Category Archives: Transport

Bloomin’ Heck. 14th May

Lidl to Bridge 41

There were a couple of things we’d missed yesterday on our shop, so Mick valiantly headed all the way back to Lidl! Some double cream and dark chocolate baking necessities for next weekend! I sat and updated the blog before we moved up closer to Leamington Spa to do a couple of things in town.

Clare and Graeme were only a few bridges up ahead, they fancied listening to a pianist in a church this morning whilst we were busy, then the plan was to team up again to work our way up the locks ahead. Well that was the plan!

I stood up from the dinette table, all of a sudden it felt like we’d got ten bags of coal on the roof and Oleanna was very top heavy. I fairly quickly realised that it wasn’t Oleanna swaying, it was me. I steadied myself and carried on with the setting off jobs, slowly. Stepping onto the bow to untie the bow line I still felt wobbly. Was this vertigo? It felt a bit different. As we weren’t moving far I stayed up front and sat down, ready to moor up, less to do, hopefully less wobbly head.

He he!

There were loads of boats through Bridge 41, the most we’ve ever seen. We pulled in behind the long line, NB Lottie Jane a couple of boats ahead. Mick stood waiting at the stern for me to tie my rope, I needed his assistance, the thought of stepping onto the bow again not appealing. Time to sit down.

I had planned to check on possible presents here in Leamington Spa and visit a new mural which from photos looks amazing. But that simply wasn’t going to happen. Was this vertigo or something to do with the tooth I’d had taken out last week? My gum is still quite sore. Mick bobbed into town to do the things he needed to do and I called my dentist for advice. The receptionist booked me back in for an appointment this afternoon.


The news was passed to Clare and Graeme, Clare bringing me a get well soon purple iris. They would stay today too.

Arrangements to get our new Bully Boy Battery delivered to us was simpler than we’d thought. A boat yard we will be passing was very happy to receive a large heavy package for us and keep it safe until we arrive. We just have to get there now.

Mick and I caught the train back into Birmingham, so much for me saying goodbye to the city yesterday! A walk to catch a tram across town and then a sit down in the waiting room at the dentist.


Colin checked around my mouth. No normal signs of an infection, but the clot itself didn’t look normal. I was given two options and I opted for pills, he agreed. Three days of antibiotics, started straight away before I left the surgery. If I had any concerns I was to ring. No alcohol for me for the next week.

One good thing about the day was being able to admire the gardens at Leamington Spa Station. A few years ago we’d been on a tour around the deco station. The architecture, chrome and lovely doors are just one side to the station, the flower beds and hedges another. The topiary steam engine is still there plus these wonderful flowering shrubs, with such delicate flowers. Does anyone know what they are please? Sorry for the bad photos.

Back at Oleanna, Tilly gave me a head nudge then complained about being cooped up for two days in a row! Mick cooked dinner and I cast on sock pair 20. Hopefully my head will start to improve in the morning.

0 locks, 0.4 miles, 200grams dark chocolate, 200ml double cream, 1 bag carrots, 1 new broom, 1 wobbly head, 2 trains, 2 trams, 9 pills, 1 green engine, pair 20 cast on, 1 mural left for next time.

Is This REALLY BUMingham? 6th May

St Vincents Street Bridge Moorings

Hang on! I thought they said they’d tied up that BUMingham outside!?! Too few bricks to be BUMingham. Maybe She can’t navigate so well anymore.

This doesn’t look right!?!

Our neighbours were due to depart around 9, so we needed to be up and dressed. Tilly was given the rules and the back door opened up for her to explore. There may be trees here and quite a lot of friendly cover, but the towpaths of Birmingham are busy with runners, cyclists and woofers. NO chance of a stamp of approval here!

We had a cuppa onboard Oleanna and pointed out moorings to Clare and Graeme in their Pearsons guide. They are headed towards Crick and had been concerned about how long it would take to get there. A look on Canal plan last night suggested they’d need to do under 2 hours of cruising a day to arrive in time for the show. They could take it easy and hopefully we’ll be able to catch them up too.

See you soon!

As NB Lottie Jane moved away Tilly was encouraged back on board, we untied and pulled Oleanna up onto the last rings on the moorings. A space large enough for a boat infront of us, so no git gap. The doors were opened again, Well this outside isn’t as good as the last one! A slow morning, catching up on blog writing, this was at first slightly problematical as Oleanna’s router seemed to have died last night, Mick occasionally resets the router and last night it didn’t power up again. Time to teather to a phone.

Taking it to bits, but would it go back together again?

The theory was that the switch was maybe faulty, so he took it to bits to see if a piece of wire could be used to get it working again, but it was deemed too complicated to try, turning circuit boards over, disconnecting everything and then it still may not have worked. Time for a new router, the last one had served us for seven years after all.

Not just a simple case of buying one off the shelf, it needed to work on 12 volts, which doesn’t tend to be noted on the Argos website or the outside of the box. Would they allow him to open the box to see? We both went for a walk into the city, I had some secret mission to do myself, it being May!

I left Mick to it and headed off towards the Bull Ring. Here there were so many people! Just what were people queueing for? Wing Stop had a controlled queue that zigzagged round, the store full. Chicken wings must be a favourite round here.

Look at those!!!

Another queue was outside a new cafe EL & N, it has only been open for three weeks. Billed as the most Instagrammable cafe in the world it is very pink! Flowers cover the walls. I peeked in through the window at the wonderful looking cakes. No I didn’t go in, no lables for anything glutenfree. A later look on their website and despite a huge menu with the usual thing about allergens, there were only two items on the whole menu marked as gluten free, plus they automatically add a 12.5% service charge to your bill! But should you want a cubed croissant and can cope with gluten this looks like the place to go, certainly many thought it was worth queueing for.

