A kind of record of a narrow boat and what has to be done to keep her afloat and usable.
We might even be able to tell you where we get to as well.
Hoping you enjoy the intimate detail of boating on the UK canals.
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.
SONFLOWER cruises away from us under the lift bridge at Thrupp in the capable hands of our friends, David and Sue. They are heading for the Thames so SONFLOWER will again enjoy the pampering of lock keepers and gin palace masters as she cruises down to Reading. David and Sue are in no particular hurry so I hope that they enjoy it as much as I did recently.
We enjoyed the leisurely cruise down to Thrupp for the rendezvous. I was amazed to find this a centre of activity for the BCF with nb Florella, nb Bruin, nb Dragon Lady and nb Hannah all along the moorings together.
Now back to the domestic life, piano and drum lessons for the boys and back to school/college routine from Monday!
I popped into my local boatyard for some of the essentials: pump out, gas, engine oil.
I looked around the chandlery and said,"No Morris SAE 30, then?" Ray indicated, in his inimitable style, that I must be blind. "It's over there!". I looked, and looked again and then noticed the modern plastic packaging. "You need to modernise", he said, "don't you like the new style?"
To be honest, I am a Luddite. I don't see the necessity. I like the metal oil can. You can re-use it as a petrol can. It cannot be a money saving exercise because the price has gone up from £16.00 to £17.50 for 5 litres.
The notice has been up about a week and all local moorers have received a letter telling us about the Canal Experience Days this week end.
This photo of the Banbury towpath moorings was taken at 2.30 today (15th May). Was is really necessary to empty the moorings and stop boaters enjoying Banbury last night? The absence of boats would indicate a negative answer. Is it necessary to sterilise 300 feet of mooring for two hire boats and a day boat? I wouldn't have thought so.
SONFLOWER is moored on Castle Quay, Banbury near a sign that says "no return within 28 days" and thinking how stupid it is. In the last 20 days I have just navigated a distance of over 275 miles, through 176 locks and Braunston and Blisworth Tunnels. There were at least 23 moveable bridges of which 16 were left open.
I am moored in the same place within the 28 day period! Oh dear! I am not exactly bridge hopping am I? Castle Quay, to me, indicates a place to load and discharge cargo. That's what I am doing.
We went one lock too far, met the lock keeper at Iffley lock and he reccomended a cruise past Port Meadow in the late evening light to finish the day off. So we did. We worked up Osney Lock and then saw the delights of the meadow in a beautiful light. He was right. It was as good an English landscape as I have ever seen with the life of horses, geese and ccws grazing gently. It reminded me of a Cooper watercolour.
So to Kings lock, a swing eastward to Dukes Cut Lock and the Oxford Canal. We moored after sunset and feasted on Kedgeree and bean salad. Hungry but tired and happy.
What wlse is there to do on the Thames. Apart from keeping ones eyes peeled for the rowers, there are only the birds to observe and endless green trees, meadows and very expensive houses.
As I prefer nature to architecture I look at the birds.
We have left parakeet country behind and very briefly entered Kite country around Marlow. Ther were five or six in the air at once, wheeling and sparring. At one point two of them mimicked the display variety we see in the local park and did a formation flying display turning together in a marvelously co-ordinated flight. A bit further on I noticed a group of falcons. Whether they were Merlin, peregrine (too small) or some other, (hobby?) I am not sure but there were five or six together wheeling around and swooping low over the water.
Terns were the next feeders to be seen almost touching low over the waves and then we spotted a lone swift. They really do make it summer. However the weather belied that. We had a rain storm for two hours this morning. When we reached Temple lock it was as though we had crossed the line drawn by the weather forecaster and we entered a zone of blue sky. The wind did not let up though. We battled it right to our overnight mooring.
Also spotted along the way was this immigrant family. I am not colour prejudiced but I wonder how long it will be before the balck swans outnumber the white ones! The Canada Geese we saw on the way today certainly outnumber the grey varieties by a factor of ten at least.
As we finished our fish and chip dinner, we saw a barn owl quartering the field where we are moored.
The Thames is amazing for birds. Apart from the wrens, robins and thrushes that shout from the marginal hedgerows and trees there are many many birds that I would not include as being indiginous species. Parakeets abound. On the water there are mandarin ducks, egyptian geese and even a black swan on her nest on Goose Island near Molesey.
I always thought of grebes as being lake birds but the great crested grebe is very common along here. More common are swans. I counted over 110 in one view at Chertsey.
One other bird that was note worthy was a peregrine falcon darting and weaving over the river at Windsor. I wondered whether they nest on the castle tower. An ideal spot I would say. Other raptors spotted were sparrowhawk and buzzard.
