Category Archives: Telecommunications

Let Him Eat Pie. 13th June

Fox and Hounds to Double Bridge Moorings

Roofers at work

A pottering morning. The flat roof at the pub was being re-felted, this was keeping the pub cat busy being clerk of works from the top of it’s rather large cat tree. A very good vantage point on a normal day.


At 12:30 we were dressed up and ready for visitors. We kept a keen eye out for a grey car, only to see our visitors arriving on foot. Marion, Mick’s sister and husband John had got the train up from Eastbourne then a bus out to find us, perfectly timed.

Ann-Marie and Dave had sung the praises of the Fox and Hounds steak and ale pie last week, the menu had looked good with plenty of options for all. It was certainly popular, thank goodness we’d booked as every table was full!

Mick was the only meat and gluten eater, so it was down to him to see if the recommendation was true. A new beer was sampled by Mick and John, it got the thumbs up. I tried a gluten free larger which was nothing special apart from it’s strength, I certainly wouldn’t be having a second one.

Christmas time!

Plenty of time for conversation whilst we waited for our food to arrive. A trip to Shetland, the most northerly bus stop and the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world had all been enjoyed. There was also the delivery of our Christmas present, far too heavy to post, so it had to be hand delivered. A Baked Potato Cooker that sits onto of your stove and given time will bake your spuds.

Marion had the most generous jacket potato with cheese and beans I’ve ever seen. John’s Haddock and chips looked very cripsy. I had a gluten free burger with bacon and a choice of cheese, I chose brie, possibly the best burger I’ve had in a long time, definitely homemade.

What a pretty looking pie

Mick of course had the steak and ale pie. What a pretty looking pie, pastry top and bottom with a crimped top edge. A gravy boat is always a good thing, I personally don’t like my food swimming in gravy but others do, it’s nice to have the choice. Served with green beans, broccoli and chips. The greens were a touch over done and we both agreed later that the chips although nice could have been triple cooked then it all would have achieved a full five stars from us.

Pip, John, Mick, Marion

A lovely lunch was followed by a cuppa back on board Oleanna before the south coasters had to head to catch the bus, hoping to avoid busy trains leaving London. Thank you for visiting and for the present.

Time to do a bit of cruising and find a suitable mooring for Tilly. Covers were rolled back, Nebo clicked on, today put on top of the cratch board. Yesterday I’d joined a Nebo group on Facebook. Two people had already mentioned they were having the same problem as us. We’d also received an email from customer support which said.

There was an error in the feedback we gave you previously, the errors are due to your SIM card trying to join the wrong network, so it is an issue with cell tower signals. We are not sure why your SIM can not get a lock on a suitable network provider, it is a roaming SIM that has full coverage in the UK and about 40 other countries.

They still thought positioning it with a clear view of the sky should improve matters, hence being on the top of the covers. We of course can’t do anything about the amount of trees, or being in the bottom of locks, the nebolink having first been developed for use on a cruiser in Australia out at sea.

Towpath strimming

We pushed off about 3pm. More and more trees. Surly we must run out of them soon! A touch grey today and jumpers and waterproofs required. We passed a chap trimming back the towpath, just a strimmer along the edges of the path not a full cut back.

A swing bridge to operate. I got myself ready to hop off just as we passed a Kingfisher in a bush, just at arms length away, you could almost have given it a stroke! I wonder if it’s a very good fake so the Lock Keepers can say ‘Did you see it, its always there!’

Zebon Copse Swing Bridge took quite a bit to unlock. The padlock awkwardly positioned but in the end it sprung open. A stone mile marker faced the offside.

Round down to the furthest southerly loop of the canal. Here what looked like tank traps lined up into the trees and partly across the canal. A pill box a good vantage point in both directions. We wondered how the occupants would have stayed warm, possibly a paraffin stove.

Our most southerly point this year

Just after a narrowing where Coxmoor Bridge once was we reached the most southerly point of the canal, also the most southerly we’d be cruising to this year, not enough time to head to Godalming.

Nice house, sadly not for sale

NB Olive had been on the previous mooring, one handy for their van. We hoped the next mooring would be free and just far enough away from the road for safe Tilly exploration. Plenty of room when we arrived and some very good woodland (surprisingly!) for Tilly to play in for a couple of hours before cat curfew.

Quite a nice mooring so long as we’re not under trees when it rains

The stove was lit, by now it was raining and Mick popped our Christmas present on top of the stove so that the paint could cure. We watched Heidi’s (The Pirate Boat) go at cooking an omelette in hers from 2 years ago. She got bored and bunged it inside the fire box for 8 minutes. The omelette charred around the edges, but what was edible was very tasty. We’ll have to wait for when the stove is lit all day before we try it out properly. As the weather is going at the moment that might be next week, we’d best get some potatoes in.

Right, Where to start?

The nebolink worked today, one patch missing and a straight line rather than following round the bends of the canal. Tomorrow I think we’ll try it back where it was under the cratch board.