Cambrian Wharf used to be filled with boats

I picked a few items and several birthday cards, May is very busy for birthdays, then dropped into Tescos for a few bits before heading back to Oleanna. My route took me around Cambrian Wharf. The mooring durations have changed in Birmingham this year. The pontoons used to be half longterm moorings and half visitors. Today only three boats were moored up, it’s now all longterm mooring, although the space alongside the top Farmers Bridge Lock is 4 days. Most of the central moorings are now 4 days during the main season (April to October) and 14 during the winter months. Where we are moored is 14 days all year. Double check the signage, a quick glance may have you thinking you could stay for 14 days as 4 day moorings are not often seen on the network. The new mooring times will be reviewed again next January.


Mick had been shown a router at Argos, but not been allowed to open the box to check if it was suitable for our needs. So there was nothing for it but to get on a bus to a Currys. Here the shop assistant took the wrapper off and opened up the box. Marvellous it ran on 12volts, SOLD! However when back onboard Oleanna it required a a different power plug which fortunatly Mick was able to sort. £85 and slightly quicker and still able to use the same external aerial. He had considered a 5G router, but they are still a touch too expensive.

This evening yarn has been selected for sock pair 19. I’m hoping to create something Joyous and musical with this pair, maybe adding a little bit of embroidery ontop.

0 locks, 40ft pulled up, 1 puzzled cat, 1 farrrr too busy outside, 1 rendez vous planned, 1 dead router, 1 supermarket order altered for collection, 2 buses, 1 alive router, 4 birthday cards, 1 bag of secret things, 0 treats to eat, 3 leeks, 1 pot humous, 2 rows or 3? 2.

400 Spiced Buns. 30th March

Hebden Bridge

A touch of a lie in then Tilly sampled the towpath. Hedbum Bridge! Far too many woofers and the wave of walkers along the towpath after a train arrives isn’t conducive to feline fun. Plus there is very VERY little friendly cover! The flower beds are very well kept in the park!

I’ve actually braved it twice!

We had a slow morning. I spent quite a bit of time trying to sort out lodgers in the house in the coming months. We get quite a few returning actors who want to stay with us which is fantastic. The only problem comes when someone who would stay for 9 weeks is taking their time thinking about it and someone else wants to book just 3 weeks which would overlap with them. We obviously would prefer someone for 9 weeks, but at the same time if they don’t want to stay we’d rather not have the house empty.

Next on the agenda was to hunt out the bakery we’d visited five years ago, it was coming up to Easter then. Saker Bakery on Market Street also has a shop in Todmorden and is most definitely worth a visit. The shop was full, we joined the queue. The menu board outside advertised the loaves available today, Black Russian, Sour Dough, plenty more and at the bottom were Spiced Buns.

The aroma filled the street, trays of freshly baked buns. ‘Two Hot Cross Buns Please’ everybody’s first line. Some added a loaf. One Japanese lady only want the one bun, but as she wanted to pay by card she had to up it to two. I suspect Spiced Buns are not just for Easter, as from this bakery they normally come with a CND logo on them rather than a cross, but today the chap didn’t have time for this so had resorted to mostly crosses , he did have 400 to do! Mick opted for two buns and a loaf of wholegrain with molasses.


Next it was to Valley Organics. Here was full too, I knew exactly what I was after, Chestnut flour and some Tapioca Starch. Tapioca is used in a lot of gluten free baking as it adds a chewy texture to things. Chestnut flour makes wonderful gf pastry and this is the only place I’ve seen it for sale (suspect on our next visit to the Gloucester Sharpness canal I’ll find it too).

Hebden Bridge

We then had a wander about, the market was full of interesting things nobody really needs. There was a new (to us) cheese shop, we’ll come back to have a closer look and another bakery that had some fantastic looking vanilla slices, sadly they stayed in the window, but Mick did buy himself a pork pie.

Vanilla yummyness

Back at Oleanna Tilly tried and tried to go outside. We managed to put dog walkers off using our ash bin for their pooh bags. Tillys and our toilet were refreshed and we smartened ourselves up for an evening out.


The 592 bus heads between Burnley and Halifax, we caught it and headed towards Todmorden following the canal and river all the way. The hire boaters that had arrived in Hebden this morning were working their way up the locks, wonder how far they got before dark? It was also interesting that most of the river is corralled in by walls. At Tod the bus veered away from the canal and river heading up another steep sided valley towards Burnley. The sun shone on the hill tops as the road wound itself up the hill.

We hopped off at The Staff of Life pub where we had a rendez vous. Two friends from Croydon College, a couple of years above mine, Alan and Doug. I try to meet up with Alan when we are near and Doug helped us down the Rochdale 9 into Manchester five years ago.

Alan, Doug, Amanda, Pip and Mick’s hand

We had a very nice meal in the pub. The others had walked over the tops to get there so deserved their pudding more than we did. We then walked down the hill a short distance to Eagles Cragg Brewery. Here they open their doors on the last Friday and Saturday of the month for themselves and anyone else who like to join them sampling their ale. Mick had already sampled some at the pub and had a second pint, sadly they haven’t managed to filter a beer yet for them to have a GF beer, but the chap said that maybe next month they’d have one.

