Category Archives: Staffordshire And Worcestershire Canal

Busbars, Bridges And Bits And Bobs

Things are being ordered.

First things to arrive were some waterproof cases for our mobile phones. These won a Herbie Award, not these actual ones, but having waterproof cases to save having to replace a drowned phone. This is a common hazard living on a boat. I’ve lost two phones and Mick has dropped one phone and a tablet into the drink.

At Christmas Mick got me a new phone as my old one was looking a tad cracked after nearly becoming phone number three heading for the depths of Nether Lock last January. I’d like to try to keep hold of this one a touch longer if possible. So I’ve been looking round for cases.

Most of the cases I found are intended for swimming, keeping the water out is one thing. But being able to turn your phone on to take that photo of a Kingfisher is another, especially when your power switch is now fingerprint operated and on the side! One case I found has the outside area inflated, so it would act like water wings should your phone go for a swim. I suspect this would make it even harder to turn on.

I’ve tried taking photos through the case to see what effect it has. Reflections are one downside. I suspect our cheap waterproof cases will end up being used for the phone we run Waterway Routes on at the helm. The phone stays powered whilst we cruise so the power button won’t be a problem. Just need to try to find a case that will allow me to take photos and turn the phone on whilst keeping it dry. Yes Mick could have bought me a waterproof phone, but his bank account isn’t that buoyant!

Next a box came from 12 Volt Planet. This contained busbars and fuses to be used in our battery upgrade. I’ll let Mick write about the battery upgrade when he does it. The fuses are also because Oleanna seems to have been built without a main fuse! Well Mick hasn’t ever been able to find one, so he’s going to fit one when putting in the new batteries.

We got sweeties too!

Another box came from Bimble Solar. A voltage sensitive relay for our Nebolink. This will save us having to turn the Nebolink on and off manually when we are cruising, it will do it automatically when the engine is turned on and off. Yes it is likely to turn on should we want to run the engine whilst stationary, but the trip will show 0 miles and may not be recorded by Nebo. It is a touch larger than Mick had thought it would be and have to say I’ll miss flicking the switch on as we push off each day.

Illuminating!

Mick has also treated himself to some rechargeable motion sensitive strip lights. These have appeared on his Christmas list for the last three years. Twice they have been ordered and twice they have not arrived! So this year they were given up on as a bad thing. Of course he has now managed to get some straight away with no hassle! These are to go inside cupboards on Oleanna and will light up as the door is opened, saving getting a torch out to check for things at the back of cupboards etc.

Whilst Mick has been reveling in electrical things I managed to find some Pan Flour. Since working on Chippy Panto I’ve been wanting to have a go at making some Arepas, corn cakes. A little after Christmas I followed the instructions on the pack of flour and maybe was a touch impatient on leaving the flour to absorb the water. My first go were tasty filled with the last of the roast duck and red cabbage from Christmas, A little reminiscent of popcorn! I’ll follow an online recipe next time though.

Experimental Baking

The remainder mince pie pastry in the freezer and mince meat required using up, so I came up with the idea of a hybrid mince pie and Yorkshire Curd Tart. I made some curds then used the pastry and mince meat a touch like a bakewell tart, adding the curd custard on top. The outcome was nice, a little strange, but nice. At least the pastry has been used up.

I’ve also finished my painting. Which is now hung in the not quite smallest room in the house. It’s positioning may be a slight problem for two reasons. 1, when sat down it isn’t quite in eye line of the mirror. 2, those who stand to use the facilities may get distracted!

The finished painting, Wolverhampton Flight, Lock 21. Emulsion on canvas.

However I’m very pleased with it and am considering doing a series of paintings in the same style based on places we visit on the network. We’ve come up with a few locations we should be visiting this year. I may even get some prints or cards made from them.

Anyhow, there’s jobs need doing.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 busbars, 2 gauges, 3 fuses, 2 cases, 4 lights, 1 switch, 4 arepas, 1 Yorkshire Mince Pie, or 1 Mince Yorkshire Tart, Lock 21.

0.75 Pairs knitted

51.25 Pairs to go

Margee Bargee. 12th June

Pendford Bridge 4 to Wolverhampton off side mooring, BCN

Today we allowed ourselves to have breakfast before pushing off, other boats that had moored near us had already moved on by the time we’d got ourselves ready. A pause in the long grass by bridge 2 for me to walk to Morrisons to pick up a bag of salad (we’d forgotten to buy yesterday!) and some blueberries.

