Thursday, 4 October 2012

Our Canal Boat Holiday Day 2 - Setting Off

Because we’d arrived so late the night before, we hadn’t unloaded the car so that was our first job of the morning, before we could set off. As we were unloading the clothes, we realised that neither of us had packed my 5yr olds clothes! I thought he had and he thought I had!

So nanny and I decided to go to the nearest Tesco to buy her some more clothes, taking my 5yr old and 2yr old with us and after googling the address of the Rugby store and putting the postcode into Jane, we set off. We chose Tesco because I work for them and this gives me a 10% discount, but of course Jane decided to take us past Sainsbury, Asda, Morrisons, Co-operative Pioner... in fact every store but Tesco!!! Eventually, just as we were about to ask for directions, we spotted Tesco up ahead. We quickly bought her some clothes and then headed into the O2 shop I had seen on the way past, so my mum could buy a dongle for internet on the boat. We decided to use O2 as I had a £10 discount code to use by that day, but when we went to buy the Dongle we were told I couldn't use the voucher as the price on the system for the Dongle was higher than the price on display and because he had to use a discount code to give us the dongle at that price then he couldn't use my discount code, which I didn't think was fair! So I used it to buy hubby a handsfree headset for his phone as his anniversary present! Finally we headed back to Sunseeker the boat to see if we were ready for the off!

I’ve been canal boating ever since I was a teenager and we went on a holiday one year as a family, and hubby has been a few times since we met. Last time we went on the boat I was pregnant with the baby and couldn’t help with the locks so I was thrilled I could help this time. I was also pleased to see that going through the locks didn't bother any of them. Last time we had gone, my daughters then aged 2 and 4 had freaked during the first lock, screaming and clinging to me as the boat descended in the lock and on the first day we had to make sure they were off the boat for each lock! Yet the baby wasn't bothered at all and took it in her stride as she just watched everything going on around her!

Whoever thinks canal boating is relaxing has never been on one before! Yes they are relaxing, in fact I would describe them as several hours of relaxing cruising enjoying the scenery followed by several hours of action where you move heavy lock gates and open stiff paddles (these open the vents which allows the water to either enter or leave the lock, filling or emptying the lock as needed!) and walk between the locks. Personally, I love the challenge of the locks and I’m happiest when we have plenty of locks to do, although when it’s quiet so you have no queuing to get through the lock. That’s one of the main reasons I like going on the canal outside the school holidays, as it’s a lot quieter on the canal.

The first day we travelled a total of 12 miles and did 12 locks. With the first few locks we were teaching the children the dangers of the canal and especially around locks, as in the olden days, when canal’s were built and used for transporting goods around the UK and before the trains arrived and took over, families would live in a very cramped area of the boat whilst the rest was full of the goods they were transported and many children would actually drown in the locks because they are so dangerous! A lock is about the size of an Olympic size swimming pool which fills in a matter of minutes, so you can imagine the force of the water which is pushed through small panels at the side of the gates which the paddles open or close to fill such a large area in such a short amount of time. In fact, the force is such that even an Olympic swimmer would drown if they fell in whilst the paddles were open as they would be sucked down into the vents and squashed through the hole. So you can imagine how worried we were about the children getting too close to the edge, of course they had no fear and kept trying to peer over the edge to see all the water surging up!

As my dad is a sailor at heart, he understands the dangers of water and he insists that the children all have lifejackets on, except the baby who is on the hands free reins on whenever she is off the boat and is with an adult at all times!

The boat is full of the comforts of home. Sunseeker has a TV, microwave, fridge, gas cooker and even a bath and shower! This meant that Saturday night, as we were moored in the middle of nowhere, we could make our own yummy tea and then settle down to watch the Ponds farewell in Doctor Who followed by the X-Factor. Of course, being so active all day you tend to turn in early, and with the children being tired and sleeping on the bed chairs meant we went to bed even earlier, but that just means you're up early in the morning and can set off sooner. You cannot travel during the dark on a canal boat, so you need to make the most of daylight hours!

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