This is a true story written by the new (and old) owners of a narrowboat that we have just sold called Berengaria. You'll need to get your handkies out and make yourself a cuppa, as its an emotional read!
"In 1989 our parents, Charles and Ronnie Bootle,
set off on a 12 year adventure on their custom built narrowboat 'Berengaria'. With
her sliding sunroof and a folding monkey motorbike stowed on the
specially adapted stern she was quite distinctive. They spent three summers
traveling every navigable waterway they could in England; like footpaths, if
they are not used they could be closed and my father was determined to explore
them all. Pretty canals and rivers, or less tempting inner-city backwaters, they
did them all.
Then in the Spring of 1993 they put her on
low-loader and shipped her over to Holland, where she was lifted into the water
just outside Rotterdam. There, along with another couple, Jim and Doreen Hardy
and their narrowboat 'Kindly Light', they began to explore the Dutch waterways.
It swiftly became apparent that no-one had ever
done this before, as wherever they travelled they were greeted by newspapers,
magazines etc, fascinated by these colourful 'narrow' boats. We take them for
granted over here, but they are curiosity particular to Britain.
Here you can see some photos from a Dutch
magazine of the time 'Water Kampion'
Each spring for the next eight years they would
leave their home in Buckden, Cambridgeshire and spend six months in Europe;
first through Holland, then into Belgium and France and back to Holland. In the
winter they would travel around the country showing films of edited highlights
of their trip and talking about their adventures to various clubs.
They finally brought Berengaria home in the
autumn of 2000. She was moored in the midlands at Welford Marina for the family
to share. Unfortunately, less than a year later, whilst taking our first
holiday on her, our father died suddenly and my mother could not bear to set
foot on her again. She said that my brother and I were welcome to keep her if
we could afford the upkeep, but we both had young families and other expenses and unfortunately had to let her go
when an eager buyer was found unexpectedly.
families are both grown up now, but like us have fond memories of Berengaria. For the
next nine years my mother would receive a card from her new owners, Jo and
Roger Durell, but we lost track of her when they eventually sold her on. Until 1st
May this year................
Our son Tom was talking about her to his
grandmother when they decided to google the name.....and found her up for sale
once more at Whilton Marina! The next day four of us leapt in the car and found
her; and what an experience that was. We assumed that after fifteen years she
would have been updated and stripped of her original fixtures and fittings,
maybe even had her name changed. But no, it was all there,
looking like we had stepped off her all those years ago, locked the door and
'parked' her for all this time. There were all the hand engraved windows,
depicting, herons, kingfishers and the like, engraved on my hands and knees on
the workshop floor 27 years ago.
the rope fenders my brother knotted. There was the stained the glass mirror,
the brass plaques from the various canals and festivals my parents visited.
There was my father's old tool kit in the cupboard. There were their mugs
hanging on the same hooks in the galley. Pretty emotional I can tell you!
looking a little tired now, but nothing that can't be fixed. And fix it we
will! Mum has very generously arranged to buy her back for the family once
more. It will be down to us and her three grandchildren (now all grown up with
partners of their own) to look after all her restoration, repairs and running
costs, but with the next generation mucking in as well, we believe we can make
a go of it.
Work to repair the larger issues was undertaken
by the excellent team at Whilton
she was issued with her Boat Safety Certificate at the end of July 2016.
The first job once we had the keys was to clean
her up and sort the contents out - and that was amazing. We found loads of
stuff belonging to our parents, including Mums old manual of step by step
instructions on how to use the boat and its contents and where everything was
stowed. Much of it still in exactly the same places fifteen years later!
Her second owners, the Durells, have very
generously gifted some more of her old contents, and are as pleased as punch
that she has been returned to us all.
Three weekends of work on Berengaria by the
whole family and she is finally ready to move
country to her new moorings in Newbury. We would have loved to have left her at
Whilton Marina, as the location is perfect for exploring the canal network, but,
so that we can all work on her restoration, we really need her moored somewhere
between us here in Gloucestershire and my brother in Maidstone.
Love you Mum and can't thank you enough for your
generous gift to us all"
We'd like to thank Amanda Cale and Geoffrey Bootle for sharing their fantastic story with us, and wish their whole family many happy adventures aboard their beloved canal boat Berengeria!
If you have a narrowboat story to share with us, we'd love to hear from you, contact us here