Category Archives: Narrowboat Life

Purrplexed. 8th April

Bent House Lock 46

An early start for Mick who headed off to Littleborough Station to catch a train just before 8am. Tilly and I stayed tucked up in bed and enjoyed a cuppa with the puzzles from Saturdays newspaper.

A day return to Scarborough woud have been about £70 at that time of day even with an old gits railcard, but Mick had booked his tickets in such a way that he got off peak tickets from Mytholmroyd, therefore costing £37.35 including a plus bus for around Scarborough.

View from the cratch today

On board, after the usual mornings activities I decided to give the interior of Oleanna a dust down and then a sweep through followed by a floor clean. Tilly kept out of the way for much of the time, the lack of wind and rain encouraging her to go outside.

Then it was time to investigate why our pullout corner cupboard is starting to ground and make grooves in the newly oiled floor! I’ve been wondering if the weight in the pan drawer, which is attached to the cupboard might be doing this. Maybe when I’d reattached it I’d screwed them together at a slight angle that gets exacerbated when the corner cupboard is pulled right out.

I emptied the cupboard and drawer so that I could detach the two. There lying on the floor was part of a circular piece of plastic. Was this off one of the castors? Yes. The plastic helps keep the wheel square and helps to keep the rubber wheel from flattening out under the weight. Without it the rubber wheel was flattening, a bit like a blown tyre on a car and therefore the plinth of the pullout cupboard was grounding across the floor, it having dropped by a couple of mm.

How were the castors attached? To blocks of wood, which of course had been attached from below not above. So to remove the castors we would need to remove the cupboard to be able to turn it on it’s side! A look later on from the opposite side by Mick suggests we might be able to just replace the wheel on the caster without dismanteling everything.

But where’s the top gone!?!

Tilly gave me a site report from low down. She was quite purrplexed about the whole situation. But hey hang on! There’s no top!! Someone’s stolen the top! I can’t hide in here anymore, there’s no IN to be IN! This is what the problem is, the IN, not the squishy wheel. I’ve left the pan drawer unattached until we can replace the wheel.

It’s okay there’s still an IN to be in here

Next it was time to restick some edging onto the side of the drawing board slot. This has been held on by tape for about a year. Some wood glue down between the main board and the strip, tape back on to hold it in place. There’s far too much stuff in the slot! It needs clearing out to leave enough IN for a cat.

Lunch was arepas with red cabbage, cheese and slices of apple, very nice.

Blues

Time to select the yarn for the next pair of socks. I’ve had quite a few requests for blue socks this year, so any yarn that was blue was laid on the bed. Three selected, I just need to decide how to knit them up.

Meanwhile in Scarborough Mick had caught the bus to the hospital, a blood test required by his GP, this was all very efficient. He then walked to the house to meet with our current lodgers. A coffee, chat and he picked up our post, including postcards about the York and North Yorkshire Mayor election. A few years ago we had lodgers put our postal votes on the top of a book shelf for safe keeping along with other post. Mick got the train to Scarborough especially to pick them up but couldn’t find them. They were found a few months later long after the poll. We now have a tray in the kitchen for post to go in.

You don’t need to be in there! Just checking it’s still got an IN.

Then he caught another bus out of town and headed to his dentist. His return to Seamer Station was thwarted by numerous school buses refusing to pick him up and then the next bus was ten minutes late, by which time he’d missed the hourly train from Scarborough!

I wonder what Clare made of this

In Littleborough the day had been a perfect one for cruising, no boats had come past though. I frogged another pair of socks to just past the heel, adjusted my needle size hoping this would rectify their tightness. I watched another Bake Off, more comdey biscuits and The Woman In Gold 2015,starring Helen Mirren. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann, starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting ‘The Lady in Gold’. She enlists a young lawyer to help her and they end up taking the Austrian Government to the US Supreme Court.

More yummy yarn

Mick returned home a while after 8pm. In amongst the post was a parcel from Rachel at Skein Queen, another rather yummy skein of yarn in white and blues. She’d also added in a pattern for a pair of socks. Thank you Rachel.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4ft edging re-stuck,16 tickets, 6 trains, 3 buses, 3 ignoring buses, 1 flattening wheel,1 pleasant day, 1 test, 1 set of clean gnashers, 1 puzzled Tilly, 1 skien, 1 patter, 1 omlette for 2, 1 normal result.

Soaking Kathleen. 7th April

There was time for MIck to whip up a cooked breakfast before the Geraghty zoom this morning, it did mean that we’d be eating it whilst we chatted to everyone. Subjects covered, canvasing, folk, endive and sparkling ash leaves.

Zooming breakfast

Late morning we pushed Oleanna back over to the other side of the little notch as we were expecting little legs again this afternoon. It was hard to move across as the wind was pinning us to the side. I managed to get a rope around a bollard at the bow, then we used the Andy method (springing off) to force the stern across against Kathleens best efforts. We soon discovered that on the east side of the notch we’d managed to get ourselves tied up so as not to be buffeted about so much, the west side we’d not been so sucessful!

I think it’s stopped raining

We pottered away the morning and by mid afternoon squally showers were whisking around. Mick confired with our prospective visitors who’d planned on a visit before we all headed out for Sunday lunch. Instead we’d meet a car at the next road bridge and get a lift.

