Varuna ~ a Thames Barge that was Home - by Caroline Havord

The  gripping, true story of a fascinating, witty lady and her love affair with an old River Thames Sailing Barge.

Caroline Nicholl and her new husband Bryn give up high-flying media lives in London's famous Fleet Street to make a home on an old Thames Barge lying in the mud in Essex. Life on the Varuna turns out to be a long way from 'cocktails on deck at sundown', in both negative and positive ways, and Caroline writes about it all with a distinctively dry and laconic wit. Even the tragic ending fails to dim her ability to 'keep on keeping on' - Read it, and see why it has been called "Riveting", "A great read" and "Recommended!"

"I hope this account of four years of my life will prove the answer to the adults and youngsters who invite me to tell them a story about ‘something a bit different, but something that really happened’.  Different, they mean, in the sense that they want to know about something unusual that happened to somebody ordinary, and unusual this episode certainly proved to be, in that our home was not only a lifestyle but a love affair with a barge which became part of us.  This, then, is a tribute to her, a posthumous award to VARUNA for giving me so much pleasure, and a yarn to tell." --- C. Havord    1975

Chapter 1
At the time of my second betrothal I was living in a two-up, two-down ‘Coronation Street’ type of residence, but it had two saving graces.  The first, it was practically on Putney Heath.  The second, it had a front garden of some considerable footage.  My house marked the terminal of the Number 30 bus route.  The bus stop was right outside my front gate, and these stately vehicles would shed their load, turn round, and wait in a row again for the ‘off’.  The drivers and conductors would alight to stretch their legs and, leaning heavily on my garden fence, eat sandwiches liberally sprinkled with tomato ketchup, then throw bottle and paper bag straight over into my precious bed of Super Star roses.  My front yard, therefore, was a slum; by no stretch of the imagination the bijou residence which each cottage has now become, changing hands for huge sums of money.

That was in 1966, and I had acquired my little patch by means of a heavy mortgage, which I had secured by being most untruthful with the mortgage company concerned; they did not consider ‘femmes soles’, as I was then classified, to be a favourable proposition.

However, there I resided with my daughter Michèle, then aged thirteen, my Jack Russell terrier Kiki, my two very aristocratic Abyssinian cats Tessa and Tana who, though I am devoted to cats kept purely as pets, were there for the purpose of breeding many lucrative Abyssinian kittens....

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