Read Narrow Dog to Carcassonne: Two Foolish People, One Odd Dog, an English Canal Boat...and the Adventure of a Lifetime by Terry Darlington Online

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"We could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure..." It was absurd. It was foolhardy. And it was glorious. When they retired, Terry Darlington and his somewhat saner wife Monica--together with their dog, a whippet named Jim--chucked their earthbound life and set out in an utterly unseaworthy sixty-foot canal narrowboat across the n"We could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure..." It was absurd. It was foolhardy. And it was glorious. When they retired, Terry Darlington and his somewhat saner wife Monica--together with their dog, a whippet named Jim--chucked their earthbound life and set out in an utterly unseaworthy sixty-foot canal narrowboat across the notoriously treacherous English Channel and down to the South of France.Aboard the Phyllis May, you'll dive through six-foot waves in the Channel and be swept down the terrible Rhone. You'll meet the French nobody meets--poets, captains, scholars, madmen; they all want to know the couple on the painted boat and their narrow dog. You'll visit the France nobody knows--the backwaters of Flanders, the canals beneath Paris, and the forbidden routes to the wine-dark Mediterranean Sea. Aliens, trolls, gongoozlers, killer fish, and the walking dead all stand between our two-person, one-whippet crew and their goal: the ancient, many-towered city of Carcassonne.A tale of travel, travail, dubious wine, a balky pump, and a boat built for only a few feet of water, this exuberantly inventive and hugely entertaining odyssey of the spirit, senses, and heart will enchant lovers of France, England, and all that lies between....

Title : Narrow Dog to Carcassonne: Two Foolish People, One Odd Dog, an English Canal Boat...and the Adventure of a Lifetime
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385342087
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 325 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Narrow Dog to Carcassonne: Two Foolish People, One Odd Dog, an English Canal Boat...and the Adventure of a Lifetime Reviews

  • Joe White
    2019-04-29 11:39

    While the thesis for this book was an English narrowboat (canal boat) taken down England, across the channel, into Belgium, and then to the south of France, the actual amount of material devoted to boating or canal details could have been summed up in less than 15 pages. This was a rambling prattle, that appeared to have mostly a satirical negative overtone, regarding fleeting glimpses of people and restaurants along the route.The owners (writers) were older, the trip was apparently expensive, and there were historical detail fill-ins regarding WWII actions in various sites.There were no maps and no summarized table of distances, times, and costs. No worthwhile details were given at all. For instance, I think the boat was required to be escorted across the English channel, and I think that there is a relatively high cost for the escort service due to licensing, but this wasn't even mentioned.How locks actually work, how hard is it to handle and steer a narrowboat? - You won't find any detail here.300 wasted pages trying to colorize a not very interesting trip - one in which the authors didn't seem to enjoy.To be fair, the English have a different viewpoint than regular people, and this book was intended to be halfway about their dog, a whippet, which was taken on the journey - I had no interest in the dog after about the first 2 pages. There is maybe 1 worthwhile mention of canal travel detail per chapter, so the book can be a fast scan looking for these mentions. Same for the dog relevance portions. You'll never get your life back if you waste the full time trying to read and treasure this.

  • Memo
    2019-05-04 11:23

    Gave this one star because I haven't got the option to give it none! He says "We could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure..." I feel Mr Darlington denied me the last two options by just boring me do death. I thought it might have improved if they had sunk at the end but the only way to improve this was if it sant at the beginning! A classic example of someone with too much time on their hands that think they have a talent for writing to supplement their pension - can only assume Mr Darlington either used some of that pension to fund this book or he is related to the publisher. The publisher also needs a review on how they choose books if this is the best they can come up with. Either way, life is too short to waste on reading this. Not even heavy enough to use as a door stop!

  • Jim
    2019-05-01 12:35

    Despite developing a kind of mild dislike for the author who, I seem to think, used to be in advertising or PR or something similar, this was an interesting story. One of the critics in the reviews for other books hit the nail on the head, however, by stating that all travel books these days needed a conceit of some sort. Taking a houseboat down through the canals in France - I mean why should we be interested? It's your dream, mate, so entertain me if you can.Well, I suppose he did in the end. It was a good trip, but I left it feeling that Darlington is a pub bore, that nobody knows better than him and that he itches and burns with a desire to let you know just how bloody smart he is. I felt this all through the book, but couldn't quite put my finger on it, and then discovered on finishing the tale that he'd penned a little postscript pointing to all the literary allusions and quotations he'd peppered the book with. In case you were too dumb to see them. Being not quite as intelligent as he is.