Soggy sponsored walk

Full water proofs didn’t manage to keep us dry for the five minute walk to meet Anne, sorry for leaving you with soggy seats! The Moorcock would have only been a 20 minute walk according to Google, although it would all have been uphill, glad we’d not done that in the rain!

A large table had been reserved for us at the end of the pub and we were soon joined by Ruth, James, Penelope and Daphne. There was Vocation beer on tap, so for the second Sunday in a row I had a pint of Heart and Soul a nice GF brew. Roast pork, beef, sausage and chips plus a chicken nuggets and chips were ordered.

Nice pint

The pork almost certainly didn’t come off a joint, most probably steaks roasted in the oven. Crackling had been mentioned on the menu and this was brough on a seperate plate. I suspect this had been cooked in an air fryer. It looked like it should be good, but I have to say it was a chewy disappointment. However we were there to enjoy being with family which made for a lovely late lunch.

Disappointed Ruth

James offered to do bathtime and leave us to chat for longer. This meant that some of us, Mick and myself could have pudding away from younger eyes who’d already had some chilled medictaion at lunchtime. A huge slab of chocolate fudge cake each. Ruth ordered an expresso martini for her treat, but they were out of these! She was very disappointed.

Mick, Ruth, Anne, Pip

There was a little lull in the rain, just long enough for a Sunday selfie before we climbed back in the car and made it back to the canal. Goodbyes and hopefuly it won’t be so long before we see everyone again.

Rain set in on our walk back to Oleanna. We decided to push back over the notch and whilst doing so we got another very good soaking! The stove was lit, coats and jeans hung up to drip dry.

Earlier in the day a message had been put on one of the facebook groups, a boat was looking for someone else to share the journey into Manchester. I made contact, a second boat with crew would make it a lot easier even though we may have extra crew for the final push. They have yet to cross the summit and our current schedule will mean we are still ahead of them. But with the current weather forecast, we may not be moving very far due to another storm. If they’ve any sense they won’t move either.

I wonder who will win this time?

Today marks the seventh anniversary of moving on board Oleanna in Sheffield. Oleanna was very shiny and new then, she’s showing her age now, still in desperate need of a wash and polish, the rain isn’t helping this. Time for a toast to mark the occasion.

0 locks, 2 pushes across the notch, 2 car rides, 2 very soggy walks, 1 last bag of coal, 4 pork, 1 beef, 1 sausage and chips, 1 chicken nuggets and chips, 2 slabs of chocolate fudge cake, 2.5 pints, 1 lovely meal with family, pair 14 finished, 50 years since Abba, 7 years onboard Oleanna.

28th Heel turned

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.

Finding The Needle. 5th April

Bent House Lock 46

With Storm Kathleen on it’s way in the next few days our ropes needed tightening, we’d bumped about a bit in the night and that was before Kathleen arrived.

I had no intention on venturing far today, the same couldn’t be said for Mick, he was going to set forth to the bright lights of the Trafford Centre!

eeek!

Last summer Mick had bought me a new laptop. A couple of days ago it lost it’s ability to fold closed, not much good for a portable device! The IT department had given it a good look over and nothing could be found in the hinge that shouldn’t be there and the surround to the screen was starting to come away. He sought IT support via John Lewis, chatted away to someone on the phone and was given a number to quote when he took it into a store. The nearest store to us currently is at the Trafford Centre, today a window of opportunity between rail strikes was to be taken.

Awkward to transport

He caught the train from Littleborough into Victoria, a tram to Deansgate and then another out to the Trafford Centre. Here he visited John Lewis, a chap looked at the laptop which had been carefully transported in it’s open state. It was still under manufacturers warranty so would be sent to Warrington to be mended, this may take 28 days! Mick said it would be really good if it was quicker and we’d still be in the area. If it returns quickly enough then we’ll even be able to cruise there on the boat to collect it, fingers crossed. There was an option for it to be sent to our home address, but this isn’t really an option for us. Mick will get a text when it is back at the store.

Meanwhile Tilly and I got to grips with Micks tablet, from which I’m writing this. Then we wound some more yarn for sock pair 14. Ends needed weaving in on the last the pair of socks. Last night I’d heard something fall on the floor, most probably one of my darning needles which normally live tucked into my sheep tape measures wool. Sure enough this morning there was only one needle there not two. Best find the other one.

With my faithful assistant hunting for the needle

I hunted round on the floor, no sign of the 2 inch needle. I got a magnet from the notice board, this was used to see if I could lure the needle out from under the sofa, which is where it must have ended up. Tilly helped, pulling out the odd thing that’s been tucked under there for safe keeping. Nothing magnetic! Oh well just as well I’d another needle to hand.

Work on pair 14 started in ernest up from the toe. I wanted to do something a little bit random with it, but that necessetated it being pulled out several times all whilst watching Great British Bake Off. I especially liked Jodie Whittaker’s biscuit of Paul and Prue!

He heee!!!

By the time Mick returned with a few items of shopping I’d let my ordered side take over on the knitting, far less random than originally planned, the pattern was starting to come together. I asked him if he’d seen the needle. Yes he’d picked it up this morning and popped it on a shelf to be safe!

