Category Archives: Regents Canal

The Morning After 25th September

Limehouse Basin to Paddington Basin

A bit of a lie in this morning was followed by Mick removing all the lights from Oleanna. I made my excuses from this as my knees have spent too much time over the last few days slightly twisted by standing on gunnels or kneeling and they need to have recovered by the time I start Panto painting. This morning Pam looked to be developing a black eye and had a bump on her head after her fall last night. She seemed jolly and was quite glad of having an excuse not to have to work the locks back up the Regents Canal.

Boats starting to leave

This morning Heather had decided to join us on the Tideway and she would chance getting in at Brentford with David. A fourth boat NB Thyme would be heading to Teddington with us, so everyone had a buddy. Locking time was confirmed as 11:30, just the final engine checks to be done.

Water swirling round to fill Limehouse Lock

A short while later Mick appeared from the engine bay. We had a puddle of coolant half an inch deep and the header tank was low. Yesterday we’d not overheated. It could be something simple to fix, but with Oleanna’s history of coolant leaks we weren’t sure. He checked the engine over. He tightened four jubilee clips on the hoses, they weren’t that loose.

Three in a lock

Should we go out onto the Tideway? Yes we’d be with other boats, after all the problem might now be solved. But on the other hand we’d be going out knowing that we might have a problem, be more apprehensive and know that we’d be relying on other boats to rescue us. That wouldn’t be right, and we wouldn’t enjoy the trip. So we aborted our chance of going under Tower Bridge for the third time in two days. A great shame, but we’d rather discover we didn’t have a problem anymore on the Regents Canal. Time to let Tilly know she could stand down and needn’t burrow into our pillows again.

Whilst Mick mopped up the engine bay I watched the three boats we should have been joining head back out onto the choppy waters of the tideway. The last boat out of the lock was NB Bleasdale, just as Heather completed the turn to face upstream she turned and waved. Not sure when our paths will cross next, but they will.

First lock today

Reverting to plan B we knew that our mooring in Paddington Basin hadn’t been cancelled and wouldn’t be until tomorrow, it would take us a while to get back up the locks and all the other boats heading that way had already left, we’d be on our own, we’d best get moving.

Not homemade gf pastry, but still yum

As we worked our way back up the Regents Canal the oven was put on, sausage rolls we’d intended for yesterday were baked between locks, cooled just enough by the time we’d risen Old Ford Lock and had a longer pound to eat them in.


Today we had a wide cruiser ahead of us for one lock who made use of an empty lock, they were heading along the Hertford Union so we’d be going different ways. We shared Acton’s Lock with a young couple, they were only heading to the next available mooring and stopped just after the lock possibly to use the services there.

Just about every lock was set against us. At nearly every lock we had a crowd of gongoozlers watching our every move. Occasionally someone would lend a hand with a gate and occasionally we had to ask people to move for their own safety.


For the first time we’ve passed the entrance to Victoria Park on a Sunday whilst the market has been on, today we didn’t really have the time or energy to stop for a nosy. The food smells were wonderful though, but my sausage rolls were just the ticket to keep us going.

City Road Lock

City Road Lock I had extra crew. A chap who works at the cafe there leapt into action, helping with gates, closing paddles, he even has his own windlass. Today he’d helped around twenty boats through, I wondered if he ever did any paid work at the cafe! This lock has yellow and red lines painted round it and signs all over the place. These suggest to boaters that if they consider members of the public to be in danger then to beep your horn five times at which the public will move away. These signs had been attached to the lock beams with cable ties, as I walked to get back onto Oleanna my foot caught on one. A trip hazard if ever there was one!

Islington Tunnel ahead

There is now a stretch of 14 day Eco Moorings near Camley Street Bridge, they don’t appear bookable on the C&RT website and they were very very full. At the bottom of the Camden Locks there was a boat coming down, I helped and chatted to the owner, they were having a bit of a cruising party to their next mooring an Eco mooring near Kings Cross.

As we rose in the lock I knew the top lock was being emptied, the middle lock managing to stay empty for us and the crew above taking their time doing everything! Sadly they’d left the wrong gate open on the top lock, I now knew why the volunteers don’t like using it. It opens over the steps and over the accompanying locks beam, so the beam is high up, but not high enough to crawl under once you’ve got it over the steps. All very awkward, but at least I kept an eye on where my feet were.

Now we just had to negotiate our way along through the zoo and Maida Hill Tunnel around all the Go Boats. This involved some zigzagging, being waved ahead of them at the tunnel and we managed to avoid them all.

Go Boats out on mass this afternoon

Little Venice we turned left and headed down into Paddington Basin where our not quite cancelled booked mooring sat waiting for us. Another three spaces available, it’s the first time we’ve ever seen room here.

Heading into the basin

We were tired and hungry, so despite having had pizza yesterday we headed to Pizza Express and filled up on a Classic pizza each. A longer day than if we’d have headed out onto the Tideway, but at least it looks like just tightening up the jubilee clips has done the trick.


