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.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Lovely Day

It is bright and beautiful. So I have spent a few hours in SONFLOWER's company.

There was quite a frost this morning so I thought it was time to do something to protect the vulnerable bits. So I have drained the water heater, ioened all the taps, drained the shower and switched off the water pump.

When I am feeleing like kneeling and reaching below decks I will put a cosy on the pump but at the moment, as she is under the waterline and water temperatures are still above 10deg C I am happy that it is safe to leave for the time being.

I have a fully charged de-humidifier on the table in the centre of the saloon to keepo the condensation to a minimum.

I have checked the bilge and it is bone dry. Great after a few years of working hard to get it that way.

SO I then paid attention to the outside and have touched in teh cruising scratches and bruises that the paintwork suffered during the summer. My touch up is not quite a perfect match for the Royal Green that the painter used but it will keep the rust at bay fro the winter months, I hope. It will only get knocked off again next spring!

So I am pleased with my few hours work and the time I spent with fellow moorers over a cup of tea.

That;s what boating is about!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Home Again! Hillmorton to Banbury

We didn't do it all at once!

The first leg was an over-
nighter with Sooper crew on board. First a two car shuffle to get Soo's car at Hillmorton and mine at The Folly Inn, Napton. So that was definitely our first target. And we hit it on the bull's eye. Not only did we have a great day's boating bit we had time to go and retrieve Soo's car before hitting the time for our dinner reservation at The Folly Inn.

Chilli and Spud at The Folly Inn
Now, what an amazing turn around the Folly has had. It was packed, and it appeared it was packed with locals having a meal out. The beer was good, the wine was good and the food was great. I had the best blue fillet steak I have had in my life! The Best Mate had a fabulous Blanche Bait with fresh salad; SooperCrew had the best portion of chilli with her baked spud that I have ever seen. Why did  I think this was an amazing turn around. Well the last time we came to The Folly I blogged "A Folly of a Meal" when all four of the crew got meals that did not resemble the menu descriptions. Now I am reaching for Tripadvisor to give them five stars.             14 miles 1 lock  5 hours

We did work one lock before mooring so we didn't have far to go to bed down, replete.

We rose earlyish and after breakfast did another two car shuffle, this time leaving my car at The Wharf Inn, Fenny Compton. We started the ascent of Napton flight at about 9.15 and were at lock 14 by 11.00. Sooper Crew walked back down the locks to get her car to the top and met us as we exited Lock 15! The Best Mate and SooperCrew left me at the Marston Doles water point as they had to go to a craft session in Banbury.                  2 miles, 8 locks    2.3/4  hours


"Pie of the Day" at The Wharf Inn
I boated solo toward Fenny Compton. I stopped twice. Once for lunch at Stoneton Bridge 125 and once for a natural break at Bridge 131. The wind got stronger and cutting as the day progressed. I moored on the visitor moorings just before the A423 Bridge 136A at about 4pm. When I got to the car it was boxed in by two white panel vans! I inquired in the Wharf Inn whether anyone knew the owners. The main offender, that had arrived last and parked over a foot from the kerb was owned by "Kev". The barmaid went looking for him but to no avail so I took my stick and plodded (limped) up to the long term moorings near the marina to try and find him. I failed but did find the owner of the other van, which was broken down! He kindly offered to move it and rolled it down the hill without power steering or brakes and parked it beautifully. I was free, but cold and very hungry so I had a pie and a pint int The Wharf. It would have been rude not to when the barmaid said that pie was the chef's special of the day!                                      7.1/2 miles   3hours

Sooper Crew has jumped ship and is crewing on another boat today. So it was The Best Mate and I who boated from Fenny Compton to our home mooring. My knee prevents me doing a lot of lock work so The Best Mate had the brunt of the labour today. We were helped by plenty of boats on the move after the first two Claydon locks but had to fill Boughton and Hardwick locks to end the day. We were hindered by a working pair, moored against another working boat and opposite a leisure boat moored beside a "no mooring" sign! There was 7' 6" left to get my 6ft 10" beam through. To do it I had to back up several times to ensure that I was parallel with the boat moored opposite. I did not have my camera to hand to take a picture for the "moored like a twat" facebook group! Today the sun shone on us almost all the way.  We had a lunch break in The Brasenose Inn in Cropredy. This was a very pleasant break indeed. Here too we had a great example of bad mooring.  Here a 50ft boat was moored on the centre two rings of four available beside Cropredy Bridge thus preventing another boat from enjoying this lovely mooring spot. We did find a mooring through the bridge but it bugs me as to why some boaters are that thoughtless.

