Category Archives: Railways

Hong Kong Phooey. 11th April

1st Laneside Lock 54 to Irk Aqueduct

Last night we’d decided to give ourselves a bit of a lie in today as the next few days will require early starts. However we were both awake early so no point in just lying there thinking about sleep. We didn’t rush to get moving and pushed off around 9:30.

1st Laneside Lock Cottage

Lock 54 needed topping up. Whilst that filled I walked down to the next lock which was just about full, topped that up, opened up the top gate then walked back to the top lock to open it for Mick and Oleanna. The bywash was running like a good un so I decided to save my legs the walking back and forth to set ahead, hopefully the locks would mostly be full by the time we got to them.

The towpath wasn’t too busy, walkers, runners, dog walkers. It was a touch chilly. A chap walked past me with hood up, a scarf or black mask over his face. The next lock was full and I noticed this chap pause to open the gate for us. Not an unusual thing to happen. I waved to thank him, he carried on walking away. I wondered how any more locks would be sat with their top gates open for us.

Thank you!

At the next lock down I lifted the paddles to empty the lock. I looked down to the next lock. The same chap was there. He was looking back towards us with either a camera or binoculars. Now hang on! Your average towpath do-gooder opening lock gates for us was one thing, but checking back on our progress?! Nowadays you don’t often see white men out in the open wearing masks. Who was this masked super hero?

Sarge? No.

Rosemary, the telephone operator? No.

Penry, the mild manoured janitor? NO!

I walked back to mention my suspisions to Mick, I was fairly sure we knew this chap. Mick poopood my idea, no it couldn’t be. I zoomed my camera in to the next lock, if he could spy on us, I could do the same back. No hood or mask now. Glasses, the profile looked right. It had to be.

It has to be

When I spotted the windlass I was certain of it. But would we catch him up? Or would he continue on down the towpath ahead of us setting locks and then don his disguise again and vanish?

I knew it!

The next lock was taking some filling so he was still there when we arrived. Yes my suspisions were correct, it was Paul Balmer, come to lend a hand a day early. A while ago Paul had offered to lend us a hand into Manchester if he was available and he’d pencilled in today and tomorrow as possibles. With the weather being bad yesterday he’d though that we might have added two days together avoiding getting a soaking, but we’d battled onwards leaving only 10 locks for today.

Paul, mild mannered map compiler and lock wheeler

After we’d both lifted paddles, Paul walked on down to set the next lock, leaving me to close up behind Oleanna. Quickly into a routine ready for even more locks tomorrow.

All that stonework revealed

Below Lock 60 a chap was being very busy clearing away earth, grass and allsorts. One patch remained a very neat rectangle of turf. Around the lock there had been various bits of dayglow tape and large numbers on the bottom gate. The chap was very proud of his efforts and didn’t understand why C&RT had been round some of the locks and repainted the tops of the bollards back to white from the yellow he thought was better for the cyclists to see. I thanked him for his works on clearing the mud and reexposing the stonework, not sure I agree with him about the bollards!

Railway Bridges 69 A and B

Below Scowcroft Lock 61 two railway bridges cross the canal. The original bridge had to be replaced as it couldn’t take the weight of modern trains. According to the chap in Littleborough Museum you can feel the train adjust to the side for the new bridge when you are on a train. The old bridge appears to be held up with colourful strops.

Oleanna following Paul to the next lock

We were soon pulling in below Walk Mill Lock 63. There was enough depth for us just before the River Irk Aqueduct, no other boats, we’d still not caught the boat ahead of us that had been in Littleborough. A busy towpath, but once a dash had been made to the otherside Tilly was in the friendly cover and left us humans to enjoy a cuppa on board.

Arrangements were made for tomorrow as Paul would be returning to join us in the morning at Failsworth Top Lock. He headed off to walk the next section of the canal that he’d miss tomorrow, all the time checking on his map data for Waterway Routes. Every three years Paul aims to walk, cycle or boat the whole network himself checking all the information is correct on the maps. People like us assist by informing him of changes we notice as we travel the network, accuracy is very important, 5 digit grid references are required before new bins, water points, moorings etc can be added to the maps.

Fuel to get us into Manchester. Click photo for recipe

Some baking was required to help with energy levels tomorrow, so I made a batch of flapjack with a layer of bramley apple in the middle. Hopefully there’d be enough sugar to help keep us walking on to work the next lock on our descent into Manchester.

Ten years ago when we brought Lillyanne out of Manchester we’d missed food at the pub and ended up having an Indian takeaway, no-one had the energy to cook! Tonight we decided to see if Modhubon was as good as we’d remembered it, or do we only remember it being good because of all our hard work that day. We chose a couple of dishes, one we’d not heard of before, Chicken Akbori Chum Chum, it was very tasty.