0 locks, 2.7 miles, 1 swing bridge, 2 pints, 1 bottle, 1 orange, 1 fish and chips, 1 jacket spud, 35678 baked beans, 1 burger, 1 very good pie, 1 lovely lunch, 1 slightly damp cruise, 2 hours shore leave, not quite enough to judge it for a stamp.

Firstly I’m NOT Your Babe! 9th September

Kiln Pontoon

Last night a couple of odd things happened.

The pontoon was quite busy with comings and goings. A bike or maybe a shopping trolley came past a couple of times, the noise of wheels on the ramp very recognisable. Then soon afterwards there was a very strong stink of sewage. Blimey it stank! Where was it coming from? Mick stuck his head out of the hatch and could see a cassette being passed onto a boat. Could this have been the source of the stink? No proof, possibly just a coincidence. Thankfully the aroma passed after half an hour or so.

Then whilst reading in bed I kept hearing what sounded like small quiet wheels on the ramp, maybe someone was being considerate as they passed us. I twitched the curtains. There was a chap stood quite close to Oleanna. I opened the curtains some more, he looked up and down the pontoon and said, ‘Oh sorry I’ve got the wrong boat’. I closed the curtains.

A while later around midnight, I heard the noise again. I really wanted to be able to see without opening the curtains. Tilly assisted, a cat can get away with being very nosy. Once she’d got bored of being a voyeur she, as always, left the curtains ajar. The chap was stood just three feet away from our window. If he was peeking in I could certainly peek out! I opened the curtains wide.

‘Ah Babe … does it cost to be here?’

‘Firstly I’m NOT your Babe! What are you doing?’ He said something about looking for somewhere in the morning, well only quarter of an hour ago he’d got the wrong boat! ‘Well it’s full as you can see and I’d like you to move away from our boat!’. He turned, I said ‘Goodnight!’, he replied ‘Goodnight’ as he started to walk up the ramp. By the time Mick had opened up the hatch there was no sign of the chap anywhere, hopefully he’d gone.

Tilly and I stayed awake for sometime, trying to make a mental note of what the chap looked like, listening out for anymore noises on the ramp. Thankfully we eventually both went to sleep.

A very settled boat

The small cruiser in front of us had been showing interest in heading to Lincoln, they hadn’t realised that you need to book Cromwell and Torksey Locks in advance. Current manning of such locks is based on bookings and if there is no-one in the book for a certain day there may be no-one on duty to penn you through. We also suggested that they should have an up to date chart, parts of the river are very shallow and just sticking to the middle doesn’t always work. They had a very old Nicholsons. This morning they’d rung Cromwell and been told they could go anytime, the tide was so weak at the moment it wouldn’t make a difference. Off they set. Mick pulled us forward so that we no longer overhung the pontoon.

A tasty collation

A newspaper and a touch of shopping was required, also some shore leave for me to access how my toe was holding up. It was already rather hot outside, inside Waitrose was wonderfully cool. We picked up a paper and scanned round the sad git items for a cold collection this evening. It ended up being quite a financial outlay, but we’ll have yummy things for the next few evenings and not have to turn the cooker on.

After lunch Mick set off to Newark Castle Station to catch a train back towards Nottingham. Time to look round the signal box at Lowdham Station. The chap from Lowdham Railway Heritage started with a bit of a history of signalling on the railway. In early early days the signaller would time how long it was since the previous train had passed. The next train could be let past at slow speed after 5 minutes had elapsed or at full speed after 10. This was fine as long as the train in front never broke down but if it stopped for any reason a following train would plough into it. Not good. So signals were invented making use of electrical connections down telegraph wires alongside the track to the next and previous signal boxes. This enabled the signalers to communicate via a series of bell codes to see if the line was clear or not and set their signals and points accordingly.

There followed a demonstration with one chap working the signal box another two pretending to be at other boxes along the line. A delayed coal train had to be shunted out of the way to let an express passenger train through. There was also a goods train to be shunted into sidings, a train stopping at Lowdham station to be dealt with and level crossing gates to be opened and closed as necessary. All very busy. The signaler got a little bit lost at one point but the other two knew what should be happening so kept him on track.

An enjoyable but hot afternoon.

Back on Oleanna the day got hotter. The fan from last year had been plugged in meaning Tilly had to take diversions along the back of the sofa to get past it, fans are scary things! Curtains were kept drawn on the sunny side of the boat and when the sun had moved over to catch the port side I damped one of Tilly’s towels and hung it over the mesh in the side hatch hoping to cool any breeze that came in.


This afternoons viewing was a Denzil Washington film, Flight (2012), where Denzil is a pilot who turns up for work still drunk from the night before and high on coke. He somehow manages to crash land the plane after mechanical failure saving nearly everyone on board. The investigation that follows shows him in a different light to the hero he is hailed as.

Tilly the hot princess

This evening at around 9pm the aroma from last night returned, not quite as pungent but it lingered for much longer. No signs of anyone doing anything with cassettes today.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 walk to Waitrose, 2nd pair socks finished, 52 sts not 48, 1 wonky heel to be pulled out, 1 very hot day inside, 1 prowler, 1 stinky stink.

