Narrowboat Life – Peace and Quiet On The Canal

Narrowboat on the Canal

“Elliot! ELLIOT!! Pull it in! No! Not there you idiot! The other one!” – Crunch…. “Oh, for God’s sake… PULL! No, not that way!”

Meanwhile, poor Elliot has no idea what the objective is. He just happened to be there at the wrong time and is now at the receiving end of his Dad’s wrath. He can’t really hear him properly anyway because the boat’s engine is roaring at maximum revs. Also, there’s a 2 metre radius of water spray all around the stern of the boat. Meanwhile, seventy feet away, Dad is about to burst a blood vessel while heaving the tiller from 90 degrees one way to 90 degrees the other, shouting obscenities to Mum in the cabin below him.

NarrowBoat moorings on a quiet canal

In our own boat we steam slowly past, wondering if their home life bears any resemblance to the high-stress mayhem that’s going on just now. Does anyone truly need to be so stressed by it all? Can he really call this a holiday? Will the kids retain fond memories of those four days spent on the Llangollen Canal in 2020 – or will they choose to totally erase the traumatic nightmare from their minds? Will they need remedial therapy in years to come?

Narrowboats – Easy or Hard?

In life, through it’s many forms, there’s always an easy way and a hard way. I’m a self-confessed efficiency nerd, always looking for the easiest and most efficient way to do things, preferably throwing in the frugal approach for good measure.

I was amused beyond measure whilst on our recent narrowboat holdiay to see how hard some people made the whole relaxing, chilled-out, zone out, good fun, enjoyable way of spending a few days. Elliot and his Dad were one example, but we saw several scenes which amused us.

Why do some people have to take such a relaxing activity so seriously? Don’t they realise that it’s actually quite good fun? On one of our days going down the canal we couldn’t help but notice that the boat we were following was doing a serious zig-zag in front of us. The man driving was in a right sweat, pulling and pushing from one side of the boat to the other. I suppose on the plus side, it was giving him a really good workout. Sadly, that was confirmed when he moored up and we carried on past. The poor man was soaked in sweat and looked exhausted. It had been a hard morning on the canal for him and he surely needed a rest to get his breath back.

Stress and hardship

We took another sip of our beer, sailed slowly past and continued enjoying our own experience.

Leave it to the Expert!

Approaching the narrow stretches close to Llangollen, there’s a little note on the canal map and also on the blue signs nearby that suggests that a crew member walk ahead to make sure nothing’s coming down the canal in the opposite direction. Mrs C was about to do the honours when a flag-bearing man, armed with his walkie talkie and officious air marched past, goose-stepping forwards to survey the scene. We exchanged pleasantries and he explained that he was from the boat behind us and he was going to be the scout. How charitable, we thought. Little did we know that the next 3 hours were to be a soap opera featuring our lead cast member. We’ll just call him ‘Superman’.

Superman on the canal

What he didn’t know about a narrowboat could have been printed on a postage stamp and it was absolutely essential that every boater within a one mile radius knew this. How on Earth would we have survived our day and made it to the Trefor Basin without him? What a hero! Every canal needs it’s own Superman.

What’s a Lock?

Every brochure for a canal holiday exudes the word ‘Peace’, often with its literary bedmate ‘Quiet’. Despite this, one morning, close to New Marton locks we heard the unmistakable crunch of steel on concrete followed by some colourful expletives, bellowed out in the broadest cockney twang. The wife and daughter, obviously new to all this are completely dumbfounded by the concept of a canal lock and they stand, motionless; vacant, bovine expressions communicate their confusion perfectly. Hubby/Dad, or whatever he happens to be, continues to crunch his way along the lock, shouting a string of incomprehensible orders that do little to enlighten them.

However, with a little help and instruction from us they were soon on their way again as we indeed did the same, searching out a quiet spot for some tea and toast.

Narrowboats moored on the canal

Life on a narrowboat really is enjoyable. It’s relaxing, scenic, interesting and in our experience is a perfect stress reliever. In our opinion, the welcome booklet kept on the boats and given out to hirers should reinforce the message. “Take it easy and you’ll enjoy it more!”

We spent a Monday to Friday on the Llangollen Canal on a narrowboat owned by Black Prince Holidays. It wasn’t our first experience and it won’t be our last. So we look forward to our next trip and we hope that poor Elliot gets over the trauma soon!

Mr C
Dad to 2 grown-up boys and 3 lovely stepdaughters, I'm Mrs C's right-hand man and 'Bamps' to 6 new 'grand-arrivals' Dylan, Harris, Connie, Toby, Rory and Seren. I enjoy a weekend away, a good film on the telly and a good restaurant. I also love a good rant when things aren't up to expectation or are playing on my mind.

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