10 locks, 1.6 miles, 1 mystery helper, 1 busy playground, 6 hours shore leave, 0.75 stamp of approval, 2 many woofers, 1 motorbike, 3 peacocks, 3 papadoms, 1 chumchum, 1 dansack, 1 mushroom bhaji, 2 very full boaters, 1 early night.

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.

AA 89. 7th October

Viking Marina

Back in the saddle

Up early, Tilly left with a full bowl of biscuits, but how to get both of us with dry feet to the station? Albert Street always has a puddle close to the main gates of the marina, at the moment it is really rather deep. Mick dug out his wellies and I re-acquainted myself with riding the brompton bike. Having the bike with us would assist me in the mile walk to the station, although when we got near to the main road I decided that I was a touch wobbly so walked instead.

Train in view

We were early for the train north, no bad thing as we didn’t want to get caught out if ships had been moving around the docks necessitating a swing bridge to be closed. Today we alighted the train in Seamer, the last stop before Scarborough. I found somewhere to perch whilst Mick cycled off to pick up a van. The one we’d booked had a couple of things wrong with it, but when an engine warning light lit up Mick was offered another van with a long wheelbase. More than enough room for us, just a bit more awkward to maneuver.

Class 37 Victorious

Into town to the house, we needed to pick up a few things for our move, crates, cool box and cat caravan. We knocked on the door, always a strange thing to do at your own house. We picked up the bits, checked on a reported leak in the kitchen then headed off leaving our lodgers to get ready for work.


Thank goodness we’d booked a table at EatMe for lunch as they were fully booked. We enjoyed burgers each, always worth a visit. Then there was time to kill. After walking into town my foot didn’t fancy going any further, a look at the sea would have to wait, so we sat ourselves on the sofas in the foyer of the SJT. This turned out to be a good move as our friend Lee walked in and had time for a catch up chat.

Constant Companions is Alan Ayckbourn’s 89th play. Three intertwined stories of humans and android lovers filled the round stage at the SJT. The audience kept very amused but also slightly concerned as the androids say that they will miss us when we’re gone, as in the human race! A very good afternoon followed by many hellos in the foyer with lodgers past and present, plus the assistant producer from Dark Horse. Lovely to see everyone.

Goolish cakes on Falsgrave

Time to head back to Goole, over the Wolds arriving back at the marina after dark. Getting the extra long wheelbased van into the parking area was a bit interesting, but Mick managed to do it leaving enough room for other vehicles to get passed without having to bump into Oleanna. Tilly cuddles and cheese on toast to end the day.

She knows, but we’re not talking about it

0 locks, 0 miles, 0.5 miles by bike, 1 giant puddle, 1 train, 1 extra long van, 2 burgers and chips, 1 Lee, 0 Duncan, 1 Connor, 89th play (heading to Bowness and Newcastle Under Lyme), 2 androids, 1 run down, 1 van ride, 1 happy cat.

Firstly I’m NOT Your Babe! 9th September

Kiln Pontoon

Last night a couple of odd things happened.

The pontoon was quite busy with comings and goings. A bike or maybe a shopping trolley came past a couple of times, the noise of wheels on the ramp very recognisable. Then soon afterwards there was a very strong stink of sewage. Blimey it stank! Where was it coming from? Mick stuck his head out of the hatch and could see a cassette being passed onto a boat. Could this have been the source of the stink? No proof, possibly just a coincidence. Thankfully the aroma passed after half an hour or so.

Then whilst reading in bed I kept hearing what sounded like small quiet wheels on the ramp, maybe someone was being considerate as they passed us. I twitched the curtains. There was a chap stood quite close to Oleanna. I opened the curtains some more, he looked up and down the pontoon and said, ‘Oh sorry I’ve got the wrong boat’. I closed the curtains.

A while later around midnight, I heard the noise again. I really wanted to be able to see without opening the curtains. Tilly assisted, a cat can get away with being very nosy. Once she’d got bored of being a voyeur she, as always, left the curtains ajar. The chap was stood just three feet away from our window. If he was peeking in I could certainly peek out! I opened the curtains wide.

‘Ah Babe … does it cost to be here?’

‘Firstly I’m NOT your Babe! What are you doing?’ He said something about looking for somewhere in the morning, well only quarter of an hour ago he’d got the wrong boat! ‘Well it’s full as you can see and I’d like you to move away from our boat!’. He turned, I said ‘Goodnight!’, he replied ‘Goodnight’ as he started to walk up the ramp. By the time Mick had opened up the hatch there was no sign of the chap anywhere, hopefully he’d gone.

Tilly and I stayed awake for sometime, trying to make a mental note of what the chap looked like, listening out for anymore noises on the ramp. Thankfully we eventually both went to sleep.

