Wednesday, 14 November 2018

A Parliamentary Train Ride

12th and 13th November

Monday 12th.
Pip headed off back to Chipping Norton on the 08:55 bus. Oleanna was getting short of water. The nearest water point is at the residential moorings next to Isis Lock. From a visiting boater’s point of view this is easiest to get to from the lock landing on the Sheepwash Channel below the lock. Officially this is EA water as it is a part of the Thames but I didn’t think anyone would mind me being there. So I untied the ropes and reversed back to upper lock landing, tied up, filled the lock, reversed in to the lock then emptied the lock and reversed out onto the pontoon lock landing. The washing machine had been on and after I had started the hose going it was just finishing a cycle. So I started another load whilst filling the tank. An hour or so later the tank was full and the washing machine was into it’s second rinse so I headed back into the lock and went back up onto the CRT waters of the Oxford Canal. The mooring spot I had left a couple of hours earlier was still vacant (there’s not much traffic around at the moment)  so I tied back up there. It’ll do for another few days.


Tuesday 13th
I’ve been on another day trip to London. I was born and brought up in Ealing in West London (not far from the Hanwell Flight of locks) but left the area 28 years ago. So with a bit of time on my hands I thought I’d have a little trip down memory lane. But to get there I went on a bit of a roundabout route.
If you are a train operating company and want to close a bit of railway line or a station you have to go through a long, complicated and expensive procedure involving parliamentary approval. So often a train company won’t actually close the line but instead run an infrequent service, sometimes once a week in one direction only, sometimes once a day. For example don’t moor at Polesworth on the Coventry Canal expecting to be able to catch a train from the nearby railway station. The only train of the day there departs at 07:23 and there is no return service. There are quite a few of these services dotted around the country and they are known as “Parliamentary” services (because running the service is required by the original Act of Parliament when the railway was built). One of these services is in London: the once daily Chiltern Railways train from South Ruislip to London Paddington. Most services from South Ruislip go to London Marylebone but this service heads off down a railway equivalent of a backwater via Northolt, Greenford, Park Royal and North Acton to join the Great Western mainline at Old Oak Common and thence onto Paddington. So I caught a Chiltern Railways train from Oxford to High Wycombe, changing there onto a train that stopped at South Ruislip. At South Ruislip the “Parley” was waiting on another platform. There was one other passenger on the train and the driver checked with us both that we really wanted to go to Paddington. It was a very interesting ride, running alongside the Central tube line for some of the way. The track is formed of old jointed rails, it’s not often these days that you hear the clickety clack noise of trains passing over un-welded joints. Trees and bushes lean over the tracks and the train passes through a narrowing leafy corridor. We go slowly, no more than 20 mph, I suspect due to the leaves on the line and the fact we are the first train of the day to head this way therefore the track might be slippery. But all too soon we are onto the Paddington Main Line and it feels like we are allowed to sneak unnoticed into platform 14 which is tucked away in a little corner on the far side of the big terminal station. All in all a very enjoyable 25 minutes of train travel. Sorry, I didn’t take any photos, I wanted to enjoy the moment. If you are interested someone else has posted a Youtube video of their trip on this line here . Incidentally if you feel excited about this and want to experience it yourself you'll have to do so before 7th December. After that day the line closes due to HS2 construction work. Presumably there is parliamentary approval for this! Or maybe HS2 is going to follow the route albeit underground so will count as a train service?

After that excitement I caught a normal train out to West Ealing. This was my old stomping ground.
Here is the house I was born and grew up in. It’s the semi on the left. I lived in this house until I was 22.
8 Chester Gardens

And here is the Back Lane entrance to the garage.

The Back Lane

Just up the road I came across this from the days when the local authority provided everything.

Most of the shops have changed completely, except this one where I spent many happy hours in the past.


It is still trading and still has a wonderful array of electrical stuff in the window. Many of the pubs have changed names or no longer exist. Most of the bus route numbers are un-recognisable, I mean who ever heard of a 427, a 483 or even an E11?  But Ealing still seems to be a busy vibrant place with lots going on.
After a couple of hours of strolling around Memory Lane it was back to Paddington to catch a train back to Oxford. This train took the more normal route via Slough, Reading and Didcot.

0.14 miles in reverse, 0.14 miles forwards, 2 locks (or the same lock twice). 1 full water tank, 2 loads of washing. 3 standard trains, 1 Parliamentary train. 1 excited cat, 1 cat bored again.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Panto Postcard 3.

