Category Archives: Sunday Photo

Firmware and Footwear. 5th April


Last Fridays post was filled with woolly goodies. Two more Independent dyers had sent me some yarn for my sockathon. What kindness! The two parcels together most probably had enough yarn for 14 pairs of socks. Thank you so much to Jem (Under The Olive Tree) and Beth (Beehive Yarns) for your generous and wonderful support.

I had a day out to Leeds to visit the Hello Stranger Yorkshire exhibition. Lots of photos from shows over the last four years and how the pandemic was coped with and how the industry has changed since. Designers were invited to add their details to a map of Yorkshire. One colour string showed where Yorkshire designers lived, the other where people from outside Yorkshire have worked. As I fitted into both categories and neither I decided to have both colours of string on my label.

I made sure my return to the station included the wonderful markets and the Exchange. Must remember all that fish when we pass through Leeds in a few weeks time!

Saturday morning started with me casting on the first pair of socks. These were to be knitted in yarn that I had bought for the challenge, matching the logo colours of @dementia-uk. In the post that morning I received a card from their Fundraising Officer wishing me luck, what a lovely touch, especially hand written, my sister-in-law would approve.

So far I’ve managed to knit a sock a day, that’s an average of 8 hours clicking a day. I go to stretch my legs each day so that my natural posture doesn’t take to being a seated one. The occasional move from one chair to another also helps. Podcasts are listened to when I’m going round in circles and we’ve taken to watching an episode of Downton Abbey each day, starting from the very beginning. We may have to up to two episodes a day as there are 50 in total. Blimey some of those servants are really really horrible!

Mick has been seeking out new insurance quotes for Oleanna. For some reason our renewal quote from GJW had gone up whilst reports on social media suggest other peoples have gone down. Craftinsure are by far the cheapest for both contents and the boat, however some things are not covered such as laptops. Why are they so much cheaper? How are they so much cheaper? Do they pay out without hassle if you need to claim? All questions Mick is seeking the answers to before we commit ourselves to a new policy.

Oleanna on a sunny day

The days, weeks and months are ticking away. Time to visit Oleanna and give her engine a run, check her over and now that we have a date we need to be back on the boat for, give notice on our mooring. Mick took the train down to Goole an easy and familiar ride now, whilst I sat on the sofa knitting.

The daffodils at Oleanna’s stern are long past their best and the scraped paintwork turning orange on the gunnels shows that she hasn’t moved anywhere for sometime. Hopefully there will be time to give things a good rub down and repaint before too long.

Clear view to NB Ivy

Mick sent me a photo looking out through the new window in the pram cover. A vast improvement from the old one which not only had holes in it but had become a touch white making the view a bit foggy. The boat opposite our bow has had a change of name, a very wise change by Lisa.

Mick ran the engine and went to see Laird and also had a catch up with Alastair. Sadly Viking Marina are out of diesel at the moment, so the tank still hasn’t had a fill. Then it was time for Mick to plug the laptop into Oleanna’s brain and give the inverter a firmware update. This new version means we can control the charging of the lithium batteries more, especially when the temperatures are really low which lithium’s do not appreciate.

Daffodils and gunnels past their best!

With everything locked up, Mick headed back to the station with the intention of being back in Scarborough to eat with me before I headed out for the evening. Sadly there were problems on the tracks. A vehicle had run through both barriers of a level crossing at Gilberdyke. This meant all trains had to run slowly and that Mick’s train which normally would have continued on to Scarborough stopped in Hull.

The chandelier at The Bike and Boot

The next train northwards followed a slow train and by the time it had reached Bridlington it itself had been cancelled as the train behind had just about caught it up! In all it took Mick four hours to return to Scarborough by which time I’d cast on the toe of sock 5 and decided to give myself an evening off. Spent at the Bike and Boot with old female friends I used to work with at the SJT. It was very nice to see every one in the flesh, many I’ve only seen on zoom get togethers over the last few years and those have gradually petered out.

The Chippy model box waiting for me to be creative

Another parcel has arrived at the house. The empty model box for Chippy Panto, all ready for me to start designing. It made sense for it to come here, rather than us trying to guess where to get it sent to in a months time.

