About Me

My photo
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.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Brrr and leak or no leak

I am sorry that I haven't blogged for so long. The fact is that there has been little to blog about. All I have done on the boat since the last post is 'winterise' SONFLOWER.

And that is not a lot! I have topped up the engine coolant with antifreeze and drained the gas water heater. Apart from that my winter preperations are on a hope for the best basis. I did take the pressure off the water system and open a couple of taps and switched the water pump off in a hope of keeping frost damage on the water system to a minimum.

One other little bit of news is non news. I investigated a reported leak on the loo flushing valve. Copius amounts of kitchen towel roll had been used to keep the flow of water at bay. However, I couldn't find one! After an hour of lying on the bathroom floor and waggling the valve and checking the connectiona and gland for leaks I gave up. I cannot repair a leak that isn't there! I also cannot decide whether to buy a new valve as a strategic spare and keep it just in case the leak re-appears.

The canal is frozen over and snow lies on the ground while frost hangs pendulously from the branches of the trees above. A few last autumnal leaves flutter down and all glistens brightly in the sunlight. Winter has arrived.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Gone again

I went to the boat this morning to get it into town to handover to a couple of freinds who are borrowing her for the weekend to find that the petrol portable generator has been stolen again! Chained to the boat with two padlocks the chain was just smashed apart.

I have no idea what to do. The police will have no chance of catching the thieves who are probably many miles away and have disposed of the item by now.

If any one is offered a Suburu Robin 1700i petrol generator with broken clips on the front facia please let me know.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Tidying Up

At the end of the cruising season there are always little jobs that need doing. I have been plagued by diesel leaks over the last couple of years and I thought that the engine overhaul would sort it all out. How wrong I was.

In spite of the engine overhaul being carried out by the acknowledged experts on marinised BMC engines for use on the canal, I have had a leak from a joint on the injector. Small but inconvenient as it covers the side of the engine with diesel, making it sticky an attractive to any muck that is around, soaks the absorbent matting in the oily bilge and puts the 'clean' bilge at risk (and hence the canal) should any splash over the side. I do not like leaving rainbows every time the bilge pump operates!

So I have had the faulty injector changed and sent away for repair. Here is a picture of the item and the invoice.

It is hard to believe that £10.00 worth of work could cause anxiety, worry, risk to the environment and heartache!

Tooley's Botyard have been very good, accepting their responsibility in curing the problem even though the acknowledged experts on marinised BMC engines for use on the canal only give a six month warranty which was, effectively, over before the cruising season started.

So my engine bay is clean and tidy once again.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Winter Moorings

British Waterways winter moorings go on sale from today. I followed the link and did a search for 'Banbury' returning one result for Banbury Tramway at a price of £8.66 per metre per month.

I recently won a BW moorings auction for £1070 per annum for an 18 metre berth. That is £4.95 per metre a month. Didn't I do well being the only bidder!

Come on British Waterways: that surely is the market value you should be offering the moorings at.

Little Disagreements

A visitor to the town had a difference of opinion with a canalside business today. Sadly, it ended up costly to him in time and money as the business refused to serve him. I know that the matter will not end there as the towpath telegraph and electoronic communication is a very effective conveyor of the experiences of the disgruntled.

I am a firm believer that the local businesses along the canal need our patronage. Without them we would be left to carry cans of deisel from a petrol station, bottles of blue from the caravan centre, coal from the stockist etc etc. We already have to choose our moorings to be close to the appropriate DIY facility when making repairs or re-furbishments. Getting to a place where you expect a service to find it closed is not pleasant as we experienced during our Summer Cruise but we have usually found a handy next place down the cut! If we do not use them however, the 'next place' could be a very long way away.

So upsetting them does not seem a good idea to me.

"A gentle word tuns away wrath" is a proverb to remember.

More of the same

Here is a picture of the decorous front end of SONFLOWER in bright sunshine.
and here is the back end. She is dressed up for Banbury Canal Day, our annual home waterways festival.

During the Boaters Bash on the Saturday evening, when we enjoyed a beer, food and folk music by Nick Nack Paddy Wack, fresh from their national success at Beale Park, the rain started and it didn't stop until about 3 in the afternoon of the Sunday!

The rigging fell down in the night wind and we lost a bungy in the canal. My sea-searcher was put into employment but passing boats had moved it to a spot unknown or picked it up on the prop! Sorry if it was you who found it through your weed hatch!

We pitched the Boaters Christian Fellowship stall under the Tom Rolt Bridge and kept dry but windblown for most of the day. Appropriately the theme of the day was the Centenary of TCR's birth. The canalside service was held there too.
We had a steady stream of passers by, some of whom stopped to talk or listen to the songs from 1910 which we performed unplugged while children painted roses on paper plates, a skill we had picked up at Little Venice IWA Cavalcade.

Those who braved the weather had a good time. The town council tried hard to put on a good show and we were visited by several notables throughout the day including the Town Mayor, Chair of Cherwell District Council, journalists from national and local press, friends and visitors for all over the country.

Quite a few bloggers made themselves known too. It is good to meet people face to face as well as over the internet.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

an ARK!

This afternoon we had a lovely afternoon boating. Well, Eeyore and Piglet didn't actually get onto a boat but the Best Mate spent the afternoon nattering on the cruiser stern of a friends boat as it descended Napton Locks. We offered to do what Granny Buttons calls 'lock wheeling' for them because they are on a tight schedule to return from the IWA National, where they have been part of the set up crew, to Milton Keynes for heart surgery. The heart problem means that they should not be doing more than 5 locks per day. But progress at that rate would be too slow. A little help sped them on their way.

Halfway up we met blogger nb Harnser who was almost home!

Strolling back up the flight we met an aggravated boater who had plainly signalled to a boat descending the locks to leave the lock bottom gates open. They had closed them and the boat behind filled the lock. Why are people so inconsiderate? We were able to make her smile by opening the gates of the next lock.

That's how we will change the world and their 'go faster' attitude; one Act of Random Kindness at a time.

Here is a photo of our friends waving goodbye as they pass Folly Bridge no 113

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


We had a lovely day out today to this idyllic Tudor mansion in Warwickshire.

Charlcote Park house is not open on Wednesday or Thursday but the out buildings, including a brew house and carriage collection, and the gardens are. The Parterre adjoins the River Avon and the views are wonderful. I noted however that the chub, clearly visible in the crystal clear water, are battling against a current of at least 1 m/sec (2.1/4 mph). It occurred to me that really, this stretch of the Upper Avon is NOT really suitable for a navigation as desired by some.
Can you imagine a 65 ft narrowboat in this picture?
No, I thought not!