Last of the Shropie locks for this year

The hire boats were in at base by Autherley Stop Lock, the staff working hard to do the turn arounds. This made it hard to get off Oleanna, crossing the stern of a boat and then managing to get round a cart of equipment required for engine services. Four inches higher and we’d finished our time on the Shropie.

Sorry Chester, maybe next year

Right please!

Then left! Onto the Wolverhampton flight.

Going up!

The bottom lock is always a photo opportunity. 21 carved into the two bottom beams. Up Oleanna came, on to the second lock, here only a single bottom gate, the only one on the flight.

By the time Oleanna was coming into Lock 19, our third of the flight, two figures could be seen walking down the towpath. Our altered schedule meant that we could give some more ex-boaters a canal fix, we like to do our bit for boaters mental health. Today we were being joined by Alison and Laura from NB Large Marge.

Here they come

We first met The Margees on the Chesterfield Canal when we couldn’t exit a lock just below Shireoaks Marina, we ended up cruising with them and their parrot Jaffa for quite a few weeks before our routes headed off in different directions. We’ve met up a few times since and when we’d been in touch a few days ago Alison had expressed an interest in helping us up Wolverhampton.

Windlasses at the ready

The last time we’d seen them we kept our distance, elbow bumps the new way of greeting each other in early 2020, today there were hugs all round before windlasses and hand cuff keys were handed out. A hire boat was hot on our tail, so we’d best get a move on!

Laura heading to set the next one

Leapfrogging of crew started quickly, two working the current lock, one heading upwards to set the next chamber, nobody having to go back and forth or walk round a lock several times.

Even Mick got to chat too

The hardest bit of today was trying to remember the two conversations you were having as you leapfrogged locks and people. There was plenty of news to catch up on, more than the annual Christmas round robin we share. Old hands make for easy locking just as had happened at Audlem with Carol and George.

Swapping in a pound

We met a boat coming down, apparently there had been a problem yesterday, a boat getting stuck in a lock, front button. They’d had to wait for C&RT to top up some pounds, so had had a delayed start to their descent. A while later we came across a second boat coming down.

Wonderful

All the way up the flight there had been wild flowers, but by lock 12 (possibly) the shear number of Oxeye Daisies was amazing. Wonderful, you’d hardly know you were heading into Wolverhampton.

Onwards and upwards

A pause at the half way mark for drinks before carrying on. Hydration important on a day like today.

Think we know where that water went!

Then a flooded pound, thankfully there was an alternative higher path so we didn’t all have to wade to the next lock. Two locks up we could see where the water had possibly come from, the next pound decidedly low. Someone had possibly been letting water run through the lock without realising. Laura headed up to the next lock to let water down, Mick bringing Oleanna along at a crawl. Once we were up that lock we dropped the water to help the hire boat behind us.

Coming in

Another low pound towards the top of the flight had us running more water down. The level was so low that Mick had to back into the lock so as not to be sat on the cill. The pound above had dropped so warranted a top up too, Laura was concerned that would just push the problem up hill, the next lock happened to be the top lock, so not a problem.

The ladies at work

We pulled out of the top lock 2 hours 42 minutes after we’d pulled in at the bottom lock, a job well done on a hot muggy day. The moorings above the lock were all free so we pulled onto one for lunch. A cold collation was enjoyed by all with plenty of drinks.

Top Lock

It was gone 3pm by the time we said our farewells, not enough time to really get anywhere so we pulled along to the offside moorings for the night. Tilly wasn’t impressed with this as she’s not allowed out here. She spent sometime working out a route up the plant covered wall. I could easily make it up there! But it’s the getting down again that would be the problem Tilly!

Todays crew

Another lovely day working locks in the company of friends.

Bye bye, until next time

Now who can we find for the next few flights?

If I get up to that bit, nudge across then it’s straight to the top!

22 locks, 4 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 2 margees, 0 jaffa, 3 downhill boats, 2 low pounds, 4 volunteers litter picking, 1 bag of salad, 3 cheeses, 2 meats, 1 pate, 4 chocolate chip cookies, 1 bored cat, 1 drizzly moment, 1 downpour again!

https://goo.gl/maps/kc3cLGSdCeKmbbkm8

2021 An Adventurous Year

Time for the annual round up. Put the kettle on or pour yourself a glass of something stonger, put your feet up, this is a long post.

