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Keeping Afloat: Up a French Canal ... without a Paddle Paperback – 17 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Loose Chippings Books (17 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955421756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955421754
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.5 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Liley (1937-) has been boating much of his life, first of all upon the canals and rivers of England, then sailing around the Kentish coast. After qualifying as an engineer, and spells in the industrial world, he left to work in yacht delivery. Voyaging between points as far apart as Guadaloupe, the Shetland Isles and eastern Greece, he experienced the terrors of heavy gale conditions and the magic of a landfall at sunrise, with dolphins leaping beneath the bow.

On the strength of these voyages John was offered a job with a boating magazine, only to discover that in addition to craft under sail it covered canals as well. So he got hooked again. After nine years - five of them as Editor - he left to explore the waterways of France in a coal barge from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Subsequently John set up in business with a hotel-barge in Burgundy. "I thought I would give it a go for a couple of years," he says. That was in 1976. It has been keeping him busy ever since.

Product Description

Review

Very entertaining reading - Timothy West Brilliant raconteur and accomplished wordsmith. Amusing, informative and honest. Forget all the shiny, sanitised travelogues and fat, fluffy guide books; this is the real deal - Sailing Today It's a cracking read and you'll have trouble putting it down - Canal Boat Magazine Entertaining prose and lively style - Living France John Liley is one of England's canal experts. A nice relaxed style and lots of wry observations on people, France and bureaucracy - G.C.Barrow Strong character depiction and a wealth of incidents bring this book to life. Well worth reading - H. Davie

About the Author

As a small boy in south Lancashire John Liley played beside, and in, the derelict Ashton Canal. When, in 1952, his father organised the first of many trips on the English waterways, he discovered 'an alternative world, a throwback that seemed likely to end at any moment.' Years of sailing followed. He has crossed the Atlantic on a schooner and helped to deliver yachts between points as far apart as the Shetland Isles, the Canaries and the eastern shores of Greece. On joining Motor Boat & Yachting magazine in 1963 he was amazed to find the canals of England still surviving - 'if only just, and they were constantly under threat. The waterways of England had to be campaigned for, against all the forces of a blinkered regime.' John took the magazine into that fight and, on becoming Editor, found himself arguing the case for, amongst others, the Ashton Canal. It is now open to navigation again. Leaving the magazine in 1972, he explored the waterways of France, then Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in 'a beat-up old English coal barge'. A spell with Practical Boat Owner followed, before he pursued a career with the hotel-barge Secunda, described in these pages. Marriage and the birth of three sons have limited these activities, but, from a home base in Cheshire, he still visits France often. Amongst other books he has written are Journeys of the Swan, covering adventures on the English canals, France - the Quiet Way - a guide, and Barge Country, an exploration of the Netherlands.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. C. Barrow on 1 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
John Liley is one of England's canal experts and to older readers they will remember his earlier writings on canals in Britain and Europe. He regularly still writes a column in Waterways World magazine. This book is of interest to anyone who is thinking of setting up a tourism related business, as well as anyone who loves canals and waterways or rural France. It's well written with a nice relaxed style and lots of wry observations on people, France and beauracracy. I'd buy a copy to take on holiday with you this summer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen FOLEY on 14 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
How this man and his business partners pulled this venture off is still a mystery to me - but they did it. They encountered a huge number of setbacks that would have seen most off - me certainly - but they stuck it out and won through.
Very well written account of the enterprise, well worth a read. This is one of those "can't put it down' books.
Steve Foley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Sheldon on 18 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has discovered the fascination of canal cruising will love this story of how the French were made aware of it themselves. Fired by a passion gained on English waterways, the author John Liley with the help of friends converted the Dutch barge Secunda into a hotel boat, to carry fare paying passengers on the vast and under used network in France. The boldness of this venture, involving two sea crossings of the Channel, heart breaking technical problems, and perhaps worst of all, overcoming French bureaucracy, will make you marvel at the toughness and persistence of the small band who battled through it all. Their success showed the way to leisure cruising of the French system at a time when commercial use was declining, with the inevitable pressure for closures. The formula that was pioneered, of fine cuisine combined with stately progress through glorious countryside, is now well established, and the successor to Secunda, another historic vessel renamed Luciole, is still carrying on the hotel barge tradition. The book incidentally also serves as an informative travel guide to the Burgundy regions through which the waterways pass.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book Bag on 20 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
It can be embarrassing finding oneself laughing out load in a public place - that is just what happened when I was reading this book. It is a delightful tale of the adventure of running a hotel barge on the canals of Burgandy. Be prepared for hilarious characters and French bureaucracy at its best!
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Format: Paperback
I'm a sucker for books on canals and boating. This one goes behind the scenes and describes, always affectionately and sometimes hilariously, the problems and pitfalls of converting and running a hotel barge on the French canals. John Liley was something of a pioneer in this area, and through writer's eyes he describes the early stages of an adventure that moved hotel-boating from the realm of the canal enthusiast into the world of the discerning visitor to France (who, too, will discover the pleasures of the canals along with the area they meander through!) Strong character depiction and a wealth of incidents bring this book to life. Well worth reading, and revisiting.
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By Mike Heritage on 19 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
An interesting book in parts, but not as funny and entertaining as the comments on the rear cover make out. I felt there's a much more interesting story hidden away in this account, which needs coaxing out. Also, some sentences are too long, with too many commas, making it necessary to read them twice to be clear of their meaning.
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By Kevin on 11 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not really what I was expecting. I was expecting more about the guests antics rather than the trials and tribulations of starting and running a business.

However anyone interested in French boating will get something out of it.
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