Great Canal Journeys (2014) s10e03 Episode Script

The British Isles

1 My name's Timothy West and this is my wife, Prunella Scales.
We are a pair.
A pair of actors of a certain vintage.
- Basil? - How?! All the world's a stage and in our time we both played many parts.
But as we head towards the final curtain call, there are still a couple of parts we like returning to.
The Captain.
- Cast off, please.
- Aye-aye, sir.
And his mate.
Pru's memory is not what it was.
Oh, my darling, I'm so sorry! I didn't cast you off! It's true.
Some days I don't know whether it's Monday or Lewisham.
But exploring canals and waterways is something we can still share.
Something we both love.
But now the sun is setting, and perhaps we are nearing the end of our journey.
They can carry on without us.
I just wonder whether, we can carry on without them.
So, this time, we're returning to the canal that we hold closest to our hearts.
It's wonderful to be back on the Oxford.
It was here over 40 years ago that we first fell in love with canals.
We took to the canals like ducks to water.
It shall be a chance to relive family memories.
All our children are onboard And to look back on the good times we've had navigating the waterways of Britain.
To me, really, there's nothing quite like the British canals where you are in nature.
We'll end this voyage at our home port of Braunston and celebrate four decades of family boating.
There is absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Yay! Cheers! To recreate our first-ever canal journey, we've come to Banbury on the Oxford.
The place where it all began years ago.
There we are.
Tooley's historic boatyard.
Been building and servicing boats since 1778.
Sitting in the shadow of a modern shopping centre, Tooley's is the oldest working dry dock on the network.
Right, let's go down and have a look.
Yeah, never mind about that.
Historically important, it also plays a significant part in West family history.
As this is where our boat was first fitted out.
30 years ago.
This must have been our boat here, being painted in the same way.
It's that long ago, was it? Yes, I suppose.
Ah, there must have been many hundreds, perhaps thousands of boats - Yes, I suppose.
- .
fitted out here.
Oh, a piece of canal history, isn't it.
Our lovely old boat is in for a routine check-up, and she's been given the once over by the boss at Tooley's, Matt Armitage.
- Hello, Matt.
- How are you? - Very well.
- Hi, Pru.
Well, she's looking all right, isn't she? Absolutely, looking very good.
We've travelled on some extraordinary craft on our great canal journeys, but there's no boat quite like your own.
Oh, here we are.
After a few years of pottering up and down the canals on a borrowed boat, in 1980, we commissioned our own.
Oh So many happy memories on this boat.
And she's been part of our family ever since.
She's a traditional design, she doesn't have all the mod cons, but but we love her.
- Cast off, please, Pruey.
- Cast off.
Our voyage will take us north up the Oxford through the Cherwell Valley.
Stopping off at the village of Cropredy, we'll then pass Wormleighton.
The canal gently meanders for a few miles before we must tackle the Napton flight of locks.
Our final destination is the historic canal village of Braunston, our home port.
- Got it.
- OK.
It's wonderful to be back on the Oxford.
Yep, 1976.
And we knew nothing about it, did we - at all? Well, we took to the canals like ducks to water, didn't we? Yep.
Nice at 4 mph.
It's the perfect way for two busy actors to unwind, isn't it? Sure - Or even two out-of-work actors to unwind! - Right.
As soon as wrap was called on a TV drama or the West End run had come to an end, Pru and I would head out to the city and on to Britain's canals.
It's lovely to know that there are still places in this country where nothing has changed over hundreds of years.
Whether boating through Yorkshire on the Leeds and Liverpool - Beautiful countryside, isn't it? - It's lovely.
or cruising down the Mon and Brec in Wales.
To spend time on the canals with the wildlife, the trees, and the plants, and the fields just brings you back to, well life really.
It's very healing and quite inspiring, really.
Canals have provided us with the perfect antidote to modern life.
Is this the most remote canal we've ever been on? - I think it probably is, yes.
- Me too.
The ideal way to get away from it all.
And following the Stratford Canal, we were reminded of another individual who was inspired by the beauty of our countryside - William Shakespeare.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, he writes about the countryside, doesn't he? Very much so.
I remember playing Hermia at school.
There's Titania over there.
Ah, yes! That's right, I'm Titania.
"Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.
" Who's going to dance? "I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows," "where oxlips of the dotting violet grows.
" "Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine," "the sweet musk roses and with eglantine.
