Category Archives: Music

Sign Posts Everywhere. 5th May

Urban Moorings to St Vincent Street Moorings, BCN Main Line

Two boats came past at 7:15 both hire boats obviously travelling together, we suspect they’d picked them up yesterday and made it up the flight before setting off early early this morning, maybe they were hoping to complete the Curley Wurley by lunchtime! As we had breakfast another hire boat came past, I suspect that is the quota for this canal for a week.

The Geraghty zoom subjects included Atlanta versus New York, Swedish Butter, Posse of Thrushes and checking the football fixture lists. One subject did make us concider extending our cruising this year, it would most probably mean we’d end up stoppage dodging, we’ll see.


Originally we’d planned on taking our time heading into Birmingham, a stop here another there for a supermarket delivery, but last night that changed, we’d be heading into the city today. A quick goodbye to Jennie and the others at Urban Moorings before we reversed back to the junction. Three years ago we’d only just managed to wind at the basin, today Jennie warned us it would be a lot harder now due to increased silt, so back we went passing the first Canadian Goose creshes we’ve seen this year.

Back on the Old Main Line we cruised southwards, the sun was out gradually warming up the world. Now which way to go? To reach Birmingham we’d need to descend through three locks, but which three locks should we choose today?

Still standing

Factory Locks. The first option, then we’d have a long run on the New Main Line, straight, 3/4 mile shorter than the other options, a kind of motorway of it’s time.

Netherton Tunnel Branch

Brades Locks. Further along the Old Main Line which would have us cross over the top of Netherton Tunnel Branch before dropping down a staircase of two and a single lock. Then the New Main Line would see us into Birmingham.

Pair 18 finished

Smethick Locks. All the way along the Old Main Line, travelling under the M5, crossing over the New Main Line before dropping down onto the New at Smethick Locks.

Factory Lock 3

As we’d usually split the journey somewhere we decided to go for the quickest route today, it would still be getting on for 5.5 hours. Thankfully the pounds between the locks were full, so were the locks making for an easy quick passage down. A young girl and her dad helped with the gates meaning I could hop on without closing the bottom gate.

The number of junctions we passed today. So many sign posts. I remember thinking the first time we came through on NB Winding Down that it was all so confusing. Loops to here and from there, arms going off, bridges that now led to nowhere. Now it all makes sence and as we approach Spon Junction we immediatly call out SPONNNNNNNNN!!!!!


The gauging islands slowed our progress greatly, especially at one where a boat was moored blocking one side. The stern was tied to a tree, bow pointed towards the middle island, possessions and three dogs sunned themselves whilst the owner was sanding things down for painting on the boat. I supose their possessions were safe where they were being guarded by the woofers.

Island life on the New Main Line

Up ahead two trip boats crossed by the Soho and Icknield Loops. More buildings have gone up since last year. We were getting closer, almost there.

Is that Lottie Jane?

The end of the St Vincent Street moorings came into view. I checked my phone to check we’d be pulling in behind NB Lottie Jane. The colours were right from the photo I had, then up popped a head, yep it was the right boat. We pulled in just off the moorings at the stern and were greeted by Graeme and Clare with big New Zealand hugs.

Back in 2019 we had shared the locks down into Manchester with Graeme and Clare who had borrowed a friends boat for a couple of months, NB Mr Blue Sky. We have kept in touch ever since and this year they are back over from New Zealand, borrowing another friends boat for a couple of months. Our speeding up into Birmingham was so we could meet up with them. Long chats over a cuppa, discusions of their planned route and maybe meeting up again.

Mick, Graeme, Clare, Pip

There was still far more to chat about so we headed into town to Barajee for some food. Blimey Birmingham was LOUD!!!! All the bars were heaving, DJ’s blasting out from open windows, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was playing at the Arena. We’ve never heard Birmingham so loud, not even during the World Cup a few years ago. Clare and Graeme had chosen their mooring wisely for the Bank Holiday Weekend. It was a lovely evening with good food as ever at Barajee, so glad we’d managed to catch our friends up.

3 locks, 12.3 miles, 1 reverse, 1 wind, 9 striaght ons, 2 rights (or was it 1 right and 1 left?), 2 tunnels, 2 unders, 1 lunch on the go, 1 island workshop, 1 lime, 1 coconut, 2 New Zealanders back on a boat, 4 for curry, 1 very very noisy city, 1 bored loney cat!

Ruth Geraghty née Chignell.

4th February 1924 – 14th December 2008

Mick here writing this post.

My mother Ruth Geraghty (née Chignell) would have been 100 years old on 4th February 2024.

Ruth Geraghty

Ruth was born in Hessle near Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Her mother was Katie Chignell (née Netherwood) and her father Philip Chignell.

Philip was the organist and choirmaster at All Saints Parish Church in Hessle and had spent all his life in working as a musician. He started aged nine as a choirboy at St Georges Chapel school in Windsor during Queen Victoria’s reign and took part in many Royal occasions including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. He became an organist at various churches around the country before settling in Hessle in 1901. Philip and Katie met in 1911 while they were both taking part as singers in a six month long World Tour as members of the Sheffield Choir. This tour took them round the world by ship and train, starting in Liverpool in March, across the Atlantic to Canada and the USA. Then across the Pacific to Hawaii and onto New Zealand. Australia and Tasmania followed and then South Africa before returning to Plymouth in October.  They married in 1912. They were a very musical couple and produced a very musical family. They settled at Philip’s home at number 19 The Weir in Hessle.

Stephen Katie Philip Ruth

John Chignell was born first in 1916 followed by Henry (1918) and Stephen(1922). Ruth was the youngest and the only girl in the family. She went to the local primary school in Hessle then onto the Boulevard School in Hull. At this time Ruth and her friend Marian took an interest in bell ringing and with one or more of their brothers would tour the local area on bicycles visiting various bell towers and taking part. Days out with friends were common. She had by now picked up the nickname Trigo.

She even had a narrowboat named after her!
Ruth and Stephen Cycling

Ruth was at the Boulevard in 1939 aged 15. When war broke out the school was to be evacuated to Scarborough. The day for evacuation came and she said her goodbyes to her parents and brothers in the morning and headed off to school and the unknown. By mid afternoon she was back at 19 The Weir. She refused to be evacuated, finished with school that day and came home to be with her family.

In the back garden of 19 The Weir

One by one her brothers all went off to war. John and Henry within the first few weeks and Stephen a couple of years later when he became old enough. But Ruth stayed in Hessle for the duration. She was a big comfort to her parents who had the great worry of Henry being posted as missing and then becoming a POW in Germany. John and Stephen were both posted overseas at times and were also a concern to the family back in Hessle. Ruth was often to be found helping in various local canteens which had been set up to try to boost the morale of visiting military personnel in the area. She was also a keen violinist and many evenings would be spent playing violin sonatas, her on the violin and her father on the piano. She would also be found singing in her father’s choir at All Saints Church.

Ruth and Henry

Hessle is only about 4 miles from Hull and its docks. Hull took a pounding during the blitz and Hessle took a number of direct hits. But 19 The Weir and its occupants survived.  

During the war Ruth had started “seeing” local lad Peter Geraghty. ( Peter was from Hessle and was a bomber pilot at RAF Pocklington. Ruth must have heard planes flying over Hessle and wondered about “Her Peter” in one of the bombers heading to Germany and war.

