Category Archives: River Trent

Happy 8th Baseplate Day! 14th February

Well today marks the 8th anniversary of Oleanna’s baseplate being laid in Tim Tylers workshop in Newcastle under Lyme. It was another year and a bit before we finally moved on board to cruise her down to Crick to meet with Lillian and fully move onboard.

Mick stood at the stern 58ft 6 inches away, 8 years ago

If you want to look back and see Oleanna’s build this is a post from our first visit. Her story starts much earlier so here’s a link to the first Oleanna blog post, 1948 blog posts ago!

Currently we are gradually getting ourselves ready to move back on board, the date still a little bit up in the air.

Sunday in the Park with Mick

Mick went down to check on Oleanna on Monday. A chat with the bully boy batteries went well, the newly oiled floor had cured so the back steps could go back in. I’ve been busy covering new and old dinette cushions and today we should receive new cartridges for our life jackets, which are currently still inflated in a closed room well away from cat claws.

The world of canals and rivers is keeping us on our toes as regards to stoppages at the moment. There is a silt build up on the River Trent which needs dredging between Beeston and Cranfleet locks. The coal boat had serious difficulty passing that way a week ago and was having to wait for levels to rise again before attempting to return to base. Since then the Trent has gone back into flood.

Can we start packing yet?

The Don Doors on the New Junction are having issues with their gearbox so are closed to the canal currently. Even if we got past them Vazon Sliding Bridge is closed to boat traffic until mid March whilst strengthening works are carried out to the north canal wall.

However we’d planned on crossing the Pennines. The Rochdale, Lock 67 is suffering from subsidence which will be worked on next week. Lock 65 is also showing similar signs and will be looked at next week to see what should be done.

Round 1

The Leeds Liverpool has a navigation restriction near Burnley, Embankment 39, so it is still navigable. Works at Wigan have been slowed by the weather so the closure there has been extended by a week so that concrete has more time to go off, the concrete has as yet to be laid. Problems near Foulridge Tunnel seem to have been sorted.

Round 2

Then the Huddersfield Narrow and Broad. There are bridge works and a lock closure on the Broad along with repairs to a wash wall which should be finished mid March. On the Narrow locks on the east side are closed until the end of February, then there is a closure in Stalybridge which should open mid March.

Round 3

So at the moment the Leeds Liverpool is looking the most promising, followed by the Huddersfield canals. Further south there has been a substantial landslip on the North Oxford near Brinklow. We’d planned on heading southwards this way, but we strongly suspect it will take a while for this to be sorted so will have to head southwards through Birmingham. Or do we wait for the Trent to be sorted and out of flood then high tail it south along the Leicester Section?

Who knows! We’ll wait and see what is open when we set off.

Thank you Beth

In Sockathon News I now have sponsors for 29 pairs of socks and have raised £655 for Dementia UK. Pair 7 will soon be finished. I now have a very large box of yarn donations sent in from all over, details of which are on the Yarn Donations page. There are still a few more people who have pledged yarn donations so they will be added as yarn arrives. I think I may be knitting for a few years to use it all up! If you fancy a pair here’s a link to my JustGiving page

  • Thank you Debby for becoming pair 30!
My friend Morag looking across the harbour

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 years old! 4 routes from the north closed, 1 bathroom delayed, 1 best mate visit, 2 lodgers, 1 fair weather cat, 2 opticians appointments, 2 doctors appointments, 1 vets appointment, 1 gathering, 1 leg of lamb, 2 boaters nearly ready.

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

Panto Postcard 2, 2023

….Hours

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

In an older part of Chippy

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

The Dulux dog has taken over from Bagpuss

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

One possibly for the Christmas list

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

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

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

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

My favourite

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

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

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

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

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

Back on the towpath

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

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

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

Seeing double twice

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

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

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

Breakfast in bed

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

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

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

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

Knitting and watching

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

https://www.justgiving.com/page/pip-leckenby-1677835197682?utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=page%2Fpip-leckenby-1677835197682&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=pfp-share

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

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

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

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

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

A flipping banana dog toy!

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

There she is in sunny Goole

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

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

That’s not good!

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

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

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

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

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

Panto Postcard 1, 2023

74.25 hours

Leaving me in the house all alone!

