Friday 21 April

On Wednesday night, after childminding duties ended, we headed back to the boat which James & Ali had returned to its temporary mooring at the top of the Hurleston flight.  They’d had a lovely week away and were reluctantly returning home to face preparation for the Summer school term.

We spent a fairly quiet day yesterday, doing a spot of baking; a quiche, some scones and some bread cakes were requested – not bad as our invited guests said they were on a low carb diet.  Storm said he thought they’d be easily dissuaded and he was right!

Today we picked up two Shropshire lasses, who we’d not seen for six months.   I used to work with Nicki and Sarah at Hull Truck Theatre and we’ve been trying to catch up with them for a while and as they’d posted a message on Facebook this week saying they were in Shropshire, we got in touch to see if we could meet up and if they fancied a pootle along the Shropshire Union Canal.

We took them on a cruise down the four locks and out along the Shropshire Union Canal to Nantwich before winding, and mooring for lunch.   We had a healthy lunch, with only a few carbs!

Storm paused at the bottom of the locks so we could pick up cars and they headed back to Wem and I drove on to Barbridge to rendezvous with Storm.  I think we might visit the pub this evening.

After a few days of warmth, today was overcast with a chilly breeze but we had a lovely day out.

Sunday, 16 April

A week ago we celebrated Joseph’s 5th April birthday with a family party.    The weather in the morning was wonderfully hot so we set out tables and chairs on the newly mown lawn ready for the afternoon.  Unfortunately not long after all the family arrived, the wind got up and the temperature dropped and we soon sought shelter back indoors in the newly decorated playroom.

Summer enjoyed helping Joseph open his presents and cousin Jacob helped blow the candle out on the lion cake – a good time was had by all.

While we did our usual three days of childminding this week James and Ali were on board heading for Trevor.   They rang a couple of times on Tuesday morning to ask about an alarm.  Initially we thought it was the reoccurrence of a sensor fault but later discovered that, when we’d carried out our maintenance checks prior to them taking the boat, we’d failed to secure the lid on the water filler.  Once James had refilled the tank with water, they had no further problems.  They did bounce over something submerged as they came out of Chirk tunnel which had un-nerved them slightly but otherwise they’ve had a lovely, relaxing trip.

Once Laura and Marc returned from work, our evenings were spent helping them demolish a wall in what is to become the kitchen/dayroom.   By Wednesday evening, we were ready to escape and we set off to Yorkshire for the Easter holiday and a rest.

When we arrived at the house we couldn’t get the lights to work but thankfully I’d bought a torch and a quick look at the fuse board showed we just needed to flick the switch.  We had a quick look round to see what progress had been made since our last visit before we headed over to the pub for a drink before calling it a night

The plumber has started installing the central heating as promised but still has quite a bit to do.   Stuart, our electrician, has been back in and done a bit more but otherwise things were pretty much as we’d left them.

Despite intending to rest, I’ve done quite a lot of gardening. I’ve cleared a huge mass of tangled brambles and mowed the lawn. Storm has steamed the last of the wallpaper off the staircase which I’d been reluctant to do off the top of the ladder, reversed the swing of the sitting room door, and attended to various bits of admin.

We’ve spent more time seeing friends and family and have spent quite a bit of time socialising during the day this time.

On Friday afternoon we set off to Keadby to meet up with Pip and Mick before they left Yorkshire to head down the Trent to Nottingham.  We wanted to see their lovely new boat NB Oleanna which they moved onto last week in Sheffield.  Pip and Mick have spent seven years dreaming and planning for this moment and they were proud to show her off to us.

They will be looking for new owners for NB Lillyanne and there will be no more WASP journeys but we are planning to visit the Lancaster Canal with them in the Summer.


Friday, 7 April

Since our last blogpost we’ve travelled back to Yorkshire for another four nights, and have also spent six days babysitting .

We spent the days in Yorkshire knocking down walls, burning paint off the front door and checking on the progress of the various contractors we have working in the house.  We’re in demand in the evenings too when we try to see as many friends as possible before we collapse exhausted into bed.

On Sunday we drove back via Ikea.  I was wanting to buy curtaining and matching bedding for our new house.  The Leeds store didn’t have what we wanted. We’d strolled through the whole store pretty much before we discovered that Leeds is a ‘small store’ and only has a limited fabric supply.  I persuaded Storm to stay on the M62 another junction so we could call in at the Warrington store. Storm opted to take Max for a walk instead of battling his way round another store.  I was in and out like the SAS having achieved my objective of buying 12m of lining and 12m of main fabric.  I must learn to check the website before I go shopping next time!!

