Category Archives: Sunsets

Soggy Socks And Paws. 16th April

Bollington Underpass

No tea in bed this morning, Lemsip instead. Fortunatly Mick was starting to feel improved. He did plenty of chores, filling the coal skuttle, got another bag of coal off the roof. Emptied the ash pan and left the bin on the stern deck for ease of access. Between us we emptied the yellow water tank. Then he packed a bag.

Why can’t she clean her paws before coming in?!

A doctors appointment, dentist, an engineer coming to sort something on our new boiler and a turn around of lodgers have all nicely fitted into a few days, so Mick was headed back to Scarborough. We could have stayed in Manchester making the journey back shorter, but for a few days that wouldn’t have been so good for Tilly. A bus would take Mick to Altringham where he’d then get a tram before a train to York, then another to Scarborough. I wonder when/if they will ever reinstate the through trains to Scarborough?

Thank goodness Mick didn’t have a Vicar of Dibley moment!

But first he had to negotiate the underpass! This leads from the towpath to Little Bollington where he’d catch a bus. With all the rain this year this has become a small lake and with a bus due Mick had to walk through it, deeper than his shoes! Soggy feet for the rest of his journey. I had been thinking of a walk into Dunham Massey, if I do I’ll be digging my wellies out!

I hope I can do better than the gaffa tape

Tilly and I pottered away the day. Some mending of Mick’s slipper required. It was coming away from it’s sole and he’s worn a hole in the toe of it! Being sheepskin and very good for keeping your feet warm they need mending as the left foot is still very much in good order. Uhu used as a contact adhesive stuck the sole back on. Then I cut a patch to cover the toe from an old Ugg boot that moths had attacked in the house. I’ll leave the glue to go off overnight and then have a go at stitching the patch on. I’m not looking forward to that bit!

Lots of dry toes

A few last ends to weave in on some socks. Six pairs now waiting to be sent off. First they needed their photos taking. Then the next pair were cast on whilst watching The Duchess 2008. The period drama based on the true story of Georgina Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. The line on the poster says it all really, ‘There were three people in her marriage.’ It stars Keira Knightley and Ralph Feinnes and won Best Costume Design in the Academy Awards. The frocks were rather lovely.


The weather has improved, less windy but still the occasional thunder storm. At one point today I wondered if we were taking on water, a distinct bubbling noise coming from close to the hull. It turned out to be rather large hail stones landing in the canal.

I spent as much of the day with my feet up. Over the last week my left foot has become a touch uncomfortable, a bit like having your shoe lace tied too tight. The top of my foot had become a touch fat at the end of days working locks, but last night my ankle had blown up too. Not sure I’d get a shoe on it, so it has been elevated on a stool for as much of the day as possible. It doesn’t hurt, so I’m not sure what has happened.

A rather nice sunset to do the washing up by

My plan to walk round Dunham Massey, have a bus ride into Altringham to visit Alty Market are on hold. I need my ankle to be better for the Cheshire Locks, it would also be handy if it fitted into a shoe!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 bus, 1 tram, 2 trains, 1 doctors appointment, 6 pairs ready, 1 very wet sock, 1 slipper stuck down, 1 sheepskin patch cut, 4 muddy paws, 119 photos on a none moving day, 1 flooded underpass, 1 fat ankle.

15.25 pairs knitted

37 pairs spoken for

36.75 to go

£825 raised so far

Shed Day. 6th March

Sykehouse Junction

Back where she belongs

Whilst we had breakfast, all cosy inside, Tilly was given freedom of the towpath, she went self catering rather than tucking into her morning biscuits. 8 hours! I’m never going to be able to use all of those! It’s good to see her being active again although the local rodent population wouldn’t agree and I was on edge much of the time as running around, jumping on and off the pram cover could have ended with a very soggy cat. Hopefully she’ll calm down soon.

Time to reclaim the dinette and sort The Shed out. Mick’s wood cutting he felt would not be up to scratch so I dried off the saw under the pram cover and used the seats as a saw bench. 1 length at 12″ and three at 6″ would do us, ends sanded. The 12″ and one 6″ were fixed in around the battery so that it wouldn’t be able to move more than 10mm, this would now meet the BSS requirements.

The other two 6″ lengths were used to support the front edge of the shelf which would be used to cover the battery (another requirement) and also give us a new base to The Shed cupboard. The shelf slotted in perfectly. Now to sort out where things will go.