73 hours
Another hard week in Chipping Norton.
43985334_571804373252647_5229978262691706604_nI was on an earlyish bus back after a mile or so walk to the best bus stop, right outside Scottish and Southern Electric where a small compact thatched cottage sits beneath the pylons. I managed to get the front seat on the top deck and got good views through Woodstock and past the gates of Blenheim Palace. One of my design projects when I was at college used the Marlborough Tapestries, so a visit to the palace to see them is a must whilst we are in the area.
Chris the carpenter/dep production manager joined us again on Monday morning. There was a log list of jobs for him to work through, problem solving and hanging various things in the flies above the actors heads that needed to be done by someone competent.
44419995_281543992488676_746453623147304176_nMy printed cloth was hung by the time I arrived and it certainly was worth the money. The blues glow wonderfully when back lit for scene changes and it’s fluid movement across stage is wonderful. I wish we’d now had the money to do the same with the backdrop. The painting on this is okay, but in my mind too much paint was applied making it a bit crusty, so when it was folded (should have been rolled!) the paint cracked leaving lines. These would be excellent if you wanted the effect of a folded paper map!
The reaction to my painted floor was wonderful. The Pippins (local kids) were amazed and one lead actor went out of his way to thank me for painting them such a lovely floor, not often this happens.
IMG_20181110_105936275smMark (Lighting Designer) and Jon (Sound Designer) joined us this week, so as jobs on the set were being done, they focused and plotted their black things that have plugs on them and took up residence in the stalls with lighting boards and sound desks. Chris and I managed to get to various bits and bobs whilst scenes were set to be lit. Scene change rehearsals took place, each attempt getting quicker. I spent quite some time this week sticking felt onto the bottom of pieces of set so that they could be slid along the floor rather than carried, saving peoples backs and hopefully some time, but making me a touch high on fumes in the process.
IMG_20181110_123425820_HDRsmThe curtains I’d made from a previous panto went up surprisingly well. I did think that this would be the moment when I’d prove to myself that I really should never use a sewing machine, but by fluke they hung rather well, just in need of a good steam to help the creases drop.
On Wednesday my phone decided it didn’t want to turn on fully. It would try but then give up and shut down. A message was sent to Mick via another phone to his email, telling him I’d see him on Saturday. My next concern was not being able to tell the time, or have an alarm clock. A hunt round Chippy ensued, at Gills (they have everything) hardware shop I got a small travel alarm clock which would see me through. The world of the internet could wait. However Mick dug out an old phone, got it set up for me to use and brought it to Chippy that day arriving perfectly timed with the actors vacating the stage. A quick hand over was done and I had to leave Mick to enjoy a pint in the Fullers pub next door as I got on with work.
IMG_20181109_105803388smIMG_20181109_141220966smIMG_20181109_150722904smTechnical rehearsals took over. This is when all the elements of the show are put together, tried, retried until it all works well. If things weren’t fully finished it didn’t matter just so long as there was something in it’s place to use. Virtually all the set and props were ready, but there were a few gaps on the costume front as alterations were being made. A few frayed nerves from the crew as set changes were worked. The gaps when I could get onto stage to do jobs got fewer as the week continued. Sitting in a seat taking notes meant that my knees started to cease up a touch, so the steps on and off stage I’m now doing sideways as this is easier.
P1430105smDuring the daytime we’d tech in the main acting company, getting as far into the show as we could. Then at 4pm the stage would be reset to go over the sections that the Pippins were in. As there are three teams of kids this meant having to go through the sections at least three times, each team cheering when it became their turn.
With the show worked through in detail the first Dress Rehearsal was upon us on Saturday morning. Gemma the Production Manager was back with us, a few things sorted out before we started. The house lights dimmed and the show began. The dress went well, a few blips, like several of the Dames quick changes were late (an S.E.P.), a few cues for the crew missed and one set change not quite finished in time.
IMG_20181110_174237163smTechnical notes were given out and most people then headed off their separate ways, leaving Gemma and myself with the set to get bits finished. During Tech week there may be breaks, but few are long enough for paint to fully dry before floaty costumes come back onto stage. So with a big list and everything accessible we worked for several hours. Some jobs took a matter of a minute, others an hour. But the majority of jobs were completed, the set left everywhere to dry and I was out of the building in time to catch the 6pm bus back to the boat.
Meanwhile back on NB Oleanna.
On Monday Mick had decided to carry on into Oxford on his own. At Drinkwater Bridge a local boater helped him, at the next really awkward bridge a passing cyclist paused to hold the bridge open and then the last bridge he had to manage on his own, but this one would rather stay open for boat traffic anyway. He made his way down to Jericho. He passed one boat on the 7 days mooring, nobody at the quiet mooring (this is 2 days only all year) and then found everyone. They were all near College Cruisers. One gap showed itself before the lock, so he went down onto the river turned and headed back to the gap. The very end of the arm was also full.
For a few nights he endured the trains passing, but when spaces emptied towards the quieter end of the moorings he backed up and settled down.
Trees! But far far too many people. At least this Oxford has a good playground for me, far better than Chester. Tom seems to like to keep the back doors closed now, maybe there is no need for extra crew at the moment.
IMG_20181106_135251869smMick had a day trip into London to see what was happening in the various places he’d worked last century. He also visited the Tate Modern to see some of Christian Marclay’s The Clock. A 24 hour long installation of a montage of thousands of film and tv images of clocks which have been edited together to show the real time. He’d like to go back and watch for longer.
He has also been working on our laptop. This had become very sluggish. Each week I have received various parcels in Chippy which have been bits to help sort out the laptop. So this week he has replaced the hard drive with a SSD Drive. This took quite a bit of doing, having to clone the old disc and all sorts of computer stuff. So far, as I type this, it has done the job. The laptop is quick and no longer sits scratching it’s head pondering on what it has just been asked to do. My typing skills also seem to have improved.
P1430115sm5 locks, 1 of them twice, 4.38 miles, 3 lift bridges, 2 assisted with, 1 full water tank, S3 bus four times, 5 tech sessions, 1st dress, 1 short day, 36 hrs hopefully at home, 1 high tailed cat.