12 locks, 9.24 miles, 1 straight on, 1 leak, 1 plan aborted, 8 sausage rolls, 1 happier cat, 0 shore leave still, 2 pizzas, 2 glasses of wine, 2 pretty pooped boaters.


Reflections Flotilla Part 2

A buoy outside Chelsea Harbour Marina to Limehouse Basin

*This post contains some slideshows. I’m not sure if these will work if you get the post emailed to you, so you may have to go to the website.*

Getting into position

It took a little while for us all to get into position as the flotilla started to move away downstream. In all the paperwork we’d been given about the event we’d not seen how far apart to the side boats should be. Infront and behind should be about 60ft, a boats length. As our huddle of boats moved into position we decided that maybe a similar distance to the sides would be good too.

Beam us up Scotty! Quite an artistic mistake!

It was dusk, you could just see peoples lights. I had my camera and fully charged phone on hand to take photos. I’m by no means a pro, the contrasting lighting along with being on the move meant there have been many a photo head straight to the bin. Add to the mix keeping an eye on the flotilla, checking which bridge arch we should be heading to and whether we’d be sharing it with neighbouring boat Panacea or not, listening to Flotilla Control instructions, this all made for one busy evening.


By the time we’d reached Battersea Road Bridge we’d all got into position. Already people lined the bridge above us.

Albert Bridge, wonderful in day light, now at dusk a spiders web of Victorian beauty. There waiting on the down stream side was Gloriana the Royal Row Barge. Neon rope light swaged along the gunnels and every long oar stood upright with a straight line of white light. No-one would miss her.

Illuminated Rowing

Flotilla Control called Gloriana into position in the flotilla. Safety gaps had been planned between certain sections to hopefully avoid bunching up. The flotilla was now complete. Motor powered boats in front, Gloriana in the middle followed by man powered boats.

Looking back upstream

Following our charts and the boat ahead. Hang on, shouldn’t we be going through the span to our port? This only happened at one bridge, we then kept to the plans we’d been given. Speed adjustments were required to try to keep in line, but then the boat ahead wouldn’t be going quite fast enough, so we’d slip behind our line. Safety boats moved along the sides, keeping an eye out. Our two red glow sticks were bent, broken and shaken in case we needed to draw attention to ourselves, thankfully they remained unused.

From the river we could see a line of people stood on each bank, just about every bridge too. I wondered if this had remained a Jubilee event would more people have had white glow sticks on the bridges. That would have been quite a sight.

Chelsea Bridge, Victoria Railway Bridge, Battersea Power Station with it’s changing coloured chimneys.

Vauxhall Bridge at 19:32. Lambeth Bridge 19:39

Houses of Parliament

Instructions came through to speed up, get closer, slow down as Flotilla Control required. Positions drifted, then came back. Messages from family about our position needed conveying along with everything else. Sheet of bridge profiles once passed under added to the discard pile on the stern locker lid.

Westminster Bridge. The London Eye. Hungerford Bridge at 19:50

Festival Pier and the South Bank19:52. Waterloo Bridge. Blackfriars Bridge and Rail Bridge 20:01. Here those wanting to stay warm lined the windows looking down at us.

Millennium Footbridge. Was that Andrew, Jac and Josh? Had they got the right bit of bridge?

Yep it was, Andrew shouted to us that they would now head to the pub. I messaged them back telling them to turn round and wait until Gloriana had passed at least.

Southwark Bridge at 20:09 Now we could see Tower Bridge, the towers lit up in blue. The progress of the flotilla slowed, it slowed some more. Cannon Street Bridge, London Bridge 20:15.

Our progress slowed right down, Gloriana a distance behind, a Dutch Barge a touch too close. Keep moving came the instructions.

HMS Belfast was lined with Sea cadets who as Gloriana approached all saluted as did the oarsmen on board.

Were we waiting for Tower Bridge to lift? All boats were finding their own space, we’d liked to have carried on moving but that meant those ahead of us should be doing the same and those ahead of them. We could see double deckers and pedestrians still crossing the bridge.

After what felt like an absolute age Tower Bridge started to lift. Normally it lifts enough to let tall ships and boats through, but today it would lift all the way up in full Royal Salute.

Boats started to move, everyone of us going under the central span. Years ago before we owned NB Lillyanne I gave Mick a birthday card of Tower Bridge saying that one day we’d be going under that central span. Here today as one of the 150 boats we were doing just that, bedecked with fairy lights and at night, we were doing it in style. 20:40

There was now a bit of confusion. What was to happen at the end of the flotilla had changed due to the Queen passing away. Some boats sounded their horns, others remained silent. As Gloriana passed through the bridge and lifted their oars in salute there were three cheers for the King, then over the radio came instructions to sound our horns. Everyone went for it still moving downstream at a steady pace. A last look back to the bridge. WoW!!!

