Category Archives: Planes

Romeo India Alpha Tango. 15th July

Cow Field, Lechlade

An early start today had us walking across the muddy cow field and broken bridge to reach the New Inn at 7:15. Here sat a car, lights on, the occupant waved frantically at us as she pulled out from the parking space. The door opened ‘Long time no see!’ The smile was recognisable from 38 years ago, we’d both changed a lot since 1985. Jenny is now a vet, in 1985 she was possibly six, I was eighteen and had just finished doing my A levels. Using an inheritance from my Grandad I’d bought myself a flight to Hong Kong where my cousins Ian and Tim lived at the time. Jenny is my first cousin once removed.

The farm

Back in February, or was it March, our itinerary for this year changed the day we got back from moving Oleanna to Goole. An invite had arrived inviting us to my cousins for this weekend. A social gathering not involving a funeral was very attractive, it also came along with the added attraction of it being the Royal International Air Tattoo, at the bottom of Ian and Sally’s garden.

A Leckenby Maine Coon

They had moved to the area ten years ago and had said if ever we were on the Gloucester Sharpness Canal to get in touch. We’d never managed to contact them. A look at a map actually suggested that Lechlade was a lot closer to them, thus our destination for the summer was set.

The drive to their house in Fairford took longer than expected. Road closures and one-way systems were in operation for the airshow. The traffic wasn’t too bad, mostly down to the early hour. On arrival we were first greeted by dogs, then the household gradually woke up around us.

Sally, Jenny, Sam, Mick, Pip and Ian

Ian my cousin last seen at my Dad’s funeral nearly eleven years ago, Sally his wife last seen at Andrew and Jac’s wedding and Sam last seen in Hong Kong at the age of nine. A bit of a shame Andrew, Jac and Josh hadn’t been able to make it too, but that did mean we got everyone to ourselves, well along with all the other guests.

Having the runway for Fairford Airfield running within half a mile of the garden has meant a gathering of Ian’s old RAF and Cathay Pacific pals through the years, this year was to be the first since the pandemic. Today they were expecting 28 people, tomorrow a slightly different crowd numbering about 20.

A top up breakfast was offered and cuppas, would the weather oblige and allow the airshow to take off? The strong wind meant certain planes had not arrived and others wouldn’t get airborne, this included the Battle of Britain planes. The flying schedule pinned to the fridge door was now half obsolete. However airshow commentary was available on FM radios which were positioned around the house and garden.

Tumbling round each other at the bottom of the garden

Gradually more people arrived, the wind kept constantly strong and the planes started to rumble along the runway which was just out of view behind trees. Up came a display team, possibly the Spanish Patrulla Aguilas. Safety rules are such that the planes cannot do their acrobatics over the crowd, but there was nothing to stop them from doing so over the house. Unfortunately I missed taking what would have been the photo of the day as several planes crossed directly above the house. Oh well, at least I got to see it.

Something fast and noisy

Jets were extreamly noisy the view mostly very good.

The kitchen crew

Late morning Sally came round for a sandwich order, Jenny and Sam ready in the kitchen to make up what everyone required, each wearing their own branded pinnies for the occasion. Ian busied himself with distributing drinks from a plastic bag, large buckets sat in the garage filled with cans of beer and soft drinks all on ice for the day.

RAIN!!!

The organisation of the event certainly showed that they’d done this a few times before. The only thing that was out of their control was the weather. The heavens opened with torrential rain, we all took cover in either a small marquee or inside the house, perfect for a lunch break.

The Red Arrows, down to a seven man team due to one of them waking up with a bad neck this morning (footage taken from Sunday’s show). Sadly this made their formations look lopsided.

Us boaters agreed that the display from the Saudi Falcons was better by far, the ex-RAF contingency politely made comments, not able to totally agree, airforce blue still running through their retired veins.

Overhead

Refueling was a theme of the show and possibly the best photo I got all day was the one above. Chinooks, Tornados and many more planes gave displays. Conversations started and paused as the jets screeched overhead.

The planes were great and so was the company. Plenty of knowledgeable folk to give you technical information should you want it. Many of the chaps I’d met before at Ian and Sally’s wedding when I was their youngest bridesmaid. They had provided the arch of raised swords to walk through, all I had to do was wear a wine velvet cloak and my black patent shoes that Aunt Nancy had bought for me.

1972

Then there was lots of catching up to do with Sally, Jenny and Sam. News from the USA about Jo their brother about to become a father. News from Ukraine about Tim my cousin. History of houses, both French and Scottish.

A lull after the planes had landed saw preparations for the evening meal. The weather had forced a change of eating location into the garage which was bedecked in red white and blue. Ian was incharge of the bbq, Mick kept an eye on it too especially when he spotted flames that needed to be taken under control. Saucisson and pickles was followed by pork, jacket potatoes and salad, then chocolate pots, meringues and cheeses. We certainly were full to the brim with lots of lovely food.

Scary Scarborian

A quick dash around the house being shown family memorabilia, certain plates very much of their time and the painting that used to hang in Grandads house that was known to my side of the family as Scary Man. On the back of the portrait is a long account about Mr and Mrs W Appleby (Mr being in the portrait), they lived at 43 Sandside Scarborough and he is a far flung relative of ours. He happened to live next door to a Cappleman another ancestor.

Jenny very kindly gave us a lift back to Lechlade, even having to turn back when we realised we’d left our coats at the house. There are now plans for a meet up one weekend when I’m in Chippy working on panto.

I was left with my magic food bowl, but was still very pleased to have them back

Was it worth changing our plans for the summer for just one day? Yes it most certainly was. The planes and hospitality were one thing, but also reconnecting with family was way more important. Thank you for the invite, we had a brilliant day.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Tilly incharge, 7:15 rendez vous, 2 cousins, 2 cousins once removed, 3 woofers, 1 old Maine Coon, 28, 7 not 8, or even 9, 1 day of noisy planes, 13 hours of family, 2 many memories to share.

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves. 12th to 14th July

Cow Field, Lechlade

Time to settle down to do some serious days work. Jotted down in a margin I worked out how long I thought each job might take me, I needed to make the most of three days on the trot when we’d not be moving to be able to have a day off. Wednesdays goal was to finish all the leaves and get them stuck onto portals and cloths. Painting them was one thing, cutting them out another, then touching in their edges. Blimey they went on and on forever! And some more!! And even more!!!

Add into the mix the number of planes going overhead heading for Fairford and the Royal International Air Tattoo. Big planes, little planes, a helicopter, jets, display teams that arrived flew over the airfield then split up to come round to land. On Wednesday I decided to keep a tally of the number of planes (you know how I like numbers), a little hard as you couldn’t really tell which planes were circling round before landing. My tally got up to 128ish. The sky was certainly very busy.