Looking organised…ish

There used to be a hanging rail, but this was only ever used to hang coat hangers on, not even coats. The hangers are used when drying cloths in the pram cover, so it’s handy to have a supply of them at the stern. A hook above the power socket will do that job. A deep hook accommodates all four life jackets and the spare fan belts tucked in behind the fire extinguisher.

Another two hooks were positioned high up on the tumblehome to hold the window vac. Now where to put the bag for the hand held vac? In the corner behind the power socket. I found my bag of heavy duty poppers and proceeded to attach two, the hard edge to the canal handy for flattening the rivets onto the fabric side. Two poppers were okay, but the vac is quite heavy so a second two were positioned further down. Far more secure. Just need to tidy the cables, now where did I put the spare black net with lots of small cuphooks?

A tidier Shed, just a shame there was still a lot more to go in it. The Brompton cycle bag, bag of hats, gloves and scarves plus coats. Hmm? I might make a couple more bags to go on the walls of The Shed to accommodate gloves etc, the bag contents also need rationalising. Somewhere for Mick’s coats was next, a flip out hook was added to the bedroom bulk head, just about the only bit of wall we have. We are nearly there.

Wonder where this path leads to? Too late to explore

During the afternoon a boat arrived across the Went Aqueduct. They obviously made a late discission to pull in and moor in front of us as it took them quite a while to back up and position themselves to be able to moor. Space for a little one between us, only just.

Having been inside just about all day, unlike Tilly, we headed off for a walk. Along the New Junction Canal to the first road bridge and back along the other side, crossing back over on the footbridge at the Went Aqueduct.

Winter sunset over the Went

The hazy blue and pink light with the sun setting highlighted the amount of extra water there is around at the moment. A lovely walk on the way out, a touch less so on the way back.

Discussions on our cruising plans. Earlier this year we’d made a plan, this has been then amended due to an event we’d like to attend in the south in May. However! We originally thought we’d be away from Goole a week earlier and had plotted an open route across the Pennines. This route is currently blocked at Woodnook Lock on the Aire and Calder for another ten days. There is still time for us to reach London, but it might be quite a dash. Now when I say quite a dash I’m meaning 4 plus hours a day, there will also be a couple of return trips to Scarborough for us. If any more stoppages happen ahead of us then our plans will be thwarted.

What do we really want to do this year? Which things are more important to us? Are we happy rushing? Or would we rather be more sedate? We now have a back up plan, plan C. Hopefully we’ll not have to put it into operation, but you never know.

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 hours! 4.5 taken, 2+ friends, 1 shed, 4 hooks, 4 poppers, 1 dinette corner nearly reclaimed, 4 valentines chocolates mislaid, 10th pair of socks frogged, 2 complicated still, 4th version left for tomorrow, 1 folding coat hook, 1 sunset walk.

Floating Fish. 21st September

Brayford Pool to Torksey Top Side Visitor Moorings

The water tank filled as we had breakfast, the last load of pants and socks had been dried in the washing machine, it was time to head off. However there was first the matter of getting my model pieces into the post, we’d not be near a Post Office for a few days. Mick headed off to the nearest post office only to find a huge long queue outside, everyone holding passports in their hands. Were they all foreign students requiring stamps of some sort in their passports? Mick didn’t loiter long as the queue wasn’t moving, instead he walked another mile to the next Post Office, my model was on it’s way.

Push Back

Back at Oleanna the hose was wound up, a trustee of Brayford Pool stopped to chat to Mick, our next door neighbours had just come back from having their Covid jabs. They were very chatty about all things Brayford Pool, turning in at Keadby and the announcement from C&RT about the license fees going up. Thankfully his opinion was a similar one to ours, we all knew it was coming, nobody likes a price hike, if it wasn’t for the funding cuts, etc. We’d also like to add we are all boaters and the divisive comments appearing on social media are prejudiced, sad and so disappointing. Bringing in a Continuous Cruiser licence was always going to bring out such opinions. I do my best not to be political on the blog, but the human race sometimes really disappoints me!

Once the covers were rolled up and the chatting had stopped we pushed back leaving our mooring in sunshine. Thank you Lincoln, we’ll be back, don’t know when, but we’ll be back. We wanted to stop at the services, but they were occupied, someone looked like they were heading for a shower, we’d not wait for them, our yellow water could sit in its container for a while longer.

Floating Fish!

