Category Archives: River Soar

What’s In The Box? 20th January

That’s far enough I think!

Deliveries have been arriving along with snow.

Get off my land!!!

Tillys occasional check on her estate has become even shorter, I can see everything I need from the back door just fine, Thanks! Although an intruder did cause her to forget about there being a window in the way. Once a door was opened she shot up the road and just about into the park, the furthest she’s been in months!

Sheep measuring

Measurements have been taken for the dinette cushion covers, prices worked out for the samples I already have, a visit to Dewsbury is on the cards incase Fabworks comes up trumps with anything better. I’ve got calculations for several widths of fabric so that should save time.

More donated yarns have arrived. A wonderous red yarn from Trudie at Posh Yarns in Pembroke and a Green Goddess of Bionic yarn from Steph at Perran Yarn in Truro. I have several other pledges of yarn to come including from people who are raiding their own yarn stashes at home. Thank you all for your wooly donations and your monetary ones. The first pair of socks will be in the post very soon heading to a boat in Thorne and as soon as my needles have finished the third pair the second one will be wending their way to Crick.

At the end of the year I’m hoping you’ll see why I’m hanging onto socks for a little while. An updated certificate arrived from Dementia Uk so I can properly boast about my fund raising last year.

Lots of cooking, trying out new recipes. Gluten free Focaccia and this morning my first attempt at gf crumpets. Verdict they needed a little bit more heat to start off with, but tasty all the same, especially with some Frank made jam.

Painty Pip has been busy too touching up paint around the house. There’ll be more to do in a week or two in a bathroom that we have plans for, just to accomodate a mirror!

Boat on it’s side just about blocking the bridge hole

We’ve watched our friend Chris on NB Elektra squeeze past the sunk boat in Barrow-upon-Soar. Then onwards to south of Leicester where he had a booked passage between Kings Lock and Blue Bank Lock where the floods before Christmas had affected the bank. We couldn’t make out any damage to the bank as he crunched his way through the ice, passing a boat coming the other way and a C&RT chap hopping between boats.

Tilly decided to hitch a virtual ride on NB Elektra’s bow for a while. Well She and Tom have only changed the outside a couple of times since we’ve been in the house. They don’t fool me, all they did was turn it white each time! Our planned route for when we leave Goole may have to change due to substantial subsidence at Lock 67 on the Rochdale. We’d rather head over the Pennines than use the Trent to head south this year. Time to keep a very watchful eye on the stoppage notices.

What’s in those?!

Yesterday a UPS delivery van arrived. The driver braved our snowy front steps to deliver two pretty heavy boxes. We’ve checked their contents and Mick has even been found stood in the dark hallway supposidly talking to what’s inside the boxes. There’s nowt so queer as folk!

Sunrise in Scarborough

0 locks, 0 miles, only virtual ones, 2 skeins, 2 more pledges, 1 hobbly leg slowly improving, 2.5 coats not enough, 1 ceiling and loo touched up, 2 big boxes, 1 hire car arranged, 1 trespasser seen off, 2 x 6m not 4 x 3m, 1 nutty man in the dark, 1 cat changing the outside by herself!

2.5 pairs knitted

22 Pairs spoken for

49.5 Pairs to go

£540 raised

Turning Her Over. 11th December

Oleanna is never far from our thoughts, she’s always on mine!

I think Mick last visited Goole on his way to pick me up from Chippy so it was time to say hello and give her engine a run. He headed off on the train on a bright sunny day, these are few and far between at the moment, we seem to live with lights on in the house from when we get up to when we go to bed at the moment.

A good sky in Goole

One of the webcam’s Mick has set up onboard had a faulty SD card, so the SD cards were swapped between cameras enabling us to see when cars come and go, or people open up the gate and walk past in the middle of the night. The cameras would be very obvious should you want to steal Oleanna, they are more for our interest especially when it snows and to check she’s okay. Shame the camera wasn’t running to be able to see how the scratch happened on the cabin side.

Mick ran the engine, had his lunch courtesy of Greggs, checked the kettle worked and had a coffee. The router sim card was swapped over. In the past we have swapped it for the one at the house when we’ve moved ashore, taking the better one with us. But about two weeks ago we finally got fibre broadband installed at the house, so the better sim card can now stay on Oleanna, the contract for the poorer one runs out soon.

Hmm! That puddle is annoying!!!

