Category Archives: Work Boats

Archie Innie And Cary Outie. 21st May

Bridge 178 to Chisnell Lift Bridge 193

Blimey last night I had real difficulty in staying awake after we’d eaten and as soon as I got into bed my eyes closed and I was out for the count, very unusual for me. I’d had my first glass of wine since being on antibiotics, Colin my dentist had suggested I would be alright to drink again on Mick’s birthday, maybe waiting another day would have been better. This morning I woke up a good 90 minutes later than I usually do.

Kings Sutton Lock

Kings Sutton Lock sat full waiting for us, the second of the deep single bottom gated locks. Someone has been very busy chopping logs, maybe they are the only source of heat at the lock cottage here. We pootled our way along the next pound, some familiar boats spotted, but no-one to say hello to. No aroma of bacon cooking today as we passed the Pig Place, just a chap adding nails to the landing.

New bolts to hold the bridge together

As we came under the M40 we could see vans and work boats by Sydenham Lift Bridge 183. A couple of weeks ago there was a stoppage here as apparently a boat had run into the bridge, we don’t know how as the bridge is normally left open. As we passed through a carpenter was busy making handrails for the bridge and we could see that most of the bolts holding the platform together had been moved.

Lots of piling

At the C&RT work yard there was lots of new shiny armco piling, I wonder where this will be used. We’ve noticed sections where piling has been used quite low in the water and then the big sausage rolls used to keep the edge green, not too useful for mooring but certainly helping to keep the towpath in tact and wider than it has been.

We’ve limboed under here before

Nell Bridge Lock was also full, I checked the level below. The red green yellow board long gone, but plenty of head room today to get through the low bridge under the road. As I opened the bottom gate Mick told me of an oncoming boat, great I could leave the gate for them, I just had to cross over the busy road.

Random find on a wall

Yesterday had been sunny, today it was decidedly cold, we’d also made sure our waterproofs were close to hand. Someone must have thought so too as a hot water bottle lay on the wall over the top of Aynho Weir, random object found alongside the canal.

Aynho Weir Lock from the weir another possible painting

The lock was just about ready for us, just a little top up before I could open the gate. I know from experience along here to be patient, very patient when filling and emptying the locks especially the lozenge ones, they may look level but the gate will only give when it will give.

The lozenge shape ensures enough water heads down onto the canal to feed the next lock

We pulled in to Aynho Wharf, time to introduce ourselves. There under a few other boxes was one large Bully Boy box filled with our replacement battery. When we’d been thinking of somewhere we could get it sent to, various friends and acquaintances had been thought of, but here came to mind as Oleanna would be close to road access, the heavy box not needing to be moved very far. Sarah was very kind and was quite happy for us to have our new battery sent to them so that we could easily collect it.

Thank you!

A sack barrow was found and the big box brought out to Oleanna, the two of us lifted it onto the stern, it could stay there for a little while. 61 litres of fuel £1.24 a litre the most we’ve paid this year, but we wanted a top up and Aynho had been good to us. Sarah asked if we’d given the batteries names, maybe they would like to be named and that was what had gone wrong with the faulty one.

Name on the box

As we pulled away I looked down at the box, there was this batteries name, Archibald. Archibald would be going inside in The Shed, so Archie Innie. But what about the other one? What would be a suitable name to go along with Archibald? The first thing that came up on Google was about Archibald Alec Leach who was more commonly known as Cary Grant, I always have had a thing for Cary Grant. That was it, the second battery named, Cary Outie.


A little late for lunch we decided to pull in where we’d met with Paul and Christine on NB Waterway Routes last year just before Chisnell Lift Bridge. Tilly would have all the fields of long grass to play in, or so we thought! Well that’s just a rubbish outside, NO trees! She stayed up on the roof for quite a lot of the 4 hours she’d been given, meowing at us whilst leaning over the side above the hatch over the canal which always makes me really nervous.

Coo, I’ve not made one of these for ages!

I set about preparing tonight’s meal, a smoked salmon and camembert quinoa crust quiche, the oven being on went some way to warming us up. Mick got on with installing Archie Innie. The faulty battery had been sent back with the terminal bolts, the new one had come without any! He rootled through his tool box and boxes of bits and bobs and thankfully found two suitable for the job. The Shed was emptied, stern steps removed and Archie installed into his cubby hole. Cables attached, hello Archie!


Mick talked to him from his phone. Cary started to share his power, starting to get themselves levelled out. The engine was started up to assist, this will need a few more hours for them to get themselves sorted, hopefully tomorrows cruise will help.

The stove was lit, time to warm up. It then started to rain. Hopefully the weather won’t be too bad, we really don’t want the Thames to go back onto red boards, it’s only just come off! Time to start watching the EA levels and C&RT for Shipton on Cherwell, hopefully I’ll get to hand deliver a pair of socks this week if the river stays down.

This weeks yarn selection

This evening we watched the first of this weeks episodes of Narrow Escapes. Good to see Tim and Tracy again, we passed NB Sola Gratia last year on our way to the Thames, but we’ve not actually seen them since the day both boats climbed up to Titford Pump House back in early 2020, this I believe was the day they were picking up Ozzie, hearing assistance dog in training.

3 locks, 4.5 miles, 0 Frankie, 0 bacon, 61 litres, 1 new bully boy, 2 names, 1 disappointed cat, 1 really rubbish outside, 1 lodger heading home, 1 wet evening, 1 big quiche.

Gailey Walking. 2nd May

Penkridge visitor mooring to Moat House Bridge

Waking this morning there was some good news, the bits and bobs we win from time to time on our premium bonds were a little bit bigger this month, enough to cover some of the work my molar requires. Quite a relief.

Swapping with C&RT

After breakfast we were the only boat left on the visitor moorings, time for us to move too. Up at Filance Lock a C&RT work boat was coming down with ample crew. Mick had to tuck Oleanna out of the way for them to pass, then brought her into the lock. A couple were busy trimming their hedge, it sounded like it hadn’t been done quite right, not quite flat enough on the top.

It’s frothy man!

Thankfully there was space near The Cross Keys on rings so we pulled in, collected our shopping bags and set off to walk up to the Co-op. We think this is the larger of the two Co-ops in Penkridge and this mooring the closest you can get by boat. They had a reasonable stock of things and we filled a few bags which would keep us going until we can get a delivery next week.

A good tree house with a spiral staircase

Midday by the time everything was stowed away. We opted for an early lunch rather than stopping again in an hours time.

Approaching Otherton Lock

The canal now turns to run along adjacent to the M6 for a stretch. Penkridge may be set back from the motorway but its rumble is ever present no matter where you moor in the town, now it would get louder. At Otherton Lock a boat was coming down, our turn next as two more boats arrived above and another behind us, we were head of the queue again. As the lock filled the foam surrounded Oleanna’s bow, maybe I should have given it a mop at the same time making use of the suds.

Boggs Lock

I hitched a ride to Rodbaston Lock, no queue there and then walked the rest of the way to Gailey working the next three locks. Don’t think I’d noticed before that around each lock beam the whole area is bricked. It’s quite normal for the curved route you take below a lock beam to be brick or stone, but here there is a full semi circle of bricks.


As I walked up to Gailey Top Lock there was a sign saying Volunteers were on duty, some helping hands for the cranked beams. Sure enough up top there were two chaps waiting to help a length of rope holding the bottom two gates together. It was nice to see the little shop in the tower open again, the lady chatting to the Lockies. Up Oleanna came to the summit pound, time to wiggle our way through the moored boats.

Gailey waiting for Oleanna to rise

It was warm, but quite grey as we pootled along. Past the chemical works where you are not allowed to stop, then the wiggly windy bit around Calf Heath. If we could turn left here a proposed restoration would have us climbing up to the Wolverhampton level and popping out to join the Cannock Extension Canal or the Curley Wurley on the BCN. But no chance of that just yet.

Maybe I should get a piggybank for a tooth fund

Now we were away from the M6 we wanted to find a mooring before the railway joined us. Somewhere suitable for Tilly to spend a few hours today. The first stretch was filled with several boats, but round a few more bends a length of armco presented itself and we pulled in. Shore leave rules were recited, two hours today and off Tilly went.

As we were taking Oleanna out of cruising mode a couple walked past and stopped for a chat. They love walking the towpaths and have a plan one day to own a boat, but first they will buy a motorhome to explore with. We chatted for quite sometime, they have an old cat whom they’d like to take with them on their travels. Tilly showed them what being a boat cat was about, climbing trees and pouncing.

This chap was pretending to be a gull at first, the length of his beak gave him away.

During the day we’d had a phone call from the boiler people. They were wanting to try to make a new appointment to upgrade the boiler in the house. Mick had been there for the last appointment which was cancelled on the day. This appointment would require a special trip, so he asked if it was possible to put a note on the job sheet not to cancel it this time! We opted for an appointment on a day when I’d be at the dentist, then a few hours later realised it coincided with rail strikes! We didn’t want to cancel it, but how could we make it work. Mick spent a long time on the computer trying to work out if he could actually do the trip by train, getting there easy, but returning only possible if he left Scarborough at 3pm, not returning to the boat until 11pm. Other options were concidered including an overnight somewhere. But in the end the easiest option was to hire a car, it was working out at a similar cost too. They had better not cancel this appointment!

6 locks, 6.1 miles, 0.5 of a tooth paid for, 1 frothy stretch, 4 light bags of shopping, 1 appointment, 1 week of train strikes, 1 slight detour planned, 2 hours shore leave, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Barry Humphery Would Have A Field Day. 22nd April

Milepost 6ish to Bramble Cuttings

I think if they repainted this it would disintegrate

Pootleing along the loooong pound this morning it was chilly, you could see your breath. We soon passed new fencing, high, blocking off the view to what used to be a sweet little tree house, at least the fence is wooden. Lion Salt Works, well worth a visit if you are in the area. Plenty of bags were piled up outside Thor, they make biocides and disinfectant.

The Four Counties coal boat

Round the bend to Wincham Wharf. In amongst the boats we could see NB Halsall’s bow. Last night we’d finished a bottle of gas just as the roast chicken was finishing. Rachel was just about to pull away from a boat, we checked on her gas stocks, ‘Plenty!’ We’ll hopefully see her before we’re out of her patch and if we don’t there is always the place in Stoke.

Tench and cranes

Now under all the bridges and pipes, passing the moored boats. At the far end a sea of cranes of different sizes surrounded a building. This will be a sustainable power station once built. Then we got a reminder of New Year 2016/17 as we passed NB Tench. We spent the evening sitting in her hold trying not to be cold with Heather Bleasdale, Alex (Tench’s then owner), Brian and some other people whos names escape me now. Good to see Tench again.

By now the gentle rain we’d woken up to had set in, with the occasional heavier interlude. A strip of land with what looks like planning permission for a house and a mooring, no details of who is selling it or any agents. A new house for sale a short distance on with a roof terrace.

Orchard Marina has water in it now, last year it was very dry. A few narrowboats sit at the far end, but it looks like there is still plenty of work to be done. HS2 was going to strtech right across this area, crossing the canal three times. As we’re north of Birmingham this won’t happen now. We wondered if the people whos homes had been compulsively purchased had been given the option to buy their property back?

Twisty trees

More old woodland along the east bank. Gnarldy oak trees covered in ivy, how much longer would these stay standing for, too wiggly for use in lock gates.