  • Rosie
    2019-05-07 10:22

    I bought two copies of this, one for me and one for my aunt, whose daughter has a narrow-boat. As soon as I began reading it, I realised my aunt would give up - since the complete absence of quotation marks makes the reading of it confusing.I persevered for 75 pages before putting it aside. There's some lovely writing in here, and entertaining stories but I really did struggle with the lack of quotation marks.Maybe I'll dip into it again, sometime.

  • Shay
    2019-05-07 05:48

    What a fun book! This is about an older couple and their dog from England who take a narrow boat across the English Channel. It was quite a dangerous outing, but they had a boat pilot with them and another boat to guide them across the channel. This book chronicles their adventures and misadventures. Told with a sardonic, English humor, this book is just a delightful read.

  • Jessica Rowan
    2019-05-24 10:43

    The style takes a little getting used to but once you're over that, it's a fantastic read and very funny. The punctuation and sentence structure is actually very clever, giving a stream of consciousness style to the whole piece. If you have ever spent much time in France, his comments will have you laughing in recognition. Highly recommended!

  • Judy Beyer
    2019-04-28 06:33

    I know nothing about Terry Darlington, so I approached this book unaware of his life and the role in the advertising world that seemed to affect other readers. Unfettered by preconceptions, I laughed and laughed. The man tells a rollicking good tale. His articulate and smart wife, the endearing whippet and the adventures had sailing the narrowboat amused me no end. I’d have liked their take on old Carcassonne, but for the rest this is a great read...

  • Terri Naughton
    2019-05-05 07:51

    Listened to the audio version of this book and found it soothing? Maybe that's not the right word, but it was a pleasure to listen to and I looked forward to putting on the headphones every night as I walked on my treadmill. Terry and Monica and Jim the whippet seemed like folks I would like to know.

  • Dirk
    2019-05-12 09:44

    Fascinating story of someone's determination to take a narrow boat across the Channel and the major French canals. Sheer doggedness got them there after some hairy scrapes along the way with their 'wee pet'.

  • Carrie
    2019-05-12 04:42

    Written in almost stream of consciousness it lacked much in the way of descriptions of the area, people he met, or even life on the boat. By the time I was half way through the book I didn't care whether they made it to Carcassonne or not.

  • Kat Fiction
    2019-05-26 10:36

    Perfect for those who like boats or France or whippets. Should be avoided by anyone with an aversion to dad humour. Makes me long for retirement.

  • Laura Planton
    2019-05-07 11:28

    Read this while on a European trip that also included a Paris. Spot on in description of Parisians. More of a journal than book but I laughed my way through it. Fun read!

  • Moonstone
    2019-05-14 05:37

    I ended this after the first few pages. Every sentence was meant to be funny, infact every other word. Not for me.

  • Doug Mitchell
    2019-05-21 08:23

    While I was suffering through “Narrow Dog to Carcassonne” I had a conversation with a good friend of mine. As it often does, the topic of our discussion turned to books. He asked what I was reading and I told him of the pain I was experiencing trying to get through Terry Darlington’s awful book about his insufferable trip on his insipid narrowboat the Phyllis May. After he finished laughing, my friend told me his policy was to punish bad books by leaving them, unfinished, on airplanes.Good plan. Unfortunately for me, and now for you, I had no trips on the horizon. Buying a ticket to Billings and back seemed an extreme price to pay just to dump a book, but I considered it – seriously.Alas, my reader’s guilt won out and I decided to finish the book and hope beyond reason that it might have a spectacular ending.Well, at least it had an ending.“Narrow Dog to Carcassonne” is the story of Terry and Monica Darl ington’s trip by narrowboat from Stone, England to Carcassonne, France. This trip should have been interesting. Along for the journey would be their faithful whippet named Jim and their course would take them not only along the picturesque canals of Europe, but also on the River Thames and across the English Channel.Sounds promising doesn’t it? Think again. “Narrow Dog to Carcassonne” is a 397 page version of Aunt Edna’s slide show of her trip to the Corn Palace.I was eager to learn about both narrowboats and what the canals of Europe are really like. No such luck. Instead, we get virtually verbatim transcripts of conversations between Terry and a variety of friends, fellow travelers and barkeeps.Thank goodness for Jim. Within twenty pages, most readers will dislike both Monica and Terry. After all, Terry and Monica don’t even seem to like each other. In fact, not once, but twice during the trip Monica leaves the boat and go es home to Stone – for weeks at a time. But faithful Jim, the whippet, is always there and is the only one I would like to spend any time with – ever. He’s a character that Jim. He eats pork scratchings (whatever they are) by the bagful, lopes effortlessly at 30 miles an hour and is terrified of boats. I connected with Jim. He wanted off that boat in the worst way and so did I.This was very disappointing. I have often wondered about what a trip along the canals of Europe would be like. The tourist brochures make them look pretty cool, but it’s hard to know for sure. I hoped “Narrow Dog to Carcassonne” would paint a picture of the experience from the eyes of a seasoned traveler. Try though he might, Terry Darlington simply couldn’t oblige. So certain is he that we need to know about his trip to every pub and the number of steps up to every canal lock opening that we learn virtually nothing about the scenery of the trip.I should have taken a hint when I picked up the book in the store, opened it and found that the type was blue. At that point one might have two thoughts: a) this is strange and b) how clever. I chose clever. Too bad.So, if you are on a plane and reach into that elasticized pocket in the seatback in front of you and find a discarded copy of “Narrow Dog to Carcassonne” don’t be surprised.Because, as my friend says, that’s where bad books belong.

