Category Archives: Pantomime

Ronnie, Tinkerbell And The Queen. 19th July

Aylesbury Basin to above Broughton Lock 14

A big pill after breakfast, hopefully the effect of it would kick in by the time I’d written the blog as there was someone I wanted to say hello to.


Sat in front of Aylesbury Waterfront Theatre is Fletcher, Norman Stanley Fletcher, well Ronnie Baker in his costume from Porridge. He sits hands in his armpits looking up towards the theatre, as if he’s about to say something to Mr Barrowcliffe.

Looking up at the theatre

Ronnie first performed professionally in 1948 at the old County Theatre in Market Square Aylesbury, good on the person who gave him his first job.

Around the entrance to the theatre has been painted for Christmas. Peter Pan a good guess for their panto, but it’s actually The Further Adventures of Peter Pan. It’s a shame Tinkerbell looks a little bit chubby cheeked.

With walking pole at hand and the pain killer starting to kick in Mick and I had a wander around Waitrose looking for yellow labels and enough provisions to keep us going for a few days. This I simply wouldn’t have been able to do a couple of days ago.

Mick had topped us up with water whilst we had breakfast linking our hoses together from a tap by the gate to the pontoons. Some bins had been mentioned by another boater so Mick went off to find them, check they were official C&RT bins (they were), noted their location and disposed of our rubbish.

Open and waiting for us

As the temperature was set to rise to around 30C today we really didn’t want to be sitting in bright sunshine, Tilly for one would be complaining about it, ALL the time! We’d spotted somewhere on our way down that, if there was space for us, would be a nice shady mooring. It would have been nice to venture further afield in Aylesbury than we’d been before but that wasn’t to be this time.

We pushed off and slowly made our way back up the canal. Depth and weed slowing our progress. The first lock had both it’s bottom gates open waiting for us, plus a paddle up. I stayed at the helm and Mick did the honours with windlass and gates.

Willow for shade at the lock

Blimey it was getting hot, blue skies, we were thankful for the shady trees for some of the way. We passed a downhill boat that we remembered from a couple of days ago, hopefully they’d come from where we wanted to be. Another two locks uphill and we reached the line of moored boats. A fisherman sat in shade, then a couple of boats in dappled sunshine. A space, would the shade last the rest of the day? We pulled in, it certainly looked like we’d not be baking all afternoon.

A nice shady spot to moor

Tilly was given 4 hours shore leave, we sat down for lunch, she came and went for a while, then went for quite some time. Here had self catering potential.

Mick listened to the cricket and I filled out a request for a doctors appointment with my surgery in Scarborough. The things the practitioner had said to me yesterday were all put on the form, I needed to make a good case. I clicked the button to submit it. On recent form from the surgery I didn’t expect to hear back for a few days, however within 5 minutes my phone rang! The doctor wanted me to see a Physio (expected first line of action), could I make an appointment this afternoon? Blimey!!! I was being offered an appointment within 45 minutes of submitting my request! Obviously this was impossible. I was offered the next available appointment which I snapped up when it coincided with appointments that Mick has back in Scarborough.

A touch of towpath knitting

Now we just need to sort logistics. A phone call to one marina to see if we could leave Tilly in charge there. He was so ambiguous, could we call back next week, not sure if there was space, we decided we’d try elsewhere instead.

The shady towpath called us both outside for the rest of the afternoon. Tilly came and joined us. Sitting on the top of the pram cover a good spot when in shade. Climbing the big tree next to us also good, apart from when coming down and trying to use some dead ivy which gave way under her paws. A nice quiet afternoon of cricket and finishing off sock pair 29.

Queen of the boat

3 locks, 1.4 miles, 1 big pill, 0 co-codamol, 1 Ronnie, 1 Tinkerbell, 1 queen of the pram cover, 1 hot day in the shade.

Party Time. 13th 14th July

Cowroast Marina

A bus into Aylesbury for a hire car, £100 cheaper for the weekend than from Hemel Hempstead! The washing machine constantly on the go, an extra £5 added to the electric post needing to be used. We both packed a bag with party clothes, evening dingding was served three hours early, Tilly was left in charge. No magic food bowl?!

A grade 3 tidy up

If we’d wanted to we’d have been able to reach our destination on Oleanna, this would have meant some long days in the rain and on arrival it wouldn’t have been quite so handy. We could have taken the train and a bus or two, some distances to walk would have been involved but the fares were way more expensive than just hiring a car.

The Watford Flight is down there

Our route took us along narrow lanes, sign posts to Cheddington, glimpses of the Grand Union, through Ivinghoe, all places we know from the water. Grove Lock, around Leighton Buzzard, The Soulbury Three, Stoke Hammond. Then the roundabouts of Milton Keynes took us further east and up to the M1. We didn’t manage to glimpse a look at the Northampton Flight, or Long Buckby, but the big trees that accompany the canal to the Watford Flight were easy to spot after the service station. At Junction 18 we turned off, Crick, well the Holiday Inn at Crick.

