Gareth Butterfield recently took a Drifters’ press trip on the Coventry Canal, setting off from our new canal boat hire base at Springwood Haven Marina. Gareth was joined by this wife, their two dogs and Boris the Bearded Dragon. Gareth describes their pet-friendly staycation afloat:
“And there was me thinking it was a cheeky request, “Can I take a lizard on board?” I sheepishly asked the nice people at Springwood Haven Marina, a few weeks before we were due to rent a narrowboat for a midweek.
“Yes, no problem,” was essentially the reply, as if it was a perfectly normal thing to ask.
“I’ve since learned Drifters canal boat hire operators, including ABC Boat Hire, have always been very open to the idea of pets joining their owners on board. And it’s a good job, because along with my wife’s six-year-old Bearded Dragon, we took our two dogs. And we all loved it. Even the lizard.
“Travelling with a lizard does bring a few complications.
“Bearded Dragons are cold-blooded, so they need to be kept warm. That’s easy when it’s sunny, but when they’re not able to bask in the sunshine they need to be under a heat lamp.
“Our portable vivarium was set up during the pandemic so we could take Boris with us in our motorhome, but it slotted in nicely on shelf in the boat’s bedroom. The boat’s batteries weren’t troubled even slightly by the 100w basking light.
“As a rule, Boris is very docile, and he happily sits and watches the world go by while we travel with him. He loves the motorhome, and he took to the boat like, er, a lizard to water.
“We had a nice, sunny start to the week.
“Boris happily sat out on my wife’s chest while we cruised up the Ashby Canal. Then, when the weather turned colder, he quickly established his favourite spot inside was on the back of the sofa, cosying up to his hot-water bottle.
“Lizards like to climb, and Boris loves having a view out of the window so this was a perfect vantage point.
“The dogs were much happier to be outside on the stern with me while we were cruising, even when temperatures plummeted.
“They loved watching out for ducks, swans and geese, and there were plenty of opportunities to stop and give them a walk up and down the towpath.
“If you’re anything like me and my wife, you’ll know how nice it is to share your holiday experiences with your pets, and watching them adapt to a new environment like a boat is endlessly entertaining.
“We went to great lengths to ensure Boris could join us on motorhome trips, but bringing him on a boat felt like a leap into the unknown. But it was made very easy for us, and turned into a great experience.
“We can’t wait to do it again. And we’ll definitely bring Boris with us.”