Category Archives: Separate Doors

TLC Day 8. 30th January

Salt and Pepper!

We called into Sainsburys to pick up an order from Ikea, I’d not had confirmation that it had arrived, but it should have been there since Sunday. The lady suggested looking for my delivery on DPD, she needed a QR code to scan before I could have my parcel. Then of course she needed to see some ID for me, which I didn’t have! Thankfully she believed me that I have a driving licence and handed over the order. Thank goodness we’d gone by car, it was a huge box! We chose some soup for lunch and then headed on to Goole, thankfully the sun was out today making for a pleasant drive.

More cupboard sorting, this time the cat proof cupboard. Illustrations for Seperate Doors, bits of panto model, some of these need to stay on board, others need to head for safe keeping at the house. Now we no longer live on board full time some things don’t need to be at hand should we want them. The big box of boat build details was packed along with the folder on Stillwater Narrowboats, that can be filed away somewhere upstairs upstairs, no need to look at that again.

One of my all time favourite illustrations for Seperate Doors

The office cupboard moved from port to starboard. I’d like to have a pull out shelf for the printer at some point, it now being on the starboard side means the power lead will reach a power socket. Whiltling things down is good, but I’m also mindful that we need to compensate for the weight of the new batteries and not end up on a list.

Very tasty

Mick ran the engine. I made a cardboard template for the shelf that will sit above the battery in The Shed. Pea and Ham soup, then a final tidy of various things, The Shed put back together. I could then hoover through and get ready to put a coat of Danish oil on the floor. With the hoovering done, Oleanna was winterised.

Glad you can’t see the diggers on the otherside of the Dutch River

Thankfully the day being bright, Goole looked like the Med today, I had plenty of light to be able to do the oiling. I took my time gradually working my way backwards to the bow. Making sure everywhere got an even coat, no slap dashing today. The last bit is always so hard to do from the bow steps leaning down past your toes to cover the last foot square. Done! The front door was locked, the oil can now cure over several days before anyone will walk on it.

Please dry evenly!

There will need to be another trip so that we can put everything back where it lives and give the bathroom a good clean. The Shed will need it’s new shelf and some hanging rods rather than rails, but we need to see what space we’ll have once the fire extinguisher is back on the wall.


Mick will be along sometime soon to explain more about what’s been happening in the engine bay with the new Bully Boy Batteries. I’m now heading off to chain myself to the sewing machine to cover the dinette cushions, oh and a bit of knitting too! Hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you some of the finished socks, once their sponsors have received them.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 last trip, 1 engine ran, 3 Chippy lanyards, 1 panto car, 2 phone boxes, 1 Petiti tree, 1 hoover, 2 last soups, 1 onion, 1 careful coat of oil, 1 face looking forward to not wearing a mask again, 1 boys blood pressure creaping down each day.

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.

Take A Deep Breath, It Might Be Your Last! 26th May

Pipe Bridge 116A to Riley Green

Another long day of cruising for us. We’d decided last night that if we woke up earlier than the alarm clock then we’d get up rather than pretend to still be asleep. However we both were very much asleep when the alarm sounded. Breakfast and then we were off.

Windlass locking mechanism

First three swing bridges, all three requiring a handcuff key and windlass. You unlock the spring loaded lock then wind up the leg to release the bridge. It takes quite a bit of time to get everything lined back up to put the leg back down.

No wonder Oleanna wasn’t responsive!

After the second bridge Oleanna had picked up a blade full of urban jellyfish. I held onto Oleanna whilst Mick used the prop mate to clear everything.

I’d not seen these signs before. A chemical works nearby. There was also a sign for towpath users, maybe it says for them to take a deep breath as it might be their last!

Halfway now between Leeds and Liverpool 63 5/8 miles. Originally we’d planned to go from one end to the other this year, spending time in Liverpool again, but plans are there to be changed.

Pylons providing power

Yesterday I’d said the western side of the canal was more industrial, well it is, but you still get great views and plenty of greenery, it is just more inhabited than towards Leeds.

This pound is a long one over 23 miles on the flat. As we got closer to Blackburn buildings increased. Murals near to Calypso brighten up the place, but this considered safe mooring is also filled with Reggae and pigeons. We’ve never paused here, one day we will to have a look round.

Eventually we were at the top of the locks. A boat had just come towards us saying at least half of them would be in our favour as he’d just been down to wind. Shame they all leak and had half emptied themselves. *Last time we came down the flight we’d not noticed a paddle had been left slightly up meaning Oleanna was stuck in one lock whilst we were about to flood the pound below. Today we checked every paddle.