Long corridors and bridges

We checked in, explored our compact room which of course was the furthest away possible! Mick flicked the TV on, Robbie Cumming making his way along the GU, only just managing to get through the Soulbury Three before it closed for winter maintenance, as if he didn’t know!

Time to join the party, Lizzie’s 50th Birthday party.

Lizzie with her Dad

What a lovely evening it was. People from most of Lizzies life, family, Watford Palace Theatre (where we first met in the 90’s), Cemex, the boating world, most of her current colleagues from Unusual were busy working on the Olympics in Paris, plenty to keep them busy out there.

Jeremy who was once the Production Manager at Watford Palace Theatre, He employed me to paint scenery for a while and the two of us interviewed Lizzie for the Scenic Artist job there shortly after she left college. Jeremy also helped Lizzie when she first bought NB Panda, moving her from Birmingham, Jeremy having lived on a boat during his Watford days. Our paths also crossed further north when we both ended up on the Yorkshire coast. He’s now quite a useful source of info on the Beverley Beck!

Over the last ten years we’ve gradually got to know various boaters through Lizzie. Noel and Carolyn, Noel had been the Harbour Master at Crick when we first bought Lillian, he managed to find a space for her in the run up to Crick Boat show in 2014 where we gradually moved on board.

Crews from NB Kamilli, NB Adagio and NB Leon before they sold her

Andy and Irene from NB Kamilli. Our bows have crossed a few times and hopefully they may do again this summer. The NB Adagio crew, I’ve lost their names now, but we wave whenever we pass the Cape of Good Hope.

Mick, John and Ali

Then John and Ali from NB Triskaideka. We’d once met on a street corner in Crick, only briefly, but Ali and I have been I touch recently. There was lots to talk about with them, very similar boaters to us with the same attitudes to boating and the waterways community. Plenty of red wine was drunk on our table and by the end of the evening we knew we’d be stopping to have a bottle or two more with them when our bows cross.

The Tuckeys

Several faces familiar from around Crick. One lady who worked for ABNB and Neil Stuttle who fits out boats. Then sat next to Mick were the Tuckey’s, yes the crane and boat movers. Lizzie used to help move boats around Crick marina before and after the boat show so has known them for quite some years. Both Mick and I asked them if they’d had lots of enquiries from boats on the Lancaster Canal, the sealock on the Ribble Link has developed a fault meaning boats could be stuck there through the winter. It was interesting as they are asked for quotes for such things, but people rarely tell them the reason, they had no idea about the stoppage despite having had numerous calls.

Cutting the cake

Plenty to talk about, some nice food and plenty to drink, we lasted until the big lights came on at the end of the night!

All a little bit tippsy!

In the morning we joined the masses for breakfast, plenty of people had stayed including Lizzie. Time to catch up again over a cooked breakfast before everyone headed off in their separate directions. A lovely time had by all, good to catch up with people, maybe we’d bump into them all again if we headed to Stratford, but we have other plans. Thank you Lizzie for having a big Birthday and for inviting us.

Not as good as one of Mick’s, but not bad

Back down the M1 being tailed by the Kamilli crew for about 20 miles. Then round Milton Keynes, past all the land marks back to Cowroast Marina and Tilly, who had done her job very well whilst we were away.

For the last week we’ve been trying to catch up with my college friend Jen who lives in Hemel, her current job not allowing her time to come and help us through some locks. As we had a car we headed back to Hemel, a slight diversionary route giving us more narrow roads and just missing Winkwell Swing Bridge back to the Fishery Wharf Cafe to meet up with her and her dog Monty a very well behaved Collie.

Fishery Wharf well worth a visit

Lots to catch up on, Jen is a fantastic scenic artist and used to work at the National Theatre. Now she freelances and has worked on various films and tv series. I believe she said she work on the props for the latest Ghost Buster film and currently is slapping paint on scenery for a new Netflix series about the Guiness family Last year she also painted some very wonderful panto cloths for Bury St Edmonds.

Mick, Pip and Jen.

Recently she’s had an operation on her foot, so the two of us hobbled away from the cafe after a couple of hours.

Back at the boat we settled down for some food and a night in front of the TV, Dr Who with the Beatles. It was obvious what our nearest neighbours would be watching tonight, but thankfully after one rendition of Sweet Carolyn they must have headed to the pub garden to watch the game. A muffled roar from somewhere made us check the score. The quietness that followed suggested that Spain had scored more than one goal. Everyone returned to the marina quite quietly.

A nice quiet evening knitting

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Fiat 500, M1 twice, 1 very good party, 2 official photographers, 1 offer of crew, 1 problematic bridge, 1 tray, pair 29 well under way, 1 painter and hound, 1 free sausage, 1 nice cafe, 1 musical baddy, 1 quiet night in with Tilly, still 9.75 digits.

