BootsnAll Travel Network

Canal Boating In England

hpim0645.JPGThis happened in summer 2007, so my recollections may or may not be accurate and complete, but I felt like reminiscing. The woman in the photo is my grandmother.

After arriving by train from London after flying in from the US, I was exhuasted by the time we got to the boat in Tamworth. I don’t believe I even got past the cushioned bench at the entrance (where I slept) before collapsing after being awake for a good 30 hours!

When I woke up the next day, the sun was bright outside, and it remained bright and warm for all but one of our days on the canal–something of a miracle for England, or so I’m told. We drifted through the gorgeous countryside, and I spent quite a bit of time reading while stretched out on the boat’s roof in the sun. We tied up outside various pubs at night, and ate our meals there. We met locals and fellow boaters, including a couple from London who spent up to six months at a time on the canals. During the day, we stopped at whatever town looked interesting, Tamworth and Lichfield being the most notable.

Traveling with my grandparents, I had freedom that would have given my mother a heart attack. Our first full day in England, I left my grandparents happily drinking at a pub (the reasoning was that if they didn’t have to drive later, why limit the drinking?), and wandered into town on my own.

Tamworth is a lovely city–I loved the English houses, the park stretched out at the feet of the old castle, the walking paths and bus routes that made independence much easier than at home, all of it. It all felt very English, and perhaps some of my love for the town is influenced by the fact that it was the first time I’d been overseas, but I still think I’d like it if I returned. I found the shops in the town centre,  and had so much fun just wandering and watching people. I also loved the discount bookshop! I spent far too much of my money there.

Another day, I visited the castle with my grandparents. It was lovely, with a fascinating history. My favorite story is about Ethelfleda, the power behind the throne of Mercia. When she was fifteen, and travelling there to get married, she was attacked and successfully fought off her attackers! After her husband’s death, she wasn’t just the power behind the throne; she was the real, official leader, and she was awesome. I don’t remember all the stories, but I’m sure you can find them online somewhere.

As much as I loved the castle and its history, I also loved the views of the park and the rest of the city from the castle, high on a hill overlooking the rest of the area. Gorgeous.

The cathedral in Lichfield was another highlight of the trip. The stained glass and high ceilings are, I’m sure, standard cathedral fare, but it still amazed me. Right by it was Erasmus Darwin’s house and garden, also fascinating. The garden was beautiful.

However, it wasn’t a specific site that made this week one of the best of my life. It was the ease of independence, the long walks I took, thinking and just taking in the area and how wonderfully different it was from home. It was the general cheeriness of the people we met along the way at the sun’s extended appearance. It was just something about this place, floating lazily down the canal in the warm sun, that felt right, and I was sorry to leave at the end of the week.


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