For those wanting to know what panto will be this year, I can now confirm it will be ‘Cinderella’. But not just any old Cinderella, this one will be set in Latin America! So the music will most certainly be toe tapping. Sadly the budget won’t stretch to a visit to South America for research purposes, the internet will have to do!

The Sockothan continues and if I continue at the current rate then I should manage to beat last years pairs by several! Thank you so much to those near and far (Hello Canada!) who have sponsored me. Thank you also to those who’ve requested socks. All socks on my list are guaranteed to be knitted in April so make sure you’ve made your donation on the JustGiving website. I may be opening the challenge up for more sock requests in a weeks time, so if you feel you missed out first time around you’d best keep an eye on the blog.


So much yarn, 5 socks, 5 days, £100 cheaper, 2 barriers, 1 notice given, 1 inverter updated, 8 hours each, 67% of target, 1 evening off, 6 old friends, 1 slightly numb bum, 2 circular needles, 9 years of boat ownership!

Restoring Power. Catch up 4th March

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

Daffodils are coming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A productive visit.

Admiring the view on high

Meanwhile on land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blistering paint

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

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

Tide’s out

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

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

#unit21 socks

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

A Sunny Scarborough Sunday walk

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

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

Near Miss And Sprouts Galore. 4th to 24th December

Scarborough Indoor Market

I’ve successfully been managing to avoid doing any house decorating over the last few weeks, well there’s just been so much to do!

Preparations for Christmas have been eating up a lot of time. Frank came round to sample this years biscuit recipe, a new one, gluten free Lebkuchen. This seemed to be a bit sturdier than my old recipe and would withhold being posted through letter boxes better and still be very tasty. Frank awarded them five stars, so I stocked up on ingredients to make a big batch to go out with local Christmas cards.


The image for our Christmas card had to be chosen. This takes quite a bit of time as I whiz through all the photos I’ve taken during the year, making a short list which then gradually gets whittled away, the final choice made between Mick and myself. From a shortlist of about ten we both very quickly agreed on which image it had to be. Oleanna approaching Tower Bridge. I don’t really know why I’d bothered auditioning photos this year as this was always going to be the image.

It had to be really

In Chipping Norton decisions were made to try to keep the show and the cast safe from any further cases of Covid. Sadly this meant the Pippins, three teams of local kids being cut from the show. They couldn’t be cut from some scenes as they played knights, so for these scenes they were replaced by puppets. The understudies went on for a few days after a full week of no shows and now the original company are performing two shows a day. Here’s hoping this can continue to the end of the run.

Christmas decorations went up around the house. Stars in the windows, a homemade wreath on the front door and our £4 Christmas Tree from Newark Market in 2015 came indoors to be decorated. I’m not sure it will ever fit in the boat for Christmas again, but it will return to the cratch when we move back onboard so that it gets looked after for another year.

One thing that didn’t happen last Christmas was my annual haircut. I was glad when I managed to get hold of Giselle who used to cut my hair in Scarborough, she understands me and my hate of products and blow drying. The last couple of times my hair has been cut it has taken around about half an hour from washing to me walking out of the shop in Banbury feeling like I want to wash my hair immediately. My visit to Giselle took 1hour 45 minutes for a wash and cut. We did have six or seven years to catch up on and a major debate on politics was had along with having my hair cut.

My day trip to Huddersfield for #unit21 costume fittings coincided with the reintroduction of mandatory masks on public transport. The trains now run from Scarborough through to Manchester again and thankfully they weren’t too busy, I had chosen trains outside rush hour on purpose. It was good to see all the ensemble of actors again. A few people were a bit confused about everyone having to wear masks again, but we all abided by the rules. All costumes were fitted only a few alterations needed which I packed up to bring home with me.

We’ve been having some glorious sunrises

The show is scheduled for February. I’ll need a few days accommodation, but with the current Covid situation I’m hesitating to book a hotel as with nine actors who are all vulnerable the show may get postponed again. Mick had another look at C&RT winter stoppages to see if we could move Oleanna to Huddersfield. Maintenance works mostly open up over Christmas and New Year which means that it would be possible to move her. The trip is around 26 hours, so five days cruise at this time of year. Sadly not a suitable trip for Tilly so we’d need to break the journey with visits back to the house. But as nobody has been answering the phone at Aspley Basin we don’t know if there would be space for us there. A nice idea to be able to be at home whilst working, but I think we’ve decided Oleanna would be better off where she is now and I’ll just have to fork out for a hotel if the need arises.

