May 1972 and I wandered into the grandly named Wakefield School of Nursing not really knowing where I was. A very diminutive middle-aged woman approached clad in a white coat. “I’m looking for school” I ventured. “This is school little one” was the response.

Entering a room full of desks I found a bearded, long haired fellow about the same age as me. Nobody else at all, this is what constituted the May 1972 intake to study for State Registered Nursing qualifications. “I’m Ian” the fellow said, “It looks as though we are going to get to know each other well”.

And there it started, a never-ending catalogue of shipping adventures and disasters. It was March 1973 when it really started with our first Norfolk Broads boaty holiday together on a craft somewhat misnamed as “Spitfire”! We could walk faster !! This craft belong to one Leyland Jillings who, with his wife and a couple of underlings, ran Alphacraft of Brundall. They appeared to still be in the early building up years and build up they certainly did as they eventually priced us out of their market with grand flashy boats. In the meantime, myself and Bosun Broadhead (Ian) commenced to climb Jillings’s “ladder” of ships. Gradually moving from one to the next getting bigger each time until we finally had their biggest ship!! This was “Samarkand” and had been viewed by both of us as the ultimate ship that we would aim for. This was a procession of nine different ships. There was a depressing side to this grand process. No matter how we tried, how we preened, showed off, danced about in front of passing women, regularly washed and powdered our private bits, we never ever even had a sniff on the “pulling” front.

Later we were fortunate enough to be able to take our own women with us alongside crackers and cheese that would “be so useful when we got back from the pub”!

All this preamble is an effort to illustrate how the epic “Voyage of the Trent” came about. One thing that came out of the Norfolk escapades  was an obsession with boats and “bent beams” which were a mystery to us in the construction of said boats in as much as how were they made?

We lost touch for several years and my own obsession with boats continued to fester without progressing due to the severe economic climate, which seems to have plagued most of my life.

Recently I had reason to take a substantial amount of time off work through illness. During this time it became clear that I badly needed some new interest to occupy me and give me an alternative to work, work and more work. Just after Christmas I hit the January blues. An annual event where one’s money runs out during the first couple of weeks of January and there are still four weeks to pay day. I approached my bank for an increase in my overdraft. No chance they said, no, but we can offer you a substantial loan!! I was not amused and went away penniless. A few weeks later I happened to read a copy of Canal & Riverboat and the old bug burst upon me again.

I rang the bank and said “You know that substantial loan you mentioned……..” Next thing I knew I had six thousand pounds in my account labelled “boat fund”.

I spent hours combing the internet, magazines and newspapers and eventually came up with a shortlist of three or four likely looking craft. These were an Ormelite, a Trentcraft, a Norman 24 and an Eastwood 24. The Eastwood was sold from under me by a mob at Chesterfield. The Ormelite turned out to be a bit of a wreck and the Trentcraft, although an unusual attractive design with a good layout, sadly had a petrol engine. I was extremely tempted by this boat “Perseus” although I got a distinct feeling the Rob, who was selling the boat, was somewhat pressured by “she who must be obeyed” and would be less than cheerful parting with it! Anyway, I had resolved to have an inboard diesel. That found me weaving my way to Mills Dockyard at Trent Lock where I met one Denny Brown who had a Norman 24 named Bona Dea for sale at £5,250. This seemed to meet most of my initial criteria and following a bit of haggling we agreed on £4,600. This was to include a full term safety certificate and the cost of the mooring until I could move it home to Yorkshire.

I then spent some time researching the route home. On the surface there seemed two alternatives (three if you count loading it on a lorry and I didn’t). I could either go up the Trent & Mersey Canal, round Manchester, over the Pennines etc. Or, I could wander up the River Trent, Keadby & Stainforth Canal, Aire & Calder and the Calder & Hebble. A fortnight nearly versus three to four days seemed no competition so it was to be the River Trent. So I concentrated on looking at this route and saw all sorts of writings and musings about sand banks, tidal waves, hairy locks and a need for charts !! I then spoke to our local MP and Narrow Boaty person, Hinchy. “Go by Manchester, its very hairy, wouldn’t do that as a new boater” he ventured. Also colliding with locks and sea going commercial craft was mentioned. David was good enough to offer to meet and discuss it, an opportunity I didn’t manage to take up but thanks anyway David. Its around this time that the term “round up” first emerged. A term that neither myself or Ian were going to understand until much later.

