Handover 30th June 2017

After a week and a day of Lillian being on the ABNB website we had an offer come in, a little under the asking price, but a very reasonable offer. By the end of the day we had accepted it. Everyone then had to wait until after Crick Boat Show for her to have a survey done. The prospective purchasers then wanted to come and have another look after they’d heard from the surveyor.

Viv from ABNB rang us that day to arrange the completion of the sale. This was to be a few weeks away, which meant that we would be able to cruise Oleanna back up to Crick to be able to do a handover with her new owners.

P1060718smAt just gone 2pm today we climbed aboard our yellow boat for the last time. We opened up all the doors and side hatch to let some fresh air in. Wiped away some huge cobwebs where the spiders had collected quite a feast on the stern. She started up straight away, as ever.

Tim arrived first with George their Alsatian, Pah a woofer, on my boat! Elizabeth followed soon afterwards. We gave them a full walk through, Mick concentrating on the technical aspects and me on the more homely side of things like washing of curtains. Gosh there seemed to be a lot to take in and we were there for what felt like hours, but hopefully everything will be useful to them.

We locked her back up and said farewell for the last time before heading back over to the office to do the paperwork. A few signatures and bank details were dealt with and the final thing to do was a hand shake and hand over Lillian’s keys to her new owners.

Lillian has been a great home to us and served us well. Elizabeth and Tim are moving her to a marina in the area and will use her for weekends and holidays exploring this part of the country. She may move further north in years to come. Suspect she’s going to have a bit of a rest from her life with us. It was lovely to be able to meet up with her new owners and we wish them a happy bright yellow future with her. If you see them please give them a wave and say hello, they are a lovely couple.

P1060724smSo the final thing to do here on Lillian’s blog is give her final statistics for her travels with us.

From 9th June 2014 to the 30th June 2017 she has travelled

Total distance is 3470 miles, 5 1/2 furlongs and 2366 locks. There are at least 253 moveable bridges of which 34 is usually left open; 736 small aqueducts or underbridges and 88 tunnels and 12 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 1226 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 1294 miles, 4 1/2 furlongs of broad canals; 224 miles, 1/4 furlongs of commercial waterways; 260 miles, 6¼  furlongs of large rivers, 264 miles, 6 ¾  furlongs of small rivers; 182 miles, 7 1/2 furlong of tidal rivers; 17 miles of seaways; 1047 narrow locks; 1175 broad locks (4 of which were done backwards); 141 large locks; 3 locks on major waterways.

Engine Hours 3977.1.

988 blog posts, 1 boat, 2 new owners, 2 big grins,1 large woofer! 

Our cruising blog is now at www.oleanna.co.uk

Lillian Has Left Lillyanne. 3rd May

Crick Marina to ABNB

IMAG3392smOver the last week we have been very busy moving boats. Crick Marina has been very good to us allowing us to moor both boats side by side which has made the move a lot easier.

Once everything was off Lillian we then gave her a thorough clean, inside and out. Long days, lots of washing of ceilings and walls and all the soft furnishings have had a wash too.

Mick busied himself with the engine bay and polishing the brass (not a job he will miss, not that he did it that often!).

IMAG3377smP1020710smLast Saturday we took Lillian out to Cracks Hill, Leaving me behind with all the unpacking to do!  We thought she deserved one last short cruise with us and it was a good location to paint her gunnels for the last time. I was glad of the hard work I’d put in back in September as they only needed a quick sand and a coat of multiforte to look good again, a blank canvas for her new owners.

P1020752smP1020747smP1020776smP1020780smP1020786smWe had spent a week emptying and cleaning her only to take some things back to dress her as yesterday morning Justin from ABNB came to check her vital statistics and take photos for their brochure that they will produce to market her. We then moved her onto the pump out for a very good rinse and her final pooh sucky machine with us. I was even allowed to flush the loo seven times in a row helping to fill the tank before a final rinse through.

