Category Archives: Pubs

It Must Be Election Time. 29th June

Paddington Basin

First things first. Time to vote. Signed, crossed and sealed, Mick walked to the nearest post box outside a Post Office and popped our votes in the post box.

Voted

Yesterday one of our items of post was a campaign t-towel for Tilly. This was hung in our window to show her allegiance to Larry. There was then a lot of Freedom for Cats in Paddington! shouted about the boat before she gave up and headed back to bed.

Vote for Larry

Last night the return from Hackney proved a touch painful for my knee. Yes we had to walk a distance, but not that far. Todays plan had been to head to Hampstead Theatre for brunch and have a look around Central School of Speech and Drama. To conserve my knee, brunch was moved to Paddington and a look around the college put off for another time. My college friend Kathy arrived and we found a table outside in the shade at The Union where we enjoyed a very nice brunch at a reasonable price and very good company.

Kathy, Mick, Pip

Kathy is a lecturer in Theatre Design at Central and spent some of our time together trying to convince me to join the Society of British Theatre Designers council. This would mean I’d have to join the society in the first place! I’d considered joining when my agent said she was retiring, therefore the commission I used to pay to her could go towards membership of such organisations. I’ll have a another think about it.

After a couple of hours it was time for her to head off to talk at the college open day, we returned to Oleanna for a quiet afternoon. Pair 26 of my Sockathon was cast off, I’m halfway through! £975 raised so far. The other day I had a sock shot sent from Liza Goddard showing off her Red Rye socks I’d knitted for her. Thank you Lil for your sponsorship, may your socks keep your toes cosy in many theatrical digs when you are on tour.

An exciting first day

It was also the first day of the Tour De France. Ten years ago we’d reached Hebden Bridge in NB Lillyanne for the opening stage of the tour. Today not so many people walked past Oleanna in Paddington as happened ten years ago and there was no big screen to watch the cyclists for longer than a few seconds zooming past the boat.

Not a big pudding!

Early evening we caught the tube to Kings Cross and walked up Pentonville Road to Mildreds. Here a quiet table tucked away had been requested by Nick and Kerry so they could bring Harry their whippet with them. Our table wasn’t quite as tucked away as hoped but the staff said we’d be better off where we were, sure enough they were good to their word, the other two thirds of the restaurant became packed out, our third just the five of us. Very nice food, I had a pineapple peanut curry with rice noodles followed by a plant based crème brule. Nick’s chocolate peanut butter fudge was what we’d jokingly expected, two cubes.

What a pretty crescent tucked away

A pint somewhere was now sought. A walk round to a nice quiet back street pub, sadly they’d a DJ in for the evening, so the pub was rejected. It did mean we got to see the wonderful Grade 2 Keystone Crescent.

Kerry and Nick

In the end we opted for a pint at The John Betjeman Arms at St Pancras Station. They had gluten free beer, they had an area where we could sit in the station, but that was closing in ten minutes! We made the most of it before moving inside for more beer and conversation. The last time all five of us were round a pub table in London it was the night of the 2017 General Election.

Nick and Harry

Another lovely day catching up with people.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 college best mate, 1 oldest best mate, 1 cat campaign, 1 Harry, 1 problematical knee!

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Dead Good Mates. 19th June

Mytchett Visitor Centre

Ascot ready

A couple of people had told us how we must visit Brookwood Cemetery whilst we were in the area, with a couple of days to wait for our lock passage we decided to head there today. A walk over the canal to catch the no3 bus to Ash Vale Station and then the train to Brookwood. The train journey was much longer than I thought it would be, but then the bus had taken us further away before we’d started.

The gate

The station has an entrance into the cemetery, but just where was it. Station staff asked if they could help and we were told to go down the stairs to the barriers and ask a member of staff there, they would let us out. We did this and the chap pointed towards a gate through a subway, when we got there he’d buzz us through.

Brookwood Cemetery was conceived by the London Necropolis Company in 1849 to house London’s deceased when the capital was finding it hard to accommodate both living and the dead. In 1854 it was said to be the largest cemetery in the world, it is now the largest in Western Europe. It was consecrated on 7th November 1854 and opened to the public six days later when the first burials took place.

The military cemetery

Next to Waterloo Station in London a dedicated station was built giving access to the cemetery. Trains with passenger carriages reserved for the different classes and Hearse carriages arrived at the cemetery on it’s dedicated branch line. The original London Necropolis Station was relocated in 1902, but this was demolished after being bombed in WW2.

There were two stations in the cemetery, one serving the none-conformist side (North) and the other the Anglican side (south). Apparently the southern platform still exists in the ownership of the St Edward Brotherhood. Wakes would be catered for at the stations.

I really hope his tomb contains him and not Hops and Malt

The first grave we came across was immediately of interest. Gates and a wall surrounded the memorial of Ramadan Guney (1932-2006). Originally from Cyprus, he emigrated to Britain in 1958 where he set up a music business. In 1983 he purchased the burial rights for over 19 acres of Brookwood Cemetery, he subsequently acquired Brookwood Cemetery in 1985 from it’s owner Mr DJT Dally. His aim was to restore the cemetery back to it’s original park like setting. More can be read about him here. An interesting sack covers part of his memorial.