Moving Into Position. 20th June

Mytchett Visitor Centre to Frimley Lodge Park

Yesterday’s walking has aggravated a problem I’ve got with one of my knees. Today we’d thought of having a visit to Woking, but I decided to put that on hold to save walking lots as tomorrow we hope to be descending the Deepcut flight. Once I get moving it’s not so bad, it just takes a while to get going!

Mick loitered in the car park for a Sainsburys delivery, it took some time to stow away. I’d got a chicken with the idea of jointing it and popping it in the freezer, however the freezer is a touch too full at the moment. We may have to have a roast chicken, just as the temperatures are starting to rise!

A move for water

The next couple of pairs of socks were packaged up ready for the post. Then I sat down to join an on-line funeral of the father of one of my York college friends Nick. A sad occasion, but a lovely tribute to a man who loved to sing. Thank goodness there was an excerpt from his 80th birthday where he and a couple of friends sang a Gilbert and Sullivan passage, far better than the main voice heard over the internet during the hymns. Sorry I couldn’t make it to York to be there in person.

NB Olive arrived behind us, they pulled in onto the waterpoint for a pump out. Mick went to chat and arrange when they’d finished that we’d do a do-ci-do as we wanted to top up on water. We pushed over to the towpath, well tried to, getting to the side problematical. The local hire boats must be so shallow as they’ve been mooring there. Once we’d attended to emptying the yellow water tank we then reversed back to the now vacated water point to use the water point and elsan, NB Olive pulling into our still warm mooring of the last few days.

Hopefully this will be goodbye to the visitors centre

Tomorrow morning we need to be at the top of Deepcut Locks at 9:30 so we decided to move back to Frimley Lodge Park, cutting the slow journey in half. The 0.8 miles took us an hour, one visit down the weed hatch and I was sent down to the bow to help bring the stern up.

See you tomorrow Olive

At the bow I could see very clearly where the channel was the water so clear. We had quite a lengthy chat with a fella sat on the bank as we tried to progress onwards. The geese all swam past and then vanished into the off side, the entrance to a lake disguised from my view point.

Bridge closed behind us

By 4pm we were moored up, some nettles trimmed back so that covers could be closed and Tilly was out enjoying some shore leave. Our nebolink hasn’t sent us emails today again. I can see that it’s logged the journey, just not sent the report. Our internet is a touch dodgy here so that may be the cause. *It arrived at around 4am.

During the day the Basingstoke Canal Authority put out their stoppage notice regarding the locks.

A couple of days ago the 2024 Pantomime Awards were held in Guildford. Chipping Norton Panto, Cinderella had two nominations. Actors Mark and Laura were nominated for the Best Ugly Sisters and Mariana the Assistant Director/Dramaturg was nominated for Best Newcomer to Pantomime. Sadly these awards went to other people. However they were there to receive a special award for Achievement in Innovation. Well done to the whole team who worked on Cinderella, but especially John Terry who decided to relocate the story to Latin America and employ so many Latinex actors and creatives.


0 locks, 0.8 miles, 1 swing bridge, 15 held up, 3 boat lengths reversed, 6 boxes wine, 1 big chicken, 2 boxes pink fishy cat food, 2 hours shore leave, 1 odd man, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 2 boaters and 1 boat cat ready for the morning.!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2011.243809970771!2d-0.7246175771777317!3d51.29882801812367!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTHCsDE3JzU1LjciTiAwwrA0MycyMS4yIlc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1718952797455!5m2!1sen!2suk

Ghost Train Or Fancy Bumping Into You Here! 18th May

Priors Hardwick Bridge 123 to Claydon Top Bridge 144

Our neighbours for the night

As we sat in bed with the view out across the sheep field opposite the first boat came past at 7:30. A panel on the side of the boat said Finesse No 2, this was NB Gra, not the second boat Finesse had built, the number a choice of the owners, maybe the second Cowpar Finesse had built. We waved but no-one saw us, I sent a message to Laura on the Ladies of Finesse group to say hello. They’d been aiming to get to the locks before the masses, they were wise.

Soaking up the rays

We got ourselves ready for the off and crept through bridge 123, here along another length of armco were two moored boats, we’d not been on our own, but it had felt it last night.

A hazy morning

We pootled our way along the summit pound the high hedge obliterating any view to the north and rolling ridge and furrowed fields to the south. A misty morning with sheep grazing. As the sun showed itself it became warm, so much so we were down to tshirts, then a cloud would come over and jumpers were required again.

How many boats all in a line?

As we came towards the big boot of the navigation so did another boat from the opposite direction. The lady on her phone nodded to us as she passed. Then another boat came round the bend, followed by a third. The chap at the helm warned us of a fourth boat a short distance behind. Mick held us just before the bend, no point meeting at the bend if we were forewarned. Sure enough round it came. Anyone else? No. NB Gra had been right to be off early as they were now being followed by at least four more boats, there’d be a queue at Marston Doles Top Lock and nowhere to pull in.