Down below in the wide valley the fields are lush green, if not covered in water. One was speckled in yellow. Were these buttercups, Mick thought more likely to be dandelions. He doesn’t like dandelions, so every year I give them a different name. In the past they have been daffodils, he likes them. This year they are gladioli, Dame Edna would have a field day in that field!

I can see space, lots of it!

Up ahead we waited to see if there’d be any space for us at Bramble Cuttings, a much sought after offside mooring. As it came into view it was empty! Brilliant!! We pulled in, made sure we moored consideratly then let Tilly out. Meowow!!

I claim this mooring!

Tilly’d just had time to climb a few trees in excitment and run around like a loon when another boat approached. They’d concidered pulling in, but they also had a cat and neither cat would want to share Bramble Cuttings. They carried on, we’d tied it up just in the nick of time.

Such a nice mooring

Despite the rain Tilly played out for quite some time. We were joined by another boat at the other end of the moorings and then mid to late afternoon a third boat pulled in inbetween. A woofer was on the mooring, so no longer just feline terratory, just as well I’d got bored of getting wet!

The next toe

A quiet afternoon as it rained outside, some knitting done. Micks hospital appointment was sucessfully moved to an afternoon so he can now have his 65 year olds aneurysm check. The boiler people insist on ringing us to make a new appointment, not the other way round! More dates of where and when we’ll be places were worked out with the hope of rendez vousing with foreign friends and family.

Did we ever take it slowly? Or have we always had places we need to be on certain days? One person I doubt we’ll see this year will be Heather Bleasdale as she is now busy exploring Irish waterways on GT the boat we got to meet two summers ago in Earith. She has blue skies over there!

0 locks, 6.4 miles, 1 prat doesn’t mean you can be too! £1.14 diesel on Halsall, 5826437393653 gladioli, 1 unconvinced Mick, 1st cat to claim, 2 neighbours, 1 soggy cat, 1 toe and heel turned, 5 weeks planned, 1 more boat on Lough Erne, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Selfridges Isn’t Just For Footballers! 13th April

Thomas Telford Basin to Stretford Marine to Trafford Centre Visitor Moorings

Last night was nice and quiet in the basin. Only one goose sitting on a nest so there wasn’t another goose to squabble with and the human residents were quiet too. Before we headed to bed Mick logged onto our C&RT account to book our Bridgewater passage. The Bridgewater Canal is run by Peel Holdings therefore not covered by our C&RT licence. There is an agreement where boats can transit the Bridgewater Canal to reach C&RT waters, Leeds Liverpool, Rochdale or Trent and Mersey. It used to be that you could just enter their water without booking, so long as you only stayed 7 days. Now you have to book this via the C&RT website. There is also an option to extend you visit by 3 days. This is intended to be used within 28 days so boats can visit Liverpool and then return without having to stay off the Bridgewater for several weeks before booking again. This may come in useful for us, so Mick ticked the 3 day extra box.

Breakfasted, and wrapped up reasonably warm we pushed off, thanking the residents for our peaceful night. The entrance in and out of the basin is a tight one, but we know Oleanna can manage it, it just takes a bit of patience to get round.

Time for the Rochdale 9. I’m not sure how many times we’ve done these locks, maybe four times? Dale Street Lock 84 was surrounded by rubbish this morning, a council worker arrived to pick everything up from those who’d sat on the benches drinking last night. Water flowed over the top gate by several inches, not unusual for the Rochdale 9. Some of the locks have bywashes, others don’t.

I lifted a paddle to bring the water in the lock up to match that above. We brought Oleanna in and I lifted a paddle to empty it. Over the top gates there are handrails on both sides. These are very narrow and the hoik up onto the lock beam is quite high. Sixteen years ago I sprang up onto the beam and crossed over without thinking about it , today my knees make me nervous of such things, but both paddles were needed to level the lock with the water below. I crossed the gates twices then realised I should be able to walk round over the road bridge. This made me happier.

Piccadilly Lock

Now down into the depths for Piccadilly Lock 85. Today it was dark, relatively clean and we were on our own. I wondered if the top gates when they were replaced had been made higher, they certainly looked it. Climbing up to get over to the other side was not appealing, could I manage to empty the lock using only one side?

I lifted the paddle and watched as the water emptied. Gradually Oleanna descended. The bottom gates here have a windlass operated chain to open them as the building above has encroached on the space. This is usually quite hard to operate. I waited, worked out which way to turn my windlass. Water still rushing over the top gates, would it ever level out? I waited for the water below the lock to calm, tried the gate, waited some more. Then I could feel the gate just giving a little, phew I wouldn’t have to climb over the top gates.

Only accessible by canal

Access to the next lock is only by boat, sixteen years ago I remember climbing down some steps to it, but this route has now been blocked off, I suspect to keep people from the pubs on Canal Street away from the waters edge. Here I made a mistake, in that I lifted the bottom paddle on the offside. This ended up not being enough to empty the lock fully. Mick climbed the ladder, lifted the other paddle, my gate now opened. Maybe if we’d left it a few more minutes it would have obliged. If I’d started on the other side it maybe would have been easier as I needed to be that side to get back on the boat anyway.

Under bridges and buildings

Back on board we headed to Princess Street Lock. Here rainbow planters cheered up the banks, it was starting to rain. Several runners ran up the towpath and wanted to continue along the canal, only to find they were running onto a pontoon that led nowhere! Then more runners came, and more, and more! How many? I asked one chap if he was the last, no reply. When Oleanna was out of the gates Mick warned me that there were more runners to come all wearing kahki.

A C&RT workboat appeared to be on the lock landing at Tib Lock 89. Some helpful person had however untied it’s mooring lines and possibly had a rifle around in a cupboard. Only brooms to disturb in there. I retied it to some railings and a mooring ring, hopefully leaving enough room for a boat on the lock landing. Not sure how long it will last before someone else decided to untie it though.

