“At ten o’clock Aunt Ester.’
“You will not be home for lunch I expect so I will see you both later.’
After breakfast I will fix your hair for you Abigail.’
“Oh will you that would be nice; Mrs Williamson usually does it for me.’
“Let’s see if we can pick something nice for you to wear.’
“I have some slacks and a pair of plimsolls’ that you can wear. I might even have a boating top that you can borrow as well. Don’t worry they will fit you. I wasn’t always this big you know she laughed.’
“You are not fat Aunt Ester.’
“I turned a few heads in my time.’
“Come Abigail let us get you ready; we are going to have a great day out.’
The two of them went up to their rooms where Muriel set about putting a pony tail and ribbon in Abigail’s hair. She got out a pair of yellow shorts and a pair of sand shoes and white socks.’
Andrews brought up the white slacks, a blue and white sailors top with a life belt embroidered on the front. The Blue and white Plimsolls went perfectly with the outfit.
Gerald turned up wearing white trousers, an open necked blue shirt, and blue and white pumps.’ He had a captain’s hat on and he removed it as Charles escorted him into the hall.’
“Muriel greeted him, then asked if he would mind if Abigail came along.’
“Not at all said Gerald; but the disappointment was all over his face.’
He wanted to be alone with Muriel so he could work his charm upon her.
He opened the door of the car and Muriel and Abigail got in.’
“All ready said Gerald as he pulled away. He drove to Longford Road then showed Muriel his bungalow as they went past Coton. He stopped outside of the barge which was painted red and black. It was the first time Muriel had been on a barge before. She had been out on a friend’s boat up the River Tyne towards Ouse burn.
Gerald showed her around the boat which was more like a little house. It had just about everything that you would need to live on board.’
“You will have to untie the boat then jump back on board; can you do that?’
“Yes, said Muriel as she made her way along the deck then jumped off and untied the boat as Gerald started the steam engine then jumped back on board. He had placed coal to fire the boiler and the funnel churned out grey smoke at the back of the boat as it slowly pulled away from the bank side and headed down stream. Gerald showed Abigail how to steer the boat and he then let her have a go whilst Muriel watched.’
They went several miles down the stream then came to the first lock.’
We are trapped said Muriel we will have to go back.’
Gerald laughed as he pulled into the side then stopped the engine. He asked Muriel to come with him so he could show her how to operate the lock gates with the key. They pulled the long wooden beam used to block of the flow of water then place the key on the metal pole and turned to let out the water. The barge then dropped to the level of the water below on the other side of the lock then they pushed two other wooden beams to open the gates to allow the barge to sail through. They carried on their journey down river. Abigail stood watching some swans and ducks as they searched for food.
Here can you steer a moment Muriel, I won’t be long.
Gerald went below then came up with a bag of crusted bread and gave it to Abigail. He slowed the boat to a stop and the birds came to the side waiting to be fed. The