Carrying On. 4th September

Sainsburys, Nothingham

The decision was made early on to stay put for the day, a day with my foot up would be wise. Yes I can take Oleanna through the locks whilst Mick works them, but when we reach the river I’m not confident that I’ll be able to get a rope around a cleat on a pontoon whilst I hobble around. Most of the locks, we are hoping, will have keepers on duty on the Trent. But at Meadow Lane it’s very unlikely, we’ve certainly never seen one there.

So it was a day of listening to a phone ringing across the way, boats passing, a touch of work and hearing from our lodgers that the new sim card we sent them had deteriorated over the weekend to worse than the previous one! Fiber is on the cards but won’t be installed for at least another month!

Medicinal breakfast

Mick cooked us a breakfast, I’m sure there must have been some vitamin C in there somewhere! Then we enjoyed sitting in the shade until the sun came overhead late afternoon.

Mick went to check the mooring sign which says 48 hours 130m to each side. We were definitely within that. A chap sat on the grass nearby struck up a conversation with Mick, he’d been to rescue a boat that had been stolen and had all it’s windows smashed. The chap said he’d lived in Nottingham for five years and never noticed the 48 hour mooring sign. I suspect he’d never looked for it! We should have moved up, but overstaying for a day because of a broken toe, we’d chance it.

Seven requests have come in for a pair of socks. The needles came out, yarns auditioned, 24 stitches cast on, increased to 52. The tv went on, what film could I watch? When I broke my ankle I worked my way through a box set of Alfred Hitchcock films, today I’d make do with Film 4. Sid James and Hatty Jacques, can you guess the film? Very much of it’s time, 1963.

Then followed a WW2 film with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard, Von Ryan’s Express. Mick joined me to watch this one. Prisoners of war, a train chase, explosions, planes, vicars impersonating German officers, also very much of it’s time 1965.

At least it’s not sticking outwards

Time for a shower. We’d been told to replace the strapping on my toes after a shower. Mick carefully cut away the existing tape, ow! Only a slight amount of bruising, why do I never get dramatic bruises? I got to see the position of my toe for the first time since it had been adjusted. Not quite how it used to be, but it certainly was better.

By the end of the day I’d knitted a hole sock, my bum was aching, a pillow required for long sits on our sofa, Mick had learnt how to make pork stroganoff (a version of). I’d kept an eye on my toes whilst hobbling about, apart from one time! And Tilly spent the day either being a long cat or shouting at the back doors!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cooked breakfast, 1 recorded parcel not recognised! size 6 vibrant, 1 Sid, 1 Hatty, 1 Frank, 1 Trevor, 1 train chase to Switzerland, 1 sock, 1 painful toe tap.

Is There Anyone Behind You? 28th August

Barrow Upon Soar to Zouch Lock 55


Finding a gap in the traffic would be our problem this morning. Cars, canoes and paddleboards were everywhere. We managed to push off just as the cars were returning at the end of their time, this also coincided with all the paddleboards deciding to stop for some refreshments and tying up at the service point! Thankfully someone came along and pulled the boards to one side giving us enough room to tie up both bow and stern.

Traffic chaos

Water, yellow water, rubbish etc, all the chores done, we could be on our way again.


Barrow Deep Lock is as it’s name suggests deep. It took quite some time for a boat to come up, not helped by there being a ground paddle out of action. Then it was our turn to go down. Some gongoozlers asked questions. Now either I was thick or they were. They really couldn’t understand about the water having to be level before the gates would open, they repeatedly kept asking ‘Why isn’t it level?’ as if it should be an instant thing.

Pillings Flood Lock

Below we now followed the course of the river to Pilling Flood Lock which sat with both sets of gates open waiting for us. Our schedule had us mooring on this side of Loughborough today, but we wanted to visit the shops in town, so we passed by a stretch of nice looking armco and carried on along the cut.

A couple of boats came towards us. The cut here fairly wide and no sharp or sudden bends. Both boats asked if there was anyone behind us. We’d have understood them asking on the Llangollen or the Oxford summit, but here?! Not to our knowledge, and they were possibly in a much better position to see than us!

At Loughborough Junction we turned left, making sure to say hello to a group of lads at the bridge who’d been throwing stones into the cut. Only one boat was moored in the basin, we winded and then reversed onto a pontoon. Despite Tilly being excited at arriving somewhere she was left in charge as we headed into town.

No market today

A new sim card for the router at the house was needed, our original provider having fobbed Mick off with a solution to solve the poor connection which he knew wouldn’t do anything. A chat with the chap in EE and an explanation of why we only wanted a sim for a few months and we left with an envelope addressed to our current lodgers a new data sim enclosed. Back to Oleanna via Sainsburys for a few bits, then via Tescos for a post box. Sim on its way and so were we. Loughborough may have an interesting side to it but we hadn’t found it.


But where to moor for the day? We could head back to the junction then reverse the way we’d come for a mooring. Or we could continue straight on, which is what we did.

Certainly a meadow on the gates

Down Loughborough Lock and on to Bishop Meadow Lock where I helped a lady bring her cruiser up from the river section. They were looking for a mooring outside a pub for a Bank Holiday Monday meal, they’d not been having much luck.

Now on the river again, pennywort and some gentle bends. No-one here asked if anyone was behind us and they didn’t offer us that information either.

Passing Normanton on Soar you get the wonderful view of the church, a few big houses with their lovely gardens. Then you get the little summer houses, I prefer these. My favourite a green one, people inside waved to us.

My favourite

A rowing boat, paddleboarders what a shame it wasn’t sunnier.

If only the sun had shown itself

Passing the emergency flood moorings we wondered how you were meant to read the instructions in an emergency situation. We’d not noticed rings and bollards to tie to .

Photo taken for future emergency reference

On through the flood gates and onto Zouch cut. Blimey it was popular. We managed to find a space with a ring for the bow but ended up using a spike for the stern. Despite it being quite late and normally Tilly’s dingding time I allowed her half an hour of shore leave. She took longer, only returning when she did as Magpies were complaining about her on the towpath. She said something about a stamp of approval, but at the time she had a mouth a full!

4 locks, 7.5 miles, 1 left, 1 wind, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow water tank, 4 car traffic jam, 2 cooked breakfasts, 0 behind us, 2 North Lock boats passed, 1 new sim, 1 busy river, 30 minutes extended to 65, 1 woofing woofer neighbour!

Double Arches. 10th June

Tyrley Visitor Moorings to Cowley Double Road Bridge 31

One boat passed

Last to leave this morning, we followed on behind a while later. A short distance ahead Woodseaves Cutting, narrow and prone to land slips. You need to keep your speed down and enjoy being below masses of trees all clinging on for dear life. Last time we came along here it was March, it’s a very very different place in June. The large boulders that had sat on the towpath three years ago have been moved, somehow!

High bridges and sooo much green

It’s magical down in the depths of what feels like a rainforest, all the time you just hope no one will be coming in the opposite direction. The two boats we did meet we met at places where thankfully there was space to pass.

The Shropie was built with its locks in flights, then the canal maintains it’s height through cuttings and embankments. Mick enjoyed the views on the embankments and then the cool shade from the cuttings whilst I did my best not to get too distracted below and carry on with model making.

Subtle differences

It took quite a while to get a new version of the Town Square clock made, then I could move onto Cinderella’s house. Several scenes meld into one, so a hallway has to transform into a boudoir into a very lonely place. Sadly the archways I’d already cut out just didn’t do the job so a new set were drawn out on paper before being offered up in my model box.

I bobbed back up top as we came past Shebdon where NB Percy sits on her new mooring, one day we’ll get to meet Nev. A nice mooring with views.

Chatting away

A chap stood in a bridge hole chatting away to people on the offside. As Oleanna came through the bridge a lady shouted out ‘How did your panto go?’ It was Ann from NB Caspar whom we’d met last summer in St Ives (not the one in Cornwall) on the Great Ouse. We managed a short chat as we passed by then pulled in close to Anchor Bridge for some lunch.

Grub Street soon followed, another excuse to be up top. Was the lovely car still there? Yes. Could I take a slightly different photo of High Bridge with it’s telegraph pole? Not really. In amongst the friendly cover there was a shelter made from branches, the tarpaulin slipped under the weight of falling debris making it not that water proof.

Norbury Junction looking soo summery

At Norbury Junction we pulled in so that Mick could visit the chandlery whilst we topped up on water. At last we had a float switch! That will keep Mick busy on a day when we’re not moving.

Just a small section of the mooring

More work, more excuses to look out of the hatch at Gnosall. We passed an oncoming boat in the narrow section whilst passing the mooring with Soo much stuff that entertains the eye as you pass.

Improved Town Square

We were now on the look out for a suitable mooring possibly for a barbeque this evening. We soon found one between bridges 31 and 30. Here we could get in to the side, a wide towpath, the long grass having been flattened by previous boaters. Perfect.

Well until you looked up at the sky! The wind was picking up and dark dark clouds were coming overhead. Maybe they’d just pass us by, I made some burgers and rested them in the fridge just as the heavens opened, we’d be cooking them inside tonight. The rain didn’t bother Tilly too much, but she soon returned home after some loud claps of thunder.

0 locks, 13.1 miles, 1 straight on, 2 many distractions, 1 clock, 2 arches, 1 hot humid day, 1 Great Ouse boat, 1 blogging boat, 1 busy pub, 2 wet for a barbeque, 1 soggy moggy.

The Big Shop. 13th December

‘Avecoat Marina

A phone call just before 9:30am, Sainsburys. Mick quickly put on his shoes and coat and headed to the car park, they were early. He and the delivery chap arrived with five crates of goodies for us. These were all put in bags and carried onto Oleanna. The fridge and veg bag both put out the back under the pram cover, well it’s as cold out there as in the fridge! The stowing of everything could wait for later as it would take time and we were wanting to head into town.

Wine delivery

Mick headed across to the marina office on the other side of the canal. We’d originally booked in until today. We didn’t think they’d have a problem with us staying a few more days! Mick was told to settle up when we eventually leave. Bags of coal were ordered for delivery to Oleanna on Friday and a 24volt water pump would be ordered for us.

