16 people. 2 canal boats. The Midlands. It shouldn’t have worked, it probably should have been an unmitigated disaster. But it was so good. The right mix of tranquil countryside and accompanying wildlife (so many ducklings!) and heady consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. There’s not a much better feeling than cruising at 2 miles an hour, cider in hand, in the sunshine. No one fell in the canal and no one fell out with each other, apart from an unfortunate incident concerning some eaten biscuits and some punching in the groin area. But as I did not witness this and as it was on the last night it doesn’t count. One guy also misjudged jumping off the boat on to the bank and got slightly damp feet, but it was not the full immersion I was expecting, so again, doesn’t count.
Some of the highlights:
The Heron Hunt. I think herons are cool, and we saw one whilst on the boat, standing on the bank, but as I tried to get a photo it flew off. So a heron hunt ensued, with us chasing it (chasing being used lightly, it was more a sit and wait while we crawled along) down the canal. At one point my friend pipes up that she can see it down the bank. Cue us patiently waiting as we approached it at 2 miles an hour. As we drew closer it started to look distinctly un-heron-like, though my friend was still convinced. So much so that she proclaimed ‘I’m 60% sure that’s a heron.’ Not as sound a percentage as you would hope for during a hunt and I had a right to have been worried. Look at this.
Idiot. There’s also a photo of her pointing at in an 'ironic’ 'look what I did’ kind of way but it causes me too much pain to look at. So the heron hunt was unsuccessful but it did not tar the holiday. Much.
'Secret Nuclear Bunker’. Not so sure if this is a highlight, more of an oddity. From the off, this secret nuclear bunker was undermined somewhat by the fact there were big signs saying 'Secret Nuclear Bunker’ everywhere. And the whole thing was a strange experience indeed. The museum looked like it had been set up in the 1960’s or whenever they felt the nuclear threat had diminished sufficiently, and then hadn’t been changed since, save for someone going round with a duster every month or so. I guess that was kind of the point, it looked like it did in the 1950s scaremongering days but it was bizarre and a slightly uneasy experience. What I did notice was, during the re-enactment film from the 1950’s, while all the coughing and traumatised boys had their faces smeared with all kinds of shit, their shirts and jumpers were suspiciously clean. It’s a conspiracy! Here are some photos to give you an idea of the stuff that was going down in that place.
Castle. We also went to a castle which was cool and had a really deep well, that the boys turned into a science experiment by dropping a 2p down it and timing how long it took to hit the bottom. Some complicated maths later and they estimated 250m. It was actually 125m according to some knowledgeable type but it was a good effort and better than I could have done. Some cool jets went over too, which were very loud and very cool and which caused everyone to get very excited.
Running semi-naked in the rain. We did precisely what it says on the tin. It absolutely fell out of the sky and so TTO, myself and another friend stripped down to bras and shorts (TTO was obviously not wearing a bra) and we ran bare foot down the tow-path. It was very refreshing, and by refreshing read effing freezing. It was a good laugh but I was glad to get my jazz pants back on.
We also had barbeques on the bank in the evening, visited lots of pubs, played some amusing and sometimes rather tense games of Articulate and Scrabble and tore it up on the last night by accidentally breaking things and dancing to this: