Category Archives: Stratford Canal

You Have Reached Your Destination.


Nine weeks ago on the 9th May we moved back onboard Oleanna, leaving Goole on the 10th. Today we’d reached our planned destination, Lechlade.

The above map taken from data provided by our Victron Inverter

Our vital statistics for our trip down are as follows

Nebo 366.54 miles 270 locks

Canalplan 364 miles 1.25 furlongs 270 locks

Our Victron Inverter 403.5 miles (?)

Nebo’s map of our journey

Interesting how both maps have gaps in them, both in different places.

So,now where?

We need to make our way back northwards, currently there is only one route open to us, the River Trent.

Apologies to those who get their updates by email. You won’t be able to see the map from victron as it was embedded in the post. The IT department may see if he can replace this today, but you have already received the post, so you won’t be reading this bit anyway!

Adjusting The Squelch. 7th April

*This post was superseded by A Glimmer Of Hope yesterday*

Panto spiky trees

Whilst waiting for news regarding the breach and possible escape from Goole we’ve not been idle. Well I say we, but in regards to boaty things Mick has been the busy one whilst I’ve been working painting my panto model.

Town Square buildings

On our last visit to Oleanna we brought back the life jackets. These were in need of a service, in fact a year overdue. Last time we paid for them to be checked over to much consternation from readers. This time Mick followed instructions on Youtube.

He checked for any damage, wear and tear. Weighed the gas bottles. Checked the dates on the firing mechanisms. Blew the whistles. Inflated them and left them overnight (well a couple of days) to check they remained inflated.

New firing mechanisms

A couple of the firing mechanisms had a few months left on them and Mick had broken one of the clips that is used to indicate that a firing mechanism has been manually fired. The green clip obviously needed replacing so it was worth getting a couple of new mechanisms.

When they arrived the oldest dated mechanisms were swapped out for the newest and put into the jackets we use the most, these will last us till 2024. The middle aged ones were put in our two spare jackets, these will last till December 2022. The oldest ones we are keeping as spares and run out in February 2022.

All rolled and folded how it should be

The next job was to fold and roll the jackets back up into the covers. This is possibly the hardest part of the servicing. But they are all done and in the crate ready to be returned to Oleanna on our next visit.

Next was the VHF radio. We bought our hand held radio a few years ago and use it to listen in to the big ships around Goole and when we are on tidal waters. You should have your radio licenced and have completed a course to use it. Mick has been meaning to do the course for a number of years but had never got round to it, I suspect like many others. My sister-in-law had looked into it for his birthday last year, but it was going to cost too much.

With the only way out of Goole for the next few months being through the docks to Ocean Lock and down onto the tidal Ouse (when/if ABP allow leisure craft), we have decided the cost of the VHF course and test would be worth doing. ABP normally require leisure boats to have two crew, life jackets and a VHF radio. Should the chance arise to be able to pen down onto the Ouse we’d rather meet all the criteria.

Tilly assisting with panto

The RYA VHF/SRC (Short Range Certificate) Marine Radio Course can be done online for £75. Then the test costs £60 on top. Mick contacted Scarborough Yacht Club to see if they were running the courses and test. This was possible, although the test would have to wait until after April 12th and would be done on a one to one basis at the Yacht Club at Scarborough lighthouse.

Handbook included in the course

Once the course fee was paid a chap popped the handbook through our front door the following day and Mick was ready to do the course. The course takes around 10 hours and Mick has worked his way through doing all the modules in the last week. Before he books for the exam I’m going to look at the course too. Should we be in an emergency situation and Mick not be able to use the radio, I would at least know what to do.

Once the exam is passed Oleanna and her crew will meet all the criteria that ABP require, if this also means that we can cruise as a flotilla with other boats who haven’t got VHF all the better.

*Sadly later in the day Mick received an email saying that as Scarborough Yacht Club building would remain closed until 17th May, exams would not be possible until after that date.

A few days ago marked our 7th anniversary of being boat owners. Today marks our 4th anniversary of the three of us moving onboard Oleanna in Sheffield. So I’d best do a Where Were We

Where were we

2020 Lockdown Mooring 3, Calveley, Shropshire Union Canal. LINK

2019 Above Lemonroyd Lock, Aire and Calder Navigation. LINK

2018 Stourport, Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and Beverley. LINK

2017 Victoria Basin, Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and Crick Marina, Leicester Line. LINK

2016 Bulbourne Junction, Grand Union Canal. LINK

2015 Kingswood Junction, Stratford Canal. LINK

2014 Bugbrooke, Grand Union Canal. Sorry no link, we were on too much of a mission to write a blog. But we did get Lillian off the River Nene where her EA licence had run out and up the Northampton Flight, her first narrow locks.

A touch more panto

Walking Uphill. Catch Up. 7th February

There she is

Lisa sent through a photo of Oleanna this morning. The level at the docks is just about normal and Oleanna was sitting there in the rain. Yesterday it must have been sunny at the marina as the solar panels were doing a good job of keeping the batteries topped up and the engine bay got up to 8 C. It’s handy being able to check on her from afar, keeps our minds at rest.

Paper stretched and ready

Here in Scarborough I’ve been busy with work. A new, to me, art shop is proving very handy. I’ve not had chance to go into The Art Room yet and I can’t see what art materials they normally stock, Delia responds to emails swiftly and is very helpful. This week I was after a pad of thick cartridge paper and a wooden board so that I can stretch the paper properly. If water colour paper isn’t stretched, when you start to paint the paper cockles and will never lie flat again. In the past I’ve half heartedly taped paper to a plastic board, but this never really worked that well. So I have invested in a board that will take A3 paper comfortably. This will first get used for my boat origami paper design. Then I hope to use it for paintings of the waterways, which I’ve been planning on doing for some time now. I have the equipment, the reference, all I need now is the time!

This week I’ve started work in earnest on Panto for Chipping Norton. Sketch technical drawings enable me to make pieces of model, then do adjustments. Yesterday I finished working my way through the show, there is still lots to alter and work out, but I have solutions for most things. I’m quite happy with my galleon set, but the smugglers inn isn’t right yet! Hopefully this coming week things will get sorted before my next work arrives on the doorstep!

