Category Archives: Uncategorized

Uuuuppppp. 25th September. With photos!

Green Park to Sydney Wharf Bridge 188

Oleanna was rocking around a touch this morning due to loosened ropes, but the river looked like it had behaved itself overnight. A damp start to the morning, so we had tea in bed and hoped it would brighten up before we got to the locks. We didn’t want to be too early anyway hopping that we’d get some assistance from volunteers on our way up.

Approaching the lock landing on the river

At 10:15 we pushed off and headed for the bottom of the flight. With walkie talkies in hand I walked up to the bottom lock. A breasted up pair were just about to enter the lock to come down, masses of crew.

Hotel boats breasted up

It turned out to be the Bywater Hotel boat and butty, they were heading with their full compliment of guests to Bristol hoping to stop for the night on route. They may be lucky and time their arrival at Keynsham to grab the space on the pontoon that would be vacated by a hire boat today.

No need to radio to Mick there was plenty of time to signal to him what was happening. They were soon down and the lock was all ours and we’d timed it just right to have both volunteers lend us a hand. One chap stayed with us whilst the other walked up to Bath Deep Lock to open the gates and then head up to the next lock to let some water down so that we wouldn’t empty the pound in between.

A couple of bike riders came and asked lots of questions about how the locks worked etc. They then decided to follow us up to the Deep Lock.

Going in

The gates had been wound open enough for a narrowboat to enter, but no more. Each gate takes 120 turns to open it fully. I was grateful as I did the closing. From the instructions I’d been given the other day I knew using a rope wouldn’t be a good idea, but Mick had already passed the centre line round a riser. The Lockies joined us and explained how the lock would work, which I then conveyed to Mick via the radio. All well and good being told not to use a rope but then having a paddle lifted before you could get it back from the riser was a touch annoying. As Oleanna rose Mick flicked the rope upwards on the riser and then had to fight to get it loose at the top.

Water coming in at the side

The effect of the paddles was as they had suggested. Using the paddle on the opposite side of the lock to your boat has the effect of holding it to the side, the water comes out from four points along the side of the chamber. Then as the level rises the stern starts to cross over, this is when the other paddle is lifted to compensate.

Get out of the WAY!!!

I was hoping to get some good photos but our friendly cyclists had come along to watch also, standing right in front of me! As nice as their cycle helmets were I’d rather have got a few photos of Oleanna.

Just about there

The Lockies helped us up the rest of the flight. The off side paddle in the forth lock up however refused to shut. No matter what the Lockie did it wanted to stay up by a good foot. In the end we closed the gates and could see what the problem was. The rod that leads from the paddle gear to the actual paddle should run through a bracket which is fixed to the gate. This bracket is made up of two pieces shaped so that the rod passes in between them. The outer part of the bracket was lost and the rod had slipped behind the one still attached to the gate, here it was jamming.

It should be like this
But was missing a bit, at least like this it wasn’t jammed

Mick used a boat hook to nudge it over and it was free again, but still not in front of the bracket. It would work for us, but how long before it would jam again? The Lockie said he would pass it on to the local team. A quick stop off to dispose of rubbish in the next pound. It is so nice having a full compliment of recycling bins. Just a shame boaters still just leave bags for someone else to put in the right bin!

We’d chanced coming this far as we hoped there would be space for us before the next bridge. No spaces were immediately obvious, so we loitered on the lock landing hoping. Tilly peered out the windows willing someone to move! Right at the far end there was a space so we took it. The lure of the steps to the road meant Tilly was still locked inside, she stared some more.

Wall and trees!

Feline power eventually worked and the boat behind us moved off, we pulled back knowing that the trees alongside would be more appealing than the steps now. Freedom!!! At long last!!! Trees, smells, walls, friendly cover and ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies again. All was right with the world. I even got a fresh pooh box too!

A contented tip

Time to dig out my scenic brushes. Check them over and see if I needed anything else before we left Bath. This meant lifting the rear steps off thier brackets to access the cupboard below the Alde boiler. The wine cellar hadn’t been restocked yesterday with this job in mind. Blimey there must have been a whole Tilly’s worth of fur down there along with three mice, 1 fish and a bedoingy ball (all cat toys).


The advantage of getting my brush bag out was being able to see the back of the boiler and check things over. Something was leaking a touch, water not gas, a damp patch around a hose going through a shelf. Mick was called in and he tightened things up hoping that this would do the job.

