My name is Jo May. That's me above just after I got a bit fatter and lost some hair. I am at the 'barely competent middle-age stage'. Before I reach the 'totally incompetent-late-middle-age stage', I have decided to do some writing. It's taken till well into my sixth decade to have something worth writing about. I've written four books to date, three about our boating experiences and one novel.
In some respects, writing about our own adventures is more difficult than making something up from scratch. When you create characters and situations you are unrestrained but writing about me and my wife, Jan, I have to work within testing parameters, such as telling the truth.
The first book is A Barge at Large. There is a web site of the same name (abargeatlarge.co.uk) where you can see the boats and our travels. At the very least these books will leave you feeling good about yourself - you'll soon realize that you're not so badly off after all.
We have spent twelve years living boats. On two narrowboats we trundled round the waterways in the UK and on our 100-year-old Dutch barge we have been destroying the infrastructure in Holland, France and Belgium in the company of our Terrier, Tache. We have seen some extraordinary places and met many wonderful people, some of whom were prepared to speak to us.
Before all this I was a baker for ten years, then worked for a company organising sports events, mainly golf and cricket. Jan and I both lived in Littleborough, Lancashire for thirty years but had never met till I ruined her chances at a quiz night when I joined her team - and the rest is history (or science and nature, or sport...) We moved to Shropshire, near Shrewsbury, in 1995 and onto the first narrowboat in 2003 having bought the shell and fitted all the inside out ourselves.
We have now moved back to Littleborough to be near family. I thought there would be less chance of drowning living in a house - but I was wrong. Soon after we moved in we had floods - 'never seen the like,' said the locals. Having to wear a life-belt to go shopping was a new one.
The three boat books are great reminders of the times we've had - maybe they'll inspire you to try something different.