Take me to the river.

Many friends have been asking me how the Zach Project is going…and it is a good question! We are still working on our proposal, we really want it to be an exceptional plan and water tight so between The Beam Clinic and Belinda Blank who is the Information Officer at Ambitious about Autism and is a wonderful support and advocate to parents and their young person, and ourselves we are beetling along with the job.

In the meantime we have been sailing! Well actually I don’t think going on a broad beam boat is called sailing but we have been on the river.

In Harlow just a few miles up the road from us is a charity called CanalAbility and they have a number of canal boats which are accessible for people with disabilities. We have had a number of trips with CanalAbility, initially just for the day but over the last couple of years we have had overnights.

On the day trips you are given a crew who are all volunteers and skipper the boat but when you do an overnight a member or two of your party do a day course, learning how to skipper the boat and learn all about how the boat runs and what to do in an emergency.

We went with some dear friends, Paul and Anne, Cameron, Aidan and Finlay. John was our skipper and he and Paul with the help of the boys did most of the negotiating the river.

We set out from Harlow after doing the necessary checks on Friday afternoon. The boat travels at about 3 miles an hour so if you need to get somewhere fast I advise another form of transport however if it is a relaxing peaceful couple of days you are after then it is something you would really enjoy.

The boats are equipped with all you might need, there is plenty of room. The Stort Challenger sleeps 10, it has two toilets, an accessible bathroom, a lift at either end of the boat and wide corridors.


We spent Friday night moored at Harlow Mill! So basically reached the outskirts of Harlow, the town we set off from. Paul had made a delicious chilli, one with meat and another for the veggies and we all relaxed with a drink and good food and company.

I guess one of the nice things about being on the boat for a couple of days is no television, and we have to either talk to one another or just ignore each other! I was still without a mobile phone and those that had them had a job getting a signal so we talked….we also played games. We had a beetle drive….anyone remember going to the school beetle drive?

Zach loves being included in things and likes the atmosphere of us all chatting and laughing, the busyness and buzz are all things which make him happy and want to join in.

Zach is very perceptive to peoples moods, he is constantly reading and watching peoples facial expressions and listening to their tone of voice and like all of us it really affects his mood.

I don’t have anything very exciting to tell you about our trip, apart from us rescuing a very tired Bee. I have never done this before but have read that Bees can often become exhausted and hungry and one landed on the front of the boat so we got some water and added some honey to it (we didn’t have any sugar which is what I think is suggested you give) and popped the Bee on the plate and it sat there for what seemed like an age sucking up the honey and water. When it was replete it flew happily off, it was amazing to see and it was exciting!

img-20160411-wa0008.jpgThe reasons I wanted to let you know about our weekend jaunt was firstly because the charity is fantastic and some of you may want to experience the adventure for yourselves, you can find CanalAbility at

Lock View

Burnt Mill Lane

Harlow CM20 2QS

Telephone 01279 424444

email : hello@canalability.org.uk

Website http://www.canalability.org.uk

The other reason I wanted to tell you about it is because it is something which we can do as a family with friends. Our life is probably pretty alien to most people, John and I spend a lot of time doing things most people wouldn’t imagine doing. One of the things that Zach requests to do a lot is go for short drives in the car and listen to music. Not good for our eco footprint!

Zach likes to be in charge of the music in the car, and he often only wants to listen to the first few lines of a song, and so we drive the car to nowhere, listening to the first few lines of the same song often for the entire journey taking us nowhere!

Zach likes going for walks, he likes to lead the walk and his walks often follow the same route. We live at the bottom of a steep hill and there are some long, steep steps leading to the top on the lane at the bottom of our road, some days I have been up and down those steps with Zach about 15 times. Our neighbours accept that this is normal for our family.

It is so good to find an activity which is mutually pleasurable for us all and the trips we have on the canal always are. Like most parents, what brings Zach pleasure makes us happy too so we go on the same walk, listen to the same intro and drive to nowhere quite happily though it is great to have a weekend away from it all too!