Monday, 5 November 2018

2 Minds! 4th November

Thrupp to Kidlington Green Lock

I’m in two minds.

P1430088sm1 mind

It’s really rather great to have her back. It means that I get someone nice and comfy to sleep against in the middle of the night, instead of Tom who isn’t appreciative of my extra warmth. I get to hear my name being called out along the towpaths of England and Wales (I like the sound of my name). And I get extra Dreamies and the odd head nudge too, Tom doesn’t do these.

2 my other mind

I won’t get to stay out for quite as long as I like! She closes the door so I can’t go back out before it’s even dark (Tom sometimes does this too). She’s not so easy to get passed with friends when I bring them home.

But for the moment I think I like it better when she’s home in the same outside as us. Not the chippy one she keeps going on about.

P1430092smToday they have swapped outsides in the rain, tying one up which has a very muddy field alongside. I’ve had great fun digging it up for the farmer.

This week Tom has been moving the outside by himself again. I keep offering to lend a paw but he keeps refusing. I even brought home a new member of crew to help out but he didn’t seem too pleased at the idea and spent ages finding it to just leave in the outside!

IMG_20181101_095310382_HDRsmApparently the other day, when the outside was the big meadow with all the cows that walk for miles that way and then miles the other way only to change their minds and walk back again, Oleanna completed her 2000th mile. She is sad that she missed this milestone. I missed it too as I mustn’t have been looking out of the window at the time, I wonder if it was very big?!

I quite like this outside, but Tom thinks he might try to move us closer to Oxford on his own next week. She was a bit too pooped to move much outside today and didn’t want to be messing with those heavy bridges. Now if he’d kept that new crew member I’d brought home there would have been two of us to help with them. Instead he’ll just have to struggle whilst I watch from inside.

P1430097sm1 lock, 2.04 miles, 2013.25 miles in total, 1 rejected crew, 4 brown paws, 2 minds, 1 happy face.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Panto Postcard 2

