By Paul Jamison


Chapter – 30

Will’s viewpoint


The next morning we woke up to yet more ducks squawking away on the canal just by our boat. I nudged Jus and he emerged from under our duvet grinning away and said

“Those bloody ducks seem to know we’ve gotta get up, don’t they?”

“Yeah, don’t they just,” I agreed ruefully as I slipped off the bed to go and put the kettle on and use the bathroom.

I took a quick shower and returned to the cabin to find Justin’d made the tea and wanted a shower too. I poured myself a mug and started on making toast for everyone while Justin showered. Then Rick came through from their cabin and said

“That’s great. Paul was hoping for an early getaway this morning. He’s going to do some bacon rolls for while we’re doing the locks,”

“That’s cool,” I smiled and continued “It’s bright outside, but quite cold today. I’d like bacon rolls,” I grinned back at Rick.

Just then I heard the clumping sounds from the stern and guessed that Liam and Craig were up and doing the engine chores. A few minutes later the engine started up and they came through into the galley looking for some breakfast. After we’d all got some tea and toast, Craig and Liam got off the boat to do the mooring ropes and a few moments later they jumped back on as we moved off toward the locks of the Audlem flight. About ten minutes after that we reached the first lock which we all did together and then as we were about to come out of it Craig and Liam ran off down the towpath to go and get the next lock ready for us to go directly into. Paul stayed in the galley and I think he was getting a tray of bacon rolls ready for us. I was rather hoping so as locking was hungry work!

After about the third lock we’re all getting well into the swing of things when Craig ran back to us to say

“Can you wait in this lock? There’s another boat coming down and they’ve just two of them on board so we’re helping them through and they can pass us in this bit between the locks?”

Paul appeared and looked along the canal to where Craig was pointing.

“Yes, leave these gates open for those guys,” he said to me and Jus. “It’ll make life a bit easier for them and if you both stay to close the gates when they get here they may appreciate that too. Then you can follow us up to that next lock, okay?” Paul added.

Craig went back to the next lock up and in a few minutes we saw that boat edge out and into the canal. Rick put our boat into gear and went out from the lock passing the other boat about halfway between the two locks. Jus and I waited for their boat to get into the lock and then we closed the gates for them. Their steerer waved his thanks at us and then after picking up our windlasses we hurried on to the next lock which Rick was already entering.

At the next lock Paul handed out bacon rolls while we were waiting for it to empty and he said we’d be taking a break at a famous pub on the canal at the top of the locks where we’d dump rubbish and take on water. So we could make a stop for half an hour. Jus and I sat on the gate beam eating our rolls and I suddenly thought of meeting up with the twins that night and turned to Jus and said

“I’ll text Eric and Steve when we stop and see if all’s okay with them.”

“Yeah, where are we meeting them?” he asked me.

“Um… somewhere called Middlesomething, tonight,” I replied.

“You mean ‘middle of nowhere’ more like,” Jus laughed back.

“Yeah, prolly. I’ve never heard of half the places we’ve been going through except for Wolverhampton before. Have you?” I said to Jus.

“Nah, me neither. They’re mostly little country villages and stuff, though, aren’t they?” he replied.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I said. “Good we did stuff last night too. No hope of any fun with the twins on the floor now,” I added.

“That’s true. Still it’ll be cool with ’em here too and easier to open some of those hard gates as well,” Jus remarked.

“Yeah,” I agreed. We pressed on down the flight of locks until just after lock 13 we came to a huge pub along the canal bank with moorings and everything. Paul came out of the cabin and said

“We’re pulling in here for water and a break, okay?”

Rick steered into the mooring and we tied the boat up and Craig got the hose out and connected up to fill our water tanks. That always took at least twenty minutes so we all wandered into the pub to look at the strange layout. The bar was built like a narrowboat in shape and it looked quite amazing.

We’d just finished taking on water when another boat pulled alongside ours wanting water also. Craig passed our hose to the guy and they filled up too and then just as quickly, they pulled away to go through the next locks.

“That was a bit cheeky,” Paul remarked. “They just barged in and blocked our way out there.”

“Probably where that expression originated from,” Rick suggested, grinning.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Paul said, then continued “This was originally a canalside warehouse, hence why there’s an old crane outside at the moorings,” he explained.