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

Too much fencing to see properly!

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

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

Southern beer

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

Sunday morning treat

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

Ethel’s down, it must be panto time!

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

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

Headers going up

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

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

Hooray for fish and chips!

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

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

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

Some of the team in the pub

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

Colour and white things

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

Puppets!

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.

Buttons!

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.

Ten Days 17th October

Viking Marina

The last ten days have been very VERY busy! Monday morning started off with four scaffolding chaps arriving, by early afternoon the front of the house was accessible, right up to the top of the gable end. Mick has been all the way to the top and we can now boast that you can see the sea in two directions.

The same day we had four joiners arrive to fit new sashes into our wooden windows. After four and a half days they had replaced all the single glazing in the house for double, rebuilt a dormer window and scarfed in new timber where the original 1883 timber had rotten away.

A new little view

Wednesday the joiners were joined by a decorator to follow them round. The frames of the windows needing repainting along with the rest of the woodwork. He had a false start as rain arrived, but has cracked on on dry days. Today he’s finished painting the front and has moved round to the back.

Gavin finishing off the bay under the watch of Tilly

So far we’ve only really had one day when we’ve been able to feel the benefit of the new windows as every other day Gavin the painter has had windows and doors open for painting. So far Tilly has managed to keep all four paws white!

A constant round of cuppas

Last week I spent much of my time tidying up the artwork for panto. It took forever erasing small hairs that would be blown up to a foot long and eradicating marks I’d made to help position leaves. Today Peter at Prompt Side has been on the phone with questions, so hopefully the giant printer will be printing away all things panto ready for the fit up next week.

I’m saving the cordial for after panto

A mysterious leak had developed in the kitchen ceiling whilst we had lodgers, we think we’ve now solved this. The other shower is currently on de-sealant mode as it was still leaking after all our efforts earlier in the year. I think I have sourced the problem and will be battling away with sealant tomorrow hoping that everything has dried out enough.

Hello up there!

A one off veg box arrived last week and we’ve been gradually working our way through the contents. A new recipe to me Pumpkin, Lime and Ginger cake, tasty but may have required a bit longer in the oven. There was also far too much cream cheese icing for my two cakes and this was really quite thin. Plenty left for a couple of days Frank if you happen to be passing.

On Sunday we managed to head down to see the sea. What a beautiful day! Scarborough was stunning. We are so fortunate to be able to walk down and enjoy the coast. This was the furthest I’ve walked since breaking my toe five weeks ago. I’m hoping to transition from crocks into trainers before heading to Chippy.

Yesterday Tilly and I played the dinette game. Putting the dinette cushions together how they are on the boat, without the boat!

It’s still silly that one in the corner!

Thank you Adam for the lead on foam, I have an order sat waiting to go just measurements of the mattress on board needed as we’d like to replace that too.

There she is!

Today Mick headed back to Oleanna by train. The fridge and freezer needed cleaning out and she needed winterising before the temperature drops any more. A full hoovering was done. Things on the roof got a good tidy and tie down. Batteries were removed from heat/smoke/CO alarms and the clock. The water system was winterised, taps left open, pump off, shower head in the shower tray, valve from the water tank turned off.

Andromeda afloat again

Andromeda, a cruiser which had sunk on the Trent a month or so ago had been out on the hard at the marina. She’s now back in the water. Her sinking a bit of a mystery. Her owner had become ill, managed to moor up on the pontoon in Gainsborough before heading to hospital where he sadly passed away. Andromeda somehow slipped her moorings. Possibly some youths untied her, possibly a group of men took her to Knaith where a photo was taken of her in gear. This is where she ended up sunk, anchor out and a large boulder on the deck.

Humber Bridge

We’d also thought we’d forgotten a few things. My scratch pole! But Tom bought me a new one a touch taller than the floating one. The hair clippers being one of them, but they were nowhere to be seen on the boat. Tidying our things away in the house from the lodgers side I found them tucked away with my yarn. Mick can have a trim before I go away.

It needs a bit more wobble, then it’ll be perfect!

0 locks, 0 miles, 14 new windows, 1 cosy house when the windows are closed! ’23 panto getting close, 1 Sunday walk, 1 clerk of works, 4 new cushions, 1 mattress, 1 shower! 1 Oleanna winterised, 1 veg box, 0.5 of a house painted, 1 cancelled train.

