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.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

The Best Mate gave me this small but powerful book for Christmas.

 I may treat you to an exerpt on occasion as it is a very fitting.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Under Refit

We visited the boat for a couple of days in the Autumn: cleared a lot out and contemplated the refit at the back. I returned for a wonderful hour with a carpenter who came up with exciting ideas that I had never thought about. I then spent many more hours on the web trying to make them become real.

It was easier to get the project started on paper than to get it started practically!

A few minutes with a tape rule did reveal some interesting features of the present set up. The starboard bunk space is 5' 10" long. So the modulised drawer based 6ft  beds that we have been offered by friends will not fit! The port bunk is 7'4" but has an overhanging cupboard. The bed will fit but would not allow enough headroom to get into it! So, therefore we are back to the drawing board on that one.

The winter saw little done but new floors are now in place throughout the rear of the boat and we have made progress on re-furbishing the shower room. We have installed a new sycamore bathroom counter with a basin sink and pillar mixer tap. The water system is back on and leak free!

We have put some some ideas about improving the ventilation to the bilges into practice with holes in the new floor under a redesigned staircase which eases the acess to the boat from the rear.

Today we spent a happy couple of hours removing the pvc/lino that was glued to the shower room walls. In doing so, we found that the control panel electrics are accessible from within the bathroom by a hinged cover! Also, the main wiring loom is secured to the ceiling int eh corner of the boat by three inch nails at foot intervals rather than a proper trunking.

We will be recladding the walls with rigid pvc marble look sheeting. A few more problems to tackle: the dreaded "no more nails" holds the "coving" strip at the ceiling as well as beng screwed up/ The screw head countersinks have been filled with the stuff! It looks as though I will need to hack it all off with a bolster. What shall we do around the windows etc. where the curves at the corners will not be easy to follow with the new sheets? Something will turn up.

We have had new batteries this year as the old ones did not last the winter. I tried to start the engine but found that neglect has hit the engine bay as well. The decompressor was stuck out and needed freeing off. Little things like that take care of themselves with the use and constant tending when you are in the boat. Leaving things in one place for so long really does not it any good. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Re-fit begins

With my good friend John the carpenter chiseling away and sawing in the most confined spaces walls have come down and the floor has come up.

Revealed was water again. Having once had it dry we found that it is now very wet.

The back stairs were removed. The tread supports were rotting.

The bathroom wall was cut from top to bottom approximately where we thought we would reposition the bathroom door for outward opening. Then the extent of the rot in the bottom meant that the remaining stub was demolished as well.

The calorifier at the back under the vanity surface  was positioned on rotting boards so I went to our handy bathrom showroom and bought two self seal blanking ends for the engine flow and return and drained it down. Moving it out revealed that the large plug was leaking, probably blanking the hole where an imersion heater would go, - source of water number one found!

Than we pumped out some of the water from the bilge into the wash basin to discover that the drain trap discharge was leaking- source of water number 2 found!

John removed the basin and we removed the calorifier. Next we discovered that the toilet tank was positioned over a board floor that hosted plenty of fungus underneath it. So the toilet tank needs moving and the board needs removing!

By now the debris on the back deck was increasing so I went to Wickes to buy some rubble bags. I was filling one as nb Epiphany came past to turn at Grimsbury Wharf. They were saying "Goodbye" for a time and heading off. " We must be in Thrupp by Tuesday", Fiona said, "for a BSS Examination." I wish them all the best.

I went for some lunch and John cut and positioned some new marine ply boarding. He had to remove the bottom of the shower side wall. The rest came with it! Water staining was evident on the revealed side of the shower tray. Source of water number 3 found.

The boarding on the cabin to engine bay bulkhead was rotten so John removed it revealing that the door threshold was bedded on foam filler which is not waterproof. Rainwater could run under the door cill!  Source of water number 4 found!

So I pumped and mopped as much out as I could and now we have to replace the floor, cure the leaks and redo the whole of the bathroom.

Oh, we demolished a wardrobe as well so we have also started on the bunk room!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014


Well we got a bus to Fenny Compton and took the boat back to her mooring.

We did not think about Cropredy. This little sleepy Oxfordshire village is a good place to stop for lunch or evening meal at one of its two pubs or on the towpath with provisions from its wonderfully stocked Bridge Stores. If you are early enough you can indulge yourself in a breakfast at the little Cafe on the Green.

However, for the second weekend of August it is a different matter. Cropredy's Fairport Convention is held and the faithfull of the Folk/Rock world gather for the "friendly festival". Canal and River Trust get into the spirit of friendship by allowing boats to stay on the 24hr moorings from Tuesday to Tuesday. In fact you can moor anywhere and no one minds. Except boaters who anticipate a stop for lunch or an evening meal!

We were unable to moor even to eat our bacon and eggs, cooked on board. Fortunately we knew the crew of nb Epiphany who allowed us to moor alongside them "as long as you don't let the smell out". (John has recently been on a very successful diet). We kept the side hatch closed and ate as quickly and smellessly as we could.