Looking out into a cold world!

As midnight turned from 2020 to 2021 we saw the old year out and new one in at the house in Scarborough, a quiet affair with just the three of us.

January and February brought ups and downs with them. Oleanna rose and fell with the water level at Viking Marina due to the breach at New Bridge whilst the country locked down. Despite the restrictions on travelling we made use of having a hire car for a few days at the beginning of the year to keep an eye on Oleanna.

Jobs around the house continued, our bedroom was redecorated and reclaimed from troublesome tenants. Tilly and I ventured out into the nearby park for the occasional walk, dependant on the number of woofers and the weather of course.

We walked, we ate, we drank, did our best to stay well and I started on the design for Chipping Norton’s panto in my reclaimed work room.

The spare living room was used as a workshop doing some work for Animated Objects, scrimming giant sci-fi guns and then painting model buildings all for The Odyssey. Beetroot burgers were made and pancakes consumed.

Then March came along and some easing of restrictions. Colour came back in nature with the daffodils popping up and my panto model started to get coloured in. A design for some origami paper arrived ready to be folded up to be part of 1000 ships display that would happen a couple of months later along the Yorkshire coast.

With new freedoms we had a couple of trips to Goole to check on Oleanna. First one was to swing her round and finally put fire extinguishers on walls all ready for her Boat Safety Inspection which she passed with flying colours and a comment that we seemed to like CO and smoke detectors, well I’d rather have too many than not enough!

The cofferdam at the breach site was completed and an access ramp created. My posts about the breach put us in touch with several people in Goole and at the beginning of April The Goole Escape Facebook group was formed. Due to the breach and lack of water in Goole Docks no leisure boats were allowed to use Ocean Lock out onto the Tidal Ouse. A joint calm voice was needed to try to find a way out for those boats wanting to leave, including us.

Of course March was also when Mick and I got our first vaccinations. Who’d have thought having a jab would put a smile on peoples faces! Not that you could really see them behind all the masks. A bathroom got a make over and we discovered parts of Scarborough we’d never been to before.

April was a very busy month. With lodgers on the horizon house jobs needed finishing. The roof needed attention along with a wall in my work room, both jobs were for the professionals. Pictures went up on walls, finally. The bathroom needed finishing with Frank fitting us a new bath surround.

Mid month out attention moved back to Oleanna. Way back when, we’d booked her in at Goole Boathouse to be blacked. We had a night on board before moving her from one marina to the other to come out of the water. She was jet washed down and the chaps began applying layers of 2 pack to her hull. We visited most days with jobs to do ourselves. Mick busied himself inside whilst I ground back rusty bits on the gunnels, repainted them and the tunnel bands. Inside the oak floor had a good clean and then was treated to two coats of oil. The weather had been perfect for it and she went back in the water a week after she’d come out, enough time for the 2 pack to cure. She looked smart again, well the cabin sides still needed a good wash!

Whilst in Goole we met up with David, Karl, Wendy and Martin, four members of The Goole Escape group. David had managed to negotiate with ABP passage for leisure boats through Ocean Lock at Goole Docks, this was limited to specific times of the tide. So escape was now possible but everything would have to come together to make a sensible plan. We wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks and hoped that there wouldn’t be a mass exodus before we could join people.

As I carried on trying to finish my panto model Mick made good use of his time doing a VHF radio course, we’d need to be able to use the radio to meet the criteria for going through Goole Docks and out onto the Tidal Ouse. Tilly visited the vet and got a years worth of flea and wormer treatments, we were all set to move back on board.

The first of May was that day. We’d hoped that Tilly would remember the boat after seven months on shore, within about two seconds of being back it was obvious she knew where she was. News that Goole caisson gates were now open and cruising up towards the breach site was possible we headed off to give Oleanna a good run and so that Tilly could venture back onto dry land. It was very good to be back on the move again. On our second such trip Tilly remembered how to swim!

Whilst in Goole Mick took his Short Range VHF Radio exam and passed. I carried on painting my panto model. We both had our second vaccinations. Heather Bleasdale came to visit joining us for an outdoor lunch. We got to know the Goole Escape Committee and discussed plans. We watched work going on at the breach site. Mick had a birthday and Joan’s Home Kitchen provided us with a celebratory meal a couple of days before we hoped to escape.

