We're Finally on British Soil and in British Water
Trip Start May 12, 2010
13Trip End Jun 14, 2010
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Fun, fun, fun! First on arrival a lesson in narrow-boating from Vick of Black Prince Cruises taught David, Kathy, Len, Jean, Dick and me forty important lessons in fewer than twenty minutes. Our heads were spinning as we hoped and prayed we remembered at least the most important lessons---when to flush the toilet and when not to (I'll spare you the details); when NOT to shower (unless someone was a cold shower afficionado); where and how to tie up along the canal for the night; and probably, most important, the best pubs and bakeries along the way
After seeing our seven-foot wide "staterooms", one thought went through my mind--seven nights? But the week really flew by as it happened. First on board, we drew straws for room choice but I'm not sure it mattered. Jean and Len got next to the kitchen/sitting area. Hmmm, did that mean that they were on coffee duty every morning? Dick and Sue drew the second straw, so they chose the room at the back (stern) which might have meant more privacy if it didn't mean that. It didn't. Kathy and David drew the shortest straw so had no choice--but no long faces there. In the final analysis, one gets very well acquainted easily on a 7x 69' narrow boat! We had just met David and Kathy two days earlier and felt like we had known them for a lifetime!
The week had its ups and downs, literally and figuratively. If I were to give awards for the week, they would go as follows: To Len for being our captain but never hogging the title; to Jean and Len for teaching us all they know about narrow boats since they were the only ones who weren't novices; to David and Kathy for bringing Wizard, the card game, and for being very enthusiastic boaters!; and to Dick for not gloating when he won game after game (ever the modest man)
A typical day consisted more or less of the following: The smell of coffee from the kitchen at the bow got me out of bed like nothing else could. The others seemed to rise without that incentive. When you are on a narrow boat, when one person is up, soon all are up. There is breakfast to be eaten and we must get underway (or not). It might be a leisurely morning. We took turns at: cooking breakfast and lunch; doing the dishes; cleaning the bathrooms (well, most of us took a turn at this chore); steering the narrow boat up or down the narrow canal; reciting the history and background of each place we passed or moored; deciding what's on for dinner; and beating the pants off the others at Wizard or Bridge and trying not to gloat about it. And we soon found out that if you were tired of doing dishes, just volunteer to steer for a while. Whatever, it all worked out.
The week flew by and most of us ended as experts in narrow boat trivia and handling; in narrow boat steering in often VERY tight situations; in cranking bridges up and down; and in learning to use a winch to either allow water in or out of a lock so our boat could go where we wanted it to! We met many other narrow-boaters, some of whom live in them permanently; we saw more sheep, rape seed (canola) and bucolic green fields than we'd every seen before in our lives in any one country; and we enjoyed! And that's how Chapter 3 ends, in the beautiful, bucolic British countryside, from Wales to England, on a very narrow canal. Stay tuned!