Facing Mecca

We walked around the north west boundary, colourful and interesting graves none very old. Many sat skew wiff in their allocated plots, presumably facing Mecca.

Through a gate in a high fence, cordoning off the military graves, fencing keeping the dead in. Here Commonwealth graves all chalky white line up, immaculate grass between them. Next the graves of the Americans, crosses standing still, bright green grass, stars and stripes fluttering from a high flag pole, eagle above the door to the chapel where those who’s bodies were never found are remembered. All had died either in the UK or the surrounding waters. 69% of American bodies were repatriated at the request of their families.

More lines of graves, 1st and 2nd World Wars. Some dates from after the wars, presumably died from injuries. The wonderful cottage garden plants around the graves wonderfully kept. We walked up to take a look at the lines of Chelsea Pensioners, the majority passing away in the 1960’s.

No upvc windows here

Lunchtime, but where could we get some food? None of the residents would require refreshments. We should have thought about this! We walked down The Gardens, a line of semi detached houses built in 1897. Were these built for gardeners in the cemetery? If there hadn’t been several vans parked outside and workmen in modern clothing I’d have thought we’d been whizzed back in time.

Lunch!

Behind The Cricketers we found the Yurt Café where we enjoyed a slice of Lemon Drizzle cake and a lovely cuppa, far cheaper than a posh pub lunch! Now it was time to find our way back into the cemetery, after all we’d not even started to look round! No pavement along the road that splits the cemetery into it’s two halves, I was relived to arrive at the entrance.

Now with a vague plan on who we wanted to see and a route to maybe follow we walked on down Avenues. A real mixture of graves.

Why was Private CE Wilburn (from Gosport) in a corner with no-one near, his commonwealth grave stone much akin to those we’d seen this morning.

Elephant trunks of trees

Large boughs of trees surrounded the grave of the Peyers family, Adrian Christopher had been a tenor opera singer, appearing in several productions with Opera Scotland and at the Royal Opera House.

Penny Privett who’d died in 2022 sat amongst some Victorian graves, the lay out far more haphazard than in the northern cemetery. Huge large trees give the dead shade on a sunny day, a deer appreciated it too.

It took a while for it to spot us

Mausoleums were dotted around. The family Wood perfectly positioned for a film shot. The metal door partially open behind a gate, a slab of stone missing from the roof, no coffins to be seen inside, all so atmospheric.

A Hammer House setting maybe

Nearby John Singer Sargent (1856 -1925) rests, best remembered for his Victorian and Edwardian society portraits. His grave is Grade II listed even if it is far less elaborate than many others in the inner ring, the most expensive place to be laid to rest in the cemetery.

John Singer Sergant

Heading towards St Edwards where monks will show you round, sadly the church doors were locked and we didn’t have enough time for a tour so we didn’t knock on their door.

Some of the graves are now surrounded by trees, framing them so wonderfully. Were they planted with this in mind in decades to come? One family upstages itself, a simple knot on one gravestone, 6ft in front a huge angle spreads their wings.

This is the side I’d rather be laid to rest. The thought of having so many dead mates around you for company, the long grass and shade from the tall tall trees. Such a mixture of ages and eras. You could come to visit everyday of the year and see something different.

We crossed over the busy road again to the north cemetery. Different nationalities remembering their loved ones in different ways. One lady had so many fake and real flowers around her grave it was hard to see who she was. A sultan in his own plot had become overgrown with thistles, we’d not seen thistles anywhere else!

We headed back to the gate into the station. Pressed the bell to be let back in.

I do like an atmospheric graveyard, but what a place! We’d only really scratched the surface.

Large and small headstones

We came away wondering who was the first to be buried there. On 13th November 1854 the following burials were recorded. Mrs Hore’s two still born male twins from 74 Ewer Street, Borough. Elizabeth Costello aged 3 months from St Saviours Workhouse. Henry Smith aged 31 from St Saviours Workhouse. Charlotte Edwards aged 74 from Chelsea. An interesting article can be found here. I wonder how many people lie there now.

Some shore leave when we got back

Thank you Heather and Mick for suggesting we visited and John for telling us about the railway.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 trains, 1 gate, 5 miles walked, 1 dodgy knee, 56745645634789 graves maybe! 2 slices of cake, 2 pots of tea, 1 hour of accompanied shore leave, that’s a touch better!

Family. Tree. 18th June

Mychett Visitor Centre

A slow start to the day. Tilly was given the rules but decided she’d rather not have any shore leave. The geese can have this outside!

What to do with ourselves? A look in guide books didn’t really bring up anything that was of interest nearby. Yes there are several museums, but they are all military and that didn’t really appeal to us. But one thing jumped out on Google maps which wasn’t too far away. Just what was Melissa’s tree?

To the east of the visitors centre is a large wooded area which has ‘Managed Access’ meaning the MOD use it for training at times and right in the middle of it was a pin for Melissa’s Tree.

Anyone lost a shoe?