Steps back in position the cellar could be stocked with wine and cat food again. After hearing of two people falling from the back deck whilst their steps have been out this year it was nice to get them back in and safe. I made a list of things that would be handy to have when painting Panto and headed into town.

Regency facebook being checked

Parts of town were blocked off, a regency drama was being filmed. A chap sat at the front of a carriage looking at his mobile waiting for his queue to move, the horse patiently waiting too. Looking in from further round it looked like market stalls had been set up with a lot of fabric everywhere. It all looked a touch cheap to me, but maybe film cameras alter things, or maybe it’s just a cheap production.

Oh well!

I managed to time my shopping well, everything bought that I needed and the rather nice looking wool shop having closed before I got there.

6 locks, 2nd deepest, 1.23 miles, 2 volunteers, 1 river left, 1 clean pooh box, 1 clean pooh bucket, £1.53 card, 0 wool, 500 grams brown rice flour, 5 new brushes, 1 cheap compass, 1 film crew, 1 location lock down, 1 clean and tidy cellar, 1 happy cat.

Last Lock To London. 5th July

Uxbridge Lock to nearly Ballot Box Bridge, Paddington Arm, Grand Union Canal

Yellow hose to water his garden

After watching a chap lower a pump into the canal, presumably to water his garden (bet he doesn’t have an extraction licence) we pushed off and rounded the bend to Uxbridge Lock. We dropped down and then turned into Denham Marine, for once we didn’t have to wait in line the mooring was empty.

79p, yes please!

Here is possibly the cheapest diesel in London, if you spend over £15 you can also fill with water. The tap now has a lock on it, so you can’t hog the service mooring just for water. The tank was topped up to the top but we refrained buying a bottle of gas, the price a shock after the cheap ones in Stoke. We’ll hopefully see a coal boat at some point and we’d rather give them the money.

Last Lock to London Town

A couple more miles and we had reached the last lock before London, Cowley Lock. We’d thought of emptying our yellow water tank here, but on seeing lots of people enjoying the sunshine with pints in hand we decided to wait until later. The yellow water has a touch of a wiff when it is pumped, also people just can’t help talking to Mick as he holds the hose spurting urine into our black container for disposal at the elsan.

Below the lock there was a handy space, we pulled in and had an early lunch. This is where I gave Oleanna half a wash a couple of years ago, a bird in flight had relieved itself all over her. I’ve recently been refraining from giving her a wash, hoping that a layer of dust would help us not to stand out too much amongst the London boats, very few are polished to within an inch of their lives. But most people can see through our thin disguise and make complementary comments.

Now which colour?

Over the next stretch I bobbed down below, only needed for navigational reasons now I could get on with some work. Now I have my paint colour charts again I decided to use them to select what colour I would use as my base for the panto portals and floor.


My helpful assistant decided to join in on the decision, however pink is not the right colour for the job.

Hello Houds

After a short while I could tell we were near Murderers Bridge. West Drayton is where we said goodbye to our first Second Mate, Houdini, in early 2015. We crossed the bridge with a full cat carrier and returned with it empty, cancer having gained another victim. So I always pass under here with a tear in my eye.

There were lots of boats like this on the Lee in 2014
That way

From below progress seemed to be very slow. Oleanna seemed to be in constant tick over, but where were the moored boats? There was only one boat, a big wide beam taking their time in front of us. On a long straight they pulled over to let us pass. Thank goodness we could have been there all night!

Look at that sky

No need to stop for water at Bulls Bridge so Mick swung the tiller out and Oleanna turned onto the Paddington Arm, straight ahead to London Town.

I managed to get a base coat on my model, then a first coat of green. I really hope I’ve chosen the right colour this time. A week ago it was all too bright and busy, so I thought a grey would be better. But earlier today grey didn’t seem jolly enough for a panto, I opted for in between, now i’m not so sure! I hate designers who can’t make their mind up!!

What is going on there?

We pootled along, passing numerous boats. In Southall nobody was feeding the swans, only one coot visible and the water point looks like it is now in use. Plenty of boats, piled high, their own shanty towns on water. I quite like them, but wonder how they see to move their boat.

Big development in Greenford

At 5pm we reached our chosen destination near Ballot Box Bridge. We’ve stopped here a few times now. Next to a nature reserve, a couple of hours away from Paddington, in Zone 4 and should you need it, a big Tescos a good walk away in the old Hoover building.

