That first evening out I moored between Ayhno Weir Lock and Ayhno Wharf on a wide and grassy mooring. A popular mooring (it had already attracted half a dozen other boats) it lay opposite well-grazed water meadows leading to a railway embankment.

The line was busy with Friday afternoon Chiltern Railways commuter trains. The air was still. Rabbits leapt revealing white bobtails. The canal reflected the sky glassily. There was hardly a movement, beside a small herd of Charolais cattle systematically grazing the length of the off-side bank. The sun shone. Cotton wool clouds. English High Summer, and utterly blissful.

I wandered down to the Great Western Arms for a pint, a fish & chip supper (lovely!) and a read of my book ‘Gossip from the Forest’ by Sara Maitland.

I ended the day sitting on the back deck with a glass of chilled white wine (the fridge is working!) until it fell dark, and loathe to let a perfect end to the day go, I continued to sit until the stars came out and a mist rose from the canal.

ps. Last night I drove to Grimsbury Wharf to deliver the Tekaloid enamel paint for Eileen’s repaint. The painting project begins on Monday when the wet dock on the Arm is being recovered with new tarpaulins.

It was lovely to spend an hour standing in the aitches talking to Jez about colour, and in particular about just the right shade of Ivory White ; we finalised the design too, and the lettering… and talked process. He’s a craftsman of the first order.

In talking to Jez I learned about optimal painting times (12.00-2.00pm) about micro-bubbling; about EEC regulations and their impact on oil-based paints.

On Monday Jez will begin to strip the back cabin to bare metal, rub back and make good the surface and apply two coats of oil undercoat before starting the gloss coats…

There’s the promise of a fascinating month of renovation ahead, during which our Eileen will be transformed.

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