A couple from the Midlands are launching a unique venture on Warwickshire’s waterways, called Float by Boat.
Their skippered canal holidays – like those offered by hotel boats – will combine relaxation, meditation and wholesome home-cooked vegetarian food; an ideal way to slow down and rejuvenate in the peace and quiet of nature.
Tor Johnson, from Henley-in-Arden, says: “Pairing narrow boats with a retreat experience seemed like an obvious choice. The pace of life is slow, there’s no point in rushing around with a top speed of 3 mph, and canals pass through some of the most beautiful, serene parts of rural England. I love waking up to birdsong and other sounds of nature.
Spirited Away, the 69ft narrow boat, is amongst the longest on the UK’s canals and has three cabins sleeping 6 – 7 guests and two crew members. An ex-hire boat it has been designed to be comfortable and flexible for larger groups. The trips are fully catered with all the food freshly prepared, vegetarian or vegan and, where possible, locally sourced.
The experience is gentle and spacious; days include optional meditation sessions morning and night, canal cruising and plenty of free time to enjoy the countryside, chatting with other shipmates, reading, being creative or just resting.
Kev Argent, who has lived on the canals for a couple of years now, is the skipper and tends to lead the meditation sessions. “We have both been meditating between five and ten years, and each deeply value its contribution to our lives,” he says. “Our trips are called meditative canal breaks, rather than retreats, because they are not associated with any spiritual tradition and don’t include any other formal spiritual practices. We want the canal breaks to be light, cheery and joyful experiences that are open to anyone of any level of experience or background.”
Float by Boat run a schedule of breaks for individuals or couples and also take whole boat bookings from larger groups. And, because Spirited Away moves around all the time, local pick-ups are provided up from the nearest train station, bus stop or car park.
“I used to do a normal 9-5 desk job but wanted to find a way of making a simple living that would be more hands-on, peaceful and in touch with the natural world,” says Tor. “Floating around on the canals is a beautiful way of life that I love sharing with people. There is a closer relationship to everyday resources such as fuel, water, electricity and waste disposal, so I’m more aware of what I’m using and it feels much greener to live like this. I hope guests will also be attracted to the green aspects of meditative canal breaks.”
A launch party will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 27th April in the basin on Waterside in Stratford-upon-Avon. Spirited Away will be open to visitors between 2 and 5pm. There will be ‘meditative moments’ throughout the afternoon giving passers-by the chance to enjoy guided relaxation on board. Tor and Kev will be on hand to answer questions and talk about the project.