Category Archives: River Stort

2021 An Adventurous Year

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

Looking out into a cold world!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All three boats arrived safe and sound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Big Brother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye Christine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heading north on the Trent and Mersey we pulled in for lunch and a surprise hello to Barry and Sandra from NB AreandAre whom we’d got to know last year in the first lockdown. In the afternoon we were joined by Bill and Lisa for a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. Now we swung off the Trent and Mersey and onto the Macclesfield with it’s wonderful bridges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tucked up for a rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thames, 2021

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

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

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

Two Bricks In The Amber. 26th July

Hunsdon Lock to Broxbourne Bridge

Above Hunsdon Lock

With all the rain yesterday we knew the river would have come up. The small weir that lads had been paddling in on our way upstream the other day was now a torrent of water, not sure you’d have been able to stand up in it today. I looked downstream from the lock the level was certainly higher, would the railway bridge below Roydon be passable?

We dropped down the lock and quite speedily made our way to Roydon Lock. There were quite a few boats moored on the pound. Signs along this stretch suggest you should find alternative moorings as the levels change quickly.

Moored on a dodgy pound

At the lock one bottom gate paddle was half raised, presumably to help lower the pound. There are also sluice gates further upstream that were raised sending water down.

16.5 bricks below the green at 09:13

The gauge below the bridge is quite hard to gauge, unless your boat is lowered to the level below. So we brought Oleanna into the lock and dropped her down. When level with the pound/reach below the top of our horns (highest fixed point on Oleanna) were just about level with the top mortar line of the lock. Tracing this across to the gauge and nudging Oleanna forwards we deemed the river to be two bricks in the amber, ‘Proceed with caution’.

The red line where Oleanna’s horns would come to, 2 bricks into the Amber

Two bricks in the amber was nearer red than green. Two low bridges to go under, which we might just make, but there is also a sharp left hand bend which with the increased flow would make it a touch hard to skid round. If we’d been heading upstream then maybe we’d have given it a go, you can go slowly heading into the current and stop should needs be.

Below the lock, river to the right and river to the left

Mick reversed Oleanna back into the lock, I closed the bottom gates and we refilled the lock, reversed out onto the lock landing, pulling as far back as we could and left the gates open should anyone else arrive from above.

A chap from a boat moored there said the level yesterday had been right up to the top of the lock and spilling over the bottom gates. The lady at the lock cottage said if we had no rain today we should be fine by the end of the day. All we had to do was wait, so that is what we’d do, Tilly taking advantage of the spare hours.

A message came from Hackney that the washing machine circuit board had arrived! Hooray!! With time on our hands Mick headed off to the station to catch a train in to Stratford to collect it.

During the morning I had a quote through for the set build of #unit21. Apparently the cost of materials has shot up in the last few months, I’m not surprised. Grahams quote thus was a touch more than I’d been hoping for. I need to get my budget in to the Producer by the end of the week, so we’ll see what she reckons as I know we’ve already trimmed away quite a lot of what we were wanting.

18.5 bricks at 13:15

At about 1:15pm I could hear a boat arriving. One lock gate was slightly closed so would need opening up for them to enter the lock, so I went to lend a hand. NB Otter had things on it’s roof and the chap on board was aware of the low bridges ahead, but wasn’t aware of how the gauge worked below the lock. By now the 16.5 bricks below the green had increased to 18.5 so at least another 6 inches. Once Otter was lowered, it looked like it would still be in the amber, but nearer the green. The chap dropped his solar panel off it’s chocks, Tidied his roof, removing any plant pots, crossed his fingers and set off.

He didn’t return.

Then emails from the Production Manager of Panto started coming in. At least she was wanting to communicate with me! A quote for the build needed checking through that nothing had been missed, a village hall is being sought for me to paint in the week prior to rehearsals and the final costs of printed cloths were being added into the budget.

Of course poor Mick arrived back as I was working my way through the quote and was told ‘I’m busy!’ ‘No, I need to concentrate’ ‘Shhhh’. Tilly had already retired to the bedroom to keep out of my way.

18.5 bricks still at 14:47

Once work emails were sent, we made ready to push off again. Two C&RT chaps had walked past going to close sluices up stream saying the level was just about back to normal now. Mick removed the black buckets and coal from the roof. Oleanna dropped down in the lock, the level below had risen a touch since NB Otter had gone through. Still in the amber but far closer to the green, we’d go for it.

