Category Archives: River Don

Postponed Birthday. 2nd October

Doncaster Visitor moorings to the site of Small Hedge Swing Bridge, New Junction Canal

Some blueberries were required before pushing off, so Mick headed to the market to see what he could find. I tried calling Peter at Prompt Side so that we could talk through setting up and saving images for print. But he was busy setting up the days printing jobs, he’d ring back.

Mick topped us up with water, NB Northumbria arrived with Alfie on the roof, time for another chat before we pushed off.

Pushing off shouldn’t really be a problem, except the weed boats were back, three of them today. Two caterpillar boats and one conveyor boat. They were collecting pennywort from around the moorings to deposit on the opposite bank. Happily going back and forth without any thought that other boats might be moving. Eventually we managed to catch a gap and sped off.

Long Sandall

The moorings above Long Sandall Lock were empty, a rare sight, sadly we weren’t wanting to stop here today. The lock had just been filled for a boat coming up, the top gates opened and the two boats swapped places, perfect timing. Back down the lock and onwards to Barnby Dun.

Only 16 held up at the bridge today.

Now it was decision time. Should we moor back at Bramwith Junction? Or should we carry on onto the New Junction Canal? Flood locks on the Aire and Calder were closed yesterday so rivers were on the rise. It would be a real pain to be held up on the wrong side of the Don Doors if they had to be closed due to rising levels. We’d cross and then find a mooring as soon as we could. Well that was the plan.

Under the Don Doors

At the junction we waved to David and Clive. Les from NB Christopher B is expecting an operation later this week and will be kept in hospital until she is mobile. The River Don looked higher than normal, but still a difference between it and the canal. Maybe we were being over cautious.

Nowhere to moor, we’d have to carry on. Perhaps just off the end of a bridge landing? No, it was too close to the road for Tilly to be allowed freedom. Onwards, a flag on my map looking like it was the only possible place to moor before Sykehouse Lock.


Low Lane Swing Bridge swung, Top Lane Lift Bridge lifted, only problem was I couldn’t open the gate to get out! I had to climb the fencing. Kirk House Green Lift Bridge took a lot of jiggling for my key to turn to power it up, but soon we were on our way.

The light at the lock was red, a volunteer on duty. We’d already come farther than we’d really wanted to, but just after the narrowing where a swing bridge had once been we saw our opportunity a bar on the piling suitable for chains.

Birthday girl on the catwalk

Time for Tilly to head back out and explore. Yesterday was her eighth birthday, but it was no fun for a cat being cooped up in Doncaster, so today we needed a mooring for her and her postponed birthday. Hooray!!! Lots of friendy cover, no woofers, no nobody, BRILLIANT!!!!

A treat cheese lunch was enjoyed, hairs were removed from the songsheet artwork that I’d forgotten, then it was emailed off for approval by John. I took a couple more windows out and gave them the full clean before needing to sit down again.

Clockwise from left. Yarg, cheddar with Scarborough seaweed, feta (left over from a tray bake) and Wookey Hole cheddar.

The perfect mooring for a cat, but phone signal nearly non existent, no good for my photoshop phone call. The internet was also slow, apart from when watching a film. Stronger (2017) is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Mick was astounded at the amount of swearing it contained, what would our parents have thought! Have to admit to giving up with twenty minutes to go when Jeff and his girlfriend started to have a very loud argument after she’d told him she was pregnant. I’ll watch the rest another time, I’d just had enough of them shouting at each other.

1 lock, 8.8 miles, 1 left, 3 bridges, 19 held up, 2 more windows, 3 weed boats, 1 plumber contacted, 1 scaffolder contacted, 4 hours of birthday frolics, 8 years old! plus 1 day, 1 heel turned, 1 very shouty film, 1 stove lit.

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?

One Down, One Up, Two Upside Down 25th March

Went Aqueduct to Bramwith Junction

A cruisier was moored behind us last night, they opened their curtains as we rolled up the pram cover, we wouldn’t be leap frogging the bridges along the New Junction Canal with them this morning. Then just as we were about to push off a paddleboarder approached. Sometimes these are quite fast, other times quite leisurely. We waited for them to pass, sadly they were quite slow and we’d have been better to go ahead.

New Junction about to push off

They paused on the aqueduct to take photos, so we were soon ahead, we’d not be playing leapfrog with them today either.

A gentle passtime

The sections where the bank has been relaxing look a touch more disturbing from the towpath. Cracks along the tarmac four foot away from the edge and in places the bank has given way. I made sure I kept my distance.

The light at Sykehouse Lock remained amber as we came through the swing bridge before it. Hooray! I’d get to work the lock at last, a bit of physical activity. However when I got there we’d been beaten to the lock by a boat coming downhill.

One coming down

Because it was on manual everything has to be done in the right order, key, road barriers, bridge, sluices, gates, sluices, gates, bridge, barriers, then and only then will your key of power be released. If they’d waited just a couple more minutes it could have been our key in the panel and then no-one would have had to wait to retrieve theirs. But as no-one was in a rush they didn’t mind waiting, time for a conversation.

One coming up

They very kindly offered to close up the bridge behind us for me. But I’ve been waiting the last few weeks to be able to do the bridge and lock having been deprived by there always being a Lockie on duty. The couple let me lift the handle and push the bridge back into position, closing the nearest barrier too. Then they could retrieve their key again.

Upside down swans

At Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge a cyclist approached, I’d let them through. Then I spotted a car behind them, they went to over take whilst at the same time another car over took them, all just after a bend and just before the bridge. I pinned myself against the fencing having only just managed to cross the road! Everyone survived thankfully.

A different view of the Don Doors

Over the aqueduct and under the Don Doors for the last time, we went straight ahead on towards Barmby Dun. Here we filled with water and deposited our mountain of rubbish, the bins back in Goole have been overflowing for what seems like weeks now!

Wide calm water

Then we reversed back past the moored boats, winded and headed back to the junction where we pulled up in our preferred spot. Here we’ll get sunrises and sunsets.

Last stitch to be cast off

Today I finished off the seventh pair of socks, the heel being turned between the lock and the next lift bridge. I’ve another two pairs of requested socks to knit before the end of the month for my sponsors.

1 lock, 6.02 miles well maybe a touch more, 3 lift bridges, 3 swing bridges, 14 held up, 1 refusal, 2 overtaking, 2 winds, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish left on board, 7 pairs, 8th started.

An Inch Short. 16th March

Bramwith Junction

What a grey day! Even Tilly wasn’t impressed, preferring to spend much of the day asleep inside. With rain forecast for 1pm we had a choice of moving off this morning or staying put. The next proper mooring can be quite popular, this time of year especially so as there is parking, water and bins. An hours cruise to find out and if full it would be another hour back again, bringing us into the window of rain opportunity!


We decided to stay put, we like this mooring even on a grey day. A walk around the junction was on the cards and there was enough time before we’d get wet.

As we walked down to Bramwith Lock we could hear an engine, then see a flag between the trees, coming along the New Junction. It was Pax a kind of cross between a Dutch barge and a trawler that had been in Goole. They turned towards the lock where some friends had already opened the gates for them.

A narrowboat arrived below the lock, pulling into the lock landing, as we walked past we had a chat with the chap. This was to be his first solo lock, the boat new to him, maybe only by a few days. We wished him luck and carried on to where a footpath heads off to the Don Doors.

The side you don’t get to see from the canal

Water was spilling over the edge of the aqueduct, more so than yesterday when we’d crossed it. I was amazed at how little space there is below the trough to the river flowing beneath. The sides of the trough have plenty of extra support to help it withstand sideways pressure when the river is in flood.

We climbed over the top to the other side, sadly no view along the New Junction as the guillotine gates were in the way. But it being so grey the pictures wouldn’t have been too appealing anyway.

Looking up the New Junction

Was that a Chiff Chaff? It was! A sign of spring.

I so love Blackthorn blossom

We crossed back over the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. The first Blackthorn blossom opening up hunting for the missing sunshine. Bees buzzed round. Was that a Woodpecker we could hear? Spring with all it’s new life.

A small boat in an expanse of water

The single hander came round from Bramwith Lock heading towards Long Sandall. He’d been helped up the lock so still had his first solo lock to come. We wished him well, his next obstacle being Barnby Dun Lift Bridge.

Pootling along

A looooonggg LOUD horn could be heard. Was that someone annoyed to be held up at the lift bridge?

Then another blast. Within a few minutes we could see where it had come from, Exol Pride! I so hope the single hander had been warned about the big blue boat, suspect the Looooonggg blast had been suggesting he got out of their way!

There she goes

We stood and watched as Exol came past, a slight change of engine note before the junction, was that for us or just an adjustment before crossing under the Don Doors? The canal took a good half hour before it returned to calm.

A little after 1pm it started to rain. With whistling wind accompanying it we were glad we’d decided not to move today. Instead I sat in front of the stove and knitted, nearly a whole sock today, just short by an inch or so. Mick pottered on the computer whilst Tilly inspected the insides of her eye lids.


Today we added another option to our escape routes southwards.

  1. Out of Keadby to Cromwell
  2. Head across the Pennines, most probably by the Huddersfield Canals.
  3. Head down the Ouse to Trent Falls and onto the Trent that way.
  4. Cancel a trip to York by boat to meet with family and get through Thorne Lock before it shuts. Have a day trip by train instead.

The jury is still out.

It’s time to add a recipe to the Baking section. Tonight we enjoyed the last slices of my Bakewell Tart.

Click on the photo to get to the recipe

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 walk, 3 waterways crossed, 1 solo boater, 1 Pax, 1 big blue boat, 4 signs of spring, 1 reluctant cat, 1 inch short of a sock.

No Stopping The Prime Van Or Us. 26th February

Blue Water Marina to Bramwith Junction, Stainforth and Keadby / New Junction Canals

During the week house reclaiming jobs have been completed, for this winter. All the hallway wallpaper has been patched up, some places better than others. Daily covid test have been taken as half of the Dark Horse Company tested positive the weekend after the show, thankfully everyone seems to have only had mild symptoms and thankfully I seem to have managed to avoid it.

Tree looking not so happy

We’ve made the sensible but hard decision to retire our boat Christmas tree. It has served us well for the last 7 Christmases. Coming into the house has confused it the last two years, sprouting and then getting chilly again even with us trying to move it gradually back to outside. It was also getting a touch too big for the boat and was pot bound. A space in the back garden was made ready with a touch of our own compost, which we hope will give it a much needed boost. If it survives I’ll buy it some solar powered lights so that it can be a Christmas tree all year round.

During the winter C&RT do maintenance on the canal system, taking advantage of the quieter time on the canals. For boaters wanting to cruise it means a touch more planning to avoid getting stuck. Our route south is currently blocked at Newark Town Lock which will be closed until 18th March. Then Thorne Lock was due to close between 1st and 31st March for lock gate replacement, the dates of this stoppage are under review as the gate manufacturing has been delayed. All the same should we stay put at Blue Water Marina for a few more weeks we could possibly end up only being able to cruise out towards Keadby, the furthest south we’d get being Torksey until Newark Town Lock reopens.

Add into the mix the fact that we are surrounded by rivers. The River Trent to our east, River Don the south, River Aire to the north and west and the River Ouse. The recent storms have had all the rivers go into flood. Flood gates and locks have been closed helping to protect properties. So understandably during the last week we’ve been watching the weather forecasts and river levels closely.

Putting everything away

On Wednesday a C&RT notice came through saying that the Don Doors had reopened. The Doors are two guillotine gates that close at either side of the Don Aqueduct on the New Junction Canal, this is to stop flood water from the Don backing up along the New Junction Canal. Whilst they had been closed we’d tried contacting Staniland Marina to see if they could put us up for a little while, they are just above Thorne Lock. But there had been no space for us, so we’d been relieved to hear the New Junction Canal was open again.

I’m sure I’ll fit too

With the weather looking promising for the weekend, our plan started to slot together. A phone call to Sarah at Blue Water Marina meant we had a new gas bottle delivered to Oleanna and our spare keys were returned too as nobody would be in the office when we arrived.

A hire car was picked up on Friday evening and we started to pack. The aim of this trip was to move as much back onto Oleanna as possible, leaving the minimum amount for our last trip when we’d be moving Tilly.

By 9am Saturday morning the car was very full. Tilly’s magic food bowl was set to spring open at evening Ding Ding time and we left a sulking feline basking in the sunshine.

Go on then, go without me!

They just don’t care about me anymore! She says it’s all about me, to make my life easier and less stressful. Well being left in a chilly house with Boggy Face Alan, Stumpy Betty and Boss Eyed Shoes glaring in at me is very stressful! Think I’d prefer a car journey.

It was sunny at the marina, the grass no longer squelching under foot, I just hoped Oleanna would be drier inside than last week. Thankfully she was. First job light the stove. Mick failed first time, kindling and matches just a little bit too damp still. The heating went on and the fire was re-laid and was soon blazing away.

Water tank was emptied, not much left, then refilled. We’d wanted to sterilize the tank but with the water pressure in the marina being a touch dodgy we decided that could wait. Fresh water in our tank would most probably be fine to drink, but after months I’d rather any possible bugs were killed, we’d brought a couple of bottles of drinking water with us anyway.

The back steps came out, the dinette opened up and all the things we’d brought down last were stowed giving us room to empty the car again. Then all that stuff had to be stowed away too. Lunch by the hatch, the weather was suitable for it to be open today.

The trip computer always gets sat up like this to stop Tilly from sitting on it

Mick moved the hire car out of the marina, just in case he got back to collect it after the gates had been closed. The covers were rolled and folded out of the way. The trip computer set to record our journey. We were ready!

Time to say goodbye to Blue Water Marina

Thankfully the wind was kind to us and allowed Mick to reverse us out of our mooring, gradually we turned and headed for the entrance. Two chaps came over to talk to Mick, saying they’d just had difficulty, two of them trying to open it, they’d given up and returned to the marina. We assumed they meant Princess Royal Swing Footbridge which can be awkward. Oh well, we’d see how we did with it.

What a beautiful day

Blue sky, a chilly breeze. Perfect winter cruising weather, we’d chosen our departure day well.

On arrival I opened the control panel where a new sheet of instructions has been added. I made sure I read it fully, turned the key and headed over to close the far barriers. One barrier clicked, the other despite a wiggle or three didn’t, Hmmm! Back over the other side I closed those, click, click and tried to set the bridge in motion. It wasn’t having it. I started to squeeze my way through to wiggle the far gate, but Mick came and did it for me. Still nothing! I’d nudged a near side gate which needed a wiggle now. Hooray the bridge swung!

Thorne Lock ahead

Water bubbled below Thorne Lock, did the gates need replacing that much? It turned out that paddles were open at both ends of the lock letting water flow through to reduce the level above the lock after the recent flooding. Putting the key of power into the control panel immediately closed all the paddles and I had control.

Control panel

Just above the lock is a swing bridge with manual barriers, which is tied into the lock mechanism. The barriers and bridge will only move once the top gates of the lock are open. Up came Oleanna in her first lock of the year, she smiled from horn to horn.

First lock of the year!

With the gates open I headed up to close the barriers to the road. With one closed I was coming back to close the second one when an Amazon Prime van sped up past me and onto the bridge. I shouted about the barrier, he stopped but stayed put on the bridge. It was me who would have to give way to him, no stopping Amazon Prime!

Clear of the stoppage when ever it happens

With him out of the way and barriers closed I lifted the handle on the bridge and pushed it open to let Oleanna out of the lock. All easy. We were now clear of the possible stoppage on Monday.