Cotton top measuring up

I’ve finally finished knitting a top for my sister-in-law which is now measured out and blocking on some new foam mats I’ve treated myself to. These will be handy to take back to the boat as they breakdown into foot squares, but once clipped together they give me 3ft square to pin items onto. They will save me pinning things out onto the back of our mattress on the boat and hoping things will be dry before bedtime!

Cricket on the TV, who’d have thought

Mick, whilst not watching the cricket, has been working on the blog. Two years ago we moved to WordPress and our current deal is nearly up. There are things we’d like to try to improve, but unless we spend more money they are proving hard to sort. Paul (Waterway Routes) suggested sometime ago we tried, this is free but we’d need to pay to have the blog hosted, which is all working out at a similar price to if we stayed put. We could go back to Blogger and Open Live Writer, but photos had been problematic, Mick is still working his way through the blog inserting them and I like the way wordpress works.

Tomorrow Tilly it’s too dark to go for a walk now!

However we miss having a blog roll that moves with peoples posts and a forwards and back button. Mick has found the relevant code, we may need to enlist my nephew Josh into giving us some guidance with this. We’ll see what happens.

Mick is taking his time reading the book he selected from our Christmas stash. The chap has left Kate Saffin and Alarum, headed to the Exeter Canal and is now somewhere on the Bridgewater Canal.

I on the other hand have finished mine, which I’ve really enjoyed. When we first moved on board I read a lot, but in the last couple of years I’d got out of the habit. With so many books to choose from I was spoilt for choice. So when Sam from NB Red Wharf said that Canal Pushers was really good and Debby from NB Chuffed asked for a review I thought I’d best start there.

I like a good crime story and with it being set on the canals it started off on a good footing. Andy Griffee has taken the theory of a serial killer, pushing people into the waterways around Manchester and set a similar story on the Stratford, Worcester and Birmingham Canals.

Jack has just picked up a narrowboat to see if a life afloat will suit him after recently being divorced. Let down by a friend who was going to help him learn the ropes he is soon rescued by a lady walking the towpath, Nina. A friendship is formed between the two of them, Nina keeping herself a bit of a mystery.

Look at those whiskers

Knowing the stretch of canal where the book is set is quite warming to a sole that misses being on the cut right now. Jack’s experience of The Navigation Inn at Wooten Wawen made me smile as it was very similar to ours when we hired our last boat from there seven years ago. Stratford with the tourists and theatre, Wedges, Packwood House, all the time Jack learning how to handle the boat as the mystery of the death of a young homeless lad unfolds.

Not breakfast, but a beetroot and feta burger in homemade gf buns with lockdown chips

Several plots intertwine, gradually unravelling themselves at a narrowboat pace. There are several moments where the pace speeds up which has lead to a couple of nights where I’ve kept the light on whilst Mick has snored away. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give the plot away, as it is well worth a read. My only criticism, I’ve always walked down hill to the shops in Alvechurch, not up hill.

Verdict, a good read especially for those with a canal interest, but this is not required and it certainly doesn’t turn into a manual for narrowboat handling. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series River Rats which takes place in Bath. I may read my way down towards the Kennet and Avon via Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin. I wonder if there are enough novels to cover the whole network?

Also not breakfast, but turnip curry, beetroot and carrot curry with homemade gf nan breads

This weekends walk will prove to be a rosy cheeked one as it is currently trying it’s best to snow, although I doubt it will settle. An east wind will be whipping up the sea and will chill us to the bone, thermals needed today.

Last week we braved the climb up onto Oliver’s Mount. Down into the valley to then climb back up the other side and then further all up hill. We chose to go cross country avoiding felled trees up to the top.

Up the top

Here on the summit a telecommunications mast stands. Back in the early 1990’s this was the only place in Scarborough to get mobile phone signal when the telephone exchange had a serious fire knocking out all landlines in the town. The other high point here is the war memorial that marks a view point.

We took our time looking for family names. None from the Geraghty side, but quite a few Capplemans. I shall have to dig out the family tree I was sent after my Dad passed away and see if any of them are mentioned.

The view right up the coast

Oliver’s Mount makes for a great view point. Looking down all the usual landmarks have found new positions around town (as they do!) and the South Bay looks more like a smugglers cove. Views right into the North Bay and up the coast, we took our time spotting friends houses.

The South Bay

The way back down we followed the roads which make up the Oliver’s Mount race track, stopping to say hello to the beach donkeys who are on their winter holiday, sadly they were just a touch too far away for a good photo.

Us last week

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 level back up, 1 glimpse, A3 sketch board, 20 sheets, 0 cow gum, 1 new proscenium, 1 white card sketch model complete, 409 pages, 1 cotton top, 67 pins, 2 t-towels, 6 capplemans, 5 miles up and down, 1 bored cat in need of a hobby, 1 windswept short walk, 0 cobwebs.

Us today!

Where Were We

2020. Sheepcote Street Bridge, Birmingham.

2019. Thorne Lock, Stainforth and Keadby Canal. LINK

2018. Chester, Shropshire Union Canal. LINK

2017. Lime Kiln Lock, Trent and Mersey Canal. LINK

2016. Newark Show Ground. LINK

2015. Hemel Hempstead, Grand Union Canal. LINK

2010. Bramble Cuttings, Trent and Mersey. LINK

2020 A Long And Winding Year.

Get yourself a cuppa and put your feet up, this is a long post.

Into BUMingham

Having seen New Year in on the North Stratford Canal we commenced the new year by cruising in to Birmingham or as Tilly would have it know, BUMingham, she’s not too keen!

What a stripy world!

A meeting with Amy from Dark Horse Theatre Company about a project in the summer set out our years cruising as I’d need to be in Huddersfield then York for the show. Then it was time to pack and get myself ready for ten days in Vienna. This would be the longest I’ve been away from boat life since we set out in 2014. Half of my clothes were packed up along with a basic scene painting kit and I jetted off to what was a mixed experience. Despite the problems I had a wonderful time working with a great team in the theatre, I hope one day to return.

Whilst I marvelled at the wonderful scenes in Vienna and pulled my hair out at work, trying to keep a calm exterior, Mick and Tilly headed back out into the countryside towards Tardebigge on the Worcester and Birmingham. Here they met up with a friend Chris who was planning a boat build.


