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.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cruise Photos

Queuing for a lock! An almost unheard of event considering our usual cruising times. But this cruise we rose late and finished early!

Frances passing Frances

Exiting Weston lock under Bridge 79

A break from a break

Here is a picture of SONFLOWER at their present mooring. We have taken a break from our break. The sun is shining and we have returned to home base for a week or so. The Best Mate has already hung out a load of washing and the plants on the patio have been watered. My mother's hanging basket has also had the treatment and things are tickety boo.

After a wonderful week of sunshine and very slow cruising around Staffordshire, you may wnder why we have taken a break. There are things that need to be done: Mum needs to get to a summer barbecue party tomorrow afternoon, Piglet needs to get to Norwich on Monday, Mum needs to get to the Dentist on Tuesday, Tigger needs to get to a hospital appointment in Oxford on Thursday. Hence the need for a break!

The real problem is that cruising and cars do not mix. Public transport is patchy and takes hours to get anywhere and these things are best done from the home base.

So SONFLOWER is enjoying her end of garden mooring and we are very grateful to our friends for providing it. We will be back soon!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Nice Day in Stone

We don't often just hang around and take in a twon. One town is much like the rest since glocbalisation. But Stone has no GAP or Next or anything looking like it. We had a nozey upthe High Street and found a harware shop that sells everything and several nice looking cafe's. Bakers ships that sell fresh bread and a very extensive Co-0p. We also found an Outdoor Pursuits supplier that sells guitar strings and popped our noses intothe local luthier to see teh wonderful range of violins cellos and basses available in this small market town.

We also reconoitred the eateries. The last time we were here there was a Turkish that we tried out but this has now become a mediterranean restaurant which means it serves spaghetti bolognaise like your mother makes. Quite unlike the Italian rstaurant that we visited on the High Street. Here we had Italian food that could not be reproduced at home! The Best Mate's rissotto al Mare was 'the best I have tasted'. The Carbonara was creamier that anything we have ever made. The Meatballs in Tomato and Basil sauce slipped down Tigger's throat almost without a chew and the grilled Swordfish steak was beutiful. A little too dry for Piglet's taste but perfect for mine. The sweets were good too. Gellatti in an Italian restaurant is always a safe bet and the Tiramasalu was a real pick me up. No room for coffee.

Washed down with a caraffe of House Red this was a great meal. The first meal out of our holiday and one to remember.

Thank You Pizza di Piaza La favorita. I am just popping over to put a decent review on

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Getting our Act Together

I have only been out boating for two days bit we have accumulated a large assortment of things for recycling. Coming to Stone I thought that we would be able to discharge our cargo. But no. We have not yet found the approprite place for domestic refuse. Of course I could put it in the bins by the tennis courts but they are already full of other boaters rubbish!

We found the recycling centre behind the Sports Hall. But there they only take paper not cardboard and cans not the full range of gear apart from bottles and glass in their appropriate colours. So we still have our domestic rubbish and plastic recyling.

Why can't the local authority and BW get their act together so that we can dispose of it all responsibly in one place?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Theatre in the Dock

We visited Theatre in the Dock yesterday evening and had a really good evening listening and joining in the choruses to Where the Working Boats Went http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifn evening of song. This was presented by Life and Times, a male duo who presented mostly self penned songs about the canal history from The Duke of Bridgewater to post war nationalisation and transformation into a leisure network. The songs were accompanied by the two musicians on accordion, melodion, squeeze box, mandolin and guitar.

We really enjoyed joining in the choruses.

Such a pity that this acoustically fantastic theatre in Tooleys Dry Dock was only half full (of people, not water silly!)

Well done to producer Kate Saffin

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Countdown to the off part 2

Now is the start of the real countdown to the Summer Cruise.

The long awaited holiday boating experience starts on a few days time. First though a few little details.

To start with the boat is 100 miles away! We usually get provisions (dry goods and staples) sorted out and stowed in their appropriate cupbpards before we leave. This gives us all the necessary ingredients to produce our family's culinary requirements if we don't get near to a supermarket for a week or two. All we need is the fresh basics to be added and a meal can be provided from the cupboard. But this time we are having to use a lot of guess work.

We are basic Aldi shoppers these days and we do know that Aldi have opened a new store in Stone and the store in Stoke-on-Trent is in Trentham, a stone's throw from the T & M Hemheath Bridge 106 so we know that we can stock up within a day or two.

We also know that the boat has been cruising for about 14 days so we will need diesel in about a week. The best place to get deisel though is on the Shroppie. I am not sure of prices on the T & M.

