The sun is shining and in the Pigeon office thoughts are turning to Bank Holiday Monday and the Half Term break, which is only a school week away. Today, we’re asking Mrs Pigeon to tell us about one her favourite kinds of holiday in Britain – spending time with her family and meeting friends along the way as she cruises the canals of Oxford on her narrowboat.
How long have you been going on narrowboats?
Dad was an enthusiast so we went quite often during my teenage years. Then when Dad lived on a narrow boat for several years, I joined him as I started college in London (I couldn’t afford commercial rents). We used to cruise between Camden Lock and Little Venice – got a bit cramped when my brother moved in with his girlfriend!
How often to you untie the ropes and take your narrowboat for a 4 mile an hour spin?
Not often enough. But when we do it’s complete heaven. The kids loved it when they were young – a little less excited by it now but I love it more and more as I get older.
What is it about meandering along the canals of the Britain that you like?
The forced slow pace is a real tonic, totally therapeutic. But the very best thing is getting to places that cars can’t reach. There’s nothing better than waking up to the sound of cows in the field and water gently lapping the side of the boat. And when we head out of Oxford, within the first day we can reach places where there are no roads. The only problem is when you break down (which we have done several times) – the mechanic has to wheel the spare battery on a trolley along the tow path, sometimes quite a long way.
Would you recommend canal boating for young families?
Yes, totally. But take real care next to the locks. You definitely wouldn’t want anyone falling in there, given the very tight gaps. My children haven’t fallen in, but I have been in a few times. No harm done (only to my shoes).
Do you prefer the urban industrial landscapes or the calm country scenery?
Most definitely calm country scenery – although when I was a teenager, I would long to reach the towns.
Where’s the most interesting place you have moored up?
There’s a stretch of river just north of Oxford where you can moor up and watch the kingfishers, and once a barn owl in the field catching its supper – it’s the best. And at this time of year, the green of the new spring vegetation is totally beautiful.
If you’re out and about on the Oxford canal, come rain or shine, you might spot Merlin with Mrs and Mr Pigeon relaxing on deck, negotiating a lock or pulling up a swing bridge. Give her a wave. It would make her day.
For more information about all sorts of Canal boat trips and holidays. Here’s a useful website: http://www.canaljunction.com/