The gardens are delightful including a short woodland walk during which we saw young blackbirds drinking at a pond, a nuthatch feeding on a pine tree, jays and listened to a woodpecker hammering somewhere above us. We really enjoyed the latte, brownie and shortbread in the daily open restaurant too.

Monday, 6 September 2010


Just a couple of pictures from The Summer Cruise

Here she is going under Ugly Bridge No 52 heading for the seventh lock on the 21 lock Hatton Flight.

This one attempts to capture SONFLOWER with sunflowers in the background. You can just about see a few specks of yellow! I will never make a photographer.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

On a Ring (continuing)

More texts from Stuart and Margs who are navigating the Leicester Ring:

Wednesday 1 September:Ahoy Cap'n just reporting in! Another good 2days thro beautiful canal/riverscapes wiv great weather. NOw just south of Leicester at Aylestone. . .praying for you daily. wil check in on Friday

Friday 3 September: We had a pump out today and am not sure how much blue to put in before we use it.
[My reply: About a litre from the blue bottle.]

Saturday 4 September Thank you. sori I missed cal. prob goin up Foxton flight. all else is good as well. lv from us X

Isn't it amazing the stuff we take for granted after a while. Although I hired boats on many occasions before buying SONFLOWER it wasn't until I owned her that I had to bother with things like pump outs, blue, gas, deisel and grease. I will have to add more to my briefings!

Monday, 30 August 2010

On a ring

We have left SONFLOWER in the good hands of Stuart and Marg who told us that they would be taking her round the Leicester Ring.

They have updated us on her position by text:

Thursday 26th August: Rain stopped at 3.30 so we motored on - done 11 locks today and moored up by Drayton just as the rain returned. V pleasant afternoon Thank you.

Saturday 28th August: Haqd two gr8 days on S'F- really good weather. O/N yest bout mile short of Fradley; 2nite at Willington. Boat behavin well. Canal today busy.

Monday 30th August Report in for today from just outsiode Loughborough. Nother fine and easy cruising day wiv sunshine all the way. Trent and Soar both v peaceful! No hiccups at all from the good ship SONFLOWER.

It appears that they are having a very good cruise. As usual, if any one ses them give them a cheery wave!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

End of the Summer Cruise

Yes, today we ended the Summer cruise in grey wet August skies. The rain, so light that it hung in the air, persisted all morning but we managed our little saunter from the overnight mooring at Minworth Top Lock to a rendezvous at The Kingsley. Once a Beefeater Tavern and latterly styled Kingley Canalside, this pub appears to be no more. There certainly was no life there today at 12noon! There is a notice on the window about an application to the licensing authority to extend opening hours to 0800am to 0300am. Any opening hours would have been welcome on a cold wet August Thursday! Our lunch with friends here was cancelled and we loaded our things into their car, bid them bon voyage and drove away to find some dinner elsewhere. The Toby Carvery in Knowle was en route as we followed the way we had come: Lapworth, Hatton, Warwick/Leamington, and thence to Banbury.

We could have covered in 45 minutes what ot had taken us over a fortnight. But on the way back I did not see a kingfisher, its irredescent blue back glowing in the morning sunlight, alighting on a swaying branch and them swooping low, almost touching the water, as it considered discretion a better option and flew to the safety of an oak tree across a waving hay meadow. No, the Stratford Canal provided something special to remember.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The heart of the country

We had to stop at the Wedge's Bakery shop close to Bridge 20. It just drew us toward it for the elements of a delicious lunch. A cottage loaf, a pork pie and some cakes that didn't last until lunchtime.

After that a disappointment that Simon Goldsborough was not open for business at Warings Green Wharf it was great to Lyons Boatyard at Bridge 3, just before the Brand wood Tunnel. They had everything we needed, Diesel, Gas and a pump out. All efficiently served with a smile and a bit of banter. They gave the impression that they were boating people who really wanted to give a service to boaters. Freat customer service two days running!

We have arrived in the great city of Birmingham. One thing about having an ASD son is that you get to do a lot of the same things. Today we went to Pizza express. Each time we come we go there to watch the man make the pizza bases. I have no idea how he does it. A bit if swish swashing between his hands followed by some knuckle fisting and turning and then a bit of pressing into the edges of the plate and voila! a perfect pizza base that comes out of the oven as cripy on the edges and as soft as you like it in the middle. And not only that. He does it time and time again exactly the same way and with exactly the same result.

We love this excursion to Pizza Express. Two hours of entertainment and good food finished off with Italian Ice Cream or Tiramasu.

We had a wonderful evening and, no doubt, we will do it again next time we come to Brum.

It's Raining, it's. . .

Yesterday we made good process from our overnight mooring at Hatton Top Lock, patting ourselves ont eh back for our previous eveining's work. It was a nice morning and we soon got to Tom o' the Hill moorings water point. Here the condition of the side of our boat was noted. The flanks were caked with mud splattered up to mid window level by the heavy rain during the night impacting on the already muddy towpath. Nothing that a good hose down would not cure, however, and The Best Mate shut all the windows and handed me the nozzle for the hose.

After our ablutions we progressed to Kingswood Junction where we stopped for bacon butties before the ascent of Lapworth flight. The start was good although we were following a Canalclub (ressurrected Canaltime) boat that was slightly impeded by inexperience and low water. The helmsman insisted on leaving his lock before the previous one had let water into the pound above and had difficulty keeping afloat!

After three locks oit atarted to rain lightly. Thinking that the weather man's prediction, conveyed to us by a teacher in the boat behind, of "light Showers" was true we were unperterbed. However, the sky darkened and the rain became a deluge and The Best Mate wished that she had taken up the offer of a coat rather than 'enjoying the cooling sfffect'.

Lapworth flight is not the place to be when a rain storm comes on you. There is absolutely nowhere to hide and nowhere to moor to escape the wetting. After ten locks Tigger decided that inside the boat was the only place to be and reduced our crew by a gate opener/closer. I did not blame him as he could not understand that he could not get any wetter!

By the time we got to the second to last lock (No 3)we were glad to find the rain stopping and to find a very knowledgeable and customer orientated BW lengthsman who was adjusting the water levels in the flight. He had responded to the call of a previous boat and was working to help the boaters in spite of the terrible conditions. Well done Mr lengthsman. He also directed us to the nearest hostelry, The Wharf at Hockley Heath, where we moored to dry out, do a bit of shopping at the nearby One Stop and wait for service for dinner to commence.

We were patting ourselves on the back because of our second successful day having navigated 19 locks when nb Firefly joined us on the mooring. They had just completed 12 miles and 40 locks! They deserved their G & T!