With all the noise, Tilly stopped sitting out the back. With all the noise Tilly’s legs shrank and she started looking upwards and cowering. Time to make her a cave to feel safe in as the aircraft would carry on for days! A bit like my leaves!!! The escape pod came out and was zipped together, nestled next to a big bag on our bed, the curtains left drawn. Soon Tilly had taken up residence and we’d only see her first thing, dingding time and if we were lucky she’d sit on my lap in front of the tv for an hour late evening long after all the planes had stopped.

Wednesday evening we decided to treat ourselves to a meal out, we crossed over Ha’Penny Bridge closed to cars after an incident a few weeks ago! The New Inn was the obvious choice, it had been four years ago. Not the cosiest of pubs, we were offered a table in the back room which was chocka, we opted to sit in a front room, which soon became chocka too. Four years ago I’d thought about a gluten free burger, but that option on the menu meant having a burger without a bun! Instead I opted for a duck breast with mash and red cabbage and sniggled a chip off Mick’s plate. Blimey it was busy, the air show had very much moved into town.

A nice duck breast

Thursday I continued with leaves, getting up early to finishing cutting them out, returning to bed for a cuppa before breakfast. By the end of the day, backings had been stuck on card, the first two types of leaves added. Just the breadfruit leaves to go, a shame they weren’t quite dark enough. The skies were quieter, not so many arrivals. Tilly checked on the weather then stayed in her escape pod for the rest of the day.

Friday. What a wet day. I think it didn’t stop raining for a full twelve hours. It didn’t really matter to me as I had my head down. A new schedule to aim to keep up with. Breadfruit leaves added and everything went into the model box, at last! I still want to do a little bit more to them, but that will have to wait as other things need paint on them first.

At last something’s in the model box!

The Town Square was painted up. One house and the Town Clock turned out really well the other buildings may get revisited. Tilly avoided the rain unlike Mick who headed into Lechlade to pick up a few supplies. On Wednesday he’d treated himself to a sausage roll from the sourdough shop, today it was a pork pie from the butchers. The butchers turned out to be quite useful for things other than meat and a lot closer than the Co-op which he didn’t find.

Pork and pickle pie

Today was the first day of the air show, not that you’d really know it. Due to the rain and wind we didn’t notice much in the skies. The red arrows cancelled their display. However more boats arrived in the rain.

Planks and poles in a dry window

They did their best to fit in where ever they could. The shallow stretch a short distance behind us has seen two narrowboats stuck bow in. It took Mick and two other chaps with planks and poles a while to get one boat free.

The Town Square tucked away for safe keeping

Here’s hoping the sun comes out tomorrow as I’m having a day off work.

0 locks, 0 miles, 128 at least planes in 1 day, 30 the next, 2 stuck boats, 12 hours solid, 1 very bored cat, 1 extreamly wet day, 1 model box starting to look like something, 179 leaves, plus some spares.

Scareoplanes 12th July

Lechlade

She says we’ve tied this outside up before. She is correct.

It was hot and rubbish then. For some reason Tom was very happy about it. I wasn’t!

No friendly cover. Trees in sight but not close enough to go climbing in.

Tom’s standing around when it wasn’t wet

This time this outside is very blowy. Extremely WET!

But that is nothing compared to the

SCAREOPLANES!!!

Today they just kept coming. Finding a few friends and kept coming.

I ran out of paws to count them, but She said there were over 100!!!

If you want me I’ll be in here!

I have decided to take up residence in my escape pod for the duration.

2022 Back To Exploring

Time for the annual round, a long post so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

The New Year kicked off with winter maintenance in the house. Having two hallways proved time consuming refreshing the woodwork and patching up the worst of the wallpaper. But this was broken up with weekly walks to see the sea. I resumed work on the development showing of #unit21 for Dark Horse and a Christmas present of a cheese making kit proved very tasty in creating my first ever Yorkshire Curd Cheese Cake from scratch. I plan on having a second go at this soon!

In February work progressed in Huddersfield towards opening night, the floor painted, final costume fittings and then the set and lighting added. All while Mick serviced our life jackets and Tilly grew more and more bored of life in the house.

Once the show was opened we had a trip down to London to catch up with the London Leckenbys for a belated Christmas, on our way back we visited Oleanna. When ever we could we visited Blue Water Marina to do jobs and have a pack up lunch. The stove was reblacked, walls washed down and cupboards sorted through.

Then at the end of February, Mick and I left Tilly in charge of the house, we packed enough clothes and food for a couple of days boating and headed to Thorne to move Oleanna through Thorne Lock before a winter stoppage began. Blimey it was chilly out there, but wonderful to be back afloat and moving Oleanna to Goole. Now we were all set to move back onboard and have a few weeks of pootling about in Yorkshire.

Back at the house we made it ready for the first of this years lodgers. Our boat Christmas tree was retired into the back garden where we hoped it would thrive, this of course was before we knew a drought was on it’s way! Tilly said goodbye to the dragon that lives up the chimney, left Seville and Valencia to look after the house before having to endure the car trip back to boat life.

After a few days sorting ourselves, including having one of Joan’s gluten free Chinese takeaways, we unplugged Oleanna and backed out from our mooring at Goole Marina (Boat House). We spent the next three weeks bobbing about between Pollington Lock, Doncaster and Goole. Maintenance jobs were ticked off the list.

Alistair did engine and weedhatch jobs, Frank joined us a couple of times to do carpentry jobs, our galley drawers no longer have a life of their own, the covers had a good scrub and a spray of Wet and Forget to help them keep clean.

In March I’d set myself a charity challenge, to knit as many pairs of socks in the month as I could. Nine pairs knitted for people in return for sponsorship, I also got a very generous donation of yarn from Lisa on NB Summer Wind.

Our plans had had to change as Thorne Lock still hadn’t closed, but was about to! Plans to visit York and West Yorkshire were abandoned, we’d bought ourselves a Gold Licence for the year so wanted to make the most of it. So on March 24th with all the jobs done we turned our backs on Goole and set off into the sunset to see where 2022 would take us, all three of us grinning from ear to ear.

We made our way to Keadby ready for our booked passage on the tidal River Trent, the fast route south. A phone call from a boating friend in need of support meant we’d be doing our best to make use of the spring tide to reach Cromwell in one go despite the weather forecast. We spent a couple of days doing what we could to help in Newark before we needed to be on the move again.

On upstream to The Trent and Mersey keeping up our cruising hours and Tilly hoping we’d stop with enough time for her to explore each day before cat curfew.

Up to Fradley then onto the Coventry Canal, we played leapfrog with NB Free Spirit for a couple of days.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Curdworth Flight then a turn left onto a section of the Grand Union we’d not been on before at Star City. Up Garrison Locks, Typhoo Basin and then the Ashted Locks where we now have the measure of that Tunnel! A mooring space at the top of Farmers Bridge had our name on it. This was handy for a road trip to swap lodgers and for visits to the dentist. It also meant we were in shot when a group came to jump the top lock!

Fast forward to 6:15

Our route out of Bumingham saw us through Edgbaston Tunnel, down Lapworth followed by Hatton. A pause was needed for Tilly’s annual visit to a new vet, the one here the closest to the canal we’ve visited so far, also handy for The Cape of Good Hope!

At Napton we joined the Oxford Canal and headed for Braunston, pausing to stock up on goodies from the butcher. On the Grand Union we made our way up over the hill and started our descent down The Long Buckby flight back towards tidal waters.

On the 1st of May we turned left at Gayton Junction onto the Northampton Arm dropping down the flight to the River Nene. We’d only been this way once before and that was when we’d just bought Lillian (NB Lillyanne) back in 2014. We bought ourselves a second Abloy key, showed our Gold Licence to the chap at Northampton Marina and started our journey down stream, time to explore.

A decision was made to head down to Peterborough taking note of places we’d want to visit on our return journey. We worked our way through the guillotine locks, many button operated and others with the wheel of cardiovascular overload.

Tilly loved many of the moorings apart from those in Peterborough where crowds surrounded the boat and meant returning from shore leave was impossible for several hours.

In two weeks we reached the end of the river at the Dog in a Doublet Lock. Here the river becomes tidal, we’d save that trip for another time and turned back upstream to head for the Middle Level.

Here we wanted to explore all the drainage channels, but decided we’d do that on our return too. So we took the direct route and crossed the low lying waters in three days arriving at Salters Lode on Mick’s birthday. The levels out on the tidal stretch of the Great Ouse needing to be just right to get through the lock, turn and head upstream to Denver Sluice.

A lovely GOBA mooring was found on the River Wissey and eventually the sun came out for a birthday barbeque, we’d made it to the Great Ouse.

The remainder of May was spent exploring the River Wissey, Ely and The Little Ouse. Brandon Lock sits at the most easterly point on the connected navigable network for boats Oleanna’s size. Sadly a build up of silt stopped us from getting her bow into the lock, but we did get her as far east as was possible, ticking off the fourth point of the compass.

There was a trip to Hull Truck to meet old friends at a gala evening followed by a meet up with Micks family back in the Fens. At the end of the month we got to know Neil the seal at Ten Mile Bank moorings as he basked in the sun and took sunset dips in the river.

The Jubilee was seen in at Denver, we lit our guiding lights as a Lancaster Bomber flew overhead heading to see the Queen. The Relief Channel gave us a good mooring to be able to have a trip away to celebrate Dawn and Lee’s 50th Birthdays in Scarborough, we went as Wallace and Gromit and won an Oscar!

Another visit to Ely to see the Cathedral, Farmers market and meet up with Heather from NB Bleasdale, the first of many this summer. The River Lark was explored, the end of navigation reached with a handy mooring outside a pub.

We headed for the Cam, our paths crossing for the first time with Ken and Sue from NB Cleddau. Then onwards in to Cambridge where we visited colleges, ate chilled medication and had a day trip to Duxford so that Mick could sit in the pilots seat of a Trident 2, a seat his Dad had sat in on many a flight.

Oleanna squeezed along each of the three Lodes, Wicken, Burwell and Reach. Wicken Lode a magical place and a day visit to Anglesey Abbey with it’s wonderful gardens.

Then we headed onto the Old West a river with a very different feel than the Ely Ouse. A pause was needed when we reached Earith for us to have a tour of Heathers new to her boat GT. Once off the tidal water we were on a different Great Ouse again. Here St Ives, St Neots and Hemingford gave us sunsets, D shaped locks, huge meadows and wonderful towns and villages to explore.

As the temperatures started to rise I needed to do some work. Cruising happened in the mornings, my Panto script and sketches were done in the shade of what trees we could find. White sheets were bought and we hoped for a mooring with shade for the really hot days that were to come. Tilly took to lying on the floor and we took to wearing wet t-shirts to help us to keep cool. Thankfully the hot blast only lasted a couple of days then the temperature dropped and we could continue to head upstream.

July 21st we reached the navigable limit of the River Great Ouse, having to reverse some distance to be able to turn round and return to Bedford for the River Festival.

Here we met up with Ken and Sue, Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice and Heather again. Plenty of things to see, do and hear. The boat parades, raft races, vintage cars, all sorts kept us busy for the two days.

Now at the end of July we alternated the days between cruising and my work. More beautiful days cruising and more wonderful sunsets, one day off to visit Cambridge for some more chilled medication and to see the Hockney exhibition.

August saw more hot days. Trips to London to celebrate birthdays, panto meetings, catch up with best friends and travellers over from Australia.

On the 15th August we crossed back from Denver Sluice to the Middle Level having really enjoyed our three months on the Great Ouse. Now water levels were a worry along with having enough time to reach Oxford for me to go to work in October. We made the decision to come back and explore the Middle Level another year, maybe we’ll cross The Wash to get there!

By the end of August our progress up stream on the River Nene slowed to a halt. First one lock broke then another two ahead of us. We’d recently been accepted to join the Reflections Flotilla on the Thames to mark the Queens Jubilee in a few weeks time, now that time was ticking away.

When we did get moving again we had to make up our cruising hours. With the news of the passing of the Queen we didn’t know if the flotilla would still be going ahead, we carried on at pace waiting for news. Back up the River Nene, turning onto the Grand Union, working our way southwards. The news came through that the flotilla would go ahead, but now in remembrance of the Queen.

With a couple of days to spare we squeezed into the Eco-Moorings by Islington Tunnel. Two days of catching up with family and more friends over from Australia before we joined boats heading along the Regents Canal towards Limehouse Basin. An afternoon of activity saw numerous narrowboats festooned with white lights.

On the 24th of September the Thames barrier was closed and we all headed out of Limehouse Lock up stream to Chelsea where we clung onto buoys until the early evening when the flotilla started to muster.

Getting on for 150 boats all displaying white lights got into formation and headed down stream. Crowds stood on the illuminated bridges and Tower Bridge opened up in a royal salute as we passed underneath. What a truly amazing day.

Now we had to head towards Banbury, back round the Regents Canal as a leak in the engine bay needed testing on the calm waters of the canal rather than the tideway. By the time we reached Brentford we were confident with Oleanna’s engine again. On the Thames Tilly got a birthday present of a night on a Cliveden Island. Sadly we got an unexpected present on our arrival in Oxford, a second red line on a covid test! Panto painting couldn’t be put off so we made our way gradually up the Oxford Canal keeping our distance from people at locks and taking maximum doses of paracetamol.

A week of painting in Banbury before I moved to Chipping Norton to stack up the hours over the next four weeks getting the 50th anniversary panto ready. Rendez Vousing with Oleanna at weekends in Banbury and Coventry kept me sane. Mick had to single hand across the summit of the Oxford Canal to avoid the first of the winter stoppages.

All three of us were back onboard by mid November, covid free and vaccinated. We took things slowly now, time to rest up, meet friends, gather family and pootle towards Christmas. Our 20th Anniversary was celebrated with a Chinese takeaway at Alvecote Marina, a planned stop which ended up being extended due to plummeting temperatures. The canal froze, there’d be no moving the outside for Tilly!

Temperatures lifted dramatically and the ice just about vanished in a couple of days, we could now be on our way to Christmas. Alrewas was a good place to spend the festive days, a very good butchers and a village with lots of character and humour.

Bookings in the New Year had been made for passage on the tidal River Trent for us to reach Yorkshire, but this would not be. The Trent had risen before Christmas, Cranfleet Flood Gates were shut ahead of us, so no New Year at Hazelford Lock. Instead our alternator played up and we sought out a mooring to hook up to and see in 2023.

This year we’d been wanting to explore again. This year we cruised miles of new water, made new friends, got too hot, got iced in, got stuck, got to be in the first illuminated flotilla on the Thames for 300 years. What a great year it has been.

So our vital statistics for 2022 according to Canalplan are

Total distance is 1249 miles, 6½ furlong and 555 locks . There were 88 moveable bridges of which 29 are usually left open; 156 small aqueducts or underbridges and 18 tunnels,  a total of 7 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 227 miles, 1 1/2 furlongs of narrow canals; 363 miles, 2 furlongs of broad canals; 85 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 269 miles, 1 furlong of small rivers; 234 miles, 7 1/4 furlongs of large rivers; 69 miles, 6 furlongs of tidal rivers; 176 narrow locks; 232 broad locks; 54 large locks; 2 locks on major waterways.

731.7 engine hours

1156.1 litres diesel, 5 (although we’ve got 1 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 28.5 litres oil, 3 oil filters, 1 fuel filter, 2 air filters, 1 water pump, 2 new belts, 690kg coal, 1 overnight guest twice, 6 packs Dreamies (not enough!), 56 friends, a record breaking 41 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval (4 in one day!), 15 pairs socks, 2 shows designed, 9 lodgers, 2 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 30 boxes of wine delivered, 2 lost unicorns.

Thank you all for joining us on our journey. Wonder where we’ll get to in 2023?

Just A Load Of Hydrogen. 25th July

Priory Marina to Bedford GOBA Mooring

Boat chores to start the day, topping up on water, yellow water tank emptied, rubbish and recycling gathered together and disposed of. Whilst all this was happening we were aware that NB Cleddau had returned just a few spaces away. We said our farewells and thanks to Karen the Marina Manager, put a donation in the charity tin to cover our electric and one use of a tumble dryer. We’ve enjoyed our stay in the marina, a very helpful and friendly place to be.

Marina view

Next, time to say goodbye to Ken and Sue until our bows cross again . This may happen at the end of the week with both boats starting to head back towards C&RT waters.

Danish Camp boat returning to base with rib and raft

We reversed and winded, the wind assisting us thankfully and we turned out back onto the river. A right turn and we pootled just as far as the GOBA mooring. The grey widebeam we’ve seen over the last couple of months was moored up, we joined them and had a chat. It turns out that WB Four Seasons was in the parade of boats at the festival and they were Black Pearl, our best in show! Blimey they had gone to more effort than I’d first thought. Sheets had been bought and dyed, the cabin sides covered to make them black, normally grey. Even more impressive, I do hope they got a prize of some sort.

Sketch groundplan

After lunch Mick helped get my drawing board out from it’s slot. Today I’d have an indoor office/studio. With taking over the table and much of the sofa there’s not much space left for Mick, so he headed off on the bike with a shopping list for a reasonable sized shop, but first he headed off to see if he could find a couple of buildings in Cardington, two Airship sheds.

New housing alongside the sheds

The first shed produced it’s first airship in 1918. Cardington had the worlds best airship facilities, but due to the depression it closed in 1921 after the construction of the R38. However the station reopened in 1924 following the announcement of the Imperial Airship Service, the site was to build R101s amongst others.

The airships were much bigger than before, so the buildings they were constructed in needed to grow, the original shed expanded both upwards and out sideways and a second shed was brought down from Pulham south of Norwich.

The crash of the R101 in October 1930 led to the decision to dismantle the R100 in shed 2. In 1931 the station nearly closed but was used for aircraft storage. However in 1936 RAF Cardington was formed and by 1937 a balloon training unit was formed, by WW2 barage balloons and aerial defences were developed here.

Interesting buildings

After the war it became a Personnel Dispersal Centre, where RAF personnel passed through to be demobbed. The balloon unit continued to experiment on the site until 1966, then it moved to Wiltshire. The RAF base here finally closed in 2000. The sheds are listed buildings and have been used as filming locations for Star Wars and now one of them houses a film studio.

A lot more information on the sheds can be found HERE

A scene plot

During the afternoon I managed to get a very sketchy ground plan together, rough positions of everything and what is known as a hanging plot. This is a list of what is hanging on which fly bar. I worked out depths of the stage and how things would be brought on and off. In one scene change I’m hoping to enlist the actors in part of the action to strike certain elements of the set, it kind of helps that the ship in sinking at the time!

First drawing to help make the model

Then I started to draw up my downstage portal, the design heavily influenced by Crossness Pumping Station.

0 locks, 0.27 miles, 1 reverse, 2 rights, 6 hours shore leave, 1 shopping trip, 2 breakdowns, 1st drawing complete, 2 hangers, 2 boxes wine, 1 longer post than anticipated.

https://goo.gl/maps/9yLdM7CXdTzYUqXd7

Sitting In His Dad’s Seat. 22nd June

Fort St George, Cambridge

Last night Cambridge was treated to a firework display, sadly we could only just make out the wizz bangs and flashes from behind the trees on the common. This was soon followed by what sounded like a concert somewhere in the city. Maybe Bruce Springsteen!? If it was he did a bad cover of Live and Let Die, the other songs were unrecognisable as we tried to drop off to sleep with the aim of getting up early. The May Balls in Cambridge have started.

