Category Archives: New Main Line

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.

Cresh!

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!!!!!

Sponnnnnn

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!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/gSCcCrbrtCYgT1jj9

2023 A Sociable Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

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

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

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

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

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

Although according to Nebo we did

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

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

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

The Shady Winding Weedy Route, Or The Straight Sunny One? 13th June

Wolverhampton Off side mooring to Sheepcote Street Bridge Moorings, BCN Main Line

Mick woke early and was getting dressed at 6am, Tilly and I stayed in bed hoping we’d be able to sleep a little longer. We managed about twenty minutes more but were aware all the time of the covers being rolled up and the bow being pushed out. We were on our way just before 6:30am.

Passing iconic buildings on our way

Time to get on with work, we’d be stopping for breakfast at some point. Research first, what should THE clock look like? Would there be Grecian statues in a Colombian garden? Would it matter, it is panto after all? I remembered to have the lights on for going through the tunnels today, nothing worse than getting so far drawing something out and having to stop and wait for the sun to come back out. I’d rather the sun didn’t go out in the first place! Where’s it going out to?

Today’s studio along with the usual assistant

The smell of fresh morning came through the hatch. Then the sound of the engine finding it harder to move Oleanna. We’d reached the narrows by the house where weed always seems to collect. No point in clearing the fowled prop until we were through it all. Mick struggled on until we’d cleared the worst of it then pulled us almost to the side, turned the engine off to see how much was round the prop.

Time to replace the floor in my model box. I’ve been using the one from last year to mark positions of things, but I’d grown bored of looking at cobbles, I’m still undecided as to quite what the floor should look like this year, having it white will help.

Factory Junction

At Factory Junction Mick made the discission to go right, so far his plan was to follow the Old Main Line which is more wiggly, but likely to be more weedy. In Tipton we pulled in to the water point and refilled our tank whilst having breakfast, hopefully no-one would arrive wanting to top up as we ate our cereal. Mick cleared the prop again just as a chap walked by saying ‘Welcome to Tipton’.

Left as the temperatures started to rise, it was 10am now. Mick would see how the weed was before making his final decision on the route into Birmingham. If it was bad he’d drop down Brades Hall Locks, if not he’d stay on the flat. A peek out the hatch suggested the weed situation had improved, we’d be staying on the flat.

Changing the floor to white card also means the steps into the auditorium needed to go white. I could remake them, or just recover them, they got recovered.

Staying on the flat meant a slower pace but a good stretch of the canal sits directly under the M5 meaning there was a good stretch of shady canal to cruise. A beep on the horn as we neared Oldbury Locks Junction, just in case someone was about to pull out.

An old bridge under the M5

At about 11:30 we saw the first moving boat, zooming along in the shade towards us. Tilly and I held onto my model box as Oleanna tilted over. Over the top of the New Main Line, right at Spon Lane Junction, staying in the shade for a while longer.

Just gone midday we were back out in the sunshine only to duck into the dark for the summit tunnel. Time to get a handcuff key out and be ready for action.

Plenty more geese down the flight

The three Smethwick Locks were just about in our favour a touch of topping up required but not much. I walked ahead to open gates at the next lock whilst Mick lifted a paddle to start emptying the lock above. By the bottom pound was a large creche of geese, the youngsters all different ages. I ended up walking past the hissing guards three times. No matter how many times I told them I didn’t want to hurt their babies, they still hissed at me!

On the bottom lock the top gate says No 10, on the bottom gate No 3 ?

Left at the junction and then straight on, past loops to the north and south. My steps were now dry, time to get on with thickening up arches and making the clock.

Where is everybody?

In the centre of Birmingham the mooring time limits are soon to be altered for a trial period. The majority of moorings right in the centre are currently 2 days with a few 14 days and an ambiguous stretch which suggested it was both. After a consultation they will be trying out new 4 day moorings, Cambrian Wharf will be Leisure Moorings (so no visitors), the not so central moorings will all be 14 days. This all sounds rather good to us. Our visit this time will be for three days, some shade would be nice so that we’d not be cooking inside all day. We pulled in opposite The Roundhouse, a 14 day mooring and shade by 1:30pm.