Now what? The narrowboats remained in formation heading down stream. All boats wanting to return upstream were meant to continue downstream and reach a certain boat before turning and heading back upstream along the northern bank. It was nice to see the displays of lights on the cruisers that we’d been behind, some very pretty boats.

The stretch of water below Tower Bridge is normally lumpy bumpy but this evening it was quiet, the river was still closed to normal traffic whilst the flotilla dispersed. Andrew the leader of the narrowboat section said he had a time for the lock, we all continued downstream, now arranging ourselves into our locking groups, there’d be four lockings into Limehouse as only one boat was heading back up stream. I spotted a red light flashing in front of us on top of a pole, as I was pointing it out to Mick, Simon shouted from the boat behind, we adjusted course accordingly passing the light on the starboard side.

Now we had rowers catching up with us, heading downstream, they were going some! Three passed us before we reached Canary Wharf where we turned and followed the north bank back towards Limehouse. One boat swapped to the first locking as they were overheating. Six boats packed into the lock and rose the now 7ft up to the canal.

We were instructed to hold back away from the opening of the lock as the water being dropped from it would make quite a bit of turbulence. The river had now opened to normal traffic, Uber boats zooming from one stop to the next and a huge party boat heading up stream. All those people who’d not been aware of what had been happening upstream of them over the last couple of hours.

Then it was our turn to head into the safety of the lock. A repeat of on the way out, ropes round risers, round the T stud and wait for the surge.

During the day a couple of boats had arrived at Limehouse and moored up. With more narrowboats coming back in and less wall or pontoon to tie to boats were rafting up again. On the pontoon I spied a chap inside his boat, I gestured to see if it was okay to pull alongside. It was, after all it is London! We came in carefully. Pam from Flora Dora came over the stern of the boat to help us with our bow rope.

In the dark on a strange boat Pam hadn’t seen the step down to the boats back door. As I passed our rope towards her, her hands held out to take it she fell towards me and the gap between the boats. Thankfully she didn’t fall between them, but this did mean she bumped her head on our gunnel. Glasses, phone were safe but Pam needed a sit down and to be checked over. After five minutes of quiet her shock subsided.

A quick check on Tilly, I think her evening had been calmer than the afternoon. I wonder if she sat in the window for any of it? The Cruising Association was open for us to be able to have a drink and a buffet had been laid on. It felt like an absolute age since we’d had our pizzas. After all the days excitement we sipped our glasses of wine exhausted.

WOW!! What a day! What an amazing day!!

1 lock twice, 15.95 miles, 9.5 hours on the tideway, 34 bridges gone under, 1 barrier closed, 12 narrowboats, 1 widebeam, 1 faulty radio, 1 borrowed tow line, 1 borrowed radio, 1 fully charged phone, 17 sheets of instructions, 1 dead body on the roof, 2 pizzas, 1 fluffed up Tilly, 1 very choppy ride, 1 dutch barge up the rear, 3 Leckenbys, 1 Cheryl, 2 many photos, 1 bridge in Royal Salute, 1st time under the centre span, 1 sponsored walk held up, 1st time in 300 years, 1 amazing afternoon and evening well worth the effort to get to London for, 2 privileged boaters and 1 cat.

1 very big thank you to all the boaters, friends and family who’ve allowed me to use their photos in the flotilla posts. Thank you.

The Final Leg. 23rd September

Colebrooke Eco-moorings to Limehouse Basin

The first of the flotilla boats came past a little after 8am in the rain. We were on the move up to the water point a bit after 9 to fill up and to empty as needed. Cheryl from Firecrest came to wish us luck and Tilly watched Tracy Ullman walk her dog.

It’s that woman off the tele!

Heather and NB Bleasdale arrived, our locking partner, soon followed by Sally on NB Mobius. We’d all fit in the locks together, Oleanna on one side and Bleasdale and Mobius one behind the other on the other side.

Sally had extra crew on board so it made for light work. The eight locks down to Limehouse were completed in just under three hours. Care was needed fitting all three boats in the locks not only at the stern to miss the cill but also at the bow so as not to get hung up on the gates.

A stretch of towpath was cordoned off which necessitated getting back on board to do the next lock.

We wondered what the giant pear was growing over an archway, was it a butternut squash? And the Hackney sharks now sing from the canal and roof tops with a giant butternut squash over the top of the barge.

We arrived at Limehouse and claimed a stretch of the lower wall, still quite a height to get up to. The pontoon was reserved by the advance boats for those who don’t do climbing up and down walls.

Albert Victor alongside

After lunch the boats were a hive of activity another two boats arriving and breasting up. White lights were being draped over cabin sides, down to bows. We put up our extended mast and then checked with others about it’s height. In the back of our heads we’d been wondering if it might be too high and cause a sight line issue, keeping good watch will be all important out on the river with so many boats about in close proximity to each other. So we reduced it’s height and set about rearranging the lights.

Boats all waiting

Our new length of lights covered most of the boat, a second length cable tied around the stern, attached in several places or safety. We couldn’t decide whether to add any more or just to leave them be, final decision will be made in the morning. Other boats have a lot more lights than us.


At 7pm it was time to meet up with everyone at the Cruising Association for the safety briefing. We were handed two glow sticks for use in emergencies, a flotilla flag and number which must be displayed so that we can be seen to be part of the flotilla. Sheets of information were given out, which arch of which bridge the white section should use etc. This was followed by a meal and a couple of glasses of wine chatting amongst the crew.

Checking they all work

Back at Oleanna Mick turned the lights on as did David on NB Albert Victor, very pretty.

Trying out settings on the camera

Just a few things left to do tomorrow.

8 locks, 4.3 miles, 3/4 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 3 in a lock, 2 abreast, 80m, 15m of lights, 1 flotilla flag, 2 red glow sticks, 71st boat, 2 boaters just about ready, 1 cat who has no idea!

Faces At the Window. 21st September

Ballot Box Bridge to Colebrook Eco Moorings, Regents Canal

We’d planned to be on our way by 7:30 but that didn’t quite happen, it was nearer 8 by the time we’d pushed off. The journey in towards London always takes time, add into the mix weed and other boats, it can always take longer.

A new development sits up high, hang on was that a boat up there? NB Pavo, we’d seen the boat about. Our deduction from down on the canal is that this boat has found itself a pool of water to sit on off Canal and River Trust water a bit like the boat on the South Oxford Canal. Maybe it is going to be an office for someone, or maybe it’s just a big water feature for the complex.

More boats all individual, more paintings on walls.

Very slow boats

Soon we could see a breasted up pair ahead of us some distance away, each bend brought them closer and closer, each bend gave them shallow water that they needed to pole off, it was the Polish coal boat. We caught them up and slowly followed them, tick over then neutral then tick over again. There was nowhere suitable for them to pullover to let us pass until their bow got stuck again. They freed themselves leaving a gap just wide enough for us to go through between them and a moored boat, we were waved on.

Kensal Town brings with it office windows to look into. From above Ainsley and Nicholas peered back down on us, nosy blighters! Duck weed covered the whole canal by now. The bubbles at Westbourne Terrace Bridge doing their best to hold the mass of green back and away from Little Venice. The water point was free, we pulled in to make use of the tap and bins and make a brew.

Left at Little Venice, Rembrandt Gardens moorings were full, we hoped our booked space further along would be available.

At least it won’t go yellow!

The steep bank outside one of the posh houses on the Regents Canal has been clad in astroturf, their gardeners no longer having to mow that part of the garden, they might just have to weed it instead in years to come.

Warthogs biffed at large balls containing edible treats. A lazy Colobus Monkey lounged in what used to be the Snowden Aviary it is now a walk through monkey valley exhibit with high up perches for the monkeys.

There’s Heather!

Stood waiting for us at Hampstead Road Locks was a familiar figure, Heather, she’d walked up from St Pancras to help us with the locks. No volunteers on today and thankfully I remembered which gate had a problem last year, so I used the other one.

Heather set off to set the middle of the three locks. A trip boat set the bottom lock for us, all easy going. Around us the new buildings we’ve seen going up over the last few years all look complete, walkways criss crossing everywhere.

A short pootle and we arrived at St Pancras Lock, two volunteers on duty, one of whom we’d done the Tideway with last year. Sadly there was no room for us to moor at the cruising club this time, but there was plenty to chat about as the lock was set in our favour.


We waved goodbye to Heather and David and carried on our way, we’d be seeing them both at the flotilla. The Queen had done her washing and watched us go by as we approached Islington Tunnel.

This looked hopeful

The tunnel was clear, I zoomed in with my camera. One boat in view on the Eco Moorings where we’d booked for two nights. There was a possibility that the boat was breasted up and there’d not be room alongside the towpath. We carried on through the tunnel.

Maybe not so hopeful!

By the time we’d reached the other end the boat I’d seen was breasted up, in fact it was the third boat out from the towpath. All along the Eco-moorings the boats were breasted up apart from one small gap. Was someone overstaying? Had the C&RT website calculated the wrong length of mooring available?

Mooring spaghetti

We pulled through the next bridge and I walked down to check on any spaces below the lock. Every space was full with boats breasted up. Pooh! Only yesterday Mick had tried to look to see if there were any spaces available at the other eco-moorings, but as we’d already got a booking it wouldn’t show us. We’d past a space on the other side of the tunnel, admittedly by a building site, but we’d have been bank side there enabling Oleanna to finish being washed.


Only one thing for it, to reverse back into the space that was available, do the best we could mooring at a jaunty angle and try to sus out when those we were blocking in would be wanting to move off. The angle did have one benefit, we’d be able to open our hatch! Soon after mooring the Puppet Barge came past, thankfully there was enough room for them.

That’s a big one!

We settled in and explained to Tilly that there would be no shore leave for the foreseeable future. The hook up cable came out and after quite a bit of grring from Mick we had power, £10 credited to our account. We’d be able to do washing and use the electric kettle. Cheryl from a few boats up (NB Firecrest) came to say hello as she reads the blog.

Onion Bhaji

This evening we caught a bus and headed over to Kentish Town to meet up with Christine and Paul for an Indian meal at the Bengal Lancer. A very nice meal with great company and the delivery of our nav lights. These came in a really rather big box, four times the size of the lights! We just need a battery for the white one now and somewhere to strap it to. Thank you Christine for the use of your address.

4 locks, 11.73 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 left, 1 tunnel, 1 Heather, 1 David, 1 Ainsley, 1 Nicholas, 1 Queen, 40ft mooring, 58ft 6 boat, 1 jaunty mooring, 1 mission nearly accomplished, 3 nav lights, 0.5 clean boat, 1 harrumphy cat!

Filling Up On Halibut. 12th August

The Swan on the River mooring to Littleport Station Road mooring

A very hot humid night in London and I suspect onboard Oleanna too. Today the temperature would rise that bit more and would end up changing our plans.

I wonder what used to be on the ground floor

After breakfast I headed of with a bottle of water in hand, caught a bus then the tube into Piccadilly Circus. I was here to check things out. I wanted to see which way Eros faced, get some photos of my own and then take a look at the building that stands on the corner of Shaftsbury Avenue and Great Windmill Street as I want to use it in my panto set.

I got some good photos, but not quite at the right angle, I needed to look across at Eros, not up at him. Lilywhites was nearly at the right angle and there was a staircase up through the building. It was worth a look. Well it wasn’t really as they position things on the window sills to deter photographers don’t they! Hopefully I’ve enough images to work from.

Chilled chocolate bears

I decided to walk up Piccadilly, sticking to the shade, bobbing into Fortnum and Masons to appreciate their air conditioning for a little while and watch people stacking expensive teas into their shopping baskets.

I then dropped down into the underground at Green Park and took the tube to Stockwell, here my plans were stalled, the Northern line south bound was suspended. Time to join a massive queue for the 155 bus. I soon realised that this bus would take me along a part of London I used to know very well. Clapham North was were I lived in my final year at college and the route south from here had many places I used to visit when I lived in Brixton for three years. I’ve not really been back to Clapham Common since I left so it was lovely to see that somethings hadn’t changed in the last 26 years.

Morag and me

I hopped off the bus in Balham and kept myself in the shade walking to my friend Morag’s flat. Despite the hold up with transport I arrived perfectly as she’d just finished a Teams meeting for work. Morag is a very good school friend of mine, we’d last met when we were in Marple last year. There was lots to catch up on and a very lovely vegetarian lunch to enjoy before she had to be back at work for her next Teams meeting at her dining room table.

Heading back

Meanwhile back on Oleanna, Mick spotted a boat that had been moored behind us yesterday near the station, so he knew there should be a space there. He pushed off, winded and returned to the handier mooring for trains to London. The electric boat we’ve seen a few times on our way back from Bedford was there and Mick pulled in. The lady on board was having problems with her generator, so Mick mentioned he’d just left the pub mooring where there is hook up. She was off like a shot to plug in and wait for someone to come out and sort her troublesome generator.

Fresh air for Tilly

Our original plan had been for Mick to catch a train sometime in the afternoon and come down to join me at the London Leckenby’s for the night. But as there was no shade at the mooring the temperature was rising inside Oleanna. 31C. Not too bad when you can have the windows and hatch open to encourage a breeze to pass through. But with everything shut up to keep a cat indoors it would be really unpleasant. This along with longer delays on the trains due to the heat we decided that Mick should stay with Tilly and make sure she didn’t cook overnight. A real shame, but better for our second mate.

The British Museum

My next port of call was the British Museum. I joined a rather long queue of people going through the security checks and headed indoors, I think a lot of people were heading in doors out of the sunshine. I headed straight for the right room, one that was built to house what are known to many as The Elgin Marbles. One day they will be sent back to Greece, but today I was glad they were still here as I wanted a closer look and to take photos as I’d like to do a touch of a panto joke with them. Lots of photos later and a comfort break I was heading back out to Hackney to help with the final preparations for dinner.


During the afternoon in Littleport a boat had pulled up behind Oleanna. There was then a bold knock on the roof. Mick popped his head out to see if he could help only to find Graham from NB Misty Blue who we did the Tideway and cruised some of the Regents Canal with last summer. He’d spotted Oleanna and stopped to say hello before carrying on for the day, looking for shade. Now some people think we move fast, we know we don’t! But Graham has been all over the place since we last saw him. Then he was heading for the Kennet and Avon which he did and carried on up the River Severn to the Gloucester Sharpness, he was one of the last boats across the Rochdale before it closed and a couple of days ago he crossed The Wash. Hopefully I’ll get chance to say hello when he comes past us next.