It Only Brok Yestuday! 3rd October

Small Hedge Swing Bridge to Sykehouse Junction, Aire and Calder Navigation

Yesterday we’d looked at Ship Tracker to see if there was any sign of Exol Pride, she was in Hull. This morning she was heading up the Humber towards Goole, we’d most probably see her today. The VHF radio sprang into life, just two words, ‘EXOL PRIDE‘ Yep she was on her way towards us.

With possible work phone calls and the need to be sat inside for them we needed to move on despite Tilly wanting to stay. Once breakfasted and yellow water dealt with we were on the move.

Sykehouse Lock ahead

Ahead the light at Sykehouse Lock was red, this suggested there was a volunteer on duty. Mick radioed ahead, they’d get the lock ready for us. No comment of ‘Come in on the Green‘ little radio etiquette either, but that didn’t bother us.

Being about a mile away we pootled along at normal cruising speed. I could see someone come down to close barriers and swing the bridge over the lock. Then as we approached the top gates opened for us. Still a red light. Still a red light. We carried on in to the lock. The chap stuck his head out of the window to check we were fine, then lifted a paddle at the bottom.

The last swing

When we were nearly down he came out to chat again. Only one paddle working on the bottom gates, one gone on the top too. When another goes that will be it! He mentioned that Exol Pride was on her way and reckoned we’d meet her up at the Junction. We thanked him and were on our way.

There she is!

Kirk Lane Swing Bridge was swung, then only one more bridge in front of us. Would we arrive at the same time as someone from C&RT who’d be there to open the bridge for Exol Pride? Someone appeared, ran down to the panel, the bridge started to lift. Thank you. Up ahead the blue and white of Exol Pride was just visible.

Well except they weren’t opening the bridge for us. The bow of a narrowboat appeared on the other side of the bridge. The bridge operator most certainly hadn’t seen us, but the chap at the helm thankfully had. We motored on to get under the bridge.

They made it of the Trent then

Well Hello and thank goodness, it was NB NI from the Tidal Trent! They were alive, wonder if they’d got to Ripon? I know of someone who’s been waiting for the Ouse and tides to be right before heading up stream, so I’m not sure they could have, it would have been a dash if they did! No time to chat we had a big boat to keep an eye on.

Sitting low

A straight mile ahead of us there she was coming across the Went Aqueduct. Slow progress as the channel there is narrow. The radio chirped up again. Chatter between Sykehouse Lock and Exol Pride. The bridge would be made ready, ‘We’ve got a sluice out at top’. ‘Well there’s a surprise!’ ‘It only brok yestuday!’ ‘Be six month afor its mended’

She’ll be back in a day or two

As they cleared the footbridge on the aqueduct the wheelhouse was raised back up, after having ducked under. Still not at full speed there was still a lot of water being shifted as it passed. We waved, no wave came back. The water all churned up and muddy just as it would be with us on a shallow canal, Exol sitting low in the water full of oil for Rotherham.

We’d planned to pull in on the moorings just before the junction. Two narrowboats sat there then a long line of fencing protecting people from a section of bank that’s lifted at a jaunty angle. I spotted a cat in the window of one boat, two cat hammocks in the window. Not a good place for Tilly or them to share. We pulled out of the junction, 1 long blast on the horn. We’d pull in just round the bend, putting water between the felines.

Went Aqueduct

As fairly normal for these parts it was windy, someone was taking full advantage of it, a windsurfer on the lake, zipping back and forth at speed. Tilly was given the remainder of the day to explore. However, the wind got right up my bum! Can’t we turn it around and catch the last outside again, pleeese! A nice mooring plenty of room on the bank, perfect for a bbq! Not today though!

If only it was barbeque weather

Not a day for outside chores. I tried calling Promptside again. Still no luck, Peter was away from his desk, he would call me back, they were really busy. The build up to panto! We were on the board, booked in, only the song sheet artwork needed now. I had a request for the background of this to be paler from John. Luckily I’d saved a version I could alter, a two minute job! I must be getting the hang of things now.

