Category Archives: Nottingham Canal

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.

Melding Into The Sky. 5th September

Sainsburys Nothingham to Stoke Lock, River Trent

Flip flops

A number checker was spied through the curtain this morning, time for us to move on. Mick rolled the covers back whilst I dug about in the shoe cupboard below the dinette, just what shoes would I be able to wear? Anti-slip clogs, possible but maybe a touch touchy on my toe. Sandals, sadly the strap would sit exactly over my toe. Flip Flops, yes they would do, thank goodness it’s not raining or winter yet. I’d normally avoid such flimsy footwear on a boat, they can be slippy in the wet, offer no protection to your toes and because I don’t wear them all that often I occasionally catch the toe and they become a trip hazard. But I’d not be working locks today, I’d be at the helm, so they would be fine.

Castle Lock

A touch breezy as we came up to Castle Lock. Mick hopped off to set the lock, then set me and Oleanna free thankfully not ending up on the offside where the wind and bywash were encouraging us to go.

Seaton House

Along the canal past the old British Waterways Building, the pubs, under all the low bridges to the right hand turn. Here we said goodbye and thank you to Nottingham’s NHS once again. Maybe they should have a mooring for us outside!

The new mural seems to be lasting well, we only spotted one rogue tag along it’s length. At Meadow Lane we pulled into the water point, started to fill up the tank, disposed of yellow water, the rubbish would have to wait til later. A boat came up the lock in front and asked if we’d like the gates leaving, we’d still be a while, they closed up behind them.

A while later a lady walked up from the river. They had a widebeam and a narrowboat to bring up, would we be using the lock to go down. Not for quarter of an hour at least, she decided that they’d wait for us, she thought the widebeam wouldn’t get past us and the cruisers moored opposite, it looked wide enough to us and it wasn’t as if they’d be saving water by waiting as the bywash was flowing away quite happily. Each to their own.

Meadow Lane Lock

We were quite grateful as the crew worked the lock for us, nowhere to pull in below so we were able to sound the horn and head on downstream. This solved our possible problem of pausing at the pontoon to pick Mick up and me not being able to get off to secure a rope whilst waiting. Thank you guys.

Today there was to a be a Twenty20 match at Trent Bridge, Mick had considered going, but at £60 a ticket for pajama cricket he felt it wouldn’t be worth it. Shame as we’d have moored on the County Hall Steps and Mick could have walked. Another time there will be a match worth staying for.

Mick on button duty

The river was quiet, only one boat came towards us, a few paddle boarders enjoying the last days of school summer holiday. There are now signs warning of strong currents above Holme Lock, we made sure we tucked well up towards the top gates before Mick stepped off to go and press the buttons. I’d warned him about the flashing lights going on and on and on and on forever between button presses.

The top sluices were up, it looks like they have altered the locks to reset to being full for safety. Thankfully we were heading downstream so this would help speed up the lock operation. But if you were coming from below it would take forever to empty the lock as only one set of paddles were working. I got to go through at the helm whilst Mick waited and waited to press the green button. I should have moved Oleanna over into the shade as the water dropped, I could even have taken a seat and put my foot up, but I remained at the helm incase. Such a big lock, such a long time to empty it!

Mick stood watching waiting for the level to equalise, his t-shirt the same blue of the sky. With a big exit after the lock before rejoining the river properly I could slowly make my way to the pontoon to pick Mick up once the lock was closed, here’s hoping Gunthorpe Lock is manned tomorrow!

Down stream we sauntered in the sunshine. Under Radcliffe Viaduct, round the big bend bringing us to Stoke Lock. A cruiser seemed to be sat in front of the lock, what were they doing? It took a while for us to realise it was actually moored on the high wall. We pulled in to the pontoon, the low mooring we’d hoped for was occupied. The Cat health and safety committee met.

Approaching Stoke Lock

Pontoons set away from the bank give us cause for concern. Tilly may spot twitching in the friendly cover along the bank and go for a pounce, only to discover that the friendly cover was hiding the river, a river with a current towards a weir. We weren’t willing to risk it. Sorry Tilly.


The afternoon was spent behind closed curtains keeping the sunlight out. A breeze through the boat would have been nice, but it was our choice to have the doors closed and Tilly in, a load of washing was dry in no time.