The No 7 bus was late arriving, in fact it was embarrassed of the fact and came incognito as the No 5, changing itself whilst we weren’t looking! As other people headed to the bus who’d also been waiting we went to check, managing to stop the driver from heading off without us. Then we wanted a Cambridgeshire Multibus ticket which the driver had never heard of, so this took another five minutes at least to sort. Would we make our connection? The answer to this was no! By the time we reached Sawston we’d missed the 7A by at least five minutes. What to do now? There was still quite a distance to go and there was over an hours wait for the next service.

Thankfully the next bus got us that bit closer, dropping us off in the village of Duxford. From here we found a footpath that took us across a field, from where we could see our destination, a very large hanger on the other side of the M11. After a mile and a half walk we’d arrived walking underneath the wings of a Spitfire at the gates of the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Lots and lots of planes

With some birthday money Mick had decided to treat us to a visit to the airfield. The museum is vast as you’d expect being on an airfield, stretching out almost as far as we could see. Today would be a long day making the most of our visit.

Trident Two

First we headed for the British Airliner Collection, looked after by the Duxford Aviation Society. Mick had been in contact with them via Facebook a couple of days ago and a chap called Jim had offered to come and open up one of the planes for us to have a look inside, they are only open up when there are enough volunteers about. We loitered on the tarmac whilst Jim unlocked all the doors, then we were shown inside, the Closed signs put back in position behind us. We’d have the plane to ourselves for a while.

This Trident Two was flown by Mick’s Dad fifty years ago shortly before he retired from being a pilot. This year Peter would have been 100, so this was a visit we just had to make.

Jim and Mick in the cockpit

Jim showed us into the spacious cockpit. The Co-pilots seat would be easier to get into as there was no jump seat behind it, but Mick wanted to sit in the left hand seat, the pilots seat, saying ‘Hello Dad’ as he sat down.

Jim ran us through all the instruments, although Mick knew most of them anyway. Stories were exchanged and of course photos taken.

This Trident Two flew with British European Airways from 1968 to 1972, when it was leased to Cyprus Airways. Damaged by gunfire during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, it was abandoned at Nicosia Airport. In 1977 the bullet holes were repaired and after a complete overhaul it re-joined the fleet in what was by then British Airways until it was retired in 1982.

Captain Geraghty and Co-pilot Leckenby

Tridents were built with ‘blind landing’ capabilities, the plane able to land in thick fog, enabling them to be a reliable passenger service. It had a range of 2,700 miles and could carry 115 passengers at a cruising speed of 580mph.

I’d been expecting Jim to be older, volunteers at museums like this tend to be. But Jim knew his stuff, he holds a pilots licence and has worked around airliners and is most definitely a plane enthusiast. As he showed us into the cabin a chap came saying he was wanting to give the Trident a wash and hadn’t expected it to be open today. With our leisurely tour over Jim locked the plane back up and moved over to open up the plane next door.

We walked up the line of British Airliners. A Viscount, Peter may have flown this plane too, along with the last plane in the line an Airspeed Ambassador which became known as an Elizabethan after the newly crowned Queen, it is the last one in the world.

B52

Planes were taking off and coming in to land, the runway in constant use, we didn’t feel the need for a flight at £45 a go, what we now needed was a cuppa and a snack whilst formulating a plan for the remainder of the day. A cafe in the American hanger provided us with refreshments and we plotted ourselves a route back towards the entrance, picking and choosing what we’d see.

If Mick’s Dad hadn’t retired he would most probably have moved on to flying the BAC I-II which was designed and built in Britain and was the most successful, 244 were built. Jim showed us round this plane too, a much more compact cockpit, no navigator seat required. A much narrower plane with no first class seats. Having a door under the tail meant that turn arounds could be swift. The plane could land, luggage off loaded, refuelled, new luggage and passengers were on board and ready for take off in the blink of an eye.

Propellers

Thank you so much to Jim for volunteering, opening up the planes and giving us a lot of your time.

The Battle of Britain Ops Block told the story of those who worked at Duxford. The base supported the defence of London with several squadrons flying out from here. The Dowding System was employed where the country was divided into groups, then subdivided into sectors, each sector having a Sector Station with an Ops Room.

The table

Wing Commander Alfred ‘Woody’ Woodhall, who was found to be short sighted in one eye at the beginning of WW2. Pilots were not allowed to wear glasses, so he got round this by wearing a monocle and continued flying for some time, later becoming Duxfords Station Commander.

Squadron status boards on the wall

The Opps Room is laid out how it would have been and accompanied by a projected film, lighting and recordings relives what it was like as five squadrons took off to head off the Germans.

Butternut squash salad and brisket burger

Lunch was taken in the Workshop Restaurant as Spitfires and Hurricanes flew past.

We walked round the Battle of Britain hanger.

Around privately owned planes, a bus and a German one-man submarine.

Then we headed for the Air and Space Hanger. Lined up outside was a vast array of Classic Cars, there was an auction taking place. We headed to the balcony over looking the bids, below a few rich people bid for vehicles. Sadly we missed how much the star of the sale went for a 1969 Ferrari 365GT Rebodied in the style of a ‘Pontoon Fender’ Testa Rossa, estimated at £350,000 to £400,000! No wonder it had ropes round it!

Spitfire and a Hurricane?

Away from the cars we learnt all about man and flight. In 1853 George Cayley designed a man carrying glider which successfully left the ground for 130m, a British aviation pioneer from close to Scarborough.

Looking across the hanger at all the planes, some suspended above others, we spotted another we had to spend time with, another plane that Mick’s Dad flew, the Lancaster. What a difference from the airliners, at least he was a pilot who got some heating unlike most of the crew.

Look at those Ugg Boots! Peter in the middle

To while away a bit more time we went to have a closer look at the classic cars, one had shouted out to be owned by me so we had to see what it was.

A 1937 Fiat 500 Topolino. What a pretty dinky car. A closer look and I spotted a few things that would bring the estimate down from £12,000 to £14,000, a bit of damaged paintwork and a missing centre to the steering wheel. I wonder how much I could have knocked off, oh and a missing wing mirror, but it still had trafficators. The auction was way past Lot 52 so I’ve no idea what it went for.

A quick look at the tat in the shop before we headed out the front to await the 17:07 7A bus. We waited and waited, some road works delaying the traffic. We waited some more as did other people. We had options. Wait, get a taxi, walk back to where we’d got off the bus this morning, walk to Whittlesford Station and get a train back to Cambridge. In the end we walked to the station another 1.8 miles to add to our tally for the day. We hopped on the first bus that arrived at Cambridge station and hoped it would get us some way back to the boat, which thankfully it did. More reliability and some bus route maps around Cambridge would help along with Google giving you information about them!

It would have been Peter’s 100th birthday a couple of weeks ago, Mick wrote a post about him here if you missed it. What a great day out to remember him.

