Was That A …. !? 2nd April

Lockdown Mooring 2

As we sat in bed with our cuppas this morning, the curtains of our large picture window (36″ by 18″ is large on a narrowboat) drawn open above our toes, a large furry shape dashed past. ‘Was that….. was that a horse?’ We tried peering out of the window at an acute angle, nothing could be seen. Then a few minutes later there it was again going in the opposite direction. If it wasn’t a horse the first time it certainly was now. My camera sat on the dinette table so my phone had to suffice as the horse/pony trotted on down the towpath on it’s own.

A Horse trotting on the towpath

Just where had it come from? On our walk the other day we’d seen a donkey in a field, but no horses. So it must have got onto the towpath quite a distance away. Hope it found it’s way home, we certainly didn’t see it again.

That was only the start of the days excitement.

Mick every now and then has a look to see if there are any delivery slots available at the supermarkets. This morning he spotted one with Morrisons in three weeks time. He grabbed it and checked our delivery details. Thanks to Jaq Biggs we have pin pointed a couple of places around Nantwich where deliveries worked for her in the past when she lived onboard NB Valerie. Normally with deliveries we book them and arrive the day before hoping there is space for us, there always has been up till now. Fingers crossed that there will be space on the embankment in three weeks time.

The fields around us have been turned over, what next

So our cuppas lasted longer in bed than usual as we put things into our basket. Some items not in stock, but we got enough to hold our delivery. Hopefully when we revisit in 19 days time milk will be back in stock! They were excited, but taking far too long over it! Where was my game of PEN!!! At least they added food for me. Plenty of wood pellets for the pooh box and some new odour control to add to it that we’re going to try, She said. We? Well I use shore based facilities now so have no need for such things, maybe they’ll add it into their pooh bucket.

Over breakfast there was even more excitement. Mick had been able to log into Sainsbury’s website and there was a Click and Collect slot available in Nantwich for tomorrow! Sainsbury’s have reserved all their delivery slots for the over 70s and high risk people, so we’d not been expecting one of those, but this would happily do us for the next week.

The Llangollen canal feeding the reservoir

We thought about what we would need to keep us going along with what would fit into our Brompton bag and a rucksack. Our Sunday chicken is still feeding us from last Sunday so it would be nice to have a change. A joint of lamb maybe, some fresh veg along with milk and bread. Mick will cycle the two miles to collect it tomorrow, so we are limited to what we can get. When we’d checked out we noticed that if we spent another few pounds then we wouldn’t be charged £4. So another few items fell into our basket.

What an exciting morning.

I had a read of a new script I’ve been sent. #Unit 21 will hopefully be the next Dark Horse show to tour this time next year. Not your average show, plenty of animated projections required, so someone who works in computer gaming has been part of the team for a while. Next week after my virtual production meeting for The Garden is over Amy and I will have a chat about the new show. I think I’m going to have to read it through a couple more times before then as it’s a little bit hard to get my head round in one sitting.

Late afternoon we walked up to Hurleston Locks. A route back via the A51 had been rejected as the road still looks like it is quite busy and without a footpath a risk to life so we headed for the reservoir instead.

Going up

A narrowboat had just gone up the first lock of the flight and was waiting for the second chamber to be opened up. Blimey it was windy! Even if the journey was essential, I don’t think we would have been doing so today! With wind and tooing and froing the chap kept forgetting to close paddles, but others managed to close them or pointed them out to him.

Blue and blustery

At the top lock we crossed over the wide plank on the top gate, no need to hold onto anything, we then climbed over the stile to join the path around the reservoir.

Views

The views from up there are fantastic, Oleanna just out of shot. We considered walking all the way round the water, but the wind was so blustery that it was doing it’s best to knock us off our feet. So instead we returned, pausing to wait for the narrowboat to finish at the locks. Here we met Barry who had succeeded in the full route round the reservoir, we managed to chat keeping our distance as we made our way back to our respective boats.