Lunch, then time to head off to the art shop Cass Art for some card. The walk got a touch confusing when I spotted that the hoardings in the city centre had moved yet again and now Victoria Square, the large area in front of the Art Gallery and Museum was cordoned of and being repaved. Thre was also a horse playing a keyboard. Just after I’d put my camera away it reached for a bottle of water and started to drink, a better photo opportunity missed.

Card, at last there is card!

I found my way to where I wanted to be and a rack of mountboard sat waiting. Time to find the least damaged sheets in the rack, I hate dinted corners! I also purchased some new drawing pens and a set of very fine paint brushes. The shades of green paint didn’t quite say rainforest to me or they were really quite expensive, I didn’t need them just yet so they can wait.

Few boats on the usual moorings

My walk back to Oleanna took me up the last few locks on the Farmers Bridge flight, one boat going down another moored on the lock landing one lock from the top. Cambrian Wharf was just about empty and only three boats sat outside the Sealife Centre, not one boat moored on Oozells Street Loop. Is there something we don’t know? Why is Birmingham soo empty of boats?

The view from Barajee

Today we’d reached Bumingham a day ahead of schedule, this is our forth destination met so we decided to head out for something to eat to celebrate. Everywhere with outside seating was bustling. We headed to Barajee the Indian Restaurant that straddles Broad Street Tunnel. With only being one chap eating we were given the best table in the house, overlooking Gas Street Basin. How different this whole area must have looked before it was opened up to the outside world and redeveloped. One gate used to open into Gas Street and most of the bridges near the Sealife Centre didn’t exist, neither did the Sea Life Centre or the Lego giraffe! We thought about Manchester Castlefield Basin, what a shame it doesn’t have a similar feel, open to visitors, places to moor, numerous cafes etc. It used to be better but now mooring there is hard for visitors.

3 locks, 14.1 miles, 2 rights, 2 lefts, 9 straight ons, 2 overs, 1 full water tank, 2 weed hatch visits, 1 new floor, 1 white set of treads, 1 clock, 2 sheets card, 6 brushes, 6 pens, 2 poppadums, 2 mains, 1 side, 2 rice, 2 glasses wine, 4th destination achieved, 1 resigned cat.

https://goo.gl/maps/UFGC19oyVvVpAhkq9

2021 An Adventurous Year

Time for the annual round up. Put the kettle on or pour yourself a glass of something stonger, put your feet up, this is a long post.

Looking out into a cold world!

As midnight turned from 2020 to 2021 we saw the old year out and new one in at the house in Scarborough, a quiet affair with just the three of us.

January and February brought ups and downs with them. Oleanna rose and fell with the water level at Viking Marina due to the breach at New Bridge whilst the country locked down. Despite the restrictions on travelling we made use of having a hire car for a few days at the beginning of the year to keep an eye on Oleanna.

Jobs around the house continued, our bedroom was redecorated and reclaimed from troublesome tenants. Tilly and I ventured out into the nearby park for the occasional walk, dependant on the number of woofers and the weather of course.

We walked, we ate, we drank, did our best to stay well and I started on the design for Chipping Norton’s panto in my reclaimed work room.

The spare living room was used as a workshop doing some work for Animated Objects, scrimming giant sci-fi guns and then painting model buildings all for The Odyssey. Beetroot burgers were made and pancakes consumed.

Then March came along and some easing of restrictions. Colour came back in nature with the daffodils popping up and my panto model started to get coloured in. A design for some origami paper arrived ready to be folded up to be part of 1000 ships display that would happen a couple of months later along the Yorkshire coast.

With new freedoms we had a couple of trips to Goole to check on Oleanna. First one was to swing her round and finally put fire extinguishers on walls all ready for her Boat Safety Inspection which she passed with flying colours and a comment that we seemed to like CO and smoke detectors, well I’d rather have too many than not enough!

The cofferdam at the breach site was completed and an access ramp created. My posts about the breach put us in touch with several people in Goole and at the beginning of April The Goole Escape Facebook group was formed. Due to the breach and lack of water in Goole Docks no leisure boats were allowed to use Ocean Lock out onto the Tidal Ouse. A joint calm voice was needed to try to find a way out for those boats wanting to leave, including us.

