Category Archives: River Thames

The Dead Of Jericho. 17th November


The mill stream and canal

Well we are still here in Jericho. C&RT have given us permission to stay put until the river levels drop meaning we’d be able to cruise past Thrupp. There is plenty of space here in Jericho and only the occasional hire boat is seen moving. This weekend two boats went out from College Cruisers, one had planned to get to Banbury and back in a weekend, a cruise of about 30hrs, so they wouldn’t be doing that even if the Cherwell was behaving. The other boat just came to moor in front of us and was used as a base for the weekend, very wise.

It’s SOOoo boring here!

Last Friday we’d planned to go and watch the Lantern Parade that kick starts Oxford Light Festival, but the rain put us off, our stove was more appealing to us than getting soaked.

Saturday we went for a wander to do some shopping as supplies were down. First stop was Osney Bridge to look at the river. Mick chose well when he decided to make a dash for it off the Thames a couple of weeks ago, he managed to catch the river at it’s lowest in around a month.

Here’s that boat again tied to the weir protection

Two weeks ago a blue boat that had been moored on the canal had moved down to East Street. In Mick’s photos it had been clinging on, today it was on a list with an extra rope attached to the weir protection. How had they got the rope there? Maybe they had used the engine to force their way upstream! Here are a couple of links to videos I took. Link1 Link 2 I am so glad that is not us.

All nationalities of yummy food

The usual market at Gloucester Green was full of international food stalls, no fruit or veg on sale for us. We walked on to Broad Street where the Christmas market for the Light Festival was located.


Nothing took our fancy, but a cheery chap waved at passers by. This is where last year we got to see a lady with a hot air balloon, we planned to come back after dark to see what was on.

Dormouse in a teapot
One happy cat, makes a change

Through the covered market where previous lanterns hang above the shoppers. An Alice in Wonderland theme with the Cheshire Cat and Dormouse in a teapot. The market felt very Christmasy and a bakers had cakes iced ready for six weeks time. On sale were gluten free cakes, but at the price they were charging I was very glad that I’m not partial to fruit cake.

A touch early

A stock up of my tea from Whittards. The lady was a bit brusk when I asked for my tea and didn’t have any containers to fill. I’d come on the off chance they had some as last year they only had old stock. But for future reference they will fill your own containers and give you 50p off. Now I bought 300grams of tea and was given a bag I could reuse, but I bet I’d only get 50p off not £1.50 if I brought three tea caddies to fill.

On the shelf of teas I spotted a caddy for loose leaf decaff. We’ve been looking for this all over. So we got some to try, it’s far more expensive than Yorkshire decaff in bags, but we’ll see if it tastes better.

For the telecoms fans here’s some more info on the exchange Mick saw in London

The actors in Chippy had been going on about Vick’s First Defence and how good it was at keeping colds at bay. I’d been starting to come down with a post panto sniffy nose and headache, so we called into Boots to see if it was as good as the turns had made out.

A small shop at Sainsburys would do us for today, making it more manageable to carry back to the boat. With Mick having a bad back I insisted on carrying everything, just enough for one person. But as we approached the boat a recurring ‘ping’ in my calf happened. Three weeks ago this had occurred whilst changing buses, gradually things had improved. But now I was back to hobbling along not wanting to go too fast. This sadly meant we wouldn’t be venturing back into town to see any illuminations tonight, instead we caught up on some TV and I got on with some Christmas knitting.

The start of a sock

Sunday, we had a trip out to the Co-op in Jericho, we know how to live! This is the nearest shop to us and stocked us up for a few more days, so no need to walk distances with shopping or having to take a bike as a mule. The Picture House in Jericho may entice us out if we are here much longer and The Old Bookbinders menu looked attractive.

I’d had enough walking for the day so we settled down to watch an episode of Morse, well we are in Oxford. Mick pulled a DVD out from the box set, the first episode The Dead of Jericho, how apt.

A spooky house round the corner from our mooring

The Dead of Jericho was the first Morse to be aired and could not have been closer to where we are moored. The first death takes place in a house right next to the gates of College Cruisers, the second in the house opposite, 9 and 10 Canal Reach (the street is actually Combe Road). The post office we’d walked past earlier in the day was there and I strongly suspect The Old Bookbinders has changed since 1987, well I hope it has! In Morse it was more like a working mans club, today it boasts French cuisine.