1 lock, 3 bridges, 1 held up, 2 worked for us, 1 narrowboat safe, but where are they heading now? 1 big blue boat passed safely, 0 outdoor jobs, 2 windy, 1 looney cat, 1 stove lit, 1 sock nearly finished, 1 song sheet finished.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/D7Y7UA2262yF1Hh39

Bacon Butties, Bananas And A Break. September 26th

West Stockwith to Opposite Staniland Marina, Stainforth and Keadby Canal

Thank you swan

Alarm at 6am, blimey it was dark. When I took the above photo I had no idea there was a swan right in the middle of it! Cuppas were made and drunk, Nebolink started, covers rolled up, no time for breakfast today!

West Stockwith Lock for 7am

We were just pulling into the lock as the Lockie arrived a little before 7am. He donned his life jacket and got out his serious key of power, it looked like the float also doubles as a corkscrew! We chatted a little as the water drained from the lock. A radio check was done between us and NB That’s It, all loud and clear. The gates opened and we were out on the river again turning downstream heading off with the outgoing tide.

What a morning!

About twenty minutes later Brian radiod, they were now on the river too. Three boats all heading to Keadby. Our normal cruising speed was knocked back a touch so as to keep a similar speed to those following us. Best to keep some distance between us, but not too much!

Waterway Routes and the chart

I’d managed to pull out some mittens for us this morning and we were glad we had them. It was a touch chilly out there, but what a wonderful morning to be out on the river. Soon we were following trails of debris which had found it’s way into the channel, thankfully the level of the river meant we could keep just out of the channel, helping to keep the prop clear.

Windmills, pubs, gas pipelines, hills in the distance all came and went. The Boating Association charts next to Waterway Routes again, helped us to know our location as downstream from Gainsborough there are no Km markers or red and green posts.

Gradually everything got misty, a dampness in the air. Waterproof trousers were sought and put on just before the M180 bridge. Here it was time to radio ahead to Keadby Lock to inform them of our position. The lock was ready and waiting for us, he’d get us sorted and then we’d wait for NB That’s it and NB Christopher B to arrive before being locked up together, Keadby Lock can take three narrowboats side by side.

Gosh the cloud was low, as we approached Keadby Bridge it was hard to make out the wind turbines that back in February surrounded the white lookout tower at the lock. Time to switch sides of the river and make our approach. This involves winding to face the current, then you have more control over your boat pushing your way forward.

We want to turn in there

Mick swung us round, maybe a little bit early. We were level with the lock entrance. We didn’t seem to be being moved with the tide, just in gear we were making our way back up stream away from the lock. Reverse was given a blast to adjust our position. This has happened approaching Selby Lock before, maybe we just manage to find patches of slack water!

Sorting ropes out with the Lock Keeper

Now with a better position Mick pushed the tiller over and upped the revs, Oleanna swung round and into the lock. We’d made it! Time to hold ropes and wait for the others to arrive. We’d heard Brian radio from the M180 a short while before we’d entered the lock so they were about fifteen minutes behind us. The Lockie passed down ropes to take ours up and around bollards. By now it was proper raining and clinging on to ropes meant sleeves getting wet!

I sent a message to Jo that we were in the lock. A message came back that NB Christopher B would come in first followed by NB That’s It. We watched as Clive turned in the river and then headed for the lock. Time for Clive and Les to cling onto Oleanna and wait for Brian to come in alongside them. NB That’s It turned and within a blink of an eye they were entering the lock. All three boats now safely in the lock, smiles all round, phew!

All three boats off the river

It took a while for the lock to fill. The Lockie asked if we would be staying or heading onwards through Vazon Sliding Bridge. The consensus yesterday had been to have a breakfast break and then carry on, making use of three boats in convoy to work the bridges. However if it continued to rain we’d be staying put.

Bacon butties and a banana each with a nice hot cuppa made things better. After an hour the rain seemed to be petering out. A boaters conference was held on the towpath, time to move on.

Waiting for Vazon Sliding Bridge to open

At times this year Vazon Sliding Bridge has had time restrictions for its use due to high temperatures expanding the structure and the train timetables needing to be kept to. As we moved off the Lockie rang, he’d give the bridge keeper a call for us. The flotilla pulled out heading west.

