Canal Boats And Fake Festivals

Meadowlark On The Grand Union Canal

Saturday 18th August

It was one weekend a few months back when John and I were walking along the canal towpath that we decided it would be a great idea to hire a narrowboat for a day. When we got home a Google search revealed a hire company just a few miles away from us. A few emails later the date was set and the ‘Meadow Lark’ had been reserved for us.

We met up with some family members in Cosgrove, gathered our picnics and cameras and made our way on to the towpath.  We hired from Cosgrove Narrowboat and they were brilliant. Carol greeted us and took us through a few safety procedures, then we set sail ….. well, more of a chug really! There is a lock within the first few feet of cruising and Carol came onboard with us to help us through. John was driving and trying to get used to the way the boat worked and all eyes were on him as people watched on from the bank, he did bump and bash around a bit in the lock, but I thought he did exceptionally well all things considered.  The first five minutes were spent weaving around a bit as John got used to the length of the boat and the fact that you push the tiller in the opposite direction to that in which you want to move.

Once John had got a grasp of the steering he was great with it and my nephew Adam then wanted to have a go and between them, it managed to culminate in an untimely grounding of the boat in a shallow part, where we then spent time moving to the front of the boat and then the back trying to adjust the weight load until eventually an almighty push with the barge pole from my dad set us on our way again.

It was great being on the boat, I hadn’t been on a narrowboat for years and I’d forgotten just how pleasant it is on a beautiful sunny day meandering down the canal. The main line of The Grand Union Canal stretches 137 miles from London to Birmingham and is the longest canal in Britain. This stretch of the canal offers some nice views of open countryside and a couple of historic feats of engineering, one being the famous ‘Iron Trunk’ aqueduct, dating back to the 1800’s, which takes you over the top of the River Great Ouse.

On The Canal

Come lunchtime we decided to moor up opposite a grassy area, where we jumped off the boat, locked it up and set about eating our picnic. We all brought various foods and drinks to share and ended up with quite a feast between us.

We didn’t go much further down the canal after lunch as we had to be back at the yard by 5pm and much laughter followed as John tried to turn the boat round. He actually did really well, but we couldn’t miss an opportunity to tease him as he crashed headlong into the bank where two people were sitting!  No injuries to us or the boat thankfully, but the people who were on the bank at the time might just have had to go home and change their underwear!

Everyone is really friendly on the boats, passing the time of day and waving as you pass – apart from one old guy who was absolutely determined that he was keeping the middle of the canal as his line, despite the fact that we were coming the other way!  He fixed a locked stare straight ahead and just kept ploughing on, forcing us right into the bank!

John and Adam made a great team and they shared the driving between them all day, so the only thing the rest of us could do was sit back, relax and enjoy the ride ….. oh well, if you insist!

Sunday 19th August

Time to refill the picnic bag again and head off to Shuttleworth this time, for an afternoon and evening of live music and merriment.

They said that these were the best tribute acts from around the country, a statement that could be fiercely debated, one thing that couldn’t be questioned was the energy and effort each put into their performances and that in itself made it an enjoyable day. Kylie Minogue took to the stage first in the sweltering heat of the afternoon and following acts belted out numbers from the likes of Queen, The Bee Gees, The Blues Brothers and various others. A fair amount of cheese came bouncing out of those festival speakers, but it was a great blast from the past that you couldn’t help but sing along to.

Eventually most people were up dancing and getting caught up in the atmosphere you find yourself bopping around and singing to the cheesiest of performances. The only one to really let the festival down was the Robbie Williams cover as he seemed more interested in getting a few of the girls backstage afterwards than actually singing a song!  It was a great afternoon and evening and punching the air to the sounds of Queen can’t really leave you on anything but a high.




Travelbird's picture

I need to do more in my own country when I'm home.


Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today. If you do it today and like it, you can do it again tomorrow.

Paula Guy's picture

So many people forget to explore their home country, it's a great thing to do.