There was a DJ playing half of my Dad’s record collection, so the music was good, just a shame it was really quite loud which made it hard for us to carry on our conversation without shouting. After a pint Mick and I headed for the bus stop, just outside and made our way back to Hebden Bridge. If you find yourself in the area at the end of a month it’s well worth a visit.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 hot cross buns, 1 special loaf, 1 chicken supreme, 1 gammon steak, 2 college friends, 1 girlfriend, 1 Mick’s hand, 2 bags flour, 100,000 all-time views of the blog!

Cushions In The Closet, Have We Peaked Too Soon?

Has it really only been two weeks since I got back from Panto land? It feels like a lot longer, but then it also only feels like yesterday!

Now where did we get up to last year?

There has been the obligatory Morse watching whilst being pinned to the sofa by Tilly. Four episodes including, in my opinion, the best one, Masonic Mysteries where Morse is framed for the murder of a friend and no matter which way Morse turns there is another surprise for him.

Tilly has kept a close eye on my yarn tension

More socks have been knitted for Dementia UK. Not sure exactly how many pairs I’ve knitted this year but it’s somewhere over 30 and my fundraising page has just topped £1130! Thank you everyone who has donated and I hope those of you who have a pair of socks have cosy toes. At some point I’ll update the page I set up for my Sockathon, there’s quite a few pictures to upload.

Cards of the Christmas and other varieties printed, scored and folded

Boating photos from this year have been whittled down, a short list of about six presented for final vetting to Mick and Tilly for our Christmas card. Would the old printer upstairs upstairs be up to the job though? With a full set of new cartridges and a morning spent assisting the paper into the printer every couple of sheets the card factory got to work.

The first veg box since my return contained a lovely looking bright orange squash. What to do with it? I hunted round for a couple of recipes and decided to try two out, both requiring roasted squash. So the whole squash was roasted in one go and then divid up for the two dishes, Mushroom and Squash Lasagna and Squash Winter Herb and Crispy Butter Bean Pie. The latter involved three bulbs of garlic which were cooked before being added into the mix. Both will be made again, the pie for a special occasion as it takes a while to cook, but was very tasty. I’ll add links to the recipe pages.

The South Bay

One evening I was invited to a reading of a play that a local lady is hoping to produce. Earlier in the year I’d been approached to see if I could give some advice on it’s staging, but without a script this was impossible. It was nice to meet some new Scarborough faces, but the best bit was walking down to the top of St Nicholas Gardens and looking across the bay to the harbour where numerous boats had their Christmas lights up.

When we moved back to the house from Oleanna we brought all the dinette cushions with us. The covers desperately needing a wash or maybe even replacing. The seat cushions that we sit on the most have also lost most of their cushionness, so I measured them up and placed an order for replacements. The dinette makes into a bed, so any cushions apart from the one that isn’t normally out have been replaced with new firmer more suitable foam. We also had an odd cushion which we have never really understood why it existed, why hadn’t it been added onto one of the back cushions? This and the wedge shaped cushion that goes into the corner have now been made into one piece. Having just written this I don’t understand why it is wedge shaped and not just rectangular, I’ll have to look at it when the cushions go back on the boat, then remember for next time. At the moment I have a few samples of fabric but the final discission hasn’t been made. This will be a project for the new year.

Look who popped up as a screensaver. On the Marsworth flight back in our yellow days.

Why have the cushions gone in the wardrobe? Well a certain Second Mate/Thug has been enjoying clawing the old cushions, thankfully the one which has been affected the most is being replaced! I can’t help it if I have to find myself things to keep me occupied when the outside doesn’t move every day!!!

Mick has just about sorted out his planned upgrade to Oleanna’s batteries. Doubling Oleanna’s amp hours, but will there be enough room for him to be able to move them indoors? A visit in the next couple of weeks is on the cards to check on her and have a measure up.

It’s handy having quite a stash of yarn in the house

During November I’d joined a knitting challenge for Dementia UK, soon I was running out of things to knit! Mick just so happened to ask where his winter hat was. Ah that might just still be on the boat! Emergency hat knitting, this ended up being two hats one inside the other for extra warmth.

It just fitted in the bike bag

Then preparations for Christmas were started, the London Leckenbys were heading up to join us for a pre-christmas meal. Normally we don’t put decorations up for another couple of weeks, but because they were coming we had to get busy.

Last years boat Christmas tree has just about survived the year after a repot with some human made compost, so this has been brought in. But a bigger tree was really needed for the living room, where would we be able to get one from without a car? Nowhere that we found would deliver and the nearest veg/florist didn’t look like they’d be stocking any. One option left, a trip to Sainsburys with our trusty bike as sherpa.

Over several days Mick busied himself in the garden putting lights round bushes. I headed to the snicket to give the ivy a trim. Two wreaths were put together with lights and on the first day of December our decorations were up and illuminated!

Christmas baking. A batch of some rough puff pastry was made, a new recipe I wanted to try out. Then some Lebkuchen, these are my current favourite Christmas biscuits, especially when you poor the heated butter, treacle and maple syrup onto the spices, qworrr!

Christmas shopping this year has meant a walk down to the harbour, thankfully on a very nice sunny day before the snow arrived. I’d placed an order online and been told to ring the doorbell by the bow of a ship! I was taking ‘Buy it off a boat‘ to the next level. The doorbell was nowhere to be seen but thankfully a couple of people were stood on the bridge. My order arrived at a side door, the chap having to climb slightly up a harbour ladder to pass it to me safely, the tide was out at the time!

Buy it off a ship!

The coal man arrived along with snow and hail, Scarborough having a dusting of the white stuff just in time for the London Leckenbys arrival.

Who’s coming?

