Category Archives: Oxford 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.

Panto Postcard 2, 2023

….Hours

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

In an older part of Chippy

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

The Dulux dog has taken over from Bagpuss

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

One possibly for the Christmas list

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

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

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

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

My favourite

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

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

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

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

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

Back on the towpath

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

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

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

Seeing double twice

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

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

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

Breakfast in bed

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

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

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

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

Knitting and watching

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

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Fpip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=pfp-share

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

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

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

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

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

A flipping banana dog toy!

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

There she is in sunny Goole

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

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

That’s not good!

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

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

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

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

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

I Read That Blog Too! 9th August

Bridge 67 that was to Welton Hythe, Leicester Section, Grand Union Canal

Leg inspection this morning

Time to make up for yesterday, we were ready and pushing off a little before 9:30, several boats had already passed us heading towards the locks, would there be a queue? Thankfully not. The volunteers were chatting to a chap and his dog at the bottom lock the lefthand chamber sat ready for us.

Up the bottom lock

At the middle lock it looked like both of the paired locks were full, a crew just opening a gate on the right side to bring a boat down, I indicated to Mick to head for that lock. However on arrival the other lock was two thirds full and the boat coming into the other lock were being very very careful and taking their time. I indicated to Mick the other lock and emptied it. We were up and able to assist the crew of the downhill boat with their gates before we headed on to the top lock.

Careful

Once up on the long pound I disappeared below for a panto chat with the production manager regarding the budget. More quotes were in and she was aiming to have a chat with the set builders about the changes I’d drawn up over the weekend. In my reckoning we’ve saved just about enough, but there was still one more quote to come in. Gemma is hoping to get the final figures together and approved by the end of the week, she goes on holiday next week, I’d quite like my next fee, but I’m also likely to be in a dodgy area for phone and the internet! Fingers crossed.

It was so nice to have the sun back out and blue skies helping to lift spirits. Plenty of people were out sanding back, applying coats of paint to their roofs. I’d been hoping to do the same last weekend, but the rain and having to work had put paid to that.

B.. Ba.. Bang… Braunston!

We considered stopping at one of the moorings just short of Braunston, but that would still leave us behind where we were hoping to be, and anyway that would mean taking mushroom vents off the roof to attack the rust! Mick thought it a better idea for us to carry on.

There was space for a second boat at the first water point, we pulled in, tying up as best we could. The lady from the other boat explained that her husband had headed into the village to do some shopping whilst they filled with water, ‘You know how it is mooring in Braunston, so busy!’ We declined her offer of us using the tap she was plumbed into as there was a second tap. As we started to fill her boat started to overflow, she turned the water point off, her expanding hose then decided to pop out of her tank and into the canal. Eek! ‘You’ll want to run water through that before you stow it away’. She dithered and chatted away, then just popped the end of the hose back into her water tank, eoow! The muck and stuff that ends up in canals, I hope they don’t get poorly tummies.

Braunston Turn

Chores finished we pushed over to the towpath where there was a handy space for lunch.

Through Braunston. Well there had either been a mass exodus since the boat at the waterpoint had come through or she was just trying to cover her back for sitting on a water point! We slowed at the entrance to the marina having spotted NB Pea Green and Kay. She’d been concerned about Tilly and there is always concern for Monty her cat who is of many years. Good to see her again.

The bottom lock of the Braunston flight was emptying, I walked up to lend a hand. The crews from the two boats had obviously got to know each other, both heading for Cropredy. One boat was under the impression they’d just be able to moor up easily at Cropredy, I said to the enthusiastic lady that a week ago it was already rather full. She said she’d read a blog post on the 1st of August saying as much. I smiled to myself strongly suspecting they were my words she’d read. I refrained from saying that I’d read that blog too, I always proofread posts before publishing them. Instead I was given information on how wet Blisworth Tunnel had been. I wonder is she is a frequent reader or had just come across my post in a google search.

