Category Archives: walks

Family. Tree. 18th June

Mychett Visitor Centre

A slow start to the day. Tilly was given the rules but decided she’d rather not have any shore leave. The geese can have this outside!

What to do with ourselves? A look in guide books didn’t really bring up anything that was of interest nearby. Yes there are several museums, but they are all military and that didn’t really appeal to us. But one thing jumped out on Google maps which wasn’t too far away. Just what was Melissa’s tree?

To the east of the visitors centre is a large wooded area which has ‘Managed Access’ meaning the MOD use it for training at times and right in the middle of it was a pin for Melissa’s Tree.

Anyone lost a shoe?

At the far end of the car park there is a gate in a fence, this was open so we assumed we’d be safe going for a walk today. Thick with trees and bracken it felt like we were about to have to run for our lives ducking and diving through the friendly cover to avoid the enemy fire, hoping to cross a border in a WW2 film or The Handmaids Tale. However well trodden paths zigzag all around the woodland, but how would you know where you were?

A unique tree, if we could find it again!

A Snowman nailed to a tree would be a land mark, not ever tree would have one surely!

The fleeting glance of dogs running around trailing their ears behind them. The odd runner bouncing above the bracken. Trees. More trees. Do we go this way or that? We had google and OS maps open on our phones, should we take that path or this? Eventually the tree level dropped and we were in what might be called a clearing, although younger trees were busy growing around us, a little like a Christmas tree farm.

I think that could be it

Up ahead it was obvious which was Melissa’s tree, soaring high above the younger trees, it stood out from the crowd. Pinned to the trunk a brass plaque, some fresh flowers and a photo of Melissa. Melissa Sardina passed away in February this year. She was a graphic designer but is known locally for having fostered many dogs before they moved onto their forever homes, here is where she walked her dogs.

What a lovely memorial

Should we head to see what we could see at the locks? Too far to walk today. Instead we walked back a different route, well it could have been the same, we’d not really be able to tell to be honest. One chap walked past with his two dogs, now where am I? I know! Several dog walkers with five dogs each, some on leads others allowed to roam freely.

A large track with signs warning not to pick up anything military, a wise suggestion. We gradually made it back to the gate in the fence and the visitors centre.

We checked in at the office, was there any word as yet from the engineer? He’d been but they had no news for us yet. They’d be in touch when they heard what he had to say.

27 the troublesome lock

The back door was left open for Tilly, but she only occasionally popped her head out the back to check, Still rubbish! An afternoon of pottering and knitting. I selected yarn for pair 25 and cast on the toe. The sewing remaining to be done on pair 24 will be done in spits and spurts over the coming days.

Late afternoon Mick popped into the office to see what news there was, they were just ringing round. Today one of the boats waiting by the lock had been used as a trial boat going through the lock. It was successful, but water levels needed to be restored which would take a while. So on Friday four boats would be heading down through the lock. No-one will be allowed onboard whilst descending the lock for safety reasons, we’ve had this before at Marple, just in case the lock gate should give way. However Tilly will be allowed to stay on board.

Sam

Early evening we had our own visitor, Sam my cousin once removed. We’d not managed to meet up whilst on the Thames near Windsor, but we were still close enough. It was nice to show Sam round Oleanna and for her to meet Tilly, she was allowed to have a head rub, more than I normally allow a stranger. But she is family.

Us

Time to find some food. We’d shortlisted a few places nearby, but having a car was handy to go a little bit further. The Kingfisher on the Quay which overlooks a fresh water lake quite close to the A331. Quirkily decorated and I suspect quite cosy in the winter with big log fires the place was heaving. Luckily there was a table by a window, although the view was masked by parasols on the terrace.

The Kingfisher

A good gluten free menu for Sam and myself, all three of us opted for a Wagyu Burger. The waitress seemed to be new, not knowing about their hand pulled beers, so we all opted for glasses of wine. The conversation didn’t stop flowing and we could have carried on for a lot longer, but the pub was wanting to close up, the kitchen had closed for puddings already!

Sam, Mick, Pip

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 woodland walk, 0 shots fired, 1 memorial tree, 1 rum tree, 1 snowman, 4 boats waiting, 2 extra days, 3 lock flights booked, 1 cousin once removed, 1 guided tour, 1 head nudge, 3 burgers, 3 glasses of wine, 3 canoe urinals, 5 water ski loos, 1 very pleasant evening, thank you Sam for visiting us.

Odd I Ham. 15th June

Odiham Castle to Barley Mow Bridge Moorings

We think that last night we decided not to rush back to Frimley Lodge Park. Our passage down the locks wasn’t for Monday anyway and even if they can mend whatever the problem is with the lock gate they will still need to send water down to fill an intermediate pound, so the earliest we’d be able to go down Deepcut would be Tuesday, when they don’t normally do passages on the flight.