65 hours
I seem to be finding energy that I must have been storing up over the last four years! Another long week in Panto land.
IMAG0690smThis week I’ve discovered treasure,
IMAG0669smIMAG0674smpainted the Eye Of Horus, carved fruit and veg, put up canopies, cut holes in things, knitted, IMAG0681smmounted Gods and the sun, held my tongue on several occasions and on others let it go.
I suspect that the camel that was around for filming on Monday would have been a better choice for the new assistant technician than the 18 year old that got the job. She has worked out her hourly rate and isn’t that impressed. For what she manages to achieve (which apparently is exhausting) she is being paid loads, especially after I worked out what my hourly rate is currently (I get a fee for the job). I’m already below minimum wage and there is still another two weeks to go!
IMAG0686smWill, the producer, has helped out quite a bit this week, bringing another brain onto stage and helping things progress. There is still a lot to do. But this coming week Chris the carpenter returns, so jobs will hopefully fly off the list. Come next Wednesday the technical rehearsals start. This is when the actors, lights, band, costumes, props and set all get put into the mix and made to work together. The advantage of the actors rehearsing on stage is that I already have a long list of things that need doing, just a shame that they tend to be in the way!
IMAG0694smYesterday there was a stagger through of the show, with breaks for the scene changes. Pages of notes were written, I just need to start crossing them off now.
One thing that has been crossed off is the floor. Last night I started to mark out for the artwork at 7pm. Touching up the days scuffs, I had all the painting done by midnight. A quick break for something to eat and then the first of two coats of glaze to protect it. Whilst waiting for that to dry I got a few moor things crossed off my list, the top coat of glaze was applied by 2am. It can now cure for a day before anyone walks on it.
IMAG0705smIMAG0709smMy next problem was trying to get to the boat. All the cab firms in Chipping Norton seemed to have closed up for the night. I tried and tried, considered ringing an Oxford firm, but in the end I headed back to my digs. My landlady thought I was going to be away until Monday, so I tried my best not to make any noise as I tip toed in fighting my way past the big curtained door. Pepper the cat certainly noticed me and was a bit put out when I ushered her out of my bedroom.
IMAG0712smA few hours sleep and I was awake to sneak out past the curtained door again and catch my own private bus to Langford Locks. Almost a mile walk and I was back in Thrupp where Oleanna sat, the stove alight and two cheery faces greeted me.
IMG_20181102_074149260_HDRsmDuring the week Mick has single handed Oleanna here to meet me. Tilly has made more friends, brought one home and now the back doors are most definitely closed when she is out. Coal Boat Dusty has delivered five bags of coal and a new gas bottle. Sadly what diesel they had was already spoken for. So yesterday Mick called in at Kingsground in Gibraltar, to top up the tank. Here he had a shock, at £1.15 a litre! No mention of a split and cash only. We just have to hope that the diesel hasn’t been sat around for too long.
IMG_20181101_095310382_HDRsmIMG_20181103_135036577smAt Shipton Weir Lock there were work boats, stop planks and fencing all awaiting the start of the closure there tomorrow. Come the morning Oleanna will be stuck south of the lock for the rest of the month.
P1430082smToday we’ll move closer to Oxford, but not into the city itself. An hours cruise will get Mick and the boat nearer civilisation for some shopping and me near to bus stops. The lift bridges can all wait for next weekend.
12 locks, 19.68 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 held up, 2 much work, 18 year old moaner, 1 slosh test, 3 stalls, 1 eye, 0 chilled medication (even though nobody would have known!), 5 long days, 3 holes, 2 heavy, 2 cumbersome, 1 floor painted, 2 coats glaze, 0 taxis, 1 friend, 1 lovely looking boat, 1 day at home, 1 tired but caring boater/designer.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Friends, Furniture, Canoes And A Camel. 28th 29th October

Albion Bridge 166 to Hennef Way to Sovereign Wharf to Tramway Road 168

P1430028smSince getting back to Oleanna Mick has been looking after me, especially on the food front. I’d not had chance to do a food shop when I got to Chipping Norton last week and ended up doing quick dashes to get enough food to keep me going and on some days I didn’t make good choices. So on Sunday morning Mick cooked up a full breakfast. Being near to a Morrisons meant that he was able to do a full gluten free breakfast too, including hash browns and black pudding. Morrisons seem to be outdoing all the other supermarkets on the GF front at the moment, a whole isle including a freezer section. The poached egg was up to scratch too.

I spent some of the day having a look around the charity shops that were open for various pieces of furniture for panto. One shop seemed to have just about everything I was after, but there were still more shops that were closed to check out. Mick made use of being near to a Gap Outlet to buy some new jeans as one of his trusty pairs has suddenly sprung a large hole on the leg.

P1430038smDecisions of where to be over the next few weeks, then into December and possible plans for Christmas had to be discussed this weekend. I know it’s still quite a way away, but with C&RT starting their winter maintenance in a week and closing locks we have to plan ahead somewhat. Did we want a city or countryside? For the next three weeks transport links are important so that played a big part in our decision. We made our minds up and decided to move today, mainly so that Tilly could get a bit of freedom, although I think she seems to be getting away with a lot whilst I’m not on board!

