The cut calls, but where on earth to go now?

Canal Boat - - Me & My Boats - KEVIN BLICK From car jour­nal­ism to the canals was a change of pace, but liv­ing on board tug Harry is a con­stant eye-opener

Iam, as I re­call say­ing in an ear­lier col­umn, a man who likes a plan. When I haven’t got one, I fret. Well, I haven’t got one now and I’m fret­ting. We are nearly half­way into the year and I re­ally don’t have a cruis­ing plan for the year.

We are dither­ing around and that doesn’t work ei­ther for me or for Mrs B. I know that for many boaters the whole de­light of the canals is to find a nice spot, tie up for two weeks and do noth­ing. Ex­cept me­an­der down to the pub or take the dog for a gen­tle walk be­fore an af­ter­noon snooze.

I’m afraid that both of us have the ‘keep busy’ gene. Mrs B can’t sit in a chair for longer than ten min­utes with­out feel­ing the urge to go and wash the boat or pol­ish some brass. Me, I can man­age half an hour – maybe longer if I’m lis­ten­ing to foot­ball on Ra­dio 5 Live – but then I’m drag­ging the map out, think­ing about where we could go next in some in­ter­est­ing walk we could tackle.

And that’s our present dilemma: where to go next. We’ve got past the canal tick­ing off stage; we have been pretty much ev­ery­where, even dragged our­selves to most ex­trem­i­ties of the BCN. There are a few gaps: the River Wey would be good if we find our­selves down that way (ex­cuse the or pun), the Ere­wash an­other if we are pass­ing nearby but the Lee & Stort I’m con­tent to miss – we walked much of the tow­path when we lived in the area and I can’t help think that today’s re­al­ity of mul­ti­ple moored boats would mar our happy mem­o­ries.

So where? At the mo­ment we are drift­ing about, say­ing hello to a few old chums and call­ing in at one or two fa­mil­iar pubs but the itch in my brain that says ‘what’s the plan?’ is still de­mand­ing to be scratched.

The trou­ble is that we both know where we’d like to go – oop north. We love the scenery, the walks and, com­pared with the busy Mid­lands and even busier south­ern wa­ter­ways, the space and the peace.

But lovely as those Pen­nine stretches of the Leeds & Liver­pool might be, it is damned hard work to get to them. I know – we only did it last year in both di­rec­tions and I’m still aching.

The Mac­cles­field and Peak For­est canals are a de­light. I look at the pho­to­graphs of the stun­ning hill walks we did and I’m trans­ported right back there.

But, as I said, we only did all this last year and it re­ally does seem daft to be head­ing back that way for an­other dose of hard work when there is so much else to see and do. Es­pe­cially as we have a week’s walk­ing hol­i­day on the Pen­nine Way planned with some Cana­dian friends who are vis­it­ing Europe (en­cour­aged in the walk­ing trip in no small part by my blogging on our walk­ing ex­ploits from the boat last year).

But it’s easy to daw­dle and dither while the sun is shin­ing; even Mrs B can be per­suaded to sit for more than a few mo­ments on the tug deck while we savour a cou­ple of stub­bies and muse on how lovely it is to be away from the stresses and strains of traf­fic, house re­pairs and do­mes­tic bills.

Maybe by the time the next col­umn’s dead­line comes around we will have pointed our bows in one di­rec­tion and started off on a def­i­nite route. On the other hand, maybe we won’t. Maybe I will have weaned my­self off maps and we will just evolve into gen­tle drifters, happy to go slowly to nowhere in par­tic­u­lar.

‘Both of us have the ‘keep busy’ gene. Mrs B can’t sit in a chair for longer than ten min­utes with­out feel­ing the urge to go and wash the boat or pol­ish some brass’

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