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.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Fazeley Weekend

We have just had a lovely time in Fazeley at the BCF Weekend. Several boats were moored alongside Tolson's Mill and we had a great time in the St Paul's Church and church hall.  Worship, teaching, games, Barbeque, Treasure Hunt, entertainments including singing, poetry reading, dancing, folk music, whistling and humming together and much more. We joined St Paul's Church congregation for their service this morning and then went to The Fazeley Inn for a carvery lunch. All in all a busy and fruitful time together.

This afternoon we said our goodbyes and backed the boat under the Fazeley Watling Street Bridge to the Junction. Unfortunately we picked up a pair of long johns on the prop which would not spin off and  required mooring up and attention through the weed hatch. (Only the third time that I have had to get into the canal that way).

After that we had an uneventful cruise to moor on the mooring rings at Poleworth.
                                                                     5 miles, 2 locks,  3.1/2 hours

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bedworth to Fazeley

Using public transport to get from a car parking spot to the boat can be tricky.  The first officer and I  left the car near our destination and then walked to The Square to catch a 110 bus to the station. We missed one because I was too slow and could not run so we got a 16a. That took us to the Bus Station which is nowhere near the train station and too far away for me to limp!  So we got a taxi to the station, caught up with news of friends from the taxi driver who recognized my BCF fleece and found we had just missed a train to Bedworth, The ticket man offered us a route via Birmingham but that took as long so we had a coffee/chocolate and waited for the train via Nuneaton. I noticed that he had given me return tickets rather than singles but they willingly refunded me the 20p extra that the returns had cost! I used the disabled loo. I needed it opened by the ticket office staff as I did not have my radar key, but that was no trouble, then they opened it again for me to retrieve the train tickets that I left in the loo by mistake! Getting to the platform involved two lifts and a 50m walk across a bridge. The train from Nuneaton was a single car. On arrival at Bedworth we checked bus times and decided I had time to hobble two stops: two thirds of a mile to Bulkington Bridge . I broke our journey at Bedworth Fish and Chip bar where we purchased pie and chips for our lunch at £3.60 per head. We got there ahead of the bus. The pie and chips were still hot.

We left the mooring at 12.30 in bright sunshine. The canal was quiet with only a fisherman to disturb by putting the prop in reverse to prevent a collision at a bridge hole. He was peeved that his ground bait might have been washed away. How else was I to stop the boat? Share the space! Seems to work only in one direction. I still think that canals were built for boats not fish, voles, otters or anglers who all came along to freeload on the back of boaters. As we progressed more canal users appeared on the scene. Walkers, dog walkers, joggers. But there were very few boats. Black clouds gathered overhead and it started to rain just as we arrived at Atherstone Top Lock. A boat was about to exit the lock our hearts leapt with joy. We put off filling with water to take advantage of our good fortune. To our surprise there was another crew on the lock too. A queue! All the boats were hear on the flight. We had a good road for 5 locks. Unfortunately the nine boats had not spread themselves out so we had a good road for nine locks. They had filled and come up to queue at the next lock. Why I will never know! This practice was so engrained that a crew emptied and re-filled lock 4 making us wait in the shortest pound. The helmsman was surprised to see our boat when the gates opened and signalled to me that he had nowhere to go. I could have told him that! I signaled him over to the lock landing.

We were hailed by the crew of nb Grampus from Banbury in darkness under under Bridge 43 and by Chris and Jenny the crew of nb Wren's Nest on their mooring below the Bottom Lock.

We worked the last six locks alone, pausing only to shelter from a deluge at lock 10.

At Bradley Green Bridge there was a sign under the arch advertising the Samuel Barlow pub and its facilities including meals all day. The sign had a large white arrow pointing the way we were heading. With hope of a hot dinner we cruised on in the rain. We made that our target. We didn't pass the Samuel Barlow before coming to Poleworth Moorings soaked by the  rain in semi-darkness and opposite The Bull pub. We moored on the piling by the bridge as all the rings were in use. We lit a fire, changed out of our wet gear, hung it up to dry and headed for the pub.

