At last I took delivery of my narrow boat "LASS STRAW" and it's amazing. I had been waiting 12 months for delivery which should have taken 6 months so I insisted that I should be allowed to take it out for the August bank holiday. So for that weekend and the weekend after, I accompanied by my brother and three friends took her out, the first time travelling from Shardlow to Willington and back on the Trent and Mersey canal and the following week to Loughborough and back via the river Soar, returning the boat back to the boatyard each time for to complete some outstanding jobs. On the 14th September I was officially handed the keys and we were off on our extended journey. This was me, my brother Malc and part of the time my friend Chris.
We have visited some interesting places en route, the first of which was Melbourne in Derbyshire which, after a walk away from the canal via a disused railway line, we discovered was a lovely quaint unspoiled village. This was followed by Burton on Trent, Branston, and several days in the lovely village of Alrewas.
During this period I went home to Sheffield to attend the funeral of a close friend and my brother stayed on the boat.
At the funeral I was introduced to a couple who also own a narrow boat. He lives on the boat full time and she joins him, wherever he has moved the boat to, at the weekends, returning to Sheffield to go to work on Monday. What was extraordinary about this meeting was that when I told them where I had left my boat, they were gobsmacked because they had left their boat there too. On my return I discovered that their boat was moored five boats away from mine.
Anyway as you may know from my previous blogs, my brother and I are both visually impaired, with my brother's eyesight being a bit worse than mine so I thought I would keep you posted as to how we are getting on from the point of view of a VIP.
To be fair, although for the most part, when we are on open canal my brother is fine but he does struggle a bit when we are approaching things. it takes him a bit longer to work out what is happening but at 4mph not much can go wrong and we are both thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.
The boat is 58 feet long which has meant two things:
- At that length it is difficult to see an awful lot further than the front of the boat and I keep hearing my brother saying "it's a bloody long boat this".
- We have largely overcome the problem by, while one of us is steering from he rear, the other, armed with a monocular, (which was issued to each of us by the low vision clinic at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital) sits on the front communicating forthcoming hazards to the steerer via a two way radio.
This is also useful at locks for the person at the lock to communicate to the people on the boat what the situation is eg " the lock is empty, gates opening soon" or "boat going up in lock and one waiting to come in to come down" The crew then know whether to hold the boat for a few minutes or tie up for a longer period.
The other thing that the radio is often used for is to exclaim "BOOZER" when a pub is spotted and along the canal this is quite often.
We are now moored at Stone in Staffordshire for a few days while my brother is back in Sheffield attending to some business. We will then be detouring from the Trent and Mersey canal on to the Caldon canal to visit leek and Frogall and places in between.I can't wait