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Listen to Excess Baggage for

16 AUGUST 2008


The UK has miles of navigable inland waterways which offer an unparalleled opportunity for both leisure and leisurely travel. Sandi Toksvig goes to Godalming in Surrey to sample the delights of the Wey Navigation, part canal, part river.

Sandi boards a traditional style narrow boat owned by retired Colonel in the Grenadier Guards Euan Houstoun and his wife Joanna, her hosts for the day. They are joined by former regional chair of the Inland Waterways Association Brian Roberts and his wife Jackie and television producer Steve Haywood, a canal boat enthusiast and author of Narrow boat dreams and A journey north by England’s waterways.

They discuss how the waterways have improved over the years and the pleasures of pootling along the cut at walking speed, through Britain’s back garden.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Euan and Joanna Houstoun's narrow boat Trincomalee II ©

Photo: Trincomalee II (courtesy of Euan and Joanna Houstoun ©)

This week's guests:
Euan and Joanna Houstoun
Euan retired a few years ago after a long career in the army. Inspired by William Cobbett, author of the Rural Rides, who wrote about a walk along the canal at Godalming and described the canals as the ‘green veins of England’, Euan and Joanna had a very modern computer aided design boat built. They now use their boat a lot for themselves and also skipper cruises through Farncombe Boats

Brian and Jackie Roberts
Brian is a former regional chair of the Inland Waterways Association. He and Jackie live in the Wey area. Brian is the author of a couple of guides to the waterways. He started using rivers and canals for boating when he was at university borrowing a friend’s boat for B&B. Brian and Jackie have a ½ share in a boat in the south and a 1/12 share in one in the north. The boats are moored wherever the last person leaves them so always starts from a different place.

Britain’s waterways: cruising rings and other things
Publisher: GEOprojects (UK) Ltd
ISBN-10: 0863511511
- ISBN-13: 978-0863511516

Britain’s waterways: a unique insight t
Publisher: GEOprojects (UK) Ltd
ISBN 0-86351-115-5

Steve Haywood and his wife bought a narrow boat 35 years ago which he used to alleviate the strains of his television producer’s job. Steve currently writes a column for Canal Boat magazine and has published two books on canals, Fruit Flies like a Banana: England by Canal and Classic car and his latest Narrowboat Dreams: a Journey North by England’s Waterways.

When they bought their narrow boat it was quite unusual. There weren’t many real leisure narrow boats on the canals and they were relatively cheap to get hold of, but this is no longer the case with the cost of permanent mooring, licence, general maintenance and insurance.

Narrowboat Dreams: A Journey North by England's Waterways
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
ISBN-10: 1840246707
ISBN-13: 978-1840246704

Fruit Flies Like a Banana: England by Canal and Classic Car
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
ISBN-10: 1840243511
ISBN-13: 978-1840243512

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info
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