*It has been pointed out to me that this actually happened on NB Lillyanne back in 2016, not Oleanna!

When new bridges were built the locks had to adjust to what space was left

I walked down to the last lock of the flight. Someone was there doing something, one of the local drinkers said the bottom gate was open. Well the booze had definitely affected his eyesight as a chap was stood by a bottom paddle winding it up, the lock was only a few inches away from being full when I arrived. The chap just carried on emptying the lock. I really couldn’t be bothered to argue that the lock was in our favour so therefore he should have waited for us. No comment of ‘Oh sorry I didn’t see you there’! I helped and lifted the other paddle to help things along.

The chap dropped his paddle! The cruiser required both gates to be opened and then closed. We obliged and then headed to the top paddles. There was no sign of him making his way up from his boat, or asking if we’d work the lock for him, or anything. I stood gave him the thumbs up, behind his canopy I couldn’t see him. I was not going to start filling the lock without acknowledgment from him!

Winding hole and services two thirds down the flight

By now I was slightly peeved, so shouted, ‘HELLO! Are you ready?’ ‘Shall I lift the paddle?’ I got a thumbs up and a few stares from a group of walkers who’d stopped to gongoozle. The boat rose up, we opened the gates. Mick stared at the chap until he got a very quiet Thank you.

As we started to work through the lock a small narrowboat arrived, they’d apparently said to the chap in the cruiser to wait for them as they’d easily be able to share. Well if he’d not stolen the lock from us they’d have caught him up and then helped him up the flight.


For the last two days the Wigan Flight, which lays a few days ahead of us, has been unofficially closed due to a couple of pounds having been emptied. We’d been keeping an eye on the Wigan Flight Group on Facebook. This morning one of the local volunteers had posted that the flight was reopen, phew! Someone had made a comment, they were aiming to go down the flight early next week and would post nearer the time. I replied too, we are now teamed up with NB That’s It for the flight next week.

Onwards, checking out each mooring we came to, none looked as good for Tilly as Riley Green would be so we continued onwards. Pulling up after 3pm we were hungry and Tilly was shouting to head off and explore, I didn’t notice the bees nest at the bow! After we’d eaten and with Tilly on board we pulled back giving the bees plenty of comfort space.

6 locks, 15.3 miles, 3 swing bridges, 0 held up, 1 blade full, 1 twonk head, 57 bees, 3 hours shore leave, 1 shorter day tomorrow, hopefully.

J R Hartley And His Mate. 16th May

Granary Wharf

Mick was given a small shopping list to keep us going until we reach Skipton. There’s some important baking that needs to happen this week and I needed a few things.

In Rowsley I had a reasonable cooked breakfast, everything gluten free. The toast was a little bit gummy, no hash brown as that had wheat in it and I don’t half miss having black pudding. In the dining room there were three other tables. One a couple heading off to explore, another an Italian couple, the third was JR Hartley and his mate, discussing where they’d be heading today to do a spot of fly fishing.

Level Centre

Across the road at the Level Centre I joined Vanessa Brooks and the Separate Doors company. Separate Doors works with an ensemble of learning disabled and none learning disabled actors, three very familiar faces from Dark Horse were there along with eight other actors, some of whom I’ve worked with before.

Everyone doing the warm up

This week the ensemble are working on an event called Directing Tomorrows Theatre, there were three guest directors who were all going to work scenes of a new play by Vanessa using the Silent Approach. This is a very different directing style which enables all actors to be on a level with each other, few words are used and it really is amazing how quickly a play can be put together. On their second day of rehearsals a run of the play was performed. A song, choreography and a lot of dialogue, all really quite amazing.

I was there to observe the first stages of the play coming together and to talk about how I work differently with learning disabled actors, enabling them to perform their job without having problems with costumes and props. Should the company be successful in getting funding the show will be performed next year. It’ll be a good one.

Two types of Bakewell Tarts and Bakewell Puddings in the background

Then it was time to make my way back to Leeds, retracing my steps. One bus disappeared, thankfully a lady from the Level Centre offered me a lift into Bakewell. Here I had plenty of time to have a stroll around and see which shop I thought was the one true original bakers who created the Bakewell Pudding!

Back through Sheffield

Back at Oleanna Mick had managed to find us a locking partner for the morning, a hire boat with four crew who’d come down from Skipton. It’ll be a very early start for us in the morning.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 lift, 1 bus, 1 late train, 11 actors, 4 directors, 1 movement director, 1 composer, 4 PA’s, 1 designer, 1 ham butty, 1 very interesting day, 1 cracking show, lots of fingers crossed for funding.