There is a serious point here. There was literally nowhere to moor. It took us over an hour at 1000revs to pass the moored boats. On our way toward Banbury below Cropredy we met seven hire crews, on holiday heading toward Cropredy and nowhere to moor- two days before the festival starts.

The cruise was really quite uneventfull apart from going down on the cill in Crooredy Lock! We refloated easily enough once we noticed! We had a bad road to Cropredy and a good road after that. Basically most were heading to the little village and not a lot were coming out!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Spoiled my Sunday afternoon!

There we were, cruising along Top Level at a merry 1700rpm, just keeping the wash from breaking, when a horn sounded behind me. "At a convenient point, could you pull over so that I can pass" the helmsman of the boat behind shouted. I acknowledged his request, rounded the next two bends (there are many on the Oxford Canal Top Level) and on a straight, slowed down and pulled to the starboard (tow-path) side behind a moored boat.

I did this here because the off side is shallow and I did not want to be grounded as he passed.

I expected him to pass at about 2 mph as there was a moored boat ahead. He held back! Maybe this place, convenient to me, was not convenient to him! I turned back and said "Do you expect me to moor?" Eventually nb Greenham Mist did come by but at a lot more than 2mph. The wash created by the speed of this boat pulled mine out from behind the moored boat and into his! I wear hearing aids but, with the engine noise from my quarter deck, I could not hear the tirade of abuse that was now filling the peacefull Oxford Canal Warwickshire air. Any problem was ALL of his making, I didn't steer my boat toward him at all! Speed, water displacement and lack of patience did the work.

We arrived at Fenny Compton Wharf Bridge 136A exactly 2.1/2 hours after we had left Marston Doles lock No 16, an average speed of 3 mph over 7.1/2 miles. On the shallow Oxford Canal that is not really dawdling is it?

When we moored, 2 boat lengths past the nb Greenham Mist, he was sitting on the tow-path reading a paperback. He was still there an hour later, when we returned from dinner at The Wharf, and at 4.00 pm when we left to catch a lift home.

So what was the hurry? Why spoil MY afternoon.

Canal Junction has advice for canal holidays. The "Rules" for overtaking are:

              Overtake Only If You Are Waved On By A Slower Boat.

There isn't always much space for overtaking, but if you do want to pass another boat, make sure you let the skipper of that boat know your intention well in advance so that he can slow down and wait until he or she is ready. You usually overtake on the left, but agree this with the other skipper beforehand. And remember - its your responsibility to steer clear of the other boat. If you both end up on the mud there isn't much point! 


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Out and about for a few days

For family reasons our cruising has been less than we would have hoped.

However we have just returned from four lovely days cruising to take Sonflower to meet up with friends at Warwick. Our friends have borrowed her before and this year are cruising with other family members who have hired nb Rebbeca from Kate Boats.

We had originally intended to be in the area at this time but circumstances changed so it was necessary to make a Special Cruise out of the delivery.

We were a crew of three, the Best Mate being up for the journey and Alex joining in to provide youthful enegy, muscle, and as it turned out music to keep our spirits up. The iPad was linked by blutooth to an outside speaker to keep the steerer entertained. HiTech on Sonflower, what is this!!

So the cruise went like this:

Wednesday: Home Mooring to Fenny Compton Wharf
Thursday:  Fenny Compton Wharf to Long Itchington
Friday: Long Itchington to Kate Boats Base
Saturday Morning: to and from Cape Bottom Lock water point - to wash the boat.

A Full English Breakfast was cooked by the Skipper each mornng: at Marston Doles (Thursday), Fosse locks (Friday) and Nelson Wharf, Warwick (Saturday) Other  Meals were  taken at The Wharf Inn Fenny Compton : (Wednesday evening), a sharing fish platter and Nachos Grande with an extra of potato wedges. Fed the three of us very comfortably.   The Boat Inn, Stockton (Thursday late lunch): Steak sandwiches followed by Ice cream. Very generous portions and tasty. On Board (Friday) Best Mate made meat balls in tomato sauce with pasta. All meals were washed down with approriate beverages as the weather was steaming hot!  We took late evening drinks in the Two Boats, Long Itchington on Thursday evening.

No silly boaters were on the water. In fact, after the Cropredy to Fenny Compton part, very few baoters were out. We had good company with plastic boat Maggie and her Aussie skipper who was waltzing Matilda between Bascote Bottom lock and Warwick. We had company of nb Rachel for a few locks but her (female) crew, who was shod in dancing shoes, flagged before lunch on Friday.

                                                                                         36 miles, 44 locks 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Doesn't she look smart?

Our tatty worn out black cratch cover has been replaced!

And I must say I am very pleased with the result. There are slight differences: it is green; more fasteners to stop it flapping in a wind; an angle on the tie backs to keep it taught, better detailing at the gunwhale so the water does not lay but runs straight off.

And all done with no fuss and a smile from Karl and Chrissie at K.C. Covers.

They promised to do it by the end of the month so are early! A first for a canal business in my experience!

It comes with a year's guarantee as well.

The price was very good too!

All round a pleasing experience.