Stew and jackets cooked on and in the stove

0 Locks, 0 Miles, 3 bags coal, 1 gas bottle, 1 bored cat, 1 load washing, 0 lantern parade, 300 grams afternoon tea for the mornings, 100 grams decaff, 1 nose spray (which so far is doing the job), 1 bored cat, 3 for £10 co-op deal, 1 bad back, 1 owy leg, 1 Christmas sock started, 1 stew on the stove, 1 bored cat, 1st episode Morse, 1 tardis of a terraced house, 2 dead bodies, 210ft away!

Tip of Tilly’s tail

Narrowboat Seeks New Crew. 16th November


Tom is a con artist! Now She has joined in too!

Me in a tree when the outsides were good

About 97 sleeps ago Tom tied up this Jericho outside. He was relieved to tie this outside up as the Thames outside was all red and very very hard to catch. Since then he has moved the outside several times, sometimes forwards and sometimes backwards and sometimes backwards then forwards and sometimes forwards then backwards.

Filling with water at College Cruisers

The first time he did this I got very excited. You see I get bored of an outside if we are there for too long. He filled Oleanna both front and back, got some more coal to keep me nice and warm and then he tied the outside up. I was chomping at the bit to explore the new outside, so rushed to the door to see what Tom had caught. There were new trees to climb, but the outside was still very narrow, he could have found a wider one!

Coal on the roof

I set off exploring and after a while headed back to Oleanna. I always follow my nose on such occasions so as not to get lost, new outsides can get a touch confusing but I’m used to it. I popped my head out between the bicycles and woofers to find that there was no Oleanna! What had happened?! Puzzled I checked my route, everything pointed to Oleanna, but she just wasn’t there.

What to do? I waited, and waited some more. Eventually Tom appeared, he said that Oleanna was in a different outside, how dare he move it with me inside it! But Tom swore that I had made a mistake and come to the wrong outside. There was still no boat where it should have been so I decided to see if he was right.

Four boats away! Somehow he’d swapped the outside.

Fifth brick at Isis getting wet today

Another time he busied himself. He tied up a lock, but it didn’t go up or down, we just sat there, for ages! He then tied us up again. Excited to head out to explore I dashed to the door and shouted to be let out. Within a matter of seconds I realised that this was the outside I’d been in the other day without Oleanna!

If he thinks he can just keep nudging the outside to keep me happy, conning me that it’s been moved!

Below Isis Lock today

She’s been home a couple of times from her Chippy outside. She’d stay for a couple of human sleeps and then go again, leaving me with Con Tom. But the other day She came home saying that she was back now. About time too, now we could get moving things properly!

They pushed one side of outside to the other side. They swapped a big red bottle and got more coal, we’d need more now that She was home. She then played ball with a woofer right in front of my window, have to say it did a good job of catching the big ball. Then they pushed the outside away, brilliant! We were on our way again.

Backwards, why backwards! The outside was tied up. Hang on! It was the other outside four boats away. Even though She was there it was still the same narrow busy towpath with nowhere new to explore. I’ve exhausted this Jericho, but they don’t seem to care.

This cat is far too happy!

Tom rang C&RT to ask if we could keep this outside for a bit longer. Apparently a nice lady said yes, YES!!!! This She is not nice and is not concerned with my welfare in the slightest. This She is meant to send us on our way to new outsides and be angry with us for not moving enough.

Now my crew are wearing out. Tom says he stepped too much when there wasn’t a step in Liverpool and now has a bad back. Today She insisted on carrying the shopping home and when they got close to the boat her leg went ping! She now hobbles around and would rather sit down. She’s also got a funny thing that she sticks up her nose to stop a ‘post panto cold’ or something.

We won’t be going to East Street for a delivery

So I am officially now looking for new crew. Ones who can move the outside every couple of days. Ones who can find wide outsides and keep the boat warm inside whilst I explore. Ones who can lift bags of coal. Ones who can walk properly. Ones that don’t squirt things up their nose. Ones who replenish the Dreamies stock. Ones that are not cripples. If you are interested please contact me via this blog.

Yours hopefully, Tilly.

Meanwhile Back On The Water.