It has been at least ten years since the London Leckenby’s have visited us in Scarborough, us having lived on boats for much of the last ten years. This trip would also be their first by train, Andrew normally drives them up, but he’s still recovering from his stay in hospital. Quite a bit of work was needed to sort trains due to strikes and engineering work. Tickets were booked with only a couple of days to go. At Kings Cross they loitered for the platform to be announced, confirming the advanced knowledge we’d given them. Also knowing which carriage was likely not to be reserved helped, so they headed straight for it and thankfully got seats on what became a very very full train.

Nearly as good as my Mums Yorkshire Pud

Sausage rolls on arrival, sorry Frank forgot to take a photo! Then an afternoon lull, a walk to the beach not taken up as the pavements were really quite slippy. We caught up on their news and then got going with our Advent Saturday joint of roast beef with all the works. I’ve almost mastered gluten free Yorkshire Puddings so that my Mum wouldn’t know the difference. She’d certainly have been pleased that we had a slice each as a starter with gravy (not with the meat!) helped by the veg being a little reluctant to brown up.

Crackers were cracked, wine drunk, plenty of food eaten. Pudding, a warm Dorset Apple Cake accompanied by some Wensleydale Cheese, not quite ‘Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze’ but very nice and worth repeating.

Jac, Pip, Mick, Josh, Andrew

A lovely time was had by all. It was really lovely having them back in Scarborough.

Sunday morning and it was time to check that their return trains would be running. Well Transpennine Express did what they seem to do best and cancelled their first train. Mick came up with a couple of options for them. Their return journey was going to be 5 hours rather than the 3 on the way up, due to engineering work. It was decided that they’d head to the station and catch an earlier train, either to York where they could loiter in the pub, or to Hull where they could catch their the train earlier on it’s journey than planned. This meant quite a quick breakfast and exchange of presents before a cab arrived to whisk them back to the station.

Bye bye!

Almost 24 hours in Scarborough, we wished them a good journey and wished Josh good luck for his forthcoming interview for University. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him as I’d like to visit the very good chilled medication shop we visited last summer when on one of the Great Ouse tributaries. Their journey back changed again due to more cancellations, they had a good journey around the country arriving in London ten minutes earlier than originally planned.

My lovely fella

Sunday evening Mick and I headed out for what has now become our annual Chinese meal. Crispy aromatic duck a necessity to mark 21 years of us being together. A lovely way to round off the weekend.

Us out for a Sunday walk

It feels like we’ve already had Christmas now. The big day isn’t for another three weeks!

Have we peaked too soon?

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 snow showers, 5x50kg bags of coal, 2 veg boxes, 1 squash, 2 celeriac, 1.8kg top rump, 15 Lebkuchen, 1 Lasagna, 1 pie, 20 sausage rolls, 2 trees, 4 stars, 100m of flotilla lights, 1 bored cat, £1132, 30 plus pairs, 4 Morses, 2 wreaths, 4 new cushions, 3 weeks early, 21 years.

You may notice a couple of changes to the blog. Firstly the blog roll, this had stopped rolling as bloggers posted their posts, so we’re trialing a new plug in, not quite as clear as the old version sadly. Secondly Mick has added code to the blog to hopefully change the default colour of the writing to black without me having to change every paragraph each time I write a post. This was done with assistance from Copilot. I hope it works!

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.

Harumph-arumph-arumph! 16th January


2.14m coming down about 1cm an hour

Originally both of us would have been heading off to check on the house this morning, some seriously cheap train tickets had been bought for part of our return journey via Hull. But we’d decided that one of us would be better staying on the boat to keep it and Tilly warm as the temperatures were due to get low again. Here’s hoping ice isn’t our next problem!

Herbie Award winning hose tap thingy

All the boat chores were done and the water tank topped up. The Herbie Award Winning tap on our hose is now plumbed in and handy on our mooring as you have to go back and forth from one place to another when disconnecting this and that and then turning the tap on.

Just up to that tree Tilly

As the tank filled Tilly and I stretched our legs along the towpath, not far though as a woofer was coming in the opposite direction. Tilly followed me back to Oleanna where she went all cartoon cat with arched back and bushy tail as the dog walked past.

As Mick has the OAP railcard it’s always him who gets to head back to the house. He headed off shortly before it started to hail, but managed to be on a bus as it really came down and covered the towpath within a few minutes. This was then followed by snow, quite chunky flakes too. Tilly was not amused by it.

With the table all to myself I got the sewing machine out and started to sew up rectangles of navy polycotton with stiff interfacing inside. These are for dance competition numbers in #unit 21. Then the remaining numbers were weeded out in vinyl ready to be ironed on tomorrow. They’ll need velcro adding to them but that will happen in Huddersfield on my next visit.


Courgette fritters to eat tonight on the boat. I strongly suspect Mick will have had pizza.


0 locks, 0 miles, 1 full water tank, -C temps due, 2 trains, 1 towpath walk, 15 minutes hail, 30 mins snow, 1 moving boat, Where did that come from!?! 1 stove being stoked, 9 numbers ready.

2022 Back To Exploring

Time for the annual round, a long post so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

The New Year kicked off with winter maintenance in the house. Having two hallways proved time consuming refreshing the woodwork and patching up the worst of the wallpaper. But this was broken up with weekly walks to see the sea. I resumed work on the development showing of #unit21 for Dark Horse and a Christmas present of a cheese making kit proved very tasty in creating my first ever Yorkshire Curd Cheese Cake from scratch. I plan on having a second go at this soon!

In February work progressed in Huddersfield towards opening night, the floor painted, final costume fittings and then the set and lighting added. All while Mick serviced our life jackets and Tilly grew more and more bored of life in the house.

