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.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Tom's best Birthday week ever

This was received by email from my nephew Tom. (See previous post "In the beginning. . .")

My Best Birthday Week…Ever!
Having over exerted ourselves during the Notting Hill carnival at the start of the week, Ang (my Fiancee) and I were looking forward to filling the remainder of my Birthday week with relaxation. As my Uncle Peter explained, we were over the moon when the Sonflower was made available to us.

Uncle Peter’s tuition was very thorough, but not overly so. We soon found that maneuvering a boat 57 foot long and weighing more tons than I can comprehend was no easy task for complete novices as we were. I was glad to find that Uncle Peter was very keen for us to take the controls and learn from the driving seat. I recall that when I was learning how to play tennis, my coach had told me that you can learn everything you need to know about hitting a ball well in a day, but to do it takes practice. Even so, I caught myself wondering how much had sunk in to my sieve like brain as the list of things to remember and consider grew. It was my hope that what I was inevitably to forget would be remembered by my better half as is so often the case in our relationship.

The tuition was largely without incident, apart from one collision into the side of a particular tricky narrow part of the canal. I was to learn that guiding a boat through a clearing of no more than a foot each side was tricky at the best of times, but when that foot is to be judged 57 feet in front of you, the task is altogether more daunting. It was clear after this collision that this boat was no bumper car and I was clear in my mind that this was not something I wanted to do again.

Uncle Peter appeared happy to leave us with the keys, however Ang and I sensed how precious the narrow boat was to my Uncle and perhaps I could not blame him for being slightly apprehensive.
The fresh air ensured we slept well that night. There is no denying that the following morning we both were nervous about the journey we were about to undertake. We had looked at the map and decided on a realistic goal for the day. From Banbury, where we were moored to Cropr
edy. This encompassed a few locks and a dreaded turning point before heading back the following day.

I was to be in control of steering for the best part having taken to it slightly quicker than Ang the previous day. It was very easy to forget how slowly we were moving due to the fact that steering still required a lot of thought and concentration. As such, it was to my surprise when a rucksack laden man strode past us on the towpath on one occasion. Ang was to be in charge of navigation and locks. The going was good and as the journey progressed we became more relaxed and started to take in and enjoy the experience. Corners were rounded, locks were tackled and oncoming boats floated by.

What I had not expected was the willingness of others to help us along the way. On the first day Ang did not open a lock without somebody to take care of the second lock gate. We were thankful for this help and I thought that perhaps the fact we sized up each lock and talked through the process before starting each one may have given away our novice status.

I was soon becoming more comfortable with my steering and was prepared when we arrived at Crop
redy to turn the boat around. I had learnt that turning the boat was no easy feat and involved a lot of aiming, stopping and starting - things which did not come naturally to a boat of such length and weight. The turn itself would have been faultless had the boat been one inch shorter! As it was, I found myself attached to the concrete bank by the knot at the front of the boat (he means the button, Ed). This was quickly overcome with a firm push, which enabled me to swing the boat ready for our return journey.

Having visited the Red Lion in the late afternoon for a few celebratory drinks, we looked forward to our evening meal that did not disappoint (Starter: chorizo sausage, main: steak and ale pie, desert: chocolate cheese tart). Evening entertainment consisted of a pub quiz where the locals got the better of us.
I think we were both very relaxed about the journey home, we enjoyed the journey so much that we deliberately over shot Uncle Peter's Mooring place so that we could get another lock, lift bridge, turn around , lock and lift bridge again and were able to fill the water tank before finally reaching the end of a most enjoyable experience. We were truly sorry that this experience was at an end and very thankful for the generosity showed by the boat’s first crew.

I was also thankful for those people who had been so friendly to us along the way. I guess the canal and the people on it are far removed from the hustle and bustle of life in a city. The proximity to nature; the calm lack of urgency must make for a friendly environment. Friendly acknowledgements from passers by was something I fondly remember of living in a small village… and now the canal too.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Looking Forward

I am sorry to have been silent for so long.

This has been because of Owl's fall (See 'many a slip.....') and the need to continue life with only half the active crew. Also, because I have been slowed by the slow progress of my knee repair, I am not as fast as I could be. Early nights and early mornings have been the order of the day.

Breakfast, packed lunches, school bags to check, getting the boys to school/college, shopping, cleaning, cooking etc all take up a huge amount of time and energy. I do not want to be a single parent and do not envy those of you who have to take on that role.

Things are getting better. I have an afternoon of quiet as Pooh is out on an accompanied shopping trip and Piglet is playing with friends in Spice Ball Park. Owl is resting/reading in her recliner. I am tapping the keyboard.

What are we looking forward to? Well, in October, there is a great festival here called Banbury Canal Day . Sonflower will be there. We hope to have a great deal of fun and invite people aboard to show them that the inside of a boat isn't all that different to the homes they live in! A little cosier perhaps but most of the necessities are there! One of the main sponsors is Hook Norton Brewery so the ale will be good as well.

The other thing coming up is the Canalside Folk Festival At this wonderful few days of music, dancing and fun we will be doing a craft workshop on the Saturday. In the past we have made mainly little model canal craft but this year the weather has been so wet we are centreing on the most endangered species group on the planet- the frog. The TV mega series, Planet Earth highlighted that hundreds of species of amphibian are endangered. We will celibrate this wonderful little creature in paper and card. There will be origami frogs, dancing frogs, frog mobiles, frog games and a large green talking (croaking/belching) frog may turn up as well. Our motto is 'Frogs are Friends not Food'.

So there you are. We are looking forward to it. I hope you are too.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Coming Out

I think it's time to admit to a few things.

First of all identities.

Our crew of four, the main elements of our boating life are Eeyore (Peter); Owl, alias the First Mate, (Fran); Pooh Bear (Leon); and Piglet (Alex). All these nicknames fit very well.

I have explained why I am Eeyore: one of my daughters once commented on my answerphone greeting "you must stop sounding like Eeyore, Dad" but I can't!

Owl has always got many words to say on any subject and occasionally doesn't know what he is taking about. However, Owl is always loveable and friendly and helpful and does her best to help with the spelling.

Pooh is generally a philosopher with his own view of life. Some would consider him, erroniously, to be a bear of little brain. We know for certain that Pooh has a very good brain, but at times we find it difficult to make the same connections in the thought patterns.

Piglet is the smallest. Also very energetic, but certainly not quite as bouncy as Tigger for whose name he could have been a candidate.

We are Winnie the Pooh fans. Not so much the Disney version but the original AA Milne stories are dear to our hearts. We enjoy the poetry as much as the two books. Recently we have discovered Pooh and the Philosphers by John Tylerman Williams, Egmont Books, which confirms that the studies that Peter took part in in his teenage years over hunny and vodka were not in vain. It confirms that Winnie the Pooh is a Bear of Enormous Brain and can shed light on the fundamentals of human existence and purpose.

Secondly, we are Christians

Granny Buttons noted from my first post that the name of the boat gave away that we were members of the Boaters Christian Fellowship The blog is not intended to be a tool for evangelism or preaching to the unconverted. I have tried to keep it on boating and our life aboard. However, occasionally a reference to prayer, the Creator, or some other aspect of our faith may creep in. We cannot divorce our spirit from our material lives. They are as woven together as our boating is part of our everyday life.