Category Archives: Model making

Self Catering. 3rd April

Lockdown Mooring 2

Time to wake my sourdough starter up this morning. I let it warm up when out of the fridge and then gave it a feed popping it on the proving shelf, high up to do it’s stuff. It bubbled up, but not as far as it has done in the past, so I may need to keep feeding it for a couple of days before it’s really good for baking again. A shame really as I was keen to get a loaf baked so that a hefty hint could be put in for a cooked breakfast one morning soon, poached eggs so need to be on a slice of toast! At least it will give me time to work out which recipe to try next as I now have no sorghum flour.

Mid morning an email I’d been hoping for popped into my Inbox. Will, the producer at Chipping Norton was getting in touch regarding this years panto, Rapunzel. If the health of the world improves over the next few months they will be forging ahead with panto. Would I be interested in designing it? A different contract to normal due to the virus and uncertainty as to whether the show will be able to go ahead which is totally understandable. They are hoping that by August they will be able to make a decision, if they give it a green light then it will be full steam ahead.

Rapunzel at Chippy

I have said that as soon as a script is ready I’d like to make a start, even if it doesn’t go ahead. Something creative to keep my mind busy would be appreciated. Anyway I’d only be able to get so far with it before needing model making materials, cereal boxes are just a bit too flimsy.

Heading to pick up the shopping

Mid afternoon it was time for Mick to head off and pick up our shopping, blimey I’d forgotten how bright his cycling coat was! Off he headed down the towpath to join the A51 towards Sainsburys. I took advantage of having an empty table and stuck the model for The Garden together and took photos.

Just the right amount

It looked like we’d got the amount of shopping just about right for the Brompton bag and a rucksack. All our shopping had been put in plastic bags, I think this is standard practice at the moment due to coronavirus. A shame that whilst other pollutants decrease in use that plastic bags are making a come back.

I was ready to disinfect things that needed to come inside. Other items were left in a bag on the stern under the pram cover, they’ll stay there for three days before being brought in. Having the pram cover is great at the moment, we can leave anything out there for long enough should anything have been picked up on coats or shopping.

Tilly Tumbles on the towpath

My sister-in-law Jac called and we had a long catch up about her escape from Australia last weekend. Getting a flight home had been one problem, but because she has an Australian passport she also needed a form to be filled in by the equivalent of our Home Office for her to be allowed to board the plane to come back to England. This took quite a bit of doing and it was just as well it arrived back just in time as her passport was double checked at the airport.

Cute cat

She’s settled back at home now. There were no guidelines for quarantine from the government on her return, so she’s not being kept in the garden room for two weeks. Instead she’s been thrown into the mass of extra accountancy needed by the company she works for to claim things from the government. She’s not sure how long her work will continue for but at the moment there is plenty to keep her busy.

with Murder in her eyes

The London Leckenbys were looking forward to an Indian take away this evening. That is the downside of being out in the sticks on a boat, no take aways and no chips. This of course is good for us, but boy would I like some nice chips! Tilly on the other hand doesn’t need to have her food delivered, as she’s moved into catering for herself. Today I have witnessed the devouring of two small friends who’d been invited home for dingding! They were just an appetiser as she still insisted on us feeding her!

Courgette and Greens pilaff

This evening after we’d eaten, we headed to the National Theatre to enjoy One Man Two Guvnors via YouTube. A very funny adaptation by Richard Bean of The Servant of Two Masters by Goldoni, set in the 60’s. James Corden certainly earns his keep. It is still available to view until next Thursday. The only down side was an interval of only 30 seconds, far too short to get a glass of wine and some chilled medication, never mind a dash to the loo! However there is always the pause button.

Our view this evening

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles by bike, 4 plastic bags, 0 boxes of wine this time, 1 model totally finished, 6 moving boats, 1 returning boat, 1 new panto, 4 fingers crossed, 0 chicken left, 2 self catered meals, 1 play, 2 sides split.

Come In Number 51**87 Your Time Is Up. 30th March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Last year we finally managed to put a name to some birdsong. What we now know to have been Chiffchaffs had started to sing around early March time and normally when we were in a certain part of the country, mostly around Crick. This of course was because this tended to be where we were at that time of year. We’d asked a few people if they knew what the bird could be as we tried to replicate its song, ‘Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep’. I know, it wasn’t much help! But then a friend made a remark about how the Chiffchaffs had arrived. I looked it up and there was the birdsong we’d been puzzled about. Chiffchaff song

Birds gathering!

Here on our mooring we’ve heard a song that isn’t in the normal range. I’ve hunted round on identification sites, but not come up with the right song. So I’m putting it out to our readers to see if you can help.

