Category Archives: Work Boats

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.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/X3eVMSJJvSrsKUvb8

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.

Drax

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.

Us

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?

https://maps.app.goo.gl/7obCq6H7stPj8qt96

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!!!

Dribbletastic!

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.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/D7Y7UA2262yF1Hh39

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.

Sharing

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. https://alto-live.s3.amazonaws.com/z_IcaADIjwbX0Gg7FTWCHHXJVK0/CbwyhoDNHGVaV3SsdWHJbn_TtCw/Brochure/[0]/zawPywL1gkyKv_dyF2nsSg.pdf

Slow!

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.

https://goo.gl/maps/poW36n2wnafnnawe7

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.

https://goo.gl/maps/v7B4UjgyDHsbk5qq8

A Kind Of Update, Update. 29th June

Cropredy Marina to below Slat Mill Lock

Our three days in the marina were up today. Being plugged in is all very nice, but there’s only so much washing you can do, well the curtains could have come down but the idea hadn’t crossed Mick’s mind. Tests on our electrics suggested the remaining two batteries would be fine now they’d had a full charge and also because of this Mick can now monitor them again. We’d only know for sure if we went back off grid.

Push back

Marina’s are not our natural habitat so we did chores making sure that the water was full, yellow water was disposed of and then went to say our goodbyes to Theresa in the office. Who knows we may be back.

This morning an updated notice came through from C&RT in regards to Banbury Lock.

Planned repairs to the damaged lock gate are progressing on site. Updates of this notice will be provided.

Well that wasn’t really an update, that’s an ‘Oh we didn’t give them an update when we said we would update them’ kind of update. Nothing to even guess at there, no stop planks went in yesterday and work continues on the damaged gate. When we fully know what we’re dealing with we will update the notice. We tend not to knock C&RT, they have an ever increasingly hard job to do, but their communication skills at times are next to none existent.

We reversed out of our pontoon and turned right out of the marina towards Banbury. A mooring was in mind for the day, but would someone have already snaffled it?

Cropredy Lock Cottage

A single hander was just finishing at Cropredy Lock, so the local gongoozlers got to see two boats in quick succession going downhill. The lock cottage looked like they’d had a leak or flood, mats and rugs hung on the fence drying. No toy dog on the fence by the bottom gates, one day I will replace the one I saw there years ago, it made me smile.

This fence so needs a little woofer in amongst the roses

All the canoes were at home, no bobbing about on their wake would have to be endured, well for a while. NB Serendipity was passed at the services, they’d been into Banbury for shopping, winded and now were heading elsewhere for the rest of their weeks on board.

Eclectic café The Saucy Hound

We’ve not noticed The Saucy Hound before, a cafe/junk shop just downstream of the services. It looks like hey do all day breakfasts and hot dogs. Who knows if we get stuck along this stretch we may have a visit.

I counted the number of boats on visitor moorings facing Banbury, 17. They won’t all be headed south of Banbury, but I suspect a good proportion are. We passed one boat with a sign in it’s cratch ‘Make compost not war’. Their array of black buckets on their roof suggested they have a system for their waterless toilet.

At Slat Mill Lock I noticed some old brickwork just behind the bollards on the offside. The boundary wall between the lock and field has a stretch of modernish brick. The earth also looks lower than that surrounding it at either end of the lock. Are these all signs that there used to be a lock cottage here?

What a nice lock!

Quite a few locks along this stretch of the Oxford have a lock cottage standing alongside. Cropredy, Bourton, Grants and Somerton all have a cottage. I spent some of this evening looking at old maps back to 1880’s and there was no mention of a cottage, just the lock, which was quite often referred to as Slatemill Lock, Slate Mill being a short distance away on the banks of the River Cherwell. I also couldn’t find any information elsewhere on the internet. If anyone knows more I’d be interested.

