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.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Milton who?

We left Stoke Bruerne at about 7.30am today. Cosgrove was soon achieved and we decided to lock down and forgo the facilities. There was little traffic on the canal although we were followed by a boat for about two miles. We caught another up soon but it moored at about 11.30 at a pub on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. Alex noted that there was no Milton Keynes in the USA but there were several Miltons. No, there wouldn't be as both Milton and Keynes were British economists in the twentieth century. Milton was a playwright from the 17th century. There is a Milton in Ontario!

We pushed on until we arrived at The Plough in Simpson where we stopped for a light lunch. Re-energised we negotiated the swing bridge to nowhere in the middle of Fenny Stratford lock and the 12 inch rise to moor at 3.15pm close to Watling Street Bridge No 96.

I then walked to the station at Bletchley, caught a train to Northampton and a bus to as near Gayton as you can get at that time in the afternoon and walked for about hour to retrieve the car from the BW car park.

Successfully completed we arrived back home at 9pm after a dinner in the Pickled Ploughman in Adderbury.

Bed time.
Cruise total to date:  66miles and 43 locks and 2 tunnels  

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Braunston to Stoke Bruerne

March 21/22

We left Braunston on Monday and headed East for 250 yd. 
We stopped outside the Stop House for breakfast at the Gongoozlers Cafe. 

Well one has to doesn't one? And who should be about to shut the door to keep the frosty morning air out, but Maffi. A quick rebuke suggesting he didn't want our company was rebutted and we settled down at tables adjacent to order the requisite perfect breakfast. The Gongoozler's breakfast includes black pudding which is not exactly to my liking but Maffi soon laid claim to it to put in his double bacon and egg baguette.

We had a lovely meal together and afterwards Maffi accompanied us up the locks, with Molly jumping on and off our boat as the mood took her. We were also accompanied by nb Darth Wader with Matt and wife, two punny residents of London Tattooie. 

Sadly we parted company at the top lock 
and Alex took over to navigate his first tunnel on the tiller. Only one boat came the other way but he did a very good job of steering the bat around the many twists and turns that this snakey tunnel offers. It was quite dry for a change.

We boated on and had different partners for the Buckby flight down to Whilton Marina. Here Sonflower enters the bottom lock with Alex on the tiller.
 Here I left the crew to boat on toward Gayton while I retrieved the car from Braunston. This was achieved and I was at Gayton by 5.15pm. A quick call to the Best Mate ascertained that the boat would not get to Gayton before dark and possibly would not make The Wharf Inn at Bugbrooke. Sonflower arrived in the dark.
We agreed to both aim for there and walking and boating we met at 7pm. This left only a few miles to do in the morning.

No ice to break at 6.15 am but frost in the ropes and the roof. After stoking up the fire we set off, the crew dozing and moored on Gayton 14 day visitor moorings. We went back home to fulfill a commitment and returned at lunch time to progress to the water point where we filled and washed the towpath side of the boat before cruising on. Our target was made before sunset this time and we moored on the visitor moorings below Stoke Bruerne locks, which we did on our own, at 5.30pm.

We settled in to eat a home cooked paella.

The fire roars away and we are all ready for bed!

18 miles, 19 locks, 20 hours

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Ice Breaking

We awoke to a red sunrise after a chilly night. The fire was still alight but had not been fully effective at keeping our noses warm throughout the whole of what was probably our coldest night for some time.

We needed to get to Braunston to retrieve the car as we needed to be in Banbury this morning at ten. So we had to break ice! I don't like doing it but needs must.

We arrived in Braunston and found a spare length of 14 day mooring. Of course the rings in Brauston appear to have been put in haphazardly. Some are 10 ft apart and some are 40 ft apart. We happened to be next to two of the latter and the next ring is twenty feet from our bow and useless to us. So we are moored on the stern rope and centre rope. I do not like to use this but, once again, needs must! There is nowhere to drive a pin into on the concrete pileing cap of the GUC and no piling rail to clip to either.

We got back to Banbury in time for our appointment and then went to London to visit the Best Mate's mother. Another sucessful day.

But my nose is still cold!

The car is in for MoT tomorrow!

Braunston or Bust

We tried to do a bit of Car hopping today. We drove to Brauston with the plan to get back to the boat at The Wharf, Fenny Compton by public transport. Well we both have bus passes so why not? Traveline told us it could be done in 1.1/4hrs with two changes. We were delayed getting to Brauston by roadworks with temporary traffic lights jamming a roundabout up. The Best Mate needed a loo before the bus journeys so we pulled into the Marina and used the facilities at The Stop House. Then we parked in a layby near the church, as my choice of parking spot was full and we rejected the pub car park which was signed patrons only, and went to the bus stop to get the 0824 No 12 bus toward Rugby to change at Dunchurch. The bus was late. We watched a large group of nordic walkers park their cars in the pub car park so we could have put our car with theirs, no one would have noticed!