Front doors wrapped up for Christmas

It’s a fifteen/twenty minute walk to the bus stop from the marina and with a bus only every two hours we really didn’t want to miss it. Over £11 return for the two of us, not quite as expensive as a taxi both ways, but far chillier!

We’ve not really explored Tamworth before, it’s set just that little bit too far away from the canal. There are many big smart buildings about the place. Today we’d come to do some Christmas shopping and hoping to find a small tree as it was market day.

Green grocer with wreaths

Town seemed to be buzzing, maybe due to the market. No suitable tree to be found, only those six inches high sprayed with white stuff, not recommended if you have a cat. Mission Christmas tree failed. Mick and I went our separate ways to do secret things.

The usual cheap shops, Wilko, Home Bargains and numerous charity shops, but nothing to inspire Christmas shopping proper. I picked up things to plug present gaps but sadly didn’t find any nice independent shops.

A great tool and hardware shop

It turns out that the Peel family had a lot to do with Tamworth. Robert ‘Parsley’ Peel moved here from Lancashire where his textile mills had been damaged in riots, he set up mills in Burton on Trent around 1790. His son, Sir Robert Peel, established cotton mills in Tamworth, one inside the castle. Textiles became Tamworth’s main industry, Peel established several banks and moved into Drayton Manor, he became the areas member of Parliament from 1790 to 1820.

His son also Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet is the one we’ve all heard of. He served as the towns member of Parliament from 1830 to 1850 becoming Prime Minister in 1834-35 and 1841-1846. In 1834 he unveiled his Tamworth Manifesto which created the modern Conservative Party. Whilst serving as Home Secretary he helped create the modern concept of the Police Force. A statue stands in front of Tamworth Town Hall.

Sir Robert Peel and a pig

In amongst the flower bed stands a pig wearing a policeman’s helmet. Tamworth pigs are also famous. The breed of ginger pigs also known as Sandy Backs or Tams, are a vulnerable breed in the UK with only 300 registered breeding females. But this is not why they are famous. Back in 1998 two pigs being taken for slaughter in Malmsbury escaped, squeezing through a fence and swimming across the River Avon. They became known as Butch and Sundance as the media followed them during their week of freedom before recapture. The Daily Mail paid for them and their upkeep until they reached old age, 13 and 14. This explains why there is a pub called the Crafty Two whos logo is of two pigs.

Just what was needed

After a couple of hours I was in need of a sit down and something to eat, so Mick and I reconvened at Cosy, a cafe that seemed to be popular. Thankfully they had an upstairs and jacket potatoes on the menu. Collections of 70’s Spanish paintings, telephones and typewriters adorned the walls as we tucked into our lunch.

We’d maybe have explored a little bit more but the next bus back was due to leave shortly. Back on the same chilly bus we hopped off early in Amington. Here a shop was looking after two deliveries of yoga mats for me. The man really didn’t understand that the parcels would be quite big on matter how many times I told him. But he got there in the end!

An Ikea bag of yoga mats

Outside we summoned a cab via an app and were soon on our way back to the marina.

The Sainsburys shopping still needed stowing which meant finally getting to put away my paint brush bag under the back steps, well the wine cellar was about to be filled right up! Stocks of mince and sausages were repacked to take up less room in the freezer. A large chicken was jointed and bagged up for four meals, the carcus left in the fridge to make a stewy something in the next few days. The larder drawers were reorganised and an amazing amount added to them. Considering we’d had five crates arrive in the morning you could hardly tell where it had all gone to. This should last us a fair few weeks and we’ll only need milk and fresh veg to keep us going till the new year.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 marina well and truly frozen, 5 crates, 6 boxes wine, 6 bottles wine, 25% off couldn’t be missed! 2 chickens, 3 lots of sausages, 500g mince, 2 bags potatoes, 6 wraps not 4, 2 buses, 2 pigs, 0 Christmas trees, 2 jackets, 2 mugs tea, 5 bright green yoga mats, 100g neon green wool.

Without Touching The Sides. 1st December

Ansty Waste Bridge 12 to Springwood Haven, Coventry Canal

Was Tilly disgruntled not to be having shore leave this morning or was it the smell of Deep Heat that had her sit bolt upright and give me a Paddington stare. I promised that the outside we’d tie up today would be far better, she settled down and patiently waited.

You know you want to let me out!

Extra layers required today, thermals under the padded trousers and I seem to have found the shortest thermal vest I posses, annoying as it ruckles up under jumpers. But the layers helped to keep the chill out for much of the morning.

How many vans?

We pootled our way along to Hawkesbury Junction and Sutton Stop Lock, passing the campervan graveyard. The water point before the lock was free so we pulled in to top up the tank. At this time of year we like to keep the tank as full as possible and having just done a load of washing it needed a top up. Mick walked the rubbish over the bridge to the bins and we were soon ready to move on.

Sutton Stop

I don’t often take the helm, my choice, I prefer working the locks. The most often asked question from Gongoozlers is about why the men are usually at the helm whilst the women work the hard heavy locks. Well everyone has their reasons, mine is that I love working locks, I get exercise, I get to chat, I get to take photos, I get a walk, I find driving a touch boring to be honest. But right now most of the reasons I enjoy working locks are not good for my calf muscle, so no choice.

