Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Journey Without End - book review

Journey without End
by David Bolton

I was lent this book from 1987 by my friend Martin, who knows of my interest in all old boating publications. 

The book traces an 18 month 'get away from the rat race' journey undertaken by David Bolton and his wife Lynda, freshly released from parenting responsibilities. They sold their old short narrowboat and bought Frederick, with the aim of vaguely recreating the journey of Cessey as presented in Top Rolt's seminal "Narrowboat" in 1939.

The idea seemed to be to jack in their jobs and go boating full time but they never quite escaped their sub  contract work, returning to the big bad world from time to time which allowed them to extend their travels, eventually returning when the lease on the London home expired.

The couple suffered the usual array of boating incidents: drought, ice, floods and the inevitable mechanical breakdowns which provide added interest. Their travels cover the central section of the country, which meant they were on waters which are familiar to me and it's surprising to note just how little has changed in the last 25 years. The surprises are the recent restorations of the Huddersfield Narrow and Rochdale which were perceived as unlikely back in the 1980's and the Cotswold Canal whose restoration was "reserved for the die hard fanatics". Oh how things change.

These observations aside, the book is strangely forgettable. It held me to the end, but I cant say I was captivated. I think the thing I found frustrating was that is was jam packed with what I would describe as 'well known facts' - interesting to the uninitiated but strangely unsatisfying to one who might be tempted to wear the "die hard fanatic" label.

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