The ABC in Ealing

Whilst I’ve been away working life of course has continued on Oleanna. Last week Mick had a couple of trips to London. His first excursion was to Ealing, where he grew up. He said it was so that he could go to Morrisons for some peanut butter (their’s is made purely from peanuts and is our favourite) but he also had a look round. The ABC (Old Empire) has been demolished, the front facade left in place, now covered for protection whilst a new development is going on behind. Here there is planned to be 200 new homes an eight screen cinema, shops and restaurants. link

A shop window with it’s own Strowger exchange

He also had a trip over to east London to pick up our post, returning with three shoe boxes. Once the contents were removed Tilly tried the slipper box out for size. Quite a nice fit, I am reserving judgement though until I’ve tried the other two out.

It smells of sheep!
The Liver Building, Liverpool

Last weekend Mick headed up to Liverpool for a night to celebrate John’s (his brother-in-law) 70th birthday.

Quite a view

There were drinks over looking the Mersey from Panoramic 34 followed by a meal at Radison Blu Hotel.

View fro the Mersey

Then a trip on the Mersey Ferry which was followed by drinks at The Philharmonic where Mick would have taken photos of the toilets but they were in use.

The loos

Then an evening at The Philharmonic Hall where the choir numbering 150 were accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra playing British Classics, Britten, Vaughan Williams and some Elgar. A very good evening was had by all.

The tour party

In the morning there was a tour of the Williamson Tunnels. Joseph Williamson was an eccentric, who in the early 19th Century refused to give money to the poor but instead employed them to dig holes and tunnels for no known purpose. The tunnels had been filled in with Victorian rubbish which volunteers have cleared out and cleaned up. The extent of the tunnels is unknown.

Lots of Victorian rubbish

On Monday morning the level of the Oxford Canal had dropped since I’d returned home, the small weir by Isis Lock not overflowing as much, perhaps levels were starting to lower. But by Tuesday the water was on it’s way back up. Mick headed down to Isis Lock to fill with water and do some washing, there is a tap there for the permanent moorers and sitting in the lock you can access it, lets face it nobody would be coming up off the river! The sixth brick below the lock was showing.

Sixth brick just in view

On Thursday morning the levels were looking a touch higher, the canal overflowing the lock gates into the river too. Oleanna was rising on the canal and with the amount of rain over the last few days Mick preferred to stay on Oleanna for the evening rather than heading out to Chippy for Press Night. Being on board, should the levels rise anymore he’d be able to do something about it. There was already a plan to nudge up to the hire boats opposite should the mill stream top the towpath. Being tied up to them would mean Oleanna wouldn’t be able to end up sitting on the towpath.

Oleanna sitting high on the canal

Mick had a chat with a fellow from the Environment Agency, the level of the canal was caused by run off in Oxford and not from the river. So the canal should start to lower once the rain stopped. The river would need quite a lot more water to come over the towpath as the whole of Port Meadow was currently being filled with water, a useful flood plain.

The canal almost level with the edge

During the day someone opened the paddles at both ends of Isis Lock to help drain off the excess as the weirs couldn’t keep up with the amount of water. So when Mick came to meet me at midnight he had a windlass in hand to lower a paddle.

Two weeks ago there had been a blue boat moored near Isis Lock on the canal, the following day it had disappeared. A walk over Osney Bridge to get one of our bikes serviced and Mick found the boat. Somehow they had got down the river, were facing upstream and had just managed to tie to the end of the railings there. Maybe they’d headed that way backwards as the flow along East Street at the moment is very strong. I’m so so glad Mick made the move when he did to get off the Thames.

1 lock gone into but not descended, 1 reverse, 2 moorings close together, 1 trip to Liverpool, 2 trips to London, 1 ferry, 0 panto, 1 cat not that impressed, 6 bricks, 2 paddles up, 1 big step up, £91 bike service.

Panto Postcard 5. Thank You Chippy.

44 hrs

Pen duty

On Saturday night before going to bed I decided that I should check the ropes. Mick normally says he’s doing this, but both Tilly and I know what he is doing! However, Oleanna seemed to be listing a touch, and the spirit level we have on board confirmed this. She normally has a slight list and after not spending much time on board recently, what I was experiencing may have just been normal, but I wanted to be safe so popped outside to check there was slack on the ropes. Luckily there was, so Tilly and I could sleep soundly.