Late afternoon we had another visitor. Anne, Mick’s big sister who had driven down from Scotland today. We tried to work out when we’d last seen each other. Originally we thought it was Christmas 2019, then more likely Christmas 2018! But after Anne had left Mick remembered that we’d met up in Wiltshire in September 2019, not quite as long ago as first thought, but still too long ago. Of course we get to see each other on the Geraghty zoom quite often, but it really isn’t the same as being able to give her a hug.

Long chats over a cuppa and then there was the opportunity for a family airloom to head to it’s new home. The ‘Joan’ chair.

When Aunty Joan, Micks Aunty on his Dad’s side, was little she was given this little chair. None of Mick’s siblings actually remember this chair. About a year ago on a Hessle History facebook group there was a post about school teachers. There was a comment saying that they remembered Miss Geraghty from Penshurst Junior School, did anyone else? Several people had made comments saying what a great teacher she’d been, Mick chipped in saying what a great Aunty she was too!

Joan’s chair

A chap called Brian then replied that his Mum used to clean Miss Geraghty’s home and that he used to go with her. He would sit in this little chair and wait patiently for his mum. Joan, Miss Geraghty, one day said would he like to have the chair. So he ended up with it for several decades. On facebook Brian then offered it to Mick, so that it could return to the family, a rendez vous was arranged in the pub car park next door to where Joan used to live and the chair was handed over.

Our friend Frank did a little bit of mending and we did consider contacting The Repair Shop about it, but that would involve having to appear on TV which isn’t something Mick was too keen on doing. What to do with it then, well it should stay in the family and as we knew we’d be seeing Ruth this year we brought it onto the boat to hand down so that Daphne and Penelope can sit in it.

Leftover Lamb Biryani with added spinach and mushrooms

Another go at Lamb biryani this evening with the correct rice this time. It was very tatsy and theres still some lamb left in the freezer for another go.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 4 trams, -1 laptop, (blog posts may be a touch shorter for a while), 1 moving boat, 1 needle, 1 hour out of 8, 1 sausage day not made the most of, 1 sister, 1 diddy chair, 1 sock nearly completed, more space under the dinette.

Nieces. 4th April

Warland Lower/Upper Locks to Bent House Lock 46

Kindness

A drier start to the day, but chilly! We had our breakfast then started to make ready to head up Lock 35, swing the bridge and enter Lancashire ready for 11am when our booking was to cross the summit. As we were rolling the covers up a CRT chap walked towards us, windlass in hand. It was only 10am, but they were ready when we were. Brilliant.

Getting close to leaving

We both stayed on board and let Billy and Richard work the locks for us. Up Warland Upper Lock, we then crossed the border, Billy welcoming us to bright side! Oleanna has been in Yorkshire for just over six months and now finally we’ve escaped, a few weeks later than originally planned.

Up ahead at Longlees Lock 36 another chap emptied the lock and pushed open the bottom gate for us whilst the other two chaps closed up behind and walked up to meet us.

Richard to the left, Billy the right, Summit straight on

Up we rose to the 600ft that the summit pound sits on. Grey overcast, slightly damp in the air, gloves a necessity, we could see our breath! Brrr!!!

Lancashire ahead

As we pootled along the summit pound, streams cascaded off the hillsides. A toot of a horn as the CRT chaps passed us in their van waving, they’d reach the other side before us to unlock West Summit Lock 37.

Mick and Yorkshire behind

Currently to help reserve water you have to book to cross the summit of the Rochdale, there are slots for 2 boats each way, today we were the only boat to cross. Billy said they’d been at the summit from 8am, sorted water levels out down on the west side so they really didn’t know why there was the 11am time to cross. An hour to sort levels would be sufficient. So those boats we’d seen yesterday had most probably come over the summit early on.

The western end of the summit pound

I stayed on board to go down Lock 37 then stepped off when we reached 38 time to warm up and lend a hand, Billy and Richard would be with us for a few more locks yet. Ahead of us down the big hill into Manchester there is a section that earlier this week had been emptied by vandals, a group of CRT employees were busy running water down to where it needed to be, hopefully by the end of today it would be back in navigable order.

The three of us leapfrogged each other, one going ahead to set the next lock leaving two to lift paddles and open and close gates. Time to chat. Richard used to work as stage crew at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, his son works on Coronation Street in the props department and Billy had a nice holiday in Scarborough last year.

Top gates

Locks 40 and 41 have narrowed so will only take one boat at a time, no problem for us today as we were on our own. The intermediate pound I remembered from five years ago was low, we’d cautiously let water down to enable our crossing. As 41 filled the chaps confired, Richard ran water through 40 to help the low pound. It still seemed very low to me when he lowered the top paddle, two huge blocks of stone lower than where the water mark suggested normal height was. It was easily passable.

I wonder how this is pronounced?

Our last passage down here we’d encountered another low pound, well more like an empty pound! Today we were told we’d be fine, the levels would have sorted themselves out by the time we got there. The chaps helped us down 41, they got a call, they were needed at Lock 51. We waved goodbye and thanked them and off they went in their van to help someone else.

A few days ago they’d been called out to help a boat heading up from Manchester. They’d found them a pound to moor in and told them to stay put overnight and they’d return in the morning to sort the levels out ahead of them up to the summit. That same day they were called out at dusk as the boat had continued uphill and had run out of water. If only the boat had stayed put, it would have only meant sorting the levels out once not twice.

How much water?!

