Spider Bridge 29th September

Victoria Quay

Our good intentions of turning Lillian to T-cut the port side were stopped by strong winds this morning. Being surrounded by tall buildings doesn’t help when it’s windy.

A trip to Tescos to fill the fridge was needed, however getting to the very big Tescos meant crossing the River Don. We’d seen in Tom’s post about a pedestrian bridge suspended under another, this was the shortest route.


Spider Bridge


Giant spiders overhead

Spider Bridge, or Cobweb Bridge was completed in 2002 passing under the Wicker Arches viaduct (Grade 2* listed) saving a detour of a mile to cross the river. It was designed by Sheffield City Council and is suspended on a web of steel cables fixed to the underside of the viaduct. It has been prone to vandalism with the wires that form the parapet having been stolen more than once. These have now been replaced with metal plates which have a spiders web design. The whole bridge looks like it twists and turns at angles through the viaduct arch, but it is just the angles at which the side railings have been put that create this effect.

With several days worth of food purchased we still couldn’t move the boat as the wind was now buffeting our portholes. Mick ordered the solar panel for NB Oleanna and I caught up on a couple of posts on the build blog. Despite the back door being wide open all afternoon Tilly only ventured out to walk along the gunnel once, I think she wants us to move to somewhere with better hunting possibilities.


Sacred Cow

We had a walk around the basin for some chilled medication and went to have a closer look at the Merchants Crescent. These were merchants houses curving around the warehouse building opposite, they have access from the basin side and the slope at the rear. Some of them now look like they are offices and others you can rent. Climbing onto what was part of the railway you can look down onto the basin. Our neighbour was busy with his first top coat.

This evening we met up with Fran again who drove us up to see her home. A lovely evening chatting, drinking and eating, finished off with chilled medication and chocolate chip cookies. I hope we haven’t overdosed on the medication, maybe it’s time we went back down the locks!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 windy to wind, 1 spiders bridge, 15 spiders, 1 pv panel, 2 blog updates, 1 more to go, 2 doses of chilled medication, 1 lovely evening, 1 bus ride, 1 walk past our building. 



The Yellow Hand Gang 28th September

Victoria Quay

At the end of the basin there is a lot of light overnight, so much so that Tilly thought that it was morning so kept opening the blind on our bedroom! That was until she was banished and the door closed on her at 5 am.


Shiny at the front dull at the back

The weather being fine today we couldn’t escape from doing jobs on Lillian. The basin sides are too high to be able to get at the gunnels with ease, so that would have to wait for another day. Instead the starboard side got a thorough wash down and then I started to T-cut that side. Who’s idea was it buy a 60 foot boat!


That all looks okay

Whilst I rubbed then polished Lillian’s side Tilly had the freedom to come and go as she liked. Once the immediate area had been checked she spent the rest of the day keeping a close eye on us. The next service is still ten hours away but when we leave Sheffield we will be on a bit of a mission and don’t really want to stop for Mick to get jiggy with oil and filters. So he has spent most of the day bent double in the depths of the engine bay.

The hard work and yellow hands of T-cutting has paid off and the starboard side looks better than when we picked Lillian up from her previous owners. Just a shame that there is still the port side to do. Hopefully my arms won’t drop off in the night!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2nd time a she was out! 5 hours of polishing, 240 hour service, 7 litres engine oil, 2 litres gear box oil, 3 filters, 6 nappies, 2 many passers by, 1 lower cover scrubbed, 1 draft script read, 9 yellow fingernails, 1/2 membership to the shiny boat brigade.

Hooked up again. 27th September

Victoria Quay to the other side of the bridge


The other side of the swing bridge

Whilst we were still having our morning cuppa in bed NB Wine Down passed us heading for the locks, that meant that there was now space for us on the other side of the swing bridge. After breakfast we made ready to move Lillian. The bridge unlocks with the key of power and then is operated with a windlass. However our posh long reach windlass didn’t have a tight enough fit on the spindle to get enough purchase. I managed to stop Mick before he’d started to move Lillian so that I could get an older one.


Lillian’s mooring by The Straddle

With an older less flash windlass I wound the bridge round with the help from a chap we’d been moored opposite last night. Him pushing the other end of the bridge made it very easy to move. Mick pulled Lillian onto the services and we started to fill with water. Sadly the pump out hose wasn’t long enough to reach, so once full we winded with the aid of the strong wind to get to the other side (we have two pump out fittings). Paul from CV Marine gave Lillian a good pump out for £10 and stood and chatted  for quite some time before we reversed back down towards The Straddle building to our mooring. He popped electric credit on the bollard ready for us to hook up. But what can we wash now? We did just about everything last week in Rotherham!

