The Oatcake Boat On Tour!

July 2024 Update…

The Oatcake Boat is heading (for a weekend) to pastures new. The weekend of 6th and 7th of July 2024 we are in Congleton (I’ll post the exact location as always in the Facebook group) followed by our very first time at Bugsworth Basin – which is at the end of the Peak Forest Canal, near Whaley Bridge and Buxworth.

Then we head back to Congleton for the weekend of 20th and 21st July.

Hopefully see many of you at Congleton and Bugsworth!

The Return to Great Haywood

The Return to Great Haywood (with mince pies…)

Just a very quick update so you know what’s happening with The Oatcake Boat. I promise a full rundown of October’s fun and games next week!

Happy to say we are moored up and open in Great Haywood – just the other side of the road bridge from our usual spot at the junction.  The What 3 Words location is leap.redeemed.crest.

We now have mince pies to go with all hot drinks for just 2 quid – close enough to Christmas right?

We will be open Saturday, Sunday and Monday here before heading back to Stone for next weekend.  The current plan is to be back in Great Haywood the following weekend (Friday 25th to Sunday 28th November) when we are joined by the awesome Barge-Inn Booze Pub Boat so look out for us then too!

See you soon, take care, and lots of love 🙂

Toby, Gina, Tommo and Alice
The Oatcake Boat xxx

Our Turn on YouTube!

Great Haywood, Gary Captain Phillips, Holly The Cafe Boat, The Deepest Lock, Westport Lake, Harecastle Tunnel and the Return of the Rains…

Where to begin…with an apology for starters.  We had meant to get this email update to you before now, but we hadn’t banked on O2 being the worst network for data at Westport Lake and Harecastle – but enough excuses, let’s fill you in on what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks, and the rough plan for the next few!

Well, what can be said about Great Haywood in the sunshine…it’s an amazing location for The Oatcake Boat and we certainly found out that Staffordians LOVE their oatcakes.  Not only are there lots of walkers, cyclists and campers but the location is a hive of activity on the canal network. Being at the junction of the Trent & Mersey and Staffs & Worcester canals and with lots of boater facilities, and Anglo-Welsh hire boats, plus the close proximity of Great Haywood Marina and moorings means there are many boaters too – all looking for their cost-effective and gorgeous grub 😉

It’s a popular spot for narrowboat traders of all types – from plants to jacket potatoes to arts and crafts that bring even more people out to enjoy the towpath. We also had a flying visit from Bargus – the legendary fuel boat – with whom a rather unusual deal was struck – oatcakes for … erm, there’s no nice way to put this – oatcakes for poo.  Yes, as well as fuel, coal, kindling and gas, the awesome Jay and Kat (and their lovely dog Lulu) also provide a toilet pumpout service, so they take our – waste – and we feed them oatcakes…not the sort of deal I’ve ever made before!

It all happened in Great Haywood that’s for sure. We had a surprise visit from a popular BoatTuber – Gary Captain Phillips and his lovely family who were moored nearby, and we were chuffed to be included in Gary’s latest vlog where he says some very nice things about us – cheers Gary, and hopefully, see you again soon.

If that wasn’t enough, arguably the most popular BoatTubers right now – the awesome Vic, Jo and baby William of Holly The Cafe Boat also paid us a visit – and although the heavens opened while they were filming, they seemed to enjoy their first taste of Staffordshire Oatcakes.  Keep an eye out on their YouTube channel, we can’t wait to see if we make the cut (excuse the pun!).

So finally after a couple of weekends at both Great Haywood and Stone, we finally had the incredible news that the recent rain had been just enough to persuade the Canal and River Trust (CRT) to open the locks from Stone to Stoke. Yes, at last – this meant we could get to Westport Lake – and also take in a visit to the CRTs activities day at Harecastle Tunnel.  The journey to Westport lake was fairly uneventful, except for tackling the HUGE lock number 40 at Etruria (the sunken boat near Middleport Pottery having finally been removed!). This lock has to be the deepest we’ve done, there’s no way I (Toby) could do it solo – I’d get vertigo climbing that ladder.  I think if I’m ever without crew (thanks Tommo for this stint!) I’ll be calling on Rob the Lock to help me out.

What can we say about Westport Lake?  So peaceful and idyllic, the Friday was busy (for a Friday) which is great – we found our feet (and the trick of moving the boat away from the towpath, so we could open the hatch doors as the bank is so high!) and had a really warm welcome from Westport Lake B’Oatcakers.

