Category Archives: River Lee

Where The Streets Are Paved In Gold. 11th August

Littleport Station Road EA mooring to Swan On The River mooring

All packed up

Early morning start for me today, catching the 8:12am train to Kings Cross with my white card model and overnight bag. Due to the heat that was already building my train had speed restrictions on much of the line in towards Ely where there was a backlog of trains, but thankfully we got moving soon enough and I actually arrived in Golders Green for my meeting bang on time.

Abi , Gemma, Suzette, Maryna

Today had originally been a meeting for myself Abi, the Director and Gemma, the Production Manager to look at the white card model and for me to hand over drawings to be priced up. However we were also joined by Suzette, Producer from Chippy, Lily, the Choreographer and Maryna Costume Designer. We had four hours to work our way through the show with the aim of a common direction for the production.

Maryna comes from an Opera and Ballet background, she also has not grown up with all that is panto. So quite a lot of time was taken up looking at her wonderful drawings and then explaining about the audiences expectations for the characters. Thankfully there was just about enough time to also go through my model scene by scene, but sadly a few tricky props got forgotten about which really should have been discussed. There can always be phone calls to sort those out though.

Tube mosaic

Meanwhile back on Oleanna, Mick and Tilly pushed off and headed back upstream to the Swan on the River. Here he managed to get a mooring outside the pub and in the afternoon he met up with Mick and Andy who at one time used to work for Philips and then all three of them worked in the Telecoms Department at Lloyds Bank, most probably in one of those buildings Mick pointed out to us along the Thames on Monday. They had a couple of hours sat in the pub garden reminiscing about old times.

Hot cat Finn

After my meeting I then relived the experience of transporting a model on London transport! It’s amazing how protective you become over a model you’ve spent hours working on. I headed out to Hackney to my brothers.

All that meat for just two people!

It was very nice having a catch up on their latest holiday and seeing how much Josh has grown both height and maturity wise. In the evening we all went out for a Turkish meal at Scoffs, it’s worth a visit if you end up mooring on the River Lee near Hackney Marshes. We shared a platter intended for two between the four of us with a portion of Haloumi and chips extra, there was plenty of food at a reasonable price.

Colour coded softness

0 locks, 0.621371 miles, 1 wind, 1 train, 3 tubes, 1 bus, 1 model approved, 2 hours drinking with old mates, 1 vast platter of kebabs, 1 pleasant evening with family, 33C, 3 pillows to choose from, 0 shore leave!

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 got to know last year in the first lockdown. In the afternoon we were joined by Bill and Lisa for a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. Now we swung off the Trent and Mersey and onto the Macclesfield with it’s wonderful bridges.

It would have been nice to take our time but we had a rendez vous to make. The end mooring at Marple was free and from here we headed into Manchester by train to join the London Leckenbys for a meal of big red fish. The following day my old school friend Morag joined us for a night on board with some serious catching up to be done.

Our next deadline loomed, Standedge Tunnel. We dropped down the Marple flight, crossed the aqueduct and turned right at Dukinfield Junction onto the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We knew we were in for some hard work to climb our way over the Pennines, last time we’d enlisted crew to help as I was one handed. This time we’d be going solo. Apart from the very first lock it wasn’t too troublesome. The work is rewarded with stunning views.

Standedge Tunnel did not disappoint. Because of social distancing Mick got ride ride up front in the cratch leaving the helm to a C&RT volunteer. Bumps and scrapes made Oleanna wince along with us, but we all got through in one piece with no damage. Tilly wasn’t too happy about the trip, but at least I can now boast to the local cats in Scarboreugh that I’ve been through the longest deepest highest tunnel on the canal network whilst they just lazed around on their shed roofs!

On our way down the other side Oleanna had a belt that went taking out quite a few wires in the engine bay. RCR were sent for, the engineer suggested we’d need to remove a pulley on the alternator to be able to remove trapped wires, this could not happen where we were. We could move but the batteries would not charge. The only way to top up our electric was with the solar panels. Emergency power conservation went into operation, blogs were hand written, the freezer turned off and we gradually ate our way through our defrosting supplies. Every day Mick managed to pull more wire from the alternator and soon there was no need for an engineer again, just a new belt needed fitting.

We made our way down to Huddersfield and arrived the day before I had a production meeting at Dark Horse. After walking to my meeting I handed over the model and we stocked up on supplies before heading off east along the Huddersfield Broad Canal.

The Board locks are just that, but they are short. On Lillian we’d nearly got stuck here, but Oleanna was built a foot shorter so we knew we were fine, we still had to take great care in descending the locks diagonally. This continued on to the Calder and Hebble, taking our time and using our Hebble spike. The rebuilding work done at the Figure of Three locks, after flooding washed huge parts of the structure away, are only noticeable due to the new stonework.

Bigger locks were welcome, using the key of power once past Wakefield. The sun shone wonderfully for my last full days boating this year as we made our way to Castleford. Here we hired a car to get me down to Chipping Norton to start work on Panto whilst Mick and Tilly stayed on board with the plan to move Oleanna to a winter mooring in Thorne.

Whilst I painted the set working all the hours I could, Mick and Tilly gradually made their way eastwards. They passed through the breach site and headed to Goole to top up on diesel. On their way back towards the New Junction Canal the engine started to over heat, a problem that had happened a couple of years ago on the Thames.

The following day he winded and slowly made his way to Rawcliffe Bridge for easier access for RCR. Little could be done there and then, so Mick and Alastair (engineer) arranged to meet at Viking Marina in Goole. Oleanna managed the two and a half miles in three stages. After her cooling system had been flushed through the problem hadn’t gone away. The water pump was removed and was obviously the problem. A week later with a new pump Mick moved back out onto the cut and joined Lullabelle (a fellow Goole Escapee).

Taking a long weekend off panto, I headed up to join Mick and Tilly to help move them back to Scarborough. Wendy and Martin kept an eye on Oleanna for us whilst we settled Tilly back into the house, I knew where I was! Pah!!

Several days later with the weather on his side, Mick returned as early as he could, pushed off and single handed Oleanna back along the Aire and Calder to Sykehouse Junction where he turned onto the New Junction Canal. With swing and lift bridges to work he was glad of the assistance of a volunteer at Sykehouse Lock. Then the sharp turn at Bramwith onto the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigations. A few more bridges and two more locks before he arrived at Blue Water Marina, Oleanna’s winter mooring.

Tucked up for a rest

On our way back from Chippy a week or so later we called in to check on her. A boat in winter isn’t too friendly without the stove lit. We’ll have visits every now and then to check on her and do the odd job. The weeks are already flying by before we move back on board.

For a year that we’d decided would purely be about seeing our family and friends we ended up having quite an adventurous time. Trent Falls, the Tideway through London and Standedge Tunnel made it quite a year.

So our vital statistics for the year 2021 according to canal plan are

Total distance was 932 miles, ½ furlong and 627 locks . There were 42 moveable bridges of which 16 are usually left open; 169 small aqueducts or underbridges and 30 tunnels – a total of 19 miles 3 ¼ furlongs underground and 3 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 277 miles, 1 ¾ furlongs of narrow canals; 270 miles, 4 furlongs of broad canals; 89 miles, 4 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 59 miles, 7 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 121 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 105 miles, 2 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 8 miles of seaways; 263 narrow locks; 302 broad locks; 61 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

Sadly with Oleanna’s log book where it should be, onboard, I’m not able to offer up the engine hours, litres of diesel, gas bottle or bags of coal. Maybe I’ll update this once we are back on board.

The Thames, 2021

This year we’ve done more miles than last, not bad considering we were on land for so much of it. We’ve done far more tidal miles than ever before and for the first time we’ve been on a Seaway! If someone can tell me what the difference is between Tidal waters and Seaways please do. Maybe it was around Trent Falls, or was it downstream of Tower Bridge?

As last year I hope the pandemic doesn’t throw a spanner in the works for us or anyone else. We need the theatrical world to still function with an income for me designing shows and lodgers paying to stay in our house.

I want to say ‘Keep well friends’, but I feel I need to add, ‘Get well soon friends’, as so many have tested positive recently. Thank you for following us and hope to see you soon x

Thunderous Trains. 20th July

Ordnance Road Bridge 38 to Broxbourne Bridge

Another early start today, hoping to reach a shady mooring again before the sun got too hot, I hoped I remembered a mooring correctly and that it would be free.

Rammey Marsh Lock

We were soon at Rammey Marsh Lock where we ascended and swapped with a boat heading downstream.

Next we bobbed under the M25, a far less spectacular view than the one you get from the Grand Union.

Not quite a Banksy but nice

Shortly before Waltham Town Lock and the road bridge below it, there is a new service block with bins, a water point and toilets alongside some moorings. We both remember a cafe with bins behind it, possibly a pump out machine that ate our C&RT cards with out it doing any sucking! Looking back at Lillian’s blog for News Years Day 2015 has confirmed that the new buildings here have replaced the the café and services. A banner boasts about a show boat that must be moored on the little arm just out of view. If you have £225,000, this would buy you a 60ft widebeam on a serviced mooring here. I wonder what the other charges are?