We pushed off and headed up to Banbury Lock. A boat coming down asked how far we were planning on going as they’d just sat for an hour and a half waiting for canoes to go past before they could push off from their mooring. Not far we answered, but we soon realised not far was too far!

P1430040smThrough the lift bridge I climbed back on board and up ahead by Tom Rolt Bridge we could see several canoes. At first it didn’t seem to be anything special, but then as we got closer it became obvious that the bridge was being used as a finishing line for a race. More and more and more canoes came along at speed, our bow rose and fell with the swell they were all creating. As we got to the bridge there seemed to be no marshals on hand, nobody said we should wait. Mick made contact with a chap who had to stand to read a number of a canoe as we passed. He suggested that there was maybe around another fifty boats heading our way, but carry on and they would avoid us! So we did.

We should have counted them, then we’d have had some idea how many more were coming. Just when we thought there had been a long gap a few more appeared around a bend ahead. We crept along having to tread water on approaching a narrow bridge hole to let canoes through. All we wanted to do was wind, but they just kept coming, so we carried on to the second winding hole. One chap said that he was the final one, but a minute later another paddled into view. Do canoe races have the equivalent of a broom wagon from a cycling race?

Just as Mick had tucked Oleanna’s bow into the winding hole another canoeist came into view, he also thought that he was the last. So Mick battled with the silted up winding hole and managed to turn Oleanna. At last we were heading southwards again. Cruising back into town we decided to pull in opposite Sovereign Wharf. A park and trees alongside would be a good place for Tilly for a few hours before it got dark. Ground rules and time stated, she went out, returning frequently for a few Dreamies.

P1430047smShortly before 5pm she returned through the chink in the back doors and proceeded to stare at the bottom of the dishwasher. Hang on, that’s not normal. She went from one side to the other staring. Well it was chilly outside today, so I thought I’d bring my friend home to play with. Only downside was my friend could get into gaps only my paw could reach so far. Bloomin cat!

At least it meant that we got to see where all our plumbing goes under the sink and to the dishwasher! Mick laid a friendly trap, with a treat of peanut butter, under the galley floor whilst Tilly was out of the way. We then waited, so did Tilly. My friend moved from one side of the boat to the other, under the floor. I kept a beady eye on it, even though it was out of view. Eventually the mouse plucked up courage to make a run for it, heading straight through a gap under our pull out corner cupboard. From here it could only go one of two ways and we waited for it to appear, tupperware at the ready. It didn’t take long and soon the mouse was being repatriated to the outside world whilst Tilly kept our bed warm.

P1430058smThis morning I went to check out the charity shops that were closed yesterday and found a few better options. It was also a good job I’d waited an extra day as the best chars I’d seen yesterday had been reduced by £10 each overnight, result! Everything just needs collecting now. Later on in the day I found out that the Producer has a van tomorrow so will pick me and the furniture up on his way back from Oxford. Perfect as I want to take my sewing machine back with me.

Mick was keen to get back down below Bunbury Lock so that I could help him through the lift bridge. Just as we approached we spotted a face we recognised, Kate Saffin from Alarum Theatre Company and a doyen of composting toilets, her boat was getting a service at Tooleys.

P1430063smWorking our way down through the lock a hire boat appeared below and the crew came up to have a look. This would be their second lock ever and they were nervous, wondering if when they’d finished going up that they should leave the lock empty. We pulled onto the water point and started to fill our tank when the chap asked if I’d lend a hand with the lock. Windlass in hand I helped them up and showed them how to lift the bridge as a local gongoozler asked them questions they had no idea about.

We pootled on to Tramway where there was space for us and then popped into Morrisons for some shopping. Tilly wasn’t too impressed as here she wasn’t allowed out. I’m sure tomorrow she’ll have Mick wrapped around her paw again and be out till all hours!

This week Mick will move Oleanna southwards, aiming to be through Shipton Weir Lock before it closes next Monday. It will reopen after I’ve finished work so as long as we are through Dukes Lock before the 26th November we should be able to slowly but gradually make our way northwards again as the winter stoppages reopen in front of us. Hopefully arriving at Napton as they reopen the lock that is being rebuilt in time for us to find somewhere good to be for Christmas.

chippy camel

2 locks, 1 twice, 2.14 miles, 1 wind, 255673 canoes, 1 furry friend brought in from the cold, 2 days not quite off, 2 days at home, 4 chairs, 3 tables, 1 sewing machine needed, 1 lift tomorrow, 6 portions of bolognaise, 0 freezer space, 1 missed camel.