As we got close to the Pyewipe Inn we started to spot fish, a few big ones at first, all very much dead, floating on the surface of the canal. Then more and more, hundreds of them. In the hot weather there have been instances of fish dying, lack of oxygen in the water. The water here looked cloudy, cloudier than normal. Was this run off from fields or some nearby industry causing this? We made a comment to some fishermen, they said they’d report it. They didn’t really need a rod and line in places, you could have just gone along with our landing next and scooped the fish out! Thankfully past the entrance to Burton Waters Marina the water cleared to it’s more normal brown colour and the dead fish gradually declined in number.

On through Saxilby, the chip shop mooring very full today. C&RT had been and chopped up the boughs from the willow tree that had cracked and the narrowboat that had been close to possible danger had been pulled back to the end of the mooring, away from the willows.

Only one moving boat today

On the banks towards Torksey there were a couple of diggers on the top of the bank. Were these cutting the grass? No, it was piling work going on on the other side of the flood bank. Hopefully it was far enough away from the moorings for us not to hear it.

Cottam on the horizon

Cottam Power Station came into view, our destination for today almost reached. One boat on the moorings, we pulled up a suitable cat gap away. I ventured onto the bow today for the first time since breaking my toe, very cautiously stepping round the cratch board to tie up, I’ve so hated just standing there with a rope in hand waiting for Mick to moor us up, it’s as if I can’t be trusted to do it properly! I’ll remain extra cautious for a while, uneven surfaces are awkward at the moment even whilst wearing anti-slip crocks.


Four hours Tilly! It took a while for her to sus that the world improved greatly at the top of the bank. An hour later, moek mho mi mgset, muffled cat conversation could be heard coming down the bank. ‘DOORS!‘ A while later she returned again. Oh blimey! Thankfully I was able to rescue this friend, Tilly was now grounded for the remainder of the day despite her protestations. She really needs to mend her ways!


All this was going on whilst I was trying to get some knitting done in front of Dunkirk (2017). What I’d class as a quiet action film. Not much dialogue, quiet underscored music of the evacuation from Dunkirk, very modern British. Stories from the sea, land and air. Think I’d have enjoyed it better had there not been so many interruptions and miscounted stitches which required pulling out!

Socks have started arriving with their owners. Another pair finished today, just a shame the lady who requested them hasn’t responded to my messages. If I don’t hear back there will be a size 7 pair of socks up for grabs in return for a donation.

And breath

0 locks, 10.4 miles, 1 wind, 1 full water tank, 1 parcel on its way, 1 box approved, 1526 fish, 1 toe improving, 4 hours curtailed to 3, 1 grounded cat, 1 spoilt afternoon, 5th pair finished, 300,000 men evacuated.

Lifting The Swing. 31st May

Dover Lock to Plank Lane

No need to rush this morning as we’d only got a short distance to cover. So a cuppa in bed was enjoyed then over breakfast I added notes to my sketches for panto and sent them off so that John could have a good look before my meeting with him later on in the day.

Surely we can stay another day!

We pushed off at around10:30 and pootled our way towards Plank Lane. Passing the Dover Lock Inn, it’s such a sad sight. It’s been empty for years and has certainly had an inferno inside. A sign along the towpath says ‘Canalside Care The Dover Lock Inn, Working in partnership to improve the local environment’ ! Wonder how long that’s been there?

What a sorry state

Soon we arrived at Plank Lane. The bridge here forms part of a busy road and time limits have been put on it so as not to hold up the traffic during rush hour. You cannot work the panel between 8 – 9:30am and 4:30 – 6pm. We were well out of those times, but I still had to wait a while before I felt there was a gap in the traffic.

Red light is for traffic from the car park

Pressing the OPEN button seemingly does nothing for a while, that seems to let any cars waiting through the bridge before it drops the barriers. By the time all traffic lights turned red I’d already caught a few cars. At panels like this I always make sure I read the instructions before operating the bridge. Press and hold today.

Open sesame!

Looking up from the panel there was a newish sign in blue saying not to open the bridge all the way up, but just enough to get through, as when fully opened it may get stuck! You would be seriously unpopular then!

A top up of the water tank, the pressure now we’re on the flat considerably less than up in the hills, this took quite some time. Should we pull up behind the next boat or carry on a little bit further? Further was preferable so that Tilly was less likely to head towards the road. Spikes hammered in, cat let out.