" "There sleeps Titania some time of the night," "Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.
" "And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin," "weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
" Back to today, where we are on the Oxford Canal bound for tonight's mooring in the village of Cropredy.
With no locks to tackle for a while, Pru is taking it easy in the bow.
Little ducks.
As her condition gradually progresses, she's at her most content, simply enjoying nature.
It has got worse.
A big step back, I think, was when she began to be really quite deaf.
It does make conversation very difficult.
So, we don't talk to each other as much as we did.
And that's sad and awful, really.
We've been instantaneously swapping ideas and feelings for .
a large number of years.
But now, we can't.
I do feel quite lonely sometimes and it's having an effect on my own mind, certainly, that I haven't got people to .
share things with, and that means my own brain is slowing up.
Which is annoying.
Out here, Pru is at her best.
Look at the blossom.
It's a lovely time of year, isn't it? Yes.
The canal is good for both of us.
Something we can still share.
- Hello.
- Hi.
Hello, swan.
We're arriving at Cropredy now, a village we first discovered four decades ago, on our first-ever canal journey.
Small and seemingly insignificant, it was the site of a bloody battle during the English Civil War.
It's so peaceful.
Very hard to imagine people fighting here, really.
Well, there it happened.
And The Battle Of Cropredy Bridge, is regularly re-enacted.
In June 1645, a Royalist army of 9,000 men took on a Parliamentarian army and won a rather indecisive victory.
For King Charles I, it was too little, too late.
Look at that weeping willow behind you.
- It's lovely.
- It's sobbing! Cropredy enjoyed several centuries of calm until 1976 when the village's annual folk festival was founded.
Begun as a local affair by the band Fairport Convention, today it attracts tens of thousands of people.
- Lovely to see you, I'm Rick.
- Hello Fairport Convention are known for breathing new life into British folk rock and have taken time out from rehearsals to come aboard.
We always know when your festival is cos you can't actually moor for .
three miles! Now when it started in the mid '70s as a festival, it was because two members of the band, our bass player and our then fiddle player, both lived in the village.
We used to borrow the village hall for rehearsals.
And one afternoon they said, "Oh, would you like to play after the village fete?" - "Give us a few tunes?" - Oh.
So, that's how it started.
It was just an internal village thing, and here we are 40 years later with 20,000 people coming from all over the world.
It's wonderful.
Over the years, we've had a just staggering amount of variety of acts there.
Everything from the Beach Boys to Alice Cooper.
Who else? Pet Clark.
Yeah, Petula Clark! - She was fantastic.
- Did she sing? Yes, she certainly did - she headlined.
Oh! Who Knows Where The Time Goes Over the years, we've come to know and love Fairport's music.
And today they're playing a song that feels like it could almost have been written for us.
And I am not alone While my love is near me And so it will be so Until it's time for me to go So come you storms of winter And then the birds of spring again I have no fear of time And who knows how my love goes grows Who knows where time goes? "And who knows how my love grows?" "And who knows where the time goes?" Tim and I have returned to the Oxford Canal to relive our first ever voyage on Britain's inland waterways.
We left Banbury yesterday, heading north, and spent the first night on the boat.
It's half past ten in the morning and we've both been having a bit of a lie-in.
- Good morning.
- Lovely day.
We always take it easy on the canals, whether it's the speed of our boat or the time of our breakfasts.
Feels quite decadent, actually, still making breakfast at this hour.
Well, we're in no rush.
I like late breakfasts.
When you're in a show, it's rather good, isn't it, to stay up till all hours and then have breakfast when the day is sort of halfway through, really? I'm a morning person, really.
Shouldn't be an actress, at all.
Yes you did do a proper job, for a time, didn't you? - Did I? - Yeah.
Remember, when you were out of work.
What did I do? You worked for Which? magazine.
Oh, Lord, yes.
- Office hours.
- Mm.
Going round telling people what sort of margarine they ought to be eating.
Were you any good at it? No, hopeless, I think.
Don't remember a thing about it.
I may not be able to recall a job I did 50 years ago, but I do remember what my role is on a narrow boat.
Pru, cast off, please.
Yes, I'm 86, but I'm still the skipper's first mate.
Canals still seem to have a special significance in, well both our lives, really.
And we we both love it and we both love exploring it and finding out new things.
That is something we we can share, certainly.
