About Me

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The name describes my demeanour and voice! I can make a sunny day gloomy. I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' family. 3 adults:-one man and wife, one adult son - and a teenage six footer.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Little Venice to West Drayton

Little Venice to West Drayton
We had to leave Little Venice after the IWA Canalway Cavalcade 2016 at 4pm. We were offered an overnight mooring breasted up to nb Miss Mattie who had been our neighbour for the weekend . However as we passed Delamere Terrace she was outboard of two other boats already.
Our exit from the Browning Pool was interesting. As we had been moored stern on between boats nb Lotus and nb Miss Mattie, who had already left, the remaining boats drifted to starboard, away from the direction we wanted to leave. The wind was from the West too. Show I had no option but to make a turn to starboard, reverse, turn 180deg and leave. Frank, skipper of Lotus, popped up to ask what I was doing as I turned across his bows. The Best Mate thought I had lost control and shouted CONCENTRATE! as it must have appeared that I had lost control as I was answering him.
Unfortunately half way through the turn another boat down the line decided to come out to go East! I turned away from her course and ended up calling for assistance to keep my bow clear of Lotus. I heaved  to and waited, completed my turn and exited without a collision.
°
We stopped at Sainsbury's to do some shopping and as they close at 7 pm on a Bank Holiday we decided to stay overnight.

Tuesday morning was sunny but cold. We moved a little  further  west to Kensal  Green Sainsbury's. Here we moored and I we t in search of Zoë storage boxes. I was persuaded to sort out The Man Cupboard. I did find a few less useful  items to throw away. In the main the need was for boxes to replace some crumbling plastic catering trays that I rescued from a pub bin about seven years ago. Wickes had nothing suitable but Sainsbury's had some toy boxes. I did rationalize the contents of three trays into two boxes.


Wednesday was a free day. We left early. Too early to call in on nb Shiraz for coffee. We watered up in Greenford and moved on in sunshine to Willow Tree marina where we pumped out, bought gas and deposited our rubbish. Then cruised a little further and stopped at very green spot near Bridge ?. Here the portside gunwhale received a glossing over. Then we moved to West Drayton via Bull's Bridge  Tesco for some fresh chills and mint needed for an on board Baltic chicken supper.
14 mils 0 locks 2 restful and rewarding days

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cowley Peachy to Bulls Bridge

I made a mistake yesterday about how long we had been in Uxbridge . We didn't need to move because I had mixed up my weeks. But Crowley Peachy is a quiet location. We enjoyed our evening and were asleep by 10pm.

This morning we were up with dawn after a really cold night. The stove needed immediate attention. Relighting was   necessary but se soon warmed up. The clear sky and north wind sere more like December than April.

After a  light breakfast set about better now.. I did a few drilling jobs and then s0 Sawing and splitting firewood and the interminable cleaning and sorting out.

The Best Mate needed more stove blacking so we went to the Packet Boat Marina but they do not have a chandlers. We got some at High Line Yachting next door.
Then we looked in The Waterside Bar and decided that we might try it for lunch when we pass again on 6 May and High Line service our engine.

Then we headed off to Bulls  Bridge. We were invited to moor alongside Nb Brandywine who  is also heading for Little Venice. After shopping we backed perfectly, winded faultlessly ( no one was looking) and started up Paddington Arm. We   stopped for a Cumberland Sausage in French bread with mustard and decided not to move  again today.

More chores this afternoon. The brass looks better now.                          3.1/2 miles 0 locks 2 hrs

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


Uxbridge, Cowley Mill Road Bridge 187 to Packet Boat Lane  Bridge 190

At about 4.30  this afternoon  we thought about how long Sonflower hadbeen in Uxbridge. Oops! It may take a little time to get used to this moving every 14 days. So at 5.00pm, just short of 15 days after we arrived here, ewe left and moved to the next  place: Cowley Peachey. Here we moored behind a South  African  boater who came out to help us  moor, pointing out the various pieces of rope that others had left for us to moor on. He also pointed out a submerged wall that we just  cleared at the stern of the boat.

We did a few chores then got ready for dinner .

We decided to visit The Packet Boat pub. This is a real ale (Fullers) pub with Thai cuisine. We had the Korean chicken and riche off the Specials Board, economically priced at a fiver. Washed down with red wine (best mate) or London  boat and concluded Pride (the skipper) it was a lovely meal. We left before the poker started.

We returned to the boat and concluded the day with a game of Yahtzee and a glass more of red wine.                                                                                         1.1/2 mile 1 lock 1 hour


Monday, 18 April 2016

Rickmansworth to Mill Road Bridge No 187 (Cowley Mill Road)

Today we boated the bit of the Grand Union Canal we should have done last Friday but chickened out in the torrential rain. Saturday morning was no better with snow showers where we were.

Fortunately I had a good friend who has Mondays off. So we boated to Uxbridge and enjoyed each other's company. My crew is an outdoor type but usually enjoys hill walking in remote Cumbria rather than the flatness of the Thames Valley and its tributaries, in this case the Rivers Colne, Chess and Gade.

