So here I am on my journey around the canals. Where I go is determined by how I feel when I get up in the morning. I might go a couple of miles, I might go twenty. I might not go at all. A number of things guide me. Food (do I need to get any) and weather (is it good or awful). I tend not to worry about the stoppages. Last year I was only stopped once for one day in 500 miles, and I planned that anyway. If I should arrive at a stoppage I make a decision to stay or turn around. If I see an area that looks abused and litter strewn I may stop, I may not. I am in no hurry and I have nowhere to be. I am very lucky!
I tend to use Nicholson's maps but do use others. These days there are a plethora of web sites and apps with which you can plan your journey down to the last blade of grass. Once you have done the planning you might like to look up the places you will be visiting. By the time you get to set off on your journey you will know exactly who, what, when, where, why! You might as well stay tied up, because there will be few if any surprises. Its the surprises that making boating really fun.
The thing I like about my way of life is the surprise. Arriving somewhere I have never been before and seeing it. Or revisiting a place and meeting the people I met there before. Exploring all the details, not just looking for things I have seen in a picture. I don’t like turning up and finding a favourite mooring spot has been taken over by a hire company, but that’s life. I could never have it planned down to the last blade of grass a some do. All that seems to take away from the relaxing time we are supposed to be having.
Yes I know people often have a limited time for their boat trips, but I wonder if going further doesn't force them to go faster which of course isn't relaxing and just pisses other boaters off.
I have often heard “but I’ve got to be in……by….” . This tells me that planning is not a strong point. When you have a plan it has to be achievable and you have to keep with it. Idling at a pub for an unplanned lunch means the time has to be made up. If you have planned your trip based on 4 miles an hour you will be behind by lunchtime on the first day and will have to break the speed limit to get to your first night stop before night fall. Personally I don’t care if you have got it wrong and are behind time, that’s your problem, it is no reason to break the rules and upset others. There is no excuse for that. Surely it is better to to travel a shorter distance and take things easy than go rushing about like a banshee and arriving at the end of your holiday needing another holiday to recover?