As we got off the boat a boater commented on the fact that we had lit a fire in September! "It's not for us", I said, "it's to dry our clothes, we are off to the pub" "That's all right then " he said. "the wife does not allow such softy behaviour." "I can hear you!" She chipped in. The Bull has an Indian restaurant upstairs and is a traditional local downstairs. On entering I asked the landlord if he was serving food. Not in the bar, he said, only upstairs. He poured a pint, from a choice of four real ales, and then showed us the way. Hence we mixed our pleasures and had real ale from the pub with curry upstairs, or should I say upsteps as the stepped pathway has every size and shape of step: high, low, long, short, sloping, flat, ridged and smooth and winding. Just right for a man with a dodgy knee!

Back at the boat we went straight to our bunks.                                   14 miles 11 locks 7 hours

We left the overnight mooring at 7am under a blue sky. The cruise to Fazeley was uneventful. The Samuel Barlow was not open for breakfast. The highlight was the discovery of the Bard of Glascote's work enshrined in brass beside Lock 13.
We watered at Fazeley and moored on piling just short of Tolson's Footbridge on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. We were back at the car and home in Banbury by lunchtime.

                                                                                                         6 miles 2 locks  3.1/2 hours







Monday, 4 September 2017

Rugby to Bedworth

Another window opened up at the weekend.

Contemplating the journey from where we are to where we wanted to be with all the other things that need our attention showed us that we could not do it without help.

I asked a friend who lives near Hawkesbury Junction whether he could get me from there back to my car in Rugby on Monday, sometime. No, that was not on as he had engagements on Monday but he was free Sunday afternoon to run me back if I left the car at Hawkesbury. A deal was struck and the operation began.

Sunday: Put chicken in the oven and par-boil the potatoes, load car with guitar, keyboard and bible; have a great time at church, playing for worship and doing the talky bit, drinking coffee and chatting to  a visitor who came for the first time having decided that God was interested in his life; go home and finish off a Sunday roast dinner with the best gravy the world has ever tasted; put stock on, take off and refrigerate; and deliver son back to his flat and drive to the Old Royal Oak, Hilmorton dropping The Best Mate and other son (first officer) to boat through the locks; drive to The Greyhound and park the car; rendezvous with friend who drops me at Bridge 66 opposite Clifton cruisers and leaves me talking to the Christian bookshop owners from Rugby under the bridge (lovely people); then back on board to boat to All Oak Corner to moor for the night as the sun sets!

Monday: pulled pins at 6.00am Boat to Hawkesbury Junction; I got in the car and drove to Bulkington Bridge 16 on the Coventry Canal while the crew boated there, having turned at Hawkesbury Junction watching a beautiful FMC Working boat make the turn the other way after letting SONFLOWER through the narrows by the engine house; 

moor at Bulkington Bridge on the Coventry cook and eat breakfast. Drive back to Banbury to find the gas ring (for the stock) left on; collect son from his work place and deliver home; think about next steps. 

We have done a few other jobs and cancelled our exercise session tomorrow morning to free us up a bot. Having considered the next steps the first officer and I will move the boat to Fazely tomorrow and Wednesday. Either we leave the car at Bedworth station and boat to Tamworth to return by train or we do it the other way round.   

Crazy isn't it?               18.5miles, 4 locks  8.5hours

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Quiet Days Away and Pubby Problems

We needed to get away from it all.

Organising a funeral is an exhausting business.

So to start our Bank Holiday Weekend Cruise I dropped my phone into the canal as I was casting off.
After half an hour of fishing with magnet and net, sieving mud we gave up and headed for Cropredy.
Apart from stopping to go to church in Coventry on Sunday and eating in The Brasenose Arms Cropredy and  The Wharfe Inn, Fenny Compton we pottered along and enjoyed every minute of it.

