It’s a week past May Day and we’re still in lockdown. The date reminded me of the freedom to roam that we had last year as friends and I cruised the Grand Union and Stratford canals, and when on May Day itself we had been awakened at an ungodly hour by Morris Dancers celebrating dawn in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon.
That sense of freedom resonated further as I walked @calliebordeaux down the old Deeside railway line into Aberdeen’s Duthie Park earlier this week. It was eerily quiet (despite lockdown, there are usually a few people around) and, as I walked through an old railway cutting with birds chirruping away, it reminded me of cruising through similar cuttings on the South Stratford canal. That, in turn, brought back to mind a quote that I have previously posted, by Francesca Morini: “I usually start walking along the canal carrying the weight of my slightly dull existence on my shoulders and end up with a head full of dreams”.
And it’s true, canals can be dreamy places whether you’re walking down the towpath or holding the tiller whilst chugging along on a three-miles-an-hour
pub crawl cruise. Once you feel confident at the tiller it’s 99.9% relaxation and only 0.1% blind panic; a reversal of the percentages of when you first started out!
Here’s the limerick:
A narrowboat skipper once said:
“There’s no need for ‘full speed ahead’,
‘Cos, you see, this canal
Is a taproom locale
So we’ll leg it at a snail’s pace instead”.