Category Archives: Volunteers

The View’s Better Up Here. 28th September

Staniland Marina to Bramwith Junction

As Mick popped the kettle on for our morning cuppa Paul was getting ready to push off. A quick goodbye and see you somewhere next year was exchanged. Off he headed, he and his travelling companions hoping to time their arrival on the New Junction Canal with all it’s bridges to avoid rush hour. Hopefully last nights storm won’t have brought any trees down on Paul’s route, it was quite passive here in Thorne.

Here he comes

An email from Clive came through he was about to leave the moorings by the service block. Mick walked up to the lock to see if there was a volunteer on duty, there was, so we could concentrate on getting ourselves ready to push off. A number checker walked past, we chatted with him. His next job today was to locate the sunken boats along the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. One was just by us, all possessions removed, the boat left to sink. It will cost C&RT around £3000 to remove it, we’d spotted at least another three on our way from Keadby!

Bye bye Thorne

As the swing bridge at the lock was pushed out of the way we pushed off, we had a convoy.

Next pair ready to post

Somewhere in amongst all the boats at Staniland are a pair of my Sockathon socks, well they were actually being worn to work today. We waved to Della wherever she moors. Onwards under the railway to the M18. Where had the near breach happened a few weeks ago? We decided that we’d most probably already missed it so where the undergrowth had been cut must have grown back. The new houses looked more settled in Stainforth now, still more being built. The lovely old boats still catch our eye as we pass them.

NB Christopher B following

Soon we were at Bramwith Swing Bridge. I hopped off and pressed the buttons, two boats through, only one car and a bike held up. Onwards to the lock. Earlier a boat had passed us, it was waiting at the lock. For the owner this would be their first ever manual lock, this would be our last manual lock this year. I checked that they were okay with sharing with a narrowboat and this was fine. Did they want to stay up top and watch what happened whilst holding onto a rope, or get back on their boat to bring it up.

First ever manual lock

A wave came from down by the moorings, David our friend from the Goole Escape Committee. Big hugs, he looked so well, a different man from last year, even from earlier this year. Mick, David and myself worked the cruiser and Clive up the lock. The latest on Les was that she will be having an operation and likely to be in a wheelchair for a while. Clive headed off, winded at the junction and then pulled into a gap on the moorings. Our arrival had been timed well as he could talk to the mooring ranger who had stopped by to see David.

Last windlass lock for a while

Next it was our turn up the lock. We seemed to be out of practice as no matter which paddle I lifted first Oleanna had different ideas than to stay on one side of the lock! Oh well. We pulled in to top up on water and have a better chat with Clive.

We nearly pulled in at the end of the permanent moorings, but we’d not have a view, so onwards to the junction to where we nearly always moor. David had warned us that the towpath hadn’t been mown for sometime, so we might have difficulty pulling in. Carefully stepping off we made it, chains round the horizontal bar. The sheers then came out to trim the friendly cover by the stern, bow, hatch and windows. Tall bracken obscured the view to the east, so this got a little trim too, although it was really quite dense Mick gave up after a while.

I can see fur miles!!!

The view’s better from up here! Tilly spent quite a bit of time on the roof, a good vantage point for seeking out friends.

An updated props list was needed, requiring a quick read of the rehearsal draft of the script. David joined us for a cuppa and a catch up. He’d just had news that he’d got a volunteer job, very exciting and perfect for him. It was so good to see him, he has come so far since early last year. Still a way to go, but every day he feels he’s making progress.

Props list amending

The stove took the edge off an autumn evening and provided the means to cook a couple of jacket potatoes to accompany a pie each. The sous chef was in charge this evening, he declined to cover his pie in foil when I could smell something was cooking well. It apparently still tasted good, my pie had a nice golden crust in contrast.

A dark crust

1 lock, 4.7 miles, 1 bridge, 1 held up, 3 Kingfishers, 1st lock for one, 420th for us this year, 2 boats not in the right place, 1 hedge trimmed, 4 hours, 2 friends, 1 stove lit, 1 catch up, 2 jackets, 1 new props list, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Torksey Central. 22nd September

Torksey Top Side to Torksey Bottom Side Pontoon, River Trent

A quiet morning catching up on things and down loading a free trial of Photoshop. Tilly was kept in, no shore leave granted today, we weren’t going far but we had the tide to catch.

Heading into Torksey Lock

At midday we moved up to the water point, topped up on fresh and disposed of the yellow. The rubbish would have to wait as the top lock gates were already open meaning getting to the bins would take longer.

Going down

We pulled in next to NB Olive J in the lock, ropes around bollards, the volunteer closed up behind us then lifted the paddles, down we went. He said we might need to do a bit of jiggling about on the pontoons as they were already quite full.

Back out onto the tidal Trent

One space behind a boat of the south bank, NB Olive J headed to a space behind their friend on the north, there looked to be more room right at the end of the long pontoon. Yes 60ft, we’d fit nicely. We pulled in tied up and settled in for the remainder of the day.

The Lock Cottage up for auction soon

A while later four boats pulled off, comments of ‘last one there buys the drinks tonight’. The lead boat beeped their horn five times as they reached the junction to turn north. Five beeps means ‘I don’t understand your intentions, keep clear!’ Yes it was the same chap who’d beeped his horn to indicate turning to port the other day.

One boat without anyone at the helm!

Blimey it was busy down here. Boats arrived, some radioing the lock to go up, others just pulling in to wait for the next suitable tide. One boat didn’t move off even though they’d intended to, their cat hadn’t returned in time for the tide. Hopefully it’ll be back for their next suitable tide. Tilly has only once almost affected our departure with a tide. That was when a chink was left in the rear hatch and she made the most of it at West Stockwith, half an hour of trying my best not to panic and eventually a well timed rugby tackle worked and we were able to catch the tide.

This one went backwards to the junction

Soon the pontoons were full again. One chap asked Mick which the best way was to get to Ripon, without going by the Humber estuary. A conversation followed which gave Mick the impression that no locks had been booked, no lock keepers phone numbers were at hand, they’d arrived without life jackets on, Mick didn’t dare ask if they had the charts, knowing that the answer would possibly be no. Mick and someone else tried to impress on the chap that Keadby would need to be booked otherwise there might not be anyone there to let them in! Gainsborough pontoon was mentioned by another boater. But who knows!