  • Kate
    2019-05-01 10:42

    "It was absurd. It was foolhardy. And it was glorious. When they retired, Terry Darlington and his somewhat saner wife Monica -- together with their dog, a whippet named Jim -- chucked their earthbound life and set out in an utterly unseaworthy sixty-foot canal narrowboat across the notoriously treacherous English Channel and down to the South of France."Aboard the Phyllis May, you'll dive through six-foot waves in the Channel and be swept down the terrible Rhone. You'll meet the French nobody meets -- poets, captains, scholars, madmen: they all want to know the couple on the painted boat and their narrow dog. You'll visit the France nobody knows -- the backwaters of Flanders, the canals beneath Paris, and the forbidden routes to the wine-dark Mediterranean Sea. Aliens, trolls, gongoozlers, killer fish, and the walking dead all stand between our two-person, one-whippet crew and their goal: the ancient, many-towered city of Carcassonne."A tale of travel, travail, dubious wine, a balky pump, and a boat built for only a few feet of water, this exuberant and hugely entertaining true-life odyssey of the spirit, senses, and heart will enchant lovers of France, Englang, and all that lies between."~~back coverThis book was strongly recommended to me by one of my English reading mates. So how could it not be wonderful? I never found "the author's glorious sense of humor", more's the pity. I think it was hidden in there somewhere, only I just couldn't recognize it. I felt as though the gist of it, the humor of it, were just around the corner so I kept reading (slogging) away. But nothing came of it; at the end, I was still outside the trip, the humor, and anything else salient. If you'd like to see pictures of Terry, Monica and Jim, and the narrowboat and the journey, they've got a web site: http://www.narrowdog.com/

  • Susan Ferguson
    2019-05-27 05:24

    I enjoyed Narrow Dog to Indian River. I'd forgotten a lot of his style. It's not strictly narrative and rather fanciful, with a lot of allusions to poetry. Terry writes poetry, although he had to get a real job to make a living. His wife Monica has a degree in French, she speaks excellently and a smattering of several other languages. They have also acquired a whippet that they call Jim. They both love boating along the English canals, although they don't know much and Terry is singularly inept with the engine or anything mechanical.They decide to take their narrow boat, Phyllis May - sized to fit the English canals at 60 feet long, 7 feet wide and 16 tons. They decide they will take the boat to France next year to Paris, leave her in a marina, then come back the next year and go on to Carcassonne to meet up with some friends. They intend to put the boat on a lorry and ship it across the channel, but a friend has come up with an idea that they will robe the boats together and sail across the English channel. Terry keeps denying it, but they do research and decide to try it, with the friend backing out at the last minute, so they are taking a captain and a pilot and go for it. And, to their surprise they make it across the channel and dare the inland waterways of France. Terry, Monica and Jim attract a lot of attention for their boat and much attention for Jim, too. As an example of the style, here is how Jim got his name:"We'll call him Gonzales, I had said, because he's fast. Or Leroy because he's golden brown, or we'll have a dog called Boney Maronie. Good thinking said Monica, and named him Jim."This sort of conversation and activity goes on all through the book and it is fun to read - amusing, anyway.