We were joined by a hire boat from North Kilworth Marina. This boat had a bow thruster and a solar panel, things not often associated with hire boats. This was their second hire boat and they were loving. They made good company up the flight.

The second lock that was hard to fill

The third lock from the top required the top gates to be encouraged to open as we’d reached the point where the water coming in wasn’t beating the water leaking out the bottom gates. With the next pound quite low we decided to close the top gates to hopefully save water even thought there was a boat waiting to come down above the next lock. I walked up to explain as they were doing that thing we all do when we see gates being closed in front of you. Thankfully they understood.

The next lock was even worse. We needed everyone to push on gates to get the level to equalise, this took quite a bit of umph, we got there in the end still with enough water left in the pound above for boats to move. The amount of time this had all taken, it was a very good job we’d closed the gates on the next lock as there may not have been enough water left to get over cills.

The hire boat headed for the tunnel first, they were hoping to get up Watford today. We were just heading for where we’d be able to get moored for the day.

Tunnel mode engaged, cabin lights, torch at the stern pointing to the right, life jackets. In we went, Mick’s least favourite tunnel on the network. We conferred on where the big wiggle was 400 to 300m from the far end? We thought so. In we went.

Passing

It was soon obvious that we’d meet at least two boats in the dark, we also got a bonus third one. A wiggle just at 400m was followed by another where we’d remembered. A forth boat was holding back being very patient to enter the tunnel when he knew there was a clear way ahead at least for a while. At least if he met someone it should be beyond the wiggles.

Blue sky and a view

Maybe we were distracted by passing boats but I only counted one mysteron today, I thought there were three!

Turning left to head northwards

Space under trees in the cutting, this didn’t appeal. We carried on knowing it was very unlikely that we’d find a space on the prime stretch before Norton Junction and we were right. Instead we decided to opt for our old favourite mooring, a left onto the Leicester Section then a short pootle to opposite Welton Hythe Marina.

Hooray for towpath dust!

Tilly was given an hour and a bit of shore leave. As she stepped off a slight limp was still noticeable, but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. A touch of towpath dust and mouse magic did the trick.

Down the bank into the field behind us Mick foundsome Giant Puffballs the size of his foot. I believed they were safe and good eating. Some internet browsing was down. Instructions on how to identify them suggested that they were easy, next to no poisonous fungi having a similar look. I started browsing recipes, cut in slices and fried in breadcrumbs was popular. What to do? I didn’t want to miss out of a free culinary delight, but also didn’t want us to be poorly.

That’s pretty big!

One minute I was down the bank picking one of them. I weighed it 1.5kg. It was obviously tasty as plenty of grubs were having a feast. I chopped some off. White with a tinge of yellow to it. Hmmmm! What to do?

Various comments suggested it should be white when cut into, if yellow it was starting to mature and get ready to send out it’s spores. Should we, shouldn’t we? In the end we chickened out, there being a bit of yellow would mean we’d not be trying it at it’s best. I later conferred with a couple of people who said white was best and maybe a smaller one would be better especially with some bacon for breakfast. One lady did say we’d be very bored with it by the time we’d eaten it all.

North

Tonight we had spaghetti bolognaise.

9 locks, 10.8 miles, 3 canals, 1 water tank full, 1 hose in the cut, 2 solutions, 2 boxes, 1 banana, 1 left, 1 old favourite, 1.5kg of puffball, 2 fungi wimps, 7,000,000,000,000 spores per ball, 1 limp improving, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://goo.gl/maps/94kdK1nZWtEXT1s66

Limping Along. 8th August

Broughton Road Bridge to Rugby Wharf to Bridge 67 that was

Before we set off Mick wanted to fit the switch he’d bought in Scarborough to the Nebolink. Because our slow speed isn’t enough to alert the nebolink that we are moving for it to automatically record our journey we needed to make use of the white wire. Mick’s solution was to add a switch that we could turn on when we are about to push off and switch off when we stop for the day. Last night Dave (Scouts) had suggested we use a voltage sensitive relay. This would notice when the battery voltage goes up as the alternator starts to charge the batteries, this would alert the nebolink and therefore record our journey automatically. There then followed a Telephone Engineers discussion on multimeters. Here Dave is a photo of Mick’s multimeter that he has on board Oleanna.