Mick and Tilly came back into Birmingham to pick me up and then we set about exploring the BCN. There is plenty to explore and we didn’t quite manage to go everywhere, but we did our best.

Smethwick Locks

We headed up Smethwick New Locks onto the Old Main line. Stopped at Dudley Port Basin, coconuts accompanied us down Brades Staircase, then through Netherton Tunnel where we’d planned on visiting Hawne Basin, but thick ice thwarted our first attempt. The following day we succeeded and had a bumpy ride along the Dudley No 2 to fill our diesel tank.

Emma and Ted

Factory Locks brought us back onto the Old Main Line, we visited Wolverhampton, turned onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal and wiggled our way through the rubbish to Pelsall Junction. Here we had a wonderful get together with my bestestest friend and her son Ted (my Godson) who were over from Sydney, an all but too short lunch with them before they headed onwards on their whistlestop tour of England.

The Cannock Extension and Anglesey Branch were ticked off followed by the Daw End Branch, The Rushall Canal, Tame Valley Canal and up the Ryders Green Locks back into the centre of BUMingham early February.

The Jewellery Quarter kept us busy with visits to Smith and Pepper a time warp jewellery manufacturers, The Back to Backs, The Coffin Works. We watched the film 1917.

The Garden white card scale model

I designed costumes and made the white card model for The Garden for Dark Horse whilst we sat out storm Ciara which was to wipe out the Figure of Three Locks on the Calder Hebble. The damage to the locks looked great and not fixable quickly, a rethink to our cruising route was needed for me to get to work in the summer.

We went to the Symphony Hall and listened to Schubert and Berg spurred on by Dimitrios from NB Galene. Storm Dennis kept us from cruising to our next evening of entertainment at Titford Pump House, a bus replacement did the job so that we could see Alarum Theatre Company’s Acts of Abandonment. Little did we know at the time that this was to be our last live theatre until December.

A night out in the countryside for Tilly and a last night in the city to fill our bellies with curry. Then we were off again, up Smethwick Locks under the M5 where the scaffolding was being taken down. We turned up the Oldbury Locks following a boat that turned out to be NB Sola Gratia. A spin round the Titford Pools was in order before we returned for another diesel top up at Hawne Basin.

The Walsall Canal now beckoned us, that was a bumpy ride over trolleys, trees and all sorts! A fantastic fabric shop, the New Art Gallery right by our mooring and The Leather Museum kept our interest for a couple of days before we climbed up the Walsall Locks back up to Wyrley and Essington Canal.

The garden at Urban Moorings

The ladies at Urban Moorings welcomed us for an overnight visit, time to work the washing machine hard as we plugged into the electric. Then we kept our fingers crossed for a mooring at The Black Country Museum, which thankfully worked.

Marion and John came to meet us for an afternoon at the museum and we all enjoyed fish and chips with plenty of salt and vinegar in between visiting shops and watching chain links being made. The following day we took a boat trip into the Dudley Tunnel, had a second visit to the museum along with a portion of chips before heading out to moor in Tipton and have a visit from Heather from NB Bleasdale, followed by a pie at Mad O’Roukes Pie Factory.

The 7th of March saw us descend the Wolverhampton 21, leaving the Birmingham plateau behind us. Blimey we managed to pack a lot into the first ten weeks of the year! Just as well really. Onto the Shroppie where I had my first successes with gluten free sour dough bread, Tilly got to remember life in the countryside and we were treated to Shroppie Sunsets again.

Burgers with the Margees

The recent storms had brought down numerous trees and caused landslips so our progress was a touch slow heading northwards. We had a lovely lunch with Alison and Laura the Margees at Norbury Junction, they were to be our last visitors on board Oleanna for quite sometime.

Passing NB Bessie Surtees on the Tyrley Locks we actually got chance to chat for the first time. A stop to stock up in Market Drayton, we saw our first homemade mask (a pair of y fronts repurposed) and the start of empty shelves in supermarkets with people gleeful to have a twelve pack of toilet roll under their coat.

The Audlem flight was busy with plenty going down and NB Mountbatten coming up, delivering coal as they went. Theatres closed that day and we started to put into practice new ways of working locks hoping to keep ourselves safe. As we socially distanced around the shops in Nantwich people were joking about the virus. We shopped, adapting what we bought to what was available and then got ready for our first Zoom with family on the 21st March.

We stocked up with NB Halsall at Calverley then made our way onto the Middlewich Branch and down Cholmondeston Lock. The following morning (23rd March) we listened to our gut instincts. If lockdown was to happen we’d rather not have to negotiate locks to get to shops or services, so we winded and headed back up Cholmondeston Lock onto the Nantwich pound. Our gut instinct was correct.

Adam and Adrian on NB Briar Rose

The next few days we saw plenty of boats moving, finding places they wanted to spend the coming weeks, heading for home or temporary ones like NB Briar Rose. Jac my sister in law eventually managed to get a flight back from Melbourne where she’d been to celebrate her Mum’s birthday, at last everyone was where they should be.

We tried different moorings out for size as the need to fill with water or get shopping arose. It was also good to keep Tilly moving, both to stop her from getting bored and to help the local wildlife survive.

Our decision to be on the Nantwich pound turned out to be a good one, we ended up mooring at the bottom of Hurleston on the visitor moorings most, this became ‘Home’ for us where we watched spring turn into summer.

Watching the field behind the hedge be ploughed, planted and start to grow. Listening to the Lapwings enjoying the bounty in the potato fields. Getting to know our neighbours at a distance. The wheelie shoppers. The huskies out for their morning walk. The egg farm at the top of the locks. Weekly veg boxes from Nantwich Veg Boxes which we collected for ourselves and NB AreandAre. Supermarket deliveries were sought each week, sometimes only managing click and collect. The sun shone and Tilly had freedom. The coal boats kept us stocked up with fuel and our waterless (composting) toilet took one need to move out of the equation.

By mid-April my design for The Garden had been reimagined into an illustrated audio play. I was to do the illustrations, then they would have audio and some animation added to be available online. Chippy panto started to gear up with the hope that all would be back to normal-ish by the end of November for the show to be mounted.