Chatsworth? 15th May

Granary Wharf, Leeds Liverpool Canal

Mick was on an earlyish train returning to Scarborough. The usual photo from York arrived showing cruisers and a narrowboat moored on the River Ouse by the Museum Gardens. He was returning to the house to finish off hoovering and making it ready for our next lodger.

I got on with finding more reference photos for panto. Some of the buildings in Colombia are just soo colourful they almost certainly have to be used.

I walked into the city with the aim of trying to find a new plastic jug for our cat litter cover. We use moistened wooden cat litter as cover in our separating/compost toilet, the old jug has developed a crack on the bottom, so leaks when you add water, not so good for the shelf it sits on.

Down a back street near the station

Sadly Wilkos didn’t have anything thin enough. Maybe Yorkshire Trading or Boyes will come up trumps when we get to Skipton.

I can look after everything from in here!

Tilly was left in charge with an early ding ding, she was told not to expect this from now on! A train took me to Sheffield, no boats on the River Aire through Wakefield today.

Then it was the 218 bus out through Sheffield to the Peak District. As soon as we hit the countryside the driver kicked up the speed, whizzing the scenery past. Great views.

Chatsworth House

What felt like a detour had us turn onto parkland with sheep and their lambs roaming freely. The immaculate grass stretched on for miles the branches on the trees all neatly starting at the same level. Below the view across to Chatsworth House. It appeared I was on a bus trip around the grounds. A group of visitors crowded round the bus, two thirds wanting to head to Sheffield!


Onwards to Bakewell where the last official day of school was being celebrated by students stood on the roundabout encouraging drivers to beep their horns. A very noisy place!

I swapped buses and a short ride onwards I hoped off in Rowsley. The Level Centre tucked down below the road, I’d be heading tomorrow. The Grouse and Claret my home for the night provided me with a meal and a glass of wine before I headed out to explore the village.

Hunters Chicken and a glass of house white

This didn’t take long. I spotted the disused railway viaduct, visited the big graveyard around the small church. Then a walk around Caudwells Mill. Sadly not much to see on an evening, but a pleasant walk none the less.

Then I cast on my next sock. Well my cousin had requested a pair and I asked if she’d be willing to wait a little while if I didn’t get chance to knit them in April. I’ve nearly got all the sock shots back so I’ll start to add them to my Sockathon page in the menu above when I get chance. I’ll be knitting more socks for Dementia UK as and when I have time to use up the donated yarn, I just have to figure out how is best to do it as the Justgiving page will close at some point.

0 locks, 3 trains, 2 buses, 1 Tilly in charge, 1 stately home, 1 pub, 1 small village, 1 house clean and tidy, 3 beds made up, 1 designer ready for a days observing.

Restoring Power. Catch up 4th March

The weather forecast next week looks to be cold. What’s new? Well it’s going to be colder than it already is up on the north east coast. Goole looks like it will have below freezing temperatures. When we left Oleanna we’d left her with everything sorted for such a cold spell, she was plugged in with the thermostat ready to kick the heating on should things get really chilly, the advantage of our Aldi boiler being able to run off electric when hooked up.

Daffodils are coming!

However in the last couple of weeks Oleanna has been turned round by Alastair ready for when he has time to do jobs on her. Mick left him with some keys and the camera on board had broadcast movement a few days after his last visit, so we knew she’d been winded. She’d been unplugged from the mains, turned around for easier access, then plugged back in again, Oleanna has two hook up points to make this easy. However inside there is a switch you need to flick to select which end of the boat you are hooked up to, Alastair didn’t know about this. So for a couple of weeks Oleanna has been living off free solar, but should the heating need to come on it wouldn’t work. Someone needed to flick the switch.

Mick caught the train down to Goole a now familiar journey and if you break your ticket in Filey it’s cheaper. Oleanna was given the once over checking she was ready for minus temperatures and the switch was flicked to accept power at the stern. A catch up with Al from NB Summer Wind was had and a chat with Alastair.

The alternator chap he’d had in mind to refurbish our faulty one is no more. Another company said that unless it was something special/historic then it wouldn’t be worth doing! Well they obviously didn’t want the job. We’ll be scouting around in Scarborough to see if anyone here can help us instead.

Topping up the diesel didn’t happen again as Laird had just run out as Mick arrived. Hopefully next time.

The other job today was to meet up with Sean from SPL Covers, who just happened to be at the marina on another job. Our covers are in need of some tlc, too much use. The pram cover front window has had a hole in it for a couple of years and this year it has made a few friends. These happen when it gets folded down for cruising, a crease happening in the same place time and time again has taken it’s toll. The window has also gone quite opaque too, so this will be replaced.