Still going up

Back on board we waited for the daily press conference on the BBC. We like to stay informed so watch them, but at times they are more party political broadcast than anything else. Look how good we are. 3 million lots of PPE (or whatever they quoted today) may sound a lot, but are they enough!!

The seed drill is out now

The last lot of my gluten free puff pastry had been defrosted during the day and was used to top a chicken and mushroom pie. This had to wait to be eaten until after 8pm as we wanted to join in with the round of applause. Oleanna beeped her horn and we applauded the masses who are working so hard. A distant boat horn could be heard in reply and the busy farmers in the fields tooted their horns too. We may be out in the middle of nowhere but we can still be heard.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 horse, twice, 1 delivery slot, 1 click and collect slot, 9 hours actually equates to 15 cat hours, 5 left, unit 21, 4 boats, 1 going up the locks, 1 very blowy day, 9 hellos to Lucy’s readers, 1/3 pastry, 1 chicken pie, just the stock to use now, 1 tractor, 1 seed drill, 8pm horn blowing, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Lap Wing. 1st April

Lockdown Mooring 2

She would like me to thank you all for suggestions on the mystery birdie. Jennie came in first, followed by Anne, then Sue. The sausage roll really goes to Jennie’s son, but apparently if we keep quiet about it we’ll be able to eat it ourselves, so Shhh!

The birdie in question was apparently a Lap Wing. A strange name. A Lap is where I lie on an evening in front of the warm stove, then a Wing is what I leave, far too feathery for my liking! Although they are quite good for flossing between your teeth.

Grey and chilly Lockdown Mooring 2

Life has suddenly become very busy for me and not so busy for others. There is so much exploring to do, trees to climb, digging, woofer avoidance, I’ve even sorted out my own shore based facilities.

My day starts off with extra snoozing, as I need to conserve my energy for the rest of the day. She and Tom sit in bed that bit longer than normal so I do my best to keep toes warm. But should a boat come by they both crane their necks round to see who it might be. This morning it was a boat that has come all the way from furthest Wales in the last few days, our friend Geoff Tom saw him and now we have, he’s not tied up the outside like everyone else has!

Then there is the game of pen. It is such a good way to wake up, the sound of a pen lid being clicked back into position ready for me to pounce. Some days this goes on for a while, but others She cries out in pain so the game is stopped. She seems to think I don’t clean my nails enough anymore. But it’s their fault for not moving the outside as much as they used to.

Sunny and plenty of friendly cover

Lockdown Mooring 1 was great. A couple of trees, friends, side ways trees, a bank to watch from and a field to run around in. It was sunny and warm, lovely.

Then last Friday they let it go, untied it and let it drift away. She said I needed a break so to put my paws up and let them be busy instead. I kept an eye on them though, they weren’t that busy. I’d have been busier!!

Look at that tree!

The outside was then moved to Lockdown Mooring 2. Lockdown Mooring 2 had potential, blue skies, trees but not enough time to check it out fully before it was Dingding time.

Newspaper day came. They let Lockdown Mooring 2 outside go and headed to Nantwich outside. It’s not so good there so I wasn’t too disappointed not to be let out. She said I wouldn’t be going out there anymore, too many people who might have the lurgy durgy. So I sat in my window on the other side of the glass from the lurgy durgy people, they could admire me, but not touch, I was safe.

Having a break from my admiring public

She and Tom went off to do the shopping. I normally get closed into the bedroom for a few minutes when they come back, but that day I was in there for ages and ages and then another age. When She let me out again everything smelt funny, a bit like when she cleans out my pooh box. Luckily it didn’t smell for too long.

This outside was cast aside wizzed round, briefly tied up again so they could top up on water. I got a clean pooh box too. Back we went out of Nantwich outside, wizzed round again, only to tie up Lockdown Mooring 2 outside again. Well what was that all about? They wasted a hole day just because it was newspaper day. I could have kept myself busy all day and when they tied this outside up again I’d have still been in it! They are so selfish at times.

You said to the bench, we’ve not got there yet!