So we moored up at home mooring about 6pm very tired but home. We were welcomed by nb Sawdust at Hardwick Lock and cheery waves from Malc and Dink at the Cottage and the other moorers at our moorings. It is great to go boating but it is good to be home!
                                        12 miles, 12 locks, 8.1/2  hours

Monday, 2 October 2017

Another FUN day's boating

Yes, boating is fun. A little and often is quite acceptable. We squeezed in a day's boating today between our weekend: Church, Banbury Canal Day, a trip to Kent fr a grandchild's baptism etc. and tomorrow: exercise class, hosting  a "Christians Together " lunch and a trip to Cardiff to take our son's bike, speaker cabinet and a few odds and ends required at Uni.

SO relaxing on the boat was a great thing to do. We took Sue the Crew with us and bussed form Hillmorton to Newbold-on-Avon to join the boat. We set off just before 12.00noon and cruised fro about an hour before our first incident of the day at Bridge 69. There was a boat moored towpath side on the other side of the bridge and another boat was coming toward us. This moved over to the starboard to give way to us bit as we passed through the bridge hole the bow veered over toward the moored boat. No time for a horn signal just full stern and bang! There was no way of avoiding the collision. We ricocheted into the moored boat. The helmsman on nb Dipper, the moving boat, was shaken up and apologetic but he had been caught by his hood in the tree that was on the off-side. He was lucky not to be dangling over the drink! He showed us that his hat was floating in the water under the tree. We backed up,got the fishing net off the roof, retrieved the hat and re-united it with its owner.

We stopped for lunch just short of the locks and it started to rain just as we were ready to go on. We donned wet weather gear and decided to boat on.

At Hillmorton Lock No 3 we were met by a nice voluntary chap. He emptied down and opened the bottom gate for us with the bad news that only one side of the paired locks were operable and the good news that no boats had gone up since the last he'd helped through so all should be set for us. Our crew stepped forward and walked ahead to open up the next lock. However, as we nosed out of lock 3, the crew of nb 19th Hole scampered about to release their mooring lines from the lock landing bollards where they had been lunching and set off, very slowly, through the bridge hole of Bridge 71 ahead of us! Not even a "thank you" to our crew as they entered Lock 5. I had plenty of time to send my appraisal of the situation to "Narrowboat Moaners and Ranters" group on Facebook! By the time I was waiting for Lock 7, which they seemed to be doing very slowly with a bottom paddle left open, I had three comments agreeing with my view that this was very bad manners.

Still by now it had stopped raining!

We moored on the Visitor mooring above the lock.
                                                                                                     4 miles, 3 locks, 3 hours

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Missing Link

You may have noticed that we seem to have left out the bit from Polesworth to Hawkesbury.

We did do it!

Last Friday after The Best Mate's doctor's appointment we drove to Bedworth, near Bulkington Bridge 16. We then caught a bus to Nuneaton, changed to another to Atherstone and then once more to a third bus to Polesworth, arriving at about 2.30pm. We then boated to Atherstone Lock 9 where we moored overnight. We rose early and got under way at daybreak on Saturday to get up the flight before the volunteers had arrived at the top lock. We did not beat them and a volunteer operated the paddles on the top lock as part of his training for trip boat duty. The weather was kind but cold and the showers kept away. We took on water at the top lock. We stopped at Springwell Haven for a pump out and gas and ate on board as we moved. We arrived at Bedworth, Bulkington Bridge No 16 in the mid afternoon and went to shop for lunch as the chippy was closed. The Best Mate then got back on the boat and boated to Hawkesbury Junction. I drove there and put the car in the car park on Sutton Stop. We looked for a mooring but the only one available was opposite the Exhall Basin entrance where one is not supposed to moor. A phone call to a friend who lives locally confirmed the unlikelihood of any space in the residential basin and he offered the advice to move to the visitor moorings north of the lock.We backed the boat to the Junction, swept her around under the bridge and worked up the lock to moor just on the Visitor moorings.