I think we're both quite fit enough and energetic enough and .
to be able to cope until .
till we drop, really, probably.
I Hope.
But you can't keep canal boating without having to work on the odd lock or two.
It's the first mate's most important job.
Thanks, Pru.
She loved doing it and still does.
But it depends on locks.
You know, some of the, some of them are very well-maintained and they're quite easy to manage.
Some are very stiff and I don't want her harming herself by trying to do something that .
you know, could be dangerous.
Quite stiff, these.
OK, Pru? Pru? - What? - You all right? - Yes.
- Yeah, good.
Once you've opened the paddles, it's so satisfying to see the water rush in and start filling the lock.
While you're waiting, you can listen.
Hah! You can hear the birds .
and the leaves in the trees.
And if it isn't actually with rain, you can feel quite happy.
After 40 years on the canals, it feels like I might have opened and closed every lock on the network.
Well, we're going up the Caen Hill flight.
16 locks.
Keeps you fit.
Britain's waterways network would never have been possible without the invention of the pound lock.
Easier to build than tunnels or aqueducts, locks are the inescapable fact of canal travel.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Pru! Go ahead and do the next one.
All told, there are 29 locks on the entire Caen Hill flight and Pru managed them all that day, almost single-handed.
A task that would have been a challenge for someone half her age.
Oh, well done.
But as time has moved on, she's found things a little harder.
I'm going to need some help.
I'll come.
You move up a bit.
- I'll stand here.
- Yeah.
So, these days, whenever possible, I like to give her a hand.
It's not just your strength.
Look, you've got a longer Complaining about the length of my implement again.
No, no, no.
Never let it be said.
I see myself as a warrior of the waterways, armed with a windlass, ready to take on any challenge.
I'm sorry.
Even so, things do occasionally go wrong.
Oh, fart! And the rewards of victory make it all worthwhile.
Tim! We're at the summit.
Hurray! Done it.
So, here we are, 600 feet above sea level.
Back on the Oxford, we've now entered the contour section of the canal.
Its engineer, James Brindley, was forced to cut costs.
So, for a number of miles there are no locks at all.
Instead, to keep the canal at the same level, it simply follows the lay of the land.
It waves about a bit, which does mean that it takes about 11 miles to get five miles nearer your destination.
You can, in fact, pass the same building on the right and pass it again half an hour, later also on the right.
It's what Tom Rolt called the 11-Mile Pound.
We're following the same route he took 80 years ago.
Tom's voyage was to go down in canal history and became one of the main reasons we can all enjoy Britain's canals today.
We have a lot to thank him for.
In the late 1930s, Tom Rolt set out along the Oxford Canal to explore the then, dying network.
A way of life that had existed for two centuries was fading away.
His famous account of that voyage, Narrow Boat, woke the nation up to what we were about to lose.
"When we moved out of the lock into the pound above, "we found ourselves winding through deserted water meadows "beside the Cherwell, our only spectators "the cattle on the banks who looked up from their grazing to gaze in "mild curiosity", wisps of lush grass protruding from the corners of their mouths.
"No-one who has not experienced it can fully appreciate the unfailing "fascination of this tranquil voyaging.
" I think that's true.
Tom Rolt's book was so popular, that it kick-started a revolution in canal restoration.
Not bad, not bad at all.
Piece of cake, isn't it? So, another lock done.
Another set of gearing completed.
The restoration is ongoing, as we discovered in Lancashire, where they're battling to restore the northern reaches of the old Lanky Canal.
Urgh, look at that.
Underneath that is the Lancaster Canal.
And will be again.
It's happening.
What a job.
Today, Britain has over 2,000 miles of navigable canal.
And we're proud of the small part we played in the reopening of the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1990.
Remember, we pulled out 80 supermarket trolleys, didn't we? From a two-mile stretch.
Thanks to all its dedicated enthusiasts, the K&A was fully operational again, in time for its 200th anniversary.
See this? The K&A Oh, that's lovely.
It's our canal, isn't it? - Oh, that's rather - It's quite an achievement.
rather moving.
As if to make up for the long wiggly bit, the Oxford's engineers have now given us a section that's dead straight.
Where are we? Well, believe it or not, we're in the Fenny Compton Tunnel.
But don't worry, it hasn't been a recognisable tunnel since 1838.
It was rather narrow and had no tow path - there was a great logjam of boats going in both directions.
Eventually, it was decided to open it up.