Lockdown Mooring 2 outside is okay. It’s not as sunny as Lockdown Mooring 1 outside was, it’s colder too. There are fewer woofers and walkers, most probably due to the lower temperature. But the farmer has been preparing a great big pooh field for me, lots of fresh earth to dig up and use as cover, so I’ve only once had to step foot in my pooh box.

Summer in The Garden

Some days, like today She does some work. I couldn’t help today as it was all tiny writing and then lots of numbers, I’m not so good at writing freepaw. But then she came for a walk with me along the towpath. We’d nearly got back when a man appeared with a woofer. The woofer didn’t see me but the man did. He made his woofer wait whilst I went down the bank into some friendly cover, no way was I going back onto the boat yet, there was still another two hours of shore leave left!

NB Tench with Brian on board

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t use the outside up too quickly as we might be here sometime. Tom wouldn’t let me out after dingding time, even though I can see in the dark! I’m pacing myself though and reckon I’ve about another twenty hours before it will all be used up, that’ll be fine won’t it?!

This lockdown business is so tiring

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 outside walks, 1 pooh field, 1 diddy poem, 2 outsides, 7 identifiable woofers, 2 Lap Wings, 2 tractors, 9 hours a day, 1 oak, 1 daily pen game, 2 stone games, 19 friends, 3 boats, 1 Tench, 1 busy cat, 1 very tired falling asleep sitting up cat.

Boaters Covid Support. 31st March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Oleanna seen from lour walk today

A couple of weeks ago Kate Saffin and a few other people started a facebook group with the aim of connecting small local boating groups on the network in relation to Covid-19, circulating information and supporting where help was needed.

We started as a group for boaters running local waterways based COVID support groups. That is still important – creating a network of small, local, responsive groups across the waterways with this group as an umbrella group to support anyone running a group. As things have developed we’ve been asked for help by more isolated boaters, so this also a network for any boater to connect to other boaters – for some practical help or just to know that there are others around your area.

Boaters Covid Support-National Network, Facebook

Existing groups contacted them and then there were people like me who wanted to connect to a local group if there was one around. This part of the Shropie didn’t have a group, yes I could have set one up with the guidance from the Boaters Covid Support, but as we’ll be moving on when we can it seemed daft to become an admin for an area we are (hopefully) only visitors in.

Tilly watching the mystery bird

I’ve been checking back to see if a group had been set up and today I found a growing list of such groups. Hopefully this link Covid Suppport Groups Listing will take you to the relevant page where you can download the list. A small group had been set up for the Northwich/Middlewich/Nantwich area, so we both joined.

So far there are ten members in our group, but I hope it will grow. These groups are intended so that people can offer help locally or ask for help should they need it through these challenging times.

On our side

Today we’ve been watching the farmers ploughing the fields around us on both sides of the canal. This is exciting as I may soon have a whole field to dig and run around in. Having my own pooh field as shore based facilities will keep Them happy.

And across the way

Our mystery bird returned and I tried to film it to capture it’s call. Here it is right at the beginning, before the White Tipped Tailed Tilly starts with her whingeing! Thank you for the suggestions so far. I think however it is possible that it might be a Turn of some sort and only calls when in flight.

This afternoon we set out on a walk. The Ordnance Survey map was checked to see if we could do a circular route and one was found that would keep us on this side of the canal.

Good chimnys behind the modern houses

We walked up towards Hurleston, stopping for a chat with Barry who’d been very industrious painting his plank and pole. Then we continued on along the towpath past the junction and on to where the fairies live at the bottom of the garden. Behind the canalside properties lies a rather nice looking house with great tall chimneys. Maybe we’ll head that way another day.

Along hedges, across fields, we were quite glad Mick had the map on his phone because other than at the occasional gate post there was no obvious footpath to follow.

Down that way

What until recently must have been thick mud now has a dried out top crust all cracked and in parts deceiving as you foot squelches through into the underlying softer layers. Then tractor tracks hard baked make the going hard, we did our best not to twist any ankles.

Tractor tracks

Grassy fields, old maize fields with the remaining husks long since devoured by wildlife.

Maize
Red Dead-nettle

Past a very large new barn being built, alongside the farm track and across more fields.

