02-10-2016-Canal Boat – Romance

When I was a young Ÿ??girlŸ? at primary school, I vaguely remember going on a school trip along the Manchester Ship Canal. I’m sure I have mentioned my fascination for canals, and I have to admit that lately, I have had a hankering to repeat this said trip. I mentioned it to Sue, and she was more than up for the idea, so I made a few enquires, and eventually managed to book a cruise on a Thursday. It was to be a 6 hour cruise from Manchester to Liverpool, a couple of hours in Liverpool, and then a coach trip back. Sorted! Alas, things were not to be. A couple of weeks before the cruise, I received an email to say that due to Ÿ??an incidentŸ? with one of the boats the trip was cancelled. My money was duly returned to my bank account, and I was left feeling disappointed. We replaced the trip with a day out shopping in Liverpool, but that is another story. As we were due one of our Friday nights out, I decided for some reason, to type the words Ÿ??canalŸ? and Ÿ??dinnerŸ? into my Google search box (other search engines are available!). Would you believe that only a 20 minute drive from where we live there is a Company that operate canal boats, and offer various dining experiences thereon? You can do Sunday lunch trips, afternoon tea trips, and dinner trips. Details can be found at www./canalboatcruises.co.uk . Better still, there was a trip available on the coming Friday evening. It was a Tapas menu on this occasion rather than a full meal, but I still fancied giving it a try. An email was promptly dispatched, which was equally promptly answered confirming that Sue and Paula were booked on. I didn’t tell Sue of my plans Ÿ?? I thought the element of surprise would be a nice change, so on the said night, we rushed home from work, showered, made up, dressed, and set off on our Ÿ??magical mystery tourŸ?. The canal boat company is based adjacent to a pub appropriately named Ÿ??The Boatyard InnŸ?, so my plan was to go there for a drink and let Sue think that was our final destination. We headed off down the M65 motorway, left at junction 3, and pointed the car towards Riley Green. Ÿ??Isn’t the Boatyard down here?Ÿ? Sue enquired. I put on a mock grimace, and lead here to believe she had busted me. This plan would have been OK, apart from one minor detail. Actually, in fairness, it was a pretty major detail Ÿ?? The Boatyard was totally closed for a refurbishment and resembled a building site. I pretended to be disappointed and headed for a nearby pub called the Royal Oak. In my other life, my Company carried out all the electrical repair works at the Royal Oak, so I thought this could be interesting. It was Ÿ?? but for another reason. As we entered there were four Ÿ??old croniesŸ? sat at the bar in two pairs, sideways to the bar, facing each other. They were what I would describe as the snobby type, and as I walked past them, one with his back to me quite obviously sniggered and said to the others Ÿ??That was a conversation stopper!Ÿ? Now as you all know, I am fully aware of who and what I am, and I usually take such very infrequent comments with a pinch of salt, but there was something about this particular Ÿ??gentleman’sŸ? attitude that shall we say rubbed me up a bit. His two friends that were facing me were obviously embarrassed, and were trying to give him the nod that I was stood behind him, so I thought it only fair that I should help them out and let him know personally. I leant my head between him and his friend, and quite politely pointed out that he should feel free to continue his conversation and on no account would I expect him to stop it on my behalf. He nearly fell off his stool! I got a half mumbled apology, which I accepted, and then I ordered my drink and left them to continue their conversation. I don’t think they found it easy with me stood behind them, but I was only having the one drink, so I didn’t feel inclined to move. In fairness to them, when Sue and I left, they did all make the effort to say goodbye, and I gave them the respect of a civilised reply. Just! I know none of the above relates to food or canal boats, but I wanted you to know that although they are massively rare occurrences, I, like all the rest of us am vulnerable to public opinion. Anyway, now what were we to do? As we walked back to the car Sue was wondering what my back up plan was. I suggested we went back to The Boatyard, just to check it really was shut, which was really quite ludicrous! It was fenced off with construction barriers and in total darkness, but Sue humoured me. As we pulled back onto the car park, I pointed at a large canal boat moored up at the far end and said Ÿ??we could always eat thereŸ?. I must admit, I had won this one. Sue did not have a clue! We parked up and made our way to the boat, where we were met and welcomed aboard. It was down 3 or 4 rather steep steps with very little headroom. The type of situation where one could imagine quite easily losing your hair. I was very, very careful. We were last to board, and as we were shown to our table I was able to count around 30 people already sitting down waiting. It was lovely. A proper little table with table cloth, LED candle lights, and the appropriate cutlery and accessories. There was background music playing and fairy lights flashing, helping to provide a lovely atmosphere. The boat was aptly, or aptly not, called Ÿ??RomanceŸ?. Within a few minutes we were Ÿ??casting offŸ? and backing out of the Marina, ready to start our trip along the Leeds Liverpool canal. There were four young ladies and a young man, all wearing matching black outfits with multi coloured scarfs who very quickly went along the full length of the boat taking drinks orders, and again, pretty quickly, the same team then came along with our first dish of food which was Mixed olives with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and artisan bread. After a few minutes, they came along with more bread which was very tasty indeed. All the while, we were chugging along at about 4 miles per hour, enjoying the scenery in the fast fading light. I have to admit, if it had been Sue and Dave instead of Sue and Paula, it could have been quite romantic! The boat is aptly named. As it went darker, spotlights were switched on, and the scenery on the canal bank was stunning. Wildlife could be seen scurrying about in the dark, and the silhouettes of the trees and fences looked beautiful. The serving team quickly cleared our dishes and appeared with the next course which was Vegetable Paella, and so this process was repeated with servings of Salt and pepper chicken wings, baked camembert and roasted garlic with more bread, BBQ Ribs, Mini Bruschetta’s topped with chorizo and red onion, and Patatas Bravas. After about 40 minutes cruising we turned around and headed back towards the Marina, which we then sailed past in the opposite direction for a further 40 minutes or so before turning round again and heading back to base. We were served vanilla ice cream for dessert, and Sue asked for a coffee which was promptly and politely provided. All in all the experience lasted two and a half hours, and we were back Ÿ??in dockŸ? at 10-00pm. The girls (and boy) came around with our bills and chocolate mints, and we all said our thank yous and goodbyes. The cost of the Tapas cruise is ô?19-50 per head, but due o the fact that Sue consumed a reasonably large amount of Rose wine equaled by my capacity for Diet Coke, and adding the cost of the coffee on, our bill ended up at ô?71-00. I was still more than happy with that. We have both said that we fancy trying other meals on the boat, so I don’t think you have heard the last of this one. The crew was all really friendly and polite, and Sue managed to reward their diligence with a Ÿ??head crunchŸ? on her way up the steps off the boat. I reckon it was the Rose wine rather than the lack of headroom, but it wasn’t for me to surmise Ÿ?? I know when and when not to comment! So, what do we think? How are we going to summarize this one? Let’s see shall weŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. Is Romance TV friendly? It was brilliant Ÿ?? smiles all round from crew and passengers alike. You aren’t exactly in the public domain, but the audience you do have is pretty captive! No worries here. Value for money? I think so Ÿ?? you can’t complain at ô?19-50 per head, and let’s face it, you don’t have to add a vast amount to it unless you want to. Would I go again? I will definitely be going again. I quite fancy the Sunday lunch trip next, and Sue has said that her and her friend Sue will be trying it out.