THE Bridge

Zoomy down the river. Around a bend. There was THE bridge. All looked good several inches to spare. We’d have had difficulty earlier on. Under we limbod out through the other side.

A few inches to spare

The next bridge, arched, was now a breeze. A boat was heading towards us with a raised cratch, we both looked at each other, lined their cratch up with the top of our horns. It would very much be touch and go for them to get under the bridge. We mentioned this to them as they sped past us, at least they’d be able to slow down.

Their cratch a few inches taller than our horns. Eeek!

The sharp turn under the other bridge was handled by Mick and we were safe.

Brick Lock Cottage

Brick lock with it’s leaking top gates took forever to empty, but with patience it did eventually. Below Lower Lock a group of boats has gathered and labelled the off side as Pirate Collective Pollenglish. Back to the junction with the River Lee and the end of the River Stort.

Boats were using the services below the lock, so there was no hoping back onboard below, a little walk was needed to find a suitable spot. Pylons of the Lee now escorted us back to Dobbs Weir Lock where two magnet fishers were hard at work, it didn’t look like they’d caught much.

Fielde’s Weir

At Carthagena Lock a boat was just leaving, the gates left for us. Brilliant! Except there was a breasted up pair hiding amongst the masses waiting to go down. We took our revs off and glided into the side to wait our turn.

Fielde’s Lock, back on the Lee

We helped the pair down. If anyone would like a couple of painted watering cans they have been left for anyone to pick up just by the lock. Mick helped with the annoying bottom gates, thankfully as we left they weren’t too much bother.

Cables are back

Fingers crossed that a mooring would be available at Broxbourne. Most boats want solar for 14 days, so we were lucky in that there was space for us under the trees. We’d also quite like some solar, but cruising for a few hours a day means it’s not as imperative to us.

Watering can anyone?

Too late in the day for Tilly to go out she was plied with her evening dingding to placate her. After we’d eaten our evening dingding Mick pulled the washing machine out to replace the circuit board. Would it work? Only a few more days of pants left in the clean drawer!

Well, we’ll be looking for a laundrette in the next couple of days! Sadly the circuit board hadn’t worked. We will regroup in the morning and decide how to progress.

7 locks, 1 twice, 4.93 miles, 1 left, 2 bricks, 16.5 bricks, 5.5 hours wait, 2 trains, 2 buses, 2 quotes, 1 dog peed rope, 1 bucket water, 1 bollard cat claimed, 18.5 bricks, 1 cratch 2 high, 1 breasted up boats, 2 watering cans, 1 circuit board, 1 broken machine still.

Stacks Of Stuff. 25th July

Sawbridgeworth Lock to Hunsdon Lock

The alarm not being set meant we both slept in, maybe a little too much, but so long as we got to where we needed to be tonight it didn’t really matter. There were a few bits and bobs that needed finishing up so Mick set too in the kitchen for breakfast.

Turkey sausages

Then we walked down to the maltings where several antique places sell their stuff. The first we went into was very organised and a touch posh really. Lots of jewellery and china.

Maybe the carpet too!

A few bits of furniture. We considered swapping our sofa bed for a curly low sofa which would fit under the gunnels nicely, but we’d have nowhere for the two matching chairs.


‘One’ would need a leather bound library for a Victorian wooden step ladder.

Cats, pig marching bands and Clarice Cliff bowls tucked away in the display cabinets. Nothing for us here.

£550 for a dog puppet!

A units further on was Acorn Auctions, not open today for viewing, never mind there was plenty more to look at.

A Stage Managers heaven

Riverside Antiques covered several floors and for those who have ever visited Josie’s in Bempton, it reminded me of there, just a touch tidier and you didn’t come out feeling grubby!

From Fred and Wilma, to Walter White.

Captain Scarlet and Blue to Thunderbird 2.

Railway paraphernalia, cap badges and Trains in Trouble singles.

Telephones, crockery, horse brasses. I took lots of photos of horse brasses as reference for panto.

1950’s clock with a timer, a calculator, beer steins, typewriters.

So much stuff, it went on and on for ages! The chap from the red boat had been right, these places could fill up a whole day if we let them. So much stuff nobody needs!

Mick’s choice

Oh hang on! We did find one thing each that maybe we’d have bought. Mick, an Aston Martin DB5 Corgie car. This was James Bond’s car, first seen in Goldfinger. It had rotating number plates, a retractable bullet proof rear shield, extending front over-riders, pop out machine guns, and, of course, a functioning passenger ejector seat! £15 a bargain!