Jane and Kevin

This evening we were joined by Jane and her new (to us) boyfriend Kevin, who are over visiting from Sydney. We all grew up together in York as our Mum’s were best friends. It was so lovely to see Jane, hear the news from Australia. Of course there was food, including a whole halibut a first for Andrew to cook. What a wonderful fish, I suspect they will be eating the left overs for days to come.

Conversation kept going until midnight when slightly boozy photos were taken. What a lovely evening.

Happy times

0 locks, 0.621371 miles back, 2 moorings swapped, 5 buses, 4 tubes, 31C inside at 2pm, 1 London trip abandoned, 1 breezy boat, 1 hot but safe cat, 1 statue, 2 rooms of marbles, 2 old friends, 1 new friend made, 34C, 1 day of shade finding.

Pip, Jane, Emma, Andrew 1968. Just like it was yesterday

2021 An Adventurous Year

Time for the annual round up. Put the kettle on or pour yourself a glass of something stonger, put your feet up, this is a long post.

Looking out into a cold world!

As midnight turned from 2020 to 2021 we saw the old year out and new one in at the house in Scarborough, a quiet affair with just the three of us.

January and February brought ups and downs with them. Oleanna rose and fell with the water level at Viking Marina due to the breach at New Bridge whilst the country locked down. Despite the restrictions on travelling we made use of having a hire car for a few days at the beginning of the year to keep an eye on Oleanna.

Jobs around the house continued, our bedroom was redecorated and reclaimed from troublesome tenants. Tilly and I ventured out into the nearby park for the occasional walk, dependant on the number of woofers and the weather of course.

We walked, we ate, we drank, did our best to stay well and I started on the design for Chipping Norton’s panto in my reclaimed work room.

The spare living room was used as a workshop doing some work for Animated Objects, scrimming giant sci-fi guns and then painting model buildings all for The Odyssey. Beetroot burgers were made and pancakes consumed.

Then March came along and some easing of restrictions. Colour came back in nature with the daffodils popping up and my panto model started to get coloured in. A design for some origami paper arrived ready to be folded up to be part of 1000 ships display that would happen a couple of months later along the Yorkshire coast.

With new freedoms we had a couple of trips to Goole to check on Oleanna. First one was to swing her round and finally put fire extinguishers on walls all ready for her Boat Safety Inspection which she passed with flying colours and a comment that we seemed to like CO and smoke detectors, well I’d rather have too many than not enough!

The cofferdam at the breach site was completed and an access ramp created. My posts about the breach put us in touch with several people in Goole and at the beginning of April The Goole Escape Facebook group was formed. Due to the breach and lack of water in Goole Docks no leisure boats were allowed to use Ocean Lock out onto the Tidal Ouse. A joint calm voice was needed to try to find a way out for those boats wanting to leave, including us.

Of course March was also when Mick and I got our first vaccinations. Who’d have thought having a jab would put a smile on peoples faces! Not that you could really see them behind all the masks. A bathroom got a make over and we discovered parts of Scarborough we’d never been to before.

April was a very busy month. With lodgers on the horizon house jobs needed finishing. The roof needed attention along with a wall in my work room, both jobs were for the professionals. Pictures went up on walls, finally. The bathroom needed finishing with Frank fitting us a new bath surround.

Mid month out attention moved back to Oleanna. Way back when, we’d booked her in at Goole Boathouse to be blacked. We had a night on board before moving her from one marina to the other to come out of the water. She was jet washed down and the chaps began applying layers of 2 pack to her hull. We visited most days with jobs to do ourselves. Mick busied himself inside whilst I ground back rusty bits on the gunnels, repainted them and the tunnel bands. Inside the oak floor had a good clean and then was treated to two coats of oil. The weather had been perfect for it and she went back in the water a week after she’d come out, enough time for the 2 pack to cure. She looked smart again, well the cabin sides still needed a good wash!

Whilst in Goole we met up with David, Karl, Wendy and Martin, four members of The Goole Escape group. David had managed to negotiate with ABP passage for leisure boats through Ocean Lock at Goole Docks, this was limited to specific times of the tide. So escape was now possible but everything would have to come together to make a sensible plan. We wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks and hoped that there wouldn’t be a mass exodus before we could join people.

As I carried on trying to finish my panto model Mick made good use of his time doing a VHF radio course, we’d need to be able to use the radio to meet the criteria for going through Goole Docks and out onto the Tidal Ouse. Tilly visited the vet and got a years worth of flea and wormer treatments, we were all set to move back on board.

The first of May was that day. We’d hoped that Tilly would remember the boat after seven months on shore, within about two seconds of being back it was obvious she knew where she was. News that Goole caisson gates were now open and cruising up towards the breach site was possible we headed off to give Oleanna a good run and so that Tilly could venture back onto dry land. It was very good to be back on the move again. On our second such trip Tilly remembered how to swim!