P1020736smP1020745smThen after the long photos were taken of her we pulled her out of the marina, turned left, then second left to put her onto the ABNB brokerage moorings where she will now sit until she is sold. Unfortunately her details won’t be added to their website for another week, but if anyone is interested in a reverse layout 59ft 6inch boat that just happens to be yellow they will happily show them round.

P1020820smP1020824smToday we have been on board to remove the last of the dressing. ABNB would have liked us to have left her dressed, but we don’t have spare anything living on a boat, so if you happen to view her the duvet isn’t ours. The final thing to do was remove the picture of my Mum, Lillian (Lil to those who knew her), who has been watching over us as we travelled for the last three years. Thank you Lillyanne for giving us a wonderful three years afloat.

P1020764sm0 locks, 0.3 miles, 1 pooh sucky machine, 7 flushes, 1 hippo back at the helm, 1 Lillian taken down, 2 sad boaters.

1 NB Lillyanne FOR SALE


When Old Meets New. 25th April

Cracks Hill to Crick Marina

P1020682smBefore moving off this morning we knew we’d have to give Oleanna a quick tidy and sweep through as she’d be on show as soon as we reached Crick. The sun was shining but boy was it chilly, a beautiful winters day for April. We wound our way round towards the marina on our shortest cruise yet, just over half a mile.

P1020685smOur friend Lizzie was on NB Panda waiting for us to arrive with Him and Her (two of the marina residents) so we had a welcoming committee as we came round the last bend. We did however think that she could have made more of an effort, still in her dressing gown at nearly midday! She is recovering from an operation so she has special dispensation.

P1020688smWe knew were we were heading with Oleanna as they have allowed us to pull alongside Lillian for the next week. She is blocking in a couple of boats further up the pontoon but they are unlikely to be moving whilst we are here, but if they do we’ll gladly move. Mick brought her in very gently into the tight gap and I tied the front rope for the first time after passing it around Lillian’s T stud. Our old and new boats were at last together. A very strange feeling, one yellow very much loved home for the last three years and the new already feeling like home sat next to her. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve found ourselves starting to refer to Lillian as Lillyanne, something we haven’t done since 2014.

Andy and Irene from NB Kamili next door were about so we had a catch up with them and gave them a guided tour. Lovely to see them again, I suspect later in the week we’ll be meeting at the pub for a drink or two.

P1020696smThe next few days we’ll be moving the rest of our possessions over and giving Lillian a good clean. Today we’ve emptied the bedroom and the bathroom, apart from the obstinate bike in the wardrobe! All the outside lockers are empty too. I so hope we’ve got enough space for everything, well if not we’ll just have to downsize. Mick’s wardrobe will certainly have to reduce as I’ve filled all my cupboard space and he’s got less on his side of the bed.

A phone call to ABNB has put the ball in motion for Lillian to go on the market. Some sprucing up needs to be done and make her look homely for a photo call in a weeks time.

Lizzie has been round in between snow and hail storms for an internal inspection. Oleanna, we are glad to say has passed with flying colours, especially the cooker.

We are going to be busy over the next few days with our shoe horns and polishing cloths, so there may not be time for blog posts and the internet round here hasn’t improved! Today is the last of the dual posts between blogs. This blog will get updated as and when things happen with Lillian’s sale, but there will be no more cruising posts on this blog.

P1020694smDSCF7114sm0 locks, 0.53 miles, 1 quick tidy, 1st night with the stove going, 1 imprisoned Tilly again! 1 welcoming committee, 8ft for Oleanna, 1 new, 1 old, 2 lovely next door neighbours, 150 watts solar, 4 Ikea bags full of clothes, 1 big bathroom cupboard into 1 little one, 2 many clothes, 2 many shoes, 6 new cupboards explored, 6 snow showers, 3 piece suite up for grabs, 2 mattresses also, 1 Yellow boat preparing for new owners.

Our cruising blog is now at NB Oleanna.

