Category Archives: Scenic Art

Ronnie, Tinkerbell And The Queen. 19th July

Aylesbury Basin to above Broughton Lock 14

A big pill after breakfast, hopefully the effect of it would kick in by the time I’d written the blog as there was someone I wanted to say hello to.

Fletch

Sat in front of Aylesbury Waterfront Theatre is Fletcher, Norman Stanley Fletcher, well Ronnie Baker in his costume from Porridge. He sits hands in his armpits looking up towards the theatre, as if he’s about to say something to Mr Barrowcliffe.

Looking up at the theatre

Ronnie first performed professionally in 1948 at the old County Theatre in Market Square Aylesbury, good on the person who gave him his first job.

Around the entrance to the theatre has been painted for Christmas. Peter Pan a good guess for their panto, but it’s actually The Further Adventures of Peter Pan. It’s a shame Tinkerbell looks a little bit chubby cheeked.

With walking pole at hand and the pain killer starting to kick in Mick and I had a wander around Waitrose looking for yellow labels and enough provisions to keep us going for a few days. This I simply wouldn’t have been able to do a couple of days ago.

Mick had topped us up with water whilst we had breakfast linking our hoses together from a tap by the gate to the pontoons. Some bins had been mentioned by another boater so Mick went off to find them, check they were official C&RT bins (they were), noted their location and disposed of our rubbish.

Open and waiting for us

As the temperature was set to rise to around 30C today we really didn’t want to be sitting in bright sunshine, Tilly for one would be complaining about it, ALL the time! We’d spotted somewhere on our way down that, if there was space for us, would be a nice shady mooring. It would have been nice to venture further afield in Aylesbury than we’d been before but that wasn’t to be this time.

We pushed off and slowly made our way back up the canal. Depth and weed slowing our progress. The first lock had both it’s bottom gates open waiting for us, plus a paddle up. I stayed at the helm and Mick did the honours with windlass and gates.

Willow for shade at the lock

Blimey it was getting hot, blue skies, we were thankful for the shady trees for some of the way. We passed a downhill boat that we remembered from a couple of days ago, hopefully they’d come from where we wanted to be. Another two locks uphill and we reached the line of moored boats. A fisherman sat in shade, then a couple of boats in dappled sunshine. A space, would the shade last the rest of the day? We pulled in, it certainly looked like we’d not be baking all afternoon.

A nice shady spot to moor

Tilly was given 4 hours shore leave, we sat down for lunch, she came and went for a while, then went for quite some time. Here had self catering potential.

Mick listened to the cricket and I filled out a request for a doctors appointment with my surgery in Scarborough. The things the practitioner had said to me yesterday were all put on the form, I needed to make a good case. I clicked the button to submit it. On recent form from the surgery I didn’t expect to hear back for a few days, however within 5 minutes my phone rang! The doctor wanted me to see a Physio (expected first line of action), could I make an appointment this afternoon? Blimey!!! I was being offered an appointment within 45 minutes of submitting my request! Obviously this was impossible. I was offered the next available appointment which I snapped up when it coincided with appointments that Mick has back in Scarborough.

A touch of towpath knitting

Now we just need to sort logistics. A phone call to one marina to see if we could leave Tilly in charge there. He was so ambiguous, could we call back next week, not sure if there was space, we decided we’d try elsewhere instead.

The shady towpath called us both outside for the rest of the afternoon. Tilly came and joined us. Sitting on the top of the pram cover a good spot when in shade. Climbing the big tree next to us also good, apart from when coming down and trying to use some dead ivy which gave way under her paws. A nice quiet afternoon of cricket and finishing off sock pair 29.

Queen of the boat

3 locks, 1.4 miles, 1 big pill, 0 co-codamol, 1 Ronnie, 1 Tinkerbell, 1 queen of the pram cover, 1 hot day in the shade.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/pjDk26DWVi7eXL9e8

Party Time. 13th 14th July

Cowroast Marina

A bus into Aylesbury for a hire car, £100 cheaper for the weekend than from Hemel Hempstead! The washing machine constantly on the go, an extra £5 added to the electric post needing to be used. We both packed a bag with party clothes, evening dingding was served three hours early, Tilly was left in charge. No magic food bowl?!

