Ayles­bury Arm

Canal Boat - - Letters -

I’m a dreamer! I have been for decades and I sus­pect I am not alone. Liv­ing as I do in Southamp­ton, I have salt wa­ter in my veins but I con­tin­u­ally sub­scribe to Canal Boat as it helps with my dream of one day pos­si­bly own­ing a boat and liv­ing on the canals.

But the like­li­hood of that hap­pen­ing is rather re­mote, as my beloved isn`t at all en­am­oured of liv­ing on the wa­ter, in fact she doesn’t like boat­ing full stop. So there is my dilemma!

Back in the 1990s, I worked in a Hamp­shire chil­dren’s home for young­sters with dis­abil­i­ties, and they were en­ti­tled to an an­nual hol­i­day. Prior to my ar­rival, the norm was hir­ing a sea­side cot­tage, but one of the lads I cared for had cere­bral palsy, and was con­fined to a wheel­chair. I reck­oned a sea­side hol­i­day on the beach wasn’t much cop for him, so, in con­sul­ta­tion with the other lads, we de­cided on a canal­boat hol­i­day and the Spirit of Stock­ley, a 70ft boat built es­pe­cially to ac­com­mo­date the dis­abled, was char­tered for the week.

The lads thought this was a bril­liant ad­ven­ture, and we set off from the Lon­don sub­urbs, along the Grand Union and down the Ayles­bury Arm (pic­tured), stop­ping off as you do, on the way, and on the way back. The chil­dren, with learn­ing and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, were happy all the way and had a ball.

Those mem­o­ries have been in my head ever since and now re­tired, I would love to own a boat and ex­plore the in­land wa­ter­ways of this fas­ci­nat­ing coun­try, but I will have to make do with the

monthly edi­tion of Canal Boat, as that is my sub­sti­tute dream­land of life on the wa­ter­ways! Richard A Ja­cob Southamp­ton

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