Time to Slow Down. 24th April

Houdini’s Field to Cracks Hill

Even Tilly was tired this morning so we allowed ourselves a cuppa in bed after a bit of a lie in. No point in rushing anywhere as we were now only about 5 miles away from Crick Marina. So after breakfast we pushed off and wound our way along the pound.

P1020631smThe wood that had been so full of Blackthorn blossom a month ago is now lush green everywhere, it’s hard to see the trunks of trees. The rapeseed fields that were just starting to show their colour are now vibrant Lillian yellow. Compared to yesterday it was a grey day and chilly too.

P1020638smYelvertoft Slipway was a hive of activity. A lady was stood holding onto a green centre line of a boat that was out of the water. It took my slow brain a little while to understand why she was holding onto a boat on dry land, it was about to go back in the water after being blacked. They must be doing a roaring trade, with about eight boats out on hard standing, wonder how much they charge to go in and out?

P1020643smOn the last couple of bends it started to rain and by the time we’d pulled in it was seriously raining. So once moored up for the day there were two things that needed to happen. 1 light the stove, 2 let Tilly out to enjoy the rain, which she did.

P1020657smAfter a couple of hours I called her in and she came running back to Oleanna and had a good walk along the gunnels (the clean side!) followed by an explore onto the roof (the dirty side). Another couple of jaunts on shore and she returned by herself. Sadly over the next few days she will have to be kept in again as tomorrow we’ll be mooring alongside Lillian and we don’t want Tilly to get confused as to which boat home is.

This afternoon we’ve complied a new snagging list for Finesse and emailed it through to them. I tried printing out forms to apply for proxy votes for the General Election, but ran out of paper, we only brought a few sheets and more progress has been made on my illustrations. I need to scan it before I ink it in and then colour it, this can wait till tomorrow when I scan our proxy forms too.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 4.29 miles, 2 stealth number checkers,  0 blackthorn, 2 familiar faces, 1 full water tank, 1derful rain, 3 excursions, 4 muddy paws, 1 snagging list, 3 mooring suspension signs, 3 attempts to print out, 2 better sketches, 3 pink soiled nappies.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s blog.

In a few days time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog and NB Lillyanne’s blog will only be updated when something significant happens. So if you would like to continue to follow our travels please click to follow Oleanna.


Don’t Mind Us! 23rd April

Bridge 63 to Houdini’s Field

P1020526smAnother early start today to try to beat the crowds of gongoozlers at Foxton. Shortly before we pulled out a boat passed us heading towards the locks, this would mean a short wait before we’d be able to follow them up the staircase. We pulled through Rainbow Bridge and tied up on the confused mooring to wait our turn. Mick walked up the flight to find the Lock Keeper to check in and see when we’d be on our way. He didn’t have far to go as the Lockie was on his way down with a boat.

IMG_20170423_090054392smAfter half an hour two boats had come down the staircase and the boat ahead was on their way up. Today I decided to have a go at working the locks. They are narrow and all but two gates are double so they are easy to open and close, the paddles are easy too. We started at the bottom of the flight at 9.30 and gradually worked our way up. Red before White and you’ll be alright.

P1020535smOther boaters were arriving and checking in. The boat ahead of us had passed the middle pound where boats heading up and down the flight can pass one boat going in the opposite direction, other than that there is no passing possible. One boat behind us was allowed to start her ascent but would then wait in the middle pound for the boats that would be coming down to pass.

IMG_20170423_093803927smP1020543smNow gongoozlers started to arrive, but luckily not too many. I can understand their interest, but when you constantly have to ask them to step aside so that you can see your boat, to get out of the way otherwise you’ll push them in with a lock beam, along with all the questions you get asked it gets a bit much. But I only had two daft questions today.

The noise of a thousand wasps started to get close, looking up there was a drone heading up the flight filming as it went. There turned out to be two of them. Not only was it noisy in an annoying way, neither of us wanted to be filmed by someone. One chap said to Mick ‘Smile!’. But Mick replied with that he didn’t think they were allowed to fly drones over people, so the chap moved it over to one of the side ponds. The boat ahead asked the Lockies what the situation was as they weren’t happy either, as it hadn’t happened before at Foxton they didn’t know but did make a few phone calls. It being a Sunday I suspect they didn’t manage to get an answer.

