Saturday, 16 February 2019

If You're Going To A Party. 14th February

Mexbrough Low Lock

The morning started off in a none standard way. Mick got up to put the kettle on and make the tea, all normal. When he returned he spotted that a card and some chocolates had appeared on his pillow. 'Ooo!' He put down the cups of tea and disappeared back though to the main cabin. There was a cupboard opened followed by the sound of cellophane being removed. A short while later he then opened the back doors, closed them, then came through to the bedroom again. A cupboard opened and a box of Lindt chocolates produced, 'Someone left these on the back deck'. What a surprise!  What a romantic! It did make me laugh the fact that he'd opened the back door to back up his claim that he had no idea where they'd come from.

The bank on this side of the canal is quite high and made of large corrugated piling. Then behind this there is a bank which somewhat obscures our view whilst having our morning cuppa in bed. We could have winded for a better view but then the side hatch would be on the canal side, so when Tilly wants to come in she'd have to use the back door which involves more effort on our part. Having the side hatch on the towpath side is always good especially when emergency dog avoidance is required.

A sunny day on the wide cut

The day was sunny and soon warmed up whilst we had a cooked breakfast, time to give Oleanna a bit of TLC outside. The rust spots I'd rubbed back and treated in Cropredy back in October had another sand and another coat of Fertan. I'm hoping this warmer weather will mean I can get the bow looking a touch better than it has done for a few months.



As we seem to be heading towards a Birthday Party, the Bi-Centenary for the Tinsley-Sheffield Canal, Oleanna needs a bit of a spruce up. Well you wouldn't go to a birthday party without having a shower and putting clean clothes on! 

Half lovely

and clean

With everything removed from the bank side of the roof I swept it down and then gave it a good scrub and rinse. It's been quite sometime since the roof was last washed and it was really rather horrible. I did the near side and had planned to do the cabin side too, but the height of the bank would mean a lot of bending down which might lead to a bad back, so I'm hoping I'll be able to do it somewhere else. 

The well deck also had a good clean and wash down, the drains around the lockers getting extra attention to clear them of mud and dust.

Inspection time

Tilly spent the day being VERY busy. On several occasions I called for her, but no sign. Then she leapt out of the friendly cover and came trotting towards us bringing a friend with her. A little distraction was required, assessment made and the friend was put somewhere for safe keeping!

It's hard to think that only a week ago we were wearing balaclavas on the Trent and today I wished I'd put a t-shirt on instead of a long sleeved top.

The weir clean and flowing

During the day several C&RT people were at the lock, mostly clearing all the debris that had collected around the gates. One person stayed and seemed to be running checks for much of the afternoon. The tug and hopper that we'd followed from Barnby Dun came past and headed up stream, suspect it is going to be filled with equipment at one of the stoppages up ahead.

We had a walk round to Pastures Lodge and the Hotel there to check on access to the canal for a Sainsbury's delivery. All good, so a big order was put together to make use of one of our triple points vouchers.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 mystery delivery, 2 boxes chocolates, 2 cards, 1 extreamly busy cat, 1 friend, 2 more they didn't know about, 0.5 roof spotless, 0.5 roof left for tomorrow, 1 clean well deck, 1 tidy lock, 1 path, 0.5 knitting completed

Friday, 15 February 2019

Just a Few Flours. 13th February

Doncaster to Mexborough Low Lock

Last night it was time for us to declare ourselves homeless again. This is so that we can vote in Scarborough at elections. Because our house is rented out we have to fill out a No Fixed Address Declaration to register as having a local connection. To do this you have to fall into one of three categories. 
(a) you are currently resident as a patient in a mental hospital,
(b) you are currently resident at a place where you are remanded in custody, or
(c) you are a homeless person not resident at any address in the United Kingdom.


Strangely enough we always choose to be homeless.


A quick look around the market again this morning, the outside stalls had lots of vintage things for sale including a lot of toys. Much of the fish market was closed and most of the butchers were preparing for markets later in the week, one chap was very busy making sausages and filling huge bags with different flavours.

My floury cheesy purchases

This morning I had prepared a list of different flours from my recipe book. Quite a list. We found the corner in Scicluna where flours live and started to hunt round. In the end we had to ask for assistance, the chap helped but the main lady was really needed. Most of the flours I was wanting also go under different names, she knew what they were and exactly where to dig through boxes to find them. She was out of Chestnut Flour, but would get some in for us for our return journey and the only other thing she didn't have was Sweet Rice Flour, she'd never heard of it and maybe just a bit of sugar added to the normal would work. I'll also have to grind my own Linseed, but that was fine.
We also added to the flours a couple of cheeses, some Black Stick and Yarg.

Doncaster Minster

Back at Oleanna we moved up to fill with water and dispose of rubbish, had an early lunch and then pushed off.

Keep right, then left!

There are four bridges as you approach Doncaster Lock, the first Friar's Gate Bridge is being repainted at the moment, half of it covered in scaffolding. A large pontoon floats under where the work is happening and little islands with arrows guide you away from it. The arrows nearer the lock have turned round and suggest a chicane which we didn't follow.

Mouth of the lock under the East Coast Main Line
Oh the Power!

Time for the key of power to do the work. There are so many lights and buttons to press on these panels, it just takes a bit of time to work your way through the instructions. Panel available, then the ready light didn't illuminate. Most of these big locks refill once you are through, so the sluices are left up at the top gates. I could see that they were closed so pressed the button to open the sluices at my end. Once Oleanna was safely in the lock, I walked up to the panel at the other end, Mick holding her against the side with the centre rope and I press the button for 2 seconds to set the sluices going. Then you just have to wait, keeping an eye on your boat to make sure everything is okay, until the water level button illuminates.


Back out onto the river, no rowers today, we had the reach all to our selves, watching the not so fast people on the A1 way overhead.

Sprotbrough Lock came into view. Here you have to unlock gates to access the lock by foot. Just after I'd set everything to empty the lock two C&RT chaps appeared, they'd seen us coming up the river so had come to pen us up. One of them we'd met at Thorne last week, he'd been taking photos. We'd been put on twitter as heading to Sheffield for the bicentenary. Well that is what they assumed at the time! We're hoping there will be space for us to stay.

We chatted away as Oleanna rose in the lock, suspect we'll see them again at some point. Sprotbrough is a nice place to moor, but we decided to carry on to Mexbrough today. News from the C&RT chaps was that the lock and bridge ahead of us were just about finished, so should be open again at the weekend.

Conisbrough Railway Viaduct

The old lock

The sun getting lower made good silhouttes of Conisbrough Railway Viaduct. We spotted for the first time where Conisbrough Lock had once been (marked on Waterway Routes), a much shorter lock than the more modern ones.

Teeny boat!
At Mexbrough Oleanna looked even smaller in the lock chamber, miles away. The amount of rubbish behind the lock gates meant I only opened them so far, not wanting to crush a large gas bottle. This will all need to be cleared soon for when Exol Pride starts it's runs up to Rotherham again.

Towpath games
We pulled in a short distance on alongside the boggy meadows, Tilly made the most of the rest of the day light and then returned for her gourmet fishy ding ding.

3 huge locks, 1 short redundant lock, 6.87 miles, 2 Thunderbird 2s, 5 bags flour, 11p worth linseed, 1bag isabgol husk, 1 bottle pectin, 2 treat cheeses, 2nd hand hairdryer, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 2 C&RT chaps, 1 game of towpath pechow pechow!!!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Food And Fire. 12th February


Mick headed off to the bus station this morning to head out to Harworth Heating. This is the company who make Bubble Stoves, we have a multifuel corner version of theirs. Living aboard full time means the stove is in constant use for several months. As we all know using things is a mistake as they start to show wear and tear.

Our Stove

When we specked our stove we asked for it not to have a fiddle rail, this is a decorative top edge which would get in the way of using the top to cook on, or I'd have had to buy new smaller cast iron pots that fitted. We have also been wondering if a couple of other bits were missing from it too. Mick went armed with photos of our stove and a list of spares that we were after, a new piece of glass for the door being the main one as the existing one is quite scratched now.


