Very, very entertaining and readable. Really good reading and informative as well.
It's going to be a big hit, especially among narrowboaters everywhere.
You have proved that a well fitted out narrowboat is equal to anything Europe can offer.
One of the rare books that really tells people what it's like to go cruising on the European waterways. It's so nice to read one that isn't only about French restaurants, wine and the number of locks they have done.
Being a boaty person myself and having lived on a boat for the past twelve years, I have read quite a number of boat books. I particularly go for books that are about travelling in Europe, most of which are about France. Now I love France, but it's not all about food and wine, and boating in Europe is not about how many locks you can notch up in a day before you get to the next restaurant or winery/brewery. Sadly, far too many of the books about boating in Europe are about just that. Sorry to have taken so long to get to the point, but reading A Cigar in Belgium was a huge relief. It's a lovely book that combines everything that's interesting about travelling in another country by boat. Anne Husar takes us from their preparations in the UK and what they needed to do to to their Narrowboat, Wandering Snail, to conform to standards in Europe. It also tells us about the journey itself: the surprises of seeing such massive sea-going ships on the canal from Terneuzen to Ghent where they started, the kindness of the people they met when they broke down, the beauty of the countryside they passed through, the experience of tying up in huge locks where the lock keeper is just a voice through a loud speaker. She tells us about the real journey and real experience of living continuously aboard a Narrowboat while cruising the very lovely and largely unappreciated waterways of Belgium. Well done, Anne Husar. Can we have more of these?
by Valerie Poore
This is the first in a series of books by Anne about their life on their Narrowboat Wandering Snail, referred to in the book as “Snail” in mainland Europe. It is not a book for the anorak, full of facts and figures, but of everyday life on the commercial waterways of Belgium.
You may already be familiar with the tales of Wandering Snail as an abridged version of chapter six was published in Canal Boat magazine.
Anne and her partner Oliver, affectionately known as Oli started their boating life like many of us hiring for the odd week here and there over many years, until they made the decision to have a boat of their own. They bought a 70-foot sail-a-way shell and had it transported to their back garden in North Norfolk where Oli set to and fitted it out.
Once completed they launched Snail on the Fens and cruised the UK waters for a time, fixing any snags that popped up. In 2008 they decided to say goodbye to England and take Wandering Snail to waters new on the other side of the North Sea.
It is here, with chapter one, that the book starts in earnest, with Snail on the back of a lorry crossing to Terneuzen where she went back into the water.
Over the next 12 months Anne, Oli and their dog Woody travelled extensively through Belgium meeting lots of very friendly people who really made them feel welcome. They also met the odd character that they would be more than happy to never see again.
People took them in to their homes and went out of their way to help them. Everywhere they went, Snail was the centre of attention. They shared locks with the large commercial craft that still ply their trade on the wide deep waterways and when they were stuck in mud a 1500 tonne vessel came to their rescue, by nosing forward to them and passing a line to pull them free. They had been stuck for six hours by this time, with the Fire Brigade and large crowd in attendance.
Overall this is a very readable book by anyone interested in Narrowboating or the continental inland waterways. As for the title of the book, well you will have to read it to find out.
by Brian Holt