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Harrison family rocks the boat on the Waveney 

Hilary Harrison’s new book ‘Rock the Boat’ records the adventures of her family on the sailing barge Golden Mean. Thomas Harrison adds a story from Norfolk to bring it up to date. 

The sailing barge Golden Mean has been home for the Harrison family since 2003. During that time, she has served as office for the work of Hilary and myself and an educational setting for our two children, Digby and Celeste. 


However, on a warm, calm sunny day this year in late September, she did something a bit different, becoming a floating church. Riverbank onlookers smiled as they heard sea shanties drifting across Oulton Broad as a fully laden Golden Mean glided across to pick up Vicar Helen Jary from beside Mutford Lock.  


The mission, to ferry her back across the broad for a Garden Church meet up with newly installed vicar Andy Bunter and other parishioners of St Michaels church, near Oulton Dyke. 


The rather talented scratch band continued, seamlessly switching over to worship music as others joined the throng. Led by Vicar Dave Lloyd from St Thomas Norwich, the group offered prayers and read scriptures, and the music was inspirational. All accompanied by plenty of coffee and cake. You can enjoy some of the scenes with us on the autumn update from the Garden network below.


Meanwhile ‘Rock the boat’ by Hilary launched last month and is available on Amazon here. It tells the story of why the Harrisons decided to forgo life ashore and why we continue this way. Throw in the fact that I am totally blind, and our children are educated outside school, it makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

The book opens with Hilary’s early years in Blakeney and covers the six years on the Thames before the Golden Mean made its Great Voyage to Norfolk. Along the way we hear the children’s story of their aquatic homeschooling, and meet the sea-legged family dogs. Celeste rounds up the book, one generation on, with the final words: “Even though there are many, many lovely and beautiful boats in this world, there will never be one quite like our Golden Mean.”


This joyful scene on the river Waveney serves to remind us that although the book has been written, the story continues. As part of the wider Garden movement, and open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Harrison family are committed to playing their part in the revitalisation of the church in Norfolk.


Pictured above is a scene from the recent Garden Church celebration on and off board the Golden Mean.


Eldred Willey, 19/10/2021

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