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, 31 October 2008

Change all round

Pooh wants to be known as Tigger from now on. He is grown up and I must agree with him. He is sort of bouncie at the moment.

We have just visited Devon for a few days. We atayed in a verty nice hotel, The Thorveton Arms, a few miles north of Exeter. This gave us a base to visit friends and family dotted around Exeter and as far south as Ivybridge. I just love Devon in Autumn colouring, but this week we had a surprise from the weather. The north wind doth blow and we shall have . . . hail and heavy rain! This gave rise to local flash flooding. I saw how quickly the River Exe rose and overflowed its banks and felt very sorry for those around Ottery who experienced the worst flooding of this round.

Activities such as bird watching and moorland walking were curtailed for lack of warm enough clothing to keep out the north winds.

We did have a fleeting visit to the Grand Western Canal just to remind us of where we really should have been and retreated to South wales for this weekend.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Detergent query answered!

There has been recent debate about the use of biodegradable detergents and the "grey water" that comes from the sink and bathroom waste form our boats into the canal.

I have asked the question "what is all the fuss about?" well British waterways have backed up their new license condition by a very reasoned piece of work to explain the rationale behind it. I am now seeking out Tia to get some bathroom products to add to the washing up liquid that I already have. It seems a good idea to be green. We have no dishwasher (apart from me) or washing machine on the boat but, as they say, every little helps.

Where are you all?

The Moorings Consultation report has been published by BW and can be read here. Letting of moorings by auction is to stay but will be changed to an open auction system similar to eBay. BW could have saved themselves considerable expense and web development costs by becoming an eBay mooring shop!

BW are giving further consideration to letting moorings by length rather than by the berth which is what I have seen as the greatest unfairness in the present system.

One great surprise is the paltry response. From 32,000 licenced boats on the system only 13 current boat owners and 9 prospective moorers bothered to put in a comment. Are the other 31,978 all sipping gin and tonic in a marina?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

There's many a slip. . . .

Here is my new laptop perched on an armchair while I went to fetch a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, returning to the chair I splibbed a little of the coffee on the keyboard. Remembering that The Best Mate's laptop died from red wine poisoning of the mother board in a similar incident, I rushed for the tissues turned the machine over and drained out all I could before then carefully drying between every key with a piece of kitchen roll folded around a credit card.

Fortunately all is well but it could have been very costly.

I do not envy Granny Buttons the task of finding a new lap top following his laptop screen failure. Our laptops become a part of us these days and it took me ages to decide on which one to get to replace my Sony Vaio with a 10" screen. I have gone wide screen and kept with the Vaio to take advantage of the carbon fibre body construction which will take the knocks it might get falling off the table when doing some heavy handed lock entry! It survives a drip or two of coffee as well!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Plastic doesn't last!

I have probably mentioned that the "no more nails" used to stick much of Sonflower's internal fittings in place has come to the end of its useful life. We have reglued the linings to the rear hatch and swan hatch and had the pine tongue and groove boards redone at the back of the boat. Bit by bit we will need to refit and re-secure the walls, lining, shelves etc. I am reminded of a text book that I had at college, "The new science of strong materials-why you don't fall through the floor" I wish the boat fitters had read it!

The next big job will be the galley because the glue around the back that grips the drainer support to the wall has failed and the shelf support in the under-the-sink cupboard has become dislodged. The shelves on another open storage unit are now freer than they should be and the bottom one is supported directly by the floor! But one failure that I didn't expect happened yesterday. The cutlery drawer has cracked where the carcass joins the drawer front. This has all the symptoms of ultraviolet degradation of the plastic but the drawer rarely sees the light of day. I have to put it down to fatique.

Now I have the job of searching for a drawer carcass that will fit in the gap left by this one, which happens to be 17.1/2" wide. It doesn't sound standard to me. But then there isn't much on a narrowboat that is!

Monday, 13 October 2008

On the move again, again

The weather is beautiful today and it was great to be back in the boat and moving. We only went to dump rubbish and get water but to be moving on a still canal on a beautiful day is a pleasure to be thankful for.

There are a lot of boats about. The shared ownership boats are frequent visitors and we have a few boats that appear to be hanging around waiting for the stoppages when they will be 'forced' to stay in town. There are a few hirers making a trip in the good autumn weather. I wonder if there is a way to determine the weather before booking or whether these hirers are just grabbing the deals at the end of a tough season for holidays in the UK.

I spoke to one hirer on a Kate boat. He was not a new hirer and had been this way before on another boat. He was really enjoying the time and loved the boat he was on. "The only thing missing is a stove! We have central heating, though". I must admit that the stove is an essential. to us however, it is also the central heating. In fact it is the only heating! I guess that the risk assessment for a stove on a hire boat would be just too much for the hire companies to contemplate. Diesel central heating is much safer, cleaner and more practical with little children around.

We also saw BW pushing a hopper back to Nell Bridge with their new workboat. It didn't appear to be named. "Little Boy Blue" would be nice or maybe "Blue Notes" or "Blue Peter". It was very smart and blue.

The "water run" took us four hours today because we had to stop for lunch at General Foods on the way.

It was good to be moving again.


I went to congratulate this boater on being the first one I have seen using the bollards installed at the side of Banbury lock. As you can see the boat is tied on and the centre rope is tightening as the boat rises in the lock.

The boater was single handed but told me he usually ties to the ladder but the ladder on this lock is in the wrong place!

By the way, he managed to untie the boat just before it tilted. A dangerous practice however, to my mind. A delay on getting the paddles open or some other distraction and disaster could strike.

This is an accident waiting to happen.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Wonderful Banbury Canal Day

Here is SONFLOWER all dressed up in blue and yellow bunting to celebrate 400 years of the Banbury Town Charter.

The weather was not kind but we had a wonderful day. There were thousands of people dodging the rain drops to join in the fun. A folk drummer on stilts, morris dancers, stalls galore making known charities on the waterways and in the town and selling all sorts of wares from jewellery to fresh ciabatta.

The sun came out just as the mayor went to congratulate the best dressed boat at 4.30pm. (not us but the nb Muffin Man who was next to us) However the damp did not dampen the fun that was to be had. Only the bunjy jumping seemed to be grounded by the weather.

I spoke to nb Tia and several other boaters who agreed that they had a wonderful day. Sovereign Wharf reported that they had a record number on the trip boats.