The Ginger cat was spotted before we let Tilly out this morning. NB Olive had said they’d be moving off about 9:30, a pump out on their agenda and then on to the Double Bridge mooring for feline shore leave. As soon as they’d pushed off Tilly was given half an hour to explore whilst we had breakfast.

Cholsley Barn

Rain came and went, waterproofs a sensible precaution for our walk to the shops in Odiham. Over the lift bridge and through North Warnborough. Some big houses around here. Cholsley Barn, a conversion with a rather large entrance hall/dining room, a huge chandelier suspended from the ceiling made from antlers.

New railings going in

Across the way new railings were replacing a wooden fence. The main supports obviously new with a smooth finish, the railing panels themselves obviously new due to the pitted aged effect.

Odiham

Up the hill and towards Odiham. We could have moved the boat to Galleon Wharf and walked from there, this would have been a touch shorter, but not that much. An interesting Creperie, buckwheat pancakes, yum, shame we’d already had breakfast! A newsagents, but not one copy of our Saturday newspaper, not even a space for it!

By now we were glad we’d put waterproofs on, we walked down the hill and found an arcade to shelter in, we browsed the shops, nothing we needed then waited for the rain to stop being sideways. Down the hill to the Co-op, our newspaper in stock here. We picked up a few bits and bobs, milk, bananas, then found a bin with a lot of items reduced to 20p. Yes they were just out of date, but still perfectly edible. We boosted our purchases.

Bel and the Dragon

A different route back would have been good, but much further to walk with bags, so we retraced our steps. Plenty of blue plaques on buildings. The George, now Bel and the Dragon, why Bel? Odiham appeared in the Domesday Book. In 1622 there was a Pest House where those with plague or smallpox could stay in isolation. Mr William Lily was born here, he wrote grammar which after an act of parliament was taught in schools from Henry XIII time. In 1783 a group of men met in the George Inn to inaugurate the Odiham Agricultural Society, they resolved to reform farriery and animal care, establishing a veterinary school, the outcome of which resulted in the foundation of the Royal Veterinary Society.

Back at Oleanna, Tilly was given more shore leave whilst we had lunch, then it was time for us to start heading back north, well in the general term northbound, but heading east.

Lift Bridge

Nobody was stopped in their tracks at the lift bridge, one man crossing as I arrived, he did then stand directly under where I needed to close one of the barriers for a chat! Then onwards through the narrow bits, the clear water ahead showing how shallow the edges were. Thankfully when we came across the big trip boat there was just about enough depth for both boats to pass without going aground. At Lodge Bridge there is a sign to a Farm Shop, the website looks very interesting. If we end up being stuck on the canal for a while I’m requesting a visit.

First boat

Canoes were being packed away and there were plenty of people around Galleon Wharf, a popular area on a weekend. More rain showers came and went giving way to bright sunshine. Two more trip boats, Louise with a party of four who were making their way through a couple of bottles of bubbly.

I kept my eyes peeled for Woodpeckers, but none showed, just a Cormorant diving and flying.

The Chocolate box house looked better today as we passed, thatch, bronze horse and flowerpot person with plenty of ducks on the lawn for good measure.

Chocolate Box house

Ideally we’d have liked to carry on to Double Bridge for Tilly to go out, but NB Olive would be there. Instead we stopped at Barley Mow Bridge, pulling onto the moorings. It felt a reasonable distance away from the road over the bridge, until I heard a car drive by just on the other side of the hedge by our mooring. Sorry Tilly! ………………………… She wasn’t pleased.

0 locks, 4.3 miles, 3 trip boats, 4 canoes, 1 newspaper, 1 sunny down pour day, 1.5 hours shore leave, 3 litter pickers, 1 couped up cat.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/4bbcsszrbasf7sqK9

What Did You Get? Betwixtmas 2023

Breakfast with tea not bucks fizz this year

Christmas Day was quite grey, but thankfully the drizzle/rain stayed away for us to have a walk down to the seafront and allow Frank to walk (without getting wet) the two miles to join us.

A grey seafront

Glasses of fizz were at hand to help with the final food preparations.

Gourmet sprouts

Frank had brought round three sprout stalks from his garden, so he set to. An hour and a half later, his sterling work had got enough diddy sprouts for maybe two of us, they were added to with extras from the bumper veg box I’d ordered.

All ready to tuck in

I’d seen good reviews for M&S gluten free bread sauce, so we had a taste test between theirs and mine. The Leckenby version made with brown seeded bread and some garlic, the M&S version very white and plenty of cloves. They both had good qualities, I think the decision was that they tied.