The cratch cover zip that failed early last year will also be replaced. I tacked it together last spring so it was about time it was replaced. Mick checked to see if SPL could clean them too, however that would likely take several weeks to happen and we’d rather the covers were back on Oleanna as soon as they can be to help keep the weather off.

A productive visit.

Admiring the view on high

Meanwhile on land.

Last week was production week for #unit21 in Huddersfield. The upgraded set went in easily but as the temperature of the set increased we found a problem with the fabric it was covered in. When the flattage arrived in the cold it was very baggy saggy. But as it warmed up in the theatre it tightens up making things look wonderfully smooth. However the upgrade to the set involved slitting the fabric to insert LED lights and perspex to create fake neon. In hindsight the original covering of the flats and upgrade should have been done in a warm environment when the fabric was taught, not an easy thing when workshops tend to be chilly places! This is also the first time either Graham or myself have used Ripstop on a set.

So as the set warmed the fabric tightened starting to distort the slots the lights were in. Clamps and cable ties stopped the movement, but the fabric carried on doing it’s thing. Thankfully the atmospheric lighting doesn’t show any of our problems up after a touch of colouring in with a Sharpie was done.

The actors did a couple of run throughs for technical purposes, then a full dress rehearsal where one of our new Led strips decided it didn’t want to do green, the main colour required. So sadly on photos we have a rouge strip and on press night it and it’s partner were unplugged.

The show was very well received and there were plenty of familiar faces in the audience, including Vanessa Brooks who used to be the Artistic Director at Dark Horse, also Pete Massey who used to work at the SJT in Scarborough. It was great to be able to have a catch up with him and Rach his wife after the show.

#unit21 is now on tour for the next few weeks. The Lowry in Salford 3rd 4th March, Chroma-Q in Leeds 10th March, The Junction Goole 15th 16th March, Storyhouse Chester 23rd 24th March.

Decorating of the back bedroom has started. Well the decorating bit hasn’t yet started, it’s more the demolition stage. I’d hoped to be able to remove the cornice and ceiling rose that would never have been in such a bedroom, but they have turned out to be plaster and very well attached. With my back still making me cautious they can stay for a while longer, the last thing I want to do is be patching up a ceiling.

Blistering paint

Lots of patching up and some paint stripping to do, interesting how some new Eco friendly paint stripper has and hasn’t worked even with being left overnight to work it’s magic.

A new sewing machine has been invested in along with a cordless drill that matches the sander I got at Christmas, so we now have three batteries between tools.

Tide’s out

Estimates for new windows have been coming in, all very expensive. The funding we’d applied for from the council to help insulate the house we were told a few weeks ago had run out, but yesterday we had a phone call suggesting there are now more funds available. We’ll have to see what happens on that front.

Our cruising plans for the year have had to be slightly altered. Two offers of work and an invite from my cousins will see us heading down south rather than staying in the north. It will be good to see family members at something other than a funeral and I think I was 18 when I last spent any time with my cousins kids. Hopefully there will still be enough of the summer to return northwards to accomplish our original plans of cruising the River Weaver. The life jackets have had their annual service, left inflated in a room over night well away from any cat claws.

#unit21 socks

Pip’s Sockathon 2023 will take place during April this year. A charity has been selected, a conversation with their Community Fundraising Executive has been had, so I’d best get my needles ready. There are still some things to sort for it but there will be more news on that front very very soon.

A Sunny Scarborough Sunday walk

So for now that is all our news. Stay warm everyone, I can safely say it is far warmer on a boat than in our house!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 wind captured on camera, 1 boat unhooked, 1 boat rehooked, 1 new sewing machine, 1 drill, 2 batteries makes 3, 1 red strip, 9 ensemble, 2 job offers, 1 workshop, 1 family get together, 1 brown bin, £30 curry for 2, 1 soda bread, 1 bored cat, 4 troublesome doors, 1 job made longer, 1 room stripped back, 36k or 26k? 1 charity, 10 pairs maybe this year, 1 vanity project, 174 x110, 1 blind, 2 covers at the menders.

Hillocks. 16th July

Haigh Golf Course to Riley Green

The alarm had been set so we wouldn’t be lazy this morning, however we were both awake before it went off. For some reason I decided to put my waterproof padded trousers on today, there was plenty of water hanging in the air and after the last few days I thought I might not overheat!