We bought some drinks and some crisps and sat on the boat until we’d finished and then Liam took the glasses back into the pub and Paul did the mooring ropes ready to let go. Craig was already getting the gates of lock 14 open for us to continue on. After we had gone through that lock Paul turned to Jus and me and said

“There’s a decent two mile stretch with no locks. So if you like you can do some steering for a bit, okay?”

“Yeah, thanks,” we both replied.

Paul said “There’re two locks together at Hack Green and then none for about another seven miles. So that ought to give you both a good go on steering and we’ll have lunch on the go when we’re ready for some more food, okay?”

We both nodded and sat down in the stern seats taking turns on the tiller until we reached the locks. Rick steered into the locks and Craig, Liam and Paul worked the gates and paddles. When we got to the Hack Green Locks I was standing next to Rick as we descended and got really wet as the gates were leaking and water sprayed over both of us. Jus thought it very funny!

Jus and I carried on steering right until we got to the junction of the Llangollen canal at Hurleston Junction, when Craig and Liam came up on the stern to see if we wanted some lunch.

“What’s going?” I asked.

“Hot soup, ham and cheese rolls, apples and bananas,” Liam rolled off.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Most of that please.”

Justin laughed and said, “Same for me too, please.”

Liam disappeared back inside the cabin and after a while came back with mugs of soup for us and a plate of rolls that they’d been making up in the galley. We took turns to munch and steer and while I ate my rolls I was looking at the cruising guide that Paul kept open in a plastic wallet on the cabin top.

“Do we turn off again soon?” I asked Rick.

“Yes, we do,” he replied. “We turn right under a bridge into the Middlewich branch of this canal. It’s called Barbridge Junction,” he replied. “It’s just past a big pub on the left bank,” he explained. “It is, or was, an awful pub according to Paul, who moored up by it one time, or so he told me a while back,” Rick explained.

I nodded and when the junction came into view, as I was steering, Rick gave me instructions and I put the tiller hard over and we turned the boat in through the bridge into the branch canal towards Middlewich without any mishap.

Just then Paul came up onto the stern and Jus and I decided to go into the cabin and see if we could text the twins.

* * *    * * *

Paul’s viewpoint

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Just brilliant, really. They’ve not even complained about your early starts yet!” Rick laughed back.

“No, they haven’t, have they?” I remarked. “I must admit I thought there would’ve been lots of moaning about that, but it seems they’re having too much fun doing the locks and steering the boat to worry about it so far anyway,” I replied. “Did we just turn into the Middlewich Branch?” I asked Rick.

“Yeah, a couple of minutes back. Will managed the turn very well,” he replied.

“They’ve all taken to it all pretty amazingly, haven’t they?” I asked.

“Very much so, “considering none of them’ve actually seen a canal boat before, apart from that Sunday when we had lunch by the locks at Stoke Bruerne, yeah,” Rick replied and then went on “Changing the subject,” he said.

“Mmmm?” I absently replied.

“I’m thinking of changing my car. It’s just not sensible anymore now we’ve got the two boys at home,” he explained.

“Oh, I see what you’re getting at, but you just love your blue beast of a  machine, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I did, but it isn’t practical anymore. Look at how we had to mess around swapping cars when Jus and Will had that bike accident and if we need to take both boys anywhere, we’d always have to use your car,” Rick explained.

“Yeah, but it’s a lot to give up, surely?” I pressed.

“No, not really and I’ve been made an offer for it from one of the partners at work. He’s really keen and a month ago he asked if I’d be willing to sell and I turned him down at once of course as I simply wasn’t interested back then.”

“What did he offer?” I asked.

“Oh, barely market value. It was easy to say no, but on Friday he came on again, with a much better offer this time. Seems there aren’t that many around, especially with all the mods I have. So I looked at one or two alternatives on the net and the insurance brackets too and well I’m thinking. That’s all.”

“What would you get instead?” I asked.

“I’m thinking of a proper four seater, but a cabriolet model, I think,” Rick replied smiling. “A sort of halfway house, I guess,” he explained, grinning away at me.

“Yeah, I like that idea. Just about big enough to go away in, but still fun when the weather allows!” I laughed.

“Yeah, that’s sorta what I was thinking really and the insurance is a couple of brackets lower too, as the cabriolets are less power and well, cheaper too,” Rick explained.

“It’s your choice, so do what you’ll be happy with. After all you’ll be driving it ninety percent of the time. So you may was well get something you’ll enjoy as well as it just being more functional,” I said.

“I’ll keep looking then,” Rick replied. “I’m very tempted to take this guy’s offer and get something different. I know I’ve not had this one long, but our needs have changed in the last month or so and I can always get another sports car later when we don’t need four seats,” he finished.

“True enough,” I replied.

We’d completed just over a mile of the ten we needed to cover that afternoon and I saw the first lock come into view. There was no sign of the boys at the bow. So I tooted the horn briefly and two heads popped up over the cabin roof at the bow.

“Lock ahead,” I called out to them.

The boys grabbed their windlasses and as I turned the boat towards the towpath bank and slowed down, they jumped off onto the towpath and ran ahead to the lockside, as I carried on towards the lock that fortunately was almost full and needed only a little filling to open for our boat.

“How many more locks?” Liam asked.

“Three more on this canal about two miles apart and then one more as we turn the corner onto the Trent and Mersey canal where we’re meeting the twins later. That’s it for today,” I answered. “We’ll wait for you to jump back on at the stern, okay?” I added.

“Yeah, thanks,” Liam called back, as he pushed the lock gate shut behind us.

The gate closed to and Will and Justin started raising the paddles to empty it as quickly as they could. We soon were down the very deep just over eleven foot drop and the gates towered above us as we left the lock and Liam and Craig closed the gates behind us and quickly came down the steep steps from the lockside to hop back on the boat at the stern as I held it close to the bottom step for them. We then moved off past a huge new marina full of moored boats that’d certainly not been there when I’d last done the trip some six years before with some student friends.

A few minutes later I handed the tiller over to Rick and went to our cabin to find my mobile. Once found I got out my folder and flipped through till I found an old receipt from a butcher’s shop in Middlewich that I particularly remembered for being both very good and very helpful on my last visit through. I made the call and after a brief explanation the butcher recalled my visit as ‘you’re that bloke from the boat’ and made a note of what I wanted and offered to vac pack it for storage, which I was delighted with.  I then asked the big favour. We’d not reach Middlewich until after six pm at the earliest and he closed his shop a half an hour before then, as normal. He assured me it wouldn’t be a problem as he’d have his usual at the King’s Lock pub and wait for us. If I’d just tell him the boat name and colour he’d be on the lookout. He told me the price and we finished off our call and I returned to the stern.

Rick was supervising Justin who was getting very competent at steering the boat and before long the familiar sight of the black and white gate beams of the next lock appeared.

“May I take it through the lock?” he asked Rick.

“Yes, can’t see why not,” Rick replied.

“Great, thanks,” Jus said grinning away at Will who was sat in the steerage seats watching.

“I’ll do the next one then?” Will asked me.

“Yes,” I replied. “It’s much the same as this one.”

Will grinned back at me, then picked up a windlass and made his way to the bow ready to jump off to help with the gates and paddles. The lock again was almost full and took a very short time to open. Justin edged the boat forwards and looking carefully along his side lined up to enter the lock and slowly went in, reversing to stop the boat short of the bottom gates well. All went fine and the others closed the gates and started to open the paddles to empty the lock. That caught Justin by surprise as the rush of water out of the lock pulled the boat forcefully forward towards the top gates. Rick pushed the throttle lever hard down in reverse to counteract the pull of the water and just kept the boat from banging hard into the bottom gates. Then Rick showed Justin how to use the throttle to control the boats position in the lock so that the rush of water out didn’t cause a strong rush forwards into the gates. He got the hang of it after a few minutes and was ready to take the boat out when Liam and Craig pushed the gates open. Will was already at the bottom of the steps to hop on the stern. Rick then showed Justin how to slack off the throttle and use reverse to hold the boat at the bottom of the steps while the others closed the gates and then both Liam and Craig hopped back on. He then pushed the throttle forwards to carry on down the canal again.

“You did that pretty good,” Will said when we were going again.

“Yeah, I wasn’t ready for that pull forwards at all though,” he replied.

“No, I saw you from the side. Still you know now. I think I might’ve got it as I’ve been watching Paul and Rick do it, but I guess until you sorta feel it happening you don’t realise,” Will said.

“That’s true, until you feel it and see how much throttle you need to keep the boat off the gates, it’s hard to explain,” I said.

Just then Will’s phone bleeped a message signal and he checked it. Then turning to us he said

“It’s the twins, they reckon they’ll be at that pub sometime between half five and six,”

“Pretty much the same time I’m expecting us to be there then,” I replied.

