Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label narrowboat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label narrowboat. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Harris said, however, that the river...

©Brigitta Huegel

...would suit him to a "T."  (Jerome K. Jerome)

Well - it did in 2013 on our last narrowboat trip, though as in 2013 husband will stay in Berlin and guard our flat: he doesn't feel comfy in a narrowboat, being 1.98m tall.
For compensation we will both travel to Rome later.
Now I'm looking forward to our next narrowboat trip - different crew (not all artists this time) and different route. We will add a week with a car, visiting Durham, Leeds and Edinburgh.
(About the date of the new trip I will speak when I am back - I don't want to invite people from the Wild Wood).

Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!” (Kenneth GrahameThe Wind in the Willows)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Stop the Fire Alarm on the Narrowboat - PLEASE! (Part 2)

Britta Huegel

Thank you for being so patient (in the meantime husband and I have done a wonderful four-days-trip to the Baltic Sea) - now our engineer has solved the fire-alarm problem: he simply removed the batteries.
Silence is golden... 
Though life on the canal is quite busy, sometimes: a lot of boats are moving up and down the canal: they have to - nowadays you are not allowed to stay longer than 14 days in a place.
Different canals have different energies - and different people. Our canal, Bradford-on-Avon towards Bath and then Devizes - and back - was the way to Enlightenment, populated by a lot of esoterics.

Britta Huegel

There were people who lived on their boats for years, boats with tourists, boats with cats, with single persons, couples, daughters with aged mothers, and if a crank had lost his crank, we helped.
We saw precious boats (designed to the proud owner's wishes, for 110 000 Pounds), we saw normal boats which, used, were offered for about 42 000 Pounds - but then,  if you keep your eyes open, you might even find a real steal:

Britta Huegel

What impressed me?

- the starry, starry night skies

- fog on evening meadows

Britta Huegel

- dew drops in the morning

- the changing 'typical' English scenery

- the friendliness of the English people

- the 16 locks of Devizes - but they are worth a post of their own

- and, of course, my best beloved Real English Ale:

Britta Huegel

And I learned: Sometimes a woman at work is deeply misunderstood: when I for the first time steered the boat, and warbled away this sweet Moomin-quote:
'Look out for sand banks,' shouted Hodgskin. 'I want to try one. To test the hinge-and-wheel construction' ,
the two fellows of my crew got the impression that I was not doing a scientific experiment but was a damsel in distress landing on a sand bank - well, well, well - A prophet has no honour in his own houseboat   country...
- BUT I have a lot of energy, and I will never forget the face (in a distance, about 22 m apart from me) of Captain Matti, who sung soft sweet tones at the bow of our boat, and his guitar gently wept ... and I still steered, and then I accelerated, and I DID IT MY WAY - I aroused them and rocked the boat. Till then Matti didn't know me well, so he had to learn that I "never ever do nothing nice and easy / I always do it nice and rough 

I hope he has recovered from his shock and will forgive me - and, most important - will take me again to the English canals! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

River Flows In You - the Trip on a Narrowboat (Part 1)

Britta Hügel

'My houseboat,' Hodgkins said. 
'Your what?' I asked. 
'Houseboat,' Hodgskin repeated. 'A house built aboard a boat. Or a boat built beneath a house. You live aboard. Nice and practical.' 
Tove Jansson, The Exploits of Moominpappa

Catch your dream of a houseboat trip on an English canal - and you'll drop out of time. 
Yes, I'm back, my friends, but not quite - still walking a little bit above the ripple of water and waves (and fine English Ale). 
Though a houseboat is not as contemplative as everybody predicts. 
I didn't write a line, I didn't draw even one picture, I didn't read anything. 
I just WAS. THERE. In the very moment. 
(You had to be - otherwise you would bump your head at the beam of the small entrance door, or trip over the kerb of the boat - and the water in the canal was looking not that inviting...) 
Now I'll give you a super-boat-trip-recipe: 

You need
- up to 10 people (best when some children are among them, for a while) 
- travel (Holly Go)lightly 
- bring a little bit of sunshine with you 
- though no driver's licence is needed (why should you? The narrowboat is only about 72 feet (= 22m) long, so who cares?) - it is good to have a person who has done it before - we all accepted our captain Matti - and in the best of all possible worlds he will - as he is - also be a connoisseur of beers - Real English Ale - fruity beers, spicy beers, soft beers, and wild beers (I'll come to that point later, Yours Truly announces with the Cheshire cat's grin on her face.) 
- You know you are among the chosen few if you have some excellent guitar players among you, a sweet ukelele, a spectacular drummer, a great saxophonist and some singers - solo singers and background singers, all are welcomed - THEN THE BOAT WILL ROCK!  
We had all we needed: a tiny kitchen, 

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

beds, two toilets and one shower (but let's keep quiet about the hair"blower", which got its "energy" from a car cigar jack...). Though I saw an alternative offer on the canal, 

Britta Huegel

I decided to go to a solid hairdresser in Devizes. 
- and we had pubs (which the French friends on the boat called in their charming French accent "pöb" (as the 'ö' in 'further') -- and for the rest of my life I will always be much more drawn into a 'pöb' than a 'pub'. 
All along the canal they invited us: open doors, fancyful decorated, and offering the widest variety of Real English Ale. 

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

- And the landscape: you sit and look at the meadows that slowly slide by your side, the cows look dreamily back, the swans and ducks follow your boat, and the boat people-neighbours are oh so friendly. 

Britta Huegel

But life isn't - as every Wayward Taoist knows - only milk and honey - it is Yin and Yang: meaning: locks and swing-bridges. 

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

Locks are very, very hard work (as I learned on that day when we were only three people) - after 7 locks I and my knee knew what we had pushed (and please remember: I am the woman who in the fitness studio proudly pushes easily over 140 pounds on the leg press...) 
First you have to open the lock gates, klink, klink, klink, then the narrowboat enters (did I tell you that it is 22 meters long? A normal lock is 22m and 10 cm long - you just fit in). Then one has to close both sides of the lock gates again - the water rushes in (All windows and doors closed?!?) 

To prepare breakfast in the morning for ten people is a challenge - one of us even made "French toast" twice, joyously accompanied by the shrill F sharp major of the fire alarm.  

While you are anxiously waiting if  our maritim engineer (we really had one among us!) will find a way to stop that infernal alarm shreeks, I use this thrilling moment to take a little break - see you soon. 

To be continued.