In heavy rain, I moored around midday after the Mill Lift Bridge in Lower Heyford, on a grassy mooring before the tight corner into Heyford Wharf. It was a mooring chosen for its proximity to the railway station as Claire and the boys were joining me for a couple of days. I’d a couple of hours to spare before they arrived so had ample time to give the boat a good going-over and general tidy-up. And, this is what the Long Cabin looked like after my efforts – it’s never looked so tidy! ps. the photo also shows to good effect the brand new dinette/double bed in the fore-end, and the new side bench/bunks for the boys. We’ve tried to keep the Long Cabin as simple and rugged as possible, it’s where we spend most of the time when inside the boat and it has to cope with the energetic wear-and-tear caused by the kids. We see it as our ‘glamping’ camp, our floating ‘steel tent’, snug and warm in Winter and airy and bright in Summer.  (Photo by Nick Holt, August 2013)

The traditional end of the boat, the Back Cabin, also got a spruce-up and shone like burnished gold by the time I’d finished! (In working through the cabin a number of Winter jobs came to mind, including re-varnishing the roses and castles painted by Maureen Nicoll over the Winter of 1999-92; repainting the floor; and re-lining the engine box with better sound-proofing. (They’re all jobs I’ll be able to do at home in the weeks between visits to the boat.) I think this is my favourite part of the boat. It’s a space I can happily spend hours in, reading, writing, pottering about looking at the paintings and generally daydreaming. For me the Back Cabin has become a bit of a sanctuary from the stresses of modern life. (Photo by Nick Holt, August 2013)
On the exterior I was able to mop away the cobwebs and accumulations of leaves that gather when the boat is moored for any period of time; and give the paintwork a quick mop down too. It wasn’t worth doing anything more to the exterior as the plan is to move Eileen to the paint dock at Grimsbury Wharf at the end of this trip. (More of that to follow… watch this space!) By the time 4.30 came around the darkest clouds had passed, and with them the heaviest of the rain, though a persistent drizzle remained. I sat damply at the station and awaited the family (all but Mol who’s away with her grandparents). The boys leapt off the Oxford train full of stories of their adventures on the journey up from Marylebone. Claire and I trundled the wheelie-cases across to the boat, and the family part of our trip inland began… (Photo by Nick Holt, August 2013)

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