If you have a long lazy weekend on the boat coming up, or simply feel like a nautical read, you could pick up For Better, For Worse, For Richer, For Poorer by Damian and Siobhan Horner. This husband and wife team have written a travelogue and memoir about leaving their careers and lives ashore in England, to travel the French canals with their two children, both younger than three.

Damian wanted to escape his role as a “professional bastard” working in advertising and Siobhan wanted to rediscover her “wild side” after the monotony of being a full time mum in London’s Queens Park.

The boat they describe is a story in itself, a converted old wooden fishing boat lovingly restored over several years by Damien. He had her surveyed after purchase;
“Burn her,” the surveyor said. But Damian persevered.

Being written in two voices is quite refreshingly different, and there is humour in the couple’s conflicting views on the same situations. The challenges come in navigation and emergency boat maintenance along the way as they discover France and the French boating community. As time goes on their own characters begin to change as they relax and lose sight of their former lives in England.

Despite the obvious challenges of keeping such young children safe and entertained on board their enthusiasm for adventure, their optimism and humour, and their evocative descriptions of rural France had me almost wanting to make the same journey myself. It particularly made me want to travel the Ninervais Canal which is apparently the route less travelled. It also made me want to visit Arles and drink red wine in a pavement café dreaming of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the Rhone.

If you’ve ever wondered what would it be like if you just left your job and wandered off on a boat with your spouse and children then you’ll enjoy this couple’s tale of taking the plunge.

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