Once the show was opened we had a trip down to London to catch up with the London Leckenbys for a belated Christmas, on our way back we visited Oleanna. When ever we could we visited Blue Water Marina to do jobs and have a pack up lunch. The stove was reblacked, walls washed down and cupboards sorted through.

Then at the end of February, Mick and I left Tilly in charge of the house, we packed enough clothes and food for a couple of days boating and headed to Thorne to move Oleanna through Thorne Lock before a winter stoppage began. Blimey it was chilly out there, but wonderful to be back afloat and moving Oleanna to Goole. Now we were all set to move back onboard and have a few weeks of pootling about in Yorkshire.

Back at the house we made it ready for the first of this years lodgers. Our boat Christmas tree was retired into the back garden where we hoped it would thrive, this of course was before we knew a drought was on it’s way! Tilly said goodbye to the dragon that lives up the chimney, left Seville and Valencia to look after the house before having to endure the car trip back to boat life.

After a few days sorting ourselves, including having one of Joan’s gluten free Chinese takeaways, we unplugged Oleanna and backed out from our mooring at Goole Marina (Boat House). We spent the next three weeks bobbing about between Pollington Lock, Doncaster and Goole. Maintenance jobs were ticked off the list.

Alistair did engine and weedhatch jobs, Frank joined us a couple of times to do carpentry jobs, our galley drawers no longer have a life of their own, the covers had a good scrub and a spray of Wet and Forget to help them keep clean.

In March I’d set myself a charity challenge, to knit as many pairs of socks in the month as I could. Nine pairs knitted for people in return for sponsorship, I also got a very generous donation of yarn from Lisa on NB Summer Wind.

Our plans had had to change as Thorne Lock still hadn’t closed, but was about to! Plans to visit York and West Yorkshire were abandoned, we’d bought ourselves a Gold Licence for the year so wanted to make the most of it. So on March 24th with all the jobs done we turned our backs on Goole and set off into the sunset to see where 2022 would take us, all three of us grinning from ear to ear.

We made our way to Keadby ready for our booked passage on the tidal River Trent, the fast route south. A phone call from a boating friend in need of support meant we’d be doing our best to make use of the spring tide to reach Cromwell in one go despite the weather forecast. We spent a couple of days doing what we could to help in Newark before we needed to be on the move again.

On upstream to The Trent and Mersey keeping up our cruising hours and Tilly hoping we’d stop with enough time for her to explore each day before cat curfew.

Up to Fradley then onto the Coventry Canal, we played leapfrog with NB Free Spirit for a couple of days.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, up the Curdworth Flight then a turn left onto a section of the Grand Union we’d not been on before at Star City. Up Garrison Locks, Typhoo Basin and then the Ashted Locks where we now have the measure of that Tunnel! A mooring space at the top of Farmers Bridge had our name on it. This was handy for a road trip to swap lodgers and for visits to the dentist. It also meant we were in shot when a group came to jump the top lock!

Fast forward to 6:15

Our route out of Bumingham saw us through Edgbaston Tunnel, down Lapworth followed by Hatton. A pause was needed for Tilly’s annual visit to a new vet, the one here the closest to the canal we’ve visited so far, also handy for The Cape of Good Hope!

At Napton we joined the Oxford Canal and headed for Braunston, pausing to stock up on goodies from the butcher. On the Grand Union we made our way up over the hill and started our descent down The Long Buckby flight back towards tidal waters.

On the 1st of May we turned left at Gayton Junction onto the Northampton Arm dropping down the flight to the River Nene. We’d only been this way once before and that was when we’d just bought Lillian (NB Lillyanne) back in 2014. We bought ourselves a second Abloy key, showed our Gold Licence to the chap at Northampton Marina and started our journey down stream, time to explore.

A decision was made to head down to Peterborough taking note of places we’d want to visit on our return journey. We worked our way through the guillotine locks, many button operated and others with the wheel of cardiovascular overload.

Tilly loved many of the moorings apart from those in Peterborough where crowds surrounded the boat and meant returning from shore leave was impossible for several hours.

In two weeks we reached the end of the river at the Dog in a Doublet Lock. Here the river becomes tidal, we’d save that trip for another time and turned back upstream to head for the Middle Level.

Here we wanted to explore all the drainage channels, but decided we’d do that on our return too. So we took the direct route and crossed the low lying waters in three days arriving at Salters Lode on Mick’s birthday. The levels out on the tidal stretch of the Great Ouse needing to be just right to get through the lock, turn and head upstream to Denver Sluice.

A lovely GOBA mooring was found on the River Wissey and eventually the sun came out for a birthday barbeque, we’d made it to the Great Ouse.

The remainder of May was spent exploring the River Wissey, Ely and The Little Ouse. Brandon Lock sits at the most easterly point on the connected navigable network for boats Oleanna’s size. Sadly a build up of silt stopped us from getting her bow into the lock, but we did get her as far east as was possible, ticking off the fourth point of the compass.

There was a trip to Hull Truck to meet old friends at a gala evening followed by a meet up with Micks family back in the Fens. At the end of the month we got to know Neil the seal at Ten Mile Bank moorings as he basked in the sun and took sunset dips in the river.

The Jubilee was seen in at Denver, we lit our guiding lights as a Lancaster Bomber flew overhead heading to see the Queen. The Relief Channel gave us a good mooring to be able to have a trip away to celebrate Dawn and Lee’s 50th Birthdays in Scarborough, we went as Wallace and Gromit and won an Oscar!

Another visit to Ely to see the Cathedral, Farmers market and meet up with Heather from NB Bleasdale, the first of many this summer. The River Lark was explored, the end of navigation reached with a handy mooring outside a pub.

