Catching Up. 10th October

All Cannings to Wolfhall Bridge 103

Yesterday we’d stopped short of our planned destination for the day, today we needed to catch up. So the alarm went off, we had breakfast and were ready to push off into the chilly morning. At least the sun was out and we might be able to see the views that the cloud had shrouded on our way west.

Sun’s out

There are so many boats moored along the Long Pound, progress was very slow but at least Alton Barnes White Horse was in view for much of our way. Then we skirted round the Wiltshire mounds to our north were ancient terracing is very evident.

Mounds

Under Lady’s Bridge and past the wide water where a chap was just coming out of his boat full of the joys of spring!

Terraced Pickle

Just before Pewsey Winding Hole a chap pointed at us from the bow of his boat and then three others waved.

The Rustys

The Rustys had winded this morning and managed to get their boat just about into the side to moor so that they could go for an exploration. our boats were finally pointing different directions and our paths wouldn’t cross again. Hope their trip back to Hilperton is good. There was a bit of banter about meeting up next year, maybe Bingley.

Boat cat keeping an eye on us

We considered stopping to dispose of our yellow water but by the time we realised that the service mooring was actually free it was a touch late, so we carried onwards. The chilled medication emporium wasn’t open anyway!

Birdies

Approaching Wooton Rivers Mick took it very slowly, we didn’t want to get shouted at again. The boat in question seemed to have moved since we’d come the other way a month ago, by a full boat length! Maybe he’d been all the way to Bath and back having returned to the same spot, or maybe not.

At the bottom of the locks we disposed of all our rubbish with the handy recycling bins and then started to make our way up to the summit pound.

A chance photo paid off

Work emails kept me busy when not winding my windlass. Difficulty finding the paint I was after, where’s the drawing for the ladder, would I like an extra painty pair of hands in Chippy. This was all panto stuff, then the emails regarding Houdini started flying back and forth between the writer and production manager. All the time I was aware we would be heading into a black hole of communication once over the top.

Wooton Rivers Lock

Even though I was busy trying to respond to everyone there was still time to buy some eggs at our 2000th lock on Oleanna. I picked out the larger ones from the bottom tray thinking that they would be fresher than those on the top. I’d make use of these in the quinoa quiche I was making for tonight, we were a couple of eggs short before and now we had several very large eggs in hand.

As we pulled out of Brimslade Lock an abc hire boat came from the lock above. We left our gate for them as they closed the gates ahead of us. We all said hello and then we watched them pull into the lock landing to drop off crew, followed by having difficulty getting into the already open lock.

Last lock uphill

Cadley Lock was our last up hill. Sadly the plums by the top gate were now well past their best, most rotting on the floor making it very slippy under foot. But I was surprised at the number of butterflies here. About four fluttered their way around me, one hitching a lift on our roof for a distance. I’d have thought it was way past butterfly time.

Rotting plums

The locks up to the summit and down the other side are still being locked overnight at 3pm. We’d been caught out by the very low pound heading westwards and just made it to the top in time. With two more miles across the top we knew we wouldn’t be down the first set of locks by 3pm, so we’d find somewhere to moor instead. At least we’d caught up some of the time we’d lost yesterday, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get back to where we should be.

Hitching a lift

Through Savernake Tunnel we started to look for a possibility, the railway now very close by but on the off side, so Tilly would be safe. A short distance fro where we’d moored last time we pulled in by another boat. The water deep enough at the stern to get close, but the bow sitting a long way out. Here would do us for the day.

Out of the tunnel into the eastern side

Tilly jumped to the bank with ease and headed off to make friends. I then spent the next three hours trying to catch up on the Houdini emails about Kabouki drops and video footage, finally chipping my ideas into the mix that had been going back and forth all morning. My drawings were scanned and shared. Food put in the oven and after eating I finally got chance to do some model making. Four hours later I had a new version of the proscenium finished, it was now well past bedtime.

4 locks, 2000th on Oleanna, 11.96 miles, 1 final farewell, 1 white horse, 1 must have galloped away, 70 ft in a month, 6 giant eggs, 10 litres paint, 1 ladder, 20 pairs castors, 1 or 2 kabouki drops, 10 scanned drawings, 18 toing and froing emails, 1 prosc, 12 midnight finish., 1 black hole ahead

Finding Signal. 9th October

Devizes Wharf to All Cannings Visitor Moorings

Our suicidal cat managed to survive the night, A model Edwardian chair can’t be as poisonous as a bentwood or Chippendale. I still need to make a new one though as what was left by Tilly is only slightly useful for lighting the stove!