New barn

Down into the corner where a wrong footed style gave us a conundrum along with getting spiked by the holly tree that had grown round it.

Wrong footed

Here we could see our route across a small wooden bridge a style at both ends.

The bridge into someone’s garden

This then led us into a very well maintained garden! Hang on, we thought, we can’t go tramping up their garden. We checked the map. It suggested the path went up the left of the buildings, except these buildings didn’t look like they were L shaped.

A very inviting route up the garden

We tried round the other side of the hedge, no. Then up the side of the garden apologising as we went. In the corner by an area where chicken were fenced in there was a style, phew we could get out of someone’s garden.

Hello Mrs

We soon joined the track away from the houses and on a telegraph pole saw a notice saying that the footpath was closed until June, due to damage sustained by the bridge during the recent floods. The footpath on this map suggested that we should have walked right up through the garden! Glad we didn’t.

There’s some lovely looking houses about with their two tone bricks. A 4 bedroomed barn conversion is for sale, a mere snip at £570,000. Link

The one in the middle for sale

The road led us back towards the canal and our nearest southernly neighbours. from here it was back onto the towpath and back to the boat. A good three mile walk, slightly challenging under foot.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 boats, 1 after dark, 2 fields ploughed, 1 flock of seagulls, 1 mystery bird, 1 poem ready to add, 3 miles walk, 2 kissing gates, 2 styles, 1 tennis court in use, 2 coats left outside, 1 big pan of chicken and sweet potato hash, yum.

Come In Number 51**87 Your Time Is Up. 30th March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Last year we finally managed to put a name to some birdsong. What we now know to have been Chiffchaffs had started to sing around early March time and normally when we were in a certain part of the country, mostly around Crick. This of course was because this tended to be where we were at that time of year. We’d asked a few people if they knew what the bird could be as we tried to replicate its song, ‘Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep’. I know, it wasn’t much help! But then a friend made a remark about how the Chiffchaffs had arrived. I looked it up and there was the birdsong we’d been puzzled about. Chiffchaff song

Birds gathering!

Here on our mooring we’ve heard a song that isn’t in the normal range. I’ve hunted round on identification sites, but not come up with the right song. So I’m putting it out to our readers to see if you can help.

Our surroundings are canal, hedges and fields which seem to be pretty dry in amongst the open countryside, so that’s the habitat sorted. Now for a description. It sounds like a cross between a human whistle and a kazoo. One long note that may go up or down. We don’t hear it that often so whom ever it is doesn’t sit on a branch and sing their heart out. So please any suggestions. A sausage or spinach and feta roll to whomever comes up trumps. I have to include a veggie version as I think Laura might just see this, she is a bit of a specialist in birds.

Today it was back to work for me. I’ve a week before my virtual meeting for The Garden so wanted to get my model painted. The main set I’d nearly finished last week, today I needed to tie it into the floor. At the moment I’m not sure if we’ll be able to afford a floor. Dark Horse have various rolls of flooring in their small store, so I was going to have a look at them and see what could be used. There may of course not be enough and there isn’t an extra £350 in the budget to buy new, so I may just have to cope with the floor in the cellar theatre.

Some floor

During the afternoon I managed to get everything painted, toned down a touch (it’s not panto!), just need to add some poetry to the seasons and the model will be finished.

The first boat to go past us today was a hire boat from Norbury Junction. At some point last week the hire company had asked on Social media if anyone saw this boat to get them to call the hire base. Hire boats were being recalled. The boat had passed us early last week heading to Middlewich, today they were heading back towards base, I don’t think they got the message very quickly!

The Garden gate

Another four boats came past during the day, one returned presumably after filling with water or shopping. Then a second hire boat from Rose Boats, this must be one of the two out on a long hire.

From today all manned locks, tunnels and bridges on the network have been closed to traffic, unless there is good reason and then they will need to be booked. One boat with good reason came by today, NB Halsall.

I really must wash Tillys art work off that window!