Thanks to Henry who helped at Stokers Lock.

 Thanks to Lyn who waved from Trinity as her husband walked away with the dog.

The weather stayed dry and we noticed Fran's Tea Garden. Pity the Best Mate was not with us today.

We had a good run onward even though every lock was against us and there was no traffic on the cut until we got to Denham Deep lock.
View from the top of Denham Deep

Waiting at the bottom of Denham Deep
Here the crew of an oncoming boat berated my crew for not engaging a pawl before winding up a paddle and suggested we wasted a lockfull of water when we filled the 11ft deep lock with TWO feet of water. They had left Uxbridge Lock with a top gate open and all top paddles raised!

We had a lovely day! We saw cormorant, grey heron, mallard, pochard, tufted duck, canada goose, white goose, mute swan, moorhen, coot, chifchaff, reed bunting, loads of little brown jobs, red lite, buzzard, parakeet, african grey parrot and amazonian green parrot.

Near  Mill Road Bridge No 187

                                                                                    7 miles, 5½ furlongs and 7 locks  5hrs




Saturday, 16 April 2016

Marsworth to Rickmansworth

We rose early on Wednesday and got started as soon as the greaser was done and the bilge was pumped out. We passed our previous day's locking partner, nb Jess after two locks and settled into a routine.

Going up in Lock 37
Between locks, Marsworth flight
We ascended the main flight with a little assistance from the lock keeper who passed us after the first lock and told us the remainder would be set for us. We got to the summit at 9.15, just as the CRT volunteers were coming on shift. They did close the last gate for us after we left!

They told us a boat was being craned out at the yard as if that was exciting. We told them to give assistance to nb Jess as the crew were not well.

We navigated the Tring cutting and noticed a pair of kingfishers. One of them sitting on a branch in full view as we passed him or her. The other buzzed past the boat in a characteristic blue flash and disappeared into a tree. Their nest hole was easily seen and recognisable. It was quite a treat and the subject of conversation for a long time with a lady on Cowroast lock later in the day.


sunshine Spring cruising




The visitor mooring at Tring looked in a really sorry state. It would be difficult to get alongside to moor there at all because the bank edge is in such bad condition.

Across the lock, why not
We arrived at Cowroast Marina and entered to use the pump out facility. DIY, £15 cash only excluding blue (not provided since BWML took over). With fresh tank and no list the entry and exit maneuvering was worth it even if we did nearly hit Eric and Sally on the way out as they passed the marina entrance.  Our progress was soon halted at the lock where the paddles were chained shut because CRT were working on the next lock down. Sally and Eric were across the gates.

"No problem", we thought but soon heard that the stoppage would be until 6pm the following day (Thursday). To achieve our plan we still had at least 30 hours cruising to do by Friday evening!  I moored on the waterpoint above the lock. "Tut tut" I here you say! A first for me!

If you have time to lean you have time to clean
We settled  down to wash and clean the boat and decided to get food at the nearby Cowroast Inn. However their kitchen is not open on Monday to Wednesday! So we took a bus into Berkhamstead and dined at Porters. Very nice too. Two steaks and a bottle of house red was just what we needed.                 4 miles, 6½ furlongs and 8 locks  (4hr)

The next morning, Thursday,  we continued to fix and clean giving the brass a first clean of the year. We went into town again for lunch. Again at Porters. You can't have too much of a good thing. The hand raised steak, guiness and mushroom pie was delicious and I had another lemon creme brulee!

We returned to the boat from Berkhamstead after a nice lunch in Porters and a visit to the amazing WAH DIY shop. This is two floors of floor to ceiling shelving with just about everything you need. And if you haven't found it they will tell you "upstairs, centre aisle about a yard from the end, on the second shelf up" (that's for 0 gauge wire wool: the 00, 000 and 0000 gauge are below and the 1, 2 etc gauge are above!). It was about 2pm and there was a boat in the lock!

We quickly made ready and were there to take our place as the second pair of boats to descend. No-one was coming up though which as disappointing. And so it was all the way into Berkhamstead and beyond. We had great partners. Nb Pavo (of Idle Women fame when it was Kit's butty; GUCC No 327.) She now is a motty boat with a restored Lister JP2 and blows smoke rings at will.  Their crew stopped for provisions at Waitrose so nb Aloysious took their place. Their locking partner was delayed by the loss of spectacles into the cut. They were retrieved by paddling and feeling with bare feet!
paddling for specs 'tween boat and bank

So a very successful afternoon making past Winkwell Skew Railway Bridge just after sunset.          5 miles, 5½ furlongs and 15 locks

We rose early on Friday and found it was raining. We thought we would try to get to Uxbridge or at least to a convenient place to get the bus to retrieve our car. We needed to be back in Banbury for Saturday morning. Light rain turned into torrential rain and then we had a short sunny period before more rain set in. We were soaked and soon our waterproofs were letting in water at the seams. With only a short stop for breakfast in Common Moor Lock we worked on, finally succumbing to the weather after Batchworth Lock. We moored on the visitor moorings here, changed our clothes and left them dripping on newspaper in front of the fire to dry and walked to Rickmansworth Station to catch the Green Line bus back to Uxbridge. The day was completed with fish and chips in the comfort of our little flat!