Nice pie shop
Plastic free dry ingredients

Before our order arrived from Sainsburys we took advantage of a later start and had a cooked breakfast. Then I popped out to have a ‘girl look’ around Devizes for some card. Sadly Mick’s boy look yesterday had been correct and he hadn’t over looked any. I found the bakers that sold him some pies yesterday, both gluten filled and free which were tasty. Several nice looking independent bakeries and The Healthy Life Co another shop where you can shop plastic free to add to the list, think I might start a separate page of these for easy reference.

The drivers brother runs one of the pubs in Stoke Bruern

Back at the wharf the Rustys were filling with water and heading to Pewsey today, this was also our goal, hopefully by 3pm when I was to have a phone call with Vienna. At 10:15 a Sainsbury’s van backed up to the boat, a very handy mooring for such things. Once off loaded and the perishables stowed we wanted to fill with water, but the Rustys were still there.

Mick went to check if all was okay. The red light had come on on their toilet, they needed a pump out. The hire base had said there was a pump out card they could use on board, but there was none to be found, someone was coming out to them, so they were staying put for the time being.

Bye bye White Swan maybe see you again next year

Talking of toilets. Since Mick unblocked our yellow water pipe on our toilet I can only just count to 6 when giving it a rinse. Just before it was looked at I could get up to 36! I think this is now better than when we first got the boat.

Then all got quite confusing. The boat in front of us started to reverse to the winding hole where he winded. So Mick set off thinking we’d get water further on. But as he pushed out the winded boat started to reverse past us. This took a bit of doing, as reversing does, we were most probably in their way and them in our way. He reversed to the bridge and then pulled into the now vacant service mooring, where had the Rustys gone? This should have been the end of boat manoeuvres but the chap on the reversing boat had hopped off with a centre line but left his boat in gear making it impossible to pull it into the bank. Mick had to get on board and put it in neutral. All was well and we could continue on our way.

Drawings for Houdini

I decided to stay below taking advantage of few obstacles on the Long Pound and continued with my technical drawings.

The Rustys. Would this be our final farewell, no they passed us later in torrential rain

There seemed to be lots of boats moving today, bottle necks at bridges, wide beams to pass both moored and moving. At the winding hole by Devizes Marina the Rustys had turned and waited for us to pass before heading back into town. They’d been told once the red light showed they would have ten flushes left before the tank was full. Two each with a couple spare, at least nobody was having to cross their legs!

We pulled in at Horton Bridge to make use of the water point, the washing machine had been in use, so a top up was required. No sooner had I started back at work and there was a swing bridge, after which I only had a bit more work to do managing to avoid a sudden downpour outside.

Working hard to get through the reeds

I’d timed my work quite well as we were now starting to cruise through the moundy landscape of Wiltshire. Plenty of reeds lined the way, a hire boat looked like they were ploughing their way through as they approached.

The bridge that nearly got away!

Showers came and went, the occasional strong gust of wind causing slight problems at the second swing bridge. Here I swung it back into position and as I crossed to secure the big bolt the wind caught it pushing it round, I managed to run back to dry land before I had nowhere to go. I pushed it back and then dashed across to get it secured before the next gust caught it. Mick said he’d have rescued me if needs had been.

Time was ticking on, we wouldn’t reach Pewsey by 3pm. Would there be space at All Cannings or Honey Street but more importantly would there be phone signal? We decided to stop as soon as there was space.

Now where are my friends?

At All Cannings there was a gap just made for us and phone signal too, even inside the boat. Tilly set off to find more nutritious food and I set myself up in the cratch for my phone meeting. Juggling a laptop, sketch book, plans and a scale ruler took some doing all whilst Tilly appeared from the friendly cover with friends to munch in front of me.

Horse

90 minutes of discussion later and my work drawing plans up hadn’t been wasted. Some clarification was needed from the writer and director about a few things in the show as there was some confusion over a few scenes. More emails to be sent, dinner to cook, chicken pancakes, one day I’ll get chance to finish knitting my cardigan!

