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.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Stoke Prior to Birmingham

15 July 2018.
We returned to the boat courtesy of a friend whose mother lives nearby. Soo-per crew is with us too. Just time for a drink in The Boat and Railway and a look at the World Cup Final before we let go and worked through the Stoke locks to moor below Tardebigge Bottom lock.

We will make our assault on the flight  in the morning.
          1.1/2 miles 6 locks 1.5 hours.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Lowesmoor, Worcester to Stoke Prior

Back on board in sweltering heat. Now looking for a place to eat and watch the World Cup semi. Come on England!

Well this morning we had a very quick recovery from England's defeat to Croatia with the best antidote: a 6.00am start on the journey toward Birmingham. Today's target: Stoke Prior Visitor Moorings.

The first fur locks were set in our favour and the next four were set against.The unthinkable happened at the next one: it started to rain. We settled on the lock mooring for a bacon and egg breakfast by which time the sun came out and we continued. By this time the canal world, particularly the hire boaters were stirring and we crossed with several boats in the short pounds of the five lock flights that feature on this canal. 
The canal is being reduced in width by reed beds in both sides in places and  is also quite shallow. SONFLOWER was stirring up quite a bit of silt from the bed at moderate speeds.

The countryside we pass through is lovely and peaceful. We only saw one heron today though but plenty of gulls with their brown speckled offspring.

We were soon at Dunhamptead Visitor Moorings where we though we would stop for a mid morning break. The hire boat we had been following for about half an hour had taken the only available mooring spot and were unloading bikes. The rest of the visitor moorings were taken up by CRT: two hoppers and a tug. They were resurfacing some of the towpath at the bridge with a concrete surface. Obviously a height of summer job! Who needs visitor moorings anyway? We carried on.

We arrived at Stoke Prior just at lunch time. We stopped at the water point and filled the tank. While filling I looked under the bridge at the Visitor mooring to see whether there was any possibility of a 14day mooring. There was no mooring at all!  The towpath was barricaded off and the footpath diverted. Where to I have no idea.

We backed up and moored on the waterpoint mooring rings, leaving ten rings for those who need water. I think that was reasonable. 

We packed up and went to the The Boat and Railway for a lunch and to catch the bus back to our car in Worcester. The pub is an old fashioned canalside hostelry with a good local clientele. The food was good value and very tasty.
                                                                      10miles, 18 locks, 7 hours


Monday, 9 July 2018

Up the Severn

5 July 2018


From Avon Lock, Tewkesbury to Lowesmoore Visitor Moorings, Worcester

We were ready at 0730 but the locks do not open til 0800. We watered while we waited. Chris the relief lock keeper was ready for us at 0755 and we were through Avon Lock by 0805 and heading for the Severn with clear instructions. "Don't turn right until you can see the whole of the bridge" Chris advised to avoid the sandbank at the confluence of the Severn and Avon.

Then we were heading north and all was good!  From there on we set the engine revs at 2200rpm and cruised steadily. There was little traffic and only three narrowboats came toward us during the trip.
Cruising the Severn

Diglis Bridge, a new footbridge over the Severn
We were surrounded by herons and saw one kingfisher during the four hours to Diglis lock.

Diglis lock is scary. A high wall to hold to while waiting and high walls around us in the lock. We had to be closed in while another boat locked down in the adjacent lock.Then the gates opened to allow a second narrowboat in. It was instructed to tie to us. We held on to ropes around the poles as the water entered but the flow and eddies were too much for us. We could not hold the two boats against the wall and the bow rope stuck below the water line dragging us down. I told my crew to release the rope and we slammed against the opposite wall. There seemed no other option.

A quarter of a mile further and we were back into the canals but two wide locks came first. Here was a volunteer who wanted to fill the empty lock and make is wait. My crew remonstrated and after that he lost interest! So I lost the advantage of being held to the side by the water coming in as he didn't open the paddle!

Through the second lock we backed onto visitor moorings in Diglis Basin and went for a lovely lunch at The Anchor Inn at a shady table in their lovely courtyard.

One lock further on we come to the Commandery. It was a headquarters for the Royalists before the Battle of Worcester in 1651and is commemorated by the pikes and helmets on the bridge.

We had to say goodbye to our Sue-per crew. She departed at Bridge 5 for the rail station.

We went on for a couple more locks and visited Lowesmoor Basin for Gas, Pump out and diesel. The staff and service were delightful. Leaving there we went on to tie up in sweltering sunlight at Lowesmoor. The visitor moorings are 48 hour. There was no-one there but as I  did not know how long we would be there we moored on the last ring and a piling clip on "14 days".