Boats left waiting

During the afternoon I had a go at starting to learn about Photoshop. One tool looked like it would do the job of removing hairs and replacing them with a suitable background. Photoshop has come on miles since I dabbled a touch ten/fifteen years ago. One demonstration shows you how to remove a house on a mountain side and photoshop just replaces it with more mountain. You can even change the house to being pink and at night time with lights on whilst the scene around it is very obviously daytime.

All calm at the junction this evening

I loaded up part of a portal to have a go at removing hairs, the tool didn’t work, something about not enough something or other. I decided that maybe I should start at the very beginning on the tutorial. This I started but then Mick came to tell me about the man who had NO idea. Then Tilly came and shouted at the back door, stating that it really wasn’t fare being kept locked in when another cat had been allowed to roam free all morning. I gave up, time to do some knitting.

Todays film Wildlife (2018) about a family in 1960’s Montana struggling to make ends meet. Dad goes off to fight fire, their son takes a job at a photographic studio and Mum starts to teach swimming. Things go array for them all, their poor son observing more than a 14 year old should. A sad tale in which I got the start of another sock knitted.

1 lock, 0.4 miles, 4 going down stream, 6 or more arriving, 1 missing cat, 1 mardy cat, 1 AI program on my laptop, 1 clueless chap, 6th pair started, 1 leaking bath.

PS. I made a complaint to C&RT regarding the boat on the Kiln Pontoon in Newark. This week I was asked for the boats name and number, which of course I couldn’t give them as we’d not seen them displayed. I could however give them a photograph of the boat and suggested that their local team were VERY likely to know of it. The local team have since been in touch to inform me that they are very aware of the boat, so are the police. ‘Our Licence Support Team are dealing with it through our official process, but unfortunately this does take time. We are also monitoring the anti-social behaviour and building a case with regards this.’

Another Plunge Into The Depths. 6th September

Stoke Lock to Hazelford Lock low side

Oleanna likes Stoke Lock

A volunteer was spotted this morning and when we were ready to push off Mick radiod ahead, ‘Come in on the green’. I hobbled to the bow to be on rope duty, Mick slowing Oleanna right down for ease of passing the rope around the riser without having to step onto a locker. Down we went to the next reach of the river.

Hazy hazy out there this morning. Looking back up stream a chap was waist deep fishing in the froth near the weir. We soon heard on the radio that someone was on our tail approaching Stoke Lock.

Tilly’s Level Crossing

Onwards down stream in the haze, Tilly wasn’t bothered about waving to the lovely ladies in Burton Joyce who’d rescued her, I wonder if that’s the level crossing she was found near.


The banks were filled with Egyptian Geese, Lapwings, Mallards, Egrets, Canadians and Cows. Such a lovely stretch of the river.

At Gunthorpe the gates were open ready and waiting for us. I hobbled to the bow, passed my rope round THE riser. We then had a wait as the boat behind us had just about caught up, the lockie reopened the gates and we had a five minute pause. Down we both went thankful of there being a Lock Keeper on duty today, the pontoon below sits right in the current from the weir so is hard to access on a normal day with two able bodied crew.

As we headed further northwards the sun was doing it’s best to burn through, our view clearing all the time. What a pretty reach. Now we had Herons and sheep sheltering in the shadows from the sun. Cruiser Brenda overtook us, his pace just a touch more than ours. I sat and wove ends on on the socks I’d knitted for Mick and myself.

Approaching Hazelford Lock we were asked to slow down as a boat was about to come up. Brenda and Oleanna slowed our pace and ended up treading water for a while. With the green light we were in the lock and descending down. Here Brenda carried on towards Newark, here we pulled in against the lower part of the moorings.

Shady sheep and Harry the Heron

At the moment it takes time for us to moor up. I’m not able or confident about stepping onto the bow to tie us up as I normally do whilst Mick sorts the stern out. But I can lasso a bollard and hold the rope until my glamourous assistant is available. The bank is high, the river level low currently, so getting on and off the boat is that bit more tricksy. As I stepped back inside I heard a clunk splash clunk. What was that? Mick’s two month old phone plunging into the depths!

We’d just been saying if it wasn’t for Gunthorpe Lock and if there were a few more moorings along the Trent we’d really like it! Not anymore!

Tilly was read the rule book from cover to cover and then given five hours shore leave.


What NO Fishing! Pah!! Oh hang on I remember, up the top it’s really really good! Apart from returning to stock up on Dreamies and have a little bit of a cool off she made use of her hours of freedom and thankfully stuck to all the rules today.

What to have for tea tonight? Here we’d thought a barbeque would be good, but how would I get off the boat? A trial attempt was needed. The bow is higher than the stern and after sussing out walking backwards along the gunnel would give me more room to get my bum on the bank then a big pull up aided by Mick it was possible. However the rest of the big steps were quite hard going to reach the wider area at the top. Maybe, maybe not.

A hitchhiker, a Red Veined Darter?

Mick then set to with net, pole and a torch to see if he could at least retrieve his phone from the depths. It actually worked, even with the depth being nearly deeper than our boat hook! At least with the sim card retrieved he could use an old phone until he gets a new one.

Base camp

In the end we decided to set up bbq base camp a few steps up the bank, it would be a shame not to watch the sun set. The steps made for a good table and seat for me. If only the weir wasn’t so loud it would be so tranquil here. Well until we heard what we thought was a microlight. How wrong were we! Two speed boats came round the bend below the lock racing high up on the plane!

They had to slow down otherwise they’d crash into the lock or weir. Such small boats can stop very quickly and did so right alongside us. Such small boats can make one very big wake, poor Tilly sat inside being buffeted about all over the shop.

One chap headed up to work the lock, which seemed to take forever, especially as the two boats zoomed round in circles! The paddles were lifted, then dropped, the gates remained shut. Then the lights went out, had they broken the lock? Ten minutes later the lights came back on and soon the gates opened, we heard a zoom into the lock, then the gates closed. Ten minutes later we could hear them speeding off into the sunset.

Sunset medication

Peace and quiet again (excluding the weir) to enjoy our chilled medication just as the sun was saying goodnight.

3 locks, 9.7 miles, 9.75 digits still, 3 lock keepers thankfully,1 low mooring a touch too high, 1 soggy shivering phone, 3rd drowned phone, 5 hours of long awaited freedom, 1 big haul of blackberries, 1st pair socks finished, 2 pork steaks, 4 veg kebabs, 1 hobbling chef, 2 high speed morons shattering the peace, 2 plans maybe 3 for next year, 1 including the Trent, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Not A Chip In The Air. 1st September

Trent Junction to Beeston, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

We winded and headed along Cranfleet Cut. There would be few trains today due to a train strike, the sign marking where HS2 was planned to cross now looks a touch forgotten about.

