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Narrow Dog to Carcassonne


Renaud

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I was given ‘Narrow Dog to Carcassonne’ for Christmas. Written by Terry Darlington it is the story of how he, his wife Monica and Whippet Jim take their canal narrowboat from Stratford to Carcassonne. A great read for all who like messing about in boats and also like France.

 

Terry is a natural storyteller and his observations on France and the French are wonderful - this is him on opening hours:

 

“In England shops are normally open, and in France they are normally shut. When they are open the lights may be out and you bang on the door to get in. Market stalls close like oysters as you draw near. The brass plates of doctors and lawyers have a piece of paper with yellowing tape saying that no opinion will be offered until ten to three Thursday fortnight. Outside a restaurant in Sens the list of closing times is longer than the menu. … Leclerc supermarket is open but turn up with your films and the photo shop is shuttered. The restaurant is open but All we have this evening, monsieur, is a cold tripe sausage and a glass of milk. The bar is open, with pumps, and rows of bottles and tables and chairs and a man in a pinafore and a moustache - selling soft drinks only. The restaurant sells wine by the gallon, but that bit is shut.”

 

My only beef with the book is that my copy missed a chunk as pages from around 80 to 120 were missing. The fact that I got the next section of the book twice, somehow did not compensate. The story in the first 80 pages  builds up to the crossing of the Channel in the narrowboat (a suicidal undertaking). My copy deftly jumped from the intrepid trio having got to London to somehow undertaking repairs in France.

 

Otherwise the book is beautifully produced, a hardback with a snazzy illustration on the dustjacket and dark blue text type not black.

 

 

 

 

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Sounds great - shame about the misbound copy. Who is the publisher? Either they or the bookshop from which it was bought should provide you with a correctly bound replacement.

A friend of mine has a house near Carcassonne, and has always reckoned that one could travel by boat all the way from my house on the Somme estuary to her house... I must get her a copy of the book as it seems she may be right!

Fay
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Hi

 

Waterworld on one of the Discovery channels has been following Terry Darlington and his boat from Stone to Calais and into the French canal system. The channel crossing went well but got a bit hairy as they were entering the Calais harbour when the wash from the cross channel ferries caused them some problems. The program was on at 7:30 pm UK time last week, I don't know if it continues next week.

Tony

 

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If you liked that book, around fifteen

to twenty years ago, I read a book about a Canadian couple and their

dog (the dog being Lionel), who travelled the canals of France,

Germany and Holland (I think !)

Travels With Lionel (maybe on a barge was in the title ?) is the name of the book, I believe I enjoyed

it, can't find it now but guess I wouldn't have remembered it, unless

it was an OK read !!

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Miki - I remember reviewing that for a boating magazine I was working on at the time. Much better than the average 'what we did on our holidays' sort of stuff in that genre, as I recall it.

I like the sound of 'narrow dog' too. Having taken canal boats to some pretty unlikely places it would certainly appeal. Back in the 1980s there was a lot of fuss from the yachtie types who felt that people talking about taking narrowboats across the Channel was foolhardy and put undue pressure on the rescue services. I can see their point, but with good preparation and proper planning it is possible. The first instance I knew was back then, must have been 1988/89 (about the time the Travels with Lionel book was published) when somebody with one accompanied the periodic flotilla of Dunkirk Little Ships from Dover to Dunquerque. It got there and back safely and made quite an incongruous sight. The man responsible was Chris Coburn, best known now for his marine toilets.

All your fault Miki - coming over all nostalgic isn't good for me on a Sunday morning.

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Didn't Chris advise the Darlington's on their crossing as well? I'm sure I recall him being involved with some couple taking their narrowboat across the Channel and being featured on Waterworld, although I think it may have been a couple of years ago. I last saw Chris at the National Rally at Pangbourne a couple of years back when he was working with Raymond Baxter on the "little ships" to Dunquerque reunion.

I knew a guy who took an old working narrowboat all the way to Russia. Well, he was heading that way when last heard from. Never did hear if he ever came back.

If you were travelling the cut in the 80's Will the Conqueror, did you ever come across a full length charter narrowboat called Xanthus?

My wife's just finished "Narrow Dog", so I suppose it's my turn now.

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I was given a copy by OH's cousin for my last birthday. Good story and quite funny at times. It's just a shame about the use of VERY bad language for no earthly reason and fairly frequent too. I'm afraid that it spoiled the book.

Anyone with the amount of engineering ability that that guy has must be unable to tighten the loose screw he has for even thinking of doing what he did and I think that he was very luck not to come to grief.

Even though I quite enjoyed the book it isn't one I would recomend to many people.

