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.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Black Country Living Museum

We had a grandson on board for the trip from Cambrian Basin to the Black Country Living Museum. We chose to go along the Old Main Line from Brades Hall Junction which meant navigating the Gower Branch and Brades Locks which is new to us. It was our first experience of these locks which are a single lock and a staircase. We had no problems at all and gave our grandson his first experience of pushing and pulling lock gates and winding paddle gear.

The Old Main line is weedy. It is lined with water lillies and has blanket weed floating in clumps in the channel. Regular reversing of the prop kept it clear.

We moored for lunch above the Netherton tunnel branch on the Tividale Aqueduct. A boat was already moored there bit thy moved up a couple of bollards to let us in. They were very apologetic and told us they dod not expect to see anyone else as they had seen only one boat all morning.

After lunch we were soon at the BCLM and moored on 24hr mooring.

                                                                           8.1/2 miles, 3 locks, 8 hours (including lunch).

After a nice time in the museum including a visit down the mine and to the sweetshop we settled down for the night. The museum food outlets close at 5pm so we made use of the local takeway chinese "Chopsticks". I ordered the sort of meal we would have had in  Banbury but the size of the portions here was really OTT. The pancake rolls were the size of a pringle tube and the chicken balls the size of full size billiard balls. And there were loads of them. We decided to keep the barbque spare ribs, 1.1/2 spring rolls and the chow mein for lunch the next day. In fact we had more than that left over including half the chicken balls and king prawns in batter.

We went on the Dudley Canal  Tunnel Trusts tunnel trip int he morning. What a pleasure. The limestone caverns,including a light show and video presentations were wonderful. Our grandson got to leg us in the tunnel and we really enjoyed the experience. After this we went back to the BCLM for a bit more history and a pint of mild ale at the Bottle and Glass Inn.

After lunch we went back via the New Main Line. At Factory locks we had to wait for a D of E Award party to bring their butty up the locks. The last boat in the queue that built up behind them were in no mood to wait for locks which resulted in too many boats than would fit between locks 2 and 3. This boat emptied down and worked up lock 2 trapping Sonflower in the top lock with another boat waiting in the pound. Once they were up the jiggling and maneuvering about could commence to leave them in the short pound between the locks. I don't think they noticed the trouble their impatience had caused.

The rest of the cruise back to Cambrian Basin was uneventful. We were glad to get back. The best mate made a delicious chilli with the chicken that remained in the centre of the left over Chinese chicken balls.

                                                                       9 miles, 3 locks, 4 hours

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Walsall to Wolverhampton to Birmingham

We left Walsall Town Basin at 10.15 on Friday. The passage up the Walsall locks was weedy and the shallow canal gave us problems with prop fouling again. We could not enter directly into lock 4 as the boat stopped on something. We pulled the boat to the side and bow hauled her round the obstruction.

The services building at the top lock is closed and there was no water available. Local boatyard staff and a boater told us the nearest on our route was at Snyde Wharf.

The Canal Museum, signposted at the bottom of the flight,is boarded up and up for development.

The Wyrley and Essington Canal is full of blanket weed. Apart from that and the impediment to progress it is very peaceful and pleasant. Of course the local population keep it topped up with plastic bottles, drinks cans and bags of rubbish.

The Sneyd Wharf services were clean and cared for and a refreshing highlight of the cruise.

We got to Wolverhampton, winded in the basin and backed to the Wolverhampton Top Lock moorings to find they are 24 hour!
Pretty Wolverhampton Mooring

                                                 11miles, 8 locks, 8 hours

Hopper on lock landing, Factory Bottom Lock, BCN
So this morning we boated to Birmingham. It was good to be back in deeper water and reasonably rubbish free.

Arriving at Factory Bottom Lock, BCN
Factory locks had a reasonable variety of items including a "road closed" sign but it was not obstructing the workings and we could not get it out. As we were descending the locks we did not need to use the lock landing at the bottom lock: this was occupied by a moored hopper.

We did a tour of Oozle's loop to find the pump out services of Sherborne Wharf are on the main line at The Distillery. So we winded at Old Turn and again at another basin to the west of centre and the returned to The Distillery to pump out. A trip boat were not amused that we were on "their" stopping place. Apparently our pump out should have been timed between their need to use the stop! There appears to be a continual conflict if interest at this point as the discharge point is one bollard from the stop sign.By the time we were finished, unconnected and ready to leave there were two trip boats vying for the same stopping point.We left them to fight it out.

All services completed we moved on to Cambrian Wharf and returned SONFLOWER to her accustomed position.
                                               13 miles, 3 locks, 5hours