Peter Geraghty

In 1945 Henry had returned home from POW camp after a five year absence. Ruth had gone to meet him off the last train into Hessle that day having not seen her big brother for all those years.  Her other two brothers also returned home and the family was once again complete.

Ruth had taken up a secretarial post at an insurance company in Hull, but I suspect her heart wasn’t in it. Married life beckoned, Ruth and Peter got married in May 1947.

17th May 1947

By then Peter had become a commercial airline pilot with British European Airways (BEA) based at Northolt Airport just outside London so they set up home there. Daughter Christine was born in May 1948, followed by Marion in 1950 and Anne in 1952. So a busy time for Ruth looking after a young family. But she still found time for music and was selected to join the Royal Choral Society as a soprano. She performed in many concerts at the Albert Hall under the conductor Sir Malcom Sargent.

Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting. Ruth behind to his right

Ruth and Peter moved to Ealing in West London in 1953, at the same time as BEA moved from Northolt to Heathrow. A bigger house was required and there was a good new primary school, St Gregory’s, in Ealing for the children.

I came along in 1958 followed by my little sister Kathryn in 1966. Ruth had become a Brown Owl in one of the local Brownie packs. My sisters had all been Brownies and it was common for me, a four year old boy, to don a brown jumper and go to a Brownie meeting and take part. I suspect there were child care issues!

Ruth and Kathryn

Ruth continued with her musical life. She joined the Ealing Symphony Orchestra playing in the first violins and took part in many of their concerts. There were many evenings at our house when three other musicians would arrive and a string quartet would take place in our front room. All of us children were encouraged to take part in musical activities and we had outings to various concerts and musical events in London. At school I had taken up the bassoon and the piano. I played bassoon in the Ealing Junior Music School and I also obtained music O Level when the time came.

Ruth Marion Kathryn Peter

Ruth continued to take a big part in the local Girl Guiding movement taking Brownie packs on holiday and Guides on camps. She became a District Commissioner for the Ealing and Hanwell District.

District Commissioner
Anne Mick and Marion in the Chester Gardens back garden

Family life continued. Ruth organised many family summer holidays, often with her brother Henry’s family sometimes on the South coast. Henry and his wife Gill had a caravan and they would set up in a caravan park, whilst we had a holiday home somewhere nearby. Henry and Gill had four children and with all of us we made a good holiday party.

Henry Ruth Gill Peter
Mick Kath and Christine in the front garden

In 1977 Peter retired from British Airways. Three of their five children had moved out from the family home and on to further education and careers. Life quietened down a little. Peter was a keen golf player and Ruth occasionally would play a round with him. They would also go on holidays to watch amateur golf tournaments around the country. Peter had a lifetime concessionary travel benefit with British Airways so there were overseas holidays to Africa, Canada and Europe. But Peter wasn’t a great one for flying as a passenger so UK holidays were more common.

Peter and Ruth on the Equator

Ruth enjoyed train travel very much. Once a year she would arrange with her brothers to meet up in Llandudno where they had spent childhood holidays with their Grandma.

Outside her maternal Grandmother’s house near Llandudno

In about 1985 Ruth and I each purchased a British Rail All Line Rail Rover. Over the course of a week we travelled from London to Thurso in the very north of Scotland, over to the Kyle of Lochalsh, onto the ferry over to Skye, another ferry to Malaig and down to Glasgow. Over to Hull via the Settle to Carlisle line. Ruth always enjoyed visiting Hull and Hessle and there were still many family members. Then we travelled to Llandudno, Shrewsbury, Llanelli, Bristol, Exmouth and Plymouth before heading back to London.

Ruth on the Settle to Carlisle line

In 1967, when I was aged 9, Ruth and I had a day out on the Underground on the very first day of operation of the brand new Victoria Line. Very exciting!

Ruth continued her violin playing with the Ealing Symphony Orchestra and her Girl Guiding District Commissioner duties. She became a Governor of St Gregory’s School where all her children had attended, here she also helped with teaching the violin and music in general.

Playing the Violin

She also helped out at other schools. Youngest daughter Kathryn was at secondary school and relates the following story: Cardinal Wiseman’s production of Oliver! There was no school orchestra, so they hired in some kind of military band. God knows where from. Anyway, Mum wanted to play, so she was a guest 1st violin with them for the show, and I imagine enjoyed herself enormously.

Henry Ruth John Stephen in the 1980s

I moved out from home to pastures new in 1981 followed by Kath later in the 1980s so the nest was empty after 40 years. They stayed on in the big house at 8 Chester Gardens for another ten years or so, then moved to a very nice two bedroom flat nearby.

8 Chester Gardens
Retiring from the Ealing Symphony Orchestra 27/11/2000.

By now Peter was suffering from Parkinsons disease and life slowed down a lot. But Ruth still managed to get out a bit. She took part in meetings of the local Trefoil Guild, consisting mainly of retired Guide leaders and Commissioners. There was a school nearby and every afternoon in the summer Ruth and Peter would head out to get ice creams from the van parked at the school gate. Ruth had a sweet tooth!

Parkinsons took its hold on Peter and he passed away in 2002 aged 80. Ruth had also by then contracted the same disease but carried on in the flat on her own for a few years.

Surrounded by her Stuff
On the balcony

But eventually she succumbed to Parkinsons and moved into, a care home nearby. Peter’s BA pension contributed handsomely to the costs.

She had many visitors while at Downhirst, both family and friends and much reminiscing was carried out. The staff looked after her well, but I’m sure she missed Peter and her active life. She never complained about her lot and stoically carried on being cheerful right to the end.

She passed away on 14th December 2008 aged 84 and is still much missed. We took her ashes back to Hessle and scattered them on the Foreshore in the shaddow of the Humber Bridge. A suitable resting place for her.

Thanks to Anne, Kath, Marion and John for help with the photos.

Are We Jinxing Things? 27th July

Somerton Meadows to Nadkey Bridge 172

No tea in bed today, we wanted to up and off so as not to end up in a queue at Somerton Deep Lock, I also hoped to have an afternoon of work. We pushed off before anyone else from the meadows. The cows that normally go that way and then back again were on the other side of the cut today. They moo’d loudly so we knew they were there.


No queue, that was a relief. The For Sale signs at Somerton Deep Lock had big SOLD signs added. I wonder what the new owners will add to the house, Mick said he’d look at adding as much solar as he could, unless there were planning restrictions.

Both top paddles worked today, so our ascent was a speedy one.

Chisnell Lift Bridge, will it end up being hydraulically operated?

Chisnell Lift Bridge was down as we approached, a chap walking his dog said he’d help with it. The bridge was well balanced and easy to move. The end of the chain appeared to have some blue rope that had worn away and strands of it sat on the ground next to a mooring spike. Was this how the bridge was meant to be secured open to boats? With no means to secure it I let it close and we carried onwards.

Hello again

Todays queue was to be found at Aynho Weir Lock. A boat going up to the river section and two waiting to come down. We waited below and helped where we could, then there was the walk to Nells Bridge and help out there too before it was our turn.

The house that stands alongside Haddon’s Lift Bridge is up for sale. Plenty of space, with a two story office, four bedrooms and three bathrooms, handy for the Pig Place too! Yours for a mear £1,350,000. I wonder if C&RT would give you permission for an end of garden mooring?