P1020555smAt the top two ladies waiting to come down helped open the last gate. The smell of bacon butties was very enticing, but not for us today. It had taken us just under 45 minutes to do both staircases in the sunshine and despite the drones it had been great to be back working the locks.

P1020583smOn we pootled in the sun shine. We very quickly noticed that we were back in the land of many boaters. As we approached moored boats another one would be heading towards us. Mick slowed down as we really don’t want to have scratch marks from trees on our newly painted cabin sides and let the others go past first. At Husbands Bosworth Tunnel we were lucky as no-one came towards us and we had it all to ourselves.

P1020592smAt North Kilworth the new marina has progressed somewhat since we last passed. Masses of metal structures were in position for the pontoons and the skeletons of buildings  had gone up at one end of the site. It seems vast, mental note, once it’s opened don’t bother with Foxton or Watford on sunny weekends!

P1020602smP1020604smThere was a space with our name on it at Welford Junction so we pulled over for lunch. They lied, they said I’d be allowed out today, so they stop and tell me ‘Later’. Later means not enough time!! With the sun still out we continued on our way with the aim of reaching Houdini’s Field in time for a certain second mate to have plenty of time to climb trees and pounce on creatures smaller than herself for the first time in over two weeks.

P1020608smAs we rounded a bend there was a flurry of activity on a Canal Time hire boat ahead. They were obviously planning on pulling out, seen us and decided that they’d go for it rather than wait. If it was us or most boaters, we would have waited for the approaching boat to pass before pulling out. No, instead the stern was untied and started to drift out whilst a chap at the bow was frantically trying to untie it. In the end with what looked like a crush injury they managed to both be on the boat and a blast of full throttle pushed them away from the bank. As they moved off there was no wave back to us, just an occasional panicked look over their shoulders. They really should have waited!

P1020618smP1020614smWhen we arrived at Houdini’s Field there was one other boat moored with three lively dogs. Because I am a meanie I insist that the trip computer is turned off with our grid reference written down before Tilly is allowed shore leave. This is done with the hope that she won’t constantly ask to come out when we are cruising, this so far hasn’t worked! As I opened the back door, after the windows closing down music had been played the other boat pushed off. We had Houdini’s Field all to ourselves. This being the first time Tilly has had shore leave since moving onto Oleanna I stayed outside with her for a couple of hours. I busied myself with washing the starboard side whilst Mick tried to work out where the water is going from the central heating. I busied myself climbing trees, checking the hedge bottoms and best of all pouncing on Houdini Field Mice in the long grass. This was quite a sight, Tilly launching herself high into the air above the growing crop time after time after time. Here’s hoping we have a quiet night tonight.

P1020623smDSCF7114sm10 locks made up of 2 staircases of 5, 13.14 miles, 2 rights, 1 tunnel, 0 bacon butties (doctors orders), 0 chilled medication for breakfast (Mick’s orders), 2 annoying drones, 2 boats to leapfrog, 1 premature inflation, 1 panicked hire boat, 3 dogs, 1 desperate cat, 1 outside not changed for a month! 1/2 clean Oleanna, 1 fabulous field, 1 leaking radiator, 5 trees, 7 field mice, 1 coot, 1 slightly sore foot, 1 pooped Tilly.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s blog.

In a few days time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog and NB Lillyanne’s blog will only be updated when something significant happens. So if you would like to continue to follow our travels please click to follow Oleanna.

I’m ‘Avin This One! 22nd April

Kilby Bridge to Bridge 63, Foxton

P1020434smWe moved off as early as we could this morning after realising that we’d inadvertently moored in a winding hole last night. Across to the services where we disposed of rubbish, yellow water, and  topped up the water tank. A boat across the way asked if they should wait for us to do the locks, but we hadn’t had our breakfast yet so they headed off ahead of us.