He chatted with the lady in the show room and then went through into the workshop. A chap here was putting the next batch of Bubble stoves together, a long line of multi-fuel and diesel versions on the bench.

One piece we thought we were missing from the inside the stove had been superseded three years ago and we have the modern version, a spare needed to be taken from one of the stoves being put together. Then the chap confirmed that we should have another piece around the base of our stove, purely for aesthetics. It would need moving every time we wanted to adjust the air flow or deal with the ash pan. It looks like we didn't get one of these because it wouldn't fit on the hearth that had been made for the stove. This doesn't bother us that much as it would be a faff.

Expensive spares

So Mick got a new glass, vermiculite brick with holes in for the front of the stove, some rope for the door and glass and a new riddle plate. Most of these are spares to be kept safe for when the time comes as few chandlers stock them.

There is always a nice vintage car here having work done to it

Whilst Mick was on buses  and looking at the vintage car currently being cared for in their workshop I ventured into Doncaster to look at the markets.

The Wool Market is currently being refurbished, but there was still a lot to look at. The outdoor market had plenty of fruit and veg, slippers one haberdashery stall, but sadly no red sheeting I'm after for a project.

Sea food
Salmon and rabbits

Then down a little snicket you are led into the Fish Market. Not quite the range we'd seen in Oxford, but still a good quantity, two whole stalls just selling seafood, the vapour of vinegar a touch off putting. Then a food hall, more fruit and veg and plenty of butchers with meats and pies galore.
Plenty to see and smell, I did really well and only bought 3 punnets of blueberries for £1!

A must if in Doncaster

Next was a good nosy around Scicluna Deli. Originally a stall on the market selling Mediterranean foods the lady decided to expand her range and got a shop near to the market. If you love food from just about anywhere in the world and find yourself in Doncaster you have to visit this shop.
Sacks of cinnamon sticks

Veg and tumeric roots

Packets, jars and tins of everything 

A wall of flavoured oils and vinegars

Piled high only goes someway to describing it. Sacks of flour, rice, pulses fill the floor. A large cheese counter, cured meats, olives, fruit, vegetables, spices, breads, sweets, a wall of flavoured oils, jars, tins, packets of all sorts of ingredients. I have made a long list of all the flours recommended in my River Cottage gluten free cook book for making bread and pasta and shall return tomorrow to see how many they have in small bags, or to weigh. If I get chance before we come back this way I'll test out some of the recipes and stock up on those that are worth having.

I have been grounded. She pointed out to me the lack of trees and friendly cover. The locals aren't that friendly either, one man said I was Postman Pats cat, Jess! He obviously knows nothing!! Jess may have a white tip to his (yes he is a HE) tail, but HE only has two white paws and not all of those are white and HE also has more white on HIS face. So I would like to point out that I (a SHE) is nothing like Jess at all! We are both one offs.

Tom and Her have been trying to fool me recently. My diet so far has been very nice, but I quite fancied a change, maybe something a little bit more exotic. So my evening ding ding has had a mere sniff and a single lick from me for several days. Yesterday they came back saying they'd bought pink glittery food. NO way was this stuff remotely pink it was in a green box which was very very dull, no glitter about it at all! So today they tried again. I'd quite liked some pink tuna the other day so they came back with two boxes. One pink, one blue. Blue boxes are normally boring and not even worth a sniff, (unless you can sit in them) but if I wanted something more exotic then I was willing to give it a try.
Sardine and Saithe, it sounded like it had potential. Boy did it!! It didn't stay long in my bowl. As I haven't eaten much in the last few days I was allowed another flavour to try, Salmon and Trout, this one will last me longer, it's also quite tasty, well for now anyway.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 1 riddle grate, 1 glass, 1 set of rope, 1 vermiculite brick, 1 expensive shopping trip, 3 lots of blueberries, 1 cheap shopping trip, 2 much to choose from, 1 list required, 5th ball finished, 7 more to go, 3 new varieties of cat food, 1 rejected, 1 a possible, 1 unknown.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Into Donny. 11th February

Bramwith Junction to Doncaster visitor moorings

Ahead of us the route to Sheffield, behind to Goole and Keadby

With only 5 hours cruising to do before Saturday morning (this is when the stoppages up ahead are due to open) then another three hours to be in position for Monday morning when we will climb the locks into Sheffield, we are not in a rush. Tilly was allowed to go and find some friends whilst we had breakfast. Some crows weren't too enamoured with her being about and had started circling, a call from me encouraged her back inside, we could push off.

