Monday, July 04, 2005

Three Brits a Frenchman and Me

While the rest of the world was riveted with Live 8, I set off to sail through narrow canals curving through the English country side in the company of four fine men and plenty of beer. The boat was cozy and quaint and if I actually knew anything about boats I would tell you what kind it was, but all I know is that it is long and blue with gold trim, can get up to a heart racing three miles an hour, is home to one of the four fine men aforementioned and is named the Clam. Dr. D and I almost decided not to go on the outing as we were both feeling fairly rough from the fine German lager the night before – but I’m quite glad we went. Dr. D proudly steered the boat and tooted the horn as we inched along the waterways of Nottinghamshire. For the first time in my life I got to go through a lock. I remember learning about them in school, how finally people could travel by boat to places never before thought possible thanks to these water locks. Quite an ingenious contraption; huge doors allowing the water to flow in or out, feeling the boat rise and fall. We even had the benefit of a small audience who commented on our every move. As we were leaving, an old man sitting on the banks asked me if it was my first time going through a lock – I guess it showed. After the lock we eventually made it to our destination of a tiny town called Sharlow and the two pubs that we decided to spend our day at, the Malt Shovel and the New Inn. It goes without saying that we preferred the Malt Shovel – if you’re going for old English charm, I think you’d be hard pressed to find it in a pub called “New Inn”. After too many pints of bitter (well at least for me and Dr. D – we made our last drink a coke – still can’t quite keep up the pace with our new English friends) and some fabulous dog sightings* we decided to head back as we didn’t want to be caught navigating the boat in the dark, especially not after a handful of beers in our belly. We made it back in one piece, enjoying the flora and fauna along the way. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see one of these river rats that the boys were telling me about, but I did get to see ducks, swans, moorheads, (or as Dr. D likes to call them – Water Chickens) and their babies.

Once we got back in the marina and docked the Clam, we sat outside drinking and listening to music as the sun went down, gently swaying along. A lovely ending to a lovely day out. But damn, I can’t believe I missed the Live 8 concerts on the telly.

* Quite literally we saw the biggest dog I have ever laid my eyes upon – butterscotch in colour, legs the size and girth of a donkeys, shoulders wide like a linebacker’s and a massive wrinkled old face. I wish he were mine. I also wish I had at least taken a picture of him.

Lauren Poulin

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