With our boat chores done we walked along the towpath and over Cadman Bridge to visit NB Oleanna. I promise I’ll update the build blog in the next couple of days, I’m a bit behind! Ken was around and chatted over a controller for our solar amongst other things. Then we were left to have a wonder around on our own.


The calorifier and diesel pipes

Not as much progress as there has been on other occasions, but they are waiting for various things to arrive before they can crack on. Having said that the Bubble Stove had arrived and was sat on a low cupboard, the Alde boiler has been installed along with the calorifier. Kris wanted to know about shelves in cupboards for the bedroom.


Bubble in the corner

We were soon joined by Louis and Ricky and chatted through various questions that we had before we went to look at some fabric samples that had arrived. All good apart from the flue from the Alde boiler which is surface mounted on the gunnel and protrudes further than the rubbing strakes. Not ideal and won’t last long unless it is protected in someway preferably without adding extra width to the boat, a metal strap or a recess for it is required. As always we came away with a few bits of homework to do and things to order.


All that to climb on, but no way to get there!

So I’ve not been allowed out for months and when I do get  to go out there are no trees, sideways trees or good undergrowth to hunt in. Everything smells of Woofer wee and there is this huge climbing frame that I can’t get too! Not even from other boats! I’m not too keen on this Sheffield place, when are we leaving?

Our nearest neighbour has spent the afternoon under Tatlers Bridge painting his boat with Red Oxide. It was a Viking Afloat boat so an inferior yellow to Lillian! He’s not sanded the cabin sides before painting, I hope the yellow doesn’t come back to haunt him!

0 locks, 0.12 miles, 1 wind, 1 swing holding up none, 1 empty pooh tank, 1 clean pooh box, 0 news from Derby, 1 sticky out flue, 5 fabric samples, 2 drawers 2 high, 40 mm not wide enough, 45 mm spot on, 1 triangular stove, 2 mirrors, 1 free cat, 1 Tom who left his stinky mark!


Only where a 60fter can go 26th September

Eastwood Lock to Victoria Quay, Sheffield


Goodbye Eastwood and the swans

Up early and ready to go as planned at 7.45 am. The canal passes right by Rotherham Station and Fran was sat waiting for us as we rounded the bend. Only time to pop her waterproof coat on before we handed her a windlass and walked up to Rotherham Lock, her very first lock. The rise here wasn’t very much as it is just a flood lock, but what was a shock was the length of it. We have become so used to big long locks over the last month that entering a 60 ft lock was a bit of a shock.

At Ickles Lock we carefully wound the paddles up. Virtually all are gate paddles which makes going up hill a little bit dodgy. Normally you start by opening the ground paddle on the same side as your boat, gate paddles would enter the equation later, but here you have no option. We tried the same side, but that pushed the bow over, so we compensated with the other side, this seemed to work and keep us to one side. But was this the knack to these locks?


Too much water

We reached the rendez vous point below Holme Lock at 9 am, so there was enough time for us to have a bacon buttie and a cuppa before we started in earnest. The Lockie appeared at 9.30 and started to empty the overflowing lock for us. Fran and I jumped off and went to help. He insisted on opening the paddle on the same side as Lillian and didn’t really wait for us to rope up. The bow swung over with a big bash! Thanks!!


The next lock was another flood lock and then the Tinsley Flight. The Lockie had opened all the bottom gates so they were all waiting, he then would close and lock everything up behind us. Occasionally he got to a paddle before either Fran or I could and more often than not Lillian’s bow would hurtle across the lock no matter what Mick did with the engine. I managed to get him chatting a bit and found out that he has been working this flight for 31 years. I would have thought he would know how the water affected boats in them by now. The locks we had full control of didn’t seem to have any logic to them. Maybe Lillian was just a bit too long for the Lockies way of working them and the bow just got caught , who knows. But we ended up going up hill diagonally most of the way.


Gate paddle gear

One of the locks 7/8 must have been two locks originally. It is quite deep and the Lockie warned me to make sure our boat moved forward as it rose in the lock so as not to get caught under the walkway on the bottom gates. This lock has only one paddle, which fortunately is a ground paddle. I think Fran could have wound it straight up as Lillian’s ascent was very gentle. The amount of water coming over the top of the gates meant that Lillian’s bow got a very good wash. It also means that when we head down stream Mick is likely to get wet legs!



Top deck M1, bottom A631

Under the M1 you can just glimpse the back of Meadow Hall. All the times I’ve driven along the M1 I’d never realised that the bridge is actually a double decker. The lower lanes were almost stationary, Fran used to drive that way to work and was always caught up in traffic. Last week she returned from being part of Team GB at the Paralympics Games in Rio, she was a physio and was there for the full duration of the games. This got the Lockie talking for a while, mostly about mosquitoes, but then conversation stalled again.