This afternoons foot up film

I cast on a sock whilst watching ‘It Should Happen To You’ 1954, starring Jack Lemmon in his first major film appearance and Judy Holliday as Gladys Glover a young woman seeking fame. Gladys rents a billboard and has her name painted on it in BIG letters. This leads to her becoming a name, Jack Lemmon falling in love with her and the owner of Adams Soap company trying to seduce her. ‘Me Too’ came to mind. Thankfully Gladys came to her senses and managed to escape, I didn’t have to shout at the TV anymore!

I managed to turn the heel of the sock whilst watching a Hitchcock Presents.

3 locks, 6.8 miles, 1 left, 1 pair flipflops, 1 collapsing chair, 0 cricket, 27p a ball! 0 shore leave, 1 miffed cat, 0 bbq tonight, 1 pasta salad, 2nd sock well on it’s way, 7th requested.

Carrying On. 4th September

Sainsburys, Nothingham

The decision was made early on to stay put for the day, a day with my foot up would be wise. Yes I can take Oleanna through the locks whilst Mick works them, but when we reach the river I’m not confident that I’ll be able to get a rope around a cleat on a pontoon whilst I hobble around. Most of the locks, we are hoping, will have keepers on duty on the Trent. But at Meadow Lane it’s very unlikely, we’ve certainly never seen one there.

So it was a day of listening to a phone ringing across the way, boats passing, a touch of work and hearing from our lodgers that the new sim card we sent them had deteriorated over the weekend to worse than the previous one! Fiber is on the cards but won’t be installed for at least another month!

Medicinal breakfast

Mick cooked us a breakfast, I’m sure there must have been some vitamin C in there somewhere! Then we enjoyed sitting in the shade until the sun came overhead late afternoon.

Mick went to check the mooring sign which says 48 hours 130m to each side. We were definitely within that. A chap sat on the grass nearby struck up a conversation with Mick, he’d been to rescue a boat that had been stolen and had all it’s windows smashed. The chap said he’d lived in Nottingham for five years and never noticed the 48 hour mooring sign. I suspect he’d never looked for it! We should have moved up, but overstaying for a day because of a broken toe, we’d chance it.

Seven requests have come in for a pair of socks. The needles came out, yarns auditioned, 24 stitches cast on, increased to 52. The tv went on, what film could I watch? When I broke my ankle I worked my way through a box set of Alfred Hitchcock films, today I’d make do with Film 4. Sid James and Hatty Jacques, can you guess the film? Very much of it’s time, 1963.

Then followed a WW2 film with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard, Von Ryan’s Express. Mick joined me to watch this one. Prisoners of war, a train chase, explosions, planes, vicars impersonating German officers, also very much of it’s time 1965.

At least it’s not sticking outwards

Time for a shower. We’d been told to replace the strapping on my toes after a shower. Mick carefully cut away the existing tape, ow! Only a slight amount of bruising, why do I never get dramatic bruises? I got to see the position of my toe for the first time since it had been adjusted. Not quite how it used to be, but it certainly was better.

By the end of the day I’d knitted a hole sock, my bum was aching, a pillow required for long sits on our sofa, Mick had learnt how to make pork stroganoff (a version of). I’d kept an eye on my toes whilst hobbling about, apart from one time! And Tilly spent the day either being a long cat or shouting at the back doors!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 1 recorded parcel not recognised! size 6 vibrant, 1 Sid, 1 Hatty, 1 Frank, 1 Trevor, 1 train chase to Switzerland, 1 sock, 1 painful toe tap.

And This Little Piggie Went ….. 3rd September

Sainsburys, Nothingham

A lie in with the Saturday newspaper, great. Should we then head to County Hall steps for a night before continuing our way down stream? Maybe. Or possibly carry on to Stoke Lock and hope for the low bank mooring where we’d be happy to let our resident thug out again. We’d have breakfast and then make or minds up.

Walking through from the bedroom I managed to clip my right little toe on the cupboard below the stove. I’ve successfully moved between bedroom and the main cabin numerous, thousands of times before without injury. Today I was not so fortunate. I immediately sat on the sofa, knowing that this wasn’t just going to be ten minutes of feeling foolish and a sore toe, it felt different. I looked down.