I posted questions on newsgroups asking about the Trent and charts and stuff. Yes, you must have charts or you’ll sink!! No, you don’t need charts, you’ll be OK. What was I to make of that?? So to the selection of my crew or, to put it more clearly, who could I persuade to come with me? My father was very keen and if the boat had been ready it would have been himself! As it was really there was only one person who I wanted along for this historic voyage so the call went out and “she who must be obeyed” (Liz) she say yes!! Bosun Broadhead it would be. We arranged to go down to Trent Lock on Monday evening (March  18th) courtesy of Mr Harbour Properties (Glyn).

That Monday evening we spent in the Steamboat pub at Trent Lock perusing charts and maps. I had an offer from Rob Barker (via newsgroups) to scan and e-mail me a set of charts, no idea how old they were but at least we had charts and therefore would not sink!! From our deliberations it seemed we could get home in three days, four at the outside. I had spoken to the Lock Keeper at the infamously dangerous and hairy lock at Keadby and all was arranged, or so we thought.

Tuesday, March 19th, up early, breakfast and engine fires up straight away!! We’re off!! We had decided to go down to the lock itself and use the BW facilities for daily ablutions as the bog on the boat was a mystery to us both which we were not keen to investigate as it hummed!! (the fact that I had bought a boat from a man who could not be bothered to empty the shit pot assumes more significance later!) This we did and then proceeded to go through our first lock. All went smoothly until for some unknown reason I happened to notice the temperature gauge showing a bit too warm!! I told Ian I thought we may have a problem….. serious he asks……..  maybe I answers. On examination, horror of horrors, no water spewing out of the exhaust. We had travelled all of 200 yards of a 130 mile voyage. What to do??  We tried to appear knowledgeable in examining the engine when really all we could do was look at the hoses and hope that one was obviously leaking or disconnected. Nay, no chance it could be so simple. Luckily, as folk will know, at Trent Lock there is Trent Lock Boatyard whose signs offer help. Looking around we could find no sign of anybody. “Well its only 9.30 maybe they start late” we thought. We enquired of a passing very presentable female, who we both agreed would “bob along a bit”, as to the whereabouts of the useful folk of the boatyard! Not here until May was the answer. Very useful indeed. This is the point at which we both began to seriously fantasise about women the details of which are far too lurid for here, suffice to say hooters, black stockings, fishnet tights and thongs regularly arose in the conversation. Were we already going mad like the ancient mariner??

Whilst in the process of purchasing said boat I had encountered a friend of Denny’s, an extremely useful fellow by the name of Paul Saunders who had foolishly parted from me in a pub following convivial supping insisting that I ring should there be any problem. Paul we have a problem! He would be with us as soon as possible, maybe late morning. So there we were with nothing to do but wait hopefully. We commenced reading some essential books. I had bought the 12 Volt Bible, Boat Electrics and Diesel trouble-shooter. We eventually were led to demolish the engine housing and look at a shiny brass pump! We took off the cover and pulled out a very worn and tired looking windmill affair which we were to discover was called an impeller !

Still no sign of Paul. In the midst of this engineering magic a fellow comes pedalling down the towpath. “Now then lads, where are you off to”? Turns out he is the Lock Keeper for the Trent Flood Lock. Cromwell Lock we venture, “Oh no you’re not” he announces grinning from ear to ear, “Trent’s in flood and I’ve had to close the gate”.

How long? we ask, “who knows, could be a couple of days, a week or maybe sixteen weeks” he explains somewhat gleefully. We were to have cause to regret thinking badly of this keeper of gates. The remainder of the day would see us glaring at the river and wishing hard that it would subside fast. I lost count of how times we walked up the road hoping to meet Paul, we never did. We past the time swabbing decks and generally trying to use water and lower the river level.

We were having a brew very forlorn and fed up when we glanced out of the window and there was Paul climbing out of his car, the colour of which was the subject of some debate. We were to discover that one of Paul’s likes was my tobacco preferably rolled into a fag and copious cups of tea. Yes says Paul examining our sad impeller, that is likely to be the problem. I ring Sawley Marina and am told that yes they have lots of impellers. So off we go to discover that they have every one but ours! (how unusual) A chap there is very helpful however and manages to identify ours as one of two. Both same size but each taking different size shafts. He rings Beeston Marina for us and low and behold they have one! Off we toddles and gets back to the boat with the little piece of machinery that is so vital to our voyage should the damn flood gate open. Guess what? Our shaft is too big. We ring back and asks if he has the other one of the two. Don’t be silly, I mean would he?? No chance, don’t have any in stock but can order you some for a week on Thursday and no he can't deliver it as he has a man off sick and when it arrives it will be the wrong sort. So we ring around and eventually discover that the nearest source is Newark Marina. Paul can collect this in the morning on his way around and will also take back the wrong one. So we are stuck for the night anyway. If only we had gone through that damn flood lock! The darkening hours are spent convincing ourselves that the river is going down. I ring the Lock Keeper at Keadby to tell him we had been delayed.

