Category Archives: River Ouse

Embankment Congregation. 10th May

Bridge 14, Stratford Canal to Rowington Embankment, Grand Union Canal

No relaxing in bed this morning, there were miles to cover and locks to work. Just ahead of us and a little bit quicker at getting away this morning was a hire boat. A stool and music stand to aid the helm. On the music stand was an enlarged version of a Pearsons guide, laminated and clipped on so it wouldn’t blow away.

Boat cat

We followed and pulled in at Lady Lane Wharf to top up on deisel, we’d hoped we’d be able to buy some more charcoal from them as we did last year. It was very cheap and good stuff, but this had been a one off sadly so we’ll have to restock by other means.

Pootling along under the tree cover was very pleasant, plenty of blasts of reverse needed as the lack of depth meant we had the potential to pick things up on the prop.

Up ahead in a dappled spot a blue boat, no sign writing. We always look carefully at such boats because it could just be….. The licence in the window faded but ……. Blue, then a person busy doing the washing up……. it was! Graeme on NB Misty Blue!

Graemes back

We pulled in for a chat and a catch up, we’d last seen him in Thrupp last year. He has plans for later in the year which sounded interesting, maybe we might want to join him? Maybe! As ever it was lovely to see the man who can’t help but smile, just too early in the day to stop for longer, after all we’d only just got started.

Fancy meeting you here!

Now the two lift bridges, time to flex those muscles, the first one a doddle to wind up, but winding it back down took far more effort. The second one goes on and on forever.

Not very Narniaesque today

Narnia Lock (Lapworth Top Lock), one of our favourites. I managed to get a photo from a different angle today, it may just end up being a painting.

For Sale on the Lapworth flight, click photo for details

The first four locks of Lapworth are spaced out and by the time we reached the bottom two boats were coming towards us. NB Hunky Dory that had been at the Electric Boat Show, because of the landslip on the North Oxford their lock count to get there had risen from 40 locks each way to 120, quite a lot of effort for a couple of days at the show.

After Lock 5 we paused, hammering in spikes, for lunch. On a normal trip this way this would be an overnight stop, but not today much to Tilly’s disgust.

Obligatory photo

Now to the flight proper, another fifteen narrow locks all down hill. No uphill boats to swap with, photo opportunities, no volunteers. We soon got into our rythmn. I’d open up a lock, walk down to the next one to set it whilst Mick brought Oleanna in, close the top gate and a paddle, he’d then lift a bottom paddle and return to the helm, as I walked back up to lift the second paddle and open the gates. Mick then closes the off side gate with a boat hook.

At the bottom of the thick of the flight

Then it’s repeat, until there are no more locks.

We made good progress. A boat was filling it’s water tank so no stopping there to do ours, down we continued. Taking the left hand lock towards the Grand Union I spied the nice new paintwork on NB Red Wharf, very smart.

Twit twoo! Nice paint job

Right onto the Grand Union, locks finished for the day, we just hoped the water point at Tom O The Woods would be free, it was. As the tank filled I had a shower, so that there would be enough hot water for Mick to also have one later when we’d moored up for the day.

Last Lock of the day done

Now there was a race on for moorings. This morning NB Lottie Jane had moved to the embankment above Rowington, our rendez vous point. Also we’d heard from Chris The Pink Hat Man, he was working his way up Hatton today teamed up with a hire boat. We’d checked Chris’s webcam at various points during the day to check on their progress. It had been good and topped off with a pint before they set off towards the embankment. Would we get there first? Clare and Graeme had been primmed that they may not hear Chris arriving, but they’d certainly see him!

I wonder if that pink boat has pink food inside?

NB Lottie Jane sat on the prime mooring on the embankment, a boat arrived just infront of us, pipped us to the next best spot, we pulled up infront. Our ropes were just about secured and Tilly given shore leave when up ahead NB Elektra came into view followed by NB Pip the hire boat Chris was travelling with. All four boats managed to moor up together. Introductions crossing three continents, then it was time for tea.

What a good name for a boat!

Out came the chairs and conversation over a cuppa and a slice of cake whilst Tilly checked out the friendly cover close by. That pheasant didn’t really want to come and play! Then we had a tour of NB Elektra, I impressed myself that my socks matched the interior colour scheme, just as pink as the exterior. It was very good to finally see his boat in person, Mick and Chris have known each other since their teenage years and we’ve followed his travels over the last couple of years. If you’d like to follow him cruising he quite often has a live feed via youtube. Just a webcam, slow tv from your armchair. We quite often tune in to have a guess at where he might be.

Time to settle down for the evening. So we all retired to our boats for food and the comfort of our sofas. I also had a bit of melting, mixing and baking to do ready for tomorrow and the Hatton flight.

19 locks, 8.4 miles, 1 leftish, 1 right, 2 lift bridges, 66 litres, 0 charcoal, 1 music stand, 2 Graemes, 1 rendez vous, 4 boats, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp, but please could I have another three days here!

Meatball Hide And Seek. 19th March

Near Swillington Pipe Bridges to near Lemonroyd Marina to near Swillington Pipe Bridges

A busy day ahead for all of us.

I was awake with the sunrise in Scarborough. I popped my painty jumper over my pyjamas and started on the gloss surround followed by two coats of emulsion in the bathroom. A bit more tidying up/hiding things was needed, I also needed to track down what had happened to the keys we’d left with Duncan (not that Duncan!). It turned out that he’d added Micks and my instructions together and returned all sets of keys to where they’d started off.

All finished with a sensible mirror and shelf. It’s only taken 14 or so years

Some lovely bird had left it’s calling card all the way down the bay window, so that needed cleaning off as the window cleaners had only just been. All this under time pressure, I really didn’t want to have to return to the house to do a few things.

Meanwhile Mick moved Oleanna back towards the marina. Alongside the road he tied to the last post and banged a spike in. The Sainsbury’s driver called to ask if he could be early, which was fine with me I just hoped Mick was where he said he’d be. A couple of substitutions today, nothing that should be a problem.