The Saturday was brilliant, as we traded next to the Makers Market – which pops up every last Saturday of the month and gives a real vibe to the corner of Westport Lake we moored up at.  We’ve said we will try and time our visits to coincide with the market, but that really will depend on when the Stoke games are I guess.  We shall check the fixtures!  

Westport Lake really did live up to expectations, and we can’t wait to be back – the plan being this Friday (30th Sept) to be precise. We would have stayed for the Saturday too but with the Stoke home game on Sunday being an early kickoff, we won’t have time to move and make enough oatcakes we don’t think – however we will be back again with the current plan being Sunday 8th October following the Stoke game on Saturday, and then for the following full weekend (Friday 14th to Sunday 16th October).

Last but not least – we loved being invited (well, we kinda invited ourselves in truth, but they loved the idea!) to the CRTs Activities Day on Sunday 25th September which was a roaring success, although sadly we were too busy to jump in one of the canoes for a paddle…maybe next time! We will be back soon though – for Scarecastle – the CRTs annual Halloween event which is always fun – this year from Thursday 27th to Monday 31st. See you there spooky B’Oatcakers!

See you soon, take care, and lots of love 🙂

Toby, Gina, Tommo and Alice
The Oatcake Boat xxx

A Minor Flood…

A Minor Flood, A Broken Knee, Radio Stardom, Feeding Hundreds of Footie Fans, A Lack of Water, and The Dash for Home for Oatcake Day…

Well, that has the be the oddest but perhaps most exhilarating weekend ever!

It all started with some welcome rain (more on the lack of that later!) but finding that some of it had decided to make its way into the newly painted and pristine engine bay.  Seems our taped-up ex-control panel riser* bodge didn’t quite do the trick (Gina has now done a much more permanent fix!) and we had a bit of a puddle which needed nappying out.  Once that was sorted we were able to get on our way to the Bet365 Stadium for our very first day of trading at a Stoke game.  We stopped for a night halfway there in Barlaston, which was very nice indeed, having passed the lovely Phil who was moored up on the way, and the kinda famous house with its own dock (what we call The David House, due to David of Cruising the Cut YT channel having done a vlog about it a few months ago).

However, Toby’s overnight stay in Barlaston was somewhat tarnished by, somewhat appropriately, a football injury sustained a couple of days earlier. Thinking he’s 23 not 53 sometimes has consequences, and a sprained knee (is that a thing?) suddenly took a turn for the worse and at one point he was moments from calling 111, not being able to move and in total agony.  This just 2 days before the biggest day yet in the new life of The Oatcake Boat!  Gawd knows what the boat moored up behind us thought as screams emanated through the summer air at 2am!

Some ibuprofen and sitting perfectly still for 3 hours eased the pain, and by morning – after a few careful hours sleep – we were ready to chug the remaining couple of hours to the Stoke ground.

Once safely in place, we met up with the awesome Jeff and Wayne of the Barginn-Booze pub boat.  What awesome guys they are, as they gave us so much advice for what was to follow the next day! A big batch of Oatcakes were made (Toby staying up until almost midnight to finish) before setting the alarm (also known as Gina) for a 7.45am appearance on Radio Stoke – which went waaay better than expected. It turned out Toby was not only live on Paula White’s early morning show but also on the hourly news bulletins throughout the day – blithering on about the lack of rain and the impending lock closures…which have put in jeopardy us returning any time soon to the Bet365.

It was a great way to get the brain in gear, and the full contingent of both of us plus our son and daughter got set up and ready to feed the Stoke and Blackpool fans making their way to the match.  It was nerves all round – can we be quick enough?  Did we make enough oatcakes?  Did we cook enough sausages? Will Toby’s knee collapse halfway through?  

As it happened, it actually went very well indeed – well enough that Toby and our son Tommo could escape to the game, only missing the first 5 minutes!  Stoke even won 2-0 to add to the day.

We had no idea what to expect after the match – and as Toby and Tommo came over the bridge they saw a big queue forming – but with Alice on order taking duty it was all cool, and we finished about an hour later with a huge sigh of relief and exhilaration at a job well done.  The guys of Barge-Inn booze had a great day too so it was smiles all around.

All we had left to do was to get back to Stone pronto – the impending lock closures meant we needed to get back to Stone instead of heading up to Westport Lake as originally planned.  So with just a few minutes of daylight left we made it back to just before Fullers Boat Yard – a fave mooring spot of ours in Stone.

