The boat's named after me. No, it really is! The name's Bond... Neville Bond. It's an ex-hire boat and I changed the boat's name to mine. I bought it last year when my wife and I split our money after we got divorced.
My first thought was, of course, to cruise off to Llangollen! I'm from Cornwall originally but I’ve got five kids and my family has extended to Aberystwyth in Wales. On route to Llangollen I moored by that fabulous pub in Chirk, the Poachers, where my mother and sister came from Cornwall to join me for the next bit of the journey. Family from Aberystwyth came too and we all travelled across Chirk Aqueduct together. It was really windy, so it was quite exciting and we had an absolutely fantastic day!
Then they all left and I carried on my journey. Living alone on water did put me through a spell of feeling really down. It was November, the leaves were falling, and the canals were quiet. I was getting lonely, and in the end I thought "I'll sell the boat, I can't do this". So I rang Venetian Marina brokerage who said they'd sell it for me. But then, after I turned round to set off towards the brokerage, I was cruising along and thought, "No, I do like this, I really do like this!"
I booked into Overwater Marina at Audlem to moor for a while because it has wonderful facilities and company if I wanted it. Heading down Audlem locks, it was absolutely pouring with rain, then on the last lock the sun came out – I pulled into the marina and everything was lovely.
I'm back on the move again now summer’s coming. I keep in touch with a big community of boaters on Facebook and we share tips about boat maintenance which is really helpful. It's hard to be lonely on the canals because there’s such a friendly community and lots of passers-by. People ask where the sheep on the bow of my boat comes from – he's from the beer garden of a pub my ex-wife and I ran. We ran lots of different pubs so I guess I'm used to being sociable and that's why I quite like to chat to passers-by. I always get smiles from people who see the name on my boat, and they usually ask if it's true!
Neville, Nantwich, Shropshire Union Canal