We had a meal at The Wharf and were very pleased with what we received. We declined the offer of a carvery meal and selected meals from the Specials board or the main menu. Prices were good value and we also ordered puddings. Here is the Best Mate's Sundae to give some idea of the generosity of the portions!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Fantastic Crew!

We arrived back at Satisford Arm thanks to our hosts for lunch today. Scrummy full roast chicken dinner with bread sauce and yorkshire puddings and fruits of the forsest marrangue for afters. Wow, thanks Andy, Becky and family.

We decided that the evening was too nice to miss so we paid our dues and slipped the mooring at 5.30 pm with the Hatton Flight before us. At sunset, 2016h, we had conquered it. 21 locks in 2.3/4 hours. Many were set for us but the last four had to be emptied and we met one boat on the way!

Well done crew!

We moored above lock 46 next to two adventure boats full of sea scouts who were coating foil with candle carbon to set track detectors for the night.

The Best Mate set about creating a past and two sauce (tomato and cheese) dinner wich was consumed with gusto and washed down with a Vin Fine de Langedoc.

End of a beautiful day. Only a game of UNO to go.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Onward and Upward

At least the last two locks that we have worked were up! We are progressing steadily toward the hefty incline of the Hatton Flight. The way from Braunston to here was relatively easy as we had a full crew and a guest 12 year old lad from Germany. He was so keen to impress that he would not allow us to wind the paddles on the large Grand Union (Warwick and Birmingham) canal. We also had the delightful company of Karen, single handed, on nb Aitch. One small hitch was going on the cill while waiting (in the lock) for some hirers who had prepared three locks ahead on the Stockton flight. Filling the last lock lowered the level of the pound and lock just enough to nip SONFLOWER on the submerged second step of the cill. I didn't know there was one! Frantic waving and a bit of refilling soon did the trick and the boat was, fortunately, never in jeopardy.

We followed our new found rule of mooring up whenever a dark cloud or other evidence of precipitation was within sight so the way was slower than many would have expected but very enjoyable. We met nice people at Bridge 100 which is now bedecked with posts and chains to stop the wary falling off the edge where the dilapidated parapet has now been removed.

The ritual end of day game of UNO was enlivened by the introduction of many German 'house rules' that found new uses for many of the UNO cards but these were so confusing that our Britannic minds soon reverted to the standard game.

We also had a couple of very interesting sessions of angling. At one mooring, fairly near the River Leam we were shown a place where brown trout have been known to favour. However the bank was so steep that I took quite a prat fall on the recently moistened path. I didn't go there again and am not too sure that I could find it now either. The same informant told us that there were tench in this stretch of the GU and we proved this by allowing two of them to relieve us of some of our light tackle! We did manage to catch the Saltisford carp. Having waited a lifetime for him I am convinced he was the only one in the Arm. This really is a delightful spot to stop and show our guest Historick Warwick, even if the Doll and Toy Museum has closed. The Museum, in the old market building, was very good with excellent displays of wildlife and paleantology. It is also a nice place to wait for some blue sky before venturing up the flight.

Today we had to say good by to the "Admiral Bismark", as he became afectionately titled, as we took him to catch a flight back home to Germany and big rivers. We hope that he enjoyed a short trip in a pretty little boat on a quaint little English waterway.

Another notable event on the way was a meeting with Granny Buttons in Leamington. We last met on the River Nene in Peterborough last summer. Unfortunately, he didn't have much time for gassing as he needed to get on with "real paying work" not blogging. It was nice to see him on his way to the IWA National, although he did say that he may have to do the last few miles by train as he does not want to venture out on the Thames.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Nowhere to go

Sorry that I haven't blogged for some time. I have battery problems on the laptop! My 12v power supply does not seem to provide enough power to run it and when the battery "fully charged" it only lasts about ten minutes!

I am now on the generator, out in the country, and hoping that my mains power supply does not cook!

We left Coventry on Thursday with nowhere to go! Here we are leaving the basin behind us. We usually have somewhere in mind when we cruise but this holiday we have nowhere to go. We have to be in a place to have Piglet delivered back to the boat but this could be anywhere. We do not have enough time to go to the end of the Ashby and back so we have been eight miles up and eight miles back.

Here is Marsworth junction, the start of the Ashby canal.

To be honest we miss the locks. It is delightful countryside and a peaceful waterway but we like the diversion and action of working a few locks each day. We have seen a water vole and the bird life is wonderful. Finches, gold, green and chaff, seem to abound and there is always twittering in the hedgerows and fields.

The weather has been awful. We have been totally unable to avoid the heavy showers and have been soaked a couple of times. We have tried to moor up to avoid the rain as we have nowhere to go but just could not find a mooring in time for some of the deluges that have opened up in us.

Today is better. We have seen the sun this morning and are hopeful that we can do a bit of cruising in the dry.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Sorry about the speling in the last few posts. My Best MAte has corrected me quite a lot. I will try to do beter in futuer

It isnlt the speling that is a problem it is my fingers that are too fick for the keys

Here is nb SONFLOWER at her current mooring. This is a real haven and a great place to be. Unfortunately the adjacent pub has been burnt out and we are surrounded by boarded up shop premises and signs of a place very much in decline rather than regeneration. We looked for the City Council information and moorings office this morning. Unfortunately even that has suffered closure.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


There is an entry in our log that says, "Saw pirates, rescued damsels in distress and wrestled giant dragonflies".

Today we were pursued by Pirates aboard Willow Wren day boat Little Grebe! We managed to repel them as they tried to pass in a cutting marked "Unstable Cutting, Falling Trees" as I felt they would end up aground on land-slipped banks or, even worse, send us aground. After this thwarted attack they came past seething threats and "ahar me 'earties!". It was good to see a group of youngsters all set to light heartedly enjoy the water for a day!

They moored just short of Stretton Bridge. Watching their antics mooring was an entertainment in itself but what was happening just through the bridge was another type of entertainment. It turned into a boat handling competition. With hire boats moored three abreast the canal was reduced to single file. One boat had just come through the swing-bridge narrows and gave way for us to pass the moored boats but the two boats behind it did not read the situation and I had to wave the boat behind us back to alleviate serious congestion. We all managed to manoeuvre through but the need to give way gave nb Anita Gail the opportunity to leave the water point on the north side of the narrows between us and the boat behind. No real problem one might think.

However, when passing moored boats I slow down to 1000rpm on my BMC 1500 operating through a 2:1 Hurth gearbox with a 16" propeller. That means about 1.5mph. This was too slow for nb Anita Gail whose skipper shouted at me that he had to keep going into reverse to keep from hitting me! (I recalled Rosamund the Fair who used to keep control of the craft at 1mph with 40 diners aboard by intermittently but regularly using the engine in forward only. If they can do it anyone who has a bit of nous could do it. Going slowly is something every boater should be able to do!) When a space allowed I slowed even more and let him pass seething rage! How could it be MY fault that he couldn't go any slower? There is a boat on the moorings in Cropredy that has a sign in the window: "Keeping full control of a narrowboat at 1 knot is a skill much admired by moored boaters".