On 21st May an escape committee meeting was had early on, the weather looked hopeful for the tide in the afternoon, we were booked in at Ocean Lock. Our escape was to be via Selby, the Lock keeper was called there and our plan confirmed. At lunchtime we moved up to fill the diesel tank and await the other escapees, Sea Maiden and Lullabelle. Given the go ahead by the docks to proceed we were soon passing through to Ocean Lock where there was plenty of space for the three of us. At around 14:30 the large lock gates opened to reveal our way out of Goole onto the Tidal Ouse.

All three boats arrived safe and sound

We headed upstream following Sea Maiden being pushed along with the tide. Would we make it to Selby before the tide turned. Each boat arrived individually and was locked up into Selby Basin. We’d made it, now all we had to do was escape Selby as the swing bridge out of the basin there was broken.

We waited. Tides, times, weather and the amount of fresh coming down stream all had to fit together. Bridget and Storm came to visit. We twiddled our thumbs. The Environment Agency came and closed the flood barrier. We twiddled our thumbs. Daily escape committee meetings were held. By the 27th everything was looking to fit together apart from one thing, Keadby Lock would not be manned at a suitable time for us to get off the river. Sea Maiden and Lullabelle decided to stay put in Selby. Heather Bleasdale was joining us for the trip but Oleanna would be out on the river on her own heading to Trent Falls.

What a day that was! David’s advice was spot on. Leaving Selby just before 10am Oleanna zoomed downstream with the out going tide. We followed our charts keeping to the channel. At the Apex light Mick swung Oleanna round to head upstream onto the Trent our progress slowing instantly.

We then crawled our way to find where we should wait for the tide to turn. Two hours of very little, drifting on our anchor. We’d picked the day well, it was wonderful out there.

When Oleanna started to move round a touch more we managed to pull the anchor up and found our way back into the main channel to head upstream with the incoming tide. One plan had been to moor up in Gainsborough, but we decided to carry on and arrived at Torksey just as the last light was fading at just gone 22:00, 64 miles in a day, I doubt we’ll ever beat that.

Over the next few days we made our way up the Trent, dug out our windlasses to work locks in Nottingham. Once we rose up Derwent Mouth Lock onto the Trent and Mersey we had completed our escape. The going would now be much slower along shallow canals and plenty more moored boats to slow down past.

Now we should make our booked mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, every day would be a boating day unless the weather was either too hot or far too wet to cruise. Along the Trent and Mersey, pausing to stock up in Alrewas. At Fradley we turned onto the Coventry Canal to head southwards. We gave a tow to NB Burghley Girl to the bottom of Atherstone.

At Hawkesbury Junction we did the 180 degree turn onto the North Oxford Canal, through Rugby and up Hillmorton. NB Kamili with Andy and Irene passed as we arrived in Braunston where we paused for another butchers, then up the flight and through the tunnel.

Straight on along the Grand Union. On route we stopped for a drink with Lizzie at Bugbrooke. Paused for a hot day under some trees near Milton Keynes. Had a diversion along the Wendover Arm for a night. Picked up extra crew, my old college friend Jen, for a day through Hemel Hempstead. Came across our first sightings of HS2 cutting it’s way across the landscape.

At Bulls Bridge we turned left onto the Paddington Arm. On our trip into London we came across our friends Pete and Clare on NB Billy, it turned out we’d be neighbours at Rembrandt Gardens for a few days. We arrived on time and the next day headed across London by bus to Hackney to see the London Leckenbys for the first time since Christmas 2019.

Plenty more family to catch up with. Kath came for lunch, we had a trip to Eastbourne to see Marion and John, a lovely lunch with Christine and Paul. So good to see everyone again and not just on a computer screen every Saturday.

Happy Birthday Big Brother

Andrew’s 60th Birthday was celebrated, nothing fancy just good to be able to be together for it, we’d achieved our second goal of the year.

We heard there was a space at St Pancras Cruising Club for a long boat like Oleanna, so we took advantage of a more secure mooring close to Kings Cross whilst we had a visit back to Scarborough. Checking on the house, lodgers changing over and seeing the latest Ayckbourn play with Bridget and Storm, it all made for a good weekend away. I then headed off to Huddersfield for a couple of days work with Dark Horse, fitting costumes for a photo shoot.