That night began the famous world scrabble championship. Ian has a bit of a thing about us and games. He never wins!! And so it proves as the first two legs go to yours faithfully.

The following morning we try not to wake up too early and have too much day to pass praying for Paul’s arrival. Of course we are up with the larks looking at the river. It has definitely gone down and this is born out by a fellow living on a barge close to the lock itself. Does this mean it will open we plead? Not necessarily, could be a couple of days……..

Late morning or early afternoon had been Paul’s prediction of arrival. We were fast learning to add a couple of hours to times he mentioned, in the nicest possible way of course. Late morning and the first good news, the flood lock is open! OK but we are not moving anywhere yet, where’s Paul? On his way is the message via the mobile and he eventually rolls up at 4pm. Takes little time at all to fit this damn vital organ and lo and behold water is spewing out of the exhaust. £80 Paul charges for this work and very reasonable too considering the chasing about he had to do. By now it is almost dark and proverbially raining hard ! “We are not stopping here”!! is the irrefutable conclusion drawn by the weary crew. So we victoriously cruise through Trent flood lock and the next lock too totally drenched, cold, starving but glad to have moved a more significant distance. The next round of the scrabble championship goes much the same way as the previous ones much to Bosun Broadhead’s disgust.

The following morning and the batteries are as flat as farts ! Must be all the hanging around we conclude but wonder how we are going to get started. Ian wanders up to the lock to see if any help is around. Remember the broadly grinning lock keeper that took so much pleasure in telling us of the flood lock closure? Well now he’s coming down the towpath with a wheelbarrow full of impressive looking hardware. In this barrow he has a generator and things for connecting to batteries. Fires up first time and away we go with a much more charitable view of said lock keeper. I ring the Lock keeper at Keadby and agree a new timetable which will see us going through his lock the following afternoon!

Everything goes swimmingly well as at last we are steaming as though we mean it. So we gratefully leave Cranfleet Lock behind us now into our third day and having made all of a mile !! On to the Nottingham Canal and a brief stop at Beeston Marina for gas and a general look around. Here, Ian receives sad news which could have finished the voyage there and then. However, it would seem that no particular purpose would come of his return home, just that we now had a date by which we must be home. As this was over a week away we did not think this relevant at the time. What foolishly over confident musing!!

We now wove our way through the city of Nottingham with a very varied canal frontage. Derelict in parts and very impressive in others where warehouses have been renovated and the world of the canal incorporated into development. It was here we encountered BW’s (British Waterways) fastest painters. They appeared to be painting each lock we went through. Whether this was an indication of our leisurely progress or a figment of our imagination matters not. One of said painters seemed insistent on carrying on painting the top of a lock gate while we opened it with him on it until his mate suggested it may be wise to get off!

Back out onto the River Trent and we experience our first “assisted” passage through a lock. There appeared to be a lot of keepers until we discovered they were all learning. They all learned well in that they all addressed myself as “captain”. An action that was to bemuse Ian who seemed to doubt that I had the instantly recognizable aura of captaincy! While we were eagerly chucking our ropes up to the keepers, one looked at us somewhat puzzled and asked why we didn’t use “those yellow things”. To explain, there are rods in the side of the lock to which one can rope up and they are yellow. We thought they were some space age data cable or equally strange affair that was vital to the locks continued existence.

At Stoke Bardolph Lock the keeper appeared to be chuckling while he informed us that he was expecting us and understood we had had a wee bit of trouble. This was our first demonstration of the Lock Keepers telegraph which we were to encounter again and again.

We approached Gunthorpe lock debating whether to stop and check that the batteries were charging. The decision to do so was influenced by the attractive moorings and the presence of a rather inviting looking café. Having moored, we turned off the engine, took a deep breath and muttered a prayer and turned the key…………….