Whilst in Goole Mick took his Short Range VHF Radio exam and passed. I carried on painting my panto model. We both had our second vaccinations. Heather Bleasdale came to visit joining us for an outdoor lunch. We got to know the Goole Escape Committee and discussed plans. We watched work going on at the breach site. Mick had a birthday and Joan’s Home Kitchen provided us with a celebratory meal a couple of days before we hoped to escape.

On 21st May an escape committee meeting was had early on, the weather looked hopeful for the tide in the afternoon, we were booked in at Ocean Lock. Our escape was to be via Selby, the Lock keeper was called there and our plan confirmed. At lunchtime we moved up to fill the diesel tank and await the other escapees, Sea Maiden and Lullabelle. Given the go ahead by the docks to proceed we were soon passing through to Ocean Lock where there was plenty of space for the three of us. At around 14:30 the large lock gates opened to reveal our way out of Goole onto the Tidal Ouse.

All three boats arrived safe and sound

We headed upstream following Sea Maiden being pushed along with the tide. Would we make it to Selby before the tide turned. Each boat arrived individually and was locked up into Selby Basin. We’d made it, now all we had to do was escape Selby as the swing bridge out of the basin there was broken.

We waited. Tides, times, weather and the amount of fresh coming down stream all had to fit together. Bridget and Storm came to visit. We twiddled our thumbs. The Environment Agency came and closed the flood barrier. We twiddled our thumbs. Daily escape committee meetings were held. By the 27th everything was looking to fit together apart from one thing, Keadby Lock would not be manned at a suitable time for us to get off the river. Sea Maiden and Lullabelle decided to stay put in Selby. Heather Bleasdale was joining us for the trip but Oleanna would be out on the river on her own heading to Trent Falls.

What a day that was! David’s advice was spot on. Leaving Selby just before 10am Oleanna zoomed downstream with the out going tide. We followed our charts keeping to the channel. At the Apex light Mick swung Oleanna round to head upstream onto the Trent our progress slowing instantly.

We then crawled our way to find where we should wait for the tide to turn. Two hours of very little, drifting on our anchor. We’d picked the day well, it was wonderful out there.

When Oleanna started to move round a touch more we managed to pull the anchor up and found our way back into the main channel to head upstream with the incoming tide. One plan had been to moor up in Gainsborough, but we decided to carry on and arrived at Torksey just as the last light was fading at just gone 22:00, 64 miles in a day, I doubt we’ll ever beat that.

Over the next few days we made our way up the Trent, dug out our windlasses to work locks in Nottingham. Once we rose up Derwent Mouth Lock onto the Trent and Mersey we had completed our escape. The going would now be much slower along shallow canals and plenty more moored boats to slow down past.

Now we should make our booked mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, every day would be a boating day unless the weather was either too hot or far too wet to cruise. Along the Trent and Mersey, pausing to stock up in Alrewas. At Fradley we turned onto the Coventry Canal to head southwards. We gave a tow to NB Burghley Girl to the bottom of Atherstone.

At Hawkesbury Junction we did the 180 degree turn onto the North Oxford Canal, through Rugby and up Hillmorton. NB Kamili with Andy and Irene passed as we arrived in Braunston where we paused for another butchers, then up the flight and through the tunnel.

Straight on along the Grand Union. On route we stopped for a drink with Lizzie at Bugbrooke. Paused for a hot day under some trees near Milton Keynes. Had a diversion along the Wendover Arm for a night. Picked up extra crew, my old college friend Jen, for a day through Hemel Hempstead. Came across our first sightings of HS2 cutting it’s way across the landscape.

At Bulls Bridge we turned left onto the Paddington Arm. On our trip into London we came across our friends Pete and Clare on NB Billy, it turned out we’d be neighbours at Rembrandt Gardens for a few days. We arrived on time and the next day headed across London by bus to Hackney to see the London Leckenbys for the first time since Christmas 2019.

Plenty more family to catch up with. Kath came for lunch, we had a trip to Eastbourne to see Marion and John, a lovely lunch with Christine and Paul. So good to see everyone again and not just on a computer screen every Saturday.

Happy Birthday Big Brother

Andrew’s 60th Birthday was celebrated, nothing fancy just good to be able to be together for it, we’d achieved our second goal of the year.

We heard there was a space at St Pancras Cruising Club for a long boat like Oleanna, so we took advantage of a more secure mooring close to Kings Cross whilst we had a visit back to Scarborough. Checking on the house, lodgers changing over and seeing the latest Ayckbourn play with Bridget and Storm, it all made for a good weekend away. I then headed off to Huddersfield for a couple of days work with Dark Horse, fitting costumes for a photo shoot.