Peter Geraghty

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 plus miles walked, 2 late buses, 4 planes with connections, 1 pilots seat, 1 star Jim, 3 cuppas, 1 coke, 1 flapjack, 1 millionaires flapjack, several millionaires bidding, 7 spitfire flypasts, 2 helicopters, loads of planes, 1 squash salad, 1 smoked brisket, £400,000 for a car! 1 submarine, 2 invisible 7A’s, 1 Lancaster, 1 Typhoon, 1 train, 3 buses, 1 very bored cat, 313 photos, 1 brilliant day.

Peter Geraghty. 3rd June 1922 – 13th September 2002

Hello all. Mick here today writing this one.

My father Peter Geraghty was born 100 years ago. Today would have been his 100th birthday, I think we would have had a party!

Born in Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. His mother was Olive Geraghty (nee Wright) and his father Tom Geraghty. His father, after serving as an officer in the East Riding Regiment during WWI, was a journalist for the Hull Daily Mail and he ended up as Editor. Olive, as was the norm for the time, looked after the family and home. Peter had an older sister Joan and a younger brother Mark.

Joan, Peter, Mark

Peter went to school in Hull at the St Charles Borromeo School and often told us stories from his childhood of him turning up to school without any shoes or socks! I’m not sure of the accuracy of this and think it was probably his sense of humour coming through.

Teenager

Before WWII the family moved from Hull to the village of Hessle just to the west of the city. They lived on Boothferry Road next door to the Darley’s Arms. At 17, Peter started work in the office of the Hull firm Spillers, known to all as Spillers the Millers (now part of the Rank Hovis group whose logo is “Rank Hovis the Millers” which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!). He was working here when war broke out in 1939. The office was moved out to Ferriby where it was considered a safer place to be than in the city centre.

Joan, Tom, Peter, Olive and Mark at the back door of 314 Boothferry Road

At age 18 in 1940, he volunteered for service in the RAF. He had to go to Lords cricket ground in London to sign up and so his flying career started. He did some of his training in North America and on completion was assigned to Bomber Command. After various roles he became a Flight Lieutenant at RAF Pocklington in East Yorkshire flying Halifax bombers. After a tour of 40 operations from Pocklington, he carried out further flying duties training pilots on Lancasters.

The aeroplane Peter first flew solo on
On the back. The sensor must have let it through.
Captain and crew at RAF Pocklington. PG in the centre

When the war ended he was demobbed and went back to Hessle. A company was obliged to employ people that had worked for them before the war but Peter was very sure that an office life with Spillers in Hull was not for him and he declined the guaranteed offer of employment.  Instead he applied for a job as a pilot with the fledgling British European Airways (BEA). This would mean being based at Northolt airport on the outskirts of London.

For a long time he had been “seeing” Ruth Chignell, also from Hessle and when the war finished he proposed, the proposal was accepted. They were married in May 1947 and with his new job they moved to a house near Northolt Airport.

Peter and Ruth
Ruth and Peter

His flying job meant irregular hours and sometimes being away from home overnight. However BEA only flew to Europe so he was never away long. I suspect this is why he chose BEA rather than the long-haul BOAC. Their first child Christine was born in 1948 followed by Marion in 1950 and Anne in 1952.

Proud Dad

They needed a bigger house so moved to Ealing in 1952. Ealing was chosen as a new primary school St Gregory’s was being built there which was thought to be a “very good school”. It also coincided with BEA moving their operation to London Airport, now known as Heathrow.

I came along in 1958 and my younger sister Kathryn in 1966. All us children went to St Gregory’s and my mother ended up being a Governor. Peter was always a family man, every Saturday morning, if he wasn’t working, he would take all of us children to the local library in Ealing to swap books, followed by hot chocolate and a biscuit in a café on the High Street. And if his flying roster allowed every Sunday morning after church we would go to Kew Gardens (I remember it costing 1d) and back home in time for Sunday Lunch. There were often visits to the museums in South Kensington, my favourite being the Science Museum but sometimes my sisters made us go to one of the others!

Another favourite outing of mine was a visit to the cricket. Often he would take me up to Lords to watch the final session of a Middlesex game, as an MCC member there was free entry. We would sometimes go to a Saturday of the Lords Test Match which was a great day out. He also used to play cricket for Northolt Cricket Club.

Tea Interval

We lived a couple of miles from the Hanwell flight on the Grand Union. A regular walk was to visit what we called “The Six Locks”. Working narrowboats were still in operation (mid 1960s) some of them towed by little towpath tractors. I vividly remember one occasion when we had gongoozled a pair of boats down the flight. At the bottom one of the boaters asked if we wanted a ride to Brentford? Well you can imagine a 7 year old’s excitement at this prospect. But my dad came over all practical and said we had to get home in time for tea! But the seed of interest in canals and boating had been planted. It was about 50 years later that we first took our own boat down the flight and carried on to Brentford.

As I grew older Dad would sometimes, during school holidays, take me to work. We would drive into Heathrow and go into the BEA crew room office. I’d be shown the preparations for flying off somewhere, weather charts, route maps, loading weights, how much fuel to have on board etc.

At the controls

I would then head off on my own to the spectator viewing area (a thing of the past now) and with my VHF air band radio tuned to the ground or tower frequencies I’d watch him take off. If he wasn’t going far (maybe a return trip to Paris) I would wait 2 or 3 hours for him to return then meet him at the car park and get a lift home. If he was going further afield (perhaps a “night stop” Nicosia) I would stay watching aeroplanes all day and then get the bus home.

A view I saw many times.

As a family we would sometimes, but not very often, fly off on foreign holidays. I remember one time we all flew to Germany for a family holiday. When the plane was sitting on the runway preparing for take off our Dad (a Captain with the airline who had indeed captained this very aircraft many times) leant across the aisle and shook all his children by the hand and said “Well, it’s been nice knowing you all”. His sense of humour.

Me and my Dad circa 1968

His career with BEA lasted from 1946 until his retirement in 1977, by which time BEA and BOAC had merged to form British Airways. It was policy then that pilots had to retire at 55, it may still be the case. He started off flying DC3s and Vickers Vikings for BEA, then the Airspeed Ambassador (known in BEA as the Elizabethan because the Queen had just come to the throne!), followed by Vickers Viscounts and Vanguards and ending up as a senior training Captain on the Hawker Siddeley Trident.

His family back in Hull had always been staunch Catholics and Peter was the same. He played a big part in the local parish community at Ealing Abbey, always organising things, on various parish committees and for a while was chairman of the Parish Centre. He also played a big part in the running of the parish Youth Club. His religion didn’t get passed on to me though. I think I rebelled at all the religion in my childhood.