The western end of the Leeds Liverpool has been dashed through before, avoiding trouble spots, keeping our heads down whilst it rained and dashing to avoid stoppages. So today despite us still being on a touch of a mission we had more time to look around us as we cruised. Going in the opposite direction is always different anyway.

Mile posts sit strong and proud along the towpath counting up from Liverpool and down to Leeds. At 47 miles from Liverpool we got a glimpse of the mile post, you’d not see if going east to west. It went by too quickly for a photo, so here is someone elses which must have been taken a few years ago as now the trunk of the tree has grown round it, hugging all but the Liverpool mileage.

Wonder if it ever does Chug ?

We don’t remember much about this stretch, just that there are a lot of moored boats to pass slowly. I seemed to take the same photos though, a widebeam called Chug, it’s name once red, now faded.

Important pointing

A C&RT van sat by a bridge a short distance on four chaps stood on the towpath. There was a lot of pointing going on at the crumbling wall on the opposite bank. Then a generator was lifted onto the towpath and a drill plugged in, a five foot drill bit ready to bore a hole into the concrete bank which would then be filled with resin/foam to help hold the bank and eliminate leeks.

A field of crows

On the off side visitor mooring at Adlington we passed NB Freedom whom we’d followed down the Marple flight, they must have passed us when we were moored up in Droylsden Marina.

A bridge

The Leeds Liverpool Canal bridges tend to have the archway stones painted white, well at one time they were, the weather having worn a lot of it off now. The key stone obviously sits in the centre of the arch, but this is not the centre of the navigation due to the towpath taking up some room.

White mark for the centre

To one side of the key stone there tends to be a white line painted, aim the centre of your boat at this and you shouldn’t touch the sides.

More moored boats as we came into Botany Bay, one being NB The Grenedier that we came across on the Grand Union a few years ago, their beam just a touch too wide for them to be able to share broad locks and necessitating the need to have both gates open.

Lunch on the go at Botany Bay

Up ahead we saw the first of two moving boats, a day boat. The lady at the helm must have panicked when she saw us, arms moving outwards to express her concern, bringing the bow round to full on collision course with our port side! Mick put Oleanna into reverse as quickly as he could, getting us out of the danger zone. I know the gunnels already need a touch up but a big dent would need more than paint!

The day boat managed to get back on a straight course and we passed as if nothing had happened.

Bottom Lock

Botany Bay Mill was once a place to visit, the towpath was always quite busy here, but today there was not one boat. The Mill used to house a number of stalls selling all sorts, clothes, gifts, furniture, I suspect a good place to browse. But in February last year the 1855 mill closed its doors, repairs to the building no longer viable and redevelopment now on the cards. Botany Bay Outlet Village, an ‘iconic lifestyle destination’ that’s trendy bollocks for shops, houses, maybe a cinema next to an old mill and a motorway junction.

Playing leapfrog

Through bridge 80 we spied the bottom of the Johnson’s Hillock flight, nestled through the bridge hole was NB Billy all locked up and nobody to say hello to. Two day boats had stopped for their lunch, the crews spotting us came out to watch us at the locks.

Locks on the right, Preston on the left

On the right the locks climb the canal up another 65ft 2″, but to the left another channel heads off. This was the Walton Summit Branch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, originally this branch continued onto Clayton Brook, quite close to the junction of the M61 and M65. From here a tramway headed north west to Preston crossing the River Ribble and connecting up with the Lancaster Canal.

Waterway Routes has a free downloadable map of the abandoned canal and tramway should you be interested. I was quite surprised at how close we were to the end of the Lancaster canal, 7.2 miles as the crow flies, back in 2017 the Lancaster felt like it was in another country due to crossing the Ribble Link.

Back at the Johnson’s Hillock flight the lock landing is quite overgrown at the moment, a bit more foot fall is needed. The bottom lock was full, wide locks on our own would mean a lot of walking round them as there is no route over the top gates. I think I must have walked over the bottom gates about five times at each lock, my step count for the day was around about half that of when we came up Wigan and here we only had seven locks not 21!

Plenty watching

We pulled a large crowd. The day boaters, who are considering moving onto a boat, today was their first time and they have a week booked later in the summer. Shame they didn’t hang around to help push lock gates, maybe I made it look like hard work and put them off! Then there were couples out for a walk and Dad’s with their kids. A look around for that glint in someones eye desperate to push a gate and help, but nobody showed any sign of interest, maybe they didn’t want to touch the lock gates.

Mick closing up

We quickly got into our rhythm, Mick closing up as I walked on ahead to empty the next lock. Still no one offered to close gates as Mick walked his way round the locks.

