and another boat. Mick walked up to see the Lock Keeper and to pay our £6 for the night. He chatted about the level dropping above Pinkhill Lock last night. Thames Water sometimes extract water from that reach, but usually the EA are informed before hand and react accordingly. There is also a warning system which alerts the Lock Keepers of changing levels, even in the middle of the night, but no alert had been given last night.

I’ll be queen of the island!

We settled in, Tilly headed off across the neat grass into the trees and friendly cover. A short while later a boat pulled up onto the pontoon close by, a family with children who were excited to be on an island. Noisy blighters! I’d been enjoying having the outside to myself.

Time to make notes on my model. I was going to work my way through all the scenes, but changed my mind knowing I wanted to alter the colours of some of the town square setting. This could take sometime. A check in the model box and an alteration of the clock towers colour too. I think my alterations were wise, here’s hoping I still think so tomorrow!

I put a bolognaise sauce on to cook and left Mick to cook some spaghetti as I added details to the Ugly Sisters boudoir. The rest of the scenes will have to wait for tomorrow. We enjoyed our spag bol with a glass of wine, it may only be Thursday but it is our last night on the Thames! That was our excuse, we stuck to it and had a second glass to keep the first one company.

2 locks, 6.4 miles, 1 delivery, 1 boaty list, 1 queen of the island, 3 pesky kids, 1 town square make over, 1 soggy chair, 1 wet back.