There are things in my life that make me feel terribly English. See, exhibit A: love for scones and jam; exhibit B: inability to sing ‘Jerusalem’ without bellowing; exhibit C: crippling awkwardness in social situations. Spending the day on a narrowboat chugging down an Oxford canal has to be in the top five.
We did this last year, but it was even better to do it again when I could actually fit through the doors. Two of us had babies this year, which makes you wonder how many years we can keep going before our rate of increase actually sinks the boat.
Off we sailed, passing boat parks and beautiful houses by the canal, overhanging ferny trees and crumbling bridges. Henry didn’t stand for the lifejacket for longer than five minutes, but he agreed to be Keeper of the Rope in exchange for not hurling himself overboard.
I think all of the country’s eccentrics go and live on the water. One of the gardens we passed was set up like an abandoned outdoor wedding reception, but with cobwebbed silver teapots and Finding Nemo chandeliers (yes, really). As we sat and ate barbecued sausages in our makeshift campsite, another narrowboat inched past on the water. ‘I say’, said the chap at the tiller. ‘You haven’t seen a dog walking past, have you? We seem to have lost ours’. We hadn’t. A narrowboat is an odd place to lose a dog, but the owners didn’t seem very concerned. Perhaps it’s a regular thing, and the dog quite often leaps off to go and solve crimes or something. I would believe it.
It was a sunny-rainy, chocolate-button-and-cheeseburger, entirely delightful day. We arrived home with damp clothes and sunburn. See? Totally English.
Oxfordshire Narrowboats, Thrupp, Oxfordshire. Drink up, me hearties.