We winded, went for walks, watched plays on the internet, winded, ate cheese scones, winded again! Tilly ventured further afield, across her field. We had barbeques, brownies and watched the reservoir banks get mown by remote control.

By Mid-May we were allowed to travel, so we hired a car for a day trip to Scarborough to see how our house was after the tenants had lost it during lockdown. In need of some tlc we now made plans for the rest of the year. We would be returning to life on land for a while, but planned on cruising as much as we could before then.

On the 23rd of May the suspension of the 14 day rule was lifted, our ‘home’ mooring was now 48 hours only so it was time to start moving again. Some boats around Hurleston headed off straight away, others remained a full 14 days before pushing off. We spent the next two weeks pootling to the far ends of the pound, Hack Green and Calvereley, the gunnels got a repaint and we said farewell to NB AreandAre who were heading up onto the Llangollen.

Cholmondeston Lock

With a full boat of veg and fruit from Nantwich Veg boxes, a Sainsburys shop and a visit from NB Halsall we were ready and on the 10th June we pushed our ‘home’ mooring away for the last time this year, Calverely was visited for a top up of water a toilet refresh and then we were off, turning onto the Middlewich Branch and descending Cholmondeston Lock, our first lock in 80 days. New gardening gloves became my boaters PPE and worked well, better than sanitising every five minutes.

Across onto the Trent and Mersey where we headed for Bramble Cuttings for a couple of nights. We’d been hoping to be able to drop down onto the Weaver but the Anderton Boat lift was still closed. So instead we winded at Whatcroft flash and headed up the Cheshire Locks hoping to catch Bosley Locks being open for a day to make our way onto the summit pound of the Macclesfield.

Nice Lock

It was nice being back on familiar ground again, although it took a little while to be able to do the Trent and Mersey hurdles over the lockgate beams with ease after sitting still for so long.

Our chairs were brought out onto the towpath to watch the setting sun at Tilly Railings and a barbeque was enjoyed on the Dane Aqueduct as we waited in line for Bosley Locks to open.

Bosley Locks and The Cloud in the background

With a single hander in front and one behind everyone helped out where we could making our passage up the locks a very jolly if hot one that only took 2.5 hours. Over the next ten days or so we pootled our way along the Macclesfield Canal, such a lovely stretch of water and oh those bridges! Still our favourites.

Calling in at Bollington Wharf we had our gas locker lid mended and had a top up of diesel. Foxgloves filled the canal banks and woods, we stopped at favourite spots along the way turning under the snake bridge at Marple onto the Peak Forest Canal at the end of June, heading for Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin.

Saturday 4th July the pubs could re-open, we however went for a walk and waited for our delivery from Sainsburys along with a diesel top up from NB Alton. A batch of cheese scones were made to help us down the Marple flight on the 7th, we were the second boat down and it felt like we were pioneering boats going where no one had gone for months.

A couple of nights at Droylesden Marina saw to the washing pile and to recharge our batteries before we descended into Manchester. Our last narrow lock of the year was to be Ancotes Bottom Lock 1 on the Ashton Flight where we paused for a night at Telford Basin before tackling the Rochdale 9 on our own the following day. Patience and sheer determination got us out of Lock 92 at the bottom and was rewarded with a cheese scone as we made our way out to the Bridgewater Canal and Worsely.

The 14th July saw us rising up the Wigan Flight. We’d made arrangements to share the locks with NB Billy but it was decided by the volunteer lock keepers that they might be over long to share with, so instead we teamed up with John and Lindsey on NB Merganser. With the help of the Wigan Flight crew setting ahead we made good time up the flight, we then slowed down leaving the others to head off ahead of us.

The next few days we found ourselves leapfrogging NB Billy, or should that be hopfrogging? But we finally caught them up at Blackburn to share the locks. Another spectacular sunset was enjoyed by all near Foster Swing Bridge.

We’d planned to take our time along this stretch, but with local lockdowns looking possible in the area we decided to push on. The Burnley Embankment was busy with walkers and not a place to stop so we continued on to the bottom of Barrowford Locks. The following day we were caught up again by NB Billy so we shared the final flight up to the summit with Clare and Pete.

Our sixth anniversary of being fulltime boaters happened to coincide with pulling up at our favourite mooring on the network, the curley wurlys above Bank Newton. The following day the clouds lifted and we got to see the view. A barbecue was just managed before it started to rain.

It wasn’t quite plain sailing down into Skipton as the skipper of NB Amelie ended up in the cut at the bottom of Bank Newton and then we had problems with lock gates and swing bridges. Mick and I had an overnight in Scarborough leaving Tilly in charge and with the magic food bowl primed. On our return to Skipton we were met by two octogenarians leaning out of the upstairs windows of their house waving. We joined Margaret and Robert for a lovely meal, good to see them even if we were a bit nervy being in their company inside.

Sunny weather accompanied us onwards and finally I managed to take the photo I’ve been after for four years, Oleanna coming towards me under Parson’s Bridge. Now we have the matching pair, Lillian going away from us, Oleanna towards.

At Bingley five rise we teamed up with NB Barley to descend with the help of Lock Keeper Clare, carrying on to Saltaire in the sunshine.

A pause in Rodley meant we could meet up with friends Graham and Tracy in their new garden room, very nice to have a good catch up with them. The following day we took the opportunity to have lunch with my cousins Julie and John, our first pub in months.

Meeting up with Jenny and Andy on NB Barley again we shared the locks down into Leeds with them early the next day. A lack of water meant it took an hour to do one pound as water was let down from above, but we made it in the end to Granary Wharf. Shame the lack of water followed us, in fact the basin did a good job of emptying itself overnight. It took quite a few hours before boats had enough water to be afloat again, we all made a hasty exit as soon as we could.

Back into the big locks of the Aire and Calder we motored on to Ferrybridge where now only three of the power station cooling towers remain, a very sad sight.

Down Bank Dole Lock, the slow filler and we headed to Selby. Our trip up the Tidal Ouse was an interesting one a there were SO many trees floating about, we had to try our best to loose them before passing through what few bridges there were. Kingfishers escorted us just about all the way to Naburn which was a real treat. Instead of pulling up in York we decided to head on up to Ripon, we’d spend time in York on our way back, or so we thought!