Nothing!!!  Not a fart or a squeak, just nowt !! I had been suspicious of a red light perpetually glowing on the control panel. Denny and Paul had insisted it was just an “ignition on” light. I now knew better and it was obvious that the alternator was not exactly in the peak of condition. Phone calls to Paul who changes his plans to come and have a look and, at my suggestion, bring an alternator for a Ford engine. He will be here late afternoon so today’s cruising is over. Guess who I rang next!

Paul arrives and agrees with my diagnosis and proceeds to fit a replacement alternator. This should be simple and straightforward! Is it?? No by jiminy….. not on your nellie! It seems the existing alternator is old and the replacement more modern with different wiring connections. The maze of wires makes it difficult to be sure how to connect the new one and Paul is cautious. He rings a friend who is a marine electrician who can get to us around lunchtime the following day. The scrabble championship continues by the light of a very useful tilly lamp that night. Oh and I forgot to mention that the café was closed until June!!

Next morning and eventually a fellow dismounts from a van. “Have you got a mashing on”? are his first words. Make him a brew and let him have a fag, lets try and keep him sweet. He then proceeds to wander up and down the bank puffing away and slurping our mashing. Thirty minutes later he assures us that he has started and that he likes to think about a job first. What followed was a demonstration by someone who has one of those enviable special skills. It is no exaggeration to describe the wiring system of Boa Dea as a tangled web of multi colours with no sense of order whatsoever. Nick seemed to recognise each one and proceeded to snip, solder, strip and tape. Lo and behold the alternator was fitted, time to start up. Fired no problem then doom and gloom…… no water from the proverbial exhaust!! We exchange panic stricken glances. Off comes the pump cover, out comes the impeller, liberal application of grease, reassembly and fire her up and all is well. £150 this costs me though Nick and Paul agree that Denny should stand the cost of this one.

We don’t have the time to get to Cromwell Lock before the keeper knocks off so we meander our way through Hazelford Lock where again a recognition and knowledge of our problems appears to be local folklore. On to Newark where we pause and purchase another impeller, which quite clearly we will never need because, we have got one. We top up with diesel, admire a few “Marbella” type cruisers and continue on our way reaching the huge and impressive Cromwell Lock around dusk. This is our first completely voluntary stop. Good showers and BW facilities here but bugger all else except an attractive sunset and a bunch a geese forever fighting. Back to the scrabble championship !

Morning, and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Lock Keeper because today is the day when we at last depart the River Trent and brave the dire hazards of Keadby Lock! Or do we???

After numerous forlorn looks without any sign, I see a figure moving in the Lock Keepers control room. Off I go to seek passage, Ian dawdling along behind. I climb the steps and am about to open the door. “Here, come on, you’ll want to see this”! We both enter the control room and there she is, blonde, good build, pleasant looking and not too young for us whippersnappers! Ian’s face betrayed the fact that he was thinking just as I, all those deviate thoughts which I will not repeat. We had said where we intended going and suddenly and brutally we fell back to earth. “Oh no you are not”, blonde Lock Keeper informs us, “Keadby Lock only opens on a weekend if you have booked. Have you?” All those phone calls to Keadby and we had neglected to reinforce with the Keeper that we were coming through today. It would seem we could go as far as West Stockwith and then wait until Monday morning. The resignation with which we accepted this was not as deep as it might have been. It seems we are now conditioned to the fact that little, if anything, is going to go right.

We make proper fools of ourselves going through the Lock at Cromwell. Hope she wasn’t watching too closely as we bobbed all over the shop not having secured our ropes properly. Ever onwards and we now have a leisurely voyage to West Stockwith. We are also now on a tidal river for the first time and will use the charts so kindly provided by Rob Barker. The general rule appeared to be keep to the outside of all bends and pay heed to the warnings of sandbanks, submerged objects and shallow water. Uneventful is the way to describe the first leg. We passed much evidence of  The Trent’s past industrial life, most of it now sadly derelict and decaying. Huge wharves and dolphins unlikely to see a ship again. Just past Dunham Bridge there is a statement “soundings advisable” so being light of said technical equipment it’s a case of leaning over the side and yelling “ping” or just looking and hoping for the best. This is followed by a contradiction which advises us to keep nearer the inside rather than the middle of a sweeping bend leading to Torksey and the start of the Fossdyke navigation. We halt for a look around and a visit to the shop promised in both Nicholsons and the charts. “Not been a shop here for some time, you can buy sweets and milk from the pub” we were informed. We also chatted to a fellow with a good looking Elysian craft who turned out to be a number one name dropper and all round expert on anything to do with canals!! He offered all sorts of advice about approaching Keadby Lock and how it would be so dangerous for us but he could do it with his eyes shut as he and the lock keeper were “like that”. On we go to West Stockwith which took us through Gainsborough and long stretches of unused jetty, warehouses and wharves. West Stockwith Lock appears suddenly as you round a bend. It’s a hugely deep lock and the river tide and currents do their best to knock you off course but we sneak in without a bump and discover a big hook on the end of a rope dangling in front of our faces. Now this could have been embarrassing. Earlier we had transferred the obligatory anchor to the front warp and temporarily put on a scrappy rather short rope until we could take it off. We were fortunate that Ian, standing on his tiptoes, just managed to get a hand to the returned end. On rising to ground level we were confronted by another small figure with a mass of curly hair and a grand Yorkshire accent. Another female lock keeper and very pleasant too.