Between the top three locks the two pounds have permanent moorings. If the boats want to go up or down the flight they still need to give 24 hours notice to be let out as each lock is padlocked up.

At the top of the flight we waved goodbye to the Lockie and started our approach into Sheffield, leaving the building sight of a new Ikea behind us. The flight though damp was quite easy, we’ve known harder, but some of the gates are bloomin heavy!

Numerous bridges cross the cut, trams, trains, cars and people zigzag overhead for much of the two and a bit miles. As we came under Cadman Bridge the workshop doors were closed at Jonathan Wilsons / Finesse Boatyard hiding Oleanna from us. Jonathan was sat in a container with other chaps having a break, we waved and said hello, but he most probably thought “What’s that Yellow boat?”


She’s in that shed


Too long waiting for their pints

Once moored up on the 48 hr visitor mooring (which are 72 hrs really) Mick headed to say hello to Paul at CV Marine who run the basin, whilst I popped the sausage rolls in the oven. Once we were all back on board the heavens opened and showed us that it had only really been drizzling this morning! We will stay put where we are tonight and move into the basin tomorrow when NB Wine Down leaves. We’ll be able to hook up for a few days which will save us from running the engine. The stove has been lit, the ecofan is turning and Tilly has taken up her position on the sofa. If we keep the fire in tonight we may not have to share the bed with her.


15 locks, 7.32 miles, 1 new crew member, 3 bacon butties, 1 untalkative Lockie, 4 big bangs, 6 chocolate chip cookies, 12 sausage rolls, 5 percy pig sweets, 1 pork fuelled damp day.

Skeleton in the aisle. 25th September

Eastwood Lock


Rainy day breakfast

This morning it rained, so much so that my plans on sanding the bow and stern today were put on hold. The inside of Lillian had a tidy and sweep through and I even considered getting the sewing machine out to do a couple of jobs. But by late morning the sun came out.


Front 2 foot a brighter smoother yellow

Sanding down the bow by now was not appealing as you just can’t get in the right position to do it. I really didn’t want my back to end up twinging with a flight of manual locks to do tomorrow so instead Lillian’s port side had a wash. Mick then tried out some of the yellow T-Cut we inherited with Lillian. This was definitely worth doing to give her a good spruce up. However we had run out of clean dry cloths to polish her, so we needed more. A trip to Parkgate Shopping Park was needed.



Retail park over the tracks

Just a stones throw away from our mooring is this retail park. First we called into an outdoor shop that was having a liquidation sale with 30% off everything, waterproof spray bought but we held back on new folding chairs. Morrisons for a few bits and new clean cloths then over the way to Wilkos. Here we found a polishing pad to go on the end of a drill, this would make life easier.


Skeleton by the coloured varnish


Walk this way!

By now the sun had been warming everything up for quite a while. When we unzipped Lillian’s pram cover the smell of cat pee was quite overwhelming. This could not be down to Tilly as she has been grounded for a week by the vet and hasn’t managed to sneak past us once. It was most probably a Tom who had visited us last night. Everything was removed from the stern and I gave it a thorough wash down. With the pram cover open the smell seemed to have gone, but we’ll only be able to tell if I was successful when it gets warm again!

dscf7527smA sudden sharp shower came over and created a fantastic double rainbow. Just a shame a short while later the swan runway came into action. The sight of eight swans flying low overhead was mesmerising, just a shame my camera was inside! Everything has been put back onto the roof carefully so as not to mark it. Tomorrow we have an extra early start to head for the locks. Fran, Mick’s niece is joining us for the ascent and we are picking her up as we pass the station at 8 am. Cruising sausage rolls are in the fridge ready to go in the oven as we finish the locks. It has been a while since the windlasses have been out, even longer since we last did a flight!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 small cat taking up all the bed! 1 big tidy, 2 friends doing their best 2 avoid us! 1 side washed, 2 ft of T-Cut, 7 cloths, 0 clean enough, 4 new cloths, 1 buffing pad, 1 skeleton, 1 stinky Tom, 6, 8, 7 swans in formation, 16 sausage rolls all ready for the oven.

Swan runway. 24th September

Eastwood Lock

Yesterday we booked our passage to go up the Tinsley flight to Sheffield on Monday. We have to call the Lockie again tomorrow to receive instructions of when to leave Eastwood Lock and where we will be met. I strongly suspect it will be an 8 am start from here, sadly it looks like it may be raining.


