British Summer Time began today. Thank heavens. We can now start using the canals for the very purpose they were originally built.
Which was, of course, spoilt relaxation.
Whether you worship a single all-encompassing deity, a whole tribe of them, or Richard Dawkins, there's no better place to reflect on all that life has blessed you with than by tying up in some quiet, halcyon spot on the Sabbath.
This last winter has been the longest, coldest and darkest in my memory. Winters weren't always so bad. Well, perhaps they were, but they never felt so miserable to me as this last one.
I thought of this when I rediscovered these pictures of NB Firoza, taken in the summer of 2008. As I approached this neat blue narrowboat I could sense they were taking it easy:
And when Granny drew up alongside, and I saw the Boaters Christian Fellowship sticker in the window, along with a rude exhortation ("What part of 'slow down' don't you understand?") I knew they'd found their mission in life.
In tribute to the arrival of summer time today, following are some more photos of that single day in high summer on the Coventry Canal, almost three years ago, on July 27th 2008.
I started the day setting off from halfway up the Atherstone flight and mooring in the sunset at Hartshill. It was barely a couple of hours in working-boat terms, but for modern leisure boaters it could take an age - deliberately so.
(Do you recognise these faces? Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Your prompt action ((3 years on) could prevent a repeat of the offence, and you could be in line for a reward, which you could then spend in Cash Converters or on cheap cider.)
(A short diversion: Motorcycling on the towpath is so irritating to the boater. It's usually done in dry summer, when the towpath is solid and the naughty biker knows the water won't be too cold if they fall in.
I wrote about it in May 2008 in the post Motorcycle on the towpath, and again a few months later in Easy Towpath Riders, but I encounter towpath biking quite often. They don't always contemptibly flick British V-signs or American middle fingers. Sometime they are quite cheery, like this fellow giving a thumbs-up on the Wyrley & Essington Canal in May 2009:)
But I digress. Such petty annoyances are quickly lost in the energetic joy of a lock flight in summer, part of which is the charm of exercising in the company of other, passing, boaters.
I'll fast-forward here to Hartshill:
Here it was that I tied up Granny for the week, returning on the following Saturday to take her through to Rugby. As I left my beloved boat that day, the late afternoon sky seemed to bless her with sunbeams:
[that's enough holiday snaps - ed]
It's a disappointment to me that I can't cruise around the system so far and wide any more. That's the paradox - now that my boat is my home, it seems more rooted to one neighbourhood than ever.
Still, as I said at the start, I'm so relieved that another summer has begun. We are so lucky to live in England.