Blossom instead of graffitti

Trees on either side of the lock were filled with pink blossom. The flag stones on the offside covered in a layer of slippy green that even my anti slip trainers couldn’t cope with. Working carefully we descended.

Very very high!

At Albion Mills Lock the building work we’ve been under has now finished, the tall building stretching high above the canal. Panels stand out from the building looking like someone has stuck sheets of steel deck haphazedly onto it. Here I ended up having to enlist some one to help with the lock gate, we’d waited quite a while for the level to equalize.

A good place to shelter from the rain

Tunnel Lock 91. Here a chap had made himself a home tucked up by the gate chain mechanism, well under cover of the building next to it. The offside here looked even greener, serious lack of footfall to keep it clear. The top gates were also high and very green too! I hoped that one paddle would do the job, it maybe had, but would the gate open!?! I asked the chap if people had difficulty with the gate and he said most did, it was rare for this gate to be opened. The chain slipped rather than doing anything productive. I’d have to walk round, climb over the beam, be hissed at by a goose to open the gate.

The End

Just before Dukes Lock 92, who should we pass but the boat from Littleborough. Had they come down the locks last night or early this morning? They were making use of the last moorings before reaching the Bridgewater Canal.

If only the sun had been out!

The top gates were open so Mick sailed straight in. Here there is no bywash, apparently it was bombed in WW2 and never replaced, so excess water comes over the top gates. Gongoozlers who didn’t mind getting wet loitered on the bridge to watch our progress. Paddles lifted and then patience was needed for the levels to equalise. The first time we ever did this lock was on NB Bergen Fjord and the bottom gates really didn’t want to open, we ended up with two windlasses on the chain gear. Now I know to wait for the water below to calm right down, take the strain on the chain. My first go had a small amount of movement, maybe if I adjusted my windlass to give me more umph then it would open. I took the strain again, one extra turn had the gate open just that bit, the levels equalised and I easily opened the gate. Looking back at the amount of water still coming over the gates I was surprised at how easy it had been.

Maybe one for a painting

Should we stop or continue? We continued in the rain, we were wet now anyway. A cuppa and some flapjack as we cruised our way out of Manchester as another huge running club ran the towpath. ‘Come on guys lets see if we can beat the boat!’


The Bridgewater is very familiar water, the sights in the rain were passed easily. At Waters Meeting a narrowboat came past, pram hood up as they do round here. We followed it to the left. He pulled over just before Stretford Marina so we could pass, only to find out we were pulling in to the services.

A flat cap wearing chap in a blue coverall took our ropes and asked what we were after. Diesel and coal please. The chilled medication cabinet was empty despite all the adverts outside! He pulled the long hose out and topped up our tank whilst I topped up our water. He chatted away to Mick. There were comments about having to stay alive as the state pension keeps going up, but how anyone actually spends it all puzzled him. He’d been to buy himself a new fountain pen, spent over £800 on one with a pot of ink. The shop assistant in Selfridges had seemed a bit off with him, ‘I brush my cap every day! Anyhow Selfridges isn’t just for footballers you know!’ What a character, he plays the flute and owns two baroque flutes.

A roaring trade

We winded Oleanna, time to head north. Left at Waters Meeting, we pulled up on the last rings outside the Trafford Centre. After a late lunch with the last of the flapjack we headed into retail hell. A Saturday afternoon at the Trafford Centre not my idea of a good way to spend our time, but a neccessary one. At John Lewis we waited and waited to be served. Numerous shop assistants walked past, none asking could they help or that someone would be with us soon. Eventually Mick managed to get someone to go into the back room for my laptop which was now mended with a new hinge, Hooray!

A new SD card for my camera was required, but despite there being numerous staff about the place none were available to unlock the rack so we could purchase one. I felt that MIck was on the border of a Geraghty strop, we left the store. Game had what we were looking for, it took some time to pursuade the staff that it would work in a camera and they weren’t just for games consoles. A very quick visit to Primark for a couple of t-shirts and we were out of there.

But it looks so good!

Time to sit down at last.

It’s nice to have my laptop back, I don’t keep aiming for the delete button and turning it off!

9 locks, 6.3 miles, 5.35 miles walked, 2 lefts, 1 extra bum, so much water, 91 Locks of the Rochdale finished, 32 miles traversed, 1 bored cat, 63.7 litres, 40kg coal, 1 laptop, £800 pen! hope the ink was free, 1 immaculate flatcap, 1 Bridgewater licence, 1 SD card, 0 flapjack left.

First Lock Shared. 8th March

Sykehouse Junction to Whitley Lock, Aire and Calder Navigation

Don’t let go of it!

Time to make a move, the boat needs a wash so we planned on our next mooring being at Pollington where we can moor close to the water point even if it has incredibly low pressure. We reversed back to the junction and winded, turning west, our general direction for a while.

Where we’ve come from and where we’re going to

Despite putting padded trousers on and a few layers these were deemed to be not sufficient. This stretch of water is just about always windy, Tuesday had been surprisingly calm. Hands inside gloves recoiled at the idea of dipping into buckets of water today, maybe Oleanna’s green roof will be with us for a while yet!

A breasted up pair came towards us, far more boats on the move than we’d expected. It was Alastair from Goole, moving a boat we suspect had broken down. He was facing into the wind, the straight lengths of canal wouldn’t give him shelter until he got to Goole.

Two’s company

With the boat wash put on hold we decided that we’d carry on past Pollington Lock today, getting some more miles crossed off and aim to cross a big river section whilst the levels are sensible. As we approached the lock a lady shouted out to us, asking if we were going up and could she join us. Certainly, nice to share the first lock of the year.

By the time the lock was empty and Mick had brought Oleanna in the lady had caught us up, pulling into the lock beside us. The key of power was put to use and both boats rose the 6ft 1″.

