Category Archives: #unit21

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

Sharing. 30th March

Ten years ago today we stepped off our shareboat, NB Winding Down for the last time. Well Mick visited her again when showing prospective purchasers around. But the 30th March 2013 was the end of a three week cruise when we’d moved her from the then Carefree Cruising base at Elton Moss near Sandbach to a new base at Welton Haven on the Leicester Section.

We’d really enjoyed our near four years as shareboaters. Four weeks a year onboard the same boat (despite every owner bringing and leaving their own cling film!) had been made the most of.

A week iced in at Aqueduct Marina where we only got to move to top up with diesel and have a pump out.

A March trip when we had to buy ourselves sun hats and suncream and ventured down the Anderton Boat Lift onto the River Weaver. We hope to return this year to spend more time on the river.

The odd extra week came our way that other owners couldn’t use. Hmmm!

It was an affordable way to spend our holiday weeks from work afloat.

Ten years ago we didn’t know where to go for breakfast after packing the car to set off back home, we ended up on the bridge over the M1 at Leicester Forest East Services. Following three weeks of the tranquillity of the waterways the chair scraping noise from mid morning diners was SO loud it had us in stitches.

In the last ten years we sold our share, bought NB Lillyanne to keep us going until we had Oleanna built. The start of our original build wasn’t so good and we had to start all over again, but it was certainly worth it, as Oleanna is a far better boat than she would have been.

NB Winding Down we think is now based at Aston Marina outside Stone. Originally she was blue, then green and very recently she has returned to being blue again, just as we’d got used to spotting her in bright green. Maybe we’ll pass her this year and be able to say hello again.

Up in Scarborough it’s been a busy time. The back bedroom has been decorated. New curtains made for the living room and dining room on one side of the house. The sample of the front cloth for panto last year is now stretched on a frame and hung on a wall. The room may now have to be called the wave room as it also contains a set of photos of wave dodgers in the North Bay here in Scarborough.

Last week we had a day out to Bempton, hoping to see Puffins. Despite both of us having lived in Scarborough since the 1990’s neither of us had been. Sadly it was far too windy for the Puffins so we had to make do with thousands of Gannets instead.

The duvet that sprung holes last year now has a new cambric cover. My painting dungarees have had an upgrade, new elastic, a patch and new pockets for extra kneeling pads, which I’m hoping to make out of some giant mug yoga mat offcuts. They are now considerably more colourful and maybe a little bit in theme for this years Chippy Panto. Yes, I am returning for my fifth panto at Chippy. I can’t say any more about it at the moment as they haven’t announced anything yet. But it promises to be very colourful and toe tapping, it may have the audience dancing in the aisles!

The house is a very full house at the moment with two lodgers and tonight it will be opening night of Comedy of Errors at the SJT. We’re heading along to see the show and await to see what a lobster has to do with the Shakespearian comedy!

#unit21 played it’s last two shows at The Storyhouse in Chester last week. What a show! It was a shame to not be there for the final performance, but Chester is a long way from Scarborough. I’ll be meeting up with some of the Dark Horse actors in a few weeks time on a different project.

We keep in touch with the waterways. Our friend Chris on NB Elektra has a live bowcam so we can get a pootleing fix. He’s currently on the Shropie and it looks like it’s been raining this morning. We tend not to watch so many vlogs, but do pop by The Pirate Boat to catch up with Heidi every now and again. It’s nice to see a few bloggers are back out and about on the water too. NB Bonjour, NB Briar Rose, NB What A Lark, NB Hadar, NB Ali’s Dream to name a few. I’m getting quite home sick.

Our planned cruise now has slight alterations due to a family get together and work commitments for me. So we now have a firm date for when we’ll need to be back on board and heading towards the Pennines.

Saturday will see me taking up route on the sofa or my Mum’s nursing chair to knit. My Sockathon will start after breakfast on the 1st April. I need to average a pair of socks every three days, hopefully I’ll manage more, but we’ll see. Donations of yarn are starting to arrive. I’ve collected my sock yarn stash together along with needles and the patterns from last year. I just need to work out what gauge each yarn will knit up at, I’m hoping I can do this by comparing yarn using wraps per inch rather than knitting a swatch for each yarn. Fingers crossed, or should that be needles crossed! Any suggestions of things I can listen to or watch whilst knitting would be appreciated. We don’t have Netflix or anything you have to pay for.

