Bleak Valleys humour and hysterical laughter are becoming familiar landmarks on the rolling soundscape of the canal, along with a buzzing fan and a stuttering pipe pumping out water. Every time the pipe starts pumping, my father asks, "does that mean the boat is sinking? Should we book into a hotel?" He sounds hopeful.
The boat's new catchphrase has been announced as:
"If you dump, you pump."This refers to the toilets that only flush if you pump them vigorously. Hysterical laughter again. That's a good sign, isn't it? Maybe one day soon we'll be sitting around a roaring fire telling tales of our inexpert manoeuvrings of this boat. Like Odysseus and his crew. That's right. Maybe this counts as bonding.
"Mum, it's not like being on a car, you have to -"
"Oh just shut up!"
" Mum, your sailing's worse than your driving."
"You've been itching to say that, haven't you?"
Well, sort of bonding anyway. Oh family holidays! This one's been peculiarly pleasant, even though we are bitten and sandy and sweaty and unwashed. Waking up to the canal and the green glowing leaves, vivid living limbs of trees that shimmer and rustle with life, crisp against the clear blue sky. Leaves agitating, whispering, telling us to get a move on and enjoy the bright blue day. The solid metal sheen of the bike is winking at me in the sunlight, raring to go...
Oh fuck. Trying to moor up on the bank, we have managed to dent both the side of the boat and a tree. We are not like Odysseus and his crew. Nowhere near. We are more like the green seascum that latched onto the bottom of the boat, lazy and unskilled, hoping for a free ride...!
Mum: "I don't believe in washing up liquid. We're not getting any. We don't need it, all those chemicals."
Me, muttered: "Oh dear god."