                                                                       18 miles, 6 locks, 8.1/2 hours

Down the Avon


Monday 2 July. 2018 Stratford on Avon to Evesham.

We set off down the Avon early in the morning.
Waiting at the first Avon lock

Cruising the Avon





We tried to rendezvous with fellow Chaplains John and Gill but as we got to Luffington lock early and locked through with another boat.  J & G misunderstood my message that we were now through the lock and  thought we were going on without them. The other boat had left us behind.  We lost phone signal and contact with J and G and eventually by text agreed to meet on Bidford on Avon. All the locks were inaccessible by car/foot before then.

We spied them on a moored boat and came alongside to pick them up. Once aboard, they set to taking the strain and helped us achieve Evesham. We moored up, showered and waiting for them to pick us up by car and take us to dinner. Great to be with friends. The helpwas greatly appreciated.
                                                                                   17miles 11 locks  9.3/4 hours
After a dinner out at Thai Emerald in the High Street we were joined by our friend Sue-per crew.
Sue-per crew food

Tuesday 3 July 2018  Evesham to Pershore

Exiting Wyre Lock

We attempted an early start and made excellent progress to stop at Pershore recreation ground moorings late in the morning.  We moored and made a visit to the beautiful Abbey church and then found the heritage centre closed! Never mind, we stocked up at Asda and returned in sweltering heat to rest on the boat. Sue went for a walk to the confetti fields and told us they were beautiful. After a lovely home made vegetable chilli we retired.
                                                                 11 miles, 3 locks, 2 hours

Wednesday 4 July 2018  Pershore to Tewkesbury 

We spent the morning in the market and charity shops of Pershore. Well you have to don't you? No Pershore plums available yet but beautiful cherries from Kent were just too plump and inviting to resist.

We let go in the late morning sun and traveled steadily toward Tewkesbury.
Some of the locks were interesting. One is diamond shaped. At another the turn to the lock landing is very sharp. At others it is hard to see where the lock is at all until one is right on top of it.We were glad to have the Avon Navigation Trust's guide with us. We came across some "hire boat fun" at Nafford lock. Here there is a sunken narrowboat on the wrong side of the weir barrage to act as a warning. Butit is not visible to a boater coming up. But the hire boaters, in spite of our exhortations to turn quickly away from the weir managed to get stuck against the barrier. The second hire boat, having seen the difficulties the first got into, unbelievably followed in its wake and did exactly the same thing! Luckily flows are at what is probably their lowest ever! No harm was done. A couple of walkers, one of whom had been a boater in the past, were really amused. They had been watching the lock passage for about an hour and could not believe the lack of boatmanship on display.

After the motorway M5 was passed under we stopped on the mooring by The Fleet Inn just past the ferry and went in to have a drink in their lovely riverside garden. As the day cooled we set off again to moor for the night at Avon Lock (£3.00 per night payable to the lock keeper).

We had an evening stroll round Tewkesbury but this time the abbey was closed. The town was decked out for its medieval festival later in the month. There is a path beside the river for some of the way but many properties at the water's edge prevent a continuous walk on the bank side.

                                                                                                  14.3 miles, 4 locks, 4.3/4 hours

Monday, 2 July 2018

Stratford River Festival


27 June 2018 We returned to the boat on Wednesday by car with my sister. After dinner with her at The Navigation Inn she left us at the mooring in Wooton Wowen.

28 June 2018 . Wootton Wowen to Stratford. An uneventful cruise into the environs of Stratford upon Avon. We pumped out at Valley Cruisers and moored near One Elm lock. We spent a lovely evening at the One Elm pub, even if England lost.

Friday 29 June. Sweltering heat and a slow cruise to Bancroft Basin where we recorded our arrival with the harbour master at about 9.30am. We were left on the basin til 5 pm before being "called through" to our mooring. It was lovely and near the church and fireworks, we were told. We had to moor on pins but that was no real hardship as the river flow was very slight. We also provided pins for the boat next to ours who had none with him!

Saturday 30th June. Festival time. In Waterways chaplains uniform we chatted to many festival goers.

This free festival is a real joy. The music is good but loud.  The boater who we had lent pins to provided us with a bottle of wine as a "thankyou" and we shared it with our colleagues over supper.
As darkness fell the fireworks started. They were very loud but amazing. The show lasted about 25 minutes and was superb.

Sunday 1st July Festival day 2 but starting with a breakfast and informal service at Holy Trinity. We enjoyed it immensely and the Vicar was keen to get something going on the festival site next year. The remainder of the day was relaxing and chatting to people who were relaxed too. Apart from a foray into the main stage area late in the afternoon and enjoying a pint of real ale from the One Elm bar, we stayed around our boat in the shade of the chestnut and ash trees.