Staniland Marina with a sunk boat in front of the dry dock!

As we pootled away we wondered what the two chaps at the marina had had difficulty with. Two of them not able to open it? Maybe they had been referring to the bridge at the lock, perhaps they hadn’t lifted the handle, or maybe they hadn’t read the instructions and hadn’t opened the top gates before they tried the bridge. Oh well, we’d got through and that’s all that mattered, no stopping us!

We pootled along, under the M18 and past the scrubby bits where motorbikes must race each other. A breasted up pair came towards us, the canals up here so wide and deep there’d be no problem getting past each other. A batch of new houses have met up with the canal at Stainforth.

Bramwith Lock

Time was getting on and the sun was getting low in the sky. We considered stopping short of Bramwith Swing Bridge but decided we’d prefer to have the view at Bramwith Junction. Through the swing bridge and on to the lock.

Coming up

Bramwith lock feels so diddy, the extended lock (chained open and not often used) makes it seem so small. Time for a windlass and to manually lock Oleanna up.

Of course as soon as we reached the junction, where we wanted to moor the wind picked up, blowing Oleanna out from the bank, so it took us a while to moor her up as the sun set opposite us. The effort was worth it for the view.


More unpacking, the bed made up and a touch of encouragement to defrost the frozen bolognaise sauce we’d brought with us, we then settled down for the evening back on board Oleanna.

2 locks, 5.85 miles, 1 hire car, 1 left behind cat, 2 car loads to stow, 3 swing bridges, 4 held up, 1 big gulp, 1 chilly blue skied day, 1 boat gradually warming up, 2 happy boaters, 1 smiling Oleanna.

Panto Postcard 4, 2021

Apologies, as this will be a short postcard this week, so I’ll stick to last Saturday as that was a very busy day both here and up North.

Mick was up seriously early and on a train at 5 something silly o’clock, he was heading to Goole to try to make the most of what hours of daylight there were. I on the other hand had a little bit of a lie in, well it was going to be a long day for me. Between the two of us we spanned 23 hours.

The curtain going sideways on Act 2

At Chippy Theatre it was time for us to be joined by Will Burgher the Lighting Designer who came in to watch a run of the show. The Pippins were also in and the three teams took it in turns to do scenes. Minimum scene changes happened so it was a little bit hard for me to make notes on what I still needed to work on, but it was good to see the show from start to finish.

I think it was Thursday that I’d received a message from Ann Marie and Dave from NB Legend, they had pulled up in front of Oleanna. We’d hoped our paths would cross earlier this year around Trent Lock, but we were just a bit too quick in passing on our way down to London. Legend has been down the Trent visiting all the off shoots, Boston, up the Chesterfield and when they came off the river at Keadby they had headed on up to Sheffield. We actually thought our paths might have crossed at Bramwith Junction a week or so ago, but due to Oleanna being poorly that hadn’t happened. Instead the boats met in Goole and they helped to keep an eye on Oleanna from the bow whilst Wendy and Martin kept an eye on the stern.

Mick arrived in Goole at 8am and cycled the mile to Oleanna, there was time for a cuppa and a catch up with Ann Marie and Dave before he needed to be on his way.

Heading west

By 9:30 the pram hood had been dropped and Oleanna was winded to face west. Mick waved goodbye to Goole, NB Legend and WB Lullabelle most probably for the last time this year and headed out through the caisson.

The breach site

He motored on along the long straight passing the breach site and on to Sykehouse Junction where we turned left onto the New Junction Canal. This had been planned to happen three weeks earlier and Bridget and Storm had kindly offered to come and operate the bridges for Mick, but today he was going to single hand them.

Some are lift bridges

Now when I operate lift or swing bridges I keep a tally of how many vehicles I hold up. Admittedly I’m not single handing, trying to work the bridges as quickly as possible to hold up as few vehicles as possible, but I was a touch disappointed when Mick told me he held up ‘a few, not many, but a few’! That’s no good for the numbers!

Approaching Sykehouse Lock, is that a green light?

He worked his way along through the first lift bridge. As he approached the second bridge Kirk Lane Road Swing Bridge he thought he could see a green light at Sykehouse Lock. But at distances the lights can be a touch confusing and once he got that bit closer it was most definitely amber, self operation. I’d passed on my knowledge of this lock to him as there is a swing bridge over the centre of it and to be able to operate the panels at either end you need to insert your Key of Power into the panel by the swing bridge and open the bridge to the canal before either of the gate panels will work. However as he approached the amber light turned to green, there is an enthusiastic volunteer who can quite often be found at this lock and today it was Mick’s lucky day. The lock was set and waiting for him, he didn’t have to step off the boat once. Thank you.

By 1pm Oleanna had passed through the last of the six moveable bridges. Ahead lay the Don Doors, two guillotine gates that can be dropped when the River Don goes into flood stopping the river from backing up along the canal from the aqueduct. Earlier in the week I’d seen the River Ouse in flood so there was a possibility that the Don was high, but thankfully not high enough for the doors to be closed.

Don Doors in the distance

In Chippy by now we’d finished the run. The show was running at a half hour too long, some trimming would be needed, there is nothing worse than an over long panto, yet Rapunzel hadn’t felt too long. Dash headed home to work out what could be cut over the weekend.

Notes after the run

Reaching Bramwith Junction Mick battled a touch with the wind to turn the sharp left to Bramwith Lock. Sadly no help on hand here so the ladders were used to get on the boat once she had descended. By 2:30 he’d passed through Bramwith Swing Bridge and was on his way to Thorne.

This left Thorne Lock with it’s swing bridge to do, all operated by the Key of Power, well apart from the road barriers that are manually swung into position. Then it was the renowned Princess Royal Swing Footbridge.

Don’t Look!

Mick moored up and went to operate the bridge, he followed the instructions to the T, but the very particular barriers on the far side got the better of him! Two barriers pull out and lock into position, you then cross back over the bridge and pull out the barriers on the control panel side. This means that unless you are as skinny as a heron you cannot get back across the bridge to wiggle the far side barriers to encourage them to locate properly. Fortunately a local came along and knew what to do. The bridge opened, Mick brought Oleanna through and another local closed the bridge and returned the key to Mick, handy as the bridge landing on that side has deteriorated so much it would have been just about impossible to get off Oleanna safely and tie up.

Oleanna’s home for a few months.

Not much further on they had reached their destination shortly before it got dark. Mick turned Oleanna into Blue Water Marina, her winter home this year. We’d hoped to be able to return to Viking Marina in Goole, but Laird had no room for us, our mooring from last winter now occupied by a go faster cruiser. Mick secured Oleanna to the short pontoon that we’d been allocated, closed her up and headed to the station. Today’s mission was accomplished, winterisation will happen on another visit.

Back on stage the technicians spent the afternoon adding more lights, they were meant to be focusing the lights on stage and then moving to the front of house bars handing over the stage to me to paint. I got myself ready with pots of paint, brushes on sticks and the model to follow. We were all in a position for me to start painting a little later than originally planned, they carried on working in the auditorium until I’d painted too much of the stage for Will to be able to play Hopscotch anymore.

The stage flooring was recently resurfaced which should have made for a nice floor, but somehow the boards were laid rough side up, this made the painting of washes quite a bit harder than it should have been. When Ash left at 11pm I thought it might take me another four hours to finish painting the floor and get two coats of glaze on it, but time just evaporated.

Once the washes were complete I stopped for something to eat, then thankfully enough of it was dry for me to add green hedges, the heating in the auditorium having been put onto it’s highest setting to aid the drying. Next came white and purple for a touch of floweriness. Gavin hunted round for several fans to help with the drying and by 3am I was applying the first coat of glaze. This should have had two hours before the second coat was applied, but by the time I’d finished getting into all the nooks and crannies it felt dry enough to walk on. The second coat went on in 18 minutes, the roller sleeve was left in a bucket of water to be cleaned out properly on Monday and I was out of the door just before 4:30am.

