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, 29 September 2012

A Log for the log

The water run is not usually very eventful.

This week we started quite early, as soon as the engine was started in fact. At about 0700 we (I) start the engine to heat water for our morning showers. I moved from our overnight mooring in town to the lift bridge with the crew asleep. The Best Mate popped up to steer SONFLOWER through just after I had raised the bridge and re-joined her so could not get back off. Still she showed willing. We then settled on the water point and started our fill.

This takes about 45 minutes so there was ample time to fill the lock. We were obviously the first craft of the day and there was a huge amount of debris above the lock gates including a four by two varnished plywood panel which would have prevented any gate opening. I cleared this and a few hook loads of reeds to make sure the gates would not be impeded.

Having finished watering, we entered the lock and emptied it. Unfortunately The Best Mate could not open the bottom gate. "Something must be behind it!", she called. I moved the boat as close to it as I could and, armed with the boat hook, went fishing. What I found was a submerged log. It was far too heavy to lift out so I manoevered it free from behind the gate and through the gate opening. But my work was not finished yet. This log would have jammed us in the lock entry if it had been allowed to get between the bow rake and the canalside.
We moved forward very slowly and I prodded it onward ahead of the boat until the canal began to widen out and we were safely away.

"Do you have to do this often? asked a gongoozler from the footbrodge overhead. "No we aren't often troubled by debris" the Best Mate replied. "No, I mean do you have to use the lock much?" he said. "Oh, yes ALL the time".

The rest of the run was uneventful. I was single handed back through the lock and lift brdge as The Best Mate was meeting a friend for coffee but I did not need to worry. By now the lock pool was full with boats coming down and I didn't need to get off to close the lock gate or raise and lower the bridge.

On then to Sovereign Wharf for the PUMP OUT and chat. Is Dusty really giving up the coal boat this month? Then back to home mooring without incident, noting that Canal and River Trust had trimmed the willows opposite our mooring. They haven't touched the dead trees though. Apparently they are not a danger to navigation.

2 locks, 2 lift bridge, 2 miles, 3.1/2 hours

Friday, 21 September 2012

Pumped up!

I thought I would get the bike out to pop into town and give myself a little nmore exercise. Unfortunately the rear tyre definitely would not support my bulk so I got out the footpump to put a bit of air into the tyre. I bought a new footpump from Aldi.
I bought it on one of our routine grocery shopping trips and it has been in its box now for about six months, unused. I attached the dual pumpo head to the shroeder valve on the tyre and trod on the footplate. A large hissing sound greeted me but the tyre, instead of inflating, went flat as a pancake! The special dual head on the pump, designed to service small "dunlop" type bike valves and larger "shroeder" car tyoe valves, was letting air out of the one not in use and not letting any air go down the one in use! Vorsprung dur technik as they say in Germany but no use to me! Of course I had no receipt. The grocery shopping receipts had long gone in the shredder.

I emailed the manufacturer in Germany. Initially I receved a kurt reply saying NO RECEIPT - NO WARRANTY! I then asked Customer Services politely whether I could purchase a new pump head. This time I got the pleasant reply that a new pumphead andphoto instructions would be sent to me. They came today. Here they are:
In German.
Thanks Google translate.
They say: STEP 1 Remove the black plastic cover at the end of the hose
STEP 2 Solve using pliers and loosen the little metal piece the pump head from the hose
STEP 3 Now set the new sheet metal piece on the end of the hose cal and the new head on it
STEP 4 Than last press the sheet metal piece with pliers together, so that the pump head is hard.
However, how one removes a pressure crimped securing ring (the "little metal piece") I do not know so at Step 2 I cut the old pump head off with a sharp kitchen knife.
The new one is fitted and works perfectly.
RESULT! The footnote says "Nun steht der Nutzung nichts mehr im Wege :)"
"Now the use of nothing more stands in the way :)"

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Tree Worries

During our "water run" on Friday (See "Boring Routine" post below) we had to do a bit of manoevering around the remains of a willow bough that Canal & River Trust personnel were removing from the canal near our local turning point. The bough had dropped from a seemingly healthy willow in Spice Ball Park.

It made me think about these trees.

These are directly opposite our mooring. I spoke to the CaRT man with the chainsaw who advised me that they can do nothing about these until they fall because they are on private land. He thought the land might be owned by Hanson Trust. "Not just three men in an office somewhere", he said, "they will have agents working for agents."