PS for Joa, sorry I’ve not got round to replying to your email. My brothers would be fine, or Chipping Norton Theatre before the 14th November.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Panto Postcard 1

67 hours

IMAG0614smIt has been a busy week in Chipping Norton, I think my body has started to remember what it’s like to paint for eleven hours a day! In the past I occasionally did more.

P1420976smP1420979smMonday was read through day. A van with the major bits of set was being off loaded when I arrived at the theatre and despite there being very tight access into the building everything fitted. Phew! A meet and greet with the company before we all sat down to see what the script sounded like, followed by a model showing with a difference.

Normally everyone gathers round the model box and I do my best to show them how the show will work without knocking too many things over with shacky hands. However today I showed the company photos of the model. When Gemma and I had visited Plymouth all the bits of model that the builders were building were there but the box with the painted floor had gone missing. Process of elimination suggested that Gemma had left it a few weeks ago in Guildford. Calls were made but there was no sign of the model. Luckily I’d taken photos  so the theatre had printed them out. I decided to show how one piece of the model would work so went to find it amongst all the bits and bobs. The chaps from Plymouth brought out a big box, inside was my shoe box of bits sitting inside the model box, that we’d assumed was missing forever. It would take too long to put it all back together so the photos had to do.

P1420986smThe rest of the day was spent putting things together on stage and finding space for everything in the wings. The base of the Gin Palace had to be cut out making it no longer water tight but manoeuvrable by the actors. Once the builds from Plymouth had been checked we retired to the pub for some food and maybe a touch too much wine.

Tuesday the set was joined by more things that Chris had built in Bristol. A section of the auditorium was cleared to make it into a carpentry shop for more bits to be built. I drew things out and Chris would then jigsaw them out before a coat of white paint was applied. All the time we could hear songs echoing  down the staircases from rehearsals going on elsewhere in the building. Everything existed in one form or another now apart from the main stage set. Due to budget cuts we were planning to reuse old flats that the theatre had, recover them in canvas for me to paint. For this we needed quite a bit of canvas, which hadn’t arrived. We managed to fill the time well and a long day was put in by all.

P1420991smWednesday. The last day before rehearsals started on stage. Usually  whilst rehearsals for a show are taking place in a rehearsal room the set is being built elsewhere. There is then what is called a fit-up when the set is put on stage, completed and the lighting and sound are added before the actors join for the technical rehearsal. In Chipping Norton however they don’t really have anywhere big enough to rehearse other than the stage. In previous years the set has been fitted up the week before rehearsals start and then finished off when possible. Time was ticking on and still the canvas hadn’t arrived. Phone calls had been made, Chris and Gemma were due to be elsewhere on Thursday. Just as we were trying to work when and where the flats could be done a lady appeared and patiently waited for a gap in conversation. ‘A delivery from Macdougals’ Bloomin brilliant! You have never seen so many people so pleased to see a large roll of fabric before.

IMAG0631smP1420996smChris covered each flat, which then was primed by me before being positioned out of the way so the next one could be done. One set of flats were put up on stage the other taken into the auditorium for me to paint on Thursday.

P1430017smThursday, Friday and Saturday I spent painting away. I’m so glad I’d cut templates out as this saved me hours of drawing. Having a paintshop in the auditorium has meant that I am nearly word perfect with most of the songs for Act 1 and I know some of the dance routines too. Being on hand for questions has been good as I could see how things were being used by the actors, well when I had my glasses on. The portals gradually came together and I managed to time completing parts with breaks in rehearsals so that things could be moved around without too much disturbance.

P1430023smMy two crew worked hard hauling bits up and fixing them together as they were finished. The last section requiring all three of us, pulling, pushing and  screwing them together with just enough time for me to catch the last bus to Banbury. Having to return the theatre to normality for films on Sunday gave us added impetus.


My digs are close to the theatre, I have a bathroom all to myself, which has a bath. This and my room together most probably equal the full size of Oleanna. There is also a very friendly old cat called Pepper who can open my bedroom door if I don’t lock it. She is persuasive when it comes to being stroked and will tap me on the nose to get my attention, especially when I am asleep.

P1430010sm67 hours, 2 portals, 3 days late, 8 colours, 1 quiet painter, 7 actors, 12 pippins, 5 minutes spare, 2 much still to do next week, 2 days off to recharge the batteries.