Round the boot we tried to remember what the mounds of HS2 earth had looked like in August last year. Plenty of diggers were around then as they were today. A large area looked to have had a membrane laid and then covered with hardcore and sand. Is this the base for an embankment or will there be a lake here?

Another boat passed us as we came towards where HS2 will cross the canal. The temporary bridge has traffic lights at both sides and signs give towpath walkers a diversion to follow. To the north the bridge support is being welded together, catching up with that on the south side. I wonder how it will look when next we pass? Don’t know when that will be, suspect it won’t be this year. Will Bridge 128 remain alongside? Are the things clipped onto the off side armco monitors to keep an eye on the canal?

To the south

The usually popular mooring overlooking the radio mast was empty, is this where all the boats had come from this morning? Or is this no longer a good place to moor due to HS2?

To the north

As we pootled along a few more boats came towards us whilst I wove ends in on last weeks pair of socks. These are having a bit more added to them and I needed confirmation from Clare that I was getting it right, her being a pianist an all! Thankfully I was and I wouldn’t have to carefully snip away any mistakes. The job is a time consuming one, but hopefully the recipient will appreciate it.

Approaching Fenny Compton we pulled into the first available mooring, it’s normally chocka around here. Mick headed into the village to post a card and to buy our Saturday newspaper. I elected to stay on board, there were some secret things Tilly and I needed to do! Lunch and we were on our way again, more miles of the summit needed to be ticked off today, well all of them really!

Tunneless tunnel

Thankfully the traffic had calmed down somewhat as we headed towards Fenny Compton Tunnel, no longer a tunnel just a cutting, but very narrow at times. We got through before a hire boat appeared ahead of us, good timing.

The old railway bridge

The railway runs alongside the canal, however out of view. As we approached the now dismantled railway bridge that used to cross the canal it sounded like a train was on it’s way about to cross over head. It sounded like a ghost train was running from Stratford to Towcester and would crash into the canal because the bridge was missing! How many times had this ghost train crashed?!

The first bridge lufted

Not far on was the first iconic Oxford Canal lift bridge, Bridge 144, usually left open. Soon followed by a right hand bend and a boat heading towards us. Oh Blimey! Mick tried taking an avoidance course, the other boat did it’s best to go into reverse, but did not change course for the turn. Both boats slowed, but contact was unavoidable. Just a Bumph! from a bow fender onto our gunnel. No harm done and we could both be on our way after a ‘Sorry!’ and ‘Fancy bumping into you here!’

Finding some shade on the roof

Slow progress past the long term moorings and then we kept our fingers crossed for a mooring before the top of Claydon. The first spot, only long enough for one boat was occupied and as we rounded the next bend we started to count the number of moored boats. Half a boat length of armco had our name on it, there may have been space further up, but it looked like there were a couple of git gaps so nothing would be long enough for us. Nappy pin at the bow spikes at the stern, then the doors were opened for Tilly to head off and explore.

See ya!

As Tilly came and went and Mick snoozed on the sofa I got round to a job that’s been needing to be done for a while. About this time last year my agent said that she would be cutting back on her work and reducing her client base to just a couple of designers. She would look after me for the contracts already on her books, panto, but anything else that came in she wouldn’t represent me. I was welcome to find a new agent, but as I only do a couple of shows a year, I suspect no-one would really be interested in taking me on, after all I wouldn’t earn them much money!

So I shall look after my own contracts from now on, should any shows come my way! What I have lost though is an internet presence, my biog and some photos were on my agents website, that doesn’t exist anymore. It was time for me to rectify that. So for those eagle eyed readers (I know someone has already spotted it) I have added a page to the blog with my biog and a few photos. When I find myself with a bit more time I’ll add a link to more photos, an online folio.

0 locks, 9.1 miles, 2 many boats, 1st Saturday paper in a while, 1 tunneless tunnel, 1 ghost train, 1 lufted lift bridge, 1 Bumph, 1 boat tagged on the end, 0 key for the locked rooms in the house! 1 head returning to normal.

One Cat, Two Servants. 25th April

Pierpoint Top Lock 55 to above Kent’s Lock 45

A little bit of a chug first thing to reach the next lock, one of the few pounds on the way up to Stoke where there’s enough time to boil a kettle, however not enough time to drink the cuppa you’ve just made!

First lock of the day

At Thurlwood Lower Lock both chambers were just about full, I opted for the narrower chamber as this was just a touch lower. We rose up keeping an eye out to make sure Oleanna wasn’t too wide, she wasn’t so all was fine.

I love these gardens

Compared to yesterdays weather today was miserable, damp in the air, cold, then rainy, very little sun shining down on us. The locks would keep us busy and hopefully warm. There’s an honesty hutch above Thurlwood Top Lock for eggs, however this morning it was empty, no chance of us getting a lucky green egg.