What were the holes for?

The stone work along the bank has lots of holes in it. What were these for? Did there used to be a wooden structure that was supported by the holes? Is it to aid drainage from the land behind? If anyone knows please tell us.

Up ahead we could see volunteers at the lock. As we approached they all stood up and walked over to close the paddles and open the gates. Four chaps in blue with life jackets. Well I’d be superfluous if I hopped off so I stayed on board, allowing them to operate one of the few remaining manual locks for us this year.

Check your quarter wave

Now down on the river we zoomed our way towards Beeston. The level seemed to be a touch low, we could see where walls lerk below the surface ready to catch you out should you stray over to the eastern bank. We passed Barton Island where recently a boat sank, a problem with it’s weedhatch. They came past us yesterday being towed to a boat yard on the Soar somewhere.

The wooden houses by the river. Various styles. I like the slightly quirkier ones which look like they’ve been cobbled together from bits and bobs. A new one going up, a lot of sterling board being used, wonder what it’ll be clad in?

We pulled up on the long pontoon before Beeston Lock, a chap pulled his boat almost to the end, but not quite. A pause for us to empty the yellow water ready for disposal at the elsan, no notice that the services have been vandalised recently.


Up at the lock boats were coming from everywhere, well from Nottingham. I checked to see what people were doing, all stopping for water, just what we were after too. The lock was sorted to being in our favour, we dropped down to the canal level, only about a foot today, then pulled over to wait in line for the water point to become free.

5 miles to get back on the river again

The tap took it’s time to fill everyones tanks and bottles, you would think a place like Nottingham would have more than two taps!

Now to find ourselves a mooring. At first it didn’t look hopeful, but then I spied two gaps either side of a dutch barge. The second one looked like it might just be long enough for us, the chap from the dutch barge came out to help pull us in sideways, a couple of inches spare front and back, brilliant.

QUICK!!! I got on the internet, time to see if I could book a table for this evening, even Tilly didn’t know what was going on, Why wasn’t she giving me the rules and writing down the magic numbers?! 5:45 or 8pm. I opted for 8, my request had been received, but would it be accepted? An hour went by before I got confirmation of our booking. Hooray! We could go to the Victoria Hotel.

The Victoria Hotel

Apparently I am grounded. As there is no ground inside I really don’t know what it means. She says I’ve broken rule number 1 four times in the last 3 days. Only one thing to do, sulk!

Tonights menu

Our table sat waiting for us at the Victoria Hotel in the Middle Room, every other table packed. People stood at the bar to order drinks and food whilst others stood in front of the blackboard menu, also available on their website. What a choice, what a popular place. We’ve eaten here once before in 2016, but not managed to either get a mooring or a table since.

We made our selections, drank our wine and watched other peoples meals come out from the kitchen. Not one chip could be smelt, not one burger on the menu. One sausage or two with your mash though.

I’d chosen a Moroccan Lamb Tagine which came with rice and some slices of bread instead of couscous and a nan bread. Mick had a chicken skewer with pitta bread and a salad. Puddings were also partaken, Pistachio Chocolate Brownie for me and Bakewell Tart for Mick. All very very tasty. So glad we got a table.

As we finished our meal people lurked in doorways, waiting for tables to clear or for no shows. The kitchen stays open, so if you are lucky and get somewhere to sit they will serve you. Then the drinkers gradually take over, some sitting reading the newspapers with a pint, one chap inhaling some rather good looking cheese on toast.

On our return to Oleanna I counted six maybe seven campervans pulled up, thankfully noone would be opening their curtains in the morning to see us staring back at them. Tilly wasn’t interested in us at all, no knee sitting, just one very big sulk!

2 locks, 5.1 miles, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 troughs of strawberries tidied up, 1 table booked, 1 sulky cat, 1 very good meal, 1 pub definitely worth visiting, 0 chips seen or smelt.

Must Keep In Order! 25th August

Friars Mill to John Merrick’s Lake, Wanlip

Was that a boat? The noise and engine fumes suggested someone was on the move, but at 6:10am? I peeked out of the front door curtains, yep, someone heading to take up pole position for the lock queue. Half an hour later another two boats went past. Now there’s keen and there’s waiting for six seven hours! Each to their own.

We went back to sleep, maybe they did too!

If anything my head was a touch worse this morning, more pills required. Tilly’s incessant shouting at the back door drove me outside where Mick was listening to a one sided game of solar panel Top Trumps. More boats had come past, it was now 11am, I’d rather be moving ourselves round to the lock cut than being sat pinned to the pontoon. I sat in the bow for a while, then another boat came past, was that seven boats ahead of us now? Thankfully our neighbour soon united and pushed off, we followed suit, we’d be boats eight and nine.


Round the bend new housing has gone up, the route to the lock felt longer than before and sadly tags now cover the Frog Island mural as you arrive into the cut. Here we had to stop. Ahead a line of single boats led up to the lock, where we were boats were breasted up, if we reversed we’d be a touch too close to the weir. Word was passed to us that the boats ahead were going to breast up, in order of arrival, no pulling alongside a boat ahead and jumping the queue! It looked like most boats had dogs on board so had taken wall positions for ease of getting them to land during their six hour wait, now woofers were passed from boat to boat and up the high wall to go for a pee. I’d have managed it no problem, but I had to make do with my pooh box!

Lots of boats

The boats at the rear of the queue couldn’t be bothered to move up, we’d all be getting through the lock today, so last nights neighbour jumped into seventh position and we managed to now be sixth. There was still quite a wait to be had and within an hour there were another two boats pulling in behind everyone else. Eleven to go down today, how many to come up?

An early lunch, a little wander around Frog Island. More chaps in blue arrived, the first one had been here at 10am. The pickup reversed round on the off side, the fence was undone and pulled out of the way. The bottom paddles were lifted, the lock emptied then the chain winch pulled the bottom gate open that bit more until the water was level.

A chap with a clip board came to give us our instructions. We’d be going into the lock in order that we were moored in, only one person on the boat whilst it was in the lock and to stay as close to the bottom gates as we could.

Two boats came up, the second one hadn’t booked, they’d just turned up and been allowed through, not so many upstream boats today, in fact only three. The first two down stream boats pulled into the lock.

A new chap in blue arrived, we’d seen him at Stenson Lock a few years ago. He stood above the mitre on the top gates, took a photo chatted to Frank the volunteer. Then he checked one of the gate paddles.

Moving up

Boats above the lock now jostled to keep in their order of arrival! I suppose if you’ve sat there waiting for six hours you don’t want to loose your position. We’d be in the third locking. Once the third and final boat had come up the lock, we were told that it would be much quicker getting us all down now. We couldn’t be bothered to move up and cling onto a rope. Once the boats ahead were heading for the lock we untied, I stayed on the bank and Mick hovered waiting for our turn.

Encouraging the gates to close firmly

Once in the lock the chap from Stenson checked the positioning of the top gates before the bottom paddles were lifted. Presumably they sealed better being closed in a certain way.

Paddles lifted, water drained, water bubbling behind Oleanna and NB Somewhere Else, the chain on the winch was pulled, pulled again and again, the remainder of the water draining from the lock, the gates opened.

On our way again

THANK YOU! We were through.

Time to climb back on board and head to the next lock. Our locking partners were old hands, having lived aboard for nine years, then moved back to land, but this year they bought their current boat and hope to down size their house to spend time between the two.

Locking down

We worked our way through the locks, at Belgrave Lock there were the obligatory kids in canoes on the weir stream and plenty more by the centre. Wiggles round on the river, lots of Himalayan Balsam on the banks.

As we came round the last bend before Birstall Lock we’d caught up with the two boats ahead. There seemed to be a problem, one boat being pulled back into the lock landing. The other boat went into the lock whilst the weed hatch was lifted on the other. Large chunks of cushion filling were being brought out from below, this could take a while.

We’ve caught them up

The lady holding the rope apologized for holding us up. I offered the use of our propmate. Just give me a minute said the chap as he pulled more and more out from his weed hatch. Now if this had been us, we’d have waved the next boat straight into the lock, not knowing if clearing the prop would take a minute or twenty, more boats were going to be arriving after all. After quite a while Mick suggested that maybe we go ahead and free up some lock approach for the next boats to arrive. Reluctantly we were waved onwards, after all we’d now jumped the queue to forth position and when we left the lock we’d jumped into third!

Quick Go Go!

Not much room for boats below the lock, we planned to carry on for a more cat conducive mooring. Down Thrapston Lock and on to find a mooring alongside the lakes. We pulled in where there was long grass, nappy pins not easy to use in such a place so Mick got out the spikes. I stood holding the bow rope, my head not keen on leaning over. I flicked an ant off my hand. I looked down, an army of ants marching up my right leg and up the rope in my left hand. I was stood on a nest.

Mick finished mooring Oleanna up. I jotted down our position as I do every day and then gave Tilly the rules and allotted shore leave. I’d just opened the back door when Mick shouted we were moving, too many ants! Luckily Tilly had paused to enjoy the view from the stern across the cut and I managed to grab her before she’d headed off into the trees. She wasn’t impressed at being bundled back inside the boat.

We moved up a few hundred yards and tried again, shorter grass and more importantly no ants. Tilly was given ninety minutes, off she went.

Soon we were passed by the next two boats, a short time later the next two, a while later another one. The last two must have stopped earlier. We all got through no matter what order.

5 locks, 5.3 miles, 6 pills, 1 shouting cat, 6 plus hours wait, 7 men in blue, 9th to 6th to 4th to 3rd, 2nd moored, 2nd mooring, 467825 ants, 1 happier cat, 1 quiet evening.

Cheese On Toast?! 17th August

Bungalow Bridge 59 to Market Harborough Visitor Moorings

Boats were on the move before us, six came from the direction of Foxton, would this mean that the top six locks would be in our favour? No. Foxton isn’t like that, in fact few places are, yet we always joke about it. We pushed off just as our nearest neighbours were coming back from stretching their legs, they’d be following us very shortly.

First in line!

As we rounded the bend to the top of the locks we were very surprised not to be joining a queue. I hopped off and walked down to find the Lock Keeper with the book to check in.

Not spotted the chap with the cuppa before

Here as at Watford the staircase locks mean one way traffic only. Here there is one place you can pass, a pound between the two staircases of five. The book holder was just above the halfway point with a boat going down hill, they now swapped with a hire boat that had been waiting for them in the middle pound. Our instructions, when this boat came up, we’d be going down, at the moment there were no uphill boats.

Giant chilled medication served at the top

We waited patiently at the top, had a look around the old stables, sadly it was far too early for chilled medication. Once the hire boat had come up we pushed off and into the top lock. Boats had arrived at the bottom so we’d get to the middle pound and wait for them to come up. The boats behind us would have quite a wait before it was their turn.

Red before white. The Lock Keeper pushed and pulled the towpath side gates for me. A new volunteer was being shown the ropes as it were, they’d be starting in the book shop at the top, but it’s handy for them to know what the flight is about so they helped with the gates too and were given bits of information as we descended.

Looking down

The first gongoozlers joined us at the very top lock, some following us down, some just getting in the way of paddle winding, but they are happy to stand back to watch.

Boats were coming up the other set of five, we were making good progress down, a pause required before dropping down into the middle pound as the red paddle needed lifting for an uphill boat and it was by their chamber, then I could lift the white paddle. In this order it saves the water from our chamber just flowing over the bywash instead of being used to fill the lower chamber.

It’s all the way over there

The Lock Keeper had a handy hook to lift our centre line from the roof as we passed under the bridge, now we were to pull into the side and wait for four boats to come past before we could continue on down.

Passing in the middle pound

One lady on an uphill boat walked away from the chamber below, ‘I’ve left the gate for you, oh and the paddle’s still up over there’. But what about those boats following you? She soon turned round and went to close up behind herself. The last boat up, wound the red paddle up long before the white was even thought about. Mick and I jumped back on board to loosen ropes as the level dropped, Oleanna did a jolt as the stern line was untied.

A forty minute wait before we could continue on downwards. More and more gongoozlers at this end of the flight, one lady with her kids grew up having boat holidays, she explained to the kids how it worked, but didn’t stop them from balancing on posts close to the water! I asked the Lock Keeper, ‘4000 boats go through the locks on an average year, has anyone ever counted the number of gongoozlers?’ One sunny August day someone had had a go and they’d numbered 2000. I’m so glad we didn’t have that number around us today, it would be impossible to see Mick at the helm.

