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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.