Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Visiting Zulu Warrior
I've had a lovely afternoon today. I went to Winkwell to visit Mike (ex of Andante) and see his latest purchase, Zulu Warrior. See the interesting link there? It's funny, I've met Mike about twice now since he sold me Andante - last time was two years ago when he saved my life by showing me where to find the decent pubs in Reading (and there are some) but he feels like an old friend. We keep in touch by occasional email, but often not for months at a time.
Zulu Warrior has an interesting history; as I understand it (and Mike will correct me if I've got this wrong), it was one of two narrowboats owned by the Navy and made available to Navy personnel for holidays and adventure-type activities. The other one was Viking Warrior. The Warrior connection is that the Navy had (and may still have; my in house Naval consultant is not quite up to date) a stone frigate (i.e. a building) called HMS Warrior, named after the original warship HMS Warrior, after which our Warrior is also named (do keep up!). Zulu Warrior is a 1973 Harborough boat, and possibly started life as an early Anglo Welsh hire boat - Mike's still investigating that bit of her history along with a friend whose family were closely involved with the company.
So realising I had a free afternoon today, I emailed Mike and asked if he was at home to visitors, and was made most welcome. I got the train from Euston to Hemel Hempsted, crossed a park and joined the towpath at the Fishery Inn, and had a very pleasant walk in the newly emerging sun up to Winkwell, where Zulu Warrior is currently on the bank having some welding/replating to the hull. I did think the yard was a bit glitzy - they had concrete hardstanding and all, and hard hats... and a big crane with a very big spreader... Which we got to see in action as they were about to move Mike's boat about. So we retired to the Three Horseshoes for a nice al fresco pint of Black Sheep, and watched from the towpath while the boat was moved a few yards.
Then I could finally go on board. The interior of the boat has been done really nicely, and recently - amazing really, when the exterior and the hull were crying out for attention. But they're getting the attention they deserve now from Mike and I'm sure this lovely - and historically interesting - boat is in very safe hands. I look forward to hearing from Mike again once it's back in the water and going for a run. It looks like a lovely stretch of canal. Thanks Mike, for a really enjoyable afternoon, and very best of luck with your fantastic project.