Friday 4 May 2012

The Best Thing About the Canals is...

I’ve been thinking about the alternative wonders of the English waterways. What is the best thing about the British canals and rivers? Why do I live on a narrowboat? Why have Corrine and Neil chosen to live, work and travel on canal hotel boats? What are people looking for in a canal narrowboat holiday?

Canal hotel boats People sometimes ask me, "do you think you might ever move into a house?" When the engine breaks down, or the diesel stove is dodgy*, when the washing machine won’t work or the local tap is frozen in winter, then yes, I do think that a house would be easier. But I’ve been living on the canals for twelve years now, so what makes me stay? Many live-aboard boaters say that it’s all about the freedom: Freedom to explore England in a peaceful, unhurried way. Cruising through a variety of diverse landscapes; from historic streets to unspoilt countryside, discovering canal side villages and quaint tumbled-down buildings appeals to my sense of adventure. I like working the locks on a silent summer’s day, taking in a deep breath of fresh air that comes across the open space and green fields all around me. I like to spy a lonely farmhouse in the distance and discover an ancient waterside pub up close. I love the illusion of being away from modern life, yet travelling along knowing that I have all of my home comforts with me indoors. I am exploring new places, stood at the tiller with my own mug of coffee in my hand.

Swans and signetsI never get tired of coming out onto the front deck in the haste of a Monday morning, and suddenly finding the time to pause as I notice the swans drifting towards my bow looking for some bread. The moorhens and coots are across the cut, perhaps repairing their nests and a heron stands silent and watchful on the opposite bank; waiting for a fish to catch. I hear ducks and geese in the morning, ropes creaking when I’m in bed at night, and rain on the roof when it’s stormy. It’s no wonder that small and intimate hotel boats like Snipe and Taurus are so inspiring for photographers, artists and writers. So what have I found, by choosing to live on the canals? It’s the freedom, the tranquillity and the closeness to nature that have brought me here.

 This is England: So alive and yet undisturbed. What do you like best about the waterways?

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Canal Voyagers Hotel Boats.

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