Floor finished

A long day for both of us.

3 locks, 17.6 miles, 9 bridges, ? held up, 3 lefts, 1 lockie, 2 helpful locals, 1 winter mooring reached, 2 weeks late, 1 run, 30 minutes too long, 1 hour late starting, 9 hours of floor painting, 2 coats glaze, 4:30am, 1 pooped Pip.

Cofferdam Almost Complete. Breach 22, 17th February

My phone pinged this afternoon with a notification from Mark Penn. More photos from his drone above the breach site. So I cleaned my hands off from glue and paint to take a look.

The western end of the cofferdam is now fully in place. The piles have been driven down and now resemble the piling along the towpath. There are two people in a small boat working on the dam.

On the offside bank there are six pipes that look like they are attached to a floating pontoon. This is where the water from the canal is now being piped out and around the breach site.

No piles are sitting in the field, I suspect they are awaiting more to arrive.

The level in the drain below the breach looks lower again, but the amount of water coming through from the canal is very visible now. A couple of pumps are still in situ, pumping water out from the drain into the River Don.

Here you can see the progress that has been made on the eastern dam. It looks like they are loading more sections of piling onto the pontoon.

I wonder how long it will be before they can’t get the pontoon to the loading area anymore? I doubt they will keep the pontoon inside the cofferdam as it would just get in the way.

Here you can see the amount of water being pumped round the site. Once the cofferdam is fully in this will then feed through to Goole Docks. I wonder if the caisson gates will be opened then, or will they keep pumping round them into the docks keeping the gates as a precautionary measure?

The bags of aggregate by the tarpaulin are visible again, which suggests the level has dropped. Apparently Goole docks are busy with ships again, as I write this there are four vessels shown to be in the docks and more heading up the River Ouse (MarineTraffic).

This one shows how large an area there is within the dams. There are reports of an unmapped culvert here, so this may be why they have had to block off such a large section.

Considering they have built just about a whole dam in the last week, I’d expect that the second one will be completed early next week. Then before all the water is fully drained they will do a fish rescue. It will be interesting to see what it will all look like when it is fully drained.

Then we will see if supermarket trolleys have an ability to travel distances. The nearest shop (West Cowick Spar) is just about two miles away, then the usual culprits, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda are further at about five miles.

Thank you Mark once again.

Call That A Pontoon! Breach 18

Tilly is getting more and more demanding to go for walks, it is getting so I can’t actually do any work until we’ve been to have a look at the trees. I have tried suggesting she takes up a hobby, something like macramé, but she’s not too keen on that idea. Any how, when we returned I decided to have an early lunch and check the world of social media, up popped a link to new drone footage from the breach site. Thank you Mark.

It looks like there has been quite a bit of activity.

The roadway that had been laid across the field from the base has been extended onto the towpath. Here a pile of aggregate has been added into the side of the canal along with a mound of clay. Could this be where they plan on building one of the dams? Or are they just widening the towpath?

The roadway and footpath from the site base compound

A footpath has also been laid next to the roadway. A digger looked like it was reinforcing the access over a drain by the road. Are these extra roadway sections lying in the field by the roadway? Or are they piles waiting to build the coffer dams?

On the other side of the canal new hard core has also gone down. Presumably the track to where the pumps are helping to keep the level in the drain down, was getting far too muddy. An area has also been covered with hardcore on this side, possibly for machinery when they start to build the dams. A digger was busy, maybe dredging the edge where one of the dams will cross to.

Pegs around the faded grass to the left

Looking at the area where the breach is, where there was/is a small hole through the grass, marker pegs can be seen. This suggests the area around the hole is unstable.

Less of the blue tarp showing above the water

Comparing Marks photos from about two weeks ago to todays it looks like the canal level is up by just a bit. A bag of aggregate and the blue tarp seem to be sat a little lower in the water than they were before.