Only just fitted on our plates

Mammoth amounts of food took over our plates. We think that this year we managed to achieve the correct quantities of everything. Plenty and still quite an amount of left overs after Frank had finished. Cheese was put till the end of the meal (my Mum wouldn’t have approved!), but just as well as my birthday cake was extreamly rich! Five days later and we’ve still only managed to eat half of it. Chocolate and Hazelnut Celebration Cake and the cheese remained in it’s wrappers!

Cheese still untouched!

In the morning we’d opened our Christmas presents, before Birthday cake there were the tree presents. Mick got a new litter picker (not just for tidying up the towpaths but also to help pick things up once dropped in the engine bay on Oleanna. I got the Sarah Howells Gluten Free cook book and Frank got a pair of Pip socks, the last pair to be knitted this year. This makes it 34 pairs since April, I’d forgotten to add in a pair I made for my cousin at the beginning of May.

Blowing them out

Birthday presents followed. This pile quite often ends up with a few Christmas presents accidentally added, ambiguous wrapping, or just because.

A lovely day with fat bellies, lots of empty bottles and good company.

So what did we get?

We both got new waterproof coats.

Presents

A new barbecue. I’d considered a Cob as so many had sung their praises, but the price tag was a touch too much for Tilly’s pocket, so a slightly sterdier fold away version of the one we’ve had for the last eight or so years. It’s handy as it tucks away easily into one of the stern lockers. I got some Sketchers anti-slip trainers which are comfortable for my toe and the antislip looks as good as we’ve had before. Tilly got a flapping fish to remind her of our travels on the water. This did have to be removed after a while I just don’t understand why it didn’t die! I had resorted to numerous headbut bites and yet it still flipped around!

More!

Lots of other goodies. Books were all cookery books this year, a Tom Kerridge book didn’t make the photo. Tilly got a new (to her) food and water bowls so that she doesn’t have to move them from house to boat to house. I’ll have something to say about that Blue one on my own blog! Plus a LOT of Dreamies. You’d better start moving the outside again so I can have those! Pyjamas were also popular, between us we got three pairs. An ice bag, very handy for knees or heads. Socks, now just not any old socks! Thank you to Kath who got me the arty socks, Father Christmas for the chunky socks, but extra bonus points to the NB Cleddau crew for the Crazy Cat Lady socks. Thank you!!!

Sue cutting the cake, assisted by Jaye and of course Duncan!

We’ve had a few relaxing days since, interspersed by Sue’s 60th where her family and friends took over a local Indian restaurant. What a lovely evening, Happy Birthday Sue!

Can anyone guess which lock this is?

The painting for our downstairs toilet is coming on. A good project to do Betwixtmas. Soon I’ll have to set the drawing board up and sort out dimensions of the lean too that we’re wanting to replace, there’s also the boat cushion fabric to source, curtain tracks, some painting and more bloomin sealant to do in the house! Then there are the boat jobs on the list. But these can all wait for the new year I think, Oh and there’s the yearly round up to write and that always takes ages.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got some fab presents too.

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 pairs socks, 4 cook books, 4 bowls, 3 bags of dreamies, 1 fish, 1 wobbly thing, 3 pairs pyjamas, 1 bottle truffle oil, 2 waterproofs, 1 cold on the way out, 1 on the way in, 1 lodger with a tickly throat, 1 phone, 4 pens, 4 pencils, 1 bbq, 2 much birthday cake so if anyone is passing in the next few days please help us!

Dodging Balls. 31st August

Kegworth Marine and Ratcliffe Bridge 46 to Trent Junction, River Trent

Ratcliffe Lock

A cruiser just beat us to Ratcliffe Lock, a crew member sent ahead to set it. I checked with the skipper if they would be willing to share or if they’d rather be on their own. Some cruisers are weary of narrowboats in locks, but on this occasion they were fine about sharing just so long as we went into the lock first. Fine with us.

Closing in a years time

Now close to Ratcliffe on Soar powerstation, the cooling towers in just about every photograph. Through Redhill Flood Lock and on towards the Trent. A narrowboat came towards us at speed, had they misjudged the bend by the big weir? Plenty of wellie and they managed to adjust their course to avoid us.

Trent Junction

Now the water stretches out as the Soar meets the Trent, meets the Erewash Canal, meets Cranfleet Cut. Sadly no space on the pontoon mooring, one of our favourites which is a favourite with many others, can’t remember the last time we managed to get moored there. However a space against the wall was available, we winded and pulled in, here Tilly would be allowed shore leave and we’d still have quite a view from the side hatch and our bed in the morning.

