Follow the ongoing travels and adventures of Rob and Marlane as they cruise the Canals of the UK and Europe aboard their narrow boat 'Oo-La-La', read the monthly account of their travels and view photos documenting those travels. Follow the adventures of Rob and Marlane as they cruise the canals of England and Europe aboard their narrow boat OO-LA-LA
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Travelogue: England - 2001

August - (1)

Guildford - what we dream of..The rain poured down my face, into my clothes and down through my shoes which now felt like kitchen sponges. Water was ankle deep in most places. A thoroughly miserable August evening in Washington, D.C., no time to be outside, definitely not the time to be lugging several gigantic steamer trunks from the house to a rented SUV. But there was really no choice. The next morning was D-Day - our ship had literally rolled in - the legendary QEII waited at her dock in New York City and was sailing for Southampton, England at 4 PM and we had a four hour drive ahead of us before we could board. The alarm was set for 4AM. The five super large soft sided bags were packed with everything to feather our new nest: dishes, pots, clothing, photo albums, paintings, small sculptures, even a full size artist's easel and a 50 CD hi-fi set. They were bursting at the seams and Rob had to wrap 2 or 3 cargo belts around each one to prevent splitting. Each weighed a couple of hundred pounds each - they were our primary reason for sailing on the QEII to England rather than flying - we were allowed 8 pieces of luggage of any size without any surcharge. Dining in luxury and experiencing a transatlantic cruise was certainly an enticement as well.

Thus the last memory of "home" in D.C. was of water streaming into my eyes during a rain that would strangle frogs, grunting and pushing a particularly cumbersome bag onto the roof of the very tall SUV while our neighbors roared in laughter at us as they waited in their car for us to move from the main driveway we shared. They offered help however we were beyond that and already dreaming of sunny ship decks; so, with a titanic grunt, the last bag rested on the roof of the vehicle and we drove into the garage.

10AM August 11 - The reflective longshoremen's jackets shine out eerily in the cavernous and dimly lit dark brown Cunard terminal in New York. The scene is total madness as thousands of passengers disembark , collect their bags and find transport home at the same time that another equally large number of people arrive and find help to load their luggage. We were having a little trouble finding help. A few of the longshoremen came by expecting the usual matched luggage set only to find the equivalent of an elephant sitting on the curb where we had managed to unload them from our rental car. With murmurs of "I'll get help" they disappeared not to be found again, at least by us. Our rescuer came in a stout and strong young man who looked fearless as he singlehandedly manhandled the behemoth onto a large trolley and deposited it on the right queue. We tipped him well in the hopes that all would arrive with us.

Having a few hours to kill until departure time we spent it happily in the company of a good friend in a cozy Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.

The sea voyage was a much needed relaxing break between the stress of packing and of buying not just a boat in a strange country but our new home as well. Our plan of action was only loosely formed and we fully realized that anything could happen. We had an introduction to the English and their love of ballroom dancing, certain popular comedians, and some great food. Our arrival in Southampton was on a beautiful sunny day with puffy white clouds. Several enormous sailboat masts on the scenery belonged to world class racing yachts there for an international competition.

To our relief we were able to leave the behemoth at the Southampton terminal for a modest fee - and no one searched our luggage in customs (we didn't think it would all go back in if they did.)

The train to Birmingham from Southampton was very full but uneventful. Our hotel is in the heart of town, not far from the train station. We chose to begin the search here, it is the center of England's canal system and close to several boat brokers. When we settle into the hotel room we immediately call several and line up our week.

.....continued on page 2


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