                                                 10 miles, 6¼ furlongs and 21 locks  (9.1/2 hours)


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Leigĥton Buzzard to Marsworth bottom lock

We are moored t the foot of the Marsworth flight The Sun has gone down.  The fire is glowing and we are shattered

Public transport is not relaxing. We drove to Uxbridge and left the car outside BCF Friends hous near where ẃ we want to be by Friday evening. We started with a nightmare. Sheila the Sat Av did not know the road we wanted to park in was closed at the end we arrived at A three mile diversion put our schedule one hour out. This is not good when the Best Mate takes frusimide.  Happily no problem today  We got on the train at Carriage C which is the  one with the loo.

So, we got to where the  boat was moored. Setting off we lunched off left over kebab sandwiches and made wonderful progress. We shared locks with nb Jess for six of the locks from Slapton to  Seabrook. We had a letter to deliver at Dunstable Cruising Club and duly executed  this  duty. We then moored for a while and met with BCF members on a new boat  Also involved with Waterways Chaplaincy they are on their way to Crick.

Carp fishermen were having some success opposite the Club mooring but we left them to the twilight and pottered to the foot of Marsworth locks which we will mount in the morning.

We dined on pasta chorizo and ham. Delicious. Washed down with Chilean Red.

Pics will follow when I can connect ny phone to the tablet. One thing at a time!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Bletchley to Leighton Buzzard


4 April 2016
We drove to Leighton Buzzard and had a dickens of a job finding somewhere to park near Tesco. Only 3 hours allowed in Tesco, 1.1/2 in Aldi, 2 hours in Waitrose, 2hours on street parking so we ended up in a multi story at £6.50 for over 5 hours. "Still cheaper than a £70 fine" my First Mate for the day philosophically mused.

Then a 70 bus to Bletchley Bus Station and a longer than necessary walk to the boat via Bletchley Centre and following directions to the canal from a postman.

The boat was ok and so we put the kettle on and prepared her to depart. It was sunny when we left at 11.45am but showers followed occasionally through our uneventful cruise to Stoke Hammond lock. Here my First Mate for the day, Stuart, helmed the boat and I worked the lock. Stuart has experience of SONFLOWER from the past having cruised on her with his wife on several occasions.

We saw quite a bit of wild life. A pair of mandarin ducks were probably the highlight but a heron stood firm on the bank as we passed and we watched a wheeling buzzard for a time getting ever higher and higher. A moorhen guarded her three chicks in a reed bed and ducks chased each other around the skies.

We moored below Soulbury Three Locks and went to the Three Locks pub for a very nice lunch. The ale was very nicely conditioned and enjoyed by us both.

John a cheery CRT Volunteer prepared and helped us through the locks. He skillfully used the off side gate paddles to keep us against the near wall so we only used one gate but were not unduly slowed by only using the ground paddles on one side which is my usual careful modus operandae. Here Stuart helms the boat in the Soulbury Bottom Lock while John closes the gate behind him.

Having risen the 20 feet at Soulbury we cruised on to Leighton Lock. This is just before the Wyvern Shipping Company hire base and training on lock working was in full swing and there was a party of schoolboys fishing for carp at the lock entrance. When I say fishing for carp, their gear and bait indicated that this was their intention but the location was definitely not where I would expect any self respecting carp to be at that time of day! Their gear was good and new and I had the feeling that they were in their first outing. They littered the place with wrappers from Tesco barbequed chicken which I picked up, put in their carrier bag and gave to them to take home.    

Sonflower waited for the hire boat pair to come out and then we worked through, The enthusiasm of the next crew to open the paddles to fill the lock was calmed by my shout "Hey, that's my boat in there! Not until we are ready!" Sometimes there can be too much help on hand!

We thanked Wyvern Shipping for their help and negotiated their base where boats were moored four abreast leaving little room to negotiate the floating tree trunk that happened to be in the remaining passage. As we left the base we heard the first chiffchaff of the Spring singing in the tree tops over their car park.

We then looked for a mooring as the sky darkened again. Long term moorings abounded until the 2hour linted shopping mooring at Tesco: thence through  Bridge 114 and past the services to the Leighton Linslade Visitor moorings. These are signed "14 days per Year"! Where did CRT get the authority to make that sort of a declaration? I bet the hire boats are moored there waiting for turn around day more than that each year. We moored between a narrowboat and a wide beam, closed up the boat and went to retrieve the car as the rain started in anger.

8 miles, ½ furlongs and 5 locks  in a day mooring at 5.30pm.