At the far end of the car park there is a gate in a fence, this was open so we assumed we’d be safe going for a walk today. Thick with trees and bracken it felt like we were about to have to run for our lives ducking and diving through the friendly cover to avoid the enemy fire, hoping to cross a border in a WW2 film or The Handmaids Tale. However well trodden paths zigzag all around the woodland, but how would you know where you were?

A unique tree, if we could find it again!

A Snowman nailed to a tree would be a land mark, not ever tree would have one surely!

The fleeting glance of dogs running around trailing their ears behind them. The odd runner bouncing above the bracken. Trees. More trees. Do we go this way or that? We had google and OS maps open on our phones, should we take that path or this? Eventually the tree level dropped and we were in what might be called a clearing, although younger trees were busy growing around us, a little like a Christmas tree farm.

I think that could be it

Up ahead it was obvious which was Melissa’s tree, soaring high above the younger trees, it stood out from the crowd. Pinned to the trunk a brass plaque, some fresh flowers and a photo of Melissa. Melissa Sardina passed away in February this year. She was a graphic designer but is known locally for having fostered many dogs before they moved onto their forever homes, here is where she walked her dogs.

What a lovely memorial

Should we head to see what we could see at the locks? Too far to walk today. Instead we walked back a different route, well it could have been the same, we’d not really be able to tell to be honest. One chap walked past with his two dogs, now where am I? I know! Several dog walkers with five dogs each, some on leads others allowed to roam freely.

A large track with signs warning not to pick up anything military, a wise suggestion. We gradually made it back to the gate in the fence and the visitors centre.

We checked in at the office, was there any word as yet from the engineer? He’d been but they had no news for us yet. They’d be in touch when they heard what he had to say.

27 the troublesome lock

The back door was left open for Tilly, but she only occasionally popped her head out the back to check, Still rubbish! An afternoon of pottering and knitting. I selected yarn for pair 25 and cast on the toe. The sewing remaining to be done on pair 24 will be done in spits and spurts over the coming days.

Late afternoon Mick popped into the office to see what news there was, they were just ringing round. Today one of the boats waiting by the lock had been used as a trial boat going through the lock. It was successful, but water levels needed to be restored which would take a while. So on Friday four boats would be heading down through the lock. No-one will be allowed onboard whilst descending the lock for safety reasons, we’ve had this before at Marple, just in case the lock gate should give way. However Tilly will be allowed to stay on board.

Sam

Early evening we had our own visitor, Sam my cousin once removed. We’d not managed to meet up whilst on the Thames near Windsor, but we were still close enough. It was nice to show Sam round Oleanna and for her to meet Tilly, she was allowed to have a head rub, more than I normally allow a stranger. But she is family.

Us

Time to find some food. We’d shortlisted a few places nearby, but having a car was handy to go a little bit further. The Kingfisher on the Quay which overlooks a fresh water lake quite close to the A331. Quirkily decorated and I suspect quite cosy in the winter with big log fires the place was heaving. Luckily there was a table by a window, although the view was masked by parasols on the terrace.

The Kingfisher

A good gluten free menu for Sam and myself, all three of us opted for a Wagyu Burger. The waitress seemed to be new, not knowing about their hand pulled beers, so we all opted for glasses of wine. The conversation didn’t stop flowing and we could have carried on for a lot longer, but the pub was wanting to close up, the kitchen had closed for puddings already!

Sam, Mick, Pip

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 woodland walk, 0 shots fired, 1 memorial tree, 1 rum tree, 1 snowman, 4 boats waiting, 2 extra days, 3 lock flights booked, 1 cousin once removed, 1 guided tour, 1 head nudge, 3 burgers, 3 glasses of wine, 3 canoe urinals, 5 water ski loos, 1 very pleasant evening, thank you Sam for visiting us.

A Breakdown In Communications. 29th May

Above Days Lock to Wallingford

Not the best nights sleep. Yesterdays heavy rain made for a twitchy night. Had we been wise to moor here on pins? How high would the river come up in response to the rain? Were our ropes loose enough for fluctuating levels? How would the flow be when we came to move? Should we move? Sooner rather than later?

A lovely morning view

We both checked the internet for the levels. Overnight the river had come up by 6 inches. Would we now be stuck by red boards? The EA website gets updated at 11am each day so we wouldn’t know from there for quite some time. Mick took a walk along the bank towards the lock, wet grass soaking his trousers and shoes. The lock was normal and on self service. Time to make a move and go whizzing off down stream.

Looking back to Days Lock

Untying was planned, the bow rope last to stop us from drifting backwards and with Mick already onboard he’d be able to keep us steady into the flow. However the bow rope was quite slack, Oleanna had risen with the water and was now closer to the bank and this morning the wind was holding her into it. We followed our plan anyway, me trying to push the bow out against the wind, extra umph needed from a bow thruster to get the bow into the flow and Oleanna winding to head downstream.

Blue skies and fluffy clouds

A couple of boats had already been seen on the move and we followed a small cruiser in to the lock cut, they’d been moored on the weir stream overnight. I checked with their skipper if they’d be okay sharing with us which they were. They would head out first and I’d close up behind us. This of course wasn’t needed in the end as a boat was heading upstream and then a Lockie who was gardening appeared from nowhere and did the honours for us, the cruiser pulled in at the service mooring, we carried on.

Blue skies with fluffy clouds, that’s more like it! More boat houses I could live in. The fab big house on the bend near Shillingford still looks wonderful. Maybe one day we should walk the Thames Path which goes right outside the other side of the building so we can see the front door. If we lived there we’d give some ornamental tall grasses a trim to improve the view of the river.

Above Benson Lock there were plenty of moored hire boats, the recent yellow and red boards keeping them off the river, we’ve seen only a couple of Le Boats out and about. The cafe looked to be popular, maybe it would be a suitable place for a rendez vous, but our only choice of mooring nearby was on the weir side of the lock island, there’s a ferry that runs back and forth. However the moorings looked quite full and it would have meant winding to reverse into the weir cut, with the river running fast we didn’t fancy that.

Ouch!

Time to fill the lock, descend and then cross over the weir exit! Earlier this year a boat had lost it’s mooring and been swept towards the weir, only the bridge over it stopping the vessel from plunging over the top. Today the water crashed over the weir, where the navigation meets this there are green marker buoys to help keep you away from the build up of silt. We’d heard that these marker buoys had moved in the floods, so didn’t mark the channel well. They certainly looked to be further over towards the bank and the trees than we remembered, if you kept to the right side of them you’d almost certainly end up entangled in branches. After picking me up, Mick set off, cranking Oleanna up, the aim to pass through the green markers. It turned into a bit of a chicane but we made it through without touching the bottom or the trees, but very close to the buoys.

A space on the low bank

Not far now, we made note of possible moorings under the trees as we approached Wallingford, plenty of room should we need it. On the east bank there was a space, just not quite big enough for us, a few git gaps behind, we called out but no one heard us. The west bank was just about empty. We headed down stream through the bridge and then winded, no chance of running out of room to make the turn here. Upstream we headed, another call out to a narrowboat to see if they could move up, big thumbs up from inside and out they came to pull back six foot so we could moor. Thank you.

Earlier there had been a phone call, but not enough signal to hear anything. Mick had sent a message saying we were heading to Wallingford, he received a message saying a cuppa was being enjoyed at the cafe at Benson. Serious communication problems, Mick went off to try to find signal, Wallingford being added to our list of bad signal. Up on the bridge he got through to a French answerphone just as a car with two familiar faces came past slowing to say ‘Hello!’

Mick, Siobhan, Patrick and Pip

Siobhan and Patrick are friends of Micks from long long ago, they now live in Newcastle, Australia. Most years they come over to the UK to visit family and we do our best to meet up. They arrived earlier this week, had a few nights in London before driving down to stay with a friend in Benson, our cruising plans had just nicely managed to fit with their tour of the UK. Big hugs all round then a venue for lunch was found. We all got in the car and headed off to The Red Lion in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell a very pretty place.

A picturesque pub

Ham egg and chips, a burger, fish and chip and a vegetable tart were all enjoyed, better food and a quieter lunch than we’d had on Monday. Lots to catch up on, news of grandchildren, 70th birthdays, travel plans.

After a cuppa and more chats back at Oleanna it was time for them to head off and meet up with their friend in Benson. So lovely to see them both and Yes we do need to try to put a plan together to do a visit to Newcastle!

Brand new signs

As we’d returned to the boat there was a chap taking down the Town Council signs regarding mooring fees. New signs were going up, still the same fee but the moorings were now going to be overseen by District Enforcement. The chap chatted away, the moorings would be policed three times a week and anyone pulling up even just for the day (free) would need to register on line to moor there otherwise they’d be charged the penalty £100. Later in the day we wondered how we’d manage to register as our internet signal was seriously poor, at times there was nothing at all! This may be a problem.

We’ve only been able to moor in Wallingford by the bridge once before and we couldn’t remember if we’d looked round or not. Looking back on Lillian’s blog posts I suspect we didn’t as I had a migraine the day we arrived. So we headed out to have a bit of a walk around.

St Peter’s

In the early 12th Century Wallingford had many rights and liberties exceeding those of London and it is one of only four towns that were mentioned in the Magna Carta. The very recognisable spire of St Peter’s can be seen by all from the river, it is now a redundant Anglican church. Grade 2 listed it was built between 1763 and 1767, the spire added by Sir Robert Taylor ten years later. A local lawyer, Sir William Blackstone ( who’s books were widely used by the makers of the American constitution) paid for the clock face to be visible from his house. The church was deemed redundant in 1971.

There are plenty of antique shops, one of which Siobhan had remembered from when she worked in the area. We had a good look round at all the things no-one really needs. The shop went on and on forever!

Wallingford Town Hall

A couple of things were needed from Waitrose then we walked by the Town Hall, held up with extra wooden pillars bedecked with plastic ferns. The open area beneath was used for market stalls and the chamber above was used for Borough Courts and Quarter Sessions. Around the end of the 13th Century the town fell on hard times and shrank, only reviving in the 17th and 18th centuries with the vast growth of London and trade on the Thames. During Victorian times Wallingford had 50 pubs whilst only having a population of around 2000. Down a side street where half timbered buildings have been painted haphazardly in green and yellow and we wondered what the department store had been on St Mary’s Street.

Where St Mary’s meets St Martins a row of four terraced houses sits prominently over looking the junction. They are Grade 2 listed and are quite fine, their gable windows on the top floor hidden behind a wall.

Maybe next time we’re here we’ll explore more, there is what looks like an interesting walk around the town Link. So there is more to Wallingford than Midsummer Murders.

2 locks, 5.8 miles, 1 wind, 6 inches higher, 6ft too short, 1 broken cleat, 2 Australian visitors, 1 perfect rendez vous, 0 phone signal, 3 pints, 1 glass wine, 1 unimpressed Tilly, £12 a night, but not tonight, 1 more lovely day with friends, 2 equalised batteries (they sorted them selves a few days ago).

https://maps.app.goo.gl/bnJcAhVw6iqfRTzG7

Contraband Chips. 27th May

Jericho

Hair cutting, Tilly exploring, breakfast and baking, what a busy morning, good job the sun was out. However we had reports of rain to the north of us, would umbrellas be required?

Presents time

A little later than originally planned Andrew and Jac arrived, the Oxford traffic having held them up on their journey from London. Time for birthday presents a coffee and freshly baked biscuits. Jac got a new table cloth with embroidered bees on it and Mick got a new expanding hose for Oleanna and a weed burner for use in the garden at the house.

Jac fashioning Mick’s new hose

Originally we’d planned on doing the next part of our journey by boat, but getting a mooring where we were heading could have been a risk, limited space and only 24hrs. So we headed to Sandford Lock on the Thames by car, having to sit in Oxford traffic for some of the way.

Sat outside the Kings Arms with her dog Baxter was Jenny Leckenby, she’d spent some time watching the second round of the World Championship Pooh Sticks that was taking place at the weir stream. Inside we found the rest of our party, Ian, Sally and Sam Leckenby, first cousins and those once removed. A few people missing from the table, Josh who is mid A level revision, Jo and his family who live in the States.

With eight of us it was quite a noisy affair, sorry to those other diners. Mick and I had seen everyone last summer at the Royal International Air Tattoo, but Andrew and Jac had been away on holiday so it was the first time they’d seen Ian and Sally since their wedding, way longer since seeing Sam and Jenny.

Chips!

Sam and I chose our gluten free dishes from the separate menu, but were disappointed that we couldn’t have chips. This is because other things are fried in the same deep fat frier causing cross contamination which can be serious for those who are coeliac. Both of us are intolerant to gluten and were willing to risk a portion of chips between us. Solution was to get Jenny to order a side portion of chips to accompany her burger and chips. These were then passed over to Sam and myself to share away from panicking staff, our choice, our chips.

A long lunch, five hours. The service was slow, but that actually didn’t matter as there was tons to talk about. Ian’s plane that he’s building in France, the dogs cats horses goats, their granddaughter, news of Tim our other cousin out in Ukraine, all sorts.

All too soon it was time for us to leave the pub and restore the quiet. A shame we’d not brought Oleanna and Tilly as there would have been space to moor her. Hopefully we’ll get chance to catch up with Sam as we head downstream on the Thames in the next few days and it won’t be too long before we can all get together again.

Sally, Andrew, Ian, Mick, Jenny, Pip, Sam, Jac

An easier trip back to Jericho in the car and hopefully an easier drive back to London for the London Leckenbys.

River levels were checked again, it all looks pretty good for the next few days. With this in mind we looked at moorings in London. There are now more pre-bookable, payable moorings in London. For the dates we were looking at on the cheaper moorings we didn’t have much choice. Adjusting our dates a touch gave us a better window of opportunity. All booked, we just have to get there now.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 presents, 8 biscuits, 22nd pair cast on, 1 bored cat, 8 cousins, 1 dog, 1 portion of contraband chips, 5 hours of noisy family catch up, 2 car rides, 1 plan came together, 1 lovely day.

Stone Crew. 28th April

Barlaston Winding Hole to just off the end of Stone Visitor Moorings

Bacon butties were enjoyed before we joined the Geraghty zoom. Topics covered today were Peanut Butter grouting, news from the north was ‘murcky’ and parasitic worms.

Four Windlasses!

Our aimed for departure was 11am, we were slightly later than that, hopefully my guestimate based on travel times on the Waterway Routes maps would have us arrive at the locks at a suitable time to meet our extra crew for the day. There was also time to pop down below and roll up balls of biscuit dough I’d made last night, roll them in two types of sugar and pop a tray in the oven for ten minutes. The Lemon Crinkle biscuits were left to cool as we approached the top of the Meaford Flight.

This lock was in our favour and just required a top up. You can only see ahead if you either walk over the bridge or once the lock gates are opened, no boats in sight.

As we approached Meaford Road Lock I could see that there was a boat ascending the lock below and coming along the towpath were our extra crew for the day, Bill and Lisa. Windlasses were handed out and instructions given. We lowered Oleanna down to the next pound and left the gates for the uphill boat. Below however the gates had been closed and the lock was refilling.

New crew in training

When we got down to the next lock there seemed to be plenty of crew, eager to close the bottom gates behind the uphill boat, however none of them had windlasses. They were just gongoozlers pleased to lend a hand. We helped the crew out lifting paddles and pushing gates, then it was our turn.

Bill and Lisa picked up what to do and when very quickly and were quite happy to stand and watch as the locks emptied and filled, marvelling at the engineering and how it’s not been bettered. We all hopped on board and caught a lift down to Lime Kiln Lock.

Click photo for link, it’s rather a nice house

Lisa grew up in Stone, we passed where one of her teachers used to live, one of the houses for sale. Then just before the lock there is a short line of modern houses, this when she was a kid was The Rising Sun pub. Her Dad used to drink in there and she was allowed to play around the canal, yet she didn’t really remember any boats on the canal at that time (mid 80’s). This was the first time she’d got to work a lock.

Lisa and Bill

The locks are pretty into Stone with their stone curved steps to push the lock beams along and their bridges. They are also easy locks to work, no real need for extra crew today other than spending time with friends and sharing what we do.

A lady heading to the shops with her trolley opened up top gates for us at one lock. One of her two dogs refusing to cross back over the lock bridge ended up crossing over the back of Oleanna, Cheeky! Obligatory photo taken. The chandlers will soon reopen as something completely different, presumably the new owners are the ones who don’t want the boaters rubbish point. At Yard Lock it was being emptied, boat movers moving a boat up to the Macc.

Star Lock, the last for the day

On to Star Lock the last for today. A Mum mallard was trying to encourage her ducklings out of the water where the bank was quite high, so for a while I lost our extra crew. Then it was time to find ourselves a mooring. There had been space above the lock but that wouldn’t have been so good for Tilly, now there were no spaces, just a long line of boats. We pootled on, a new length of armco going in, after this we pulled in. Here the bank was so soft you could almost just push the mooring spikes in by hand. Mick double pinned us, but we weren’t convinced this would last too long.

Time for a cuppa and sit down with some of those biscuits. Tilly was given an hour and thankfully she returned just as we’d finished our drinks. She was left in charge whilst we walked back into town.

Where Ben’s Dad was born

We paused to find our friend Bens Dad’s birth place just down Adies Alley. No 28 was the place, photo taken to send to Ben. Then on to find a pub, Crown Wharf was chosen. Blimey it is a huge pub and very popular on a Sunday. We quickly found ourselves a booth to take over, the general hubhub from the pub adding atmosphere yet we could all hear each other. Sadly no gluten free beer, I was a little surprised at Joules, but hey a glass of wine on a Sunday afternoon was nice enough.

Team Stone. Lisa, Mick, Bill and Pip

It was soon time to say goodbye to our friends, what a lovely Sunday afternoon with very good company. Hopefully we’ll see Bill in a few months time as he’ll be a lodger for a couple of months in Scarborough.

Back to the boat via M&S for something to eat this evening, pies. Sadly my gluten free version was really rather crispy hard. The mooring spikes were only just still holding in the soft ground, one was exchanged for a chain.

We were just settling down for the evening when a phone call came from Scarborough. A strong smell of gas in the pantry and it was getting stronger! Landlord mode kicked in, the leak was reported to the gas board, our lodger opening doors and windows, leaving the house until an engineer arrived. Thankfully someone was there about half an hour after we’d reported it. The tap that turns the gas off and on at the meter was the culpert and once it was replaced the problem solved. You can get quite a good flow of air through the house so thankfully the gas cleared quickly and Georgia could relax for the rest of the evening, as could we.

8 locks, 4.1 miles, 2 extra crew, 1 lovely afternoon with sunshine! 12 lemon cakey biscuits, 2 pints, 1 coke, 1 large wine, 2 pies, 2 jackets, 1 lodger and house still in tact.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/dC52TNvw8mZZ15sm6

Soaking Kathleen. 7th April

There was time for MIck to whip up a cooked breakfast before the Geraghty zoom this morning, it did mean that we’d be eating it whilst we chatted to everyone. Subjects covered, canvasing, folk, endive and sparkling ash leaves.

Zooming breakfast

Late morning we pushed Oleanna back over to the other side of the little notch as we were expecting little legs again this afternoon. It was hard to move across as the wind was pinning us to the side. I managed to get a rope around a bollard at the bow, then we used the Andy method (springing off) to force the stern across against Kathleens best efforts. We soon discovered that on the east side of the notch we’d managed to get ourselves tied up so as not to be buffeted about so much, the west side we’d not been so sucessful!

I think it’s stopped raining

We pottered away the morning and by mid afternoon squally showers were whisking around. Mick confired with our prospective visitors who’d planned on a visit before we all headed out for Sunday lunch. Instead we’d meet a car at the next road bridge and get a lift.

Soggy sponsored walk

Full water proofs didn’t manage to keep us dry for the five minute walk to meet Anne, sorry for leaving you with soggy seats! The Moorcock would have only been a 20 minute walk according to Google, although it would all have been uphill, glad we’d not done that in the rain!

A large table had been reserved for us at the end of the pub and we were soon joined by Ruth, James, Penelope and Daphne. There was Vocation beer on tap, so for the second Sunday in a row I had a pint of Heart and Soul a nice GF brew. Roast pork, beef, sausage and chips plus a chicken nuggets and chips were ordered.