NB Halsall normally cruises the Four Counties Ring selling coal, diesel, gas and doing pumpouts. They will continue to trade for as long as they are allowed to. They ask for you to pre-order, unlock diesel caps, make access easy for them and then to stay inside your boat and at all times to observe 2m distance. Payments by bank transfer, card or if you really can’t do it any other way then cash.

Diesel 4p cheaper than ten days ago

As they came through the bridge behind us they tooted their horn. This morning we’d asked for a top up of diesel and some coal. They pulled up besides us and whilst Roberta topped us up with diesel Lee loaded three bags of coal onto the roof. I noted how much we owed them and payment was made over the internet.

Bye bye

Before they headed off towards Nantwich we checked when they’d be back round. This pound is on their round every two weeks, so as long as they stay well we will be looked after. As they pulled away from us hands were washed. A big Thank you to the Halsall Crew.

Walking with Tilly

0 locks, 0 miles, 9 hours, 5 taken, 5 boats, 1 model painted, 1 new script, 1 chicken stripped, 4 maybe 5 meals! 3 bags coal, 21 litres, 550m cat walk, 0.5 field ploughed, 1 urge to make scones.

Phew! 29th March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Today we’ve been watching Flight Radar 24, keeping an eye on Jac returning from Australia. Because her light left Melbourne late there was only 45 minutes for her connection in Doha. Here her flight number had changed so it took us a little while to find her again. But once we had it, QR007, we followed her from Turkish air, across Europe, over the north sea, through to her approach into Heathrow across London in the early afternoon. We then just had to wait for news from my brother to say all was well.

Make this blowy stuff stop!

A little after 5pm we got the text we’d been waiting for. Everyone was now at home in Hackney and all was well. This is a big relief to us, so I can only guess how relieved Andrew and Josh are to have her home. We’ll try catching up with them in the next few days.

The sun and it’s warmth have vanished, today we had grey skies again, with the odd patch of blue, but a keen wind was bitterly cold and made the outdoors uninviting. Once we knew Jac was back in the UK we ventured out, giving ourselves a rest from door duty for Tilly.

A roller tree

Today there was only one way we would be walking and that was up to look at Hurleston Locks. Lock 4 has been rebuilt over the last five months as the sides were gradually slipping inwards making the chamber narrower and narrower. Modern boats were okay if they lifted their fenders (which you should do anyway) but any boat with even a hint of middle aged spread had no chance. C&RT had even put lock keepers on duty to assist with passage.

Hurleston Lock 4

But on Friday the flight reopened, and a long line of boats headed up onto the Llangollen Canal. The bottom lock has had the towpath side of the chamber rebuilt, the top coping stones reused and the gates all look like they have been there for few years too. Here’s a link to a time lapse of the work .

Where’s that coming from?

A small trickle of water runs down the towpath close to the bottom gates, seeping out from below the top layer of hardcore that was added to widen the access. Here’s hoping that this isn’t a bad sign.

Looking uphill
and downhill

We walked up to the top of the flight, the views below reaching to Mow Cop and the Macclesfield Canal where we’d hoped to cruise in a months time, all plans on hold, in fact we have no plans currently other than to stay put and stay safe.

Looking down the flight

Containers and machinery still fill the field alongside the top lock. We checked to see if there was still a rubbish bin here, there is, so we can get rid of our mackerel rubbish from yesterday.

Still a construction site

Above the lock there is a long line of boats. All of them very handily moored for water. Maybe they’d moored here with the plan of descending the locks once they opened, but now with only essential movement allowed they have decided to stay put. A couple face away from the locks, so maybe they ascended the flight over the weekend.

Boats boats and more boats

Back at Oleanna, Tilly came and went during the afternoon. The wind put her off staying out for long periods of time. Over the next few weeks we may wish we’d installed a catflap, but then again it does mean we get to increase our daily steps!

Only one boat came past today, an Anglo Welsh hire boat NB Merlin, Ian and Irene’s boat from Bunbury. Will this be the last hire boat we’ll see for sometime, they have all been recalled to base and bookings cancelled.