In retirement he had more time for his beloved golf, at one time getting his handicap down to single figures. He played at West Middlesex Golf Club then Ealing Golf Club.  He left Ealing GC when they introduced a rule that you had to spend a certain amount of money in the bar per year and if you didn’t they would take the money anyway! He wanted to play golf not drink in the bar.

Teeing off on a golfing holiday
Outside the family home in Ealing 1996

My mother finally persuaded him that they could make use of the concessionary travel that British Airways allowed him. But he never travelled extensively for leisure. He was a big worrier and there would have been too much worry that as staff passengers they would be the first to be off loaded should the flight become full.

One trip away

There was also football to be watched and supported. Hull City as a youngster but on moving to West London it was Queens Park Rangers, holding a season ticket there once he retired.

Peter and Christine on their way to Wembley to watch QPR

In his later life he fell ill with Parkinson’s disease, a disease which was also to affect my mother. He accepted his illness stoically for a number of years but eventually in September 2002 he suffered a stroke and passed away. A big funeral was held at Ealing Abbey with many old family friends there. British Airways sent a representative to his funeral which I thought was a lovely thing for them to do.

Peter on his 80th birthday

Happy 100th birthday Dad. Shame we are not celebrating it with you but you can be sure that we are definitely celebrating!

Thank you to John and Kath for helping collect together all the photographs.

Calm Returns. 15th August

Thrupp Canal Cruising Club

A slightly damp morning meant that the campers would be packing up their tents today to then have to dry them off when they got home. Messages came through from 1km away as they prepared to head back to London. It has been a lovely weekend with them, but now the calm of the waterways can return.

Floating on by

Tilly was given free reign coming and going again today as she liked. She certainly keeps herself busy for hours on end before returning home to check we’re still here. This mooring in Thrupp is far better than alongside the road with only walkers to dodge and not the occasional car to run away from!

Despite it being Sunday I sat down to do some work. The budget for #unit21 needed a bit of pruning. On Friday I’d had a long chat with Graham who will be building the set for me to see if we could get down the price of materials. He had quoted for a set to withstand the rigours of touring to a couple of venues a week and I had designed it to fit plywood sizes. Making the whole set lighter (less robust in the long term, but with some care it will be fine) and adjusting some dimensions to fit other materials better we managed to trim nearly £400 off the build. A couple of pointers from him to cheaper flooring may also save £300, so the budget is just about back on track.

I miss working with people like Graham.

Colours

Next up was a paint list for panto. I worked my way through the model deciding what colours I’d be needing and in roughly what quantities. Next week I’m paying a visit to Chippy so will see if there are any paints still usable from previous years to help reduce the long list I have. My biggest dilemma is on the glitter front.

Panto sets are known for their sparkle, mine not so much. Stage glitter tends to be bigger than that kids glue onto their cards for Granny and Granddad, sharp 5mm squares of plastic that get glued onto scenery, then when dry the excess tapped off. But glitter is not good for the environment it being made from plastic. So far Eco-glitter has reached the makeup world, but not reached the scenery world and some theatres (The National) are locking away their old stocks so no-one can use it anymore.

The Commodore from St Pancras

There is one scene that really needs a sprinkle of panto glimmering glitter. I’ve found one product that may do the job but it still doesn’t tick the box environmentally. I need to look harder!

Cats don’t need special gates

With Tilly out being a thug and Mick listening to the cricket all day I took myself off for a walk. My route heading towards the campsite in Hampton Gay. Here there is a church and the ruins of a big house that I wanted to explore.

Keep Out!

Hampton Gay was once far busier than it is now, excluding campers of course! There was a Mansion House, a mill, church and cottages with a population of around 86. Now the ruins of the Mansion House stand behind fencing and warning signs. The church opens around once a month and the cottages have vanished unlike the occasional train that runs right past the grave yard.

Fire, bankruptcy and even a curse at the end of the nineteenth century brought about the abandonment of the settlement. In medieval times the mill ground grain. In the 17th Century the mill was converted to produce paper and the population grew. But two separate fires struck the mill, each time it was rebuilt the last time it went bankrupt. In 1887 a huge fire overwhelmed the Manor House, without this or the mill people moved away and the population shrank.

The ruins

Some stories say the manor was set on fire deliberately for the insurance. Others believe it was the result of a curse. On Christmas Eve 1874, a Great Western Train from Paddington derailed just a few hundreds yards away. Despite calls for assistance, the residents of the manor house refused to offer help and shelter to the victims. Thirty-four people died that day and sixty-nine were injured and according to legend a curse was placed on the house.

Not able to get into the church or a closer look at the mansion I decided to walk across the fields towards Hampton Poyle. From the meadows you can see across to London Oxford Airport where a plane had just landed.

Plane

Looking back towards St Gile’s Church I could just see Holy Cross Church which stands on the other side of the Cherwell and canal. Both churches less than half a kilometre apart

Holy Cross just visible on the left, St Giles on the right

Over styles, through fields with grazed grass, numerous horses everywhere. My straight line brought me to St Mary’s Church just over a mile away, just how many churches does one area need? There’s even St Mary’s Field Church only another half mile away, it’s spire visible from quite a distance.

Starting to ripen

Hampton Poyle’s St Mary’s has a 13th Century chapel, it’s north and south isles were added a century later and the double bellcote was an 18th century addition.

St Mary’s Hampton Poyle

In the16th-century, priest Richard Thomason, was allegedly condemned to hang in chains from Duns Tew steeple (near Bicester) for his opposition to the first prayer book of Edward VI. The 17th-century rector Edward Fulham was forced to resign and flee abroad on account of his strong Royalist views and his opposition to Puritanism.

The other St Mary’s spire

Across another field with more horses to White Bridge which crosses the Cherwell, not the prettiest of bridges but it’s concrete serves the purpose. On the south bank of the river I now turned westwards across the fields following the course of the river until it reached Thrupp Community Forest.

Serving it’s purpose

Here paths weave themselves through the trees, some more muddy routes have been bypassed. I was glad I’d got long trousers on as the nettles were rampant and my arms had to keep being lifted aloft. The river remained shy behind the not-so-friendly cover.

Trees!

Soon I popped out to where the railway crosses, just that little bit too close to Thrupp, the path now bringing me back to Annies Tea Room. We still haven’t visited here, one day hopefully on a weekend when the Ice Cream Parlour is open!

Railway

With small amounts of food left over from the weekend I made us some fried rice, one chicken thigh and a couple of inches of salmon were added along with a good scattering of frozen peas. From a very full fridge on Friday morning to an almost empty one.

