Last week we went to see some friends who have a narrow boat. They decided a year ago to buy a boat and live on it, and 1 year on their still enjoying a life on the water. So we drove down to Stafford to meet them, a County I have never been to before, but I have to say it is beautiful! Lovely lanes twisting and turning around the canals and the most wonderful houses nestled in what seems a very rural area. It is a challenge to find places to park close to moorings but after several wrong turns we found them waiting for us to arrive and thankfully the kettle was on. I had made some gluten-free sticky date cake which went down a treat and our friends had made some really rich chocolate brownie. Their boat is amazing, a home from home, and they certainly weren’t eager to get back on dry land.
Before lunch we went down the canal for a couple of miles, leaving our car behind to collect later. It’s like being in another world, calm and quiet, no hurrying, just the slight rumble of the engine ticking along. We were lucky with the weather, a bit cool but the sun shone and people were smiling. We soon stopped and moored up for lunch. Walking around on a narrow boat is strange to begin with, it’s hard to be in the kitchen together and there’s a lot of squeezing past each other!
But it’s all worth it because you see the countryside from a different perspective. There are lots of interesting buildings, amazing architecture and you see the gardens of people’s houses that back onto the canal. Some people live on their boats and have permanent moorings where they have greenhouses, sheds and gardens. It’s a really intriguing world to observe as you chug along.
One of the added bonuses of being on the water are the reflections that change throughout the day. Whether it be sunny or dull, each has its own merits, even when the rain falls it adds a new dimension to the view. We wouldn’t have nearly so many bridges without the canals criss crossing the countryside, some of which are amazing feats of engineering.
This one had a telegraph pole in the middle of it! None of us could work out why you would put one there but it makes an interesting addition to the bridge. The time seem to pass quickly and soon it was time to consider parking up for the night. Once the boat gets warm it’s very cosy and after a tasty supper of fish pie we settled in for a good chat by the fire and some homemade damson gin. I have never slept on a narrow boat before even though my Dad had one for several years. I had spent many a day on it but always needed to go home in the evening so I was looking forward to spending the night on the water. So after much juggling around the bathroom arrangements we all went to bed.
In the morning the mist was heavy, and as you can see, more reflections, even when visibility is limited the water casts such beautiful colours. It was still dull and the air was chilly but I was eager to get out and take some photos before breakfast. This one is my favourite, the red of the hull is vibrant, pushing its brightness through the mist.
This is our friends boat just as the mist is lifting. The one’s on the other side are permanent moorings. We had a quiet nights sleep and breakfast would be ready soon, just time for some more pictures!
Drinking a cup of tea on the canal side on a misty morning is bliss! A bit chilly, but it’s worth it. I’m not one for having my picture taken, I much prefer to be behind the camera, but a certain someone insisted.
Still warming my hands! People are very friendly on the canal, everyone says hello or stops for a chat. This man is off to get some bread and taking the dog a walk whilst riding his bike.
The last of my misty photos, there are lots because I love the atmosphere and how a scene can change so much with natures natural soft focus. The air feels different and smells have a dampness to them in the spring which changes to humid as the temperature rises come the summer time.
We had walked to get our car the previous afternoon and parked it nearby to where we spent the night. But now it was time to move on as we had to go home later that day and there was lots more to see. The next stretch of canal was very still and enchanting, trees hanging heavy over the water, the perfect place to see a kingfisher and later that day we saw one. Like a streak of iridescent blue they follow you up the canal, just keeping a safe distance, ducking low across the water.
When a boat passes you there is a slight rocking depending on how close they get to you! But this bit of the canal is wide and straight and easy to navigate.
This group of boats were really interesting. There was three boats together, two in pretty bad repair but the central one had a fire going. On the river bank there was a van, a vintage car, several outbuildings, a motorbike and what looked like some sort of business going on. It seemed rude to stare as there were a couple of people busying themselves, but I would have loved to have a look round.
We then came upon this boat and it was my favourite so far. There was lots of wood on the roof and a fire burning steadily. It was the most romantic boat and obviously a full-time home, very pretty.
We pulled up at a picnic spot for lunch when this man arrived in his canoe, got out and sat and had his lunch by us. We offered him cake but he declined! Very soon we were joined by two beautiful deerhounds, their eyes are so sad and endearing and remind me of the lurchers we used to have.
It was time to collect our car and go home. But just as we started to set of we were joined by a man out with his grandson and dog called Arthur. So we all walked along together for a while and chatted. It took a while to get Arthur’s picture as he never kept still! We found out that Robin owned a Lavender Farm called Shropshire Lavender Farm Robin told us about the bird boxes he had made with Sam, his grandson and about the lavender chocolate eggs they make which sounded amazing and all the different types of lavender they sell. I imagine the aroma is incredible when harvesting, they must be permanently chilled out!
It was time to go. It’s hard to pull yourself away from the tranquility of this environment, but we had to head home and I was missing Alfred, especially as you meet so many dogs on the canal. But we have had a great time and we will be back, so there’s only one thing last to say, a BIG thank you to our dear friends, Alan and Jane for their hospitality…..I’ll bring more cake next time!
Who’s that in the background?