A grade 3 tidy up

If we’d wanted to we’d have been able to reach our destination on Oleanna, this would have meant some long days in the rain and on arrival it wouldn’t have been quite so handy. We could have taken the train and a bus or two, some distances to walk would have been involved but the fares were way more expensive than just hiring a car.

The Watford Flight is down there

Our route took us along narrow lanes, sign posts to Cheddington, glimpses of the Grand Union, through Ivinghoe, all places we know from the water. Grove Lock, around Leighton Buzzard, The Soulbury Three, Stoke Hammond. Then the roundabouts of Milton Keynes took us further east and up to the M1. We didn’t manage to glimpse a look at the Northampton Flight, or Long Buckby, but the big trees that accompany the canal to the Watford Flight were easy to spot after the service station. At Junction 18 we turned off, Crick, well the Holiday Inn at Crick.

Long corridors and bridges

We checked in, explored our compact room which of course was the furthest away possible! Mick flicked the TV on, Robbie Cumming making his way along the GU, only just managing to get through the Soulbury Three before it closed for winter maintenance, as if he didn’t know!

Time to join the party, Lizzie’s 50th Birthday party.

Lizzie with her Dad

What a lovely evening it was. People from most of Lizzies life, family, Watford Palace Theatre (where we first met in the 90’s), Cemex, the boating world, most of her current colleagues from Unusual were busy working on the Olympics in Paris, plenty to keep them busy out there.

Jeremy who was once the Production Manager at Watford Palace Theatre, He employed me to paint scenery for a while and the two of us interviewed Lizzie for the Scenic Artist job there shortly after she left college. Jeremy also helped Lizzie when she first bought NB Panda, moving her from Birmingham, Jeremy having lived on a boat during his Watford days. Our paths also crossed further north when we both ended up on the Yorkshire coast. He’s now quite a useful source of info on the Beverley Beck!

Over the last ten years we’ve gradually got to know various boaters through Lizzie. Noel and Carolyn, Noel had been the Harbour Master at Crick when we first bought Lillian, he managed to find a space for her in the run up to Crick Boat show in 2014 where we gradually moved on board.

Crews from NB Kamilli, NB Adagio and NB Leon before they sold her

Andy and Irene from NB Kamilli. Our bows have crossed a few times and hopefully they may do again this summer. The NB Adagio crew, I’ve lost their names now, but we wave whenever we pass the Cape of Good Hope.

Mick, John and Ali

Then John and Ali from NB Triskaideka. We’d once met on a street corner in Crick, only briefly, but Ali and I have been I touch recently. There was lots to talk about with them, very similar boaters to us with the same attitudes to boating and the waterways community. Plenty of red wine was drunk on our table and by the end of the evening we knew we’d be stopping to have a bottle or two more with them when our bows cross.

The Tuckeys

Several faces familiar from around Crick. One lady who worked for ABNB and Neil Stuttle who fits out boats. Then sat next to Mick were the Tuckey’s, yes the crane and boat movers. Lizzie used to help move boats around Crick marina before and after the boat show so has known them for quite some years. Both Mick and I asked them if they’d had lots of enquiries from boats on the Lancaster Canal, the sealock on the Ribble Link has developed a fault meaning boats could be stuck there through the winter. It was interesting as they are asked for quotes for such things, but people rarely tell them the reason, they had no idea about the stoppage despite having had numerous calls.

Cutting the cake

Plenty to talk about, some nice food and plenty to drink, we lasted until the big lights came on at the end of the night!

All a little bit tippsy!

In the morning we joined the masses for breakfast, plenty of people had stayed including Lizzie. Time to catch up again over a cooked breakfast before everyone headed off in their separate directions. A lovely time had by all, good to catch up with people, maybe we’d bump into them all again if we headed to Stratford, but we have other plans. Thank you Lizzie for having a big Birthday and for inviting us.

Not as good as one of Mick’s, but not bad

Back down the M1 being tailed by the Kamilli crew for about 20 miles. Then round Milton Keynes, past all the land marks back to Cowroast Marina and Tilly, who had done her job very well whilst we were away.

