Sunday, 2 September 2012

Adventure over - for now.

The nights are drawing in, the Summer is over, School holidays finished and normality is returning to families everywhere and I'm feeling it more than most this year as the past 6 weeks we have been on a mammoth adventure, packing a bag full of clothes and only a few essentials, taking the dog and three children and leaving behind all home comforts, electrical gadgets and throwing caution to the wind and piling our family into a 20ft cruiser on the canals, which became our home for the summer. With only a small budget not big enough to stretch to world wide travel, but a gusto to explore and see new things we were ready to experience something new, already familiar with making the most out of the ordinary we were convinced we would have a great time, despite the small size and limited appliances.

Total madness some might say, how on earth will you all manage? what will you do when it rains? can you cook decent food in there? what about  toilets and showers?
But these things didn't worry us and to be honest we decided to not plan a great deal, not spend too long worrying about the what ifs and where abouts and just give it a go, if we were all ready to kill each other after a couple of days then we would return home,  with the thought that the great outdoors will be entertainment enough, and longing for some quality 'away from it all' time together everything else seemed not to matter.

With no set plan or time scale, we initially intended to get through a week, packing the cupboards with as much as we could fit  as our budget would not stretch to pub meals, a 2 ringed gas cooker with a grill was our kitchen, but from previous camping holidays we were attuned to making gormet meals with minimal facilities.

As the days passed we all fell into the swing of living on board, the space was not an issue, there was room inside the cabin for the boys to spread out their box of Lego and create amazing adventures of their own, whilst Chloe could sit outside happily doodling the sights we saw. Sleeping was cosy but not too much of a squeeze and it was really refreshing for computers to be a background thought as the childrens imagination came alive as they played under bridges and splashed in streams marvelling at the insects and creatures they saw.

The weather was a real mixed bag as we travelled, we had the storms and days where we didn't venture out of the boat at all and the scorching hot heat on others, neither caused too much of an issue, the Wind and rain meaning we couldn't move far but pens and paper entertained us all drawing comics and making puzzles for each other passed the rainy hours.

Then when the sun shined we worked locks and went through tunnels.

Saw wildlife and animals and chatted to hundreds of friendly people, other boaters with stories to tell or passes by on the tow path all intrigued by our journey and ability to be managing without all the creature comforts everyone is so used to.

The days passed into weeks and we continued to enjoy our trip, using the British waterways facilities shower blocks and toilet disposal at regular set out locations along the canal made the journey comfy.
Stopping off to visit local towns to catch up with the real world in library's using the Internet access to keep on top of things, sampling the local farm shop products set out at locks and relishing the freedom away from computer screens and television.

We travelled all the way along the Staffs and Worcester Canal and then up the Shropshire Union turning off onto the Llangollen branch into Wales ,managing to find petrol stations close enough to refill without too much trouble.

The views are indescribable along the canal, natural beauty and it was a brilliant way to unwind from the everyday worries  finishing each day watching the sunset before snuggling down worn out from the days activities.

We continued cruising along and reached the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct a breathtaking stream in the sky, the mammoth structure carries the Llangollen canal over the River Dee a huge 38 meters in height and over 1000ft long it is the tallest and longest Aqueduct in Britain and is worthy of its World Heritage site status, we moored in the Basin for a couple of nights so we could take in the sights around the beautiful area.

I could of happily stayed cruising the countryside for longer but reality calls, so we are home our adventure over, but our thirst for living with nature on your doorstep, learning the lessons only life can teach and seeing sights worthy of dreams is ever present, I have so many photos to look through and memories I want to record but for now it's back to the reality of school uniform shopping and answering emails which were left to one side and dreaming of the next break away.


  1. what a wonderful holiday and experience for u all wish i had been been on a holiday like that i rem going as a kid and remember the hols well hope yr kids rem it all sarah xx

  2. It looks and sounds idyllic. What a fantastic experience for your family.

  3. All I Can Say Is ...
    What You Have All Achieved Is A Magical Experience
    That Only You And Your Family Will Now Have Forever In Memories ...
    You Should Be Soooooooooooo Proud Of What You Have Achieved ...
    A Magnificent Challenge Of Enjoyment Enjoy Your Memories ...
    Love To You All Well Done Seasoned Boaters ;)xxxxxx

  4. Some lovely pictures - sounds like you had a fab time. I've walked along the Llangollen canal and that fantastic aqueduct. I did get flashed at whilst walking along a quiet stretch, but hopefully that didn't happen to you.

  5. A great story and a lesson to all of us that you don't need much to get a lot out of life. We all plan far too much, your experience and open attitude to the adventure is very refreshing and inspirational. Where to next ??

    Nev NB Waterlily

  6. What an amazing holiday! Sounds a great way to get away from it all

  7. Oh wow,my idea of heaven, a break away from the hustle and bustle. It looks a dream and to get the chance to do that for a whole month, well that must have been amazing! What fabulous memories you will have and the children will never forget it.
    Was it your boat or a hire one. Would love to do that with my family!
    Oh and thanks for the pic of the aqueduct, I think one of my top manmade structures are bridges! Thats a beauty! Must see it!

  8. But what a summer you've had! Beautiful photographs! :)

  9. Looks fantastic! Roll on 5 years and I think this may be our holiday! Pre-children we loved hiring a boat for the week on the Caledonian Canal, and even lived for 18mths on a barge. This looks absolutely amazing, gorgeous photos and amazing memories created!!

  10. I am having serious pangs! My Dad owned one of those when I was a kid - it was all the holiday I ever knew, and I loved it! Bunking down in the damp cramped spaces, and waking up to bacon sarnies, stopping at the pub for lemonade and crisps, managing the locks, the scare stories of what happens if you fall into a lock. LOVED IT!

  11. Looks awesome! I have always wanted to
    Live on a house boat yet to date haven't even holidayed on one. Some great pics and
    Lots of happy memories for you xxxc

  12. Oh that looks like a brilliant way to spend the summer!

  13. It looks like you had a fabulous time. We went on a canal trip in a long boat a couple of years ago, it was hard work but we really enjoyed it

  14. Looks like an awesome holiday. x

  15. Your photo's are lovely. What a brilliant holiday you had x.

  16. What a marvelous family adventure and well done to all of you for having the balls to do it! So many of us talk about it but you made it reality. May it be the first of many happy trails for you and yoursxxx

  17. What an amazing journey. I went to the aquaducts on the Llangollen years ago on my friends boat: stunning. This trip will definitely be something to always remember for your family.


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