Sunday selfie in the South Bay

We’ve been for a few walks. On one we got distracted by a laundry airer and I found a new international supermarket, one that stocks all sorts of flours so I may not need to go to Doncaster to replenish my stocks in future.

What a view!

On another walk we stayed high along the south bay and through the old town. We had a nosy around Castle Crescent, a few houses with only pedestrian access but with fantastic views over the south bay. Maybe if we won the lottery!

Then we dipped under the Castle walls and headed down to Marine Drive to the north bay to say hello to Freddie who has weathered the recent storms well. Then back to the house via Peasholm Park and the cemetery.

At last a friend!

Tilly woke us the other night scurrying around the bedroom. This wasn’t normal behaviour so I suspected she’d found a friend. She had and had brought it to meet us. Luckily for us and the mouse it managed to hide in a bag on the floor which made for an easy extrication. Not sure where Tilly had found it but it does appear to have had a little munch on a bag of Sorghum flour before hand!

Just a few Lebkuchen

With five star approval for my biscuits, I made a big batch to deliver to friends around Scarborough. They were all iced and left to fully dry before being packaged up the following morning. The sun was out, just the prefect day for wishing friends a Merry Christmas. I did a lateral flow test in the morning just in case, all fine. Then whilst having a bite to eat before setting off my phone pinged! At some point when I was on my trip to Huddersfield a few days earlier I had been a close contact of someone who had now tested positive for Covid!


Thankfully as I’ve had my booster it said I didn’t have to self isolate, but I was offered a PCR test which was taken within two hours of being pinged. The biscuit delivery would have to wait for the result which arrived the following morning. Negative! Phew!!

We’d originally planned on heading over to the Lake District on Boxing Day to join the London Leckenbys for a night, then visit an aunt of Micks. Covid put paid to visiting care homes a week or so ago. We’ve also decided to stay close to home and not head across country, it just didn’t feel right. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up with Andrew Jac and Josh in the not too distant future when Omicron has passed through the country. Well it’s always good to spread Christmas out and it’ll give me chance to have another go at the pudding I’d been planning which hadn’t been too successful the first time. We may be being over cautious, but after my near miss and several friends coming down with it, we’d rather be that way.

We picked up our festive veg box and duck from Tree Top Press a couple of days ago. The red cabbage has already been braised, cider stock made for the gravy, bread sauce and stuffing made today. Tomorrow I’ll bake my birthday cake as I’ve chosen one that should be served warm, the bananas have been ripening for a week or so. It’s a bit of extra fuss on Christmas Day but hopefully it will be worth it.

Frank will be joining us again this year, a couple of days ago he delivered some booze including some bubbly and today he arrived with enough sprouts for the whole street! He miss timed his arrival and had to wait for the Christmas Eve sausage rolls to be made and baked, but his patience paid off. A new puff pastry recipe came up trumps, they got a Frank 9/10, ‘Well they can’t be perfect!’ Cheeky sod!

Even I’ve been getting post!

Our stockings have been found and are already in front of the fire. Here’s hoping we’ve been good enough for them to be filled overnight. We’ll see in the morning.

All ready for the man in red tonight

Egrets Not Regrets. 20th June

Berko Top Lock 53 to Aspley Sainsburys

Busy in Berko this morning

A boat came past as we were finishing breakfast, no point in rushing to get ready to join them as it would take at least quarter of an hour to get ourselves sorted. So about half an hour later we pushed off, light weight rainy clothes required as the air was full of drizzle.

The bridges in Berko have had a make over, paint and statistics to brighten a grey gloomy day. As we came towards Ravens Lane Lock we were admiring the hanging baskets on the interesting house with coloured bottles in it’s windows, I’d love to see inside one day, a lady walked out onto her balcony.