Please, someone help me! They won’t let me out anymore

The visitor moorings here are 48 hrs. Since  we arrived we’ve not seen another boat on the moorings since the others left on Thursday, so we don’t feel bad about overstaying. Several people on the permanent moorings have said it would be fine for a few more nights. So with electric we have been working the washing machine hard.

Whilst Mick returned the hire car I set about washing down the roof on the port side,when he returned we reversed Lillian back to the lock to fill with water. Eastwood Lock, unlike the others on this stretch seems to empty itself, so it had to be filled.This lock is capable of taking a 700 tonne barge, so there is a lot of water needed. We hoped nobody would arrive wanting to use the lock as our tank must have been quite empty, luckily no one did. To while away the time we washed down the starboard side of the roof along with chatting to one of the permanent moorers.


Finished! I hope

Back on the moorings Mick started to cook breakfast/brunch for us as I started to mask off the roof to be able to give it what I hope will be it’s final coat. This and painting took most of the rest of the day. The tin of Epifanes cream was quite low and I had to eak it out to get a reasonable coat. There is about half a mug full left which will be handy for any touch ups needed.

Whilst painting I had musical accompaniment brought by the wind. First was what sounded like a large drumming group, then Greensleeves from a chilled medication van, then some heavy rock, punk, medication van, soul! It all helped the time go by. Sadly the van didn’t ever get close to the moorings!


Pre-flight checks

Along this stretch of canal there is a huge quantity of swans, they seem to head this way in the late afternoon. Once they are bored they then head back towards Sheffield flying. It takes a swan quite a while and a lot of effort to take off, the sound of their quivers against the air is quite unique. Here you get to hear it a lot! This evening they are coming and going in all directions, this must be the swan equivalent of Heathrow!

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 car, 1 blustery reverse, 2 much water of 1 tank refill, 1 roll Boyes masking tape, 2 inches of cream used, 1 prisoner for a week, 2 pills, 2 drops, 1 new sock fairy, 2 loads of washing, 3 loads drying, 27 fly bys, 3 near misses.


Choices made. 23rd September

Eastwood Lock


Sheffield does hills well



Having a car for an extra day has meant that we could travel a bit further afield with ease to look at worktops. We headed for Sheffield to see what Russell and Hutton had in the way of samples. They are quite a long way out on Ecclesall Road and not just a bog standard kitchen company, they make bespoke kitchens for people with lots of money by the looks of it. But they had a very good range of samples for us to look at. We were straight up with the chap that we were there just for his samples and he happily showed us what he had and then left us to it.

In the end our favourite worktop was the one we were resting on, it went well with our fabric and paint samples. But just in case we have two back up choices too. Hooray at last!


A drive by photo

We then retraced our steps back through Sheffield and passed what we call ‘our building’. The quick snap shot from the car doesn’t show that they have started to glaze one side. Then on up the M1, M62, M606 to near Bradford to visit Michael at The Sofa Bed Barn.

dscf7480smBack in 2013 we first saw his sofa beds at Crick Boat Show and they stood out from the crowd of narrowboat furniture available at the time for having more style. When we bought Lillian we ordered a Windsor Sofabed from him which was delivered to Sowerby Bridge ready in time for us to move aboard full time. Today we visited to chose the fabric and go through dimensions with him for NB Oleanna.


The fabric drawer

We had to wait a little bit as Michael was chatting to a couple who are getting a widebeam built by Collingwood and they were ordering three sofabeds! So we were happy to loiter in the background amidst numerous part made sofabeds. Samples of fabric were brought out for us but there was nothing quite right. But then as it was us, I was allowed to look in his samples drawer, not many people get to look in there! I found a couple of good reds that would compliment the other fabrics. He checked with his supplier and the one we were really keen on was in stock. Choice made along with a blue for scatter cushions. Dimensions were checked over as they are not quite standard. He hopes to have it made in around four weeks and will store it until it can be delivered to Sheffield. Thank you Michael.


Our sofa will be based on this one

So with today’s missions accomplished we headed back to the M1 over the tops with Emley Moor transmitter and views over Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield surrounding us for much of the way. We stopped off at a huge Tescos to do some shopping. Well I did the shopping leaving Mick to listen to the cricket in the car, sadly Yorkshire lost the match.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 very posh kitchen shop, 3 choices, 1 incredible view over Sheffield, B6118 and A637 views galore, 3 to our 1 sofabed, 1 drawer jammed with samples, 1 sofa and pouffe ordered, 4 weeks, 1 house sold spoiling plans, 2 possible solutions, 4 boxes wine, 61 runs, 1 lonely collarless Tilly, 2 blog updates behind on NB Oleanna!