Little hope of telling them my worries then!

2 locks, 2 lift bridge, 2 miles, 3.1/2 hours

Friday, 14 September 2012

Mooring stealth fee increases

We have a new moorer on our site. Temporarily their brand new craft is moored on a short term one month permit while they take part in the latest mooring berth auction. CaRT know that they need a local mooring and have all their details.

The latest Vacancy issued, Vacancy 4229, is as large as they come on the South Oxford and has a Reserve to match of £1607. This works out at £73.05 per metre. The level of this surprised me so I have done a little research.

When I bid for my mooring in August 2010 the Reserve was £59.61 per metre. Hence there has been an increase in what the site says "The Reserve Price reflects British Waterways' cost of providing the vacancy. It is the price below which it would not be economic for us to let the vacancy" of 22.5%. Inflation over the same period was 5.2% per year according to the Bank of England so the reserve has increased by double the rate of inflation.

I have written to CaRT to ask them to examine the basis of the Reserve. I think it is to maximise revenue as they know that there is a demand for the mooring at this time. Historically there hasn't been. A third of the Vacancies auctioned on this site since Jan 2010 have resulted in no-one bidding for them.

We will see how we get on.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Quick off the Mark

This is the first boat that I have noticed with the new Canal and River Trust logo painted onto the boat. Looks very smart. Interestingly it also sports a CaRT logo on its license which runs to 10/12 . Assuming the license was for the conventional year would this mean that the logo was being used prior to vesting?
POST POST NOTE: The boat is less than two weeks old, registered for BW waters and has been issued with a one month license. It will be based on the River Thames (EA controlled waters)
Opposite is a brand new boat that has no number or license, although the owner has applied for one. It is held in abeyance until a home mooring is found. (I did not think that a home mooring was a requirement for a boat registration.)


The sweetshop is not unusual. Traders of this commodity often stop in Banbury to sell their wares. This one though is interesting. The zebra acetate graphics add an interesting touch but the most unusual thing is the roof.

It is covered with 'turf'. Why turf? To feed the zebra!

Of course it is not real turf. But it is, in itself, a bit special because it is genuinely part of the Olympic Hill from the opening ceremony of London 2012! One of the perks of being there and helping out as a volunteer, I understand.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Boring Routine!

With a title like that I expect most of my readers have gone to the next blog!

For those of you who read everything, we have just executed the "water run" again, exactly ten days after the last. The only difference was that it took longer this time. I departed home mooring at 0730 turned at Bankside (Tramway) winding hole to mor and take on water at 0830 but this time we could not have breakfast while filling. We had NO BACON!

With water tank replenished we moved north to Samuelson Bridge and moored so that I could get bacon at nearby Morrisons. Rindless Wiltshire Cured Smoked Back was on offer at two packets for £4 so that fitted the bill. I do miss the crispy rind having no rind does mean that the bacon stays flatter under the grill.

After the true English breakfast we went back to do battle with the rush hour in Banbury Town centre. As we approached the lock which was set in our favour the Best Mate abandoned ship to go to the gym. Through the lock and without incident to the Lift Bridge. Us going north and three boats coming south, just as Tooley's staff manoevered a boat out of their dock, made the trip through the museum bridge very interesting. NB (Napton Boat)Louise discovered that narrowboats do not steer in reverse and vered toward the boat in the dock. A crew member jumped to Castle Quay with a rope to retrain it. We waited alomgside double moored boats outside Tooleys forthem to sort themselves out. We then weaved our way through the melee. The crew of a moored boat said they enjoyed watching the fun. "No boats were harmed during the performance", I commented, "thanks to the RYA boat handling training available at Tooley's boat yard!".

Thence to Sovereign Wharf for the pump out. The management was on the phone when we arrived. The chat here today was about the monopoly position of Calor in the Boating and Leisure Gas supply business. Good for share holders but not good for us according to the oracle. Centralisation means delivery to Banbury comes from Hinkley and delivery times vary from three to five days. In order to ensure supply to the customer this means small orders frequently made and hours on the telephone. Not like the old days when the local depot was Oxford! High Prices and poor service!

Then back to home mooring: turning and mooring pointing south ready for the next boring "water run" in ten days time. We moored at 1145h. 2 miles, 2 Locks, 2 Lift Bridges in 4.1/4 hours.