I now want to know even more bout the lady who lives here

We made a comment about her hanging baskets, not in bloom yet but so many they will be spectacular when they are. The lady then asked if our boat was named after the play. Well, Oleanna is and the lady was correct, the first person ever to make the connection. There was just time to chat a little, we both agreed that Oleanna (by David Mamet) is an extreamly good play, my favourite and that it was about time it was put on in the West End. I vote for Malcolm Hebden to direct it as the production I saw in Scarborough in 1995 is most certainly the best I’ve seen.

We descended four more locks on our own, at Sewer Lock we just about caught up with the narrowboat in front of us, they had been slowed by a widebeam that was weaving across the navigation. We did catch up with them at the next lock and then shared the rest of the days locks.

The Hemel Crew

Stood at Winkwell Swing Bridge was my old college friend Jen who lives in Hemel Hempstead. Two years ago she joined us for a few hours of boating, last night she’d noticed on Social Media that we were near and had volunteered to come and join us again.

Jen winding a windlass again

Using the key of power I got the bridge moving quickly, only holding up a few cars, one of which disappeared whilst I was chatting away to Jen. Both boats came through, there was just enough time to pop Jen’s bike on Oleanna before it was our turn to work down Winkwell Bottom Lock. The widebeam thankfully had reached it’s destination at the marina below so the way ahead was clear.

Nearly there

We worked down the next five locks with NB Candi or is it NB CandI? Jen soon remembered what to do at the locks and we chatted away the hours until we reached the 24hr mooring by Sainsburys. Here we moored up, enough space for both boats, then had a very late lunch.

It was so lovely to see Jen and have a catch up. She’d decided to take a sabbatical from working at the National Theatre in January last year to do some scenic art tutoring amongst other things. This of course didn’t go too well and meant that when all the staff were furloughed from the theatre she missed out. So when October came along and there were shows that needed painting again Jen went back to working three days a week on the South Bank. Lockdown had been hard for her and her family, her son very much missing out on the social interaction with his friends at school.

We all had a lovely afternoon and if only she’d work for free and come and help me paint panto that would be wonderful. The thought of a weeks painting in Cornwall in a workshop with fresh Cornish Pasties being made next door nearly swung it.

By the time we said our goodbyes it was too late to do a big shop at Sainsburys. So instead we did ourselves a Click and Collect for the morning, which would only delay our departure by a little bit.

Last lock of the day

Because our mooring is right by an access road into the retail units for wagons we don’t allow Tilly out here, much to her distain. How ridiculous! Then She gets all annoyed with me for something that She hadn’t done. In fact dear readers I got shouted at! I’d been trying to tell her that my pooh box needed refreshing, but She’d been distracted all day long. So she didn’t take too kindly to my making use of the fresh litter whilst it was still in it’s bag!

Please let this be finished

14 locks, 8 shared, 5.1 miles, 1 swing bridge, 4 held up, 1st person to make the connection, 1 extra crew member, 4 hours of constant chattering, 1 hunt for eco glitter, 1 click and collect sorted, 1 protest wee, 1 hour cleaning the bathroom! 50 panto model photos, 1 email sent, 0 regrets, 1 fish, 1 obligatory photo.

Goole Rainbow. 18th April


Exactly six months ago we turned Oleanna into Viking Marina in Goole, imagining that we’d be able to come down to visit her for the odd weekend, maybe even have a few weeks onboard bringing the second mate with us. But for a couple of reasons that just wasn’t to be, Covid and a whacking great big hole in the canal.

18th September 2020

So after breakfast this morning I finished off adjusting an old curtain that had been made for a show, an extra couple of inches required in length to cover one of the archways in the house. Then piles of things were gathered together to take to Oleanna.

Blimey it’s hard to remember what we’d left on board all that time ago! Back in September there had been a method, things bagged up to take to the house for washing, then returned and stowed in vacuum bags. But had some items not been returned as yet, would we have pillows, towels etc? I’m normally very good at remembering such things, but because it was an ongoing job and we’d be visiting regularly (well that was the plan) I hadn’t filed it all away in my brain! So an element of keeping our fingers crossed was needed.