Very long it must have been.
I'd have been scared rigid going through it, Tim.
- Oh, you always say that.
- Well, it's true.
Tim knows I hate tunnels.
So, in 2015, he decided to take me down the longest one in the country.
Of course, cutting through the Pennines, the Standedge Tunnel is not only the longest, but also the highest and deepest canal tunnel on the network.
It's incredibly sinister.
200 years ago, men carrying candles and wielding only picks and shovels hacked and blasted their way through three and a quarter miles of solid rock.
And how long did it take them? 17 years.
On board with us was safety officer Fred, who knew the hazards we faced underground.
Steady now, steady.
Ah! Ah! We were down there for more than three hours.
It makes me feel .
as if I'd died.
I don't know what's going to be at the end of the tunnel.
I don't know whether I'm going to go to hell, or or come out into into heaven, perhaps.
Yes! Little light at the end of the tunnel.
As well as having a touch of claustrophobia, I'm also not too keen on heights.
So, naturally, my husband had to take us across the longest and highest aqueduct on the network.
Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a rite of passage for any narrow boater.
A triumph of 18th-century engineering, it is 1,000 feet long and crosses the River Dee at a height of over 40 metres.
It's pretty stupendous, isn't it? It's known as the Stream in the Sky.
I mean, looked at from this angle you look as if you're just flying over - nothing.
Oh, my God.
How does it make you feel? - Terrified.
- You don't like it, no.
Crossing that aqueduct was exhilarating.
And soon, even Pru started to enjoy herself.
I want to fling myself onto the top of those trees and bounce.
- Yeah.
- I won't, I promise.
No, please don't.
Having experienced two engineering wonders of the early canal age, in 2018, we got the chance to descend the extraordinary Anderton Boat Lift, the Victorians' answer to a long flight of locks.
So, what happens next? Well, this caisson goes down 50 feet and the other one, over there, comes up.
Oh, wow.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
Despite looking like something designed by Heath Robinson, it knocked many hours off old journey times and was in commercial use for 100 years.
The Oxford Canal might not have the drama of some of Britain's other waterways, but we still love it.
Besides, what I want from my boating, is peace.
When you're not actually needed for mooring, or navigation, or casting off, you can have a little read, it's wonderful.
Lovely, relaxed stretches like this make Pru and me feel we could keep on boating forever.
If you look at her today .
she's chatting away, reading .
remembering things, remembering bits of poetry, remembering songs.
You think, "Well, that's all right, isn't it?" We're navigating the Oxford Canal, the waterway on which we made our maiden voyage over four decades ago.
We've been looking back at some of the special journeys we've made and remembering the reasons why we keep returning to the canals.
I always say the canals is seeing England from the back.
It perhaps carried coal, or some valuable commodity, but not necessarily from A to B - perhaps in the route which was the easiest and probably the cheapest for the engineers to drive.
So, you'll see places that you never knew were there.
There's no other reason to go there.
There's no roads, there's no railway line.
You find magical bits of the country.
And we both love it and we both love exploring it.
It's those moments of unexpected beauty that I love.
A ruined abbey we never knew was there.
The surprising charm of a waterway high above, the busy roads of London.
What a contrast life is down there in those cars .
from us up here, just tooling along at four miles an hour.
Remember the mysterious Devenish Island? - It's an ancient monastery.
- Strange.
It was founded 1,500 years ago.
And then there's those little places that just feel - right.
Magic! The heart of England.
Our current voyage is also taking us through the English countryside, heading from Banbury, north along the Oxford, has brought us to the tiny village of Wormleighton.
It's lovely springtime - look at all the buds.
Seems we've discovered another hidden gem.
It's a pretty place, isn't it? Yes, it's a charming village.
Quite unusual history.
The village was once home to the aristocratic Spencer family, ancestors of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, of course.
Over there is the remains of Wormleighton Manor.
Oh! It looks like it could be Tudor.
Backers of King Charles I during the Civil War, the Spencer family home was set ablaze.
The gatehouse is the only part of it that's left.
Oh, dear! So, the family were forced to decamp to Althorp House, which they also owned.
Lucky they had a second home! Yes, quite a nice pad, I believe.
Look! Still standing today is the old Spencer Family church, St Peter's.
It's been here for almost 1,000 years.
- Hello.
- Hello.
Hello, welcome.
The current vicar is Gillian Roberts.