Zone 4 sunset

2 locks, 12.01 miles, 1 straight on, 1 left, 60 litres, 87.5 miles to ? 2nd colour, 3 portals, 1 floor, plus extra bits.

The Plan. 20th May


Chimneys only just visible behind the railway, just off centre

Whilst googling Barlaston the other day a photo came up of Barlaston Hall, ‘That looks nice’, I thought. I mentioned it to Mick. He looked it up on the map, ‘It should be just about there’. He pointed out of the hatch and sure enough behind the railway and some trees we could make out the brick work of a rather nice looking big house.

Whilst I was working he went for a walk and came back reporting that the hall looked as though no-one was in, maybe it wasn’t occupied. He’d also been to have a look at the nearby village that had been built for workers at the Wedgewood Factory, a similar style of village to New Earswick near York, built for Rowntree employees.

From the bridge

It all sounded far too interesting not to have a look myself, so on Monday we did his walk in the opposite direction. We walked back along the towpath to Oldroad Bridge, here we crossed the canal and walked up to the level crossing.

The platforms
Seen better days

Wedgwood Station was opened in 1940 to serve the Wedgwood Factory, but in 2004 the line was temporarily closed for major works on the line. When the line reopened the station didn’t, the platforms now in need of repair. According to Wikipedia the area is now served by a rail replacement bus service, times can be found on the National Rail Journey Planner.

Avenued road

The new electric factory was built in the 1930’s, moving the factory from Etruria out to Barlaston where it was built in the grounds of Baralston Hall, which the Wedgwood family had bought. The road runs straight from the station up the hill, lined with giant oak trees. Younger trees are planted in between ready to take over when the older ones give up. The factory sits to one side of the road followed by the village.

Four houses not just two

The houses are much bigger than I’d imagined. They give off the impression that they are even bigger, double fronted even. But this isn’t true, each building is actually four houses the end properties having their front doors tucked around the side. A rather nice place to live with work a short distance down the hill, just a shame that the convenience store is now closed, possibly no longer that convenient for those with cars.

Long grass swaying in the breeze

Crossing the road we followed a vague footpath through long grass further up the hill. The sky blue and the view improving across the valley with each step. This brought us out onto the road near to what was most probably stables for the hall. One converted barn currently up for sale here.

St Johns

High hedges mostly of rhododendrons enclose the road. St John The Baptist Church has a wonderful Lych Gate which invites you into the grave yard. The tower is 12th Century, the rest of the building rebuilt in 1888. Inside there are memorials to the Wedgewood family but sadly the church closed in 1980 when large cracks appeared in the masonry due to subsidence. The windows have been replaced with perspex and grills and the face of the clock on the tower is smashed.

Just what would Tilly make of it here?

Next door is the Hall, what we’d really come to look at. The photo on Google really didn’t do it justice. A Grade 1 listed Palladian house built 1756-7 is attributed to Sir Robert Taylor with his trade mark windows.

Not a bad drive

A circular lawn sits in front of the main entrance, the other side of the building having a view that stretches to the canal and beyond for miles right across the valley. Wow!!

What a house!

Woods stretch off to the side, providing spinney like places to play in as I’d had when I grew up in Fulford, York. Our garden bordered on one side by a bank of rhododendrons just like here. This all felt very homely, the house however a couple of hundred years older than the one my Dad had built, it is also about ten times it’s size. But what a house!

What a view!

As we walked down through the fields below the views showed themselves even better, the view of the house wasn’t so bad either.

The garden pond

One field away from the railway a large pond sits, not quite a lake and possibly no longer part of the land that accompanies the house. What a place!

Just look at it!

Yesterday when trying to find out more about the house we’d come across sale details. The house has had a LOT of restoration carried out to it. Wedgewood cared for the hall until the 1960’s when it then fell into disrepair and was vandalised. Lead was removed from the roof, major subsidence from coal mining occurred and the fact that it had been built over a fault in the geology meant that it was only a matter of time before 4 inch large cracks appeared in the brickwork.

Wedgwood twice tried to get the hall demolished, but in 1981 a rescue plan was put into action by SAVE Britains Heritage (big article here). The hall had been offered for £1. If in the following five years the hall was not completely restored then Wedgewood would have the right to buy it back for £1. The subsidence from extensive coal mining in the valley was put right, the Coal Board ending up paying £120,000 in compensation and funded preventative works. With more funding from English Heritage and a loan from the National Heritage Memorial Fund work commenced. The hall is one of the biggest success stories in English heritage.