Mick’s multimeter

Mick flicked the switch and within a couple of minutes I received an email from Nebo saying that Oleanna was on the move! Hooray that bit worked. Time to get moving.

NB Momentous

We pootled up to the Tesco moorings, blimey it was busy up there. NB Momentous had passed us this morning when the sun was trying to make an appearance, we now passed them, a quick hello and, ‘We’ll be back’ was exchanged before we pulled in right at the end of the moorings. A stock up at Tescos required.

Catch it!

As we walked back up the hill with our full bags it started to drizzle. Boring! We decided to have lunch and hope that things would improve before we set off again. SOoo many boats came past squeezing their way between boats moored on the towpath and off side. People keep saying where has everyone gone, the canals are so quiet this year. Well that’s because everyone is here in Rugby!

Eventually we pushed out and made our way along the embankment to the arm towards Rugby Wharf. Mick didn’t spot the winding hole just beyond the arm with it’s spanning bridge and turned Oleanna’s bow in to turn. He’d expected the stern to be able to swing round with the amount of water behind us, but no, we ended up bow in the greenery under the bridge and stern stuck several feet away from the offside diagonally across the cut with a boat approaching.

The boat hook was required to push the stern off, then Mick tried again and this time succeeded in getting our bow down into the arm. Once we’d tucked ourselves out of the way we waved the oncoming boat to come past.

Now we were on our way, facing the correct direction. Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic so we could slow down and say a proper hello to Jenny and Pete, we’ve been boats that pass in the day this week, waving, but now we’ve finally met. Good to have a chat, see you somewhere sometime.

Passing or being passed by Momentous for the third time today

Drizzly. Our plan had been to get quite a few miles ticked off back towards Braunston, but cruising whilst getting wet was wearing thin. We passed our station mooring, got close to the golf course and decided to stop for the day.

Todays journey on Nebo

As I dropped down the cratch covers I also switched the switch on the Nebolink to off. We’d been able to see that we were moving on our phones but would it now send us a report. It took a few minutes and then the report arrived. Brilliant the £2 switch had done the trick, our route shown on the map had a couple of small lengths that weren’t shown of our journey, but so far all good.

It seems to work, just needs a bot of double sided tape to tidy it up a bit

Tilly was let out and had an explore returning after a while and sat on the Houdini shelf in the window. Mick pointed out to me that she was holding her right paw up, he also mentioned that he thought she’d been limping as she got off the boat. I was allowed to gently stroke her paw and leg. Tilly’s weepy eye all teary for maximum sympathy was noted. Nothing was obvious and she didn’t wince.

Poorly paw!

I stopped what I was doing and sat on the sofa to encourage her to rest her limping leg. This worked for a while, Tilly sat on my knee, knee rest. Then she decided that she’d rather be out and Mick opened the back door. Was this a good idea, certainly to stop her shouting at a closed door it was! She hadn’t ventured far when it was time for Dingding, but she did need some encouragement to come in.

For medicinal purposes I requested that the firebox be lit. It would help heal my poorly arm. Tom obliged and then She came and joined me finishing off her first sock for her. I didn’t help as my arm was too sore. Have I mentioned that I’ve got a poorly arm?

0 locks, 2.4 miles, 1 wind, 3 times past, 1st hello, 1 poorly leg, 1 fridge restocked, 1 damp day, 1 poorly arm, 1 limping cat, 1 puppetgate, 0 trees climbed, 0 holes dug, 1 limp leg, 1 teary eye, 1 stove lit, 1 limp improving!

https://goo.gl/maps/WQR8HA5tFtTTm9PD7

Pantone Tastic. 7th August

Broughton Road Bridge

Those mushrooms in the fridge needed eating up, so I had to make some mushrooms on toast ala Pip this morning, sorry Mick!