A new bit of hospital

Front door was locked, I’d most probably already missed the bus so headed off through the park to walk to the hospital for my appointment. The daffodils are just starting to come out and the sunshine made for quite a warm walk. I was early and possibly jumped the queue at the breast screening clinic. Kind of wished they’d made me wait for another ten minutes as I wouldn’t have been half so clammy to be manipulated onto the scanner. But it did mean that once my boobs had been squished in all directions I left the hospital perfectly timed for the next bus into town.

Goodbye North Sea, see you in a while

An hour before the next train I went to see the sea, the big wheel being put back up, again! for the summer and got myself a gf wrap from M&S for lunch. This took me all the way from Scarborough to York to eat, 50 minutes! Biting and chewing quite a problem at the moment.


Mick stowed our shopping. Had they got confused with a substitution? 1 box of wine had been swapped for three bottles of wine, another seemingly for 12 bottles of alcohol free Corona! Once he’d stowed everything, it was obvious the beers were extra, someone else’s shopping! Two problems with it, it contains gluten and just where to put 12 bottles? Frank do you drink Corona? Would you like it?

The Ouse in York had gone down a touch revealing the amount of silt that will greet moorers at Easter. In Leeds I had chance to check out boats in Granary Wharf, pretty full and four boats moored above Office Lock, are some of these moorings new permanent moorings?

Mick had moved Oleanna back to the last silver birch and Tilly was busy in the friendly cover as I got back to the boat. River levels were down enough, Woodnook Lock now open, should we make a move today? To reach a good mooring it might take us three hours, we decided to wait til tomorrow as it would be getting dark when we arrived.

But you always say I should use the shore based facilities!

Next problem, what to eat this evening? Our shopping didn’t consist of easy none chew food. I goet some meatballs cooking with a tomato sauce to have with rice, I could cut them up very small. Mick took over cooking for the last bit, he counted the meatballs. ‘There’s only 11 meatballs!’ ‘There were 12 when I last looked’ One of them was playing hide and seek!

By the time I’d slowly eaten my meal Mick had finished his, done the washing up and cleaned the hob. I’m normally the first to finish! The leg of lamb we got may have to be liquidized if things don’t improve soon!

Another two episodes of Traitors Australia 2. We’ve started shouting at the absolute stupidity of the Faithful now, thank goodness we moved out of the marina as only the birds and fish can hear us.

0 locks, 0.5 miles, 2 winds, 3 boxes wine, 3 bottles, 12 alcohol free free beers, 1 coat gloss, 2 coats emulsion, 1 clean window, 1 house ready, 4 squishes, 1 bus, 3 trains, 50 minute lunch, 11 no 12 meatballs, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval (does the same place count again Tilly?), 1 pedicure required, 5 left, can they really be SO stupid?!

TLC Day 1. 22nd January

Clicking away in the car

A hire car was picked up this morning and soon we were on our way over to Dewsbury. I took with me fabric samples I’d received through the post from Just Fabrics. These were pretty good for recovering the dinette cushions, but maybe Fabworks would have something better.

Fabworks obviously

The River Ouse looked quite full as we passed over it on the A64, the River Wharf at Tadcaster was reaching the top of it’s flood banks too. We soon were wiggling our way through back streets between old mills in Dewsbury and pulling up in the car park. I went ahead to have a look round and shortlist some fabrics whilst Mick stayed in the car to give the lithium battery man Mark a phone call.

It really is fab

It’s quite a few years since I last visited Fabworks, maybe when I was hunting for curtain fabric for NB Lillyanne. The warehouse now has more lighting and things seem a touch more ordered than ten years ago. There are still the large bins of offcuts which you buy by weight, wonderful wools, cottons, silks, curtain and upholstery fabric.

Rolls and rolls and rolls

I short listed a couple from the masses, then consulted with Mick. One had some paler pattern which would get dirty from a certain second mate not being able to wipe her feet on entry into the boat! So we went for some Laura Ashley fabric at £15 a meter, I suspect it used to be more like £40. I checked my calculations and 8 meters and a couple of reels of matching cotton later we were back in the car heading back east.

Our roll on the table

Next visit was to the Designer Outlet in York, Destination Joy ! Blimey it was busy. We headed upstairs for some lunch before heading to Whittards to stock up on my morning brew, Afternoon Tea. On line it is currently £9 a packet, here it was £5! Bargain. We then paused to see if the Sketchers shop might have some trainers for Mick. The last few years we’ve both worn Shoes for Crews shoes whilst on the boat, their anti-slip can’t be beaten, but they are quite flat. Both of us have niggling backs or calves a the moment so we’re trying shoes with a slight heel for a while to see if that helps. Mick found some trainers which were 100% waterproof at nearly half price. We’d done well.


Next round to the north of York to check on some vinyl for a bathroom at the house. The chap in the shop didn’t want to tell me how much it would be and I was keen to await the arrivals of some samples at the house. Too much sales banter for my liking. We did stop to look at their fake grass, this has come on leaps and bounds since I last used some on stage, I still prefer the real stuff in real life.

Not allowed to buy any yarn at the moment

Hobby craft was next here I wanted to buy another canvas for a painting in the house. There were plenty to choose from and I’d reckoned I wanted one twice the size of the one I’d used for Lock 21 of the Wolverhampton flight. There was a stack of canvases with a price of £10 on top, brilliant and surprising as the others were a touch more expensive. At the check out it turned out it should have been more expensive but as the only price shown was £10 I got it at the bargain price.

Round to the east of York we called in to see Mark and Sarah who Mick used to work for before boat life took over. It was lovely to see them and get to see their new home, The Good Life. Sitting at the edge of Elvington airfield they have masses of garden and a fantastic workshop. The space in there is as big as The Round stage at the SJT, what a wonderful space to make things in with a great view, admitedly it was dark when we were there. A great catch up.

Missed parcel

Back at the house Tilly had become concerned that she would have to start feeding herself, our journey back delayed by a crash on the Malton bypass. Through the door was a card from Royal Mail, they’d tried to deliver a parcel. Hopefully they’d be okay delivering it to a neighbour as it’ll be a busy week for us.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 car hire, 8 meters fabric, 2 reels cotton, 1 pushy salesman, 2 prices noted, 1 canvas, 2 sketchbooks half price, 2 ex-telecoms, 6m x 6m workshop, 1 lathe, 1 plum and almond cake, 1st parcel of the week, 1 very hungry lonely forgotten about cat!

