PHOTO TAKEN BY MAIL ON SUNDAY
Simply telling tales from the towpath .
Clover was owned by a couple
from Somerset who wanted her moving from
Standish Lower Ground near Wigan, to Burton on
Trent. The trip took nearly a month, as Clover
broke down several times as we passed through
Cheshire - very convenient!
Above: A CLOSE UP OF ONE OF THE PHIL WALTON PAINTINGS ON GRAYDEES' DREAM
PHOTO: GRAYDEES' DREAM
After 30+ years in corporate life (NHS, Consultant Clinical Psychologist), I took early retirement and was one of the first 55year olds to draw down my final salary pension...and spend it. A reckless online comment about this drew the attention of The Mail on Sunday, which covered my story.
One of the first acquisitions Paul (hubby) and I made was the gorgeous Graydees'Dream - a 60' traditional stern Narrowboat adorned with hand-painted water-side scenes, by sign writer Phil Walton of Burton on Trent. She had a bespoke engine room with fully-exposed John Deere engine. We had a plan for our Graydees'.....
Hubby went off and got himself trained as an Inland Waterways Instructor (seemed a natural progression from his former career as an Approved Driving Instructor) and we prepared for Graydees' to become his RYA training centre. Unfortunately, the RYA had other ideas. Poor Graydees' wasn't suitable for training purposes. There was much huffing and puffing in our household the night that bombshell fell.
Undeterred, we quickly penned a new plan for our lovely lady. She would become a 'celebration cruise' boat, serving wedding parties, anniversary couples and special birthday celebrants. We did a few celebration cruises to see what folk thought...they thought it was fantastic - something for everyone aboard. The ladies loved our Graydees' prettiness and John Deere fascinated the men. But Canal and Rivers Trust thought differently. No business license would be issued until 'John' was put in a cage, his moving parts hidden and an assortment of signage set in place. Another good idea had hit the deck....
Meanwhile, the hunt for hubby's training boat had been successful. We went back to the company from whence we had bought Graydees' Dream and relieved them of the beautiful black Mint Imperial - a semi-trad stern, 57' lady affectionately known as 'our Minty'.
She was destined to become hubby's cruise training centre. But fate had other ideas....
Having found our boat, we now had to find a base from which to operate. That turned out to be more difficult than we had anticipated, so 'our Minty' remained in-service as a hire boat where she was, whilst we continued to trail the towpath in search of somewhere suitable for her to call home. A year later we were no further forward, just a lot poorer. We now had 2 boats to fund and only a share of 'our Minty's earnings to cover them both!
PHOTO: OUR GIRLS ON THEIR MOORINGS
Nearest - Minty aka NB Mint Imperial Opposite Minty in blue - Dolly aka NB Dolly Mixture And in poll position, The gorgeous Graydees'Dream
Now I recall making another reckless comment to the owner of both Graydees' Dream and Mint Imperial, when we first went to the moorings to meet Graydees'. It was - verbatim - 'I'm having this off you', meaning the whole set up. 'Wood Gnome' as the owner was known, laughed and said something to the effect of 'you'll be waiting a long time, then'
Nine months later, we bought the hire boat business from him. Moral of the tale: she who laughs last, laughs longest!At last, we had our boat and a base from which to operate our RYA Inland Waterways training centre....or so we thought. That was just over 2 years ago. We still have 'our Minty' and her little sister, Dolly (NB Dolly Mixture - 45' baby dressed in blue), but unfortunately we had to let Graydees' go.
Our pension pot had been reasonably big, but not enough to keep 3 fashion concious girls in what they need to be holiday-hire honeypots. So, what of the training centre?
Well, I have a plan. I'll tell you about that another time... to read more tales from the towpath please follow the link below.