A house with 24 chimney pots

By the time we had walked back to the railway station we had concocted a plan. If we were to sell our house in Scarborough, NB Oleanna, scrape together all our savings we’d have just enough for a reasonable deposit. But that would mean we’d have no income and I doubt one panto design a year would be enough for a bank to give us a mortgage. So where could we get the remainder?

One way would be to share the house with our family. Siblings could sell their London properties, this would most probably mean we’d not have to sell our house in Scarborough, instead someone from the family could move to the seaside away from smoggy London. The Hall would be large enough to house more than Mick, Tilly and myself, so other siblings, now no longer living in London could also move in.

If anyone want’s to stable their horses we’d have a big paddock for them

With four reception rooms, 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 attic rooms, a study, galleried landings, 3 garages, stables, an orangery, a self contained flat, 1 large kitchen, wine cellar (bigger than under our back steps) we’d most probably have to arrange to have a family get together once a month so as to see each other.

What would we do with Oleanna? Well the pond/lake could be dredged and could become an end of garden mooring. We’d need to build a couple of locks to reach the Trent and Mersey canal,, but these would mean we’d be able to get under the railway line. The station would be the next thing to improve, if we won the Euro millions, we’d be able to have work done to the station and make it into a request stop.

All perfectly possible. We just need to dissuade the people who have put an offer in already.

I think we have a plan!

I’m in love.

No Ducklings Harmed 29th April

Littleborough to Slattocks Top Lock

The voice of Houdini (our emergency phone which acts as an alarm) wasn’t required this morning as both of us were wide awake due to the bickering of the Canadian Geese. Blimey they were noisy. But it did mean that we were up and ready to set off ahead of time along with Clare and Graeme.

Heading out with NB Mr Blue Sky following

The sun was out and the hills glowed around us as we pootled along the long pound towards Rochdale with Oleanna taking the lead. Two swing bridges to negotiate before we reached any locks.

Swing bridges

I hopped off to do the first, Clare who’d been walking came and helped, they would do the second one. A couple of ladies were picking up rubbish and warned that the bridge landing would be too shallow at the next bridge so to carry on before picking crew up. They were doing a good job as once we passed them the rubbish started to build up.

Grand buildings

Views stretched out across the valley. Large red brick buildings with clock towers upstaging the terraced houses. But soon these vanished and barbed wire took over as we came into Rochdale. Graeme and I went on ahead to set the lock, Clare needed a push off from the side once the lock was full the bow having grounded.


Today we would start to get our rhythm at the locks worked out. The next few days we’ll get plenty of practice to hone our method. With the next lock within reach, once the paddles were lifted I walked down to the next lock to set that ready, leaving Graeme to close up.

No ducklings today

When I arrived at Moss Lower Lock there was one chap sat watching, by the time we left there were another three plus one man and his dog. Five years ago we’d had very helpful advice from the chaps drinking cheap lager here, they were most worried that we didn’t harm the ducklings. Today there were none, so the chaps kept quiet and chatted amongst themselves, maybe it takes a few cans to get them to be more vocal.

Going down

Mick left the lock first, Graeme and I closed up behind, I walked over the road bridge to follow the towpath under it. The wide bridge an ideal place to stop and pick up crew. But Mick had headed on, to leave space for NB Mr Blue Sky, he was on the off side some distance away. How on earth did he expect me to get there? There was no obvious means. so it was decided that I’d get a lift over by boat.

Easier said than done, a bywash made positioning that bit harder and submerged obstacles clanked at the prop, but we got there in the end and I stepped back onto Oleanna. Mick all the time stood patiently with a slight look of bewilderment on his face. He’d abandoned me! But then he pointed out the bridge now behind us. The wide bridge was infact two. The modern road bridge with an old canal roving bridge right up against it. Yes, I could so easily have wound my way up and over the bridge to reach him. In my defence this was not evident in the slightest from beneath the bridge.

Ahhh, it’s a roving bridge!

NB Mr BS went on ahead to the next locks. We soon had to stop. At Bridge 62 I hopped off with the centre rope, the engine was turned off and the weed hatch cover was undone. Our first collection of rubbish! Coming the other way five years ago, dealing with low pounds we would have been able to furnish a whole house and have quite a good wardrobe from what came off Lillian’s prop, so we know this won’t be the only time the weedhatch cover has to come off.

At Blue Pits Higher Lock Clare and Graeme were waiting patiently for us. As we descended we discussed only opening one gate to leave, that would be the one in front of NB Mr BS. Graeme would then either head off to set the next lock or get on board, Mick would bring Oleanna out of the open gate and I would then close up behind. This makes less work closing up, that is unless a gate opens itself again!

New houses

New houses sit alongside Lock 52. This is where there used to be a glimmer of a view across to where Mick’s sister Anne lived at Buckley Barn Cottage, known as BBC in the family. Today the trees have grown blocking the view totally. We still waved.

Five years ago, BBC with the blue windows
It’s still there somewhere!

Below the lock a long jolly mural covers the wall. Cats, boats, chilled medication it’s all there.

One last lock before we reached Slattocks. As we pulled in just after the petrol station (handy for a jet wash) there was a really tantalising smell of toast and cheese. A roadside caravan food stall was doing very good business and nearly had our custom too. But we were good and retired indoors for our lunch.


The towpath was at a suitable height for me to have a go at the gunnels. Last year I’d only managed to attack the starboard side before winter hit. This now shows as the scrapes along the gunnel on the port side have allowed water in and rust has done it’s thing, now being chipped off at ease. So I set too with a scraper, followed by sand paper and then a coat of fertan. Clare was also out touching up their gunnels so we managed to have chats to break up the sanding back. Next opportunity I’ll do a coat of primer where needed, this may well not be until we get to the flashes on the Trent and Mersey where the towpath is good and low. But at least the fretan will stop the rust from progressing.

Happy to have company down the locks

5 locks, 6.57 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, 1st trip down the weedhatch, 0 ducklings harmed, 12 at our mooring, 5 old soaks, M62, 1 wave, 1 huge patch of rust, 1 hour sanding, 1 coat fertan, 1 lasagne, 0 shore leave, 2nd amendment of 4ply sock pattern looking hopeful.

Wednesday Roast. 24th April

Lock 31

Time for a tidy up and to put the oven on at 10:30am.

A grey day, but still a lovely mooring

Years and years ago we had invited Mick’s niece Ruth to join us for a Sunday roast in Scarborough. This was to include Mick’s other niece Fran, several dates were muted, but the plan never came together. So far Fran has managed a couple of roasts with us, but Ruth has missed out.

Us with a bottle of Guzzler

Five years ago Ruth and James helped us up through Rochdale, Ruth being local she could sweet talk the locals for us. That day was busy and we ended up being invited round to theirs for food. So as we were in the area we had to invite them over for the long awaited roast.

Ruth managed to squeeze in behind the dinette

This trip over the Pennines we are letting them off assisting, as Ruth is seven months pregnant. It was lovely to see them as we’ve not been together for a couple of years. Plenty of news to catch up on from both sides.

Shame there’s not much left over!

The joint of pork, having sat in the fridge uncovered overnight, almost had good crackling, the nearest I’ve got so far on a boat. I think the LPG keeps the air in the oven a touch too damp. This was followed by the last of our apple and blackberries from the freezer made into a crumble. Very tasty even if I do say so myself.

I took advantage of them having visitors to have a better look around. Today I made a new friend. It’s a shame there was a wall in the way to bring it home and I suspect it might have been too much of a mouthful!

I could play with you for hours!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 plus 1 bump visitors, 1 shoulder of pork, 20 roast potatoes, 16 carrots and parsnips, 1 head brocolli, 8 garlic cloves, 1 apple and blackberry crumble accompanied by chilled medication, 1 lovely afternoon, 1 swooshy tailed friend.

Back in 2014, during our first summer afloat, we got the news that my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been on quite a journey but is now very well and enjoying life to the full. To celebrate this and also to help other people, she and my brother will be taking part in this year’s London Moonwalk on 11 May. The Moonwalk is a marathon length walk through London at night in aid of breast cancer. It is quite a challenge which they have been training hard for.
If you would like to help them celebrate and help others by making a financial contribution please visit their sponsorship page at

A Third But Only A Fifth. 23rd April

Todmorden to Lightbank Lock 31

incredible edible todmorden

Chores first thing. Water, rubbish, yellow water, Tilly’s pooh box and a loaf of bread that we’d forgotten yesterday, then we were ready to push off.

