Written over the course of the past three winters by Giles and illustrated throughout by Jill, ‘Reedbound’ is our first book. Launched at the Shannon Harbour Rally on the 20th June 2015, it’s barely had time to reach the shops yet. However, it is available to callers to Hawthorn, through a number of bookshops along the Shannon – John’s bookshop and the Bastion Gallery in Athlone, and Trinity in Carrick on Shannon – or through our publisher’s own website. It’s early days for this new venture, and we’re gently optimistic that it may become increasingly available over the coming months.
Cover and blurb below. And here’s a link to a page of Jill’s artwork.
Out for a canal-side walk one spring Sunday in the 1990s, it occurred to Giles Byford and Jill Parkinson that a narrowboat home might suit them. It did, so much so that, not long after the extraordinary events of finding their first boat Camberwell Beauty, they were giving up work ashore to join the fortunate few able to make a living while wandering the English waterways. This luck continued when they built Hawthorn, the barge they intended to take to the European mainland and spend the rest of their lives on. Deciding to go to Ireland first, they set out for the coast to cross the Irish Sea to Dublin. Everything’s wonderful, perfect even. And then it isn’t, and their world falls apart.
Reedbound is largely about what follows. How the terrifying and violent voyage across the Irish Sea becomes an act of faith that contrasts with a calm and gentle westward dawdle along an empty canal to the River Shannon and the heart of Ireland’s waterways. And how a determined philosophy of trusting all will be well delivers a year of adventures, unexpected spaces and the joyful company of other misfits.
Ultimately Reedbound is a celebration of how the redemptive power of Ireland’s landscape and culture re-establishes the couple’s belief that they’re looked after on the water.