We’d been idly looking for a suitable water-borne mode of transport for Biggles for some years, and were largely disappointed at what was available on the second-hand market. Even some quite new boats asking quite high prices looked decidedly shabby, and we saw several new ones that we wouldn’t touch with the proverbial bargepole.
We had bumped into Piper Boats Ltd and their lovely Dutch Barges at Beale Park some years ago, and even visited the factory in our motorhome when we were in the area; in September 2013 we went along to Piper’s annual bun fight just outside Henley-on-Thames to ogle a large selection of said Dutch Barges.
Right at the end of the line of lovely boats was a solitary narrowboat Toulouse. The owner returned and agreed to show us around, and we were immediately smitten. It was certainly the boat that came closest to suiting us that we had seen, bar none. Three years old, cruised all over the network, and in lovely condition, the owners Janet & Gerald Walker were trading it in for a new Piper Dutch Barge, and it was technically available for someone to buy.
We had a talk with Pipers, the price was reasonable, but from our point of view the timing was wrong, and while we were trying to find some way of making it work for all of us, someone else sensibly snapped up Toulouse. Ah well, not to be, we thought.
And then, over the Christmas holidays, Pipers got in touch and suggested that they could build us a copy, and as such an exercise wouldn’t involve the design team in any significant manner, they felt sure the price would be amenable to us. And so began the Song & Dance project…
Song & Dance is a 58ft go-anywhere semi-trad style narrowboat and suits us just fine!