For the last week we’ve been trying to catch up with my college friend Jen who lives in Hemel, her current job not allowing her time to come and help us through some locks. As we had a car we headed back to Hemel, a slight diversionary route giving us more narrow roads and just missing Winkwell Swing Bridge back to the Fishery Wharf Cafe to meet up with her and her dog Monty a very well behaved Collie.

Fishery Wharf well worth a visit

Lots to catch up on, Jen is a fantastic scenic artist and used to work at the National Theatre. Now she freelances and has worked on various films and tv series. I believe she said she work on the props for the latest Ghost Buster film and currently is slapping paint on scenery for a new Netflix series about the Guiness family Last year she also painted some very wonderful panto cloths for Bury St Edmonds.

Mick, Pip and Jen.

Recently she’s had an operation on her foot, so the two of us hobbled away from the cafe after a couple of hours.

Back at the boat we settled down for some food and a night in front of the TV, Dr Who with the Beatles. It was obvious what our nearest neighbours would be watching tonight, but thankfully after one rendition of Sweet Carolyn they must have headed to the pub garden to watch the game. A muffled roar from somewhere made us check the score. The quietness that followed suggested that Spain had scored more than one goal. Everyone returned to the marina quite quietly.

A nice quiet evening knitting

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Fiat 500, M1 twice, 1 very good party, 2 official photographers, 1 offer of crew, 1 problematic bridge, 1 tray, pair 29 well under way, 1 painter and hound, 1 free sausage, 1 nice cafe, 1 musical baddy, 1 quiet night in with Tilly, still 9.75 digits.

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 4, 2023

49.5 hours

Sunday, I actually managed to have a lie in! By the time I’d made my breakfast I realised the Geraghty zoom would be half-way through, I joined and it was lovely to see everyone. I then had a leisurely morning before wrapping up against the rain to walk up to Checkers for lunch.

In the past Checkers had a good reputation and I’d imagined the pub would be heaving, but not today. Glen at the theatre yesterday had mentioned that there was a new landlord so possibly a new chef too. A table had been reserved, which was in the glazed dining room (a touch chilly), not one of the cosy side rooms. Soon I was joined by Ian my cousin who lives in Fairford near Lechlade. Back in the summer we’d arranged to meet up when I was in Chippy. Recently a date had been chosen, sadly this also coincided with a mammoth singing of the Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall, so Sally and Sam were not able to join us. However Ian had been left to tend after the Leckenby zoo and was more than happy to meet up and chat away for a couple of hours.

Checkers chilly dining room

Sadly the food didn’t live up to my expectations. We both opted for Pork, I requested a gluten free one (no Yorkshire Pudding). When they arrived the poor person serving us, on her second ever shift, explained that they were both gluten free. Well one of them should have been but the other should have come with a Yorkshire. It took quite a while before it was explained to us that they had no Yorkshires! We opted for a dessert which was okay, but certainly nothing to write home about. A shame as a pub like this should have Sunday roasts to shout out about. But what more than made up for the food was a good long chat with Ian. Our families, the plane he’s building and how long he’ll be able to have it in England as it’s registered in France.

A lazy afternoon followed, doing my best to recharge my batteries before the final push of panto. Bake off was caught up on, a blog written and some sock knitting for Dementia Uk.

Bananas!

Monday. Jo was back, she’d spent the weekend fixing bananas together, hundreds of them! During the day bits of the show were worked on by the actors, the composers were about doing notes and we continued working on the set pieces the statues got a bit more shading as they’d looked a touch anemic under the lights.

Almost finished things

Early afternoon we were joined by the Pippins, time for the first dress rehearsal. This went well, some tightening up of scene changes to be done, but that’s quite normal, sadly my statues still looked amenic time to give them more shading.

Costumes still being added every day

Tuesday. Another dress rehearsal, but first more work on set pieces.

Waiting for the open dress to start

Days like this involve working whenever the actors are not on stage so through their breaks, so meals are eaten in the dark of the auditorium. Problematic scene changes changed to nearer the end of the show, a few things still array in the interval change. At the end of the day John had one note for me regarding the scene at the end of act 1, this has a lot of dressing which had been left to last. Things still needed working on, it showed, they were next on the list. A final chicken and chips from the burger van was deserved.

