The thing that strikes me, looking back on those years with Warrior, is the amount of time I was able to take off work, and hence the ambitious and lengthy trips we could take. The end of July 2008 saw me packing up work and preparing for a solid month's cruising. These days I find it hard to find more than a week when I'm not needed for one thing or another. I thoroughly love the job I have now, but in terms of workload, for those five years at Birkbeck, I really didn't know I was born.
So the start of August 2008 saw us set off from Bill Fen, via the Nene, to London, where we tied up in Little Venice, shared a lock with Tarporley (a boat that I was soon to come to know very well), went all the way up the Lee to Hertford (turned round and came straight back); tied up in Limehouse Basin and went to the Grapes where I had the best whitebait ever, went to Cropredy for Fairport Convention (yes, of course I still have the t-shirt), boated on the Thames with Lucky Duck; rescued Lucky Duck, went all the way up to Lechlade and down to Brentford, and quite possibly not all in that order. We also met up with Swindon relatives in Lechlade, braved a lot of hailstorms, seriously bashed the engine pipe (why, hello Osney Bridge), were offered succour and claret by Bones at Abingdon, where we had a barbecue in the rain, and introduced our future crew member Dr Duct to the delights of GU locks. Oh yes, and gave real ale tips to one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement.
As if that weren't enough, after I reluctantly jumped ship at Uxbridge on August 31st, Jim continued shepherding the Ducks ever further east, including being stranded at Northampton for two weeks waiting for the Nene to subside, and many further adventures without me.
I think I must have had a lot more energy in those days, as well as a less demanding job, and fewer dogs.