Todmorden or Library Lock 19

Mick untied whilst I went on ahead over the busy road to get the guillotine lock ready for us. Here a key of power is required to power up the bottom gate, but a windlass is also needed to empty the lock. The gate wouldn’t lift so a few turns of the crank on the other side lowered the level, once this was done I could lift the gate. There is a level switch on this gate which played up when we were on a hire boat years ago. This necessitated our first call out to British Waterways, who sent a chap who knew just where to poke and prod to get it to work again. Today it all worked as it should and the ground paddles to fill the chamber were quite restrained compared to most on the Rochdale.

This was Lock 19 and we have so far travelled 10 miles along the canal from Sowerby Bridge. The canal being 32.3 miles long, so we’d just about reached a third of the distance, but there are 92 locks (if you count Tuel Lane as two) so we’d done just over a fifth of the locks. From here on the locks will keep up a steady pace and often it’s not worth getting back on board. When we headed to The Tour de France five years ago, Frank and I joked that we’d walked all the way from Manchester to Hebden Bridge. This was almost true, certainly walking round the locks adds to the steps you do, making up for the distances you ride.

The Great wall of Tod

Round the bend is the expansive wall known as The Great Wall Of Tod, said to contain 4 million brick. This brings the railway out from Lancashire into Todmorden high above the canal.

Gauxholme Railway Bridge with the locks

Soon follows the first batch of locks, five close together, but one just out of view round a bend. The fourth lock was over flowing with water so I suspected a boat was coming down and soon they came into view, this saved me emptying one of the locks as we rose. It’s amazing how much water can come down with a boat, flowing over gates and keeping the bywashes going. I walked up to help them down a small top up of water for the lock to be in their favour. Once in and descending, water was still coming over the top gates and they were concerned that the level would never equalise. So we walked back up and closed the gates they’d left for us on the lock above. I suspect this had little affect as we still needed Mick to help open the bottom gate.

Rising into a low pound

We swapped locks and we started to rise, it’s amazing how much water one lock can take out of a pound. The level dropping by several feet. We could of course have emptied the lock and used it ourselves, filling it with the water coming from the emptying lock above, but they had already started to empty the lock before I got there, so the water was going to waste anyway.

We were soon up and crawling along the next pound to the next lock. Once up Gauxholme Highest Lock we pootled on towards the next lock, where we pulled in for lunch, refueling halfway up todays locks.

Bit of a leak there

Smithylane Lock needed emptying and the level in the pound above did not look good. A very large bubbling up from under the top gates looked like it was causing the problem. We rose up the lock which brought the level in the pound above down by about four inches. I stayed to close the gate instead of leaving it for Mick. Oleanna cleared the top cill, but the water in the pound was bubbling, shallow water which was very obvious to us.


With the gate closed I walked to the next lock and emptied it. A phone call from Mick, he was stuck mid channel, I’d need to let water down from above. With the lock gates still closed I lifted both bottom paddles and opened one at the top, hoping not to have to send too much water down as the next pound looked a touch low too. After four inches had gone down Oleanna was moving again, I closed the top paddle.

Oleanna rose in the next chamber, a leaking bottom gate not helping matters as the pound above started to bubble as it got shallower. Mick got off to open the gate, taking his time, I could see the cogs going and chivied him along. The longer it took to get out of the lock the less water we would have in the next pound as the one below was now taking advantage of being topped up.

I closed the gate again and let Mick slowly bring Oleanna up the straight to the next lock. No extra water needed this time, just a bit of a lumpy bottom. The next pound was just below the bywash so there’d be no trouble filling the lock.

Opposite the chippy

Quite a bit has changed around Hollings Lock 27. New houses are being built where a car park for Grandma Pollards was five years ago, a textile mill before that, a lady was watering her new grass at her newly purchased house right by the lock. I nearly asked if the main attraction for buying the house was the canal or Grandma Pollards opposite.

Grandma Pollards is a well renowned fish and chips restaurant, some would say the best fish and chips ever. A double decker bus sits out the back where you can eat and alongside the canal there are benches for walkers and boaters to use. This is our fourth time passing and it still wasn’t the right time of day to stop, only having had lunch a short while before hand. One thought was maybe we could catch a bus or train back in a couple of days to finally sample them.

One more to go

The next couple of locks had flowing bywashes as we approached them, the last lock full to the brim and overflowing, a welcome sight. Our chosen mooring for today was between locks 30 and 31. Here there is a longer pound that curves around a hill. We were surprised at there not being any other boat moored as it is a lovely spot, we could get into the side too! This will do for a couple of days as tomorrow rain is forecast.