This would do us for the night. I spent the afternoon quickly jotting down some new ideas to show John I’d had this morning, then realised that my meeting was via teams. We’ve only used Teams once about two years ago, clicking the link to join the meeting with just a couple of minutes before it started wasn’t wise. Updates, then passwords that had to be changed as we seemingly didn’t remember the correct one. Then it said no way! My IT department deserted me to cycle off to collect a car! All really annoying, but John and I got there in the end via zoom.

Has Liz Truss been along here?

My meeting was good, my basic setting was given a big thumbs up, but I’d maybe been being a touch cautious on the built pieces of scenery. The budget hasn’t risen this year, so this was a good thing. But with a director who wants to push the budget to it’s maximum there were plenty of new ideas to add to the mix. Numerous notes were taken and I’d just put them into understandable order when Mick returned.

He loaded the car with a big bag of washing and our first bucket of offerings for this year to return to the house. He also dropped off a large click and collect shopping order that needed stowing away. Then off he headed back to Scarborough for the night, checking on Olivia our new lodger and to wash our socks and pants, along with a dentist appointment tomorrow.

Sunset over the basin opposite

Boats arrived to fill with water, others carried on through the lift bridge, plenty of footfall on the towpath that Tilly managed to dash her way through to the friendly cover. An evening of working my way back through panto, Act 1 completed new squiggles of ideas. Tomorrow I’ll do Act 2 and then translate the squiggles for others to view.


Prawn and pea risotto tonight for me and a Tempo Special for Mick, both things we each like but the other one doesn’t. Looking at Facebook this evening I came across news from Peter Baxter the volunteer at Wigan. More pounds on the flight had been drained last night on the flight so passage had been impossible again today. Thankfully the pound worst affected isn’t that big, so the hope is that tonight the bywashs will top it up sufficiently to be used tomorrow. This does mean though that volunteers may not be quite where boaters would like them to be (right ahead of them) as they may be doing more important things managing the water down the flight so passage is possible all the way up or down.

0 locks, 2 miles, 1 lift bridge, 14 held up, 1 full water tank, 2 boxes wine, 6 bottles, 1 slightly squished melon, 1 panto meeting, 2 pages notes, 1 bag of dirty washing transported to Scarborough, 10C lower than at Plank Lane.

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.

Don’t Just Sit There Having A Bath! 24th January

Hazelford Lock

The decision to stay put today had been made last night. C&RT were working on Town Lock in Newark today with possible delays for two hours. That was if we could get there as yesterday we’d had reports that between the lock and the next bridge had been frozen.

Mick made a phone call to King’s Marina, were they iced up? What was their diesel price? There was ice still around the edges of the marina, but the central section had thawed. We’ll do a diesel price comparison with the other two marinas tomorrow.

On the outside

A sausage day for Tilly. Allowed out at breakfast time with two hours. The two hours was extended each time she returned. Something was certainly keeping her busy out there.

Simon from C&RT walked by during the morning, presumably continuing his checks at each lock. Then there was a chap walking his dog, most probably from the Dutch Barge Lily. Other than that island life was quiet, except the noise from the weir. No passing boats today.

Hand sewing still possible

Time for me to collect my thoughts a bits and pieces together for my next visit to Huddersfield this week. Name tags were sewn into the new overalls. A couple of spare chip trays were made in pink and purple. A new batch of felt badges were started, ready to be added to overalls. The large wheelie bag was dug out from under the bed and filled up with things to take. The back steps were taken out to access my paint brush bag and an edited few brushes and chalk line made it into things to take.

Badges in the making

Tilly returned to warm up three quarters of an hour before cat curfew. We tried to convince her that she should make the most of her shore leave as it will be the last for some time. But it fell on deaf pointy ears, Tilly preferring to have a bath in front of the stove instead.

Winter sunset

This evening we enjoyed the last, apart from a butties worth, of roast pork with red peppers and paprika. Yum.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 chaps, 1 woofer, 2 hours, 2 hours, 2 hours more! 3 overalls, 16 badges, 3 nice brushes, 1 small roller, 1 clean pot, 1 wheelie bag, 2 train journeys booked.