Above Boroughbridge a familiar boat came into view, NB Billy. This was the last time our bows would cross this year. At Oxclose Lock we had some time for Tilly to explore before heading up into Ripon Basin to meet up with Robert and Margaret again and for Tilly to show off her ability to spot otters.

I’d get it in the neck if I didn’t include a photo!

On our way downstream the river was rising, we stopped off for a meal at The Dawney Arms making the most of the Eat out to Help out deal. Wonderful food and chance to meet up with Kerry the Landlady and hoped that the river level would ease overnight. Fortunately it did and we made our way in to York. We had hoped to meet up with old friends whilst we were in the area, it turned out the only people I got to see where Jaye and Duncan for lunch. Social distancing, rising rivers sadly put paid to seeing other people.

Over the next ten days the river rose twice. On one fall we made it back into York to pick up a supermarket delivery but very quickly headed back to Naburn where we ended up breasting up in a line of four boats tied to the floating pontoon by the water point. Levels didn’t rise so much as to necessitate wellies or waders, but it did put paid to the London Leckenbys joining us for a few days at the nearby campsite. A big disappointment all round.

But on the 31st August levels had dropped sufficiently for us to head back to Selby accompanied by Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, new boat owners. Naburn was their very first lock, Selby was to be their second! It was such a beautiful morning, we led the way but then let them go first when we reached Selby, we were likely to be able to stem the tide better, but they managed the lock with ease.

Lovely to see Bridget and Storm

At West Haddelsey we had a visit from Bridget and Storm, so lovely to see them. We’d planned on being good and sitting out, they’d even brought their own chairs and the camper van for their own toilet. But as it started to rain we bent the rules taking shelter inside Oleanna. This was the day I gave a second phone to the god of the cut.

For a replacement we headed down to Goole, calling in at Viking Marina to check we would have a mooring later in the month. After filling up with cheap diesel we then headed off up toward Doncaster and Sprotbrough where we caught up with Mick’s niece Fran, before returning back onto the Aire and Calder to do maintenance jobs and enjoy our last days onboard.

On the 18th September we pulled into our berth at the marina, finished off the contents of the freezer and started to pack. Two trips in a hire car to Scarborough and we were moved, Tilly joining us the second time.

Back then we imagined we’d be down to Oleanna doing jobs on day trips and by now we’d have had a couple of weeks out on the cut, but this simply wasn’t to be.

Living Room reclaimed

Jobs in the house keep me busy, along with starting work on the postponed Chippy panto. Mick for a while applied for supermarket jobs, hoping to be a delivery driver. The only job he was offered was as a meet and greeter just before Novembers lockdown. We both decided that maybe we’d cope without the money.

Not as low as she got after the breach

Then before Christmas came the news of the Aire and Calder breach. Fortunately plenty of people are keeping an eye on all the boats including Oleanna.

Blimey what a year!

So our vital statistics for the year 2020 according to canal plan are

Total distance is 792 miles, 2 ½ furlong and 339 locks . There are 82 moveable bridges of which 5 are usually left open; 233 small aqueducts or underbridges and 41 tunnels – a total of 19 miles 6 ¾ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 365 miles, ¼ furlongs of narrow canals; 242 miles, 4 ¾ furlongs of broad canals; 81 miles, 3 ¾ furlongs of commercial waterways; 76 miles, 1 ¾ furlongs of small rivers; 0 miles of large rivers; 27 miles of tidal rivers; 202 narrow locks; 118 broad locks; 18 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. This year I can’t even work out how many boxes of wine we’ve gone through!

However I can tell you that from one page of journeys on our trip computer, missing out all the journeys in between the start of the page and the end, the total distance travelled would have been 2.25 furlongs. Instead it actually amounted to 56 miles 7.5 furlongs with 19 winds (turning around). This was of course in Lockdown 1. Grand total number of winds this year, 67.

Christmas Day 2020, Scarborough Spa

Here’s hoping that the pandemic calms down, we all get vaccinated and the breach on the Aire and Calder gets sorted so that we can go boating again. After all we didn’t plan to move back on land permanently!

Not a bad view

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested!

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.


On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.


Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.


Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.


Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.


Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.


In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

A Funny Sort Of Burger. 1st January 2020

Earlswood Motor Club to Birmingham City Centre, BCN

Mick checked the weedhatch using his new pair of pond gloves. His original pair (now five years old) had sprung a few too many leaks to do their job properly. Despite being able to have a good feel around the prop there was nothing there. Our slow progress must be more to do with our depth and the canals depth.

Lots of cutting back along this stretch

Not that much later than normal we pushed off to make our way into Birmingham, well we tend not to be early risers. Estimates reckoned we’d reach our chosen destination in around 4 and a half hours, a longer cruise than normal at this time of year. We wanted to make the centre of Birmingham today so had to push on.

Extensions and upgrade to the service mooring

The club house at Earlswood is having major building work, extensions on both sides. What looks like a new Pump out machine and new blue pipes stick up out of the ground along the cut.

The mooring round the corner was occupied, the view not as good as we’d had last night, so we’d stopped in the right place. Dickens Heath looked as it always does, incongruous. The water feature no longer flowing and just turning green instead. Here the number of towpath walkers increased.

Washing was on our minds, the drawer overflowing. A good long cruise into Birmingham would be useful to charge the batteries as we washed two loads and ran the dishwasher.

Key of power lifting

Shirley Drawbridge was our first obstacle. The control pedestal is hidden behind the barrier box, so took some finding, even though I’ve had this problem before. Once the bridge was clear I pressed the open button wondering how many vehicles I’d get to hold up. Only 1! Two others turned away just at the last minute. Oh well.

We avoided a fisherman just after Bridge 5 who had plonked himself on the bollards for the waterpoint. But there was still plenty of space for us so we topped up the tank as a second load of washing went through the machine.

Kings Norton Guillotine Lock

Cups of tea in our thermos mugs and snacks taken out the back we continued onwards, through Brandwood Tunnel and Kings Norton guillotine lock. Here much of the graffiti has been cleaned away. A homeless man had made himself and his dog comfortable under the bridge, a good place to keep dry.