There was to be a Tideway cruise from St Pancras Cruising Club and with one space left we jumped at the opportunity. Ten boats made their way to Limehouse, we breasted up with NB Misty Blue, Graham turned out to be another Goole Escapee. Three lock-fulls of boats headed out onto the Tideway on the morning of 10th July, special permission had been sought to go under Hammersmith Bridge which was closed to all forms of traffic at the time.

Tilly thought we were mad taking her onto such rough water, I was a little perplexed too! Very glad that I was the official photographer, clinging on as we did more than bob up and down! Tower Bridge, The National Theatre, Christine, Adam, The Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station. So many sights, what an experience!

The further west we got the calmer the water got. We were glad when Hammersmith Bridge was passed as there had always been a chance that it might close to boat traffic at anytime due to safety reasons. We turned off at Brentford along with several other boats and continued up to Hanwell where we had a very sociable evening at The Fox with everyone. Thank you Simon for mentioning the cruise to us.

Sadly our washing machine hadn’t liked the lumpy water so for the next month we cruised meeting up with engineers on route hoping it could be mended. Back through London, pausing at St Pancras again. Then down to the Herford Union to cut across to the Lee and Stort. We had another mooring booked on the Lee awaiting our arrival, alongside NB Billy.

Then up the Lee and onto the River Stort. We’d only ventured so far up the Stort during our first winter on Lillian, this time we headed all the way to Bishop Stortford. Our return journey was held up slightly due to the river going into flood overnight so we had to wait for it to lower to get under the bridge at Roydon.

Back through London we made use of the new Eco-moorings near Islington Tunnel, a handy stop off with electricity. Here we met up with Nick an old friend from York and Adam called in for a catch up after working the breakfast shift at Radio 2.

Goodbye Christine!

At the end of July we pushed on and left London behind us, returning to Bulls Bridge.

We headed up to Uxbridge for cheap diesel and finally got our washing machine mended. We turned around and headed back to the Hanwell flight, stowed the garden back in the shower and headed out onto the Thames again where we turned right towards Oxford.

With a weeks license we couldn’t dawdle, although a broken lock gate at Boveney Lock did hold us up overnight so our license would be extended. A space was spotted below Cliveden so we treated ourselves to a night moored in the grounds of the big house. We paused for a socially distanced chat with Sue on No Problem XL, good to see her looking so well. Henley Regatta was almost ready as we passed through and our favourite mooring above Days Lock did not disappoint. All too soon we turned up Sheepwash Channel and ascended Isis Lock back onto the Oxford Canal.

Whilst in Oxford I managed an actual face to face meeting with Dash the Director for Chippy Panto. He seemed happy! Then we made our way up to Thrupp where we’d booked ourselves in at the cruising club for a few days whilst the London Leckenbys came to visit and we had a trip back to Scarborough and we got to see the show at Esk Valley for the first time since we’ve been living afloat.

I had a day trip to Chippy where I did a final model meeting over zoom from a dressing room, but also had chance to measure things up. Then we were off up the Oxford Canal, mooring in our favourite spots, it was a touch busier than it normally is in the winter.

A pause to visit Village Meats in Braunston and we spotted our old share boat NB Winding Down so we stopped to say hello. On up the flight sharing with a boat full of actors, then left up to Crick for the first time in ages.

A prearranged boaters meeting at Houdini’s Field worked brilliantly, NB Panda and NB Kamili convened and we all enjoyed each others company over a fantastic barbeque outside so everyone could feel safe and Tilly could roam about. Oleanna was treated to a very good wash and brush up before we were on our way again. We now needed to get her north before I started on Panto.

News came through that the breach on the Aire and Calder had been mended and nine months after the canal had sprung a leek it was mended and open again. Boats could now move through the area, mooring however is still restricted.

Following the Grand Union we headed down the Stockton Flight to Leamington Spa. Tilly and I had a few hot days on our own moored at Radford Smelly then we were on our way again. An obligatory burger at The Cape of Good Hope the night before we teamed up with NB Mad Hatter to ascend the Hatton flight. One day my old college friend Emma will not have an excuse to helping us up the flight, this time we met for a cuppa and a catch up the following day.