Mind the cill!

When I lost my little finger I helmed Lillian through many locks. When Oleanna was brand new I took her through her first locks down from Sheffield as I was recovering from a broken ankle, that was far more daunting than taking her through Sutton Stop Lock today, all of 10 inches deep. Mick went ahead to open the lock, I nudged the bow out and headed for the narrow entrance.

Mick waiting for the lock to equalise

With no-one sat outside the Greyhound I decided to have a go at turning Oleanna onto the Coventry Canal 180 degree turn under the bridge to head northwards. Mick sat down to give me a better view. Gently I turned her under the bridge, I knew I wouldn’t manage the turn in one go, not many do. More like a three point turn and the bow came round, neither end of Oleanna having touched the sides.

Not bad for the stand in photographer

This did mean passing the job of photographer to Mick, requesting a photo looking under the bridge towards the Greyhound, a photo I don’t think I’ve taken for a very long time as I’m usually on the bank, keeping an eye out for on coming boats, setting or closing the lock.

At least they still get a view of the canal from the top floor

Now in Frank country, our friend grew up in these parts. The big house, once a pub by Bulkington Bridge now has a high wooden fence cutting off the view of the canal. Past Avril’s old school, one of the first Comprehensive schools in the 1950’s.

Charity Wharf

Charity Wharf. Every time we come past I wait to see what the display might be this time. In our early days of boating there was always something new to see, a new group of mannequins dressed up suitably for the season, Halloween especially good. However the last few times we’ve been past there seem to be fewer figures on display. Stig has been stood in the same position for years. There is still plenty to see, but not the display it used to be, maybe the person who used to do it all has moved elsewhere.

The Morris Minor still sits on top of the mound of stuff by the dry dock, entrance blocked off by boats as usual. A little further on we noticed the ribs of a wooden boat sticking up from the water like fish bones left by a cartoon cat.

We’d considered heading up the Ashby for a few days, a visitor mooring being £18 a night without electric put us off somewhat, so we continued on past.

Diesel was next on our minds, keeping the tank as full as possible in cold weather a good thing. We pulled over at Star Line Boats. No-one came out to help us, Mick had chance to see their prices £1.60 domestic, maybe not thank you. We’d not even tied up before he pushed the bow back out.

Maybe the person from Charity Wharf has moved here?

Yesterday we’d had compliments at our passing speed, today a grumpy man shouted from within his cruiser for us to slow down. We had. A quick look at his ropes suggested that maybe it wasn’t our fault he was moving about so much, no wonder he was grumpy, he’d be shouting at every boat that went past!

Eagle or Sheep eyed?

A boat came towards us, quite a breaking wash behind them. Their engine making such a noise as we passed, then the throttle was cranked up, more noise, more wash, I found myself shouting, I couldn’t help it. Maybe there was an emergency somewhere! They’d certainly give the grumpy man something to shout about!

A mural with a bendy tree. The first flag we’ve seen held by a giant teddy. Then the obligatory telephone pole.


Soon Springwood Haven came into view, the basin a third full of hire boats, it’s now an ABC marina. We pulled in opposite, 14:30 not much day light left for our four legged crew. The doors were opened an hour and a half shore leave granted and off she went. She was right this was a far better outside! One of my favourites


Hire boats

A big batch of chilli was got going on the hob then moved to the stove to carry on cooking during the afternoon. Then a batch of sweet gluten free pastry was made up and left to rest in the fridge, I’m going to have a go at making some mince pies tomorrow.

Thank you for the good outside today

Tilly arrived home with fifteen minutes left of shore leave. ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies were dispensed. As here is one of her favourites and I felt generous I allowed her out again. At 4pm, cat curfew, I called for Tilly and was ignored. At 4:30pm I called again and waggled the big torch about and was ignored. At 4:45pm I thought I heard her running along the towpath, but it turned out to be some percussion on the programme Mick was watching about Fleetwood Mac!

A coat of paint on the door

At 5:10pm when I’d run out of things to keep me busy, I popped on my coat and shoes, time to be the mad cat woman. Big torch in hand I called for Tilly once again. Before I even stepped off the boat I could hear her bell. Was she on the towpath or over the bank. After a few minutes Tilly arrived along the towpath, trotting along in the dark, very ready for her evening dingding followed by a snooze in front of the stove. Only 70 minutes late. If you knew what I’d been up to out there you’d have come and joined me!

1 lock, WE 9.99miles, Pip’s Nebo 9.4 miles (missing off the start of our voyage!), Mick’s Nebo 10.1 miles, 180 degrees without touching, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 batch pastry (not for steak pie making!), 1 vat of chilli, 1st coat of dark on door, 1 very happy stop out cat.

Where The Streets Are Paved In Gold. 11th August

Littleport Station Road EA mooring to Swan On The River mooring

All packed up

Early morning start for me today, catching the 8:12am train to Kings Cross with my white card model and overnight bag. Due to the heat that was already building my train had speed restrictions on much of the line in towards Ely where there was a backlog of trains, but thankfully we got moving soon enough and I actually arrived in Golders Green for my meeting bang on time.