Of course March was also when Mick and I got our first vaccinations. Who’d have thought having a jab would put a smile on peoples faces! Not that you could really see them behind all the masks. A bathroom got a make over and we discovered parts of Scarborough we’d never been to before.

April was a very busy month. With lodgers on the horizon house jobs needed finishing. The roof needed attention along with a wall in my work room, both jobs were for the professionals. Pictures went up on walls, finally. The bathroom needed finishing with Frank fitting us a new bath surround.

Mid month out attention moved back to Oleanna. Way back when, we’d booked her in at Goole Boathouse to be blacked. We had a night on board before moving her from one marina to the other to come out of the water. She was jet washed down and the chaps began applying layers of 2 pack to her hull. We visited most days with jobs to do ourselves. Mick busied himself inside whilst I ground back rusty bits on the gunnels, repainted them and the tunnel bands. Inside the oak floor had a good clean and then was treated to two coats of oil. The weather had been perfect for it and she went back in the water a week after she’d come out, enough time for the 2 pack to cure. She looked smart again, well the cabin sides still needed a good wash!

Whilst in Goole we met up with David, Karl, Wendy and Martin, four members of The Goole Escape group. David had managed to negotiate with ABP passage for leisure boats through Ocean Lock at Goole Docks, this was limited to specific times of the tide. So escape was now possible but everything would have to come together to make a sensible plan. We wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks and hoped that there wouldn’t be a mass exodus before we could join people.

As I carried on trying to finish my panto model Mick made good use of his time doing a VHF radio course, we’d need to be able to use the radio to meet the criteria for going through Goole Docks and out onto the Tidal Ouse. Tilly visited the vet and got a years worth of flea and wormer treatments, we were all set to move back on board.

The first of May was that day. We’d hoped that Tilly would remember the boat after seven months on shore, within about two seconds of being back it was obvious she knew where she was. News that Goole caisson gates were now open and cruising up towards the breach site was possible we headed off to give Oleanna a good run and so that Tilly could venture back onto dry land. It was very good to be back on the move again. On our second such trip Tilly remembered how to swim!

Whilst in Goole Mick took his Short Range VHF Radio exam and passed. I carried on painting my panto model. We both had our second vaccinations. Heather Bleasdale came to visit joining us for an outdoor lunch. We got to know the Goole Escape Committee and discussed plans. We watched work going on at the breach site. Mick had a birthday and Joan’s Home Kitchen provided us with a celebratory meal a couple of days before we hoped to escape.

On 21st May an escape committee meeting was had early on, the weather looked hopeful for the tide in the afternoon, we were booked in at Ocean Lock. Our escape was to be via Selby, the Lock keeper was called there and our plan confirmed. At lunchtime we moved up to fill the diesel tank and await the other escapees, Sea Maiden and Lullabelle. Given the go ahead by the docks to proceed we were soon passing through to Ocean Lock where there was plenty of space for the three of us. At around 14:30 the large lock gates opened to reveal our way out of Goole onto the Tidal Ouse.

All three boats arrived safe and sound

We headed upstream following Sea Maiden being pushed along with the tide. Would we make it to Selby before the tide turned. Each boat arrived individually and was locked up into Selby Basin. We’d made it, now all we had to do was escape Selby as the swing bridge out of the basin there was broken.

We waited. Tides, times, weather and the amount of fresh coming down stream all had to fit together. Bridget and Storm came to visit. We twiddled our thumbs. The Environment Agency came and closed the flood barrier. We twiddled our thumbs. Daily escape committee meetings were held. By the 27th everything was looking to fit together apart from one thing, Keadby Lock would not be manned at a suitable time for us to get off the river. Sea Maiden and Lullabelle decided to stay put in Selby. Heather Bleasdale was joining us for the trip but Oleanna would be out on the river on her own heading to Trent Falls.

What a day that was! David’s advice was spot on. Leaving Selby just before 10am Oleanna zoomed downstream with the out going tide. We followed our charts keeping to the channel. At the Apex light Mick swung Oleanna round to head upstream onto the Trent our progress slowing instantly.

We then crawled our way to find where we should wait for the tide to turn. Two hours of very little, drifting on our anchor. We’d picked the day well, it was wonderful out there.

