Well, SONFLOWER is out of the boatyard and looking good after her wash and brush up.
TOOLEY'S (est 1790) were as good as their word. She went in on Monday and was out again afloat on Wednesday with two new shiny anodes and a blacked bottom. A couple of leaky windows were fixed while she was under cover and the roof was power washed to remove all the grime that had accumulated in the sanded areas. These non-slip sanded areas are good for walking on but do collect dirt. I can't sing Tooleys praises enough. One cannot get better than doing what you want in the time they said they would do it for the price they said it would cost. Unfortunately to get back to the mooring involves turning the boat. That means navigating the lift bridge, lock , winding hole, lock, lift bridge circuit and I am bound to make contact with something that will make her newness look less than perfect!
This afternoon I did the trip (single handing through the lift bridge is always dodgy so I enlisted the crew of a Napton Hire boat), and lock (a little bit of help from a boat coming up) to the winding hole to turn her round (spotted a kingfisher* just before the winding hole) and back to Banbury town centre (with a lot of fast astern at the bridge to avoid a collision at Tramway Bridge hole -I was there first!) and return her to the mooring outside Tooley's.
The traffic is really building up now as the summer season gets under way. The mile and a half trip took me almost two hours as I had to wait for the lock. It had been filled by a hire boat crew (Oxford Boats) immediately the previous boat had left without looking to see my approach. A TWO MINUTE WAIT WOULD HAVE SAVED ME TWENTY MINUTES.
It did give me a chance to chat to the boat behind, nb Shundraw. They were on their way back to Shropshire having been to Bristol. Navigating the Kennet and Avon is heavy work and they had done it two ways. They told me they had enjoyed it even though the recent weather has been awful. They willingly worked the lock for me which was nice and saved me some time. I keep thinking that we might do the K & A one summer. There is so much to do.
Through the lift bridge (single handed this time) and back onto a mooring to dash off to run one son to piano lesson, my wife to Aldi and then pick up the other son from athletics and run him to his drum lesson in Cropredy and return popping into some friends for a chat and the pub for a pint on the way! Thursday is a busy day.
* The kingfisher is the subject of British Waterways wild life watch this year. I must report this sighting. They are also offering a prize for the best photograph taken of a kingfisher. Has anyone ever tried taking a snap of a kingfisher just as one is about to single handedly turn a 57 ft boat at one of the busiest turning points on the South Oxford Canal? It would be a feat in itself getting a camera up to to your eyes before the beautiful bird has made it's getaway at about 60mph!
- 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.