While I’m babysitting, Storm is kept busy working on Laura’s house.  He’s now on to his second room.   Laura had been finishing off the playroom while we’d been in Yorkshire and on Tuesday we were there to let in the carpet fitter and to take delivery of some new furniture.  One room down,  three to go before the wedding in June!

It was Joseph’s first birthday on Wednesday and we’re going to be celebrating this this weekend.

We both took a day off on Thursday this week, when we moved the boat from The Shady Oak to the top of Hurleston Locks ready for James and Ali to take to Trevor.  The Shady Oak has changed hands in recent times and we’re happy to say that the atmosphere is much improved, as is the beer.   They apparently do a roaring trade at weekends with their roast lunches.

Storm steered the boat and Max and I walked to Wharton’s Lock and made it ready.  Afterwards we walked back to the pub before heading back to pick up the car and we drove from lock to lock.  We caught up with Storm as he stopped for diesel at Chas Harden’s boatyard.   We knew our tank was nearly empty. We only have the one diesel tank which also fuels our central heating system.  The central heating failed to come on on Wednesday night which is the first sign we have that we’re getting low (that is unless we dip the tank).  The price of diesel has gone up by 10p per litre since we last filled up – ouch!

Driving from lock to lock was quite fun as we had to work out how to get to each lock by car.   A guy from CRT kept appearing at locks just after me, but didn’t seem to notice that he’d seen me three times already when he kept asking me if I was alright!

We met up at Calveley where Storm stopped to use the facilities and while moored up we had lunch and loaded the car with a few boxes from our cupboards to give James & Ali some space for their belongings.

We then went our separate ways again and met up again at the bottom of Hurleston Locks.  There was a volunteer lock keeper on and he’d seen me approaching from the top with windlass in hand and wondered where my boat was.  He didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Today, Storm & Max headed back off to Laura’s to finish installing some steelwork and I finished off the spring clean I’d started two weeks ago.   I took some time off this afternoon to walk round part of Hurleston Reservoir.   It was glorious in the sunshine.   The reservoir is high up above the junction with the Llangollen and Shropshire Union Canals and from the top you get terrific views of Cheshire.  Jodrell Bank Observatory is just visible in the distance.

The reservoir has a capacity of 85million gallons and gets its water from the Llangollen canal which in turn gets its water from the River Dee.  The water is used for both drinking water and to supply water to the Shropshire Union Canal.

Saturday 25 March

We crossed back across the Pennines, westwards, last Sunday afternoon ready for another three days of childminding.

Laura moved into her new house last month and we now have slightly further to travel as her house is just a mile beyond the Cheshire/Wales border.  The house is a beautiful detached Edwardian house, which like all houses of that age requires some work.  While I look after Joseph, Storm now spends time doing DIY.

Yesterday we needed to move the boat as we’d stayed our 14 days at The Cheshire Cat.   Storm wanted to finish a job he’d started at the house, so Max and I moved the boat south to Bates Mill Bridge; a distance of 7 miles and no locks.

Max coming to warn of overhanging branches!

Max checking proximity to the bank!

It was a beautiful sunny Spring morning for a relaxing cruise.  We passed by our  permanent mooring and were informed by various neighbours that CRT are coming to start work on repairing the moorings next week, so we can’t return for a while.  That isn’t a hardship to us as James & Ali are taking the boat for a cruise over Easter and we’ll nudge  our way in the meantime towards their rendezvous.

Max and I arrived at our destination by mid-day and while Max basked in the sunshine and enjoyed the view of Beeston Castle on top of the hill, I began to spring clean the boat.

By the time Storm got back I’d sorted through and cleaned all the bedroom cupboards, had a good clear out of things that are no longer beautiful or useful, and made spaghetti bolognese for supper, as well as a pan of onion soup.

The evening sunset was quite spectacular suggesting another fine day tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 March

I’m now childminding three days a week and we’ve been spending fewer nights on board as it’s easier to stay with Laura than get up at silly o’clock to look after Joseph from 6.45am each  morning.

