Continuing with our review of 2013, here are the final 6 months:
A busy, sunny and fun month, with lots of work done on Willow as well. We spent a glorious weekend sailing on the Thames barge Pudge with the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, for James’s birthday, which was excellent fun! We rowed and coxed the annual Town Bumps races, we went to the somewhat disappointing IWA national and we got the gas man to come and finish off the gas system so we could cook and shower in the comfort of our own boat! Never is a shower or a cup of tea so satisfying as when you’ve done most of the work to make it happen!
August saw us frantically finishing off things so that my mum and her partner, Peter, would be able to stay with us for the weekend in relative comfort. Unfortunately we didn’t quite get the bathroom finished, but we did manage to get the solid oak floor down in the living room, which made a big difference, as did the bookshelves which James made. My mum and Peter arrived part way through our ‘Summer Pootle’, and we had some lovely weather! We met them in Ely, stayed overnight on the EA moorings near the Ship, then pottered up the Brandon Creek to drop them off. We always loving taking guests out because it helps us see the rivers through their eye, as a beautiful destination, not just a familiar backdrop that we’ve tired of.
Back to school and university for both of us, but that didn’t stop us carrying on with work on the boat at weekends and evenings. I carried on with tiling bits of floor and James made the coat rail and shoe storage at the front of the boat. We went to the Shackerstone Family festival to see boats and boaters, where we picked up some presents for Willow: cheap ash trim and a brass toilet roll holder from one of the tat stalls!
In October, we got stuck into researching Willow’s history, making contact with and eventually visiting the Waterways Museum and the County Archives in Gloucester. We visited Oak, Willow’s older sister, which is in very poor condition, and explored the city where Willow was based in her working days. We also found out a bit more about Willow’s work during the war, discovering that she was worked by the “Idle Women” for a time, and were kindly sent a photo of this- the earliest photo we have of the boat. We also had a great weekend staying on Ilford at That Fuller Do!
The biggest excitement of November was buying our first car, Jasper the Fforde. This allowed us to go and do things that we hadn’t been able to before, like load up with a massive pile of logs for the stove, and collect cans of diesel from St Ives. In fact we spent a lot of time at the weekends, when we weren’t working on the boat, collecting various types of fuel for the winter and for propulsion! We finally finished the bathroom, and were very pleased with the result, ready for visitors who came for the bonfire night fireworks on Midsummer Common.
And so that brings us to December. We had a lovely Christmas break in the Westcountry, despite some terrible weather for driving. Over the course of the holiday, Jasper took us nearly 700 miles there and back!
Now, not quite a year after setting eyes on Willow, we have a comfortable, spacious [its all relative!] home that we can be proud of. We’re not finished by any means but looking back has reminded me how far we’ve come! Here’s to 2014!