Panto Postcard 2, 2023


My home for Saturday night was very comfortable. Rachel and Graham’s house I think dates back to the C17th. Flagstoned floors, steep spiraling staircase where crampons would be better than socks on the aged polished wooden treads and a natural posture of stooping an advantage to get through low doors. It was the bake house, the actual bakery out the back in another building. The front room was the shop, the worn flagstones suggesting it was popular. Shortly before Rachel and Graham bought the property it had been a restaurant, apparently very popular with Ronnie Barker. They have done extensive work on the building and what a wonderful place it is.

In an older part of Chippy

A very welcoming couple who insisted I had a cuppa and my breakfast with them, I could leave my bag whilst I headed off for the day and then pass the key onto Jo the Props lady who stays with them during panto.

The Dulux dog has taken over from Bagpuss

The S3 bus took me into Oxford for the day. I didn’t really want to walk too far due to my little toe still complaining, but I did want to enjoy a day doing something completely different to panto and make sure I had a good meal too.

One possibly for the Christmas list

First port of call Waterstones. I’ve been trying to find a copy of Dinner by Nagi Maehashi that had been the Jamie Oliver Cook Book Club book for October. Everything people have been making looks tasty, but I wanted to have a look and see how many of the recipes are gluten free adaptable before buying it. I didn’t find it, but got chance to look at other books that I can line up for my Christmas list.

A walk to the Ashmolean Museum. I know Mick and I visited here several years ago, but it required another look round. I headed for an exhibition on Kabuki prints.

Then headed upstairs to look at the paintings. Plenty of Mother and child scenes, followed by Baroque deaths.

Chiaroscuro shown off, some details away from the main subjects caught my eye, Isis and a statue of Satan. By the time I reached the Pre-Raphaelites and Pissarro paintings I realised I’d been here before, but a return visit was enjoyed. My favorite painting today was From Kolding Fjord, by Vilhelm Pter Kark Kyhn, 1876. So much open space and light.

My favourite

A walk round the covered market is always good, a couple of chilled medication retailers I considered trying out but decided something savoury first would be better. I headed over to Westgate, bought a new top but failed on buying yoghurt.

Now to find somewhere to eat. I’d spotted a Cosy Club on Cornmarket Street, the chain had been recommended for gluten free dishes. Time to try them out.

A glass of wine, very attentive staff who noted my intolerance and handed me a suitable menu. Thank goodness they had something I could eat other than chicken. Seabass with roasted new potatoes in a white wine sauce with leeks and peas. Very tasty. Followed by salted caramel and chocolate moose, even tastier! Sod all the calories, I deserved a lovely meal.

Oxford’s Cosy Club has only been open two weeks, maybe that’s why the staff were almost overly attentive. But it had a nice ambience and I’ll venture there again.

Sadly, or fortunately as I left so did the next bus heading for Chippy, I had an hour to kill. Only one thing for it, check on the levels of the Thames and the Oxford Canal. Plenty of room at the very end of the Oxford, one boat hanging off the end of the pontoon below Isis Lock, the water having some momentum. Two red lights flashed on the board at the lock, no-one would go down onto the Thames if they were sensible.

Back on the towpath

I walked along where Oleanna is quite often moored at this time of year, plenty of room opposite College Cruisers, then crossed over the footbridge to walk up through Jericho to wait for the next bus back, a nice boat fix in the dark.

Back in Chippy I picked up my bags and thanked Rachel and Graham for a lovely stay, then headed home, back across town to Suzannes. A blog to write, Mick to chat to on the phone and a glass of wine. A lovely day off.

Overnight I developed quite a sore throat. Most probably the cold that was heading around the panto company. Just incase, I did a covid test before having a shower. On drying my hair I took a look, two lines! The test I’d used had an expiry date of last week, I did another, this one in date and one that takes 30 minutes. However the second line only took five minutes to appear. Oh B********cks!

Seeing double twice

First thing inform Suzanne, I’d stay in my room as much as possible, ventilate my room and bathroom. Next inform Rachel and Graham who’d only the night before been saying how it was nice to have someone stay who was less likely to bring a lurgy into their house than an actor who stayed in the pub until all hours! Then the theatre.

The covid policy at Chippy this year is more about what not to do than what to do. You don’t have to do a test if you feel unwell. But if you do and you are positive then it’s 5 days at home, 5 days of not painting! Last year I’d had covid the week before starting painting, is this becoming a tradition?!

Mick asked if I wanted collecting and taking back to Scarborough. Yes it would be nice to be home, but he would then most likely get it and we’d have to keep our new lodger Annie from getting it too. So long as Suzanne and I thought we could work things so she didn’t catch it I’d rather stay put.

Breakfast in bed

So Monday became a day of breakfast in bed, chatting to Gemma, doing a sneaky shop to keep me going, mask on at all times in shops, narrowly avoiding an actor and Jo from the theatre. I’m more than likely to have caught it whilst at work, but I’m the only one who has tested.

In the evening I had a long chat with Tim who’s been making puppets for the show. He’d be doing some painting in my absence. Getting paint on things important, then hopefully when I return I can do the twiddly bits. He wasn’t too sure on the time scale he had. My opinion was not to rush things, take his time, check with me then hopefully I’d not be wanting to redo anything on my return.

Tuesday. My sore throat disappearing and a bag by the bed filling up with tissues, glad I’d been out to buy a box, but would one be enough!?

Scene painting via Whatsapp is a little bit odd, but at least I knew Tim would ask questions and I could see things first hand. I’d received a message from Imogen who’d been on placement with me the last two years, she’s now at college studying Theatre Design in Wales. She was back in Chippy this week, would I like another pair of hands? She didn’t know the situation, but soon did. At a zoomed production meeting it was agreed that she could come in on an evening and do some other jobs, marking out rostra ready for painting.

Knitting and watching

Wednesday, nose drying up now, but a second box of tissues was provided by Suzanne and left outside my door. Instructions for the days jobs were passed to Tim and Imogen via Whatsapp and Instagram. I got my knitting needles out as it was 1st November and I’m taking part in a knitting challenge to knit for 30 minutes a day during the month. Normally this wouldn’t be too hard, but with panto I thought it would be a challenge, thankfully I’d brought with me enough yarn for three pairs of socks. My hope is that by the end of 2023 I’ll have raised £1000 for Dementia Uk. The socks I’ll be knitting now are Christmas presents, so I’ll be donating myself, but if you’d like to make a donation please don’t hold back here’s the link!