Now the locks are all manual. The bottom gates having cranked beams made from RSJs. These tend to flex more than move so take quite a lot of effort to get going. People offered to lend a hand, but only with the top gates, they must have known!

The locks are now fairly evenly spaced along the straight stretches of the navigation. Each pound was almost full of moored boats, all different shapes and sizes, many hogging the shade.

Cheshunt had been our destination for the day, but then our schedule has changed in recent days so we wanted to head on a touch further. Anyhow there was very little space available.

As we worked our way along we tried to remember where the Water God of The South bequeathed a big washing brush to us. It was somewhere along this stretch. The electric lines looked familiar but the towpath wasn’t quite right, it needed speed bumps to discourage speeding cyclists!

Closing the gates

Up ahead at Aqueduct Lock we could see that the lock was empty, bottom gates open waiting for us. Then a group of people with windlasses in hand arrived. We were still some distance away so I wouldn’t have blamed them for turning it. The gates closed, then there was movement around the lock, but nothing much seemed to be happening. They then reappeared at the bottom gates and proceeded to try to open them again, the leaking top gates had obviously just let through enough water to make this impossible. They all returned to their boat which backed away from the top gates.

Up we go

A widebeam was moored just off the end of the lock landing, a lady was most apologetic as they had broken down and hope they weren’t in the way. Three signs announced this which were all pretty new, so maybe not a constant problem for them. Up at the lock the boat above was now winding. Ah ha! A day boat from Lee Valley Boat Centre in Broxbourne, a sign above the lock suggests that small vessels should not pass down the lock, maybe someone had seen this hence their retreat.

This is it!

Once up we knew that this stretch was where we’d received the brush. We’re not certain of how we came to be its new owners, but my theory is that a cyclist had stolen it from another boat and whilst speeding down the towpath they had launched it at Lillian’s roof practicing their javelin throwing. We still have the brush and it occasionally gets used on the gunnels.

Small craft

After Kings Weir the river takes over again bringing back meanders which helped to hide the other small vessels on the river today. I’ve not seen a pedalo for years! One motorised boat had obviously been told to keep to the right, they did this religiously even if it meant going through the over hanging willow trees.

Round to the right

Just after the right hand bend by The Crown pub the mooring I’d remembered showed itself to be very much in shade and free. Brilliant. We pulled in just after a fisherman and tied to the end bollards. A green green wood right alongside us, Tilly heaven.

Just look at all that!

I was given seven hours! I made the most of it, but was getting a touch parched and exhausted after six, so returned for a snooze in my escape pod.

Busy Busy

In the woods we found space where we could put a stool without being in a cyclist or scooters way. Mick had his first haircut in an age, it’s always nice to see my boyfriend reappearing from behind all that hair!

On watch

With the railway being quite close the trains rumble over bridges crossing the river. But as the afternoon progressed the rumbles were hard to differ from thunder. The two merged into one as dark clouds came past. At 2pm we expected torrential rain if the rumbles were to be believed, but it took until 4:30pm for the heavens to open at last.

Shade is good, until it rains!

We’d considered going to the pub for food, but were glad we couldn’t book a table as I think our food would have got a touch soggy in the garden. I do remember Tom and Jan eating in a pub along here somewhere and not being that impressed, so maybe the weather saved us from wasting our money.

5 locks, 5.15 miles, 1 more hot day, 1 more early start, 2 more leapfrogs with Small World, 0 brushes today, 1 day boat retreating, 5 pedalos, grade 3, 1 boyfriend again, 2 torrential down pours, 2 goats cheese ham and caramelised onion pizzas, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 2 reusable blocks!

Christmas Ready, Just About. 24th December

Scarborough am

This years wreath, totally free

Since my last catch up we’ve been doing our best to get festive. Our Christmas lights went up earlier than normal, thankfully they have all survived our time away. We used to have two 6ft Christmas trees that we’d buy in Dalby Forest, but this year our £4 tree from Newark Market, back in 2015 sits on a table in a bay window. The lights that used to decorate the trees are now around the windows.

A week or so ago we had a half hour singing carols with neighbours at the top of the road with Scarborough’s Town Crier, he lives two doors up from us. Have to say I surprised myself at the number of carols I knew without a song sheet. The Town Crier may have been loud, but we were more tuneful shall we say!

Tilly about to give the penguins what for!

A burst water main at the top of the street gave the Crier something else to shout about as Yorkshire Water turned the water off for a few hours one evening. No need to knock on doors just get the Town Crier to do his thing up and down the street.

