Author Archives: pipandmick

About pipandmick

We discovered our mutual love of canals early on in our relationship when on a canal holiday on the Leeds and Liverpool. Since then we enjoyed four years being part owners of a share boat and have now progressed up to owning NB Lillyanne. Mick is a Telephone Engineer and Pip is a Theatre Designer. We have both taken time off work to explore the waterways, meet up with old friends, make new ones and watch the seasons change around us.

All Hooked Up. 21st March

Bridge 20 to Yelvertoft Marina

P1000409smAt least it wasn’t raining this morning when we set off, but the wind was still quite strong. Not far to pootle today, just into our mooring for the next few days. Mick managed the turn into the narrow entrance very well and then headed for our mooring. It was a good job he knew where it was so that he could head there with purpose as the wind as always in a marina whipped up. One slight nudge of the pontoon was unavoidable and it was a good job we wanted to be bow end in first!

P1000414smFortunately we have an empty mooring along side us so we actually get some day light into the boat. This is also the same side as Tilly’s window and the pontoon. Within five minutes of mooring up we had a visitor, Milly the tabby cat who lives on this set of moorings. The two of them had a bit of a stand off with the window between them. Yesterday Mick was warned that Milly has twice been a stowaway on boats, with the boats having to return to the marina once they realised she was on board. Hopefully todays encounter with Tilly will put her off hitching a ride with us.

P1000416smAfter another five minutes the washing machine was hard at work earning it’s keep. It’s a real shame that marinas don’t like you using whirligigs as with the sun out and the strong breeze our clothes would have been dry almost instantly. But they did quite well out on the stern deck on the airier.

Lizzie popped round this evening to pick up a key so that she can feed Tilly for us. There won’t be a blog post for a few days as we are heading off on a bit of a holiday. We are going north to find some Culture.

DSCF7121sm0 locks, 0.86 miles, 800m by crow, 1.25km by car, 1.5km by boat, 1 windy marina, 1st boat we looked at to buy, 3 loads washing, 1 electric kettle, 1 hoover, 1 potential stowaway, 2 many cats to add ours to, 1 hail storm, 8 days of having a car, 3 boxes lasagne.

Blown Away. 20th March

Houdini’s Field to Bridge 20

Despite the weather we needed to move today, so with full waterproofs on Mick pushed us off and we pootled the half mile to the next winding hole. A boat was moored very close to it making it hard to swing the stern of Lillian out to get the bow round and into the hole. He managed it without hitting the other boat, but it was a close thing.

P1000386smDSCF4422smHeading back southwards we soon came to the wood where the Blackthorn is in blossom. The off side of the canal was almost like Narnia with so many white flowers. My photos don’t do it justice as the rain on the windows kept getting in the way. Blackthorn blossoms before it’s leaves come out, I’ve often mistaken it for Hawthorne blossom. But that is normally in full flower when we leave Crick show at the end of May, so much later. A rather beautiful sight for the Spring Equinox.

P1000392sm

As we progressed further the wind got up and so did the rain. At one point it was almost horizontal with rivers of water running down one side of the boat with the other bone dry. Then there were a couple of knocking noises on the roof/cabin side as though someone had thrown something at us. Mick slowed us down, he wasn’t shouting at anyone and then he picked up speed again. All a bit strange.

At midday Mick pulled us over and moored up as quickly as he could to get out of the rain, he was certainly glad of his waterproofs! Once he’d dried off and had some lunch he was back out to get soggy again, but this time on foot. We are booked into Yelvertoft Marina for a few days from tomorrow, but the office is closed on Tuesdays so Mick went to sus everything out and introduce himself. Then a short walk into the village to the not so expensive shop for some milk and bread.

DSCF4424smDuring the afternoon it has brightened up somewhat. Mick set off with the boat hook along the towpath, back the way we’d come. This was to see if he could find our broom that had flown off the roof earlier in the day! The wind had been so strong that stopping at the time could have caused allsorts of problems. Sadly it was nowhere to be seen in the reeds, maybe another boat picked it up as they went by later!

P1000403smDSCF7121sm0 locks, 3.22 miles, 1 wind, 1 flying broom, 1 acre of Narnia, 1 soaked Mick, 1 boat not to be forgotten, 1 confusing bend, £5 electric, 0 highly expensive treat cheese, 2 soaked paws, 1 paddling cat, 2nd posting of this post!

Territory. 19th March

Houdini’s Field

P1000358smDespite the gusty wind today boats have been coming and going. Gradually throughout the day all our neighbours have left us on our own.