The other job to do whilst there, was to measure the bottom section of a cupboard. This is a cupboard partly known as The Shed as it’s where tools etc are kept, but it was designed to hold a second Brompton bike and has a hanging rail for coats etc. The bike is no longer onboard as one bike is enough for our needs. The hanging rail doesn’t really get used as life jackets hats and scarfs fill up the bottom of the cupboard.

At least the lake on the entrance road to the marina has shrunk a touch

The plan when we upgrade our batteries is that we’ll hopefully move them inside into this cupboard. As they will be lithium this should be fine for the Boat Safety as they don’t gas, it will also mean they are less likely to get cold (Lithium doesn’t like charging when it gets cold). Mick took measurements of the lowest part of the cupboard which is affected by the swim. Unfortunately he didn’t measure how high the swim comes and how much more depth there is above it. The current batteries he is planning won’t both fit in the lower part of The Shed, who knows they might fit above. More measurements are required or a serious dig through boat information from when Oleanna was built. Work in progress.

I mentioned Chippy earlier on in this post. The company have just performed their 38th show out of 99(?). In the audience were the crew from NB Cleddau and NB Tentatrice. I hear the little chap at the back didn’t have an illuminated ball for the Carnival and that a few things got knocked over by the actors! Thank goodness though that the clock struck midnight!

Here are links to a few reviews if you are interested.

Muddy Stilettoes , Red Kite Days , Ox in a Box , Theatre Weekly ,

Daily Info , Banbury Guardian , The Stage which I think is behind a paywall, here is a quote incase you can’t get to see it all

‘The production has a bold look, courtesy of designers Pip Leckenby and Sophie Molyneux; the former’s set places the action behind a proscenium of painted jungle foliage, with a curtain of leaves pulled aside to reveal a quaint pueblo of coral-pink and dusty-yellow buildings. Molyneux’s costumes mash-up influences from flamenco and carnival, all ruffled sleeves and fringed mantles decorated with tropical fruit motifs.’

I had to put that one in as Designers don’t often get a mention!

I have donned my dungerees again and have started to repaint some window frames in my work room so that I can put everything back where it should be, then I’ll be able to do some painting of a different sort and draw up a new lean-to to get quotes.

The first batch of pastry for Mince Pies is resting in the fridge ready for rolling out in a couple of days. Last year I made frangipane topped pies with Adam’s added ingredient, I felt the topping required a bit of tweaking as it seemed to melt rather than rise. So we’ll see how this lot turn out. *Just realised I’ve omitted to add an egg to the pastry, no wonder it took a LOT of liquid to bring it together! I’ll have to double up the amount of everything, what a shame I’ll have to make at least two batches of mince pies! Suspect we might be needing your help to eat them Frank.

There’s a LOT of water about! Most rivers are full to overflowing, The Went Aqueduct on the New Junction Canal looks like the river and canal are not far off becoming one, all of the surrounding fields are lakes. The River Soar is starting to come down, some people are very aware of how high it got.

PS today 13th the Don Doors have reopened, so levels are dropping.

In knitting news the November Knitting Challenge for Dementia Uk managed to raise £171,867.96 which is fantastic.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 very muddy puddle, 1 engine run, 2 windows, 1 BORED cat, 1 extricated designer, 1 reverse to safety, 2nd Christmas show, 460!

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.

Dodging Balls. 31st August

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

Ratcliffe Lock

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

Closing in a years time

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

Trent Junction

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

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

Trent Lock onto the Erewash

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


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


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

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

Mills Dockyard

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

Under the railway lines

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


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

Only just enough wind

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

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

Going Down Kegworth. 30th August

Zouch Lock to between Kegworth Marine and Radcliffe Bridge 46

Coats were required when we pushed off this morning. Two boats had just come past heading southwards and as we rolled the covers up one headed towards Zouch lock, we had ourselves a locking partner.


The chap with the boat asked straight away how far we’d be going today, ‘We’re definitely going down Kegworth Deep Lock today’. Then the lady at the lock asked the same, my reply was the same too. After that we’d then see, we’re not in a rush to get anywhere so if we saw somewhere good to stop then we would. This sounded good to our partners.

The lock was surprisingly half full, the reason soon became obvious a paddle had been left partly up at the bottom end, it still took quite sometime to fill. A C&RT chap arrived with windlass in hand he’d come to help a crane boat up the lock, he ended up being a handy extra bum to push the top gates open.

