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A Narrowboat Life

We've only done 2 weeks of a Narrowboat life, but that's enough to get us hooked. Would we live on a narrowboat? No, but this life, even for as little as 2 weeks, has to be done again. Can we recommend this stretch of the Grand Union Canal? Absolutely. This holiday, for us, was an accident of fate because we couldn't go to far, we swapped a yacht for a narrowboat and the med for the UK. Does it scratch a boating itch for me? Absolutely! Being on a narrowboat has been so much more than we thought it would, it's opened up a world which we've only ever seen from the outside, from the tow path and we rather quite like it. A big part of Narrowboat Life is slowing down and leaving the rat race behind, you have no choice but to slow down. It's brought us closer to nature, yesterday on an early morning walk I came across a Roe deer in the middle of the tow path, not sure who was the most startled, me I think! Whenever you look out of the window there's always a swan or duck or coot or Goose. We've loved being away from the outside world, away from the traffic and the noise. And we've loved the people, just having a chat, maybe in a lock, on the towpath, on a boat passing by, a fisherman, someone walking a dog or with some of the lovely people that live on the canal.

We were in Bugbrooke (near Northampton) as a last stop and decided to stay for 2 nights to get to know the place. We're buying a house here so this was the perfect opportunity to have a good look around. Where we're moored up is very close to the west coast mainline so there are fast trains rattling past fairly regularly. Anyone who's travelled on the canals knows the train line is rarely far away. Train lines and canals have very similar needs (as flat as possible) and so find the same routes. The next bridge south on the canal, bridge 38, is just a footpath which not only crosses the canal but also the west coast mainline. The bridge across the railway, needed when the line was electrified, must have been hugely expensive, but thank goodness the rights of way for footpaths clearly made it happen. It makes an interesting couple of piccies though.

The bridge also gives you a great view of the railway and the Pendelino's thundering past at over 200Km/h, and what a contrast with the canal, right next door, with a life at no more than 4mph. I stood watching the trains for a while which was a real reminder for me of the rat race. Before retiring last year I would have often been on this train line, completely oblivious to life on the canal right next to me. This picture, I think, gives you a good idea of that. Just add the noise to the picture and you're there.

Looking at that Pendolino just imagine what the navvy's and engineers who built the canal, the bargees that worked and lived on the canal would make of it. If you had a time machine to bring them here can you even imagine what their reaction would be. Certainly the Pendolino in the picture would be a very scary thing!

We're off the boat now, and as an aside we rented the boat from Grand Union Narrowboat Holidays (Weedon Bec) and I cannot recommend them enough. Good service, friendly and a great boat. I did have 3 suggested improvements though, which fellow narrowboaters (after 2 weeks on a boat, that's what we call ourselves now) will appreciate. Firstly a voltmeter for the domestic battery. When you've been hammering it using the invertor and fridge it's good to know in the morning how things are looking. Secondly dual centre lines fed through fairleads on the roof. Getting the single centre line tangled in the boat hook and barge pole is mildly irritating. Thirdly, and most importantly, a cup holder, of the fold up variety, which will take a mug or glass (therefore suited to all times of day). I think when next we hire a boat from Grand Union Narrowboat Holidays next we stand a chance of at lest a cup holder.

That's it for us for the minute, but we're already missing A Narrowboat Life, and we will be back soon. I'll end with a few of my favourite piccies.

More Soon.

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