P1020403smAt 10 am we moved off towards the locks, the last twelve broad locks before Foxton. When we arrived at Bumblebee Lock it looked like someone was emptying it. We were nearly right, it turned out to be a C&RT chap running water down to make up for there being a very low pound a mile down the cut. He suggested putting the kettle on, we’d only just finished a cuppa. After half an hour of sitting in the sunshine we were allowed up.

Some of the locks today were spaced closer together, close enough to walk between, others I had to stop and pick up the crew. We passed only one boat heading down today. They knew of low water levels ahead of them and warned us of the same behind them.

P1020406smP1020429smThe beams on a lot of the locks were as someone once said to me “finely balanced” or just bloomin’ annoying! Boat comes in, gate closed behind, other gate swings open. Stop whilst walking round to crack open a paddle to hold gates closed with a small stream of water, meanwhile the first gate opens itself. If you haven’t got the flow right the second gate will also reopen itself as you reach gate one. Argghhhh!!!

P1020444smOne of my favourite locks on a sunny day is Top Half Mile Lock. The tree next to it just makes you want to take photos. I have several going down hill and today I took plenty going up, it’s just as photogenic either way.

In broad locks we pass a rope up to be passed around a bollard and then back down to the helm. At the moment we are using Lillian’s two centre lines, one longer than the other. Where our plank and pole rest are located, which was our choice, the port side rope constantly gets hooked round the forward rest. Hopefully this will sort itself when we have two short centre ropes one on each side which we will keep in the fairleads, so away from the rest, fingers crossed.

P1020449smP1020456smAs we finished in Newton Top Lock the Lockie appeared and popped a mini road cone on top of the ground paddle. Any boat arriving would have to wait for them to finish running water down before they could proceed. Rounding the bend after High Bridge we saw that there was space for us over looking the pastures towards Wistow. This is a lovely mooring and if we weren’t on a mission I suspect we’d have stayed for the night, instead we paused for lunch drinking in the view.

P1020472smP1020475smAfter Cranes Lock we were met with a very low pound, the next lock was a bit of a way so Mick hopped on board hoping that we’d be able to get into the side to drop him off. This was ditch crawling, we have known worse when we came across a drained pound in Wigan in 2014, seriously slow progress. Mick hopped off where the canal narrowed and I continued to crawl to the lock which was full. Holding back whilst it was emptied, except the shallowness made Oleanna pull forward as she would in a lock. No matter what I did with the throttle and tiller she wasn’t going to be allowed to do what I wanted, so I had to enlist the girlie button to assist. Of course at the next lock the water level was such that it was flowing over the top gates!

P1020486smAt Kibworth Top Lock we left the broad locks behind and headed for Oleanna’s first tunnel. Saddington Tunnel is good and straight and 880yards long, you can easily see the other end. it is two way traffic, but no-one was coming. With tunnel mode engaged our passage was easy, our tunnel light was big and bright and pointed away from any possible on coming traffic.

P1020507smP1020509smThe canal does a few wiggles around bright green fields and then bends its way around Debdale Marina. A walker told us that a boat was coming out of the marina and so it was, all 70 or so feet. They were trying to turn towards Leicester and it was taking some doing, so we were allowed to pass once they’d reversed back into the entrance. Just a short distance on and the moorings before Rainbow Bridge came into sight so we pulled up behind a familiar, yet not correct sight. We know of NB Captain Hastings as it’s owner often makes comments on a facebook group we are in. Just a shame we didn’t have our yellow Lillian to moor behind him.

Today Oleanna has had a couple of comments. First the Lockie was admiring her colouring, we did suggest he might like to buy Lillian off us, but his offer of £10 maybe £20 wasn’t really upto it. Then this evening a couple of girls have been walking up and down the towpath looking at boats. The taller of the two decided that Oceanna was the one she liked the best. “I’m ‘avin’ this one!” at the top of her voice right outside our galley window. Well she can’t because firstly she can’t read and secondly she is ours!