Tilly was glad of this as she had a bit of a stand off with the black cat on the boat behind us last night. People quite often ask about Tilly and her territory. Obviously the boat is hers and the boat including the gunnels is a safe place (one day she’ll discover that then gunnels aren’t that safe after all!). Once she is off the boat does she start claiming territory or does she see the whole canal network as hers, just a little bit at a time? Landlubber cats tend to share their territory with other cats, each having different times of the day when the area is theirs. But what happens when two boat cats step onto dry land in the same area for the first time a bit like last night?

P1000373smTilly has come across a couple of other cats on her travels and they were certain that she was on their patch. She didn’t hang around for a dispute and was stared at for quite some time afterwards. But yesterday when she came across the black Tom what was going through their minds, had Tilly already marked that end of the towpath as hers before he arrived, or had she been too busy running around like a loon and he’d beaten her to it. What ever was going through their minds Tilly was glad when Mick went to see what was happening and she came away with him.

Today territory hasn’t been a problem.

We’ve spent the day pottering. I had a go at cleaning the port side windows as my view was getting hazier by the day. Mick brought me buckets of water and newspaper and left me to it. Walking back and forth to get soapy water was a pain on my crutches, but clean water was a bit easier as it was in a bucket with a handle so I could gradually move it along with me.

P1000365smMick delved into the storage under the dinette and pulled out Lillian’s red nose. This has now been attached to the bow fender. I hope I will remember my plan for a bigger better version for NB Oleanna in a couple of years time.

P1000368smDSCF7121sm0 locks, 0 miles, 5 clean windows on the outside, 2 soggy newspaper filled pockets, 1 red nose, 7 exploratory trips for Tilly, 1 dead stone, 1 blustery day, 4th row hexagons together, 2 hours spot on, 1 giant plan for 2019.

Guarding Houdini’s Field. 18th March

Cracks Hill to Houdini’s Field

Mick headed off on a bike to get a few things from the Co-op in Crick and a Saturday paper. On his return he made ready for us to pootle on. It being a bit of a grey day Tilly and I turned on the TV and settled down to watch a recording of Cider with Rosie that has been on the PVR for about 18 months whilst Mick steered us along the way.

The wood before Bridge 27 was showing signs of spring, Blackthorn blossom was in abundance. Sadly I missed the sight as we went through, but I’ll make sure I take note on our way back. Mick pulled us in shortly afterwards. Lengths of armco announcing that we’d arrived at our destination, Houdini’s Field.

P1000336smBack in November 2014 we had stopped here for the night. Our cat at the time was astounded at the huge field just through the hedge, hence Houdini’s Field. Tilly took to it too last year when we had a few days moored here.

P1000332smP1000322smP1000349smAs the towpath is low I can get off the boat without assistance, so Tilly and I went for a walk. She quickly found the little path that leads to the field, it is quite steep on crutches but I managed a short way down. We had planted a daffodil here a couple of years ago, it took quite a bit of finding. The field looked great! Fantastic to run around like a right loon! Then a woofer came and needed putting in it’s place. This field is for cats only, woofers don’t have any respect. Tilly’ stood her ground about two foot away from the dog, her fur created the biggest mohican I’ve ever seen. Needless to say she won and the dog backed off.

0 locks, 4.3 miles, 1 paper, 18 month old recording, 1 small daffodil,15 trees shout checked, 1 field full of grass, 0 entry for woofers! 1st to arrive, 3 more for company, 0 spare fan, 1st blossom, 1 feline neighbour.

They’re Quick Off the Mark. 17th March

Home Farm Footbridge to Cracks Hill

Yesterday we had a leisurely morning and Tilly had a good explore around, hopefully not worrying the sheep in the field next to us. Once she returned we pootled along to the winding hole above Watford Locks and winded, the M1 looked busy.

P1000302smBack through Crick Tunnel passing a boat midway we pulled in to wait our turn at the water point. All morning we’d been trying to see if there was any news on the battery for NB Oleanna, luckily whilst I still had signal on my phone Ricky called me back. He had had an email from the company saying that a 24 volt battery was being made for us in the states, it would then be air freighted and be with us in two weeks. This would be great news if we hadn’t heard it before from them!

So Ricky and I agreed that he would email them back asking for some reassurance that it would actually happen this time and if the battery wasn’t with us in two weeks then they would have the original one returned to them and we would go elsewhere. So if it hasn’t arrived by the 31st March then we will be going for AGM batteries and Finesse will have to redo our battery trays.

P1000306smWe turned into Crick Marina for a top up and an empty of the pooh tank. I was allowed shore leave to say hello to Noel the harbour master, their gravel was hard work on crutches. It was good to have a brief catch up with Noel, we’ll be seeing him again soon.

The wind was unusually kind to Mick as he backed Lillian away from the services and then swung her round back out onto the cut. We turned north and headed back to Cracks Hill where we knew we’d get reasonable phone, TV and internet.