We passed them later today moored at Hawkesbury junction. I wonder what they do with the few minutes they saved.

"Some entertain Angels unawares. . ."

Yesterday evening we moored on the Long term Mooring at Newbold. Tut tut, do I hear you say. (Visitor moorings are very rare here on Friday evenings). After we moored a Rose Narrowboat aimed for the bank in the gap between us and the next boat along and the helmsman asked in a west US accent "Will we fit?". I affirmed this fact and helped them moor. Obviously new to the waterways and oblivious to the BW totem poles they found the first vacant spot near to the hostelries of Newbold. Who can blame them?

After they had had a meal in one of the pubs, I asked them aboard for a drink and found that these adventurous senior citizens of California were a "Pastor to Seniors" and his wife. We spent a wonderful evening in their company and felt very privieledged to be able to give them a little hospitality and enjoy their conversation and put the world to rights from a view from both sdes of the Atlantic.

They were having a weekend "Canal Adventure" going somewhere from whence they shall return. We wish them a very blessed time.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Toward Coventry

From Bridge 79, our overnight mooring on the North Oxford Canal. we set off in reasonable sunshine to stop at Bridge 73. This allowed time for the engine to heat the water in the calorifier so that we could all have a shower and also an opportubity to cook a breakfast. Reasearch on the internet (what did we do without it?)indicated that this was the nearest point on the canal top an Aldi which was neatly connected by the Stagecoach bus 96, an hourly service between Rugby and Northampton.

So it was also a good place to stop for shopping.

After his breakfast bacon sandwich and bowl of chocopops, Pooh Bear decided that he didn't feel too well and put himself back to bed. The family shopping trip was now reduced to a solo forray by yours truly. Equipped with rumble truck and tesco big bags I set off. Infact, I waked there and back helped by a short cut through a park that was pointed out by a local young Mum who was pushing her sleeping baby and dragging her other youngster that way.

After a successful trip, I returned to helo a hire boat who was pulled off his pins next to our boat by a passing boater. I demonstratee the art of mooring on 'the wrong sort of piling' using rope loops that had been left by a previous moorer. This is much more secure than a mooring stake, however deep it is hallered. The baots just don't seem to go as slow as they should.

Hilmorton locks were worked down in the pleasant company of Robert Anne Spog Dog and Ko who were behind us for quite a while. They were keeping a close eye on the clouds because they don't do boating in the rain.

A bit more cruising was unsertaken befoer a lunch break opposite Clifton Wharf where passing boats entertained us with their antics just before the bridge. Antics actually became a collision just before we left and I was thankful to have already slipped the moorings to be able to reverse as fast as I could to avoid us being the next target.

We continued to Newbold where we have moored at the end of the long term mooring as the remainder of the visitor moorings are full. There are three hire companies in this locality and I think all of them turn round on Saturday. It must be like this every Friday evening. It has started to rain so I don't see why we should go any further to find an alternative. I do pay for a mooring after all! These moorings, like those on which I moor in Banbury, have had space on them all the time I have been in this area. We passed this way in Summer 2003 on a hire boat and I spoke to a long term moorer then while waiting for friends to lunch at the pub. He said he had never known them full. I wonder whether BW really know the length they have to offer! There have been auctions recently and sold two mooring cheaply at the strt of this year. The last auction didn't get a bid for a 10m mooring but I don't think that they have ever advertised the whole vacant length.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Things that need doing

After a few days with two of the grandchildren in Kent we have returned to Oxfordshire to rendezvous with another who has been staying in our flat for a few days. It has been good to catch up and to do the things that we must do: like visit our doctor and pick up prescriptions etc. Unfortunately we are at the age when free prescriptions become a necessity!

Hopefully we are back on the boat in the morning!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Network Coverage

I have just had a text from a friend who asks "just a qn about internet access on canals. Do you ever get connections or use it or is it a waste of time?"

The real answer is that it varies. We are on 3 network. On the way to Braunston this week we have been out of signal from Fenny Compton to Napton. However Braunston, which used to be a mobile phone blackspot, is fine. We bumped into a friend who was wandering around Braunston looking for his wife! He complained that there is no signal for O2 users. However at Napton O2 is fine.

So it depends on which network one uses and obviously the terrain immediately around the canal. Signal strength at Braunston has always been far better standing on one leg on the arm of the seat half way up the path toward the post office from the marina bridge.

The real answer is to check the signal map for your network before setting off and then take into consideration that there is bound to be no signal in a cutting on the approach to a tunnel! Calls tend to get cut off in the bottom of Somerton Deep lock as well.

All of you bloggers must think it is all right and with iphones and newer technology it is getting better all the time.

A great idea comes to fruition

Here is the result of a suggestion by friends of ours.

We have had difficulty bolting the front door fo4rm the inside since we bought the boat because you have to hold the sharp edged bolt and pull it toward you thus increasing friction between it and the slide which makes it difficult to get into the socket to secure the door.

Our friends borrowed the boat and had the same difficulty. "Could you fit a handle to pull the door in while we bolt it?" thye asked.

Well her it is!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Water Shortage

We got awed in Cropredy ay after a couple of showers yesterday and arrived in Cropredy to moor a couple of hundred youards short of Bridge e 153 at 10.30pm. The water levels were very low and there were BW craft all over the place. A tug, a facilities craft and a hopper were between the Mill and the Bridge. We could not get the stern nearer than 10feet from the bank but because ofthe hour moored like that anyway.

This morning we found out the reason: a BW man informed us that Slat Mill top gate was leaking badly and there would be a four hour stoppage tomorrow morning for repairs to seals. The water supply from the River Cherwell has been cut to 25% of the normal because of shortage of water for Thames Water at Banbury. Hence the low levels.

We rendezvoused with Matt the mechanic of Tooley's at 0930 this morning and he got 'a bit more' on the injector joint that has been leaking. He left it dry of diesel but asked me to keep an eye on it. If the leak persists the injector assembly will neeed to be sent away for remedial work and pressure testing.

We left at about 10.00am and have made progress but needed to fill every lock on the way to our lunch stop at Claydon Top Lock. We expect to moor near The Wharf at Fenny Compton this evening.

It is great to be cruising. One small problem is that I have forgotten the lead that connects phone to laptop. Pictures will need to be added later!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Setting Off

We should be setting off on our Summer travels now. Unfortunately, the BBC weather site has got it all wrong and the whute cloud that should be here is a few shades darker than that and there is wet stuff falling all around. Why boat in the rqin if in doesn't have to? As I write the sunis breaking through so we may make a move sometime this evening.