Considering we’d not had enough water in a pound behind us, we all of a sudden had too much. Water flowed over the top gates straight to the other end and over the gates there too. So much water! This made opening bottom gates a hard job, patience for levels to equalise required. Maybe another bum against a lock beam would have helped, but despite there having been several walkers now there were none! We waited and eventually I could feel a touch of movement, phew!

We carried on down the next few locks. Billy had said that our preffered mooring near Littleborough was occupied by two boats this morning. So we tried pulling in before we reached there on a nice wide stretch the railway set back from the canal. Sadly there was not enough depth even at several feet away from the bank, we carried on resolving ourselves to mooring below the next lock, close to the railway where Tilly would have to stay inside.

Pushed over to the lock side

But hang on! I zoomed in on the little notch by Lock 46. Unless the two boats were very short, they must have left this morning. Brilliant! Our chosen mooring was available, we pulled in on the far side from the lock, a field, geese and leaves from a cauiflower for company. Tilly approved and vanished for quite sometime.

Skin *ed!

A grade three hair cut was long overdue, so we set up the towpath barbers making use of the bench by the lock. There he is again! Smart once more.

Messages were sent to Ruth, Mick’s niece, who gathered her daughters together to come and find us. With little legs expected we decided to push over to the other side of the notch making getting on and off the boat safer. Tilly was called back onboard and we pushed over. A quick tidy up and then a peek over the bridge to see Ruth, Penelope and Daphne walking up to meet us.

Nieces

Penelope isn’t quite 5 and Daphne just under 2. It was quite exciting to be on the boat, Tilly was spotted in the hedgerow and then we did a guided tour. Of course rocking the boat was an exciting thing that had to be explained, especially why Penelope couldn’t make it work but Mick could. We had a lovely hour with them all and look forward to seeing them again in the next few days. You might be looking forward to it! I’ll be behind Tom’s pillow if anyone wants me.

Once they were gone we decided to push back over to the field. Tilly having just claimed the tree by the lock hopped on board, then hopped off again just as we pushed off. Panic! Why were you moving the outside with me in it !!?!! Only one thing for it. Speed maths, correct footing and ‘Don’t you DARE Tilly!’ laaauuuuuunch! Plenty of spare leapability, maybe even a cats length.

The best mooring in Littleborough

A mousakkish was put together from some bolognaise sauce we had left over, the stove lit. The second sock that I’d frogged was finished and the first toe of pair 14 was cast on, it’s a bit wierd knowing how far into the year we are by weeks.

11 locks, 2.54 miles, 2 helpful CRT chaps, 1 helpful volunteer, 600ft, 45ft lower than the Huddersfield Narrow, 2 much water, 3 foot down, 1 notch, 1 happy cat, grade 3, 1 niece, 2 great nieces, 1 hiding cat, 27 weeks 2 days in Yorkshire, 1 long leap, 10 years to the day of owning NB Lillyanne, 10 years of being boat owners, 2 glasses of wine each to celebrate.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/bhQxDnGtSqdGjtGD7

One Last Night. 3rd April

Lightbank Lock 31 to between Warland Lower and Upper Locks 34, 35

There have been Facebook tales of empty pounds on the other side of the summit on the Rochdale, one of these pounds did have a lack of water five years ago. The tales have come from those heading towards the summit from the west as we did ten years ago. We’ll see what we face when we get there, at least we’ll be taking water with us.

Two boats came past, were these the boats that had been helped across an empty pound at dusk yesterday? It was too early for them to have crossed the summit this morning, the top locks unlock at 11am. We waited hoping for a lull in the rain. One came and went followed by another, it didn’t seem like we’d get a suitably long gap to cruise in, so we just set off knowing we’d get wet.

I don’t think I’d mess with this goose

The geese are squabbling. Canadian Geese disagreed with a White Chinese Goose. Blimey they are worse than Seagulls! We pushed off leaving them to continue with their argument.

Round and round and round

Lightbank Lock has short beams on the bottom gate requiring the use of a windlass to open and close them. This is most probably due to a house having been built in the 1990’s on the offside here that required road access, so space was lost to have full length beams. The lawn seemed ever so green and well kept, until I walked on it, perfect grazing for Reindeer as it was soft squidgy moss. The views up the valley would be breath taking on a sunny day, no sun for us however.

Quite a soggy landscape

At the next lock a line of CRT vans were parked, a very soggy Sheep dog trotted back and forth from buildings to vans. We carried on with our soggy mission to moor below the summit today ready for our booked passage tomorrow morning.

The railway now vanishes underground, far more trains on the line at the moment due to line works in Huddersfield, so trains have been diverted along this valley instead. The river also has wound it self away from us and the road now a field away, would this be a good mooring for Tilly? We tried pulling in, but the now peaty water hides shallows, beware streams entering the canal, here they deposit silt enough to halt progress if you get too close. Another lock was ascended.

Warland Lower Lock filled, the pound to Upper Lock dropped by a good foot. Here would be a good place for Tilly. I walked up to see if I could empty the next lock to help fill up the pound. Boats moored on the offside were still level, the lock only had a couple of feet of water in it. I headed back to help bring Oleanna into the side.

What’s that little white dot on the bridge?

The top lock beam has instructions to help retain water in this pound. The offside gate requiring to be closed last, the mitred gates sealing better this way. There are even instructions on how to close the gates if you are a single hander. Push the near side gate with force, which pushes the offside gate away, it will then come back and close second keeping the water in the pound.