I’ve promised myself a walk each day so that I keep moving, I can’t cease up, there are lots of locks to do soon. I will also be helping Tilly to make her Hot Paw Buns as Easter is getting close.

Fundraising so far? I’ve just about reached two thirds of my target! Thank you so much to those who’ve donated already. Still a way to go once I start knitting. If everyone who’s visited the blog this last week chipped in £1 I’d be sailing towards my target of being able to train up an Admiral Nurse with the skills and knowledge to support families affected by Dementia.

0 time to write lists, 2 skeins to make into cakes!

Restoring Power. Catch up 4th March

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

Daffodils are coming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A productive visit.

Admiring the view on high

Meanwhile on land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blistering paint

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

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

Tide’s out

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

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

#unit21 socks

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

A Sunny Scarborough Sunday walk

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

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

0 Winds Due To Wind. 18th February

Bye have a nice visit

Mick headed to see Oleanna today. When we ‘d left last week there were a few things that we’d left on board due to only one of us carrying things due to my bad back, so these needed collecting. There also hadn’t been enough time to chat with Alastair about some jobs Mick was wanting him to do.

Then there was also the matter of the old alternator that had gone faulty on us in Shardlow. It had moved to Scarborough with us with the thought that a chandlers here might be able to get it refurbished for us. However Alastair said he could sort it, so that needed returning to Goole. With a bike used as a sherpa Mick set off, hoping that he’d fixed a stubborn puncture, Oh for both bikes to have solid tyres!


Mick and Alastair talked about the jobs we’d like him to do.

Stern nav light fitting, Mick will do the wiring on another visit.

Alternator refurbished.

Check the engine mounts and give the engine a general check over. Mick does Oleanna’s servicing but it’s always nice to have someone totally au fait to give her the once over. When we had RCR gold membership we got an engine check each year, but we’ve now cut back on our membership to save some pennies.

Fix a coolant leak. Mick thought this might be from a hose connected to the skin tank, but Alastair thought it was the connection rather than the hose. He’ll tighten it up and sort it which ever.

Tighten the stern glad.

They also chatted about the tappets in the engine. Mick ran the engine and they decided they sounded fine, so that will be left for another year.

Mick’s Christmas present keeping a watchful eye when we’re not about

Mick had also wanted to top up with diesel. Manoeuvring around the marina would have been tricksy today due to strong winds, so that can wait for next time. If we had jerry cans he could fill the tank that way. But as we tend to cruise and not sit about for too long in one place we have never really felt the need to own jerry cans, they take up space. Maybe the price of diesel will have dropped again when we next fill up, Domestic rate in Goole last week was £1.09.

In need of a tidy

The stove was cleared out, not enough time to sweep the chimney today.

A list of things to return with had been put together. The washing drawer was emptied, contents washed and hung up to dry. The interior of Oleanna still needs a good tidy, the floor certainly needs a good wash, maybe even a sand in places followed by a coat of oil before we are back on board full time.

Meanwhile back on land. Tilly has been meeting the new neighbours. The cats who used to live in the area have all moved away, now there are new felines to get to know…..or not!

She hadn’t done any packing for a few days, so I thought I’d give her a helping paw. Thank you Tilly, everything had to wait for Mick to put them away as stooping is still a thing I’m avoiding.

#unit21 rehearsals have been going well. I had a postponed visit to watch a run this week and managed to do a few jobs whilst I was there. Next week is production week and the first shows that kick off the tour. Some last minute knitting has kept me busy in front of the TV. Getting my fingers into training for this years sockathon, there will be more news about this once my show has opened.

Curtain lining has arrived and hopefully this coming week Dulux will deliver everything I need to give a bedroom a makeover in the next few weeks before a lodger moves in. It’s a room that has been decorated by tenants through the years and not very well. But having said that it wasn’t too good before they even started! Here’s hoping my back is fully mended.

Mick and Frank have been dishwasher installers and kitchen adjusters. The old dishwasher had given up the ghost. A damp problem in the last few years and the fact that I think the kitchen had been built around it made it a challenging job. Thank you Frank once again.