0 locks, 6.2 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 card, 4 boxes wine, 59 ft space, 2 crunchy critters, 2.5 hours behind schedule, 90 minutes phone call, 1 red light, 9 pancakes.

The Training Paid Off. 8th October

Caen Hill Bottom Lock 29 to Devizes Wharf

Morning!

Alarm set for too early and we were up having breakfast and just about ready to push off as the Lock Keeper came down on the quad bike to unlock. Steve from NB Chapman’s Rusty suggested they enter the bottom lock first as they didn’t have covers to roll back etc, so they led the way.

First lock of 22

Oleanna’s bow entered the bottom lock of the flight at 8:10am. With four of us on the bank and the locks ahead empty it was easy going. I loitered to make sure everyone remembered how to work the locks before heading on up to open the gates on the next one. This meant arriving as both paddles were busy filling the lock below so I needed to raise the bottom paddle a touch more to keep the levels equalised to be able to open the gates.

After a few locks we were starting to find a rhythm, not quite as efficient as it would be with more experienced crew. People walked up to the next lock to open it and wait whilst others took photos whilst the boats rose in the locks.

Moving from lock to lock side by side

Mick had suggested to Steve to leave and enter the locks together. The flight is a straight run, so this should be easier than going one at a time. Steve looked a little apprehensive at first but very quickly could see the advantages. This worked well although one lock has a narrow entrance so it was back to single file there.

Kai opening the gates above

The sun was out warming us all as the first volunteer appeared from above at about 8:30. He walked up the flight and would open the gates ahead for us whilst we worked our way steadily upwards.

The boys in blue

A while later another couple of chaps in blue walked down the flight, Mike one of the chaps who’d helped us down hill came to say hello and see if we’d enjoyed Bristol. Then a boat was spotted lower down the flight, we were mob handed so the boys in blue walked down to lend a hand where it would be needed more.

A pair of herons flew over, gulls balanced on the booms and flocks of Canada Geese came into land. We’ve not seen much of these noisy birds for a while. The number of locks was just starting to show as we got closer to the top. I still had quite a bit of energy so stepped in to wind a few more paddles and help with more gates,whilst keeping an eye out as when people get tired that is when mistakes happen.

Gaining height

Yesterdays 12 locks had paid off, we reached the top of the main flight in 2 hours 10 minutes. We all wanted a break so stopped for a cuppa and a slice of toast.

Fuel

Once refreshed it was time to push on up to the top and to the wharf. The last six locks are further apart but our rhythm continued. Tea and toast had pepped us up a touch and conversations picked up again.

Lynn
Janet

The Rusty crew all originate from Hong Kong, 50 odd years ago. Janet said she can’t bare to watch the news anymore, what is happening there is so frightening.

Steve and Mick

Jollier conversations followed turning to how we would spend Christmas. For us it will be just the three of us, but for them they may have as many as 20 for lunch.

22nd lock

The top six locks took us 1 hour 8 minutes. So a total of 3 hours 18 minutes, not bad going. Maybe with a more experienced crew we’d have done it a touch quicker, but being safe was more important than speed. The Rusty crew can now certainly go up hill!

Almost done

We settled down, had an early lunch, let Tilly out. Then as the rain started to fall around us we watched the next few boats come up the locks. We’d timed it very well this morning managing to keep dry.

With the drawing board out this afternoon I started to draw up A Regular Little Houdini. I’m still waiting to hear back about some questions regarding my design from Vienna, but time is also running low. So I just hope I don’t have to change much when I get to talk to the Production Manager out there tomorrow.

Waiting for a dry spell

Mick went out to hunt for some more card for me, but sadly came back empty handed. But he did come back with news that the 48 hour mooring on the other side, by the car park was free. Here we’d be able to get a delivery and Sainsbury’s had given us more vouchers the other day, triple points and an extra 2000. He quickly checked that there was a delivery slot for the morning, secured it with a few boxes of wine. Tilly was keeping cosy by the stove so Mick pushed us over to claim the space. Plenty more shopping was added to our order as I worked my way through my drawings.

The rain now came down in torrents. This along with being alongside a car park meant Tilly wasn’t going out. The consequence of which meant we then had a bored cat. A bored cat who proceeded to poison herself, by eating a model chair!

Someone’s bored!