Today's trip t the Joh Radcliffe hospital to see Professor P int eh Neurology department went very wel. The patient is doing very well and we don;t have to make this particular trip again until September 2011. While the Best Mate and thepatient were waiting for the good professor, I went for a wander. I investigated the Thresher down the road who advertised a tempting real ale offer and then walked along Marston Road for a little way intending to get a bus somewhere and back. However, I was lured by the mellow tones of a tenor saxaphine that were emanating from a wonderful looking shop that boated brass and woodwind instrument supplies and repairs. I entered and once inside wished that I played a wind instrument and could have a go at teh treasures on display. I spent a wonderful twenty minutes talking about music since the fifties with the proprietor. Once a professional musician, and always a business man, he had played with the greats like Ronnie Scott and now had the business as a paying hobby. One of only two brass speciaists in the country now. I didnlt know such a place exisited. As I left I walked away to the hauntong tones of jazz from the solo sax.

He recommended a guitar shop in Summertown for my next visit to JR!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Intermittent Cruising

Some of our regular readers will be wondering why we are not on our way to Cropredy, Fenny Compton, Napton and all points north as is our usual practice as soon as the schools break up.

We have to delay our cruise this year by the necessity of wafting Piglet to Paradise, aka as Luton Airport, at silly o'clock on Monday morning so that he can fly to Germany for an international youth conference. While there, he will be palling up with a Germam lad who will come back to England via Birmingham International Airport. They then need to be taken to another youth event, Newday, which is at Norwich showground again this year. They will be delivered back by another parent and we will then have some additional crew for a short cruise. The pal will need to return to Germany from BHX.

All this means that the summer cruising, which is usually of the continuous nature, will be intermittent with much consideration given to safe moorings, buses, trains and trips to the car. Consideration will also be given to long pounds and lock free canals.

I will attempt to keep posting blogs of interest. These too may continue to be intermittent rather of a continuous nature.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Pleased to be of service

To the ladies of narrowboats Puddleduck and Digitalis, who were looking for the bus stop in Cropredy to get a bus to Banbury, I just say that I am pleased to have been of service.

I always wonder how these little villages carry on with only two buses a day and, in this case, the return bus leaves Banbury at 2pm which is early in any body's book. To have to depend on the village shop (if there is one) must be diffucult. In the case of Cropredy however, the village store (Bridge Stores next to Bridge 153) is excellent even though it is a bit pricey by supermarket standards.

I just happened to use the luxurious 2pm service to get back to Cropredy this afternoon as we left the boat there overnight. An excellent trip.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

She's in Fenny Compton!

Yes, SONFLOWER is in Fenny Compton this evening. We lent her to a couple of friends who took their family for a ride. One daughter was 20 yesterday! She brought along her boyfriend; another daughter was aboard with her husband and tiny daughter; and grandmother came too.

They wrote in the log that they had seen pirates! They apparently only stopped for lunch and Pimms!

I am sure that they enjoyed themselves.

Meanwhile. . . . we were enjoying a barbeque in a friends garden with visitors from Atlanta, USA and spent a lot of the evening comparing little ol' England to the big US! A good time was had by all and quite a few steaks were consumed withthe salad.

Tomorrow we will be boating back!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Lad's Day Out pt 2

A picture of SONFLOWER entering Slat Mill Lock with Alan on the tiller. He had declared that he had no intention of working any locks today. He certainly couldn't from there!

A great day was had by all and both the lads were asleep when the girls arrived!

Monday, 5 July 2010


I have done a little bit if shopping today for a lad's day out on the boat tomorrow.


Anything missing?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Another wedding today

No boating again this weekend. We are at a wedding. We attended the church service at this afternoon and are now preparing to attend the evening reception.

A lovely picturesque village church setting right next to this lovely and newly restored castle.

However it was not the Manorial family who were celebrating. Quite a large and dressed up congregation however.

For the second week running the bride exited to "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba"

Monday, 28 June 2010

Dressed for boating?

Here is a picture of the Best Mate, leaning on a balance arm on the Caen Hill flight. No, she is not dressed for boating but for the wedding we were attending in Trowbridge in Saturday. The reception was in Devizes so we had to pop in to see the Caen Hill Flight on the way. The stifling heat demanded a drink at the little cafe on the flight.

This flight is a wonder. It was our first visit. I must say that looking down the flight with locks receding into the distance in an uncountable number from the top is an amazing view. We have not taken SONFLOWER onto the Kennet and Avon at all yet. One day we will. One certainty, according to the Best Mate, is that we will not be approaching from the Severn and Avon tidal waters. So our first experience of this flight will be descending. I imagine that it will be a very memorable day.

We had a lovely day at the wedding of Sarah and Chris (who have borrowed Sonflower last year). I love weddings and hope that they are enjoying this blissful state.


Only it was a different match! The defeat against Germany yesterday could have led to many a fan jumping in the canal last night. Disappointment is one thing because England played badly but the decision to disallow a perfectly good goal was unbelievable.

Where is common sense? Everyone in the stadium knew the reality at half time. Why didn't the referee talk to the German captain, admit his mistake and award a goal at the re-start?

Where is sportsmanship? Knowing that the goal had been scored, the Germans could have passed the ball into their own net to equalise the game.

But then football isn't a sport any more. It is a business. And on the basis of the decision made, it is just about winning. And that has little to do with goals scored any more.

Friday, 18 June 2010


After the performance of the England team this evening it was good to walk along the canal and see this scene. Such serenity, even in the heart of a busy town in a Friday night is a treat that would cheer up the most dejected and downcast soul.

Five live, bless them, have just reminded me of Italia 90 when England did not win their first two games and ended up in the semi-final, going out on penalties to Germany. Apparently there is hope for the hopeless.

Rooney was awful tonight. Why make the same substitutions as were made in the last match. Obviously Cappello believes he doesn't need to change the system. Any fan who watched tonight will know that he needs to put the team out and tell them to play like they do week in and week out for their team back home. As in 1966, they need to do it their way. Hurst, Peters and Moore were playing the West Ham way for England. They shined. Terry, Cole, Cole and Lampard do it for Chelsea, Rooney and Carrick do it for Man U, Carragher and Gerrard do it for Liverpool, and there are six Tottenham lads in the squad. Let them do it for England.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Summertime. . .

. . .and the living is easy! So George and Ira Gershwin's song goes and we took advantage of it for a little cruise down the canal to Nell Bridge and back. Being a Friday there was very little traffic around the town and we passed through without any holdup to enter the countryside and enjoy the irises that are blooming in the reed beds at the bankside.