Welcome to our lovely church of St Peter's.
It's been here since the Doomsday Book was written.
- Right.
- Right.
It has a wonderful feel about it, hasn't it? A wonderful sort of feeling of safety and permanence and these sandstone pillars are .
gorgeous, aren't they? Yes, it's seen it's seen a lot of history.
We also have links with the Spencer family.
Oh, right, yes.
Above the door, we have a memorial to Princess Diana.
- Oh, she died young didn't she? - She did, yes.
Oh, bless her! A simple English parish church, neither are few places more peaceful, more healing.
It's an environment that allows you to reflect.
- .
think a bit.
- Yes.
And you probably feel like that on some of your journeys - taking you away from the busyness of everyday life.
- Yes.
- Yes.
It's just getting, slightly more difficult now, with we're getting a bit older.
So, is this going to be your last canal journey? Well, they can carry on without us.
I just wonder whether we can carry on without them.
We've put on quite a few years since our first trip down the Oxford, but the number of locks we have to tackle has, of course, remained the same.
Oh, he's going to bang! That's a bit shorter than usual, have you noticed? Ha! Fortunately, this crew is taking on a new recruit Hello! .
in the form of our daughter Juliet.
Hi, Daddy.
- Good.
- Good to see you.
Our offspring have grown up with canals and now they have children and even grandchildren of their own, but our boat is still a place where the family can come together.
It's not bad for an old boat, is it? - Not bad for 30.
- Wow! Pru needs a rest after all the locks.
So, Jules and I are on shore duty while she takes the helm.
- Am I doing the right things? - Yeah.
Yeah, brilliant.
- Pru? Don't go too far back.
- Forwards! - OK? - OK.
Well done.
- Wow, she's rather good at this, isn't she? - Yes.
I think she may be taking you on your job.
I think so.
Oh, Christ - I've done the right thing! Can you believe? Brilliant, Pru! Pru's back where she knows and it's like second nature.
Very good.
I think it really livens her up and she's just got into this lock with no bumps at all - unlike my dad! - So um, I think they should swap, and he should do the washing up! Away from the canals, it's not so great.
I mean, Pru .
my dad's lost his best friend, really.
If this is the last Great Canal Journeys, then it's not their last canal journey by any means.
You know, they've got the boat and they love it and it's still going strong and they'll be on it as much as they can, I know that.
- Tim! - Yeah? - How am I doing? - Very good.
Now, into reverse.
Now, put the till hard over that way.
Hard as you can.
Just when you think you've got the hang of it Good, now come forward.
I can't.
I'm in the bank.
Oh, well it's not the last time we'll have a bit of boat trouble and certainly not the first! And it's not always my fault .
as we discovered on the River Avon, when Tim decided to do a little pruning along the bank! Argh! I've lost my hat! My favourite hat, I bought it at Biba years ago.
There it is.
Look out, there's some trees behind you again - there are trees everywhere.
I don't want to lose the boat hook.
I've got the boat hook and I've got the hat and I've got you, so it's all right.
In that order? Will you forgive me? - Yes.
- Thank you.
On principle.
But even you can't blame me for the weather in Wales.
Oh, help! Down here, they call it, "liquid sunshine".
- Ah, this is what we were promised.
- Oh! - Yeah, here it comes! Oh, yes, this is the stuff! I'm soaking! But it was the time we ventured into open seas that things really got hairy.
OK, let's go.
And when we left Tobermory, with local boatmen Mike and Ross, we were full of hope.
But the weather didn't look too clever.
It's going to be quite fresh.
You can see the winds just picking up there.
- Yeah.
And it was far worse than anyone expected.
As we're coming round the point now, you see that we're picking up - a bit more of this Atlantic well.
- Yeah.
Ooh! It's getting very rough, isn't it? - Are we going to be all right? - Oh, yes.
- Are we? - Absolutely! It will be a bit "rolly", but you'll be fine.
I'll grab you! Much as I fancied falling into the arms of a handsome boatman Everyone hold on a wee bit there.
I was getting really quite concerned.
Argh! - Tight to starboard.
- Oh! It was face the full brunt of an Atlantic storm, or turn back.
Just like in the canal locks, eh? - When they opened the sluice gate.
- Yeah.
In the end, it was all worth it.
The lobster's ready! - Way hey! - Woo, how brilliant.
Cheers to the skull.
- Cheers.