Solid. 16th & 17th December

‘Avecoat Marina

It’s been going to happen, inevitable really with -6 or -7C overnight. Oleanna this morning was frozen in solid. No sea legs required on board this morning. The sliding galley window above the cooker is also frozen shut and the condensation on our bedroom window in the morning is solid! Oh for double glazed windows and thermal break frames! But where does all the moisture in the air go to in such situations? It’s still there. Does it just find another cold surface to condensate on? Like in the back of cupboards, under the gunnels? I think I’d rather see it and mop it up than discover damp clothing.


The weather forecast for next week is looking like there should be a thaw, but how long will it take? The only boats trying to move at the moment are the coal boats, and a few odd bods. NB Bargus one of the coal boats on the four counties ring had been forging on until today when 3.5inch thick ice stopped Jason’s progress. NB Mountbatten on the Llangollen, managed 50 yards before the ice was too thick, so Richard ended up reversing back to his mooring, another attempt to move will be made tomorrow.

All the groups are full of discussions about breaking ice. Back in the day there were special icebreaking boats with extra pointy bows to help cut through the ice. Some boats had rigs that the crew could hang onto as they rocked the boat from side to side cracking the ice.

Footage of our next door neighbour breaking ice was come across thanks to a link from Brian on CWF. I wonder if they’d be willing to have a few turns around the marina on Monday to break everything up for us.

A tap on the roof mid afternoon turned out to be a chap from across the way. He had our new water pump! Mick very quickly fitted it and water pressure was restored. It’s noisier than the last good one, but we can cope with that.

Wonder if it’ll give us turbo power?

Mick tried leaving our ash pan next to the water tap, he also poured hot water over it. No joy, still frozen. He then walked up and down trying taps and found one still with a flow a bit further along. Time to fill the tank. The immersion heater was turned on and later on in the day I enjoyed my first shower since London. Oh it’s good to have clean hair again.

Ooo water again!

Later on in the day Oleanna broke free from the ice and was bobbing about again as we moved around inside. Fingers crossed it keeps thawing.

Frost caught by the sun

Saturday, both of us were wanting to head back into town to the Ventura Retail Park to do more shopping. However getting there was proving so complicated. Two buses each way, or a longish walk at both ends of one bus. Buses only every two hours made it hard either to have sufficient time to do shopping or to be back on board for a festive zoom. Looking at the maps we decided we’d do our best to pull in once past Fazeley Junction, then we could walk to the retail park. Here’s hoping we manage to get moving with enough time to conclude our Christmas shopping!

We’ll be following that blue boat

Mick popped over to the office to pay for the new water pump. Word is that at least two boats are hoping to be able to escape on Tuesday. NB Capricorn being one of them is moored further into the marina than us. Hopefully they will do the job of breaking what ice there is, if they manage to escape we will be close behind them.

Cuddling coal

Our coal, delivery arrived just before lunchtime. 10 bags of unknown smokeless coal. Here’s hoping it’s good as our roof and well deck are now filled with it.

Across the road from the marina we’d spotted some ruins when we arrived. I headed over with the garden sheers hoping of finding some ivy to make a wreath.

Alvecote Priory

Alvecote Priory was founded in 1159 by William Burdett who on returning from a crusade stabbed his wife as he’d believed she’d been unfaithful, the monastery was founded for his penance. The ruins that can be seen today are from a house which was built using the stone from the Benedictine Priory. A large arch stands at one end and hidden nearer the canal is quite a substantial Dovecote which would have been two storeys and been able to house 350 birds.

Big arch and me

The trees and bushes around the area provided me with three differing types of ivy and some old seed heads were also picked. The seed heads are quite fragile, but if they survive they will add a bit of interest to my wreath.

The iron came out and was used to add patches of felt to a 40 year old duvet that is currently adding insulation to us over night. Sadly the fabric is starting to give up and leave feathers everywhere. If I can keep it going for a while longer before I sew it into another cover, that will be good.

Fuzzy felt duvet

Mick headed to try to find a parcel and send another on it’s way. There is plenty of stuff that’s been thrown onto the ice of the canal, including a supermarket trolley under Bridge 70. If it’s still evident when we reach the bridge we’ll have a go at hoiking it out.

The surface of the canal is now showing signs of a thaw, puddles appearing on top of the ice. The tap by our mooring was back working, so a top up of the tank was soon followed by plenty of clothes going through the washing machine.

Grumpy chops

A catch up festive zoom with the Scarborough chums was had with festive hats, mince pies and lots of cheer. Good to see those who could make it and sending festive to cheer to those who were battling with snow to be with family or plumbers.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 new pump, 1 boat frozen solid, 2 pottering days, 2 awol parcels, 1 on it’s way, 10 bags coal, 1 boat starting to free up, 2 loads washing, 6 chums, 1 bag of ivyness.

