Peter thought it would be a great idea to start the great voyage on the River Lark.
It flows through Bury St Edmunds, for a start, and out into the River Great Ouse beyond Prickwillow.
The boat’s name, another reason. So the idea of a gathering to bless the boat on her way grew, and people were invited, including The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, erstwhile Bishop of Leicester, who agreed to provide an episcopal blessing.
Saturday 5 May dawned hot and sunny, and the preparations began, with the excellent help of Hubert and Judy, my father and stepmother, and the Caterers Simper’s Kitchen.
Jez and his crew was the first to arrive in Scholar Gypsy. They’d moored at Tom Holes down river over night. Jonty is emerging from the hatch.
Molly, Hannah, Jez, Jonty, Stephen and Tom were a fantastic help serving food and drinks …
… and providing bunting. Molly is a year 6 teacher, and her class had read the blog and each had designed their own ‘flag’ for bunting. I loved them – from the first which reads “You are old but not too old to have a second life. May God be with you”, to “Have a good life in your new boat, which is rising up higher and higher every time you rise”, “Good luck, Mrs Vicar, I hope you will travel the world successfully. Never give up”, “Ride with peace, Don’t ride in the dark. Ride in peace, Ride like a lark”. “Live an amazing life, And make it a thrill; Relax on the river, Keep it chill” – Thank you, year 6!! I’m really glad you’re following the blog. The bunting is now up, permanently, in The Lark Ascending.
Simon, who owns Scholar Gypsy, arrived, walked from Ely along the old causeway that follows the course of the ancient River Lark, and gradually we were all gathered.
Tracey and Gary came from Fox Narrowboats in March.
The Lark Ascending is the 123rd boat they’ve built there, and it was wonderful they joined us … we’ve had happy holidays over the last few years on their hire boats.
And so many East Anglian friends – from old days at King’s School Ely, to friends from St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Cambridge, Ipswich, and very special, my sister Vanessa and brother Nick.
Before the blessing a cello and violin emerged from Scholar Gypsy, and Vaughan Williams sounded out across the water – a memorable performance of The Lark Ascending – thank you, musicians!
Bishop Tim was suitably and ceremoniously attired in mitre and cope, and his words captured the occasion perfectly; with a blessing conveyed in word and river water splashed liberally on Peter and me …
… and the boat, inside and out.
Then a joy ride for those who wanted down stream, with drama from Jonty who left TLA by suspending himself from the rail bridge to wait for Scholar Gypsy.
When all the guests had gone, Peter headed off for Mirfield, and both boats chugged down the Lark to join the Great Ouse and off towards Denver. At 7 pm we moored up against the bank, and watched the sun set over the fens as we tucked into a BBQ on the bank.
Chocolates and songs on board ended a perfect day.
Thank you to everyone who made it so, and especially to all those who brought little presents.
Lillias August, whose image crowns this blog, painted a watercolour for the day.
It was her birthday, though she didn’t let on until afterwards.
It was also Keith and Viola’s 45th Wedding Anniversary …
… so much to celebrate on a wonderful day.
The greatest thankfulness goes to Peter who is the love of my heart.