Yes, indeed.
- To yourselves.
You know when I talked about a different rhythm of life? Yes.
Well, this is what I meant.
Idyllic! We're on the Oxford Canal, bound for our home port at Braunston where our offspring and their children are gathering to celebrate four decades of West family boating.
We're coming up to Napton Junction now.
But as we progress down the canal, we seem to be picking up daughters and now sons along the way.
- Hi.
- Hello! Hop on! Brilliant.
Hello, Dad With Sam and Joe Joining us, we now have a full house of Wests onboard.
The first time in too many years.
Oh, all our children onboard.
No, I think there are more Somewhere.
- Are there? - Yeah.
Oh, darling, any you haven't told me about? Well My father said, "Pru, I want to be there at the birth.
" And she said, "Why? You weren't there at the conception.
" Takes me back to our early days of boating.
When the boys were running up and down the towpath, opening locks and bridges, just having fun.
They got so lovely and tired.
What about you and Daddy without us? You've continued to go on the boat pretty regularly for 40 years.
Well, we love it.
It divides our attention.
Tim's the skipper, and the mechanic.
And I'm the cook.
Yes, quite loosely defined roles I hope - And yet the boat still runs! - And food still appears! "And yet the" what? The boat still runs! And nobody's poisoned, amazingly! And on the whole, nobody gets drowned and nobody throws each other in That is true - in 43 years on the whole, nobody has got drowned.
- Not many deaths.
- No.
1980, no-one died! We're on the last leg now, that will take us to the canal port of Braunston.
There we'll be having a bit of a party to celebrate over four decades of canal boating.
It's magic, isn't it? To be .
not in the countryside, but under the countryside.
It's lovely, all this.
I do miss it.
It's where we first came closest to cows and sheep, really.
Growing up in London, we noticed that mixture of sheep and brambles and thorns, and ducks and Hello.
- You see the lambs? - Yes.
Quite big there, now.
Not little things that popped out last week.
So, how do you think Ma is holding up? She seems quite happy at the moment.
Pretty good, really, considering.
But conversation is very difficult now and Yeah.
I have noticed her short-term memory is virtually non-existent now.
No, no.
And what about you? How are you feeling about it all? I manage, erm I just feel really that, erm .
I don't any more have anyone really to talk to.
It must be very lonely.
Yes, you're right, it is.
It is rather lonely.
But, you know, she's there and .
she knows who I am.
Yeah? Pru still recalls episodes from her childhood.
And it's when we're on the canals that these distant memories float to the surface.
During the war we, I was My school was evacuated to Windermere.
- Yes.
- Westmorland And we spent our holidays on a sheep farm in the hills, and we used to carry the lambs down from the fells in our arms so they could be properly fed because their mums couldn't carry them.
We were trying not to not to shake them too much.
Ba-ah-ah-ah-ah! We're coming into Braunston now, once a busy commercial canal port.
For two centuries, this would have been home for hundreds of canal-boating families.
Today, it's the West family who are gathering here, and four generations of them have turned out to welcome us.
There's our granddaughter, Kate, and her partner, Asimo.
With our great grandchildren, Kaya and Matty.
And our grandson Felix, Joe's son, has come all the way from France to join us.
- Oh! - Brilliant! Oh, my goodness! Seems like the youngsters have got a surprise for us.
Hooray! Go on! Well, someone's been very flattering about my boobs.
I think what's really accurate about this cake is that Daddy is steering directly into the bulrushes.
OK, go for it.
Cut, cut, cut Cut, cut, cut, cut It's the perfect way to celebrate 35 great canal journeys and over 40 years of family boating.
I think I'd just like to leave you with a toast.
Ratty's advice to Mole in The Wind In The Willows.
He says, "Believe me, my young friend.
" "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing" "as simply messing about in boats.
" - Messing about in boats.
- Messing about in boats! Yay! Cheers! Well, it's time to say goodbye for now.
I hope we'll meet again out on the cut.
Perhaps, you'll find me beside a lock, windlass in hand, or moored up with a nice glass of wine.
Or maybe I'll be negotiating the tightest of tight corners, as you come around the same bend.
It'll be a little awkward, but we'll both be terribly polite.
Ideally, you'll catch a glimpse of us together on the stern gliding along serenely, as we take in the beauty and the majesty of this sceptred isle.
God bless Britain's canals and all who sail on them.