Going down in the bottom lock

At the last few locks there was no need to push gates we’d got ourselves gate pushers on both sides. Mick pulled the stern into the landing below the locks, handed over a key of power and then started to swing Oleanna round to head towards Market Harborough. I walked round to do the honours, passing the bottom lock now waiting for the first of the uphill boats who would most likely wait in the middle pound like we had for the downhill boats behind us.

Bye Foxton

The bridge worked nicely, the bridge landings thankfully not required as a day boat was trying to tie to the bollards to head for a pub lunch. Winding your rope round a bollard six times might just do the trick, I wonder if anyone at the hire base shows them how to tie up?

The easy swing bridge

At Foxton Swing Bridge I could see someone wearing blue. This bridge often seems to have problems, I wondered if someone was posted here to open and close it, but the bridge didn’t move. I walked over to see what was happening. Two chaps were working on it. One suggested we moor up and have lunch, the other said to give him a few minutes and they’d swing it open for us. This they did and we were on our way again.

As the crow flies Market Harborough is a couple of miles away, by canal it’s more like five. We pootled along passing the winding hole where we’d turned on our hire boat NB May all those years ago, not enough time to get all the way to Market Harborough. An aroma in the air was hard to fathom. Could it be cheese on toast? Maybe with a touch of yeast extract added? No it turned out to be J.G. Pears they do something with food waste, maybe they’d had a lot of cheese on toast arrive!

Towpath improvements on a break

It’s been quite some years since we came this way. Four years since we came down Foxton heading straight to the north. A footbridge has gone and now a long stretch of towpath is being upgraded right in to Union Wharf. As we progressed closer to the town the works gradually progressed from bare earth, timber sides, hardcor, fresh earth on the edge, tarmac and sausage roll planting along the edges. We wondered if the planting would end up being all along here making it hard to moor out of town.

Union Wharf Basin

Brilliant a space at the end of the moorings, except it was for permit holders only. Thankfully there was a space further along and a boat pulled out meaning we wouldn’t have to moor directly on a big bend. Tilly was allowed out and we sat down for a late lunch.

Barking, barking close to the boat! Where was Tilly? We rushed out to see Tilly on the top of a garden fence a woofer barking below. Between us and the woofers owners the situation was solved, she took her dog inside, I encouraged Tilly back to the boat where the doors were closed. Tom had spoken, I wasn’t allowed out again, apparently I don’t understand urban areas with gardens, sheds, french windows and woofers in their outsides. So not fare!

Nice painting

A walk to the Co-op and Post Office. The Co-op (new to us) too pricey and not much choice for provisions for the next few days. We got what we really needed and will take the long walk through town tomorrow for a good stock up.

Co-op cheese on toast!

Back at the basin more boats had arrived, many taking up a paid for mooring with electric right by the restaurant. One poor hire boat came back to base early, saw that it was far busier than expected, winded a headed back out only to return an hour later looking fed up and very hungry. They found somewhere to moor in the end as they didn’t come past again.

10 locks, 2 sets of five staircase, 6 miles, 40 minutes wait, 1 right, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, £2.95 for four half slices of cheese on toast, 1 cat grounded, 1 woofer silenced, 1 spoil sport Tom, 1 horrid She! 2 spot on wormers, 1 pint milk, 2 loaves of bread, 1 coach in the post.

Sitting On The Bottom. 22nd June

Bascote Bridge 27 and Former Railway Bridge 26A to Napton Water Point, almost, Oxford Canal

A nice cuppa in bed this morning, we seem to be snoozing in a little bit later each day. However when Mick got up to walk through the cabin things were not quite as they’d been an hour earlier. Somehow the boat had developed quite a list! Water was rushing past the windows down towards Bascote Staircase.

In the past when we’ve moored in this pound it’s been further towards Long Itchington on the aqueduct. There the level can fluctuate over night, but we’ve never been sat on the bottom like here. We’ve also not noticed water rushing by! Was someone just filling up a pound below or was there something far more serious going on? We both put our shoes on, Mick got the Brompton out to cycle down the towpath to see what was happening.

Terry from NB Barley Twist behind us was also out watching the water zoom past. As we compared notes on our boats listing the flow of water slowed, then it stopped, then it came back. The paddles at the staircase must have been up and now were closed. We stood down, now we just needed the level to rise again to get us off the bottom.

A short while later a chap walked by with a windlass in his hand. Mick asked what had been going on as we were on the bottom? The chap said a low pound and the pump wasn’t working. He carried on walking.

A little while later another six or so people walked past all with windlasses in their hands. Then a few more. They were all wearing dark blue t-shirts, it must be a fund raiser. A while later the first boat came past a sign stuck to the side of a Willow Wren hire boat. Walk for Matt. As we had our breakfast more windlass carrying walkers passed us by followed by another three narrowboats all from Willow Wren.

Terry and Chris were going to explore the village but returned saying that the towpath was flooded ahead, so they’d move down by boat. A while later we were on our way too, the level had come up enough for us to get moving.

Ah ha that’s why there’s so many walkers

As I was just lifting the paddle at Itchington Bottom Lock two people came bouncing along with windlasses in hand, more Walkers for Matt, they were from the last two boats, six in all. I got chance to chat to one of them.
Matt was an England under 21 Rugby player who broke his back during a training session, he is now paralysed from the neck down and breaths with the aid of a ventilator. He was determined to concentrate of the things he could do and get busy living. At first fundraising went towards helping Matt with his rehabilitation, now funds go towards running The Get Busy Living Centre where people can have support and rehabilitation to live their lives with their disability. The walkers today were raising money by walking the Warwickshire ring from Rugby in a week, some people were walking for a day, others the whole week, some were recipients of help from the foundation.

By the time we reached the bottom of the Stockton flight we’d not seen NB Barley Twist anywhere, they must be ahead of us, climbing the flight. A volunteer stood behind some fencing, I said hello and was asked if I was with the charity boats, no but they were hot on our heals.

Nb Barley Twist heading up to empty the next lock

He ummed and ahhed as I asked him if Barley Twist was up ahead. I could then see that they were about to exit the second lock up. The volunteer seemed a bit grumpy to be honest, I didn’t know if he was going to stay behind his fence. ‘Well it would be good if you could share with the boat in front’. Well yes it would! I walked up to see if Terry and Chris would wait for us. They’d obviously had some grumping from the volunteer too, well we all have off days.

Looking back down the flight

Mick and I worked our way up to meet NB Barley Twist and then carried on up the flight. The charity boats soon appearing behind us, mob handed. Thankfully the volunteer now came out from behind his fence and worked up the flight ahead of us, emptying locks and opening a gate. Our opinions of him soon changed.

Chris on the sunny side

It was warm in the sunshine. Chris and I changed sides every now and again so we took it in turns to wind the stiffer paddle on the off side. Very cheery people to share the flight with.

At the top we all thanked the volunteer for his help. Grumpy must just be his general demeaner!

NB Barley Twist pulled in opposite what used to be Willow Wren Training Centre, which is now Podtastic. We waved our locking partners goodbye as they tucked into some shade, we wanted to get that bit further today.


A boat ahead got to the bottom of the Calcutt three and started to ascend. I walked up to help close gates etc, the chap from the boat mumbled something about what they were doing, which certainly wasn’t waiting for us at the next lock. A boat came down then it was our turn, we checked behind us, one boat just in view, almost certainly the charity boat with it’s partner close behind, we went up.

Last of the broad locks for a bit

A rather warm volunteer appeared, he set the next lock for us and on hearing that the charity boats would soon arrive he headed down to empty the locks behind us. At the top a boat sat on the water point, it’s hose attached to the tap but not the boat. We asked if they’d finished, they obviously had so we pulled in infront of them disturbing their lunch.

The lady with the ruck sack is on day 6 of the walk

As our tank filled the charity boats came up the top lock. A lady who’d been walking this morning, apparently doing the whole 7 day walk had had a pit stop at the cafe. The crew on the boat checked in with her before she carried on walking towards Braunston tonights resting place. I just hope they managed to find space for six boats near a pub so she didn’t have to walk any further than necessary. This weekend it’s Braunston Historic Boat Rally!

I popped to the bow to check for oncoming traffic at Napton Junction. One boat coming out from the marina, then the coast was clear. Past the hire base, plenty of boats at home today. Then we were quickly reminded that we were back on a more popular canal.

Three in a row

Mick brought us to a halt as three boats were headed towards us at the next bridge, moored boats slowing everyone’s progress. We held our position to let them all through.

Every mooring from here on was full. A hire boat had moored with pins, possibly with bow, stern and centre line, the only one that wasn’t hanging in the water was the centre, this was being held onto by one of the crew.

Would we find a space? We slowly made our way, hungry and hot really wanting to stop sometime soon, please! All the spaces full before the bottom of Napton. Then a gap, would it be big enough? Certainly the two boats either side of it had space where they could move up. We tried but required another 8ft, no-one stirred inside their boats, we carried on.

At the end of the visitor moorings we just managed to pull in, just about on the bend. Not ideal, but the only choice according to a lady who’d walked down the flight hoping to find herself a mooring. Tilly was given three hours and a serious reminder of the rules!

Some work for me and boat jobs for Mick. Our shower mixer has become not so mixable, not a problem in the winter but a touch too hot when you want a cool shower on a hot day. A new one was bought in Birmingham and this afternoon it was fitted along with a new shower head. We both enjoyed a nice cool shower.

13 locks, 6.8 miles, 1 right, 6 charity boats, 1 lonely Red Indian, 1 pound down, 20 walking windlasses, 1 full tank water, 3 coming through, 3 big git gaps, 0 boats moving up, 1 bendy mooring, 1 more in front of us, 3 hours, 0 friends today, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 mixer mixing, 1 closed lock ahead!

Appointment With A Stranger. 19th June

Rowington Embankment to Cape of Good Hope Visitor Moorings

Shrewley Tunnel

Up early again! Breakfasted and on our way just gone 7:30, we had about an hours cruise before we’d reach the top of the Hatton flight. Shrewley Tunnel was really quite wet, Mick had remembered his waterproof, I’d forgotten and got quite damp and chilly. Yesterdays rain had helped reduce the temperature so I soon popped on a fleece, knowing full well it wouldn’t stay on long.

Heading to the top lock

Two people climbed off a hire boat at the end of the moorings above the flight. Were they just going to have a look at what lay ahead or were they about to set off? Would they have already picked up a boat to partner with? When they reached the lock they started to fill it, no sign of their boat following them, maybe they were just generous souls!

We checked to see if they were willing to share the flight with us, they were, but not sure when their boat would be arriving, the men were being tardy at pushing off, we could go ahead if we wanted to. Many hands make light work of the Hatton flight so waiting a few minutes would save many more minutes further on.

Starting the flight

Philippa, Helen, Keith and Steve (?) were experienced hirers, out for two weeks. They’d already done the Avon Ring so had decided to use up their remaining days by descending Hatton, winding and returning tomorrow. The hire company had said that Birmingham was a bit grotty, so not to bother!

Is that a C&RT volunteer?

With three of us on the lock side I walked ahead to open up the next lock which was already full. I was also keeping an eye out for volunteers and a stranger. A volunteer was spied watching us from the bridge down the flight, then the blue and red vanished, maybe we looked as though we’d got everything sorted, we would do soon.

There was someone walking up the flight with purpose, could this be someone heading for a bacon butty at the cafe or might it just be the stranger I was looking for? She looked across at the boats in the lock, Oleanna tucked behind the ABC hire boat. We’d been a little bit early for our rendez vous and had jumped at the chance to share the flight. I called across, ‘Hello are you Jane?’ ‘Yes’, came the reply, ‘You must be Pip!’.

Coming down

Jane is a colleague of my old college friend Emma who lives in Warwick. I’d messaged ahead a few days ago with the hope that we’d be able to meet up. Plans were put together and could they bring along their friend Jane who is wanting to buy a boat to live on. This then morphed into us having an extra pair of hands for the flight if we could do it on Monday morning. Never turn down the offer for assistance when faced with 21 broad locks!

Us ladies soon split up into two teams that would leapfrog each other down the flight. Philippa and Helen walked on down to the next lock to set it whilst Jane and I got chatting. I knew next to nothing about Jane other than she was keen to help today. She’d been on several holidays and earlier this year she’d done a helmsman course in Braunston where she learnt the normal things along with single handing and how to break ice! Therefore I didn’t have a novice on my hands.

Waiting for an uphill boat

On our way down we met two boats coming up, one with a couple of boys in blue assisting them, another had been helped up the first three but they were now on their own.

Philippa and Helen waiting to open the lock

Thankfully the sky was a touch cloudy, not too much to give concern, but enough to help keep the temperature down. Jane and I had a good old chat about all things boat, crafts, etc as we walked between locks and as we waited for Mick and Keith to bring the boats into our lock. We didn’t get chance to chat to Philippa or Helen as we were leapfrogging each other.

Just about halfway down

Mick checked to see if we required refreshments at the halfway point, but we were fine. Working every other lock with someone to chat away to makes for a less gruelling trip down the flight, certainly far far better than it just being the two of us, which we have done before.


Jane and I got to work the last lock of the flight, we maybe should have waited a touch longer before winding up our paddles so that Philippa and Helen could climb back on board with ease, instead they had to climb down a ladder, maybe they didn’t know about the steps down below the lock which would have been far easier.

There had been conversations at the helm of the hire boat that maybe Keith should swap with one of the ladies. This was turned down. The ladies were working the locks today, he and Steve were going to do them tomorrow, that’s if Steve has finished reading his book at the dinette by then.

We pulled over onto some armco and popped the kettle on. Some choc chip cookies had been freshly baked this morning, time for a well earned sit down for all of us.

Thank you Jane

Thank you so much Jane for joining us today, your enthusiasm for boats and the canals shone out, it was a pleasure having you as crew. I hope your house sale speeds up and then you can start in earnest to look for your boat and home. I hope our paths cross again soon.

The flight had taken us 2hours 22 minutes. Time to look back on previous passages. Back in 2013 (our first descent) we’d teamed up with another hire boat with six crew, today we’d beaten the 2 hours 30 minutes, in fact today was the fastest we’ve descended the flight. May 2016 was 3 hours 15 mins and February 2017 Mick managed the flight in 46 hours 34 mins due to my broken ankle and a storm holding us up for a day.

Hatton Bottom Lock

Todays time however didn’t beat our record which was when we teamed up with Nb Cygnet and had my brother and nephew as extra crew, when we managed to head up the locks in 2 hours 15 minutes. Maybe today if we’d not had to wait for the two up hill boats we’d have just beaten it.

We poolted on to around the corner almost opposite The Cape of Good Hope to moor for the day. Only one other boat when we arrived, but by the end of the day the moorings had filled up, including our locking partners from today, now ready to face the flight again tomorrow.

A jot of work this afternoon saw me go back through all the scenes of Panto, a few more notes taken and some of them worked through before it was time to freshen up and head to the pub.

Emma and her husband David had just arrived. It’s a couple of years since we last saw Emma and longer since we met David. Lots to catch up on and a lot of cat talk, they currently have seven in their house!

Burger burger burger

Normally I have a Kiwi Burger with a gluten free bun, but today I decided to try their gluten free option of fish and chips. Mick went to order our food, only to be told that the gluten free batter was made with beer. This isn’t that unusual as it’s normally made with gluten free beer, but today it sounded as if the gluten free batter would be made with normal beer, hence making it NOT gluten free! Maybe something was lost in translation, but it really didn’t make sense and as some of the first things I gave up because they weren’t agreeing with me were beer and fish and chips I really didn’t want to risk it. So instead I had one of their lovely burgers. At least I knew what I’d be getting.

A lovely evening with friends to end a good day at the locks.

21 locks, 6 miles, 1 hire boat with 4 crew, 1 inside, 1 valiant volunteer Jane, 0 volunteers to assist us, 1 super speedy descent, 3 cookies, 1 left, 4 hours shore leave, 1 model just about complete, 3 burgers, 1 fish fillet, 4 rustic chips, 7 beers, 2 glasses wine, 1 very lovely evening.

Paddles Up! 6th June

Croxton Flash to Morris Bridge 15, Middlewich Branch

What A Lark

A discussion was being had about todays aimed for mooring as a boat came past. As the stern came level with the hatch I noticed ‘Lark’. Was that NB What A Lark? We’ve never met Lisa and David and today they were rounding the bend at the flash before I managed to get my head out of the hatch. Hello!

No need to stop at Middlewich tip this morning, the need was more for jumpers, blimey it was cold, we almost brought out our coats too.

There was activity at Big Lock a boat just starting to go up, I walked up to help with the gates. It was their first lock in 18 months and their dogs first ever lock. He was so excited to see his owner as she stood by the open gate he tried to get off but his lead prevented this, just assisted it to slip off the side of the boat.

Our turn next, I made sure no-one appeared behind us that we could share the broad lock with. A new sign (?) points its way towards a Roman Fort, Middlewich was where five Roman roads met and was important due to the local salt. The Big Lock pub was popular, bacon butties and coffees norishing the gongoozlers sat outside.

We pulled up just past the park, collected shopping bags together and headed off to Morrisons. Lidl is closer but wouldn’t have various things such as the type of yoghurt I prefer. It turned out that this Morrisons didn’t either but had the next best. Hopefully we stocked up on enough fresh produce to keep us going for a while. Cruising around four hours a day, working and essential boat chores is taking up most of hours at the moment.

Middlewich Bottom Lock

After lunch we pushed off and headed to the bottom of the Middlewich locks, three narrow chambers raise the canal 31ft 9″ around a tight bend. A single hander was just in front of us, he’d been waiting for a boat to come down or for the volunteers to show their faces. A boat was coming down, exiting the middle lock and waiting for the bottom lock to fill. The single hander chatted away to the lady as I walked up, the pound between the locks getting lower all the time, those bottom gates must leak quite a bit. Well they did mainly because one of the bottom paddles was up by six inches. It took quite a bit of force to get it closed, the lock now filled up.

By the time the single hander was heading into the lock volunteers were showing themselves and the antipodean crew from a hire boat behind us had walked up to gleam information before working their first lock (they’d had help at Big Lock). The bywash did it’s thing and refilled the pound between locks. When it was our turn another boat was coming down the middle lock, so there was a do-ci-do to do in the pound between, followed by a very shiny boat coming down from the top lock with fresh out of the box walkie talkies, quite a manoeuvre getting round the bend with an oncoming boat for a new person at the helm.


The walk along the towpath to the junction with the Wardle Canal is one I’ve done numerous times before, stooping low to get under the bridge. The single hander was just finishing going up, I closed up behind him and emptied the chamber, Mick holding Oleanna back until the initial wave had passed.

Maureen’s Lock Cottage hasn’t changed much since we last were here, just some children’s drawings in the window. This lock can be quite fierce so I took my time lifting the paddles, no volunteers to help here, have to say I like doing these locks on my own.