C&RT hogging the best place

The award winning mooring, at the end of a length of piling was occupied by a C&RT tug and skip boat. How inconsiderate of them, don’t they know that they’d moored their boat on the best bit with wide towpath and clear to the sky for solar. We need solar more than we did now we’re down to 100AH of battery. We pulled back towards the lock, ants nest after ants nest meaning we got closer and closer to the lock.

The afternoon was spent sketching out a new clock for Cinderella, emailing it to John and then making a white card version of it for the model. I put together a white card model story board so that everyone can see what happens and when with regards to the set. Have to admit to running out of steam before taking photos of all the model pieces to assist the builders, but that can happen tomorrow.

Happy cat again

Just before 7pm a new update came through.

Planned repairs to the damaged lock gate have progressed very positively today. We will be able to give an update on likely timescales for reopening navigation in tomorrows update

Well, that’s slightly better. ‘Timescales’ may just have been written without thought, to me it suggests there may be several openings. Maybe assisted passages, a temporary repair with a later closure, closed for a month, a week, a day? Who knows. Another update not really updating us, just trying to be positive. I’d show you an update from the Wigan flight or Huddersfield Narrow where you are given almost too much information, but that would be a whole blog post in itself.

Ooo!

However, facebook has interesting photos.

2 locks, 1.9 miles, 1 reverse, 1 right, 1 full water tank, 1 more wash load, 1 empty wee tank, 1 skip in the wrong place, 6 buckets to our 1, 1 cat’s tail held high again, oh that boat Tilly explored the well deck of in the marina, turned out to be NB Perseus another Finesse boat, Tilly has good taste, 1 bad internet connection, 1 boat on the move again tomorrow.

https://goo.gl/maps/aE1p8fMpizRXTiff6

Gunthorpe At High Noon. 23rd January

Stoke Lock to Low side Hazelford Lock

Sitting waiting

The alarm was set this morning, no time for a cuppa in bed either! Breakfast was followed by emptying the yellow water tank, then we walked our rubbish down to the bins by the lock. There was no sign of a volunteer, just a cleaner in the loos and a chap clearing things away from the works that had been happening at the lock.

Stoke Lock very pretty

The lock has had an upgrade this winter, new LED lights and new boat operated pedestals. At the moment the pedestals are not working so someone from C&RT has to come out and work the lock for you from the cabin, booking required with 24hr notice. Cheryl from the Milton Keynes Office called us to say there had been problems at Holme Lock this morning and the person coming was on their way, they’d just be late. We decided to get Oleanna and move her down into the lock cut ready.

Heading inside for a bit of warmth brought the Lock Keeper, Simon, not a volunteer. He’d been trying to clear all the rubbish at Holme Lock this morning as it was stuck behind the gates. He asked us to wait where we were, Stoke Lock needed emptying to check the gates first before we could go in. He then asked us to pull in on the starboard side, he’d only be able to open the bottom gate that side as they were still having problems with the hydraulics.

One gate only

The gates were tested, then we got the green light to go in. As we descended Mick asked if it was possible to do a radio check with Simon, this was the first opportunity to check his Christmas present worked, thankfully it did. Simon was heading to Gunthorpe Lock next, would we like his assistance? Well it would save me having to jump back onto Oleanna from the pontoon below the lock in the full current from the weir. But it would also mean being in the lock, holding a rope round a blue riser! We accepted his offer and arranged to meet downstream in about an hour.

A perfect winters day

Out of the lock we came, blue skies surrounding us. What a beautiful day. We waved to the ladies who rescued Tilly when she was a kitten as we passed Burton Joyce, round the big sweeping bend. Geese flew overhead. Then a flock of birds, not sure what type swooped in murmuration high above the river, switching and changing direction, then settled again only to take off as we passed them by. What a wonderful sight.

The pontoon at Gunthorpe was empty, but we carried on towards the lock cut, pulling in at the water point. We were early for our rendez vous with Simon. Should we wait or operate the lock ourselves? Hmm, that would mean fighting to get back onboard below the lock. We opted to wait.