As we tried to moor up, spikes resistant to the bank a chap walked along. He’d emptied the lock above and was coming down to check the lock gates had been shut as instructed. Mick had succeeded, following the instructions, the chap said we’d be surprised at how many people didn’t do it.

Someone scouting for a suitable nest sight

A white dot on a pipe bridge up ahead on closer inspection turned out to be a Canadian Goose. The chap said they had two pairs trying to find somewhere to build their nest, he spends his mornings doing his best to dissuade them as they leave such a sh**ty mess everywhere!

Our mooring for tonight would just still be within the boundary of Yorkshire, one last night for us, one last afternoon of Yorkshire playtime for Tilly. She spent quite a bit of time out in the field despite the rain. I suspect on a sunny day here would have received a stamp of approval.

The stove was lit, time for us to dry out and have a late lunch. It carried on raining, we pottered away the rest of the day. The next sock was frogged back and by the end of the day I’d knitted back up to the cuff. Sadly I have another pair that require something similar, but maybe I’ll knit pair 14 first.

4 locks, 0.8 miles, 2 to the summit, 1 last night in Yorkshire, 1 very soggy day, 1 soggy moggy, 1 sock frogged, 1 duck hash, 1 stove lit, 1 quite good field.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2400.4512833377053!2d-2.087134758571627!3d53.67933433140286!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTPCsDQwJzQ0LjQiTiAywrAwNScwNi44Ilc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1712237215619!5m2!1sen!2suk

It Was Us What Did It. 2nd April

Holmcoat Lock 14 to below Lightbank Lock 31

Just how far to go today. The forecast was for dry weather, the locks would come thick and fast, plus we’ve got a booking to go over the summit. The latter could be moved if needs be, but we’d see where we got to today. Mick popped a load of washing in the machine and we pushed off.

Lots of water

Plenty of water coming over lock gates today, there were also a few bywashes that could compete with those at Tyrley. Last time we were here we’d moored above the next lock just as a stoppage notice came in that closed the canal behind us due to low water levels. Today we’d end up being the cause of a stoppage notice!

I’m so growd up I can preen myself!

As Oleanna started to rise in lock 16, we both could hear a noise, it made me wonder when we’d see our first ducklings. The answer was right then and there. In the lock with us were two little souls, bobbing about in the water. Had they been in the empty lock for some time? More importantly where was Mum!? Normally when ducklings cheep cheep you hear Mum somewhere trying to lure them to her, but no quacking could be heard. Were our first ducklings of the year also orphans?

Be careful!

As the lock levelled out the two little ones started to peck at our water line, then they made their way to the bottom gate. Here they preened themselves frantically, still unsteady on their webbed feet I reckoned it was only a matter of time before one if not both of them wobbled off the gate on the wrong side.

Just so lush today

Lush green hillsides accompany you up towards Todmorden. Houses sit high up making the most of views and day light. Old Royd Lock 17 had a Mum and her babies swimming away from it, had they been in this lock? Was she the Mum of the ducklings below? Just how long would they last for?

Old Royd Lock 17

We worked our way up the lock. As we near the top Mick hops off to open the near side gate and lower the paddle, leaving me to lower the off side and walk round to close the gate behind Oleanna. I wound the paddle down. It kept going for what felt like too long, I soon stopped and looked at the gear. Oh B**er! The toothed bar which you wind up and down by use of cogs had gone too far and now was no longer attached. I tried to push the bar inwards to see if I could catch it in the cogs, but it wouldn’t budge. We wondered would the lock now level with only one paddle available? As I walked back over the bridge I could see the amount of water gushing forth through the bottom gates, no wonder it had been empty when we arrived. It would be touch and go on the levelling front, time to ring C&RT. I got through to someone quite quickly and explained what had happened, if it hadn’t been me it would almost certainly have happened to the next person. The lady said she’d pass it onto the local team. After twenty minutes a stoppage notice arrived in our inbox.

Oh Bum!

We have received a report that the paddle has detached from the mechanism, a navigation closure is in place until the local team have been to investigate. Sorry everyone!

Monkeys

Onwards up into Todmorden. We pulled in on the service mooring, topping up on water, setting another load of washing going. The yellow water was emptied, elsan made use of. Have to admit to also having an early lunch so we could top up after the washing had rinsed. No boats came so we weren’t in the way.

Todmorden Lock paddle gear

The other side of the bridge sits Todmorden Lock this has a guillotine gate raised and lowered by the key of power, however you have to raise the paddle gear on the gate with a windlass. The top gate paddle gear were stiff as a Rochdale Canal paddle can be, I ended up walking round the lock hoping the water pressure had dropped enough so that I could lift them just a touch more. Gradually we made it.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall of Tod greets you at the next bend of the canal. The railway high above running on top of the 4 million bricks.

Now the locks come thick and fast. Once Oleanna was rising and Mick was near the top I’d walk up to the next lock to empty it giving us enough water in the pounds between locks. A Dad at one lock asked if I’d like some help lifting a paddle that was being a ‘Rochdale!’ Why not I’ve still plenty more to deal with. He managed to lift it with quite a bit of umph as his kids watched on gleefully.

