Boatbird’s beginnings..

22 Nov

I’ve never talked here about my previous life on land, before boatbird was born and, don’t worry, I’m not about to now.

It’s just that this picture popped up on my facebook page today…


You know how they do – ‘your memories on  facebook’, ‘we care about your memories’. Blah de blah. I do remember the occasion but choose to forget that chubbier version of me.

FB says this was from ten years ago but I dispute this. It was eleven years plus –  July 2006 to be precise. I remember it well. Moored outside the pub at Littleport, where we met up with my brother for lunch/to show Hobo off. It was such an exciting time for me, having just bought my boat and in the middle of an incredible journey to move it to its new mooring.

I knew nothing about boats then, let alone how to drive one. Looking back, I was lucky not to have bought a heap of junk, but I just knew I wanted to embark on this way of life. At least I was sharp enough to know I knew nothing, take some advice from boatie folk, which mostly consisted of ‘Stop thinking about it. Just do it’. And, courtesy of my niece, hooked up with a colleague of hers who might be able to help me move her.

Lorna came to meet with me and Hobo, had a chat, a nice lunch at Welford Wharf and a mini cruise along the Welford arm. We all hit it off and, despite my obvious ineptitude, she agreed to help and a date was set. July 1st it was!

Exciting times!

I furnished Hobo with what I thought was necessary to see us through the two week journey, booked the time off work and was totally puzzled by studied the river maps kindly provided by friend Malcolm.

Tools and equipment were acquired, largely by guesswork, and included new ropes, a big pole and a cupboard full of booze. My niece had told me that Lorna like the odd glass of something alcoholic but, as she hadn’t specified exactly what, I bought a  shed load little of everything.

We met at the boat on the day, went off and did a huge food shop and readied ourselves for what was to come. The Wharf manager fuelled her up, Lorna carried out the pre-flight checks while I panicked watched and learned.

It was a very steep learning curve for me but Lorna was a good teacher and I soon became proficient on the helm, at the locks and emptying the carzy.

I was blissfully ignorant Everything was new to me  – a great big adventure – and I loved every minute.

Our route took us down the Welford arm and onto the Grand Union, then the Northampton arm to the River Nene…

A friendly wave on the NeneThat perfect mooringSwans and cygnets


The Middle Levels…Floods Ferry sunsetFlax field at Floods FerryMarmont Priory-sunset

The tidal crossing from Salter’s Lode to Denver Sluice and the Great Ouse…

Ouse-Pike and EelOld West-StreathamThe old bridge at St. Ives

It took us thirteen days in all to reach Hartford Marina near Huntingdon – Hobo’s new home and my new life – a journey that takes about an hour by road.

But what a journey it was. A journey in every sense of the word – physical, emotional, educational and then some. Those two weeks at the beginning of July 2006 were in the middle of a heatwave and we burned to a crisp tanned beautifully, arriving at our final destination looking like we’d just come from the tropics.

Malcolm popped up randomly during our journey, always at the end of the phone and ready to provide us with anything we needed: more booze/chocolate/name of local boat mechanic/whatever. He once walked for miles in the rain, to a particularly inaccessible spot, to deliver a case of Bud. What a hero!

Lorna and I also became firm friends on that trip. The booze cupboard was a resounding success and inspired themed evenings: beer night/gin night/Pimms night/cocktail night etc. We really did get regularly shitfaced have the time of our lives and made memories that will haunt us forever last us a lifetime.

This is but a small excerpt of life before this boatbird became fully fledged…

Did you know....

But there’s much more to tell if you want to hear it…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: