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.

Monday, 25 February 2008

......bring in the new

Here I am settled into an arm chair with my laptop on lap enjoying a little rest after an interesting long weekend. I returned yesterday from the Ramsey/Capio Treatment Centre at the Horton Hospital, Banbury having had a knee replacement operation.

I cannot describe the difference. Obviously after an operation where one's bones have been sawn, drilled and filed to fit a prosthetic knee there is discomfort and some pain but to be able to walk without a limp is fantastic. I cannot thank well enough the surgeon and his team and the wonderful junior doctors and after care staff on the ward for making it a very pleasurable weekend. I now have to continue to follow the advice of Kevin and Holly the wonderful physiotherapists.

Of course, I wouldn't volunteer to do it again unless I have to. But, so far, everything seems to be on track for a real improvement in my quality of life. I might even be able to help with the locks in a year or two's time!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Wild Weekend

It has nothing to do with the slow pace of life on the canals.

It has nothing to do with the dream to spend our time just pottering very slowly from town to town exploring the whole inland waterway network.

It has everything to do with realising a dream of driving an open top sports car through open countryside in the sunshine.

This last weekend, my eldest daughter arranged a weekend for her and her sisters and brothers in Maidstone while Fran and Peter went off for a weekend drive in the country in a BMW Z3.

We drove to Maidstone in our lumbering diesel people carrier and arrived at about 11am. Having settled the boys with their sister and discovered that we did fit in the little Z3, we headed south with the roof down toward the Weald of Kent. We didn't do quick. This wasn't a race but the realisation of Peter's dream. The next stop was the beautiful National Trust Nymans Gardens where we had NT carrot and coriander soup and rustic home made bread. The prices are extortionate but we are supporting a good cause! Fran makes better soup as well!

Then we headed along the South Downs to Midhurst, from there to Chichester and a lovely drive beside the sea inlets to Fareham. Here we had tea with friends that we hadn't seen for years. A great time chin wagging about our respective kids to find that their dwarf daughter was representing Great Britain in shot put the Paralympic Games in Beijing. Beat that for a brag!

Thence to Bournmouth and a very poor attempt at finding the PremierInn. A few extra miles on the clock here!

Dinner was with more of our 'old' friends from days gone by in a super gastropub. I don't often wax lyrical about this sort of establishment as they are popping up beside the canal everywhere. Here was a real delight. The ambiance was excellent but minimalistic. There was no musak to distract, no clatter and obtrusive noise in the dining room and we seemed to be eating on our own in a crowded room! The service was excellent but discrete. No interrupting "everything all right Sir?" They knew it was all right. It looked right on the plate, steak and lamb cooked perfectly as requested, pasta al dente, sauces textured but not double creamy. There was no rush. We booked for eight and were a little early. We could have gone to the table straight away but there was also no problem in us having a drink in the bar before the meal, the maitre D making sure the barman knew our table number before we had even ordered.

I cannot fault Twenty on the River. The only thing is that we have to return in the Summer to enjoy the river views and al fresco dining!

We had plenty of time to eat, unhurriedly and had plenty of time to converse and catch up with the passing years. A delightful evening.

Thence to the hotel for champagne, chocolates and adult entertainment- match of the day! In the cup, Chelsea won 3-1 and Arsenal lost 0-4. the end of a perfect day.

After breakfast in the morning we scraped the ice off the car and headed back toward Kent. This time we went north up the beautiful Stour valley to Salisbury. Thence to a pub at Ropely (near Alton) for a drink. Fran was a little cold but the pub was warm. After a full english at the hotel we didn't need lunch so we meandered back through the Surrey lanes to places that we had walked to in our teens. We staged a photo shoot in the woods.

Then meandered back through the Kent/sussex lanes to Edenbridge and Tonbridge. Following the Medway valley back to Maidstone we stopped in Wateringbury at the Crown City Chinese restaurant for their 'eat as much as you like' Sunday menu.

Back to the children and the moment when we had to swap back into the Peugeot 807 and leave the dream behind.

A wild and wonderful sunny and brilliant weekend ended with an uneventful drive back to Banbury and our own beds. Tired but really happy.

Another lovely Day

Yes! So we took SONFLOWER for a couple of miles, two locks and a couple of lift bridges with the standard crew. A two hour trip.

People were in town for the school holidays. One grandmother had come to town by train with her little charge to see the boats. The little boy 'helped' with the lock gates his grandmother obviously worried that the little darling might fall in. "You get more worried with grandchildren than your own" she said.

We chatted with other boaters on the way to the boat. Petty thefts seem to be the topic of the day. Not just because we had the genny stolen but another boater bought his own fishing rod back from "Cashconvertors". At least they keep good records and photos of the people who come in to cash the goods in, so one thief has been identified. Maybe he's admit to other petty crimes and improve the local crime figures without the local police lifting a finger!

It was good to stop and talk to Bob on nb Nomad Dream on the way back. They are in town for a couple of days.Very sadly we had to tell them of the demise of Somerfield and that there is now no supermarket in the town centre. We have the privilege of buying superfood from Marks and Spencer these days if the town centre is the only place one can get to. They had already passed Tesco so we told them where to moor to shop at Morrison's on their way out of town.

It was great to be in the fresh air.

Probably my last little cruise for a while now as tomorrow I am having a new half knee fitted at the Horton Hospital. I'll tell you how it goes.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

A Bit on the Down Side

Today we received an early morning text.

A dog-walking neighbour to our boat had noticed that the Bright Yellow Robin-Suburu 1700i Generator that sits on our rear deck was missing. A thief had cut away the fencing surrounding the deck to release the generator, chain, lock and all, during the night.

We surveyed the damage with disgust. It is not the first generator we have had stolen. Each time something goes "missing" I feel violated. Not a nice feeling.

We talked to a few of our mooring neighbours who said that recently there had been people up and down the towpath who didn't say "hello". This is unusual because dog walkers, tow path walkers and boaters are usually an affable bunch who at least pass the time of day and politely acknowledge one another. It doesn;t take much to wish someone a good day does it? These people obviously don't care.

As it was a lovely day, we started the engine and blew the winter cobwebs off. Just a couple of hours run to stretch her legs a little. Sonflower seemed to enjoy her outing and behaved impeccably as we proudly cruised through town and back again.

We only saw one boat on our journey under power. Surprisingly, this was Dancing Duck, the day boat from Tooley's Boatyard, hosting a boat handling course for none other than three BW employees brightly kitted out in high-viz and life jackets. Why "surprisingly". Well I would have expected BW to have the expertise to train their own employees to handle a narrowboat and secondly would have expected them to use their own workboat! It is moored in the centre of town next to Tooley's yard.

We had lunch with other boaters at the GF club Just like old times.

Now the hassle of police reports, insurance claim and incident reporting. It makes one sick.