No Mick to cook breakfast on Sunday morning, but he had left a couple of packs of bacon in the fridge. A bacon butty was in order, a deluxe bacon butty. Mushrooms were added to the pan and some thin slices of cheese placed on the bread before the hot bacon. Yummy!!

Whilst Tilly explored outside I caught up on my paperwork for Panto and when she returned I headed into town to pick up some supplies for Sunday dinner. A new pair of jeans made their way into my bag along with a chicken and some suitable veg. Mick arrived home earlier than he’d originally planned which meant I didn’t get chance to breakout the yarn I’d just received until much later in the day.

Crocheted poppies everywhere

Monday morning and I was back on a bus out to Chippy where the town was waiting for 11am to strike for the two minutes silence. Today there was lots to do before the first dress rehearsal, everyone was kept busy. The actors were on stage and everyone from back stage worked around them and through their breaks, which was to be the case for much of the week.

Ready for the dress

The first dress rehearsal went fairly well, although the curse of last years Axe Man struck again, with several flown pieces missing their deads (position in view and out of view) or not appearing at all. We’d been expecting a reasonably early finish to the day but this wasn’t to happen. My evening meal ended up being a packet of crisps, but I was able to imagine sitting in The Anchor on the Staffs and Worcester Canal as I enjoyed a bottle of gluten free 6X.


Tuesday morning I plucked up the courage to climb to the top of my set and repaint the higher panels. I don’t like heights and being stood near the top of a set of Zarges ladders makes me nervous, especially whilst holding onto a pot of paint instead of the ladder. Thankfully the ladder was footed and I was warned of any loud sound effects before they happened. As the day went on my list of jobs got shorter and shorter. I was even starting to work through the notes that would normally fall off the end of the list.

John sorting the curtain call

In the evening we had a second Dress Rehearsal. This went much smoother and I was able to sit in the front of the balcony and take photos. But the show was running too long, by about twenty minutes. A few cuts were talked about and the interval change discussed at length to see if this could be made shorter. After painting the floor into the wings black I’d managed to finish early enough to enjoy a curry with the Sound and Lighting Designers and the Production Manager.

Two pickle trays!

Wednesday. Preview day, an early start to do a few jobs whilst the cast were informed of some cuts to the script. Paint tins were sorted, labelled and put away for any touch ups that might be needed during the run. Then at 1:45 the lights came up on the first performance. The audience were up for a good time, a sixth form college filled the stalls and they had a ball. They should be rented out as a first audience.

All sorted and labelled, whether they ever get used is a different matter!

At 6pm the second show played to a very mixed house who were much quieter but still enjoyed it. The cuts that had been made earlier in the day had improved the running time, but more was needed. Long discussions followed, doubles of everything for the slosh scene would help with laundry between shows. Would just nips and tucks bring down the time enough or would whole routines need to go?

Oops, my third fish and chips!

Thursday morning, I had a lie in, followed by my annual bath. My landlady had left for work early so I could take my time turning pink in the hot water. Living on a boat you miss baths. When you stay at friends they always offer you a bath, but it’s not quite the same. Here in Chippy it’s almost like being back in our house, it was lovely.

I packed all my belongings and popped the key through the door to my digs. Sadly I’d not had chance to say goodbye to Suzanne in person and the card I’d bought her I’d left at the theatre, so i had to say farewell by text.

There were just a couple of little jobs to do at the theatre and then wait to see if the cuts to the show would need anything from me. All that was needed was some props being put into the store as routines had been trimmed.


My floor needed a good wash and scrub in places, the crew having been a bit too careful for the last week, so Gemma and I got on our hands and knees making a big difference, still not as lovely as when it was first painted but it would do.


Earlier in the day I’d had messages from Mick about the water levels in Oxford. The canal was flowing over the top of Isis Lock and the river was up to the highest we’ve seen it, Isis lock being only 6 to 8 inches deep instead of 2ft 8″. He was nervous of leaving Oleanna for the evening, so I donned my glad rags and enjoyed Press Night on my own.

Just a little bit funny

The evening went very well, lots of booing, clapping, singing and dancing, sweet catching, Oh No! ing and Oh Yes! ing. After the show there were drinks and a very good spread of cheese for us all to enjoy. A photo call on stage for all concerned before people started to make their way home.


Without Mick to help me home I got a lift with John the director and Anna who plays Jack the Cat, back to Jericho where Mick loitered to give me a hand with all my bags. After big hugs all round I waved them goodbye, my second Chippy Panto finished. A lot of hard work, a touch easier than last year, with a very good company, may they have a great run.

Panto company, courtesy of Chippy Theatre

0 Locks, 0 miles, 1 bus, 2 dress rehearsals, 2 previews, 3rd portion of gf fish and chips, 1 curry, 1 very tall ladder, 1 very long email from Vienna, 1 long reply, 1 shed full of paint, 1 wooden leg emergency repair, 2 bottle brewdog, 1 panto finished, 1 big sleep needed, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Panto Postcard 4, 2019 Nearly There

68 hours

Our mooring in Jericho

Sunday was meant to be a day off to try to recharge the batteries. It started with forwarding lots of reference to Phil who was working at the theatre painting all the 2D dressing for the Boozer. This I didn’t mind as it was a two minute job whilst enjoying a cuppa in bed with Tilly keeping my toes warm. Then the emails started with questions and requests, easier to do straight away than thinking about them all day. Have to say I did get a touch hacked off when asked a question I’d already answered four days earlier!


But there was still time to enjoy a cooked breakfast and a home cooked Sunday roast of Lamb.

Isis Lock looking autumnal

With the sun out we walked down to Isis Lock, the level below quite a bit higher than normal. At the junction with the Thames the flow was a lot stronger than the day before, Mick said if it had been like this then he wouldn’t have tried to move the boat. We walked up to Port Meadow along the narrow path and crossed over the foot bridge, a lovely stroll for a Sunday afternoon.

Port Meadow

Monday came round a touch too quickly and I was back on the S3 to Chipping Norton, this had to stop and be rebooted as the driver was getting error codes flashing at him. Luckily a five minute break did the trick and we were back on our way.


A new props maker was starting today, Emma, so a hand over was required. Phil was still about for the day finishing off bits which we put in position to see how they looked, which was very good. I did feel my age when I had to explain about pre-decimalisation and £ s d. Poor Phil ended up having to repaint the prices in the boozer twice, the last time with d and not p.

Prices being amended again
Kitchen dressing attached

Tuesday saw the return of Chris the carpenter and Gemma, Production Manager. Chris worked his way through a list of jobs that had been kept for him, someone who could cut a straight line in one go is an asset. The evening sessions had meant to have been for the Lighting Designer Mark to plot the lights, but he’d been held up on a show in London, this meant we could get on with jobs in full light and sound levels could be set.

Chris, Gemma and me with some of the LED woking

Wednesday and it was time for everything to be put together, actors, costumes, lights, set, props, sound, scene changes. The advantage of the actors rehearsing on stage with the set is that most problems had already been ironed out. There were still notes to take, being able to see the set and props under stage lighting meant there were things to add or alter.

Lighting a scene

Two long days sitting in the dark, taking notes and then taking advantage of the actors breaks to get on with jobs. I had become known as Pippippinpippippin, as I was a stand in for Pippins in the scene changes. But on Thursday afternoon we were joined by them. This meant going back to the start of the show and teching each team of four into the show in turn. This does become somewhat tedious, but it’s important that each of the three teams knows what they are doing.

Some of the footage taken last week now added into the show

On Friday we finished teching the show with the main cast and spent the evening with the Pippins again. They are involved in the show much more than last year and have quite a few complicated songs and dances, so it was decided to postpone the dress rehearsal that normally happens on a Saturday morning and use the time cleaning up dances and scene changes instead.

Mark and Jon getting into the feline vibe

Interviews for the local radio were recorded, I may get on air you never know.

A second portrait needed

My lists of jobs are getting shorter. The last couple of evenings I’ve spent trying to sort out the back cloth and portals that suffered so badly with damp in the workshop. Flameproofed sheets of timber are used in the construction of theatre sets, this got damp after I’d finished painting causing the salts to leach through onto the surface, fading colours and leaving a residue. Nothing for it but to repaint large chunks of the main set.