A bit of running maintenance

There was a wait. Mick checked his train app, no trains anywhere nearby. Then the warning siren started, the bridge slid back. Brian was first through dropping Jo off to work the manual swing bridge, then Oleanna, followed by Clive and Les. What surprised us was that there was a chap stood next to the bridge. He scraped and oiled parts of the structure next to the canal. Time to say hello, the bridge stayed open for sometime after we’d left.

Blue sky now!

Now we were in leapfrog bridge mode. We’d positioned ourselves well, the push button bridges would be ours meaning I could work them and leave Mick to battle with the inevitable wind that lurks along the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Godnow Bridge had a very chatty level crossing chap on duty. He closed the rail barriers, pressed his button inside the cabin allowing me to work the canal bridge. Road traffic was already backing up, the three boats came through, closed button pressed and road reopened.

Assistance required

Next up was Medge Hall Bridge, the one with the post box and nice signal box. Les hopped off to work it. All the bridges are different in one way or another and it took a bit of fathoming out. Jo went to lend a hand, barriers needed clicking in more. The leapfrog changed order a touch.

Gradually the sun was coming out and ahead lay Yorkshire, as we crossed the border from Lincolnshire we gave a big cheer.

Us infront again

Maud’s Bridge the one that was stuck shut to boat traffic in January after a car had smashed into the barriers is always a bit of a pig, poor Les got that one too. Our turn next. Moores Swing Bridge was having new controls added in January, a new simple open/close button panel. I held the traffic up again.

Moores Swing Bridge

Two more bridges to Thorne. The flotilla changed order again, meaning that those who knew how seriously annoying Princess Royal Swing Bridge can be would work it. So Clive and Les would get Wykewell Lift Bridge. Well that was the plan.

Something’s not right!

Bringing up the rear we could see that something had happened ahead. NB Christopher B was pulled into the side, centre line tied, Les looked to be on her knees by the stern. Then she was inside and Clive heading to open the bridge, had Les fallen?

Hello Chance

Clive returned to the boat leaving the bridge up. We pulled up to see if we could do anything. The wind was now pinning Christopher B against the side, traffic was queueing. As Clive battled with the boat I closed the bridge let the traffic through then raised it again just as Clive had got going again. He pulled in on the other side. Les was injured, an ambulance was required!

This bridge just needs blowing up!

Not much we could do other than offer ice for a possible broken ankle. We carried on into Thorne where Brian and Jo were doing battle with the footbridge. I went to waggle gates whilst others pressed buttons. No joy. I got a video call from the set builders to go through things and answer questions, so I missed the cavalry arriving from the council who gave the gate a big waggle and the bridge worked! Clive by now had decided to follow us, he was first to pull in onto the pontoons. A first responder very quickly arrived and spent quite some time inside with Les.

A very late lunch and chats with Brian and Jo as our water tank slowly filled. They would be staying, we’d be moving to above the lock for a more suitable place for Tilly. When we eventually pulled out an Ambulance had just arrived to take Les to hospital.

Thank goodness they came quickly

At Thorne Lock a boat was just about to come down, a couple who gave up teaching this summer and have lived on board for seven weeks had been out for a jolly for the day with a friend. When it came to swap keys the panel wouldn’t release theirs. We dropped their boat down and brought Oleanna in, the key was still stuck. We filed the lock and then went to work the barriers on the bridge just above. Ah ha! One of them hadn’t been closed properly. Problem solved we could all carry on our way.

We pulled in where we’ve moored before during a storm, just opposite Staniland Marina. Here Tilly can explore trees and hopefully the trees are fairly young so will provide shelter rather than be a danger.

Toad in the Hole

To celebrate being back in Yorkshire we had toad in the hole with a glass or two of wine. It had been a long eventful day and sadly not for the right reasons. We were bushed, just hope Les and Clive are as best as they can be.

3 locks, 23.5 miles, 2 lefts, 10 bridges, 22 held up, 6 soggy boaters, 2 bacon butties, 6 sausages in holes, 0 shore leave it was too late! 1 almost full water tank, 1 ambulance, 1 more drawing to do, 1 sunny day in Cornwall, 1 cancelled digs, 1 solution, 1 missing weekend.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/WgUdy9UCTYB15Zgh7

Dense Cover. 25th September

Basin Bridge, Chesterfield Canal

In our original plan, when we’d decided to head back up to Yorkshire via the Trent, we’d thought of cruising the length of the Chesterfield Canal. This was put into our schedule and we’d have had sufficient time to reach the top. However a few weeks ago due to low water levels the magical flight of locks above Shireoaks was closed. This meant there was little point in heading along the canal if we couldn’t do it all. Our mooring plans for the PS Waverley were changed from the Retford and Worksop Boat Club at Clayworth to Lincoln and the rest is now history. At least Oleanna has dabbled her bow onto the Chesterfield, but sadly this time we’ll be going no further.

