Category Archives: Pubs

Vienna Postcard 4. 13th to 15th January 2020

31 hours

Real roses tend to loose their heads when used in magic tricks

Back to work Monday morning. Today we should have been doing some technical notes followed by a couple of dress rehearsals, the second one to be watched by Julia and Helene the Producers from the theatre. I spent the morning breaking down the water torture cabinet more. Then later I was able to add chains and padlocks.

Me on stage adding bits of dressing to the water torture cabinet

The afternoon was then spent going through sound and projection cues. Even though Sunday afternoon had been used as extra plotting time there were still issues. The projector was producing a distorted white rectangular light when we went into black out. One suggested solution was never go to black out! This didn’t go down well for obvious reasons.

Dan running through things out of costume

Then when the water torture cell came on (it has a tv screen inside it which runs footage) the projector also showed the footage! The projector wasn’t the right one for the job. This was the point that the projector was turned off never to be powered up again!

Even a Notfallplan wasn’t going to help

Everyone was getting nervous when sound cues were played back. This morning they had been finessed, this afternoon all that work had vanished and needed redoing. Poor Dan really needed to do a dress rehearsal but was thankful that he and Tim had done a run on stage on Sunday as there was no time left.

Dan with one of his tricks

So our first dress rehearsal was in front of the producers and photographer. My set still needed a few things doing to it, but there simply hadn’t been any time left after sorting the technical issues out. The dress went okay, but the producers had lots of questions afterwards.

A doughnut in action

Tuesday there was time to finish the cabinet, with bolts and breakdown the chain making it look older. Then Bruno, the Viennese Frank Matthews started work on what are known as the ‘Doughnuts’. These on the transporter bridge connect the cables from the dolly at the top of the bridge to the gondola below. I could hear quite a lot of German being muttering under his breath, but in the end he succeeded in getting the tension right on the ropes both upwards and down to the stage.

Das Lange the nearest pub

The dress rehearsal in the afternoon disappeared again, so in the evening we had a preview in front of local teachers. It went well but with a few little glitches. Most of us retired to Das Lange for a few glasses of beer and wine, we’d got through the show, but there was still work to be done.

Healthy fruit for breakfast was followed by some egg and bacon

Wednesday morning I was given instructions to head off and do some sight seeing. My jobs list was short but lighting, sound and a new projector needed to attention. Helga was sent out to track down more rivet heads that I could use on the bridge.

Second time lucky

So I headed into the city to the historical centre. Walking in again I wish I’d wrapped up better as the temperature was low, it even started to try to snow at one point, sadly not for long enough. Young trees were wrapped up to protect them in parks and a few mounds of old snow lingered near the ice skating ring.

St Peter’s

I walked through the palaces, not really knowing what was around me, the balcony where Hitler addressed the crowds in 1938. The butterfly house reminded me of Kew garden with a touch of Jules Verne added. St Stephan’s and St Peters churches both still with their Christmas displays.

At Julius Meinl I was pulled inside to marvel at the number of different caviars for sale. I hunted round for things to bring back. The cakes looked fabulous, the cheeses so tasty, twelve types of tomatoes, tins of baked beans for 2.49 euros! I spent my time smelling and absorbing and refrained from buying anything other than what the ladies at the theatre had said was the best Austrian chocolate Zotter, they certainly make strange flavours!

How much?!

Whilst having some lunch I got a phone call saying the rivets had arrived. So I walked back to give them a coat of paint before they were added to the set. I’d only managed 8 miles walking today!

Pre-rusted rivets

In the morning a new projector had been brought in, but the image couldn’t be made a suitable size to satisfy us. So after another morning of work the projection in the show was cut for good. I could then get on with riveting the bridge with the help of Vernon. we managed two sides but ran out of time. He’ll finish them without me tomorrow.

Finishing touches

Another preview night and then it was time to pack up my belongings. Julia and Helene seemed happy. The show is great, it’s just a shame the icing on the Sacher Torte was missing, your average punter wouldn’t know it wasn’t there. Farewells and big thank yous to all the chaps at the theatre. They are a great bunch and very welcoming. By the end of my time there it felt like I’d been working with them for ages, a very good team.