Kings Sutton Lock

Onwards under lift bridges to Kings Sutton Lock where a boat was just rising slowly. A boat arrived just in time to wait for the lock to be vacated. I chatted to the lady, they were kicking their heels waiting to go into Cropredy Marina for the Fairport Convention Festival in a couple of weeks time. You have to book the marina for five days at £50 a night! Profiteering!

As their boat came out of the lock their engine stopped. Something round the prop. A glance along their boat showed the culprit, their centre line diagonally taught along their cabin side. The lady said they’d not done that for ages, suspect they won’t do it again for a while. Mick pulled Oleanna back so they could pull their boat out of the lock and let us pass.

I wonder when/if work will begin on the cottage

We normally stop just around the corner, but with a distance to cover tomorrow we wanted to be further on, Grants Lock called. We chose to moor up before the new housing estate opposite a popular field for people to walk round. Tilly set off to explore, then it was time to talk to Tim the Banbury puppet man, followed by working out just how much canvas would be needed to be printed for the panto portals for a new quote.


During the afternoon notices came in from C&RT. The normal notices but also several regarding places we’d just come through. There was a tree down between bridges 211 and 212 blocking the canal. Chisnell Lift Bridge 193 was impossible for single handers to use as there is no way of fixing it open, no change from when we passed through. Then on facebook we heard of boats fenders getting caught on a bolt at Somerton Deep Lock top gate, luckily they had all had weak links in their chains so had avoided serious problems. We’d not noticed anything this morning, but then Mick tends to stay well back from the top gates on the Oxford. Sorry if you are following us, we seem to be jinxing things as we pass!

5 locks, 8.1 miles, 9 lift bridges, 1 down, 2 blackberries, 3 problems behind us, £1350000, 7 town square puppets, 3 creatures, 1 Oleanna’s length of canvas required, 1 chicken and red pepper curry, 1 connection checked, 1 link on order.

Topless Tunnel. 25th June

Bridge 123 to Claydon Top Lock visitor moorings

Another early start, pushing of at 6:30 with cuppas in hand. The lovely cool breeze was nice and refreshing as we wound our way along the summit pound of the Oxford Canal. Sun cream had been applied as few clouds showed themselves.

This morning our batteries hadn’t been complaining. At the moment we can’t check their state of charge properly, so all we can do is help them to keep topped up. Good job we want to keep on the move at the moment.


Wiggles and winds soon brought us to the contrasting landscape. One minute beautiful green fields, sheep grazing, bird song. Then round the next bend the huge mounds of earth from HS2 sat grey against the horizon. No activity today just earthwork scars across the gentle valley. I’d been at work last year when Mick passed this way so the new temporary bridge was new to me.

A short distance onwards the normally very popular moorings had only two boats on them! Blimey, maybe the HS2 works has put people off, or is it just the lack of view at this time of year with so much greenery about.

Late yesterday afternoon we had a Clifton Cruiser hire boat come past asking where the next winding hole was. Mick checked our map, Fenny Compton another two hours ahead. Their boat needed to be back in Rugby for Monday morning and today the temperature was due to hit 29C! Thankfully we passed them as we approached Fenny, already winded and heading back to base, a long hot day ahead of them.

Fenny Compton Tunnel

Next Fenny Compton Tunnel where the roof was removed quite sometime ago. I looked for the towpath, but there was no sign of it amongst the cow parsley and nettles. As we passed through the narrowest part Oleanna had to push past the vegetation on both sides,

No need to stop at the old railway bridge today, no requirement for a festive wreath of ivy for the cratch. Then the first Oxford Canal lift bridge, sitting open to boat traffic.

Love these bridges

The first mooring above the Claydon flight looked very nice and shady, sadly a boat was sat there. Strange conversations came from within as we passed, followed by a rendition of ‘Always Look on the bright side of life’. They had some sort of bird onboard, a parrot, a very vocal one.

Spaces were available on the rings before the bridge, we pulled in leaving an Oleanna sized gap between us and the next boat. Tilly was given an hour, knowing full well she’d take far more. The kettle was put on and we could sit down to join the Geraghty zoom only five minutes late and our cruising for the day done.

Topics today, what to do with ripe tomatoes, the deepest loch in Scotland and cheating on school sports days. I wonder how much ketchup Christine’s one tomato would make?

A late breakfast as the sun started to come across and hit the roof and both sides of the boat. Hopefully late afternoon would see us into shade.

The Town Square sneaky peek

Cricket was listened to, Tilly came and went, often opting to lie on the bathroom floor as she was too hot again. I worked my way through my Cinderella model, making sure I’d got everything and taking photos as I went so as to be able to do a new version of the storyboard.

During the afternoon a Carefree Cruising boat pulled up behind us, another foot would be good. Both Mick and a chap from the boat behind went out to see if we could adjust our ropes to accommodate them, this was soon sorted. Their dog took a fancy to Tilly at one point. Her popping out from the sideways trees, she got chased back in through the hatch. I showed her the front door entrance which she used for much of the remainder of the day.

She and Tom gave me an extra way on and off the boat too. Part of the see through sides was removed, just the hammocks left in place. She had to hold them closed at one point as the woofer walked past and all I wanted to do was stick my tongue out at it. She said because the glass wasn’t there I wouldn’t be safe, so not to be so cocky! I tried shouting at me later, but I just moved further down the towpath to get away from the noise.

My model is now complete, just a few bits to do before my meeting. Hoorah! Despite good solar for much of the day Mick felt it necessary to run the engine again at around 7 for half an hour to help charge our batteries, Boo!

Sadly the wind was too strong to sit out and cook our dinner on the barbeque, the defrosted pork was chopped up and made into paprika peppery pork, very tasty.

We ended the day by watching Elton John at Glastonbury. All the lyrics imprinted on our brains. Very evocative of my sixth form days and parties that ended up on the flat roof of my parents house watching the sunrise. Those parties were great parties. Elton still blasting out the tunes in tune unlike one onlooker in the crowd!

0 locks, 9.3 miles, 1 lift bridge lufted, 1 topless tunnel, 5 fields of broad beans, 3.5 hours cruise before breakfast, 1 hot day, 1 model complete, 2 batteries struggling, 1 near miss, 1 more entrance, 0 bbq, 1 pair of braces needed for a gold suit.

Bedford River Festival, Day 1. 23rd July

Priory Marina

As my phone and I woke up this morning panto emails arrived. A 10:30am meeting was possible with my director and she gave me a new route to head down for the troublesome scene. I sipped my tea in bed whilst looking at pictures of Alice in Wonderland Operas and Ballets. A quick squiggle in my puzzle book and I had a whole new look. This was then redrawn to match my storyboard, photographed and sent to Abi ready for our meeting. Thankfully things just started to click with this version and so long as other things can be made to work we have a solution and I can crack on next week.

Time to head in to see what the Festival was all about. We decided to keep to the south bank of the river, ended up missing a one way bridge onto the islands and had to walk up to the weir, but at least that brought us to NB Cleddau.

Ken, Chris and Sue

Here Ken and Sue has set up gazebos for friends and family to take shelter in, there were plenty of chairs to sit and chat. We joined Jennie and Chris who used to own NB Tentatrice, so lovely to see them again and have chance to chat rather than a quick snippet as our bows crossed.