  • Annette
    2019-05-09 08:48

    Narrow Dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington was recommended by a friend.“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. Terry, his wife Monica and dog Jim have acquired a canal boat as a retirement hobby. They don’t know much about boats, except have to steer, and definitely nothing about the mechanics of boat engines. They have tootled along the gentle canals of the UK, and come up with the idea of crossing the channel and going down the French canals and the Rhone to Carcassonne in the South. Anyone with boating knowledge would pale at the idea, but they were either oblivious or dismissive of the dangers and problems. There were many frightening moments, when they donned life jackets, clutched passports and the CD of Terry’s book and said goodbye to Jim. However, they managed to escape disaster by the skin of their teeth, and completed their journey.There is not much plot to the book, it is a tale of their journey, with anecdotes, a bit of history and a good helping of fantasy and day dreaming. I like the way the book is written. It does describe actual places, which if you know them is interesting. I live by a canal, and am familiar with a local village described as “rather poor, yet surprisingly supporting a book store” – an apt description. I have visited Carcassonne, Aigue Mort and Sete, and have been bitten by mosquitos by the petit Rhone, where we shared a swimming pool with frogs. To really appreciate the book, I think you have to be familiar with either boating, are the places mentioned. Anyone can appreciate the humour though, and the lyrical, almost poetic prose. It is a light book, but not to be skimmed through, or the detail is lost.

  • Crystal
    2019-05-08 12:22

    So, I am only part way into this book, but I just have to share that I am listening to it on audio, and the reader is hysterical. I have no idea what is going on most of the time (partly because I am a very inattentive listener), but I am thoroughly entertained most of the time!Update: So, now that I've finished...This was a really great book, even if it did take me two CDs of the audio and a map to figure out what was going on. Sometimes, it is much wiser to read the jacket of the book first. Also, while a good story, I am certainly not going to run out and buy a narrow boat and try to take a vacation across the canals of Europe. While I like adventure, I much prefer this sort of adventure when experienced vicariously, listening to an audio book in my car :)In any case, what a great TRUE story about Terry Darlington, his wife Monica, and his dog Jim (or Gin, depending on which pub you're in), and their adventures in their narrow boat traveling across England and France. The tale is weaves in and out of their travels, meandering through towns and villages, intersecting with the lives of other travelers and non-travelers, facing uncertain doom every so often along the way. My favorite part of the book: Jim, the whippet, with super-canine abilities to read minds and perceive the unperceiveable.

  • Jane
    2019-05-03 05:49

    Terry Darlington formerly wrote for Punch and other magazines. This book is a travelogue of the Darlington's journey to Carcassonne on their narrowboat. It is full of humour and peppered with Terry's brilliant wit. I enjoyed the story and the humour.However, the book itself was let down badly by the fact that it had not been proof-read properly. It was full of typographical and grammatical errors which I found quite off putting. Far too often there was no spacing between sentences, words with capital letters mid sentence and a distinct lack of speech marks, to name a few. For a writer and former market researcher, these mistakes are quite unforgivable. Thank goodness, my copy was a loan from the library! Does it cost that much to employ a proof reader? Surely not, I expect the author had received an advance and as the owner of a narrow boat, I doubt he was short of cash! It shows a certain rudeness and arrogance on the author's part to publish work at such a sub standard level and expect his audience to buy, let alone read the book. It doesn't give a very good advertisement for Bantam Press (part of Transworld Publishers) either. Due to the low standard of the final publication, I will give this book 2* rating.

  • Sandra
    2019-05-01 12:37

    I needed some light reading after just finishing a 600-plus pager. I've always loved travel books and picked up this one at a used book sale. The premise: a British retiree and his wife and whippet, Jim, travel via their 60-foot canal boat through England, crossing the treacherous English Channel and ending up in the south of France. Filled with humorous and often outlandish descriptions, the book somehow failed to really keep me entertained. It was a surface romp, and I wanted to hear more about the background of the pair, their route, the stops they made, etc. And while there were maps of both England and France on the inside covers, they weren't that detailed, so I found it hard to keep up with their travels. Next time I'll take the train.

  • Louise Jones
    2019-05-24 09:52

    umm I liked it sort of but could see why people may absolutely detest it , I am not a great traveller and not read many of these type of books it is a bit like looking at other peoples holiday snaps it is really only interesting to u and perhaps great Aunt mabel who has nothing better to do !! SAying that in parts i did enjoy the book as quite like learning about different places and you do get a feel of a place ever so slightly without the hassle of packing a suitcase I do enjoy lit as a whole so quite liked his mentioning of certain poems etc !!! A nice way to while away a few hrs as the sun shines !!! and cant be to bad if got follow on from library !!! may learn something on the way

  • Kathy
    2019-05-17 12:29

    After reading Narrow Dog to Indian River, I knew I had to read this one. Terry Darlington & his wife are Brits who take their skinny dog and their narrowboat (translation: long, skinny boat designed to travel through scenic canals) through London, across the English Channel (which narrowboats are NOT designed to do) to France and down canals to Carcassonne. Terry's writing style could be described as humorous stream of consciousness that actually ends up making sense. He is truly gifted at turning innocuous encounters into delicious, hilarious adventures and also tosses in frequent anecdotes of their dog Jim's dislike of water travel and Jim's uniquely canine adventures on their trip. I sincerely hope they take their narrowboat somewhere else soon and write about it!