Emails back and forth to the printers. Update from me to Production Manager and Director. A new coach drawing done. Sideways trees checked over a few more times.

Go away, I’m recharging my solar!

Mick still in Scarborough was being kept busy too. A chap had come to measure up for wooden double glazed windows to replace the single glazing. Numerous questions were phoned through to me. If we had one type of stop on the highest window in the house we’d loose the squiggly bit, we like our squiggly bits so a key option was okayed. A cottage style was rejected, but brass furniture approved, all whilst I was drawing up the coach.

On his way to the station Mick popped into Clockhandyman and purchased a switch to add to our Nebolink set up. Then he caught three trains back to Rugby.

Time for a detour

A Google for copy shops came up with The Printing Works, time to get my updated plans scanned and copied. The usual walk across the park towards the station was closed due to an emergency closure on the bridge across the Avon, just a short detour required to get back on track. The very helpful chap took his time, concerned about the grey background on the scans. I checked them over, not a problem you could see all the information required, they wouldn’t be for display.

As he scanned and printed we chatted about what I did, he got a sneaky peek at a photo of my model. He very kindly let me borrow a Pantone swatch book so that I could identify the shades of blue I’d used on my portals. This is so the printers can add in a coloured border that will wrap around our scenery instead of it being white. I promised to email a photo when the show was up and running so he could see how it all came out.

Pantone charted

New sets of plans were popped in the post as I walked back to the boat. Then it was time to make the new bits for the model. A simpler coach, two bits of handrail and a dustbin. MIck was back shortly before I’d finished. Over the next few days I’ll have to dig my paint box back out from under the dinette to paint them, but hopefully the majority of everything is now done. Time to get back to boating life.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 trains, 4 window phone calls, maybe it should have been me that went to Scarborough, 15 scans, 12 copies, 2 envelopes posted, 2 hand rails, 1 dustbin, 1 coach, 2 plates of pork fried rice, 1 switch.

Frequent Lodger. 6th August

Broughton Road Bridge

Thankfully the weather was better today, still a touch chilly, but the sun was showing it’s face. Boats that had been stationary yesterday were on the move , including NB Momentous, I happened to glance up from what I was doing as they passed to wave hello.

A generous plate full of pancakes

Blueberry pancakes for breakfast were very tasty, followed by the Geraghty zoom. Subjects included Shap, Huel, Portsea and when is an island an almost island! Then it was time to get on with work.

Just keeping an eye on you

Today the drawing board came out. My technical drawings needed updating with the cuts and alterations that had been discussed. As I worked away Tilly came and went exploring the world behind the sideways trees and Mick worked away washing bedlinen and making beds in Scarborough.

Tanya our most frequent lodger arrived mid afternoon soon followed by Georgia, two actors from the new Ayckbourn cast that starts rehearsals this week.

Once I’d finished updating one set of plans I started working out how to split the print of the portals, a quote from a new company to me had come in a quarter cheaper, if I could squeeze extra leaves in around the edges it would save us some money.

Updated plans

Tilly persuaded me that the stove needed lighting again, she enjoyed having prime position in front of it for several hours whilst I worked away. After dinner I reimagined Cinderella’s coach, if I could get the build cost for this down from £1800 it would be good. Several sketches were done, all of them must be cheaper!

0 locks, 0 miles, 10 sheets adjusted, 2 beds made, 2 new lodgers, 1 stove relit, 1 hire boat boating into the night, 11pm finish.

Welcome To Autumn. 5th August

Broughton Road Bridge

Glad we’d not planned on moving today, the rain wasn’t torrential it just hung around in the air keeping everything very wet. Mick kindly lit the stove, emptied the ash pan and filled the coal skuttle, today was definitely a day for a fire.