Nice pint

The pork almost certainly didn’t come off a joint, most probably steaks roasted in the oven. Crackling had been mentioned on the menu and this was brough on a seperate plate. I suspect this had been cooked in an air fryer. It looked like it should be good, but I have to say it was a chewy disappointment. However we were there to enjoy being with family which made for a lovely late lunch.

Disappointed Ruth

James offered to do bathtime and leave us to chat for longer. This meant that some of us, Mick and myself could have pudding away from younger eyes who’d already had some chilled medictaion at lunchtime. A huge slab of chocolate fudge cake each. Ruth ordered an expresso martini for her treat, but they were out of these! She was very disappointed.

Mick, Ruth, Anne, Pip

There was a little lull in the rain, just long enough for a Sunday selfie before we climbed back in the car and made it back to the canal. Goodbyes and hopefuly it won’t be so long before we see everyone again.

Rain set in on our walk back to Oleanna. We decided to push back over the notch and whilst doing so we got another very good soaking! The stove was lit, coats and jeans hung up to drip dry.

Earlier in the day a message had been put on one of the facebook groups, a boat was looking for someone else to share the journey into Manchester. I made contact, a second boat with crew would make it a lot easier even though we may have extra crew for the final push. They have yet to cross the summit and our current schedule will mean we are still ahead of them. But with the current weather forecast, we may not be moving very far due to another storm. If they’ve any sense they won’t move either.

I wonder who will win this time?

Today marks the seventh anniversary of moving on board Oleanna in Sheffield. Oleanna was very shiny and new then, she’s showing her age now, still in desperate need of a wash and polish, the rain isn’t helping this. Time for a toast to mark the occasion.

0 locks, 2 pushes across the notch, 2 car rides, 2 very soggy walks, 1 last bag of coal, 4 pork, 1 beef, 1 sausage and chips, 1 chicken nuggets and chips, 2 slabs of chocolate fudge cake, 2.5 pints, 1 lovely meal with family, pair 14 finished, 50 years since Abba, 7 years onboard Oleanna.

28th Heel turned

Whilst Kathleen Blows Away. 6th April

Lock 46

After breakfast and writing the blog, on what feels like the smallest keyboard ever, we headed into town to do a bit of shopping, find a newspaper and have a look round.

They are rather fine

Two fine front doors stood out, one house for sale. You get quite a bit of house for your money in these parts. We’ve been spotting a lot of places named Royd recently. Old Royd Lock, Royd Street. Looking the name up it turns out that Royd is local dialect for ‘cleared land’ especially in a wood.

The centre of Littleborough has a mix of shops, not many unoccupied. Some smart clothes shops, a couple of butchers, a discount hardware shop and a knickers shop! Just who had the money for the fancy grave?

Who was so important to have such a grand grave

We got a newspaper, some thick cut bacon, a disappoinitng pork pie and a few bits and bobs fom Sainsburys before heading to the Co-op to see if their cat food was cheaper. It was, especially with a members card which we applied for whilst stood in the pet food isle.

As we headed towards the canal we spotted signs in the station window for a museum. Well that needed looking at, so we made our way up onto the platform where a chap asked if we knew there were no trains today. Yes, but we were looking for the museum. ‘Round the corner, there’s three chaps in there’.

No trains today

The main waiting room/old ticket office is now a museum for Littleborough Historical and Archaeologocal Society. We were welcomed in by a chap who immediatley mentioned about their flint collection and Roman coins. Flint is not found in the area, so was imported from other parts of the country. He also appologised that their main computer was broken so he wouldn’t be able to show us much from their archieve. This however didn’t stop him from chatting away to his hearts content.

As it says on the door

The chap chatted on for ages, he could have carried on for hours. Don’t get me wrong he was interesting, possibly being shown images and maps would have been even more interesting, but when someone wanted to show him a recent find that was almost certainly Roman we were quick in heading for the door. More a place for serious research on the local area than just a browse around.

Back at Oleanna we had lunch and enjoyed the last Hot Paw Bun of the year. These were the best I’ve made by far and Mick doesn’t see why they should just be for Easter!

Tilly came and went, then as the winds increased into the afternoon she was grounded. Kathleen was showing her force. Thankfully our mooring means Oleanna’s bow faces into the wind and with a few extra fenders out we are held into the side, so no bumping about.

Plans for the next few days were discussed. How long it will take us to get down into Manchester, which moorings to stop at, will the wind have died down sufficiently to make this all possible?

Tilly slept the afternoon away. The yellow water tank was emptied, Tilly’s pooh box refreshed and quite a bit of knitting done. I should just about finish pair 14 by the end of Sunday, Hooray!

Our evening meal was accompanied by growing winds and torrential rain. Really! Surely there can’t be anymore rain!!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 windy walk, 1 puzzled baker, 9 rashers bacon, 1 pie, 1 paper, 0 knickers bought, 1 very knowledgable man, 0 wedding ring, 1 very blustery afternoon, 2 salmon steaks with red pepper sauce, 13.5 pairs of socks knitted so far.

