Barging around England with the kids – The Times Saturday Travel section, Jan 17th
The weekend before last, Times columnist Caitlin Moran wrote about the Four Counties Ring holiday that she took with family and friends last summer.
Hats off to the upbeat headline:
Four counties, six days, three young pirates ... Caitlin Moran says a barge [sic] break in England is great for families.
She's done something rare – she's actually written a very witty, very entertaining WIDITH of a canal holiday, truly original. It starts:
Barge [sic] holidays are rather like childbirth. In that nobody will ever tell you how painful they are. They hurt. They really hurt. A lot.
But then - also like childbirth - I don't want me telling you how much it hurts to put you off. You would love a barge [sic] holiday. You really would.
When you finally hold that week-on-a-tin-boat in your arms, and look into its eyes, you will undoubtedly find it one of the most rewarding moments of your life.
It's full of turns of phrase that are new to me - for example canal boats travel at 'the pace of custard', a narrowboat is 'a tin bath', and they moor up in 'a flurry of ropes'.
She won't make many friends in Stoke on Trent with this article – she calls the city 'a shit hole'. She presumably only saw the canal part of it – which I think is lovely, the best part! She neglects to mention the most dramatic part – Harecastle Tunnel – perhaps because they didn't see the boggart, the Ghost of Harecastle Tunnel.
But her kids had a good time - "their best-ever holiday" she says - and when you are a family, that's what really counts.
I really enjoyed this article; it's one of the best WIDITHs I've ever read, and great PR for the canal hire business. So I'm glad to discover that Caitlin Moran is an anagram of 'not a criminal'. Compared to many journalists who write up their canal holidays, she's innocent.