It was still quite early, before midday. The height of the bank and forecast rain in the afternoon put me off doing the mushroom vents, again!

Trent Lock onto the Erewash

I planned a walk, checked when rain was due and set off hoping to remain dry today. I walked over the bottom of Trent Lock Junction, we’d forgotten the existence of the Lock Cafe, maybe we should have gone there for lunch.

Heathers

I walked along the banks of the Trent up to he small garden centre where I checked to see what was for sale. Diddy Christmas trees! Our new Christmas tree had been doing quite well back in Scarborough when last checked and this year we don’t plan on being onboard for the big day, so no need for one.

FOUR!

My plotted route brought me to the edge of a golf course. I could just make out the next yellow post marking the footpath across the neat grass. Groups of men swung clubs. Would I make it across without getting hit? Would I be a distraction? Should I change my route? I decided that the course would have to accomodate me and other walkers, so hopefully I’d not be in the firing line and have to dodge balls.

I survived and then walked right down the far side of the course. I didn’t bother trying to count how many balls were sitting in the grass of the driving range. Presumably they have a sit on hoover to collect them at the end of the day.

Mills Dockyard

The footpath popped out at a bridge over the Erewash Canal. We’d considered having a trip up to Langley Mill, but decided against it. Eight years ago we’d cruised to the end, we enjoyed it (apart from the chap with a shotgun), but it isn’t one we simply must return to. Mills Dockyard did look very picturesque today.

Under the railway lines

Across a field to walk round a lake, under two railway lines, then across another field back to Cranfleet Cut where I rejoined the towpath back to Oleanna.

Yum

Time to make that carrot cake. Tilly mumbled something at me as she came in the stern doors, she was ushered straight out the front doors before she’d finished what she was saying, the doors closed firmly behind her. WHAT IS RULE NUMBER ONE TILLY!!!!

Only just enough wind

Early evening three sailing boats came out for a race, a very slow motion race as there was just about no breeze. One of the boats needed motorised assistance to return to the club house.

1 lock, 1 flood lock, 1.9 miles, 2.5 miles walked, 1 dry boater, 4 times in 3 days! 200 grams of carrots, 1 apple, 75 grams cream cheese, 1 improved internet, 1 loose connection, 1 stove lit, 0 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 cat grounded!

https://goo.gl/maps/ARKFfzsBnmx9pJN48

An Extra Shower. 29th August

Zouch Lock to Zouch Lock

Ahead of ourselves. Should we stay that way or let the days catch up with us? A day sat still could mean some much needed maintenance work on Oleanna, rust around the mushroom vents needs sorting before winter.There’s the grab rail that I’ve been meaning to do for a couple of years too. Don’t mention the gunnels or cratch board!

Forecast rain and still having a headache put me off. We decided to move.

That’s a good view!

Three boat lengths up there was a newly vacated gap with a better view. We moved up and gave Tilly some shore leave, hoping she wouldn’t get confused following her scent back to where we’d just left.

A morning of pottering. There was one job that could be done. I dug out my pencils, pens, watercolours and paper. Time to do a new first night card for one of our lodgers. Tanya is on her third visit, so the house and a compilation of Scarborough views have been used, time for a new one.

Drawn out

I went through the photos I’d taken on our Scarborough walks during the second lockdown, shortlisting a few. Another photograph found on the internet was used along with mine for the composition. This was drawn out and inked in.

I could have sat at the dinette all day, but wanted to stretch my legs and see if a walk would help dissipate my headache. I plotted a route, showed it to Mick, made sure Tilly was inside and set off, crossing the bridge over the canal and the field alongside our mooring to meet the road.

Hooked up

The boats at Zouch Marina have poles to rise up and down on, they also have a contraption similar to a caravan hook up which attach to the boats bows. These must be to help keep the boats in position when the river goes into flood.

Not very picturesque

I took the chance to get off the busy A6006, only to find the footpath was fenced in and overgrown with nettles, a new development planned for the other side of the fence. More main road before turning down Wide Lane in Hathern. I’d hate to think what they were comparing Wide Lane to when they named it, cars having to park on the pavement. One half timbered house had dormer windows in it’s roof line, most probably a framework knitters cottage, looms tended to be in top rooms where extra light could be sought.

£650,000 with swimming pool!

Next door a rather lovely house is for sale, sadly it’s not by the river so no mooring opportunities.

Hathern in the 19th C got the name Wicked Hathern. Rev Edward Thomas March Philips spent more than 50 years in the village trying to civilise his parishioners who liked to spend more time in the pubs than his pews. Cockfights and drunken brawls in the graveyard prompted the priests outbursts, the village being dubbed Wicked Hathern. Pubs still outnumber the churches 5 to 2, but I believe things have calmed down.