We moored up and went to The Greyhound for a really lovely dinner.

On Sunday morning we were nicely placed to move the boat onto more secure piling and then drive to Jubilee Church Coventry where we met up with friends and our son who we usually have to lunch on Sundays. KFC was in order and we then took him home.

                                       18.1/2miles 12 locks  9.1/2 hours

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hawkesbury To Newbold-on-Avon

Another "free day". After the opticians appointment that was! We drove (not easy as the A423 was closed at Marton and we had to divert via A45 and M6) up to Hawkesbury Junction. There we met our friend Stephen (who gave me a lift to leave the car at Hawkesbury on the way up to Fazeley) as he prepared to skipper nb The Hargreaves with a very valuable cargo on a charitable trip.  We  made SONFLOWER ready and set The Best Mate off at the Tiller with a scotch egg, apple and tortilla chips.

I returned to the car ate my scotch egg and drove to Ansty. We knew that the M6 was blocked as we had come past the queues on the opposite lane but Sheila the satnav wanted to take me that way. I refused and we wound our way through some estate roads of Coventry to the A46 and the Ansty interchange where we got onto the Ansty Main Road. I parked down a side turning opposite a layby that was marked "Bus Stop" which I thought would be handy for the return journey by bus. I walked down to the canal to wait.
Here is SONFLOWER arriving for our rendezvous.

I boarded her and took the tiller. I had told The Best Mate that Ansty was about half hour away from Hawkesbury. In fact it is about 1 hour and 25 minutes so she needed promptly relieving.

We then cruised to Newbold-on-Avon. Not without incident. At the second Ansty bridge a boat was coming toward me and did not give way even though we were part through the bridge hole. In fact we did not touch! I commented to him as we passed that he knew the local canal better than I did. I would never have attempted to get two boats through a bridge hole. We cruised ahead of a working boat for a long way. We were met by a hire boat as we were passing a moored boat just before the M6 bridge. Here the helmsman pulled over so far that he came to a stop on mud. The boat was still there when the working boat passed a few minutes later. He might still be there! We were fortunate to have the swing bridge at Stretton Stop opened for us. We met another working boat at a bridge on a bend and this time I hooted to say I was going through and the boat gave way amicably.

The best mate made bacon rolls for an afternoon snack and looked at Traveline on the phone while the bacon was grilling. She reported that if we get to Newbold before 5.00pm there is a bus at 5.08 that will get us back to Ansty. That would eliminate the need to rise early and get up early to get a bus at about 7.45 to get back to the car to get back to Banbury to meet our son for Wednesday lunch. The plan sounded good and time was almost on our side. Our rendezvous was at 1345 and trusty Nick said it would take 3 hour and 10 minutes to Newbold. We should arrive at the Tunnel south portal at 1650.

When we got there we noted a mooring but the towpath was very muddy. We went a little further but decided that the further we went the further we would have to walk. So I backed back to the mooring and we tied on to rings. Unfortunately the sloping sides of the canal here, lined with slabs of rock do not let the boat come right into the side so it was a small leap for man but a huge leap for the Best Mate to get off.

I remembered my walking stick was left on the back deck so took the spare from the cabin and disembarked. We walked to the bus stop, ostensibly 9 minutes away, and waited for the bus to arrive at 5.08. We were there, the bus came about 5 minutes later. We had a connection to make at somewhere we had never heard of: The Caludon Centre (Stop Wh) in Walsgrave. It turned out to be the University Hospital Bus Station. The connecting bus was thankfully late as well and we had about a five minute wait. The 74 bus took us to Ansty but did not stop at the expected bus stop but sailed past to The Rose and Castle so I had to walk (limp) back down the road to our car.

I drove home and The Best Mate said she was past it and went to bed.

I made myself a Spanish omelette.

                                                                 11.1/4 miles 0 locks 4.1/2 hours

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