Will took the tiller for the next section as he was keen to try going through a lock. I stood alongside just to keep an eye out for problems and thought that things had gone very well so far and amazingly no one had fallen into the canal as yet, despite all the jumping on and off the boat that the lads were doing. Still, there were three more days and a lot of locks to go yet.


* * *   * * *

Will’s viewpoint

I was really looking forward to getting to the next place, as we were meeting up with our mates the Clayton twins, Eric and Steve, at the King’s Lock pub. I was steering and Rick said

“It’s a good three miles to the next lock. So you’ll have plenty of easy steering for a bit.”

“Right,” I replied. “I do want to do a couple of locks though,” I said.

“Yes, the next two are no problem, but then we’ve a tight turn right from this canal into the Trent and Mersey canal… the one we started in four days ago. We’re on the top edge of the ring at the moment and then when we turn we’ll have done three sides of this rather rectangular ring,” Rick explained.

I carried on steering and then Jus appeared and asked if I wanted something to eat and drink. So I told him

“Yeah, I’ll have tea and something to eat, okay?”

I’d decided it was too cold to drink Cokes while steering. In a couple of minutes Jus came back with three mugs of tea and some cake. We took it in turns to eat; Jus took the tiller while I had mine. I thought we were both doing pretty good at it too. It was almost an hour before we got to the next lock. It was a deep one called Stanthorne Lock and an over eleven foot drop again too. Liam, Craig, Jus and Paul operated the gates and paddles, while Rick supervised my steering, which went great. I’d got the hang of using bursts of power to stop the boat moving too much in the lock and was looking forward to doing some more during the rest of the trip too.

We were approaching the place where we would be meeting the twins so Rick took over the tiller as we came into Middlewich and tied up at a boatyard’s moorings to do the water and rubbish. It was beginning to get darker. Liam and Craig got the next lock ready for us as soon as we’d finished taking on water. Paul came up onto the stern and said

“Why don’t you two quietly take a couple of windlasses each and creep round to the King’s Lock on the towpath. I can see the twins hanging over the bridge looking out for you. They’ve not seen me or the boat yet, okay?”

I grinned back at Paul and nodded. Jus and I grabbed two windlasses each from the locker and slipped onto the towpath and down towards the last lock. Craig looked up from where he and Liam were sat on the gate beam waiting for the boat to come into the lock and asked

“Where’re you going?”

“Round to the next lock. Paul says the twins are there looking out for us,” I told him.

“We’re going to surprise them if we can,” Jus added, grinning widely as he spoke.

“Oh, I see. We’ll stay here and come round on the boat so they don’t see us till the last minute then, okay?” Liam added.

I nodded and Jus and I carried on down the towpath and over to the King’s Lock. We came up to the bridge where the twins were leaning over looking down the canal. We came up quietly behind them and overheard Steve say

“Which way d’you think they’re coming from?”

“Dunno really, Will never said,” Eric replied.

We crept up behind them and then I said

“From behind you!” I laughed.

Steve and Eric turned round suddenly with amazed expressions and then they shouted almost together

“Hey, you’re here! Brilliant! Where’s the boat then?”

“Have you sunk it yet?” Steve added, grinning widely. “Mum’s in the car with our stuff. I’ll go tell her you’re all here. Where’s the boat though?”

Just at that moment our boat appeared from the bridge arch and headed out into the canal. Paul brought it round and headed towards the lock we were supposed to be getting open.

“Hang on, we’ve gotta get that lock open now. Come and help us, okay?”

I said hurrying off the bridge with Justin and the twins following to the lockside. Lucky for us the lock was empty and Jus and I had the gates open quickly. The twins helped with the gate pushing and had watched a bit open-mouthed as we’d wound up the paddles and then closed them again as the boat edged into the lock. Then as the gates shut I gave the twins a windlass each and we all went to the top gates. There were two paddles and Jus slipped over the gate with Steve to the pub side of the lock and put his windlass onto the gate paddle and started to open it. The lock was so deep that the water shot out of the paddle and hit the sides of the lock splashing over and completely soaking the bow and bow well deck.

“Wow, that’s cool,” Eric said looking down into the lock.

“Come on,” I said. “Let’s get the other paddle open, then we’ll be through and can stop for today,” I explained.

“What do I do?” he asked.

“Wind that spindle with this handle.” I showed him. He slipped the windlass onto the shaft and tried to wind like Justin had done. I giggled at his non-result and said

“You gotta put some oompff into it, you know,” I said, laughing away.