Our busy neighbour, wonder what might get grown in that field and will we see it being harvested?

This evening we got out the chicken we bought at the butchers yesterday, all 2.5kgs of it! I thought it had been rather a heavy bag. Normally a chicken weighing 1.8kgs feeds us for a week, so this one will last a touch longer. We thought of inviting people round for Sunday Dinner to help us, but…..

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 boat passing, 1 very windy day, 2 waves at AreandAre, 1 walk up 4 locks, 1 walk down 4 locks, 1 trickle of water, 1 very busy farmer across the way, 1 chicken enough for a family of 6, 1 sister-in-law home, 1 happy Leckenby family.

Sunday Photo 29th March

Geraghty Zoom. 28th March

Lockdown Mooring 2 to Nantwich to Hurleston to Lockdown Mooring 2

An Alarm! An Alarm!!! Well we had a LOT to do today. Tilly soon gave up thinking there would be any shore leave this morning when we only had a cuppa before pushing off, breakfast was on hold until we reached Nantwich.

Moody skies today

Last night I’d been in touch with Sandra on NB AreandAre, they were moored on the embankment and the news was that there was plenty of room. So under grey skies we pootled our way in towards town, we weren’t the first to move today, two boats had already come past, the first before the alarm had gone off.

Slotting in behind AreandAre

We pulled into a space, quickly had breakfast and then settled down with our cuppas for the weekly Geraghty Zoom. Richard was otherwise engaged in Dhaka but this week we were joined by Christine and Paul in London. Everyone waved, chatted away, caught up with the last weeks news and wondered who was being stored in Kaths old fridge freezer, no sign of Sean today!

Geraghty Zoom

A text came through from my brother saying that Jac had managed to get an earlier flight, it had already been delayed once but should be leaving Melbourne in four hours. Everyone crossed their fingers.

I wrote a shopping list worked out a menu for the next week/ten days not knowing what we’d find in the shops today. The two of us headed into town with the bike should we need it.

The streets were as expected almost empty, no school kids having their last sneaky fag outside the school gates today. I wonder how many of them will now have to give up as unless they volunteer to do the shopping, come clean with their parents or exercise on their own, they will run out.

Couples walked from shop to shop in town, we headed to Clewlows first, the butchers. Here a large white table had been positioned in front of the door and posters were hung in the window. Advance orders. Damn! A young chap came to the door and said that if they had what people were after then they’d be able to serve us. A family asked if they had chicken breasts, not till Tuesday came the reply. They settled for a couple of pounds of beef and two packs of bacon. Whole chickens they could do, but no pies without them being pre ordered. We’ll think about that for next time.

Preorder only

Two market stalls stood opposite St Mary’s church the market hall firmly closed. One sold cheese and eggs, the other a very good fruit and veg stall. As most of our shopping was for fresh veg I handed over a big bag and the chap started to fill it. 6 apples, bunch bananas, 2 baking potatoes, okay 3, as I walked round I kept seeing things and he kept up with me, his steps for the day increasing as he walked too and fro from my bag. Everything I wanted apart from Blueberries.

Only part of our veg haul

Next Holland and Barrett. Two customers in the shop at any one time. I waited and then went to see what was in stock. Last week the Free from isle in Morrisons had more or less been bare so I picked up various things including some expensive pasta and a bag of short grain brown rice. I scanned the items myself and paid contactless, better than the lady infront who only had a £50 note! Is now the time for those who print their own cash to get them into circulation?

Standing in line

At Morrisons an orderly 2m gapped queue wrapped around one side of the building. It took nearly as long to snake our way around the barriers as it did for the queue to reach the door. Here a security guard said we couldn’t go in together, we had to remain 2m apart. We obviously hadn’t got the memo about this. Mick headed in with the trolley, we’d already discussed that I’d do the shopping and I had the list.

The store was a surprise. Plenty of fruit and veg. The meat isle was pretty well stocked. Infact in some areas there was simply too much stock and items had been reduced. A small loaf of bread for 8p, we’d just got one from the bakers in town for £1.90!