A very settled boat

The small cruiser in front of us had been showing interest in heading to Lincoln, they hadn’t realised that you need to book Cromwell and Torksey Locks in advance. Current manning of such locks is based on bookings and if there is no-one in the book for a certain day there may be no-one on duty to penn you through. We also suggested that they should have an up to date chart, parts of the river are very shallow and just sticking to the middle doesn’t always work. They had a very old Nicholsons. This morning they’d rung Cromwell and been told they could go anytime, the tide was so weak at the moment it wouldn’t make a difference. Off they set. Mick pulled us forward so that we no longer overhung the pontoon.

A tasty collation

A newspaper and a touch of shopping was required, also some shore leave for me to access how my toe was holding up. It was already rather hot outside, inside Waitrose was wonderfully cool. We picked up a paper and scanned round the sad git items for a cold collection this evening. It ended up being quite a financial outlay, but we’ll have yummy things for the next few evenings and not have to turn the cooker on.

After lunch Mick set off to Newark Castle Station to catch a train back towards Nottingham. Time to look round the signal box at Lowdham Station. The chap from Lowdham Railway Heritage started with a bit of a history of signalling on the railway. In early early days the signaller would time how long it was since the previous train had passed. The next train could be let past at slow speed after 5 minutes had elapsed or at full speed after 10. This was fine as long as the train in front never broke down but if it stopped for any reason a following train would plough into it. Not good. So signals were invented making use of electrical connections down telegraph wires alongside the track to the next and previous signal boxes. This enabled the signalers to communicate via a series of bell codes to see if the line was clear or not and set their signals and points accordingly.

There followed a demonstration with one chap working the signal box another two pretending to be at other boxes along the line. A delayed coal train had to be shunted out of the way to let an express passenger train through. There was also a goods train to be shunted into sidings, a train stopping at Lowdham station to be dealt with and level crossing gates to be opened and closed as necessary. All very busy. The signaler got a little bit lost at one point but the other two knew what should be happening so kept him on track.

An enjoyable but hot afternoon.

Back on Oleanna the day got hotter. The fan from last year had been plugged in meaning Tilly had to take diversions along the back of the sofa to get past it, fans are scary things! Curtains were kept drawn on the sunny side of the boat and when the sun had moved over to catch the port side I damped one of Tilly’s towels and hung it over the mesh in the side hatch hoping to cool any breeze that came in.


This afternoons viewing was a Denzil Washington film, Flight (2012), where Denzil is a pilot who turns up for work still drunk from the night before and high on coke. He somehow manages to crash land the plane after mechanical failure saving nearly everyone on board. The investigation that follows shows him in a different light to the hero he is hailed as.

Tilly the hot princess

This evening at around 9pm the aroma from last night returned, not quite as pungent but it lingered for much longer. No signs of anyone doing anything with cassettes today.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 walk to Waitrose, 2nd pair socks finished, 52 sts not 48, 1 wonky heel to be pulled out, 1 very hot day inside, 1 prowler, 1 stinky stink.

Dodging Balls. 31st August

Kegworth Marine and Ratcliffe Bridge 46 to Trent Junction, River Trent

Ratcliffe Lock

A cruiser just beat us to Ratcliffe Lock, a crew member sent ahead to set it. I checked with the skipper if they would be willing to share or if they’d rather be on their own. Some cruisers are weary of narrowboats in locks, but on this occasion they were fine about sharing just so long as we went into the lock first. Fine with us.

Closing in a years time

Now close to Ratcliffe on Soar powerstation, the cooling towers in just about every photograph. Through Redhill Flood Lock and on towards the Trent. A narrowboat came towards us at speed, had they misjudged the bend by the big weir? Plenty of wellie and they managed to adjust their course to avoid us.

Trent Junction

Now the water stretches out as the Soar meets the Trent, meets the Erewash Canal, meets Cranfleet Cut. Sadly no space on the pontoon mooring, one of our favourites which is a favourite with many others, can’t remember the last time we managed to get moored there. However a space against the wall was available, we winded and pulled in, here Tilly would be allowed shore leave and we’d still have quite a view from the side hatch and our bed in the morning.

It was still quite early, before midday. The height of the bank and forecast rain in the afternoon put me off doing the mushroom vents, again!

Trent Lock onto the Erewash

I planned a walk, checked when rain was due and set off hoping to remain dry today. I walked over the bottom of Trent Lock Junction, we’d forgotten the existence of the Lock Cafe, maybe we should have gone there for lunch.


I walked along the banks of the Trent up to he small garden centre where I checked to see what was for sale. Diddy Christmas trees! Our new Christmas tree had been doing quite well back in Scarborough when last checked and this year we don’t plan on being onboard for the big day, so no need for one.


My plotted route brought me to the edge of a golf course. I could just make out the next yellow post marking the footpath across the neat grass. Groups of men swung clubs. Would I make it across without getting hit? Would I be a distraction? Should I change my route? I decided that the course would have to accomodate me and other walkers, so hopefully I’d not be in the firing line and have to dodge balls.

I survived and then walked right down the far side of the course. I didn’t bother trying to count how many balls were sitting in the grass of the driving range. Presumably they have a sit on hoover to collect them at the end of the day.