Sadly we’ve not had chance as yet to go for one of our walks around Scarborough, my back and work getting in the way so far. Hopefully we’ll put that right soon as we’ve not even been to the beach yet!

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 winds due to the wind, 1 jobs list, 3 new cats, 1 woofer, 1 dead sewing machine, 3 varieties pancakes, 1 hat, 30 badges, 1 alternator, 2 much money being spent, 1 quote, 0 funding, 1 McCarthy visit, 1 vanity project, 1 new PM, 1 salt and pepper reunited with us.

Twinge. 5th February

Cromwell Lock to Torksey Lock

Sunrise at Cromwell

No time for tea in bed this morning, there was the tide to catch. The sun rose opposite our mooring, what a beautiful sight, shame there wasn’t time to enjoy it.

I realised we’d not moved the hose and other bits and bobs out from the cratch, this makes access to the anchor easier should we need to lower it in an emergency. I picked up the hose and brought it into the boat. Then mooring spikes were popped away into a bow locker, as I did this my back gave a slight twinge. Lifting the bucket of other stuff gave me another twinge. The cratch was now a lot clearer but my back was a lot sorer! Stooping under the cratch cover was not a thing I wanted to do, so Mick rolled the covers up as I managed to walk up the ramp from the mooring to see if that would help.

Mick radioed the lock keeper, the lights at the lock turned green, he was ready for us. We untied, winded and headed for the lock. Our plans were checked with the lock keeper, time of departure tomorrow from Torksey. He’d call ahead to let the other locks know we were out on the river.

At 9am the paddles lifted to empty the massive lock, gradually Oleanna descended to the current level of the tidal River Trent. We were off, the fast route north, heading downstream with the tide.

Wiggly river navigation

We’ve done this route several times now. The Boating Association charts are always with us at the stern. The red line well worth following. If you stray from the marked channel you can end up grounding on sand banks. This could mean you having to wait for the next flood to float you again. If the tides are heading towards neap tides you may have to wait several days before you can move again, so it’s well worth following that red line, it’s easy.

Go before you fish!

New red signs stand high on the east bank. The camera zoomed in to take a photo so we could see what they said. Ahhh! Yes! There were rather a lot of fishermen out on the banks!

We joined the Geraghty zoom for a short while. Our reception not quite good enough on a phone to join in properly today. There was an update on sofa covers, sadly we couldn’t see the results as everyone was too small.

Us all wrapped up

What a beautiful day. Blue skies, high clouds of many varieties. But blimey it was chilly!

A runner making the most of a beautiful day

Navigational markers on the sides of the river help you to know where you are. Km markers noting the distance from Nottingham. Red and green markers, although quite a few now have lost their tops.

The charts show you what landmarks to line up to, old mills, pylons and white posts. Submerged islands to avoid. Notes on which span of bridges to pass under noted by the graffiti on them. Someone however does need to refresh the graffiti as on Fledborough Viaduct it is now just about rusted out of view.

Fledborough Viaduct

At around the 64km marker we were following the channel round a steep bend when the one and only other boat we’d see today came towards us. There was just enough time for the chap to warn us of a tree in the channel, somewhere! We’re not sure we got to see the tree, maybe that is something to look out for tomorrow.

A boat!

The cold was starting to penetrate the thermals. Hand warmers required. My back gradually making it harder and harder to move about.

Cottam Power Station, not at work today

Ahead Cottam Power Station could be seen, we were nearly there. A warm up inside might do me good, but we’d be in Torksey soon.


A flight of Cormorants sat in trees. The river side of the trees white, was this from a liberal spraying of cormorant guano?

Torksey Junction ahead

Round the next bend the familiar building just before Torksey Junction, then the large sign announced our arrival at todays destination. We turned into the cut, a boost of power to make the move was needed as the pull from the out going tide was still evident.

Mick pulled us up at the end of the pontoon. We’d not be heading up the lock onto the canal this time as we need to head off early in the morning a little before the tide turns. At least today we wouldn’t be shouted at by Tilly wanting to be out.

Coming in to moor

My back was now causing problems, I had to wait for Mick to moor up and then come to open the back doors, the steps at the stern a touch of a challenge. I really hope this improves as I’ve the #unit21 floor to finish painting at the end of next week!