There was plenty of mooring available in Rode Heath, a nice mooring unless you are a cat! That outside has soo much pawtential, just need to ban all the woofers!

Now the four Lawton Locks. These were once all paired locks, one of them now a single, the other three only one lock operational. Lock 52 offside had fencing around it, some serious work going on. Had the skip boat we’d just passed got new gates for it? CRT decided to work on this lock out of the winter stoppage season as it’s paired lock was operational. Looking down below my feet on the working side, I did wonder if there was much solidity below me, there seemed to be a lot of air holding up the bricks!

Swapping locks

At just about every lock there was a boat coming down, we were following NB Autumn Haze up, a nice flow of boats through the locks, each rise fed by the next lock being emptied, efficient.

Waiting for the pound and lock to fill

Church Bottom and Top Locks are very close together. Nb Autumn Haze rose up above then the lady returned to lift a paddle to help fill the intermediate pound for us. Thank you.

We’d noticed on facebook this morning that NB Halsall would be making her way up the Cheshire Locks behind us, likely to do the whole lot in a day, few boats to serve. I placed an order and said where we hoped we’d be moored.

Obligatory photo even if it isn’t the same as when we were yellow

Next came a big deliberation. The need for a station tomorrow, the need for another in a few days time, a stock up on food, a location to return the faulty battery, meeting with friends and a desire to see a play. When should we go to the theatre? Today, stopping at Red Bull, transport back would be a problem. Should we see if we could get a booking this afternoon for the tunnel, moor up at Westport Lake and go from there? Should we delay seeing the play by a few days and get a bus back to Newcastle? All options were considered, we opted to pull up at Red Bull, a much better mooring for Tilly. She came and went for a couple of hours, her servants opening and closing doors for her, Dreamies on tap.

Anyone for a good strong cup of tea?

Theatre tickets booked, a bus sused out to get there, a message sent to Halsall incase we weren’t on board when they arrived. That reminds me I must pay them! Just as we were about to get smartened up ‘Coal Boat!’ Halsall pulled up along side, Rachel and Brian onboard. Not much time for a chat as they wanted to be on up to the next lock once they’d made our delivery. Diesel, more coal and a new gas bottle. Thank you as ever Halsall.


A walk up the hill to catch the 4A bus which took us to right outside the New Vic Theatre. We were here to see One Man, Two Guvnors their current production. In the cast several people we knew. Added bonus was our friend Bill happened to be watching the show too this evening, his partner Lisa (I used to work with in Scarborough) a stage manager on the show. I’d selected our tickets well, cheapest seats just because you have to walk along a row past other people to reach your own and the band would be in view throughout the show. It’s hard to get a bad view at a theatre in the round!

Hi NIck!

Mick said he hoped he’d not fall asleep as it was quite long. I knew there’d be little chance of that! What a show! Physical, farcical, at times hysterical. If you are having a bad day go and see this show, your face will ache from laughing so much. The whole company were brilliant, the energy from Michael Hugo and Nick Haverson exhaustingly funny.

Gareth, Nick, Pip, Bill, Mick

We met up with people in the bar afterwards, nice to be able to do such a thing rather than stand in the foyer waiting for people to come out from back stage. I ended up knowing five of the actors, Nick I’ve known since my college days and then lots at the SJT. Gareth could have passed me by without his long hair and beard, he’s been in a couple of Chippy pantos. Michael was in a show at Esk Valley Theatre I designed years ago, Alyce and Thomas stayed in our house last year. Sadly Conrad the director wasn’t about, I’ve worked with him twice, once here at the New Vic on a production of Oleanna by David Mamet.

What a great evening and so lovely to see everyone.

10 locks, 3.3 miles, 1 damp day, 1 canal turning orange, 2 hours, 2 bags excel, 1 gas bottle, 58 litres, 2 green tickets, 1 bus, 1 taxi, 6 actors, 1 DSM, £13 taxi, 1 great night.


This is our 2,000th post on the Oleanna blog. I remember the days when I used to get excited for the 100th or 200th post on the NB Lillyanne blog!

Back in 2014 we started our life afloat on Lillian (NB Lillyanne for new followers) a temporary boat whilst we waited for NB Oleanna to be built, we’d already waited quite a while! Lillian was bought with the previso that once we finally moved on board NB Oleanna we would have the year afloat that we’d been looking forward to for so long.

The original build didn’t go as it should have and we started to look for a new boat builder. Jonathan Wilson was the man to build us our boat, the delay had been handy as living on Lillian gave us some better ideas for the build, and some things we knew we’d not be wanting!

It took us until 7th April 2017 to move Tilly and a third of our possessions on board. That is when our year afloat started. The life suited us, so we just kept on going, an end date never entering our minds. Then covid came along. If it hadn’t been for our troublesome tenants during the first lockdown in 2020 I’m fairly sure we’d still be full time live aboards. But our house needed to be reclaimed. Would we prefer life on land to life on the water? Would we be able to afford both house and boat? We knew one thing, we wouldn’t be letting it out to long term tenants again!

So now, we spend as much of our time afloat as we can, actors lodging in the house for much of the year whilst we cruise the network. Time in the house is spent doing jobs, reclaiming and improving things for both us and those who stay there. The house just about pays for itself all year round, fingers crossed. Time on the boat has always been about travelling, more so now to make up for being static for a few months a year.

Some jobs on board have slipped in the last few years. The gunnels haven’t been touched since Oleanna was out for blacking in 2021. The grab rails have been patched but not finished. The roof is still in need of a very good wash, we’ve either been moving or it’s been raining so far this year, well that’s my excuse! The cabin sides really need a polish. But these things all take time and we’d rather be moving than doing chores. We’ve never been shiney boaters at heart.

July 2019 on the River Wey

We’ve had some questions recently regarding our new Bully Boy Batteries and how they are doing. Paul said we’d left our readers on tenterhooks after mentioning that they seemed to be charging at different rates, or something along those lines. Well I think Mick’s answer was that he’s stopped wondering why they are doing this and has just accepted it. With our new batteries we certainly don’t have the concerns over capacity as we used to, especially at the end of last year when we were down to just two of our original batteries. Because they have so much more capacity they take longer to charge, so if we are staying put for the day and want to run the dishwasher the engine goes on. This does mean we also get a full tank of hot water. But some days we’ve had enough capacity to use our immersion heater to heat the water using electricity therefore the engine is not required. We expect this to happen more and more in the summer when the solar panels provide a lot more power.

August 2022

USB rechargeable lights in cupboards. These are proving to be pretty good, so far. The one that is in The Shed has had to be charged, mainly because it is used several times a day. The others in the pull out corner galley cupboard light up every time I go in there and have made me realise that at some point I’ve taken the square baking tin to the house, hence a round batch of flapjack the other day.

I’ve also had a few people ask me if I’ll be designing Chippy Panto this year. Well, no I’m not. Before I arrived in Chippy for rehearsals last year I’d already decided that this year I wanted to boat through the summer and be able to enjoy it. Last summer we’d cruise in the mornings and just about every afternoon I would work. Over the last six years I’ve designed the last five pantos in Chippy which I have really enjoyed. Designing and painting my designs is what I really love doing, being part of a building with a family feel is very special. But last year I started to miss boating, not being able to return home to Oleanna at weekends is hard too. So in January I got in touch with John before he got in touch with me about this years Panto. I shall miss it, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to go and see Jack and the Beanstalk later this year, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out Chippy panto.

Rapunzel 2021

This of course will free up my afternoons so hopefully this year Oleanna will get some much needed touching up, if it ever stops raining! I do still need to feed my creative soul and I’m hoping that doing some paintings of places on our travels will do this for me.

So along with this being our 2000th post, we’ve had 3,068 comments, 17,431 photographs, 172 subscribers, on 16th June 2021 we had the most views, Friday is the most popular day at 9am, views from 96 countries, Thwaite Mills on 31st March the most viewed post, 733 likes (I suspect this is actually higher and mostly from Ade), hang on he’s just liked another! 1,845,360 words written, not including this post!

*Some of these figures may be inaccurate as I’ve had to collect the info from various places

This last Christmas I had an old friend ask what we would do with Oleanna when can no longer boat, whether that be through our physical ability to boat or should the waterways start closing around us due to lack of funding. I said we’d still keep her, find somewhere for her to be, maybe on land if needs be, where we could still stay on board. But here’s hoping our floating days will continue for many years more. We’ll keep writing the blog and sharing it with those who want to read it and hopefully we’ll get to meet a few more of you along the way.

For those of you who have followed Oleanna from the beginning in 2015, a BIG BIG Thank You for reading all our ramblings through the years. I doubt if anyone other than ourselves has read every single post. For what started off as a diary for us to look back on in years to come, for family and friends to keep up with our travels, we now have a lot of new friends, some we’ve yet to actually meet. We find looking back on posts interesting, after all there is useful information in amongst the breakfasts, socks and stamps of approval. Thank you for coming along with us.

Smiling as ever!
Click photo to go to petition

Arriba Arepas. 13th March

Above Lemonroyd Lock

So where is all that rain that was meant to fall overnight? Have to say it looked like it would fall more on the western side of the country than over the Leeds area. Just have to hope it’s not landing on the Calder catchment area of the Pennines or we could be waiting for flood gates to reopen. Instead of the rain we got wind.

At the moment we are awaiting Woodnook Lock reopening. But further upstream there are four flood gates currently closed, meaning that we’d only be able to get as far as Stanley Ferry where the first one will block our way.

We need a new plug now!

A pottering kind of day for us. Mick got round to going through the items on The Shed shelves and the contents of the Nicholson’s shelf. I’d offered to do it, but wouldn’t know what he’d be wanting to keep. The aim was to be able to put the tool box back on the shelf as originally planned seven years ago. A couple of tupperware boxes were used to keep bits and bobs in, which now can live happily behind or alongside the tool box. We now have space on the Nicholson’s shelf for one of the guides, although these very rarely come out now, they only get read when we are on completely new water.

Tilly came and went. The blowy outside not much to her liking, but the ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies were!

I made some Arepas for lunch, corn cakes which are easy to make once you have the right flour. These were mentioned in panto last year, so I’d been wanting to make some. Back in the house I’ve had a couple of goes, todays recipe was possibly the best one I’ve tried, less sticky than the others. I also made some coleslaw to go in them with a slice of feta cheese that needed eating up. Very nice and a nice change. I’ll add them to the recipe section.

Arepas, click the photo to go there

I spent much of the day knitting Pair 11 of my sockathon. The pair I’d started yesterday sadly the yarn, which is yummy, was just too busy for what I was wanting to create, so it was frogged and I’ve started on a pair to match pair 10, well similar. I really must take photos of the finished socks I have in my box and get them in the post.

Nice but not what I’d hoped for

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 passing boats, 1 blowy day, 1 shed sorted, 1 sock frogged, 0.75 of next sock knitted, 4 arepas, 24 Dreamies, 1 cat not loosing weight! 1 fire just on tick over, 1 galley sink plug needing replacement.

TLC Day 8. 30th January

Salt and Pepper!

We called into Sainsburys to pick up an order from Ikea, I’d not had confirmation that it had arrived, but it should have been there since Sunday. The lady suggested looking for my delivery on DPD, she needed a QR code to scan before I could have my parcel. Then of course she needed to see some ID for me, which I didn’t have! Thankfully she believed me that I have a driving licence and handed over the order. Thank goodness we’d gone by car, it was a huge box! We chose some soup for lunch and then headed on to Goole, thankfully the sun was out today making for a pleasant drive.

More cupboard sorting, this time the cat proof cupboard. Illustrations for Seperate Doors, bits of panto model, some of these need to stay on board, others need to head for safe keeping at the house. Now we no longer live on board full time some things don’t need to be at hand should we want them. The big box of boat build details was packed along with the folder on Stillwater Narrowboats, that can be filed away somewhere upstairs upstairs, no need to look at that again.

One of my all time favourite illustrations for Seperate Doors

The office cupboard moved from port to starboard. I’d like to have a pull out shelf for the printer at some point, it now being on the starboard side means the power lead will reach a power socket. Whiltling things down is good, but I’m also mindful that we need to compensate for the weight of the new batteries and not end up on a list.

Very tasty

Mick ran the engine. I made a cardboard template for the shelf that will sit above the battery in The Shed. Pea and Ham soup, then a final tidy of various things, The Shed put back together. I could then hoover through and get ready to put a coat of Danish oil on the floor. With the hoovering done, Oleanna was winterised.

Glad you can’t see the diggers on the otherside of the Dutch River

Thankfully the day being bright, Goole looked like the Med today, I had plenty of light to be able to do the oiling. I took my time gradually working my way backwards to the bow. Making sure everywhere got an even coat, no slap dashing today. The last bit is always so hard to do from the bow steps leaning down past your toes to cover the last foot square. Done! The front door was locked, the oil can now cure over several days before anyone will walk on it.

Please dry evenly!

There will need to be another trip so that we can put everything back where it lives and give the bathroom a good clean. The Shed will need it’s new shelf and some hanging rods rather than rails, but we need to see what space we’ll have once the fire extinguisher is back on the wall.


Mick will be along sometime soon to explain more about what’s been happening in the engine bay with the new Bully Boy Batteries. I’m now heading off to chain myself to the sewing machine to cover the dinette cushions, oh and a bit of knitting too! Hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you some of the finished socks, once their sponsors have received them.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 last trip, 1 engine ran, 3 Chippy lanyards, 1 panto car, 2 phone boxes, 1 Petiti tree, 1 hoover, 2 last soups, 1 onion, 1 careful coat of oil, 1 face looking forward to not wearing a mask again, 1 boys blood pressure creaping down each day.

TLC Day 5. 26th January

Plenty to do today, but not in Goole.

Having a car would make the day easier and I got to actually see the Postie. They delivered a parcel I wasn’t expecting from the ladies who are Wool is the Answer, three of their lovely sock sets. The sparkly yarn will have to be used on some pantomime socks for Paul at Chippy Theatre. I may not put much glitter into my panto designs but panto socks are a different matter! They have also planted an idea of visiting a yarn show this year, so that I can hopefully say a thank you to those who have helped with yarn donations face to face.

Yummy, thank you!

I was dropped off in town to order the bathroom vinyl whilst Mick saught out a motor factors and visited his doctors surgery for a routine test.