Suicidal cats don’t get fed, it’s a waste of food apparently. Suicidal cats get stared at for very long periods of time, longer than a cat can stare. Suicidal cats don’t get Dreamies. This suicidal cats has taken away an hours worth of She’s life! Apparently she hasn’t got enough life for everything at the moment. Maybe I should give her one of lives.

22 locks, 1.57 miles, 1 push across, 6:40 alarm, 6 crew, 2 boats, 3hrs 18minutes, 1 slice toast, 1 cuppa break, 4 sheets drawings, o mount, 4 boxes on order, -1 chair, 1 cat with a death wish!

Two Tillys. 7th October

Seend Bottom Lock 17 to Caen Hill Bottom Lock 29

A slow start this morning, no alarm, a cuppa in bed and a slow breakfast. We were just starting to get ourselves together when we heard a boat above the lock, someone was about to empty it for us. Mick headed outside to start rolling back the covers and met a lady walking towards the lock with a windlass, there was a boat coming that we could join to go up the locks. Great timing all round.

Getting soggy

We got ourselves ready and joined NB Chapman’s Rusty a hire boat in the lock. There was a crew of four and it was their first narrowboat holiday. Yesterday they had been through two locks today they would be doing a lot more.

As we started at the first lock the rain started. We’d hoped we’d missed the worst of it whilst having breakfast and maybe we had. Showers came and went meaning it was worth keeping waterproofs on all the way up the locks.

Mine!

When asking our lock companions where they were from we’d expected somewhere like Shenzhen or Beijing not Bristol and Weston Supermare! Lynn and Janet are sisters and their other halves Steve and Kai were enthusiastic locking partners. It being their first time on a boat was obvious at times, but we have all been there. The chaps stayed on board and the ladies worked the locks. After a few locks I felt I could walk ahead to set the next lock and leave them to close up after the boats.

After five locks we had two swing bridges and then both boats pulled in to fill with water. Steve and Kai had been looking down the side of their boat puzzled as the shower gulper pumped out the water, I left them to work it out.

Waiting

We chatted to the chaps, would they like to share the next seven locks with us, the bottom locks below Caen Hill. The decision was left to the ladies and they chose to accompany us. So we left them filling with water and headed to the locks.

Here they come

The bottom chamber was empty but we loitered on the lock landing until their blue boat came into view, enough time to finish drinking our cuppas.

Janet, Kai, Mick, Steve and Lynn

Kai joined the crew on the ground, so there were four of us working the locks, leaving Steve and Mick to bring the boats into the locks. The ladies by now had got the hang of windlasses and when to lift paddles, Kai had a little bit of catching up to do, but after the rest of the locks he’d got the hang of it.

On to the last lock of the day

The third lock looked like it was full, it was with the top gates wide open. I walked ahead to set it, noticing the next lock was the same, we were following someone leaving the gates. Soon I could see a chap on a bike stopping and closing gates, he was either a kind soul or had just come up the locks and was closing up behind him.

Crew were sent ahead and instructed that if nobody was coming down to empty the lock and open the gates. There was a little confusion over this but we got there in the end. After the seven locks we were at the bottom of the main flight at Caen Hill. The locks are now on winter hours and locked up at 1pm. So even if we wanted to carry on up we couldn’t.

Tomorrows task, plus a few more

Both boats moored up and arranged to set off early in the morning to climb the locks together, taking advantage of them all being left empty overnight.

Arriving later than we’d thought we let the cat out and sat down to a late lunch of the last of the pasties I’d brought home. I can recommend the cheese and leek ones.

Our Tilly doing her best to be invisible by the back doors

At around four thirty we had a couple of visitors arrive, Duncan and Tilly. Tilly was very excited to be coming to see our boat and to meet Tilly, who of course was out finding friends. There was a full guided tour, well as full as a four five year old would be interested in. I was told she didn’t like our bedroom because it was too dark, I soon sorted that by opening the curtains.

But I’M Tilly

Dreamies time. But hang on! How can this be Tilly?! I am Tilly. This was all a bit confusing I had to have a couple of drinks to help it compute. That didn’t help. I decided that being in the outside might help. She made me wait though so that I could be in a photo with everyone, apparently I wasn’t being very helpful!

Tilly and Tilly. One hoping to make a friend, one hoping to eat a friend!