DSCF7114sm12 locks, 9.68 miles, 1 tunnel, 0 mysterons, 0 newspaper! 2 low pounds, 1 even lower, 2 Lockies, 1 wonderful lunch mooring, 1 yellow boat, 1 bewildered cat, 3 paws will have to do! 1 cat feeling sorry for herself.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s blog.

In a few days time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog and NB Lillyanne’s blog will only be updated when something significant happens. So if you would like to continue to follow our travels please click to follow Oleanna.

Space Dust. 21st April

Birstall Lock to Kilby Bridge

P1020241smWith quite a bit to do today the alarm was set and we refrained from our customary cuppa in bed before getting up. It still took us a while before we were ready to push off at 8.20am. First lock of many was Birstall, this lock was closed for maintenance this winter, apart from quite a bit of orange spray paint about the place it was hard to tell what had been done that took so long. Looking back over our stoppage notices they had found a void under the lock that needed grouting, no wonder we couldn’t see what they’d done, it was all under water.

P1020244smThe locks would keep us busy today as there are few pounds over a mile long.The river sections are bendy and we were glad that we’d started early as the number of kids playing at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre meant that there would be plenty of canoes out later on. Here we got a very warm welcome from the kids waving and shouting “Hello!”, wishing us a nice day, they’d catch us up. But the most unusual comment was “I hope you have a nice dinner!” Hopefully we will.

P1020255smBelgrave Lock is where Canalplan had us mooring last night on our original plan. It is a shallow lock with a wide weir and a view towards the National Space Centre which looks like a giant inflatable. On first viewing it seems like a pleasant place to be. However a recent fire by one of the top beams and the amount of graffiti on the edging to the new towpath suggested that we’d made a good choice of staying one lock further back.

P1020267smP1020289smP1020269smThe river now flows through an old industrialised area. The old Wolsey Factory has been demolished apart from one of it’s chimneys and the water tower. A scheme to build houses and apartments incorporating the landmarks was given conditional planning permission last year. If you want to see what the sight was like before demolition here is a link. Other old factories have been refurbished and are most probably offices and apartments. This stretch must get a lot of silt dumped in it from the river as it is usually quite black and bubbly. As Mick jumped off to set Limekiln Lock the noise was almost deafening, it sounded like I’d just put a whole packet of Space Dust (popping candy) into my mouth. I was reminded of kids in the 80’s saying that if you ate too much Space Dust it would give you brain damage, certainly the smell coming off the river could do you some damage.


P1020295smP1020302smThe river to the north of Leicester has an abundance of graffiti. Much is your bog standard tags, you really would think some of them would have perfected it by now and not have to keep practicing it on every facet of walls, or they would simply have got bored with it, but no. Then around Frog Island there are large walls where the graffiti are works of art. Leicester has given permission for several walls around the city to be legally painted on. Short Street is a whole (short) street were anyone can come and leave their mark, the general idea is that you have to better what you are painting over. Certainly the ones by Lock 42 would be hard to beat. Apparently graffiti artists from around the country come to Leicester to make and leave their mark legally.

P1020306smP1020314smP1020316smHere Mick was offered help by a young lad who had ridden shot gun on his Grans mobility scooter. He was thrilled to be helping and Mick allowed him to open and close the top gate all by himself, it took a bit of doing for such a little chap, but he managed it then jumped back onto the back of the scooter and they sped away.

P1020312smP1020338smP1020351smThere was plenty of room at the moorings in the centre of the city. One boat on the new pontoons and two on the old. The new pontoons look so much more inviting. It was still morning so we carried on and worked our way past the huge weir by Leicester City ground and on up three more locks to Kings Lock. Here we stopped for a bowl of soup each as the day wasn’t that warm. Somehow we didn’t walk back to the tea room to collect some chilled medication though!

