Gliding slowly

I've always had a soft spot for canals. I spent most of my summer holidays as a child playing alongside the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, my best friend even once had an unscheduled swim(!), and have always loved walking besides the drains of the Fens (the original canals that sliced their way through Eastern England). So, it's perhaps not too surprising that I thoroughly enjoyed Vaughan Tucker's short guide to life on a canal boat. How to live on a canal boat : an alternative lifestyle is filled with practical advice as well as reflections on lifestyle and the joys of narrowboat living. Often entertaining, occasionally alarming, sometimes endearing, this is an excellent short introduction whether you're thinking of starting a new life on the water or just spending more time holidaying.

With the property boom and then the financial problems of the last few years, more people in the UK are making the move to narrowboat living. It was estimated by British Waterways in 2012 that around 20% of the boats licensed were being used as homes. And the number continues to rise especially in areas where property prices are notoriously high. In Cambridge it's become such an issue that the council has had to close their waiting list for residential moorings licenses. It was closed as of the 14th January 2014 "for 18 months" to try to sort out the backlog of applications, but still appears to be closed.

However if you're in a luckier area of the country, the life seems in many ways idyllic. Despite the problem of exploding loos and unexpected dips in the canal, there is much to enjoy - from watching cygnets hatch from their shells to ghostly experiences on the canals that brought the fruit of the industrial revolution to the world.

A thoroughly enjoyable little booklet.

By the way....never search on Google for "narrowboat images", there are some of the most terrifying pics of everything that could possibly go wrong with a boating holiday, just read Vaughan Tucker's book, and relax.

Just after finishing this I discovered that the author died of a heart attack by his beloved canal. Friends and colleagues have been raising money to site a defibrillator near the scene of his death.


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