Clouds and puddles

Clinging On In The Wind. 30th August

Oundle Marina to Pear Tree arm FOTRN mooring


Just before 9am a Sainsburys van arrived with a big order for us, a good stock up especially when we had a voucher for triple nectar points to use. Everything was brought in through the side hatch and then stowed away. Good job Mick had gone through the stash of cat food the other day and donated brands and flavours Tilly turns her nose up at to the RSPCA in March. The space is now filled with porridge oats, oat milk and wine.

Time to return the van. I caught a lift into Oundle to have a bit of a look around and see if the Co-op had a few things that Sainsburys didn’t. I don’t know what I’d been expecting but it wasn’t such a large fine town. Georgian buildings with bold chimney stacks limestone everywhere. Plenty of independent shops. A prescription was collected, cat food and ketchup purchased then I headed back to Oleanna.

Is the front cloth finished?

Ken and Sue had their hoses out so it made sense to fill our tank up too. Mick was given a lift to the bus station in Peterborough by Enterprise, they weren’t keen on bringing him all the way to Oundle. Then we made ready to push off.

Word on the towpath was that the levels above Islip Lock had dropped 18″ overnight. Someone had left the top paddles up on the broken lock. Engineers had been to site and removed the gear box and taken it away for investigation in the mean time a replacement was being sought. EA notices came out confirming what we’d heard, the next update may be midday tomorrow via one of the engineers.

Despite the unknown length of stoppage we decided to push onwards and cover a few locks and miles, but most importantly moor up somewhere Tilly could go out. We pushed back and pulled onto the service mooring just as it was starting to rain!

The diesel tank was filled, £1.45 a litre. We thanked Mark and Jacqui who had been very welcoming and helpful. This is their last week in charge as they are retiring after many many years running Oundle Marina. Then it was time to say goodbye to Ken and Sue, although if Islip Lock reopens soon we’ll be seeing them shortly, or if it is doomed to be a long closure we’ll be returning in a few days as I’ll be needing to get to London for meetings.

Goodbye Cleddau

Across the pool, right out of the narrow entrance. Soon at Upper Barnwell Lock. Todays locks would all have powered guillotine gates, each of them sat open waiting for an uphill boat to arrive. Lunch was eaten on the go to be able to maximise shore leave for Tilly. It was windy!

We passed one boat NB Orinoco whom we’d shared a lock with on our way downstream. There was space at Wadenhoe. We considered mooring there and going for a pub meal, but instead I prepared a joint of pork, after all we’d just spent quite a bit of money on food.

As we rounded the big curve of the river, in one direction we could see Wadenhoe Church high on the hill, the other direction a triangle of tall trees, Pear Tree Farm mooring. We were quite surprised to find no other boats moored up, it meant we could pick the sunniest spot for our solar panels we pulled into Harpers Brook.

Clinging on in the wind

It took quite a bit to moor up as the wind was pushing Oleanna away from the bank constantly. First we tied to trees, then hammered spikes in and pulled Oleanna as close to the bank as possible at one end and then the other. Then Tilly could be let out.


Straight up one of the many trees. This mooring had many things to climb, but very little friendly cover, so Tilly came and went numerous times topping up on Dreamies.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent working, roasting the pork joint and trying to arrange rendez vous whilst we still don’t know how long we’ll be held up by Islip Lock. At around 7pm we were joined by another narrowboat who also pulled up on the sunny side of the triangle.


3 locks, 4.59 miles, 89.3 litres, 1 full water tank, 1 farewell wave, 1 triangle, 1.5 miles of low water, 1 gear box, quite a few boaters with fingers crossed, 1 approval, 800 lights, 1 front cloth, 1 big joint of pork, 2 windy for a stamp of approval.

Too Wide. 26th August

Wansford Station EA mooring to Fotheringhay Castle

The alarm woke us and we were up breakfasted and on our way before 8am, we wanted to try to catch ourselves up and try to be moored up before too many people took to the waters on paddle boards or swimming.

A misty start

A very misty morning, the grass sock dampeningly wet with dew. We weren’t the only ones enjoying it, before the first lock we counted eight Kingfishers, each one far to quick for the camera!

We passed under the A1 bridges followed by Wansford Bridge surrounded by coaching houses.

