Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Actually, that was fine. Husband and son set off for a week to take part in the Birmingham Canal Challenge, leaving me on my tod for the third year running.

The story is that three years ago The Crisis hit me. Then came the literal cure. Shortly following that, Husband had the opportunity to take part in the challenge in Dotterel, our 62' narrow boat moored up in Warwickshire, the Midlands. The idea being that you and crew start on a given date from any point within the Birmingham navigation canal system, and arrive at a named point on another appointed date. The most points are earned using lesser known channels and underused sections (thus opening up these areas for other boaters). Not certain what the prize is, but the point is the challenge, the number of locks to get through, the camaraderie, and the fun. And see how long it takes you to do it.

The first year I ordered Husband to do it. He's been a narrow boater forever, at least ever since he watched The Flower of Gloster (wrong spelling!), a kid's telly series back in the seventies about a bunch of kids getting their father's boat to a destination to be sold after dad had an accident. The series captured Husband's young imagination like you can't imagine.

Into Birmingham

I've boated forever, my father's wooden dinghy back in the sixties, then our own narrow boat, Dotterel, and now our Canadian canoe. So when the opportunity for Husband to take part in the challenge, I said: 'Thank you for the past thirty years, honeybun, now off you go.' No, I didn't say that, but it's close. I was looking forward to it. A whole week to watch any crap on the telly I wanted. To scoff chocolate without feeling guilty. To glug wine every night and go to bed at two in the morning. The washing up doesn't get done. The washing moulders in the laundry basket. The floor turns into a rubbish heap. I exaggerate. Of course I do.

That first year was good. I remembered to feed the cat and was delighted that Husband was now free to do this thing instead of continuously caring for me. His crew consisted of our adult heavy- metal, hilarious son, two hippies - one of them being Hub's niece, the other, the daughter of close friends - and our close friends' daughter's friend. Husband surrounded by all this young company. Fab! And Hubs regularly texted me to tell me what was happening. Fab. Especially when he 'deaded' close friends' hippy daughter (picture of her lying on lock beam, dead. Well - knackered. Not really dead). Then last year happened. Not so many crew. Son, Husband's sister, brother-in-law for part of the trip that involved umpteen zillion locks. Sister and son nattered non-stop. That's what they do. Very good trip. Apparently I became lonely. I vaguely remember that.

Husband's sister

This trip - poor ol' puss had copped it, poor love - consisted of son, both hippies, both hippy's mums (sister is one) and bro-in-law. Good stuff. I was fine about it, in fact looked forward to my alone-ness. But the day before they left, I gloomed. Don't know why, exactly. We went for cup of tea in town and thought about it. Did I feel guilt left over from my parents days: 'You should be doing this or that?' No. All that's gone. Did I feel a sense of freedom with family away? Not having to be concerned over Husband's welfare when he's around? I don't know.

But, as we talked about our writing projects and stories on the way home from town, I began to cry. Hooray! We've snagged it! Me crying means we've hit it. The problem. It's my novel. As always. This is the only sometimes negative thing I feel these days. Wanting so much to get my novel 'out there'. Husband sat me down and went over what was happening with it. I'm printing my chapters out. I'm posting them on Facebook for critiques and Gmailing them to friends for the same. All very positive. Just got to keep at it. 😣

In the meantime, in sculpture, which I drove to in my roof-off convertible Mini Cooper with the sun shining and my hair flapping all over the place, I've started sculpting an Easter Island head in clay. Inspired. Feeling fine now.

And yes - no cat. That's fine, too. She's in pussy heaven. And I'm not as disgusting as I thought I was. Actually doing the washing up and keeping the floor not looking like the aftermath of a hurricane. Anyway, all good. Good for Husand. Good for me. He asked if I might consider joining him next year. What? How many locks did you say?
I might be in. Let's wait until next year.

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