Then there was the sit down with Tilly to explain. My Sunday morning snooze was interrupted! Oh blimey a meeting!! What was She going to say!?! I was going to be left in charge of the house and I was to be good. She said that they were going to the boat but I’d be left behind in Scarboreugh as all sorts of things would be happening and it was best I didn’t get in the way. Bloomin cheek! I just rolled my eyes and went back to sleep, not much else I could do.

Everythings back to the old normal now, queues to get out from B&Q

With the hire car packed we stopped off at Toolstation to collect an order, a quick pop into B&Q which meant then joining the queue to get out. Morrisons also had a visit for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread, then we were on our way passing the queue at the drive through Macdonalds.

The Wolds were pretty, some daffodils just past their best, others just sagging their heads in need of a drink. The rapeseed yellow is starting to show in the fields and the blackthorn blossom is wonderful.

Sunny skies through the hatch

Oleanna sat in the sunshine an easy step onto the bow today. Levels now seem to be pretty constant in their Goole dock type fluctuating way. All windows were opened, hatch, bow and stern doors swung open, a lovely breeze flowing through.

Mick set about turning everything on and then started to fully empty the water tank. This had last been filled I think at Pollington Lock back in September and we’ve been gradually using up the water washing mugs when we’ve visited. We don’t normally get worried about the water in the tank as there is enough chlorine in tap water to keep it good whilst living on board. But after six months we wanted to sterilize the tank.

We’ve done this once before, when we bought Lillian. With an empty tank Mick poured about 0.75 litres of Milton into the tank and then refilled her right up. This was left in the tank for around an hour before taps were turned on to fully drain the tank again. This should have killed off anything in the tank. Hopefully we’ll now be around enough to keep the water flowing through the tank and keeping it fresh once again.

The mattress covers had been taken to be washed at the house. With no instructions on their labels I’d emailed the company to seek advice. By the time a reply of ‘dry clean only’ came back they were already going round on a gentle cycle in the washing machine. Today I would see if this had done them any harm. Thankfully they went back on without any problem.

Look at that sky

Next job was to find bedlinen and duvets and pillows. They were all there, most in a vacuum bag under the bed. Towels were present too. The linen/office cupboard got a good sort through. Items from the random cupboard were checked for things we don’t use anymore. This was worth doing as more space was made.

Under the bed was a large vacuum bag of yarn and fabric. Well the fact it was stashed away in the dark and awkward to get to meant I don’t really need it on the boat. It went straight into the car boot for storage in the house.

I never thought of myself as having a yarn stash!

At the stern I cleared out the bike/hanging cupboard. We’ve had two Brompton bicycles onboard since 2014, one is easily accessible, the other would mean taking the step out and since it went in there four years ago it has never been used. This bike was taken to Scarborough a few months ago. A sort out of hats, gloves and waterproofs then I could add the life jackets.

This cupboard also has a shelf which is a touch of a shed for tools and useful things. Above is what we call the Nicholsons shelf. Big enough for a mug to be put on, log book, nicholsons guide book, phone charger and the old phone we use for Waterways Routes lives here. Other items had crept onto the two shelves so a tidy of them followed too.

Then the bottom drawer. Here were still jars of Trent Lock Blackberry Jam from 2015. We haven’t eaten jam for years, so these along with some incredibly well fermented chutney all headed to the bins. The new found space was instantly used with our stash of goodies from Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil.


Mick happened to look out out of the side hatch and caught the sight of a huge black plume of smoke from the other side of the canal. People had come out to watch. It was actually coming from a scarp yard in Old Goole across the Dutch River.

Sunsetting with smoke

Thankfully the thick black smoke was heading upwards before the breeze caught it, meaning it headed right over our heads. The view from one side of the boat was bright blue sky, the other was thick black.

Blue arrow pointing at us

As I caught up on news from the London Leckenbys we could not only hear explosions but feel them too. Jac on the other end of the phone was astounded at how loud they were. Fire engines could be heard at intervals arriving. The smoke kept coming and coming.


I’d prepared a Lassaka in Scarborough, a cross between lasagne and moussaka, no aubergine or pasta, which went in the oven as we stowed things and made space for ourselves. To accompany our meal we decided to open a bottle of Christmas wine that we’d stocked up with back in September. Very nice it was too. All the time the smoke continued. Then an alarm at the docks decided to join in, this was going to be such a lovely first night back onboard Oleanna!