Today we have stayed put, Mick has been giving Lillian a pampering session renewing her oil and filters, I have been looking at paperwork for boats and Tilly has hardly been inside all day. Lillian’s licence is due for renewal at the end of the month and for this we need to have renewed her insurance. It all seems a lot of money to pay out for a boat we’ll be selling shortly, but it needs doing. I also had a look at getting quotes for NB Oleanna. We have three years no claims bonus which helps somewhat as her premium will be that bit more no matter who we insure her through.

IMAG3047smJust as I was starting looking at the insurance an email from C&RT popped into my inbox “How to get your boat licensed today”. Maybe they were reminding us about Lillian’s licence. But no. It was about NB Oleanna even though she’s only been on the water for 48 hours!

“We have seen that your boat is on the water even though you do not have a current licence with us. Thankfully, getting a licence is easy. Here’s what you need to know.”

It was all very polite, even giving links on who to contact if we couldn’t pay. Well she should be on Finesse trade plates at the moment, so I sent Ricky a message to check that that was the case. Everyone says if you keep in touch with C&RT it always helps, so Mick tried calling the Enforcement Officer, but she only works part time and this afternoon was the part she doesn’t work. Later this afternoon Ricky called us and said that they had sorted it. They applied for red trade plates months ago but they haven’t arrived, so they write the number on a piece of paper and pop it in the window. Our plates arrived within a couple of days of registering both boats, it must take some extra doing putting the red into the machine.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 3.62 miles, 1 tunnel, 4 rights, 42.7 litres, £15 not £8! 1st cut of grass, 2 weeks or else, 1 hole okayed, 1 noisy green woodpecker, 3 quotes, 48 hours or less, 1st warning, 6 explores, 1 friend, 9 leaves killed, 10 litres oil, 3 filters, 300ish over, 1 girlie boy look, 2 pots of chickeny yummyness on the stove, 2 blogs updated.

Wet Bottoms. 15th March

Cracks Hill to Bridge 24 to Crick Wharf to Home Farm Footbridge

Internet, TV and phone signal can be really bad round here. The ever growing Dirft buildings near the M1 get in the way of TV signal, so as we move around we get varying coverage. So there may not be as many posts as normal as sitting waiting to see if a post uploads is extremely boring, especially when it doesn’t!

P1000179smYesterday we decided to give Lillian a bit of a run out and give her batteries a treat. By the end of the day we wanted to be moored opposite the water point at Crick Wharf. So instead of winding at the hole right next to us we pootled along through Yelvertoft to the unofficial winding hole shortly after Bridge 24.

DSCF4401smI bum shuffled out into the cratch to watch the world go by. It’s not the same as being at the back with Mick, but the back steps are still beyond my capability.

P1000183smThe slipway at Yelvertoft was busy. I thought I counted 4 boats as we went out but on the way back it looked more like 6 with another waiting it’s turn to come out. Wonder how many is their maximum?

When we got back to Crick, Mick pulled Lillian through the bridge and asked a boat if they could shift up a bit as they’d not left quite enough space for a second boat. We wanted to be here to make it easy for me to get off in the morning. Once moored up Mick headed off to pick up this weeks hire car and a click and collect shop from a supermarket.

This morning was a very early start. We only see this time of day normally if a tide dictates it, trying to get a mooring in London or something exciting is going to happen. Today it was the latter!

Our original plan was to take Lillian over to the water point where I could easily get off, then move her back to a mooring before heading off in the car. But we’d have had to have been awake even earlier to do that! So instead I stood on the grass verge as far away from the canal hump back bridge as possible and waited for Mick to pick me up in the car, hoping that we wouldn’t be a hazard at 6.30 am. We weren’t and soon joined the traffic on the M1 heading north to Sheffield.

About an hour later Chris from Finesse rang and asked how far away we were, 20 miles, but with rush hour traffic. NB Oleanna was going to be next to be lifted at the yard, would we make it in time! Nothing we could do but carry on and hope that traffic wasn’t too bad.

IMG_4063smWith wagons and a crane in the yard we decided to head to Cadman Bridge, from there we’d be able to see what was happening and not be in the way. Sadly NB Oleanna was already sat in the water, her bottom was wet, we’d missed it. She was sitting on a list and chaps were loading extra ballast onto her which brought her to a near level.

P1000213smP1000222smP1000226smP1000234smNB Sheffield Maid was having strops adjusted so we stood and watched as she was craned out, swung over and lowered onto a wagon. She was then take down to the other end of the yard, the crane followed moving sideways on it’s five pairs of wheels. NB Muddy Waters was reversed up to be next boat out of the cut, it was busy!