  • Al
    2019-05-05 12:51

    You don't have to have boated on a European canal or river to enjoy this book, but it helps. Terry and his wife piloted an ungainly English narrow boat from England across the channel, and then through Belgium and France. This is the tale of their adventure. Terry is an entertaining writer, with many sharp insights. There are times when his approach is a little overbearing, and one suspects he is exaggerating some of the adventures to make the story more interesting, but all in all it's a fun read, and he is good company. I was pleasantly surprised. This book won't make you want to charter a boat to navigate the French canals, which is a shame. If you're not on a narrow boat, it's good clean fun.

  • Bowerbird
    2019-05-09 10:46

    I love the wry humour and also the local interest. This is more a book of reminiscenses than a straightforward travel diary, and because of this I found I preferred to read it slowly and dip into it. I have spent a short holiday on a narrow boat and it introduces you to a parallel world where things move at walking pace. Maybe this is how the book should be read. Nevertheless it is delightful. Belgium, Holland and France drifted by - often closed! - but plenty of time to sample the local wines and meet the characters. As a dog owner I did enjoy the part in the narrative given over to Terry's dog.

  • Debra
    2019-05-03 07:33

    So, when most of us retire, "we could bore ourselves to death, drink ourselves to death, or have a bit of an adventure." The Darlington's chose adventure - taking a narrowboat (a English canalboat) across the Channel and down French waterways with their "narrow dog," Jim the Whippet. With a sense of humor dry as the Sahara, Mr. Darlington guides this adventure with gusto. Sometimes, I got frustrated by his style. Eventually I realized that for me it was more enjoyable in small doses. I would have loved photos in the book (but they can be found on the website narrowdog.com.) I will definitely be looking for their next adventure, Narrow Dog to Indian River.

  • Phair
    2019-05-05 06:27

    Looked like this would be such a fun travelogue but it was a bit of a disappointment. Odd writing style: right in the middle of a description the author breaks into a quotation, a sly aside, or and internal conversation so you're not sure who, if anyone, he's talking to or about. Often colorful & witty but more often just confusing. Descriptions range from snide remarks to lyrical passages. Bt the close of the book the author and his wife were sick of the journey and so was I. I will give the next book a try to see how they get on in the USA.

  • Laura Bang
    2019-05-22 07:39

    A lovely, meandering read through the canals of England and France. This book is definitely not for everyone, though. The writing is very stream-of-conscious-y and often lacks specific details, and the dialogue is not differentiated from the rest of the text (no quotation marks or line breaks between speakers). So it took me about 20 or 30 pages to get into the rhythm of the book and get over my usual textual expectations, but once I did I liked it. The descriptions are quite pretty. (And I love that the text is all printed in blue! There ought to be more non-black printings, I feel.)

  • Garfield
    2019-05-05 05:28

    At first I wasn't sure I liked the author's writing style. Seemed kind of choppy at first.But in no time at all he won me over with his sly, british sense of humor. Had many a good chuckle while reading it and read some of the funnier passages out aloud to my husband. What an adventure. Guess I learned from this book that you're never too old to try something new and "dangerous". LOL. Though can't say I'd be that brave. Looking forward to continuing the journey with the authors and their narrow dog on the Indian River trip

  • Alison
    2019-05-24 06:39

    I have been reading this since early December and am not getting on with it all that well but will stick with it as I don't like abandoning things part way through. It is not brilliantly written but is good to nod off to at night - two retired nutters on a canal boat put out from Stone in Staffordshire (where BT had a training centre)and boat down through the midlands to London and then out to sea, crossing the Channel and boating down the canals through France and part of Belgium. They have a whippet - not sure if that is the "narrow dog" or the name of the type of boat but don't much care!

  • Suzanne Krueger
    2019-05-11 12:41

    Listening to this book, I think, is definitely an advantage. In the style of Peter Mayle, a retired Englishman, his wife and dog (a whippet) travel across the English Channel and through the canals in France in an English Narrow Boat. Having no sailing experience, the author relates every nightmare & mishap with great English humor.I didn't mind all the quotes and French (as others have noted), as I like references to poetry/literature and I'm a francophile.This was a light read and it made me laugh.