Kings Norton Toll House all wrapped up

Kings Norton Junction Toll House is swathed in scaffolding. Back in February last year ( it’s odd saying that) the building was set alight, arson was suspected. Fire crews had limited access so had to carry much of their equipment to the scene with them. Hopefully the building will be restored.

The nearest we’ll get to Worcester for a while

Here we turned right up towards Birmingham. Shortly before Lifford Lane Bridge, Oleanna reared up, listed and eventually rode over a submerged obstacle. Looking behind us into the murky depths I thought I could see a wing mirror of a red car. Up ahead there was a wide enough opening and ramp down onto the towpath for someone to have brought a car for disposal. Were we the first to come this way this year? I sent a facebook message to Canal and River Trust, but so far have heard nothing back, well it is New Years day.

Not the most romantic of roving bridges, but it would do the job if horses were still in use today

On we pootled in the chilly grey afternoon air. At Bournville there was a space we could have pulled into, but we decided to carry on. The new Sainsburys at Selly Oak is right by the canal and looks huge. Wonder if mooring rings will be put in for passing boaters?

The new big Sainsburys

At Edgbaston Tunnel the handrail and lighting reminded me of my panto design.

Panto memories

By now it was dusk, so our lights on the roof stood out twinkling in the gloom, we got lots of smiles and comments from those on the towpath.

Worcester Bar

We turned left at The Mailbox and carried on to Worcester Bar. Should we moor on the visitor mooring there or carry on to a more familiar mooring? We carried on under the buildings into the big lights of the city.

The big lights of the city

Mick waved at a familiar boat down the Ouzels Loop, but the occupants were a touch busy to notice, hopefully we’ll catch up with them whilst we are in the area.

Once moored up there was the matter of what to do with the ash from the stove? MIck lifted the ash pan out and left it on the towpath, hoping that it would cool down enough before we headed to bed to be able to go into a bag, sadly this wasn’t the case. Tomorrow we’ll be hunting round for an ash can.

With our loyalty card in hand we made our way to The Handmade Burger Company, just around the corner. Today we’d get a free drink. Well that’s what we thought until we got to the doors to see a sign saying that they were closing at 5pm!

GF dough balls

What to eat instead? We’d both really fancied a burger. Other places seemed quite empty, many had no lights on at all. Pizza Express however was open so we opted for the usual in there. Gluten free dough balls and Pollo Ad Astra each. Mick’s pizza being nearly twice the size of mine!

Funny looking burger

Returning to the boat we sat down to watch the first episode of the new series of Dr Who. Verdict, we think it’s got potential to be better than the last series. The monsters might just be worth pulling the sofa out for!

1 stop lock on the flat, 12.41 miles, 1 lift bridge, 1 car, 2 tunnels, 1 right, 2 lefts, 0 other boats moving today, 1 resigned cat, 1 wave to Tim, 0 burgers, 2 pizzas, 3 glasses wine each, 1 baddy Lenny.

Abandoned Ship. 31st December

Above Lock 6 to Earlswood Motor Yacht Club.

A semi cooked breakfast

The fridge is getting depleted, but there were three sausages that should have been eaten by yesterday, so we risked it and accompanied them with an egg, toast, beans and a few hash browns for our last breakfast of the year.

Was this Adam and Adrian’s old share boat?

Boats were moving in both directions earlier than ourselves, so we hoped that the last locks of this year would be in our favour. The first one wasn’t, the last two boats must have passed each other below the lock. Oh well, we’d had most of Hatton and Lapworth in our favour.

Emptying ready for Oleanna

Mick brought Oleanna into Lock 5, I closed the gates and lifted both paddles to fill the chamber. The short pound above seemed a little low already, we were making it lower still. As normal I walked up to the next lock to set it, emptying water down. Now it is just the two of us Mick is left to close the gates behind him and drop the paddles.

Winding the paddles back down
About to bring her out of the lock

He dropped the paddle one side, crossed the gate, opened it, dropped the paddle that side. Brought Oleanna out of the lock, stopped in the throat of the lock, stepped off to close the gate behind. The stepping off usually is done with the centre line in hand, so I was surprised when he stepped off without it.

There’s a bit too much water between man and boat!

The one time he does this and Oleanna decides she’d like to carry on on her own! Mick spotted this just a touch too late the gap far too wide to jump never mind step! I’d already started to walk down, nothing much we could do, the gap was too wide from the other side of the lock. We just had to wait and wait to see where she was headed, very slowly.

That’s right head to the bank

Her chosen course luckily for us was to aim for the towpath. Some careful footing was needed to get down a slippy bank before Oleanna’s gunnel could be reached. Fortunately she continued her course towards us and Mick could climb back on. Phew! Tilly not only needs to learn how to make tea, but also to steer Oleanna.

All back to normal

Once up Lock 4, Mick told me that he loved me. ‘Because I didn’t shout at you and call you a stupid b*gger!’ ‘Yes’. Well that wouldn’t have got us anywhere and just been a lot of hot air.

Lapworth Top Lock was also full despite emptying itself. This lock will always be remembered as being covered in snow, Narnia Lock. When we moved our old share boat NB Winding Down south we did this stretch with about four inches of snow on the ground, the top lock had looked magical. Today it would be our last for 2019.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

We pootled along to the first lift bridge. This used to be exceptionally hard work. It certainly was when it had four inches of snow on it! The hydraulics were changed a few years ago which means at least you can turn your windlass to get it moving. You just have to do it 60 plus times to be able to get your boat through!

A chap by his boat thought there might be someone who’d sell us some gas, but the closed sign was up at Swallow Cruisers.

We won’t be stocking up with gas here

On a bit further to the next lift bridge. Here the grey boat we’d obviously been following was pulled in on the bridge landing. No sign of the chap. Mick tried pulling in infront but we were too long. This had the effect of blinds being twitched and two people came out, a lady ran to open the bridge for us and presumably themselves. At least it saved me 24 turns of my windlass.

Lufted lift bridge

Now to find somewhere to see the new year in, preferably with a view and suitable for Tilly. The cutting we were in opened out after a few miles. Should we pull in here, or go round the corner where we’ve moored before? Debates went on, but with a view one side, a field and trees we pulled in. This would do us.