My little toe that normally sits tucked in beside the next little piggie was aiming itself towards the bow of the boat! Ah! Argh!!!

DIY ice pack peas

Two paracetamol, a small bag of frozen peas applied, foot raised. Phone call to 111. It took a while for Mick to get a postcode of our location, Sainsburys (what 3 words not suitable). Phone signal can be problematic inside a boat, so he stuck his head out the hatch. The person needed to talk to me, fortunately if I leant backwards towards the window I could be heard. She took my details and said someone would call back within the hour, if they hadn’t then we should make our way to an A&E. I wasn’t to eat or drink anything, no breakfast!

Within the hour Mick’s phone rang and it was a nice lady who asked lots more questions. She referred me to the nearest Urgent Care Centre, Seaton House, a mile away as a crow flies, just at the right hand bend on the canal, we know it quite well having visited there twice in the past.

The Geraghty zoom was missed. Apparently toe strapping and elevation were topics today.

With my left shoe on, my right shoe in a bag we set off to head to Sainsburys for a taxi. A few years ago I fractured my ankle, so the problem of getting on and off a boat was one we’d overcome before. A bum shuffle across the welldeck, up onto a locker then swing legs round, pull the boat as close as possible to the towpath then a big pull up. Job done.

Professional ice pack from the triage nurse

A taxi was with us within minutes of Mick phoning, then it took what felt like an age to drive the mile, it might have been quicker by boat! I was triaged within an hour and then a while later taken through to meet Brian a locum paramedic. He wanted me to have an x-ray, suspecting a dislocation. The problem was getting someone to authorise an x-ray.

The radiographer confirmed I’d broken my toe. Another wait then back to see Brian. He called April in to join us, she headed off to check my x-ray. I had a choice, leave it as is and it would heal at a jaunty angle or they could manipulate it back to face the right way before strapping it up. April suggested the later would be better.

Brian had mentioned about gas and air, but April just told me to take long deep breaths. I’m not going to say it didn’t hurt, but it was far better than I was expecting. The two of them then strapped my toes together handed Mick a roll of tape, job done. Before leaving I made sure I asked questions, I’d made the mistake of not asking when I lost my finger and ended up having to have more physio in the end. Vitamin C was prescribed by April, wine by Brian. I checked if calcium would be good, they agreed to add chilled medication to my prescription.

One little toe strapped up

A taxi back to Sainsburys, another hobble back to the boat, I managed the bow steps without having to bum shuffle. Despite Tillys protests we would be staying put for the day.

I’d broken my toe at about 9:15 and was back on the boat, foot up at 14:00. Thank you to everyone at the Urgent Care Centre and to Mick for heading to Sainsburys to find chilled medication with vitamin C included. Apparently it works better if he gets to have some at the same time too!

A variety of chilled medication with vitamin C

As I’ll be sitting on the sofa a touch more than planned, bang goes the painty jobs on Oleanna for a week or so, I’ve opened up my Sockathon again. Lots of Boat Women had shown interest on Facebook and I still have quite a bit of donated yarn left, so I may as well keep my fingers busy. Four pairs already on the list, if you’d like to be added then please let me know your size and one word. That word could be your favourite colour or something about you and I’ll see what I can come up with from my stash of yarn. I’ve asked people not to donate until I know I’ll get to their pair as I won’t be knitting a sock a day this time.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 stubbed toe, 1 little piggy who went wee wee wee all the way to an urgent care centre, 2 taxis, 1 very bored cat, 1 tub chilled medication, 2 glasses wine, 1 roll of strapping, 2 elderberry stains, 1 cauliflower cheese masterclass, 1 departure delayed, 1 boat not so keen on Nottingham!

Muller Or Ski? 2nd September

Beeston to Sainsburys, Nottingham

A walk into Beeston this morning to post the design for one of my cloths to Promptside. I’ve been in contact with Peter regarding the scan of my artwork and it may be that layering up leaves hasn’t helped, a scanner focuses on one level. He suggested I send him some artwork and they will do a test print. If it turns out rubbish then I will have to re-do the model of the cloths and portals. But if anyone can get the print to work it will be them, fingers crossed.