An early lunch and then nothing much for the remainder of the day. Time spent sat down has been followed by time standing, trying to find comfortable positions to ease my lower back. Fingers crossed this is short lived.

1 lock, 16.3 miles, 1 right, 1 boat, 1 twinge that lasted all day, 5 layers to be increased tomorrow, 1 cosy boat, 1 quiet boat, 1 thumbs up thankfully, 2 boaters ready for 9pm.

Don’t Let The Cat Out! 4th February

King’s Marina to Cromwell Lock

Tilly keeping an eye out for cats!

Since arriving back in Scarborough it’s taken Tilly a while to settle down. She knows where she is, but the house makes odd noises, different from those on Oleanna. Add into the mix our lodger Claire making noises in the morning and singing in the evening, it all makes for a nervous cat. Over the last couple of days Tilly has ventured outside into the static world the house is surrounded by. She obviously remembers the local cats and is constantly looking out for Alan, Betty and Shoes. I have tried to explain to her that none of them live here anymore! But still she looks. The annoying thing for us humans though is that we thought the runny cat pooh would have ceased since Shoes moved away, however it is still lurking in the grass!

I managed to borrow a sewing machine from my friends Dawn and Lee at Animated Objects, so all the costume alterations have been finished. A few small house jobs have been done and I’ve been baking.

I made some fresh curd cheese and a batch of Yorkshire Curd Tarts to use up the pastry left over from mince pies. The slightly orange pastry was rather nice with the curds. Then yesterday I made a loaf of cheese and spring onion gluten free soda bread using up half the buttermilk I’d been left with from the curd cheese. We had to try a bit with our dinner last night as it smelt so good. Very very tasty. A definite recipe I’ll be doing again, there is still enough buttermilk left (now in the freezer) for another loaf.

Snowdrops everywhere in Scarbados

Now that Maud’s Swing Bridge on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal is left open to boat traffic we needed to identify a window of opportunity to move Oleanna up to Goole. I have work commitments over the next few weeks and we wanted to give Tilly a chance to settle down in the house before we’d be leaving her for several days. We estimated the journey would take us a minimum of four days.

Mick checked the tide times, then the weather. Our first window looked good. A couple of days ago he called Cromwell to check on tide times for Sunday. Then a call to Keadby to check times there too. Both locks were booked.

Time to work out how to get back to Newark. The railway line out of Scarborough has been closed for much of this week due to engineering works, strikes and the poor service on Transpennine Express made us look at the buses to York, The Coastliner. These run every hour and currently a single fare being £2, it would be a bargain.

Going over Ouse Bridge in York

So this morning we were up early, breakfasted, a few items packed, soda bread and my work things in case we are held up on route. We caught the 9:10 which was pretty busy already and by the time it arrived in Malton it was chocka, I think we even passed hopeful passengers at a bus stop on our way into York. We hopped off at the station and had a half hour wait for the next train to Newark Northgate arriving a little after midday.

Pontoon B at King’s Marina

We headed straight to the marina as the office would soon be closing. When we’d arrived, we’d imagined Oleanna would be stuck for several weeks, maybe even months, in the end it was only nine nights. Two bags of coal were bought and popped on the roof.

I then headed to buy supplies whilst Mick topped up the water tank and made ready for our departure. I hunted round Waitrose for yellow labels. We’d brought a few days worth of food with us, but needed another couple of days supplies along with milk and cereal. Two heavy bags later, including two boxes of wine, I could drop the gate fob back at the office.

Click photo for recipe

Lunch was had, soda bread, still pretty good even when cold. Then it was time to put our life jackets on and push off, reverse out from the pontoon and say goodbye to King’s Marina. Paula the marina manager came out to wave us goodbye and wish us a good journey. Thank you for accommodating us in your friendly marina.

Goodbye Pretty neighbours

Left. We headed towards Nether Lock where I climbed up a ladder to head to work the lock. The paddles were half raised, it was refilling itself. I turned the key of power and encouraged it to fill quicker, which worked, except the panel still had to work it’s way through all the button presses! It took quite a while before eventually the button moved the gates. Getting my phone out to take a photo of Oleanna coming into the lock, I lost grip and it bounced across the concrete, each time getting closer to the lock edge! Thankfully it stopped a foot short of me having to replace it, a shame the screen is now cracked.