12 Stamps And Some Of The Good Stuff! 31st March

Hedbum Bridge

The towpath was a touch quieter this morning, were people still in bed having not put their clocks forward? We got cuppas ready and settled down for the Geraghty zoom. At 10:05 no-one had showed apart from us, 10:10 still no-one else. Were we the only ones to have sprung forward? No last week when we’d only bobbed into the zoom they had decided that as so many people would be away doing other things today there was little point, they’d just omitted to tell us. Oh well!

Easter breakfast

Before Mick was allowed to get the bacon and eggs out I needed certain things from the galley. Time to make some Hot Paw Buns. I tried a bit of an experiment and added a couple of extra grams of yeast and a teaspoon of Psyllium husk to see what effect that would have. The gooey mixture was left on the top shelf to rise for an hour whilst we had breakfast.

Tilly had another go at liking Hebden Bridge, but it didn’t last long and she resigned herself to sleeping for much of the day.

With a duck race on Monday …

I also decided to take one lot of rising out of the process of making Hot Paw Buns. So I mixed the fruit and spices into the gooey mass. Prepared the marzipan balls for inside and then rolled out a long sticky sausage to cut into twelve which in turn had their centres added and were rolled up into balls. All popped on a baking tray to rise again. Sadly the top shelf isn’t big enough for the tray so they took up space on the table.

Yesterday we’d omitted to buy some potatoes to go with our duck this evening and a visit to the cheese shop had to be made. Mick stayed onboard to hang up some washing. The Co-op was closed, the bakers open (however no queue today), Nisa and One Stop shops were both open and so was the cheese shop!

Cheese cheese cheese!

Now what on earth to buy? I chose a couple and then a third as the lady started to serve me. The third wedge of cheese I required a bit of assistance with. I wanted some proper Wensleydale cheese. In the 70’s Mum used to buy whole Stilton and Wensleydale cheeses, wrapped in their muslin. The top would be sliced off and kept to act as a lid and WO betide anyone who went in for a scoup! Slices cut into wedges were the only way cheese was consumed from these huge beasts of cheese. They kept exceptionally well. For a few years Father Christmas used to give me a small version wrapped in muslin, creamy but rather crumbly, my favourite cheese long before Wallace and Gromit were even a glint in Nick Parks’ eye.

…there’s a duck window display competition

This last Christmas I bought a small muslin wrapped cheese from Hawes dairy, sadly it was the modern version of Wensleydale, a disappointment to be honest. Today I wanted some of the good proper stuff! Yes they had Hawes, then there two more to choose from. I asked which was the better one. The mature one was wrapped in plastic, not a good sign so I opted for the other (when I get them out to eat I’ll let you know which one it is). This one had dark muslin, it’s been aged and turned and turned. The lady offered me a taste, but there was no need I could see this is what I was after. She agreed with me and commented about how so many people thought that Hawes Wensleydale was the true cheese, ‘but that means there’s more of the good stuff left for those who know!’

Back at Oleanna, marzipan paw prints were cut out and added to the buns. Mick was sent off for a bottle of cider to make gravy for the duck and some red cabbage had cinnamon, cloves, balsamic vinegar and sugar added to it to slowly cook on the stove top. The buns went in the oven with a tray of boiling water on the shelf below for the first ten minutes, covered in foil for the last ten minutes, then were left to cool having a sticky glaze added. The smell far better than the previous buns I’d made. Once cool enough we both enjoyed one with some butter melting into them.

Hot Paw Buns cooling just enough to eat

A much better bun, even Mick said they were better than the Bakery bought ones. My tweaks to my recipe had improved them and omitting a third rise I think had helped also. I’ll have to find time to amend the recipe page.

Late afternoon we had someone to meet. Alexandra Mathie is an actress I’ve know since the mid 90’s and she was one of the first people to be a lodger in our house in 2021, she lives here in Hebden Bridge. She has just returned from Sheffield having played Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible (review here). We sat and caught up on news of mutual friends and future plans over a pint at The White Lion for an hour. I’m not sure how long she and Angie have lived here, but she says that it simply isn’t the same. The town has become a destination for hen and stag does and on summer evenings the town isn’t somewhere they’d choose to go anymore. We’ve certainly heard the rowdy lads heading to the station over the weekend. It was so lovely to see her and there was an added bonus of gluten free beer on tap!

The lovely Alex

This evening we’ve enjoyed our Lidl duck. Not as good as those we buy for Christmas, but that was to be expected. A very full plate of food followed by a few chunks of Easter Egg. Tomorrow we’d best start working off the calories and carry on climbing up the valley.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2kg potatoes, 3 treat cheeses, 1 bottle cider, 12 paw stamps, 1 snoozy cat, 2 chocolate eggs, 1 Alex, 1 changed Hebden Bridge, 1 duck, 2 very full boaters.

Not A Chip In The Air. 1st September

Trent Junction to Beeston, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

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

What were the holes for?

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

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

Check your quarter wave

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

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

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

Flower!

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

5 miles to get back on the river again

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

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

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

The Victoria Hotel

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

Tonights menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://goo.gl/maps/vL6gFNKn73voXgyG6