A few years back we had a week on a narrow boat, with my sister and family from Aussie. The boat was a hire jobbie and not very well designed. As my brother-in-law's father had been a bargie on the Grand Union Canal he wanted to see as much of it as possible, so we covered as much ground (or should that be 'cut') as we could and had to rush back, fair weather or foul. Not my way of a having a good holiday, especially as there was a fair amount of the foul kind. It took about 3 months for the scars on my head from that bloody hatch to heal!!!

John.

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[quote user="Jonzjob"]

I was given a copy by OH's cousin for my last birthday. Good story and quite funny at times. It's just a shame about the use of VERY bad language for no earthly reason and fairly frequent too. I'm afraid that it spoiled the book.

Anyone with the amount of engineering ability that that guy has must be unable to tighten the loose screw he has for even thinking of doing what he did and I think that he was very luck not to come to grief.

Even though I quite enjoyed the book it isn't one I would recomend to many people.

[/quote]

John

I so agree - about the language. I borrowed this from the library (thank goodness I did not buy it!) and I was unhappy with the language - not only are his choice of words very near the bone for a family audience (or am I just old fashioned?) but his language skills are poor to non-existent. As with his obvious lack of engineering skills, a very poor communicator.

Having said that, I did finish it as it did read very quickly (which illustrates its low-level language) because I wanted to see what he thought about the Etang de Thau (where spent our Christmas 2004) and the Canal du Midi (we have just bought our house about 10 mins away from it). But I learnt no more than I knew already.

A somewhat egotistical report, by someone who would not normally be let loose in such circumstances. He was very lucky not to suffer more damages than he did.

And, as you say John, spoilt by the language.

In case the narrow dog is misinterpreted to mean the boat, they actually took a whippet with them, (in their "narrow boat") hence the reference to narrow dog! Like many, I also mis-understood that point until I read it!
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Hi Judith,

I am very glad that I am not the only person who was offended by his choice of words!

What part of the canal are you 10 mins away from, because we are only 10 mins away too. Not far from Trebes in a lovely little village.

Subject change for a moment, did you get hit at all by the snow and freezing rain the weekend before last?

John.

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Hi John

Yes, I thought his writing style very low class and somewhat offensive. I did wonder what he was like in his previous working existence!

As for location - we are at the "other" end of the N113, ie 10 mins west of Narbonne - and nearer Homps /Olonzac - though our nearest point to the canal is somewhere whose name escapes me at present. Trebes is very pretty - though it suffers a traffic problem we find so often avoid and use the N113 instead (boring but faster - especially when aiming for the airport at Carcassonne at some ungodly hour of the morning!)

We (I am told) did get the snow, and the rain, and unfortunately floods, the second time this winter, and we only moved in October! Actually, this is all hearsay and photos, as I am still working in Central London (ugh!) - it is hubby who is retired and out permanently. And coping remarkably well with rusty "O" level French, lots of helpful neighbours (English and French) and (occasionally) the English shop at Homps.

I posted recently with advice on where to go for information - it still amazes me that people go into these new projects (be it sailing narrow boats across the Channel, or moving to France lock, stock and barrel), without first doing much research. As a librarian it is the first thing I do!

If you felt the distance between us not to be a hindrance, I'd be happy to keep this conversation going, presumably via our own private emails rather than this fairly public bulletin board!

I'm new to the forum, and haven't quite cracked how that can be done yet.
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Hi Folks

Can't comment on the above book as I haven't seen it, but there is a book on a similar subject called 'Watersteps Through France' by Bill and Laurel Cooper.  It is about a journey on a Dutch barge from the Somme to the Camargue and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cheers, 

Eleanor Gay (Dept 37 and Southport) [8-|][8-|]

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I know of someone who has done the trip from Falmouth to Majorca, St Tropez and Malta and back via the Canal du Midi over the past 35 years ( JamesG, Thumper!!) in a various yachts. He's in Benidorm at the moment but I'm sure he'd love to get in on this subject when he's back. He now lives just outside Carcassonne after falling in love with the area on his travels.
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  • 2 weeks later...

My main complaint about the book is his writing style:  it seems more a list of notes rather than writing prose which I find difficult to follow.  Also, some of his sentences either don't make any sense or are so obtuse that I can't be bothered to spend any more time working out what he actually meant to say.  I think this is a shame as it seems like he has some very good material to include in the book plus an interesting anecdotal ability (but not quite to the extent of George East - love him or hate him - I personally love him!).

There you are - I am trying to read Narrow Dog at the moment but not sure whether I have the stamina to get to the end!!

Valerie

 

 

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I said earlier that my wife had just finished Narrow Dog, and perhaps I should read it next. Apparently, I was mistaken. She gave up less than half way through for exactly the reasons stated by so many others above. She said it was (is) so badly written that she struggled to understand what the guy was trying to say half the time, and decided it was simply too much like hard work. "There are easier ways of getting to Carcassonne than by reading this book!" apparently, so I've changed my mind. I'll be giving it a miss.[&]
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