Nether Lock

Back in April last year the levels had taken forEVER to equalise when emptying the lock to come in, I did it twice in one day, so today I was prepared for a long wait again. The lock did not disappoint! I had to press the button several times when it did nothing at all for it to get itself ready to open the gates. But we got there in the end. A helpful couple walking their dogs offered to finish working the lock for me, so that I could get back on. I turned them down, no way would I be climbing down the 12ft or so of lock ladder when below at the lock landing it would only be three foot of ladder.

We passed North Muskham, Muskham Ferry where a group from King’s Marina were enjoying a few pints having come down in ribs. They all waved us on our way.

Fishermen lined the banks. One young lad had caught a fish worthy of a photo, his mate catching one a quarter the size was still eager to have the photographic proof. Then a group of men in waders stood round weighing up the days catch, there must have been a match on by Cromwell Lock.

Muskham Ferry

Mick winded Oleanna to face upstream and bought us into the pontoon. Time to head to the bow to tie up. We don’t often cruise without Tilly on board. When opening a door it is automatic to check to see if she is waiting on the step inside. Don’t let the cat out! She’s never allowed out until we are moored up, yet she is so excited to be somewhere new, she charges to the other door before you can get there. Gentle persuasion is required to keep her away from an opening door, sometimes a ‘Grrrrr!’ is required to keep her eagerness in check, it works quite well. Doors are rarely left open, they always get closed behind you. At times trying to keep Tilly in is a pain, but today there was certainly one big hole without her on board. Hope her magic food bowl has opened up and that she’s cosy on our bed.

1 lock, 4.9 miles, £2 coastliner, 1 train, 1 Lincoln Cathedral in view, 0.5 loaf of soda bread gone, 2 boxes wine, 3 yellow stickers, 2 boaters back afloat, 1 feline boater stuck on dry land, 2 pork chops and 2 jacket potatoes.

Shrunk or Grown. 26th 27th January.

King’s Marina

I was off to catch a train, well three that would get me to Huddersfield mid morning. The current track record of Transpennine Express is really quite poor, trains being cancelled here there and everywhere, so my last leg of the journey couldn’t be guaranteed. Thankfully all went to plan without too long standing on platforms in the cold. I even got to see Lincoln Cathedral from my first train way way off in the distance.

Coming into the marina to fill up

Mick was left to check in with Paula the marina manager at King’s. She was wanting to give us the best deal on mooring, cheaper to pay for three months than on a daily rate. However, as soon as we know that the way ahead is open, the tides are right and I’m not at work we will be moving downstream. So Mick opted to pay weekly.

Borrowing the directors sewing machine meant I could finish sewing one costume. Now all nine actors have overalls they can wear to rehearse in over the next few weeks. We got everyone into their costumes to check them over. Had anything changed? One chaps overall seemed a touch too tight, easy to undo a couple of darts in the back. Sadly someone else was in a situation where the zip wouldn’t do up, a case of shrinking and expanding going on in unison. Notes were taken for expansion, all those off cuts from arms and legs come in handy for waist lines.

Mark, Rebekah, Alice and Meghan

Time to position the numbers I’d made. With everyone stood in a row they looked like mug shots of convicts.

Drawn out and based in

Rehearsals continued elsewhere for the remainder of the day giving me use of the studio floor. Connor came to help roll out the new show flooring, cutting the big roll into three and then marking out the design. Base coats of white were applied, all ready for the green to go next time.


I’ve been quite astounded at the price the Premier Inn were wanting to charge me for production week, so on this trip I’d booked an AirBnB to try out for a night. With a bag of alterations to tack I headed to find my room and see if the access codes worked. The front door was easy, the one for my room a little bit more tricksy, but I got there in the end.

I checked around to see what I had, a small kitchen area with cooker fridge and microwave. No sharp knife and slightly heat affected cupboards the laminate edging having come away sometime ago. The cooker and fridge are a bonus, no storing breakfast on a window sill and a heater that actually works without a big fan going constantly.

