Due partly to the recession and partly for the misguided need to be seen to do the right thing, I decided to holiday in the UK. My wife was not impressed. Nor was I when I looked at the choices on offer. Warner, Butlins, Hoseasons. God, we need to move on.
Well, a boating holiday seemed novel, but it is not possible to call a boating holiday a ‘boating holiday’ when you see the abomination that the Norfolk Broads call leisure craft. Built from pieces of old timber picked up from a local farm and built by a Norfolk infant school as a half-term research project.
Only the bow gave it away, the rest was simply a garden shed with double-glazing that floats - just. The broads has a top speed of 5mph but frankly, if you could get one of these floating 60s box-rooms to go that fast, I would happily give you my life’s savings.
I was enticed by the front page of the brochure showing an Ambramovich style super-yacht in gleaming white and black. On inspection of the following pages, my wife, a Solicitor, was drawing up the ‘misrepresentation’ lawsuit papers.
So, we sifted through the brochure and finally chose a suitable Royal blue and white 1950’s reject called ‘Sampson of the seas’ or something. The only ‘few’ boats that somewhat resembled a real leisure craft were booked up until 2025.
The consolation prize was that our boat had a ‘full sliding canopy’ over the ‘saloon’. What is a saloon exactly? Am I boating or in a Western.
The advantage of having a full sliding canopy seemed to be, that while you are eating your dinner, you could completely expose yourself to the unpredictable British elements and hordes of other ‘boaters’ who will mock your choice of shed. Furthermore, the thought of having dinner while being ogled and shot at with water pistols by Trevor and Lisa and six smelly kids from a run down council estate, did not enthral me.
The rocking of the boat constantly annoyed my wife, in particular at night. Maybe she thought we would be in dry dock, I don’t know? The overwhelming benefit to this was that while she felt a little sea sick it stopped her talking (or nagging depending on your perspective).
On one occasion I was sent out to try to find some seasick tablets from a local shop. Having found them, it seemed a terrible shame to upset the peace by getting her talking again, so I calmly placed them back on the shelf and returned. “You would have thought a shop next to the river would have sold them” I said apologetically and empty-handed.
What a lovely holiday it turned out to be.