It was planned for my daughter Amanda to drive up to Shardlow on Wednesday evening, also Valerie and her sister Linda were to arrive either Wednesday night or early Thursday morning as it was planned to cast off and be underway by 09.00 Thursday. Things didn't turn out quite the way I'd planned. Amanda phoned on Wednesday evening to say she was too tired to drive up that evening and she would get some sleep and drive up in the night or early next day. Guess what, she overslept and didn't arrive until 11.00 Thursday morning. Valerie had some domestic problems and didn't make it at all, and met us late on Thursday afternoon after we had moored up in Nottingham at the festival. As we arrived late moorings were scarce, so we moored up in the reserved space for the firework display planned for the Friday and Saturday night. After getting everything sorted out we had something to eat, spent a quiet evening and went to bed.
We were awoken by a festival official banging on the door and roof, he asked us to find somewhere else to moor as they needed to erect the fences for the firework display, and these would come right down and into the water where we were moored. I got dressed and set off along the river to find a suitable boat to moor up to. As I was walking along a man about my age asked if I was looking for somewhere to moor, and said I could moor up alongside his boat. I later found out they where a couple named Alan and Dianne. I set off back to Iron Dutchess and moved her alongside. Quite a stroke of luck considering moorings were 12 deep in some places. Sometime later that day our neighbours on Shardlow marina Pete and Dawn's boat arrived (it's the longer green narrow boat above) and moored up just behind us, with Pete's brother Graham his wife and various children on board. We then locked the boat and set off looking for a corner shop, which we found a few hundred yards from where we were moored, and stocked up with wine, little did we know that about the same distance again further on was Asda. In the evening Valerie Amanda and Valerie's daughter Anna who had arrived earlier set off over the footbridge to the other side of the river to visit the fairground. Sometime later Valerie returned as the girls had gone off into Nottingham for a night out, which ended with Anna going off home and Amanda coming back to the boat a bit the worst for wear at about 03.45.
Saturday was spent generally wandering around, relaxing on the boat and visiting the newly discovered Asda for some provisions, mostly booze, and more importantly a corkscrew for the wine. Later on in the evening we teamed up with Pete, Dawn and friends and ordered an Indian takeaway which we sat eating on the Iron Dutchess roof. Valerie's son Keith arrived with eight of his friends and came aboard, as did Anna and some friends. The boat is supposed to carry 12 people when under way, we had 30 plus on board, most of whom were on the roof eating, drinking and watching the fireworks. I tried rocking the boat to see how stable it was and was surprised to find it didn't feel much different to normal, also it had only gone down in the water by about ¼", nice to know that it will take well in excess of it's design limits. Obviously a very good design by Nick Branson of Branson boats, not forgetting Mike of Goldwater Boats & Tony of Ricochet Narrow Boats who built her.
Later on in the evening after the fireworks Anna and Amanda went off out again, the Iron Dutchess was slowly evacuated, and Valerie and I went aboard Pete and Dawns boat for a chat and a drink, at around midnight we went back aboard Iron Dutchess and went to bed. Amanda must have come in sometime during the night as she was there when we got up on Sunday.
We spent Sunday wandering around the stalls next to the fairground to see if there were any "must have" items for sale, it turned out there wasn't. We decided that we would set off for Shardlow on the Sunday afternoon and break our journey at the moorings at Beeston lock, continuing the trip back to Shardlow on Monday morning. We set off from Nottingham at about 15.45 the idea was to sit mid stream and watch the charity duck race before leaving. Charity duck race? What the hell is that? I hear you ask. Well you buy a ticket and the ticket number is assigned to a rubber duck, at 16.00 when the downstream flow is greatest they drop 7000 rubber ducks from the footbridge upstream from Trent Bridge and the first four at Trent Bridge win a prize, a bit like a giant version of Pooh Sticks. Well it turned out that the wind was blowing as hard as the stream, but in the opposite direction, so unbeknown to us the course was shortened, yes you've guessed it, to where we were holding Iron Dutchess midstream. So we got a mention over the Trent Radio stand which was blaring music and chat, asking us to shift downstream a bit so they could run out the floating boom to catch all the ducks. Well good luck to them, by the time we left the ducks were right where they dropped them and going nowhere fast, we have no idea what time the first duck crossed the line, or if it ever did? We reached the moorings at Beeston about two hours before dark and settled down for the evening, going to bed around 23.00. I woke up at 02.00 to the noise of a boat coming through the lock, it was a speedboat named Hoky Poky which had been at the festival, about half an hour later a narrow boat and a launch with a blue and white canvas roof came through, I don't know what engine the launch had, but it sounded like a 1950's 500 Norton single with a megaphone exhaust, it must have woken up the whole neighbourhood. We arrived back at Shardlow around 15.00 Monday.
Due to the lack of rain lately the boat was sliding along the bottom as we approached the marina entrance, thankfully we managed to keep going. All in all a good weekend, we met lots of new people, had dozens crawling all over the boat, some I knew, most I didn't, but someone I knew did. Spoke to several people determined to get their own boat, a couple named Woody and Jules being just two, I wish them all good luck in their efforts, I'm sure they won't regret it. Personally I love the life and wouldn't want to go back to living in a house. Living on a boat takes a bit of getting used to, but after a while you can't imagine doing anything else. When you want to move, no packing and unpacking, no removal lorry, and wherever you go, you don't have to worry if you forgot to pack something because you brought everything with you, and no more worrying about driving home from the pub, as home is now moored at the bottom of the pub garden, all you need to worry about is not missing, as cold river water sobers you up a treat, and that's just a waste of money.