Nearly there

I decided to see if I could find the opening times of Grandma Pollards so that we could plan our return. The first things that came up on Google was that after 70 years of frying up the best fish and chips and homemade cheese and onion pies Tony the owner had decided to retire. What!!!! None of his children wanted to take on the business so the shop had closed shortly after Christmas. No more Grandma Pollards and we’d never managed to sample their wares.

12 locks, 2.12 miles, 4 miles walked, 119 ft 9 inches rise today, 289 ft 11 inches up from Sowerby Bridge, 2 lumpy pounds, 1 loaf bread, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 1 guillotine, 23 years of SJT, 0 fish and chips, 2 disappointed boaters.

To Tod. 22nd April

Lock 15 to Todmorden Services

Sorry Tilly not this morning. Somehow we’d slept in. We wake when we wake and normally that is at a similar time each morning, but today neither of us stirred until an hour later than normal. Maybe it was the six month old halloumi cheese we’d had yesterday on the barbecue. The extra hour in bed meant that the rest of the day was an hour late.

A load of washing did it’s thing whilst we had breakfast, then another load put on as we pushed off, the linen drawer had got quite full and we wanted to make the most of the sun today.

The approach to Lobb Mill Lock

Approaching Lobb Mill Lock we could see where the floods had taken their toll.A large chunk of towpath had been washed away below the lock. A new manhole had been installed and now the towpath needed to be made back up, in some places the gash was three feet deep. A chap sat outside his lock side cottage eating a bowl of cereal.

Nice breakfast location

The cottage had escaped the flooding as they have gates that cut the water out, but with the canal on one side and river the other they must have been a little dry island in amongst a rushing sea. He pointed to how high the water had been against his garden wall, only a couple of inches from the top!

Mill chimneys and sunken boats

Now in the Pennines properly, mill chimneys punctuate the landscape and houses sit high up on top of the steep valley. Before Old Royd Lock we passed where we’d moored up for the day on Lillian, leaving our locking companion Derek to continue on his own. Warning signs decorate the metal fence and it looks like one boat didn’t heed their message.

The Green Route

Gradually we entered Todmorden. The canal towpath bordered with edible plants. Fruit trees, raspberry canes, gooseberry plants and rosemary were all visible. Many of the flower beds in Tod have been given over to the community. Here are grown herbs, fruit and veg. In return for a bit of weeding you are welcome to help yourself.

Tod services on the left, guillotine lock off centre

Up Shop Lock and we could see the moorings by the service block. We’d been warned of an abandoned boat sitting right in the way, it was still there, but there were signs of activity on board. As we pulled up tucking ourselves right at the end furthest away from the pub a chap asked if we’d be going up the lock. No, we planned on doing some shopping at least before continuing. Thank goodness as when he started his engine up the clouds of smoke took us back to the height of the industrial revolution!

by Morrisons

After lunch we walked into town. it being a bank holiday I didn’t expect much to be open, however Mick was more hopeful. No butchers, in fact no shops open at all. Bear Wholefoods shop and cafe has gone after thity years on Rochdale Road, replaced by Yakumama a Latin American cantina. I’m sure it is very nice, but I was looking forward to perusing all the ingredients. Oh well! Morrisons had to do for a stock up shop.

Whilst Mick wandered up the canal to see if there was anywhere else we could moor I got on with some work, trying to catch up with my sketches. I was doing quite well until there was a voice outside ‘Pip are you in there?’ ‘Pip are you asleep?’ I couldn’t really pretend that I wasn’t in as our whirligig was full of washing. It was an old friend from Croydon College who for a time I used to make models with. Alan had been chatting to a mutual friend and had heard that we were in Tod, so he’d come down to say hello.

Local residents

Fortunately he understood about me trying to get work done and we’ve tentatively arranged to meet up sometime over the next few days. Handily we’ll be on his route home from work for the next week.

At 8pm I finally put together my email to send off to Chippy, only a few days later than I’d wanted.

3 locks, 1.48 miles, 30 ft 7 inches risen, 170 ft 2 inches since Sowerby, 1 sunk boat, 2 inches away, 2 loads washing, 3 bickering white geese, 34 illiterate Canadian geese, 0 bear, 2 versions, 21 sketches, 1 old college friend, 1 bored cat, 0.5 worming pill finally eaten.