While some people are out enjoying themselves, shrieking and giggling and no doubt dancing in fountains, I have dashed home in order to bring you Warrior's second review of the year just gone (and, neatly, nb Warrior's 350th post, now I've removed those double posts that inserted themselves while I was away. I'm still swaying, by the way. Who'd have thought the water was moving so much.)
And what an eventful year it's been - lots of excitement, new experiences and adventures and ambitions achieved. And what a long time ago it seems now, that it was January 2007 ...
Well, actually, nothing much happened in January. I tidied up the cabin, and work proceeded on the engine.
As it continued to do in February... while we got on with the engine room, boarding the floor and fitting the batteries and tussling with the electrics, and the first of many electricians.
This is when things start happening: RN in Daventry have finished their work on the engine, and it's brought back to the yard where Warrior has been patiently waiting for nearly a year, and settled into its temporary home in a shipping container where I start painting it. Also in March, Warrior is whipped out of the water and the cabin shotblasted, so we get to paint that too. Craftmaster do quite well out of us in March.
In April, things continue apace. I finish painting and polishing the engine, and mid-April, it finally goes back into the boat. Not (obviously) having enough to worry about, we decide to have a new hole cut in the roof panel so that we can have a Josher-style roof vent like our neighbours on Minnow. Happy New Year, Sparky and Vicky, wherever you are. And we go to Ellesmere Port to look at more nice boats and get frightened by a swan.
We get a keb, some temporary signwriting (still going strong), and lots of extra ballast. Warrior is now starting to look pretty good on the outside too. I start counting down to the date I am determined we will relaunch. We fire the engine up for the first time, and meet Andrew of Granny Buttons fame.
June has to be the most momentous month of 2007 on the Warrior front: on our first trial cruise we stay out very late and get very drunk and have a marvellous time; at our official launch party the following night we attempt to introduce the Midlands to the delights of Harveys Best Bitter, but Compo drinks it all... then on the 3rd we finally, triumphantly but also sadly, say goodbye to Stretton Wharf and all the friends we made there. We make it to Atherstone (which I really like) and tough out the Russell Newbery Rally (which I don't). Meet some lovely people with Nationals though. Continue tweaking the engine.
The French stove finally gets tried out in situ, having been repaired and fitted at great trouble and unknown expense with a new hearth and stovepipe - and it is completely and utterly worth it, because it works brilliantly (and we've really put it to the test this past week, and could not be more pleased).
Also, of course, June means Braunston ... sigh ....
In July, we cruise from Atherstone to Coventry and back, see Charity Dock and drink in the Greyhound. Coventry Basin is almost deserted, and the Cathedral is stunning.
August is a quite extraordinary month, the whole of it spent on board Warrior on our longest ever sustained cruise: from Atherstone to St Ives with detours to Ramsey and Cambridge on the way, the IWA Festival, then back to Ramsey. High spots include our time in Cambridge, where Craig from Pyxis showed us not one but four fantastic pubs; taking the real-life Rosie and Jim and relatives, including a small child, out for a trip in the rain; handing out brochures outside the festival in ankle deep mud and (at last) hot sunshine; the Northampton Arm; and coming back up the Hundred Foot River. Less favourite parts were the Nene locks (especially after the first two dozen). Really, there were too many memorable moments - if I start to enumerate them I shall be here all night.
In September I start writing an article for Canal Boat about our engine. It is a quiet month on the boating front.
As is October. Though I finish the article.
In November we get to do a bit more boating, and my article is published. Very gratifying!
And here we are back in December again. I'm surprised that such an eventful and significant year can be summed up so briefly.
So how did I get on with the resolutions I made this time last year?
Engine finished and reinstalled - yep.
Painted and signwritten - well, strictly speaking, yes, but not quite how I envisaged it.
Go to the RN Rally at Atherstone - yep
And the IWA Festival at St Ives - yes, and that really was quite an achievement.
And personally, did I learn to splice? Well, yes, actually I did, at St Ives. But I'm not sure that I still remember how now. Did I finally get to grips with crocheting? Sadly no, despite continuing efforts, that particular skill still defeats me. Did I become an all round better boatperson? I suppose I must have done, but probably only slightly. Must try harder, be braver and more persistent in 2008.
Which brings us to resolutions for next year:
The final, proper, painting and signwriting WILL be done
We will bring Warrior to London (more of an aspiration than a resolution at this stage) ....
Helyn will be finished, and we will take her up the Sussex Ouse to Barcombe before selling her.
Apart from that I think it's a case of watch this space.
Hope you have a splendid 2008. I wonder what we'll all be thinking and doing when we look back on it this time next year...