This one or

Round the other side I set to lifting that paddle. Another ‘Rochdale!’ Positioning my windlass to make the most of my umph, I turned the handle. It stopped then gave just that little bit catapulting me to the floor! Thankfully just the floor. I checked myself over and stood up, a possible grazed knee. The paddle now wound up, behaving itself!

this one?

Onwards and upwards, under Gauxholme Viaduct. I hope I got a suitable photo to do a painting from. I identified the pound where a certain vlogger had to wade off his boat wearing wellies as there wasn’t enough water for him to get into the next lock. Just a short pound which could have been sorted without the need to fill his wellies with canal water.

Robbie’s wading pound

A chap came to watch us at Gauxholme Highest Lock, supping on his can of beer, he’d not seen any hot water in a while. ‘Good things are always worth taking time over’. How right he was.

Do we stop somewhere or carry on to where we knew we’d be able to moor? I opted to carry on even though I was feeling a touch weary. Using the more modern paddle gear as often as I could helped avoid too many ‘Rochdale!’ paddles and the going was easier.

A boat!

No low pounds today as there had been five years ago. No Grandma Pollard Fish and Chips, the old outdoor seating area now signed as a picnic spot. Then, there coming into view was a moving boat! The first since being in Hebden over Easter. Time to chat. The chap had managed to break a windlass on a lock up ahead and he’d almost done what I did at Lock 17 several times on their way over.

Bubbling!

We made it to the wide part of the canal. Here we joined two narrowboats that had come over the summit a couple of days ago. We pulled in as far away as possible, a good distance away from the railway to give Tilly some shore leave.

Someone must have known I was coming! I considered getting a marker pen out and refreshing the writing but the owner came and reclaimed their sign shortly after we’d moored up. Too many people in the outside. I demand you move it! Not a chance today Tilly. Maybe tomorrow.

16 locks, 4.1 miles by boat, 6 miles by foot, 1 full water tank, 1 broken lock, 8 monkeys, 2 loads washing, 1 moving boat, 1 scuffed knee, 2 jacuzzies, 2 pooped boaters, 1 mardy cat, 1 sock improved, now to the next one, 1/3rd of the way to Manchester.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2746.2054656760665!2d-2.099722280195804!3d53.68839984892905!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTPCsDQxJzE5LjciTiAywrAwNSc1MC4yIlc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1712139593986!5m2!1sen!2suk

The Smell Of Rain. 1st April

Hebden Bridge to above Holmcoat Lock 14

There will be a few days whilst we adjust to the clocks having sprung forwards, waking when you wake doesn’t tend to adjust very well, so we were a touch late pushing off this morning.

Green bike rack

Rain is now pretty much the norm and we dressed appropriately. Across the way a couple were being shown round a boat for sale, they came across as being very new to narrowboats. A bit further along there was a touch of boat moving happening. The Bronte Day boat was moved into the stubby arm, then a very familiar boat moved up and the cruiser we’ve been following pulled in behind. Did the cruiser have a problem? Was he having to return to work after the weekend and had found himself a mooring until he could move his boat again.

Hello again!

The familiar boat had been spotted yesterday. NB Petrichor* had been one of the boats moored below Hurlesdon during the first lockdown in 2020. The chap onboard, spent his time signwriting his boat, it took two coats until he was happy with it, it’s certainly holding up well. As we pootled past we both waved, the chap stood inside and waved back, not sure he recognised us, maybe I should have moved our yellow bicycle from the Tour de France onto that side as this was the man who’d designed it. A shame not to have chance for a chat.

Onto the water point, our tank depleted somewhat, the pressure wasn’t so good so we sat down and enjoyed a Hot Paw Bun whilst we waited, very good toasted.

I suspect if you did this lock at 3am you’d still get gongoozlers!

First lock of the day Blackpit Lock. Despite the rainfall we still managed to get a crowd of gongoozlers watching. I do love some of the theories people come up with. Today’s was that if we filled the lock up too much then it would force the bottom gates open! I made sure I stopped when the levels were level and pushed the top gates open to avoid the bottom gates failing.

I’d hoped to get a good photo of the mills along the next stretch, a possible painting, but they weren’t how I’d remembered them, not so picturesque, the rain wasn’t helping.

Looking back to Hedbum

A couple more locks, was this next stretch the location used in Happy Valley when Tommy Lee Jones was on a narrowboat? A hunt round the internet later on found the Wandering Turnip who gives a guided tour of the area. We’d for some reason always thought the scene had been shot along this stretch, but it turns out we were very wrong and had passed under Bridge 5 coming out of Sowerby Bridge. It also turns out we’d bought some broccoli in one of the locations a couple of days ago.

Onwards and upwards, this will be the theme for the next few days. At just about every lock we had soggy gongoozlers. A couple ran to watch, one of them from Germany asking if they could help, I asked them to help with the top gate whilst I walked on to the next lock, they were very happy to oblige.

Pulling in at Rawden Mill Lock the canal was shallow. Five years ago this pound was even shallower. We had difficulty getting into the side and ended up enlisting passersby to give me a hand to jump onto the bank. Thankfully today that wasn’t needed.

The offside of locks were very muddy, at the bottom gate it looked to almost be ankle deep just where you needed to stand to wind the paddle back down. Extra care walking round locks was required today.

Very muddy in parts

Two young ladies at another lock, one had never seen a lock in action, the other grew up near Saltaire and has helped push gates at Bingley. Then a couple who normally are on their motorbikes, but had opted for a canal side walk today, everyone helped with gates and chatted away.