Breath in!

Below the crane boat appeared, Pride of Sherwood, you can tell we’re getting closer to Nottingham now. We exited and the crane boat squeezed into the lock only a few inches to spare on the width, most probably length wise too.

Time to add waterproof trousers to the mix. Thankfully soon blue skies were ahead of us and dark grey behind. We’d considered moving down to one of the moorings shown on Waterway Routes yesterday, but with the flight path directly overhead for East Midlands Airport we’d decided against it.

The first glimpse of the cooling towers at Ratcliffe on Soar power station, NB Somewhere Else had a good mooring for the view.

First glimpse of The NORF

Shortly before Kegworth Deep (New) Lock as the weir stream moves to the west you get a view of a fine house. Stone work and brick suggest the building has had several lives and scaffolding on the far end suggests a new roof was happening.

Flight path

It took a while for me to find information about the house, The Hermitage. It was sold last year and I found several articles in local newspapers from when it went on the market. Each one suggested a different asking price ranging from £2,000,000 down to £1,500,000, quite a big difference only over the space of a couple of weeks. I wonder what it sold for in the end.

Such a pretty setting

Back in the 16th C the house was used as a religious retreat for church dignitaries travelling between Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The property was owned by the Parr family and used as a hunting box, Catherine Parr (Henry VIII wife) never lived here but it is thought that she’d have visited. Bay windows were added in Victorian days and an extension was added in the 20th C.

There are gardens of all kinds, rose, water in the 5 acre grounds. Eight bedrooms, 2 pantries, a wine cellar, a beer room, quite a house and somewhere mentioned a boat room!

More details here and photos inside.[0]/zawPywL1gkyKv_dyF2nsSg.pdf


Our partners slowed as they came round the bend to the top of Kegworth Deep Lock a boat was just exiting, we swapped positions and were helped down by a cruiser that was waiting below. In a couple of weeks the lock will be having some remedial work done to one of the paddles, a notice has been in existence for the lock for a couple of months now. Despite the notice all paddles worked, stiff but that’s only to be expected on such a deep lock.

We followed through Kegworth Shallow Flood Lock and then pulled in at Kegworth Marine. A gas bottle had run out last night. If we hadn’t filled with diesel we’d have topped up here £1 a litre, but you have to pay cash. We cobbled together enough cash for a couple of bags of coal too and chatted away to the chap. We’d arrived just in time as they were closing up for the day to do some grit blasting.

Onwards, what would a mooring be like that we’d got our eyes on? Round a couple more kinks and there it was, high up but accessible. We pulled in, a nappy pin at the stern, but at the bow this wasn’t possible the armco having a solid top to it so no gaps, spikes were brought out and hammered in.

Kegworth Marine

Tilly was given five hours, we didn’t see her for quite a while. Thigfs ogtsdies gd, i sorldt hevos a Thissy stbieo od aprooel! Another day of her talking with her mouth full!

This afternoon I sent an email to the chap who knows what he’s doing regarding printing for scenery. I explained how I’d made my model and was concerned that I’ve shot myself in the foot by making it as a collage. He agreed that a scanner only focuses on one level, but suggested I send in a piece of model and he’ll do a test print. I’m so hoping he can find a way of making it work, otherwise I’ll have to repaint everything flat for the cloths to be printed. It took ages to do the original! Fingers crossed.

Late afternoon I had a catch up chat with Jo the props maker, she’s been doing woodwork, making trick boxes and working out mechanisms for collapsing chairs.

2 locks, 1 flood lock, 4 miles, 40kg coal, 1 gas bottle, 1 cat evicted, £500,000 difference, 1 high mooring, 55cm a touch too wide, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

An Extra Shower. 29th August

Zouch Lock to Zouch Lock

Ahead of ourselves. Should we stay that way or let the days catch up with us? A day sat still could mean some much needed maintenance work on Oleanna, rust around the mushroom vents needs sorting before winter.There’s the grab rail that I’ve been meaning to do for a couple of years too. Don’t mention the gunnels or cratch board!

Forecast rain and still having a headache put me off. We decided to move.

That’s a good view!

Three boat lengths up there was a newly vacated gap with a better view. We moved up and gave Tilly some shore leave, hoping she wouldn’t get confused following her scent back to where we’d just left.