Chips were only for reference purposes

With some supplies bought along with a portion of chips from the nearby takeaway I set to with alterations sat on my sofa with a huge TV mounted on the wall. TV signal here would certainly get a thumbs down as I couldn’t seem to get any terrestrial channels. I also didn’t want to interact with Alexa as so far I’ve managed to avoid having her in my life. Eventually I did manage to get something to have on in the back ground, early episodes of Silent Witness, the lab used to be next to Kings’ College in Cambridge.

My digs

Digs verdict. Well it would be nice if the gap under the door didn’t let light in constantly. The microwave clock is easily covered up with a sketch book or tea towel. The shower door was easily rehung. The romantic view from behind the blind of buildings three foot away did mean no noise from the ring road next door (quieter than the Premier Inn). The big strip light was useful for sewing, but gave an atmosphere similar to that found in a dentists chair. If I stay again I’ll try to fix the shower so that more water comes out of the head than dribbles down the pipe. Having a fridge and cooker though may outweigh other things and it is two minutes walk from the theatre and £200 cheaper than Premier Inn, A bit more cutlery wouldn’t go amiss though.

Back at Dark Horse I finished the alterations on costumes, helped with a mark up of the stage for full rehearsals next week. Then when I was left on my own it was time to don my mask and finish off the giant mug. Getting things lined up and stuck on straight took time. The outside was covered, then the handle. Thankfully my plan for this worked out and two tins of stinky glue later the mug was finished.

Still with time before my booked train, I worked my way through a few props that needed painting. Packed everything away and then removed my mask. Hopefully the aroma on spray paint and any stinky glue will dissipate over the weekend.

My return journey was slightly hampered by late running trains, but this actually meant I still arrived back in Newark on time.

During the day, posts on the Trentlink group had been going about regarding Maud’s Bridge on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. Then an official C&RT notice was put out.

Update on 27/01/2023:

We have now assessed the works required to the bridge following the damage caused by the road traffic accident and are now preparing for the comprehensive repair to be completed by our contractor.

In advance of this, following advice from our engineers, we will take a team to open the bridge to canal traffic on Tuesday 31st January at 10:30 and then close it at 11:30, allowing all boats currently in the area to pass the bridge.

Following this we will consider further openings as required until a full repair is complete. We will also update this notice with details of the full repair when we have them.

Brilliant! Except we won’t be able to make the hour time slot.

Huddersfield Station

Mick sent an email, to which he got the standard reply that he would get an answer within five working days. So he made a phone call.

The chap seemed fairly hopeful that another bridge swing would be possible for us on another day. He would know more in Monday and call us back. Lets hope we can find a window where everything fits together before too long, so we can move Oleanna up to Yorkshire.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 trains, 1 rip, 4 inches, 2 tucks untucked, 2 x 9m, 12 white lines, 9 numbers, 36 pieces velcro, 2 tins stinky stink sticky stuff, 1 large mug, 2 caddies, 2 wands, 2 books, 1 giant spoon, 1 shower door, 0 view, 0 noise, 1 hour opening, 2 many commitments 2 make it, 4 meals with sprinkles, 2 pies, 2 jackets.

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She’s So Repetitive! 25th January

Hazelford Lock to Kings Marina

But it’s good here!

Sorry Tilly no shore leave today, time to move on. No frost on the big steps this morning, so we hoped we’d not be thwarted by ice on the lock cut. Mick rang to check on diesel prices. Farndon £1.48, Newark £1.45 the signal dropped out before he could ask if they sold coal.


Grey. Nothing like yesterday. At least it wasn’t raining, yet! We pootled downstream, plenty of room at Fiskerton if we’d wanted to stop, but we needed to go further today.

Plenty of fishermen were sat out by the big weir, not as many cormorants there as normal. Round the bends and there came the view of the Parish Church. Heathers mooring just by the small weir was free, if we couldn’t get any further because of ice we’d be reversing to moor there.

Where to drop me off to work the lock. A ladder climb was called for and one with not much toe space as you climb.

Time for the key of power again. As soon as the panel lid is opened, that lady starts her repetitive warning, slightly delayed between sides of the lock gates, so she sounds as if she has an echo.

The lock was empty, so I pressed the buttons filling the lock as quickly as allowed, much quicker than the locks with modern panels. A small patch of cat ice just below the surface needed to be broken through to enter the lock, no problem. It now started to rain. Oh well, not much further to go.