Abi , Gemma, Suzette, Maryna

Today had originally been a meeting for myself Abi, the Director and Gemma, the Production Manager to look at the white card model and for me to hand over drawings to be priced up. However we were also joined by Suzette, Producer from Chippy, Lily, the Choreographer and Maryna Costume Designer. We had four hours to work our way through the show with the aim of a common direction for the production.

Maryna comes from an Opera and Ballet background, she also has not grown up with all that is panto. So quite a lot of time was taken up looking at her wonderful drawings and then explaining about the audiences expectations for the characters. Thankfully there was just about enough time to also go through my model scene by scene, but sadly a few tricky props got forgotten about which really should have been discussed. There can always be phone calls to sort those out though.

Tube mosaic

Meanwhile back on Oleanna, Mick and Tilly pushed off and headed back upstream to the Swan on the River. Here he managed to get a mooring outside the pub and in the afternoon he met up with Mick and Andy who at one time used to work for Philips and then all three of them worked in the Telecoms Department at Lloyds Bank, most probably in one of those buildings Mick pointed out to us along the Thames on Monday. They had a couple of hours sat in the pub garden reminiscing about old times.

Hot cat Finn

After my meeting I then relived the experience of transporting a model on London transport! It’s amazing how protective you become over a model you’ve spent hours working on. I headed out to Hackney to my brothers.

All that meat for just two people!

It was very nice having a catch up on their latest holiday and seeing how much Josh has grown both height and maturity wise. In the evening we all went out for a Turkish meal at Scoffs, it’s worth a visit if you end up mooring on the River Lee near Hackney Marshes. We shared a platter intended for two between the four of us with a portion of Haloumi and chips extra, there was plenty of food at a reasonable price.

Colour coded softness

0 locks, 0.621371 miles, 1 wind, 1 train, 3 tubes, 1 bus, 1 model approved, 2 hours drinking with old mates, 1 vast platter of kebabs, 1 pleasant evening with family, 33C, 3 pillows to choose from, 0 shore leave!

Sky, Family, Design, Dishoom, 40th. 8th August


The alarm was set and we were breakfasted, none boating clothes on and walking to the station by 8:20am. Mick had forgotten to bring with him a mask so did a quick dash into Tescos. Then we were on our way to London for the day.

The birthday girl

A tube ride and a short walk brought us to the Walkie Talkie building where we joined the queue to head up to the Sky Garden. After security checks we zipped up to the 35th floor to join Marion, John and most importantly Fran, Mick’s niece who turns 40 tomorrow.

The first section of the viewing gallery really needs a good window wash as dribbles disturb the view across the river. What a view it was! My photos don’t do it justice.

360 degrees of London, all of it.

We paused for a sit down and a young lad was asking his mum what a flower in the garden was, a large yellow lavish affair with bright red stamen. She didn’t know and was suggesting they took a photo and found out later. My app came in handy and we discovered it was a Ginger Lily, the little lad was very pleased.

Fran, Kath and John

Next was a recce of Borough Street Market where we met up with Kath another sibling of Mick’s. A sit down whilst we considered what to have for lunch meant we had to have a drink!

The Wheatsheaf came up trumps with one of Mick’s old favourites, Young’s Original. They also had a couple of gluten free beers to choose from.


Fran and I had our eyes on the paella with giant langoustine, although the chap in front managed to get the last one! Mick and Kath had huge salt beef sandwiches, whilst Marion and John had empanadas.

A saunter along the south bank followed as we’d need to work off lunch. Mick pointed out YET again which buildings he used to work in along the river, along with all the pubs that he used to frequent when he was a yuppy!

Crossing the river

Across the wibbley Millennium Bridge towards St Pauls to catch the tube out to High Street Kensington and The Design Museum.

Lots of things

A cuppa and a sit down before some headed off to look round the Football: Designing the beautiful game exhibition, Kath headed into Holland Park to people watch whilst Mick and I looked round the rest of the displays.

Bethany Williams is a fashion and textile designer. She reuses waste in her work and involves communities. Several items were made from tents that had been abandoned at festivals, others are overprinted with bright bold designs.

Scrubb fabric

She was one of the three designers who in 2020 founded the EDN (Emergency Designer Network). Using their knowledge of textile manufacturing they created a network that galvanised over 200 UK volunteers who made approximately 12,000 scrubs, 100,000 masks and 4,000 gowns for frontline staff. They created their own pattern for ease of manufacture, had factories cut out the fabric and assembled kits for them to be made up.


The top floor houses an exhibition called Designer Maker User. Here items are displayed to illustrate how important each element of their creation is, whether it be design for a wonderful looking item or a user suggesting an item should be a certain size, each stage is as important as each other. Chairs, Telephones, logos, all sorts of things.

Time for another sit down in another pub The Prince of Wales where we all congregated and refreshed ourselves before crossing the road to eat at Dishoom. Here we were joined by Richard (Fran’s brother), Christine and Paul, leaving only one of Fran’s Aunts missing Anne who is currently with grandchildren in Wales.

