In a just a few weeks time we’ll be making our annual escape to the UK canal system. This cleverly combines water travel, scenery, activity and visiting the relatives, all in one long thin boat-shaped package. The best!
Making canal trip plans has reminded me of one of the memorable adventures from last year’s trip (that I somehow forgot to post). It concerns one of our crew members managing to get herself picked up by the police!
We had developed a nice little routine for opening the lock gates and mooring up, and also for tunnels. Our friend Karen doesn’t care much for transiting long dark tunnels (not much to see, and icky cold drips down the back of your neck), and prefers to hop off the boat before we enter the darkness, and to follow the tow path (originally used by the tow horses) to the other end of the tunnel .*
As the boat only travels at a steady walking pace (or somewhat less) in a tunnel, she would rejoin the boat at the other end. It’s not an ‘official’ disembarkation requiring preparation. So, this time Karen hopped off the boat, armed only with a sunhat (no phone, ID or money), nor any detailed idea of whereabouts we were (doodling along the canal will do that to you).
On this occasion, as our boat emerged back into the light, I spotted not only Karen on the bank, but also a policeman. The policeman leaned out of his panda car and hailed me with: “Is this your friend?” I responded in the affirmative, knowing nothing of what had gone on. I would soon find out!
Meanwhile, on dry land.. Karen’s story
” I am walking, of course, following the towpath along the top of a tunnel. I am walking along, admiring the wildflowers, identifying the occasional bird, all the while the tow path seems to veer further and further from where I imagine the canal to be . . . Hmm . . . Well, I can hardly go back, as the boat is moving on–the only option, really, for a narrowboat on a canal . . . So I keep going . . Soon I am in the middle of the village, a very lovely village, but with no sign of the canal. What to do? I turn a corner. More village, as far as the eye can see. Not good. Hmmmm, I see two police officers on foot, coming towards me . . .
Me: Are you on a mission?
They: No, why? Can we help you?
Me: Yes, I seem to have lost my boat.
They: It is probably in the canal.
Me: I seem to have lost that, too.
They: Well, now, Where are you from? Not around here?
Me: No, Canada. I pay taxes to the Queen, too.
They: Well, good then. Jump in the car and I will drive you down to the canal.
And he does. The officer winds through the little village, pointing out small misdemeanors as he goes: There is Alice (name changed to protect the innocent)– why isn’t she wearing her seat belt? Finally he pulls into a little parking lot, about 50m from the canalside, the canal just passing under a small bridge to the left.
I thank him, get out of the squad car and walk down towards the canal.
He: Where will they be?
Me: Either this way or that . . .
So I get to the canalside and look up the canal, where I am sure my friends must be by now. There are three narrowboats, moored along the bank. One is from the same hire company as ours . . . Could I be so lucky? I start to lean out to see if I can see the name of the boat. As I start to lean over, I look to the left as well. There is a bridge, and a boat coming through underneath. Guess who? Lucy, in all her hot pink, orange and turquoise glory, is at the front of a canal boat, looking at me. I guess I looked pretty surprised. What were the chances?
He: Are these your friends?
And I jump on board. Sigh . . . Never a dull moment.”
Such are the small adventures that make up a day on the canal (not usually involving the police, though)!
*Often there was no tow path within the tunnel, and the horse would be led over the top. The boat would be propelled by the crew laying on a plank across the boat, and using their feet on the tunnel sides to ‘leg’ the boat through.
Don’t forget our DVD special this month is Finesse Your Knitting 1 – receive the disc and virtual version for $19.99 (+tax and shipping), normally $49.98! (This is one of my favorite discs – including the elegant Magic Buttonhole technique.