Tuesday, 6 October 2015
A Narrow-Boating We Shall Go....
Seventeen of us on two narrow-boats for the weekend in glorious weather. Lots of cheese sandwiches were made and consumed along with packets of crisps and enormous quantities of kit kats. Birthday cake was eaten. Vast piles of washing up was done. Fry-ups were enjoyed. The Teenage Contingent played cards all crammed together around one tiny table. Or perched next to one another on the roof and talked. The two littlies joined in, when they weren't busy throwing ropes to catch sharks and octopuses. Mothers' hearts and stomachs flipped over more than once at the carefree antics of cherished offspring in too-close proximity to roof edges surrounded by water. Husbands did broadly well at steering. Grandad tended to steer into banks (perhaps by virtue of being pickled in gin for most of the weekend). Occasional Grounding Occurred. Poles proved useful. Granny narrowly avoided decapitation by a very exciting but a-little-too-close-for-comfort Swing Bridge Incident. Screens/ mobiles/ TV/ notepads/ ipods and ipads were barely looked at or touched. Books were read instead. Ice cold Vodka was enjoyed up on the roof in the sun. G&T, champagne and homebrew were all drunk. Some Other Boats were gently bumped into by accident. More than once. Heads were shaken and one or two fists too. Two aqueducts were admired. Wych Elm was pointed out. Herons were observed. Three Twenty-Something Damsels In Distress were towed to meet their friends amid great hilarity (and frankly quite a bit of flirting. Husbands were admonished and had the grace to look Sheepish). Quiet contemplation was had in bucket fulls. Locks were navigated while eager onlookers looked on, eagerly, and offered help that wasn't always helpful. Giggles were had and rest was achieved. Overall, very little washing occurred. People were waved at, greeted and responded in kind. Warmth was shared. Bath stone was admired. Swing bridges were eventually mastered without the requirement for taking Granny's head off. A pair of beaten silver earrings and some stocking fillers were purchased. Children were told not to scamper along the roof but it proved to be just too much fun to resist. Adults didn't resist either. The technique of chucking milk cartons between boats without loosing them in the canal was perfected. Banjos being played along the towpath were bopped to on the roof, spontaneously. Banjo-players smiled in reply. A little bit of sunbathing was had. Stories were swapped and news exchanged. Digby Hound was walked and mastered The Plank, despite expressing Serious Reservations. Tow paths were run along and bridges waved from. Boats were moored outside the pub. Further family members arrived and much hugging and kissing ensued. Glasses of the cold bubbly stuff were handed out and raised to the Three Birthday People (80, 85 & 18) in whose honour the trip was held. Presents were unwrapped and ooh and ahhed over. A couple on a Tandem stopped and offered to take photos. A man on a unicycle came past. Supper was eaten in the pub and local beers were tried out. Worn out littlies fell asleep on their mothers' laps very suddenly and completely. Teenagers drooped. Head torches were donned and boats were regained safely. No one fell in but there was one torch fatality. The next morning mist was admired, fog braved and the chill air of early October mornings was shivered in. Velvet shawls proved useful buffers against the cold. Lamps were lit and the small beams shone out across the water. Layers were worn and then peeled off as the sun climbed and the fog dissipated. Tousled heads emerged and yawns and stretching occured. Breath unfurled slowly on the air like wreaths of smoke and voices echoed. The roof slowly dried and all the children climbed back on it one last time. Home, once regained, was all the more lovely for a beautiful weekend away with family and friends.