Puss’s boots

The other job that is taking it’s tole on everyone’s patience is installing LED tape around the portals. This takes time, let’s just say that some people are better at this than others. Staring at a lumpy mess you’ve created behind the tape, then disappearing into the toilet for half an hour doesn’t get the job done, but it does mean someone else ends up doing it!

A special brew for Panto

Yesterday afternoon it looked like the lights were nearly there, the final strip just needed connecting before we left for the weekend. But three LED’s decided that they no longer wanted to play the game and stayed pink whilst those around them changed colour. Nothing for it but to start again on that half of the portal.

Glad I got the bus and didn’t catch a ride in the Dames car!

I managed to catch a bus back to Oxford at a reasonable time, the bus having to wade through water. My walk along the towpath back to Oleanna felt very narrow with the water on the mill stream higher than it had been last weekend. I was glad of a touch more land between the canal and the flowing water when I reached the boat.

Someone was hungry!

Tilly was very happy to see me, Mick having left first thing to head up to Liverpool for the weekend. Of course she missed me. But I also missed having my morning Ding Ding that Tom had forgotten!

I encouraged the stove to flame back into life, fed Tilly and then myself. Chicken pasta with a few glasses of wine. Mick had been to London this week to pick up post. So now I have my new passport several months after it was applied for (it arrived three days after I applied for it), a new credit card, new E111 card, a waitrose card we’ve been waiting for since we moored in Newark a few years ago. We also have a new pair of boating shoes each and Mick has a second replacement pair of sheepskin slippers. What a lot of post!

Lots of post, including a shiny new red passport

Tilly chose what we were going to watch, somehow I don’t think she expected The Rock to be about chemical warheads on Alcatraz, a touch disappointing as there was little climbing involved, but I didn’t mind as it had Sean Connery in it. Not quite the girls night in I thought we’d have.

2 buses, 1 chippy, 1 painter, 1 new props maker, 0.5 backdrop repainted, 3 dogless collars, 3rd attempt with the LEDs, 12 Pippins, 2 pairs ears, 1 very dark room, 1 girls night in, 1st pasta in three weeks.

Panto Postcard 3, 2019. Saturday Escape.

73.75 hours

Hertford College Boat Club to College Cruisers, Oxford Canal

A very long week in Panto land, but a productive one.

Lily working with the Pippins

Two buses got me back to Chippy by 11am on Monday. The cast take over the stage now for much of the day, but lunchtimes and the evenings it is free.

Josh taking set ups

Monday we had a photo shoot for publicity photos for the show. We set up the Square setting as that was the most complete, actors donned their costumes and ‘set up’ photos were taken by Josh Tomalin.

Cutting in the woodwork on the boozer

The set being mainly sliders means that I can pull bits out to paint and then slot them back in whilst another scene is being rehearsed to dry without the possibility of actors getting covered in paint.

All wrapped up, ready to go

On Tuesday I took advantage of not being able to get to much on stage and sorted sending my model box out to Vienna. This took so long to fill out the forms on line. I could quite easily measure the box but weighing it was more problematical. The Front of House money scales came to my rescue, the box weighing 2kg which is £220 in £1 coins!

That’s me driving for the first time in three years!

In the evening Jo (the props maker) and I tried out the Dames car on the front of the stage whilst the technicians and Mark (Lighting Designer) hung lanterns around us. By the end of the day there were working headlights and I’d managed to paint my panto anaglypta in the boozer.


Wednesday was a filming day. The panto has some sections which are shown on a projection screen. So these were filmed in front of green fabric so that suitable backgrounds can be added. Then footage for the car chase was looked at with the actors in the car. Lots of fun.

Green screen filming

On Thursday I spent quite a bit of time getting dotty in the Bank of England Vault. I ended up getting carried away with the dots so had to paint every third one of them out. It being Halloween the actors had decided to spend the day in fancy dress. We had a strawberry, mustard, The Joker amongst other things.

Dotty vault

Friday was a very messy day. A panto isn’t a panto without a slosh scene. Last year this was tame compared to this year.

Susie mixing the smash
Actors getting covered

A huge bowl of Smash was required, costumes are made with ease of cleaning in mind and a large tarpaulin covered the stage floor. Various consistencies of smash were tried out, thinner worked better and tended not to clog nostrils up quite so much. On the set side of things I am going to need to glaze a lot of it as there is no knowing where the smash will land.