Eric pushed down on the windlass handle as hard as he could and it started to turn. He eventually got the paddle open all the way and looked back down to see the lock was now filling at great speed. It was soon full and then we both pushed against the gate beam to open the gate. Steve had taken Jus back to where his mum had parked and in a moment she came back with Steve and Justin and their bags to watch the boat coming up the lock and us opening the top gates. I showed Eric how to wind the gate paddles back down and Paul pulled out of the lock and we moored up along the towpath a little way away from the lock.

“How d’you do those handle things, they’re so stiff?” Eric asked.

I laughed, did an impression of a he-man and said

“It’s just practice, me and Jus could hardly move the first couple we tried and then we got the hang of it. Sometimes it takes both of us to get a very hard one going though,” I explained as we walked towards the boat now moored to the towpath.

“The boat’s much bigger than I expected,” Eric said.

“Yeah, sixty four foot of it,” I grinned back.

Just then a guy came up to the boat with a big cool box and Paul jumped off to chat with him. Then he took the box onboard and came back a minute later, paid the guy some money and gave him his box back. They all got onboard and the twins introduced their mum to Rick and Paul. I got onboard too and put all the windlasses back in the stern lockers. Rick and Paul showed Mrs Clayton around the boat and then came out onto the stern with Mrs Clayton and I said

“Hi, Mrs Clayton. Thanks for letting the twins come.”

“Hello, William,” she replied. “That’s no problem. They were only moping about at home complaining they’d got nothing to do, but it looks as if there’s plenty for them here though?”

“Oh, yes we’ll keep ’em busy,” I grinned back.

“I’m sure you will,” she smiled and then turned to Paul and Rick and said

“I have to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised. I’d no idea these boats were anywhere near this luxurious, you know. I mean, central heating, proper cooker, fridge, freezer and microwave and still room for nice cabins and everything too. I was expecting an old barge converted or something like that,” she said.

“According to my parents, that’s pretty much how things started out in the 1960s when there really weren’t many purpose designed cruising canal boats,” Paul explained. “But things have come a long, long way since then,” he added.

“Yes, so I’ve just seen. Thank you for those excellent directions, by the way. We had no trouble at all finding you. I’ll be in that pub car park Thursday lunchtime. Now, I must rush. It took a good two and a half hours to get here and I must get back before it gets too late,” she finished.

Mrs Clayton said goodbye to Eric and Steve and I took them down to our cabin to stow their gear. Then Jus and I showed them the boat properly from the bow storage right through to the engine at the stern. We came out onto the stern deck and Paul turned to us and said

“Right, guys, it’s a choice between meals at the pub or fish and chips from over there,” he said pointing to the chippy across the road from where we were moored.

“Um… fish and chips, please,” I said.

Liam and Craig added “Pub please,”

“Pub please,” Justin said.

“Right then, pub it is as Rick and I fancy a good sit down with a pint. That okay with you guys?” he asked turning to Steve and Eric.

“Yeah, sure,” they said.

We went down into the cabins and got cleaned up to go out and a few minutes later we were all walking along the towpath to the lock and crossing over the gate to the pub.

“What time do we get going tomorrow?” Steve asked me.

I heard Jus giggling away behind me as I replied “Oh, crack of dawn probably. Paul’s a real slave driver,” I told him.

“Wh-a-a-t! For real?” Eric asked.

“Yup, we’ve been up every day just after eight and under way as soon as we’ve got the tea made after that,” Jus said and then continued “We’ve to use all the daylight hours or we’ll not get round the route.”

“Oh, I see,” the twins said, looking decidedly worried at the thought of such an early start during school holidays… unheard of normally I thought.

“It’s okay. We go to sleep earlier to make up for it. We’ve been in our beds by ten thirty most nights.” It’s been cool,” I said.

When we got in the pub we took the big table under the window and Rick and Paul went up to the bar to get menus and brought them over to us. While we were all looking them through Paul got up and asked

“Right guys, drinks, who wants what?”

“Cokes, please,” Jus and I said at once.

“Yeah, same for us,” the twins added.

“White wine, please,” both Liam and Craig said when Paul looked their way.

“Right, four Cokes, two white wines and two bitters,” Paul repeated. “I’ll get those while you decide on your food,” he said as he headed for the bar.

We all studied the menus and then after a few minutes Rick and Paul came back with a tray of drinks which they passed around.