Sheltering from the rain

By now it was drizzling. I took refuge in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, the door open and organ music emanating from inside. A family of three sat by the organ, Mum cutting things out from a paper, Dad I couldn’t tell what he was doing and a young person possibly about seven or eight was sat at the organ, playing away pretty well. Not sure if they were using the pedals, I suspect their legs weren’t long enough to reach. I had a quick look round but didn’t want to disturb the practice.

KL4SEE

Small children in school uniform came from the direction of the school, an ice cream van sat waiting for new customers. I had no money on me so I couldn’t sample their wares, anyhow it was drizzling even more now.

Soggy isn’t it!

I could have waited out the rain under a tree, but decided that it looked to have set in, so carried on. A horse gave me a soggy knowing look as I reached it’s field. I crossed over towards the weirs.

A large curved gate holds back the water, presumably this is used in times of flood to speed the water down stream. Then I crossed over the curved weir and got chance to see just how many boats are kept along the arm, at least five. They must have to limbo under the footbridge to get in and out.

Moorings tucked away

Back to the towpath and back to Oleanna, I was by now soaked! Straight into the shower and my soggy clothes got a wash.

Chopped again

Time to put some colour on my drawing. Base colours, then a touch more detail. As this dried, so had the outside world. Mick had requested a haircut so without the aid of my assistant, she was more interested in the trees, I got to work with the clippers. A smart boyfriend again.

The final shadows were added to my painting. It just needs scanning now and making into a card. I’ll also need to run off one of the house for our other lodger as it’s her first visit. Those who know Scarborough will know the subject matter.

0 locks, 0.1 miles, 3 boats worth, 1 busy cat, 4 more paracetamol, 2 damp a day for jobs, 1 new card, 3 very soggy miles walked, 2 weirs, 7 year old organist, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://goo.gl/maps/hYdFNHYakd5GmUuc7

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.

The Big Day. 25th December

Bridge 47, Alrewas

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast

After stockings came a glass of Bucks Fizz and breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, using a bit more of the parsley mountain now in our freezer. A festive chat with the London Leckenbys who were about to sit down to ham sandwiches and presents.

VHF for tidal waters and Trent Locks

Next Christmas presents. Thankfully delayed deliveries hadn’t managed to spoil our main presents. Tilly and I had clubbed together to buy Mick a new VHF radio as ours had gone faulty on the reflections flotilla, we’d ended up having to borrow one. Now that we seem to go on slightly more adventurous cruises we went for a better handheld radio than before. This should cover a larger distance. Mick put it on charge straight away and then had a go at turning down the squelch.

Sander

I got a cordless sander. I should also be able to get other tools that will use the same battery. When working on panto, Jo the props maker had a very small hand friendly cordless electric drill, so I’m hoping that might be the next tool to be added to the collection. We got plenty of other goodies too.

Time for a Christmas walk before any more booze was consumed. The last two years we’ve headed down to Scarborough sea front to have the wind clear away any cobwebs. This year we’re back on the canals, not quite the same as the north east wind making your cheeks ruddy, but just as good.

We chose to walk into the village, turning up Post Office Road. The Crown pub seemed to be popular as families turned up for a pint and lemonade.

The model cottages sitting facing each other both had wreaths on their front doors. At first I thought it a shame that they hadn’t consulted each other and gone for the same. But when I spotted the wreath on the red door, it made me laugh.

Mums and Dads

Baubles hung from a tree, this needed investigating. It is a memory tree for Mums and Dads, some of the baubles have messages written on them. Below there was a tin with a couple more baubles, were these for anyone to use or sat waiting for particular offspring to come and hang them on Christmas morning.

There was a nice looking house for sale, £620,000 for a five bedroom house, not bad. Although it feels lovely and light inside I think it’s lost some of it’s period character with the modern cupboards everywhere.

Back to the canal and a walk to look at the river levels. In the amber, Mick said it had gone down since yesterday, if it carries on in that direction that would be good. We walked down to the weir a short distance further on. The river swirled confused under the walkways and sped it’s way to the weir. Mick thought with enough umph we’d be fine going past.

A look inside the church, still warm from the mornings services. A big tree stood to one side, this with the smell reminded me of Christmas Days in the 70’s when we’d head to The Homestead for drinks with the Rowntree family in York. There in a hallway stood a tree as tall as the room, it’s base swathed in cotton wool. Trains, sledgers, animals decorated the snow below the poor tree that strained under the weight of SO many decorations. The sight kept my brother and myself transfixed, the coloured lights twinkling in the oak panelled hallway as the hubbub of adults came from the library where sherry and mince pies were handed out. At ten to one Peter Rowntree would call everyone silent, there would be a toast to Christmas and then a round of Happy Birthday for me. Today stood in All Saints I glanced up at the clock, ten to one, the time I was born.