We still didn’t stop, but then it doesn’t appeal anymore.

It already felt like it was about 3:45pm, the day had been exceptionally grey, but Tilly was given an hour and a half to explore. This she made use off and vanished into the thickly treed embankment, requiring encouragement to return before it got too dark!

The fish pie mix we’d bought in Oxford was made into a crumble for our dinner, accompanied by a bottle of wine. The second episode of Vienna Blood was watched as I finished off knitting the pockets on my new treat cardigan. The button band and pockets just need sewing together now and it will be finished.


As we watched the fireworks in London we urged the helicopter to head southwards as the smoke masked the view to the north of the Thames. Plenty of fireworks went off around us, at some distance, clearer than those on the TV. Thank goodness Tilly is fine with all the bangs, she slept through midnight chasing mice in her sleep.

4 locks, 4.74 miles, 2 lift bridges, 3 sausages, 2 eggs, 1 abandoned boat, 1 bow just close enough, 1 silly sausage, 0 visits to Wedges still, 0 Ferraris, 7635 Christmas trees, 1.5 hours, 1 cardie knitted, 1 Happy New Year to all.

Letting The Side Down. 30th December

Hatton Top Lock to above Lock 6 Lapworth, North Stratford Canal.

We’d intentionally let the stove go out overnight as the boat had been a touch too hot, so this morning the boiler was put to use to take the chill off and provide hot water. Cups of tea in bed were disturbed as the boiler clicked in repeatedly. The gas had run out! Good job we carry three bottles.

After a round of bacon butties we pushed off and onwards. It was a chilly morning outside and Mike and Chris stayed inside keeping warm.

Emerging from Shrewley Tunnel

Shrewley Tunnel was clear and we sailed through accompanied by the Dr Who theme being recited from the bow where Chris was doing a time lapse of our journey. Link A shame there weren’t any air shafts for me to count the mysterons as I’m sure that would have been appreciated by the chaps at the front.

A wise old goat

Next the goats at Tom O The Wood, plenty in the fields today. We stopped at the water point to top up the tank and relight the stove so that it could get going before we reached the Lapworth flight, saving everyone getting a face full of smoke.


From the stern we could hear Tilly protesting constantly inside. The sort of protesting she does whilst we are in tunnels. Blimey Tilly! SHUT UP!! Just what will Mike and Chris think of you?!

She’s silent about it now of course! But would she stop!!

Left please

Mick swung Oleanna round at Kingswood Junction leaving the land of widebeams behind and we slowly moved our way past the moored boats and new houses going up towards Lock 20. Sam from NB Red Wharf had warned us that Lock 20 had been out of use before Christmas so we were prepared to carry straight on through the link when we saw the hazard tape and chains holding the bottom gates together.

Straight on

When the Stratford Canal was extended from Hockley Heath south, it reached and joined the Warwick and Birmingham Canal (now the Grand Union) at Kingswood. The canal was built with the current lock No 19 in situ. The canal then stayed on a level to what is now the new link, here there was a guillotine lock which dropped down to the Grand Union level.

Lock 20 today

When the Stratford Canal was extended to Stratford the layout at the junction altered. The guillotine lock was blocked off and the current locks 20 and 21 were built. The Warwick and Birmingham therefore continued to receive a lockfull of water every time a boat passed onto their waters.

Heading through the link

In more modern times leisure boats heading from the south Stratford and those coming from the Grand Union, would drain the pound above locks 20/21 and so in 1996 the original guillotine lock was reopened but as a channel linking below the locks, thus saving water.

Swinging round to the right to Lock 21

So today we continued straight on, through the narrow link and turned right to head up the Lapworth Locks. A different crew briefing was needed along with pointing out the gap in the bridges that let the horse remain connected to the boat and the barrel roof of the lock cottage.

The wide basin below lock 21, the link to the left by the cottage

There were plenty of walkers out on the flight. Today’s comment being how narrow the locks were, at least nobody asked if we’d fit!

Making our way up

Most locks were empty, a couple full. With three crew we got into a rhythm again quickly. No boats coming down, we had the flight to ourselves. The sun had burnt it’s way through the morning mist that loitered, so whilst stood in the sunshine it was nearly warm.

The boys finishing up

Although each pound between the locks was on the weir they all felt a touch low, well we were taking a locks worth out of most of them. Oleanna took her time entering the locks, extra umph needed to get her over cills. Was this due to shallow water and our depth or maybe something around the prop. We continued, investigation could wait for later.

The lovely house on the bend

Chris did another timelapse of our trip up the locks. Lapworth in 30 seconds rather than our 1 hour and 24 minutes. When we reached the long pound before Lock 5 we pulled in. Here is better for Tilly, who was allowed straight out to save her continuing to let the side down with her shouting!

Bookends ready to close the gates

With three quarters of an hour of daylight left Mike and Chris decided to head off to catch a train back to Warwick. It had been a lovely couple of days with them and perfectly timed to help with the locks. Next time we’ll have to get our act together in the summer. We waved them goodbye as they made their way back down the locks to find the road.

Tilly came home after a good nose around. This is where she once lost a collar, but she hadn’t found it today. We’ve had a quiet evening in front of the stove, luckily Tilly has quietened down now that its just the three of us again.

The boys at the top.

15 locks, 5.92 miles, 1 left, 1 right, 1 full water tank, 1 very noisy cat, 1 short tunnel, 4 bacon butties, 1 hr 24 minutes, 4 more locks still to go, 5 back to 3, 1 quiet boat again.

2018 Round Up. 2nd January

HOORAY!!! Proper signal again, sorry for the delay. Here at last is a round up of 2018 and our vital statistics, who they are vital to I don’t know!

THAT Aqueduct!

We started off the year up on the Llangollen having spent Christmas up in the basin, if it hadn’t been for me getting some work I think we’d have headed back there this year as we enjoyed it so much. On our return journey we dropped down onto the Montgomery Canal for a few days. Then we gradually worked our way along the canal stoppage hopping, the last bridge holding us up by a few days whilst work over ran, but we were first through and soon back down on the Shroppie  at the end of January.