P1020363smP1020376smP1020377smIt being still early we decided to carry on to Kilby Bridge the next good mooring. Now that we were off the river and on canals all the way to Crick our life jackets were hung up and the locks took on the familiar look of the Grand Union with a set of steps either side. We’ve broken this journey up before by stopping in Leicester, today the last few locks were just (dare I say it) boring! Mick nearly got another helper at one lock, a bit bigger than his assistant earlier in the day. Good job he wasn’t wearing red. It got chillier and chillier so the stove was lit as soon as we pulled up for the day.

DSCF7114sm16 locks, 11.87 miles, 62 waving kids, 1 unflatable, 1 bonfire, 6 packets of Space Dust, 33 tags, 1 super strong lad, 3 swan near misses, 1 sleeping man, 0 grass cuttings, 0 chilled medication!!! 2 bowls soup, 2 weeks, 1 strawberry nose, 2 strawberry cheeks, 1 fat dog, 2 weeks is up, 3 hanging, 1 bull behind you!, 2 weeks Hello! I’m still here!! 18 inches down, 0  freedom for 2 WEEKS, Did you hear me 2 weeks is up now!!!!

Joa will you please adopt me!

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s blog.

In a few days time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog and NB Lillyanne’s blog will only be updated when something significant happens. So if you would like to continue to follow our travels please click to follow Oleanna.

It Always Snows At The Hope and Anchor. 20th April

Zouch Lock to Birstall Lock

An unexpected wet start to the day, the BBC weather app hadn’t mentioned rain! So it was on with the layers to keep dry as we pushed off to gradually climb up the River Soar.

P1020139smP1020140smHeading out of Zouch you pass a lot of small river huts. These are the river equivalent to beach huts at the seaside, only they tend to be that bit bigger and built on stilts for when the river floods. One such hut was being turned into the Russian Doll version with a larger hut being built over and around it, how many more huts were there inside?

P1020152smBishop Meadow Lock was the first of the day on the outskirts of Loughborough. Once up we decided to top up the water tank so pulled over. This tap was slow, not helped by it having a very big leak before it reached the hose connector, so most of what water there was was being sprayed onto the freshly cut grass. A C&RT chap filled his kettle from the leak as we tried to fill our tank. Before we gave up we noticed a number checker walk by, is this the first sighting since Oleanna has been licenced?

P1020165smWe decided to see if the next tap was going to be any better. This is on the side of a pub and as we pulled up Mick had to move on a mum and her offspring who looked like they had settled for the day. This tap was only slightly better so we decided to have lunch as the tank filled.

P1020173smP1020178smP1020180smThere is a long stretch before passing through Pillings Flood Lock and arriving at Barrow-on-Soar. Here there is another deep lock. As we pulled up a wide beam was just finishing coming down so we saved them shutting the gates. We were being followed by some canoeists who pulled their boats out of the water and walked them up to above the lock. By the time we had filled the lock they were putting their boats back into the water just as the gates opened. Canoeists are normally faster than narrowboats as they don’t have to abide by any speed limits, so we expected these four to zoom off into the distance, but no they slowly paddled their way along chatting, certainly not aware of 20 tonnes or so of boat  behind them! Luckily they pulled in soon back where they’d hired them.

P1020202smNow the river seems to get narrower and there are more bends. At times it is hard to know which way the navigation is turning and boats moored off on side channels just confuse you. But looking behind us we could tell we were heading the right way as that view was familiar.

P1020214smP1020216smAt Sileby Lock Mick had two dogs shadowing his every move. We were very glad that the river was behaving itself more than the last time we were here. Last year we ended up mooring above the lock and watching the river rise around us at an alarming rate. The next couple of locks were slow going, leaking bottom gates and they were unpredictable as you filled them

P1020232smA short distance on we passed The Hope and Anchor. We’ve been this way twice before and both times were in June. At that time of year the Hawthorne blossom has just gone past it’s best and is fluttering down into the canal. The water is white and the air filled with snowing petals. Today we had a smaller version of the snow shower, maybe the cut here has trees that blossom all year round so that the air is continuously filled with petals.