Zenb Agile in with soup yum! Catching up on Bake off

Detectorists is keeping me amused as I knit away. This evening I added some quick cook pasta into half a pot of soup and made a rather nice dish. Shortly afterwards I felt my body lift, it had wanted some pasta, definite improvements happening.

Thursday. More knitting, A Christmas Special and onto the third series of Detectorists between messages regarding painting. Should things be sanded down between coats, thankfully not, I think if theatre paints required that I’d have given up scene painting years ago. A stool and new brushes arrived at the theatre and Suzanne and I managed to avoid being in the same air space for another day.

I spent sometime hunting round the internet for suitably sized clock hands. Clocks are important in Cinderella! Thankfully I found some of suitable lengths then passed them on to someone else to order and make work.

On the covid front I felt improved, although I seem to be getting tinnitus now and I’m not sure how long I will last before needing a sit down.

A flipping banana dog toy!

I felt the need for a canal fix today, so tuned into Heidi on The Pirate Boat. Well I thought I’d escaped the world of panto filled, with bananas, then Heidi headed to the back cabin to recount a ditty or two. Bonny, her rescue dog was playing, what with? Only a flipping banana! Did I spot Irene from NB Free Spirit in the background in the pub?

There she is in sunny Goole

Friday. Our car hires through Enterprise this year have meant that we have enough credit for a days hire, so Mick has hired a car for the day to head to see Oleanna and do an oil change. Sunny in Goole, still no new neighbour. The mattress to remeasure so that I can order us a new one, I’ve misplaced the last measurements he’d taken.

Somehow a scratch has appeared on the O of Oleanna. It’s near to a fender, but doesn’t look like that could have made such a scratch! If I was there I’d have given it a clean down and taken time to touch in the paint, hopefully saving us getting a rust patch over winter. But I’m not there and instructing Mick to do something about it …. well! He’s good with oil and cables. Here’s hoping I can get to it in the not too distant future.

That’s not good!

More knitting for me today and possibly a short walk to get some supplies in, I just need to avoid the roofers and Suzanne, oh and the rain!

Out on the canals this week the weather has been affecting some. Boats have been tied up hoping to avoid problems with Storm Ciaran. The River Trent has risen again, trapping many who’d been hoping to move to winter moorings or avoid winter stoppages, Newark Flood gates are closed again. On the Leicester Line some of the bank has been washed away during the high levels a couple of weeks ago, the pound is now drained and a notice has just come through with them hoping to be able to shore up the towpath to allow passage again, update due next week.

The webcam in York, the River Ouse is quite full!

But in Wigan boats are on the move again. After our friends on NB That’s It got just over halfway up the flight about seven weeks ago, only to be turned round due to a blown cill, the flight reopened this Tuesday. Paul the boat mover was one of the boats down the flight on Tuesday and plenty more have followed in the following days. The winter stoppages on the flight have been postponed for another week to help with boat movements, just hope the cill that looks like it’s in trouble at lock 70 hangs on for a while longer!

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe, afloat and gets to where they need to be soon. And here’s hoping I can get back up to speed on panto quickly!

Panto Postcard 1, 2023

74.25 hours

Leaving me in the house all alone!

Last Saturday Mick picked up a hire car, we set Tilly’s magic food bowl and left her in charge of the house for a night. As we headed southwards we could catch glimpses of swollen rivers, flooded fields. The River Ouse as we soared above it on the M62 was running very fast and from the M1 Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station looked like it was sat on an island, Storm Babet had certainly left her mark.

Too much fencing to see properly!

First stop was Leicester. Ann, a blog reader had very kindly offered me her Overhead Projector to use for drawing out panto. It was very good to meet you Ann and chat about so many things we have in common. Hopefully next time we pass through Leicester we’ll be able to catch up at the cafe near the Cathedral for a cuppa and a slice of cake.

Back out of Leicester we started to make our way across country towards the Cotswolds. Signs warning of floods that had now drained away, a roundabout where cars had driven across it to avoid flood water. Then high up on the next hill we could see Chippy, my home for the next few weeks.

Southern beer

It was good to see Suzanne again and lovely to be in what feels like my room in Chippy. We headed into town for some food, a below average curry was had at the Spice of India followed by a pint at Checkers the Fullers pub next door to the theatre.

Sunday morning treat

Sunday morning we ventured out to find brunch, Suzanne had suggested The Straw Kitchen, but sadly it was closed so instead we went to the Rustic Coffee Bean for Eggs Benedict, nice slightly odd hollandaise and very slow service, but it filled us up. Time to drop off my work things at the theatre, Paul, Louisa and Andy were in hanging lanterns and getting ready to give the stage it’s first coat of paint for panto.

Ethel’s down, it must be panto time!

After waving goodbye to Mick and doing a spot of shopping I headed into work to find all the pieces of model that had been with builders and printers so that I could get the model ready to show the acting company. This took far longer than I thought as envelopes had been tucked away out of sight. I also spent a bit of time copying pieces of model onto transparencies ready for drawing out with the help of the OHP. Mick drove back north stopping off to check on Oleanna. He picked up bedding and life jackets and made sure the gas was turned off before carrying on back over the Wolds to Tilly.

Monday. The proper start of fit-up and readthrough with the company. Meet and greet with breakfast nibbles a very full room of chatter. John the Artistic Director greeted me with a ‘Welcome Home!’ hug, this year is my fifth panto in Chippy. There was plenty to do in the auditorium sorting the print from Promptside so I missed the read through but headed up to do the model showing, then watched all the actors faces as Sophie the costume designer revealed to them what they’d be wearing in the show.

Headers going up

With Gemma (Production Manager) and Chris (Carpenter) we carefully positioned the print onto the portals, somethings not quite as I’d expected, but others spot on. The canvas was stapled round the flats, the portals hoisted out and fixed together, then it was time to climb a ladder and sort out the best way to overlap the print. I don’t like heights, but managed with Nathan (Lighting Designer) footing the ladder to trim things and get them lined up ready for sticking at a later date. Wow the print looks SO good! One happy relieved designer.