In the churchyard many of the gravestones have been moved to the sides, this was done in the 70’s when the grounds had a change of layout. In the nearest corner to Oleanna stand the three wise men and their camels, followed by a donkey. His tail had been pinned on several times before.

Stoned!

Back to Oleanna, a few more Catnip Dreamies for Tilly had her gazing into nowhere for quite some time. I think she was just that little bit off her face!

The duck was pricked, stuffed and popped into the oven. Timings worked out for everything else. Bread sauce and cabbage put on top of the stove to reheat. Veg peeled ready to roast or steam. Sausages wrapped in blankets to keep them warm. It was as if we’d done Christmas dinner on the boat before! Well it’s actually easier here than in the house believe it or not.

Not normally one to watch the Christmas Day speech, lunch is normally timed to clash, but this year we thought we’d give Charles a chance as the pigs in blankets went in the oven. I think normal timings will resume next year.

Two plates brimming full were dished out, some roast potatoes had to be put back to make space for all the extras. All very nice, although my experiment of using oat milk for bread sauce won’t be repeated, it was okay but a little porridgy.

Full to the brim, Snowman was watched before the day moved to Birthday. Cake, candles a cup of much needed tea and then presents.

I got a gluten free recipe book, some waterproof thermal work gloves, some magnifying work glasses to help with model making and illustrations and a box of Pantomime yarn from Riverknits. I’m not sure I’ll knit the pattern the yarn came with or something else, not decided yet.

Another glass of wine accompanied Morecomb and Wise. A very good birthday and Christmas.

0 locks. 0 miles, 3 stockings crammed full, 5 bedoingee balls, 5 chocolate oranges, 2 styles of quality street wrappers, 1 vhf radio, 1 sander, 1 bottle of English fizz, 2 bottles wine, 1 packet of serious crack for cats, 1 spaced out Tilly, 15 pairs socks, 3 cans of beer, 4 spices, 7 silicone lids, 2 boxes matches, 1 pair of glasses, 1 book, 1 wifi camera, 2 plates only just big enough, 2 slices cake, 2 rather full boaters, 1 lovely day.

Waterbeach 20th June

Clayhithe Bridge

Cwor!

Last night we were treated to a rather good sunset. The trees across the way glowed from the setting sun and the sky looked like dragons had been breathed a huge smoky sigh.

A slow start to the day, yesterday we’d decided to wait another day before heading into Cambridge. I’d hunted around places that we could visit locally. Anglesey Abbey 4 miles away, too far to walk there and back and using public transport would take well over an hour. Another Abbey, Denny, still a 3 mile walk and only open Thursday to Sunday.

Then Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum caught my eye. Sadly only currently open on the first Sunday and Wednesday of every month. Oh well, we’d go and see what we could see in Waterbeach, maybe try to find the airfield.

From Clayhithe Bridge you can walk through Cow Hollow Wood a local nature reserve. We took the path to the Remarkable Reedbed, not very remarkable, but the areas were named by school kids when it was first put together in 2000. It makes a nice walk into the village avoiding the road.

We followed Station Road into the village, now classed as a new town since 2018. Plenty of nice looking smart houses around the place. A triangular village green with a post office, convenience store and a couple of pubs.

St Johns

A stop to look round St John the Evangelist, dating back to the 12th Century the tower and spire collapsed and were replaced in 1821. It undertook a Victorian restoration in 1871 by JM Fawcett and John Ladds in 1878. The mosaics on the pulpit and behind the alter most probably date from this time.

Life buoy halo

There was a plaque and book of remembrance for 514 Squadron Bomber Command who were stationed at RAF Waterbeach between 1943 and 45, just how many had given their lives.

We carried on walking through the centre to try to reach the airfield which is quite obvious on Google maps. But today an area of it is now used for NHS staff accommodation. We walked down to the cemetery to see if we could see anything from there, sadly failing. It kind of looks like the airfield is being redeveloped, most probably for housing.

Wonderful reflections

We walked back to the river on Bannold Road crossing the railway line which brought us to Bottisham Lock. A wonderful view upstream to be had from the weir.

Loads of room today

Today there was plenty of space on the GOBA mooring, NB Cleddau and the others having moved off this morning. We then followed the flood bank back to Clayhithe, at times having to lift our arms to avoid the masses of nettles.

