Cressida McLaughlin is one of my favourite authors. I adore her stories filled with genuine characters, captivating and realistic storylines and settings so vivid that every time I read her book I imagine myself living in one of the charming locations.
At the beginning of February, Cressida release her brand new series set on a gorgeous Canal Boat ( my review ) and as I suspected it is already an Amazon UK #1 Best Seller in Women short stories!
Cressida manages to find time in her very busy schedule to pop over to my blog and tell me about her perfect Canal Boat trip. I loved reading her guest post, and I hope you will too!
My perfect Canal Boat trip
My perfect canal boat trip would involve lots of wildlife watching, enjoying the nature and the landscape, and sitting on the deck in the sunshine with a glass of wine and a good book. This is an idyllic view, ignoring all the hard work, like steering into moorings and working locks – as well as the endless potential, especially with someone a bit clumsy like me, for getting very soggy. But I’m focusing on the lovely bits, because this is my perfect trip.
Picking a location would be the hardest part. I live near the Norfolk broads, but narrowboats aren’t particularly welcome because they’re such long boats and can cause holdups on the narrow stretches of river. The Mon and Brec canal, in the Brecon Beacon national park, is stunning. My husband and I took a trip on a cool, damp day, and parts of the river were shrouded in mist that made it seem ghostlike, with views of the impressive hills in the distance.
There are the Fenland Waterways where my book, The Canal Boat Café is set, which include Cambridge, beautiful Ely, and also Peterborough and Northampton. You pass through picturesque villages and towns, and feel small under the huge fenland skies. Regents Canal runs through London, and passes alongside London Zoo. I remember taking a very small boat along the canal with my aunt and uncle when I was small, and being amazed that there was such a peaceful stretch of water right in the heart of the capital. There’s so much choice, and I haven’t even mentioned the Grand Union canal!
I’m going to pick the Fenland Waterways for my trip, so that I can follow in Summer’s footsteps. I’d spend time at the helm – I think you have to experience how it feels to be in control and navigate the locks and moorings. Locks are hard work, but they’re also – if you’re lucky enough to be on the boat rather than working the top and bottom gates – thrilling, as you and your boat rise up or sink down to a different level, the water rushing around you as it either fills up or drains out of the lock.
I would spend as much time as possible on the deck of the boat, enjoying the colour and activity that rivers and canals attract. As well as tour boats and canal boat cafés, I’ve come across bookshop boats and flower boats, all making the most of people passing on the towpath or other boat owners. But I’d also spend time on the quieter stretches of water, trying to spot the wildlife – herons and kingfishers, ducks and geese and wagtails. There is always something to see, and it’s often the things you wouldn’t be able to spot from land.
In real life, I’d take my husband with me, and a couple of good friends. If this was the dinner-party scenario moved onto a boat, then I’d also invite two of my favourite authors – Lucy Robinson and Elly Griffiths, because I’d love to spend time talking to them. In the evening we’d sit on the deck with a glass of wine, and watch the sunset reflecting in the water, the lights of the other boats glowing softly. When it got dark we could lie on the deck, or on the roof of the boat, and look up at the unsullied view of the stars, away from the light pollution of towns and cities.
It’s funny, because I’ve never been remotely interested in camping, and in some ways they’re similar. You get close to nature, there’s hard work involved – building your home for the night or steering and navigating through locks, and in both cases you have to deal with leaks – but there’s something magical about being on a narrowboat that I think camping is entirely lacking. But then narrowboats can be beautiful inside, and kitted out with all mod cons - some of the interiors I saw while researching my book were stunning. So if our trip was cursed with bad weather, I would happily moor up and we could stay inside, reading by the woodburner and listening to the rain pitter-patter on the surface of the water.
Right, I think I’ve convinced myself that this trip has to happen, and I’m even hoping for a bit of rain along the way. Who wants to come with me?
My Review of All Aboard, the first book in The Canal Boat Cafe series.
Crab any of Cressida's fabulous books here.
Happy Reading! xo
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