"At home, I'm a cantankerous old git. On the boat, after a week's cruising, I'm just a cantankerous old git with dirty hair."
Steve Heywood has a problem. He doesn't know where he comes from. In the south, people think he's a northerner; in the north, they think he's from the south. Judged against global warming and the sad demise of Celebrity Big Brother, this hardly registers highly on the Richter scale of world disasters. But it's enough to worry Steve. And it's enough of an excuse for him to escape his long-suffering partner Em for a voyage of discovery along England's inland waterways.
Travelling by traditional narrowboat, he heads north along two newly opened Pennine canals, a trip that takes him from Banbury in deepest Oxfordshire, through the vibrant modernity of Manchester, to the trendy affluence of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire's answer to London's ciabatta belt.
With irrepressible humour he recounts the history of the waterways and stories of his encounters with characters along the way, and attempts to define the magic that makes England's waterways so appealing.