Top of Act 1
The bridge and Dan in action

The Cape. 27th December

Cape Top Lock

One of two moving boats today NB Merlin, they’ve come a long way from Bunbury

A tidy up of Oleanna which included removing the last few weeks worth of cat fur from the curtains. A batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough had been made yesterday so it was resting in the fridge ready to be sliced and cooked ready to fill the boat with a yummy aroma when our visitors arrived.

Photo credit should go to Tilly for final adjustment of the photo

The journey up from London for the London Leckenbys took a while longer than they’d hoped as traffic had been bad, but they got to us before 1pm. With all the light industrial units closed for Christmas they were able to leave the car close to the water point. As Andrew said if their car was a Ferrari then they would have moved it elsewhere. But as it’s a damp VW with moss growing on it’s windows and has various battle scars from through the years he wasn’t too worried of it’s parking location.

Tea and biscuits were accompanied by opening our latest post and Mick’s last Christmas present, an under pillow speaker so that he can listen to cricket during the night, hopefully without disturbing me.

Vetting photos

A stretch of the old legs along the muddy towpath was called for, the weather not really having improved from yesterday sadly so we didn’t venture too far before returning to the boat and donning our glad rags to go to the pub.

The Cape of Good Hope is a well known canalside pub run by a couple of Kiwis. Ages ago when on Lillian we moored in the Saltisford arm and wove our way through the housing estate to sample their burgers. Today we’d booked a table to be sure we’d get one, but it wasn’t as full as it had been in the warmer months. Today we just had to negotiate the lock gates after a couple of aperitifs.

What to choose?

Warm and cosy inside we chose a couple of starters to share, followed by mains. Dough balls, for the youngest along with haloumi and veg kebabs for the second youngest.

Josh with a steak nearly as big as himself

Main courses were steak which came with a festoon of vine tomatoes. A very tasty Blade of Beef with wild mushroom jus. A lamb shank. Two wild boar and chorizo gourmet pies. They all hit the spot being very tasty and were washed down with beer and wine.

A tasty pie

The lock gates were a touch more problematical on the way back, but nobody got wet so that was a relief. Birthday cake for pudding got the thumbs up from my brother as Queen of Sheba cake is a fond memory for both of us from our teenage years.

Wine and conversation

Putting the boat into sleeping mode for five meant the stove had been allowed to burn itself out so that Josh wouldn’t cook on the sofa. Luckily there was still an amount of heat coming from it to keep the chill off until morning.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Merlin, 3 visitors, 8 biscuits, 4 slices fruit cake (thank you Nick), 1 damp walk, 10 muddy shoes, 4 muddy paws, 2 bottles wine, 3 pints, 2 bottles beer, 1 orange juice, 1 steak, 2 pies, 1 shank, 1 blade, 5 slices of chocolate, 1 afternoon and evening of conversation, 1 cat wanting a quiet life again, 1 apology to Duncan and Jaye due to poor phone signal.

It's Beginning …… 19th December

Gibraltar Bridge to Bascote Aqueduct

With rain forecast for the afternoon we wanted to be on our way whilst it was still dry. Ten locks lay ahead of us, would we beat the weather?

Santa

We pootled past moored boats, many with decorations up. One boat in the summer has a mass of bears sat in it’s hatch, but understandably now it’s winter the hatch was firmly closed. However sat in the wheelhouse was the largest bear, which might actually have been an orangutan, wearing a Santa outfit including a beard. A shame the glass wasn’t clear for the photo.

We’d considered stopping at Kate Boats for a new bottle of gas, but there was no sign of life and the thought of carrying a full gas bottle over another boats bow was not appealing, it’ll have to wait.

No boat here anymore

The boat that used to be moored by Calias Lane is no more. Here the towpath used to be full of interesting stuff, the boat almost melding into it all. Late last year there was a fire on board and the owner, Malcolm, was quite badly injured, the boat almost certainly a right off. Now there is no sign of where the boat used to be and winter mooring signs sit along the stretch, all lonely as nobody has taken C&RT up on this location.

Hovering reindeer
Hiya!

Father Christmas peered out through portholes and at The Boat Inn two reindeer levitated by the outside tables.

Approaching the top of the flight

Looking over our shoulders we’d both thought we were being followed, someone to share the locks with, we’d wait at the top lock to see if they arrived. The top lock was in our favour and I soon spotted a boat coming up the lock below, so we entered the lock and dropped down.

One coming up

The lady working the boat up came for a chat. They’d been planning to moor in Leamington Spa for Christmas but had changed their minds as there was no diesel to be had, so they were hoping they’d make it to Banbury in time. There was time to suggest good places to moor in Banbury as they’d not been before and we were warned that a pound lower down the locks had almost been empty when they got to it.

Going down

As their boat passed I recognised it. We had crossed the Ribble link with the boat a couple of years ago, friends of NB Quaintrelle. However I hadn’t remembered the lady having a Scottish accent and the couple on board had been younger. It appears the boat changed owners a year or so ago.

Locks

Much of the flight was in our favour and the levels were only a touch low, but as we were bringing a lock full of water down with us this didn’t concern us. One lock had a bottom paddle left open a touch so the chamber had drained. The boat that had been following never showed itself so we descended solo.

Tree and reindeer

With last nights rain, and most probably the last two months worth, the towpath was filled with puddles and was a quagmire in places. The grassy banks more like brown ski slopes, my waterproof trousers now need a good wash. The temperature today had risen so as we worked our way down layers were removed.

Edging removed
New mortar

Was this the bridge where a widebeam got stuck in June this year? They got jammed in a bridge as they headed up the locks. The Grand Union was originally built for narrowboats but in the 1930’s the locks were widened so they could take two narrowboats. Most widebeams fit, but the one earlier in the year didn’t, coping stones had to be removed.

Tinsel

We spotted familiar boats, overtaking Kate Saffin who was moored up on the off side, NB Jameson moored before the last lock of the day where new houses are going up. The builders returning from a break came and watched as the water emptied out from the lock.

New houses

I walked on to where we’ve moored before away from the road and where there are rings. On our own we tied up and let Tilly out. I wonder if she recognises places, she’s certainly been here a few times before.

At around 2pm the heavens opened, thank goodness we weren’t battling our way down the locks in it. Tilly wasn’t too pleased with it either!

During the afternoon and evening I got very close to finishing my last sock before Christmas whilst we watched The Importance of Being Earnest. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it in the last 1st class post tomorrow.

10 locks, 2.47 miles, 1 awol email, 3 familiar boats, 1 muddy cat, 14 rows left, 0 cratch lights yet, 1 Queens speech with possible ramifications for us, 1 afternoon of rain.

Coping. 17th December

Bend before Marston Doles to between Locks 9 and 8, Napton

No views today

No chance of those views down the Napton flight today as we were surrounded by fog as we pushed off. We paused to top up with water at Marston Doles, both of us checking to see what interesting cars were parked across the way, neither of us checking what state the top lock was in.

Interesting cars as ever

Our last down hill lock was at Blakes Lock in Reading on the 23rd October, when Mick with the assistance of Paul made a break from the K&A and up to Goring on the Thames.

Marston Doles Top Lock

As ever at a first lock Mick had forgotten to get a boat hook positioned at the stern to help close bottom gates, he was more interested in tidging the Christmas lights. My comments about how little he cared for me worked and at the second lock the boat hook was retrieved and ready for use.

The buffalo’s Christmas tree

Approaching the top lock of Napton we came across an uphill boat the first of four we’d encounter on our way down. A small Christmas tree was decorated by the gate to the permanent moorings.

It got busy all of a sudden

Next boat we came across was a Kate Hire boat out for two weeks, hope their crew walking ahead had good boots on as in places the towpath had the potential to be waist deep mud! They were being followed by two single handers who I spotted so I could leave gates open for them.

Nice narrow locks

Last year Lock 9 was more or less rebuilt. The chamber sides had been getting closer and closer together, older boats with middle age spread were having more and more difficulty getting through it. In fact NB Tyseley ( the Mikron Theatre boat) got stuck on it’s way to do a show at The Folly and was left stuck til the following day when boats and many arms pulling along with a flush of water eventually got her free.

Lock 9 Last year

Last winter we had to wait for the stoppage here to be finished. When we came through we were astounded that breeze blocks had been used as Coping stones. A few days later we noticed a sign explaining that the new coping stones that had been delivered were not correct, so new ones would be made, the breeze blocks were a temporary solution to get the lock open again.

That’s better

So this winter there was another closure this time to replace the breeze blocks with rather nice black stones. Have to say it now shows other locks on the flight up. I think they were worth waiting for and given a bit of time they will meld in.

Coping stones no longer breeze blocks

Between Locks 9 and 8 there was a space ready and waiting for us so we pulled in saving the last narrow lock of the flight for tomorrow.

Napton Stores

Time to pick up post and send some. Napton Village Stores and Post Office is always busy. Maybe it’s because we tend to pop in at this time of year and when the school kids are on their way home. Today it was heaving! The chap dealing with the Post office asked Mick to wait for a while as he had a back log to deal with. We wanted some fresh veg and bits and bobs anyway, so this was fine.

Buffalo treats

When he was ready he found us and processed the post. Post Restante would be dealt with at the other end of the counter when we bought our shopping. Two parcels collected, some locally grown potatoes, some Buffalo sausages and chilled medication for Christmas. I’d considered ordering one of their veg boxes for Christmas, but as our plans have now changed I’m glad I didn’t. I so hope they are busy the rest of the year as it is a gem of a shop. The food in the cafe also looks amazing.

Dusk at the bottom of the locks

Once showered and none boaty clothes put on we headed out to The Folly Inn where we met up with our friend Lizzie from Crick. We last saw her about six months ago. Lots has happened since. Sadly this last year has been a tough one for Lizzie, we’d wanted to make sure we got to see her before we headed too far north.

They do good decorations and food at The Folly Inn

So we had a catch up on news and managed to raise some smiles with boat talk and enjoyed some very good food. Yes I had a steak again! Not quite as good as the one in Oxford, but it was very tasty with good chips and plenty of them. The portions were so generous we had to miss out on puddings, a shame as there were two I could have. It was lovely to see Lizzie, just hope next year is a better one for her.

How much food!

8 locks, 2.38 miles, 0 buffalo, 1 tree, 4 boats, 1 full water tank, 2 bags of rubbish gone, 2lbs potatoes, 2 pints milk, 2 parcels collected, 1 posted, 1 missing however it hadn’t been sent, 6 sausages, 1 pot orange chocolate medication, 0 shore leave, 1 big catch up, 1 steak, 2 scampi, 2 many good chips for pudding.

Steak Secrets. 19th November

Jericho

Studio 2 in Morse

Yesterday we watched the second ever Morse episode, well we are in Oxford! ‘The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn’. Parts of the story were filmed in Jericho on Walton Street, we’re getting good at spotting them. Barbara Flynn did however get out of her car close to the Oxford University Press and walk towards the city centre , the next shot had her walking in the opposite direction towards Studio 2 (The Picture House). This isn’t that uncommon and keeps boaters who are not going very far at the moment occupied.

Just still light when we came out

Today we decided to see what the interior of the Picture House was like and opted to see ‘Official Secrets’. This had a Silver Screen showing for which Mick got £4 off his ticket, I suspect I’d have got in cheaply if we hadn’t been honest when buying our tickets. With large comfy seats we settled down with about ten other people to watch the film. No adverts, other than for the cinema, which was a surprise, but a couple of trailers for films to come which we may keep our eyes open for.

Official Secrets tells the true story of whistleblower Katherine Gun who leaked a memo asking GCHQ to find out personal information on diplomats from smaller countries at the United Nations, so that they could be blackmailed into voting for the second UN resolution on the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Her actions changed the allegiance of The Observer newspaper who brought the story to the public’s attention despite the Americans claiming it to be a hoax memo. The film follows the story up to Katherine Gun’s court case for breaching the Official Secrets Act. We both thoroughly enjoyed the film with it’s great English cast including Janie Dee who I know from my Scarborough days.

Morse
The tiny house

On our way back to Oleanna we walked down to look at Combe Road where the first ever murder happened in Morse. The house most definitely is a tardis. No way would three people and a grand piano be able to fit into that little house.

With the stove on Oleanna re-light for the second time today, we suspect the chimney needs sweeping, we headed back out for some food at The Old Bookbinders. The pub had been recommended to us by several people and the menu was attractively French.

Warm and cosy we were greeted by a very French man who directed us to a back room sitting us by a radiator to warm up. The place was starting to fill up when we arrived and we were glad we hadn’t waited until later to eat. There was a Menu Du Jour which we had just arrived in time for (good value), but we both decided to chose things from the A La Carte Menu.

L’entrecote and burger

Mick chose Le Benicassim, a burger with everything including a fried egg that revealed it’s yolk through a hole in the top of the bun, it was very tasty. I opted for L’Entrecote Frites, steak and chips with a very nice salad and loads of garlic butter, the aroma will wear off in a couple of days I’m sure. My steak was cooked perfectly rare and had been left to rest before being served.

Pudding!

We followed on with a crepe for Mick, sadly these were not gluten free, so I had a creme brulee. Both were very tasty. With a large glass of wine and a pint of Tim Taylor Landlord our bill was just shy of £60. We don’t eat out much and have become used to pub food being only okay, so today was a treat. If you fancy a slice of France in the middle of Oxford we’d highly recommend the Old Bookbinders, which is nothing like it was back in 1987 when Morse visited.

It’s changed a bit since 1987

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 silver screening, 1 memo, 1 secret leaked, 1 courtcase, 2 times to light, 1 burger, 1 steak, 1 crepe, 1 brulee, 2 fat content boaters, 1 bored cat who just didn’t bother today.

Panto Postcard 5. Thank You Chippy.

44 hrs

Pen duty

On Saturday night before going to bed I decided that I should check the ropes. Mick normally says he’s doing this, but both Tilly and I know what he is doing! However, Oleanna seemed to be listing a touch, and the spirit level we have on board confirmed this. She normally has a slight list and after not spending much time on board recently, what I was experiencing may have just been normal, but I wanted to be safe so popped outside to check there was slack on the ropes. Luckily there was, so Tilly and I could sleep soundly.

No Mick to cook breakfast on Sunday morning, but he had left a couple of packs of bacon in the fridge. A bacon butty was in order, a deluxe bacon butty. Mushrooms were added to the pan and some thin slices of cheese placed on the bread before the hot bacon. Yummy!!

Whilst Tilly explored outside I caught up on my paperwork for Panto and when she returned I headed into town to pick up some supplies for Sunday dinner. A new pair of jeans made their way into my bag along with a chicken and some suitable veg. Mick arrived home earlier than he’d originally planned which meant I didn’t get chance to breakout the yarn I’d just received until much later in the day.

Crocheted poppies everywhere

Monday morning and I was back on a bus out to Chippy where the town was waiting for 11am to strike for the two minutes silence. Today there was lots to do before the first dress rehearsal, everyone was kept busy. The actors were on stage and everyone from back stage worked around them and through their breaks, which was to be the case for much of the week.

Ready for the dress

The first dress rehearsal went fairly well, although the curse of last years Axe Man struck again, with several flown pieces missing their deads (position in view and out of view) or not appearing at all. We’d been expecting a reasonably early finish to the day but this wasn’t to happen. My evening meal ended up being a packet of crisps, but I was able to imagine sitting in The Anchor on the Staffs and Worcester Canal as I enjoyed a bottle of gluten free 6X.

6X

Tuesday morning I plucked up the courage to climb to the top of my set and repaint the higher panels. I don’t like heights and being stood near the top of a set of Zarges ladders makes me nervous, especially whilst holding onto a pot of paint instead of the ladder. Thankfully the ladder was footed and I was warned of any loud sound effects before they happened. As the day went on my list of jobs got shorter and shorter. I was even starting to work through the notes that would normally fall off the end of the list.

John sorting the curtain call

In the evening we had a second Dress Rehearsal. This went much smoother and I was able to sit in the front of the balcony and take photos. But the show was running too long, by about twenty minutes. A few cuts were talked about and the interval change discussed at length to see if this could be made shorter. After painting the floor into the wings black I’d managed to finish early enough to enjoy a curry with the Sound and Lighting Designers and the Production Manager.

Two pickle trays!

Wednesday. Preview day, an early start to do a few jobs whilst the cast were informed of some cuts to the script. Paint tins were sorted, labelled and put away for any touch ups that might be needed during the run. Then at 1:45 the lights came up on the first performance. The audience were up for a good time, a sixth form college filled the stalls and they had a ball. They should be rented out as a first audience.

All sorted and labelled, whether they ever get used is a different matter!

At 6pm the second show played to a very mixed house who were much quieter but still enjoyed it. The cuts that had been made earlier in the day had improved the running time, but more was needed. Long discussions followed, doubles of everything for the slosh scene would help with laundry between shows. Would just nips and tucks bring down the time enough or would whole routines need to go?

Oops, my third fish and chips!

Thursday morning, I had a lie in, followed by my annual bath. My landlady had left for work early so I could take my time turning pink in the hot water. Living on a boat you miss baths. When you stay at friends they always offer you a bath, but it’s not quite the same. Here in Chippy it’s almost like being back in our house, it was lovely.

I packed all my belongings and popped the key through the door to my digs. Sadly I’d not had chance to say goodbye to Suzanne in person and the card I’d bought her I’d left at the theatre, so i had to say farewell by text.

There were just a couple of little jobs to do at the theatre and then wait to see if the cuts to the show would need anything from me. All that was needed was some props being put into the store as routines had been trimmed.

Boozer

My floor needed a good wash and scrub in places, the crew having been a bit too careful for the last week, so Gemma and I got on our hands and knees making a big difference, still not as lovely as when it was first painted but it would do.

Boo!

Earlier in the day I’d had messages from Mick about the water levels in Oxford. The canal was flowing over the top of Isis Lock and the river was up to the highest we’ve seen it, Isis lock being only 6 to 8 inches deep instead of 2ft 8″. He was nervous of leaving Oleanna for the evening, so I donned my glad rags and enjoyed Press Night on my own.

Just a little bit funny

The evening went very well, lots of booing, clapping, singing and dancing, sweet catching, Oh No! ing and Oh Yes! ing. After the show there were drinks and a very good spread of cheese for us all to enjoy. A photo call on stage for all concerned before people started to make their way home.

Scooters

Without Mick to help me home I got a lift with John the director and Anna who plays Jack the Cat, back to Jericho where Mick loitered to give me a hand with all my bags. After big hugs all round I waved them goodbye, my second Chippy Panto finished. A lot of hard work, a touch easier than last year, with a very good company, may they have a great run.

Panto company, courtesy of Chippy Theatre

0 Locks, 0 miles, 1 bus, 2 dress rehearsals, 2 previews, 3rd portion of gf fish and chips, 1 curry, 1 very tall ladder, 1 very long email from Vienna, 1 long reply, 1 shed full of paint, 1 wooden leg emergency repair, 2 bottle brewdog, 1 panto finished, 1 big sleep needed, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Panto Postcard 3, 2019. Saturday Escape.

73.75 hours

Hertford College Boat Club to College Cruisers, Oxford Canal

A very long week in Panto land, but a productive one.

Lily working with the Pippins

Two buses got me back to Chippy by 11am on Monday. The cast take over the stage now for much of the day, but lunchtimes and the evenings it is free.

Josh taking set ups

Monday we had a photo shoot for publicity photos for the show. We set up the Square setting as that was the most complete, actors donned their costumes and ‘set up’ photos were taken by Josh Tomalin.

Cutting in the woodwork on the boozer

The set being mainly sliders means that I can pull bits out to paint and then slot them back in whilst another scene is being rehearsed to dry without the possibility of actors getting covered in paint.

All wrapped up, ready to go

On Tuesday I took advantage of not being able to get to much on stage and sorted sending my model box out to Vienna. This took so long to fill out the forms on line. I could quite easily measure the box but weighing it was more problematical. The Front of House money scales came to my rescue, the box weighing 2kg which is £220 in £1 coins!

That’s me driving for the first time in three years!

In the evening Jo (the props maker) and I tried out the Dames car on the front of the stage whilst the technicians and Mark (Lighting Designer) hung lanterns around us. By the end of the day there were working headlights and I’d managed to paint my panto anaglypta in the boozer.