Do I have to eat that? Oh dear, what a shame!

The tides to head further north to Keadby were not suitable, too early in the day for Lock Keepers to be on duty, so we had a day of staying put, well almost.

Tilly was given 9 hours shore leave and then proceeded to have her morning kip. The sun came out and we had a cooked breakfast. I then got various things together for a panto Production Meeting. Just over an hour of logistics, what’s happening with this that and the other. Two new faces on the zoom Mariana and Anna, the Assistant Director and Deputy Stage Manager. Next time we all meet it will be read through day!

As Tilly explored the very dense friendly cover outside I had a go at creating the songsheet for Panto on Paintshop. Some things worked very well, others went a touch array. I’ll be doing the basic artwork the old fashioned way and then scanning to add the words ready for printing.

Are these the right settings?

At around 3:30 we’d kind of run out of things to occupy us, time to see if we could curtail Tilly’s shore leave. Mick sat out the back waiting to see if he could attract her attention. No cat to be seen. I headed out the back and called.

Hello! I’m here! Where? Here! I couldn’t see her anywhere, but thankfully when she’s not being busy, she will quite happily chat to me as she makes her way back. Her bell also helps in locating her.

We chatted away for an age, Meow! minow Meow!! I could just make out the route she was taking to get back to the towpath with the cover moving about, but no sign of a black and white cat until she finally appeared from the dense mass!

Reversing back to the basin

With all three of us onboard it was time to reverse all of the 0.1 miles back to West Stockwith Basin to moor for the night. Our departure from the lock would be early tomorrow and we didn’t want to wake the neighbours. Back we went and pulled in on the two day mooring. Earlier on Mick had been to chat to the Lockie, he’d be there to penn us down at 7am. It was now time to check in with our Trent buddies.

That’s the way we’ll be going tomorrow

Jo was sat out on the back of NB That’s It, we shared Johnsons Hillocks and Wigan flights with them earlier in the year. They’ve been thwarted this way and that over the summer, stuck behind the Burscough breach on the Leeds Liverpool this meant they missed their passage through Standedge Tunnel. Then when more than half way up the Wigan flight a cill blew at a lock ahead of them meaning they had to retrace their steps, 10 hours hard labour to get back to where they’d started! The Trent was the only option left. It was good to chat with Jo, Brian was off doing a car shuffle.

Bottle lanterns

Then Les and Clive from NB Christopher B walked past, the third of the boats heading to Keadby tomorrow. It had been decided that as we don’t mind being out on our own that we’d lead the flotilla and lock down on our own at 7:00 to be followed by NB That’s It and NB Christopher B in the second lock at 7:15. That way if any of us had a problem help would either be close by or following. Phone numbers were exchanged between all three boats.

Mick did the checks and shortly before bedtime we emptied the welldeck ready for an early start in the morning.

0 locks, 0.1 miles in reverse, 1 empty wee tank, 1/3 of a water tank, 9 zooming, 1 attempt at the songsheet, 1 better idea using paint and card, 1 hidden Tilly, 1 jungle in the shower, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of Approval.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/2Q5zFpCiB4BgLwZU9

Torksey Central. 22nd September

Torksey Top Side to Torksey Bottom Side Pontoon, River Trent

A quiet morning catching up on things and down loading a free trial of Photoshop. Tilly was kept in, no shore leave granted today, we weren’t going far but we had the tide to catch.

Heading into Torksey Lock

At midday we moved up to the water point, topped up on fresh and disposed of the yellow. The rubbish would have to wait as the top lock gates were already open meaning getting to the bins would take longer.

Going down

We pulled in next to NB Olive J in the lock, ropes around bollards, the volunteer closed up behind us then lifted the paddles, down we went. He said we might need to do a bit of jiggling about on the pontoons as they were already quite full.