Ellesmere Port

A pootle up to Chester and then Ellesmere Port where we spent several days looking round the museum, mooring on site made this very easy.

Shuffling with Brian on NB HarnserDry bottom

Oleanna had a day in the dry dock at Chester to check out why our bowthruster had stopped working and gave me chance to do a quick touch up of the blacking.

Jaq from NB Valerie

We then made our way back to Nantwich where we sat out the Beast from the East and at last got chance to meet and spend a bit of time with Jaq from NB Valerie.

The magical Shroppie

Then we climbed the Shroppie to Autherley Junction turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal and made our way down to Stourport where the river rose on us over night and left us stranded for far too long. This did mean that Tilly had her annual jabs gaining shore leave for another year. A hire car gave us a few days away from the flashing lights of Stourport, a trip to Beverley and to catch up with the John Godber Company in Bromsgrove along with a recky trip to Droitwich.

Long routeShort routeIn the end we got bored of waiting for the river to drop and decided on going the long way round to Droitwich. Of course about two or three days into ‘the long way round’ the levels dropped and we could have done a quick journey down the River Severn.

TardebiggeLock 40

Oh well we enjoyed all the locks having good weather for the Tardebigge Flight.

Once in Worcester we turned onto the river and made our way down to the Gloucester Sharpness Canal where we pootled down to the end with all the swing bridges being worked for us, met up with Jaye and Duncan (I’d have got into big trouble if I didn’t mention them!), saw the hulks, all sorts of flamingos and got to watch tall ship Kaskelot pass us.

Duncan, Jaye, Mick and meTall Ship

Back up the Severn for Micks 60th birthday weekend where all our siblings joined us to celebrate. We watched cricket at New Road in Worcester, ate in Droitwich, caught steam trains in Kidderminster and ate some more in Bridgenorth, a very good weekend.

Family at the cricketBirthday Boy

About time there was a picture of meYummy

By now the summer had already started with wall to wall sunshine and our Sunday roasts became Sunday barbeques. We made our way back to Worcester and turned back down stream to Tewkesbury (I do like a good Tewkesbury!) and the river Avon. The last rain storm for a while slowed our progress upstream, but we stayed safe.

A lovely Avon mooringThe Avon was a picturesque cruise and we met up with friends from Australia and old work friends of mine in Stratford, taking advantage to see as much theatre as we could.

The Swan, Stratford

Whilst in Stratford I heard that I’d got the job designing Panto in Chipping Norton this year. This would now affect the remainder of the year slowing us down somewhat. We headed back into Birmingham up the Lapworth flight (meeting NB Chuffed) to rendez vous with NB Blackbird and crew.

One last kiss with NB BlackbirdPerry BarHere we planned to explore all the back waters of the BCN, but the sun was now on permanently and the thought of spending weeks surrounded by brick work and concrete reflecting heat at us was not attractive. So we chose a route out of the city that we’d not done before (via Ryders Green and Perry Barr) and headed for the shade of trees.

Sheltering on the Ashby

Work and heat were the feature of the next few months. On days we wanted to cruise we tried to be up early to make the most of the cool hours before the sun got too high in the sky to avoid. We hopped from mooring to mooring hunting out good places with maximum tree cover, not so good for the solar panels but it meant we didn’t cook inside.

Loads of cars in CoventryCoventry BasinWe gradually cruised the Coventry Canal,  the Ashby Canal for the first and second times, all the way into Coventry, down the North Oxford onto the Grand Union and on up to the Leicester Section. All our favourite moorings on the summit pound were visited and the London Leckenbys visited us at Foxton. All this slow cruising was interspersed with Panto meetings in London and Chippy, necessitating being near to stations, but this worked out well with a bit of planning.

The finished model for Aladin

Leamington Spa was a handy station back on the Grand Union for my final  model meeting in mid September, freeing us up until rehearsals started a month later.

Well worth a visitLeamington Spa StationWe made use of the Heritage weekend visiting places in both Warwick and Leamington. Oleanna got to visit the Saltisford Arm where we worked our way through the dirty washing drawer before heading back towards the Oxford Canal crossing bows with NB Tentatrice on the way.

Lift bridges on the Oxford keep Oleanna smilingStunning sunsetsThe South Oxford Canal then became our home for the next three months.

Lunch at the Turf Tavern

First we cruised all the way to Oxford taking our time to return to Banbury. I then spent four weeks working my socks off in Chippy enjoying being creative again on Panto, returning each weekend to wherever Oleanna was with my head full of song lyrics and dance moves.

Final dress rehearsal

Once Aladdin was open and hoards of kids were shouting ‘He’s behind you!’ I could return to my normal life at 3mph, the boat, Tilly’s friends and Mick’s breakfasts.

What a way to spend Christmas Eve

Due to winter stoppages leaving the south Oxford couldn’t happen until near Christmas so we slowly made our way northwards breaking off to have a pre-Christmas in London and then once Napton Lock 9 was open we headed into the middle of nowhere for Christmas. The year ended with us returning to Crick and sadly missing out on the festivities at The Red Lion with friends.

We’ve had a great year travelling, meeting up with old friends and new. We’re looking forward to where 2019 will take us and who we shall meet along the way.


So our final statistics for the year are.

Total distance is 944 miles, 1 ¼ furlongs and 614 locks. There were 170 moveable bridges of which 77 are usually left open (although three of those weren’t); 131 small aqueducts or underbridges; 39 tunnels and 2 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 669 miles, 1 ¼ furlongs of narrow canals; 118 miles of broad canals; 35 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 42miles, 7¼ furlongs of small rivers; 78 miles, 3 ¾ furlongs of large rivers; 476 narrow locks; 129 broad locks 9 large locks.

1084.6 engine hours, 7 hire cars, 1,383.63 litres diesel, 10 gas bottles (we do have gas central heating), 54 bags of coal, 2 waterway museums, 3 big houses, 3 versions of tuperware, 60th birthday, 2nd solar panel fitted, 7 overnight guests, 6 packs of Dreamies, 26 friends, 1 snake, 9 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval moorings, 7 pairs socks,  6 pairs gloves, 11 supermarket deliveries, 56 boxes wine delivered!