About Me

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The name describes my demeanour and voice! 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' couple. The Best Mate and I.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Back on our mooring

I backed SONFLOWER up from opposite Sovereign Wharf, through the Marsh Footbridge 163 and onto her mooring this afternoon. (The link show a picture of her on it)

We have permission from Canal and River Trust to put her on the mooring for the month of February.

We are away until the 24th in Devon and cannot comply with the 14 day rule so are very glad of CRTs help. The mooring is empty and will be let through the usual process. We have expressed interest.

We will need to wait for a week or two to see whether we can successfully secure it for the foreseeable. If we do, our "continuous cruising" will be suspended for a year or so.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


A two hour leisurely cruise back toward Banbury today. Little traffic: Just nb Clara heading north after a short sojourn in Banbury. I was pleased to see her coming out of Bourton Lock but not so happy to see that the strong stream of the bywash trapped her against the weir edge. She had to reverse back party into the lock to free herself. There is a lot of water about today and excess is swirling down the bywashes.

By the new flood meadows there were loads of birds in the air. I saw a bird of prey that could have been a falcon and a pair of Jays. I haven't seen many of them around here so this was very pleasing. At Hardwicke Lock I met a man with a stick who was public spiritedly playing with floating sticks and relieving the build up at the bywash culvert  entrance. After filling the lock, he closed the top gate behind Sonflower and walked off north on his way.

After the lock I met a paddle boarder. She was the first I have encountered on the canals. CRT are encouraging them I understand. I had seen her going the other way this morning nearer to Banbury so I asked whether she had been shopping. There was nowhere to stow shopping on the board however.

I moored just short of the bend opposite the blue cottage, behind nb Freestyler. As I moored the paddle boarder came past again going the other way.

                                                                                          3miles, 3 locks, 2 hours

As I

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Crisp January Cruise

A Sunny Period
We have to get out of town and today was one of those lovely afternoons with a forecast of sunny periods. The canal was clear and the birds were out in force. Kestrel, heron, cormorant, gulls of all sorts and the hedgerow birds like tits and robins were all around.

There were boaters about too. I came up behind nb Mirrlees who were ascending Hardwick Lock. They had followed another boat into the lock, possibly a Kate hire boat that we saw passing earlier or nb Hermione who when was moored behind Sonflower but not when we left. "three in a row and a bonus mark", I quipped. Nb Mirlees was flying the white ensign and I asked the helmsman about it. He had served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines so was entitled to wear it, he said. I closed the top gate for them as they left and as I approached the next two locks I was very pleased to see that they had raised a bottom paddle to speed my way. Thank you very much, nb Mirrlees.
At Little Bourton Lock 27 I noticed that there are unwanted vandals in the lovely lock garden.

This garden used to win awards when lock cottages were the homes of lock keepers and their wives.

I was glad to see space on the 14 day moorings at Cropredy and noted nb Hermione moored up there. I waved as I passed and turned at the Cropredy Coal Wharf and returned to moor just north of him. 

A very pleasant afternoon cruise. 

                                    3.9 miles, 3 locks   2.1/2hours

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Coal: Come rain or shine!

On Monday I headed for the boat  and met Dusty, the coal boat, at Samuelson Bridge 168 where they were loading coal and gas. Or should I say they were drinking tea during a break in loading coal and gas. Dusty is trapped on the north section of his patch at the moment by re-building of a lift bridge between Aynho and Somerton Deep Lock. The fact that his boat was pointing south, but he usually comes from the south threw us. His timing is all wrong too. He shouldn't be here again til after Christmas.  I was told that as soon as he was loaded he would be along to my boat in five minutes.

I waited and checked out a little sealing job I need to do. But the drizzle started and silicon sealant will not stick properly in the wet. So I cut up some old slats for kindling and stacked them neatly in the wood box.

Then I played the harmonica for a bit.  I looked out if the cratch back down the canal. Trade was brisk. Dusty had been hailed by King of Clubs who wanted four bags of coal to supplement the whole willow tree that is stacked on his roof in one foot lengths. Then another boat crew returned from shopping and quickly hailed him to top up their diesel tank. It took more like 45 minutes to get to me, 200 yards down the cut!

"Nice to be serenaded" I heard Kati say as they arrived. Dusty always engages in cheery conversation and it was great to catch up. We have been away so long and the last fill we had from them was before we left our mooring on March 3rd. With no mooring to stack coal beside we can only accommodate 4 bags of coal at a time now and topping up the tanks took 153 litres.

That should keep us warm through rain or shine. Dusty comes rain shine or snow too! Here is some historical footage of the effort that these coal boats put in to getting the warmth to us.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


Temperatures continue to soar into double figures and a quick look over the Castle Quay foot bridge on or way to General Foods Club for lunch confirmed that we have no excuse for not moving today.

Blue sky overhead, a head full of great boating conversation with the crews of nb The King of Clubs and nb Black Pig, a tummy full of good food and beer and we were off again.

Not too fat though. We spotted a gap in the line of boats just before Tramway long term moorings. We turned at Calthorpe Winding Hole (why is nobody watching when we get it perfect?) and returned to moor in the said gap. Ready for our next period of 14 days in the town.

                            1.3/4 miles,1 Lift Bridge, 1 lock,  1hr 20 mins

Tuesday, 6 December 2016


 Ice to the front of her,

ice to the rear of her,

ice to the side of her: our boating was postponed this afternoon because of ice.

Although there was a change in the outside temperature which was soaring toward 10 degC the water was still at zero, the temperature of melting ice, and it was impossible to move. It may look like there is clear water around the boat but the rudder was locked in until we moved it, and not without a bit of force.

I recollect the chapter in Tom Rolt's book "Narrow Boat" where he describes ice in Banbury and the joy that the arrival of the ice breaker brought to the locked in crews. We await the ice breaker because to try to break this ourselves would damage other people's vessels at the waterline and could put fibre glass boats in jeopardy.

We spoke to a fisherman who told us the score along the canal: the only ice free spots were under the bridges and even there he got no bites.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Temperatures plunged last night and we visited the forlorn and dejected SONFLOWER today to brighten her day. There was a slight weep from the Morco gas water heater feed indicating that there had been a slight freeze but everything else was in order.

We started the engine to get the calorifier up to temperature and check around that. It is always good to hear it running well.

So, better late than never, I drained the Morco down, isolated the calorifier, opened all the taps, turned off the pump and drained down as much as I could realistically do.

We lit a fire to keep ourselves warm and have left the fridge pilot light on. A little heat goes a long way on a frosty night.

We also have put a triangular cabinet into a corner of the back passage way to tidy up the bit that ends up with a heap of fenders, mooring pins and windlasses.

                                                   0 miles  0 locks   1 hour