Key of Power at work

Along the straights the wind kept us a touch chilly. Landmarks were passed, Heck Railway Bridge with the East Coast Main Line, a length of new moorings bank side at South Yorkshire Boat Club, a visitors mooring at the end then the stretch of blue work boats at the C&RT site.

Blue boats

Round the last big wide bend to below Whitley Lock. The lady in front of us was treading water a touch at the start of the moorings, then she carried on to another space. We winded then pulled in fighting against the wind to keep into the side to be able to tie up. As soon as our ropes were secure we went to see if we could assist the other boat, she was struggling with the centre line, another boater had come from a moored boat to help too. Eventually her boat was in at the side and ropes secured.

Sam, Gog can have this one

Tilly was not impressed with the wind at this outside. A few attempts to enjoy it were made, but she soon gave up Well it was a lost cause!

Mick removed the centre lines, popped them in pillowcases then gave them a wash in the washing machine. They came out less green than when they went in. Other boaters remove centre lines for winter, some other boaters have ropes they use just for mooring through winter, storing their cruising ropes out of the weather. The cleaner lines were swapped for the other green bow and stern lines which will get the same treatment tomorrow.

Still quite a bit of Pennywort about

At the back end of last year Whitley Lock was closed for quite a while due to the build up of Pennywort which had to be cleared. Sat on the lock island was what we both thought was a sculpture, but it turned out to just be a grabbing claw. Left on site for when it’s needed again to clear the weed. Have to say there’s still quite a bit of it about.

The front door hinge screws were tightened. The door has been catching, but is easing as Oleanna warms up and dries out from months of being shut up. On a previous occasion the hinges had become a touch loose, today they were quite tight. We’ll see how we go as I’d rather not be shaving bits off the door.

Heel turned

A new spreadsheet has been set up to keep track of our journeys this year, this should make the annual round up a lot easier.

1 lock, 5.8 miles, 1 reverse, 2 winds, 1 windy day, 2 cold for washing, 2 ropes washed, 1 cat not impressed, 1 heel turned.

On The Roof. 6th October

Sykehouse Junction to Viking Marina

Sorry Tilly, not this morning, But it’s dead good here! Exactly!

The dungarees went on, a tin of undercoat found and given a very good stir, then it was applied to the grabrail and around the mushroom vent. I plan on doing this a lot neater in the spring, at least this should be better than just leaving the rust to do it’s thing for several months.

An inflatable sail

Once we were breakfasted it was time to make a move. As someone zoomed across the lake on a board with an inflatable sail we reversed back to the junction to wind, with the assistance of the wind. This morning boaters had gone past Oleanna with bobble hats on, suitable head gear for this time of year, but we now suspected they would be regretting their choices, it was warm, very warm! If it hadn’t been for the wind we’d have taken our coats off.


Bird watchers sat with their big lenses as the cormorants dried their wings, another windsurfer this time with sail attached to their board zoomed across the lake as kingfishers chirped and darted.


Round the gradual curve to face due NORF and Drax, busy working away. Round the 90 degrees to head east at the breach site, almost straight on to Goole. We passed a couple of boats heading west. Near Sugar Mill Ponds a group of big boats has congregated. Up on the roof of one a washing machine and an oven. Maybe they cook on their roof!

Roof top cooking

At Rawcliffe Bridge the boat normally moored further back sat on the visitor moorings. What was that on their roof? A Peahen!?! It sure was. Was this their Peahen or does it belong to the house that was once the Black Horse pub?

An unusual boat pet

Now we were on the straight for Goole. A zoom in with the camera always a must, but normally deceiving. Red lights at the casson, this closes to protect the docks should a leek happen on the Aire and Calder as did at the end of 2020. I kept zooming in, certain our way ahead was blocked, Mick kept saying it would just be the barges further along into the docks.

C&RT work boat

No need to say who was correct, we slowed our pace, trod water as the C&RT workboat untied itself and moved across to give us enough room to pass. It looked like they were welding a new stop plank channel into place. The casson is due to close early next year for maintenance, presumably the gates getting work done as during the breach stop planks were dropped in to help retain water.

The Pit Stop is still for sale by the old museum. The cafe at Goole Marina had a couple sat outside, I think this hadn’t opened when we were last here. I got messages through on my phone Kim and Jan from NB Idle were sat inside the cafe and had spotted us, they are currently in the dry dock.

A lovely boat at Rawcliffe

We slotted into the gap by the diesel pump at Viking, we’d just tied up when Laird came out to serve someone wanting diesel. It was our turn soon, 80 Litres at £1.10, later we heard the price would be less next week with the next delivery!

Paperwork needed doing first, a months mooring and diesel paid for, a £10 note handed over in return for a gate fob. Laird had found us a mooring again this year, we may get moved about a bit. He showed us over to the far side where a bankside mooring sat empty. Brilliant and thank you again Laird.

Getting Oleanna into the space was easy, bow in first, yellow water extraction point to the bank. A quick health and safety check deemed the outside to be suitable, yet not for Tilly. Right next to the parking area and one end of the marina filled with pennywort was actually our biggest concern. Sorry Tilly!

Mushroom fitting

Just before the sun went down it was time to sort the mushroom vent out. Everything was dry so a layer of black tack was placed around the bottom of the mushroom to help keep it watertight . Mick then tried to line up the holes. One located, a screw driver lined the others up, except the others didn’t quite want to play ball! Was the black tack hindering the job, or were the holes in the mushrooms base not equidistant? Mick lifted it from the roof, removed some tack from around the screws then turned the mushroom through 90 degrees. It worked! Hooray!! Once screwed down I added some Captain Tulleys creeping crack to the screws. This will do until the spring and hopefully we won’t get a puddle in the bathroom anymore.

Hopefully water tight again

0 locks, 6.6 miles, 0.1 in reverse, 80 litres diesel, 1 true Norf, 1 new mooring, 1 coat of undercoat, 1 mushroom, 0 puddle?