Our aim for today was to reach a mooring where Tilly could have some shore leave. A small playground alongside the canal just after Lock 14 caught our eye, the railway and road a distance away too. The depth in places was shallow but we got moored up in the end.

Tilly took one look out of the backdoors and turned round to request I stopped it from raining. She tried again and suceeded in heading through the wire fence and into the play area. This is where you can go to learn woodcraft, I didn’t need any tutelage, I know all about trees!

A late treat cheese lunch as we dried off, the stove was built up ready for some jacket potatoes and settled down for the remainder of the day. Of course now we’d stopped so did the rain!

A lengthy phone call with my brother catching up on news from Hackney and then some frogging of a pair of socks. The ankle had become too tight with colour working, so I had to frog it down to before the heel turn. This will mean I fall slightly behind on my pair a week, but I’d rather every pair fits their sponsor and anyway I’m sure I’ll catch up with where I should be.

*Petrichor is the smell of rain. The word comes from the Greek words ‘petra’, meaning stone, and ‘ichor’, which in Greek mythology refers to the golden fluid that flows in the veins of the immortals.

As part of our Nebolink subscription we get a monthly report from them, listing all our journeys along with a map of where we’ve been. Though it might be interesting if I included these. So here’s where we travelled in March.

6 locks, 2.3 miles all of them soggy, 1 full water tank, 1 cruiser moored, 1 lockdown buddy, 27 gongoozlers, 6 helpers, 1 woodland playground, 1 cat amused for a while, 1 catch up, 1 missing Tara! 1 sock frogged, 3 treat cheeses started and yes the Wensleydale is very yummy!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/EneEghDzTjemD59K8

12 Stamps And Some Of The Good Stuff! 31st March

Hedbum Bridge

The towpath was a touch quieter this morning, were people still in bed having not put their clocks forward? We got cuppas ready and settled down for the Geraghty zoom. At 10:05 no-one had showed apart from us, 10:10 still no-one else. Were we the only ones to have sprung forward? No last week when we’d only bobbed into the zoom they had decided that as so many people would be away doing other things today there was little point, they’d just omitted to tell us. Oh well!

Easter breakfast

Before Mick was allowed to get the bacon and eggs out I needed certain things from the galley. Time to make some Hot Paw Buns. I tried a bit of an experiment and added a couple of extra grams of yeast and a teaspoon of Psyllium husk to see what effect that would have. The gooey mixture was left on the top shelf to rise for an hour whilst we had breakfast.

Tilly had another go at liking Hebden Bridge, but it didn’t last long and she resigned herself to sleeping for much of the day.

With a duck race on Monday …

I also decided to take one lot of rising out of the process of making Hot Paw Buns. So I mixed the fruit and spices into the gooey mass. Prepared the marzipan balls for inside and then rolled out a long sticky sausage to cut into twelve which in turn had their centres added and were rolled up into balls. All popped on a baking tray to rise again. Sadly the top shelf isn’t big enough for the tray so they took up space on the table.

Yesterday we’d omitted to buy some potatoes to go with our duck this evening and a visit to the cheese shop had to be made. Mick stayed onboard to hang up some washing. The Co-op was closed, the bakers open (however no queue today), Nisa and One Stop shops were both open and so was the cheese shop!

Cheese cheese cheese!

Now what on earth to buy? I chose a couple and then a third as the lady started to serve me. The third wedge of cheese I required a bit of assistance with. I wanted some proper Wensleydale cheese. In the 70’s Mum used to buy whole Stilton and Wensleydale cheeses, wrapped in their muslin. The top would be sliced off and kept to act as a lid and WO betide anyone who went in for a scoup! Slices cut into wedges were the only way cheese was consumed from these huge beasts of cheese. They kept exceptionally well. For a few years Father Christmas used to give me a small version wrapped in muslin, creamy but rather crumbly, my favourite cheese long before Wallace and Gromit were even a glint in Nick Parks’ eye.

…there’s a duck window display competition

This last Christmas I bought a small muslin wrapped cheese from Hawes dairy, sadly it was the modern version of Wensleydale, a disappointment to be honest. Today I wanted some of the good proper stuff! Yes they had Hawes, then there two more to choose from. I asked which was the better one. The mature one was wrapped in plastic, not a good sign so I opted for the other (when I get them out to eat I’ll let you know which one it is). This one had dark muslin, it’s been aged and turned and turned. The lady offered me a taste, but there was no need I could see this is what I was after. She agreed with me and commented about how so many people thought that Hawes Wensleydale was the true cheese, ‘but that means there’s more of the good stuff left for those who know!’

Back at Oleanna, marzipan paw prints were cut out and added to the buns. Mick was sent off for a bottle of cider to make gravy for the duck and some red cabbage had cinnamon, cloves, balsamic vinegar and sugar added to it to slowly cook on the stove top. The buns went in the oven with a tray of boiling water on the shelf below for the first ten minutes, covered in foil for the last ten minutes, then were left to cool having a sticky glaze added. The smell far better than the previous buns I’d made. Once cool enough we both enjoyed one with some butter melting into them.

Hot Paw Buns cooling just enough to eat

A much better bun, even Mick said they were better than the Bakery bought ones. My tweaks to my recipe had improved them and omitting a third rise I think had helped also. I’ll have to find time to amend the recipe page.

