What’s In A Name? – Canal Barges, Wild Horses & Sailing Boats

We hadn’t had a chance for a holiday in a couple of years, so when Michelle was offered the opportunity to visit the Fermanagh Lakelands to a self catering cottage as a mystery shopper, we jumped at the chance. Even though we lived all our lives only a few hours drive from Fermanagh, neither of us had visited the area before, and what a revelation.

It is a beautiful location dominated by Lower & Upper Lough Erne and the town of Enniskillen, and if you ever get the chance to visit here – make sure you do and hang around for a few days soaking up the natural atmosphere.

Fermanagh lakelands courtesy of www.discovernorthernireland.com

The self catering cottage was on the banks of Lough Erne and what we noticed most was the silence and tranquility of the place. Away from the hustle and bustle of town and city life we didn’t have to listen to automated announcements:

“Unexpected item in the bagging area – please remove item. Please wait for assistance.  Alcohol item – please wait for assistance. Does the customer look over 25? Coupons not recognised, please wait for assistance. Please select payment type. Insert card or cash. Receipt roll empty – please wait for assistance. Thank you for shopping at Tesco”

How many times does this crap ring in your ears – I read a story once but can’t confirm if it is true that during such an exchange, a customer disappeared back into the aisles of the shop, lifted a bottle of barbecue lighting fluid, sprayed it over the automated checkout, lit a match and set it on fire. Whether true or not – oh how many times I have wanted to do this.

But back to the story. Fermanagh seemed a million miles away from this world. The silence let the brain relax. It was able to breathe again away from the thousands of messages it is bombarded with every day in modern day living.

As the light dimmed and the temperature dropped, the hosts had left us a basket of logs at the door, so we lit the wood burning stove, made something for dinner, then relaxed by the fireside to watch a little television.

I am not a big fan of the television – wait, that is an understatement – I detest it. I only choose to watch it if my beloved Ulster Rugby or Ireland are playing, and the match is being televised on a free channel (Rupert Murdoch will not get me subscribing to Sky even for this).

I see the television as another mind control mechanism – subliminally telling us how we should live our lives,  worship the celebrity culture and go out and buy all the crap we don’t need to make these talent-less morons even richer. Thank you, but I am perfectly capable of thinking for myself.

However one program did catch my eye that evening. It was an episode of Great Canal Journeys with actor Tim West and his wife Prunella Scales making various canal journeys through Britain and Europe in a canal boat.

Great Canal Journeys courtesy of channel4.com

Life on a canal boat also seems so quiet and peaceful and with the backdrop of the Fermanagh lakes behind us, this is the spark that lit the fire of me wanting to travel and see more of the world around me.

In this episode, Tim & Prunella were cruising the Forth -> Clyde canal in Scotland and part of their journey took them through Falkirk over the new canal extension and lowered down to the bottom section of canal by the Falkirk Wheel. This feat of engineering was funded as part of a millennium project and has become a tourist attraction in its own right.

At the foot of the Falkirk wheel stands two statues of the “Kelpies” – representations of horses heads which are the largest equine structure in the world. It was explained that “Kelpies” were mythical water horses with a free spirit, and the same name was given to the horses which used to tow the barges up and down the canals from the tow paths at the sides – hence the significance of the statues.

The “Kelpies” at the Falkirk Wheel

On our return home we started talking about the possibility of travelling and considered the idea of a canal boat. However, we felt that this would restrict us too much to the UK, so the idea of buying a motorhome and travelling long-term around Europe was born.

When we started looking for a motorhome to buy, we spotted one for sale on eBay. It had sailing boat logos on either side with the word “Kelpie” written across the sailing boat. This had to be the one!

Kelpie boat makers logo

After we bought it, we found out that Kelpie was the name of the company that commissioned the conversion from lorry chassis to motorhome. They are a company that makes luxury hand made ocean crossing sailing boats, and these qualities were found inside the motorhome, with hand made units and solid drawers with dovetail joints being among the craftsmanship.

With the convention being to give your motorhome a name, the decision for us was not difficult. As we hope to roam Europe as free spirits, our motorhome shall from this day forward be known as Kelpie!