A morning of pottering. There was one job that could be done. I dug out my pencils, pens, watercolours and paper. Time to do a new first night card for one of our lodgers. Tanya is on her third visit, so the house and a compilation of Scarborough views have been used, time for a new one.

Drawn out

I went through the photos I’d taken on our Scarborough walks during the second lockdown, shortlisting a few. Another photograph found on the internet was used along with mine for the composition. This was drawn out and inked in.

I could have sat at the dinette all day, but wanted to stretch my legs and see if a walk would help dissipate my headache. I plotted a route, showed it to Mick, made sure Tilly was inside and set off, crossing the bridge over the canal and the field alongside our mooring to meet the road.

Hooked up

The boats at Zouch Marina have poles to rise up and down on, they also have a contraption similar to a caravan hook up which attach to the boats bows. These must be to help keep the boats in position when the river goes into flood.

Not very picturesque

I took the chance to get off the busy A6006, only to find the footpath was fenced in and overgrown with nettles, a new development planned for the other side of the fence. More main road before turning down Wide Lane in Hathern. I’d hate to think what they were comparing Wide Lane to when they named it, cars having to park on the pavement. One half timbered house had dormer windows in it’s roof line, most probably a framework knitters cottage, looms tended to be in top rooms where extra light could be sought.

£650,000 with swimming pool!

Next door a rather lovely house is for sale, sadly it’s not by the river so no mooring opportunities.

Hathern in the 19th C got the name Wicked Hathern. Rev Edward Thomas March Philips spent more than 50 years in the village trying to civilise his parishioners who liked to spend more time in the pubs than his pews. Cockfights and drunken brawls in the graveyard prompted the priests outbursts, the village being dubbed Wicked Hathern. Pubs still outnumber the churches 5 to 2, but I believe things have calmed down.

Sheltering from the rain

By now it was drizzling. I took refuge in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, the door open and organ music emanating from inside. A family of three sat by the organ, Mum cutting things out from a paper, Dad I couldn’t tell what he was doing and a young person possibly about seven or eight was sat at the organ, playing away pretty well. Not sure if they were using the pedals, I suspect their legs weren’t long enough to reach. I had a quick look round but didn’t want to disturb the practice.


Small children in school uniform came from the direction of the school, an ice cream van sat waiting for new customers. I had no money on me so I couldn’t sample their wares, anyhow it was drizzling even more now.

Soggy isn’t it!

I could have waited out the rain under a tree, but decided that it looked to have set in, so carried on. A horse gave me a soggy knowing look as I reached it’s field. I crossed over towards the weirs.

A large curved gate holds back the water, presumably this is used in times of flood to speed the water down stream. Then I crossed over the curved weir and got chance to see just how many boats are kept along the arm, at least five. They must have to limbo under the footbridge to get in and out.

Moorings tucked away

Back to the towpath and back to Oleanna, I was by now soaked! Straight into the shower and my soggy clothes got a wash.

Chopped again

Time to put some colour on my drawing. Base colours, then a touch more detail. As this dried, so had the outside world. Mick had requested a haircut so without the aid of my assistant, she was more interested in the trees, I got to work with the clippers. A smart boyfriend again.

The final shadows were added to my painting. It just needs scanning now and making into a card. I’ll also need to run off one of the house for our other lodger as it’s her first visit. Those who know Scarborough will know the subject matter.

0 locks, 0.1 miles, 3 boats worth, 1 busy cat, 4 more paracetamol, 2 damp a day for jobs, 1 new card, 3 very soggy miles walked, 2 weirs, 7 year old organist, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Is There Anyone Behind You? 28th August

Barrow Upon Soar to Zouch Lock 55


Finding a gap in the traffic would be our problem this morning. Cars, canoes and paddleboards were everywhere. We managed to push off just as the cars were returning at the end of their time, this also coincided with all the paddleboards deciding to stop for some refreshments and tying up at the service point! Thankfully someone came along and pulled the boards to one side giving us enough room to tie up both bow and stern.

Traffic chaos

Water, yellow water, rubbish etc, all the chores done, we could be on our way again.


Barrow Deep Lock is as it’s name suggests deep. It took quite some time for a boat to come up, not helped by there being a ground paddle out of action. Then it was our turn to go down. Some gongoozlers asked questions. Now either I was thick or they were. They really couldn’t understand about the water having to be level before the gates would open, they repeatedly kept asking ‘Why isn’t it level?’ as if it should be an instant thing.