A fisherman kept one pound ahead of us pulling out a 2 to 3 pound pike at one point. Someone else had been fishing here too, magnet fishing. A line of rusty windlasses sat on the lock beam at 62 along with a rudder! If you’ve ever lost your rudder maybe it was yours, we didn’t bother picking it up as a spare.

Second Lock up

I soon felt I was over heating so my coat was handed to Mick, nothing much I could do about my trousers unless I wanted to carry on up the locks in my pants! Drizzle came and went as we climbed up the locks. At the second lock memories came back to me from either September 2014 or October 2016 when a couple from New Zealand were ascending the lock on a boat they had hired for several months, the lady was of slight build, could it have been Graeme and Clare on Mr Blue Sky?

Carrying on up

Ascending the penultimate lock I could see the top lock was being emptied, when the gate finally opened I tried signalling to them to leave the gates open, Mick even bipped the horn, but it didn’t catch their attention and the gates closed.

Looking back

As the boat came towards me I wondered why I knew the name NB Hannah May, we’ve come across it before. Then as it came alongside I remembered why, it’s a Stillwater boat our original boat builders!

We still wanted to get a few more miles under our belt before stopping for the day, just as well as the visitor moorings above the locks were full. We ducked under the M65 surrounded by green and meadow sweet filling the air with its sweat aroma.

You’d never guess we were about to go under the motorway

The curve towards Riley Green came into view, the road noise still audible, but just far enough away, we pulled in and tied up onto the armco. Round the bend there would have been rings, but here was further away from a road and much better for Tilly for her two hours shore leave.

Big sideways trees!

7 locks, 12.11 miles, 1 rightish, 2 moving boats, 1 damp day, 1 cancelled pamphlet, 2 hours shore leave, 3 miles walked, 1 noisy mooring, just what would it have been like in April?

Fonts. 15th July

Haigh Golf Club

As we had our morning cuppa in bed we discussed what we should do for the next few days. Ahead of us lie three lock flights before we reach the summit pound of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. We’ve been right across the L&L a couple of times, east to west, but never west to east. Our first hire boat together was from Silsden through Foulridge Tunnel and then back across to Bingley for the five and three locks. So on this side of the Pennines we’ve not explored so much, we’ve been looking forward to it.

However. Lock 51, the bottom of the Barrowford flight has a problem with its cill, an attempt to mend it took place on Sunday, but didn’t work. Engineers were due to have a look on Monday, but they were too busy elsewhere so today they would access what would be needed. This meant that until we hear what the prognosis is we won’t be rushing to the bottom of the flight, it’s a 15 hour cruise away.

The other thing that affects our route is C-19. The area that we will be travelling through currently has a spike in cases, not as high as Leicester, but still high. For the last few days the local news has been talking about special measures being imposed in Blackburn and Pendle with the hope that the number of cases can be brought back down, therefore avoiding local lockdowns. Even before we knew about the spike, our current covid world meant we were unlikely to spend much time in the towns and cities, doing our best to avoid being with too many people.

So now we have a slight dilemma. We would quite like to speed through the next 40 odd miles to avoid a possible lockdown but we also don’t want to be stuck waiting for a lock to be mended right in a Covid hotspot.

Why would I want to go out in this?

It was raining, so we decided to stay put for the day and await the engineers report later on. The back doors were open for an excited Tilly who was given a full 9 hours shore leave. Except the damp air didn’t go down too well with her! Much of the day was spent staring at the outside from the dryness of the pram cover, occasional trips out but not for long.

Mick went off in search of milk and bread, retracing our route then cutting across country to Whelley where there was a Tesco Express.

Meanwhile I got on with a touch of work. Vanessa from Separate Doors has asked me to do an illustration for the cover of a Crisis pamphlet. A couple of days ago I’d sent her some ideas and yesterday she’d replied as to which one to go with, luckily my preferred one.

Now which one is best?

Time to work out the layout and then search for a suitable font. Our new computer has a huge list of fonts, but half of them you have to download. Not a problem, except to see what they look like it means downloading them all! A tiresome task, not one I fancied today. So I just worked my way down the list of those available, selecting possibles for an audition. Once I had my shortlist I then gradually wheedled them down to one. Then that needed manipulating, all taking loads of time.

No 10

With the correct size and spacing I then traced the lettering onto the page only to discover that my centre line was just slightly off and some spacing of letters looked a touch odd leaving small gaps! A bit of nudging about and it was better, good enough for a mock up to send Vanessa for approval.