Our surroundings are canal, hedges and fields which seem to be pretty dry in amongst the open countryside, so that’s the habitat sorted. Now for a description. It sounds like a cross between a human whistle and a kazoo. One long note that may go up or down. We don’t hear it that often so whom ever it is doesn’t sit on a branch and sing their heart out. So please any suggestions. A sausage or spinach and feta roll to whomever comes up trumps. I have to include a veggie version as I think Laura might just see this, she is a bit of a specialist in birds.

Today it was back to work for me. I’ve a week before my virtual meeting for The Garden so wanted to get my model painted. The main set I’d nearly finished last week, today I needed to tie it into the floor. At the moment I’m not sure if we’ll be able to afford a floor. Dark Horse have various rolls of flooring in their small store, so I was going to have a look at them and see what could be used. There may of course not be enough and there isn’t an extra £350 in the budget to buy new, so I may just have to cope with the floor in the cellar theatre.

Some floor

During the afternoon I managed to get everything painted, toned down a touch (it’s not panto!), just need to add some poetry to the seasons and the model will be finished.

The first boat to go past us today was a hire boat from Norbury Junction. At some point last week the hire company had asked on Social media if anyone saw this boat to get them to call the hire base. Hire boats were being recalled. The boat had passed us early last week heading to Middlewich, today they were heading back towards base, I don’t think they got the message very quickly!

The Garden gate

Another four boats came past during the day, one returned presumably after filling with water or shopping. Then a second hire boat from Rose Boats, this must be one of the two out on a long hire.

From today all manned locks, tunnels and bridges on the network have been closed to traffic, unless there is good reason and then they will need to be booked. One boat with good reason came by today, NB Halsall.

I really must wash Tillys art work off that window!

NB Halsall normally cruises the Four Counties Ring selling coal, diesel, gas and doing pumpouts. They will continue to trade for as long as they are allowed to. They ask for you to pre-order, unlock diesel caps, make access easy for them and then to stay inside your boat and at all times to observe 2m distance. Payments by bank transfer, card or if you really can’t do it any other way then cash.

Diesel 4p cheaper than ten days ago

As they came through the bridge behind us they tooted their horn. This morning we’d asked for a top up of diesel and some coal. They pulled up besides us and whilst Roberta topped us up with diesel Lee loaded three bags of coal onto the roof. I noted how much we owed them and payment was made over the internet.

Bye bye

Before they headed off towards Nantwich we checked when they’d be back round. This pound is on their round every two weeks, so as long as they stay well we will be looked after. As they pulled away from us hands were washed. A big Thank you to the Halsall Crew.

Walking with Tilly

0 locks, 0 miles, 9 hours, 5 taken, 5 boats, 1 model painted, 1 new script, 1 chicken stripped, 4 maybe 5 meals! 3 bags coal, 21 litres, 550m cat walk, 0.5 field ploughed, 1 urge to make scones.

Heads Above Water. 27th March

Lockdown Mooring 1 to Lockdown Mooring 2, Cornes Bridge 96.

Back on the 16th March just about every theatre in the land closed it’s doors to the public, by the 17th all venues were dark, only a ghost light left lit in the middle of many a stage. Since then theatre companies have been doing all sorts of things, many adding online material that can be accessed for free.

From Thursday next week the National Theatre will be launching National Theatre at Home. One of their shows will be available on line for 7 days, starting with One Man Two Guvnors staring James Corden.

Animated Objects Theatre Company in Scarborough known for their large scale community projects and giant puppets have added various art projects for families to do at home, including building a biplane from a toilet roll and a cereal box. If you fancy having a go, just scroll down their website and Lee will show you how to do it.

Other theatres have launched campaigns to help raise funds so that when Coronavirus is all over they will be able to open their doors once again for people to join together in one room to enjoy live theatre. One such theatre is Chipping Norton, with it’s Heads Above Water campaign.

Chippy got in touch with performers and creatives who’ve worked there over the last few years and asked them if they could produce something to go on their social media for World Theatre Day, which was today. Now, I’m not a performer and would rather not have to appear in shot, but wanted to do something for the day. I make models, so that’s what I did. If you listen carefully you’ll hear Tilly’s bell.

This morning my little offering was all over their social media, along with Dames singing ditties or showing off their patent leather boots, King Rat threatening to raid fridges for Cheddar!

Today we needed to do some essential travelling. Our water tank was getting low and we also would need some shopping in the next couple of days. So much to Tilly’s distain there was no shore leave this morning, instead we pushed off and headed towards the lock where the new (to us) water point is.

We had an escort

Coming towards us was a boat, the chap at the tiller was well away with the fairies, I did consider shouting out to him but he spotted us just in time to avoid running into us. Once we’d passed all our neighbours we pulled in and started to fill with water.

Chiff Chaff

A load of washing was on the go and Tilly’s pooh box got a good clean and fresh litter. Mick walked down to the Chandlers to see if they might just have some milk, which they did, a touch more expensive than it would have been at a supermarket, but it was here and meant we could hold off going to the shops for a day longer.

Hello Blossom

The tap didn’t have that much pressure so the tank would take a while to fill. I gave my brother a call to see if there was any news on Jac and plane tickets. A day ago she’d managed to get hold of a ticket back to the UK from Melbourne which would be leaving Monday lunchtime. The first Andrew had known about this was in the middle of the night when he had an alert from his bank asking how money had been spent on Jac’s account in Melbourne when she’d also paid to watch something on TV in Hackney! She is however going to be checking with the flight centre every day to see if she can get a flight earlier.

Lockdown Mooring 1, narrow towpath

Tank full, it was time for us to reverse to the winding hole, where we turned, passed our mooring from the last week and headed back to Barbridge Junction. I popped up to the bow to see if anyone was coming, clear both ways I waved Mick onwards and we turned towards Nantwich.

Barbridge Junction

Our hope was to find a space near to Hurleston Junction where the towpath is wider, then we might be able to sort the boat covers and do some jobs on Oleanna without constantly avoiding walkers. But as we got near three boats were tucked in before the junction and once through Bridge 97 the 2 day visitor moorings were just about full.

Loads of boats

A printed C&RT poster stood on a pole at the end to try to discourage towpath use. A chap busied himself cutting wood on his workbench. NB Mountbatten and Jellicoe were breasted up awaiting the locks up onto the Llangollen to reopen. Several dogs ran about enjoying themselves. We could have slotted in, but decided to see if another mooring on our map might be free.

Men still at work at the locks

We pootled onwards, the next spot occupied. A week ago there’d been half as many boats on this stretch. A short distance on we tried pulling in, the Shropie shelf keeping us a touch too far out for our tyre fenders. Through the next bridge and we tried again. We were in luck, here was better too due to fewer trees so the solar panels could earn their keep better.

Who thought the Shropie shelf would pay off

A late lunch and only a few hours for Tilly on the towpath. Here the path is wider and we have the added advantage of an extra 18 inches of Shropie shelf to help with our buffer zone.

Walking with Tilly

The sour dough pizza dough seemed to work quite well, it’s not as sour smelling as my old starter was. A large oven tray was covered with the dough and baked for 10 minutes before I added the toppings.

Sour dough pizza

Tuna, red onion, sweetcorn (with added peas!) and plenty of cheese. It turned out rather well a touch more bready than previous versions.

A Shropie sunset

0 locks, 3.62 miles, 0.3 in reverse, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 straight, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 2 pints milk, 1 sister-in-law booked to come home, 11 boats moving including us, 18 inches extra buffer, 1 walk with Tilly, 1 game of stone, 1 very large pizza with leftovers, 1 little film, 1 coal boat first up Hurleston Locks.

The Stuff Of Life. 26th March

Lockdown Mooring 1

My Dad, Fatso (as I used to call him), had a saying as he cut a slice of bread and passed it across the dining table speared on the end of the bread knife, The stuff of life at the point of death. Well we’ve not reached that point yet, but today I had a request to make some bread. Some full fat, glutenous bread. Luckily for Mick the baking drawer had a bag of flour for such emergencies, the use by date the end of the month.

So we might have stocked up on gf black pudding!

Whilst I was at it I woke my sour dough starter up and gave it a feed. My sorghum flour stash was nearly out, so I’m trying to ween it onto brown rice flour, with the hope that it will still be happy. A warm up, feed and it was left to start bubbling and expanding.

Rising

Micks loaf was mixed and kneaded then left to rise on the proving shelf, where it did it’s thing in an hour was knocked back put in a tin and left to rise again. Then into the oven, followed by five minutes out of it’s tin upside down.

My friend Graham sent through a quote to build the elements of the set for The Garden. This got me back looking at my budget and getting myself totally confused for a while. I’ll have another look in a few days once the model is finished.

The Stuff of Life

Mick hunted round for some boat insurance quotes, our premium seems to go up every year despite Oleanna no doubt loosing value. Specific questions regarding policies need to be answered before we commit to a company.

My attention turned to the little project I’d started yesterday. I now needed a cast for my little show. The last two years panto photographs were gone through and actors auditioned. Those selected were all made the same size, printed out and then cut round. Placards were updated and everyone fixed in position, so nobody could upstage the others.

Tilly bring her friends near

Now was the time to film some footage. But where? For it to work I built a little stage out of books on top of the thin cupboard between the galley and dinette. This meant I could raise and lower things. Camera position was next. My sewing box and the shoe box I keep model bits in were just about the right height.

All will be revealed tomorrow

Filming began. I hadn’t remembered my lines, I only had two!

The boat rocked as Mick stepped on and off the bow.

Tilly decided to come home and see what was happening.

The timer on the oven kept binging.

But in the end after numerous takes I got a couple that were good.

The evening was spent editing. I’d hoped I could crop the sides of the footage, but this simply wasn’t within my skill set so I would have to cope with lots of people seeing our mountain of washing up in the background, along with the oven fan and Tilly ringing her bell!

Christmas tree, ash can and bucket positioned to help with social distancing

Ten boats have come past today, two winding and returning. One pulled in nearer the bridge behind us. A few boats that have been moored here have moved off, presumably heading to do some shopping. We’ll need to move tomorrow for water and then shopping too. Hopefully we’ll find another mooring that is deemed good for Tilly, although I think a day inside catching up on her sleep is called for.

A third stamp of approval?

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 65 C&RT notices regarding only essential movement being allowed, 10 boats, 2 kayaks, 1 loaf bread, 1 pizza dough fermenting, 1 fridge nearly bare, 22 takes, 1 edited, 1 whatsap’d for tomorrow, 3 Insurance quotes, 0 news on Jac, bakers dozen cast, 1 cat upstaging, 15 minutes at home, 1 plus friends consumed.

Drifting On By. 25th Marc

Lockdown Mooring 1

Lockdown Mooring 1

The mornings are filled with sunlight at the moment and sleeping past 7am is getting hard, this will help next week not to feel too lazy when the clocks have jumped forward. Our mooring is close ish to the railway but with the reduced time table we rarely hear them, instead the world is filled with bird song. That is until a boat comes past, I can hear them from quite a distance at the moment.

This morning we were expecting at least one boat, NB Briar Rose. Adam and Adrian had set off almost three weeks ago from their marina on the Grand Union and had headed for the North. Sadly most of the north is still closed due to storm damage. Now Corona-19 has stopped all but essential navigation of the network, they’d been feeling the lock down approaching in the water too, so had turned round a few days ago. NB Briar Rose is being left at a marina and they will be returning home, four weeks early.

Adrian and Adam

They were the first boat to come past this morning and we managed to have a chat with them as they drifted past at a safe distance. Tilly was a touch disappointed not to see Adam as last summer he visited us in Guildford and brought her lots of treats. But she was far too busy in the sideways trees to even pop her head out to acknowledge them. We wished them a safe journey home.

What’s that over there?

Tilly spent much of the day outside. Luckily there seems to be a lot to keep her occupied and today she managed to keep to the newest rule of using shore based facilities. She’s a touch exhausted so you may not hear from her for a while.

I continued painting my model and then in the afternoon moved onto a new project that needs to be done for Friday. My stocks of card are kept low on the boat due to lack of storage, but an old pad of tracing paper provided me with enough card for my model. Tomorrow I’ll finish it and be able to post some footage on line.

The basic bits cut out

Mick started on his list of jobs. Today to grease the hatch doors and locker lids. As the weather gets warmer a lot of our hinges (Oleanna’s not ours) start to creak and we always intend to give things a good grease. Well today the side hatch doors were take off and some stern gland grease applied. The two bow locker lids also had the same treatment.

It came off in my hand

These took a bit of removing so Mick dug the Hebble Spike out from a locker and used it to cushion the hammer blows to nudge the lids along their hinges. Sadly the locker lids are in need of some attention from me as they are not quite central to the opening. So as they get opened and closed any grit down the side has worked the paint off and now rust is working it’s way along. These have been on my list of jobs to do for a while.

Hebble spike coming in handy

A walk to the chandlers on the off chance of some milk. The café window was open but nobody was around to serve. The lady at the chandlers hadn’t been able to get any milk for the last few days and any bread she’d got had been snapped up first thing. Rumours were that the shops were chaos in Nantwich with long queues still.

The café serving hatch

Walking back the two chaps moored near the lock asked if we had everything we needed and were we alright for shopping? A better community spirit than on other stretches of the towpath around the country.

Watching the world go by

During the day we counted eighteen boats go past. The first being NB Briar Rose and the last NB Halsall in the dark.

I’ve had a wash time to go out again

0 locks, 0 miles, 9.5 hours, 18 boats, 1:55 ish model, A4 sea, 1lump hammer, 1 Hebble spike, 2 hatch doors, 2 locker lids, 1 gas locker hinge greased, 1 heel stitch dropped, 70% spent pouncing not sleeping, 2 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval.

Feline Freedom. 24th March

Lockdown Mooring 1. Cross Banks Farm Winding Hole

First off apologies to those of you who tend to read this blog in bed in the morning with a cuppa before getting up. If you follow us by email the latest post has normally dropped into your inbox at 8am, but not this morning. Due to posting twice yesterday my routine is all out of kilter and there wasn’t a post sat ready to publish this morning. We will see how the next few days pan out, but please don’t sit in bed waiting as your tea might get cold and unless you move around you may get bed sores.

Anyhow

Nine hours. Nine whole hours! Except She lied about that as they wanted an hour outside and one of us has to be on the boat at all times. I did however manage to make the most of the time.

P1230791sm

One

A new rule was added a few days ago to the list that She sprouts out each time I go off to explore. ‘Don’t let anyone stroke you!’ This goes without saying, strangers stroking me, YUCK! I have no idea why She felt She had to say it. But apparently since Tom Johnson started talking to us everyday I have to be even more careful of peoples hands.

P1230793sm

Two

 

 

They can’t harm me, but something might rub off them onto my coat. One chap did try today and I was cornered, but She sprouted steam from her ears and came to the hatch to sort him out. I think She may put a poster up.

 

The world is all mine!

Today there was yet another rule. I am now being encouraged to use shore based facilities. Apparently a company went bust a few months ago and the litter She mixes in with the wood stuff is no longer available and there may now be shortages of wood stuff too.

On Oleanna we all use the wood stuff, all three of us. Although I have to say Tom and She are far quieter than I am with it. I really don’t understand why they don’t want to prepare it like I do. Oh well it takes all sorts.

After worrying news that Jac my sister-in-law can’t get a flight back from Melbourne, Mick spent the morning seeing if he could find one for her.

He had a look at the route Ian and Irene from NB Free Spirit are booked on, admittedly from Sydney. Their route takes them via South Africa, this still looked like a possibility so Mick gave my brother a call and relayed the information. We wait to hear

Much of my day was spent with the model for The Garden. Painting garden fencing and base coating sideways trees and making autumnal covers, oh and a gingham picnic cloth. It took a while for me to get going, but once I did it was the best medicine for an anxious mind.

Model making to ease the mind

In the afternoon, when the second mate bothered to come home! we headed out to stretch our legs.

We’ve had quite a lot of people walking, running and cycling on the towpath today, very few of them keeping to 2ms away from Oleanna. Well the towpath is quite narrow here, but they could at least try.

We did our best to keep our distance. Towards the lock there were a couple of chaps chatting, one tinkering with things on his boat the other sat a good 3m away. As we approached the chap on the chair stood up and walked towards the hedge, plenty of room for us to pass through.

Our stroll took us across the lock and down to Venetian Marina. We wanted to see if the café might sell us some milk. But both the chandlers and café were closed, no bacon butty smell today.

They will be implementing new practices at the chandlers so that everyone can keep their distance and should you want to order a breakfast from the café they would rather you paid by Paypal.

New measures

During the day all the coal boats have been sending out messages on social media saying that they will still be trading. But please would everyone remain inside their boat at all times.

This lot are a hardy bunch, come rain, snow, ice and now Covid-19 they will top up your diesel tank and deliver coal

Seventeen boats have come past us today. This is the most in one day since possibly sometime last summer on the Thames. You may wonder why so many considering we are now in lock down.

We know of several boaters who are now heading home to their home mooring and some then onto their bricks and mortar. Other boaters are aiming for somewhere they feel will be best to be stuck, near services and shops. Hire boats are returning to base, peoples holidays cut short.

Hopefully after a day or two more the country will settle down into it’s new now. Boats will only move when necessary. In a couple of days we’ll have to fill with water and head to Nantwich to stock up on food for a week, then we’ll head off to find a wider towpath so that we can sit out should we want to, maybe even get the covers cleaned too.

Distant view

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 towpath saunter, 2 meters please, 4, 7.5 hours, 17 boats, 0 milk, 1 boater back to black tea, 0.5 of a model painted, 1 new project before the end of the week, 0 flights, 1 very tired cat, 1 pooh in the pooh box!