There was space along the moorings, but we wouldn’t be stopping just yet. On the off side a For Sale sign caught our eye. A wonderful garden with lots of lawn and borders even rhododendrons sat below a white bungalow, it even had a generous mooring.

A lovely garden

Looking at the details the bungalow would require quite a bit of modernisation, or replacing. The garden was so lovely and had obviously been someone’s labour of love. We both spent a while considering it, it would certainly make moving Tilly to the boat a far less stressful journey than the hour and a half by car. ‘Tilly it’s time to go cruising, time to get on your shelf’. We wondered whether having house and boat so close together where she would prefer to be if she had the choice. I think it might confuse her, the outside not moving most days. The only thing not in the houses favour was that it wasn’t in Scarborough by the sea. We’ll leave it for someone else to buy.

Worn steps up to Stanthorne Lock

Stanthorne Lock a boat was just coming down, negotiating getting past the single handers canoe. By the time I got up to the lock his boat was rising with the assistance of the lady from the downhill boat, they knew each other and there was much chatting going on. He was taking it slowly not want to damage his trailing canoe, so one paddle was raised half way. It was however taking a very long time.

A typical view long the Middlewich branch

A click noise of a pawl came from behind. We all turned, people about to shout to stop the lock from being emptied. However it was Mick who’d noticed boiling water below the lock, he’d come to close both bottom paddles! All sorted the boat rose without wasting anymore water.

One hire boat to help down, they were hoping to reach Harecastle Tunnel to go through tomorrow, all the Cheshire Locks to do. They planned on cruising til 7pm today, maybe they’d make it in time before the tunnel closed, but they were showing signs of too many locks in a day confusion.

Were the new shutters there last time?

We pootled along, past the mooring where we’ve been for two bonfire nights. The cottage with shutters. Hang on another For Sale sign at the stables! Chance to have a good nosy around rather than just peek in through the kitchen windows. £850,000 including an air source heat pump. It’s a nice property, but lacks a touch of character in the photos, the kitchen is by far the best room in my opinion.

The stables

Onwards a while longer passing NB Linnet, yesterday the chap was sat on his tug deck in shorts, today he most certainly had long trousers and a jumper on. Eventually we pulled in to a mooring we’ve not stayed at before, just before Yankee Candles. It was 5pm, a longer colder day than planned. Only an hours shore leave for Tilly today. Time for a Tuesday night roast chicken to warm us back up!

6 locks, 6.2 miles, 3 canals, 1 right, 3 paddles left up, 1 new old fort, 3 volunteers, 1 canoe, 0 work, 14 strawberries, 1 roast chicken.

Prelude To Wigan. 28th May

Bridge 84 to Bridge 61

Subjects covered on the Geraghty zoom this morning included dayglow macaroons, coming in 14 seconds behind and contraband chilled medication. Don’t worry no names being mentioned here, just in case!

Part way through a boat started to slow more than normal as it passed us, from the azure blue I knew who it would be. NB That’s It would be our locking partner for the Wigan flight, the owners Brian and Jo come from York. I popped my head out of the hatch to say hello and make tentative plans for the boats to meet on Tuesday.

Being waved into the lock

Once the zoom was over we were ready to push off shortly after a Silsden Wide Beam had come past us. Not far to the top of the flight where we could see that the hire boat was on the water point and NB That’s It was just moving in to the lock. Thankfully they’d glanced behind them and spotted us, we were waved on.

Time to get into training for the Wigan flight, today would be a prelude. Seven locks, a third of Wigan. Jo said that there was a cruiser ahead of us, they’d not been able to share the locks with them as they were wider than a narrowboat. A volunteer had been seen walking down the flight, maybe setting the locks ahead of the cruiser.

Heading down the flight

Once the top lock was set emptying I walked ahead to fill the next lock, the cruiser visible in the lock below. Apparently the lady was a complete novice, so we didn’t want them to feel they were under pressure, so we took our time emptying the second lock and then walked down to the third.

Jo, Mick and Brian

Here a chap walking his dogs asked if we’d a spare windlass and he would go and set the lock ahead for us, what a nice man. He’d walk ahead help the lady on the cruiser, refill the lock for us and open the gates. We were starting to get into the swing of only opening one gate for the boats to exit making our work less at each lock. At Wigan if we have no volunteers this will help as one of us can already be setting the next lock down the flight.

There will be a few more photos like this in a couple of days

The volunteer walked back up the flight and offered to finish closing a gate for me. He then stood looking at his phone for five minutes before carrying on up the flight. Our volunteer was much more help. There was plenty to chat about with Brian and Jo, I suspect there will be plenty more on Tuesday. They pulled over stopping for lunch, but we wanted to carry on, getting a few more miles ticked off today. A rendez vous time for Tuesday was made, early!

Hmm, him again!

We soon passed the cruiser that had been ahead of us. Now seeing it up close it was familiar, it was the chap who’d stolen the lock off us in Blackburn! A pause at Botany Bay water point where we managed to avoid a day boat winding unintentionally.

Flag iris’s, Micklemas Daisies and Rhododendrons filled the banks with colour. This stretch always seems to take an age with lengths of moorings. The bottom of the canal a touch lumpy. We’ve been hearing on social media that the level here is down by a foot, well that is man’s speak for about 8 inches. This of course does mean the bottom is closer to the top than usual, hence the bumpyness.

We passed Frederick’s Ice Cream parlour. Yes I did say passed, next time! Outside was NB Burnt Oak who trade as Jubilee Fibres, spinning and dyeing yarns as they travel the waterways. I only found this out now whilst writing the blog, another next time!

Our chosen mooring before the Wigan flight is a stretch of armco just after bridge 61. On our previous stops here we’ve been on our own. Today however we joined four other boats. The first place we stopped at Tilly was allowed off the boat to explore, soon afterwards Mick noticed quite a few bees buzzing around the bathroom window, we’d found another bees nest.


Thankfully Tilly wanted to come and tell me all about what was just down the bank, so she got whisked up and back onboard so we could move without confusing her. She still got to have a couple of hours shore leave before she decided it was dingding time.

A catch up phone call with the London Leckenbys was had. 60th birthdays to hear about along with Andrew catching covid, thankfully after 8 days he’s now testing negative and Josh his son is willing to be in the same room as him again.

7 locks, 10 miles, 1 locking partner, 1 swirling day boat, 1 wide beam, 1 handy man, 1 novice being shouted at, 2nd bees nest in a week, 1 brother on the mend.