Pillings Flood Lock

Below we now followed the course of the river to Pilling Flood Lock which sat with both sets of gates open waiting for us. Our schedule had us mooring on this side of Loughborough today, but we wanted to visit the shops in town, so we passed by a stretch of nice looking armco and carried on along the cut.

A couple of boats came towards us. The cut here fairly wide and no sharp or sudden bends. Both boats asked if there was anyone behind us. We’d have understood them asking on the Llangollen or the Oxford summit, but here?! Not to our knowledge, and they were possibly in a much better position to see than us!

At Loughborough Junction we turned left, making sure to say hello to a group of lads at the bridge who’d been throwing stones into the cut. Only one boat was moored in the basin, we winded and then reversed onto a pontoon. Despite Tilly being excited at arriving somewhere she was left in charge as we headed into town.

No market today

A new sim card for the router at the house was needed, our original provider having fobbed Mick off with a solution to solve the poor connection which he knew wouldn’t do anything. A chat with the chap in EE and an explanation of why we only wanted a sim for a few months and we left with an envelope addressed to our current lodgers a new data sim enclosed. Back to Oleanna via Sainsburys for a few bits, then via Tescos for a post box. Sim on its way and so were we. Loughborough may have an interesting side to it but we hadn’t found it.


But where to moor for the day? We could head back to the junction then reverse the way we’d come for a mooring. Or we could continue straight on, which is what we did.

Certainly a meadow on the gates

Down Loughborough Lock and on to Bishop Meadow Lock where I helped a lady bring her cruiser up from the river section. They were looking for a mooring outside a pub for a Bank Holiday Monday meal, they’d not been having much luck.

Now on the river again, pennywort and some gentle bends. No-one here asked if anyone was behind us and they didn’t offer us that information either.

Passing Normanton on Soar you get the wonderful view of the church, a few big houses with their lovely gardens. Then you get the little summer houses, I prefer these. My favourite a green one, people inside waved to us.

My favourite

A rowing boat, paddleboarders what a shame it wasn’t sunnier.

If only the sun had shown itself

Passing the emergency flood moorings we wondered how you were meant to read the instructions in an emergency situation. We’d not noticed rings and bollards to tie to .

Photo taken for future emergency reference

On through the flood gates and onto Zouch cut. Blimey it was popular. We managed to find a space with a ring for the bow but ended up using a spike for the stern. Despite it being quite late and normally Tilly’s dingding time I allowed her half an hour of shore leave. She took longer, only returning when she did as Magpies were complaining about her on the towpath. She said something about a stamp of approval, but at the time she had a mouth a full!

4 locks, 7.5 miles, 1 left, 1 wind, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow water tank, 4 car traffic jam, 2 cooked breakfasts, 0 behind us, 2 North Lock boats passed, 1 new sim, 1 busy river, 30 minutes extended to 65, 1 woofing woofer neighbour!

A Purple Morgan. 27th August

Sileby Lock to Barrow upon Soar Visitor Mooring

The Empire Pool, apples, Canary Wharf and Water Butts were covered on the Geraghty zoom this morning and we wish one of our number a speedy recovery from Covid.

This got me thinking, I still had a headache. Maybe I should do a test. The first test I did was aborted as there was not even one drop of liquid to drop on the test strip, yes I had put the liquid in the tube! There just hadn’t been enough of it. So another was done, only one line, negative.

Sileby Mill

We pottered away the morning whilst it rained. Boats came past quite frequently everyone wrapped up in water proofs. How many boats were headed for North Lock on Tuesday? We opted to have an early lunch before pushing off.

Around the lock at Sileby there are wood carvings, every character seems to be looking down, all very calm and thoughtful. We dropped down the lock, both bottom paddles required being lifted as water bubbled up from under the top gate. Mick paused to pick me up, then we zoomed across the bottom of the weir and slowed to pass the moored boats. One had just filled up with diesel, £1.18.

Almost bank to bank carpet

Gosh the pennywort was bad along here. It almost reached right across the river in parts. Someone has been trying to clear it, dying mounds sit on the banks. But it’s obviously growing just as fast as it can be collected.