Back out onto the tidal Trent

One space behind a boat of the south bank, NB Olive J headed to a space behind their friend on the north, there looked to be more room right at the end of the long pontoon. Yes 60ft, we’d fit nicely. We pulled in tied up and settled in for the remainder of the day.

The Lock Cottage up for auction soon

A while later four boats pulled off, comments of ‘last one there buys the drinks tonight’. The lead boat beeped their horn five times as they reached the junction to turn north. Five beeps means ‘I don’t understand your intentions, keep clear!’ Yes it was the same chap who’d beeped his horn to indicate turning to port the other day.

One boat without anyone at the helm!

Blimey it was busy down here. Boats arrived, some radioing the lock to go up, others just pulling in to wait for the next suitable tide. One boat didn’t move off even though they’d intended to, their cat hadn’t returned in time for the tide. Hopefully it’ll be back for their next suitable tide. Tilly has only once almost affected our departure with a tide. That was when a chink was left in the rear hatch and she made the most of it at West Stockwith, half an hour of trying my best not to panic and eventually a well timed rugby tackle worked and we were able to catch the tide.

This one went backwards to the junction

Soon the pontoons were full again. One chap asked Mick which the best way was to get to Ripon, without going by the Humber estuary. A conversation followed which gave Mick the impression that no locks had been booked, no lock keepers phone numbers were at hand, they’d arrived without life jackets on, Mick didn’t dare ask if they had the charts, knowing that the answer would possibly be no. Mick and someone else tried to impress on the chap that Keadby would need to be booked otherwise there might not be anyone there to let them in! Gainsborough pontoon was mentioned by another boater. But who knows!

Boats left waiting

During the afternoon I had a go at starting to learn about Photoshop. One tool looked like it would do the job of removing hairs and replacing them with a suitable background. Photoshop has come on miles since I dabbled a touch ten/fifteen years ago. One demonstration shows you how to remove a house on a mountain side and photoshop just replaces it with more mountain. You can even change the house to being pink and at night time with lights on whilst the scene around it is very obviously daytime.

All calm at the junction this evening

I loaded up part of a portal to have a go at removing hairs, the tool didn’t work, something about not enough something or other. I decided that maybe I should start at the very beginning on the tutorial. This I started but then Mick came to tell me about the man who had NO idea. Then Tilly came and shouted at the back door, stating that it really wasn’t fare being kept locked in when another cat had been allowed to roam free all morning. I gave up, time to do some knitting.

Todays film Wildlife (2018) about a family in 1960’s Montana struggling to make ends meet. Dad goes off to fight fire, their son takes a job at a photographic studio and Mum starts to teach swimming. Things go array for them all, their poor son observing more than a 14 year old should. A sad tale in which I got the start of another sock knitted.

1 lock, 0.4 miles, 4 going down stream, 6 or more arriving, 1 missing cat, 1 mardy cat, 1 AI program on my laptop, 1 clueless chap, 6th pair started, 1 leaking bath.

PS. I made a complaint to C&RT regarding the boat on the Kiln Pontoon in Newark. This week I was asked for the boats name and number, which of course I couldn’t give them as we’d not seen them displayed. I could however give them a photograph of the boat and suggested that their local team were VERY likely to know of it. The local team have since been in touch to inform me that they are very aware of the boat, so are the police. ‘Our Licence Support Team are dealing with it through our official process, but unfortunately this does take time. We are also monitoring the anti-social behaviour and building a case with regards this.’

https://maps.app.goo.gl/xnvdXyeYccja54x87

Lining Up The Bucket. 11th September

Cromwell to Torksey

Beautiful, even if it’s mostly from planes

Would today be the day when I could upgrade from flip flops to something more substantial on my feet? Some slip resistant crocs made the grade, a cautious put on but after that there is plenty of room around my little toe. In the next few days we’ll see what they are like with socks.

NB Preaux about to push off

Water filling, breakfast early, clear the cratch to make more room and exchange phone numbers with Steve and Deena on NB Preaux for just in case. An Anglo Welsh boat had pulled up last night, they’d been to walk their dog this morning and their boat name was on the list for passage through Cromwell this morning. Steve looked towards the lock the green light was on it was 7:35, Neil was ready for us. We still had a couple of jobs to do but would be along shortly.

