Owning and piloting a beautiful barge is not a one person job though. Throughout the summer months I'm joined by a variety of wonderful 'full time' crew. We love entertaining guests aboard the barge and breakfast has us foraging ashore for the freshest baguettes and croissants each morning. Breakfast on the barge would be unthinkable without them!
These personable friends compliment everyone's experience as borne out by the guest comments in the on board guest book.
There's never a shortage of lively banter. Topical conversation blended with jokes and liberal dashes of typically British humour! This is but one of the magical ingredients that make her such an outstandingly 'happy' ship. It also creates Wonderful experiences for guests cruising aboard her.
To say that I love travel would be an understatement. Having enjoyed a good career way back in the dark ages of Thatcherite Britain, I realised even then that there had to be far more to life than the nine to five.
So I set out to change things and boy did things change. First, I chucked in the job, second, bought a backpack and third bought a plane ticket to India. After wandering around the world that first time for nearly two years, I found that it became ever more difficult to stay put at home.
I worked in 'full time' employment only to replenish my bank balance in order to head off travelling again. The problem with this was that as the eighties gave way to the nineties, gave way to the millennium, I had spent nearly all of it wandering the globe.
Each time I ran out of money and flew home, I found the UK ever more depressing, increasingly dull, overtly threatening and mind bendingly expensive. All this at a time when my lack of job "commitment" resulted in a CV that had more holes than a piece of Emmental.
This "leaky" resume provided ever more lack luster employment "opportunities" with the resultantly pathetic salaries that generally went with them. Early in 2001, I was forced to take positive action!
Luckily for me, I'd bought a house way back when they were cheap and calculated that if I sold it and everything that wasn't bolted down, I might be able to pay back the bank and with the residue buy a barge. By "barge" however, at that time I had a UK style Narrowboat "barge" in mind.
While searching on the internet for suitable craft, up popped a plethora of English narrowboats, but closer inspection persuaded me that they were, well, a bit too narrow! Also, that the UK waterways were reaching breaking point in terms of lack of maintenance and the weight of new boats being built. Coupled with this was the frightening cost and distinct lack of pleasant moorings. I also decided that maybe I needed something a little more exotic than the Trent and Mersey!
The above picture demonstrates the huge difference in size between a UK narrowboat and a Dutch Barge. What is doesn't show is that my barge is also twice the narrowboat's width!
Then, purely by chance, I accidentally stumbled upon the picture of a stunning "luxemotor Dutch barge". It was beautifully photographed in bright sunlight with blue skies behind it, happy healthy looking people populating the decks, each with a glass of wine in hand and gazing out across an undeniably French landscape. It was at this point that I begun to imagine barging on the European waterways.
This was more like it. Bigger barges than I'd ever dreamed of. A vast European waterways network to be discovered and along with it, a Europe that I had sadly neglected in favour of more distant long haul destinations. I now had a plan and a new mission in life... To spend lazy days barge cruising on the canals of Europe!
The rest as they say is history....
My personal passions lie in world travel, waterways, cycling, cooking, entertaining, fine wines and socialising. If you combine this with my love of history, nature and the wealth of stunning scenery that abounds in Europe, then running informal barge cruises aboard my barge each summer, became the only real and wonderful choice.
Why not come and experience it for yourselves and join me as guests for a week or two.
I am lucky to spend five wonderful months each year exploring the waterways of Western Europe aboard Nilaya but during the seven remaining, mostly winter months, I can be found in the UK or off exploring some new part of the planet.
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