Just a little thought before we pop off (weather and M6 permitting) to Warrior tomorrow. Most people's first reaction, when I tell them about the boat, is that narrowboating must be very 'relaxing'. I mean primarily people who haven't (yet) done it themselves, but I also think I've heard boaters say, or be quoted as saying, it. Now, does this mean that I'm doing something wrong? Lying in the garden in the sun is relaxing. Lying in bed, possibly, if it's nice and warm and you don't have to get up. But boating, in my experience so far, has been, in various measure:
occasionally (dare I say) boring
uncomfortable (e.g. cold and wet)
but, above all, exhiliarating - the very opposite, I would have thought, of relaxing.
Perhaps people think it's relaxing because it looks so slow, but there's still always a lot of work going on under the surface, whether that be the constant physical work of steering, or the mental task of keeping alert for what's ahead. On top of that there's the more obvious physical effort involved in locking and other labour intensive activities. I'm not denying that you feel great at the end of a day of all this, and likely to sleep like a log, but it's still not what I'd call relaxing.
Maybe they're thinking of being the person in the brochure photos who appears to spend the entire time sunbathing on the roof (see 'lying in the sun' above). But even then I would have thought the prospect of low bridges might disrupt one's inner calm a bit. Possibly it's the proximity of water, and the beauty of the surroundings. But water can be treacherous, and beauty, surely, is something that grabs you by the heart?
Still, I'd rather feel inspired and exhiliarated than relaxed any day, and that's what I love boating for.