I’ll go down the front to get off somewhere

At Mountsorrel we were greeted with no available lock landing. The charity boat from yesterday was partly on the landing, then a Wheelyboat had tied to the next to last bollard. The crew from the charity boat rushed to make their stern accessible for me from our bow, then one of them picked up a windlass and came to help at the lock. Their passengers were enjoying Sunday lunch at the pub whilst they got to eat their homemade butties.

We spotted a couple of houses for sale. One by the Wharf for £1,000,000. They like funny sofas and toilets in corners.

One of the Dutch style houses in the award winning development, £525,000. For extra money you could moor your boat outside.

A box with a view

We rounded the big wide bend where Meadow Farm Marina sits to the side, almost cut off by pennywort. Grey boxes look down the river, a great view.

Long gardens on the north bank of the river gradually bring you in towards Barrow upon Soar. Several houses have boats, one cruiser looked like it can’t have been out for a few years as weed and reeds blocked it in.

Another house for sale, this one with an end of garden mooring. £675,000. If you can cope with the virtual tour (eventually coming into focus!) you’ll see that someone really likes their feature curtains. Have to say if we bought it the bungaloo would be replaced. But the mooring isn’t long enough for Oleanna, so we’ll not bother.

A car! A purple Morgan maybe? With a roll bar? On the river? Just how old was the driver! Thankfully Dad stopped pedaling so that we didn’t have a collision.

A purple Morgan?

A space on the 48 hour moorings was available, we pulled in. Tilly was over the moon with the choice of trees, however the nosy woofers did spoil her fun.

Just by our mooring is a very smart bench for Brian Henman, he was obviously a well liked local man. Mayor of Charnwood and possibly a Ukulele player.

A very fine bench indeed

A nice roast chicken with all the extras was enjoyed onboard this evening, just a shame we had to put up with some very bad karaoke from across the way later on.

2 locks, 2.6 miles, 5 boats heading to Leicester, 1 Jolly Lamb with lady, 1 head still not sorted, 1 carpet of pennywort, 3.5 hours, 1 morgan, 2 nosy woofers, 1 sunday roast.

Stop Talking Of Thunder Storms! 26th August

John Merricks’s Lake to Sileby Lock

Oh dear!

A cruiser came past as we had breakfast, out for a weekend jaunt. They’d just passed us when their engine just stopped. Had they been abducted by aliens? Had they reached their destination for the day? No they’d picked up a sleeping bag on their prop and were still trying to free it when we pushed off. Not much we could do to help.

Swans can be such scary things

Above the skies were moody, Mick made a comment about thunder storms. We’d once been along this stretch when the heavens opened, we then moored above Sileby Lock as the river level rose rapidly during the evening, then slowly fell the following day. I hoped he wasn’t jinxing our chosen mooring for the day.

Very moody

As we approached Junction Lock we could see that a Charity boat was just entering it. No-one looked behind them so they didn’t see us approaching. As they left the lock below we were already in position to refill the lock.

A lady with her young son stood and watched, twins in a pushchair were positioned so as to see us too, except Mum had forgotten that there was a blanket over the handle which blocked their view. They didn’t seem to mind.

Coming up to Cossington Lock the crew of the charity boat were closing the top gates, they’d almost certainly seen us, but carried on and walked to the bottom gate. The chap at the helm must have stopped them, got them to wind the paddles back down and return to the top gates to open them. Have to say they weren’t the sharpest pencils in the box. One ground paddle had been left up which only helped to refill the lock for us to be able to join them. I stepped back onboard leaving the crew to do their thing.

Through Cossington Road Bridge we could see a coal boat, the red of gas bottles giving it away. This would be our next port of call. We pulled in alongside NB Hampstead, positioning Oleanna’s stern close to the diesel pump. I popped a rope around a stern dolly whilst Mick attached our stern to their mid. My line was too long to tie off on us and too far back to get to safely along the gunnel with my dodgy grip. I elected to hold us steady as the charity boat passed, then winded a little further ahead to return.

Topping up in the rain

We called out, no-one came. Mick rang the number on the side of Hampstead, Tracy appeared from another boat and came to serve us. Originally they’d hoped to be able to sell HVO, but the price they’d have had to charge would have been £2 to £2.20 a litre, so they have opted to stick with Red Diesel. Earlier this year Hampstead was repainted in their livery and is based here at Cossington Lock. They do travel north to Nottingham and south to Leicester. Here is a link to their Facebook page. At £1.09 a litre it wasn’t a bad price and we like to use coal boats as they support many a boater through the winter months.