Duncan and I tried our best to get photos of the two Tillys together, the best one I got was with a window between them both. I decided that it was maybe best to stay outside and avoid any more photo calls, returning home well past dark time. She and Tom didn’t seem too pleased with me.

The two greats

12 locks, 3.25 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, 4 novices on a boat, 1 full water tank, 1 damp day, 0 work done, 3 teas, 1 apple juice, 1 handful of raisins, 2 Tillys, 2 greats, 8pm!

Green For Go. 6th October

Bradford on Avon to Seend Bottom Lock 17

Not a bad view to wake up to

A cuppa in bed with yesterdays paper with a pretty good view out of the window, bliss.

Once up, breakfasted and enough layers on I popped down to have a look at the Tithe Barn. Both it’s doors were wide open inviting the light and myself inside.

What wonderful shapes

The amount of timber in there and the number of joints! Very impressive. The roof beams have been analysed and the timber dates from 1334 to 1379. In the 1950’s major work was carried out to preserve the building by the Ministry of Works, now English Heritage.

More Tithe Barn

Time to get moving, I’ve a panto to get to.

Green for GO!

As I’d just pushed the bow out a chap walked by with a windlass, a hire boat heading back to Foxhangers, we could team up with them to do the lock. A day boat was just coming down so our two boats came into the prepared lock. A gongoozler was concerned that someone’s shoes were getting wet in the bow of the hire boat, I indicated to Mick that they should nudge back as they were right up against the cil. The paddles were raised and we were on our way up.

Bradford Lock

More boats waited to come down and one chap asked, ‘Is there a reason this paddle hasn’t been lifted all the way?’ This was said in either an I don’t understand manor or that I was a woman so therefore didn’t know what I was doing! I pointed out that there was no more paddle to lift to which he just said ‘Oh!’

Reserving your space on the visitor moorings, we were tempted to pull in

Mick had stocked up yesterday, but one or two things were still needed. This was luckily remembered before we left the lock, so I hopped off and walked up to Sainsburys picked up what was wanted and returned to the canal at the next bridge where Mick had pulled in just behind NB Sanity at Last, who we’d shared locks with on the other side of the summit over a month ago.

Fill her up please

Onwards to Hilperton where we pulled in to top up the diesel tank, we only needed about 30 litres but at 72p it wasn’t to be missed. A couple more bags of coal and we were on our way again.

Traditional pasties, mine smaller at the back!

I’d brought home some pasties so 30 minutes on gas mark 4 and they were nicely heated through for a lunch break at the bottom of Semington Locks. As you can see Mick’s pasty was far bigger than mine!

Semington Bottom Lock

As I walked between the bottom and top lock there was a chap trying with all his might to prise his boat off the bottom. Blimey it was on a list, the only thing to do was add more water to the pound, a boat was about to come down so hopefully that would help. With the lock emptying the chap used his gang plank to try to shift his boat. In the end he managed to back it off with large clouds of black smoke coming from his engine. As he moved off you could see that his boat had quite a list to it anyway, he pulled in on the offside before the lock, breasting up to another boat, presumably fully afloat.

Swing

From here I walked on ahead to open the next three swing bridges, the weather was lovely, a great day to be back boating again, even if my legs were starting to complain.

Good name, they even have a red cows face on their licence

The visitor moorings below Seend Locks were empty so we pulled in, hoping someone might come down before the morning to empty the bottom lock. Tilly headed off into the undergrowth and we put a roast chicken in the oven. What a lovely Sunday.

Such a colourful boat with red eye lashes

3 locks, 7.15 miles, 4 swing bridges, 2 traditional pasties, 500grams prunes, 1 box oat cakes, 27 litres, 40kg excel, 1 roast chicken with all the works, 1 pooped Pip.

Panto Postcard 1, 2019

58 hours

On Sunday Mick helped me with all my things to Avoncliff Station.

This used to be a request stop

I had quite a lot and a quick change at Westbury Station so he decided to come with me that far to help get me onto the next train. After another change I got a taxi to Admirals Hard where I caught the Cremyll Ferry across to the Rame Peninsula. Only an eight minute crossing but just long enough for those of us sat outside to get sprayed by the waves.

A woofer passenger on the Cremyll Ferry

Lou was there to pick me up, we dropped my work things off at the workshop where Ade was busy and then she gave me a lift down to the village of Kingsand. With keys to my flat I made myself comfortable, stocked up on some things to eat and drink from the shop, possibly getting ripped off and then went for an explore. This was likely to be the only time I’d get in daylight to look round.