Jennie, Mick and Heather

A while later Heather Bleasdale joined us, she’d come for the day, had already spent time with other friends, had a good walk round and was in need of a sit down just in time for the Motor Boat display. About twenty or so boats processed behind the Harbour Master and Lord Mayors launches. This years theme was pirates.

Some boaters had donned costumes and hung skull and crossbone bunting, others had gone that bit further and decorated their boats. One cruiser going the whole hog with smoking cannons and the white boat hardly visible under the corex pirate disguise.

The Viking Kayak Club had also done a fantastic job creating a small galleon that they paddled along in the procession.

After plenty of chats Heather, Mick and myself headed off to have a look round some of the stalls and vintage car display on the High Street. Blimey the town was heaving! We’d been warned that on some of the bridges we’d be packed in, shuffling to cross them. But being outside we didn’t feel too covid claustrophobic.

At 4pm it was the turn of the Narrowboats and Widebeams to process. NB Cleddau had by far the most bunting and flags of all the boats and plenty of passengers to wave at the crowds.

Two boats had created cannons in their portholes. One had used black buckets, the other black flower pots along with the occasional spurt of smoke which was very effective. An Owl sat on one boat was quite happy with a chick in it’s beak, keeping an eye on everyone.

Hope it got best in show

WB Black Pearl got top marks from us as we stood and waved back to them.

A walk down to the Vegan area where there were some nice things to buy and lots of interesting food items, although we did refrain from buying any Mexican Lollies at £3.50 a go, no idea what made them Mexican, unless you got to cover them with chilli sauce!

We had a brief look at the cars, some lovely specimens. A walk along the Embankment and then we tried to return in time for the Dragon Boat final, but there was simply too many people about to make it in time.

Ahh! Sitting down and a cuppa

A sit down and a cuppa were required so we headed into The Swan hotel to find space. Heather managed to convince a lady to allow us to sit in an area reserved for afternoon teas, but as it was empty we were sure they’d like to make us a brew, which they did and at a reasonable price too.

Taco bowl

Taco bowls of vegan chilli and salsa were very tasty, we don’t know how they smuggled the chill beef nachos into the vegan village, but Mick didn’t care and enjoyed them.

We sauntered along the north bank and into Russell Park where tens of thousands of people were eating, drinking, heading down helter skelters and listening to Oh My God, It’s The Church! singing about shoes! Each to their own.

Thousands of people!

A dance stage was further up and thumping away. Some people getting a little bit boozy and the aroma in the air didn’t shy away from the police. As we were so close to the boat now, Mick and I decided to head home for a quieter glass of wine on board and to feed Tilly. So we said our goodbyes to Heather as she needed to head towards the station. Hopefully our paths will cross again in a few months time that’s if we can get our boats to London with the lack of water around on the system.

What a busy and lovely day. More tomorrow!

0 locks, 0 miles, 15 baked cookies, 1 new solution, 2 bloggers, 1 guide book author, 2 jet boots, 100 cars, 2 pots of tea each, 2 processions, 1 dragonboat race missed, 2 taco shells, 1 nachos, 1 owl, 178634 people, 1 busy day.

Birthday Boy. 28th June

Rembrandt Gardens

Back in February our decision to head to London was so that we could meet with family, it was also so that we could be around for my brother Andrew’s birthday, his 60th birthday. Hence the mission to reach our booked mooring.

Birthday balloons

Mick was sent off this morning to find the last part of our present. I’d decided to get him a present for every decade of his life and I was missing one, some Kendal Mint Cake was needed. Whilst I tried to finish off bits of work Mick hunted through outdoor type shops and managed to find a minty assortment. The presents were now complete.

With a rucksack full of goodies and a bag filled with birthday cake we headed off to catch the bus. When we reached the bus stop I suddenly realised that I was missing the very important envelope with the icing recipe on it so that I could finish off the cake when we got to Hackney. Mick headed back to Oleanna to collect it whilst 4 number 18 buses came and went. Oh well, we’d get there in the end.

Getting ready to eat

The icing went on the cake as soon as we arrived, it has to be simmered then poured over the cake to set and carrying it across London on a bus might have been a very messy thing to do.

Presents time. So what did I get my brother?

A box of matches, stems from a present from Paddington Bear when I was about six. The Kendal Mint Cake assortment. A Bottle of T, Timothy Taylors Landlord. A Bottle of Punt e Mes Vermouth. A pair of hand knitted socks, made by myself. Then a bowl, but not just any bowl.


Last Friday on our way over to Hackney we’d had to call into an old friends. Ben Davies was a couple of years above me at school. He is a cellist, cello tutor and ceramicist. Last year during lockdown he and his neighbour built themselves semi-detached studios in their gardens, wonderful light rooms. Ben has enough space to have a quartet play alongside his two kilns, a small office space and display area.

On display

Since having his studio, and having the lack of concerts to play in he has increased the amount of time he spends making his pots. Using different colours of clay, he uses layers and hand builds, fires then sands back, then fires them again creating wonderful touchy feely pots with an organic feel and look to them. Several months ago I’d decided that if I could afford it I’d buy one for Andrew. The selection process took a while, sifting through photographs, then the decision was made, a small bowl made in porcelain in white, black and blue.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the actual bowl, it’s a little bit like one of the ones above. It really is a lovely object and especially nice that Andrew knows Ben.

Ben with one of his pots

We had a lovely meal of roast pork, dauphinoise potatoes and various salads, plenty of wine and conversation.

The boys serving

The cake come out and with candles lit, plus a rocket, we all sang Happy Birthday to Andrew.

A quiet birthday for him, but so lovely that we’d made it to London and were able to be part of his day.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 buses, 2 tubes, 6 presents, 1 bowl, 1 brother, 60!!! How did that happen!?

2020 A Long And Winding Year.

Get yourself a cuppa and put your feet up, this is a long post.

Into BUMingham

Having seen New Year in on the North Stratford Canal we commenced the new year by cruising in to Birmingham or as Tilly would have it know, BUMingham, she’s not too keen!

What a stripy world!

A meeting with Amy from Dark Horse Theatre Company about a project in the summer set out our years cruising as I’d need to be in Huddersfield then York for the show. Then it was time to pack and get myself ready for ten days in Vienna. This would be the longest I’ve been away from boat life since we set out in 2014. Half of my clothes were packed up along with a basic scene painting kit and I jetted off to what was a mixed experience. Despite the problems I had a wonderful time working with a great team in the theatre, I hope one day to return.

Whilst I marvelled at the wonderful scenes in Vienna and pulled my hair out at work, trying to keep a calm exterior, Mick and Tilly headed back out into the countryside towards Tardebigge on the Worcester and Birmingham. Here they met up with a friend Chris who was planning a boat build.


Mick and Tilly came back into Birmingham to pick me up and then we set about exploring the BCN. There is plenty to explore and we didn’t quite manage to go everywhere, but we did our best.

Smethwick Locks

We headed up Smethwick New Locks onto the Old Main line. Stopped at Dudley Port Basin, coconuts accompanied us down Brades Staircase, then through Netherton Tunnel where we’d planned on visiting Hawne Basin, but thick ice thwarted our first attempt. The following day we succeeded and had a bumpy ride along the Dudley No 2 to fill our diesel tank.