Mills Dockyard

The footpath popped out at a bridge over the Erewash Canal. We’d considered having a trip up to Langley Mill, but decided against it. Eight years ago we’d cruised to the end, we enjoyed it (apart from the chap with a shotgun), but it isn’t one we simply must return to. Mills Dockyard did look very picturesque today.

Under the railway lines

Across a field to walk round a lake, under two railway lines, then across another field back to Cranfleet Cut where I rejoined the towpath back to Oleanna.


Time to make that carrot cake. Tilly mumbled something at me as she came in the stern doors, she was ushered straight out the front doors before she’d finished what she was saying, the doors closed firmly behind her. WHAT IS RULE NUMBER ONE TILLY!!!!

Only just enough wind

Early evening three sailing boats came out for a race, a very slow motion race as there was just about no breeze. One of the boats needed motorised assistance to return to the club house.

1 lock, 1 flood lock, 1.9 miles, 2.5 miles walked, 1 dry boater, 4 times in 3 days! 200 grams of carrots, 1 apple, 75 grams cream cheese, 1 improved internet, 1 loose connection, 1 stove lit, 0 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 cat grounded!

The Gates Of Goole. 8th February

Bramwith Junction to Viking Marina, Goole, Aire and Calder Navigation

Good Morning

Sunrise on this mooring is wonderful, the windows needed a touch of decondensationing before we could really appreciate it with a cuppa in bed. It was another chilly morning, a breeze had got going which would help with winding when we set off.

Mick’s Christmas present

The VHF radio was turned on in case we could hear Exol Pride or one of the gravel barges radioing the bridges. It crackled a few times, but nothing was audible we decided that we were unlikely to meet a big barge mid channel today, anyway we’d likely see them miles off as most of the canal we’d cover today have very very long straight stretches.

Left straight on not right straight on

Sadly my back hadn’t improved overnight, so Mick was on duty for anything low down, but I’d see how I did operating the bridges along the New Junction. We winded and headed left. The Don doors open and waiting to let us across the aqueduct.

Don Doors

The step up from Oleanna to work the first bridge was a touch high, but I managed it without too much of a problem. Key of Power in and the bridge turned.

Next Top Lane Lift Bridge nobody held up here. The road surface had big chunks out of it waiting to be resurfaced. Then Kirkhouse Lift Bridge where I managed to hold up two cars, one a C&RT van.

Now the long long length with little to break it up. A zoom in with the camera wasn’t clear enough to make out what colour light there was at Sykehouse Lock. The house that had been for sale last year now has two big barges moored outside it, both in need of a bit of money spending on them, wonderful shapes though.

Sykehouse Lock with Sykehouse Lift Bridge partially open in the background

As we got closer to the lock we could see that the volunteer who must just about live in the control tower had spotted us, the light was green, but the swing bridge was still closed. We pootled on up closer.

A Great Egret

On one of the banks was what looked like a Heron, but it was far too white. When it took off we agreed that it was the size of a heron, held it’s legs and neck like a heron. So it must be a heron. Now I’ve been able to look at the photo closer I believe it to be Great Egret. According to the RSPB website they believe there to be 8 to 12 breading pairs in the country and around 72 birds that winter in the UK.

Lock open but not the swing bridge

The chap came out from the tower with his dogs, crossed the bridge to close the barriers and then pushed the bridge clear for us. Another C&RT chap walked past, a number checker, and asked if we’d seen a big barge moored by the house. We had, along with a second boat. He set off to walk the near 2 km to take down their numbers, then walk back again. That job must keep him fit around these parts.

Thank you

Down the lock we went. We spied people at the next swing bridge who looked like they would operate it for us, which they did. The chap in high-vis was taking photos of the bridge, it was having an inspection.

Up ahead at Sykehouse Lift Bridge there were three C&RT vans and four chaps. The hut by the bridge suddenly sprang into life as we arrived a cloud of black smoke coming from an exhaust in the wall. There must be a generator in there for emergency power. They left us to work the bridge, taking notes of things as it raised and lowered. It’s apparently the time of year when all the bridges are inspected. They all headed over to check a barrier after I closed the bridge and didn’t seem too phased by the huge biff the bridge made when it finally made contact with the ground! It certainly made both Mick and myself jump.

Norf ahead

Straight on to the junction with the Aire and Calder where we turned back towards the east. This stretch, well all of today’s waters are so very familiar, yet things have changed since last March. Drax was churning out power and the breach site still looks in good order.

The giant log cabin by the Alpacas has windows now and an almost completed roof. Then the building nearer to Rawcliffe has new windows and it’s roof is finished, it also has some new render and looks quite smart.

Goole ahead

The last slight bend and we were on the three mile straight to Goole.