Being followed

No wind but blue skies, it was still chilly and worth us putting padded trousers on. Looking behind us as we pushed off I could make out a boat coming through the Don Doors (the guillotine gates on the aqueduct over the River Don) at the end of the New Junction Canal. Which way were they going to go?

We slowed our pace to see if they would turn at the junction and head towards Thorne but they continued straight towards us. Ahead was Barnby Dun Lift Bridge, it's a big one with two way traffic, no sitting on bridge beams to keep this one open, just the key of power.
A boat was on the service mooring which also doubles as the bridge landing, so we pulled in a distance away and I headed up to operate the bridge. We'd wait for the boat behind us to get closer before I set the flashing lights and barriers going.

Barnby Dun Lift Bridge

I'd been beaten to the bridge by a C&RT chap, the boat behind was a C&RT tug and hopper boat now rounding the bend behind us. So I returned to Oleanna and Mick waved the tug past as the bridge lifted stopping the stream of traffic. Mick nudged Oleanna's bow out and we followed through under the bridge counting stopped vehicles in three directions. 35, it's nearly as good as Plank Lane on the Leeds Liverpool!

St Oswalds being surrounded by building works

From here we followed the boat ahead. Where the large Pilkingtons factory used to stand at Kirk Sandall new houses are being built. The small quirky St Oswalds Church, which once sat alone by the canal will soon have plenty of friends around it.

Going up

Soon Long Sandall Lock came into view, the C&RT chap had driven round to operate it and the gates had been left open for us. The tug and hopper in front and us behind there was still plenty of room for several others.

Strawberry Island and Doncaster Minster

Onwards past Strawberry Island on the outskirts of Doncaster still following the tug. Would there be enough room for us on the pontoon? With water and the proximity to the city centre we thought it would be popular with the local continuous cruisers. The tug pulled up just past the water point, other than that not one boat, so we could choose which end to be at, the road bridge end or the east Coast Main Line end, we chose the road.

There's a critic in everyone

1 lock, 5.71 miles, 1 lift bridge holding up 35, 0 need for the key of power, 1 empty wee tank, 1 friend, 5 noisy black swooper birds spoiling my fun, 5th ball of yarn on track for length, 3 sketches, 1 feline critic, 1 Nick Lane stew heated up on the stove all afternoon, very tasty indeed.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Eric's Last Puff. 10th February

Thorne to Bramwith Junction

Thorne Lock and Swing Bridge

Yesterday we'd run out of time to do any shopping so had an Indian Takeaway from The Spice Hut, a nice curry it was too. Just wish the portions were about 2/3 rds the size so I don't have to lie in bed being reminded that I've eaten too much. Yes I could stop before everything is finished, but that would be a waste of tasty food.

Tilly was allowed out to say goodbye to her trees whilst we had breakfast, then when she returned we headed out to Lidl and Sainsbury's. We wanted a shop to keep us going for a few days until we find a suitable spot for a big delivery to use our triple points voucher. Maybe Sainsbury's has won though as we got another identical voucher today! 

Our route to the shops and back took us past the old cinema that was featured in Grand Designs a few years ago.





What had been left to decay after being a cinema, nightclub etc had been bought by a couple in 2011. The facade was kept and the rear of the building replaced with a modern building with an aircraft hanger type door leading into the large garden. We watched the programme the other day. 
I took a photo back in 2015 when we passed through, today I took another to compare it. It could do with a bit of TLC on the original facade, might only need a good clean.

Once our purchases were stowed we put on our layers and pushed off. Whilst we'd had our cuppa in bed this morning eight fishermen had passed us with their heavily laden trolleys. They were all set up just around the bend, a 'Grumble' of Fishermen. At least some of them acknowledged our existence as we passed.