We headed for the Cam, our paths crossing for the first time with Ken and Sue from NB Cleddau. Then onwards in to Cambridge where we visited colleges, ate chilled medication and had a day trip to Duxford so that Mick could sit in the pilots seat of a Trident 2, a seat his Dad had sat in on many a flight.

Oleanna squeezed along each of the three Lodes, Wicken, Burwell and Reach. Wicken Lode a magical place and a day visit to Anglesey Abbey with it’s wonderful gardens.

Then we headed onto the Old West a river with a very different feel than the Ely Ouse. A pause was needed when we reached Earith for us to have a tour of Heathers new to her boat GT. Once off the tidal water we were on a different Great Ouse again. Here St Ives, St Neots and Hemingford gave us sunsets, D shaped locks, huge meadows and wonderful towns and villages to explore.

As the temperatures started to rise I needed to do some work. Cruising happened in the mornings, my Panto script and sketches were done in the shade of what trees we could find. White sheets were bought and we hoped for a mooring with shade for the really hot days that were to come. Tilly took to lying on the floor and we took to wearing wet t-shirts to help us to keep cool. Thankfully the hot blast only lasted a couple of days then the temperature dropped and we could continue to head upstream.

July 21st we reached the navigable limit of the River Great Ouse, having to reverse some distance to be able to turn round and return to Bedford for the River Festival.

Here we met up with Ken and Sue, Jennie and Chris from NB Tentatrice and Heather again. Plenty of things to see, do and hear. The boat parades, raft races, vintage cars, all sorts kept us busy for the two days.

Now at the end of July we alternated the days between cruising and my work. More beautiful days cruising and more wonderful sunsets, one day off to visit Cambridge for some more chilled medication and to see the Hockney exhibition.

August saw more hot days. Trips to London to celebrate birthdays, panto meetings, catch up with best friends and travellers over from Australia.

On the 15th August we crossed back from Denver Sluice to the Middle Level having really enjoyed our three months on the Great Ouse. Now water levels were a worry along with having enough time to reach Oxford for me to go to work in October. We made the decision to come back and explore the Middle Level another year, maybe we’ll cross The Wash to get there!

By the end of August our progress up stream on the River Nene slowed to a halt. First one lock broke then another two ahead of us. We’d recently been accepted to join the Reflections Flotilla on the Thames to mark the Queens Jubilee in a few weeks time, now that time was ticking away.

When we did get moving again we had to make up our cruising hours. With the news of the passing of the Queen we didn’t know if the flotilla would still be going ahead, we carried on at pace waiting for news. Back up the River Nene, turning onto the Grand Union, working our way southwards. The news came through that the flotilla would go ahead, but now in remembrance of the Queen.

With a couple of days to spare we squeezed into the Eco-Moorings by Islington Tunnel. Two days of catching up with family and more friends over from Australia before we joined boats heading along the Regents Canal towards Limehouse Basin. An afternoon of activity saw numerous narrowboats festooned with white lights.

On the 24th of September the Thames barrier was closed and we all headed out of Limehouse Lock up stream to Chelsea where we clung onto buoys until the early evening when the flotilla started to muster.

Getting on for 150 boats all displaying white lights got into formation and headed down stream. Crowds stood on the illuminated bridges and Tower Bridge opened up in a royal salute as we passed underneath. What a truly amazing day.

Now we had to head towards Banbury, back round the Regents Canal as a leak in the engine bay needed testing on the calm waters of the canal rather than the tideway. By the time we reached Brentford we were confident with Oleanna’s engine again. On the Thames Tilly got a birthday present of a night on a Cliveden Island. Sadly we got an unexpected present on our arrival in Oxford, a second red line on a covid test! Panto painting couldn’t be put off so we made our way gradually up the Oxford Canal keeping our distance from people at locks and taking maximum doses of paracetamol.

A week of painting in Banbury before I moved to Chipping Norton to stack up the hours over the next four weeks getting the 50th anniversary panto ready. Rendez Vousing with Oleanna at weekends in Banbury and Coventry kept me sane. Mick had to single hand across the summit of the Oxford Canal to avoid the first of the winter stoppages.

All three of us were back onboard by mid November, covid free and vaccinated. We took things slowly now, time to rest up, meet friends, gather family and pootle towards Christmas. Our 20th Anniversary was celebrated with a Chinese takeaway at Alvecote Marina, a planned stop which ended up being extended due to plummeting temperatures. The canal froze, there’d be no moving the outside for Tilly!

Temperatures lifted dramatically and the ice just about vanished in a couple of days, we could now be on our way to Christmas. Alrewas was a good place to spend the festive days, a very good butchers and a village with lots of character and humour.

Bookings in the New Year had been made for passage on the tidal River Trent for us to reach Yorkshire, but this would not be. The Trent had risen before Christmas, Cranfleet Flood Gates were shut ahead of us, so no New Year at Hazelford Lock. Instead our alternator played up and we sought out a mooring to hook up to and see in 2023.

This year we’d been wanting to explore again. This year we cruised miles of new water, made new friends, got too hot, got iced in, got stuck, got to be in the first illuminated flotilla on the Thames for 300 years. What a great year it has been.

So our vital statistics for 2022 according to Canalplan are

Total distance is 1249 miles, 6½ furlong and 555 locks . There were 88 moveable bridges of which 29 are usually left open; 156 small aqueducts or underbridges and 18 tunnels,  a total of 7 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This was made up of 227 miles, 1 1/2 furlongs of narrow canals; 363 miles, 2 furlongs of broad canals; 85 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 269 miles, 1 furlong of small rivers; 234 miles, 7 1/4 furlongs of large rivers; 69 miles, 6 furlongs of tidal rivers; 176 narrow locks; 232 broad locks; 54 large locks; 2 locks on major waterways.

