ME AND MY BOATS

From child­hood hol­i­days with rel­a­tives be­side the Ox­ford Canal in Thrupp to nar­row­boat own­er­ship

Canal Boat - - CONTENTS -

As a boy many of my hol­i­days were spent at my grand­par­ents cot­tage in Thrupp, near Kidling­ton. The cot­tage was next to the canal. Dur­ing my stay some nar­row­boats would be pass­ing by which cre­ated a de­sire in my young heart to one day travel on or even own one of these ves­sels.

Many years later as fam­ily we were work­ing as vol­un­teers at a youth camp on the Isle of Wight and the tea girl who was also a vol­un­teer told me about St Basil’s char­ity in Birm­ing­ham that owned and loaned out an old nar­row­boat for a small fee. I was in­trigued and made fur­ther en­quiries. The woman who gave me the first les­son on han­dling a nar­row­boat dropped her house and car keys in the canal, what a dis­as­ter!

This old, smoky, and un­fur­nished boat which got nick­named the ‘the green cour­gette ’ be­came our cat­a­lyst for canal boat­ing. It stank of diesel fumes, had no shower and was very ba­sic – but we loved it. Our chil­dren, Adam, Timothy, and Nathan had great fun. It was very sat­is­fy­ing to one day moor in Strat­ford upon Avon basin, an old crock next to some splen­did and op­u­lent boats.

We ad­vanced to hir­ing a suc­ces­sion of nar­row­boats and have great mem­o­ries of los­ing lock keys, fish­ing our chil­dren out the canal af­ter they had fallen off the boat, and many other laughs to­gether as we ex­plored the wa­ter­ways.

The next phase was to be a boat share. For a mod­est pay­ment for the share and a monthly fee we be­came proud own­ers, along with eleven other fam­i­lies of Sav­ille Cut, which was part of the ABC group. This boat was about 14 years old, but it was com­fort­able and ex­tremely en­joy­able. What an ex­cel­lent syn­di­cate

we had joined. We later self-man­aged as a group and shared the many tasks and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We had a gen­uine friend­ship to­gether and great so­cial meals.

Greta and I had of­ten dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of pur­chas­ing a new boat for our re­tire­ment. It was a pipe dream for many years. How­ever it was an ar­ti­cle in Canal Boat about the Ain­tree Bee­tle that caught our at­ten­tion. Later that year we vis­ited the Lon­don boat show to see this small nar­row­boat. We liked the boat but found it too small for our needs. But we were so im­pressed that we later or­dered a 35ft ver­sion which had a wood burner. We or­dered in Jan­uary 2018. It was a very ex­cit­ing day in May 2019 that our boat Go with the Flow was de­liv­ered to Aque­duct ma­rina, near Nantwich. Dur­ing our six months free moor­ing (part of the agree­ment for vis­it­ing and or­der­ing from the Lon­don boat show) we ex­plored the var­i­ous canals in the vicin­ity.

When Novem­ber came it was time to move our boat to Nuneaton but as I re­searched our route it be­came ob­vi­ous that many clo­sures could jeop­ar­dise our plans. The Trent and Mersey had stop­pages as well as the clo­sure of Wolver­hamp­ton locks. But we were able to nav­i­gate the Shrop­shire Union, then onto the Stafford­shire and Worces­ter­shire, then Stour­bridge and Dud­ley no. 1 and no. 2 through Birm­ing­ham and even­tu­ally onto the Coven­try canal. Home at last, it only took ten days dawn to dusk!

We liked the boat but found it too small for our needs. But we were so im­pressed that we later or­dered a 35ft ver­sion which had a wood burner

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