Now that is one big pontoon

C&RT in their update had mentioned pontoons that they were setting up and sailing down to site. Now there are pontoons, and then there are huge PONTOONS. This is one of the latter. It looks like there are two large poles (for want of a better term) lying on the top of the sections. These are likely to be lowered through a couple of holes in the pontoon and used to anchor it in position. Back in September we saw a similar pontoon being used near Doncaster.

Mark was informed this morning that the piling for the dams will start to go in over the next couple of weeks, then the area between the dams will be dewatered towards the end of February, weather permitting.

Thank you again Mark for the use of your photos.

Getting Ready, Breach 15. 17th January

In Fridays Boaters Update from C&RT, there was a section regarding the breach on the Aire and Calder, nothing new was mentioned but good that it got it’s own section between Coronavirus and the £10 million they are spending on the Yorkshire Waterways this winter. I suspect quite a chunk of that money will be going towards work on the Calder and Hebble at The Figure of Three Locks that were badly damaged in last February’s storms.

She’s still there. Thank you Al

A photo came through of Oleanna on Friday afternoon from Lisa. Levels still low in the marina, but stable. It looked grey down in Goole and the marina might even have been a touch icy still.

The North Bay, not looking as busy as it felt

Today Mick and I attempted to have a walk to the North Bay in Scarborough, we knew it would be busy as it was a nice day but hadn’t expected so many people in Peasholm Park, so we ended up doing a detour up onto Northstead Manor Drive.

Green Tor

Here very large houses sit above the park, one took our fancy straight away. Green Tor shows off it’s 1930’s credentials with green roof tiles, long stained glass window up the staircase. We had a peak in through the windows as we knew it would be empty being a holiday let. A look on the website shows the owners love of wallpaper. Huge rooms, well they would have to be as the house can sleep 14. It also has a hot tub and the garage has been converted into a games room and cinema!

We meandered down to the beach via the Open Air Theatre. It’s been quite a few years since we’ve walked through here. The lake that used to separate the stage from the audience has been concreted in. Concerts are being advertised, the first being Crowded House on the 8th June! Here’s hoping the season of open air concerts will be able to go ahead this year.

The North Bay chalets and us

My camera was out as normal, but today I was wanting to get some inspiration for a project I’ve been asked to be part of. The North Bay beach chalets caught my eye, as did many other things. We stayed close to the chalets avoiding the crowds on the main footpath and beach, then headed up the cliff towards my old street and a walk back home through town. A lovely walk on a lovely day, just a shame there were so many people about. My suggestion to Mick of getting up early and going for a walk before everyone else didn’t go down too well!

Aire and Calder Breach Site

The weather had also been good in Goole today. Mark Penn had been out with his drone taking photos of new housing, the Siemens Site and of course the breach site on the canal.

Boulders and earth filling the hole

More boulders and earth have been put at the end of the concrete section filling the hole that had appeared after Christmas.


There are a couple of square holes. One on the concrete above the culvert , this is covered and fenced off, then the other just to one side in a grassed area. They are almost certainly inspection holes to try to see what is below.

Base for the works

Another photo shows that the corner of a nearby field has been levelled off and hard core laid. A Site Office sits to one side and is kept company by a digger and dumper truck, this will obviously be the base for the works when they start.

River Don running parallel to the Aire and Calder

A longer shot across to the other side of the cut shows the pumps which are drawing the water away and into the River Don. You can see the cloudy water joining the darker waters. The whole area is water logged right now due to the amount of rain recently.

Thank you Mark for letting me use your photos again. It’ll be interesting to see the works from above when they start.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1.5 layers of wallpaper up, 2 windows, 1 doorway, 1 electric saw, 1 internal tree, 1 carpenters opinion sought, 1 day of rest, 1 router on order, 3 weeks, 20 x 20, 5.5 miles, 1 bored cat, 2 many people, 1 portacabin, 2 holes, 4C, 100% charged batteries, 1 roast chicken tonight, 1 Happy Birthday!