This week, my best friend celebrated her birthday by forcing myself and some of her friends from work to go for dinner with her. She had to tempt us with pancakes. It worked.
Her workmates had never met me before, but had heard tell of 'boat girl'.
As usual, they had some questions for me, one of which I’d never really considered before: “So, where can you go on the boat?”
Well, personally, I don’t go very far. Nevertheless, lots of waterfolk – who have deliberately chosen to live on a boat, unlike myself, and are often retired – spend happy months traversing the waterways of Britain, making regular stops in canalside pubs along the way.
My neighbour makes regular jaunts up to Rickmansworth and Berkhamsted in summer, sometimes commuting in to work from her new location.
I’m cynical and jaded, however, and choose to spend my holidays escaping the country, which means the furthest I’ve ever travelled in my boat in recent years is to and from the water-point, which is less than a mile away.
It is possible, however, to travel for miles and miles around England: from south to north between London and the Lake District, and west to east between Wales and King’s Lynn, there’s an extensive network of canals. See www.waterexplorer.co.uk for detailed (interactive!) maps.
It is crucial to note that although it is possible to navigate all of these waters, it would take a very long time, given that narrowboats essentially move at walking speed.
I once had the bright idea of spending a fun day out in summer taking my friends up to Camden Lock in north London. I then realised that it would take an entire day to get there and an entire day to get back, and the plan was scrapped pretty quickly.
Still, if you have the time and inclination, travelling England by boat is a potentially beautiful and relaxing way to spend a holiday. You could moor up in central London and pop in for a day trip, take in the stunning scenery of Yorkshire, or cross the Llangollen aqueduct (don’t look down!). Check it out on www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk
Uxbridge is just the tip of the boating iceberg!