Oleanna ready for the tide

As we pulled in and passed our ropes round the risers Neil asked if there was movement from anyone else, only the dog walker. He wanted to see the crew on the hire boat before hand, so they wouldn’t be joining us. The top gates closed behind the two boats, thumbs up that we were ready, the sluices were lifted and down into the dark of the lock we went.

Cromwell Weir

We’d agreed to go first as we’ve done this stretch maybe four times before. 7:50, off we went, up to our cruising speed, hopeful to reach Torksey in time for there to be sufficient water to get over the cill today. We’d be punching what meager tide there was before it would start to help us and give us a push.

Not sure we’ve seen the weir looking so high before, the tide not up to meet it. A sand bank had birds preening themselves in the morning sunshine, maybe we should have worn shorts and not long trousers!

NB Preaux following

We followed the red line on our charts, this normally feels a touch overkill, but this morning with the level low it felt important to keep in the channel, sandbanks lurk below. Behind NB Preaux followed, their speed not the same as ours.

Round a couple of bends, we caught another fisherman! Mick put Oleanna into reverse hoping that we’d not been caught too well, the fisherman pulled and wound his line, thankfully it came free.

Hello!

I maybe should have brought out a pencil to jot notes on our new chart, but the red line was what we needed and we followed it as closely as we could. A glance behind every now and again, NB Preaux coming into view then out again at the next bend.

Contender for Photo of the Week

What a glorious morning, not too hot, not much breeze, blue skies. One look along the river gave us 2 Herons, an Egret, Egyptian Geese and a Kingfisher darting along the edge of the banks.

Careful!

Cows walked to find tasty morsels silhouetted. Sheep scrambled over rocks preferring the nettles there, hopefully none of them would loose their footing and end up in the river!

Turbines

A cruiser came past heading to Cromwell, he had a loud hailer and wished us good morning, his wind turbine whizzing round on the bow. He was soon followed by a narrowboat. As always you meet boats on a stretch where you are trying to line up with landmarks. The pylon behind with the white domed windmill ahead. Line the pooh bucket up with it.

Gulls sat on top of marker posts, some having seen better days, now rusting away, few bright white anymore.

At Marnham Boat Club two chaps were tentatively backing a speed boat into the river, would it float before water came over the stern? And just how much effort went into the positioning of that life boy? Under Fledborough Viaduct, navigational notes should be amended here to left or the centre pier, rather than under the graffitti, now almost impossible to see until you are right underneath.

Lining up with the wires

Approaching Dunham Dubbs (is it one B or two?) I got out the new chart showing the recently added markers. A new line to follow up to the bend, then to follow the line of the western overhead wires.

The two new boards needed lining up, but where was the white post ahead of us? Two tractors cut grass, maybe they needed to do a little bit of pruning of a tree, then the post came into view. We lined the posts behind and the pooh bucket on the roof with the post ahead, we knew were we in the channel.

Dunham Toll Bridge

One day we’ll stop at the 48 hour mooring before Dunham Toll Bridge, but not today, the tide was busy going out and we were eager to get to Torksey.

Cottam Power Station

Past Butlers sunken island and great views of Cottam Power Station, the coal fired station now decommissioned (2019). Demolition works have already started on sight this year, the cooling towers and chimney stack will be the last parts to be demolished in 2025. Then according to Wikipedia the sight will become a ‘garden community’ with 1500 houses.

Not far now, a couple of big sweeps of the river before we got to see Jack’s Ferry, time to radio the lock and check if we were in time. He’d just had a call from NB Preaux, they were a little way behind us. We were told there was 3ft and a bit over the cill at the moment, the lock gates would be open ready for us, lights on green. We were to approach with caution and slow our speed right down. If at any time he thought we should abandon then the lights would go to red.

Torksey Lock!

We turned into the cut, one cruiser on the pontoon, plenty of space should we need it. The lights were red, the gates just opening, light went to green. A call on the radio, depth over the cill 3ft, we should be fine as we’re 2ft 6″. Mick slowed us right down, the shallowest point being the cill between the small lock and longer lock chamber. We’d made it, 10:41. Ropes were passed up to the top and now there was a short wait for NB Preaux.