Musician Stan Cullimore, former member of the 80’s band The Housemartins, shares his memories of a recent boating holiday on one of England’s many charming canals.
This morning I got out of bed, opened the curtains and looked out of the window. First thing I saw was a man on a bicycle attempting to herd geese off his lawn. He obviously didn’t like their attitude. After a few moments of watching this slice of life gently unfold, I strolled over to the kitchen and put the kettle on. While waiting for it to boil, I passed the time counting feet as people scurried by on their way to work.
See, that’s the thing with a canal boat holiday. You never know exactly what you’re going to get. Obviously, you’re expecting to find some water, flowers and hopefully some pubs along the way. No doubt you’re going to enjoy more tranquillity than you could shake a stick at. But, after you’ve ticked those boxes, it’s the details that make the adventure worthwhile.
This particular adventure had started a week earlier when I went online to the Anglo Welsh website and searched for a holiday. Didn’t care where I started from, or what sort of craft it was. I just needed a short break on a boat. Turns out that Silver Dusk was available and after a few clicks of the mouse, she was mine from Monday to Friday, and would be waiting for us at Tardebigge, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove.
So the wife and I, along with Mabel the dog, turned up, and got on board our narrowboat. As always with these guys, the staff who showed us over the boat were lovely, the boat itself was really comfy and within minutes we were off and cruising.
At which point, it’s time for a confession. I’m rubbish at research. Unlike most canal boat holiday-makers, I hadn’t given a thought to our route. As our newfound friend Tony waved us off, I asked him which way he thought we should head. His answer was pithy but perfect. Going south meant doing loads of locks. Going north meant hardly any. So we went north.
The first night we moored up in the midst of the countryside, waking to find a field of cows watching us intently as we ate breakfast.
The next night we moored beside a sign showing us the way to The Blue Bell. A cider house that was full of cheerful locals, had a dog-friendly bar and which also served cider that went straight to your legs.
After a lie-in the next day to sleep off the effects, we found ourselves chugging slowly along a green corridor that wiggled its way deceptively into the watery heart of Birmingham, Gas Street Basin.
Which is where I saw a man herding geese the next morning. And in case you’re wondering, he did a great job of getting those geese off his lawn. He then pedalled off with the most enormous and contented grin on his face.
If only he knew! They were back there, full of attitude, before the kettle had even boiled.
This article was brought to you by Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays and written by Stan Cullimore, canal boat holiday enthusiast and former guitarist with ‘The Housemartins‘.