A Goole Rainbow

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 winds, 2 inches short, 1 lasakka, 1 full car, 2.5 litres danish oil, 3 types sandpaper,1 boat sitting waiting for us, 2 grimy door handles, 2 covers fitted, 1 tank emptied twice, 1 tank filled twice, 2 duvets found, 1 misplaced wash bag, 1 black rainbow, 1 alarm, 7 big bangs, only 1 Line of Duty, 2 happy boaters, 1 grumpy cat.

Sunday selfie at home

Advent Windows

Only one window now requires some attention in the house, the others are undercoated and waiting for a warm day for top coat. We celebrated Advent Sunday with roast beef and Yorkshire Puddings. The gluten free batter put in a bread tin, my only option and willed to rise. It did a little but by no means rising and curling over like my Mum’s used to, it was still tasty.

Advent Sunday Roast Beef

Mid afternoon my inbox chimed to the sound of new mail arriving. The annual Happy Official Birthday email from my wonderful 90 year old God-Mum Betty. We always used to have Sunday lunch with Betty when I was a child, roast beef. This was when I received my first Christmas and more importantly my first Birthday present of the year. I then had to wait ALL those weeks before I could open them.

We’re still here

For the last couple of years we have been gradually making our way up the Oxford Canal at the start of Advent. Chippy Panto open, some Christmas shopping attempted before leaving Oxford, our progress northwards slowed by stoppages. Banbury our next port of call for the bulk of our festive shopping, a trip to London to gather the family and then on towards Braunston to pick up our bird for the big day.

Queueing for our bird in Braunston

Being in Scarborough isn’t quite the same. Looking out of the windows on a morning with the central heating going, isn’t the same as popping more coal on the stove to get it springing back into life watching the ducks and swans floating on by. But, this year is what it is.

Chilly paws

Unwrapping boxes of kitchen things, isn’t as exciting as presents, although rediscovering things you’d forgotten you owned is quite nice. But then I also know we don’t need any of these items having lived on a boat for six plus years. Their only purpose really is to fill cupboards. The only way to make use of them is to have a big party, a thing we don’t do very often, but maybe next year.

King Sutton Lock Cottage

My work rooms have now just about been reclaimed there is SOOoooo much space. I’ve gone from a table and the end of a two seater sofa to the equivalent of the whole boat plus more! Blimey I used to be a proper designer! How many paint brushes did I need?!

Loads of room

Last night I moved my model making and paint box from the boat into my work room and as the sun faded away the bluey glow came through the arched window by my tables. My first Advent window.

1st Advent window

No chocolate calendar for me this year, nor a candle. But there are other treats waiting to be opened.

There is of course the Herbie Awards for 2020, always worth keeping track of for good pubs, moorings and gadgets.

Animated Objects are showing some of their projects through the years, many wonderful glowing lanterns to cheer up the evenings.

Masks from my college days

The Theatre Chipping Norton also has a Virtual Advent Calendar. The first window opened at 8pm last night. Jack Dee with a tale of an actor and a boat, very apt.

This morning I’ve opened another window, one to book tickets for The Snow Queen at the SJT next week. Tomorrow our new hob will be installed. Another treat will be opening up a sketch book and starting work on the design for Rapunzel, opening night 17th November 2021.

Rapunzel escaping her high window

Then planning our route for next year, should we go down the Trent heading to London? Head to York to see those people we missed this year? Head back over the Pennines? Will the Figure of Three Locks be open in time? The Weaver? Middle Levels?

Happy Advent everyone

Thinning News. 19th April

Lockdown Mooring 4 to Nantwich Embankment.

Our Saturday paper is getting thin. It must be half the weight it used to be, no travel section and sport is now in the main body of the paper. The blind date is now virtual with a take away, although the chap this week couldn’t make up his mind whether to eat with his date or flat mates afterwards, he then opted to get a takeaway! She’s better off without him.

In the food section was a Lockdown Larder special. I have a lot of the ingredients needed, but only one recipe really took my fancy, chocolate fudge tart. This requires Hobnob biscuits for the base, none in our larder, you can get gluten free ones, or you used to be able to get them pre lockdown! Too many calories though for not much exercise, I’d prefer a cheese scone anyway, or would I?