Just a shame it really started to rain as the tank filled. Mick put the brollie up and I unrolled part of the cratch cover so I could stay dry in the well deck. The transaction was complete just as there was a little lull in the rain. As an after thought Mick asked how much their coal was, £14.50 for 20kg, we should have got a couple of bags, oh well, it is August still isn’t it?!


The banks of the river seemed to be encroaching. Piles of dying plants covered the banks, soon followed by yards and yards of Pennywort. Blimey it’s taking over the world here!

Very moody

We pulled in above Sileby Lock, the mooring by the small weir. Tilly was given five hours. She wasn’t too keen. The friendly cover too covering and wet! We had lunch.

It’s rubbish this outside!

A Saturday paper was a possibility and we’ve never ventured into Sileby before so once Tilly had stopped popping in and out, just incase things had improved, we closed the doors leaving her incharge and went for a nosy.


Two cricket matches were taking place at the club. ‘Come on Conway!’ the bowler a young blond chap who was getting a lot of praise from his team members. On our walk back the score was 68 for 1, not bad at all.

We’d never thought of Sileby as being more than a village, yet it boasts itself to be a town. The corner shop which advertised newspapers and magazines was lying, so we carried on down to Tesco Express. Here they provided us with our newspaper of choice and a few easy peel oranges and some cream cheese, I seemed to have ordered a lot of carrots so I’ll bake a cake to help stop them going to waste.

What a fine looking building, click on photo for more details

Just down the hill was a rather ornate looking building, 3 Cossington Road. Nice fresh paint and four door bells. What had this been before being carved up into flats? It used to be called Ebenezer House and was owned by Edward Martin, it was used as a Bank, solicitors and a dentists.

The 1891 census shows framework knitters, brewers and shoe making to be occupations for the locals. Clay pits were dug and bricks made that were used to build St Pancras Station. In 1901 James Newbold, a Baker and his wife Annie lived at 3 Cossington Road with their children Thomas, Fred and Annie, along with Fred Parker who was also a baker. These are the snippets of information I’ve found.

After laying empty for a few years the house was bought in 2019 and divided up into 3 one bedroom flats and a bedsit with communal outdoor areas. Rather nice, you’d just hope that the brook in front doesn’t flood.

We could have explored the other side of the railway which carved the town in half in the 1840’s but we decided to walk back across the fields and settle down for the rest of the day.

During the day we heard a rumble of thunder, but thankfully we didn’t relive the river rising, we’ll not have to keep an eye on our ropes overnight.

2 locks, 3.3 miles, 76 litres diesel, 0 coal, 1 unimpressed cat, 68 for 1, 1 village actually a town, 1 newspaper, 5 oranges, 150 grams cream cheese, 1 headache returning.

Must Keep In Order! 25th August

Friars Mill to John Merrick’s Lake, Wanlip

Was that a boat? The noise and engine fumes suggested someone was on the move, but at 6:10am? I peeked out of the front door curtains, yep, someone heading to take up pole position for the lock queue. Half an hour later another two boats went past. Now there’s keen and there’s waiting for six seven hours! Each to their own.

We went back to sleep, maybe they did too!

If anything my head was a touch worse this morning, more pills required. Tilly’s incessant shouting at the back door drove me outside where Mick was listening to a one sided game of solar panel Top Trumps. More boats had come past, it was now 11am, I’d rather be moving ourselves round to the lock cut than being sat pinned to the pontoon. I sat in the bow for a while, then another boat came past, was that seven boats ahead of us now? Thankfully our neighbour soon united and pushed off, we followed suit, we’d be boats eight and nine.


Round the bend new housing has gone up, the route to the lock felt longer than before and sadly tags now cover the Frog Island mural as you arrive into the cut. Here we had to stop. Ahead a line of single boats led up to the lock, where we were boats were breasted up, if we reversed we’d be a touch too close to the weir. Word was passed to us that the boats ahead were going to breast up, in order of arrival, no pulling alongside a boat ahead and jumping the queue! It looked like most boats had dogs on board so had taken wall positions for ease of getting them to land during their six hour wait, now woofers were passed from boat to boat and up the high wall to go for a pee. I’d have managed it no problem, but I had to make do with my pooh box!