When Oleanna started to move round a touch more we managed to pull the anchor up and found our way back into the main channel to head upstream with the incoming tide. One plan had been to moor up in Gainsborough, but we decided to carry on and arrived at Torksey just as the last light was fading at just gone 22:00, 64 miles in a day, I doubt we’ll ever beat that.

Over the next few days we made our way up the Trent, dug out our windlasses to work locks in Nottingham. Once we rose up Derwent Mouth Lock onto the Trent and Mersey we had completed our escape. The going would now be much slower along shallow canals and plenty more moored boats to slow down past.

Now we should make our booked mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, every day would be a boating day unless the weather was either too hot or far too wet to cruise. Along the Trent and Mersey, pausing to stock up in Alrewas. At Fradley we turned onto the Coventry Canal to head southwards. We gave a tow to NB Burghley Girl to the bottom of Atherstone.

At Hawkesbury Junction we did the 180 degree turn onto the North Oxford Canal, through Rugby and up Hillmorton. NB Kamili with Andy and Irene passed as we arrived in Braunston where we paused for another butchers, then up the flight and through the tunnel.

Straight on along the Grand Union. On route we stopped for a drink with Lizzie at Bugbrooke. Paused for a hot day under some trees near Milton Keynes. Had a diversion along the Wendover Arm for a night. Picked up extra crew, my old college friend Jen, for a day through Hemel Hempstead. Came across our first sightings of HS2 cutting it’s way across the landscape.

At Bulls Bridge we turned left onto the Paddington Arm. On our trip into London we came across our friends Pete and Clare on NB Billy, it turned out we’d be neighbours at Rembrandt Gardens for a few days. We arrived on time and the next day headed across London by bus to Hackney to see the London Leckenbys for the first time since Christmas 2019.

Plenty more family to catch up with. Kath came for lunch, we had a trip to Eastbourne to see Marion and John, a lovely lunch with Christine and Paul. So good to see everyone again and not just on a computer screen every Saturday.

Happy Birthday Big Brother

Andrew’s 60th Birthday was celebrated, nothing fancy just good to be able to be together for it, we’d achieved our second goal of the year.

We heard there was a space at St Pancras Cruising Club for a long boat like Oleanna, so we took advantage of a more secure mooring close to Kings Cross whilst we had a visit back to Scarborough. Checking on the house, lodgers changing over and seeing the latest Ayckbourn play with Bridget and Storm, it all made for a good weekend away. I then headed off to Huddersfield for a couple of days work with Dark Horse, fitting costumes for a photo shoot.

There was to be a Tideway cruise from St Pancras Cruising Club and with one space left we jumped at the opportunity. Ten boats made their way to Limehouse, we breasted up with NB Misty Blue, Graham turned out to be another Goole Escapee. Three lock-fulls of boats headed out onto the Tideway on the morning of 10th July, special permission had been sought to go under Hammersmith Bridge which was closed to all forms of traffic at the time.

Tilly thought we were mad taking her onto such rough water, I was a little perplexed too! Very glad that I was the official photographer, clinging on as we did more than bob up and down! Tower Bridge, The National Theatre, Christine, Adam, The Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station. So many sights, what an experience!

The further west we got the calmer the water got. We were glad when Hammersmith Bridge was passed as there had always been a chance that it might close to boat traffic at anytime due to safety reasons. We turned off at Brentford along with several other boats and continued up to Hanwell where we had a very sociable evening at The Fox with everyone. Thank you Simon for mentioning the cruise to us.

Sadly our washing machine hadn’t liked the lumpy water so for the next month we cruised meeting up with engineers on route hoping it could be mended. Back through London, pausing at St Pancras again. Then down to the Herford Union to cut across to the Lee and Stort. We had another mooring booked on the Lee awaiting our arrival, alongside NB Billy.

Then up the Lee and onto the River Stort. We’d only ventured so far up the Stort during our first winter on Lillian, this time we headed all the way to Bishop Stortford. Our return journey was held up slightly due to the river going into flood overnight so we had to wait for it to lower to get under the bridge at Roydon.

Back through London we made use of the new Eco-moorings near Islington Tunnel, a handy stop off with electricity. Here we met up with Nick an old friend from York and Adam called in for a catch up after working the breakfast shift at Radio 2.

Goodbye Christine!

At the end of July we pushed on and left London behind us, returning to Bulls Bridge.