Emma and Ted

Factory Locks brought us back onto the Old Main Line, we visited Wolverhampton, turned onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal and wiggled our way through the rubbish to Pelsall Junction. Here we had a wonderful get together with my bestestest friend and her son Ted (my Godson) who were over from Sydney, an all but too short lunch with them before they headed onwards on their whistlestop tour of England.

The Cannock Extension and Anglesey Branch were ticked off followed by the Daw End Branch, The Rushall Canal, Tame Valley Canal and up the Ryders Green Locks back into the centre of BUMingham early February.

The Jewellery Quarter kept us busy with visits to Smith and Pepper a time warp jewellery manufacturers, The Back to Backs, The Coffin Works. We watched the film 1917.

The Garden white card scale model

I designed costumes and made the white card model for The Garden for Dark Horse whilst we sat out storm Ciara which was to wipe out the Figure of Three Locks on the Calder Hebble. The damage to the locks looked great and not fixable quickly, a rethink to our cruising route was needed for me to get to work in the summer.

We went to the Symphony Hall and listened to Schubert and Berg spurred on by Dimitrios from NB Galene. Storm Dennis kept us from cruising to our next evening of entertainment at Titford Pump House, a bus replacement did the job so that we could see Alarum Theatre Company’s Acts of Abandonment. Little did we know at the time that this was to be our last live theatre until December.

A night out in the countryside for Tilly and a last night in the city to fill our bellies with curry. Then we were off again, up Smethwick Locks under the M5 where the scaffolding was being taken down. We turned up the Oldbury Locks following a boat that turned out to be NB Sola Gratia. A spin round the Titford Pools was in order before we returned for another diesel top up at Hawne Basin.

The Walsall Canal now beckoned us, that was a bumpy ride over trolleys, trees and all sorts! A fantastic fabric shop, the New Art Gallery right by our mooring and The Leather Museum kept our interest for a couple of days before we climbed up the Walsall Locks back up to Wyrley and Essington Canal.

The garden at Urban Moorings

The ladies at Urban Moorings welcomed us for an overnight visit, time to work the washing machine hard as we plugged into the electric. Then we kept our fingers crossed for a mooring at The Black Country Museum, which thankfully worked.

Marion and John came to meet us for an afternoon at the museum and we all enjoyed fish and chips with plenty of salt and vinegar in between visiting shops and watching chain links being made. The following day we took a boat trip into the Dudley Tunnel, had a second visit to the museum along with a portion of chips before heading out to moor in Tipton and have a visit from Heather from NB Bleasdale, followed by a pie at Mad O’Roukes Pie Factory.

The 7th of March saw us descend the Wolverhampton 21, leaving the Birmingham plateau behind us. Blimey we managed to pack a lot into the first ten weeks of the year! Just as well really. Onto the Shroppie where I had my first successes with gluten free sour dough bread, Tilly got to remember life in the countryside and we were treated to Shroppie Sunsets again.

Burgers with the Margees

The recent storms had brought down numerous trees and caused landslips so our progress was a touch slow heading northwards. We had a lovely lunch with Alison and Laura the Margees at Norbury Junction, they were to be our last visitors on board Oleanna for quite sometime.

Passing NB Bessie Surtees on the Tyrley Locks we actually got chance to chat for the first time. A stop to stock up in Market Drayton, we saw our first homemade mask (a pair of y fronts repurposed) and the start of empty shelves in supermarkets with people gleeful to have a twelve pack of toilet roll under their coat.

The Audlem flight was busy with plenty going down and NB Mountbatten coming up, delivering coal as they went. Theatres closed that day and we started to put into practice new ways of working locks hoping to keep ourselves safe. As we socially distanced around the shops in Nantwich people were joking about the virus. We shopped, adapting what we bought to what was available and then got ready for our first Zoom with family on the 21st March.

We stocked up with NB Halsall at Calverley then made our way onto the Middlewich Branch and down Cholmondeston Lock. The following morning (23rd March) we listened to our gut instincts. If lockdown was to happen we’d rather not have to negotiate locks to get to shops or services, so we winded and headed back up Cholmondeston Lock onto the Nantwich pound. Our gut instinct was correct.

Adam and Adrian on NB Briar Rose

The next few days we saw plenty of boats moving, finding places they wanted to spend the coming weeks, heading for home or temporary ones like NB Briar Rose. Jac my sister in law eventually managed to get a flight back from Melbourne where she’d been to celebrate her Mum’s birthday, at last everyone was where they should be.

We tried different moorings out for size as the need to fill with water or get shopping arose. It was also good to keep Tilly moving, both to stop her from getting bored and to help the local wildlife survive.

Our decision to be on the Nantwich pound turned out to be a good one, we ended up mooring at the bottom of Hurleston on the visitor moorings most, this became ‘Home’ for us where we watched spring turn into summer.

Watching the field behind the hedge be ploughed, planted and start to grow. Listening to the Lapwings enjoying the bounty in the potato fields. Getting to know our neighbours at a distance. The wheelie shoppers. The huskies out for their morning walk. The egg farm at the top of the locks. Weekly veg boxes from Nantwich Veg Boxes which we collected for ourselves and NB AreandAre. Supermarket deliveries were sought each week, sometimes only managing click and collect. The sun shone and Tilly had freedom. The coal boats kept us stocked up with fuel and our waterless (composting) toilet took one need to move out of the equation.

By mid-April my design for The Garden had been reimagined into an illustrated audio play. I was to do the illustrations, then they would have audio and some animation added to be available online. Chippy panto started to gear up with the hope that all would be back to normal-ish by the end of November for the show to be mounted.

We winded, went for walks, watched plays on the internet, winded, ate cheese scones, winded again! Tilly ventured further afield, across her field. We had barbeques, brownies and watched the reservoir banks get mown by remote control.

By Mid-May we were allowed to travel, so we hired a car for a day trip to Scarborough to see how our house was after the tenants had lost it during lockdown. In need of some tlc we now made plans for the rest of the year. We would be returning to life on land for a while, but planned on cruising as much as we could before then.

On the 23rd of May the suspension of the 14 day rule was lifted, our ‘home’ mooring was now 48 hours only so it was time to start moving again. Some boats around Hurleston headed off straight away, others remained a full 14 days before pushing off. We spent the next two weeks pootling to the far ends of the pound, Hack Green and Calvereley, the gunnels got a repaint and we said farewell to NB AreandAre who were heading up onto the Llangollen.

Cholmondeston Lock

With a full boat of veg and fruit from Nantwich Veg boxes, a Sainsburys shop and a visit from NB Halsall we were ready and on the 10th June we pushed our ‘home’ mooring away for the last time this year, Calverely was visited for a top up of water a toilet refresh and then we were off, turning onto the Middlewich Branch and descending Cholmondeston Lock, our first lock in 80 days. New gardening gloves became my boaters PPE and worked well, better than sanitising every five minutes.

Across onto the Trent and Mersey where we headed for Bramble Cuttings for a couple of nights. We’d been hoping to be able to drop down onto the Weaver but the Anderton Boat lift was still closed. So instead we winded at Whatcroft flash and headed up the Cheshire Locks hoping to catch Bosley Locks being open for a day to make our way onto the summit pound of the Macclesfield.

