I’m resisting the temptation to blog about our recent travels as a chronological timeline of travelling, first we went here, then we went there. To be honest, without looking through the photos I probably couldn’t remember anyway. Instead I thought I would think about those moments that really stood out, not necessarily because of anything in particular, just a feeling, the sunshine, someone we met, an experience shared. These are the memories that are to be treasured, not the factual account of location or distance travelled. So, in no particular order…
Sharing the journey makes for a nice change, a cup of tea and a chat while we wait for the tunnel, a wave as you part company and go your own way.
After the double locks on the northern canals and the lack of them on the Bridgewater, it is a joy to speed through the single locks. Mr F also has long enough legs to step across the gates, which I do not, making for a time efficient routine.
We are wannabee dog owners. Dogs are just funny. From the one that had malfunctioned under a bridge and wouldn’t go any further, even though it’s owner had disappeared (and then had to come back and pick it up), to the nosey one who bounded up to see us passing, to the proud as punch lording it on the roof. We love dogs.
Escapee sheep on the towpath, comical cows defying the quad, to the fattest squirrel I have ever seen, funny animals are always around on the canals.
Just a woman in veil perusing tiller pins on the towpath. Move along, nothing to see here. The is an abundance of British quirkiness to behold as you wind your way through the towns and villages of England. Rejoice in it.
OK, I know, I have a bit of a thing for herons. Can you blame me? They are magnificent. The closeness to nature you experience on the canal is second to none. It’s magical.
We were particularly pleased with this year’s cache of boat names. We got our own, our butty workshop and one for our tiller pin. The top one was by far the winner. What are the chances? For those of you that don’t know, Foggy is Mr F’s nickname at work and I’m called, well, you get it… Working different shifts means we are sometimes like ships passing in the night. How apt.
For a few days we were parallel to the west coast mainline and the sound of high speed trains whooshing past became a familiar sound. Unlike the noise of a road, trains are a moment of excitement, the distant sound of a level crossing preempting the next arrival. Although trains signalled the end of canal carrying in the distant past, they can now live in harmony side by side and the canals have been given over to leisure.
The Beautiful English Countryside
I like taking photos of the boat (you may have noticed) but Mervyn seems to look even more stunning in a beautiful setting, accentuating the sleek lines. Travelling so slowly also affords longer to take in a view, consider the scene around you, appreciate the beauty.
Perfect Summer Days
Blue skies, picnics by the lake, sunbathing on the tug deck, beer in the afternoon.
There are some truly beautiful canalside properties, telling stories of our heritage, a history of changing styles through the years.
Changing Your Mind
It was great to have the luxury of time for a change. Not to have to be anywhere by a particular time., to change your mind and just stop, right here, because it is too nice not to.
Pub of the Week
We frequented a lot of pubs but this one wins hands down. As one review reads, this is not retro, it’s the real deal. A proper pub, like they used to be, the elderly landlady perching on a stool in the midst, a real fire lit, high back pews, boaters old and new sharing stories, immediately welcomed into the conversation, valued. And the beer was good.
Historic Boat Spotting
We like old boats, we can spot the nose of one at a distance, we guess as they get nearer, ‘A Josher?’… ‘Admiralty class?’…. ‘Large Woolwich?’ It’s our favourite game.
Numbers are all around us, particularly on the canals, locks, bridges, boats, all numbered, some carved beautifully into stone and on original mile markers painted in the familiar black and white.
Trying something new, a holiday project, sitting on the cabin roof while sun shone down or in the back cabin on a wet afternoon, I have a new favourite hobby.
From traders selling and making their wares on the towpath, a first day volunteer helping at a lock explaining how he had been suffering from loneliness due to illness to a canalside coffee roastery opening up on their day off to sell me a packet of Egyptian blend, people, their stories and their kindness always impress me.
The Beauty in the Everyday
Having the time to notice things reveals the beauty in the natural and functional , bridges, railings, bare rock carved out by hand, factories, toll booths. It doesn’t have to be the traditional idea of beauty, sometimes the ordinary can be extraordinary.