Canary Girls

I passed a mural on my way, depicting the Canary Girls of WW1 who worked at the National Shell Filling Factory in Chilwell. During the war it filled 19 million shells with high explosives. On the 1st of July 1918 eight tons of TNT exploded destroying a sustantial part of the factory and killing 134 people of whom only 32 could be identified, another 250 were injured. The following day the factory was up and running again.

On my way back I walked along Humber Road wondering why it was called thus as it’s quite a long way from the Humber Estuary. Then a rather nice looking building came into view. Now a dance and fitness studio it had the look of a posh garage.

The Humber Factory

Circular motifs were on the walls with men walking round in circles. Then I spotted a blue plaque. This is where Thomas Humber the engineer made bicycles, motorcycles and cars before moving to Coventry, his factory opening in 1880. In 1868 he had developed a safety bike where the pedals drove the rear wheel. He then produced his Spider Bicycle an early form of ordinary bicycle, Penny Farthing. By 1892 he was employing 1200 people at the Beeston works and when he branched out into motorcar production it rose to 1800.

Time to move on. We rolled up the covers and pushed off from our tight mooring.

A Muller of Yoghurt pots

Each time we come through Nottingham we feel that there are more and more moored boats. Today this was most certainly true. Little communities of cruisers have grown up along stretches of the canal. One chap was busy doing his washing, his twin tub powered from a genny. We wondered what a collection of cruisers would be called? Maybe a Muller or a Ski of Cruisers.

Castle Marina is still in the process of replacing it’s pontoons, but there seem to be more boats in residence than there were in January when we last came through. We pulled up just past the main entrance through to Sainsburys and managed to find suitable rings to tie to.

A restock shop was required and with the weather set to get warmer again we had another look for a barbeque. Only the disposable ones were available, but we did managed to pick up some kindling for when we next light the stove. The shopping trolley accompanied us back to Oleanna and everything was stowed away. By now it was quite late in the day so we decided to stay put for the night much to Tilly’s dismay as she is still grounded.

This chap had a drum and cymbals on his extended bike

0 locks, 3.2 miles, 1 cloth on it’s way, 4 miles walked, 0 shore leave, 2 boxes wine, 2 much christmas, 0 bbq, 1 fridge stocked up.

Not A Chip In The Air. 1st September

Trent Junction to Beeston, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

We winded and headed along Cranfleet Cut. There would be few trains today due to a train strike, the sign marking where HS2 was planned to cross now looks a touch forgotten about.

What were the holes for?

The stone work along the bank has lots of holes in it. What were these for? Did there used to be a wooden structure that was supported by the holes? Is it to aid drainage from the land behind? If anyone knows please tell us.

Up ahead we could see volunteers at the lock. As we approached they all stood up and walked over to close the paddles and open the gates. Four chaps in blue with life jackets. Well I’d be superfluous if I hopped off so I stayed on board, allowing them to operate one of the few remaining manual locks for us this year.

Check your quarter wave

Now down on the river we zoomed our way towards Beeston. The level seemed to be a touch low, we could see where walls lerk below the surface ready to catch you out should you stray over to the eastern bank. We passed Barton Island where recently a boat sank, a problem with it’s weedhatch. They came past us yesterday being towed to a boat yard on the Soar somewhere.

The wooden houses by the river. Various styles. I like the slightly quirkier ones which look like they’ve been cobbled together from bits and bobs. A new one going up, a lot of sterling board being used, wonder what it’ll be clad in?

We pulled up on the long pontoon before Beeston Lock, a chap pulled his boat almost to the end, but not quite. A pause for us to empty the yellow water ready for disposal at the elsan, no notice that the services have been vandalised recently.


Up at the lock boats were coming from everywhere, well from Nottingham. I checked to see what people were doing, all stopping for water, just what we were after too. The lock was sorted to being in our favour, we dropped down to the canal level, only about a foot today, then pulled over to wait in line for the water point to become free.

5 miles to get back on the river again

The tap took it’s time to fill everyones tanks and bottles, you would think a place like Nottingham would have more than two taps!

Now to find ourselves a mooring. At first it didn’t look hopeful, but then I spied two gaps either side of a dutch barge. The second one looked like it might just be long enough for us, the chap from the dutch barge came out to help pull us in sideways, a couple of inches spare front and back, brilliant.

QUICK!!! I got on the internet, time to see if I could book a table for this evening, even Tilly didn’t know what was going on, Why wasn’t she giving me the rules and writing down the magic numbers?! 5:45 or 8pm. I opted for 8, my request had been received, but would it be accepted? An hour went by before I got confirmation of our booking. Hooray! We could go to the Victoria Hotel.

The Victoria Hotel

Apparently I am grounded. As there is no ground inside I really don’t know what it means. She says I’ve broken rule number 1 four times in the last 3 days. Only one thing to do, sulk!

Tonights menu

Our table sat waiting for us at the Victoria Hotel in the Middle Room, every other table packed. People stood at the bar to order drinks and food whilst others stood in front of the blackboard menu, also available on their website. What a choice, what a popular place. We’ve eaten here once before in 2016, but not managed to either get a mooring or a table since.

We made our selections, drank our wine and watched other peoples meals come out from the kitchen. Not one chip could be smelt, not one burger on the menu. One sausage or two with your mash though.

I’d chosen a Moroccan Lamb Tagine which came with rice and some slices of bread instead of couscous and a nan bread. Mick had a chicken skewer with pitta bread and a salad. Puddings were also partaken, Pistachio Chocolate Brownie for me and Bakewell Tart for Mick. All very very tasty. So glad we got a table.

As we finished our meal people lurked in doorways, waiting for tables to clear or for no shows. The kitchen stays open, so if you are lucky and get somewhere to sit they will serve you. Then the drinkers gradually take over, some sitting reading the newspapers with a pint, one chap inhaling some rather good looking cheese on toast.

On our return to Oleanna I counted six maybe seven campervans pulled up, thankfully noone would be opening their curtains in the morning to see us staring back at them. Tilly wasn’t interested in us at all, no knee sitting, just one very big sulk!

2 locks, 5.1 miles, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 troughs of strawberries tidied up, 1 table booked, 1 sulky cat, 1 very good meal, 1 pub definitely worth visiting, 0 chips seen or smelt.

Back To Big Locks. 22nd January

Boots Footbridge to Stoke Lock, River Trent

Frosty eyes

The canal banks were frosty even Oleanna’s eyes were frosty this morning. We decided to let things warm up a touch whilst we joined the Geraghty zoom. Subjects covered, being unique, the difference between English and Scottish NHS, advance packing, we felt slightly left out as we have no spare bed available to collate clothing.

Hello Woofer

Thankfully the flow along the Nottingham and Beeston Canal meant we didn’t have ice to contend with, just the odd bit crackling in the margins. There seem to be new areas that the local boaters moor, several groups have managed to pin themselves to the bank, one stretch with an ice rink for a towpath.

Moorings reduced at Castle Marina

Mick made a call through to Castle Marina, we were wanting a top up of diesel, the answer came back as expected the marina was frozen over, we’d be heading on straight past. There seems to be problems with the pontoons in the marina. As we passed numerous big signs line empty pontoons. Maybe they are getting replaced.

No stopping for a shop today, straight through a first for us. The towpath in parts needs work as it is undulating by the edge. This boat caught our eye NB Bird on a Wire, I like the addition of a squirrel.

Reaching the bend

Castle Lock was surrounded with crud, two life buoys by the weir and a blue fat fender by the lock gates, this was picked up, with a new bit of rope it may be useful. Plenty of the buildings now seemed empty, that may have been because it was Sunday, but dusty windows were not inviting.

Posh new restaurant

By the big bend the building work has been completed. Cleaver and Wake now sits alongside the canal, run by Masterchef Professional winner Laurence Henry, it offers an ‘elevated dining experience’. We cannot afford to eat there so our roast pork this evening would be enjoyed onboard at the fraction of the price for one of their starters.

Fishermen slowed our progress. A new mural along a wall suggests some regeneration money is being ploughed into the area, The Island Quarter, a new ‘destination’!

Meadow Lane Lock

Meadow Lane Lock required a couple of logs removing from behind the top gates then we took quite a bit of rubbish down with us to the river where only a couple of rowing boats were busy zooming past the lock. Two boats on County Hall steps, not surprising after the floods. The occupants of County Hall itself may be moving and the building sold off for a hotel.

Trent Bridge

Back on the river we zoomed along, it was in the green but the flow was quite strong, tick over to keep steerage required. The river was strangely quiet, we’d expected sailing boats and more rowers, but none were seen.

Rufford Hall or Southfork as we call it

Southfork looked dead as usual. A peer in through the first floor windows revealed some dodgy tromp l’oeil around some archways. From Rufford Hall on-line interior design courses are run!

As we approached Holme Lock mad people were climbing into canoes to launch themselves into the river and head down the white water course. The pull towards the hydroelectric plant was strong so more power was required on the lock cut to keep us going straight.

A chap walking his dog said he wasn’t sure what was happening with Stoke Lock, a boat had gone down there yesterday. Luckily we could fill him in that it requires booking.

Ice filled the lock along with more flood detritus. Holme Lock takes SOOOOoooooo long to empty or fill, you could add a half hour to your journey here. But we were soon out, the hydraulic rams on the gates cutting through the ice easily.

Radcliffe Viaduct

One last reach of the river gradually getting more and more rural. Numerous Herons and Egrets sat and watched or flew past. Only one Kingfisher spotted in amongst the trees. A train came with potential for a good photo of Radcliffe Viaduct, except it’s progress was very slow compared to ours, the view left for someone else to see as we headed round a bend.

Stoke Lock

Up ahead at Stoke Lock the low mooring was occupied, presumably the boat that had come down Holme Lock yesterday. This wasn’t good news for Tilly as she isn’t allowed out on pontoon moorings on rivers, especially ones just out of flood. We pulled in, the current wanting to pull the bow out from the pontoon, we’d not wanted to wind to face upstream due to the pull from the weir.

Time for the joint of pork to go in the oven.

3 locks, 9.6 miles, 1 left, 1 marina frozen over, 2 rowing boats, £40 for 2 courses, £10 for both of us onboard, 0 shore leave, 1 blue fat fender.

It Bends The Other Way! 21st January

Derwent Mouth Lock to Boots Footbridge, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

Ice surrounded us this morning, maybe we should have followed the boats yesterday. Was today going to be another day breaking ice, or should we sit tight and hope that the sun would make a difference? 7 hours cruising between the Trent and Mersey to Stoke Lock for our booked passage on Monday morning. We suspected we’d not be able to cancel the booking now in time to save a volunteer from coming out to meet us. Oh well, we’d see what happened.

Thank you!

Well what happened was the high bow of NB Hadley came past at quite a lick heading for the lock, churning it’s way through the ice. ‘We’ll be following you, thank you!’ Mick shouted out of the hatch. By the time we’d had breakfast another boat had come up Derwent Mouth Lock and reset it for us, brilliant!

Solid ropes

Frosty mornings means stiff ropes. Wiggles of lines are hard to untie from T studs and then pull through nappy pins, it’s a bit like that game where you move a hoop round a bent wire trying not to connect the circuit by touching it.

Green! Plus a first outing for new waterproof thermal kid gloves

Fog. There was a lock somewhere ahead of us, it had been there yesterday, honest! The river level was now in the green, below the lock a channel cut through the ice could be made out vanishing into the fog. Working the lock I took care not wanting to slip. Frosty lock beams were avoided as much as possible meaning walking round the lock more than I normally would, but I’d rather the extra exercise than slip in.

Derwent to the left, Trent to the right, I think!

Life jackets on, anchor attached we were ready for the river. Straight on where the Derwent meets the Trent, we were glad we know the river quite well. The pipe bridge, the M1 bridge, keep right so as not to get too close to the weir.

Come on sun, you can do it!

Would Sawley Flood Lock be open or closed? Where was Sawley Flood Lock? At about three boat lengths away the lock beams could be seen. Was it open? No. The flood lock has a paddle left open at both ends to keep a flow of water heading to the locks at the other end of the cut back onto the Trent.

Key of power time

We soon arrived at Sawley Locks, the right hand one out of use currently. Time for the Key of Power. The lock was in our favour but still had to work it’s way through it’s programming of opening the sluices a bit at a time, four times before the next press would actually open the gates.

