At the moment there are three wonderful blogs that I'm following in particular, apart from my usual rounds, and they all involve long distance journeys on the waters. The blogs in question are NBHerbie, the almost daily log of a three month plus cruise round England's canals, rivers and Fen ditches; Blauwe Vis, our friend Philip's tales of his travels through France and Wandering Snail's Wanderings, stories and photos of an English Narrowboat's meanderings through Belgium.
Reading their stories has been fantastic. I've followed their progress and both laughed and gasped with them at every twist and turn. Neil of the Herbie blog writes in a lovely, friendly self deprecating way, but reading between the lines, you just know he knows how to handle his boat (and himself) in some pretty scary situations. He also gives heaps of information about the wildlife, countryside and birds that they see on their way. I never realised England had so much truly rural and unspoilt fen land, and I check his blog every day as I hate to miss an update. He takes some mean photos too.
Philip's blog is like following my own dream of going to France on the Vereeniging, but apart from that, his story telling is so vivid and colourful, it should be a book not a blog. Sadly most other people won't be able to read it as he writes in Dutch (naturally) and also in quite an informal and colloquial style. Sometimes I have to read his posts two or three times before I really understand everything, but all the same, I love them and it's like hearing him speak. He always was good at spinning a yarn..... And, these accounts are full of local life and characters, but with probably just a few small embellishments here and there to add a bit of sauce to the flavour! His photos are also terrific and tell the story of his travels really beautifully too.
The last one, Wandering Snail's Wanderings, is a recent find and I discovered them through Saltysplash, whose blog is another on my list of favourites. When I saw that Wandering Snail was a narrowboat cruising through Belgium, I read the blog from start to finish, and am now following it regularly. What was even more of a thrill was that we came across them ourselves when visiting Ieper last weekend. We'd decided to have a day out, and were originally going to go to Bergues in France on the strength of one of their posts. After slogging a hundred km's through the pouring rain, though, we decided to cut our losses and go to Ieper (or Ypres in French) instead. Well, imagine our surprise and excitement when we found the Snail herself moored up in the harbour there. It was like seeing a celebrity after having read so much about this most fêted of English barges.
The owners, Oll and Annie were clearly around but we couldn't make ourselves heard, so had to leave a note to say we'd called. Later that evening I got an email from them saying they'd been there but were watching the F1 racing so hadn't heard us! Who says that life afloat needs to be limited? Satellite TV and all mod cons, not to mention a stunning Royal Enfield motorbike. Of course I took some photos to prove it (see below). The good news is that we will probably be catching up with these two blogging boaters when they arrive in Ghent in the coming days.
You can just see my note under the mat there
The beautiful carving Oll did for their roof. The story behind it is on their blog.
The Wandering Snail from the stern
And the Royal Enfield motorbike tucked into their foredeck
I can really recommend following the links. See what I see and see what I dream about too. If you can't go travelling, sharing the experiences of these three very different waterways cruisers will at least give you a taste of what it is to have this wonderful way of life that all we boat people aim for - always. These three have succeeded in making it happen. I wish I was one of them.