Category Archives: Museums

The First Boat. 9th June

Domino’s Mooring to Brookwood Park, Basingstoke Canal

Last week Mick rang the Basingstoke Canal to buy a licence and book our passage up through the locks, this needs to be done in advance. Back in 2019 when we came onto the River Wey we tried to do the same, only to be told the canal was closing that Friday, for the rest of the year, they’d run out of water. So ever since we’ve had a plan to return earlier in the year in the hope that they would have sufficient water. However this time Mick was not able to book over the phone for another reason.

The booking system was in the middle of transitioning from phone to on line, maybe later in the day it would be up and running for us to book. We tried it and it wasn’t there. However the following day it was, Mick popped our details in for a licence. The canal is run by the Basingstoke Canal Authority but owned by Surrey County Council and Hampshire County Council. Later in the day we got an email back from Louise.

Thank you for completing the on-line visitor application form.  You are also our first boater to use this brand new system 😊’ Oleanna has made history! There was a link to pay for our licence on line followed by, ‘We realise there is a glitch with the form which should ask you to let us know which dates you are going through all of the flights? So if you could email back the following information I can update our system.‘ By the end of Thursday last week we had paid for our licence and were booked to do the lock flights. This morning we just had to get there on time.

Turning away from the M25

Breakfasted we pushed off to cruise back to the junction alongside the M25. We’d left a few minutes later than planned, but turned Oleanna’s bow onto the Basingstoke at 8:57, at least we’d be in view should the Lock Keeper be waiting for us! Well in fact we were early, the locks would be unlocked at 9:30 not 9:00 as Mick had thought.

Lock 1 was sat empty, a paddle raised on the bottom gate, we opened the gates and pulled Oleanna in to wait. This did mean that when Chris the very enthusiastic, incredibly welcoming Lock Keeper arrived Mick missed out on all the spiel. What a warm sunny morning to start on new waters.

Waiting for Chris the Lock Keeper

Chris gave Kath and myself instructions about the locks and unlocked the top paddles so we could start up the Woodham Locks. Normally on the Basingstoke we would ascend a lock, close the top gates, lower the paddles at that end and then lift one of the bottom paddles, leaving the lock empty, Chris would then follow us up the flight to ash the top gates shut. This is done to help reduce the amount of water leaking through the gates, therefore holding back as much water as possible. However today there was a boat also coming down the flight, so until we passed them we were to leave the top gates open for them with all paddles down. Our normal C&RT windlasses would also work on the canal, no need for anything different. Instructions received and understood, we got going.

First lock done

Having an experienced extra pair of hands was good, not that the locks today were hard. Most paddles lifted easily, most gates opened up easily too, plus being able to leave the top gates open was also a bonus. At 10am Mick joined the Geraghty zoom for us all to wave to everyone else, then we got on with the job for the day, locks.

A passing boat

Such a leafy green corridor, very pretty and with the sun shining it was glorious. Kath and I soon got into a rhythm. Then Chris returned, getting ready to ash up the locks as the boat coming down the locks left each of them. It may have been between locks 4 and 5 that we passed MSC Frodsham a replica Manchester Ship Canal Tug. They had to slow right down and wait whilst Mick brought Oleanna past a line of house boats.

Chris on the right

From now on today we’d be closing up the lock gates and lifting a paddle at the bottom end for them to drain.

Leaving the bottom flight behind us

We were soon up Woodham Locks and pootling our way along the long pound. Our map suggested it would take getting on for two hours before reaching St John’s Locks which we also planned on ascending today. Time for a cuppa and some flapjack.


After passing Monument Bridge I popped down below to finish off preparing some sausage rolls, sliding them in the oven hoping to have timed them well to be ready for a lunch break.

Kath knows the area quite well so could point out certain landmarks to us. We had a nosy at gardens, one with a good sized slot perfect for a narrowboat mooring, another with a bar and bunting where two ladies were sat enjoying a Sunday tipple and gossip.

Hit for 6

After Cobham Road Bridges we passed the Lightbox which is an art gallery and museum. Then a footbridge with a bowler and batter at either end. Unfortunately the view of the bowler from the canal was impeded by trees, so we’ll have to have a walk on our way back to see him.

The first stretch of moorings came next. Space for Kitty the trip boat and a cafe boat and then there were three visitor boats, two of which we’d been told to keep an eye out for by Heather Bleasdale. Christine appeared at the hatch of NB Katura, I think to apologise for one of the boats being double breasted. Instead she got a ‘Hello, you know Heather!’ We had chance for a short chat as we passed. NB Katura had managed to get to the very end of the canal under three very low bridges. I did a quick compare of cabin heights and I think we are maybe a little bit lower, so there is hope we’ll reach the end. We waved goodbye and carried on.

What a beauty

Now that booking is done on line there is no need to display a licence apparently. It felt a bit weird passing boats showing theirs. NB Bobcat’s second mate watched us closely as we passed, a ghostly face behind the pram hood.

Shop bought pastry so not up to normal standard

The sausage rolls were out of the oven and cooling by the time we reached the first service mooring. As we were ahead of where we needed to be and with an hour before we should be starting on the next flight of locks we decided to stop for lunch to refuel. There was also the opportunity to dispose of fishy rubbish too, just so long as it was bagged up as the bins here are emptied by hand.

The second flight

Five more locks in the St John’s flight, more leafy green and dapples of sunshine. Closing the top gates at Lock 8 proved difficult, my side didn’t want to go further than half way. But with Kath and myself both giving it a push and pull, then a running push whatever had been the problem was shifted and it closed.

Will the rope be long enough?

Plenty of gongoozlers today. Several little children being shown by Dad how the locks work. One lady suggested that you only get locks when the water is uneven. Kath and I wondered how many children are shown the locks like this and how many then go on to live onboard boats like Mick did after being taken to the Hanwell flight as a young boy.

New gates

One down from the top lock the gates leaked quite a bit, the date carved on them 2024. Presumably the oak hasn’t had enough time to expand with the water or there’s just a lot of crud on the cill. It did feel a little odd to fill the lock and then empty it after we’d finished, the pound above gradually draining into the lock and then downhill. Should we send Chris a message to say we’d finished on the flight? He’d been very good with his instructions at the beginning of the day, so we were sure he’d have told us if we needed to. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long before he arrived to lock up anyway.

Possible aromas of garlic, but not cat friendly

On now to find a mooring. The first one had space for us, but was alongside an Italian restaurant, quite a busy road with buses that would take Kath back home. Not very good for Tilly. Mick had spotted in the guide we’d been given that there was mooring at Brookwood Country Park where there was a water point. This altogether sounded much more like it and would be closer to Kath’s house.

Not Kath’s house, click photo for details

The canal got shallower. Was our extra ballast not helping matters? Did having three people on the stern not help? Kath and I decamped to the bow, things seemed to improve a little, then not so. Oleanna ground to a halt, Mick turned the engine off, time to discover what goodies had caught themselves on the prop and hope that improved things. Plastic and some weed. The canal was still shallow, but gradually things improved and our speed grew without increasing the revs.

A long blue house boat

The water point at Brookwood came into view, a wooden pontoon, rings! Ah except the pontoon didn’t actually have a top to it. That’s why it wasn’t shown on Waterway Routes! There was unlikely to be anywhere else to moor in the pound so we pulled in as best we could. The far end at least had solid ground under it. The bow came in quite well, but the stern needed help, maybe an Andy was needed.

I passed my rope round the wooden edging near some bolts, Mick put some power on and pushed the tiller towards the bank, she came in, but only by a couple of feet. Maybe we’d be able to pull her closer in. I hopped off and caught a rope, a touch closer but not much, this had the effect of pulling the bow out too. How to tie up was going to be the next problem due to the lack of solidity close to the wooden edging.

It was further out than the photo suggests

Between Kath and myself , with use of the boat hook and some careful dangling we pulled the rope round the wood and passed back to tie onboard. We all agreed it was very unlikely that a boat would come past us tonight as we’d only passed one boat facing the same direction as us, plus the next flight of locks hadn’t been open today so no boats would come from the other direction.

Time for a cuppa and more flapjack before we said goodbye to Kath. It’s a shame she has to go to work tomorrow as she’d have really liked to join us up the next flight.

Tilly spent quite a bit of time outside, once she’d managed to get past all the woofers. What a holey outside they’d tied up! I had to be extra careful as I claimed the edging. Once that was done I got across the woofer highway and into friendly cover it improved greatly. I managed to use up all my hours shore leave before returning bang on time for dingding.

11 locks, 8 miles, 1 left, 25 minutes early, 1 karabiner to keep phone safe, 1 jolly welcome, 1 sunny tree filled lovely day, 12 sausage rolls, 3 left, 2 of Heathers friends, 1 batter, 1 bowler, 1 park mooring, 4ft mooring guidance, 3ft6 maybe 5ft, 6 flapjacks, 1 sister out law, 1 bumbag found behind the sofa! Tilly?!? 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Whilst Kathleen Blows Away. 6th April

Lock 46

After breakfast and writing the blog, on what feels like the smallest keyboard ever, we headed into town to do a bit of shopping, find a newspaper and have a look round.

They are rather fine

Two fine front doors stood out, one house for sale. You get quite a bit of house for your money in these parts. We’ve been spotting a lot of places named Royd recently. Old Royd Lock, Royd Street. Looking the name up it turns out that Royd is local dialect for ‘cleared land’ especially in a wood.

The centre of Littleborough has a mix of shops, not many unoccupied. Some smart clothes shops, a couple of butchers, a discount hardware shop and a knickers shop! Just who had the money for the fancy grave?

Who was so important to have such a grand grave

We got a newspaper, some thick cut bacon, a disappoinitng pork pie and a few bits and bobs fom Sainsburys before heading to the Co-op to see if their cat food was cheaper. It was, especially with a members card which we applied for whilst stood in the pet food isle.

As we headed towards the canal we spotted signs in the station window for a museum. Well that needed looking at, so we made our way up onto the platform where a chap asked if we knew there were no trains today. Yes, but we were looking for the museum. ‘Round the corner, there’s three chaps in there’.

No trains today

The main waiting room/old ticket office is now a museum for Littleborough Historical and Archaeologocal Society. We were welcomed in by a chap who immediatley mentioned about their flint collection and Roman coins. Flint is not found in the area, so was imported from other parts of the country. He also appologised that their main computer was broken so he wouldn’t be able to show us much from their archieve. This however didn’t stop him from chatting away to his hearts content.

As it says on the door

The chap chatted on for ages, he could have carried on for hours. Don’t get me wrong he was interesting, possibly being shown images and maps would have been even more interesting, but when someone wanted to show him a recent find that was almost certainly Roman we were quick in heading for the door. More a place for serious research on the local area than just a browse around.

Back at Oleanna we had lunch and enjoyed the last Hot Paw Bun of the year. These were the best I’ve made by far and Mick doesn’t see why they should just be for Easter!

Tilly came and went, then as the winds increased into the afternoon she was grounded. Kathleen was showing her force. Thankfully our mooring means Oleanna’s bow faces into the wind and with a few extra fenders out we are held into the side, so no bumping about.

Plans for the next few days were discussed. How long it will take us to get down into Manchester, which moorings to stop at, will the wind have died down sufficiently to make this all possible?

Tilly slept the afternoon away. The yellow water tank was emptied, Tilly’s pooh box refreshed and quite a bit of knitting done. I should just about finish pair 14 by the end of Sunday, Hooray!

Our evening meal was accompanied by growing winds and torrential rain. Really! Surely there can’t be anymore rain!!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 windy walk, 1 puzzled baker, 9 rashers bacon, 1 pie, 1 paper, 0 knickers bought, 1 very knowledgable man, 0 wedding ring, 1 very blustery afternoon, 2 salmon steaks with red pepper sauce, 13.5 pairs of socks knitted so far.

Panto Postcard 2, 2023


My home for Saturday night was very comfortable. Rachel and Graham’s house I think dates back to the C17th. Flagstoned floors, steep spiraling staircase where crampons would be better than socks on the aged polished wooden treads and a natural posture of stooping an advantage to get through low doors. It was the bake house, the actual bakery out the back in another building. The front room was the shop, the worn flagstones suggesting it was popular. Shortly before Rachel and Graham bought the property it had been a restaurant, apparently very popular with Ronnie Barker. They have done extensive work on the building and what a wonderful place it is.

In an older part of Chippy

A very welcoming couple who insisted I had a cuppa and my breakfast with them, I could leave my bag whilst I headed off for the day and then pass the key onto Jo the Props lady who stays with them during panto.

The Dulux dog has taken over from Bagpuss

The S3 bus took me into Oxford for the day. I didn’t really want to walk too far due to my little toe still complaining, but I did want to enjoy a day doing something completely different to panto and make sure I had a good meal too.

One possibly for the Christmas list

First port of call Waterstones. I’ve been trying to find a copy of Dinner by Nagi Maehashi that had been the Jamie Oliver Cook Book Club book for October. Everything people have been making looks tasty, but I wanted to have a look and see how many of the recipes are gluten free adaptable before buying it. I didn’t find it, but got chance to look at other books that I can line up for my Christmas list.

A walk to the Ashmolean Museum. I know Mick and I visited here several years ago, but it required another look round. I headed for an exhibition on Kabuki prints.

Then headed upstairs to look at the paintings. Plenty of Mother and child scenes, followed by Baroque deaths.

Chiaroscuro shown off, some details away from the main subjects caught my eye, Isis and a statue of Satan. By the time I reached the Pre-Raphaelites and Pissarro paintings I realised I’d been here before, but a return visit was enjoyed. My favorite painting today was From Kolding Fjord, by Vilhelm Pter Kark Kyhn, 1876. So much open space and light.

My favourite

A walk round the covered market is always good, a couple of chilled medication retailers I considered trying out but decided something savoury first would be better. I headed over to Westgate, bought a new top but failed on buying yoghurt.

Now to find somewhere to eat. I’d spotted a Cosy Club on Cornmarket Street, the chain had been recommended for gluten free dishes. Time to try them out.

A glass of wine, very attentive staff who noted my intolerance and handed me a suitable menu. Thank goodness they had something I could eat other than chicken. Seabass with roasted new potatoes in a white wine sauce with leeks and peas. Very tasty. Followed by salted caramel and chocolate moose, even tastier! Sod all the calories, I deserved a lovely meal.

Oxford’s Cosy Club has only been open two weeks, maybe that’s why the staff were almost overly attentive. But it had a nice ambience and I’ll venture there again.

Sadly, or fortunately as I left so did the next bus heading for Chippy, I had an hour to kill. Only one thing for it, check on the levels of the Thames and the Oxford Canal. Plenty of room at the very end of the Oxford, one boat hanging off the end of the pontoon below Isis Lock, the water having some momentum. Two red lights flashed on the board at the lock, no-one would go down onto the Thames if they were sensible.

Back on the towpath

I walked along where Oleanna is quite often moored at this time of year, plenty of room opposite College Cruisers, then crossed over the footbridge to walk up through Jericho to wait for the next bus back, a nice boat fix in the dark.

Back in Chippy I picked up my bags and thanked Rachel and Graham for a lovely stay, then headed home, back across town to Suzannes. A blog to write, Mick to chat to on the phone and a glass of wine. A lovely day off.

Overnight I developed quite a sore throat. Most probably the cold that was heading around the panto company. Just incase, I did a covid test before having a shower. On drying my hair I took a look, two lines! The test I’d used had an expiry date of last week, I did another, this one in date and one that takes 30 minutes. However the second line only took five minutes to appear. Oh B********cks!

Seeing double twice

First thing inform Suzanne, I’d stay in my room as much as possible, ventilate my room and bathroom. Next inform Rachel and Graham who’d only the night before been saying how it was nice to have someone stay who was less likely to bring a lurgy into their house than an actor who stayed in the pub until all hours! Then the theatre.

The covid policy at Chippy this year is more about what not to do than what to do. You don’t have to do a test if you feel unwell. But if you do and you are positive then it’s 5 days at home, 5 days of not painting! Last year I’d had covid the week before starting painting, is this becoming a tradition?!

Mick asked if I wanted collecting and taking back to Scarborough. Yes it would be nice to be home, but he would then most likely get it and we’d have to keep our new lodger Annie from getting it too. So long as Suzanne and I thought we could work things so she didn’t catch it I’d rather stay put.

Breakfast in bed

So Monday became a day of breakfast in bed, chatting to Gemma, doing a sneaky shop to keep me going, mask on at all times in shops, narrowly avoiding an actor and Jo from the theatre. I’m more than likely to have caught it whilst at work, but I’m the only one who has tested.

In the evening I had a long chat with Tim who’s been making puppets for the show. He’d be doing some painting in my absence. Getting paint on things important, then hopefully when I return I can do the twiddly bits. He wasn’t too sure on the time scale he had. My opinion was not to rush things, take his time, check with me then hopefully I’d not be wanting to redo anything on my return.

Tuesday. My sore throat disappearing and a bag by the bed filling up with tissues, glad I’d been out to buy a box, but would one be enough!?

Scene painting via Whatsapp is a little bit odd, but at least I knew Tim would ask questions and I could see things first hand. I’d received a message from Imogen who’d been on placement with me the last two years, she’s now at college studying Theatre Design in Wales. She was back in Chippy this week, would I like another pair of hands? She didn’t know the situation, but soon did. At a zoomed production meeting it was agreed that she could come in on an evening and do some other jobs, marking out rostra ready for painting.

Knitting and watching

Wednesday, nose drying up now, but a second box of tissues was provided by Suzanne and left outside my door. Instructions for the days jobs were passed to Tim and Imogen via Whatsapp and Instagram. I got my knitting needles out as it was 1st November and I’m taking part in a knitting challenge to knit for 30 minutes a day during the month. Normally this wouldn’t be too hard, but with panto I thought it would be a challenge, thankfully I’d brought with me enough yarn for three pairs of socks. My hope is that by the end of 2023 I’ll have raised £1000 for Dementia Uk. The socks I’ll be knitting now are Christmas presents, so I’ll be donating myself, but if you’d like to make a donation please don’t hold back here’s the link!

Zenb Agile in with soup yum! Catching up on Bake off

Detectorists is keeping me amused as I knit away. This evening I added some quick cook pasta into half a pot of soup and made a rather nice dish. Shortly afterwards I felt my body lift, it had wanted some pasta, definite improvements happening.

Thursday. More knitting, A Christmas Special and onto the third series of Detectorists between messages regarding painting. Should things be sanded down between coats, thankfully not, I think if theatre paints required that I’d have given up scene painting years ago. A stool and new brushes arrived at the theatre and Suzanne and I managed to avoid being in the same air space for another day.

I spent sometime hunting round the internet for suitably sized clock hands. Clocks are important in Cinderella! Thankfully I found some of suitable lengths then passed them on to someone else to order and make work.

On the covid front I felt improved, although I seem to be getting tinnitus now and I’m not sure how long I will last before needing a sit down.

A flipping banana dog toy!

I felt the need for a canal fix today, so tuned into Heidi on The Pirate Boat. Well I thought I’d escaped the world of panto filled, with bananas, then Heidi headed to the back cabin to recount a ditty or two. Bonny, her rescue dog was playing, what with? Only a flipping banana! Did I spot Irene from NB Free Spirit in the background in the pub?

There she is in sunny Goole

Friday. Our car hires through Enterprise this year have meant that we have enough credit for a days hire, so Mick has hired a car for the day to head to see Oleanna and do an oil change. Sunny in Goole, still no new neighbour. The mattress to remeasure so that I can order us a new one, I’ve misplaced the last measurements he’d taken.

Somehow a scratch has appeared on the O of Oleanna. It’s near to a fender, but doesn’t look like that could have made such a scratch! If I was there I’d have given it a clean down and taken time to touch in the paint, hopefully saving us getting a rust patch over winter. But I’m not there and instructing Mick to do something about it …. well! He’s good with oil and cables. Here’s hoping I can get to it in the not too distant future.

That’s not good!

More knitting for me today and possibly a short walk to get some supplies in, I just need to avoid the roofers and Suzanne, oh and the rain!

Out on the canals this week the weather has been affecting some. Boats have been tied up hoping to avoid problems with Storm Ciaran. The River Trent has risen again, trapping many who’d been hoping to move to winter moorings or avoid winter stoppages, Newark Flood gates are closed again. On the Leicester Line some of the bank has been washed away during the high levels a couple of weeks ago, the pound is now drained and a notice has just come through with them hoping to be able to shore up the towpath to allow passage again, update due next week.

The webcam in York, the River Ouse is quite full!

But in Wigan boats are on the move again. After our friends on NB That’s It got just over halfway up the flight about seven weeks ago, only to be turned round due to a blown cill, the flight reopened this Tuesday. Paul the boat mover was one of the boats down the flight on Tuesday and plenty more have followed in the following days. The winter stoppages on the flight have been postponed for another week to help with boat movements, just hope the cill that looks like it’s in trouble at lock 70 hangs on for a while longer!

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe, afloat and gets to where they need to be soon. And here’s hoping I can get back up to speed on panto quickly!

All Just For A Load Of S**t. 24th August

Friars Mill

Mid morning Mick got a phone call from the archway garage saying that our alternator was ready to be collected. Blimey that was quick, we’ve heard tales of people sending them off to be mended and not hearing back for months, this had taken a couple of days. On collection the chap said it was the regulator that had gone. The chap also said he used to make the steelwork for narrowboats somewhere outside Leicester.

Our nearest neighbours had moved off upstream this morning leaving a gap at the end of the pontoon. Mick pulled us along so as to be further away from the resident cruisers who enjoy listening to their music loud. Not long afterwards a downstream narrowboat tucked into where we’d been, the pigeons made themselves at home on their roof pretty quickly, sorting out the teams for their next five aside match.

A cosy neighbour

As we tucked into an early lunch the next boat arrived, the chap at the helm was obviously deciding on where to go. We called out, would he like to come alongside. Of course he would, Castle Gardens pontoon was now full. We chatted away and helped with his ropes agreeing on a time when we’d be wanting to head towards North Lock in the morning.


My head was still not good, but a walk would help, I hoped. So we headed off to find the cut at North Lock and walked northwards, crossing over Wolsey Island. The Space Centre building was worth a look at. The tower is clad in pillows made from ETFE, the same material used at the Eden Project. Dots cover the surface, but from a distance you can just see through it, rockets lurk inside.

The Abbey Pumping Station

We walked that little bit further to the Abbey Pumphouse, we fancied some Victoria engineering instead of space today.

There was lots to read again. The first part of the exhibition all to do with water, bathing through the ages especially around Leicester. As the population grew so did the amount of sewage, Leicester had to do something about the quality of it’s water. So sewers were directed towards Abbey Pumping Station which was built in 1890. From here the cities waste was pumped up to a treatment works at Beaumont Leys, now a shopping centre.

Mixed in amongst the water and sewage, not literally, there are also collections of industrial, technological and scientific items relating to Leicester. A phone box filled with toys, mechano, Kermit. Cinema cameras, Happy and Sad trams. Knitting machines for both stockings and jumpers. Soap. All quite interesting, but the layout a little dated as you tend to find in free museums.

Grand steps

Then up some stairs you enter the room where all the action used to take place. Just walking into the hall you can tell this is where the Victorians meant business. The staircase says this alone!


Four steam engines fill the space. Built in Leicester by Gimson and Company these are rare examples of Woolfe compound rotative beam engines. We think they are still in working order, but sadly not today.

engrained oil

Cream, brown and gold paint decorates the huge wheels, brass polished more than a Braidbar narrowboat’s mushroom vents. Huge pillars decorated with flowers and capitals hold up the structure. Decorative tile work. 130 years worth of ingrained oil, now caught in trays filled with cat litter.

Such detail

Wow! All just for a load of Shit. The Victorians really couldn’t help themselves could they! Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The route back to Oleanna took a slightly different route, walking alongside Leicester Abbey and the River Soar, looking up at Cardinal Wolsey who died here.


Back on board Mick carried on working his way through the laundry drawer, topped us up with water, hung things out to dry. Then went to sit and wait for our Sainsburys delivery. He was looking forward to a sit down. He can now confirm that the gates into Friars Mill are locked on an evening as he had to come back for our C&RT key to be able to bring our shopping to the boat.


Tomorrow we’ll wait in line for our turn through North Lock.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles walked, 4 compound rotative beam engines, 1 floating spaceman, 1 cream tardis, 0 chilled medication, 4 pills, 1 bad head, 4 boxes wine, 1 whining cat, 1 full pontoon.

Dove And Pigeons. 23rd August

Friars Mill Pontoon


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

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


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

So what did we do instead?

We visited the Dulux Decorator Centre!

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

Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower

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

Alice Hawkins

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

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

Medication time

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

Poxy masks

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

The Great Hall

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

The Parlour

The Mayors Parlour with more oak panelling, stained glass.

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

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

Pick Pocket!

The cells where pick pocket Peter McVoye was held.

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

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

Gone Bananas! 16th 17th July

Cow Field, Lecklade to Kelmscott

Sunday, we could have returned to watch the airshow at Ian and Sally’s today, but work needed to take over again. During the Geraghty zoom the planes started to go over head, not as loud as I’d thought they would be so hopefully on Saturday Tilly wouldn’t have been bothered by them too much.

Red Arrows?

I concentrated on stone work and archways today. Mixing colours that I wouldn’t normally put together, they seemed to be right for what I was after, it is panto after all!

Orange and purple!

Mark and Liz from NB Azzura popped by to say hello. They’d arrived in Lechlade yesterday and had serious fun winding up by the Roundhouse in the wind. They had booked the electric boat mooring at St Johns to charge their batteries for their return journey. Good to see them again.

Monday. Time to start to make our way back down stream. Many people seem to travel back to Oxford in a couple of days, we’d be taking it slower and todays move was more about giving Tilly some shore leave than anything else.

A mile marker ?

We didn’t need to push off today due to the wind. What we needed to do was plan our departure well. Mick took out the extra spikes that he’d hammered through the loops on the first ones, crossed spikes had helped us cling to the bank for nearly a week. Then the bow spike was pulled out, I coiled my rope and climbed onboard whilst Mick headed to the stern to pull the spike out there. Whilst this was happening the wind blew the bow out from the bank, just as it started to loose it’s power the flow downstream took over. Oleanna did exactly as planned and winded herself, Mick hopping on just at the right moment to help keep her away from the off side.

Lounging around at St John’s Lock

Sunday had seen a few boats leave the moorings, this morning at least one narrowboat had left and four cruisers had headed to St John’s Lock. Our arrival wasn’t timed so well as the last two cruisers were sat on the lock landing waiting for the lock to fill. There was no room for us and the wind was really quite strong. Mick reversed us upstream so the wind was more to our stern so wouldn’t be pushed into the offside bushes. As soon as the cruisers moved off we moved up.

At last! Untie it!!

A volunteer and Lock Keeper helped us down the lock, now we pootled our way downstream. The slight increase of flow sped up our journey. That line of trees coming and going again.

On the biggest tightest bend we of course came across a boat heading upstream. Mick kept Oleanna under control as both boats passed carrying on towards different locks.

Cruisers ahead

At Buscot Lock we caught up with the cruisers. They checked if I’d be alright closing up after them, not a problem especially as Mick was already heading to lend a hand with the gates. Lock refilled and we were on our way down behind them. Using the long pole to open and close the bottom gates was fairly easy, the gates move a lot easier than most broad locks on the canals.

Above Buscot Lock

We wiggled some more watching those tree come and go again. Then as we approached Kelmscott we had our fingers crossed for a mooring. Not wanting to climb the steep bank and fight our way through the undergrowth, we carried on past the first moorings. The good space had a boat on it, so we carried on to the hard bank which was free.

See ya!

Mick had thought here would be better, but the height made it a little awkward to get on and off for us, but we managed and tied up ready for Tilly to have the rest of the day as shore leave. The gap and height of the bank was not a problem for her. Off she went to explore the friendly cover and sideways trees.

Bananas of many sizes

An afternoon of working again. It all went a bit bananas!

Not your average farm vehicles

Mick had a walk round Kelmscott, still as pretty as it was four years ago. A shame we’d arrived on a Monday, the house not open until Thursday and the pub not doing food. Next time, the house is certainly worth a return visit. Mick was incharge of our evening meal tonight, sausage slop. Instructions were given whilst I continued to paint more and more bananas.

2 locks, 3.4 miles, 1 perfect wind, 2 in front, 1 excited cat in the window, 1 long pole, 1 high bank, 5732 bananas, 6 sausages chopped into 24.

Pivoting Up The Thames. 11th July

Rushey Lock Meadows to Lechlade Cow Field

Oh blimey, how did that happen? We both slept in, not done that in ages. This of course meant we were later than planned in leaving this morning. With rain forecast for the afternoon we hoped we’d not get a soaking.

That’s how much further

The chair that had gone for a swim yesterday had been left in the cratch overnight. It was nice and humid in there this morning, the chair was moved to stand in the shower, I didn’t want it in the wardrobe for a while (where it usually lives) until it is most definitely dry.

Yesterday afternoon we’d been joined by another boat, they pushed off a good quarter of an hour before us, would we catch them up to be able to share locks? Todays cruise had to make up for not moving yesterday and would consist of many twist and turns as the Thames wiggles it’s way upstream.

A breakfast stop

A group sat on the bank, their three boats pulled ashore by Old Man’s Footbridge. The smell of breakfast wafted onto the river. We waved, but they were all too busy tucking into their bacon and eggs.

Radcote Lock

The Self Service sign was out at Radcote, but there was someone about at the lock. As I walked up a Lock Keeper opened up the sluices to empty the lock, he then said he’d see us at the next lock.

Towards Radcote Bridge is a nice looking campsite, motorhomes were parked up amongst the trees and geese preened themselves on the bank. Moorings, then the tents and shepherd huts. The tents looking plump like meringue kisses fresh out of a piping bag. Through the little arch which looks like someone missed the road above.

Opening the top gates with the long pole

Sure enough the Lock Keeper was at Grafton Lock, he emptied the chamber for us and then pushed the gates open. As we rose numerous birds busied themselves over our heads. House Martins. There are thirty nests around three sides of the lock cottage, around sixty birds and they were preparing for their third brood of the year. The Lock Keeper said they were very good tenants, they wake at 7:30am and go to bed at 8:30pm. He was obviously very proud of them.

We pulled in to top up the water tank, the last water point before Lechlade. A load of washing had been on. Tilly’s pooh box had a clean, she was obviously crossed legged so it got an extra rinse after an emergency wee! Then I had a shower. The water tank was full to the brim and everything that required water done.


Lunch was eaten on the move. Not many big houses sit alongside the upper River Thames, but those that do are obviously rather nice, it is the Thames after all!

There’s a mooring in there somewhere!

The moorings at Kelmscott were empty, not surprising as the house is only open Thursday to Sunday. Signs hide amongst the undergrowth suggesting more moorings. We used one of these when we visited the house four years ago, it required a safety rope to be able to clamber up and down the bank from one of the handy mooring signs.

More wiggles, was it an M or a W? A line of trees came into sight time after time after time.

Turquoise and orange

Buscot Lock was also manned. Here flower troughs make up the display of flowers. I spotted that we’d picked up a hitchhicker. A caterpillar? As we pivoted round more wiggles I tried looking it up. Not a caterpillar, possibly a Sawfly Larvae, hope it wasn’t after my wild strawberry plants.

Mick worked the tiller hard getting us round the bends. Oleanna seeming to sit still whilst the world pivoted round us. Then St John’s Lock the last lock on the navigable Thames. Here we paused, emptied the yellow water tank and disposed of rubbish before heading for the lock. Just as I was about to close the bottom gates a boat came into view, we waited to share, they could close the offside.

The matchstick markers on the paddles

Now to find a mooring, a downhill boat had said there was plenty of space. True but would any of it be deep enough for us? By now the wind had picked up. We tried pulling into one space, far too shallow. Another was reversed back to, rubble filled it’s depth. Forwards. On the slight bend it seemed to be deep enough. Mick tried bringing us in, the wind having other ideas.

Now, where to moor?

Our locking partners headed on further towards Ha’Penny Bridge. Pulling in to the bank they were pushed away. They headed on to wind and then try again.

Oleanna was reversed. we’d take a run up at mooring this time. A couple walking their dog offered to take ropes for us, which was very much appreciated. With them clinging on to Oleanna we eventually managed to get spikes into the ground and be tied up. The couple then headed off to help our locking partners moor up too.

Thank you for holding ropes

Tilly was given the ground rules, but we knew she’d not be enamoured with our mooring, no friendly cover or trees within scurrying distance. Then the heavens opened. It was even less popular!

During a drier moment there was a knock on our roof. Time to pay our mooring fees. This chap lives on a widebeam moored on the field, he collects the fees for the local farmer. They are the only boat to be allowed an electric fence around them to help keep the cows away. These cows are known for chewing ropes, licking paint and playing with pram and cratch covers! Thankfully the farmer has moved them to another field for a few weeks as the grazing here needs to recover, so we won’t have any problems with them during our stay.

£5 a night or £25 for a week, we paid the later.

4 locks, 9.3 miles, 1 lock shared, 2 gates, 1 clean pooh box, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 horse fly bites, 7 nights, £25, 0 cows.

Welcome To The Family 21st May


That’s quiet a breakfast!

After a breakfast that involved knowledge of where the nearest defibrillator was located, Frank had brought with him his standard three shredded wheat breakfast with full fat milk and cream, we made ready to head off for the day to Bowness.

A very green drive

The near two hour drive on busy windy roads was glorious for those of us who could admire the scenery, a little harder for Frank having to concentrate so much. Local knowledge of free parking in Bowness in handy along with knowing that you may take hours to find somewhere with space for lunch. Today we headed straight up a hill and found a parking spot, years of bringing shows to Bowness from Scarborough paying off. We’d also planned ahead and booked our matinee tickets at The Old Laundry to include lunch.

First we walked down to see Lake Windermere in it’s near sunny glory. Our reserved table at the theatre/ Beatrix Potter Attraction waited for us. Soup and a sandwich were enjoyed. We were spotted by several people. Bill who was one of our latest lodgers and Sue the Stage Manager for the show we were about to see.

Surrounded by giant mice

Welcome to the Family is Alan Ayckbourn’s 88th play. Josh is wanting to introduce his finance Sara to his parents, the only problem is that they are both dead. As ever Alan has caught a subject in his play that has also risen in real life, capturing moments to keep forever and relive.

From all the production photos I’d been wondering why Tanya (our other lodger) was wearing a school uniform. This very soon was explained in the plot. A very enjoyable show with a few dark plot twists in there as there should be.

Chilled medication

We met up with most of the cast after the show to say hello and had a couple of drinks before they were all heading out for dinner.

The drive back was still lovely in the evening sun. Tilly however wasn’t that impressed as her evening dingding had been delayed. Once she was fed we headed out to Aagrah for some food ourselves, returning for a slice of birthday cake.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 trip to Bowness, 3 soups and sandwiches, many many mice, 88th play, 2 lodgers, 1 Stage Manager, 1 hungry cat, 1 big thank you to Frank for driving.

Extra Jumpers Required. 12th May

Castleford Visitor Moorings to Clarence Dock/Potato Wharf/Leeds Dock what ever you want to call it!

Grey but not wet thank goodness, just chilly! Brrrrr!!!

Our plan to fill and empty at the services was thwarted as three boats were moored in the way, maybe they’d just finished filling and emptying, one chap stuck his head out to ask if we needed water, he’d move back if we did. We’d already decided to carry on and do the necessaries further on. The flood lock was closed and a boat had just come through, NB Tumbleweed who used to write a blog. Hellos were exchanged.

Passing boats

The downstream panel took forever for the Lock Ready light to illuminate. Maybe because the lock is just vast it took it’s time. It took so long that I even removed my key and started again to see if that would help. Eventually the light illuminated, I lifted the sluices, Water Level light came on, gates open, Hooray!

Another boat was waiting to come through from the other end, so it made sense for the chap to use his key. The level board at this end of the lock looked to be on the cusp of amber, would yesterdays rain raise the level anymore and would we have problems with closed flood gates?

Steps to accommodate all size of boats

The right navigation was chosen rather than the left and we headed on towards Leeds, I wish I’d brought my gloves out the back it was that chilly. Lemonroyd Lock soon appeared with it’s downstream lock landing built for all sizes of boats. Full as expected, I waited to get the thumbs up from Mick that he’d tied Oleanna up before I lifted the sluices to empty it.


Lemonroyd Lock replaced two locks and is just so vast, Oleanna always look so mini. A gongoozling family arrived, they live on the Ashby and have helped many a boat through locks before (can’t have been on the Ashby). The chap wondered why I wasn’t using a windlass, I showed him the panel of buttons, can you imagine the pressure on normal gate paddles! I enlisted their help in opening the gates, pressing another button. Mick pulled onto the water point for a delayed top up of fresh water and an empty of yellow water, making use of the elsan.

Tilly thought it looked quite nice here, but we still had further to go, even though we were both cold already and both of us were quietly wishing we could stop.

A gravel barge sat moored up a short distance on, is this where they come to empty their holds? Piles of fresh aggregate suggest so, but there wasn’t any sign of any means of offloading it.

At Woodlesford Lock a lady recognised us as being in the Jonathan Wilson facebook group. As soon as she mentioned her boat name NB Freedom I recognised them, we’ve seen them around here before and down on the Thames. NB Ecky Thump also familiar from Blue Water Marina last year.

Thwaite Mill well worth a visit

At Fishpond Lock we had a tern diving for fish as I emptied the lock, it remained hungry. Thwaite Mill visitor mooring was available, slightly overgrown.

So very sad

Knostrop Lock next. By the top gates there were bunches of flowers marking a memorial to a 14 year old lad, who on the Easter weekend had jumped into the lock to swim, shortly after a gravel barge had been through. He disappeared from view, thought to have been caught in a current created by the barge. All very sad.

Signs at the lock reminded boaters of the limited opening hours at River Lock up onto the Leeds Liverpool Canal. The levels drop at Granary Wharf leaving boats sat on the bottom, so for the time being the lock is only opened for two hours a day between 1 and 3pm. The signs suggested there is space for three boats below the lock, we’ll have to look at these when we go through, we were hoping to stop sooner.

Wibbly wobbly

The service and mooring pontoon have a build up of silt below them making the deck rippled. We’d not be mooring there unless we really had to.

Two hire boats came towards us, a new company to us The Boat Co North. Mick was later to meet a single hander from the USA, he helped him through his first push button lock. Hope he managed to get to Woodlesford today.

At Leeds Lock I opened and closed gates, lifted paddles as Mick tried to hold Oleanna still in the now short lock. If you are coming down this lock, keep away from the top gates as you may get caught on some wood jutting out. As Oleanna finished her ascent I walked up to peer over the wall into Clarence Dock to see if there’d be room for us. Bingo there was!

Time to breath in in locks

In the last few days we’ve heard that the visitor moorings here had long since gone, others have stayed but not known what the time limit was. Time to check for ourselves. The old signs are just visible, then a new bright blue sign declared the pontoon to be Visitor Mooring 2 days. Brilliant and an Oleanna sized gap waiting for us. Add to that an electric post still with a small amount of credit left.

On previous visits here we’d been able to buy electric cards I think to the value of £5 from the C&RT office across the river. Sensible size for two days and available to purchase when the office was open. These cards are unique to Leeds Dock/Clarence Dock what ever you call it. However now you have to order them £10 credit and get them posted out to you at an extra £2.95! For a bit of card the size of a credit card! Not very user friendly, the sooner C&RT install meters that you can log onto and pay for what you use anywhere on the network the better. But that won’t be for sometime as it would cost money and that is short at the moment. So we remain grateful to a previous boater who left some credit on a post.

The remainder of panto was read, notes taken. Tilly was slightly stroppy as there’d be no shore leave here. We remained very cold until Mick had lit the stove and the interior of the boat started to warm up. It was only two days ago we were sitting without jumpers in the evening, today we’d really needed thermals and just adding another jumper this evening really wasn’t going to cut the mustard!

Click photo for recipe

Crispy Lemon Chicken tonight. A new favourite.

5 locks, 1 flood lock, 10.1 miles, 3 hire boats, 1 ex-blogger, 1 JW boat, 1 hungry Tern, 1 bored cat, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, £1.20 credit, 1 stove lit, 0 knights having a wee.

Newark Memories. 28th January

King’s Marina

Saturday breakfast

After breakfast it was Mick’s turn to catch trains and head for Yorkshire, leaving Tilly and myself onboard. Since we heard the news a week or so ago that Maud’s Bridge could be closed for a couple of months we’d made plans. Take a mooring here at King’s Marina, move back to the house for it’s winter maintenance when we’re less likely to have lodgers. The move having to happen around my work.

Town Hall designed by John Carr

I walked up towards the station with Mick then headed to Boyes to pick up a knitting needle gauge. My collection of needles is normally well ordered, but having so many circular needles which have very very small writing on them and some being left out of their packs I didn’t know which was which.

The Corn Exchange, when will it have a new life?

I then had a walk around town. We wintered here on Lillyanne seven years ago and grew quite fond of the place. An enforced marina stay for medical reasons had us moored in King’s for a few months, we spent Bonfore night, Christmas and New Year here. Both of us having operations.

Band stand and castle

Since then we have passed through Newark using the fast route from north to south on the River Trent. Being here in the summer hasn’t felt right, coats hats and scarves should be worn in Newark. Then on our last visit we were preoccupied helping our friend David get the help he needed to get well. So on todays walk I had the intention of returning Newark to a place in my memory of Maltings, Brewers, Nicholsons, John Carr, the market, auction houses, Emily Blagg, Polish War graves, the castle, the civil war, all the things we discovered and enjoyed about the town.

The facade of a Nicholsons building

I think I succeeded.

Returning to the boat I stopped off at Waitrose (closer to the marina by a few paces than Aldi) to see what might have been yellow stickered. I came away with a gluten free Calzone and some green veg which I stir fried with lemon juice and garlic. A very nice meal.

Calzone and green

With my knitting needle gauge I worked out which needles I would need to use my birthday present of Riverknits yarn. A showtime cowl, all the yarn with names associated with pantomimes. I settled down in front of the tv and then realised I still had more to do before I could start. Yarn always looks so lovely wound round in skeins, just a shame before you start to use it it needs winding into a ball! With a calm cat on my knee that I really didn’t want to disturb I managed to make a ball of the first yarn I would require. The rest will be wound in turn as needed.

Yarn porn

It’s nice having knitting on the go again. Maybe I should do another sockathon this year. Still plenty of sock yarn to use up, maybe I could get some donated too. I’ve been putting some thought into which charity I would raise money for, there are a couple that are possible. Some more thought needed and which month to do it in?

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains for Mick, 0 sprinkles for Tilly, 3 yellow stickers, 1 calzone, 6 yarns, 1 ball wound, 144 stitches cast on, 4 rounds.