Jo arrived mid afternoon with a van load of props that she’s been buying and making over the last couple of months. She used to stay for a few days each week, but she now has a job that pays a steady wage, so had to head back home in the evening.

Hooray for fish and chips!

Ade and Lou joined us Monday evening in the pub, the annual fish and chips all round with a glass of wine, lovely to see them again. I’d recently sent them photos of King’s lock on the River Soar, the cottage they’d rescued from demolition in their youth, they’d never seen the water so high and certainly never so high above the lock. There is now a stoppage somewhere around there as some of the towpath got washed away.

Tuesday. Lots of things to draw out ready to be cut out. I started off really well, one of the corners of the stage became a dark place to aid the use of the overhead projector. That was until I only half touched the orange bar on the projector and blew the bulb. Luckily being in a theatre there was a technician around to check things over and when it was confirmed that it was the bulb Paul managed to find a suitable replacement and I was up and running again drawing statues.

I was also joined today by Lileth who in the past has been one of the Pippins in panto, local children who beef up the company. Lileth had asked if she could help with painting and props this year and it being half term this week was an ideal time. I had warned her that she would get painty, I’m not sure she’d just realised how painty! I set her on priming pieces of scenery I’d been needing first.

Some of the team in the pub

By the end of the day, flats had been put together, a truck base had been made for the dressing table, rostra was fixed together and lots of priming was left to dry. Unfortunately we’d ended up having to work a bit too late to get food in one of the pubs, so I had to visit the burger van, fortunately their chicken and chips is still pretty good after a long days work.

Colour and white things

Wednesday. Front cloth and backdrop up. As many jobs worked through as possible before loosing Chris and Gemma. More priming of things, Lileth was getting a touch bored of white and magnolia so I gave her some green to do on sheets that will be cut up for foliage and flowers. I drew up the town flats and started to lay in the base colours.


An hour was spent in the rehearsal room working out how the tea chest rainforest would work with puppets. My original ideas for it where way too tall so at the end of the day I had a video call with Jo to explain how I thought it should work. Less will be more thankfully, I hope!

Health and safety chats

Late afternoon the actors and Pippins arrived to be shown round the stage and be given a health and safety chat. Instead of doing a model showing to the Pippins we were in a good place to be able to position the scenery on stage to show them, admittedly most things were white, but that will change in the coming days.

Admin staff making lanterns for the show

We also had a go at the transformation of Cinderella into her posh frock. Masking props were dispensed with, her costume just needs some slight alteration so as not to give the game away too much. Let’s face it most of us know that she gets a flouncy frock and a coach!

Thursday. Sadly Lileth was ill today, so the list of jobs I had for her were now mine. Rehearsals started on stage, so from now on I have to be careful with what I choose to work on, so that it is dry in time to go on stage.

Starting to get coloured in

So whilst I waited for the town set not to be needed I took things out front of house to work on. This included the three statues, one of which has quite a heavy base and as I moved him he clonked my foot hitting my little toe that I’d broken six/ seven weeks ago. At first it was okay, but soon I realised that maybe an icepack would be a good idea, along with raising it for a while! Thankfully I’d brought my crocks with me incase.

Pesky statues!

By the end of the day the town flats had colour on them, statues were primed and I managed to use a plaster to strap my toes back up, hoping that I’d only bruised it, but suspecting I’d done more.

Friday. On my own again. Mission Town Square was in full operation. This scenery is wanted for a photo call on Monday and the first scene in pantos always takes quite a lot of work, so I spent the day concentrating on it.

Hot chilled medication!

Songs with LOTS of props were rehearsed and I wished that the chilled medication wasn’t made out of foam and hot glue. A visit to the chemist in Chippy meant I had a better means to strap my little toe up, this and some pain killers made quite a difference thankfully. In the evening the overhead projector came out again and more things were drawn out ready to be jigsawed.

Saturday. Time to pack a bag, today I needed to move digs as Suzanne had her family arriving for a family get together over the weekend. In past years I’ve always headed home to the boat or up to meet Mick in Goole on the first weekend, but Scarborough is just that bit too far to reach after work on a Saturday night.


The Pippins were in again today, songs and piles or should I say mountains of props required. Some stand in items were needed and found, then lists sent to Jo the props maker. Meanwhile in the wings the town set got more colours, the carriage got based in, wheels finished.

After lunch the stage was ours, it was time to brave climbing a ladder and glue down the overlapping portals. I’m not keen on heights, I’d rather have one hand holding onto a ladder, but to be able to apply glue to the back of the printed cloth meant I couldn’t hold on. After one portal my little toe was complaining quite a lot, there’s some painting needing to be done up there, but that can wait for another day. Once I’d finished my bits Paul followed and stapled the remainder of the cloth away and tidied things.

Over the week Louisa had been working on extra leaves that would be used to cover joins and hopefully add an extra layer to the portals. The canvas the leaves had been printed on has a tendency to fray a LOT, so coloured glue was needed to seal them before they could go up. Thankfully they worked and look really rather good, thank you Louisa for your jigging and glueing.

Portals having their final leaves added

Only one element was still needed for the photos on Monday, the foliage which needed jigsawing out. Paul and Louisa had hoped for a finish at 6pm, but as they started to jig out the shapes time slipped away. I felt bad but Paul kept saying that that was what they were there for, I’d just hoped they could have had an evening with their families. By 10pm I’d got well into painting the shadows and highlights onto the town flats, but still more to do along with painting hundreds of flowers on Monday for the photo call.

I left needing food, stopping off at the burger van again. Then managed to remember to head to the other end of town to my digs for one night. Rachel and her husband were still up and welcomed me into their house, I’d collected a key yesterday. The house has stone flagged floors, wonky staircases, which is rather steep up to the top floor where my room was up in the eves, you have to duck to get in through the door. What a characterful house with lots of history, but I’ll tell you more about that in the next panto postcard.

Don’t Let The Cat Out! 4th February

King’s Marina to Cromwell Lock

Tilly keeping an eye out for cats!