Nice Lock

It was nice being back on familiar ground again, although it took a little while to be able to do the Trent and Mersey hurdles over the lockgate beams with ease after sitting still for so long.

Our chairs were brought out onto the towpath to watch the setting sun at Tilly Railings and a barbeque was enjoyed on the Dane Aqueduct as we waited in line for Bosley Locks to open.

Bosley Locks and The Cloud in the background

With a single hander in front and one behind everyone helped out where we could making our passage up the locks a very jolly if hot one that only took 2.5 hours. Over the next ten days or so we pootled our way along the Macclesfield Canal, such a lovely stretch of water and oh those bridges! Still our favourites.

Calling in at Bollington Wharf we had our gas locker lid mended and had a top up of diesel. Foxgloves filled the canal banks and woods, we stopped at favourite spots along the way turning under the snake bridge at Marple onto the Peak Forest Canal at the end of June, heading for Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin.

Saturday 4th July the pubs could re-open, we however went for a walk and waited for our delivery from Sainsburys along with a diesel top up from NB Alton. A batch of cheese scones were made to help us down the Marple flight on the 7th, we were the second boat down and it felt like we were pioneering boats going where no one had gone for months.

A couple of nights at Droylesden Marina saw to the washing pile and to recharge our batteries before we descended into Manchester. Our last narrow lock of the year was to be Ancotes Bottom Lock 1 on the Ashton Flight where we paused for a night at Telford Basin before tackling the Rochdale 9 on our own the following day. Patience and sheer determination got us out of Lock 92 at the bottom and was rewarded with a cheese scone as we made our way out to the Bridgewater Canal and Worsely.

The 14th July saw us rising up the Wigan Flight. We’d made arrangements to share the locks with NB Billy but it was decided by the volunteer lock keepers that they might be over long to share with, so instead we teamed up with John and Lindsey on NB Merganser. With the help of the Wigan Flight crew setting ahead we made good time up the flight, we then slowed down leaving the others to head off ahead of us.

The next few days we found ourselves leapfrogging NB Billy, or should that be hopfrogging? But we finally caught them up at Blackburn to share the locks. Another spectacular sunset was enjoyed by all near Foster Swing Bridge.

We’d planned to take our time along this stretch, but with local lockdowns looking possible in the area we decided to push on. The Burnley Embankment was busy with walkers and not a place to stop so we continued on to the bottom of Barrowford Locks. The following day we were caught up again by NB Billy so we shared the final flight up to the summit with Clare and Pete.

Our sixth anniversary of being fulltime boaters happened to coincide with pulling up at our favourite mooring on the network, the curley wurlys above Bank Newton. The following day the clouds lifted and we got to see the view. A barbecue was just managed before it started to rain.

It wasn’t quite plain sailing down into Skipton as the skipper of NB Amelie ended up in the cut at the bottom of Bank Newton and then we had problems with lock gates and swing bridges. Mick and I had an overnight in Scarborough leaving Tilly in charge and with the magic food bowl primed. On our return to Skipton we were met by two octogenarians leaning out of the upstairs windows of their house waving. We joined Margaret and Robert for a lovely meal, good to see them even if we were a bit nervy being in their company inside.

Sunny weather accompanied us onwards and finally I managed to take the photo I’ve been after for four years, Oleanna coming towards me under Parson’s Bridge. Now we have the matching pair, Lillian going away from us, Oleanna towards.

At Bingley five rise we teamed up with NB Barley to descend with the help of Lock Keeper Clare, carrying on to Saltaire in the sunshine.

A pause in Rodley meant we could meet up with friends Graham and Tracy in their new garden room, very nice to have a good catch up with them. The following day we took the opportunity to have lunch with my cousins Julie and John, our first pub in months.

Meeting up with Jenny and Andy on NB Barley again we shared the locks down into Leeds with them early the next day. A lack of water meant it took an hour to do one pound as water was let down from above, but we made it in the end to Granary Wharf. Shame the lack of water followed us, in fact the basin did a good job of emptying itself overnight. It took quite a few hours before boats had enough water to be afloat again, we all made a hasty exit as soon as we could.

Back into the big locks of the Aire and Calder we motored on to Ferrybridge where now only three of the power station cooling towers remain, a very sad sight.

Down Bank Dole Lock, the slow filler and we headed to Selby. Our trip up the Tidal Ouse was an interesting one a there were SO many trees floating about, we had to try our best to loose them before passing through what few bridges there were. Kingfishers escorted us just about all the way to Naburn which was a real treat. Instead of pulling up in York we decided to head on up to Ripon, we’d spend time in York on our way back, or so we thought!

Above Boroughbridge a familiar boat came into view, NB Billy. This was the last time our bows would cross this year. At Oxclose Lock we had some time for Tilly to explore before heading up into Ripon Basin to meet up with Robert and Margaret again and for Tilly to show off her ability to spot otters.

I’d get it in the neck if I didn’t include a photo!

On our way downstream the river was rising, we stopped off for a meal at The Dawney Arms making the most of the Eat out to Help out deal. Wonderful food and chance to meet up with Kerry the Landlady and hoped that the river level would ease overnight. Fortunately it did and we made our way in to York. We had hoped to meet up with old friends whilst we were in the area, it turned out the only people I got to see where Jaye and Duncan for lunch. Social distancing, rising rivers sadly put paid to seeing other people.

Over the next ten days the river rose twice. On one fall we made it back into York to pick up a supermarket delivery but very quickly headed back to Naburn where we ended up breasting up in a line of four boats tied to the floating pontoon by the water point. Levels didn’t rise so much as to necessitate wellies or waders, but it did put paid to the London Leckenbys joining us for a few days at the nearby campsite. A big disappointment all round.

But on the 31st August levels had dropped sufficiently for us to head back to Selby accompanied by Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, new boat owners. Naburn was their very first lock, Selby was to be their second! It was such a beautiful morning, we led the way but then let them go first when we reached Selby, we were likely to be able to stem the tide better, but they managed the lock with ease.

Lovely to see Bridget and Storm

At West Haddelsey we had a visit from Bridget and Storm, so lovely to see them. We’d planned on being good and sitting out, they’d even brought their own chairs and the camper van for their own toilet. But as it started to rain we bent the rules taking shelter inside Oleanna. This was the day I gave a second phone to the god of the cut.

For a replacement we headed down to Goole, calling in at Viking Marina to check we would have a mooring later in the month. After filling up with cheap diesel we then headed off up toward Doncaster and Sprotbrough where we caught up with Mick’s niece Fran, before returning back onto the Aire and Calder to do maintenance jobs and enjoy our last days onboard.

On the 18th September we pulled into our berth at the marina, finished off the contents of the freezer and started to pack. Two trips in a hire car to Scarborough and we were moved, Tilly joining us the second time.

Back then we imagined we’d be down to Oleanna doing jobs on day trips and by now we’d have had a couple of weeks out on the cut, but this simply wasn’t to be.

Living Room reclaimed

Jobs in the house keep me busy, along with starting work on the postponed Chippy panto. Mick for a while applied for supermarket jobs, hoping to be a delivery driver. The only job he was offered was as a meet and greeter just before Novembers lockdown. We both decided that maybe we’d cope without the money.

Not as low as she got after the breach

Then before Christmas came the news of the Aire and Calder breach. Fortunately plenty of people are keeping an eye on all the boats including Oleanna.