Frank our bubble carpenter has helped sample Christmas biscuits, more ginger was required and my jar was deemed to be past it. There was a distinct shortage of ground ginger in town (apparently something to do with the pandemic) so I thought I’d have a go at making my own. I red up about it and a large root that had arrived a week earlier was peeled (with the aid of a spoon handle), sliced up in the Kenwood chef and then spread out on an oven tray. This went in a very low oven for three plus hours to dry out, it then got ground in the spice mill.

Whilst the ginger was doing it’s thing there was a popping noise from the main oven that I’d just turned on to cook our evening meal. It stopped warming up, it had stopped working. Top oven where the ginger was being quite fragrant still worked thankfully. The following day we pulled the oven out to see if there was anything we could do. One thing led to another and after admitting defeat we managed to push the oven doors onto the floor. This created a rather sparkly effect as the top oven door shattered and both doors ended up being rather dinted!

With less than two weeks to Christmas we hunted round for a good double oven, finding one at John Lewis that would arrive the following week, not quite as good as our old one, but at the very top of what we were willing to pay. Mick then remembered he’d ticked the accidental damage box when taking out house insurance. A claim was made and we waited to see if they would pay up. On Monday morning they rang us and by the end of the day they had agreed to pay for a new oven, if we hadn’t been under Christmas pressure we’d have ended up with the next model up too! This was delivered a week ago and has been fitted and works wonderfully, thank goodness we dropped those doors!

A trip to see The Snow Queen at the SJT was always on the cards and thankfully Scarborough has been in tier 2 so the show could go on. This was my first live theatre since seeing Alarum in Birmingham back in February and what a treat it was. The show was rewritten as a one woman show and blimey she had to work her socks off! Set designed by Helen who would have been doing costumes for Chippy panto this year. The front of house staff were very good and all covid measures made you feel safer than walking down the street. A great show and chilled medication thrown in as well, a lovely evening. Taking the C&RT line and changing it a touch ‘Life is better with live theatre’.

The wonderful canopy at the SJT

Parcels have been delivered, parcels posted. Cards sent and received, having an address does mean we’ve had more than the last few years, in fact we’re running out of space for them!

I wonder who’s house that is?!

This year we could hand deliver cards to our friends around Scarborough, they were accompanied with a bag of homemade ginger biscuits, the new batch with extra homemade ginger! We had a lovely few hours walking from one side of Scarborough to the other delivering festive cheer and catching up with people on their doorsteps whom we’ve not seen for years.

I’ve knuckled down to do a bit of work. Chipping Norton panto next year, postponed from this year is forging ahead. A new version of the script and some time in my work room, assisted by Tilly of course. Sketches done and approved by the director David, a story board ready to be sent out, I’ll move on to making the model in the New Year.

Today is all about cooking, getting stuff done so as to be able to do less tomorrow. Bread sauce, stuffing, gravy, red cabbage and of course festive sausage rolls. For the last few years these have been enjoyed whilst cruising to our Christmas mooring, this year I half expect Franks nose to be twitching as they go in the oven and the door bell to ring as they come out!

That window sill will just need a final sand, ‘Oh did someone mention sausage rolls!’

Tomorrow we will be joined by Frank for dinner and birthday cake, hope we’ve enough food to go round! We’ve been warned, by his usual hosts, that he can always manage two puddings and then after a little nap he’ll quite easily fit in some cheese too! Maybe I should do Yorkshire Puddings, ‘The one who eats the most puddin’ gets the most beef’ as said by a farmer during harvest to their field hands.

This morning in Goole

This morning Lisa forwarded us a photo of Oleanna. The level has risen some more and the sun was breaking through the clouds. Here in Scarborough Mick has just ventured out to get some carrots as our veg box was lacking yesterday.

Scarborough pm

Well the prep is done and my prediction of Franks arrival was correct, well maybe he was just a few minutes early for the sausage rolls coming out of the oven!

Every ring in use

The house now smells of Christmas, the fire is lit and I’ve managed to keep Frank far enough away from my birthday cake for it to last until tomorrow.

Stockings are out, so we are ready.

Are you?

He comes down the chimney Tilly, not through the back door!

Where Were We

2019 Radford Smelly, Grand Union

2018 Somewhere between Napton Junction and Braunston, Oxford/Grand Union Canal

2017 Llangollen Basin

2016 Bugsworth Basin, Peak Forest Canal

2015 Kings Marina, Newark, River Trent

2014 Hackney Wick, River Lee