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Posted 20 hours ago

Narrow Dog To Carcassonne

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When they retired, Terry Darlington and his somewhat saner wife Monica--together with their dog, a whippet named Jim--chucked their earthbound life and set out in an utterly unseaworthy sixty-foot canal narrowboat across the notoriously treacherous English Channel and down to the South of France. He's clearly a well-read man and at times you could almost describe his style as 'stream of consciousness' but ultimately unless, like me, you share his love of canals and boating, running, beer and France, and appreciate his sense of humour, you are unlikely to enjoy this book. You’ll meet the French nobody meets—poets, captains, scholars, madmen; they all want to know the couple on the painted boat and their narrow dog. We keep crashing into things and running out of fuel and falling in and people shout at us and stick notes on the door. That is how the English narrow lock was born, and the English narrowboat-the cigarette, the pencil, the eel, the strangest craft ever to slither down a waterway.

There is not much plot to the book, it is a tale of their journey, with anecdotes, a bit of history and a good helping of fantasy and day dreaming. I knew there were forests of weed beneath the glassy cool translucent wave, and green herds that swim through rainbows from the skies . The lady on the barge tied up to his boat kills herself one night, quite a distressing episode, you'd think, yet it just becomes a small and equal part with the rest of his account, the interesting and the mundane. Take one story about low flying fighter planes: the first description had them just 6 inches above the Rhone.The hilarious and true story of two senior-citizens and their whippet dog who hatch, plan and carry out a “lunatic scheme” to sail from Stone in Staffordshire to Carcassonne in the South of France.

They don’t know much about boats, except have to steer, and definitely nothing about the mechanics of boat engines. It was a good trip, but I left it feeling that Darlington is a pub bore, that nobody knows better than him and that he itches and burns with a desire to let you know just how bloody smart he is. On the floor of the Star Inn Jim was fighting to push his entire body inside a bag of pork scratchings.

Aliens, trolls, gongoozlers, killer fish, and the walking dead all stand between our two-person, one-whippet crew and their goal: the ancient, many-towered city of Carcassonne. We loved the gangling shape and the long windows, we loved the curve of the bow and the front deck where you could sit, and the teak and oak saloon running on and on into the galley. Aside from the commentary about daily life in France, the challenges of taking a narrow boat outside it's usual habitat and the quirky boating community, I particularly enjoyed the author's meditations on how history lives on. I have visited Carcassonne, Aigue Mort and Sete, and have been bitten by mosquitos by the petit Rhone, where we shared a swimming pool with frogs.

The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. I feel I am travelling with them all, the humorous comments are so clever, yet so simple, just a couple of words sometimes.The channel crossing (and some of the wider rivers and canals in France) sounds harrowing to say the least. It is accepted by you that Daunt Books has no control over additional charges in relation to customs clearance. It was a little difficult to keep up with the narrative at times because there was so much information and a labyrinth of digressions but what I did follow was enjoyable and at times quite amusing.

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