Gunthorpe Bridge and moorings

Waiting for the lights to change, which side of the lock to pull in on, the blue risers, the V channels behind them, all very familiar from seven years ago. Simon arrived at noon and worked the lock for us. We took it steady, no need to rush in any lock, especially one with blue risers! I took a deep breath, I still hate this lock with a passion.

Simon checked below and gave us information about rubbish that may lay in our way below. He needed to hang around at the lock so wouldn’t see us at Hazelford. The lock gates opened, we thanked him and sped off down stream again. All 9.75 digits still in tact.

This reach is particularly pretty and today it was just stunning. We were glad of our layers, but the blue sky with wispy clouds above was so beautiful. The last two years we’ve missed cruising in the winter. The views (when there’s no fog) are so different. People say there are 2000 miles of the network to explore, true, but there is there and back again and then all four seasons to enjoy. The river was ours and the birds. Wonderful.

Above Hazelford the lock cut was full of C&RT boats, a skip boat, the crane boat and Maid Marion the tug boat. I climbed a ladder on the island and headed to press buttons. It was hard to see Oleanna as the level dropped, but she reappeared on leaving the lock.

There was a Dutch Barge at the far end of the moorings, we pulled in to the lower section, only recently revealed from the flood waters. Tilly was allowed some shore leave and made the most of it once she’d got to the top of the big steps. She returned with a mouth full and was sent away again.

It’s a chunky outside this one!

A tap on our roof mid afternoon, a chap was here to help remove a rope from a prop. Not us, it must have been someone above the lock. An hour or so later we heard a boat engine, the boat from Stoke Lock.

News came through that the stretch above Town Lock in Newark was iced up from a member of the Trentlink facebook group. They had tried to get through yesterday but had no luck. Maybe we’ll have a sausage day tomorrow and hope it thaws.

Hello!

Much of the afternoon was spent sorting out future lodgers for the house. Another favourite actor had been in touch today. We’re now booked up for a third of the year ahead.

3 locks, 2 assisted, 9.6 miles, 1 hour late, 1 deja vous, 9.75, 2 hours shore leave, 1 friend at least, 1 happy cat, 1 glorious day boating, 1 cheeky robin, 1 boat behind us, 1st Look North, 6 lodgers, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://goo.gl/maps/Hpg99bRANBi17VZR9

It Bends The Other Way! 21st January

Derwent Mouth Lock to Boots Footbridge, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

Ice surrounded us this morning, maybe we should have followed the boats yesterday. Was today going to be another day breaking ice, or should we sit tight and hope that the sun would make a difference? 7 hours cruising between the Trent and Mersey to Stoke Lock for our booked passage on Monday morning. We suspected we’d not be able to cancel the booking now in time to save a volunteer from coming out to meet us. Oh well, we’d see what happened.

Thank you!

Well what happened was the high bow of NB Hadley came past at quite a lick heading for the lock, churning it’s way through the ice. ‘We’ll be following you, thank you!’ Mick shouted out of the hatch. By the time we’d had breakfast another boat had come up Derwent Mouth Lock and reset it for us, brilliant!

Solid ropes

Frosty mornings means stiff ropes. Wiggles of lines are hard to untie from T studs and then pull through nappy pins, it’s a bit like that game where you move a hoop round a bent wire trying not to connect the circuit by touching it.

Green! Plus a first outing for new waterproof thermal kid gloves

Fog. There was a lock somewhere ahead of us, it had been there yesterday, honest! The river level was now in the green, below the lock a channel cut through the ice could be made out vanishing into the fog. Working the lock I took care not wanting to slip. Frosty lock beams were avoided as much as possible meaning walking round the lock more than I normally would, but I’d rather the extra exercise than slip in.

Derwent to the left, Trent to the right, I think!

Life jackets on, anchor attached we were ready for the river. Straight on where the Derwent meets the Trent, we were glad we know the river quite well. The pipe bridge, the M1 bridge, keep right so as not to get too close to the weir.

Come on sun, you can do it!