The old border

Kingsand and Cawsand are twin villages in Cornwall, however until 1844 Kingsand was in Devon and Cawsand Cornwall. A house still marks the boundary, about 100 ft away from my flat.

Cawsand

Several small beaches link the houses together, all very characterful, smugglers hiding in the corner of your eye. Narrow roads with no parking make for a tranquil place, well until the tide comes in! It did however feel as though nobody actually lives there, it’s just for the tourists now.

My groundfloor bedroom window and the sea!

My flat was about as long as Oleanna but wider. Have to say that our bathroom layout is better designed despite being half the size. Everything was very comfortable, but the kitchen lacked a few basics that would have made cooking a touch more flavoursome.

Last bit left to prime

Monday morning I was picked up from outside one of the pubs and was at work for 8.30. First thing was to lay out the back drop. Normally this would have been stretched on a frame, but as my design needed me to be able to draw lots of circles we laid it out on the floor. By 10am I’d primed the cloth and gained a couple of blisters in the process. Ade and Lou’s workshop has been having a new roof fitted, the central ridge still needed replacing and in parts it was open to the sky. So as the day progressed and the weather outside became damp, buckets were deployed around the place.

Drawn up ready to paint

By the end of the day just about every bit of set that was ready had been primed and my backdrop was marked out. A pencil and string being my compass, I could have done with Frank’s trammel heads (ends of a compass that you can attach to a length of wood), but I managed in the end.

Wednesday the sun came out, only one thing for the canine assistants to do, sunbath

Tuesday and I started to lay blocks of colour onto the backdrop. Three shades of blue paint, a straight edge and a steady hand were needed. Occasionally a helping paw would appear, Bo and Shine two collies spend their days over seeing what happens in the workshop and hoping to be able to gain access to the bins from next door.

Pasty powered painting

The workshop is next door to CornishPod, winner of the World Pasty Championship in 2016. The smells wafting through from them were too much for me, on Monday I’d put in an order for a couple of gluten free pasties. Fresh and warm I enjoyed one for my lunch, keeping the second one for Wednesday. The day was wet again, water flooded in through a hole that had been made for new electrics, a blocked drain was found and sorted by the landlord.

Wednesday thankfully a dry day but water had seeped under the wooden floor where my cloth was pinned out , it had crept up between the sheets and was creating quite a stain. In parts the cloth was wetter than when I’d first painted it. Action was taken and we relaid it on sheets of plastic, a fan heater deployed to drive off the worst of the moisture and I concentrated on painting the portals. The roofers were back in for the day, covering up sections of the ridge.

Tellytubbies

Each morning I woke to wonderful sunrises, some from Tellytubbies,

A new day

others more moody and grown up. Not a bad view to have from your bedroom window. The local sea swimmers would all walk down for their morning dip shortly after dawn. They’d bob away in the swell as the tide came in, Kingsand only seems to have high tide!

Oops I might have bought some cheese!

Thursday was the start of the next storm. We hoped the worst would miss us. The team grew by two, Ade’s nephew Frank and a scenic artist Debs. Debs had come to paint another set they have been building for The Drum in Plymouth. Nothing quite so time consuming as my backdrop and portals, just lots of washes and rust. Lu and Frank lent a hand where needed, basing things in for me and painting black for Debs. As the day progressed the winds got stronger and stronger, necessitating brushing more bits of decaying roof off my backdrop.

The view whilst waiting for my lift

By the time I got back to my flat the tide was being aided by the wind. On other evenings towards high tide the waves had been making it onto the road outside my front door, but the direction of the wind having changed and the tides not being so high the waves just crashed against my bedroom wall instead. Their bumping giving the sofa a slight nudge. I hoped I’d be able to get some sleep, but thankfully things calmed down and I managed to get some shut eye.

Tides

Friday, Debs and I were left to it in the workshop, the others on apple duty back at the house. Ade and Lou have around 250 apple trees from which they press apple juice. This years crop has been plentiful, so whilst painting brushes were working hard at the workshop, Lou and Frank picked up the latest windfalls and Ade worked his way through the first of 40 crates of apples.

Finished!