We got to Dunchurch in time to get the 63 bus to Southam only because it was also running late. But the 66 bus in Southam was on time and we could not get off the 63 because a lorry was parked on its bus stop. The bus could not get round it until the 66 bus had moved! "It happens", the driver said. We went to The Corner Cafe for a coffee, a bacon and egg bap and to use their facilities. They gave us the number of a taxi firm. We left a message on their answerphone and phoned another. This one rang me back and said it would cost £25-35 to get to Fennny Compton from Southam as they had to come from Leamington Spa. We rejected this offer and decided to wait the two hours for the next 66 bus. Then the first firm phoned back and said they could be there in 5 minutes. They were almost true to their word and a quarter of an hour later we were in Fenny Compton for a tenner and the good offices of a very courteous driver from Premier Cars.

The day's cruising was lovely and we had a reasonably good road. We didn't get to Braunston and moored just before Nimrod Bridge, No 108 at  sunset.

So bust!

The best mate produced a evening meal from the remains of a meal from The Raj Tandoori in Banbury on Saturday evening. It was delicious. We watched "The Firm" on DVD and snuggled down for the night.

Saturday, 5 March 2016


It is good to have the time and freedom just to potter.

Fenny Compton Marina were good to their word. They opened the Gas Enclosure exactly at 10am and we exchanged an empty 13g Propane for a full one. The chandlery is quite reasonable and we needed a chimney so I took advantage of it and bought a cheap one to get us by untul I can do a proper job on an insualted double skin with Twin copper bands and a red band too. I also invested in a cooley hat but  I couldn't get any brass chain to link it all together and stop it blowing off into the cut. Another thing for the list.

I stoked the fire, (alight all night I proudly say so I haven't lost the knack) and then the sealing rope fell off the door. The Best Mate reminded me that we had some of teh glue for that under the sonk with the sove blacking. So I got it out, opened the top and the brush stayed in the bottle with the hardened cement.

So I went back to the chandlery and purchased another 25 ml bottle of glue for £6.50! But there is no price on safety and poor seals mean the SILENT KILLER CO could escape during the sleeping hours. Too risky even with a new CO alarm (which I must get round to fitting sometime!)

Next job on the lost was to fix a tidy screen to hide the clothes hanging rail. Then a curtain rail for the shower room window. Htere was a sunny oeriod so I went round the windows with  Capt Tolley's Creeping Crack sealer becasue there is ecidence of water ingress from quite a few of them. (Jobs were flying by) A quick break for lunch and then next I turned my knees to the floor boards and laid carpet tiles on the shower room floor. Quite a lot of trimming and fitting was required and a few part ties were wasted before I got it all right to boith my and the Best Mate's satisfaction. It was not a particularly easy job.

Lots of gash wood from the moat now needs processing as firewood. All things to keeo us busy.

Now to relax.after a very satisfying day. A glass of Corbiere is in order. Or may be even two!

On our way: Banbury to Fenny Compton

I lit the fire as the first thing this morning. To do it I had to clear out an accumuation of soot and rust on the baffle plate that was bocking the chimney above.

We left Spiceball Long Term Mooring site beside Bridge 163 at 11 am today. As we were preparing to leave, sawing some gash pine for the fire, we met the crew of the passing nb Wren's Nest and told them our plans. They wished us well and said "keep up the blog".  So I am trying. As we left the mooring the crew of nb Athco were on the towpath waving us "goodbye". I told them we will be back but we don't know when and probably we will not be returning to the moorings.

Our aim today was to get to Fenny Compton and we arrived on the Wharf at Fenny Compton Marina at 4.15 pm. There was a sign in the office window inviting us to call for attention. I did but was told that they close at 4pm on Fridays and would be open again at 10am. Bill told us we were welcome to wait  on the wharf. We accepted his invitation and walked the quarter mike to The Wharf Inn where we had our evening meal.

It was a "good road" today: the only locks against us were Cropredy Lock (left with the top gate open) and Claydon Bottom Lock but here we left the top gate open (for an oncoming work boat, hired to CRT and crewed by volunteers). We had left Banbury under blue skies and with the sound of birdsong everywhere. We arrived in a snow shower. On the way we chatted to Malc and Dink at the White Cottage, the master of nb Sawdust, the master of nb Samara and many others that we have become familiar with.We love this part of the canal.

I watched buzzards wheeling over Little Bourton Lock and met a spinning angler who said he had thrown back a zander he had caught earlier. I was thoroughly at home on the tiller or lock beams and paddles again.

The Best Mate spent most of the time, outside of locks, tidying and cleaning to make the boat habitable once more after the winter of our neglect. I did do my bit, messing up the clean lounge carpet by chopping some pine sticks! And I did fit coconut matting to the back steps to try to keep the mud off the new floor. The bilge pump did not work so there is another thing on our chandlery list.

Thursday, 3 March 2016


This afternoon I have to move the car to Fenny Compton in preparation for the great escape. The list of things to do gets bigger not smaller. I have added:
  • "Take mooring permits off boat to return to CaRT" and 
  • Remove "SONFLOWER" sign from the mooring.
Oh dear! That is scary and exciting at the same time! A sense of leaving and permanancy. Sonflower has been moored there since August 2005.

We have been happy there, in residence for some quite lengthy periods, and at other times we have cruised away for some time. But the furthest we have ever been is Middlewich. There is a lot of the country still to see.


But here is the sign ignomeniously dumped on the roof of the boat.
It served us well.