This didn’t end up being my final visit!

Wednesday. In early to paint t-chests, logos had been stuck on boxes last night, extra bananas were added to stands by Jo, she’s now an expert with the yellow bendy things.

I’d wanted colourful lanterns for the set, a couple of weeks ago the crafting group in the theatre had started to make some for me. Empty 2 litre water and lemonade bottles had been covered with lighting gel and cut out black paper, a bulb inside and they resembled colombian lanterns. Local schools had also been invited to make some, these were smaller versions. Sacks of them arrived and the little red shades on the balcony fronts were exchanged for them, the rest then used around front of house. If you come to see the show look up in the bar and you’ll see the kids handywork.

Preview 1. What would the audience make of the show? What would the actors make of it too? I believe only one of the company has been in panto before, many of the actors had not even seen one before starting rehearsals. I sat next to Mariana the Assistant Director who originates from Columbia, her only experience had been last year when she was invited to watch Dick Whittington.

The new shed now well and truly used

Earlier in the day John had mentioned to the actors that the audience would be made up of Scouts, Beavers and mostly Brownies. Brownies?! The company were a touch surprised that there would be an audience of brown people watching them, more surprised that John was pointing this out. It took a bit of explaining to them about Brownies.

All that work was worth it

Blimey the audience were noisy! This is an understatement! Next to Mariana sat friends of one of the Pippins, who got the majority of the sweets during the song sheet! They were so loud Mariana covered her ears for much of the show. What a baptism for the actors. Mariana asked if it was always like this, well no, it was one end of the audience spectrum they could expect to have.

Flutterbies drying in the shed

Thursday. Final bits to do. Butterflies were painted, their strings shortened for safety, Jo had finished yesterday evening, so the props jobs were split between me and stage management. Thankfully yesterday I’d got the balance of shading on the statues just about right and Nathan the Lighting Designer had found a good colour for them too, Hercules now had his own special colour.

My paints were reduced to those that may be needed for touching up during the run, everything else was tidied away. My possessions packed up, then finally I had finished painting things. Time to change into my civies.

The board yesterday

Mick arrived with a hire car. We loaded it, did idiot checks around the building. New cocktail glasses needed to be shown to John, then a prop failure needed sorting, so I left Mick to load the last of my possessions and move the car round to my digs for the night. Last minute sewing and sticking was required, all done with just enough time for a glass of wine to be enjoyed before the show.

Thank you Glen

What a difference in audience from yesterday. Far far quieter. They enjoyed the show, Tony was a little bit reluctant to join in mind, but Tom made up for it! At least on the first two previews the cast had had both ends of the spectrum of audiences, hopefully from now on they will get a reaction somewhere in between.

Adios Chippy

Notes after the show were given, just a couple of small jobs needed doing which could be left with stage management. We headed to the pub, hoping there’d be some food available, but sadly the kitchen was closed. Mick and I headed to another pub and the story was the same there too, the burger van got our custom, one last portion of chips before returning to have drinks with everyone at the pub. Final farewells were had.

My Chippy home for the last four weeks

Last night at Suzanne’s, a final tidy up and pack on Friday morning. Chance to have a final chat before handing my key back and starting to head for home. First things first, breakfast, well brunch. We headed to The Straw Kitchen at Whichford Pottery a short drive north. Suzanne had recommended it and Louisa from the theatre had worked there at one time.

We were their first customers to arrive and selected a Super Brunch each. Mick had his with a homemade muffin, mine came with GF toast.

Very Yummy indeed

Wow it was very tasty! A bit of a shame that we wouldn’t be able to visit again easily. Afterwards we had a wander around the pottery shop where local ceramicists sell their wares. Some very nice items, but a touch too expensive for our pockets. Then we had a look outside where giant thrown outdoor pots would cost even more, several thousands of pounds, but the skill and strength to throw such pots is immense.

I’d considered trying to visit Andrew in London on our return journey, check in on him after his stay in hospital. But the extra hours of driving would have been unfair on Mick, so we headed northwards instead. The journey took a while longer than expected, a lorry having crossed the central reserve on the M18 and traffic for no obvious reason elsewhere.

The bottom of Hatton

At just gone 4pm, Scarborough was getting dark, the silhouette of Tilly could be made out in one of the bay windows SHOUTING!!! It took a couple of seconds for her to realise who I was after being away for four weeks FOUR WEEKS Do you know HOW many big sleeps that was?! Tom is alright, but he’s not She!

Where have you been ?!

Partially unpacked we made use of the car and did a big shop, then put some clean clothes on and walked up to the Stephen Joseph Theatre for our friend Jaye’s party. This was to celebrate her receiving her state pension, she’d decided to spend it on having a party.

Most of our Scarborough friends were there, sorry not to see you Ali. A suitable surprise cake had been organised by Duncan for the birthday girl. A lovely evening, after a couple of drinks we headed back home, it had been a long day for Mick and an even longer four weeks for me. Time to cuddle up with Tilly and recover.

Panto Postcard 3, 2023

The door back to work
The stagger through
One line, that’s better
Time to give this chap some colour
Andrew in hospital a couple of days ago
The end!
Tom’s legs will have to do as SHE has deserted us!
A touch of plumbing happening

https://www.change.org/p/fundbritainswaterways?source_location=search

Finally a big Thank you for the donations to my sock knitting. Progress is much slower this week than last, but I am managing to do at least 30 minutes a day, just £60 short of my new target for the year.

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

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.

Paul Didn’t Forecast This! 5th October

Sykehouse Junction

Todays plan was to get up early to clean off the fertan I’d left to do it’s thing on the starboard side grab rail and mushroom, then once it was all dry apply a coat of primer, hoping that there would be enough time for the primer to be touch dry before the forecast rain started.

One app yesterday had suggested I’d need to get up quite early to achieve this. Then Paul Hudson the Look North weather man had suggested that the rain wouldn’t be with us until maybe mid afternoon. Well he was wrong!

I woke at 6:45 to rain. I woke later 7:30 to rain, we had cuppas in bed, no point in getting up. It continued raining for several more hours! Grrrr!!!

Dribbletastic!

When it did eventually actually stop, after a few false stops, I went outside to see how dribbly the fertan had managed to become overnight in all the rain. Ergh! A normal wash doesn’t tend to lift the stains it creates. I washed down the fertan, then started to try to remove the staining. A little bit of Bar Keepers friend seemed to do the job, but careful not to lift paint.

With everything dry it was now time to give the primer a good stir. Then a coat was applied. I’d just applied some onto the patch by the pram cover when spots of rain started again. Pan replaced over mushroom hole, carefully, it was only just big enough! The grab rail would have to fend for itself.

Pan protection

The dinette window now got a good clean, the wind blowing the rain at the other side of Oleanna. Then the bedroom porthole. That feels so much better now. Just the kitchen windows to do. As they are sliding windows they need access from outside, here the bank is much too high for the job. Time to sit down.

Can you see her?

Tilly spent most of the day out prowling. The wet grass was not off putting. A glance around every now and again to see where she’d got to, that white tipped tail does come in handy!

Kingfishers darted, hovered, chirped, all still far too quick for a photo without sitting outside in the rain poised facing the right direction.

On her way back to Goole

‘Exol Pride‘ She was on her way back, Sykehouse Lock not replying straight away. The chatter on the radio was that there wouldn’t be a run next week, no cargo. Also that Exol Pride is booked in for maintenance in January. The route through Goole docks will be closed as the casson gates are getting some attention at the beginning of the year. ‘Exol Pride leaving the new junction‘ we bobbed out to see her turn towards Goole and pick up the revs.

Soggy legs

I’d just sat down to knit, choosing Early Man over Selma, (the first subtitles already making me laugh) when my phone rang. Peter at Prompt Side. This is the busiest time of the year for them, everyone wanting cloths, tabs making, plenty of printing going on too. Add into that two members of staff being on holiday, he sounded just like I’ll sound in a few weeks time.

Kingfisher playground

He chatted me through setting up the scans and how to save them and which tool would be best for the job. Basically he’s already set everything up and I should just check it’s correct. He explained a bit about content aware and proximity match. He’s hoping to scan the rest of the model pieces tomorrow and send them over for touch up. If I have any problems I’m to ring and say it’s urgent! Thank you Peter.