On up Knowle to Catherine de Barnes, then Camp Hill Locks, the Ashted flight and Tunnel (!) followed by Farmers Bridge into Birmingham. The city centre is still full of building and tram works but with the sun out it looked stunning. We also caught up with Paul Balmer from Waterway Routes before carrying on with our journey.

A night at Hawne Basin filled the diesel tank up. A night at Dudley Port Basin got the cupboards filled. A pause at Urban Moorings meant we could donate our deposits and the next day we descended from the Birmingham plateau down the Wolverhampton 21.

Along the Staffordshire and Worcester we managed to have a mid stream catch up with Barbara from NB Bessie Surtees. At Great Haywood I managed a catch up with Kay from NB Pea Green as she set up to trade for the day and Mick filled Oleanna’s water tank.

Heading north on the Trent and Mersey we pulled in for lunch and a surprise hello to Barry and Sandra from NB AreandAre whom we’d got to know last year in the first lockdown. In the afternoon we were joined by Bill and Lisa for a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. Now we swung off the Trent and Mersey and onto the Macclesfield with it’s wonderful bridges.

It would have been nice to take our time but we had a rendez vous to make. The end mooring at Marple was free and from here we headed into Manchester by train to join the London Leckenbys for a meal of big red fish. The following day my old school friend Morag joined us for a night on board with some serious catching up to be done.

Our next deadline loomed, Standedge Tunnel. We dropped down the Marple flight, crossed the aqueduct and turned right at Dukinfield Junction onto the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We knew we were in for some hard work to climb our way over the Pennines, last time we’d enlisted crew to help as I was one handed. This time we’d be going solo. Apart from the very first lock it wasn’t too troublesome. The work is rewarded with stunning views.

Standedge Tunnel did not disappoint. Because of social distancing Mick got ride ride up front in the cratch leaving the helm to a C&RT volunteer. Bumps and scrapes made Oleanna wince along with us, but we all got through in one piece with no damage. Tilly wasn’t too happy about the trip, but at least I can now boast to the local cats in Scarboreugh that I’ve been through the longest deepest highest tunnel on the canal network whilst they just lazed around on their shed roofs!

On our way down the other side Oleanna had a belt that went taking out quite a few wires in the engine bay. RCR were sent for, the engineer suggested we’d need to remove a pulley on the alternator to be able to remove trapped wires, this could not happen where we were. We could move but the batteries would not charge. The only way to top up our electric was with the solar panels. Emergency power conservation went into operation, blogs were hand written, the freezer turned off and we gradually ate our way through our defrosting supplies. Every day Mick managed to pull more wire from the alternator and soon there was no need for an engineer again, just a new belt needed fitting.

We made our way down to Huddersfield and arrived the day before I had a production meeting at Dark Horse. After walking to my meeting I handed over the model and we stocked up on supplies before heading off east along the Huddersfield Broad Canal.

The Board locks are just that, but they are short. On Lillian we’d nearly got stuck here, but Oleanna was built a foot shorter so we knew we were fine, we still had to take great care in descending the locks diagonally. This continued on to the Calder and Hebble, taking our time and using our Hebble spike. The rebuilding work done at the Figure of Three locks, after flooding washed huge parts of the structure away, are only noticeable due to the new stonework.

Bigger locks were welcome, using the key of power once past Wakefield. The sun shone wonderfully for my last full days boating this year as we made our way to Castleford. Here we hired a car to get me down to Chipping Norton to start work on Panto whilst Mick and Tilly stayed on board with the plan to move Oleanna to a winter mooring in Thorne.

Whilst I painted the set working all the hours I could, Mick and Tilly gradually made their way eastwards. They passed through the breach site and headed to Goole to top up on diesel. On their way back towards the New Junction Canal the engine started to over heat, a problem that had happened a couple of years ago on the Thames.

The following day he winded and slowly made his way to Rawcliffe Bridge for easier access for RCR. Little could be done there and then, so Mick and Alastair (engineer) arranged to meet at Viking Marina in Goole. Oleanna managed the two and a half miles in three stages. After her cooling system had been flushed through the problem hadn’t gone away. The water pump was removed and was obviously the problem. A week later with a new pump Mick moved back out onto the cut and joined Lullabelle (a fellow Goole Escapee).

Taking a long weekend off panto, I headed up to join Mick and Tilly to help move them back to Scarborough. Wendy and Martin kept an eye on Oleanna for us whilst we settled Tilly back into the house, I knew where I was! Pah!!