Moored just down the way

Thankfully Tilly wasn’t too keen on being outdoors, the stove was far more appealing. So the two of us got to stay cosy inside, unlike Mick who had to walk to the station to catch a train to Scarborough to do the next turn around between lodgers.

I had a long chat with Jo the props maker for panto. Going through the props list I’d finished off this morning. Jo does all the buying and making of props and with quite a good lead up time she is hoping to import a LOT of fake bananas, maybe 300! We talked beasts, plants, buckets, chairs, all sorts, taking 2.5 hours!

I did have to venture out for a pint of milk. The nearest shop looked like it would be Tescos so I set off along the muddy towpath, hopping over puddles here there and everywhere.

The people of Rugby don’t seem to be wanting to buy ice at the moment that’s for sure. I spent a bit of time by the lemonade bottles measuring them up to use as bases for lanterns. Then I found a route back to Oleanna through the housing estate to avoid getting muddy again.

Autumn!

Apparently it wasn’t raining in Yorkshire when Mick came through Standedge Tunnel on the train, but the River Ouse was up a touch and there had been some localised flooding in Scarborough, thankfully not near the house.

Propy bits

The afternoon was spent doing emails and sketches of props, whilst numerous hire boats cruised past each and everyone of them getting really quite soggy.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains for Mick, 1 very very full, 150 minutes props chat, 300 bananas, 4 sketches, 1 cosy boat, 1 long snoozy cat.

Hire Boat Rush Hour. 4th August

Bridge 100 to Broughton Road Bridge

More and more boats came past including the little green tug we’d encountered yesterday, maybe they’d been for water at Braunston last night. Eventually we found a gap in the traffic and pulled out continuing our journey towards Braunston.

Not a bad view from bed this morning

Below I busied myself cleaning Tilly’s pooh box and trying to encourage her back into the bedroom. If I was stood in the well deck she’d brave crossing the bedroom to peek out of the front window, but otherwise the bedroom was still a place to be very very wary of. There’s a monster in there I tell you!!!

Turn

The bangers spire came into view followed by Braunston Turn. Over the junction we could make out that there was a boat moored at Midland Chandlers, but when the water point came into view and that was free we made ready to moor up. Whilst I dealt with the water and rubbish Mick headed into the chandlers to see what they had in the way of switches. Sadly nothing that we could use. The Nebolink can wait a few more days until we find a switch more suitable.

Reading as we go

Onwards now north. I brought the new panto script out the back and as we pootled along the North Oxford Canal I read it through. A pencil should I need to make notes for set things and a blue highlighter pen to underline props as I went. Only one set thing I noted, I need to rehang a door to open the other way. Lots of blue for props and quite a few new chuckles.

This pound is always busy. Today boats seemed to come in threes towards us, just where were they all coming from? We’re normally on a canal or river away from the crowds at this time of year, so it maybe feels that bit more busy to us. We pootled onwards past the nice moorings north of Braunston, these all seemed to be busy.

Barby Straight we only encountered a couple of boats, but the last one must have been really deep draughted as we ended up being on the bottom at quite a tilt. Inside I could hear drawers opening, items falling, Tilly balls all rolling to the port side. The MONSTER’s back!!!! Just when I thought she was getting over the printer!

Lots going on here

Lots of work seems to have taken place near Hillmorton. New sheds with boats under cover being worked on. A little boat was out on the hard with the chalk marks of hull thickness, hopefully the results good for a prospective new owner.

Still pesky those bananas

We pulled into a space above the locks for lunch. During the morning reading the script I’d grown to like panto again, during lunch the emails started again and my top lip started to curl up. A quick response to one of them, the others could wait till we’d moored up for the day.

