“Talk about throwing us in the deep end…”

BY KATY ROBSON-MALONE

Well, what a little adventure we have just had reliving our childhood memories of Rosie and Jim. A few people have commented on how crazy we are, but we’ve just taken the girls on a narrowboat holiday! Don’t worry, the thought of it sent shudders up my spine wondering how we would keep a five, three and one-year-old safe, and in particular the mid-kid, who would more than likely throw herself into a lock just for the hell of it – like when she braved hypothermia and threw herself in the sea in January! But it actually went really well. The kids had a ball and so did the grown ups!!

We are not completely nuts though – we didn’t do this on our own. In fact, we went with some canal boat pros, who were very encouraging about what we could achieve with three small ones in tow!! Oh, and they did ease us into the experience gently with over 40 locks to be tackled in the first day alone!! Talk about throwing us in the deep end.

It was really cool though. We fell into our routines really quickly. We had Nick, who was pretty much the skipper for most of the trip. He was the one in charge, telling us where we were going and getting twitchy if we weren’t sticking to his timescale. He was over the moon when we were happy to do some extra locks one evening. Although his most important job was making the tea in the morning and getting the tiniest human out of her cot at 5am so I could doze for a bit longer!!! 5am is no time to start your day. Karen was the feeder and chief organiser. She literally brought everything except the kitchen sink. If you needed it, she had it. Including an endless supply of treats suitable for everybody. The girls were loving party rings for breakfast and me – Jaffa cakes!! Karen was also head of lock training and keeping us in check with that whole process. Lynz was the cook at breakfast setting everybody up for the day and then she teamed up with Karen for the majority of the locks. I was mainly in cabin services, which included the kids club and bar service for the workers.

Lynz thoroughly enjoyed herself, getting loads of fresh air and working hard on the locks. She even wants to go again next year. There were times when I was feeling a bit ferryish and cabin fever kicked in when inside with the girls, but with the weather being so good we would just get off and have a little walk, play with bubbles and do some bird-spotting with their new binoculars.

If you’ve never tried it, I would definitely recommend it. I was quite surprised at how good the facilities were and how much you could fit on the boat. I was not impressed with the toilet situation when Lynz blocked the toilet with a giant poo and begged me to sort it. Closely followed by mid-kid falling down the toilet onto her poo. That, along with the movement of the boat, tipped me right over the edge, dry-heaving and everything. Supposedly Lynz knows now that I really love her and I’m the best wife ever. All because I sorted out her mishap. That is proper true love.

The girls had an adventure and loved walking down the tow path and helping with the locks. The tiniest traveller got to sit in the buggy, supervising the skipper, or sometimes in the backpack watching everything going on around her. There were lots of “quack quacks” according to mini Bill Oddie.

It took me at least 24 hours to feel like I had stopped moving once we had gotten off the boat, but it was well worth it when the girls are still talking about it now…. that’s all four of them! Happy memories created with special friends. Ahhhhhh!

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