Paul Didn’t Forecast This! 5th October

Sykehouse Junction

Todays plan was to get up early to clean off the fertan I’d left to do it’s thing on the starboard side grab rail and mushroom, then once it was all dry apply a coat of primer, hoping that there would be enough time for the primer to be touch dry before the forecast rain started.

One app yesterday had suggested I’d need to get up quite early to achieve this. Then Paul Hudson the Look North weather man had suggested that the rain wouldn’t be with us until maybe mid afternoon. Well he was wrong!

I woke at 6:45 to rain. I woke later 7:30 to rain, we had cuppas in bed, no point in getting up. It continued raining for several more hours! Grrrr!!!


When it did eventually actually stop, after a few false stops, I went outside to see how dribbly the fertan had managed to become overnight in all the rain. Ergh! A normal wash doesn’t tend to lift the stains it creates. I washed down the fertan, then started to try to remove the staining. A little bit of Bar Keepers friend seemed to do the job, but careful not to lift paint.

With everything dry it was now time to give the primer a good stir. Then a coat was applied. I’d just applied some onto the patch by the pram cover when spots of rain started again. Pan replaced over mushroom hole, carefully, it was only just big enough! The grab rail would have to fend for itself.

Pan protection

The dinette window now got a good clean, the wind blowing the rain at the other side of Oleanna. Then the bedroom porthole. That feels so much better now. Just the kitchen windows to do. As they are sliding windows they need access from outside, here the bank is much too high for the job. Time to sit down.

Can you see her?

Tilly spent most of the day out prowling. The wet grass was not off putting. A glance around every now and again to see where she’d got to, that white tipped tail does come in handy!

Kingfishers darted, hovered, chirped, all still far too quick for a photo without sitting outside in the rain poised facing the right direction.

On her way back to Goole

‘Exol Pride‘ She was on her way back, Sykehouse Lock not replying straight away. The chatter on the radio was that there wouldn’t be a run next week, no cargo. Also that Exol Pride is booked in for maintenance in January. The route through Goole docks will be closed as the casson gates are getting some attention at the beginning of the year. ‘Exol Pride leaving the new junction‘ we bobbed out to see her turn towards Goole and pick up the revs.

Soggy legs

I’d just sat down to knit, choosing Early Man over Selma, (the first subtitles already making me laugh) when my phone rang. Peter at Prompt Side. This is the busiest time of the year for them, everyone wanting cloths, tabs making, plenty of printing going on too. Add into that two members of staff being on holiday, he sounded just like I’ll sound in a few weeks time.

Kingfisher playground

He chatted me through setting up the scans and how to save them and which tool would be best for the job. Basically he’s already set everything up and I should just check it’s correct. He explained a bit about content aware and proximity match. He’s hoping to scan the rest of the model pieces tomorrow and send them over for touch up. If I have any problems I’m to ring and say it’s urgent! Thank you Peter.

Hair removal

I then spent a couple of hours working my way methodically across the front cloth scan he’d sent me. Saving the image several times it retained it’s size (thank you Paul for suggesting I should check), just the occasional blip when changing between Content and Proximity settings, but I got it sorted.

More to do tomorrow.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 coat primer, 1 pan, 9 hours!!! 4 soggy paws, 2 windows, 2 to go, 2 lines, 2 hours touching up, just how did SO many hairs get on my model?! 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval to add to the other one!

It Only Brok Yestuday! 3rd October

Small Hedge Swing Bridge to Sykehouse Junction, Aire and Calder Navigation

Yesterday we’d looked at Ship Tracker to see if there was any sign of Exol Pride, she was in Hull. This morning she was heading up the Humber towards Goole, we’d most probably see her today. The VHF radio sprang into life, just two words, ‘EXOL PRIDE‘ Yep she was on her way towards us.

With possible work phone calls and the need to be sat inside for them we needed to move on despite Tilly wanting to stay. Once breakfasted and yellow water dealt with we were on the move.

Sykehouse Lock ahead

Ahead the light at Sykehouse Lock was red, this suggested there was a volunteer on duty. Mick radioed ahead, they’d get the lock ready for us. No comment of ‘Come in on the Green‘ little radio etiquette either, but that didn’t bother us.

Being about a mile away we pootled along at normal cruising speed. I could see someone come down to close barriers and swing the bridge over the lock. Then as we approached the top gates opened for us. Still a red light. Still a red light. We carried on in to the lock. The chap stuck his head out of the window to check we were fine, then lifted a paddle at the bottom.

The last swing

When we were nearly down he came out to chat again. Only one paddle working on the bottom gates, one gone on the top too. When another goes that will be it! He mentioned that Exol Pride was on her way and reckoned we’d meet her up at the Junction. We thanked him and were on our way.

There she is!

Kirk Lane Swing Bridge was swung, then only one more bridge in front of us. Would we arrive at the same time as someone from C&RT who’d be there to open the bridge for Exol Pride? Someone appeared, ran down to the panel, the bridge started to lift. Thank you. Up ahead the blue and white of Exol Pride was just visible.

Well except they weren’t opening the bridge for us. The bow of a narrowboat appeared on the other side of the bridge. The bridge operator most certainly hadn’t seen us, but the chap at the helm thankfully had. We motored on to get under the bridge.

They made it of the Trent then

Well Hello and thank goodness, it was NB NI from the Tidal Trent! They were alive, wonder if they’d got to Ripon? I know of someone who’s been waiting for the Ouse and tides to be right before heading up stream, so I’m not sure they could have, it would have been a dash if they did! No time to chat we had a big boat to keep an eye on.