By the end of the day the other set was finished and Panto had a completed backdrop and two portals. Plenty more for me to do, but at least the main aim of the week was completed. I celebrated by having a halloumi and roasted pepper pasty for lunch, very tasty it was too.

Saturday my last day. A quick tidy up of the flat before I got a lift up to the workshop to see what I could achieve before heading home. I made a good start on two large flats, but I’d hoped to get them almost completed but the paint just wasn’t drying quickly enough. There was also the matter of packing paint and mixing colours so Lou can carry on basing things in,hopefully saving me hours of work.

Mixing grey

The last job was to mix a huge vat of grey. I hate mixing grey, you think you’ve nearly reached the right shade, just a bit more black, a bit more, a bit more, maybe just a touch more. Damn! Now a bit more white!!

Frank and Lou, my cloth was raised and stretched out shortly after this

The other set was loaded onto a wagon. The pieces I’d finished were stacked away and the backdrop was hung to help it continue drying. The water stain is fading but I doubt it will go completely.

Plymouth

Back in my civvies it was time to head for the train. A lift down to the ferry which was just coming in, then an awaiting cab to the station. I had 4 minutes to get to the right platform, my luggage a touch lighter as my brushes will go to Chipping Norton with the set. Two trains and I arrived back in Bradford on Avon where Mick was there to meet me.

A hard weeks work in the company of the lovely Lou and Ade in such a wonderful setting. It’s just a shame I never really got to see the village at low tide in day light.

Meanwhile back on Oleanna.

Mick and Tilly have not been idle. On Sunday afternoon Mick moved the boat a little towards Bradford joining the local boats. On Monday he took the toilet to bits. We have a Separett Villa, the urine gets separated into a tank under the floor from which we can pump it out into another container for disposal. Gradually when rinsing through the system I have noticed it taking longer and longer for the water to drain to the tank, so I’d raised a chitty with the maintenance department.

It was quite sometime ago that Finesse showed us how everything had gone together but Mick managed quite easily to remove the toilet and then the floor above the tank. From the separator one pipe leads to another which then does two 90 degree turns to enter the underfloor tank. Here was where the blockage was gradually getting worse and when Mick poured vinegar into the top it stayed put, the pipe finally having blocked.

Our yellow water tank, the blocked bend on the left

With some drain unblocking cabley thing and more vinegar he eventually managed to shift the blockage. No need to cross our legs, we can go to the loo again. But maybe we need to add more vinegar to the bottle we spray the separator with, or even add it neat every now and again, or maybe we should just drink it so that the pipe doesn’t block again.

On Tuesday morning I made a request that Tom should move the outside. This outside was okay, but another would be better, so he moved it to a Mrs Tilly stamp award winning mooring, Dundas. Here I busied myself outside, returning to check on Tom only to find he’d lost his legs! I found them for him down in the big box at the back of Oleanna. It was quite soggy down there so Tom was trying to get rid of all the Aunty freeze that had leaked there a month or so ago. He was very careful to keep me away from this Aunty, apparently it can be deadly to cats.

Purring paws

Thursday they filled with water winded and headed back towards Avoncliff. All the sink U bends and shower traps were given a good clean and then on Friday they moved up to Bradford and managed to get a spot on the 48hr moorings below the lock. Here was good, plenty to keep me occupied, but then Tom decided to nudge the outside a touch. This touch to the outside meant there were far more woofers, in fact a constant stream of them. It really wasn’t worth stepping off the boat!

0 locks, 7.24 miles by boat, 5 different moorings, 1 calcified lump added to the yellow water tank, 10 litres anti-freeze, 2 winds, 5 trains, 2 taxis, 2 ferries, 13 lifts, 2 pretty villages, 0 beach to be seen, 6m plus high tide, £51!!! 2nd shop at the co-op, 1 flat almost on the beach, 1 thumping sea, 4 bottles wine, 1 bottle oil and some garlic required, 58 hours, 1 fat knee, 1 pastie powered painter, 1 back cloth, 2 portals complete, 1 well used straight edge, 2 woofer assistants, 1 slightly blue ball, all three crew back on board, 1 purring cat.

PS The last three posts all have photos now.

In between Showers. 27th, 28th September with extra photos!

Avoncliff

Friday

Hmm yum!

With no plans of going anywhere today we treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast. Whilst the sausages sizzled in the oven I sanded back to primer on the grabrail, getting it one more step towards a top coat. Above is should be the usual photo. Edited.