We’ve been very busy recently though and seem to have spent no time at all on board. However, on Thursday 8 March we returned to the boat, filled up with water, took some bags of coal on board and travelled south from our mooring to Tattenhall Marina, winded before heading back north to the Cheshire Cat.  As we haven’t moved the boat since New Year we thought we might need to refer to our Nicholson’s Canal guide to remind ourselves of the route!!

We had friends stay on board with us on Friday night and on Saturday morning we got up early, winded again and headed back to Tattenhall so that our friends could regain confidence in their steering skills as they’re looking to have a narrowboat holiday later this year.   Having successfully winded again we headed back to the Cheshire Cat, all before lunch, before heading out into Chester to sample a few pubs.

The Albion, just inside the City Walls near the River Dee, is one of our favourites; the landlord doesn’t welcome many people as he displays a board suggesting that hen parties, stag parties, race goers etc are not welcome, and suggests that pensioners need to turn up with their parents.   He serves food at lunch time and in the evening, serving simple fare with few adjectives e.g. kedgeree, on plates, not slates.   He closes at 3pm each day and re-opens at six.  The interior of the pub has remained unchanged for years and has some fine examples of William Morris wallpaper on the walls.    We got served so that was lucky.

The CRT are programmed to come and do some repairs to our mooring this month so we’re hoping that they arrive soon so we can shuffle from mooring to mooring for two weeks at a time before the 1st of April when the winter mooring rules end.

This weekend we’ve been to Yorkshire to work on the house which is really starting to take shape now.  The roof has been re-felted and re-pantiled, the windows have all been replaced with double glazed Everest ones and the house is now fully weatherproof.  The electrician has started the re-wire and we’re hoping that we’ve finally found a plumber.   We’ve knocked down a few internal walls to create more space.




Wednesday 8 February

Since our last blog posting I’ve travelled  twice more to Yorkshire by car to work on the house after looking after Joseph each Monday and Tuesday.

Last Friday (3rd February) saw the seventh anniversary of the launch of Blackbird.    Our boating travels are on hold at the moment though and she’ll be staying on her permanent mooring for a little while longer with us only spending occasional nights on board.    We’re looking forward to longer days and warmer weather before we head out again.

Sunday 22 January

Last Tuesday we left Chester after tea and headed over to Beverley to stay with my Mum, with a car full of tools.  Wednesday was going to be an exciting day as  we were due to pick up the keys to our new home and it was also my birthday.

We woke early and, after I’d opened my birthday cards, we headed out to the estate agents to collect the keys before driving straight round to Pudding Gate. We spent an exciting time taking stock and chatting through plans of the changes we’d like to make.

I then headed out to Wilkos to buy a few items that we hadn’t brought with us before we tackled taking up the old carpets, and tying them into rolls so we could take them to the tip before Storm started steaming the wallpaper off the spare bedroom walls.

The day wasn’t all work though as I took some time out in the afternoon to go and meet a friend  and my Mum treated us to a meal out in the evening.

We’re planning to camp out at the house next time we visit as we’ve got power and hot water and we want to introduce Max to his new home as he’s not been yet, so we’re preparing the smaller of the bedrooms ready for our stay as this will be the room that will be least disturbed by the proposed works!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent stripping more walls and my Mum popped in twice to help us.   A couple of trips to the tip were made and Jethro the chimney sweep came and cleaned our flue so we can now light the fire.

Storm had invited various tradesmen to pop round to discuss what work we needed doing and so various cups of coffee were made as well.

This morning, we took the morning off and drove through to Hull with my Mum for a morning of culture in Victoria Square.  Despite the freezing temperature we stood a while to admire the 75m turbine blade that lies across the Square and which is going to be here until March.   We loved it.   We understand that someone from Hull City Council’s planning department is unhappy that no-one applied for planning permission.  Does a work of art, and a temporary one at that, need planning permission?


We wonder whether Hull City Council are really giving City of Culture its full support as the number of road closures, carpark closures, limited parking times, the number of orange barriers placed everywhere, and the closure of the New Theatre for renovation might suggest otherwise!  Anyone visiting Hull for the first time might struggle to navigate their way around and question the Council’s support for this event.

After that we went into Ferens Art Gallery where we were delighted to find the galleries  full of people enjoying the art on display.   Whenever we’ve visited in the past, it has been almost deserted.  What a difference some publicity  makes!  The Francis Bacon and Local Artists exhibition were marvellous and we could have spent a lot longer here had we not been limited for time.

We stopped for a bite of lunch before dropping Mum back home and driving back to Chester for another two days of childminding.