She informs us that a boat is leaving at 8am for Keadby and we can accompany it to get through the lock. The good old canal telegraph working again. She had also seen my boat before in the possession of previous owners. Small world so very often.

Behind West Stockwith Lock there is an extremely pleasant canal basin with all facilities and two pubs. It was a good job because we were stuck here until Monday morning. What to do then? Ian went for one of his relaxing runs while I replaced and mended the ties to the canopy. Then to explore and we wandered down the canal bank, the wrong side first. There is another homely looking public house establishment on the towpath. We eventually found shops for sustenance and I came away with an inch thick gammon steak and we ordered our Sunday morning papers as it would be somewhat leisurely. Then, Bosun B informs me he has booked us in for a meal at the pub, compensation for everything seeming to go pear shaped. Much appreciated and very tasty except the pictures outside of the waitress’s are a tad misleading shall we say.

After we had dined we retired to the public bar area and were enjoying our thirst quenchers when a miserable twerp with an organ gave us the most dismissive look we could ever encounter. Why?? It seems we were in his seat but he could not bring himself to speak to us. He was crap with his organ too!!!

Sunday and a day to fill! Even huge Sunday papers can only occupy you for so long. It was about this time that the subject of the loo emerged. Don’t know how we got round to it but the fact was that we were not using it. Why? Because the pratt that sold me the boat could not be bothered to empty it and it hummed some. I have to admit that it was the Bosun’s driving force that persuaded me that we should grasp the nettle (or the container of shit in this case) and try and empty it. What strange hilarity followed. Carting someone else’s crap around a canal basin!  We had discovered various bottles of deep blue and pink stuff, which we associated with the achievement of a less foul smelling bog. Round to the sanitary station we struggled with said porta potti and we could not get the lid off. Were we really trying I hear you ask, maybe not hard enough, but eventually we gained access to its foul content. After many rinsings and dollops of pink and blue we agreed it was an improvement. Does it not always feel good and satisfying to complete a great achievement??

That evening whilst “scrabbling”, we were to have the directions to West Stockwith via Bawtry and Misterton ingrained in our brains. Clearly a patron of the pub was expecting a friend who had never been here before and he was forever emerging with his mobile and venting forth his instructions to head for Bawtry and Misterton. We lost count of how many times he came out to renew his instructions and we never did see a very relieved looking traveller actually arrive! During the day we had identified the boat we were to accompany to Keadby. A very fancy narrow boat with a fine paint job that had clearly encountered attempts to remove the colour. It was actually moored in the lock ready for a rapid getaway. We politely introduced ourselves and stated our intention to moor alongside in readiness.

The following morning and anticipation is high. Today we would at last see this infamous and dangerous monolith that was Keadby Lock. Or would we? Cranked up the engine and fired straightaway. Something made me ask Bosun B if there was the reassuring stream of water emerging from the exhaust. Not a drop or a dribble!!