Dewy spiders webs

Wansford Lock was set against us as all the locks would be today, everyone is heading upstream. Some fishermen helped close the top gates, very handy as the first gate had swung itself back open by the time I reached the other side of the lock where a walker offered to hold the gate for me too. We were soon up and on our way passing the posh houses and on to Yarwell Lock.

Here we didn’t remember the bell tents along the bank, an addition for the summer holidays? The top gate cill leaked badly but thankfully having a powered guillotine gate at the bottom this didn’t cause us any problems, Oleanna hung back in the lock to avoid any water getting into the bow. Once up we pulled in to top up with water, well fill the tank as we were really quite low. As soon as we’d got the hose sorted the cruiser that had been moored behind us last night arrived. Discussions were had with them, they weren’t keen to share a lock with anything weighing more than half a tonne, so they’d not wait for us.

Elton Mill in need of rescue

Above Elton Lock we came across Paul and Jacquie from NB Mosi-Y-Tunya and NB Rosnald, both moored up and enjoying the nearby village. They both would pass us later on, leap frogging their way ahead.

Waiting below Elton Lock

At Warmington Lock a group of youngsters considered going in for a swim, I think our presence along with two EA vans put them off. Mick tied Oleanna up and came to lend a hand as this is the first of the wheel operated locks heading upstream. Of course with Mick helping it did mean that it would be one of the easiest mechanisms to operate, the wheel almost turns itself once you’ve got it started, so I left him to empty the lock and wind the guillotine gate up. I then had to bring it back down.

From here we could see the tower of St Mary and All Saints Church at Fotheringhay, sitting on it’s hill in the distance. We followed the course of the river round to the castle mound where we pulled in infront of a boat that looked like it had been re-floated after being sunk for some time.

The time was noted, as after our last visit here everyone mentioned at how quickly the land owner arrives for his mooring fee. We had lunch then walked into the village to take a look at the church.

St Mary’s and All Saints Church

From the river we’d not really noticed how oddly sized the church was. Walking up the grand tree avenue to the north door we all of a sudden did a double take. The church just didn’t look long enough! This was backed up when we went inside. Where was the choir, the font was in the wrong place and there was no big east window.

There’s bits missing

Back in the 1430’s the church was built with a college and cloister on it’s southern side. A short while later a parish church of a similar style was built to the west end of the collegiate church, it is the parish church which remains. The college was seized by the crown in 1547 and the chancel was pulled down almost immediately.

A window of York

At the east end of the church a high up clear window sits above ridges in the wall where the original building used to continue. One coloured window shows off the coats of arms of the Yorkist dynasty.

The wonderful 15thC painted pulpit sits delicately where all can see it. Fan vaulting in it’s canopy matching that in the ceiling of the west end. A wonderful light filled church. Outside you can see where the building used to continue. The stone work less dressed than on the rest of the building, blocked in doorways and windows suggest of what once was.

On top of the castle again

We had a wander around the village before returning to the boat. Tilly and I had a good walk up the castle mound, she likes the view from up there. Then three and a half hours after we arrived the chap turned up with his Golden Syrup tin for the mooring fee. There was chance to ask about the moorings alongside the campsite. We’d been hoping to moor there and have the London Leckenbys come and camp, but sadly timings hadn’t worked out. The moorings alongside the campsite during the summer months have been suspended as so many campers now want to access the water and boats were just getting in the way. However if you turn up in winter it will be fine.

Breathing in didn’t help the boat or the bridge!

We also chatted about the boat behind us. It had been refloated three days earlier at Stibbington and had been brought up stream with the aim of reaching Oundle for it to be craned out. However it wouldn’t fit through the bridge as it was too wide! A little bit like a widebeam we’d heard coming through earlier in the afternoon!

Taking on water again

Sadly the boat was taking on water again and later on a chap turned up with a pump to raise it, he also left it with a bilge pump going over night. The new plan was to head back down stream possibly to near Stanground Lock where they would be able to get it craned out. The boat was built in the 1930’s and they are hoping to have it as a trip boat on the River Avon.

Blue and pink

4 locks, 9.18 miles, 1 proper days cruise, 10 kingfishers, 1 castle mooring, 1 short church, 1 props list updated, 1 meeting arranged, 1 cat of the castle, grade 1 hair cut, 1 lovely boat hopefully being saved.