That’s been here for some time, the blacking has worn off

Meeting up again at the house we headed out to the tip, time to dispose of old engine oil from Oleanna and say our final farwell to the folding barbeque that had started to resemble a tea bag. A big shop at Morrisons, collecting things from Dunelm followed by a visit to Halfords, Mick hadn’t had any luck elsewhere and was in need of a few electrical bits and bobs to get the new batteries working.

electrical bits and bobs

In the afternoon there was some time to try to catch up with the blog followed by weaving ends in on the next pair of socks. Mick was keen for us to watch the penultimate episode of The Traitors, we’ve binge watched season one and had just about caught up with season two. I was strong and made us wait until I’d finished the socks and photographed them.

We were then ready to be able to watch the final live. It didn’t disappoint.

So what are we going to watch now?! There’s always the American and Australia Traitors!

Come play up my tree!

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 trip to Goole, 2 x 3.5m vinyl, 1 fitter booked, 1 blood test, 10 litres oil, 1 ex-barbeque, 1 big shop, 1 duvet cover, 3rd pair finished off, 2 very tense finale, 1 happy cat.

Busbars, Bridges And Bits And Bobs

Things are being ordered.

First things to arrive were some waterproof cases for our mobile phones. These won a Herbie Award, not these actual ones, but having waterproof cases to save having to replace a drowned phone. This is a common hazard living on a boat. I’ve lost two phones and Mick has dropped one phone and a tablet into the drink.

At Christmas Mick got me a new phone as my old one was looking a tad cracked after nearly becoming phone number three heading for the depths of Nether Lock last January. I’d like to try to keep hold of this one a touch longer if possible. So I’ve been looking round for cases.

Most of the cases I found are intended for swimming, keeping the water out is one thing. But being able to turn your phone on to take that photo of a Kingfisher is another, especially when your power switch is now fingerprint operated and on the side! One case I found has the outside area inflated, so it would act like water wings should your phone go for a swim. I suspect this would make it even harder to turn on.

I’ve tried taking photos through the case to see what effect it has. Reflections are one downside. I suspect our cheap waterproof cases will end up being used for the phone we run Waterway Routes on at the helm. The phone stays powered whilst we cruise so the power button won’t be a problem. Just need to try to find a case that will allow me to take photos and turn the phone on whilst keeping it dry. Yes Mick could have bought me a waterproof phone, but his bank account isn’t that buoyant!

Next a box came from 12 Volt Planet. This contained busbars and fuses to be used in our battery upgrade. I’ll let Mick write about the battery upgrade when he does it. The fuses are also because Oleanna seems to have been built without a main fuse! Well Mick hasn’t ever been able to find one, so he’s going to fit one when putting in the new batteries.

We got sweeties too!

Another box came from Bimble Solar. A voltage sensitive relay for our Nebolink. This will save us having to turn the Nebolink on and off manually when we are cruising, it will do it automatically when the engine is turned on and off. Yes it is likely to turn on should we want to run the engine whilst stationary, but the trip will show 0 miles and may not be recorded by Nebo. It is a touch larger than Mick had thought it would be and have to say I’ll miss flicking the switch on as we push off each day.


Mick has also treated himself to some rechargeable motion sensitive strip lights. These have appeared on his Christmas list for the last three years. Twice they have been ordered and twice they have not arrived! So this year they were given up on as a bad thing. Of course he has now managed to get some straight away with no hassle! These are to go inside cupboards on Oleanna and will light up as the door is opened, saving getting a torch out to check for things at the back of cupboards etc.

Whilst Mick has been reveling in electrical things I managed to find some Pan Flour. Since working on Chippy Panto I’ve been wanting to have a go at making some Arepas, corn cakes. A little after Christmas I followed the instructions on the pack of flour and maybe was a touch impatient on leaving the flour to absorb the water. My first go were tasty filled with the last of the roast duck and red cabbage from Christmas, A little reminiscent of popcorn! I’ll follow an online recipe next time though.

Experimental Baking

The remainder mince pie pastry in the freezer and mince meat required using up, so I came up with the idea of a hybrid mince pie and Yorkshire Curd Tart. I made some curds then used the pastry and mince meat a touch like a bakewell tart, adding the curd custard on top. The outcome was nice, a little strange, but nice. At least the pastry has been used up.

I’ve also finished my painting. Which is now hung in the not quite smallest room in the house. It’s positioning may be a slight problem for two reasons. 1, when sat down it isn’t quite in eye line of the mirror. 2, those who stand to use the facilities may get distracted!

The finished painting, Wolverhampton Flight, Lock 21. Emulsion on canvas.

However I’m very pleased with it and am considering doing a series of paintings in the same style based on places we visit on the network. We’ve come up with a few locations we should be visiting this year. I may even get some prints or cards made from them.

Anyhow, there’s jobs need doing.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 busbars, 2 gauges, 3 fuses, 2 cases, 4 lights, 1 switch, 4 arepas, 1 Yorkshire Mince Pie, or 1 Mince Yorkshire Tart, Lock 21.

0.75 Pairs knitted

51.25 Pairs to go