Pepper keeping me company back at my digs

In the evening I worked on the front edge of the stage, one last curve needed marking out. I was back to measuring and scaling up from my model, then joining the dots, followed by painting as good a curve as I could over mouldings. This involved adding a bit, loosing a bit, adding a bit etc whilst Mark and the chaps focused the lights on stage.

Ready to start the stagger through

Saturday morning, time for a stagger through of the whole show for the actors and a chance for everyone else to watch and see what is missing and needed for the technical rehearsals next week.

The boozer, just needing it’s dressing adding

This went well, a couple of scenes scripts were still in hands and we had to stop and start for scene changes, these will be worked out next week.

About to start at 3pm

Once the actors and props were clear of the stage it was time to get to work. Mark had done his best to get most of the lights focused, but still needed a bit of dark time. Jon (Sound Designer) was also around positioning speakers and microphones, a lot of people when you need a clear stage to start painting the floor. But everyone was understanding and accommodating.

Phil finishing the second coat of the base colour

The cavalry arrived in the shape of Phil, a scenic artist from Bristol. She has come to help out for a few days and was thrown in at the deep end helping me with the floor. We soon discovered what a small world it was from Skye to Hull to Bristol.

Base coat on by 4:20
Blues drying waiting for second coats at 5:10

The heating was on full blast to help the paint dry. We gave first, second and to one particularly annoying shade of blue a forth coat of paint before we broke for something to eat at 9:15 leaving the paint to dry on it’s own. Half an hour later we were good to go with a coat of glaze. This was on and drying with twenty minutes to go before the last bus left Chipping Norton for Oxford. Much better than last year when I finished at 2am and couldn’t escape to the boat until 6am.

Glazed by 22:35


This morning, Saturday, when I’d turned my phone on I received a message from Mick. Yesterday he’d been up to Osney Lock to check on the flow above the lock, any possible moorings and if it would be possible to turn into Sheepwash Channel and then up onto the canal. More rain and strong winds were forecast for this morning, should he push on or stay put. The message said, ‘Just setting off now to beat the wind and rain.’

More Panto

By the time I’d had a shower he’d negotiated his way past numerous rowers on the Thames to Osney Lock. Finishing breakfast he’d single handed Osney Lock. This involves a lot of walking round as the lock landings are on the offside and control panels on the towpath side.

The next stretch would be the hardest. The narrow channel meaning the flow would be strongest. Osney Bridge to negotiate and then the turn onto Sheepwash. Changing from going upstream to downstream with a right hand bend the currents couldn’t be predicted, there was even an Eddie there to confuse matters. Mick made the turn, passed the disused swing railway bridge and then turned onto the lock landing below Isis Lock. This was conveyed just as I reached the front doors of the theatre.


In the now pouring down rain he worked Oleanna up the narrow lock and at last he’d escaped the Thames. Two weeks later than originally planned, but safe back on the cut. No photos of this expedition as Mick was quite busy and it was raining somewhat.

2 locks, 2.31 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 1 red board, 3 buses, 1 car, almost 2 weeks in 1, 1 scenic cavalry, 1st glaze, 2nd tomorrow, 1 day off, 3 2 1mph, 1 boat escaped, 1 designer escaped, 1 lazy day planned, 1 escape pod to be put away!

On the move again. 31st October

Hello. Mick here. Apologies if this post isn’t up to Pip’s usual  standards but I thought you would like to know how things are here on Oleanna.

On Monday morning Pip headed off on the number 35 bus to Oxford City Centre then changed onto the S3 for the hour long journey to Chipping Norton.

I spoke to the engineer who had been called out to the overheating problem and he agreed to come and have a look at our cooling system on Wednesday (30th October).

The boards were still on red so even if Oleanna hadn’t been poorly I wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway. So I pottered around for a couple of days, went to Sainsbury’s, went for a walk, that sort of thing. I watched two mad boaters taking their narrowboats through the red boarded Sandford lock, against the advice of the lock keeper, downstream on the way to Abingdon.

