Aaran Chapman hiring narrowboat on Grand UnionThe first thing you should know about us is that we are completely and utterly in love with narrow boating. We took our first watery steps into this world in 2016 and tumbled headlong into a love affair with the stunning scenery of rural Leicestershire.

(And if you want to know more about that first trip, read this blog post here.)

Very quickly, we realised that an annual holiday on the canals wouldn’t be enough for us; in 2017, a spontaneous visit to Whilton Marina resulted in the purchase of Lesley Ann and our idea for a new holiday experience was born.

We wanted to create a hire narrowboat with a difference: there are plenty of new modern boats which cater to those holidaymakers who enjoy the clean lines and fittings of a caravan, but quite frankly there is a very limited choice if that is not to your taste.

Our vision is a small fleet of canal boats with a boutique rustic finish – reclaimed woods, French linen and leather armchairs, all balanced with high-spec mood lighting, designer fittings and quality tech.

Aaran working on the top for narrowboat Lesley AnnAaran is the practical force behind the endeavour. He is a skilled craftsman and engineer with a love of mechanics, metalwork and carpentry. He came up with a brilliantly ingenious idea to replace Lesley Ann’s old fibreglass top with one made from insulated steel panels. To our knowledge, no one else has thought of doing this and so there has been a bit of trial and error involved; but Aaran’s notorious optimism never got the better of him and the design has been a resounding success.

My background is in journalism and I am also a co-director of a childcare business. I enjoy working in marketing and sorting out the budgets, as well as liaising with Aaran on the design. Between us, we seem to have a pretty good skills package to get this business afloat and we launched Lesley Ann in the summer of 2018, hiring from Debdale and North Kilworth marinas. Within a few weeks, the entire summer season was completely booked up and the autumn and winter season is starting to fill, too!

We are now working on our second boat – Chalkhill Blue – which will be available to hire in 2019.