Today was the last day of our first journey and exploration on our new boat and we were both reminded of the obvious things that are oft talked of but rarely immediately understood unless you have found yourself within it.  

The integral connection between canals and pubs.  This is not some latent alcoholic crisis - far from it. This is where the water folk meet the village folk.  As you steam along the waterways slowly you pass though various villages and towns and cities.  The thing that is usually most stark is how you are below land level for much of the time - but in rural England you are largely at eye level. 

But today as we approached Fradley Junction and its catalogue of locks we decided to moor up for the night and explore The Swan.  It's hard to recommend this too heartily.  The beer was good and a choice, a range of craft gins available too (we didn't try), the food was outstanding (belly pork done amazingly well and large tasty faggots with great chips - fat cut).  In addition the welcome was warm, the fire roaring, they charged my phone, the locals chatty and helpful - go go go.  Oh and dog friendly!

Over the course of the last few days we have had two serious problems with out boat - neither massively unpredictable - which is why we want to get to a marina where we can restore and repair our boat.  But this trio the steering broke and the the engine kept cutting out.  On both occasions fellow boaters stepped in to help and assist and reminded us of the community that exists. In both instances we didn't know our knights in shining armour, we didn't ask for help, and they both offered it freely and it was crucial in solving our problem.  This is a good lot of folks to know and be a part of.

And then there are the folks of the canal tow path.  Variously residents, continuous cruisers, fellow boaters walking groups, fishermen and if course dogs. But sleeping on your boat, waking on your boat you begin to understand the cycle of life that the canals provide as wildlife corridors.  Over the last three days we have seen cows, sheep, lamas and pigs as part of farms and homesteads.  But in addition ducks, rabbits, storks, moles, birds of varying types and more. It has been a veritable treat to be a viewer through our small window over the canals.

Can't wait to get back there...