Back through the gates of Goole we were back where we’d spent so much of 2020 and 2021, stuck due to the breach and lockdowns. Hopefully the gates won’t close on us this time! The visitor moorings were full, but across on the 14 day moorings there was plenty of space. The big grey boat that has been moored outside the Auction place is now for sale, if you’ve got £350,000!

Left by the black and white boat please

Mick swung Oleanna to the left into Viking Marina and we made our way into the corner where we’d moored before. On our pontoon a big cruiser, but to the other side of it a new pontoon. We pulled in, meeting our new neighbour, tied up and headed to the office to check in.

Hello Viking, Hello Lisa!

It was good to see Laird again and Alastair who did some work for us last year. Mick has a short jobs list for Alasdair whilst we’re at Viking. Once we’d paid our mooring fees and got a fob it was time for lunch, do the chores and pack our bags. Due to my bad back we actually left with less than we’d arrived with, Mick carrying everything.

Goole Station

There was just under half an hour before the next train, so we power walked it along Albert Street, through the docks to the station. We had five minutes to spare, unfortunately not enough for us to get Advance tickets. The ticket machine wanted us to pay for the route to Scarborough via York! Thankfully the train guard would allow us to buy tickets from her instead at half the price.

Dusk over the Humber

It was a pleasant journey back to Scarborough, no need to change trains, just sides so that we’d get a view of the Humber Bridge followed by the sea at Bridlington.

As we walked up the steps to the house the new security light was triggered. This also triggered a reaction from Tilly. As soon as she realised it was us there was SO much shouting, the whole street could hear her! Many cuddles and chin rubs later things calmed down to a very loud purr.

About time!

Claire She had been nice, kept offering me Dreamies, but she hadn’t let me out so I wasn’t entitled to any! I felt I had to turn my nose up at them. That’s the longest She and Tom have deserted me for. They should have been back soon after the second flap on the magic food bowl opened! And when they did come back they smelt of Bramwith Junction outside. How dare they!

At least it meant I got lots of head nudges and cuddles.

With our mission accomplished and Oleanna now tucked up in Goole we have our own winter maintenance to do in the house. So blog posts will be as and when we visit Oleanna for the next few weeks. We have cruising plans, but not a definite date to set off yet. So the blog will be tucked up for a while too. See you soon.

1 lock, 11.8 miles, 5 bridges, 4 held up, 2 bridge inspections, 1 volunteer, 2 woofers, 1 mooring, 0 Joan’s Chinese! 1 boat plugged in, 1 train, 1 very VERY pleased cat, 1 hour of cuddles, 1 feline shadow.

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?

Panto Postcard 5, 2022.

60.75 hours

Coventry Basin, Coventry Canal to Brownsover Services, North Oxford Canal

Following the red lit path

Monday morning a seriously early start to the day, the alarm went off at 5:20. We were both up and out of the door in 20 minutes. I’d opted to walk across Coventry rather than get a bus or taxi. At about a mile to the Station it’s not that far, but my knees and calf muscles were playing up so Mick accompanied me with the bike in case I needed to ride instead. Coventry was dark and misty, very atmospheric.

First tea of the day.

The train got me to Banbury forty minutes before the bus to Chippy, so I sat in the station cafe with a cuppa and ate a sausage sandwich I’d brought with me watching the sun rise through the fog. The bus onwards to Chippy was quite late arriving and by the time it had made it’s way through some road works it was half an hour late. It had taken me 3hrs 15 minutes to get to work!

Abi the Director was back with us, thankfully Covid had been mild for her and her family. Paul was also back with us, there was time to sort a few problems out before the actors came on stage. It was now time to finish off the technical rehearsal. When the Pippins joined us late afternoon we then did a tech/dress. This meant that if there were any problems we’d stop to sort them. We stopped a few times and then afterwards had quite a lengthy notes session, there were still things missing costume, props wise and a few problems with scene changes.

Mick had a morning snooze on the sofa before pushing off, winding and heading back up to Hawkesbury Junction where he turned back onto the North Oxford Canal and pulled up for the day.

Tuesday. An early start for Jo and myself trying to work through the long list of things that needed finishing, making use of time on stage before the actors arrived. Having a key to the theatre was useful as I could open up.

There was one scene that needed finishing off before production photos could be taken. The finishing off consisted of a lot of cross hatching which I knew would take several hours. I chose to finish the funnels today as they would help the scenery look more complete.

A portrait of Whittington

During the afternoon scenes were worked on by the actors and I got chance to finish off the piece that would sit on the proscenium, this was done by torch light. Have to say I was rather pleased with it.

Getting ready for photos

Then late afternoon we settled down for a dress rehearsal with Josh the photographer, Becky the composer joining us by zoom and we were also joined by several members of staff and ushers to give the actors a small audience. Today we got to see the walk down costumes for the first time, still work in progress and several props were now finished. But sadly things were still being worked on, a black curtain got stuck in one scene meaning many of the photos won’t depict the show as intended.