Blimey what a year!

So our vital statistics for the year 2020 according to canal plan are

Total distance is 792 miles, 2 ½ furlong and 339 locks . There are 82 moveable bridges of which 5 are usually left open; 233 small aqueducts or underbridges and 41 tunnels – a total of 19 miles 6 ¾ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 365 miles, ¼ furlongs of narrow canals; 242 miles, 4 ¾ furlongs of broad canals; 81 miles, 3 ¾ furlongs of commercial waterways; 76 miles, 1 ¾ furlongs of small rivers; 0 miles of large rivers; 27 miles of tidal rivers; 202 narrow locks; 118 broad locks; 18 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

Sadly with Oleanna’s log book where it should be, onboard, I’m not able to offer up the engine hours, litres of diesel, gas bottle or bags of coal. This year I can’t even work out how many boxes of wine we’ve gone through!

However I can tell you that from one page of journeys on our trip computer, missing out all the journeys in between the start of the page and the end, the total distance travelled would have been 2.25 furlongs. Instead it actually amounted to 56 miles 7.5 furlongs with 19 winds (turning around). This was of course in Lockdown 1. Grand total number of winds this year, 67.

Christmas Day 2020, Scarborough Spa

Here’s hoping that the pandemic calms down, we all get vaccinated and the breach on the Aire and Calder gets sorted so that we can go boating again. After all we didn’t plan to move back on land permanently!

Not a bad view

Chips! 18th June

Rockery Railway Bridge to Wheelock Visitor Moorings

I believe that is a toilet tent

If you are already out and prepared for rain, it’s not so bad when it starts. But starting the day knowing that as soon as you walk out the door you will start to get soggy around the edges and that it won’t stop all day, does put you off somewhat, especially when you had planned to do a section of the Cheshire Locks, which today would have been justified in being called Heartbreak Hill.

A couple of boats passed us and eventually we made the move ourselves as we needed water. Mick valiantly pushed the bow out and cruised the mile and a half to Wheelock where we found a boat moored on the first section of the water point, good job there are two taps!

All rubbish was dealt with as the tank filled and Tilly’s pooh box got a good clean and new litter.

The water point is right by Barchetta Restaurant and the smell emanating from their open doors was of garlic butter, I could almost see a plate of seafood drizzled with it. The restaurant is doing take aways from their menu every evening. We quite quickly decided to find ourselves a mooring for the remainder of the wet day and have a look at their menu.

White bits

Tilly was none too impressed with the soggy world we’d tied up, but she still made the most of it, although it did necessitate extra visits home for Dreamies. During the afternoon Mick and I chose from the menu and placed our order over the phone.

What to do on a very rainy afternoon? Well as we were going to be eating out (but in) this evening we decided to go to the theatre and sat down in our seats (our sofa) to watch The Madness Of George III just before time ran out. This was a production of Alan Bennett’s play that had been produced at Nottingham Playhouse. The title role of George III was played incredibly by Mark Gatiss of The League of Gentleman, Dr Who, Sherlock fame amongst many others.

Parliamentary discussions

The set involved revolving walls and windows, a huge painted front cloth and a backdrop of a Canaletto painting of St Pauls Cathedral. Lots to fill the space and move us from location to location. Wonderful props and costumes, it was well worth watching. Here’s a link to the scenic artists painting the backdrop if you are interested.

On last nights news the theatre industry was highlighted, well after the football and horse racing. The government are going to look into a road map for reopening theatres. Cameron Mackintosh will not be reopening his theatres this year as most of his audience is made up of tourists. Several theatres have already closed their doors for good and others are looking at restructuring and down sizing their staffing with the hope that they will be able to sit out and wait before they can reopen.

Photo from 100 years ago

With staff furloughed and the furlough scheme ending before most theatres think they will be able to reopen, then social distancing reducing capacity to well under the 50% which for most venues is the minimum they need to remain open, the theatre world as we know it could easily be lost forever. It’s not just the small theatres or the big West End shows, but every theatre and company across the country that will be affected. Even The National Theatre and The RSC are looking at reducing staffing levels and making a proportion of staff redundant. Add to this the number of freelance staff who also work in theatre, like myself.

There is the Self Employed Income Support Scheme helping many, but this runs out at the end of August, long before most theatres will be able to reopen. Then there are people like me who do not qualify for the scheme, my small income from renting the house out has exceeded that from my self employment, so I don’t qualify.

Anna in Puss in Boots last Christmas

Many companies in all sectors will not survive the pandemic. British Theatre could be wiped out without support from the government. Last night I sat watching the news concerned that I may have just made the wrong decision about Vienna. Then Anna Tolpott appeared on screen, she is an actor, director and the wife of the Artistic Director at Chipping Norton Theatre!

If you have ever been to a theatre; boo’d at the panto baddie; cried at War Horse; laughed through Bouncers; listened to a Shakespeare history play; watched Pepper Pig with the grand kids; marvelled at the quick costume changes in The Audience; watched multi role play beside the canal by Mikron; seen Fleetwood Mac live in concert; got muddy at a festival; been part of the guffawing audience watching Peter Kay; or enjoyed one of the plays, musicals, dance pieces that are being broadcast into your homes right now, helping to keep you entertained, please will you add your name to this petition to Government.

As we pass the COVID-19 Peak, the Government should: State where the Theatres and Arts fit in the Coronavrius recovery Roadmap, Create a tailor made financial support mechanism for the Arts sector & Clarify how Social Distancing will affect arts spaces like Theatres and Concert Venues.

In their plan to restart the economy, the government has addressed hospitality sectors such as restaurants and cinemas. They’ve stated how the sports will be resumed after the lockdown period. But there has been no mention of the arts. On 13 May Robert Jenrick was directly asked to pledge to protect this industry, which could be without income longer than other sectors, but he failed to give a clear answer. This further shows how the arts are being overlooked. The Govt must show more support for arts.

I don’t often get onto a soap box here on the blog, but right now I feel the need to. Tomorrow I will be adding my photo on social media to the ever growing number of freelancers who work in theatre, both on and off stage. The masses who keep the lights on, tread the boards, hammer them down and paint them.

What’s in the boxes?

After the play, Mick popped over to the restaurant to pick up our food. His a pizza, mine steak and chips! I got some eventually, just a shame I think they came from the chippy and had been kept warm for a while. The steak however was very good and cooked just how I like it, glad we were only a couple of minutes walk away.

Yummy steak

0 locks, 1.41 miles, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 soggy moggy, 1 pizza, 1 steak, 1 portion of chips! 20% take away discount, 1 industry on the brink.

Thinning News. 19th April

Lockdown Mooring 4 to Nantwich Embankment.

Our Saturday paper is getting thin. It must be half the weight it used to be, no travel section and sport is now in the main body of the paper. The blind date is now virtual with a take away, although the chap this week couldn’t make up his mind whether to eat with his date or flat mates afterwards, he then opted to get a takeaway! She’s better off without him.

In the food section was a Lockdown Larder special. I have a lot of the ingredients needed, but only one recipe really took my fancy, chocolate fudge tart. This requires Hobnob biscuits for the base, none in our larder, you can get gluten free ones, or you used to be able to get them pre lockdown! Too many calories though for not much exercise, I’d prefer a cheese scone anyway, or would I?