The boat moored behind Oleanna had five cats on board. They seemed to be allowed out at all times of the day and night. Tilly was having a quiet little stand off with one of them, Tilly at the stern of Oleanna and the other cat at the bow of its boat. But the stand off soon got more complicated, it was no longer between Tilly and one cat but Tilly and three cats with another one looking on from a distance. I decided I didn’t want any unnecessary vet bills so I called Tilly and persuaded her to come inside. She didn’t need much persuasion.

On Tuesday the lock keeper knocked on the roof and asked if we were ok for water. The boards were still on red with no signs of turning yellow for a while. I said we could do with some (there’s no water point at Sandford) so he suggested that I reverse Oleanna back into the lock and connect the hose up to the outside tap at his house. Marvellous! I put the washing machine on whilst filling the tank.


On Wednesday Rusty (Marine Engineer) turned up to have another look at our engine. Last Friday he had removed the thermostat that was full of crud and we thought that had fixed the problem. But Saturday’s events had proved that there was more crud to find. He took the bottom hose off the skin tank and the contents of the tank and the coolant in the engine gushed out at a healthy rate. This was good as it meant the skin tank wasn’t blocked which would have been difficult to clear. He removed the other end of the hose from where it connects to the oil cooler and there was quite a bit of rusty crud in the pipe. Here is some of the rusty flaky crud now in a bucket.


Then he took off the housing that the hose attaches to. There was much glee and laughter at this point, “Ah! Found the problem. Yay!” and other words to the same effect! This housing was blocked with more of the same stuff.


So that all got cleaned out. On the engine where the housing is attached is a gauze, presumably to catch this sort of stuff and that was cleaned too.


Then it was all put back together again, filled with new coolant, system bled and we were good to go. The engine was started and you could immediately see a much greater flow through the header tank than before. Job’s a good’un. Rusty had brought a wet and dry vac to pump out the old coolant from the bilge. I offered him electricity from our inverter but he’d also brought a generator to power the vac. He poured it all into a container and took it away with him. 

I’m very confident that we have found the immediate issue but the question remains  about where the crud came from in the first place. Oleanna had a change of antifreeze last November. The antifreeze that got put in then was supposed to last five years. Rusty is going to show some of the crud to a friend of his who has been doing boat maintenance for about 60 years (Keith Duffy from RCR, now retired) and see if he can shed any light on where it might have come from. Rusty also suggests doing the same procedure again at the end of next summer and see what is there then. We decided not to put the old thermostat back in but to get a new one. I shall do this in the next few days.

On Thursday the boards at the lock had changed to yellow! Yay! But the lock keeper advised that this was only as far as the next lock (Iffley lock) and beyond that there are still red boards.


The share boat moored two behind us was preparing to move on. They have an appointment with a boat painter in Braunston and need to be above the Claydon flight on the Oxford Canal before they shut for winter maintenance on the 4th November. I asked them if I could join them to save having to work the lock by myself. Of course they were only too happy to do so. Sorry I didn’t get your names nor can I remember your boat name other than it begins with S!

I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge and, with the thermostat out, it didn’t manage to get above 40 to 50 degrees, not enough to heat the domestic hot water! Normally Oleanna runs at about 80 degrees.

When we got to Iffley Lock that was also showing yellow boards so we decided to carry on upwards. There was an off duty lock keeper there who operated the lock for us. However he advised that Osney Lock (the next one) was very definitely red. The share boat decided to carry on towards the centre of Oxford. About half a mile above Iffley lock I spotted a single mooring with bollards to tie to just near to Hertford College Boat Club. There were no “No Mooring” signs in evidence but it looked to good to be true. However I plonked Oleanna onto this mooring and tied up.


I worried a bit about the strong stream and whether to let Tilly out or not. But she’d been pretty much cooped up for quite a few days so I relented to her meows and opened the door for her.


After a couple of hours she came home and I went out on the bicycle up to Osney lock to have a look. The current is flowing quite fast through the narrow bit at the East Street moorings. Hopefully in a couple of more days without rain it will ease off and we can gat back onto the benign waters of the Oxford Canal.


10 litres of Antifreeze, 1 happy cat, 1 happy boat engineer, two happy boat owners, 1 red board ahead, 1 rainy forecast for Saturday. 1 substitute blog writer who can’t remember how to do the map thing.