731.7 engine hours

1156.1 litres diesel, 5 (although we’ve got 1 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 28.5 litres oil, 3 oil filters, 1 fuel filter, 2 air filters, 1 water pump, 2 new belts, 690kg coal, 1 overnight guest twice, 6 packs Dreamies (not enough!), 56 friends, a record breaking 41 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval (4 in one day!), 15 pairs socks, 2 shows designed, 9 lodgers, 2 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 30 boxes of wine delivered, 2 lost unicorns.

Thank you all for joining us on our journey. Wonder where we’ll get to in 2023?

Excluding Vat! 3rd January


1.55m this morning

If all had gone to plan Oleanna would this evening have been sat above Cromwell Lock waiting for the morning tide to head to Torksey. Working on #unit21 becomes more complicated because we are stuck due to flooding. I need to get the props I’m making to Huddersfield as soon as I can. Finishing their construction would have been so much easier on land rather than on the boat without all my tools. I could really do with a hot air gun to bend some pipe. The pipe could be walked from a shop in Scarborough, but on the boat it requires a bus journey. The pipe is 3m long! Just complicated and more time consuming.

I spent some of the morning sussing out when would be good to head to Huddersfield with the props, this will involve hiring a van and on the same trip we could pick up some new flooring for the show. I also need to do costume fittings with three actors, at the moment they only work three days a week. So logistics, orders and payments. Nearly sorted.

Mick called Beta to order a new alternator. Our engine has a WOC number which means that when ordering anything from Beta they can see how our engine was set up and exactly what part we require. Mick did a slight ouch at the price, he did a bigger one when he realised that hadn’t included vat!

Our alternator has a special pulley on it. To replace the pulley you need a special tool, which we don’t have. The chap on the phone said they would put a special pulley on the new one for us to save moving it from the old alternator to the new one. It should arrive tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Skyline bus

Being in Shardlow means there is a good bus service to Derby and Leicester on the Skylink which runs every twenty minutes ferrying people to East Midlands Airport. The bus stops by The Navigation Inn a five minute walk away. Add to this the government putting a £2 cap on single bus fares. Very easy.

Waiting at the bus stop I got chatting to a local lady about the river being in flood. We compared notes on levels of the River Trent and Ouse. My family home over looked the flood plain in York and Dad would give us reports of how high up the five bar gate the flood water had reached. I think if it got up to the fourth bar then driving around York was very tricksy as there would only be one route into the city not under water. The lady I chatted to recounted the floods of 2000 on the Trent. Sand bags were put over the drains in the road and stood at the bus stop you could just pop your hand over the wall and touch the flood water. Thankfully the water isn’t anywhere near that level …. yet!

Lovely houses click photo to look inside one

The bus sped into Derby. Past the train station where strikers stood with placards. Further on the bus passed the lovely houses on Railway Terrace. These were built to accommodate the senior Midland Railway staff in the 1840’s, the first houses built to house railway workers in the country. Jackson and Thompson built a triangular block of streets, North Street, Midland Place and Railway Terrace, NMR. In the 1970’s there was a campaign to stop the houses from being demolished, they are very fine looking houses. However their sight reminds me of a trip we did to Derby a few years ago. We walked down the same streets to Derby Crown Court to hear the sentencing of our original boat builders.

A Mickleover bus

I swapped buses at the bus station and headed out towards Kingsway Retail Park. Here there was a Homebase, no pipe and fittings suitable for what I wanted. I checked the isles for anything suitable to make a giant mug from. A plastic dustbin? Too much to cut off to stop it looking like a dustbin. Kitchen bins were all too narrow.

Over at Hobbycraft I scoured the isles for something that might be useful too. But they had nothing suitable for a giant mug. A couple of months ago I’d spent ages hunting online for anything that might be useful and come up with very little the right size. So back to the foamcor plan. I picked up 8 sheets and some more tape.

Handy makeshift strap

My dodgy grip doesn’t like carrying thin things, eight sheets of foamcor isn’t that thin, but still. I’d brought with me three carrying straps from the yoga mats I’ve bought. These have elastic looped ends joined by some webbing. I passed two of them over the corners of the sheets, one each side and then joined them together with a third one, creating a handle on the top. Not the perfect handle but a much easier carry back to the bus for my return journey.

Whilst I was away Mick had changed the fuel filters and the gear box oil. We just need the alternator now.

Bunny legs

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 buses, £2 each, 0 pipe, 0 connectors, 0 hot air gun, 8 sheets, 2 pies, 1 sad gits pie, 1 order completed, 1 plan coming together, 1 new filter, 1 cleaned filter, 1.5 litres oil, 2nd bunny leg.

Surveyed. 6th December

Alvecote Marina

The 25tog duvet kept us warm last night, maybe even a little bit too warm! Time for some porridge, except we didn’t have any golden syrup. That was soon rectified.

Just gone 9am there was a knock on the front door, on the Arctic side of the house. One of several reasons for this trip to the house. A surveyor had come to give us a free EPC inspection and recommend what we might be able to do to improve our insulation, windows and if solar panels might be possible. This would then be reported to someone else who would decided what assistance we may get as our income is very low.

The chap was a very jolly soul from West Yorkshire, he’d surveyed numerous houses like ours and it would take him a couple of hours. That was until I showed him into the kitchen and then through into the other side of the house! Yep it would take him longer, he’d be late to the next house in Whitby.