Sunday photo of Lockdown mooring 3

Mick logged on to Sainsburys this morning to see a load of Click and Collect slots available for tomorrow. Maybe this would do us till our delivery in ten days time. He secured the slot with the obligatory boxes of wine.

Still nothing showing in the Lapwing field

The route to Sainsburys from Hurleston has no pavement along the road, riding a bike is okay, but not pushing one. I’d looked into getting a greengrocer delivery, but there were no slots for the remainder of the month, so that wouldn’t help. Then a plan was formed.

Sunny day cruising

We’d be needing water in the next day or two, so if we cruised into Nantwich to fill the tank then I could visit Holland and Barrett, hopefully stocking up on Brown Rice flour for my sourdough starter and Mick could ride to Sainsburys and push the bike back with a bigger shop along pavements. This would be further than going from our mooring, but safer and preferable to standing in line at Morrisons.

Much of the morning was spent working out menus for the next ten days and what was essential shopping for this period. I had to be careful as items seemed to vanish from our basket every now and again, so I really hope we won’t get two loaves of bread and three bags of parsnips!

With the shopping order done we decided that Tilly would decide when we left for Nantwich. She’d spent most of late morning/early afternoon asleep on the bed and just as we’d decided that we might head into town today she’d woken and headed out! Luckily she returned quite soon, so the doors were locked and we could set off.

She said I needed to stay inside whilst they moved the outside. This is nothing unusual, I prefer it that way. But She told me I had to give my paws a very good clean, She thinks they are filthy and is threatening me with a pedicure. Have to say I quite fancy one of those pedicures where tiny fish come and nibble between your toes. I think the experience would be really rather quite tasty!

The flag bubble boats

As I’ve been sat at a computer for much of the last few days I decided to walk whilst Mick brought Oleanna along. The sun was out and everyone just around the bend at the flag bubble were being busy doing jobs.

The Nantwich horse

It was a pleasant walk, most people kept their distance but there were some exceptions. I’m starting to wonder if children are taught about meters anymore, but then an old chap on a bike almost rubbed shoulders with a lady as they both passed a boat! I’m quite happy to find a wide place to wait for bikes and walkers to come past, but then some people insist on walking two abreast reducing the gap I’d left.

This stretch to Nantwich is becoming really quite familiar now. The green bus looks like there is a drum kit set up on the upper deck and the tractors looked a touch more spread out than before.

Coming in to the services

I crossed over the bridge to the services which was free and waited for Oleanna to catch up. We disposed of rubbish and refilled the water tank.

Across the aqueduct

Then we pootled across the aqueduct, soon passed another boat who were excited to be heading to the water point for their weekly fill. On down to Marsh Lane Bridge and the winding hole.

Chomping away at the long grass

Here two swans were enjoying tucking into the extra long grass on the towpath. We turned and headed back across the aqueduct to moor close to the ramp down into town.

Marvelous, time for a couple of hours before curfew! Sorry Tilly, this is Nantwich and Tilly cats don’t go out here! How dull!

After our dinner we sat down to watch Phantom of the Opera. Mick has never seen it and I wanted to have a trip down memory lane and spot the props that I’d made in the past. But it wasn’t to be. For some copyright reason in England it was only available to view for free for 24 hrs! Oh well, I bet the table cloth wasn’t as good as mine! And the candles not as expertly dribbled!

Instead we watched The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. It was an old concert, but with some familiar favourites. We’ve been lucky enough to see them live a couple of times. I suspect we enjoyed them more than we would have enjoyed Phantom.

0 locks, 3.42 miles, 1.8 miles walked, 1 thin newspaper, 11am slot, 4 boxes, 1 veg box enquiry, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 embankment mooring for the night, 1 bored energy filled cat, 24hr Phantom, 8 Ukuleles, 1 Anarchy in the Uk

Green Shoots. 13th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Whilst lying in bed with our cuppas this morning I turned the page on my puzzle book, the next one was titled Puppy Love. Mick immediately made a comment, ‘That was by David Cassidy wasn’t it?’ WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We just don’t get out enough anymore

At the age of five/six I only knew of one pop singer, Donny, Donny Osmond. Yes there were others such as David Cassidy, but no one outshone Donny for me. I was bought the single (my first) and remember the video that came with the song, Donny wandering through fields of red poppies. At the time I wasn’t too sure of the lyrics, it could have been Poppy Love or Puppy Love, it really didn’t matter so long as Donny was singing it. It was No1 for five weeks and I’m certain that I danced to it every time it was on Top of the Pops.

Mick then suggested it might have been sung by Jimmy Osmond ………………………..

JIMMY! Long Haired Lover from Liverpool !!!! Firstly Jimmy was only 9 years and 8 months old when the song was released in 1972, hardly the age to be thinking about such things. He did not have long hair for the 1970’s and he most certainly wasn’t from Liverpool. He also was not Donny.

Life on Oleanna is getting a touch trying!

Bacon butties

The towpath yesterday had been a touch busier with walkers, today cyclists were making the most of it. We headed out for a walk to check on Lockdown Mooring 3 and see if any green shoots had started to appear in the field opposite, none yet. We also miss the lapwings but they were nowhere to be heard today.

No Lapwings today

As people came past we’d move over into the longer grass them clinging onto the edge of the canal for everyone to get as much space as possible. One chap with his fishing gear and two kids just laughed at Mick when he suggested they shouldn’t be walking three abreast leaving only three foot between us and them.

Green shoots!

The towpath got too narrow for our liking, so we back tracked to Oleanna. The field behind us is already sprouting less than a week since the crop was sewn. Maybe last nights rain has spurred it into action. Wonder what it will be?

Getting better
Improving every day

Our covers are starting to look bluer, still a long way to go before they will be fully clean, but certainly after a rinse of rain they have improved.

NB Mountbatten

An engine could be heard in the distance? Yesterday one boat had come past and headed up the locks. Who could this be today? NB Mountbatten.

Mick flagged them down, a gas bottle had just run out, and whilst they were at it we’d have a top up of diesel. When we’d seen them last week Mick had said that if they came past before NB Halsall then we’d use them this time. Mick got the gas bottle out of the locker and Richard lowered the new one in. It all felt a little bit awkward. Mick would normally undo the filler cap on the diesel and maybe even fill the tank up, but Richard did all this , everyone doing their best to keep their distances.

Turning left to go up the flight

As they pulled away from us, Richard jumped off and went to empty the bottom lock. Ruth turned the tiller and got them lined up for the flight, hopefully annoying the fisherman and his kids. Fishing is currently banned on the waterways!

David Devant latest album, Cut Out And Keep Me

Instead of listening to the Osmond brothers I caught up on the latest episode of The Community Hall Roof Fund. David Devant and His Spirit Wife played their song Pimlico live on facebook from their respective houses in memory of Tim Brooke Taylor (original video with my friend Nick as a spectral roadie). Then we listened to the new audio episode of Peter Kay’s Car share, still funny without them being sat in the car.


One happy cat

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Mick trying to be funny, twice!!! 5 year olds heart throb, 1 stove re-lit, Act 1 again, 1 busy cat, 3 of us, 1 short walk, 2 narrow for safety, £32 gas, 37.3 litres diesel, 1 cat past curfew, 1 st leftover chicken meal.

They’re still fishing!