Ron helping out

The lock cottage, tea rooms and pub have recently been sold and today we got to meet it’s new owner Ron Gooding who came out to say hello, he then offered to work the lock for us so I could hop back on board. A friendly chap who is used to Thames Locks, he’s a BSS Examiner and a marine gas engineer, according to his card. The pub will reopen at some point, ‘there’s lots to do’ along with the tea room. Today must have been his first go at working the lock, which doesn’t work in the same way as the Thames locks. I kept saying to press and hold the button til it started to flash, but he was too busy chatting.

Back on the main river Oleanna skidded round with the flow of water coming from the weir. Here we most certainly needed Waterway Routes! ‘The river bends here Mick’ ‘In the other direction!’ Landmarks appeared out of the gloom, moored boats, the scout place, the pontoon, Erewash, mind that rib, left now, mind that other rib, we’d made it to Cranfleet Cut and the flood gates that have been closed for a month.

Ratcliffe Power Station could only be made out by the clouds of steam rising above the fog back lit by the sun doing it’s best to burn it’s way through.

Setting Cranfleet Lock

At Cranfleet Lock the Lock Keeper was a touch frosty sitting at an angle in his flower bed. The lock was full of logs and crud brought down by the floods. Both bottom gates needed opening as there was so much sitting behind the gates to get one fully opened.

Adding to the fog on the river

Now onto the long reach to Beeston, the fog kept coming and going. Small cruisers appeared round bends swerving to our starboard to avoid us, we’d already moved over to give them more room, so they ended up being a long way over.

£325,000 2 bedrooms though

We wondered how high the floods had been along here, had the houses on stilts been affected, did they ever flood? One house has just recently been sold. It has it’s own floating pontoon and is on a double plot. Rather a lovely house. Link to it’s details.

Beeston Lock

Beeston came into view, the sun having cleared most of the fog by now. Pulling in to the lock landing took a bit of doing, the flow preferring to keep us moving towards the weir. A few days ago we’d seen pictures of how much rubbish was just outside the lock gates, thankfully most of it had been moved away but both gates required opening.

Familiar from the Great Ouse last year

As I worked Oleanna through the lock a lady with blue hair and a dog chatted away. Obviously a boat owner wanting to head upstream. How had our trip been, speedy! What was it like at Cranfleet? We chatted away, me wondering where we’d met before. After she’d walked away I realised it was the lady from NB Watt Way who had been at Bedford River Festival and she’d followed us across the tidal section to Salters Lode.

I think I preferred the donkeys!

A top up with water, we then carried on a short distance to find a mooring for the day. Some shore leave was allocated to Tilly, but she really wasn’t enamoured with the wall and all the foot fall.

As soon as we’d tied up I had a look at The Victoria Hotel’s website to see if there might just be a table for us this evening. Last night I’d checked and there were quite a few left, but now there were none. Oh well, we’ll go another time when the weather might not stop us. Instead of very nice pub food we had the remains of our chilli with jacket potatoes, not quite the celebratory meal we’d hoped for on reaching Nottingham, but a tasty one never the less.

A better solution is required, this one was free though

Checking Nebo as we were moving today, my phone kept up with us very well. However the phone inside seemed to stall a couple of times and had only recorded four miles of the eight plus. I remember this occasionally happening early last year when I was trying it out, it would loose us for a while, I’d assumed it was because I was using my phone for other things, but maybe that wasn’t the case. We’ll keep recording on two devices for the time being.

5 locks, 1 a flood lock, 1 set of flood gates open, 9.54 miles, 1 straight, 1 left not left left, 1 left, 1 very white day, 2 many bits of tree, 1 lady, 1 disappointed cat, 1 canal without ice, 0 table.

There Is Only One Way. 8th April

Stoke Lock to Trent Junction

Needing to catch up and the sun being out meant we were happy to push off this morning. Blue skies lift the heart and thankfully there were blue skies back in Newark too making life that bit easier.

Radcliffe Viaduct

Three sunny miles cruising up to Holme Lock. Mick tried radioing ahead in case there was a Lock Keeper on duty, but officially they start back next week. No reply came so I was to work the buttons.

Holme Lock is huge and always takes an age to empty and even longer to fill. Add to that the button controls and their flashing lights! Well we were there for sometime before I could even open the gates. With Oleanna in the lock I started to press the open button to bring her up, water gushing in, yet the level taking forever to fill.

It takes forever!

All of a sudden the towpath opposite there was a todo! A family had been walking their dog on a lead when another dog appeared and attacked it, it kept coming back for more no matter what the people did. The lady said things to me which I really couldn’t hear and I was trying to concentrate on Oleanna. I think she thought I was a Lock Keeper and would know which boat the dog eventually ran off to. Unfortunately I couldn’t help.

Now on our way into Nottingham, the reach was quiet, no sailing boats out today and despite the cricket season having started there was no-one playing at Trent Bridge.

Hang on! Were there people in the garden of Southfork? This is the first time we’ve ever seen anyone near this house! New builds are still going up along the river, including a new development overlooking Meadow Lane Lock.

Meadow Lane Lock

A widebeam was coming down in the lock, the lady saying they were going up the river, so I signalled to Mick that they would be turning upstream. Well that’s not what she meant at all, they were heading downstream to Stoke. Fortunately Mick had moved so they could pick up crew anyway.

We pulled onto the water point where I jumped ship and headed off to Hobbycraft to buy myself a sketchbook and some tracing paper so that I can be ready to start Panto when the next version of the script arrives.

The writing’s on the door

Mick topped up the water, emptied the wee tank and rinsed off the roof before I got back.

Along the next stretch I stood in the bow with a tape measure. We’d offered to measure the height of the new rail bridge for David to see if he’d be able to get under it. When on the River Wey a few years ago we managed to work out our air draught to the top of the horns. The new rail bridge was 88cm above them. The tape came out again once round the 90degree bend as some of the bridges seemed low too. In fact one of them only measured 75cm above our horns.

Approaching the Sainsburys moorings we were surprised at the number of boats moored up near the student accommodation. We pulled in to the last gap we could see, just as well as round the corner it was nose to tail boats! Yes we moored right in front of a no mooring sign, yes we had lunch, yes we went shopping and no we cannot work out why there is no mooring there!

Nest making, we also saw a pair necking today

Mick called round to check on diesel prices. Castle marina £1.75. Mercia £1.78! Then Shobnall, if we wanted over 50 litres it would be £1.20. Being twelve hours cruise away we should be fine until then and at that price it will almost certainly save us £50! We did however pull into Castle Marina for some coal £13.50 for 25kg of Excell. They had some Marine 16 too but at over £30 Mick decided to leave it and see how much it might be at Shobnall.

Beeston towpath full

Back onto the Nottingham and Beeston Cut we pootled our way westwards catching up with an extreamly slow boat who thankfully let us pass. Starting to get cold we wanted to stop so tried pulling into a gap. The wind did it’s best to push Oleanna away from the bank and even with both of us clinging on we couldn’t get her into the side, we’d try further along. Well there were no gaps further along. Nottingham seems to have had an increase in local continuous cruisers, we reckon there’s about five times the amount of boats than there used to be.

Beeston Lock where windlasses are welded onto the paddles

Only one thing for it we’d have to carry on along the river and hope for space on Cranfleet cut or at Trent Lock. It was cold and threatening to rain, but we had no choice.

We did our best to keep towards the western bank, after hearing the story of NB Legend getting stuck on an old submerged wall last year we really wanted to avoid any possibility of re-enacting the incident.

Soon Cranfleet lock was in view and we tried to remember if we knew which paddle to lift first. No recollection at all. Having four gate paddles it’s confusing, thank goodness you can hang back in the lock. It turned out that I guessed correctly choosing the paddle on the same side as Oleanna, but in the middle first followed by the outer one.

Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station just across the way

At the junction we popped out far enough to see if there was space on the pontoon at Trent Lock, there was, but on the inside so no view. However there was a space on the wall at the junction so we pulled in at 7:30, stoked up the stove and got warm again.

5 locks, 15.2 miles, 2 rights, 1 junction, 1 beautiful day, 5 times as many boats, 3 bags coal, 0 diesel today, 8ft 8inches we think, 1 inch too low, 2 boxes wine, 1 shopping trolley back to the boat, 0 shore leave, 1 tidier boat, 1 more good day for David.

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.