Today has been an epic day, which we have been building up to for weeks. Today we brought the Mayflower home to Church Gardens. We arrived at Harefield Marina before 10am to hand over the money, met Barney and went down to see Mayflower out of the water and on the trailer. There was an air of excited, slightly apprehensive anticipation. Barney needed to do certain things to the trailer before he was satisfied it was safe to proceed. We installed James on his motorbike in the marina car park to wait for Barney to come out so he could follow him and film him on his helmet camera. We went ahead and opened up the height restriction gate, which took two girls to sit on it to make it open, at the London Gate entrance. We then drove back to the marina to see Mayflower come out. Very soon, Barney in his Land Rover Discovery appeared pulling the Mayflower and off we all went. It was brilliant, in no time at all, we arrived at London Gate. Aideen and Diane helped stop the traffic so Barney could reverse the boat back into Priory Avenue and then proceed up the track. They just fitted, Mayflower was covered in Hawthorn berries and leaves by the time she arrived! Somehow, this tiny narrowboat looked exactly right sailing up the track, it was an emotional moment. The tightest part of her journey was going through the gate and manoeuvring past dad’s Annexe and the chicken run fence and workshop. With a couple of small reverses, Barney got through with millimetres to spare! He then drove across the grass and looped through the trees to arrive alongside part of our narrow channel beside three nut trees. Then a chain and strap were secured to the boat and looped around a very conveniently placed Ash tree – exactly in line with the boat. Sleepers were positioned to slide the boat onto, and a wide selection of other pieces of wood were on hand to secure her as she was slid, very gradually, in stages from the trailer. At each point Barney would leap out of the car and direct where the next piece of wood should be added. Apart from one sticky moment when she leant suddenly to one side, saved by a bit of wood, it went incredibly smoothly. She was installed safely and level on her sleepers and propped securely and it wasn’t even 1o’clock yet! I cannot praise Barney enough, he seems to have an instinctive understanding of exactly how to move and secure very large, heavy things. His spatial awareness is astounding and he was so careful and conscious of safety. We were all, including Barney, incredibly relieved and impressed that the entire mission went so smoothly. Everything was filmed and Barney drove off, happy with the job! We all then enjoyed an early lunch. Mayflower looked as if she had always been there, she looks perfectly natural under the trees, her dull green and black paintwork blending beautifully with the trees.
For the rest of the afternoon Patrick and Aideen continued working on proper boat supports so we can go inside safely, and Diane, James and Meave made a start on dismantling the scaffolding by the wall.
The very nice gentleman who wanted to donate his old lawnmower arrived with his son to drop it off. It is a lovely little machine, still in working order! I then continued with some work outside, weeding the alpine beds until called back to the boat by James.
We could now all safely climb inside which we did with a bottle of Prosecco and six glasses. We decided to drink the bottle rather than break it on the side! We then huddled inside having a conversation about how to refit the incredibly snug interior to maximum effect…it really is tiny and will require considerable ingenuity! We then had a little trip down memory lane viewing pictures on Meave’s phone of all the different things we have done during lockdown…this was partly to motivate us as we appear to be facing a further 6 months of the same! I cannot believe what we’ve done during this time, I am so proud of them all and despite all of the sad and difficult things that have happened during this terrible year, it is good to see something positive come out of it.