Town Lock

With gates and sluices closed the lady shut up as I closed the panel. She only started again at the other end where a chap glibly ignored her warnings walking over the gates and stopping to have a look as I lifted the paddles. Thankfully at this end the lady does give up after a while, she just gets triggered as you walk down to see how the level is or by your boat exiting the lock.

Trent Bridge

Mick picked me up at another ladder and we cruised past Newark Castle which is currently covered in scaffolding. Through Trent Bridge.

Almost empty

Kiln Pontoon had one boat moored right at the far end. There had been a C&RT notice sometime ago saying that one of the electric posts was out of order after it had been abused. Now an orange box covers the place where it once was. Wonder how long the other electric post will last? Will they be replaced with ones similar to the Eco moorings in London were you can use them if you have an account?

Turning in

Downstream we started to slow now, the river doing it’s best to keep us moving. However we wanted to turn into Kings Marina a 90 degree turn. Mick turned us early, the current lining us up to the entrance and then we scooted in and headed for the service mooring. Ice crackled around the edges as we turned and reversed in.

Up in the office Phil greeted us, he’d been expecting us but was just about to go for his lunch. Time to use up the sausages and pastry from the freezer with a batch of sausage rolls for our lunch. They were going to be cruising sausage rolls, but I’d wanted to be outside despite it being a grey day.

Yum num

An hour and four sausage rolls each later we had a tap on the roof. Time to top up with diesel, buy a couple of bags of coal to keep us going. We were given our allotted pontoon number and directions. As we’d come into the marina we’d guessed we’d be moored next to NB Rebellion a purple boat we came across on the Calder Hebble a few years ago, it’s the negative to NB Lillyanne, purple with yellow coach lines.

Mick set to sorting out electricity and water as I compiled a shopping list for work. Spray paints and glues needed, knowing Newark pretty well I could head straight to suitable shops.

A route via the Parish Church gardens and the Palace Theatre to Boyes. Here spray paints and more navy sewing cotton were purchased. A walk through the market square, the last stalls packing up. I checked for glue in Yorkshire Trading and decided that I wouldn’t be stocking up on Tilly food there as it was Sooo expensive!

At the other end of Northgate Homebase came up trumps with more stinky glue for the giant mug. I then popped into Pets at Home where I was far too late to buy bargain priced pink food for Tilly. Looks like she may have to starve, I know she’d rather go self catering but that won’t be possible for a while! She’ll just have to cope with chicken flavour.

New windows and parking

The old maltings by the retail park is in the middle of getting a make over, new windows and a car park happening. Next door there is a new M&S Foodhall and a new root onto the river bank walk. Very handy.

Back at Oleanna the washing machine was busy.

1 lock, 8.8 miles, 1 left, 2 patches cat ice, 85 litres diesel, 2 bags excell, 1 familiar marina, 1 fob, 8 sausage rolls for lunch, 8 more for tomorrow, 1 bag packed, 1 bored cat.

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

Hazelford Lock

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

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

On the outside

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

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

Hand sewing still possible

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

Badges in the making

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

Winter sunset

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

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

Scampi Shardlow. 20th January

Willowbrook Farm Moorings to Derwent Mouth Lock

1.21m down 11cm from yesterday

Ice again this morning. Whilst I attended a zoom production meeting for #unit21 Mick went for a walk along the canal towards Shardlow Lock to assess the ice situation. My meeting went well and Mick’s verdict was that after lunch we should be fine to move as the sun was out melting the ice. He’d phoned Tracy at the farm to arrange a meter reading and a settling up as we’d be moving on today.


Just before midday we unplugged ourselves and walked up to the stables. Here we could say goodbye to our noisy neighbours, two donkeys who were rescues from Blackpool quite a few years ago. In three weeks we’d used 150 units of electric, we’d not run our engine other than to check the alternator and once to warm the engine bay up. The occasional blast of electric heating in the morning, washing machine and dishwasher along with the electric kettle, sewing machine and iron. Yes we have an iron but it comes out very rarely and mostly for work. We thanked Tracy for helping us out at new year and allowing us to stay for three weeks.

Lunch, another C&RT notice! Stoke Lock was still not operational by boaters so needs to be booked 24hrs in advance. A phone call was made straight away, when would we be there? Monday morning. The lady rang back confirming that a volunteer would be at the lock waiting for us.