Several days later with the weather on his side, Mick returned as early as he could, pushed off and single handed Oleanna back along the Aire and Calder to Sykehouse Junction where he turned onto the New Junction Canal. With swing and lift bridges to work he was glad of the assistance of a volunteer at Sykehouse Lock. Then the sharp turn at Bramwith onto the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigations. A few more bridges and two more locks before he arrived at Blue Water Marina, Oleanna’s winter mooring.

Tucked up for a rest

On our way back from Chippy a week or so later we called in to check on her. A boat in winter isn’t too friendly without the stove lit. We’ll have visits every now and then to check on her and do the odd job. The weeks are already flying by before we move back on board.

For a year that we’d decided would purely be about seeing our family and friends we ended up having quite an adventurous time. Trent Falls, the Tideway through London and Standedge Tunnel made it quite a year.

So our vital statistics for the year 2021 according to canal plan are

Total distance was 932 miles, ½ furlong and 627 locks . There were 42 moveable bridges of which 16 are usually left open; 169 small aqueducts or underbridges and 30 tunnels – a total of 19 miles 3 ¼ furlongs underground and 3 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 277 miles, 1 ¾ furlongs of narrow canals; 270 miles, 4 furlongs of broad canals; 89 miles, 4 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 59 miles, 7 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 121 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 105 miles, 2 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 8 miles of seaways; 263 narrow locks; 302 broad locks; 61 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

Sadly with Oleanna’s log book where it should be, onboard, I’m not able to offer up the engine hours, litres of diesel, gas bottle or bags of coal. Maybe I’ll update this once we are back on board.

The Thames, 2021

This year we’ve done more miles than last, not bad considering we were on land for so much of it. We’ve done far more tidal miles than ever before and for the first time we’ve been on a Seaway! If someone can tell me what the difference is between Tidal waters and Seaways please do. Maybe it was around Trent Falls, or was it downstream of Tower Bridge?

As last year I hope the pandemic doesn’t throw a spanner in the works for us or anyone else. We need the theatrical world to still function with an income for me designing shows and lodgers paying to stay in our house.

I want to say ‘Keep well friends’, but I feel I need to add, ‘Get well soon friends’, as so many have tested positive recently. Thank you for following us and hope to see you soon x

Geeses Goosing. 24th September

Swivel Bridge 108 to Stone Bottom Lock winding hole, Trent and Mersey

Great Haywood Junction ahead

I left Mick to push off by himself this morning as I walked up to the junction of the Staffordshire and Worcester with the Trent and Mersey Canal. Just round the bend was a little green boat, bunting up, signs out, Kay was setting up to trade over the weekend.

Kay on NB Pea Green has had a busy summer teaming up with another boat from Napton, NB Corridor, and has cruised from Welford on the Leicester Section, up to the Shropie and then has carried on up to Ellesmere Port on her own, doing pop up shops at weekends. I met Kay via Instagram a few years back, today was the second time we’d met face to face, but there was still plenty to talk about.

Kay paints and sells canal ware and other things with traditional roses and castles. Being a painter I can appreciate the skill and technique that goes into her work, a Bucky Can can take ten days to paint. But Kay also has two Master Degrees in History, her love of the past sings out in her Instagram posts and blogs during the winter.

Kay on Pea Green

We had a great catch up as she set up her shop for the days trading. When someone came to talk Buckby Cans I slid away leaving her to it, by which time Mick had turned left at the junction and managed to slot straight onto the water point as another boat pulled away.

Which way?

Mick headed to the Elsan with the yellow water as the other water tank filled. I disposed of the rubbish in the bins. Last time I’d been around the bins I’d just returned from Stafford Hospital with a boot and crutches for my broken ankle, the Margees helped out that day by moving Lillian to and from the services and then demonstrating their skills on crutches. Today the aroma from the pump out machine was still toe curling!

Northward bound

Boats came past, came out from the junction, some wanting water others a mooring, plenty of space in front of Kay. We pushed off again leaving the water point queue to sort itself out behind us.

Hello Percy

As we passed Great Haywood Marina we spied NB Percy who’s here for a short stint for blacking and a survey. Soon we reached Hoo Mill Lock. One boat was waiting to go up another to come down, I helped them both then it was our turn. Some serious pruning has been going on around the lock.