There was to be a Tideway cruise from St Pancras Cruising Club and with one space left we jumped at the opportunity. Ten boats made their way to Limehouse, we breasted up with NB Misty Blue, Graham turned out to be another Goole Escapee. Three lock-fulls of boats headed out onto the Tideway on the morning of 10th July, special permission had been sought to go under Hammersmith Bridge which was closed to all forms of traffic at the time.

Tilly thought we were mad taking her onto such rough water, I was a little perplexed too! Very glad that I was the official photographer, clinging on as we did more than bob up and down! Tower Bridge, The National Theatre, Christine, Adam, The Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station. So many sights, what an experience!

The further west we got the calmer the water got. We were glad when Hammersmith Bridge was passed as there had always been a chance that it might close to boat traffic at anytime due to safety reasons. We turned off at Brentford along with several other boats and continued up to Hanwell where we had a very sociable evening at The Fox with everyone. Thank you Simon for mentioning the cruise to us.

Sadly our washing machine hadn’t liked the lumpy water so for the next month we cruised meeting up with engineers on route hoping it could be mended. Back through London, pausing at St Pancras again. Then down to the Herford Union to cut across to the Lee and Stort. We had another mooring booked on the Lee awaiting our arrival, alongside NB Billy.

Then up the Lee and onto the River Stort. We’d only ventured so far up the Stort during our first winter on Lillian, this time we headed all the way to Bishop Stortford. Our return journey was held up slightly due to the river going into flood overnight so we had to wait for it to lower to get under the bridge at Roydon.

Back through London we made use of the new Eco-moorings near Islington Tunnel, a handy stop off with electricity. Here we met up with Nick an old friend from York and Adam called in for a catch up after working the breakfast shift at Radio 2.

Goodbye Christine!

At the end of July we pushed on and left London behind us, returning to Bulls Bridge.

We headed up to Uxbridge for cheap diesel and finally got our washing machine mended. We turned around and headed back to the Hanwell flight, stowed the garden back in the shower and headed out onto the Thames again where we turned right towards Oxford.

With a weeks license we couldn’t dawdle, although a broken lock gate at Boveney Lock did hold us up overnight so our license would be extended. A space was spotted below Cliveden so we treated ourselves to a night moored in the grounds of the big house. We paused for a socially distanced chat with Sue on No Problem XL, good to see her looking so well. Henley Regatta was almost ready as we passed through and our favourite mooring above Days Lock did not disappoint. All too soon we turned up Sheepwash Channel and ascended Isis Lock back onto the Oxford Canal.

Whilst in Oxford I managed an actual face to face meeting with Dash the Director for Chippy Panto. He seemed happy! Then we made our way up to Thrupp where we’d booked ourselves in at the cruising club for a few days whilst the London Leckenbys came to visit and we had a trip back to Scarborough and we got to see the show at Esk Valley for the first time since we’ve been living afloat.

I had a day trip to Chippy where I did a final model meeting over zoom from a dressing room, but also had chance to measure things up. Then we were off up the Oxford Canal, mooring in our favourite spots, it was a touch busier than it normally is in the winter.

A pause to visit Village Meats in Braunston and we spotted our old share boat NB Winding Down so we stopped to say hello. On up the flight sharing with a boat full of actors, then left up to Crick for the first time in ages.

A prearranged boaters meeting at Houdini’s Field worked brilliantly, NB Panda and NB Kamili convened and we all enjoyed each others company over a fantastic barbeque outside so everyone could feel safe and Tilly could roam about. Oleanna was treated to a very good wash and brush up before we were on our way again. We now needed to get her north before I started on Panto.

News came through that the breach on the Aire and Calder had been mended and nine months after the canal had sprung a leek it was mended and open again. Boats could now move through the area, mooring however is still restricted.

Following the Grand Union we headed down the Stockton Flight to Leamington Spa. Tilly and I had a few hot days on our own moored at Radford Smelly then we were on our way again. An obligatory burger at The Cape of Good Hope the night before we teamed up with NB Mad Hatter to ascend the Hatton flight. One day my old college friend Emma will not have an excuse to helping us up the flight, this time we met for a cuppa and a catch up the following day.

On up Knowle to Catherine de Barnes, then Camp Hill Locks, the Ashted flight and Tunnel (!) followed by Farmers Bridge into Birmingham. The city centre is still full of building and tram works but with the sun out it looked stunning. We also caught up with Paul Balmer from Waterway Routes before carrying on with our journey.

A night at Hawne Basin filled the diesel tank up. A night at Dudley Port Basin got the cupboards filled. A pause at Urban Moorings meant we could donate our deposits and the next day we descended from the Birmingham plateau down the Wolverhampton 21.

Along the Staffordshire and Worcester we managed to have a mid stream catch up with Barbara from NB Bessie Surtees. At Great Haywood I managed a catch up with Kay from NB Pea Green as she set up to trade for the day and Mick filled Oleanna’s water tank.

Heading north on the Trent and Mersey we pulled in for lunch and a surprise hello to Barry and Sandra from NB AreandAre whom we’d go