Monday was HOT! The Best Mate melted in her day bed and the Crew burned on the quarter deck. We had to cruise because we needed to meet a lift at The Old Royal Oak Hilmorton. Our chauffeuse was on the towpath to greet us as we arrived, very proud of having turned the right way down the path to meet us. (A landlubbers sense of direction and lost without a Garmin! Went the wrong way down the canal at the Wharfe the day before when meeting us for dinner.)

The Old Royal Oak lost our custom by telling us we would be waiting an hour before we got our food. The Cuttle Inn lost our Custom by telling us they wanted cash only. The Boat Inn almost lost our custom by serving only a hog roast or burgers at their Bank Holiday Cider Festival. But there again one has to eat!

I discovered that my contract had run out so I have a new phone "free". The Techie told me my magnet fishing was in vain because they are aluminum and if the magnet got near it it scrambles the insides anyway!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Been away.

This week SONFLOWER has been to Thrupp and back. Some of you boat watchers have wondered why the Best Mate has turned blonde and I have lost my beard. Its because it was not us enjoying the mixed weather of this English Summer! SONFLOWER was in the charge of friends and fellow BCF members and Waterways Chaplains.

They are waiting for their own boat (about 12 weeks late now) but needed to take their daughter boating while she was on a brief holiday in the UK from her work in Afghanistan. We were pleased to be able to help. They had a great time enjoying the primitive facilities that SONFLOWER provides as compared to a brand new Elton Moss fit out. No electric shower pump, macerating toilet, central heating, microwave, electric fridge, bags of storage and a wardrobe etc etc.

Still she had windows, upholstery and new paint!

SONFLOWER behaved impeccably as I knew she would.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Freshening up

We took our granddaughter to see another boat, smaller than ours, and asked "What has our boat got that this one hasn't?" thinking that she would immediately spot that the smaller boat did not have a dinette and table in the lounge. "Dust" she replied.

So, before we lend our boat to friends we thought we had better do a spring clean and freshen it up!

One of the pictures in our Sunflower gallery had seriously faded. It was an inkjet print of a copy of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers in vase" that I did in acrylic quite a few years ago. So I have "freshened it up" by repainting it in oils. Here is the result:


It is drying on the easel and just about ready to remount.

I am glad it is out of copyright!

Monday, 24 July 2017

New hand on the tiller

School's over for the summer and we had two of our grandchildren for the day while their mother is working in Warwick.

After the Sunday chicken dinner we headed for Sonflower's mooring and set off on the mini cruise we call "The Water Run".

To the Grimsbury Arm to turn, back down the length of the moorings to the town centre where we had to suffer the jibes of blogger nb Herbie "Have you come far?". (Being local too, they know this is the first time we have been off the mooring this year except to visit the Boatyard!). On the way our eleven year old took the tiller for the first time. He did very well!

Thence through the lock. My granddaughter asked "Why are we going down?" in the lock. Out came the very useful leaflet produced by Boaters Christian Fellowship How locks work. So onward to Bankside Winding Hole and then up through the lock again. This time we stopped at the water point and the first signs of boredom started to appear as we waited and waited for the tank to fill.  Our youngest son, Piglet washed down the roof which has got particularly dirty with the attentions of the local heron adorning the side.


Refilled we checked out the weather. Ominous dark clouds hovered overhead but nothing came of them. No thunder storm today as promised by the weather forecasters.

So we returned to the mooring and let the grandchildren loose to play on the equipment in Spiceball Park. Our grandson picked up a stick and beat nettles and brambles on the way past. That is a tradition that will never die.

As we walked back we had a nice chat with the crew of  nb Dutch Courage who are our colleagues in Waterways Chaplaincy and part of BCF. They are "Roving Chaplains" so had no fixed plans except to get north of Braunston.

We headed back to meet our daughter and a beautifully eggy tea.

                                                         2 miles, 2 LB, 2 locks, 3.1/2hrs