Friday, 13 July 2012

Canal & River Trust launch!

Trumpets, drums, and much clapping of hands... it's official... Canal & River Trust are the new guardians of our canals and rivers, with HRH Prince Charles at the helm as Patron of the new charity.

Since canals and rivers amble everywhere, launch events for the new charity were held all across the land. Martine and I were at the celebrations in Gloucester Docks. We heard the speeches and shook hands with lots of people, while the champers and balloons created a Mexican wave all across the usually still waters of the canals. It was a fabulous day with TV news and seemingly everyone talking about the canals!

The importance of this change of status for the canals is immense, and frankly intense. Britain's canals can't survive on their own - they need people to get involved and help, and the message of the Canal & River Trust is to join and become a 'Friend'.

Ho-hum, today I'm back from the adrenalin commotion of the launch, and I'm quietly in the bow of our narrowboat for lunch with the ducks. Since we've been moored in Alvechurch, 6 ducklings have been joining me and Martine every mealtime, for whatever culinary disaster we might rustle up. Today it's pickled beetroot butty again (still no fridge or cooker on the boat!) The ducklings squeak in delight over our stale bread crusts, and we squeak with their pleasure. The simplicity of moments like this are part of the reason canals are a national treasure, and so important for us to our best to help protect them. 

Launch party aboard King Arthur at Gloucester Waterways Museum

Sunday, 1 July 2012

July the 1st!

It's been a whirlwind since my last blog... 2012 is turning out to be an excitingly busy year for coolcanals.
We've finally emerged from the burning hole of researching, writing and publishing our latest book, yet the all-consuming months of scratching at scorched deadlines are always instantly forgotten when the first copy of the book arrives hot from the printers! July 1st is the official publication day of our latest book:
'Britain's canals, a national treasure in 100 must-see objects'.
And today is emotional for other reasons too. British Waterways, the governing body for Britain's canals, offically transfers to charitable status as the new 'national trust for the waterways' - the Canal & River Trust. BW is no more! Martine & I will miss the friendly BW way that has been part of our everyday canal life for so long. But this isn't a sad day, July 1st is the day Canal & River Trust takes up the baton for caring for the canals & rivers of England and Wales (its big launch is 12 July)and, under its new charity status, more funds can be raised to help protect and maintain the canals (and we're sure that they'll be just as huggable as BW!).
Martine & I were really honoured when we were asked to produce a special edition of 'Cool canals Weekend Walks' for the new Canal & River Trust fundraising campaign. All new 'Friends' of the Canal & River Trust will get a free copy of this special edition, and we hope it'll inspire even more people to enjoy walking canal towpaths as much as we do.
Meanwhile we're still building the boat around the desks in our mini narrowboat-sized office - my tenon saw is permanently positioned to trip us up, and the sawdust levels in our lungs are reaching red alert. There's still no cooker (we're making do with a camping stove and epic variations on a salad theme!), no fridge, and nine months of sleeping on a hard plywood floor has taken its toll!! Thankfully friends we meet along our travels sometimes take pity on us, and narrowboat NB Jandai fattened us up recently with some great home cooking and even got stuck in with some of the woodwork - boaty camaraderie at its best! :)
Who in their right minds would choose to build a boat, while living on it and running a publishing business at the same time...?