Such a fair weather boater

Mick’s day was totally opposite. It was raining, so he stayed put avoiding getting wet. Apparently Tilly ventured out for a little while.

Wednesday another early start. The side of the ship needed finishing off and as it spans right across the whole stage in three pieces I needed to do this early so as not to be in peoples way. Finishing touches happened to more props and costumes and I did my best to tick painty notes of my list.

The wings full of scenery and props, so much so some flying was needed

Today we were joined by Gemma the Production Manager who’d been off with covid. Having both her and Paul back in the building meant jobs were being crossed off the list. The auditorium needed clearing and Sophie the DSM was moved up into the box from where she’ll operate the shows. Christmas garlands were primed to be flown in and space was cleared in the wings so there’d be room for the actors.

Highgate Hill

The first preview hadn’t sold many tickets, so last week the decision had been made to cancel it, meaning we’d be able to have another dress rehearsal. A good thing as so many of the creatives had been ill. It was actually a dress without costume, enabling wardrobe to continue working on things.

A well earned beer

One problem was found as Paul watched from the wings. The final scene change was tight and to get two large arches into position in time it was felt that some alterations to them were required. Two truck bases would need to be made, but for now he would be an extra pair of hands back stage.

The first preview went well and we rewarded ourselves with a drink next door at Checkers, followed by some chicken and chips from the burger van.

If you look carefully you might just seen the spouting water

The sun was out again on the North Oxford Canal, so Mick carried on retracing his steps of last week. In Ansty a bridge had been spouting water, social media comments had been concerned that it may be closed by C&RT, thankfully Mick got through without any problems. He thinks it’s a water pipe in the bridge that has burst. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get closed before we are back through in a couple of weeks.

Full moorings

As he approached the swing bridge at Rose Boats the canal got busy. The bridge opened and closed and opened again and the narrows approaching it were congested. This meant that when he reached All Oaks Wood where he’d shared the moorings with one other boat last week, he got the last space.

Thursday. Only one show today in the evening, giving time to do acting notes on stage and time for props, costumes and set pieces to be finished off that bit more. Measurements were taken, timber purchased, alterations to the arches would happen after the show this evening.

One of the traditions of Chippy Panto is that Edith, a lady who adorns the proscenium arch is taken down each year and replaced by something to do with the show. This year I’d decided that it should be a portrait of Whittington the cat. Photos had been taken of Nadia in makeup, this was blown up, a simple version traced onto a shield and then painted in. In previous years I have only once witnessed Edith being replaced, handy to know that it is simply done with a D handle and a safety chain. Time and care were taken and Edith was taken to John Terry’s office for her rest.

Getting all Christmasy

Garlands were fluffed up, ribbons added. Piccadilly Circus was finished off including the extra lines on the backing flat. Jobs ticked off at pace.

Jo had been meant to finish on Wednesday, but she’d decided to stay one extra night to be able to finish off one quite elaborate prop. This took her quite sometime, but was well worth the extra hours and that prop got an extra Ooooooo! in the evening from the audience.

The final lines added to Piccadilly Circus

After the show Paul, Gemma and myself got busy with saws, drills, screws, wheels, canvas and paint. Two truck bases were made up and had a coat of paint applied before we left the theatre, the paint would be dry by the morning ready for the arty bits to be added.

Mick avoided the rain as best he could. Tilly kept the stove company as he moved onwards through the autumn colour.

Autumn colour

A pause to top up with diesel was needed at Armada Boats, then he found a space just before the water point at Brownsover. This meant that Oleanna wouldn’t need to move to top up the water tank and the mooring was a good place to pick up a hire car from.

Friday. Over night I’d had cramp in my right calf muscle which has been playing up for the last few weeks. As I stood up out of bed to try to alleviate the pain I heard a bit of a popping noise! Not good, my hobbling walk would be even worse today. After packing my bags for collection later in the day I hobbled slowly in to the theatre where the truck bases were already fixed to the arches. Time to get arty and paint them.

Spring Street with the theatre at the end

Two colour washes were applied and left to dry. They had just about got there by the time the actors arrived for their warm up on stage. New things should always be shown to actors before a show so that they don’t get thrown, the truck bases would be a step up and down that hadn’t existed before so everyone it affected got to have a go.

Then I could finish painting them. The last black line of Chippy Panto went onto a truck base at 11:46, it would be dry before the final scene of the afternoon show. Other little jobs were ticked of, more garlands and ravens added, then it was time to start collecting my possessions together.

Touch up paints were rationalised and put together. Some things are likely to need a freshen up as they are used, other paints are there just in case.

Some straw still to be added

As the afternoons show started I sat down to have some food, listening to the first school show on the show relay. Not so many laughs, but total excited noise at some scenes. The model box was put together to be added to the 50th anniversary exhibition in the gallery. After the interval I sat on the back row to watch the second half, each member of the audience wearing cat or rat masks that they’d made prior to their visit.