The birds were enjoying the sunshine and reed bunting, reed warbler, blackcap, goldfinches and a linnet were clearly seen sunning themselves on the margin of the canal and a buzzard wheeled away to a dot against the blue sky.

We were going there and back again just because we can! My crew was new to this pleasure but he very soon came to appreciate how calming a day in the water can be.

We stopped to fry up a luncheon of bacon, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms (all in the same pan, of course) which was enjoyed moored near Twyford Mill. We were so near the madness of the rushing M40 motorway but it didn't affect us at all. What a priviledge to be able to escape the ratrun of daily life to the peace of the canal. I was reminded of a friar at Aylesford Priory (backing on to the M20, beside the River Medway) who told me in a lovely Irish lilt "The voice of the Lord is like many waters so I thinks of the sound as a waterfall!" Closing my eyes I knew what he meant.

We turned at the Nell Bridge winding hole and returned to town for a BBQ.

The boat stayed at Tooley's for a little more engine tlc.

Friday, 28 May 2010

New Picture

This is a photo of a lovely picture that has just been given to us by a friend who took it. It is called "Wall to wall sunflowers" and was photographed in Kent.

We love it and now have to decide where it can be displayed to reflect its glory.

Thank you both.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Another tow-path problem

Here is a picture of a cow-slip that has been strimmed! These beautiful wild flowers are getting quite rare. If I had picked them I could have been prosecuted under the Wildlife and Countryside Acts. British Waterways' contractors however seem oblivious to the plight of these lovely wild flowers. They should, at least be allowed to seed before being mown down as they would be in a hay meadow.

About 200 yards from the carnage site, discretely tucked behind the hedge in the margin of the farmer's field was a plant that showed all the beauty of this marvel.

Sorry about the blurred image. NO cow-slip was harmed by my bad photography

Marston Doles to Fenny Compton

I asked the barman at The Wharf, Fenny Compton when they stopped serving lunch. He said 9 o'clock. I assume therefore they are open all day.I set off down the tow-path toward Marston Doles where I had left the Best Mate at the tiller. I anticipated meeting her about half way. In fact here she is approaching Bridge 128 so the plan worked perfectly. I got about an hours walking in.

Having taken over the tiller we then navigated to the 14 day moorings at Fenny Compton in warm conditions. As we approached the end of this little voyage the wind turned a little chilly and we decided to stop for a spot of lunch. 'Two for £8.50' seemed a good deal so we pumped for pie of the day (Chicken and ham) & mash and chicken curry & rice. OK for a lunch was the verdict.

That was enough for today.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Bridge 102 to Marston Doles, gently

Today we had to do a bit of car hopping. The boat being at Flecknoe Bridge number 102 on the widened section of the Oxford/Grand Union between Braunston and Napton Junction (Wygram's Turn). Here is a picture taken from the bridge as she sets off, without me.

I had to drive to Marston Doles and then walked down the Napton flight to meet the boat at Bridge 112. We worked up Napton bottom lock and moored for a lunch at the Folly Pub. This is under now management but is still operating the old winter menu. Not a lot of originality there. We have avoided the pub since our 'folly of a meal' a couple of years ago. Seeing the 'Under Mew Management' sign we gave it another go. Ok for a pint of Hookey and a snack but not a lot to recommend it really.

We met 'Tia' on the tow-path and then inside using the pub's wi-fi. Now there is something to recommend it! We didn't need ecover and are away for the beer and folk festival in August that they were advertising.

After lunch, the threatening dark haily clouds had cleared and we had the most glorious afternoon to work up the rest of the flight. Here SONFLOWER rises in Lock 11. We moored at Marston Doles just before school out time and a trip back into Banbury. It was great to be boating!

A thorny problem

I walked down the flight at Napton this morning. The only problem I had was that I forgot my walking boots! I soon picked up a thorny branch in the sole of my sandals.

Inconvenient you may think but not much of a problem. But there were actually loads of branches from the hedge battering that were strewn on the tow-path. The hedges looked nice and are sprouting beautifully and evenly but the tow-paths are a mess.

As fate would have it I met a BW man on a bike. He was not a lengthsman or a lock keeper any more. He is now a Data Collector. I asked him how he could ride a bike on paths like this. I certainly couldn't. He told me that his BW issue bike had solid tyres! Apparently these are available here on the internet.

So BW know about the problem. They can overcome their sloppy quality control on their hedge cutting contractors by expending on solid tyres. A pity they didn't inform the other cyclist I met today who now puts his old holed inner tubes back in as an additional layer between the new one and the tyre, or the man I met last Saturday who is now walking 20 miles a day pushing his bike and trailer from London to Birmingham because he cannot keep up with the puncture repairs.

If BW think the tow-path is a gym, they should take a bit more care to give us a surface we can safely walk, run or ride on.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

New Boots!

Inspired by Maffi's shopping trip to Banbury I ventured into the market today and bought some lightweight walking boots. Now I am equipped for lightweight walking!

I hate shopping so this was a real test. I have to but some new trainers too but one thing at a time!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Caution Stream Increasing

Having left Little Venice with the intention of making passage from Brentford to Teddington and navigating up the Thames to meet family in Reading, our friends have reconsidered their options.

I looked on the Environment Agency's river conditions site today to find that from Oxford to Boveny lock (below Reading) there were yellow caution notices in force.
"Caution stream increasing - We advise users of all unpowered boats not to navigate and users of powered boats to find a safe mooring. This is because river flows are likely to strengthen and red boards could be displayed very soon and without warning."

Assuming that the water from Oxford will need to get to Teddington, our friends agreed that a couple of days moored in a safe mooring like a lock cutting was not how they wanted to spend their holiday so they have turned north and are taking SONFLOWER back the way she came.

Far Too Busy

It has been a long time since I have blogged.

SONFLOWER has been to Little Venice again this year for the Canalway Cavalcade. The weather was not quite as kind as last year and we had very heavy rain on Sunday that dampened things down a bit.

Sonflower was taken down to Bull's Bridge by our freinds who had a good time of it, meeting some of their friends on the way.

I met them and Sonflower there and then took her to Little Venice where we moored for the festival. We were not in The Pool this year so felt a bit out of it but we enjoyed taking part in the Saturday night Entertainment and the Parade of Illuminated Boats on Sunday evening after the rain had stopped. Here is a photo of steam working boat President and butty Kildare (slightly out of control) during the parade of historic working boats.

Sonflower is now crewed by another couple of friends for most of the return trip.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Well on the way!

I have just heard from the crew that they are moored up on the Tring summit ready to start the long descent into the Thames valley down the Marsworth flight.

