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.

Monday, 19 February 2018


After two full trickle charges and drop tests, and a further full charge the batteries have been given a clean bill of health.

A connecting cable between two of the leisure batteries and the third was found to be of inadequate cross-section and replaced.

The battery selector/isolator switch was found to be incorrectly wired and not isolating anything!

All systems have been checked and SONFLOWER has been returned to her mooring for the remainder of the winter.

Thank you again John and  Tooley's Boatyard

Monday, 29 January 2018

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Dead in the Water

SONFLOWER lies on her mooring forlorn and cold. We visited her today but there isn't a glimmer of life, not a sense of purpose, no heart, no soul. She is cold in the wintry breeze, the sky blackening with oncoming rain. Her cratch cover is taught with the tension of the bungee ties. She will withstand anything that the weather sends against her.

Inside she is dry. The de-humidifier is doing its job and the catchment tray has been emptied. The bilge is ventilated and, for the first winter I can remember, is dry too. There is no gas to supply for the fridge but who needs a fridge when the temperatures are below 5 degrees?

There are no blinking lights on the PV charging panel: there is nothing to charge! That is the central reason why she is dead in the water: The batteries have been removed.

So we could not run the engine.

We could not heat any water.

We could not light the fridge.

We could get my painting bag, though, and I am going to be busy doing some artwork in the next week.

We loved seeing her. Being in her. Feeling the rock and balance. She will survive. Spring will come and the engine will roar. Batteries will charge and lights will shine.

But, for now, SONFLOWER is dead in the water.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Lovely Day

It is bright and beautiful. So I have spent a few hours in SONFLOWER's company.

There was quite a frost this morning so I thought it was time to do something to protect the vulnerable bits. So I have drained the water heater, opened all the taps, drained the shower and switched off the water pump.

When I am feeling like kneeling and reaching below decks I will put a cosy on the pump but at the moment, as she is under the waterline and water temperatures are still above 10deg C I am happy that it is safe to leave for the time being.

I have a fully charged de-humidifier on the table in the centre of the saloon to keep the condensation to a minimum.

I have checked the bilge and it is bone dry. Great after a few years of working hard to get it that way.

SO I then paid attention to the outside and have touched in the cruising scratches and bruises that the paintwork suffered during the summer. My touch up is not quite a perfect match for the Royal Green that the painter used but it will keep the rust at bay fro the winter months, I hope. It will only get knocked off again next spring!

So I am pleased with my few hours work and the time I spent with fellow moorers over a cup of tea.

That;s what boating is about!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Home Again! Hillmorton to Banbury

We didn't do it all at once!

The first leg was an over-
nighter with Sooper crew on board. First a two car shuffle to get Soo's car at Hillmorton and mine at The Folly Inn, Napton. So that was definitely our first target. And we hit it on the bull's eye. Not only did we have a great day's boating bit we had time to go and retrieve Soo's car before hitting the time for our dinner reservation at The Folly Inn.

Chilli and Spud at The Folly Inn
Now, what an amazing turn around the Folly has had. It was packed, and it appeared it was packed with locals having a meal out. The beer was good, the wine was good and the food was great. I had the best blue fillet steak I have had in my life! The Best Mate had a fabulous Blanche Bait with fresh salad; SooperCrew had the best portion of chilli with her baked spud that I have ever seen. Why did  I think this was an amazing turn around. Well the last time we came to The Folly I blogged "A Folly of a Meal" when all four of the crew got meals that did not resemble the menu descriptions. Now I am reaching for Tripadvisor to give them five stars.             14 miles 1 lock  5 hours

We did work one lock before mooring so we didn't have far to go to bed down, replete.

We rose earlyish and after breakfast did another two car shuffle, this time leaving my car at The Wharf Inn, Fenny Compton. We started the ascent of Napton flight at about 9.15 and were at lock 14 by 11.00. Sooper Crew walked back down the locks to get her car to the top and met us as we exited Lock 15! The Best Mate and SooperCrew left me at the Marston Doles water point as they had to go to a craft session in Banbury.                  2 miles, 8 locks    2.3/4  hours

"Pie of the Day" at The Wharf Inn
I boated solo toward Fenny Compton. I stopped twice. Once for lunch at Stoneton Bridge 125 and once for a natural break at Bridge 131. The wind got stronger and cutting as the day progressed. I moored on the visitor moorings just before the A423 Bridge 136A at about 4pm. When I got to the car it was boxed in by two white panel vans! I inquired in the Wharf Inn whether anyone knew the owners. The main offender, that had arrived last and parked over a foot from the kerb was owned by "Kev". The barmaid went looking for him but to no avail so I took my stick and plodded (limped) up to the long term moorings near the marina to try and find him. I failed but did find the owner of the other van, which was broken down! He kindly offered to move it and rolled it down the hill without power steering or brakes and parked it beautifully. I was free, but cold and very hungry so I had a pie and a pint int The Wharf. It would have been rude not to when the barmaid said that pie was the chef's special of the day!                                      7.1/2 miles   3hours