“So, who wants what?” Rick asked.

“Beer battered cod and chips with peas, please,” I said immediately grinning away.

“Still keen on having fish and chips then?” Paul said laughing.

“Yeah, it’s what I fancy,” I replied grinning back.

“Okay, one fish and chips,” Rick said as he looked at Liam and Craig.

“Um… home made chicken and mushroom pie and chips, please,” Liam added.

“May I have the fish and chips as well, please?” Craig said.

“Yes, sure,” Rick answered. And turning to the twins said “And for you?”

“Home made cheese burger, chips and relish please,” both twins said grinning away.

Rick turned to Jus and smiled.

“I’ll have the cheeseburger too, please he said.”

“Okay, so that’s two fish, one chicken pie, three burgers and ours,” Rick said as he went to the bar with Paul to place the order. After a few minutes they both came back and said

“Food’ll be about twenty to thirty minutes. They do it all fresh to order here,” he explained.

Paul got out his chart and spread it out on the table using glasses to keep it flat.

“Right guys,” he began. “Tomorrow we’ll have to split you into two parties one pair and one of four the L A P’s and the B L P’s,” he said.

“What are they?” I asked puzzled.

“The Lock Advance Party and the Boat Lock Party,” he explained. “It’s Heartbreak Hill tomorrow guys.”

“Oh,” I replied beginning to get an inkling of what Paul meant. “We’ve got 30 locks to do in just 13 miles tomorrow,” I explained to the twins.

“Yes, and that’s a very full day. We’ll stop when we’ve done them and call time and take a break,” Paul said.

“Now we’re right here,” he said pointing out King’s Lock Middlewich on the chart and we’re heading for here tomorrow night,” he pointed to a place called Harding’s Wood Junction. “It’s thirteen miles, there’re five locks in the first six miles and so we don’t need to work too far ahead on those and it’ll give our new crew members time to get into the swing of it all, but from Wheelock to Harding’s Wood it’s almost seven miles and twenty six locks. We’ve to complete them by tomorrow night, okay” he said to us.

We must have looked all wide eyed because he went on to explain that it may seem an awful lot, but with as big a crew as we’d got and the fact that there were very few other boats around, due to the time of year, we’d have no problem at all doing it easily in the time. He reached down under the table and brought up a small backpack and after fishing about inside he pulled out a pair of high power Motorola walkie-talkie radios.

“Right, as we can often be out of sight of each other, the lock advance party will have one of these radios and obviously the other is with the boat party,” he explained.

“Oh, cool,” I said.

Liam immediately said

“Craig and I’ll work ahead then,” he offered.

“Yes, that’s a good thought. You’re both a little older and will be okay out of sight of us, I’m sure,” Rick replied. “But there’s no need to rush ahead until we reach Wheelock, okay?” he reminded us.

We were all chattering about the next day when the servers brought our meals and Paul cleared the chart away and we started to eat our dinners.

When we’d finished eating, we left the pub and carefully made our way back to the towpath and the boat. Once onboard we all sat round in the cabin chatting and telling Eric and Steve how we’d got on so far since we’d got the boat on the Saturday afternoon.

At just after ten Liam and Craig went off to have a shower and go to bed. I said

“Do you want to shower tonight or leave it till tomorrow after all those locks?” I asked the twins.

“Tomorrow’ll do. We had one just before we left home. So we’re okay for tonight,” Steve replied.

We organised the front cabin for mine and Jus’s bed and then Rick and Paul helped us move the chairs out of the way while the guys blew up their inflatable air mattress and got their sleeping bags sorted. Once done Rick got up and said

“Okay, guys, see you all early tomorrow, sleep well.”

“What time?” I asked. “Eight as usual?”

“No, a little earlier if possible. “Don’t wait for the ducks,” Paul said laughing.

They went off to their cabin and soon their light was out. We turned off the main cabin lights and with just the bulkhead reading lights we all got ready for sleep. As soon as we’d all used the bathroom, Jus and I got under our duvet and watched as the twins snuggled down into their sleeping bags before I said

“See you all in the morning,” and turned off the lights.

Jus and I snuggled down and within a few minutes, once we’d got comfy, we were away and asleep.

* * *


 Well, I hope that you are still enjoying the story. I do thank yoiu all for your emails and think I have replied to everyone who has written. You can fine the illustrated version of this story at IOMFAtS

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Paul Jamison