Time to drop down the three Hillmorton Locks. Time to find a gap in the passing boats! Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped for lunch, all of a sudden we were surrounded with boats wanting to descend the majority hire boats heading back to base. We trod water alongside a moored boat, the boat ahead got caught out by the flow coming from the weir. He decided to stay put on the off side and let us have the next available chamber on the towpath side.

Rush hour at the locks

So many crew at each lock. Some knew what they were doing, others didn’t and I winced at some of the practices. One boat insisted on lifting paddles halfway to empty the lock and then they were going to close the gates despite a boat heading uphill towards them.

Now we were meeting the next set of hirers coming out from the Rugby bases. It was noisy and chaotic to say the least. One boat had young crew sat in the well deck urging Grandad to open the gate ‘It must be ready now!’ as Dad chatted to me at the stern, narrowboating a favorite pass time for his family, costs him a fortune, grandad’s first time, want a boat of their own but wouldn’t know what to do if it broke down, couldn’t afford it anyway. I suggested they should look into a share boat, it works out cheaper than hiring every holiday. Eventually he moved the morse control and headed off to the next lock, his daughter having almost exploded in the welldeck at her Dad not getting a move on!

Into the bottom lock

The last lock down to the Rugby pound seemed quieter, a volunteer helped with the bottom gates and as we left she indicated to the following boat which of the paired locks they should aim for. All could be peaceful again. Time for the final scene of panto.

There was space on the armco closest to Rugby Station. We pulled in, then quite quickly moved along a boats length as we’d disturbed a wasps nest. Tilly was given two hours shore leave, preferring to use the stern and hatch avoiding the bow and the bedroom!

Panto emails kept me busy for much of the remainder of the day. A new print company wanting to charge £200 for a sample?! I’m sure their printing is very good, but we’re possibly looking at two companies doing different elements that all have to look the same, I want reassurance that I won’t end up with a right mishmash of colours. The carpenters were updated with my thoughts, new drawings needed.

Roast Pork, yum

A joint of pork came out of the fridge and an hour later went in the oven. A Friday night roast would help warm the boat up for the evening. As I started to collate a props list together Mick prepared the vegetables. A very tasty meal indeed and Act 1 props all listed. I even ended up with Tilly sat on my knee the bedroom starting to loose it’s scareyness.

3 locks, 10.3 miles, 0 journey on Nebolink, 1 left, 0 switch, 1 monster in THAT bag! 4 balls, 1 temperature gauge, 1 miss timed lunch break, 1 clean pooh box, 6 hire boats all at once, 1 spliff and a can of larger, 2 hours, 1 wasps nest, 5m not 3m, 1 long list of things to do, Act1 props done, 1 heel turned.

https://goo.gl/maps/bCigvZeCpD4YvCay5

Pruning Panto. 3rd August

Priors Hardwick Bridge 123 to Bridge 100 gap in the hedge

A zoom to try to sort out the budget for panto was on the schedule this morning along with a phone appointment for Mick with his doctor back in Scarborough. Some aspects of doctors appointments work better for boaters than they used to, the only thing is the first Mick heard of his face to face appointment was a reminder text yesterday, thankfully it was easy enough to change it to a phone call.

Only one thing for it with the panto set, the pruning shears had to come out. I’d made a list yesterday of items that could be pruned that wouldn’t affect things horribly, 3 sections of rostra instead of 5, 1 facia instead of 2, fabric instead of twinwall. John had also had chance to think about things and added to the list. Not sure if we’ve lost enough. I’ve some more work to do now, but that would have to wait until later.

Those pesky bananas!

Time to see if the new Nebolink would start as we moved off. Mick has done some more research into them. They are made up from tracking devices designed for cars, so we weren’t sure if our slow pace as we moved off from our mooring would automatically kick the Nebolink into action. For the last few months we’ve had two accounts tracking Oleanna, one of those accounts is now linked to the Nebolink, the other dormant, Mick has set up another account on the free starter service so that we can track our journeys whilst we iron out any problems we may have with the nebolink.