P1020237smNot far now to reach todays destination, just one more lock. Two boats were being worked on at the MGM boat builders, both various shades of green. People think that Lillian is bright but I think the bright green upstages her Rapeseed yellow. A few more bends on the narrow river and then the bollards of the moorings at Birstall came into view. They have always been full before, but there was space for two more boats. Our first attempt at mooring was thwarted by lumps under the water. The stern of Oleanna was at least four foot out from the edge so we moved up to try further up and succeeded.

DSCF7114sm8 locks, 14,84 miles, 1 flood lock, 1 left, 1 kettle, 2 water points, 8 babies moved on, 1 bucket of flowers, 2 boats in Amsterdam, 1 calm river, 2nd attempt, 2 Crick moorings sorted, 1 canal Narnia, 1 chocolate deprived boy!

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

In a few days time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog and NB Lillyanne’s blog will only be updated when something significant happens. So if you would like to continue to follow our travels please click to follow Oleanna.

50 Hours. 19th April

Trent Lock Pontoon to Zouch Lock

P1020067smThe decision of which way to get to Crick was made last night. Over the last couple of years we have done the Trent and Mersey from Sawley a lot of times, whereas we’ve only done the River Soar heading north, never south, so the Soar and the Leicester section of the Grand Union it was. Initially we set off this morning with the aim of getting as far as we could towards Leicester so that on Thursday we could push through the city. We’ve stopped in the centre before but the route in and out are renowned for being troublesome.


We winded leaving one boat on the pontoon and headed downstream to the junction with the Soar. Mick upped the revs so that we didn’t get the opportunity to know the weir. Immediately the feel of the river changed, a slower flow and narrower. Through the first flood lock of the Soar we passed Redhill Marina. We were wanting a bag of coal, but the chandlery didn’t look that inviting so we carried on looping round Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station passing many moored boats. I wondered what Ken would have thought if I’d asked for Oleanna to be painted in leopard print.

P1020102smP1020105smA short distance further was Kegworth Marina which had bags of coal on display. We pulled over and after checking that their advertised price for diesel was correct we filled the tank. This is the cheapest we’ve seen this year if not longer, luckily we had enough cash on board to pay.

P1020110smThrough another flood lock and then we arrived at Kegworth Deep Lock. This is deep (strangely enough) and has been the scene for quite a few boats getting caught on the cil over the years. A sign warns of three sinkings in the last twelve months and suggests using the blue risers. With this in mind I decided to have a go at working the lock and Mick could cling to the rope on Oleanna. I was as careful as I could not to push with my right foot when opening and closing the gates and stayed on the one side of the lock to work it, crossing lock gates can involve big steps on and off them.

P1020114smP1020118smMick brought her in and passed a  rope around a riser only to find that it wasn’t attached at the bottom, so it would be of no help what-so-ever! We passed our long rope around a bollard instead. It took forever for the ground paddle to raise Oleanna up to anywhere near the cil, we got bored and I gently opened a gate paddle. No sign of the friendly fox who reportedly lives near here but there was a Lillian imposter moored above the lock!

P1020131smToday was looking like it would be a long day to reach our goal and Oleanna’s engine had by now reached 49.6 hours, her first service was due at 50. So our plans changed, once up Zouch Lock we pulled over had a leisurely lunch before Mick donned his overalls and bent himself double to get intimate with her engine.

P1020126smI spent the afternoon starting to work on a cover illustration I’ve been asked to do. After a couple of failed attempts I had to resort to finding images of body language on the internet for a bit of reference. When I searched for awkward body language I was quite surprised at the number of images that came up of the Trump Merkel meeting at the White House, my word that was awkward!

DSCF7114sm3 locks, 2 flood locks, 6.08 miles, 1 wind, 1 right, 50 litres, £10 coal, 15 years in the water, 0 survey! 1 broken riser, 1 change of plan, 2 rough sketches, 50 hour service, 1 oil filter, 9 litres oil, 1 wet bum cheek,  1 sore foot, 1 empty yellow tank, 1 toy prison!

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.