Would Sawley Flood Lock be open or closed? Where was Sawley Flood Lock? At about three boat lengths away the lock beams could be seen. Was it open? No. The flood lock has a paddle left open at both ends to keep a flow of water heading to the locks at the other end of the cut back onto the Trent.

Key of power time

We soon arrived at Sawley Locks, the right hand one out of use currently. Time for the Key of Power. The lock was in our favour but still had to work it’s way through it’s programming of opening the sluices a bit at a time, four times before the next press would actually open the gates.

Ron helping out

The lock cottage, tea rooms and pub have recently been sold and today we got to meet it’s new owner Ron Gooding who came out to say hello, he then offered to work the lock for us so I could hop back on board. A friendly chap who is used to Thames Locks, he’s a BSS Examiner and a marine gas engineer, according to his card. The pub will reopen at some point, ‘there’s lots to do’ along with the tea room. Today must have been his first go at working the lock, which doesn’t work in the same way as the Thames locks. I kept saying to press and hold the button til it started to flash, but he was too busy chatting.

Back on the main river Oleanna skidded round with the flow of water coming from the weir. Here we most certainly needed Waterway Routes! ‘The river bends here Mick’ ‘In the other direction!’ Landmarks appeared out of the gloom, moored boats, the scout place, the pontoon, Erewash, mind that rib, left now, mind that other rib, we’d made it to Cranfleet Cut and the flood gates that have been closed for a month.

Ratcliffe Power Station could only be made out by the clouds of steam rising above the fog back lit by the sun doing it’s best to burn it’s way through.

Setting Cranfleet Lock

At Cranfleet Lock the Lock Keeper was a touch frosty sitting at an angle in his flower bed. The lock was full of logs and crud brought down by the floods. Both bottom gates needed opening as there was so much sitting behind the gates to get one fully opened.

Adding to the fog on the river

Now onto the long reach to Beeston, the fog kept coming and going. Small cruisers appeared round bends swerving to our starboard to avoid us, we’d already moved over to give them more room, so they ended up being a long way over.

£325,000 2 bedrooms though

We wondered how high the floods had been along here, had the houses on stilts been affected, did they ever flood? One house has just recently been sold. It has it’s own floating pontoon and is on a double plot. Rather a lovely house. Link to it’s details.

Beeston Lock

Beeston came into view, the sun having cleared most of the fog by now. Pulling in to the lock landing took a bit of doing, the flow preferring to keep us moving towards the weir. A few days ago we’d seen pictures of how much rubbish was just outside the lock gates, thankfully most of it had been moved away but both gates required opening.

Familiar from the Great Ouse last year

As I worked Oleanna through the lock a lady with blue hair and a dog chatted away. Obviously a boat owner wanting to head upstream. How had our trip been, speedy! What was it like at Cranfleet? We chatted away, me wondering where we’d met before. After she’d walked away I realised it was the lady from NB Watt Way who had been at Bedford River Festival and she’d followed us across the tidal section to Salters Lode.

I think I preferred the donkeys!

A top up with water, we then carried on a short distance to find a mooring for the day. Some shore leave was allocated to Tilly, but she really wasn’t enamoured with the wall and all the foot fall.

As soon as we’d tied up I had a look at The Victoria Hotel’s website to see if there might just be a table for us this evening. Last night I’d checked and there were quite a few left, but now there were none. Oh well, we’ll go another time when the weather might not stop us. Instead of very nice pub food we had the remains of our chilli with jacket potatoes, not quite the celebratory meal we’d hoped for on reaching Nottingham, but a tasty one never the less.

A better solution is required, this one was free though

Checking Nebo as we were moving today, my phone kept up with us very well. However the phone inside seemed to stall a couple of times and had only recorded four miles of the eight plus. I remember this occasionally happening early last year when I was trying it out, it would loose us for a while, I’d assumed it was because I was using my phone for other things, but maybe that wasn’t the case. We’ll keep recording on two devices for the time being.

