This was one of our epic holidays - although we were students by now a group of us from school hired a canal boat for the week in the very hot summer of 1976! I think Hank organised it, or Mart - they were the most sensible of us! Geoff sent me some photographs and luckily I have the account of the week from my trusty diary...so here it is!

Saturday September 4th 1976

Got up early to get ready as I hadn't done any packing until today. Everyone came round on time and we packed all the gear into the cars, then eventually set off. Me, Morris and Mart were in the van, Geoff and Paula in the Geoffmobile and Hodgie, Karen, Graham and Hank in the Hankmobile. We picked up the good ship Crane at Rugby - it's built like a tank and I don't think we could sink it no matter what we hit!

We set off and everyone had a quick drive - it's difficult to steer because it's heavier, longer and deeper than most boats, and there's not much water in the canals at the moment. We stopped at Willoughby at night and had to walk miles to the village to find a pub. It was a small country pub but there was a wedding on so we chatted up some girls to see if we could get in. They were OK about it but the brides father wasn't too keen! Hodgie found out there was another pub three quarters of a mile down the road so we decided to walk to that. We couldn't see a pub for miles though, so turned back to first one to beat Hodgie up for telling us a load of rubbish!

When we got there, the bloke that had told him about the pub decided to give us a lift to it. It was at Braunston and was painted in canal boat colours with a superb jukebox. There were some girls there which kept Morris amused! We had to walk back miles though, along the towpath in the pitch black, and nearly fell in the canal about a hundred times. We got back in one pice eventually and had a talk before going to sleep.

Sunday September 5th 1976

Up at 8.30 - I bet that was Mart's idea! We cruised to Braunston and had lunch there and then on up to Braunston locks. They were shut (because of water shortages) so that meant the most interesting part of our route was inaccessible - water shortages are good for sunbathing but not good for canals! We walked up the locks to the Admiral Nelson and had a drink there, then walked up to see the tunnel we should have been going through. It's the second longest navigable tunnel on the canal network - it would have been quite good to go through it.

We headed back towards Birmingham along a very windy canal. We had lunch on the roof in a beautiful quiet spot near the junction and had a devastating apple fight - Morris and Geoff v me and Mart. We walked along the canal to a Davenports pub where there were some Cavaliers in the bar. We had a few drinks there and then walked to horrible Ansell's pub about half a mile away where they wouldn't even give us Worcester sauce to put in our crisps! We had a sing song just to annoy the landlord and that lasted all the way back to the boat (the diary says you know what Morris is like when he's had half a lager and lime!). We had a long conversation about squeaky Jane before going to sleep!

Monday September 6th 1976

Up at 9.00 for breakfast and off. We moored at the Rose and Castle at Braunston at lunchtime and me and Morris went to the pub. The others went up to the village. We had a walk and posted some cards then went conkering but they weren't ready yet. After calling in at the Rose and Castle again we set off and cruised all afternoon, then stopped for some chicken soup at night. There were two pubs at the wharf but we had a couple of drinks in one called The Boat and a quiet night.

Tuesday September 7th 1976

Headed up the Coventry canal and onto the Ashby canal where we went through a few locks and stopped at a canal shop. I bought Jude a teddy bear. We moored and had our lunchtime soup then carried on and moored near a bridge at night. The pub had a table football machine but it was one with no glass so we stuffed to goals with beer mats and played. Some regulars challenged us and won easily - me and Don would have beaten them if he'd been there to play attack! We moved on to another modern pub which had a jukebox and a pool table and some sort of do going on - much more lively. Me and Morris played a few games of pool. Our driving was a bit dodgy today - some fisherman shouted at us then I hit a bridge and Mart ran us aground!

Wednesday September 8th 1976

Stopped for a soupy lunch and then headed off to Bosworth Field to re-enact the battle! We practised by having an acorn Bosworth battle on the boat with Geoff and Morris as Henry VIIs men and me and Graham as Richard IIs! Bosworth was really interesting - we walked up to the battle centre while Morris and Mart crept off to ambush us - they couldn't catch us up though so we had a wander round the museum. Just as we stepped out a hail of berries and acorns hit us and a little old lady came running out and chased Morris off the roof! The last I saw of them Mart was running off down a field. We walked around the battle field to where Richard was killed and then walked miles back along the towpath to the boat - could have done with a horse!

Mop and Mart had been back ages, recovering from their skirmish with the old lady. We had to drive in the dark to get to our moorings at the Horse and Jockey at Congleton, as we'd spent so long at Bosworth. It was a nice pub and old three miles from Twycross where Don is living but I didn't have his number with me.

We played the locals at table football and had some great games against them, although it was so frantic I sustained my first ever table football injury! When we got back to the boat there was another Willow Wren hire boat next to us and Morris cast them adrift. However the rest of our lot had been talking about doing it in the pub and had been overheard so the other boat just tied themselves up straightaway. Morris then made himself a bow and arrow and started firing at them but I don't think he hit anyone!

Thursday September 9th 1976

It was raining so we set off early and stopped at a village to do some shopping. However what captain Hank had miscalculated was that the village didn't have any shops! We had to stop again at the next village and there was a shop there, but also a pub so we had lunch there and got told off for something even before we'd started pinching the beermats! The end of the canal was through a short tunnel so we made it to there and came back through the tunnel. The crew was very close to mutiny when the captain informed us we had to steam through the dark again to make up time, and then when we got to the pub it was crap! It was a nice pint of Marstons though. We walked abut a mile to the next pub and discovered it was the Wharf Inn where we'd had dinner yesterday so we settled down with a pint and some pork scratchings in the snug. Morris won on the fruit machine as he always did!

Friday September 10th 1976

It was raining again and dismal and the crew were mutinous again when we discovered we were faced with our last night in The Boat pub which we'd visitied before and which wasn't very good! We chugged down the Ashby canal to the junction with the Coventry then to Hawksbury junction where we loaded up with water again. After a beautiful pint of Brew XI Hodgie adopted a dog and we visited a couple of canal shops. That night the civilised members of the group eat out in the Barley Mow while me, Mop and Mart had a pint in the Boat, and another in the Barley Mow and then dinner from the chippie.

Then we fund another pub where the others joined us and told us there was a pianist on at the Barley Mow so it was off back there again. We had a great night and apparently met an Irishman, a middle aged tart, a retired millionaire who was with two old women and a load of student couples. We were drinking Morris's favourites - Breakers and didn't quite realise how drunk we were until Mart missed the gangplank and fell in the canal…..twice! He had to give up eventually and crawl onto the boat. We put Mart to bed and for some reason poured sugar on Hodgie and Karin - he wasn't amused. Me and Morris went to phone Jude up and took about half an hour to get up the muddy bank, rang three wrong numbers and didn't get through, which was a good job as it was about 1.00 am! On our way to the phone box Morris untied the front of the other Willow Wren boat again and on the way back they had the bow on one bank and the stern on the other, so he untied the back just to even it up.

Saturday September 11th 1976

I woke up with an enormous hangover and was suffering from canal sickness al the way back to the Willow Wren boatyard. The drive back to Nottingham was horrendous but I'd obviously recovered by the evening as Mop and I went out for a drink and then to Scamps nightclub with Judy.