Late afternoon we had someone to meet. Alexandra Mathie is an actress I’ve know since the mid 90’s and she was one of the first people to be a lodger in our house in 2021, she lives here in Hebden Bridge. She has just returned from Sheffield having played Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible (review here). We sat and caught up on news of mutual friends and future plans over a pint at The White Lion for an hour. I’m not sure how long she and Angie have lived here, but she says that it simply isn’t the same. The town has become a destination for hen and stag does and on summer evenings the town isn’t somewhere they’d choose to go anymore. We’ve certainly heard the rowdy lads heading to the station over the weekend. It was so lovely to see her and there was an added bonus of gluten free beer on tap!

The lovely Alex

This evening we’ve enjoyed our Lidl duck. Not as good as those we buy for Christmas, but that was to be expected. A very full plate of food followed by a few chunks of Easter Egg. Tomorrow we’d best start working off the calories and carry on climbing up the valley.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2kg potatoes, 3 treat cheeses, 1 bottle cider, 12 paw stamps, 1 snoozy cat, 2 chocolate eggs, 1 Alex, 1 changed Hebden Bridge, 1 duck, 2 very full boaters.

400 Spiced Buns. 30th March

Hebden Bridge

A touch of a lie in then Tilly sampled the towpath. Hedbum Bridge! Far too many woofers and the wave of walkers along the towpath after a train arrives isn’t conducive to feline fun. Plus there is very VERY little friendly cover! The flower beds are very well kept in the park!

I’ve actually braved it twice!

We had a slow morning. I spent quite a bit of time trying to sort out lodgers in the house in the coming months. We get quite a few returning actors who want to stay with us which is fantastic. The only problem comes when someone who would stay for 9 weeks is taking their time thinking about it and someone else wants to book just 3 weeks which would overlap with them. We obviously would prefer someone for 9 weeks, but at the same time if they don’t want to stay we’d rather not have the house empty.

Next on the agenda was to hunt out the bakery we’d visited five years ago, it was coming up to Easter then. Saker Bakery on Market Street also has a shop in Todmorden and is most definitely worth a visit. The shop was full, we joined the queue. The menu board outside advertised the loaves available today, Black Russian, Sour Dough, plenty more and at the bottom were Spiced Buns.

The aroma filled the street, trays of freshly baked buns. ‘Two Hot Cross Buns Please’ everybody’s first line. Some added a loaf. One Japanese lady only want the one bun, but as she wanted to pay by card she had to up it to two. I suspect Spiced Buns are not just for Easter, as from this bakery they normally come with a CND logo on them rather than a cross, but today the chap didn’t have time for this so had resorted to mostly crosses , he did have 400 to do! Mick opted for two buns and a loaf of wholegrain with molasses.

Flour

Next it was to Valley Organics. Here was full too, I knew exactly what I was after, Chestnut flour and some Tapioca Starch. Tapioca is used in a lot of gluten free baking as it adds a chewy texture to things. Chestnut flour makes wonderful gf pastry and this is the only place I’ve seen it for sale (suspect on our next visit to the Gloucester Sharpness canal I’ll find it too).

Hebden Bridge

We then had a wander about, the market was full of interesting things nobody really needs. There was a new (to us) cheese shop, we’ll come back to have a closer look and another bakery that had some fantastic looking vanilla slices, sadly they stayed in the window, but Mick did buy himself a pork pie.

Vanilla yummyness

Back at Oleanna Tilly tried and tried to go outside. We managed to put dog walkers off using our ash bin for their pooh bags. Tillys and our toilet were refreshed and we smartened ourselves up for an evening out.

Portsmouth!?!

The 592 bus heads between Burnley and Halifax, we caught it and headed towards Todmorden following the canal and river all the way. The hire boaters that had arrived in Hebden this morning were working their way up the locks, wonder how far they got before dark? It was also interesting that most of the river is corralled in by walls. At Tod the bus veered away from the canal and river heading up another steep sided valley towards Burnley. The sun shone on the hill tops as the road wound itself up the hill.

We hopped off at The Staff of Life pub where we had a rendez vous. Two friends from Croydon College, a couple of years above mine, Alan and Doug. I try to meet up with Alan when we are near and Doug helped us down the Rochdale 9 into Manchester five years ago.

Alan, Doug, Amanda, Pip and Mick’s hand

We had a very nice meal in the pub. The others had walked over the tops to get there so deserved their pudding more than we did. We then walked down the hill a short distance to Eagles Cragg Brewery. Here they open their doors on the last Friday and Saturday of the month for themselves and anyone else who like to join them sampling their ale. Mick had already sampled some at the pub and had a second pint, sadly they haven’t managed to filter a beer yet for them to have a GF beer, but the chap said that maybe next month they’d have one.

There was a DJ playing half of my Dad’s record collection, so the music was good, just a shame it was really quite loud which made it hard for us to carry on our conversation without shouting. After a pint Mick and I headed for the bus stop, just outside and made our way back to Hebden Bridge. If you find yourself in the area at the end of a month it’s well worth a visit.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 hot cross buns, 1 special loaf, 1 chicken supreme, 1 gammon steak, 2 college friends, 1 girlfriend, 1 Mick’s hand, 2 bags flour, 100,000 all-time views of the blog!