All blue and green

The list of places to visit in Cambridge is long and could get expensive. I think this evening we will have to pin the tail on the donkey to choose which things we’re going to do and see.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles walk, 1 church, 17 hollyhocks, 0 airfield, 2 abbeys 2 far away on foot, 2 far away for the bus, 2 sessions of shore leave, 8 times no, 8 courgette and pea fritters for the first time.

Quick! Before The Cows Cut Us Off! 28th May

New Fen Mooring

Yesterday when we pulled up we decided that we’d be staying put today, such a lovely mooring in the middle of nowhere on our own, Tilly could have a field day!

Our bedroom view this morning

So when the front blinds were rolled up we were surprised to see another narrowboat moored up, at least they were at the other end of the moorings, so neither of us would disturb each other.

Our nearest neighbour

All day we saw two walkers, the narrowboat ahead moved off and another came past us heading to Brandon and then returned a couple of hours later. Other than that we’ve had bird song to listen to.

A good spot in the sunshine

Tilly started the morning by watching the damselflies in the reeds alongside the boat. I was then given 9 and a half hours to explore! But I had to show myself at least ten times during the day which I think I managed quite well.

Despite the incredibly slow internet here we just about managed to join in with the Geraghty zoom this morning, we froze and went silent on several occasions. Topics included the Fens, bunting and even vampires.

A field of a day

There’s lots of grass to tuck yourself away in and sandy mounds, She said she hoped they weren’t ants nests because I’d spend the day being looney loopy if they were. I only managed an hour of looney loops though.

She got on with her project. It gets hidden away when She’s not doing it. Tom sat outside for sometime in his coat. He says he was listening to the birdies with his eyes closed, but I’m not so sure!

You get good views from up here

Late afternoon I realised I hadn’t even stepped of the boat, so it was time to head for a bit of a walk. With Tilly in tow I climbed onto the flood bank and walked back towards the Great Ouse. Having a cat in tow would mean I wouldn’t be walking miles, but we covered quite a distance until I saw that the next field had cows. So we turned and started to walk back, Tilly only distracted a couple of times so she managed to keep up in her springy way charging ahead to buy her more distraction time.

Cows just visible if you squint!

However on our return our pace had to become a touch quicker. Up ahead I could see quite a lot of cows, all white with black ears. They were very interested in us! Would we make it back in time not to be cut off from the boat by them? I made the decision to get back to the boat with Tilly and shore leave would be over for the day, I really didn’t want her stranded on the other side of inquisitive cows.

All ready to layer up.

With a Moussaka on the cards this evening, I spread the preparation out through the day. Potatoes were boiled and left to cool. Aubergine sliced, salted to get rid of any bitterness, then fried and left to cool. The mince was prepared and everything layered up with the final layer of cheese and egg sauce popped on top. Each bit done whilst things on my project had time to dry off.

Fixings tried out

I now need some filler for the next phase. Back at the house I have the ideal filler in powder form, but I’ve not seen that kind in shops in years. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some cheap Polyfilla that I can thin down a touch to achieve the same effect when we reach Brandon.

Despite patches of sunshine today the temperature has dropped, so Mick lit the fire this evening. Only a small one as we didn’t want to overheat, but just enough for us not to need blankets on our knees and hopefully keep the boat warm overnight.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 moving boats, 2 walkers, 2 beads, 1 project fitted and ready for the next stage, 1 box of filler required, 1 aubergine, 1 bag sprouting potatoes, 250grams mince, 0 parmesan, 1 recipe next time, 9.5 hours, 1 field day, 1 km cat walk, 1 stove, 1 heard cows who couldn’t be bothered with us in the end! 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval

PLEASE go HOME! 14th May

The Boathouse

Conversations on the Geraghty zoom this morning were obviously going to be taken over to a certain extent by the news of a new member of the family this week. Mick is now a Great Uncle for the forth time, congratulations to Ruth, James, P and Daphne.

With the sun out and the temperature rising where we are moored was guaranteed to be a popular place. A group of youngsters arrived planning on a swim, all fine until they start peering into our home. Mick went out the back to adjust things making sure they knew someone was onboard, they moved round the basin to jump in elsewhere.

It was time for Mick to do the oil change, the one he was going to do when Oleanna went into Blue Water Marina in Thorne last November. The timing of it is just about correct with the engine hours, he’d just wanted to leave her over the winter with fresh lubrication. Overalls went on and the bow doors were opened for Tilly to be able to come and go as she pleased, today would be a sausage day.

Tilly whilst it was quiet

A rib turned up, another backed down the slipway into the water. Sunny weekend water fun was to be had by many. Groups turned up to socialise, smoke and for some to swim. During one gap Tilly made it back to the boat with ease, staked her claim on the wooden posts and rolled around, MINE! All mine!