The atmosphere was calm, the supermarket musac unnerving in the back ground. There was even toilet roll, not much of it mind. The occasional shopper with phone in hand chatted away to someone at home conferring on what to buy.

Sad git bargains

We walked round trying to pretend we weren’t together, gradually ticking everything off our list. In the corner of the meat isle there was a reduced, ‘sad gits’ section. Cheap fish. That was our dinner sorted for tonight.

Outside we realised we’d forgotten something! Chocolate!

Mick loaded the bike as I walked over to Aldi to join their queue. Another orderly affair, being invited into the store as the first isle cleared. A large sign on the chocolate said that I’d be limited to four of one item. Now did that mean I could get four dark chocolate bars and four milk with almonds, or four bars of chocolate. I did the later otherwise I’d have been panic buying. The lady in front of me suggested I went first with my few purchases, very kind of her.

Too many words to bother reading

Signs at the bottom of the ramp up to the embankment politely ask walkers, runners etc to avoid lengths of the towpath where boaters are moored. The C&RT sign is too wordy to read so has had little effect it was still quite busy. This morning we’d seen a Policeman on a bike on the towpath, out checking on people who might be isolated. Later on social media there were photos of the tacks that had found themselves in his tyres! We already knew we wouldn’t be staying.

Back at Oleanna Tilly was locked in the bedroom as each shopping bag was unloaded slowly, items disinfected as they came inside, others left in a bag on the stern for a few days along with our coats.

Lunch and a shower before we headed to the winding hole, passing a boater saying it wasn’t safe here, ‘Get out to the countryside!’ People are so frightened.

We pulled up at the water point, topped up the tank, disposed of rubbish. All good for about a week. We pushed off and continued back towards Hurleston.

Where narrow meets broad

Shortly after we’d passed where we wanted to be we came across NB AreandAre moored with a couple of other boats. The horn was bipped, we jestured that we’d be turning and be back in a few minutes.

The moorings before bridge 97 were completely empty now. Everyone must have been waiting for the locks to open and then sprinted up onto the Llangollen last night.

Now there’s a film to watch, Bugsy Malone

We winded and returned, pausing mid stream alongside NB AreandAre. We’ve not met Sandra and Barry before although our paths did cross many years ago now. I’ve just been having a look through their blog for July 2014 and sadly NB Lillyanne (our yellow boat) is just out of shot in Hebden Bridge for the Tour de France. At the time they were The Homebrew Boat, who wouldn’t stop to have a look! It was very nice to finally get chance to chat today, they are our nearest neighbours so I suspect we’ll see them again in the next week or so.

Lillian with her bikes

0 locks, 5.68 essential miles, 2 winds, 2 straights, 1 screen of Geraghtys, 1 chicken, £17 of fresh veg, 2 boxes of wine, £2.69 bag of pasta, 60p half price macaroni!, £1.90 bread, 8p bread, 4 bars chocolate, 1 bag gf self raising, 1 disinfected shop, 1 full water tank, 1 new pooh bucket, 2 mackerel with roast potatoes and onions, 0 shore leave, 1 very long chilly day, 3 years since we test drove Oleanna, 1 Jac on her way home!!!!

Our test drive in 2017
Muddy battered and warn 2020

Heads Above Water. 27th March

Lockdown Mooring 1 to Lockdown Mooring 2, Cornes Bridge 96.

Back on the 16th March just about every theatre in the land closed it’s doors to the public, by the 17th all venues were dark, only a ghost light left lit in the middle of many a stage. Since then theatre companies have been doing all sorts of things, many adding online material that can be accessed for free.

From Thursday next week the National Theatre will be launching National Theatre at Home. One of their shows will be available on line for 7 days, starting with One Man Two Guvnors staring James Corden.

Animated Objects Theatre Company in Scarborough known for their large scale community projects and giant puppets have added various art projects for families to do at home, including building a biplane from a toilet roll and a cereal box. If you fancy having a go, just scroll down their website and Lee will show you how to do it.

