'We could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure...' When they retired, Terry and Monica Darlington decided to sail their canal narrow boat across the Channel and down to the Mediterranean, together with their whippet Jim. They took advice from experts, who said they would die, together with their whippet Jim. On the Phyllis May, you dive through six-foot waves in the Channel, are swept down the terrible Rhone, and fight for your life in a storm among the flamingos of the Camargue. You meet the French nobody meets - poets, captains, historians, drunks, bargees, men with guns, scholars, madmen - they all want to know the people on the painted boat and their narrow dog. You visit the France nobody knows - the backwaters of Flanders, the canals beneath Paris, the heavenly Yonne, the lost Burgundy Canal, the islands of the Saone, and the forbidden ways to the Mediterranean. Aliens, dicks, trolls, vandals, gongoozlers, killer fish and the walking dead all stand between our three innocents and their goal - many-towered Carcassonne.
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(198mm x 127mm x 27mm)
Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
A retired British couple takes their canal boat on a cross-Channel expedition.When some pesky person asked why the author and wife Monica had abandoned the quiet pensioners' life and taken to the waterways, Darlington explained it as "an adventure before it's too late. They say at our age you are at the end of vigour." This became something of a running joke during their travels, since this lively pair was obviously far from decrepit. After all, they were adventurous enough to accept a friend's booze-soaked challenge to sail through England and across the Channel to France, then wind their way to Carcassonne in their 60-foot by 7-foot narrowboat, "a preposterous shape" for attempting this never-accomplished feat of seamanship. As company, they took along their trusty whippet Jim, "a dog that hates boating." Though the setup seems to promise a lighthearted travelogue, and Darlington does occasionally display a bracing, dry wit, their journey was often colored by bleak memories of the destruction and suffering the author witnessed as a child during World War II. In one the most moving instances of emotionally charged reminiscence, Darlington felt the presence of his long-dead father and longed "to press my face against his rough air-force trousers, and smell the tobacco and feel his hands on my head." Unfortunately, those moments of luminosity are rare in a text more notable for overblown vacation babble, long-winded stories, grand overstatement and pompous bombast - plus some daunting British slang impenetrable to all but the most seasoned Anglophile. Boat enthusiasts will appreciate the insider terminology about locks and dock life, however, and Darlington's gentle swipes at the French (whom he quite likes) are mildly amusing.Some entertaining moments amid the tedium, but best saved for a reader's retirement years, either as inspiration or to fill a lot of spare time. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Terry Darlington
Terry Darlington was brought up in Pembroke Dock during the war, between a Sunderland flying boat base and an oil terminal. He survived and moved to Staffordshire, where he founded Research Associates, the international market research firm, and Stone Master Marathoners, the running club. Like many Welshmen he is talkative and confiding, but ill at ease with practical matters and liable to linger in public houses. He likes boating but knows nothing about it. Monica Darlington comes from Radnorshire.Her father was a gardener and her mother a housemaid, or perhaps it was the other way round. She has a first class degree in French, has run thirty marathons, and can leap tall buildings with a single bound. Her three children have all reproduced themselves, removing doubts about whether she and Terry are the same species. She quite likes boating but knows nothing about it. Brynula Great Expectations (Jim) is sprung from a long line of dogs with ridiculous names. Jim can run at forty miles an hour.He is cowardly, thieving, and disrespectful and hates boating. Visit their website at www.narrowdog.com