Buffalo

As we were about to untie a boat came past, at the bridge in front of us another boat. Some do-si-doing was required before the two boats sorted themselves out, only to find there was another boat following. In the end things sorted themselves out and we managed to find a gap in traffic to pull out.

There was the expected queue at the top of Marston Doles, not as long as it could have been, there was still enough room for us to pull in. One hire boat waiting to go down, another on the water point. Another boat waited to come up. The crews chatted away, the next uphill boat originated from north of York. Mick had managed to leap frog the boat at the water point so it was soon our turn.

Near sunshine!

The first few locks we met boats coming towards us, but when we reached the main Napton flight there were few uphill boats meaning more walking round locks to open and shut gates, everyone else apart from us and a boat behind must have stopped for lunch.

Three blue shirts waiting

From a few locks from the bottom I could see that there were volunteers on duty at the bottom. Why do the volunteers here never venture past the bottom lock? Why were there three of them? We chatted as Oleanna came into the lock and then the paddles were lifted and we were on our way again.

Keep your hat on!

The water point was busy, so were the moorings, we’d have lunch on the go and head for a mooring by Bridge 100 where we’ve had a Christmas or two.

How many boats coming towards us!?! Hopefully they’d not all be wanting to moor below the flight. A boat came out from the GU at Napton Junction, then more and more boats came towards us.

This was before the high speed overtaking

We were gradually catching up a little tug. They pulled over to the towpath and waved us past. Naturally we thought they had found a straight for us to overtake at, so we didn’t check our maps, we couldn’t see round a tree and bend. Oleanna sped up to pass as quickly as possible. As we rounded the bend past the tug we quickly realised we were now facing another bend and just as that dawned a boat came round it. More umph needed to avoid collision, thankfully the lady at the helm of the Kate Hire boat kept her cool and both boats passed without touching, the little tug clinging onto the bank for dear life. Hopefully next time they wave a boat past they will wait for a straight length of canal.

Oh my!

Considering the canal was so busy it was surprising that there were so many moorings available. When we reached Bridge 100 we headed for the gap in the hedge, a golden field stretched off across the shallow valley, this would do us for the night.

So how had our new Nebolink done today? Well Oleanna’s location had stayed static for quite some time, then she was shown to be moored in a lock. Then just shortly before we moored up I received an email from Nebo ‘Nebo has detected that Oleanna is moving. Thanks!’ After stopping an email report came through, our journey today had been 0.3 miles! Well we’d actually done 9.3.

New script

In the nebolink there is a white wire which can be attached to a cable that only has power when the engine starts, this will kick start the box into recording a journey. The box being at the bow, this will be hard to achieve, so Mick’s intention is to fit a small switch to the white wire, this will then be turned on when we set off and turned off when we stop for the day. We’ll see if this works.

A rather nice view this evening

Dressing tables, bananas were looked at for panto. A new version of the script needed to be read too before I can make any more decisions. A paper copy is far easier to make notes in so I started to print it out. For some reason printing on both sides of the paper set the fear of whatever into Tilly. There’s a monster in the bedroom! She cowered in a corner. Oh blimey! She didn’t even sit on my lap this evening, I think my toes will be cold overnight too, I’d best knit quicker!

A toe for me

9 locks, 9.3 mile, 0.3 on nebo, 2 route plans not uploading, -£3500? 1 quote on the way, 2 busy, 2 many boats, 4.1, 2 sided printing, 1 scaredy cat, 1 disheartened designer, 1 sock progressing, 3 near misses, 1 Christmas mooring, 1 sunset.

https://goo.gl/maps/dSgEr5AUaZU56kVJ6

How Many Dumper Truck Loads Does It Take To…

Top Lock Claydon to Priors Hardwick Bridge 123

A sunny start to the morning, but by the time we were ready to push off the clouds had covered the blue skies, we wore our waterproof coats and started to make our way northwards across the summit pound. Pretty soon waterproof trousers were required. Then as the rain became heavier I was stood down from my navigational duties and allowed to retire below, let’s face it Mick would have to try really hard to get us lost.