Since arriving back in Scarborough it’s taken Tilly a while to settle down. She knows where she is, but the house makes odd noises, different from those on Oleanna. Add into the mix our lodger Claire making noises in the morning and singing in the evening, it all makes for a nervous cat. Over the last couple of days Tilly has ventured outside into the static world the house is surrounded by. She obviously remembers the local cats and is constantly looking out for Alan, Betty and Shoes. I have tried to explain to her that none of them live here anymore! But still she looks. The annoying thing for us humans though is that we thought the runny cat pooh would have ceased since Shoes moved away, however it is still lurking in the grass!

I managed to borrow a sewing machine from my friends Dawn and Lee at Animated Objects, so all the costume alterations have been finished. A few small house jobs have been done and I’ve been baking.

I made some fresh curd cheese and a batch of Yorkshire Curd Tarts to use up the pastry left over from mince pies. The slightly orange pastry was rather nice with the curds. Then yesterday I made a loaf of cheese and spring onion gluten free soda bread using up half the buttermilk I’d been left with from the curd cheese. We had to try a bit with our dinner last night as it smelt so good. Very very tasty. A definite recipe I’ll be doing again, there is still enough buttermilk left (now in the freezer) for another loaf.

Snowdrops everywhere in Scarbados

Now that Maud’s Swing Bridge on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal is left open to boat traffic we needed to identify a window of opportunity to move Oleanna up to Goole. I have work commitments over the next few weeks and we wanted to give Tilly a chance to settle down in the house before we’d be leaving her for several days. We estimated the journey would take us a minimum of four days.

Mick checked the tide times, then the weather. Our first window looked good. A couple of days ago he called Cromwell to check on tide times for Sunday. Then a call to Keadby to check times there too. Both locks were booked.

Time to work out how to get back to Newark. The railway line out of Scarborough has been closed for much of this week due to engineering works, strikes and the poor service on Transpennine Express made us look at the buses to York, The Coastliner. These run every hour and currently a single fare being £2, it would be a bargain.

Going over Ouse Bridge in York

So this morning we were up early, breakfasted, a few items packed, soda bread and my work things in case we are held up on route. We caught the 9:10 which was pretty busy already and by the time it arrived in Malton it was chocka, I think we even passed hopeful passengers at a bus stop on our way into York. We hopped off at the station and had a half hour wait for the next train to Newark Northgate arriving a little after midday.

Pontoon B at King’s Marina

We headed straight to the marina as the office would soon be closing. When we’d arrived, we’d imagined Oleanna would be stuck for several weeks, maybe even months, in the end it was only nine nights. Two bags of coal were bought and popped on the roof.

I then headed to buy supplies whilst Mick topped up the water tank and made ready for our departure. I hunted round Waitrose for yellow labels. We’d brought a few days worth of food with us, but needed another couple of days supplies along with milk and cereal. Two heavy bags later, including two boxes of wine, I could drop the gate fob back at the office.

Click photo for recipe

Lunch was had, soda bread, still pretty good even when cold. Then it was time to put our life jackets on and push off, reverse out from the pontoon and say goodbye to King’s Marina. Paula the marina manager came out to wave us goodbye and wish us a good journey. Thank you for accommodating us in your friendly marina.

Goodbye Pretty neighbours

Left. We headed towards Nether Lock where I climbed up a ladder to head to work the lock. The paddles were half raised, it was refilling itself. I turned the key of power and encouraged it to fill quicker, which worked, except the panel still had to work it’s way through all the button presses! It took quite a while before eventually the button moved the gates. Getting my phone out to take a photo of Oleanna coming into the lock, I lost grip and it bounced across the concrete, each time getting closer to the lock edge! Thankfully it stopped a foot short of me having to replace it, a shame the screen is now cracked.

Nether Lock

Back in April last year the levels had taken forEVER to equalise when emptying the lock to come in, I did it twice in one day, so today I was prepared for a long wait again. The lock did not disappoint! I had to press the button several times when it did nothing at all for it to get itself ready to open the gates. But we got there in the end. A helpful couple walking their dogs offered to finish working the lock for me, so that I could get back on. I turned them down, no way would I be climbing down the 12ft or so of lock ladder when below at the lock landing it would only be three foot of ladder.

We passed North Muskham, Muskham Ferry where a group from King’s Marina were enjoying a few pints having come down in ribs. They all waved us on our way.

Fishermen lined the banks. One young lad had caught a fish worthy of a photo, his mate catching one a quarter the size was still eager to have the photographic proof. Then a group of men in waders stood round weighing up the days catch, there must have been a match on by Cromwell Lock.

Muskham Ferry

Mick winded Oleanna to face upstream and bought us into the pontoon. Time to head to the bow to tie up. We don’t often cruise without Tilly on board. When opening a door it is automatic to check to see if she is waiting on the step inside. Don’t let the cat out! She’s never allowed out until we are moored up, yet she is so excited to be somewhere new, she charges to the other door before you can get there. Gentle persuasion is required to keep her away from an opening door, sometimes a ‘Grrrrr!’ is required to keep her eagerness in check, it works quite well. Doors are rarely left open, they always get closed behind you. At times trying to keep Tilly in is a pain, but today there was certainly one big hole without her on board. Hope her magic food bowl has opened up and that she’s cosy on our bed.

1 lock, 4.9 miles, £2 coastliner, 1 train, 1 Lincoln Cathedral in view, 0.5 loaf of soda bread gone, 2 boxes wine, 3 yellow stickers, 2 boaters back afloat, 1 feline boater stuck on dry land, 2 pork chops and 2 jacket potatoes.

Bloomin Maud! 18th January


First there was ice. Then too much water. Now it’s a bridge!

Our plans may have to change. We’d been hoping to reach Yorkshire by now, but obviously the River Trent being in flood hasn’t helped that. All part of boating through the winter especially where rivers are concerned. Now as the river levels are dropping, gradually, we’ve been looking further ahead.

1.5m today down 28cm from yesterday

Vazon Sliding Bridge had problems in the heat last summer, since then the bridge is opened twice a day to boat traffic at 9am and 1pm, apart from when Network Rail are on strike. If the river hadn’t been in flood we’d have had a days wait before we could pass through.