Sitting low

A straight mile ahead of us there she was coming across the Went Aqueduct. Slow progress as the channel there is narrow. The radio chirped up again. Chatter between Sykehouse Lock and Exol Pride. The bridge would be made ready, ‘We’ve got a sluice out at top’. ‘Well there’s a surprise!’ ‘It only brok yestuday!’ ‘Be six month afor its mended’

She’ll be back in a day or two

As they cleared the footbridge on the aqueduct the wheelhouse was raised back up, after having ducked under. Still not at full speed there was still a lot of water being shifted as it passed. We waved, no wave came back. The water all churned up and muddy just as it would be with us on a shallow canal, Exol sitting low in the water full of oil for Rotherham.

We’d planned to pull in on the moorings just before the junction. Two narrowboats sat there then a long line of fencing protecting people from a section of bank that’s lifted at a jaunty angle. I spotted a cat in the window of one boat, two cat hammocks in the window. Not a good place for Tilly or them to share. We pulled out of the junction, 1 long blast on the horn. We’d pull in just round the bend, putting water between the felines.

Went Aqueduct

As fairly normal for these parts it was windy, someone was taking full advantage of it, a windsurfer on the lake, zipping back and forth at speed. Tilly was given the remainder of the day to explore. However, the wind got right up my bum! Can’t we turn it around and catch the last outside again, pleeese! A nice mooring plenty of room on the bank, perfect for a bbq! Not today though!

If only it was barbeque weather

Not a day for outside chores. I tried calling Promptside again. Still no luck, Peter was away from his desk, he would call me back, they were really busy. The build up to panto! We were on the board, booked in, only the song sheet artwork needed now. I had a request for the background of this to be paler from John. Luckily I’d saved a version I could alter, a two minute job! I must be getting the hang of things now.

1 lock, 3 bridges, 1 held up, 2 worked for us, 1 narrowboat safe, but where are they heading now? 1 big blue boat passed safely, 0 outdoor jobs, 2 windy, 1 looney cat, 1 stove lit, 1 sock nearly finished, 1 song sheet finished.

Going Down Kegworth. 30th August

Zouch Lock to between Kegworth Marine and Radcliffe Bridge 46

Coats were required when we pushed off this morning. Two boats had just come past heading southwards and as we rolled the covers up one headed towards Zouch lock, we had ourselves a locking partner.


The chap with the boat asked straight away how far we’d be going today, ‘We’re definitely going down Kegworth Deep Lock today’. Then the lady at the lock asked the same, my reply was the same too. After that we’d then see, we’re not in a rush to get anywhere so if we saw somewhere good to stop then we would. This sounded good to our partners.

The lock was surprisingly half full, the reason soon became obvious a paddle had been left partly up at the bottom end, it still took quite sometime to fill. A C&RT chap arrived with windlass in hand he’d come to help a crane boat up the lock, he ended up being a handy extra bum to push the top gates open.

Breath in!

Below the crane boat appeared, Pride of Sherwood, you can tell we’re getting closer to Nottingham now. We exited and the crane boat squeezed into the lock only a few inches to spare on the width, most probably length wise too.

Time to add waterproof trousers to the mix. Thankfully soon blue skies were ahead of us and dark grey behind. We’d considered moving down to one of the moorings shown on Waterway Routes yesterday, but with the flight path directly overhead for East Midlands Airport we’d decided against it.

The first glimpse of the cooling towers at Ratcliffe on Soar power station, NB Somewhere Else had a good mooring for the view.

First glimpse of The NORF

Shortly before Kegworth Deep (New) Lock as the weir stream moves to the west you get a view of a fine house. Stone work and brick suggest the building has had several lives and scaffolding on the far end suggests a new roof was happening.

Flight path

It took a while for me to find information about the house, The Hermitage. It was sold last year and I found several articles in local newspapers from when it went on the market. Each one suggested a different asking price ranging from £2,000,000 down to £1,500,000, quite a big difference only over the space of a couple of weeks. I wonder what it sold for in the end.

Such a pretty setting

Back in the 16th C the house was used as a religious retreat for church dignitaries travelling between Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The property was owned by the Parr family and used as a hunting box, Catherine Parr (Henry VIII wife) never lived here but it is thought that she’d have visited. Bay windows were added in Victorian days and an extension was added in the 20th C.

There are gardens of all kinds, rose, water in the 5 acre grounds. Eight bedrooms, 2 pantries, a wine cellar, a beer room, quite a house and somewhere mentioned a boat room!

More details here and photos inside.[0]/zawPywL1gkyKv_dyF2nsSg.pdf


Our partners slowed as they came round the bend to the top of Kegworth Deep Lock a boat was just exiting, we swapped positions and were helped down by a cruiser that was waiting below. In a couple of weeks the lock will be having some remedial work done to one of the paddles, a notice has been in existence for the lock for a couple of months now. Despite the notice all paddles worked, stiff but that’s only to be expected on such a deep lock.

We followed through Kegworth Shallow Flood Lock and then pulled in at Kegworth Marine. A gas bottle had run out last night. If we hadn’t filled with diesel we’d have topped up here £1 a litre, but you have to pay cash. We cobbled together enough cash for a couple of bags of coal too and chatted away to the chap. We’d arrived just in time as they were closing up for the day to do some grit blasting.

Onwards, what would a mooring be like that we’d got our eyes on? Round a couple more kinks and there it was, high up but accessible. We pulled in, a nappy pin at the stern, but at the bow this wasn’t possible the armco having a solid top to it so no gaps, spikes were brought out and hammered in.

Kegworth Marine

Tilly was given five hours, we didn’t see her for quite a while. Thigfs ogtsdies gd, i sorldt hevos a Thissy stbieo od aprooel! Another day of her talking with her mouth full!

This afternoon I sent an email to the chap who knows what he’s doing regarding printing for scenery. I explained how I’d made my model and was concerned that I’ve shot myself in the foot by making it as a collage. He agreed that a scanner only focuses on one level, but suggested I send in a piece of model and he’ll do a test print. I’m so hoping he can find a way of making it work, otherwise I’ll have to repaint everything flat for the cloths to be printed. It took ages to do the original! Fingers crossed.

Late afternoon I had a catch up chat with Jo the props maker, she’s been doing woodwork, making trick boxes and working out mechanisms for collapsing chairs.

2 locks, 1 flood lock, 4 miles, 40kg coal, 1 gas bottle, 1 cat evicted, £500,000 difference, 1 high mooring, 55cm a touch too wide, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Smiles Everywhere. 25th July

Aristotle Bridge to Thrupp visitor mooring.

A cuppa in bed was allowed before we walked up to the deli. The cabinet by the front door is filled with wonderful looking pastries and Persian dishes. Sadly none of the yummy looking things would agree with me, so I just dreamt of filo pastry filled with cheese spinach and spices. We looked around the rest of the shop which does sell gluten free produce, however the mark up is really quite something, £6 for a box of cereal! Yesterday Mick had come for a look and spotted some spring roll wraps which were made from tapioca and rice flour. He considered buying me a pack but wasn’t sure about them. I decided I’d see what they were like, knowing they’d not be like tortilla wraps. The dishes in the freezer also looked appealing, but we’ve enough food on board right now without adding to it. We made our polite purchase and headed back to Oleanna.

I’ve missed seeing this boat

A pootle got us to the services, we trod water and waited to pull in then emptied the yellow water and topped up on fresh water. Tilly got a clean pooh box which she was desperate for! Then we carried on past the line of interesting boats on the Agenda 21 moorings to Wolvercote Lock. Here a single hander was just finishing going up, I closed up after him and set the lock ready for us.

I unlocked Perry’s Lift Bridge remembering that it so wants to lift itself, so I quickly walked across it letting it do it’s thing behind me. I then sat on the beam. There was a chap a short distance along the track mixing something on the floor. He walked up and sat on the other beam opposite me. He made some remark about Huel drinks, that was what he’d just been mixing. He then waved to Mick saying he was just helping. With Oleanna safely through the bridge I stood up, the chap didn’t. I asked him to stand so that I could cross the bridge, he stayed seated. His comment was something to do with the bridge being dangerous and he was waiting for me to walk back over it before he stood up!? Well it took some persuasion, but eventually he stood up. The bridge stayed put. ‘Isn’t your husband coming to help you?’ I replied that he wasn’t needed as I bent down to encourage the beam to lift and close the bridge sufficiently for me to add my weight to it for it to then be locked closed again. It was all a touch odd, the chap continued talking to me as I walked away, but I needed to catch up with the boat so politely made my way.

Picnic anyone

Wolvercote Lift Bridge is still not there. Pipes coming up from a newish concrete base suggest it may end up having a hydraulic mechanism fitted. But for now the bridge deck sits under the A34 with a picnic bench sat on top of it.

I walked on to Wolvercote Junction. Here the single hander was waiting his turn, a boat was trying to get itself off the bottom and another boat sat in Duke’s Cut Lock waiting for the water to empty. Mick pulled in behind the single hander and I helped him up. There was time for chats about where we were both heading. He’s gradually aiming for the Macclesfield to spend the winter up there. We’d really enjoyed our 2016 winter on the summit pound.

Wanting to stop for lunch we were out of luck for a mooring below Kidlington Green Lock so carried on up it. I did a double take as I walked up. The yellow bag that had been over the off side bottom paddle had been removed, now back in working order. But the beam had been sawn off and replaced with one of C&RT’s improvised beams, big chunks of timber bolted together. This hadn’t been like this three weeks ago. Had there been notices about it whilst we’d been on the Thames? I had a vague memory of one.

Frankie and Ghost, Shadow was elsewhere

Up we rose and looked for a mooring. There was a gap ahead in front of three boats, one of which had it’s back doors open. As we approached slowly I called out ‘Hello!’ Out of the side hatch came the slightly puzzled face of Frankie, the puzzlement soon turned into a big Italian smile. There was time for us to have a good chat and catch up, Ghost came out to check on us, you could tell she was doing calculations to hop across to join us. I’m so glad we got to meet up this time.

Lunch was had and just as we were about to push off again a blue boat was pulling alongside us. Our turn to pop our heads out to see who it was. Graeme on NB Misty Blue. He pulled alongside and we had a bit of a chat, but boats appeared from both directions cutting our time short. We’d planned on heading through Thrupp today, but now if there was space we’d stop and meet Graeme for a pint.

There was also a rendez vous planned with NB Dusty the South Oxford coal boat. Recently Jock and Katy have sold up and the new chap onboard is Bob working Dusty for Juels Fuels. It was guaranteed that we’d meet him mid channel. The boats were tied together and drifted a touch as we filled up with diesel. Bob used to have a boat on the South Oxford about ten years ago, this was his first run down to Oxford since he’d taken over Dusty, he was surprised that he still knew quite a few people. 87 litres at £1.03. Thank you Bob.

We were surprised when we arrived at the two day moorings that there was still a space for us at 4:30pm. The three boats that had been ahead of us were all lined up one after the other in order of arrival. I needed to do some work before heading to the pub, so knuckled down.

Mick, Pip and Graeme after a few drinks

We had a very pleasant evening with Graeme at The Boat. Exchanging our cruising tales from the last couple of years and where we planned on heading next. He’d recently been on the St Pancras Cruising Club cruise to the Thames Barrier and then back upstream to Teddington. So very glad we bumped into him again and had chance for a proper catch up. The man just doesn’t stop smiling!

Food envy!

4 locks, 5.7 miles, 4 lift bridges, 1 left open, 1 a picnic bench, 1 with a weirdo, 87 litres, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 clean litter box, 2 smiling boaters met, 1 coloured storyboard, 3 glasses wine, 1 mediocre burger, 1 mediocre gammon, 1 very yummy looking liver and bacon.