Below decks I decided to get my yarn swift and winder out. Our dinette table with it’s rounded edges was hard to get a grip on, but I managed it in the end, three cakes of yarn all ready for knitting.

Rain!

Outside it still rained. Mick slowed us to a stop, we must have been at Fenny Compton Tunnel. He held us back for a boat to come through, the narrowest part already done, the overgrown banks making the channel look narrower than it was.

Approaching the big wiggles the rain had stopped, I returned to the stern to watch the radio mast get closer. The moorings with a view over the valley only had a couple of boats moored there, is it now too close to the HS2 works for peoples liking?

Old and temporary bridges

The small gap after Bridge 128 and the new temporary bridge will one day be filled with a much bigger bridge taking HS2 across the canal.

Today we could see where the bridge will sit a hole dug ready for construction to start, then off into the distance the route the line will take very obvious with the amount of diggers and cranes in view.

The huge mound of earth that feels like it has sat there forever was in the process of being moved. A big digger gouged up jaws full of earth and deposited them into dumper trucks which then moved it to where the line will pass close to the canal. Here bulldozers moved the earth around, followed by two rollers, one flat the other with spikes on it. We wondered where all this earth had come from in the first place several years ago and how many dumper truck loads had it been then? How many dumper truck loads would it take to move it all into the right position? How many dumper truck loads will it take to reach Birmingham? I suspect next time we pass the big mound will be no more and an embankment will run past the canal instead.

Soon back to green fields with sheep grazing. Where should we stop for the day? The weather forecast had been for rain much of the day, but it had been drier than expected. A few moorings were occupied we carried on pulling in just before Priors Hardwick Bridge, we’d moored the other side of it on our way south a month ago.

Firing up the hot tub

Tilly was given four hours and vanished off into the sideways trees to be busy. Lunch was followed by a lot of budget wrangling for panto. New figures for the printing had come through this morning, some better but eaten up by things that hadn’t been included in the first quote. I’d passed this on with a couple of ideas to Gemma. I hate days like this, it’s days like this that make me want to pack my scalpel away.

Gemma sent an email regarding the overall budget with suggestions of things that would need to be cut to bring us into budget. A hope that some money can be found from other parts of the budget. I then spent the afternoon going through every element of the set trying to prune things that wouldn’t ruin the whole look, or different ways of building things. I collated a list ready for a meeting tomorrow. Fingers crossed that we can prune enough off and find a bit more money.

Chisel in hand

Mick busied himself installing our Nebolink. This is a little box that should automatically start and stop recording our journeys on Oleanna. Designed more for the cruiser market we’d had to think of where we could mount it for it to work. Being inside a metal tube was not going to be ideal, mounting it to an outside bulkhead also not ideal. Instead we opted for the underside of the cratch board, here it could be hooked up to the electrics via the light we have in there.

Getting the cable under the light fitting required a touch of carpentry. Wilkos in Banbury had provided us with a chisel and Mick started to notch out the wood. It being at an odd height and angle we swapped over. Gradually I worked away enough wood for the cable to pass under the fitting, now all that was needed was to connect the red and black wires, not a taxing job.

Red flashing light is important

Tomorrow when we set off the Nebolink should automatically start to record our journey, we’ll see how it does. A phone will also be used to track our journey for comparison.

0 locks, 9.2 miles, 1 soggy cruise, 220 grams of yarn wound, 4 inches knitted, 46783753289745664534218878664534 dumper truck loads, £600 mis calculated, 1 chisel, 1 notch, 1 nebolink installed, 4 hours, £4500 still to save, I hate inflation!

https://goo.gl/maps/qxA9ijDYMJaMaxXj8