Lots of boats

The boats at the rear of the queue couldn’t be bothered to move up, we’d all be getting through the lock today, so last nights neighbour jumped into seventh position and we managed to now be sixth. There was still quite a wait to be had and within an hour there were another two boats pulling in behind everyone else. Eleven to go down today, how many to come up?

An early lunch, a little wander around Frog Island. More chaps in blue arrived, the first one had been here at 10am. The pickup reversed round on the off side, the fence was undone and pulled out of the way. The bottom paddles were lifted, the lock emptied then the chain winch pulled the bottom gate open that bit more until the water was level.

A chap with a clip board came to give us our instructions. We’d be going into the lock in order that we were moored in, only one person on the boat whilst it was in the lock and to stay as close to the bottom gates as we could.

Two boats came up, the second one hadn’t booked, they’d just turned up and been allowed through, not so many upstream boats today, in fact only three. The first two down stream boats pulled into the lock.

A new chap in blue arrived, we’d seen him at Stenson Lock a few years ago. He stood above the mitre on the top gates, took a photo chatted to Frank the volunteer. Then he checked one of the gate paddles.

Moving up

Boats above the lock now jostled to keep in their order of arrival! I suppose if you’ve sat there waiting for six hours you don’t want to loose your position. We’d be in the third locking. Once the third and final boat had come up the lock, we were told that it would be much quicker getting us all down now. We couldn’t be bothered to move up and cling onto a rope. Once the boats ahead were heading for the lock we untied, I stayed on the bank and Mick hovered waiting for our turn.

Encouraging the gates to close firmly

Once in the lock the chap from Stenson checked the positioning of the top gates before the bottom paddles were lifted. Presumably they sealed better being closed in a certain way.

Paddles lifted, water drained, water bubbling behind Oleanna and NB Somewhere Else, the chain on the winch was pulled, pulled again and again, the remainder of the water draining from the lock, the gates opened.

On our way again

THANK YOU! We were through.

Time to climb back on board and head to the next lock. Our locking partners were old hands, having lived aboard for nine years, then moved back to land, but this year they bought their current boat and hope to down size their house to spend time between the two.

Locking down

We worked our way through the locks, at Belgrave Lock there were the obligatory kids in canoes on the weir stream and plenty more by the centre. Wiggles round on the river, lots of Himalayan Balsam on the banks.

As we came round the last bend before Birstall Lock we’d caught up with the two boats ahead. There seemed to be a problem, one boat being pulled back into the lock landing. The other boat went into the lock whilst the weed hatch was lifted on the other. Large chunks of cushion filling were being brought out from below, this could take a while.

We’ve caught them up

The lady holding the rope apologized for holding us up. I offered the use of our propmate. Just give me a minute said the chap as he pulled more and more out from his weed hatch. Now if this had been us, we’d have waved the next boat straight into the lock, not knowing if clearing the prop would take a minute or twenty, more boats were going to be arriving after all. After quite a while Mick suggested that maybe we go ahead and free up some lock approach for the next boats to arrive. Reluctantly we were waved onwards, after all we’d now jumped the queue to forth position and when we left the lock we’d jumped into third!

Quick Go Go!

Not much room for boats below the lock, we planned to carry on for a more cat conducive mooring. Down Thrapston Lock and on to find a mooring alongside the lakes. We pulled in where there was long grass, nappy pins not easy to use in such a place so Mick got out the spikes. I stood holding the bow rope, my head not keen on leaning over. I flicked an ant off my hand. I looked down, an army of ants marching up my right leg and up the rope in my left hand. I was stood on a nest.

Mick finished mooring Oleanna up. I jotted down our position as I do every day and then gave Tilly the rules and allotted shore leave. I’d just opened the back door when Mick shouted we were moving, too many ants! Luckily Tilly had paused to enjoy the view from the stern across the cut and I managed to grab her before she’d headed off into the trees. She wasn’t impressed at being bundled back inside the boat.

We moved up a few hundred yards and tried again, shorter grass and more importantly no ants. Tilly was given ninety minutes, off she went.

Soon we were passed by the next two boats, a short time later the next two, a while later another one. The last two must have stopped earlier. We all got through no matter what order.

5 locks, 5.3 miles, 6 pills, 1 shouting cat, 6 plus hours wait, 7 men in blue, 9th to 6th to 4th to 3rd, 2nd moored, 2nd mooring, 467825 ants, 1 happier cat, 1 quiet evening.