A coat of glaze to the truck bases was just about the last thing I could do before press night. My job was done. A couple of things sadly not achievable in what time remained, but an email to Paul next week will hopefully see them get done.

A technical glitch needed sorting

Mick arrived in a hire car, we loaded all my work gear and then headed to my digs to pick up my bags there. A chat with Suzanne and a final goodbye and thank you for letting me stay again. Some cheesy chips were consumed before joining the audience at the theatre for Press Night which seemed to go down very well.

We stayed for some food post show and a drink, but by now my energy levels had run out. It was time to say my goodbyes and thank yous. Time to wish everyone a good run and a Happy Christmas in Chippy. Time to climb in the car and drive back to Rugby, have a few head nudges with Tilly, a glass of wine for the driver and go to sleep.

Dressing rooms

Dick Whittington is open and what a show it is. This year has had many problems come it’s way, covid, family bereavements, people doing their best to plug gaps in the back stage team. We got there in the end with a lot of hard work from everyone and the assistance of zoom. Now I need to rest up and get back to day to day boat life, a far slower pace will be welcome.


1 lock, 17.92 miles, 1 right, 1 hire car, 1 panto open, 616 hrs work in total, 1 designer hanging up her dungarees, 1 boaters hat being dusted off, but first the sofa calls.

Stopping For The Trains. 24th August

Pudding Lane FOTRN mooring to Nene Valley Railway Bridge EA mooring

Last night I’d noticed I’d acquired a few insect bites. this morning I counted them 68. By the end of the day the count was up to 87! Mick has some too, he’s not counted his. Blimey what has been having a good munch on us? One thought is that we’d disturbed a lot of insects whilst out in the field looking for Tilly the other night. It’s a good job we’d stocked up on bite cream.


Todays plan was to cruise, work our way through several locks to reach Fotheringhay, then have a few days off. This end of the River Nene does good views, no flood banks to get in the way and not too many trees hogging the banks.

At Wold Newton Lock the guillotine gate was down, the lock full, the river above really quite full, the level over the top of the gates. We reset the lock in our favour and brought Oleanna in, keeping her away from the cascade of water coming over the gates.

The mill (with extension)

This lock has to be one of the prettiest locks on the river, with it’s mill (not so original extension), church, house and various buildings all close by and lawns. A couple sat having morning coffee overlooking the weir cut, very lucky people.

Such a pretty lock

Round a big bend, dark clouds focused the sunlight over a field of cows who’d just had a visit from the Farmer. We pootled on, the A1 sticking close by. The Nene Valley Railway Bridge came into sight, followed by the pontoon, it was empty. A thought came through both our heads, maybe we should pull in and carry on tomorrow. I could have a full days work here instead of by the castle.


We pulled in, making sure we overhung the far end of the pontoon, hopefully leaving enough space for another narrowboat. With it still being school holidays the railway was open today. A quick check of the time table suggested the first train of the day would soon be on it’s way towards Peterborough. The bell rang, followed a while later by the toot of a diesel engine, just enough time to get out onto the pontoon for a photo.

Today’s engine not as showy as when we moored here last time

I settled down to work and Mick headed off to look at trains. He’d deliberated on getting a rover ticket, he’d be able to do the round trip twice. If it had been a steam engine today then he’d most probably have done it, but with the drought only diesels are running at the moment, a Class 14 today. Instead he looked round the station, the engine shed, watched the train come back, head out, return and go back to Peterborough again.

Version ….4?

I reworked the troublesome scene and painted some funnels, added a few twinkly lights. There may be a better version yet to come, but if I run out of time this solution will be fine.

Tilly being captive here (the pontoon not the right sort) I gave her her spot on flee treatment a couple of days early, just in case the critters that have bitten us had come from her, we doubt it as she’s the only one not scratching!

1 lock, not 4, 3.02 miles, 1 full river, 1 change of plan, 3 services today, 4th version made, 1 reject funnel, 2 boaters promising to get up early tomorrow, 87 bites and counting.

PLEASE go HOME! 14th May

The Boathouse

Conversations on the Geraghty zoom this morning were obviously going to be taken over to a certain extent by the news of a new member of the family this week. Mick is now a Great Uncle for the forth time, congratulations to Ruth, James, P and Daphne.

With the sun out and the temperature rising where we are moored was guaranteed to be a popular place. A group of youngsters arrived planning on a swim, all fine until they start peering into our home. Mick went out the back to adjust things making sure they knew someone was onboard, they moved round the basin to jump in elsewhere.

It was time for Mick to do the oil change, the one he was going to do when Oleanna went into Blue Water Marina in Thorne last November. The timing of it is just about correct with the engine hours, he’d just wanted to leave her over the winter with fresh lubrication. Overalls went on and the bow doors were opened for Tilly to be able to come and go as she pleased, today would be a sausage day.