A sandpiper walked the banks yesterday morning. A nice little bird that isn't often seen.
There was a stack of sand martin nests near one lock but the birds were absent. We have seen house martins and swallows picking off the thousands of caddis fly that are emerging from the water at the moment. One such fly hitched a lift on the boat. I tried to get a photo but it flew as the shutter clicked. This one came aboard later.
I could not blog yesterday evening because we were very tired.
Having left Willowtree on the Paddington Arm before seven in the morning we navigated the eleven locks down to the Thames Lock at Brentford in very good time to get there before opening time of 1200h.
We joined nb Crystal Haze in the Guaging lock and then shared the Thames lock with her. As we left the lock I pointed out a large sheet of sonething in the water. They did not take enpugh notice of my warning andd got it on their prop. I towed them back to the lock to attend to clearing it and set off up the Tideway on our own. The wind was strong and the waves were significant. The wash form a PLA craft was even more significant putting spray from teh boaw as we hit it overthe roof level of SONFLOWER.
In the end all was well and we gotto Teddington in just over an hour.
We lunched on moorings beside Kinston Bridge and then went on to the suggested mooring at Desborough Cut. This was not a nice spot and we moored on Environment Agency visitopr moorings at teh mouth ofthe River Wey.
I visited an old friend who lives nearby after dinner on board.
Being Very Tired I fell into bed and slpet until morning and the singing thrush. A very good day. 24 miles 16 locks today.
I pumped out, and waited in Paddington Basin for my new crew member, Brian, and then went together with nb Trinity down the Paddington Arm and we moored at Willowtree Park. Nice moorings but the ubiquitous shopping trolly had got there before us! Trintity pulled it out rather than moor on top of it.
We had a lovely dinner with Lyn and Henry on their boat and then fatigue caught up with us. I lit a fire to warm the cooling boat and then went to bed.
This morning we look forward to getting to Brentford and onto the Thames.
I have had a wonderful time. The crew left on the 1600 train and I am now waiting for boating friends to go out for an end of festival meal together. All around us the boats are gradually leaving to make their way home and the IWA workers (all volunteers) are breaking camp.
It was really a fun weekend. Already I have been told that there are more boats booked in for next year than the pool can accommodate. After this experience, we will certainly be back next year, wherever we have to moor.
Well done IWA.
AND we had the priviledge of being moored next to the winning 'best boat in show'!
I now wait for a new crew member to join me for the trip back to Banbury. Probably up the Thames.
While I am waiting I have just recharged the stern tube greaser: life goes on.
It atarted with the Boaters Sunday Service. Not many turned up for the Church Army led worship and celebration service. However, we had a good time together with many 'modern' songs rather than traditional hymns. If was refreshing.
The crowds began to gather around midday and we had a stream of people to chat to and who came to enquire about boating and boat life and Christianity. I am always amazed by the number of people who don't think we have toilets and a bathroom!
This afternoon I had a very pleasant conversation with Eric C Bartholomew who is here to promate his latest book, a novel, titled Distant Horizons. This is a story based on the true events in the life of a family on the Indian subcontinent. It proves to be a page turner as the Best Mate cannot put it down.
The author is a very interesting man who left a trade to travel and write.Firstly in a caravan and lately he has a narrowboat He puts a wealth of experience as a genuine adventurer into the writing.
I look forward to another chat with him tomorrow in between his book signing.
Sonflower at the Cavalcade. Apparently in a very prominant position.
In fact, the boat next to us went for a little cruise leaving us exposed to view. In my rush I hadn't washed her down and thought it would not matter because she would not be exposed to view. Then Y~Not moved out on a trip and there she was exposed. A quick mop over was all I could achieve.
The festival is great. There are crowds of people marching past the stand on the towpath near us and many stopping to chat. Chatter is the orfer of the day with the boaters and bloggers. I have met Jo from nb Hadar, Adam from nb Debdale and a first meeting with Simon from nb Tortoise
After 128 miles 111 locks 5 moveable bridges in 66 hours of cruising we arrived at Paddington Basin at noon on Thursday.
A very successful and enjoyable cruise. A little faster than we would have liked but necessary to enable me to return to Banbury for the family, chair a meeting of the Full Governing Body and see my Mum.
In the basin everybody seemed very bouyant. Boats are moored with stickers in the window indicating that they are waiting for the Cavalcade. Boats of every description from 40ft Springers to 72ft boats and butties. They are all seem to be looking their best.
We have a lot to do before SONFLOWER looks her best. Brass to clean, paint to wash, windows to polish. We now have a few scratches. After passing 222 gates I am not really surprised!