The lane leading to Annies

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 quiet day, 3 campers back to London, 2 boaters pottering, 1 test, 9 hours, 1 very pooped cat, 1 shade of glitter, 10 litres emulsion, 10 litres bona mega silk matt, 12 colours, 1 panto paint list complete, 3 miles, 3 nearly 4 churches, 1 feast of leftovers.

Today’s route

Blue And Red Jobs. 31st May

Lockdown Mooring 3 and a bit that way, then winding, then there and back a bit too

Malvern our nearest neighbour

Tilly had an hour of shore leave whilst we had breakfast. As we waited for her to return I gave the gunnel a wash down to remove the fertan, hoping it hadn’t been too hot yesterday for it to do it’s job. Well there were a few places where there was still a touch of orange where I hadn’t quite managed to sand it well enough along with the fertan having dried a bit too quickly. Maybe I should have given those bits a second coat, but that would delay the repainting by a day. They will do for now, we’re considering taking Oleanna out of the water later in the year to check her blacking, so a better less knee killing job can be done then.

Oleanna with a go faster stripe

With the gunnel steaming away nicely and Tilly back on board we sought the shade again. Time to give the primer a good stir before applying a coat to any bare metal. This didn’t take long. I was now ready for the starboard side, so we pootled down the cut to Bunbury winding hole.

Where have all the hire boats gone?

For the first time a boat was pulled up alongside the towpath whirligig and just about all the hire boats had vanished. They had been two abreast right up to the locks before, but now only a couple were visible. On our last trip to Chester they had all been moored below the locks and had taken a bit to squeeze past. Maybe they have all been moved back there to make them ready for when hire boats can go back out.

I love this owl

We pootled back to the shady mooring, tied up all ready for me to start again! My poor knees!!

At least this side had been sanded back towards the end of last year, so there was less general sanding required, but a few new rust patches and the rubbing strakes needed loose paint scraping away and a good sanding down. Then a rinse off followed by more fertan.

Blue job

I wasn’t the only one being kept busy. Mick inside had decided to give the oven (or both of them) a good clean, a blue job. The glass fronts were cleaned as best he could with Bar Keepers Mate and Pink Stuff. They didn’t end up looking like new, but far better than they have for a while. The hob also got a clean just ready for me to spill cheese sauce on this evening.

It’s the same as this morning, just on the other side of the inside!

The crew have lost it again! They think they can fool me, but I’ve got their number. They thought I’d be pleased with three outsides in a day again, but two of them were the same as yesterday just on the other side! She thought I’d be confused and run off the wrong side of the boat, but I am far too intelligent to do that. I’d already taken note of which side the outside was on!

A nice bit of shade

0 locks, 0.38 miles maybe (didn’t have the trip computer on), 1 wind, 3 outsides, 1 side primed, 2nd side fertanned, 2 knees owing, 1 tasty friend consumed, 1 oven bright and twinkling, 2 wings, 1 cauliflower cheese with bacon, 3 glasses of wine well it is Sunday!

Two wings

Returning Problems. 16th January

Tardebigge Top Lock to Cast Iron Roving Bridge, Birmingham, BCN

Out in Vienna it was time to pack my bags. One thing left to do, visit the cheese shop on Langegasse that I’ve been walking past and inhaling for the last ten days.

Yummy Jumi

Many cheeses in this shop are kept in cabinets for safety, our safety. Many of the cheeses in this shop look like given half a chance they would take over the world with only Dr Who capable of stopping them. With so much to choose from and a taxi booked I couldn’t sample too many, which maybe was a good thing.

Bombs, brains

I’m not too fond of Emmental or Gruyere so that immediately ruled out half of the shop. The chap helped me and gave me a couple of samples. I like goats cheese, but in Britain you don’t often get a hard goats cheese. So as I was in Austria I had to have one from the mountains, ‘High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd’. It was tasty, sold.

Cheese!!!!

Then a softer cheese. No chance to taste this one as they are individual cheeses that have a whole culture of their own. Sold! The chap vacuum wrapped them for me so that my bag wouldn’t be making it’s own way back to the UK.

Heading for home

My taxi was early, the driver arriving just as I checked out and was asking where to wait. Soon I was whisked out to the airport to await a delayed first flight to Munich.

Sadly not available in Mick’s size

I’d booked a window seat, but at the gate I was issued with a new seat in the middle! This was a shame as there were fantastic views over the Austrian Alps, not much snow though!

Alps

Meanwhile back in Birmingham.

Mick and Tilly have been avoiding storm Brendon. On Monday once Chris had left to visit more boat builders Mick filled the water tank and headed northwards again. Passing NB Sola Gratia, under the M42 he chose a suitable place without trees to spend Monday night by Bridge 68.

Tuesday they decided to head into Birmingham setting off early to beat the weather. At 9am they reached the southern portal of Wast Hill Tunnel. The interior of Oleanna already in full tunnel mode, hoping that with all the lights being on this would keep Tilly from fretting. I suspect he just timed their passage well and she was busy having her morning snooze as he could hear no shouting at the back doors.

A mile and a half later they came back out into daylight. But what lay ahead?

Out the northern portal

There was a boat up against the towpath, pinned in my a fallen tree. Had the tree fallen onto the boat? Mick was about to try to nudge his way through when the owner came out. Last night he’d tried to do the same, but got stuck. Whether he was grounded or just held by the tree Mick didn’t know, but one thing was certain Mick was now stuck too!

One stuck boat with tree attached

The other boater had rung to report it to C&RT, another phone call wouldn’t hurt after all Mick had nowhere to go. He couldn’t get into the side so was just having to sit in the middle. Apparently C&RT staff were on route to access the situation.

Fountains arrive with long chainsaws

Then the C&RT staff got held up by traffic so the contractors were called and sent anyway. They arrived with long handled chain saws and proceeded to climb onto the roof of the stuck boat. Helmets, high-vis but no life jackets! The roof of the boat was wet and had no grabrail or anything should they slip to stop them. They chopped and chopped away at the tree. Soon the trapped boat was free.

On the bow

Mick offered the bow of Oleanna as a platform to carry on working from, then they moved to the stern to clear more. At last Mick and Oleanna could continue on their journey into Birmingham. The 8.5 miles had taken around 7.5 hours and Mick had got a touch wet in the process.

and on the
Stern

Location is always important. So I insisted on some greenery in the BUMingham outside. Tom obliged and tied up the one with short sideways trees. Thank goodness it wasn’t just bricks again!

So back in Munich.

I should have had an hour and a half waiting for my next flight. There were things to do, look at the shops and restaurants, then eat the quinoa salad I’d brought with me from Vienna. The new (well to me new) passport control had to be cleared, this I am now a dab hand at after being rejected on my outbound flight. Hold your passport down on the screen with your hand so that it can be read!