Over the last two months we have met some interesting people on other boats. Generally boaters are very helpful, friendly people and quickly tell you their story. They will rush to help you tie up the boat when you arrive, if the marina is full, move boats to make space for you and then invite you onto their boats for drinks and snacks or visa versa.
They want to help you and tell you the best places to see or moor on your route ahead. If you need something they will gladly give it to you if they have it to spare or if not, tell you where you can buy it. As there are so few people using the waterways, you often meet the same people again later on down the river or canal. In fact, the attitude of boaters is one of the reasons travelling on the rivers and canals is so pleasant. It’s infectious as when we first started, other boaters were helpful and friendly to us, so we learned quickly not to feel shy or nervous about inviting people onto our boat.
I wish, in life at home, we all had the same approach as it would make life more pleasant for us all. For example Chris arrived in Vitry le Francois in his kayak in the evening after the offices and showers in the marina were shut. We invited him on board for a drink and we exchanged why we were doing this canal journey. He is going by Kayak from Calais to Carcassonne!
When we realised that he would be sleeping in a tent for the night, Nuala asked him if he wanted to use our shower and made him something to eat. Chris thanked us and said it was the first time he has experienced Irish hospitality, (he lives in England now but is from Rhodesia now Zimbabwe) but in truth, we were glad we were able to help and meet someone from another way of life.
Everyone is here for a reason- many are retired couples. Some are quite open as to why they are here. Some are doing it for the good weather and lifestyle (the quality of life is better and cheaper than at home). Others are giving themselves a year off or a new challenge like Chris. Others don’t like the way their own country is run or don’t want to settle into retirement just yet.
All these people make our journey so much more interesting and magical.