Category Archives: Separate Doors

Just Where We Left Her. 9th December

Cropredy Marina

The lovely Ziggy

It was time to pack our bags this morning and hope we’d enough room for all the presents and post. Everything had fitted into our wheelie bag on the way to London, but going back we needed an extra bag, good job we’d brought one with us. It’s a nice problem to have returning with more than you arrived with, this of course is helped by my birthday falling on the 25th December.

Fatty Finn refusing to leave his box unless there is food about

An early farewell to Josh as he headed to school before 8am. At 10:30 it was time to wake Finn up from his box, Ziggy only slightly jealous of her brothers reign of the cardboard. Then goodbye and thank you to Andrew and Jac for their hospitality once again.

The No 30 bus moved faster on a Monday morning so we’d left ourselves plenty of time to sit at Marylebone Station listening to the foreign announcements about Bicester Village, now a destination for tourists to do duty free shopping.

Knitting and adapted pattern

On the train my knitting came back out and grew nicely, up to the point where the thumb was ready to be knitted using the ‘magic loop’ technique. We were soon back in Banbury and in a taxi back to the marina.

Tilly when we ‘d left

When we’d left on Saturday Tilly had been sat in our bedroom window, there she was still, just facing the opposite direction. Big cuddles and head nudges. Her magic food bowl had worked and opened, every morsel consumed, the large mountain of biscuits also had had a good chunk taken out of them. The heating was raised and we settled down to lunch.

Tilly when we stepped out of the cab today

With the stove out, Mick gave the chimney a good sweep, then hoovered the stove out and put the brand new glass in the door, an early Christmas present for Oleanna. The old glass has been wrapped up and stored under the stove should we need a spare in the future.

Chimney Sweep
Clean clear new glass, lovely

Unpacking and more washing took up the rest of the day with Tilly coming and going.

In the post I’d received a copy of The Separate Doors 3 Report that I was involved with earlier this year. Have to say my sketches and illustrations have come out very well and I am particularly proud of the front cover. Thank you Vanessa for asking me to be part of it.

The front cover

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 train, 1 taxi, 3 cats in one day, 1 very pleased to see us, 1 load washing, 1 load dried, 1 chimney swept, 1 boat hoovered, 1 corner missed, 0.5 inches too big? 1 very big bag of presents ready to sit under the tree, when we bring it in.

Debbie Does Pinot or Potato Salad. 5th June


Our mooring was chosen for it’s proximity to the station. We had tickets booked to head to London for the day. Tilly was left in charge of the boat with an extra scoop of biscuits.

The walk to the station took us along the towpath, then down off the embankment and along a footpath before joining roads that led to the station. The station sits high above the roads, we spotted some steps that looked like they would lead us up to platform height. Except these steps just led up to the car park! We then spotted more steps that looked like they continued from the car park, so we climbed them. These did take us up and over the viaduct to the other side of the road we’d just walked along then down to the underpass to the the station. At least all these stairs increased our steps for the day!

I headed off to catch my train first, I’d opted for a slower train via Long Buckby, Bletchley etc to London, this was £6 cheaper than the faster trains one of which Mick had opted for ( he has an old foggie card and it was my idea to go to London in the first place).

BT Tower

My train arrived with an hour spare before my appointment so I got some lunch crossed over Euston Road and sat down in Gordon Square in the sun. Then a short walk around the corner to RADA. In February I’d been an observer at a Separate Doors 3 masterclass in Huddersfield making sketches for the report that will follow. Today there was to be a forum ‘Integrated Theatre featuring actors with learning disabilities, the will AND the way?’

One of my sketches

Over the last seven or so years I have designed a couple of plays with Vanessa Brooks and Dark Horse Theatre Company. I have also attended workshops and participated in the ‘Silent Approach’ a technique where all participants in the room are on a level playing field, a very inclusive method of working.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Today the forum was attended by around seventy individuals ranging from Directors, Actors, Producers, Academics, Writers, a Composer and one Designer, me. Introductions were given by Geoff Bullen from RADA and Vanessa Brooks which were followed by three panels which discussed different aspects of integrated theatre.

Much has changed in the last few years, parts in television for learning disabled actors have started to branch out from just medical dramas. Next month the National Theatre will produce Jellyfish by Ben Weatherill with two leading learning disabled actors, more integrated pieces are starting to be produced around the country.

Physically disabled actors have a voice, funding has veered towards companies in that sector. Where as learning disabled actors often don’t have a voice of their own, not one that can be heard or understood by all, so others are speaking out for them. Those in the room today already support the sector, but the room needs to expand and loose it’s walls for the message of such talented actors to spread.

Todays programme

I live my life on a narrowboat away from most of my previous life of show after show after show. At times I have felt as though I have left that world behind and now live a separate existence at 3mph. But on days like today I feel included, my voice as equal as the next, If you look past the windlass and the muddy jeans there is still a Designer beneath. Possibly more confident in myself because of my time away. However I still can’t make my mind up quite how to paint my panto model!

It was lovely to see a lot of familiar faces today, one of which was Mick’s sister Kath. She was at the forum representing The National Theatre and we’d arranged to meet afterwards for a catch up. We walked to Euston to meet up with Mick. He’d also had a busy afternoon, having met up with a friend who is over from Australia and then popping over to Hackney to pick up our post.

Well it had to be tried!
Post at last

A nice meal was had at Cafe Rouge followed by beer and a glass of Debbie Does Pinot in a pub just across the way from the station. A nice catch up with Kath, who hopefully we’ll get to see again in a few weeks when we reach London by boat.

Our train back was a speedy one. But as we neared Milton Keynes the train slowed and made an unscheduled stop. A fault had occurred with the train meaning it could no longer head northwards. The next London bound train pulled up and the passengers from both trains swapped. Our train would return to London, Mick thinks it maybe had a cracked windscreen, whilst our new train would now head northwards. Only a slight bit of confusion as everything on our new train suggested it was still going to London, at least it exited the station in the tight direction.

The delay luckily had been only half an hour, Tilly was hungry, very hungry on our return.

0 locks, 0 miles, 7 trains (1 broken), 2 tubes, 26 bus, 1 sock almost finished, 70 forum attendees, 1 potato salad analogy, 15 known, 60 seconds avoided, 1 sister-out-law, 2 burgers, 1 salmon steak, 1 cat home alone, even Tom Tom didn’t come to see me!