Looks idyllic doesn’t it

With Mick in the engine bay I considered giving Oleanna a wash, but there were too many people about, instead I headed off to buy a newspaper. I could just walk to the Co-op on Thorpe Road but that would be boring, instead I’d head to the one on Oundle Road on the other side of the river. This would mean a good walk along the side of the rowing course and across Orton Lock.

A long straight route towards the river, lots of rowers speeding their way along the course, giant floating pomegranates marking the ends.

Under the Nene Parkway there was a great painting of a hand. Once I was under the bridge and had turned round there were several more quality pieces of graffiti art, some more accomplished than others. Then there were artworks created by school kids that had been printed onto banners and I’d passed several sculptures, quite an arty area.

Orton Lock was full with the top gates left open. Over the last few days notices have been put up by the EA requesting the locks should be left empty with the guillotine gates up, but someone obviously couldn’t be bothered emptying the lock. I walked over the weir across the Nene Valley Railway line and on through Orton Meadows, joined the fast world again before ducking into the wonderfully airconditioned Co-op.

NB Mushy P below the lock

A more relaxed shaded route through woods was found for my return to the river. The lock was full and NB Mushy P was just arriving to go up, out for a pootle making the most of a lovely day.

A quick search on Google suggested there would be a lot of sculptures along a path that ran parallel to the one I’d already walked. Some concrete pieces were nothing special, maybe one was even missing from it’s stand!

Then there were others that stood out. Little Prince by Jane Ackroyd. The Cormorant by Elizabeth Cooke was my favourite with a fish spine in it’s beak.

Festival Boat by Sokari Douglas Camp can be seen from the river glistening in the sunshine. Odd Oaks by Nicholas Pope now decaying and lying on their sides.

When I got back to the boat more people had arrived. A group with a rib were making quite a collection of glasses from the pub. At least two groups were jumping in and we had their music playing. Oleanna’s bow had revisited classics such as Abba and at the stern there was more beat than melody.

Still quite calm

Tilly had found a gap to return to Oleanna but around about 5pm she decided that she’d like another perusal around the trees, well within cat curfew she was allowed out, us grateful as tonight I’d unwisely decided to cook a roast chicken, so we were thankful that all doors could be open whilst the oven did it’s thing.

NB Mushy P returned nudging dangling legs out of the way.

Swany

6pm came and went, still no Tilly. The groups of loud people, music and splashes almost certainly putting her off making a dash back home. I walked round the nearby wooded area calling for her, hoping that she’d come to me so that I could pick her up and assist her back to the boat. There was no sight or sound.

As one group left another arrived, older men with more music all intent on jumping in.

An hour later Mick tried to find Tilly, still no sign.

I did a round of the wood, chatted to the chap from NB Mushy P who had returned, but still all the people about put her off.

Before our roast was ready someone arrived on a motorbike, they also had to jump in. Then revving of the engine followed.

We really don’t mind sharing the space and water with other people. The noise was a little bit too much at times, but they were all enjoying themselves. However all the time I kept willing them all to PLEASE go HOME! Then Tilly would return of her own accord, well that’s what we hoped.

The roast chicken was eaten, Mick did the washing up. Outside a game of football was had using a plastic bottle as a ball. Just P*ss off! And let my cat come home! Eventually people started to head off. The rib set off, leaving half a pubs worth of empty glasses behind. The motorbike revved itself away. Gradually the final music faded along with the chat and banter. Peace once more. It was 8:30.

Outside one fisherman cast his line into the basin. Mick started walking round. I opened up the land side of the cratch cover a little, big enough for a skinny cat, then did a more concerted walk round the wood. Mad cat woman was out and in full voice. I called and called, then listened for a reply. Nothing!

The only thing left to do was trust in Tilly to come home. The litter tray was put out the back in case she’d got lost and we settled down in front of the TV. An episode of Killing Eve did it’s best to keep us occupied, but all the time I had my ear listening for Tilly’s bell and her thug like sprint across the wooden decking by the mooring.

A little thud was heard at 9:15 as four white paws jumped onto the stern of Oleanna. Thank goodness!! The doors were closed straight away. Tilly headed straight for her food bowl she was starving. Half an hours extra shore leave had turned into over four hours. Thank goodness she is such a good boat cat, she’ll sleep well tonight.

0 locks, 0 miles, 5 walked, 1 oil change, 12mm play on belts, 752 people swimming, 5 cruisers, 32 glasses left, 1 hot day, 1 sculpture trail, 1 stranded cat, 2 concerned boaters, 1 pooh bucket swapped over, 1 failed deterrent, 2 final episodes Killing Eve, 4 white paws and 1 white tipped tail back safe and sound.