When Mick had phoned to book passage in at Keadby the Lock Keeper mentioned that Maud’s Swing Bridge was also closed. A date for it to open unknown! Hmm. Here’s a link to the stoppage notice LINK. It has been closed since the 23rd November, the notice hasn’t had an update.

Maud’s Bridge 2nd April 2022

Mick rang C&RT and worked his way though to the right part of the country and got to talk to a lady regarding the bridge. Apparently the bridge was struck by a vehicle back in November causing a lot of damage. It has been taking time for the drivers insurance company to sort things out and as yet the engineers haven’t come up with a method of mending the bridge. So at the moment there is no known date for it to open, it could be months! The lady was trying to get someone to do an update.

Poo bar bum!

A re-think is needed. Options.

  • We continue downstream and exit the River Trent at Keadby, then sit and wait for the bridge to open. Not a popular option.
  • We head downstream on the Trent and wait for a suitable day to head round Trent Falls. Not a popular route in the winter months.
  • We continue downstream and find somewhere to moor that isn’t in Yorkshire, but as close as we can get with good transport links. Maybe.
  • We stay put in Shadlow, easy access to transport. Maybe.
  • We turn around and once Stenson Lock reopens, with its new gates, we head up the west side of the country to cross the Pennines over into Yorkshire. A lengthy journey especially in winter, juggling it around work, stoppages and weather. Hmmm.

We’ve got some thinking to do. One option is looking the most likely at the moment.

Today I managed to work through the alterations on another pair of overalls. These were size XS, but still needed the arms and legs shortening. One pair left to do. Mick returned from Scarborough with a few bits I’ll be needing for #unit21 in the next few weeks.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 bus, 1 broken bridge, 1 river coming down, 5 options, 2 pairs overalls finished, 7.5 inches, 5.5 inches, 1 still to do.

Excluding Vat! 3rd January


1.55m this morning

If all had gone to plan Oleanna would this evening have been sat above Cromwell Lock waiting for the morning tide to head to Torksey. Working on #unit21 becomes more complicated because we are stuck due to flooding. I need to get the props I’m making to Huddersfield as soon as I can. Finishing their construction would have been so much easier on land rather than on the boat without all my tools. I could really do with a hot air gun to bend some pipe. The pipe could be walked from a shop in Scarborough, but on the boat it requires a bus journey. The pipe is 3m long! Just complicated and more time consuming.

I spent some of the morning sussing out when would be good to head to Huddersfield with the props, this will involve hiring a van and on the same trip we could pick up some new flooring for the show. I also need to do costume fittings with three actors, at the moment they only work three days a week. So logistics, orders and payments. Nearly sorted.

Mick called Beta to order a new alternator. Our engine has a WOC number which means that when ordering anything from Beta they can see how our engine was set up and exactly what part we require. Mick did a slight ouch at the price, he did a bigger one when he realised that hadn’t included vat!

Our alternator has a special pulley on it. To replace the pulley you need a special tool, which we don’t have. The chap on the phone said they would put a special pulley on the new one for us to save moving it from the old alternator to the new one. It should arrive tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Skyline bus

Being in Shardlow means there is a good bus service to Derby and Leicester on the Skylink which runs every twenty minutes ferrying people to East Midlands Airport. The bus stops by The Navigation Inn a five minute walk away. Add to this the government putting a £2 cap on single bus fares. Very easy.

Waiting at the bus stop I got chatting to a local lady about the river being in flood. We compared notes on levels of the River Trent and Ouse. My family home over looked the flood plain in York and Dad would give us reports of how high up the five bar gate the flood water had reached. I think if it got up to the fourth bar then driving around York was very tricksy as there would only be one route into the city not under water. The lady I chatted to recounted the floods of 2000 on the Trent. Sand bags were put over the drains in the road and stood at the bus stop you could just pop your hand over the wall and touch the flood water. Thankfully the water isn’t anywhere near that level …. yet!

Lovely houses click photo to look inside one

The bus sped into Derby. Past the train station where strikers stood with placards. Further on the bus passed the lovely houses on Railway Terrace. These were built to accommodate the senior Midland Railway staff in the 1840’s, the first houses built to house railway workers in the country. Jackson and Thompson built a triangular block of streets, North Street, Midland Place and Railway Terrace, NMR. In the 1970’s there was a campaign to stop the houses from being demolished, they are very fine looking houses. However their sight reminds me of a trip we did to Derby a few years ago. We walked down the same streets to Derby Crown Court to hear the sentencing of our original boat builders.

A Mickleover bus

I swapped buses at the bus station and headed out towards Kingsway Retail Park. Here there was a Homebase, no pipe and fittings suitable for what I wanted. I checked the isles for anything suitable to make a giant mug from. A plastic dustbin? Too much to cut off to stop it looking like a dustbin. Kitchen bins were all too narrow.

Over at Hobbycraft I scoured the isles for something that might be useful too. But they had nothing suitable for a giant mug. A couple of months ago I’d spent ages hunting online for anything that might be useful and come up with very little the right size. So back to the foamcor plan. I picked up 8 sheets and some more tape.

Handy makeshift strap

My dodgy grip doesn’t like carrying thin things, eight sheets of foamcor isn’t that thin, but still. I’d brought with me three carrying straps from the yoga mats I’ve bought. These have elastic looped ends joined by some webbing. I passed two of them over the corners of the sheets, one each side and then joined them together with a third one, creating a handle on the top. Not the perfect handle but a much easier carry back to the bus for my return journey.

Whilst I was away Mick had changed the fuel filters and the gear box oil. We just need the alternator now.

Bunny legs

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 buses, £2 each, 0 pipe, 0 connectors, 0 hot air gun, 8 sheets, 2 pies, 1 sad gits pie, 1 order completed, 1 plan coming together, 1 new filter, 1 cleaned filter, 1.5 litres oil, 2nd bunny leg.

Final Statistics. 1st January 2023

Willowbrook Moorings, Shardlow

Not a good trend!

Levels on the rise. I don’t see us moving for some time. The flood gates at Cranfleet have been closed since the 23rd December and levels are higher now. The lowest recorded height in that time that we can find was 1.13m and the flood gates were closed then. So this mornings height of 1.76m is going to take a while to head on down stream.