Sunday photo of Lockdown mooring 3

Mick logged on to Sainsburys this morning to see a load of Click and Collect slots available for tomorrow. Maybe this would do us till our delivery in ten days time. He secured the slot with the obligatory boxes of wine.

Still nothing showing in the Lapwing field

The route to Sainsburys from Hurleston has no pavement along the road, riding a bike is okay, but not pushing one. I’d looked into getting a greengrocer delivery, but there were no slots for the remainder of the month, so that wouldn’t help. Then a plan was formed.

Sunny day cruising

We’d be needing water in the next day or two, so if we cruised into Nantwich to fill the tank then I could visit Holland and Barrett, hopefully stocking up on Brown Rice flour for my sourdough starter and Mick could ride to Sainsburys and push the bike back with a bigger shop along pavements. This would be further than going from our mooring, but safer and preferable to standing in line at Morrisons.

Much of the morning was spent working out menus for the next ten days and what was essential shopping for this period. I had to be careful as items seemed to vanish from our basket every now and again, so I really hope we won’t get two loaves of bread and three bags of parsnips!

With the shopping order done we decided that Tilly would decide when we left for Nantwich. She’d spent most of late morning/early afternoon asleep on the bed and just as we’d decided that we might head into town today she’d woken and headed out! Luckily she returned quite soon, so the doors were locked and we could set off.

She said I needed to stay inside whilst they moved the outside. This is nothing unusual, I prefer it that way. But She told me I had to give my paws a very good clean, She thinks they are filthy and is threatening me with a pedicure. Have to say I quite fancy one of those pedicures where tiny fish come and nibble between your toes. I think the experience would be really rather quite tasty!

The flag bubble boats

As I’ve been sat at a computer for much of the last few days I decided to walk whilst Mick brought Oleanna along. The sun was out and everyone just around the bend at the flag bubble were being busy doing jobs.

The Nantwich horse

It was a pleasant walk, most people kept their distance but there were some exceptions. I’m starting to wonder if children are taught about meters anymore, but then an old chap on a bike almost rubbed shoulders with a lady as they both passed a boat! I’m quite happy to find a wide place to wait for bikes and walkers to come past, but then some people insist on walking two abreast reducing the gap I’d left.

This stretch to Nantwich is becoming really quite familiar now. The green bus looks like there is a drum kit set up on the upper deck and the tractors looked a touch more spread out than before.

Coming in to the services

I crossed over the bridge to the services which was free and waited for Oleanna to catch up. We disposed of rubbish and refilled the water tank.

Across the aqueduct

Then we pootled across the aqueduct, soon passed another boat who were excited to be heading to the water point for their weekly fill. On down to Marsh Lane Bridge and the winding hole.

Chomping away at the long grass

Here two swans were enjoying tucking into the extra long grass on the towpath. We turned and headed back across the aqueduct to moor close to the ramp down into town.

Marvelous, time for a couple of hours before curfew! Sorry Tilly, this is Nantwich and Tilly cats don’t go out here! How dull!

After our dinner we sat down to watch Phantom of the Opera. Mick has never seen it and I wanted to have a trip down memory lane and spot the props that I’d made in the past. But it wasn’t to be. For some copyright reason in England it was only available to view for free for 24 hrs! Oh well, I bet the table cloth wasn’t as good as mine! And the candles not as expertly dribbled!

Instead we watched The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. It was an old concert, but with some familiar favourites. We’ve been lucky enough to see them live a couple of times. I suspect we enjoyed them more than we would have enjoyed Phantom.

0 locks, 3.42 miles, 1.8 miles walked, 1 thin newspaper, 11am slot, 4 boxes, 1 veg box enquiry, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 embankment mooring for the night, 1 bored energy filled cat, 24hr Phantom, 8 Ukuleles, 1 Anarchy in the Uk

Fake News! 8th April

Lockdown mooring 3 to Lockdown mooring 2

Waking this morning my phone brought news from my brother that the BBC had reported that all cats should now be kept inside as they may carry the virus on their fur. This had been banded about a couple of weeks ago, hence Tilly no longer being allowed out in Nantwich. Today this story had spread like wildfire across social media. A short while later I received another message from Andrew informing me that the BBC had got it wrong and had misquoted the BVA! Their recommendation was to keep your cat in IF you have symptoms or are in self isolation, so as to cut down on possible transmission of the virus. So much for the BBC checking out their facts! Fake Feline news!!