The day was set to be wet and it didn’t disappoint, but there was time before the heavens opened to give Mick a much needed hair cut. He always looks younger with less hair.

Other boats moved off so we decided to see if we could get closer to the side if we moved a touch back. But the ledge meant we’d be sticking out more at one end than the other no matter what we did, so we returned to our previous position. Here the ledge could be used to assist with touching up the few patches above the water line.

The start of my new proscenium

Whilst I got on with some painting of my Houdini model, Mick was given the job of washing down the water line and the gunnel. I still hoped that there might be a long enough window of dryness for me to get a coat of paint on. But the heavens opened splashing mud back onto the gunnels and keeping everything far too damp outside.

Tilly came and went, occasionally stopping for some Dreamies and a check on what I was up to. She was right I’d made the false proscenium a touch too elaborate, maybe I’ll have to make it again!

A full roast dinner ended the day. We refrained from lighting the stove as the oven had been on for so long, the boat being nice and cosy.

Saturday

Tilly was kept in whilst we had breakfast, when the boats behind us had moved off and the long procession of hire boats had come down from Bradford we pushed off ourselves backwards to the water point. The tank was filled, the gunnel rinsed off we then pulled forward just past the houses and got a slightly less gritty bit of towpath to moor alongside.

Mick headed into Bradford on a bike for a newspaper whilst I managed to get some undercoat on the grabrail. This however didn’t get chance to dry off enough before the next spattering of rain. At least I know it’ll need another coat anyway along with a good sand.

That looks better

Oleanna was on a good list on the ledge. I masked off the ends of the gunnel and the press studs for the cratch cover so everything was ready. Wiped everywhere down again. By now it seemed dry enough to touch up below the gunnel with some blacking. I worked quickly and ended up giving the whole area a thin covering so as not to look patchy, extra time and thickness of paint afforded to where it was needed most.

After lunch the big tin of Epifanes Multiforte Black was dug out from a bow locker. Even though our bow lockers are dry, this tin of paint has gradually been rusting where the lid meets the tin. The curled edge of the lid uncurling itself as you try to prise it open. I’d known that sooner or later we’d need a new air tight container to keep the paint in. Today was that day as the only way the lid was coming off was by denting the airtight seal.

That’s one side done

Mick headed back into Bradford to see if he could find a cheap container whilst I got back on my kneeling mat and worked my way along the gunnel. The occasional light bit of rain soon dried off and luckily didn’t land on the vertical surface.

I’d taken a risk with the weather and with Tilly being out, but the black was soon dry enough to withstand both of them. Just a shame that as soon as I stood back to admire the finish I could spot a few places where I’d missed a bit of bubbling paint. No time to sort that now sadly, they may come back to haunt me next year. A second coat would be better, but for now this will see us through to spring on this side.

I’m not allowed on the cat walk!?

Mick returned with a couple of containers from Sainsburys, the paint was decanted and sealed away. Hopefully the small container will all get used on the starboard side sometime soon.

The remainder of the day was spent packing for next week. Tomorrow I head off for a weeks painting near Plymouth, trying to get ahead on panto. Last year we spent quite a bit of money on a scenic artist who interpreted my model somewhat instead of following it. So this year I’m earning some extra money by doing a weeks painting before the set goes into the theatre where I’ll finish it. There’s a lot to do so I may not get chance to enjoy my flat right on the beach at Kingsand!

Gluten free cider batter

This evening we treated ourselves to a meal out at the Cross Guns. Their menu was limited but they did do gluten free fish and chips in a cider batter. This was very tasty and Mick enjoyed his cheese and bacon burger. As there was a pudding I could eat as well it would have been silly not to. A slice of warm polenta cake, very nice.

Pudding too

So, unless Mick or Tilly feel the urge to write something on the blog next week, all will be silent. I may get chance to post a postcard, but I suspect I’ll be too busy slapping on the paint to think about it. See you when I get back.

0 locks, 1 full water tank, 2 days shore leave, 1 side ready for winter, 4 bubbles, 1 prosc, 1 cabinet, 3 containers, 2.5 litres black, 1 ledge, 2 big bags, 1 fish and chips , 1 burger, 2 puddings, 1 blogger heading to work, 1 cat left in charge, 2 photos.