5 locks, 1 a flood lock, 1 set of flood gates open, 9.54 miles, 1 straight, 1 left not left left, 1 left, 1 very white day, 2 many bits of tree, 1 lady, 1 disappointed cat, 1 canal without ice, 0 table.

https://goo.gl/maps/ZoVzqLSBoYPdo2Gg6

Oleanna Workshop. 6th January

Shardlow

Talk has turned to what to do should the river remain too high for us to head northwards. A week would be fine, but what if it ends up being several weeks? Maybe our route requires amending. Last year we’d only been interested in stoppages before Christmas holding up our progress, we’d not taken any note of those on the network behind us this year. Would we be able to reach Yorkshire by one of the Pennine routes?

1.52 m

We knew Wigan closed on the 3rd Jan. But what about the Rochdale or Huddersfield Narrow? Mick looked through the stoppages. If we could get Oleanna to Huddersfield for my show that would be brilliant. We knew there was a stoppage stopping us getting there from the east, but what about the west? A long stoppage in Slaithwaite, oh well! The Rochdale has stoppages scattered around too. So no Pennine route open to us. Even if there had been we’d have needed to be through Stenson Lock before next Monday when it closes for new bottom gates.

So it looks like we are here for the foreseeable. Forecast for more rain in a few days. Great!

Stern workshop

Time to get to work properly. Most of the jobs involve contact adhesive which is very very smelly, so not a job to be done inside. I set myself up a workshop at the stern under the pram cover for some shelter.

Drying area

The hatch got a layer of plastic to protect it, aerials moved out of the way. One of the lockers was cleared for a drying area. Time to get sticking yoga mats onto the formas I’ve made. The two sugar lumps were covered before lunchtime. The vapours coming from the glue as soon as you start to spread it out was really quite something, I ended up opening one of the sides of the pram cover, but it didn’t help that much.

Not a bad view, two widebeams added last night

I have previous experience of this glue. Frank used to use it to fix edging onto pieces of scenery at the SJT. On one show we used it to add curves of silver laminate to what became known as ‘the doughnut’ which hung from the lighting grid in Scarborough for ‘Making Waves’ a show about the RNLI in Northumberland. None of us were too keen on this particular piece of scenery which when back lit illuminated everything above it, including ducting which normally remains unseen for very good reasons.

All covered

My first experience was at college fixing fabric to foam shapes, sitting all day in a workshop with the extractors working hard. When I got home that day I proceeded to empty the fridge of all four of my house mates food hunting for my cheese grater! It is strong stuff.

Hmmm

I decided that I’d only do so much gluing each day to hopefully save my brain cells, so I moved back inside to work on the giant mug. The pipe I’d bought yesterday was measured out with the hope that the hair dryer we have on board would get the pipe hot enough to bend into shape. No chance! I also needed a vice, pieces of wood all sorts which simply were not available on Oleanna. Time to rethink.

That should work

I’d bought three 90 degree elbows yesterday, if I had one more I’d be able to make a handle, quite square, but it would do the job. Pipe was cut, holes in the mug to slot things through, yep it would do. Mick was volunteered to head back into town tomorrow to pick it up along with a suitable mask to protect me from the glue fumes.

Are you waiting for your Dingding to be served Tilly?

Mick carried on working on the trip computer. He managed to install the Android Operating System with not too much bother. It just won’t re-boot now! Still work in progress. He then moved on to removing the Christmas lights outside.

Work boats

During the day a couple of boats have come past, one presumably returning to it’s home mooring and a C&RT tug boat which returned with another skip several hours later. Will these be used for dredging? Or will the new lock gates be loaded into them for Stenson?

Finished bunny

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 makeshift workshop, 1 stinky morning, 1 head ache, 2 sugar cubes done, 2 bottoms done, 1 handle rethought, 2 holes, 2 rolls masking tape, 1 elbow missing, 0 response from the trip computer, 1 Friday night roast, 0 way out of here come Monday, 1 pompom.