Friday, 1 January 2010

Where Do We Start.

This is what I expect will be the first post in the narrow boat saga of Mick, Mag's and our erstwhile constant companion Poppy. A saga we hope will be a new and significant chapter in our lives. We are both fast approaching retirement from University life (a sort of modern day Mr and Mrs Chips!) and we are looking for something completely different to wind down the retirement years.

So what about him? - I think I would make a perfect boater, I'm interesting, highly educated, enormously well read and modest in all things. I'm opinionated, humorous and cantankerous in what I hope is equal measure. My one saving grace however is my generosity. My advice always comes for free, and it is administered whether you actually want it or not.

What about her? - Mag's is a natural born narrow boat "Skipper". She is a pocket dynamo, with more energy than the Duracell bunny. She enjoys organising both her day and especially organising mine. Her one saving grace however is, Mag's is a lover of all kinds of animals and so I know I am in good hands.

I suppose you are wondering who "Poppy" is? - She is at the time of writing a wonderful 18 month old Wire Haired Fox Terrier. "Pops" as she is better known, has brought a great deal of joy and pleasure into our lives. Pops is the child we never had together. The saving grace for Pops is, being the focal point of all of our love and attention and returning it in great measure.

So a bit about us as a family.

Some people would view us as being slightly "oddball characters" because of our love albeit late in life for motorcycling. I have been biking for some 48 years (and still counting) of event free enjoyment. We are both very keen on our two wheeled transport. So much so - that we still go from our home (Wits-End) in Barnsley, to our place of employment (The Salt Mine) in Sheffield most days by motorcycle. Usually with Mag's riding pillion behind me. But as Mags is an accomplished biker, she sometimes likes to get one of her own bikes out of the garage for a bit of a blast. At the last count we had five bikes to choose from! There have been times between us when we have had even more! We have also enormously enjoyed a few motorcycling inspired adventures. Including visits to the Isle of Man for the TT, biker holiday's to India as well as biker trips along the beautiful Turquoise Coast in Turkey.

Now we are planning for retirement.

We had thought for a long time about buying an MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) and touring round Europe. But we have come to realise since Poppy came along that a more - sedate life - is beginning to be a much more fulfilling option for our wants and needs. We have in the past had narrow boat holidays on the Shropshire Union canal and on the Norfolk broads. So owning a narrow boat and immersing ourselves in the canal life seems to be a potentially enjoyable prospect.

We started by enquiring about a short winter break holiday (to acclimatise ourselves to what winter on a narrow boat might be like) with "Sheffield Narrowboats - MUSN Grumble" based at the Sheffield canal basin. However, Mags needed to have some surgery done on her right hand and so we are still not in a position where we can go forge ahead with our plan. The next few days when the bandages come off will dictate our starting date! However, Mag's will also need some further surgery performed on her left hand sometime in the near future. So we will have to be very careful in the timing our winter jaunt.

(The "Winter Jaunt" hit the buffers when Mags developed some complications with dissolving stitches under the skin that refused to dissolve!)

Mind Mulling.

Last night we were both laid in bed musing about owning a narrow boat. The conversation eventually came round to what name we would use for our boat. Our house is called "Wits End" and there was some temptation to use the same name for the boat. However, I had mused over boat names many times in the past and "The Onion Bargee" was a name I thought could be quite humorous and actually say something about the fact that we are both curry aficionados. I imagine in my minds eye the name painted on the boat along with a cartoon of that most clich├ęd of images, the French, moustachioed, onion seller in a striped pullover and beret riding along on a bicycle festooned with bread and onions. But instead of a beret, my French onion seller would be wearing a turban!

Let the saga begin.

However, after much more musing "Wits-End" it is to be. So I have registered the domain name "" for a place on the net where our trials and tribulations can be recorded for posterity and hilarity.

There is much we have to learn, and we have about 12 months to go before we can commit to the lifestyle. So we have purchased a few magazines, had a long peruse of the narrow boats on eBay and wandered around the canal basin in Sheffield.

This weekend - we plan to do our first reconnoitre of a larger marina to get some idea of what's available and what might suit our eclectic tastes.

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