Highlights
Shadows

Wednesday was a filming day. The panto has some sections which are shown on a projection screen. So these were filmed in front of green fabric so that suitable backgrounds can be added. Then footage for the car chase was looked at with the actors in the car. Lots of fun.

Green screen filming

On Thursday I spent quite a bit of time getting dotty in the Bank of England Vault. I ended up getting carried away with the dots so had to paint every third one of them out. It being Halloween the actors had decided to spend the day in fancy dress. We had a strawberry, mustard, The Joker amongst other things.

Dotty vault

Friday was a very messy day. A panto isn’t a panto without a slosh scene. Last year this was tame compared to this year.

Susie mixing the smash
Actors getting covered

A huge bowl of Smash was required, costumes are made with ease of cleaning in mind and a large tarpaulin covered the stage floor. Various consistencies of smash were tried out, thinner worked better and tended not to clog nostrils up quite so much. On the set side of things I am going to need to glaze a lot of it as there is no knowing where the smash will land.

Pepper keeping me company back at my digs

In the evening I worked on the front edge of the stage, one last curve needed marking out. I was back to measuring and scaling up from my model, then joining the dots, followed by painting as good a curve as I could over mouldings. This involved adding a bit, loosing a bit, adding a bit etc whilst Mark and the chaps focused the lights on stage.

Ready to start the stagger through

Saturday morning, time for a stagger through of the whole show for the actors and a chance for everyone else to watch and see what is missing and needed for the technical rehearsals next week.

The boozer, just needing it’s dressing adding

This went well, a couple of scenes scripts were still in hands and we had to stop and start for scene changes, these will be worked out next week.

About to start at 3pm

Once the actors and props were clear of the stage it was time to get to work. Mark had done his best to get most of the lights focused, but still needed a bit of dark time. Jon (Sound Designer) was also around positioning speakers and microphones, a lot of people when you need a clear stage to start painting the floor. But everyone was understanding and accommodating.

Phil finishing the second coat of the base colour

The cavalry arrived in the shape of Phil, a scenic artist from Bristol. She has come to help out for a few days and was thrown in at the deep end helping me with the floor. We soon discovered what a small world it was from Skye to Hull to Bristol.

Base coat on by 4:20
Blues drying waiting for second coats at 5:10

The heating was on full blast to help the paint dry. We gave first, second and to one particularly annoying shade of blue a forth coat of paint before we broke for something to eat at 9:15 leaving the paint to dry on it’s own. Half an hour later we were good to go with a coat of glaze. This was on and drying with twenty minutes to go before the last bus left Chipping Norton for Oxford. Much better than last year when I finished at 2am and couldn’t escape to the boat until 6am.

Glazed by 22:35

Meanwhile

This morning, Saturday, when I’d turned my phone on I received a message from Mick. Yesterday he’d been up to Osney Lock to check on the flow above the lock, any possible moorings and if it would be possible to turn into Sheepwash Channel and then up onto the canal. More rain and strong winds were forecast for this morning, should he push on or stay put. The message said, ‘Just setting off now to beat the wind and rain.’

More Panto

By the time I’d had a shower he’d negotiated his way past numerous rowers on the Thames to Osney Lock. Finishing breakfast he’d single handed Osney Lock. This involves a lot of walking round as the lock landings are on the offside and control panels on the towpath side.

The next stretch would be the hardest. The narrow channel meaning the flow would be strongest. Osney Bridge to negotiate and then the turn onto Sheepwash. Changing from going upstream to downstream with a right hand bend the currents couldn’t be predicted, there was even an Eddie there to confuse matters. Mick made the turn, passed the disused swing railway bridge and then turned onto the lock landing below Isis Lock. This was conveyed just as I reached the front doors of the theatre.

Panto

In the now pouring down rain he worked Oleanna up the narrow lock and at last he’d escaped the Thames. Two weeks later than originally planned, but safe back on the cut. No photos of this expedition as Mick was quite busy and it was raining somewhat.

2 locks, 2.31 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 1 red board, 3 buses, 1 car, almost 2 weeks in 1, 1 scenic cavalry, 1st glaze, 2nd tomorrow, 1 day off, 3 2 1mph, 1 boat escaped, 1 designer escaped, 1 lazy day planned, 1 escape pod to be put away!