My choice

Mine, a cream tea pot with chrome cosy. I used to have one of these that I think I bought at the aforementioned Josie’s. I would make my morning cuppa in it every day, but sadly quite a few years ago it broke or started to leek. Today I could have replaced it for £8, I very nearly did too!

Then near to the Ercol pebble tables and the canteen/table of cutlery there were two Victorian photographs which had dolls faces added to them. Three dimensions morphing out from two, quite disturbing really. Had someone made these up for a Halloween party?!

Even more!

Yet another floor showed itself to us, but here we decided that we’d seen enough and that it was time to push off and get a few miles done.

Improvised cover for phone

Today there were thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon. We gathered together our waterproofs before setting off, we knew we would be needing them today!

Heading down with the key of power

NB Small World had already moved off when we passed the gated community. We dropped back down Sheering Mill Lock all the time the skies behind us getting darker. There was a queue at the water point at Harlow Mill Lock which stretched back towards the lock, we managed to get past but a widebeam wouldn’t.

Just before the rain caught us up

Here as we finished dropping down the lock the heavens opened, just enough time to get waterproofs on, I’d already put shorts on to save over heating in clinging waterproof trousers. Mick stayed up top and brought us along the pound reaching Latton Lock where we’d stopped for our Tesco’s click and collect the other day. Derek and Margaret waved from their comfortable dry seats as we passed, hoping there would be space for us to pull in before the lock.

A cruiser out there

We ended up on the lock landing. Covers back up and dripping under cover. We really wanted to be further on today so we waited and waited for the rain to subside. At one point it started to look good and Mick walked to set the lock. A cruiser was just arriving, so he helped them up, leaving the top gates ready for us, of course now it was heaving it down again!

Burnt Mill Lock

Almost an hour later the rain dried up, covers were dropped and time to move on again. Thunder continuously rumbled around above, it was hard to hear the crack associated with each lightening flash. Above Burnt Mill Lock there were now three trip boats moored on the off side and David and Ted’s boat was sat on the visitor moorings, he’d said he needed some shopping.

Parndon Mill

It stayed almost dry through Parndon Lock but then on our last stretch of water the heavens opened up again. I made an excuse of preparing our evening meal whilst Mick stood at the tiller through the driving rain. Thankfully at Hunsdon Lock there was plenty of space for us to pull in.

Before it got really really wet

Drip drying we checked the river levels. Tomorrow we need to pass under Roydon Railway Bridge on the river section. The pound we were in had risen by about four inches and we were seeing footage of flooded tube stations at Stratford! We’ll see what happens.

7 locks, 6.61 miles, 2 antique shops, 6 scarlet, 6 blue, 87 brasses, 7 piece band, 2 much to look at, 2 down pours, 25 minutes constant rumbling, 16 meatballs with celeriac, 0 shore leave, 1 very steamed up boat, 1 cruising plan coming together.

Flying In. 24th July

Bishop Stortford to Sawbridgeworth Lock 5

We were up early again, a shopping list for provisions to get us back to London was made and Mick headed out after breakfast to Waitrose for a free newspaper. Rain had been forecast for today, Mick managed to avoid the worst of it, but still came back wet.

Says Snap to me

It’s been a few weeks since we have sat down and been a full part of the Geraghty zoom on a Saturday morning, so today we made sure we wouldn’t be moving. Todays topics, chicken pox, ankle biting sisters, it was lovely to see everyone again.

The winding hole that used to stretch to Sainsburys

Time to make our move, we pushed off backwards at around 11am, reversing to the winding hole and then pulled in at the services. With the water tank filling we emptied the yellow water tank, Tilly got a clean pooh box and we disposed of rubbish.

There was one other gap in the moorings this morning, NB Small World had pulled away, we’d be following them back down the locks. Back past all the warehousey apartments. I think one boat really could do with a new chimney before winter, at least his bathroom door was in place today! No gongoozlers to keep us company at the locks as we made our way out of Bishop Stortford.

Bridge 47 is exceptionally narrow, made from what should be called a ‘T’ beam, the top being a touch wider than the bottom.

Hold on tight!

Approaching Spellbrook Lock a Dad was paddle boarding with his son clinging on for dear life, we made sure we drifted past them the little lads knuckles already white!