The Day One Way Became Two Way! 14th August

Littleport Station Road EA mooring to River Wissey GOBA mooring

After a good nights sleep away from the noises of London and the retained heat big cities hold we were up and breakfasted early ready to get on the move. We pushed off, winded and headed northwards, sun cream was already a requirement before 9am.

Goodbye Littleport

The high banks block any view, roof tops occasionally peek above to say hello. The pink house with windows pointing both up and down stream, the sad house even sadder now we’re leaving the Great Ouse, just one more night before we’ll be gone.

The marching line of pylons, we’ll next see them on the Middle Level. Passing the Little Ouse, plenty of moorings available in full sunshine there today.


By the time we reached Ten Mile Bank we’d just about caught up with another narrowboat. No sign of Neil the seal, but a tell tale gap had been left between boats suggesting he may have been about when people moored up. We were wanting water, so was the narrowboat in front, they loitered waiting for a boat to pull out as we discussed our options and then carried on down stream, water could wait for tomorrow.

Space for seals only

Turning down the River Wissey we had our fingers crossed not only for a mooring but also one in shade. The first stretch of moorings was empty, here the bank is gradually falling towards the river, big cracks were noticeable when we arrived on our first day on the Great Ouse. However there was a willow tree overhanging the river, it would give us some shade, but should we take the risk? Willows in dry weather are known to loose limbs, cracking and splitting away from the main trunk. We decided to risk it and tied up with the bow in sunshine, the stern in shade.

An early lunch, then an afternoon at work for me, taking photos of the set pieces so that the builders can see them in more detail. A new version of the storyboard was put together and file after file were added to the panto dropbox.

Tilly headed out for the first time in what feels like weeks, too hot really so she kept returning to lie on the floor for a while. Adding more ventilation to the boat in recent days the port side bathroom porthole glass has been removed. Tilly found this most interesting, a new way inside!


Mick took up position under the willow tree, we all settled down for the afternoon. However around 4pm he decided that he would pull us along a touch, further into the sun! This was actually quite sensible as above his head he’d started to hear an amount of creaking from the tree!

Tilly and I had a stretch of our legs as the temperature started to subside, then it was time for the doors to close as it was Dingding time. Inside the boat was now the same temperature as outside, a cooling breeze through the boat would have been nice, but we coped with the side hatch, bathroom porthole, front door open with the bathroom door closed so that our second mate couldn’t head off to do some evening friend hunting.

No throne so amended photos needed

Mick had a shower and as soon as he opened the bathroom door, Tilly saw an opportunity the other side of the bathroom was open, she was straight out through the front door. B**gger! Our first mistake! Thankfully she was a touch too glib about it and was quite easy to pick up. She was passed back into the boat through the bathroom porthole, which turned out to be our second mistake.

Oleanna has a one way doorway for felines, the side hatch. This is quite clever as access is only in one direction and that is inwards. On a couple of occasions Tilly has tried to exit via this doorway only to do a cartoon splat on the internal glazed doors. Today we had added a second such doorway, the bathroom porthole.

A clunk came from the toilet seat, this happens when you sit on our compost toilet, opening up the containers for what ever you may produce. Neither myself or Mick were sat on it. As I peeked round the door I saw the back of Tilly disappearing through the porthole!

A new opening!

She was hot, tired and too glib again at her achievement so was fairly easy to catch. What a shame she’d discovered the porthole worked in both directions, the glass was put back in and we all settled down to watch TV.

Then our third mistake. If it wasn’t for us not wanting Tilly to be out all night (shh! she doesn’t know other cats do such things), during these hot days we would possibly sleep with more windows removed and have the front doors open to let cooling night time air in. We made such a remark out loud.

Well you said if I wasn’t about you’d have all the doors open, so I thought I’d give the side hatch another go to see if it was two way like the bathroom window. Blimey it was!!! Brilliant, I could find more friends and She and Tom could get cooler, they’re not allowed out after dark, well not very often!


This time she was out and there was no catching her. Time to open all the doors and let in the tropical sunset for an hour whilst we finished watching Van der Valk. Thankfully after an hour I called for her and she returned quickly. Here’s hoping that we can persuade her that the hatch had a little blip and has now returned to being one way only, inwards!

0 locks, 9.01 miles, 1 wind, 1 right, 1 shady tree, 1 storyboard, 1 rock, 1 hot cat, 3 mistakes, 3 back on board to sleep.