Tilly, who was very relieved (so where we) was allowed out whilst we had breakfast and very handily she returned as we were finishing up. The doors and hatch were firmly closed. A quick phone call to Clewlow’s in Nantwich (the butchers) to place an order for tomorrow and it was time to move.

Covers no longer green

As we lifted fenders and rolled back the covers we noticed that all the green on them has already gone. Well it’s not gone, it has a dusty quality to it instead. Maybe when it rains the next time this will wash away. I’ll keep you posted.

A beautiful day

We pootled down to the winding hole in bright sunshine, no need for coats today it was so warm, a beautiful day to cruise. Oleanna turned and headed back towards the services.

Although it was our bridge we pulled back so they could reverse through

Just as we neared bridge 104 Mick had to stop Oleanna on the spot. One of our neighbours this morning had headed for water and was now reversing back to their mooring. Mick waved them onwards and we backed up giving them enough room to come past. Sadly the boat ahead had lost it’s straight course towards the bridge (that’s if a narrowboat ever has a straight course in reverse), so it took quite a lot of hard work at the tiller to get them through the bridge hole. The chap jumped off and pulled them into the side and waved us through.

A bakers dozen

Our turn to top up on water again, we’ll do the same again tomorrow, but in these times it’s best to have a full tank when ever possible.

NB Mountbatten

Onwards to Barbridge where we passed Ruth and Richard on NB Mountbatten. With no need for coal and the diesel tank still quite full we didn’t feel the need to stop them, we’ll get to see NB Halsall next week at some point.

Such fine chimneys

The bank up to the reservoir has sprouted pairs of white sticks since we left. A couple of weeks ago a chap had been digging little holes in the bank and we’d noticed he was placing markers at these sites. Wonder what they are for? By the outfall there was a van and generators, three chaps busy at something too.

What are these about?

Just before Hurleston Junction a narrowboat has pulled up on the offside, a grassy bank all to themselves. We’d though about it when we came past last week, but with every tree now cut down on that side we’d have had one very unhappy cat!

Shame there’s not more places on the offside to moor

The AreandAre mooring seems to have had an epidemic of flags. Four between the three boats. We bipped our horn to say hello before returning to the mooring on the other side of the bridge.

You need a flag to moor along here!

Once we were safely moored in the existing holes Tilly and I walked back to the bridge to get our Sunday photo of the mooring. Depending on how busy the towpath gets this weekend we may move to find a wider stretch as we’ve already noticed an increase of footfall with the sun.

A Sunday photo on Wednesday

One job on the list is to go through the food drawers on Oleanna and try to use up anything that should have been eaten sometime ago. Today I remembered that I had a couple of bags of gluten free bread mix, so I dug the oldest one out and risked using some of my yeast stash to see if it would work. This was left to rise during the news conference. It did so well that I considered trying to find more of the mix on the internet. I haven’t seen the make for a long time and it doesn’t appear on their website. I’ll keep the other bag, only out of date by six months, for a while longer.

Good looking
for it’s age. July 2018

When not cruising today the boat has been filled with the sounds of summer. Radio Five Live Sports Extra are broadcasting the whole of last summers Ashes Test Match at Headingly, Mick is a happy man.

One last time round the field

The farmer has been busy whilst we’ve been away. Modern day ridge and furrows have appeared opposite. Wonder if it’ll be potatoes? The Lapwings were having a veritable feast and singing all about it. With the cricket, the sunshine and the farmer finishing ploughing his field across the way, it made for a lovely day. Just a shame we need to leave our bubble to restock our food supplies tomorrow.

A shy Lapwing

0 locks, 4.28 miles, 1 wind, 2 straights, 2 outsides, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 butchers order, 1 long shopping list, 4 flags, 13 babies, 1 lovely day not to go far.