He measured windows, asked questions, checked roof spaces, looked outside, took photos. After three hours he was done and had a list of recommendations. One of which is to add insulation on the insides of the external walls. This will take 4 inches out of the rooms but may be worth while as we don’t have cavity walls. Two of the rooms in question I’d planned on redecorating this winter, I may hold off doing that until we know what assistance we may get. Well worth both of us being about for.

Goodbye Mick. The station having lots of work done, including the new stained glass windows

Sadly something had disagreed with my system. The most likely candidate, last nights fish and chips, even though they were meant to be gluten free! Or can it take a couple of days for it to have an effect and have been caused by the Chinese takeaway? This did mean my return journey back to Tamworth looked a little bit iffy.

The flat before the Wolds

We both walked up to the station. Decision made, I’d sit near to the toilet and hope for the best. Tilly needed feeding and I’ve some work to do. So I waved goodbye to Mick, he’s staying to see the plumber, I retraced the journey from yesterday. The sun shone over the Wolds, I got to see the sea, big boats were two deep in Goole and by the time we reached Doncaster the light was fading fast, the moorings still chocka.

Todays trains worked very well, only a few minutes to wait for one to arrive, then a cab back to the marina.

Licked clean

Tilly was waiting for me, the magic food bowl totally empty, the day before’s dingding also finished off, some biscuits left over just in case. After a big hug the heating was turned up, then the fire laid and lit. We had another big hug for good measure. Soon we were pushing back the chill inside Oleanna and getting cosy in front of the fire.

That’s better!

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 trains, 3 hour free survey, 2 weeks to hear,1 broken downpipe, 1 cuddly Tilly, 1 stove, 1 bowl of roast chicken pasta, 1 cosy boat.

Two Of Each. 5th December

Alvecote Marina

The yellow water tank was emptied and two bags of coal put in the well deck. Then the bed was pulled out access to the vacuum bags below required for my big down coat, time it came out in case the temperature drops as forecast next week. Opening up the storage under the bed always brightens up Tilly’s day, it’s very exciting!

Magic food bowl

Bags were packed, all watched on by an increasingly concerned Tilly. Next the most important job, the magic food bowl was brought out from under the bathroom sink, turned on, ticking noise was present. A cool block was popped in the bottom, a sachet of food added to one of the compartments and primed for opening. It was then positioned on the floor below the dinette table where it can flip open unimpeded.

Brighton and Nuneaton on their home mooring

Now is was time for a reassuring head nudge. Tilly was being left in charge for the night. Stove stocked up and turned onto night mode, central heating set to 10C, so it might get chilly, but not overly and she can always cuddle up under the duvet or blankets. A full sweep of the boat was done to remove any chewable cables, the top removed from the toy box for Tilly to select a few good ones to keep her occupied.

Tamworth Station where lines cross

A taxi pulled in to pick us up taking us to Tamworth station. The station here is handy as two lines cross over each other, one heading north south, the other west east. Today we took the high line and a train to Sheffield which was very very full. We were lucky to get seats!

At Sheffield we looked up to check the platform for Scarborough, the slow £20 cheaper route via Hull. Our train was cancelled due to lack of staff! We weren’t allowed to change route so had to wait an extra hour for the next service which thankfully was running. We took refuge in a cafe for some cake, a cuppa and warmth.

Oh pooh!

Two strangers at the next table chatted away, at some point an old fella appeared between them. His chair right in the corner between the lady and man. How had he got there? Had he pole vaulted his way over the top of the chilled medication freezer? Crawled across on the floor under the table? Was he Mr Ben? Or were we actually extras in an Alan Ayckbourn play, the couple and man inhabiting two different time lines and somehow, we were able to observe both. The old chap did seem to be oblivious to the conversation going on in front of his nose and the couple didn’t acknowledge him at all!

Fast to Doncaster then slow!

Out of Sheffield we passed familiar sights, it was still light going through Doncaster where all the visitor moorings were chocka, only one boat was moored above Thorne Lock, we didn’t get chance to see if we knew any boats moored on the visitor moorings in Goole.

Hello warm side of the house

Arriving in Scarborough it was chilly but thankfully not raining for the walk to the house. Blimey it was cold inside! One side of the house is warmable, the other the boiler an object waiting to be fixed. At least we’re saving money on fuel consumption and thank goodness we haven’t got lodgers. Today though we took a booking from an actress I know well from my Hull Truck days, good job we’ve the plumber coming to visit just in time!

With heating on and doors closed to keep the Arctic air from spoiling the growing warmth in a few rooms. Mick headed off to buy essentials as I ordered us some fish and chips. Our preferred Chippy Capplemans was soon going to close so we tried elsewhere, Claires Plaice and they would deliver. Not bad haddock and chips, but Capplemans tend to be better.

Well we are at the seaside!

Mick tinkered with the pvr. Last time he did this at the house he came across an episode of Look North presented from the new Hull Truck theatre on it’s opening night. Today he found a segment about the final show at Spring Street, the old Hull Truck theatre. Of course it was Bouncers, there on stage were friends and old Truckers Jim, Jack, Matt and Mark. Lovely to see them and great to see the old blue tin shed that we all used to call home.

Maureen, Plain Elaine at the back, Rosie and Sexy Susie

Duvets were moved about for extra insulation, here’s hoping we don’t freeze overnight.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 magic food bowl, 1 concerned cat, 1 stove stacked up, 2 trains, 1 stinky loo, 90 minutes wait, 1 Freezing house, 1 down coat needed, 2 of each, 1 mushy peas, 15 tog plus 10 tog should keep us warm?!