Pushing off for the first time this year

Time to roll up the covers for the first time this year. The new version of our trip computer spluttered into life, an old phone placed in a window, this will run Nebo and track our route and miles. I turned Nebo on on my phone too to record locks as we go through them. We untied and I walked ahead to open the lock whilst Mick reversed Oleanna back to meet me.

A patch of thicker ice slowed his progress just as he arrived at the three widebeams. A chap on the last boat stuck his head out and complimented Mick for his reversing skills. He also warned him of thick ice below Derwent Mouth Lock.

The top gates needed a couple of attempts to get them open, the ice behind holding firm on the first go.

Reversing in ice seemed to be quite good. Blasts of forwards every now and then sent water backwards breaking up the ice in front of the blunt end of the boat. The odd blast from the bow thruster also helped to steer the stern towards the lock.

Look at that sun

Down gently in the lock, the ice there breaking up as the water lowered. The aroma of scampi coming from the pub was soon followed by slightly burnt garlic.

The Clockwarehouse

I left Mick to wind whilst I popped to the post box.

Maybe we’d have to moor up

Cat ice was about, easy enough to push your way through. Then at the pub bend we came across thicker ice. Would our escape from the Trent and Mersey be thwarted on this bend? It is quite hard to steer in ice. Narrowboats pivot in the middle and sideways force on ice isn’t very productive. Right on the bend it took several forward and backward manoeuvres to help get into a good position to start carving our way through the ice again. We wouldn’t have to moor there over night. Scampi here too! Maybe on Fridays Shardlow has a special for fish Friday on Scampi!

Both rivers open

The red traffic lights were both turned off at the EA flood lock, both the rivers Soar and Trent were open to boats.

Constant ice ahead

Now we slowed our pace to pass the line of moored boats by Chapel Farm Marina. Is it better to go slowly? Or does it just eek out the noise of cracking ice? A thick patch by the last line of boats had me at the bow, trying to keep us away from a Dutch barge. My pushing only moved the barge and not us. But eventually we worked our way through.


Up ahead was the widebeam that has been waiting for the river for a couple of weeks. More ice in front of them, we’d had enough and wanted to see what the ice was like below Derwent Mouth Lock before venturing any further. We pulled in. A quick cat H&S meeting was held, too much ice, Sorry Tilly! Harumph urumph!!

That’s better

Below the lock the river was in the amber, the lock landing all very visible now. However the chap on the widebeam had been correct the ice below the lock looked thick, snow still sitting on it in the shade. We’d done enough ice breaking for the day, we’d be staying put, after all we’d reached our goal. Hopefully tomorrow the ice would have melted some more to make our journey easier.

Below the lock, thick ice!

We settled down for the remainder of the afternoon to listen to Tilly’s complaints. Then a crack and crackle with music came from the cut. A narrowboat with three chaps at the stern came along, we’d broken the ice for them, would they continue. Sure enough they headed for the lock.

If only we’d known, they could have broken the ice for us!

A little while later Mick popped his head out of the hatch, the widebeam had also gone. Should we follow too? It was too late now to get much further. A check on the weather forecast. We’d both remembered it as getting warmer at the weekend. The forecast didn’t agree, -3C tonight with fog! Oh bum! Would we end up being iced in now away from water and electric?

A rather nice sunset behind tonight

To try to keep the engine bay from getting too cold overnight Mick ran the engine again for an hour, hoping that would help the batteries which don’t like charging at low temperatures.

Nebo Trip recorded from inside Oleanna, lots of back and forth
Nebo Trip recorded in my pocket including a walk to the post box

My Mum’s American Sticky Chicken was made up and sat on the stove to bubble away for 90 minutes before we enjoyed it with some rice noodles. It isn’t the healthiest of recipes, but it’s nice.

1 lock, 1.2 miles, 150 units, 1 reasonable mooring, 2 donkeys, 2 scampi pubs, 2 more overalls, 1 hour breaking ice, 1 challenging bend, 0 red lights, 1 frozen river, 1 ice breaker forging ahead, 1 widebeam, 1 Oleanna who maybe should have followed! 2 sticky chicken thighs, 1 box of rosé!!!