The last time we were here on the Montgomery Canal was over 50 years ago. For me, the canals just unwind me completely. I'm very, very busy when I'm at home, and being here on a hireboat holiday is completely relaxing really. We've always liked canals and always lived near a canal - and I'm even related to Josiah Wedgwood who was the pioneer behind the first canals in Britain.
I just love the slow pace of canals and meeting people and everything about it really! We had a debate when I retired, whether to buy a narrowboat or a campervan. We didn't do either. Instead we decided to hire narrowboats to just enjoy long 6-week holidays.
Together we've explored most of the canal system by narrowboat. We travelled everywhere, even onto the Thames once with champagne at the ready as we cruised under Tower Bridge!
Maz was as happy at the tiller as she was with the windlass working the locks. She even achieved her RYA certificate. There was no stopping her. Then one day I found Maz on the floor, unable to move or speak. A stroke left her paralysed all down her right side and without speech. She had the stroke just before her 67th birthday and when the consultant told her she would never walk again, Maz was determined to fight back to enjoy her busy, active life.
After she came home from hospital, despite the doctor's words, she fought back with determination and special exercises. That was about six years ago, and she's back on her feet again now, walking with a stick! Her achievement inspires other stroke survivors, and earlier this year she won the 'Adult Courage Award Certificate' from the Stroke Association's Life after Stroke Awards.
Maz still has difficulty with movement and her speech, but we wanted to carry on enjoying our love of hireboating. There aren't many adapted hire boats, and I think it's important that people with disabilities have the opportunity to hire boats. It's a relaxing holiday and it's an excellent way for people to be outside in the fresh air enjoying something different.
Shropshire Lass is an adapted hire boat operated by the charity the Lyneal Trust. We've been on several holidays with Shropshire Lass now. My tips for hiring an adapted narrowboat would be to make sure you have the help of a friendly crew, and if you do decide to holiday without a crew make sure you’re able to lift the ramp on your own! On this journey we have friends with us to help crew the boat, and they say that includes catering and washing up, which suits Maz as she enjoys saying "I'm a lady of leisure"!
Thanks to the availability of adapted boats, nothing can stop us enjoying the canals we've always loved! We're having a great holiday, and even the weather is absolutely brilliant.
Adrian, Maz & crew, Frankton Locks, Montgomery Canal