Other theatres have launched campaigns to help raise funds so that when Coronavirus is all over they will be able to open their doors once again for people to join together in one room to enjoy live theatre. One such theatre is Chipping Norton, with it’s Heads Above Water campaign.

Chippy got in touch with performers and creatives who’ve worked there over the last few years and asked them if they could produce something to go on their social media for World Theatre Day, which was today. Now, I’m not a performer and would rather not have to appear in shot, but wanted to do something for the day. I make models, so that’s what I did. If you listen carefully you’ll hear Tilly’s bell.

This morning my little offering was all over their social media, along with Dames singing ditties or showing off their patent leather boots, King Rat threatening to raid fridges for Cheddar!

Today we needed to do some essential travelling. Our water tank was getting low and we also would need some shopping in the next couple of days. So much to Tilly’s distain there was no shore leave this morning, instead we pushed off and headed towards the lock where the new (to us) water point is.

We had an escort

Coming towards us was a boat, the chap at the tiller was well away with the fairies, I did consider shouting out to him but he spotted us just in time to avoid running into us. Once we’d passed all our neighbours we pulled in and started to fill with water.

Chiff Chaff

A load of washing was on the go and Tilly’s pooh box got a good clean and fresh litter. Mick walked down to the Chandlers to see if they might just have some milk, which they did, a touch more expensive than it would have been at a supermarket, but it was here and meant we could hold off going to the shops for a day longer.

Hello Blossom

The tap didn’t have that much pressure so the tank would take a while to fill. I gave my brother a call to see if there was any news on Jac and plane tickets. A day ago she’d managed to get hold of a ticket back to the UK from Melbourne which would be leaving Monday lunchtime. The first Andrew had known about this was in the middle of the night when he had an alert from his bank asking how money had been spent on Jac’s account in Melbourne when she’d also paid to watch something on TV in Hackney! She is however going to be checking with the flight centre every day to see if she can get a flight earlier.

Lockdown Mooring 1, narrow towpath

Tank full, it was time for us to reverse to the winding hole, where we turned, passed our mooring from the last week and headed back to Barbridge Junction. I popped up to the bow to see if anyone was coming, clear both ways I waved Mick onwards and we turned towards Nantwich.

Barbridge Junction

Our hope was to find a space near to Hurleston Junction where the towpath is wider, then we might be able to sort the boat covers and do some jobs on Oleanna without constantly avoiding walkers. But as we got near three boats were tucked in before the junction and once through Bridge 97 the 2 day visitor moorings were just about full.

Loads of boats

A printed C&RT poster stood on a pole at the end to try to discourage towpath use. A chap busied himself cutting wood on his workbench. NB Mountbatten and Jellicoe were breasted up awaiting the locks up onto the Llangollen to reopen. Several dogs ran about enjoying themselves. We could have slotted in, but decided to see if another mooring on our map might be free.

Men still at work at the locks

We pootled onwards, the next spot occupied. A week ago there’d been half as many boats on this stretch. A short distance on we tried pulling in, the Shropie shelf keeping us a touch too far out for our tyre fenders. Through the next bridge and we tried again. We were in luck, here was better too due to fewer trees so the solar panels could earn their keep better.

Who thought the Shropie shelf would pay off

A late lunch and only a few hours for Tilly on the towpath. Here the path is wider and we have the added advantage of an extra 18 inches of Shropie shelf to help with our buffer zone.

Walking with Tilly

The sour dough pizza dough seemed to work quite well, it’s not as sour smelling as my old starter was. A large oven tray was covered with the dough and baked for 10 minutes before I added the toppings.

Sour dough pizza

Tuna, red onion, sweetcorn (with added peas!) and plenty of cheese. It turned out rather well a touch more bready than previous versions.

A Shropie sunset

0 locks, 3.62 miles, 0.3 in reverse, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 straight, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 2 pints milk, 1 sister-in-law booked to come home, 11 boats moving including us, 18 inches extra buffer, 1 walk with Tilly, 1 game of stone, 1 very large pizza with leftovers, 1 little film, 1 coal boat first up Hurleston Locks.