Sooper Crew has jumped ship and is crewing on another boat today. So it was The Best Mate and I who boated from Fenny Compton to our home mooring. My knee prevents me doing a lot of lock work so The Best Mate had the brunt of the labour today. We were helped by plenty of boats on the move after the first two Claydon locks but had to fill Boughton and Hardwick locks to end the day. We were hindered by a working pair, moored against another working boat and opposite a leisure boat moored beside a "no mooring" sign! There was 7' 6" left to get my 6ft 10" beam through. To do it I had to back up several times to ensure that I was parallel with the boat moored opposite. I did not have my camera to hand to take a picture for the "moored like a twat" facebook group! Today the sun shone on us almost all the way.  We had a lunch break in The Brasenose Inn in Cropredy. This was a very pleasant break indeed. Here too we had a great example of bad mooring.  Here a 50ft boat was moored on the centre two rings of four available beside Cropredy Bridge thus preventing another boat from enjoying this lovely mooring spot. We did find a mooring through the bridge but it bugs me as to why some boaters are that thoughtless.

So we moored up at home mooring about 6pm very tired but home. We were welcomed by nb Sawdust at Hardwick Lock and cheery waves from Malc and Dink at the Cottage and the other moorers at our moorings. It is great to go boating but it is good to be home!
                                        12 miles, 12 locks, 8.1/2  hours

Monday, 2 October 2017

Another FUN day's boating

Yes, boating is fun. A little and often is quite acceptable. We squeezed in a day's boating today between our weekend: Church, Banbury Canal Day, a trip to Kent fr a grandchild's baptism etc. and tomorrow: exercise class, hosting  a "Christians Together " lunch and a trip to Cardiff to take our son's bike, speaker cabinet and a few odds and ends required at Uni.

SO relaxing on the boat was a great thing to do. We took Sue the Crew with us and bussed form Hillmorton to Newbold-on-Avon to join the boat. We set off just before 12.00noon and cruised fro about an hour before our first incident of the day at Bridge 69. There was a boat moored towpath side on the other side of the bridge and another boat was coming toward us. This moved over to the starboard to give way to us bit as we passed through the bridge hole the bow veered over toward the moored boat. No time for a horn signal just full stern and bang! There was no way of avoiding the collision. We ricocheted into the moored boat. The helmsman on nb Dipper, the moving boat, was shaken up and apologetic but he had been caught by his hood in the tree that was on the off-side. He was lucky not to be dangling over the drink! He showed us that his hat was floating in the water under the tree. We backed up,got the fishing net off the roof, retrieved the hat and re-united it with its owner.

We stopped for lunch just short of the locks and it started to rain just as we were ready to go on. We donned wet weather gear and decided to boat on.

At Hillmorton Lock No 3 we were met by a nice voluntary chap. He emptied down and opened the bottom gate for us with the bad news that only one side of the paired locks were operable and the good news that no boats had gone up since the last he'd helped through so all should be set for us. Our crew stepped forward and walked ahead to open up the next lock. However, as we nosed out of lock 3, the crew of nb 19th Hole scampered about to release their mooring lines from the lock landing bollards where they had been lunching and set off, very slowly, through the bridge hole of Bridge 71 ahead of us! Not even a "thank you" to our crew as they entered Lock 5. I had plenty of time to send my appraisal of the situation to "Narrowboat Moaners and Ranters" group on Facebook! By the time I was waiting for Lock 7, which they seemed to be doing very slowly with a bottom paddle left open, I had three comments agreeing with my view that this was very bad manners.

Still by now it had stopped raining!

We moored on the Visitor mooring above the lock.
                                                                                                     4 miles, 3 locks, 3 hours

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Missing Link

You may have noticed that we seem to have left out the bit from Polesworth to Hawkesbury.

We did do it!

Last Friday after The Best Mate's doctor's appointment we drove to Bedworth, near Bulkington Bridge 16. We then caught a bus to Nuneaton, changed to another to Atherstone and then once more to a third bus to Polesworth, arriving at about 2.30pm. We then boated to Atherstone Lock 9 where we moored overnight. We rose early and got under way at daybreak on Saturday to get up the flight before the volunteers had arrived at the top lock. We did not beat them and a volunteer operated the paddles on the top lock as part of his training for trip boat duty. The weather was kind but cold and the showers kept away. We took on water at the top lock. We stopped at Springwell Haven for a pump out and gas and ate on board as we moved. We arrived at Bedworth, Bulkington Bridge No 16 in the mid afternoon and went to shop for lunch as the chippy was closed. The Best Mate then got back on the boat and boated to Hawkesbury Junction. I drove there and put the car in the car park on Sutton Stop. We looked for a mooring but the only one available was opposite the Exhall Basin entrance where one is not supposed to moor. A phone call to a friend who lives locally confirmed the unlikelihood of any space in the residential basin and he offered the advice to move to the visitor moorings north of the lock.We backed the boat to the Junction, swept her around under the bridge and worked up the lock to moor just on the Visitor moorings.

We moored up and went to The Greyhound for a really lovely dinner.

On Sunday morning we were nicely placed to move the boat onto more secure piling and then drive to Jubilee Church Coventry where we met up with friends and our son who we usually have to lunch on Sundays. KFC was in order and we then took him home.

                                       18.1/2miles 12 locks  9.1/2 hours