That just left a quick chug and 4 locks on Sunday morning to be able to trade again behind M&S.

It also meant we were in a good spot to celebrate Oatcake Day on Monday – and wow you guys came out in force to enjoy a lovely day with many of you entering the draw for the Oatcake Boat Tee – we will draw the winner this week and let everyone know on the Facebook page and group 🙂

And here we are – it’s Tuesday evening – tomorrow we will open for a few hours before heading down to Gt Haywood over a couple of days (some non-boat work to do so we won’t open Thursday) but we will be trading for the very first time for us at Gt Haywood Friday thru Sunday – by the Anglo Welsh boatyard at the junction of the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Staffs and Worcester Canal.

We really can’t wait and thanks to Kev at Anglo Welsh for having us for this coming weekend – it’s much appreciated.

See you all very very soon, and thanks for reading this far!  It’s been such an eventful weekend it seemed silly not to let you all know what the heck we’d been up to.

Until next time, take care, and lots of love 🙂

Toby & Gina
The Oatcake Boat xxx

*The Oatcake Boat (first named Little Beauty, the Que Sara Sara, and now Black Cherry**) was built to go on the Thames we were told – and originally had a steering wheel instead of a tiller.  When that wheel was de-commisioned for the traditional tiller, it left behind an old control panel riser (for the throttle etc) which over the years has rusted and had started to leak under heavy rain.  Just another example of the quirky nature of the Oatcake Boat – next time you’re with us, ask us and we’ll show you!

**that’s a whole other story!

The Oatcake Boat in the Rain

Evening B’Oatcakers!

It’s a bit damp outside – the downpours put a stop to the metal paintwork prepping I was in the middle of which has dampened my mood a bit –  but the canoe club don’t seem to care though, which kinda makes sense!

The news this week is that Gina finished ‘blanking’ one of the name panels on the boat, ready for the new paintwork.  At some point, we will have to moor the other way round to do the other side of course, just not sure when we can but I’m sure we can work out the logistics somehow.

Another challenge that’s becoming more urgent is to get the bedroom decorated in time for our first cruising – which all being well will be in about 10 days’ time.  The lovely crew at Canal Cruising will – with a following wind – have done the essential engine work so we will have no reason not to take The Oatcake Boat to pastures new (for us!) which may even include a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. We’ve been through “The Scarecastle” on a CRT trip but never on our own boat!  Exciting and scary at the same time…

It’s business as usual this weekend though, and we are once again in Stone behind M&S. The What 3 Words is outlooks.cheerily.envoy so no excuses not to find us.  We will be adding mushrooms to the menu this weekend as well – many of you asked for them so it’s happening!

So see you in Stone this weekend in between the downpours!

Take care, and lots of love, 

Toby & Gina
The Oatcake Boat xxx

In Stone – For Now!

Morning B’Oatcakers!

We promised some news – at last, we have a date for the essential engine work after which we are on our travels!  We are booked in at the legendary Canal Cruising from 4th July for a few days so with a following wind in July and August we will be able to visit B’Oatcake regular stops such as Westport Lake, Great Haywood, The Bet 365 (Blackpool at home on Saturday 6th August is the first match for us) and of course Stone.

We’ve also been invited to a couple of festivals so once those are confirmed we’ll let you know.

You may have spotted us (well, Gina mostly!) prepping a panel on the trading side of the boat.  If you follow us on Insta (theoatcakeboat) you can see what’s been going on.  The plan is to rename the boat the next time she is out of the water (the boat, not Gina…) as apparently, it is bad luck to rename a boat while it’s afloat!

Business-wise, it’s still a case of finding our feet – and we are so grateful to everyone who has supported us this far.  It really does mean the world to us that we have so many people who are taking an interest in what we are doing and we really do appreciate every message of support and of course every purchase from the boat, from a cuppa to a double oatcake with every filling!

This weekend – Saturday 25th June and Sunday 26th June – we are based in Stone again, right behind Marks & Spencers and just a few yards below Star Lock.  When we are open, we have the HUGE A-board on the grass verge, so you can’t really miss us!

The What 3 Words for this spot is outlooks.cheerily.envoy which will narrow it down to the nearest metre 😉

So see you in Stone hopefully this weekend or next – and we will keep posting in Facebook and Insta too.

Take care, and lots of love, 

Toby & Gina
The Oatcake Boat xxx