Other little problems are getting a car to where we can leave it for a little while. We need to return to home mooring (by car) for the first week in August so we will be meandering around the Rugely area for a week just because we need to be able to return tothe car. Cars and boats really do not mix! We either have to park near a station and moor near one to return to the car or we park near a canal and return to the car by boat. Either way is not easy. We do not like returning by the same way and finding a mini ring is difficult. The former is the most desiraboe. However, trains do not go the same way as canals any more! Planning is made more difficult by the difficulty in finding buses in rural areas too.

So tomorrow I am driving to Rugely and returning by train to see how good the routes are. We will decide which course of action later!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

RCR Service: three times over

River Canal rescue came this morning to get SONFLOWER moving again.

The first time, in spite of having a very good description of the problem over the phone, they came to look. Two "young guys" our skipper described them as. They went away to get a new morse controller as the obsolete 25 year old Marine Master was broken as described!

They returned well over an hour later with some tools in a plastic box but had to borrow the right size of screw driver to dismantle the old drive. Offering up the new one showed that a screw hole did not line up. They did not have a drill to make a new one! So off they went off to get one. Another hour or so passed and then the new controller was fitted. But not without dropping a couple of screws (for which they had spares), losing a nut (for which they didn't so fitted a larger size)and losing a grommet that they probably didn't know they had knocked off as they left the hole empty.

However, the new RCR parts insurance scheme is beginning to pay off as all that was charged was the £50.00 excess. Here it is looking the business:

I had assured my relief crew that they would be under way in no time. In fact they didn't get away until well into the afternoon. I caught up with them at Claydon locks and they were them settling into the cruise and were very pleased to be making headway. Here they wave good bye at Claydon Top Lock

Saturday, 9 July 2011


The last three things to do today I did not get done!

The crew left banbury on the Summer Cruise at about 4.30pm today but we did not get to do the greaser or the briefing.

So I decided to go to Cropredy to meet the boat after I had been to the matinee of Piglet's school perfomance where he played violin in the orchestra.

I got to Cropredy Wharf at about 5.30 NSD passed a little time on our friend's boat, playing his takemene guitar and sipping his malt whisky while I waited for Sonflower to come and they got ready to go to a barn dance. Sonflower did not arrive before 6pm so I phoned to find that the engine lost power at Bridge 157! Just before Slat Mill Lock. I got in the car and went as close as I could (Slatt Mill Farm) and accessed the canal at Bridge 156 and walked down the towpath past the lock to Bridge 157. There I found that the skipper of the crew had diagnosed the problem as metal fatigue on the Marine Master morse controller. A cable tie was put in place to jury rig the controller enough to get the boat through the lock and I left the crew to navigate to Cropredy Wharf where we called River Canal Rescue.

Here is Sonflower limping toward the wharf with hardly enough reverse drive to stop safely.

This picture shows the cable tie on the controller mechanism.

RCR said they have a queue of breakdowns so we moored the boat opposite the winding hole by Bridge 157 and await their call tomorrow morning.

I left the crew at 9.30pm preparing dinner.

Not a good start to the cruise.

Getting Ready Diary

Yes! It is time for SONFLOWER to start her Summer Cruise. The last day has seen more rain than we have had collectively since March and the sky is full of Cumulo Nimbus clouds ready to pour more delight and pleasure on the helmsman.

We have spent the last week getting her ready. Not that there was much to do but there is always something. I have put some paint on the rusty patches of the roof. In true Bonesy DIY style I rubbed it all down and primed patches of it only to find that I didn;t have any top coat to apply! Tooleys had no Craftmaster Raddle in light grey in stock so I have been waiting two weeks.

MONDAY: While taking a group if children from the local primary school for a short boat trip through town on Monday Tooley's Matt chased me down the towpath woth a pot of paint in his hand as he knew we wanted to be ready to go this weekend! Bless him. A real plus for good local customer service. Visited Sovereign Wharf to fill up with Diesel and change a gas bottle. Also bought a new chimney to replace one that has suffered from impact with Nell Bridge and Aynho Bridge on more than one occasion.

TUESDAY: Weather Rain and Wind Twiddles thumbs waiting for a dry spell!
WEDNESDAY: Sunny Intervals. Dashed down and got on with the painting in a very warm sunny interval. The paint was almost dry before the brush/roller left the surface. So many boats coming by commented that I would makeit rain. It did rain but after the paint was touch dry so I am hoping it will be OK.
FRIDAY: Clearing and cleaning. Removing as much of the clutter that a family leaves on a boat just in case. Lost the vacuum cleaner to find that the last people who borrowed the boat had stowed it in the tinder box! (the from step). Checked engine hole and noticed that the greaser needs filling bit no time to do it today. Very wet rain.
TODAY: Do the greaser, check the bilge. Brief the crew