IMG_20170315_090236371_HDRsmThere were a few jobs that had been ticked off the list since last week so we went to have a look. One problem, how was I going to get on board? The bow of NB Oleanna was level with the side where she was tied up and there was a gap to cross. In the end Ricky brought a pallet along on the prongs of a fork lift truck with a piece of slightly soggy carpet for me to sit on. Once sat down I could swing my legs round then I was lowered over the gap so that I could shuffle off onto the bow. Job done!

P1000257smP1000265smIt was really weird being on her on the water especially on a slight list. Our sofa had arrived on Monday afternoon and was in position. This will be an occasional bed when needed, most probably for my nephew or if Frank and Steve ever come to visit us at the same time (they can fight over who has the dinette and who has the sofa). We now have a back door lock, an extra power socket and storage for the table legs. A couple more jobs got added to the list, but only things that will be sorted once she has settled in the water.

Head battery man was called whilst we were there. Today is ‘Bday’. Much discussion was had between us all as to which way to go, but as always head battery man was going to call Ricky back after checking on things, he still had hope on a 24volt battery, we didn’t!

P1000282smP1000275smWatching more boats be loaded onto wagons reminded me of the days when scenery used to be loaded into the McCarthy Theatre at the SJT in Scarborough using a winch up the side of the building to the fourth floor. Ropes attached to 6 meter long pieces of scenery, the pavement cordoned off, high vis and hard hats and a silent prayer for no gusts of wind. Today there were no hard hats or high vis just sunshine and ropes.

P1000288smDespite it only being midday we were hungry and we decided to have what might be our last fish finger butty at the Quays. But as we approached the cafe it looked empty, then we realised that we’ve already had our last butty! So instead we went to the other cafe and had much nicer sandwiches.

Back in Crick we parked up at The Moorings and Mick brought Lillian over to pick me up. The submerged shelf by the water point made me wish that Ricky was there with the fork lift and pallet to get me over the gap, but we managed it in the end. Once the car was returned we then moved away back through Crick tunnel to where the lambs are numerous and TV reception, internet and phone signal actually exist!

P1000219sm0 locks, 7.91 miles, 1 soggy tunnel, 0 mysterons, 1 wind, 1 suspicious rabbit, 1 red car, 5.30am! 1 bottom wetting missed, 1 floating boat, 1 intentional list, 4 craned boats, 5 axles, 2 wagons, 1 pallet, 1 fork lift, 1 bottom dampened, 1 lock, 1 sofa, 1 pouffe, 0 battery, 1 phone call waited for, 20 minutes turned into 45, 45 minutes intentional.

11 Weeks Wait. 13th March

Crick Marina Entrance to Cracks Hill

We woke on Sunday to rain which wasn’t very inspiring. Lizzie had planned to pop over to visit us late morning, but the rain and walk didn’t appeal. Despite being the nearest boat on the visitor moorings to NB Panda it did mean that we were the furthest away as she would have to walk all the way round the marina to the bridge to get to us, round about a full mile one way.

P1000131smP1000138smSo the rain put Lizzie off but as ever it didn’t deter Tilly. She spent much of the morning coming and going, mostly coming to top up on water or food before heading back out for another soaking.

When we had pulled up on Saturday we were only the second boat on the moorings, but during the late afternoon and Sunday morning they had filled up, presumably people out for the weekend heading to Crick for Saturday night or Sunday lunch. At 2 pm as the rain stopped boats started to depart leaving just two boats again.

P1000150smMid afternoon Lizzie arrived and we sat and caught up on news. We’ll hopefully be seeing a bit if her over the next few weeks whilst we wait for NB Oleanna’s launch. Mick may even end up at the helm of NB Panda to get her to the services as Lizzie isn’t able to steer at the moment. Tilly managed to coincide with Lizzie, so the two of them have at last met properly.

Today we have just pottered. Mick has swapped out the bathroom fan that wasn’t working for a new one. He then had a go at trying to get the old fan to work, this turned out to have just been a loose cable in the end, so we now have a spare.

P1000160smThe sun was out and it was really rather pleasant with the side hatch open. I ended up sitting in the cratch for a while with my patchwork, whilst trying to encourage Tilly to return home! She was far too busy soaking up the sun somewhere in the next field. Once she did return we closed up the doors and made ready to move on.

P1000145smP1000168smWith no locks today and the sun being out I was able too sit in the cratch as we cruised, I even helped moor, by handing Mick the nappy pin! Well we excelled ourselves and moved up to Cracks Hill. Only eleven weeks early for Crick Boat show, but we have got the best mooring!

P1000165smDSCF7114sm0 locks, 0.47 miles, 3 soggy moggy hours, 5 dry moggy hours, 1 new fan, 1 mended fan, 2 hours chatting, 8 rounds of hexagons, 14th on the list is still on the list, 1st outside cruise in 32 days, 1st position for the show, 11 weeks early, 1 bouquet on it’s way, 1st broken ankle Lasagne.