Back in Banbury we are getting ready to go to the Cavalcade. We need to sort out the boat decoration. I took the christmas lights off our flat balcony yesterday to take with us. Some flashing lights will jolly the rigging and will make it look fun. We have entered the illuminated parade. Whether we parade or not is in the balance. We would have to devise a way of getting the rigging demountable to get under the bridges of Little Venice and we haven't time to work on it. Also we have had the bad news that the head has come off our broom. The broom is an integral part of our normal rig, supporting the bunting at the aft end! Hopefully the stick is still intact.

Also needing prep is a song to perform during the boaters entertainment on Saturday Evening. I have a song written but it needs working on.

I am expecting to have fun whatever happens.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Off and Away

I am sorry that I haven't blogged for a while. There needs to be something to blog about and quite honestly there has been little that caught my imagination.

Since we came back from Tooley's we have only poodled about the Banbury area between Cropredy and Nell Bridge. Everything on the boat was working well enough and we found the new calorifier system was great at getting hot water without gas, a luxury we haven't had before. So all is set for the summer.

After the final pit stop on Monday to fill the diesel tanks, take on water and empty the toilet tank the boat was ready to go.

On Tuesday I cruised with friends to Cropredy and left SONFLOWER in their good hands to take her up the Oxford and down the GUC to London for the IWA Cavalcade. So, once more, if you see SONFLOWER with a clean shaven man and a slim woman aboard it isn't her usual crew!

Today she is between Napton and Braunston. The sun is shining and our prayer and hope is that our friends will be enjoying the holiday they deserve. Give them your best smile and wave to help them on their way. They have rarely had a boat on their own so we hope that they team up with good and friendly partners through the wide GU locks.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Jus' Perfick

Thank you to my sister. She is not somebody who will accept less than the best so when the carpet was laid in her new conservatory she could not live with the lightening toward the centre. The weaving defect had to go!

And so the carpet that she rejected is now in the saloon of Sonflower. And it does look nice. The fitting isn't perfect but we will live with it.

Thank you, Sis!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Gastro Nautical

We are on a mission. We have entered a new arena.

The Best mate and I are now gastronauts after a wonderful seven course seafood dinner (what else could it be) at Rick Stein's Seafood restaurant in Padstow.

We can only say that everything was superb. We have never eaten Sea Urchin before. Exciting stuff.

The room in the hotel is also wonderful. With a bath and a shower big enough for two! and probably more but not quite a whole rugby team. A far cry from what we are used to on the boat with a shower not quite big enough for one!

Today we have to struggle through breakfast and lunch before our mission is complete.

And a trip round the bay: we must get on a boat!

Many thanks thank you to my children who gave us this trip as a birthday present.

Monday, 8 March 2010

While keeping warm

While they are in South Africa escaping the frost, here is Auriga in the draining dock before it gets the blacking treatment. We will be folowing her in on Thursday.

moving, brrrr

This morning I was pleased to see nb Heron's Rest on the water and breaking the ice on the way to town. They have the second longest stay with Tooley's in the last year as they struggled to fix a diesel stove that would not light. All sorted now though. They were not returning to the yard but were heading for Oxford. I was pleased because I do not like ice-breaking. I had to wind this morning which, with ice floes either side is interesting. Then off to town again.

This visit is for re-blacking. There has been a lot of diesel on the surface of the canal this winter and it has taken the blacking off at the water line. As this is the most important area to protect, I felt it was important to get it re-done before the cruising season starts in earnest.

It gives an opportunity to do the snags as well and re-torque the engine cylinder head while it is there.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Cruising again.

We picked up the keys to SONFLOWER from Tooley's on Monday. Unfortunately, other non-boating contacts let us down a bit by being four hours late to the Best Mate's extreme annoyance so we did not get away for a 'shake down' cruise until Tuesday morning.

It was a lovely day. Cold bit clear and with a good amount of blue sky in the morning. We were heading north. That was the way we were pointing so why turn when we didn't need to. The cruise to Cropredy was very gentle and we stopped near Slat Mill lock for a fried breakfast. It was good to be back on the boat after such a long time. The birds were flocking in the hedges and all was fine and dandy except that the water temperature never budged the gauge!

We had missed the Red Lion's Monday half price offers so we lunched on the boat and then I got about preparing a pheasant stew on the stove. Unfortunately, when I bought the pheasant I di d not know that the Best mate didn't like it! I bought her a quarter of chicken. By the time stew eating time came, the bottle of red wine that it was cooked in did not compensate for the fact that the pheasant was pleasantly tender but the chicken, in the Best Mate's opinion, was cooked to devastation- almost to a purée! Not a happy meal!

We turned on the gas heater for our hot water supplies.

Then there was the pump put debate. We were getting fuller and fuller. Fenny Compton was the nearest facility in this direction. That was too far to realistically achieve and get back to Banbury for an appointment on Thursday. So we stayed in Cropredy.

On Tuesday morning I went to knock up Auriga's crew and begged to borrow a pump out kit. We have never used this hand pumping arrangement. Then it rained. We left it until after 10.30 before we made a start to the facility point and got the equipment set up. I sheltered under my late father's yellow oilskin cycling cape. After an initial good start that blew the discharge tube out of the disposal point, despite a heavy angle iron bar and a tyred wheel on top of it, with a resultant blue spillage to clear up, we then hit a problem that the pump appeared to pump and suck alternately with no resultant discharge. Priming and re-priming didn't seem to help. A phone call to our friend resulted in no solution as the fault I was describing had not happened to him. The Best Mate came out and helped. She pumped like mad and soon effluent was flowing like swallow falls. A woman's touch was obviously what was needed. The rain stopped and I took off my glasses to remove the cape, pulled the cape over my head and caught the glasses spilling them to the deck. I emerged from the cape to see a varifocal lens disappearing into the canal!

Our friend appeared and agreed that we were now doing fine. We washed out the equipment, had a cup of coffee and then returned the equipment to his boat.

We were then on our way back again. The engine still stayed cool.

The birds were now flocking together and seeking warmth. I thought that maybe the fieldfares were congregating to make their way back to Scandinavia because Spring was coming. I was wrong! Snow was in the air!

Today we cruised nowhere until the snow had stopped! I reported the few faults found to Tooley's who will fix them shortly while we are on our mooring. Which is where we are now.

We are back at Home Mooring but still waiting for the hot shower!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

the ha'peth of tar syndrome

I have told you about the rev counter (tachometer) that needed recalibrating. Well, the updated position is that it would cost more to re-calibrate it than get a new one! Apparently, it costs so much to open up a twenty-five year old instrument to fiddle with its insides and to make it compatible with modern electronics in the alternator that the labour charge (UK) makes a new one (from China) a snip. And while we are about it, a new panel with modern gauges and switches and panel lights that work and a horn (an electric one to replace the reliable mouth blown stadium horn) and a bilge pump float switch override (because the hole is already there and marked 'bilge pump') all seems so reasonable.