Hair removal

I then spent a couple of hours working my way methodically across the front cloth scan he’d sent me. Saving the image several times it retained it’s size (thank you Paul for suggesting I should check), just the occasional blip when changing between Content and Proximity settings, but I got it sorted.

More to do tomorrow.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 coat primer, 1 pan, 9 hours!!! 4 soggy paws, 2 windows, 2 to go, 2 lines, 2 hours touching up, just how did SO many hairs get on my model?! 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval to add to the other one!

Postponed Birthday. 2nd October

Doncaster Visitor moorings to the site of Small Hedge Swing Bridge, New Junction Canal

Some blueberries were required before pushing off, so Mick headed to the market to see what he could find. I tried calling Peter at Prompt Side so that we could talk through setting up and saving images for print. But he was busy setting up the days printing jobs, he’d ring back.

Mick topped us up with water, NB Northumbria arrived with Alfie on the roof, time for another chat before we pushed off.

Pushing off shouldn’t really be a problem, except the weed boats were back, three of them today. Two caterpillar boats and one conveyor boat. They were collecting pennywort from around the moorings to deposit on the opposite bank. Happily going back and forth without any thought that other boats might be moving. Eventually we managed to catch a gap and sped off.

Long Sandall

The moorings above Long Sandall Lock were empty, a rare sight, sadly we weren’t wanting to stop here today. The lock had just been filled for a boat coming up, the top gates opened and the two boats swapped places, perfect timing. Back down the lock and onwards to Barnby Dun.

Only 16 held up at the bridge today.

Now it was decision time. Should we moor back at Bramwith Junction? Or should we carry on onto the New Junction Canal? Flood locks on the Aire and Calder were closed yesterday so rivers were on the rise. It would be a real pain to be held up on the wrong side of the Don Doors if they had to be closed due to rising levels. We’d cross and then find a mooring as soon as we could. Well that was the plan.

Under the Don Doors

At the junction we waved to David and Clive. Les from NB Christopher B is expecting an operation later this week and will be kept in hospital until she is mobile. The River Don looked higher than normal, but still a difference between it and the canal. Maybe we were being over cautious.

Nowhere to moor, we’d have to carry on. Perhaps just off the end of a bridge landing? No, it was too close to the road for Tilly to be allowed freedom. Onwards, a flag on my map looking like it was the only possible place to moor before Sykehouse Lock.

Lift!

Low Lane Swing Bridge swung, Top Lane Lift Bridge lifted, only problem was I couldn’t open the gate to get out! I had to climb the fencing. Kirk House Green Lift Bridge took a lot of jiggling for my key to turn to power it up, but soon we were on our way.

The light at the lock was red, a volunteer on duty. We’d already come farther than we’d really wanted to, but just after the narrowing where a swing bridge had once been we saw our opportunity a bar on the piling suitable for chains.

Birthday girl on the catwalk

Time for Tilly to head back out and explore. Yesterday was her eighth birthday, but it was no fun for a cat being cooped up in Doncaster, so today we needed a mooring for her and her postponed birthday. Hooray!!! Lots of friendy cover, no woofers, no nobody, BRILLIANT!!!!

A treat cheese lunch was enjoyed, hairs were removed from the songsheet artwork that I’d forgotten, then it was emailed off for approval by John. I took a couple more windows out and gave them the full clean before needing to sit down again.

Clockwise from left. Yarg, cheddar with Scarborough seaweed, feta (left over from a tray bake) and Wookey Hole cheddar.

The perfect mooring for a cat, but phone signal nearly non existent, no good for my photoshop phone call. The internet was also slow, apart from when watching a film. Stronger (2017) is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Mick was astounded at the amount of swearing it contained, what would our parents have thought! Have to admit to giving up with twenty minutes to go when Jeff and his girlfriend started to have a very loud argument after she’d told him she was pregnant. I’ll watch the rest another time, I’d just had enough of them shouting at each other.

1 lock, 8.8 miles, 1 left, 3 bridges, 19 held up, 2 more windows, 3 weed boats, 1 plumber contacted, 1 scaffolder contacted, 4 hours of birthday frolics, 8 years old! plus 1 day, 1 heel turned, 1 very shouty film, 1 stove lit.