This afternoon Mick took the opportunity to lift the engine board and give Oleanna a service. Her last service had been 250 hours ago at the beginning of March. Just an oil change and filter today along with checking coolant levels and belts. We also renewed our RCR membership which had lapsed in the last week.

Two boats came past today. First NB Billy, Hellos and waves were passed from our dry position at the dinette to Clare’s soggy one at the helm. Then mid afternoon another boat came past heading towards the locks. I think we may have found the quietest stretch on the network at the moment, this of course may change when we reach Yorkshire.

By the end of the day news came through from C&RT that scaffolding would be erected at Lock 51 tomorrow and they hoped that the repair would be finished on Friday, with the navigation reopening in the evening. Great news.

Pendle District

Then on the local news there was more talk of re-imposing measures to try to take control over the spike. We took a closer look at our maps. Pendle covers a large area which includes Barnoldswick and Greenberfield Locks, the other side of Foulridge Tunnel! Hopefully for these communities the measures they are bringing back in will work and for us hopefully we’ll be through should a full lockdown be enforced. We’ll just have to come back to explore this section another time.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3.5 hours for Wigan yesterday, 4 pts milk, 2 loaves bread, 1 stocked freezer, 1 damp day, 4 muddy paws, 1 illustration in danger, 10 fonts down to 1, 51 broken, 9 litres oil, 1 filter, 1 bronze membership, 2 spikes en route, 1 west side still to explore.

Waiting For Tarzan. 13th July

Gerrards Bridge to Scotman’s Flash

With drizzle in the air we took our time before moving this morning and with hindsight we should have let Tilly dictate what time we left, but it’s rare we let her out on mornings we want to move.

Things dried up a touch so we pushed off around 11:30 with the intention of reaching Scotman’s Flash, leaving the two Poolstock Locks for Tuesday morning as we’d rather not moor overnight below lock 85.

The green way ahead

The canal is a bit samey samey. Wide with concrete edges that seem to have moved through the years, some downwards and some inwards due to mining subsidence. All the route is green, very green, so green that there are very few views to be had through the trees, just the odd glimpse of water.

Where the lock gates used to hinge

There were a couple of boats at Dover Locks where two locks have been removed, the gate recesses still visible where the cut narrows.

Wasn’t that here last time?

A toppled branch now seems quite settled halfway across the canal, I think we chopped a chunk out of this when we were on our way to Liverpool a few years ago.

Are we in the jungle?

Now the banks are high and so over grown. Fat greenery at the narrows where bridges once used to be make the canal look like it is a narrow waterway. Ferns, brambles all sorts, we were just waiting for a yodel and then for Tarzan to swing into view.

Moss Bridge

Through Moss Bridge we could see the large flash of water stretching out towards Wigan, sailing boats lined up on the shore. There was a gap in the over growth so we pulled in, then adjusted ourselves so that the galley window would have a better view, all the time avoiding the mountains of goose pooh.

Not a bad view

A gaggle of Canadian and Greylag Geese suddenly made a dash for it as a lady walked up to them. They were heading in her direction despite the two dogs on leads, they knew what she had in her blue plastic bag was going to be tasty.

Quick she’s here!

The towpath is quite wide, we both took it in turns to have a look over the other side. We’d expected there to be a bank of some sort which trees grew out of before the waters edge. But no it was a sheer drop. A conferring H&S huddle was had, verdict sadly for Tilly that it was an incident just waiting to happen and with the water maybe 10 ft below the top of the wall, we’d not be able to assist should some footing on the trees go wrong, No shore leave today!

Too high should any tree climbing go wrong!

During the afternoon I scanned the sketches I’d done yesterday and wrote a lengthy email to Vanessa with my suggestions. I also had queries for The Garden regarding what materials I’d used for my illustrations, so that this could be added to the audio description.

Lock muffins

Then a spot of baking, a sugar rush might be needed tomorrow on the locks, so I made a half batch of blueberry muffins.

Access to notes from the Wigan Flight Crew were read and a link sent to my phone. One of the crew has complied handy notes for ascent and descent of the locks, so I should know which locks on the flight have troublesome gates and when to use all the paddles and where not to. Apparently above the top lock there is lots of weed at the moment, so it’s best not to use the gate paddles as the weed would be sucked through and clog the grills, luckily this lock has newer gates so holds it’s water well.

A Dover lock bollard

As the evening progressed numerous groups of teenagers walked by all heading in the same direction. None of them came back, maybe there was a big party happening somewhere, at least we couldn’t hear it if there was.