Water Explorer

Yesterday I made note of all our journeys that have been recorded through the years on Water Explorer. The chap who has been running it said the site would be taken down at the end of 2022. It’s still there, Oleanna recorded as the last moving boat. When the site vanishes so will all our vital statistics for both Oleanna and NB Lillyanne.

Our last journeys

At the end of each year I sit down and put our years cruise through Canal plan with the aim of getting a slightly more accurate distance than Water Explorer gives. Water Explorer will cut corners if there have been no way points, it also sometimes counts locks twice or not at all. Beeston Lock on the Trent usually gets counted twice for some reason. This year I will do the same, working out our back and forths on canalplan, which also isn’t totally accurate.

But for now here are our vital statistics (according to Water Explorer) dating back to 1st January 2015.

NB Lillyanne, starting heading up stream on the River Lee from Enfield 1st Jan 2015 to when we moved her for the final time on 2nd May 2017 to brokerage at ABNB in Crick.

Total Journeys505
Total hours recorded1550
Total Miles2565.76
Total Locks1714
These figures are from trips recorded, some journeys in the early days were missed.

NB Oleanna, starting on 28th March 2017 from Finesse Boats in Sheffield to 31st December 2022 to Willowbrook Moorings.

Total Journeys1279
Total Hours recorded4164
Total Miles6242.72
Total Locks3694

So our Total statistics from Water Explorer

Total Journeys1784
Total Hours5714
Total Miles8808.48
Total Locks5408

At some point I will work out Oleanna’s statistics for the year as I normally do, but that will have to wait for tax returns and giant props to be made, along with zooming along the River Trent back to Yorkshire.

Final positions

Mick spent some time in the engine hole today. Trying to see what he might be able to find. Did we have a problem, or was it that something wasn’t pushed home properly? A new battery for his multimeter was needed, the power on board totally turned off for a half hour. The alternator was working. But can we trust it?

Boarded up

He got a phone call from the chap at JD Narrowboats who was wanting to check that we’d got plugged in somewhere and were we sorted. He also sent us a link to a new alternator he’d found on ebay. How very kind of him. Mick is thinking on what to do. We intended on buying a new alternator and when the current one failed we could swap them over and send the original one off to be mended if possible, then we’d have a spare. But should we do it now or wait until we’re back in Yorkshire? Should we go for the ebay one at half the price of a Beta one? Well you get what you pay for!

A lovely building

This afternoon we went for a walk to have a look at the river. We followed the muddy towpath through the old port of Shardlow. Since our very first visit nothing much has changed. Several of the old warehouses still stand boarded up, calling out to be refurbished into offices, housing or some other use. One of my favourite buildings has already been converted into a home, Soresby Warehouse built around 1820.

Derwent Mouth Lock 1 on the Trent and Mersey Canal

Derwent Mouth Lock, the last lock on the Trent and Mersey sat half empty today. In normal times this would have been only about a quarter empty, but with the river in flood! Below, the level at the lock landing today would mean stepping down off Oleanna, normal times it would be one very big step up to the bank.

The river level boards are well in the red as expected.


We walked back on the other side of the canal, past the pubs, lovely houses and the not so lovely more modern buildings. What a busy place this must have once been.

Their TV is a projector onto the end wall of the house, huge!

A pause to look over the garden wall by the lock. The river, here unnavigable, rushed by faster than the River Ouse passes Selby Lock. The house here has spent quite a bit of money on their Christmas lights, multi coloured fairy lights in all the bushes and trees in the garden and then multicoloured bulbs along the eaves the excess gathered together inside their phone box.

In need of a lick of paint

Pork and apple stew tonight with dumplings. I chose to cook it mostly on top of the multifuel stove meaning the dumplings didn’t go crispy.

Pork and apple stew, click the photo for the recipe.

Our viewing of the new series of Happy Valley was interrupted by a call from my bestestest friend over in Sydney. Emma was out for a morning walk with her dog Moose. It was lovely to have a good catch up.

0 locks, 0 miles, WE this year, 234 journeys, 743 hours, 1248.12 miles, 565 locks, 3 mile walk, 0 twinging calf, 1 not so sure cat, 1.84m river level at 11pm, 1 stew, 6 dumplings, 30 minute catch up, 1st Happy Valley season 3.

Pie Approved. 24th November

Avon Aqueduct

Time for a proper lie in, my cold felt like it was sitting on my chest now. The day went slowly on Oleanna. Tilly came and went and I ended up watching TV for much of the day with little impetus to do anything else.

A double stamp but not of approval!

Up in Scarborough Mick got a lift from our next door neighbours to the dentist, the buses out of town have changed to only running every two hours, not so helpful. So a big thank you to Andy and Lisa.

Hello Alan!

Back at the house Mick did a paw count of the local felines, everyone was present. Then it was time for him to head back to Rugby. The train via Hull had been cancelled, so instead he took the route via York. The Ouse very high and understandably no boats were moored at Museum Gardens.

A full Ouse

Back at Oleanna I prepared a chicken, tarragon, leek and feta pie. Tilly leaving her stamp of approval on the crust. Jacket potatoes baked in the stove accompanied my pie. Very tasty even with a cold.

Pie approved

With Water Explorer closing down at the end of the year we’ve been looking into different ways we can track our movements. One idea is via our Victron Venus GX which can log our journeys automatically, we’d then have to down load it and do something with it. Another is via the Nebo app. Last year when we escaped Goole with SeaMaiden and Lullabelle, we all downloaded the app. This helped us see where on the river each of us were when not in view. It was designed more for off shore use, but more and more boats seem to be using it on the inland waterways.

Recently Nebo has had an update and some of the trips I logged with it earlier this year have arrivals and departures from locks, on other trips there are no way points, others it seems to make note of a lock every minute that you are there, ending up with numerous entries for one location! We’ll trial it for the next few weeks alongside Water Explorer. We’ve already adjusted our What3words app to give us a grid reference alongside the three words when we moor up. Both of these are noted down each time we move just in case we should need any assistance from the emergency services.

We’ll see what we think.


Thank you Dave Scouts for you advice on the font colour. Mick has done as you suggested, the colour is black as I write a post now, or so it seems. But then in preview mode it goes back to a dark grey! Boo.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 trains, 1 lift, 3 lemsips, 1 lazy day, 4 paws, 1 yummy pie.