And (just in case the old one doesn't fit) would I like a new wiring loom as well? No, that is going a bit too far!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I care

The name of the boat says it all. nb Past Caring is moored between the no mooring posts at a winding hole. Being on a boat handling course with other students who wanted to learn to turn a narrowboat boat correctly and efficiently, having this idiot moored in the way was a little less than convenient!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Nearly There

SONFLOWER was running her engine all day today. There are still some ice flows on the canal so it s not really appropriate to go any where but she is having her proving run.

I took a photo of the instrument panel which shows her doing 2750rpm! The engine never goes that fast and this highlights another problem. The Tachometer is not calibrated to the new alternator. The temperature gauge showed a temperature of 90 deg C. which is a tad high as well. Oil pressure is a steady 3 bar and the voltage is 13v. They are OK. The interesting one for me is the water temperature as before this overhaul we could never get the needle to show on the gauge. The engine never warmed up. Because of that it smoked and spluttered. Now it should be running much more efficiently.

Tommorrow the filters will be changed and the running in oil will be changed for the good stuff.

After that, a few snags to fix, like the tachometer before Tooley's hand me the keys.

After the fast

I had to see the doctor today. A good check up and tidying up some details after the gastric disorder. Blood Pressure checked out at 122/76. The doctor said it was a perfect result so I celebrated with a full english breakfast. Here it is!

The thing about a full english is not just the eating. It is the bubbling, spitting, crackling of the cooking, the release of the greatest aromas ever to get up the nostrils and then, oh what a flavour hit as a whole yolk is consumed in a mouthfull.

There is nothing like it.

I have to check back for the cholesterol test results later inthe week.

Friday, 15 January 2010


I got the caretaker at the school to take the picture to prove that we don't do nothing! I was at the school to meet the head about a couple of very wintery issues. This is me keeping warm and helping out with the snow clearance from the car park.

The snow plough from Cherwell District Council did not appear. The salt and grit in was never put into the boxes by the highway department. In fact, there is a world shortage of salt. We will be passing the salt mines of cheshire in the summer. I might put a couple of ton on board for next year!

's n'ICE problem

Here is the reason my friend's narrowboat stopped driving. He was following the lead of another boat in attempting to get to the water point. Forward and back to crush and split the ice when he lost drive. The coupling had failed in a big way. Fortunately, our wonderful alladin's cave of a chandlery at Tooley's had the appropriate coupling. Here is the replacement.

Of course, the price tag was not his only problem. I gave him the good news that fitting the key was a skilled job. The key steel has to be the correct size and a beautiful slide fit (+0.000" to +0.002" fit) in order to transmit the toorque from the engine to the propeller. It is not just a case of wanging up the nuts and tightening up a grub screw!
"Surely you knew that!" came a voice from the next bar table.
My friend, I hope is now looking for a marine engineer to fit the coupling correctly. One thing he did know was that the nyloc nuts are not re-useable. He has a nice colection of sixteen previously owned nuts to confirm previous sorry attempts at making the coupling couple.

Trying to be an ice breaker is turning out to be an expensive occupation

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

New Electrics/looming great

Here are the old switch panels. The wiring of the boat is in pretty good condition but the switch panels were very outdated.

Now modernised, with sensitive Circuit breakers, the electic system is now very good.

Also needed was replacement of the engine loom because of age related insulation brittleness.

Narrow Boat

It is cold enough to read the wonderful chapter in Narrowboat concerning the coming to Banbury of the icebreakers. We anticipate that we will be iced in for about three weeks this winter.


Chapel on "Oxford Canal"

Here is an interesting article. The beeb are not usually lax about facts and stuff though.

The chapel, according to the article was 70 ft long and 14 ft wide. It wasn't on the Oxford Canal then, was it! However, It was quite a feat to get 150 people on board. At 70 Kg per person that is a 10,500kg payload. With a bit of happy clappy worship and dancing they must have got the boat a-rockin' even for a widebeam!

The BCF are off to see Britain's only current floating Church. It is a converted dutch grain barge in West India Dock, serving Docklands and Canary Wharf etc. More about it next week

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Just a couple of shots from my moibile as I passed SONFLOWER moored under the Museum bridge at Tooley's. The snow cannot reach her to make her look beautiful and the street lighting is not quite good enough to show her glistening reflection in the ice.

She stands forlorn and 'abandonned'.

But, believe me, she is most loved of vessels and if I were fitter and better I would be seeing more of her in the daylight. How the days are too short and the sunshine not strong enough to light her up as she deserved.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Done and Dusted

I had a phone call from Tooley's today. Matt rang to tell me that the boat work is now complete and that they are ready to start the 50hour proving run!

The boat has a heater aboard to keep it from freezing in the current cold snap and the engine will now start its re-commissioning trial. Because of the icy static conditions of the canal, the prop will need to be engaged to give the engine a good work out against a mooring rope. We hope to give her a good trial shake down!

I hope that I can get down to the yard to see it tomorrow.

"Another small problem. . . " Matt said down the 'phone. "The money hasn't reached our bank account yet." On checking the internet banking site I found that the money left our account on 31 December 2009 destined for 'Tooleys' but then returned to our account on 7th January 2010 from 'Tooleys' with no record of a payment being made in the "Transfers and Payments" list. Curiouser and Curiouser, me thinks. I added "Tooleys" to the list of recipients again and made another payment. This time ASAP. I do hope that they get their money. Tooley's bank with a nationalised high street bank and so do I. The money has been in the either for a week. I haven't been getting interest. Tooley's haven't been getting interest. Who gets the money when this sort of thing happens? The government must have wondered where its extra cash came from over last weekend! I hope I haven't upset their year end figures!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

WInter Cruising

what wonderful weather for winter cruising.

But I have been viewing it from flat on my back, with my hooves in the air, through the sticks of the roof between trots out to pasture to dispose of fluid through every orifice of the body except the ears!

Eeyore has had a gloomy time with gastric flu.

Piglet has suffered from a less severe case but The Best Mate has had to be very busy keeping up with the laundry and the moaning.

I started on Sunday. We planned to do things this week:

50 HOUR 'SHAKEDOWN" CRUISE maybe as far as Thrupp and back--POSTPONED

48 HOURS sleep on board to check out electrics and new water heating: POSTPONED


I have managed to view the lovely full moon through the holes in the roof and thought about Andrew of Granny Buttons who must have been out there taking the most beautiful frost sparkling moonlit photographs.

I have missed it.