Scarborough is of course in the opposite direction

Under the M18, just over an hours drive from Scarborough on our preferred route over the Wolds to the south. We always look down as we pass over the bridge just in case a boat is passing.

New houses at Stainforth

The only visible hills in this flat landscape are mounds of slag, the remnants of the mining industry that once used to dominate this part of Yorkshire. Hatfield Main Colliery was at Stainforth's centre for around 80 years. It was in full operation from 1921 to 2001. It reopened in 2006 but finally closed in July 2015 when the shafts were filled. New houses are now being built, expanding the village as a commuter settlement.

An odd house

Along the canal near Bramwith Swing Bridge there were a couple of houses for sale. One looked like there might be enough room to moor a 58ft boat at the bottom of the garden. Looking it up later we were surprised at the price for a five bedroom house. The photos were a touch confusing as there seemed to be several kitchens. The floor plans gave us a clue, the original house has had extension after extension. Two staircases, one leading to an upstairs lounge and kitchen, with no access to any of the rest of the floor. One bedroom on the ground floor would take you half an hour to reach from the front door and the ground floor kitchen would need sorting as the fridge cooker sink triangle had a wall in the way! It is a lot of a house for £300,000!

River to the left, then canal and swing bridge
Bramwith Swing Bridge gave me the opportunity to hold plenty of cars up and to see just how close the diverted River Don is to the canal. We paused to fill with water, the tap being slow we had lunch as the tank filled before carrying on to the lock. 

Bramwith Lock

The lock is the last manually operated small lock until we reach Rotherham. A fisherman kindly helped me with the gates, the beams have had extensions added to them as they are so heavy.

Not many trees but a bank of friendly cover

Once up the lock we battled against the lowering sun for a short while turning left at Bramwith Junction and pulling in where the water is wide and there are good views all round. We didn't really pull in, the last puffs from Storm  Eric pushed us to the side and pinned us there. All Mick had to do was put Oleanna into neutral and let her drift to the side. Eric carried on buffeting us about for a while, but gave up during the evening.

1 lock, 4.71 miles, 1 swing bridge holding up 5, 5 nonsensical bedrooms, M18, 1 river 10ft away, 1 full water tank, 1.5 hours of good quality friendly cover, 3 friends.

Monday, 11 February 2019

The Thorne Visitor


Eric had waited for nightfall, but really wasn't all that impressive. Maybe our mooring was sheltered, but we'd been expecting much worse. Sideways rain and being buffeted about had been our expectations, but it passed over with a few huffs and puffs and a couple of small showers.

Tilly checking the top of Micks head had been cut

Time for a haircut. Mick got a set of new clippers at Christmas. The attachments are numerous, ears, noses, beards and hair. The shortest one for hair is a little bit longer than I used to use so Mick isn't quite such a skinhead as normal. It was nice to have sharp clippers again, those awkward thin bits (yes he has a few left on top) were a lot easier to cope with today. As the clippers buzzed away Tilly kept an eye on us and the towpath from up high.

Mick, Nick and Me

This afternoon we had Nick Lane to visit. Nick is a writer, director, actor and a jolly lovely man who I know from my days working at Hull Truck. He arrived early, well he only lives around the corner! For those who know Nick this is a rarity but it meant we got to spend more time with him. We had a lovely catch up talking boats, plays, friends, windows, knights and Thorne. 

Nick is being kept busy with various projects up and down the country. His kids Christmas plays have been going down a storm in Scarborough the last few years and he's been commissioned to do an adaptation of Treasure Island this year.

Christmas Office Party

I designed a few of his Christmas shows at Hull Truck when there used to be an adult show playing in the evening with a kids show on the same set during the day. An Italian restaurant became a town square for an actors troupe to tell the story of Pinocchio. A modern  warehouse office became various locations to tell A Christmas Carol. All good bonkers fun. 


It was so lovely to see him and be able to spend some time catching up.

Tilly, you're out of focus!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Saturday paper, 3rd ball yarn nearly used, 9mm not grade 3, 1 cat taking up residency in the trees here, 1 fake knight, 1 Nick, 23567 memories, 2 portions of Nick Lane beef stew, 1 photo bomb.