Thankyou to all hatters who generously contributed to this amazing gift of a week on a canal boat. Especially to Uptown Girl who came up with the idea, Belladonna who organised it and Southern Belle who accompanied myself and Little Miss Do a Lot on our adventure and wrote with literary brilliance, the following…
At last the long awaited day came round, and the Intrepid Three set off for darkest Cheshire. At least, that is what the forecast predicted, along with storms and plagues of frogs, but in fact the Angell charm worked its usual magic and we had some glorious sunshine, although to be honest it was interspersed with a few rogue bouts of prodigious rain, when QT was very grateful for her fab ‘Hattermac’ ( NB, I have copyrighted this word, in case I want to go into business.) See photo for a picture of our Queen, regally PRETENDING to navigate the waterways arrayed in it, but really we had stopped for a cup of tea.
Now we are safely back at the starting Marina, I can only say, with all humility, that WE WERE GREAT, and really rocked those canals! ( Not literally, although we did clonk the sides a few times, especially me.)
Some of the challenges we conquered included:
Molly BACKING out of a tunnel when some unfortunate had chosen to enter from the other side (idiot!);
Successfully negotiating the lock twice (although honesty compels me to tell you that the water drop was only about a couple of inches, and we had to recruit about six passers-by to help swing the gates, one of whom was an elderly lady and one a tiny boy, although in our defence, the gate was stuck);
ALMOST getting to watch the TV, but sadly not for the ‘Bake Off’ ( More of that anon, suffice it to say that we had our very own STAR BAKER on board!)
There were, of course, many more triumphs, too numerous to mention (Note to self: Don’t be so lazy.)
Now for the crew, the Captain, QT, was obviously magnificent, and you will be pleased to know that she sang her song for the November Hoot sitting on the bow of the boat (‘Not to be missed’, ‘A palpable HIT!!’ ‘Five Stars!!!’ The Canal Times) as we went through the longest tunnel (very scary, NOT the singing, the thought of bats and Gollum). All challenges were calmly overcome in true nautical fashion, and no one had to walk the plank.
Joys included seeing herons from really close up; brilliant flashes of kingfisher blue; a sunny countryside walk guided by QT’s trusty GPS; the evenings doing PUZZLES, without (much) cheat looking up, and learning new-to-me card games including Rummy and Molly’s mad game of Shed; collecting blackberries which the Star Baker made into a scrumptious apple/blackberry streusel crumble AND chocolate brownies, which we gave to various lucky recipients we met on our voyage; the amazing bonkers names people called their boats, including our own (Thompson’s Brewery) and highlights such as Passing Wind, and, of course, Molly Rose.
Which brings me on to First Mate Molly, who was FIRST RATE! Not only amazing at steering etc, BUT she turned the boat around, nearly on a fat sixpence, not even in a proper turning spot, when we reached the limit of our trip. She also provided the crew with FABULOUS delicacies and was an all round star.
Given her interest in Baking, which we were only too pleased to ‘judge’, she was keen to see ‘Bake Off’ on the boat’s TV. The first evening we tried valiantly to get it to work, but to no avail, so we happily got stuck into the competitive world of card games. At one point along the canal we did manage to get a TV signal, so looked forward to a happy Mary/Paul fest on Wednesday night. Our cunning plan was to turn round and sail back towards the Marina, stopping at the place where we could just get a TV signal, if necessary backing up the canal, but the best laid plans……. Never mind, we can look forward to it on the recorder at home.
Last day, and we decided to venture to Deva (that’s Chester to you non-Romans) for a fab day of recreational shopping, eating, wall walking and admiring the amazing ‘shopping Malls’ created by our forefathers of Medieval days. Even QT admitted she was tired when we got back (see photo), but it only took her five minutes to be back at the puzzles, and Molly went straight into a MARATHON bake session- much more sedately, I decided to have a cup of tea and finish this blog.
Tonight is our last night, we have had a GREAT time, and our only worry is whether the water will last us out, which neatly brings me back to the start, as there is ‘Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!’ (Well, there IS some, but I thought I’d better end in literary vein). The trip has been a marvellous experience, and I was so lucky to be able to take Geoff’s place when he was unable to come through work commitments, so thank you very much Hatters! ( and Geoff!)
Southern Belle XXX
I couldn’t sign off without telling you about the delish HOMEMADE bread the Star Baker whipped up on our return from Chester, while QT and I wore our brains out as we studied intricate navigation maps to chart our intrepid way across unknown depths back to the starting point Marina (really we were just parked right outside and lying on the bunks drinking tea and working up an appetite for the next fab creation Molly would produce) – move over Paul Blue-Eyes, your floury supremacy has definitely been challenged!
Must go now and scrape the barnacles off my binnacles (it’s a nautical term, honestly).
PS I’m at least 10lb heavier now, but that will stand me in good stead as ballast when the Hatters go boating to Foxton Locks next year, see you then,
Southern Belle XXX