Marion, Paul, Richard, Fran, Christine, John

Dishoom is a chain of restaurants based on the old Irani Cafes of Bombay. They serve breakfast, chai, lunch and evening meals. Here the restaurant is based in the old Barkers Department store, 1930’s decor surrounded us. For every meal they serve they donate one to a child who would otherwise go hungry. So far they’ve donated 13 million meals.

The menu took a little bit to understand as the dishes don’t tend to be quite the size of your normal Indian restaurant, so you are encouraged to order a couple each. There was a good gluten free menu, from which Mick and I chose a good selection. At the other end of the table a Lamb Biryani with a pastry crust resembled a cow pie.

Kulfi is always pointy

Paneer Tikka, Chicken Ruby, Bowl of Greens, Steamed rice, a roti for Mick and Kala Chana Salad, all very very tasty. I may have to put the Dishoom cookery book on my Christmas list. Oh and some Indian Chilled Medication of the mango variety.

A very lovely day to celebrate Fran’s 40th birthday, thank you for inviting us.

A little bit of hope on the board

We made our way back to Kings Cross believing there to be a train every half hour back to Ely. But two disruptions had occurred earlier in the day with overhead power lines so the departure board looked a touch discouraging with cancellations and delayed trains. We toyed with going to Liverpool Street Station for a train which would get us to at least Cambridge, but then the board changed showing a slow train to Cambridge. A later train was still showing as heading through Ely an hour later. We boarded the stopping service and hoped the later train would still run so we could change trains at Cambridge. We were fortunate that our plan worked, arriving back in Ely just gone midnight. Tilly was very pleased to see us even though we’d left her with her magic food bowl.


0 locks, 0 miles, 3 trains, 3 tubes, 7 miles walked, 3 out of 4 aunts, 1 uncle, 1 nephew, 1 40 year old niece, 1 very lovely day with family, 1 Indian chilled medication.

We Forgot The Eggs! 6th June

Wiggenhall St Mary Magdelan to 2nd GOBA Mooring River Wissey

Last night we’d put the finishing touches to a supermarket order for a click and collect in Kings Lynn, this needed to be picked up early to get it back to the boat before the hire car would need returning. Mick headed off in the rain, picked up the order, passed it into the boat through the side hatch all the time getting wet. Then he headed back to drop the car off.

The chap who dropped him back to the boat from Enterprise said that their prices had been high due to the lack of cars for the last couple of years. With lack of demand during the pandemic many cars were sold off, now there is a shortage of new cars so they’ve been trying to restock their hire fleet from the second hand market, which has also been problematical.

Time for breakfast and to wait for the rain to stop. Then we topped up the water tank and relit the stove to help drive out that damp feeling you get on such days. Time to move on. Freddie and the lady came to say goodbye, it had been nice meeting her, maybe our paths will cross again somewhere, if they do Tilly will remain firmly shut inside.

Goodbye Freddie

We winded and headed back the way we’d come. If we’d stayed longer we’d maybe have had a trip into Kings Lynn by train to have a look round, but maybe we’ll do that from elsewhere instead.

As we passed under the bridge we both realised we’d forgotten something. Eggs! Last night we’d not added them to our order as just across the road from our mooring had been a small holding who sold eggs, so we’d planned on getting some from there instead. Only we’d forgotten, too late now. We have two left, which means a breakfast or some baking, not both!

There’s someone up there

The trip back along the Relief Channel was grey to say the least, I for one was glad I’d put on my padded waterproof trousers just to keep the chill out.

Why the fencing?

The next mooring was now empty, bunting still up along the railings. We’ve been wondering why bits of fencing have been added around the ramps to the moorings. At Wiggenhall these were at the top, here they were at the bottom.

Downham Market still full

At Downham Market the pontoon was still full. We could have breasted up with someone but we really needed to find a suitable mooring for Tilly as she’s been cooped up inside for days now.

Left to the lock

Just as I was about to be dropped off to work the lock I had a phone call from David. He sounded a touch better than he’s done of late and had just had his weekly counselling session via the NBTA, the service is really helping him. Sadly a dodgy lock on the control box for the lock meant I needed both hands, so our catch up was cut short today.

Coming up

Slowly Oleanna rose in the lock, then I had to admit defeat in locking the panel back up. Mick was sent to have a go, tightening up what screws were left on the lock helped whilst I disposed of rubbish by the Impounding Sluice.

A left and we were back on the Great Ouse, heading upstream again. After a short distance we turned onto the River Wissey and headed for the mooring we’d been at for Mick’s birthday. Here would be good for Tilly especially as we were on our own. As we pulled up Tilly watched our every move and had already started perusing the friendly cover.

Dreaming of what might be in the friendly cover

A joint of pork had been sat drying out in the fridge all day for a Monday Roast. As the afternoon progressed we had the occasional glimpse of blue sky and Tilly had a good time outside in the friendly cover and for some reason up on the pram hood!

Toes in the grass again

1 lock, 8.72 miles, 1 wind, 3 lefts, 2 boxes wine, 1 shoulder pork, 0 eggs! 3 hours shore leave, 1 pram hood with extra perforations!