0 locks, 3.78 miles, 1 grey day, 1 green cruise, 0 Tarzan, 10ft wall of death, 1 bored cat again, 6 muffins, 5 sketches, 1 day until The Garden goes live, 5 years an amputee.

Ramp My Ar**! 12th July

West of the M60 to Gerrards Bridge 6, Leeds Liverpool Canal, Leigh Branch

We nudged our way closer to Wigan today, we plan on ascending the 21 locks on Tuesday. A few days ago Mick put a notice on the Wigan Flight Crew page of facebook to see if we could team up with anyone, or see if any volunteers might be around to assist. By the end of today we had arranged to team up with NB Billy who are approaching from Liverpool, so we will rendez vous below Lock 85.

Astley Green pithead

The towpath was busy today, the sun had brought everyone and their distant relatives out to enjoy themselves alongside the water. Our arms became tired from all the waving we were having to do to youngsters. One little lad told us ‘You’re on a boat!’

Through Vicars Hall Bridge we could see the pithead at Astley Green. We’ve never visited the Lancashire Mining Museum, currently closed, maybe we’ll stop next time we pass.

A carpet of green and yellow

Yellow lilies fill the offside, most winding holes are full of them, today their green leaves shone out at us before they ducked under the surface. Boats were on the move too, most we’d seen yesterday so they must have been on an out and back trip for the weekend.

Dusty smelly and noisy. Hope they were enjoying themselves

In the distance all morning we’d been able to hear gun shots, a shooting range somewhere, this was however soon taken over by numerous motorbikes at Astley Raceway MX. The raceway was open to prebooked bikes and no spectators were allowed, despite this the track was heaving! Talk about pollution! Both noise and from the fumes, we didn’t hang around to watch.

Monty and Montee

Gardens with ornaments kept us occupied, a little wendy house occupied by Monty and Montee (we think that is what female gnomes should be called).

Darth Vader and R2D2

Just a little bit further along I thought I could see two more gnomes, Darth Vader and R2D2, but disappointingly they turned out to be a toadstool and a water pump!

Waterway Routes with added info

For the last few days Mick has been listening to the England West Indies Test Match. But today it was absent, yet he knew how we were or were’t doing. In the corner of the Waterway Routes map, he’d managed to get the score to show. Not good as we lost mid afternoon.


A peloton came towards us, the man out in front smoking a fag, all this exercise is good for you!

Three shades of hydrangia, back gates held together with yellowing expanding foam and the mill now refurbished, the windows on the corner looking right down the canal.

HIts of the past, yet modern

A new looking building at one of the little arms looks interesting, and the wild flowers alongside the moorings were stunning.

Leeds Liverpool straight ahead

At Leigh Bridge 11 we left the Bridgewater Canal and joined back onto C&RT waters, the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Leigh Branch.

Footbridge 10 came into view and we started to look for somewhere deep enough to be able to pull in, it wasn’t that hard, we just had to do our best to avoid the woofer deposits. Tilly thought this would do for the day, we weren’t too sure though.

Bridge 10

After lunch Mick set off with a bike to pick up a click and collect order half a mile away. On his return he had to call me for assistance as the footbridge did not have a ramp as he’d hoped. As I go to the bridge some cyclists who’d just crossed over the bridge were offering to help the old man with his shopping! We managed and were soon able to continue on our way.

Old lock gates

But how much further? Pennington Flash looked appealing, but the shear volume of people about put us off.

The housing around Plank Lane has now been finished, every house with solar panels on the roof. It’s all quite different from when we first came here on NB Winding Down and we’re sure the basin is much bigger than it was back then. The housing may be complete on the east side of the bridge, but more houses are going up on the west side.

Plank Lane

Mick pulled us over so that I could hop off to work the bridge, but we’d been beaten to it by a boat coming the other way. The chap turned his key of power, then pressed the button. Flashing lights, barriers and up the bridge went. They came through first then it was our turn. A quick count of cars suggested we’d held up 16 vehicles, but I suspect it was more.

I’ve not been under it before

We pootled along, the towpath now not so pristine, far fewer people. Pulling in a short distance on we were happy until I spied an ants nest, so we nudged up a few hundred yards further along a nice stretch of armco making mooring easy.

Out went Tilly to the birds displeasure and we settled down for the remainder of the day and a roast chicken. Tomorrow we’ll edge closer to Wigan to the last nice mooring before Poolstock Locks.

0 locks, 7.38 miles, 2 canals, 152 mx bikes, 58 kids to wave at, 4 aching arms, 0 ramp, 1 lift bridge, 16 minimum, 1 quieter stretch, 3 hours, 5 covid sketches, 1 roast chicken.