Tilly whilst it was quiet

A rib turned up, another backed down the slipway into the water. Sunny weekend water fun was to be had by many. Groups turned up to socialise, smoke and for some to swim. During one gap Tilly made it back to the boat with ease, staked her claim on the wooden posts and rolled around, MINE! All mine!

Looks idyllic doesn’t it

With Mick in the engine bay I considered giving Oleanna a wash, but there were too many people about, instead I headed off to buy a newspaper. I could just walk to the Co-op on Thorpe Road but that would be boring, instead I’d head to the one on Oundle Road on the other side of the river. This would mean a good walk along the side of the rowing course and across Orton Lock.

A long straight route towards the river, lots of rowers speeding their way along the course, giant floating pomegranates marking the ends.

Under the Nene Parkway there was a great painting of a hand. Once I was under the bridge and had turned round there were several more quality pieces of graffiti art, some more accomplished than others. Then there were artworks created by school kids that had been printed onto banners and I’d passed several sculptures, quite an arty area.

Orton Lock was full with the top gates left open. Over the last few days notices have been put up by the EA requesting the locks should be left empty with the guillotine gates up, but someone obviously couldn’t be bothered emptying the lock. I walked over the weir across the Nene Valley Railway line and on through Orton Meadows, joined the fast world again before ducking into the wonderfully airconditioned Co-op.

NB Mushy P below the lock

A more relaxed shaded route through woods was found for my return to the river. The lock was full and NB Mushy P was just arriving to go up, out for a pootle making the most of a lovely day.

A quick search on Google suggested there would be a lot of sculptures along a path that ran parallel to the one I’d already walked. Some concrete pieces were nothing special, maybe one was even missing from it’s stand!

Then there were others that stood out. Little Prince by Jane Ackroyd. The Cormorant by Elizabeth Cooke was my favourite with a fish spine in it’s beak.

Festival Boat by Sokari Douglas Camp can be seen from the river glistening in the sunshine. Odd Oaks by Nicholas Pope now decaying and lying on their sides.

When I got back to the boat more people had arrived. A group with a rib were making quite a collection of glasses from the pub. At least two groups were jumping in and we had their music playing. Oleanna’s bow had revisited classics such as Abba and at the stern there was more beat than melody.

Still quite calm

Tilly had found a gap to return to Oleanna but around about 5pm she decided that she’d like another perusal around the trees, well within cat curfew she was allowed out, us grateful as tonight I’d unwisely decided to cook a roast chicken, so we were thankful that all doors could be open whilst the oven did it’s thing.

NB Mushy P returned nudging dangling legs out of the way.


6pm came and went, still no Tilly. The groups of loud people, music and splashes almost certainly putting her off making a dash back home. I walked round the nearby wooded area calling for her, hoping that she’d come to me so that I could pick her up and assist her back to the boat. There was no sight or sound.

As one group left another arrived, older men with more music all intent on jumping in.

An hour later Mick tried to find Tilly, still no sign.

I did a round of the wood, chatted to the chap from NB Mushy P who had returned, but still all the people about put her off.

Before our roast was ready someone arrived on a motorbike, they also had to jump in. Then revving of the engine followed.

We really don’t mind sharing the space and water with other people. The noise was a little bit too much at times, but they were all enjoying themselves. However all the time I kept willing them all to PLEASE go HOME! Then Tilly would return of her own accord, well that’s what we hoped.

The roast chicken was eaten, Mick did the washing up. Outside a game of football was had using a plastic bottle as a ball. Just P*ss off! And let my cat come home! Eventually people started to head off. The rib set off, leaving half a pubs worth of empty glasses behind. The motorbike revved itself away. Gradually the final music faded along with the chat and banter. Peace once more. It was 8:30.

Outside one fisherman cast his line into the basin. Mick started walking round. I opened up the land side of the cratch cover a little, big enough for a skinny cat, then did a more concerted walk round the wood. Mad cat woman was out and in full voice. I called and called, then listened for a reply. Nothing!

The only thing left to do was trust in Tilly to come home. The litter tray was put out the back in case she’d got lost and we settled down in front of the TV. An episode of Killing Eve did it’s best to keep us occupied, but all the time I had my ear listening for Tilly’s bell and her thug like sprint across the wooden decking by the mooring.

A little thud was heard at 9:15 as four white paws jumped onto the stern of Oleanna. Thank goodness!! The doors were closed straight away. Tilly headed straight for her food bowl she was starving. Half an hours extra shore leave had turned into over four hours. Thank goodness she is such a good boat cat, she’ll sleep well tonight.

0 locks, 0 miles, 5 walked, 1 oil change, 12mm play on belts, 752 people swimming, 5 cruisers, 32 glasses left, 1 hot day, 1 sculpture trail, 1 stranded cat, 2 concerned boaters, 1 pooh bucket swapped over, 1 failed deterrent, 2 final episodes Killing Eve, 4 white paws and 1 white tipped tail back safe and sound.