No!! this cannot be happening. Well you never saw a faster dismantling of the engine covers and the pump. Onto the impellor goes some lovely grease and an F1 type reassembly. We could be a pit crew for an F1 Norman Cruiser team. Try again and all hail to the almighty as water came gushing. Down into the depths of the huge lock we descend and triumphantly emerge onto the River Trent. An uneventful journey saw us use the charts again to try and avoid calamity obeying instructions to pass under particular bridge arches. We did not think we were progressing particularly quickly but we soon left our companions miles behind. The instructions from Keadby Lock Keeper were now ringing in our minds. “Head for the cranes and big wharf and round up to come into the lock”. A number of times we had nodded sagely at the mention of “round up” not having a clue what it meant! The latest call to the keeper had seen me swallow my pride and ask. Although it seems to involve some use of currents and tides it does just seem to mean turn around! We steam past the lock towards the wharves and take a great sweep around and head for the opening which does appear daunting with the towering walls either side and a width that appears, at first sight, to be no more than six inches wider than your craft. There is a tiny figure on top gesticulating and waving. We pretend to understand and head for the opening. I have to admit to being slightly unnerved by the sideways travel as we approached and at one stage I thought we might miss. In the end it was a bit of an anti climax, we nudged in without a bump and again wondered if that front rope would be long enough. The old hook came down again and we were safely roped in. “Good to meet you at last” was the greeting from the Lock Keeper,  “I feel I know you already” !!

Where were our companions??  Nowhere to be seen. After about 10 minutes of wondering suddenly they appeared. Out in the river was the narrow boat, huge bow wave as he had his engines on full and was charging for the lock. He tried to turn straight in when us clever sods knew he should have rounded up. Closer and closer he got then “vroom” he disappeared sideways looking as though he must ram the side. It looked comical and cartoon like to observe. It was another 10 minutes before he appeared again having rounded up and nudged his way in. Our suspicion that these two were not the world’s most experienced narrow boaters was confirmed by the manner in which he entered the lock and failed miserably to position himself without lots of heaving on ropes and fending off by us.

Five minutes later we were on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal and well on our way again.

The remainder of the journey seemed to be a bit of an anti climax considering all that went before. I mean it was a very pleasant part of the trip seeing all these places from a totally different viewpoint. The difference was that we kept going!! Boring or what?? Bosun Broadhead came into his own along the Stainforth and Keadby and the South Yorkshire. He really took to jumping ashore with the trusty BW key, inserting it in its hole and setting off blue flashing lights stopping the traffic just like Bono in Dallas. Yes he really enjoyed working all those bridges. Fortunately the predictions of Mr Nicholson that local youths congregated around the lift bridge generally being a nuisance did not occur. The Bosun appears to have a real prejudice against Stainforth for some mysterious reason. “All burnt out cars, criminals and nare do wells, lets keep going”. We did attempt to stop at Blue Water Marina to show Ian Perseus which was almost a purchase. No room at all. That place is doing well.

And so on to the Aire and Calder and were immediately met by the Humber Pride and another boat just as big and insistent of taking precedence. Who would dare argue with those ??? They are impressive craft and it is refreshing to see that they appear to be doing good business on the waterway. Long may they prosper. We also came across Hargreaves and the train of coal tenders. Also vastly impressive in the amount of stuff they can shift.

We spent the night at Whitley Bridge passing more pleasant hours over the scrabble board. We discover the next hurdle to interrupt our journey. Work at Fall Ings Lock is not complete and there is still a stoppage so we may have to wait at Stanley Ferry. We will call in and check at Castleford BW Offices.

Bosun Broadheads eyes grow stalks and he develops a wish to return again and again to Castleford British Waterways Offices. Why is this phenomenon? All due to the attractive nature and appearance of the damsel behind the counter and the “bits” not quite concealed. We both feel those fantasy moments creeping back up on us. We retire to the showers instead. It was confirmed by the way that Fall Ings would be completed late that day. We decided to stop at Stanley Ferry and do the last bit a couple of days later.

Out through Castleford flood lock and onto the Calder and Hebble. Still not needed this wonderful hand spike yet. Still the majority of locks are mechanised on this stretch and the Aire and Calder, which make for much lazier passing. It’s at this point I ring the ex-wife requesting transport facilities home from Stanley Ferry.

And so we meander along to the close of our voyage. What will we do tomorrow when we don’t have to get up, run the engines and then seek a suitable establishment for daily ablutions? How long will the wobbly room syndrome last back on dry land?

Just before Stanley Ferry we pick up two damsels from the towpath. What I hear you ask? Have they copped on? Struck gold? Pulled?? Nay, sadly not. It’s Mrs Broadhead and companion, one Bernie and a very attractive lady she appears to be too! So this is our welcome home party. No brass bands lining the shore with bunting fluttering and that very familiar American marching tune that welcomes everybody home and no one knows the name of. No civic dignitaries offering freedom of the city. All very low key.

We fill up with water and diesel at Stanley and finally moor up until we can return and complete the journey. A pint or two in the pub and the relating of a few tales and renewing of old acquaintances completes the proceedings for now.