On the Ingestre Visitor Moorings there was a boat with crochet stars around its bow doors and filled with woolly sunflowers. Maybe this is where the hearts on lock beams come from, fresh ones at the locks today.

Someone has created several tree houses further up which look in better nick than the showman’s caravan.

Joining the queue

We joined the back of a queue at Weston Lock and I went up to help. With no boats waiting above we left a ten second gap for one to appear around the bend before closing the top gate to drop the lock ready for the next boat. By the time it was our turn another boat was waiting behind us. The Four Counties Ring seems to be more popular in the anti clockwise direction at the moment.

Buzzy buzz buzz

Bees were being busy both in the hedgerows and at their hives. Ivy flowers seem to be very popular with them at the moment, all the hedges are are buzzing!

Dramatic colours

Dark clouds, green fields and sunshine make for dramatic views at this time of year, we were quite glad that no rain followed.

Salt Bridge and a check on Dante as we passed on our way to Sandon Lock. At the lock a green fence now sits on top of the little wall by the bottom gates, this was cordoned off for ages but now looks neat and tidy.

Gaggling gaggles

Being back on the Trent and Mersey Canal means Canadian Geese, they always seem to swarm round this canal. Fields were full of them bickering, we suggested that maybe they should just ‘Go home and stop stealing our geese’s goosing!’

Approaching Aston Marina, soon to be the new home of NB Winding Down, the bow of another Carefree Shareboat came out from the exit. They disturbed a gaggle of geese as they turned towards Stone and the entrance to the marina. They must have been to fill with diesel and have a pump out and were now returning to their mooring, Aston Marina is one way with the services in the middle.

Aston Lock with the half way mile marker between Preston Brook and Shardlow. The little hut just over the wall is still one of my favourite things on the T&M. I’d quite like to live in there with the fire going.

My Little hut

Approaching Stone I hopped off to walk ahead to spy for moorings. Nothing available on the first stretch, I called back to Mick suggesting pulling in at the end of the moored boats whilst I walked on towards Star Lock in case. Nothing was free up that end so we’d be the end boat for the night. Tilly was quite happy about this as there was a good selection of trees. She was a bit miffed at only being allowed an hour and a half though!

4 locks, 9.62 miles, 1 left, 1 long chat, 1 Monty inside, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 stinking service point, 1 constant queue, 1 duck with 4 legs, 2 many geese, 1 Dante, 1 cow, 0 spaces.

https://goo.gl/maps/kPfv5gqPrcTg1SUi9

Just Like A Car Park. 23rd September

Roseford Bridge 94 to Swivel Bridge 108

Not a bad mooring

We had to wait to pull out this morning, boats coming in both directions, there had already been about eight boats go past heading northwards, most now familiar as we keep leapfrogging them. Eventually we pushed off and arrived behind NB First Dawn a BCBM share boat at Deptmore Lock. We helped lock them down then bring another up before it was our turn.

Hi Dawn

The morning was lovely, sun with a touch of cloud, the boat ahead had similar ideas to us, if there was space at Tixall Wide we’d stop for the day, if not we’d continue to the Trent and Mersey.

Passing Stafford Boat Club, NB Festina Lente was moored online, we’ve never met them but said hello as we passed, nobody heard us. Then the odd pram cover on NB Malakarti came into view, this was one of the last Steve Hudson boats to be built and the original owners discovered that their Huskies got seasick, so it was sold on fairly quickly. It is one of the boats that we got to see a lot of during Lockdown 1 as it was moored on Nantwich Aqueduct all the time.

Once past Radford Bridge I was onto slightly unfamiliar water. Our first cruise along here on NB Winding Down I’d had to jump ship for a day to head to Hull Truck for a read through, leaving Mick and his sister Kath to carry on to Stone. Another occasion I’d just broken my ankle, so was confined to quarters with Tilly, Mick single handing above. This is also a stretch where I seem to get busy below as it’s a good break between locks. On one occasion Mick remembers wafts of stew coming from below at 9:30am as I popped things in a slow cooker. Another time he thinks I was doing some work below. So maybe today is the first time I’ve actually been up top.

The sign to RCR was familiar but not the Stafford Riverway Link, the lock down to it currently being worked on.

Train

I’d never seen the homemade train by NB Abba.