Your hosts - Kevin and Isabelle
Owning and piloting a beautiful barge is not a one person job. Having previously been joined during the summer months by a variety of wonderful 'full time' crew, these personable friends have complimented everyone's experience as borne out by the comments in the on board guest book. There's never a shortage of lively banter. Topical conversation blended with jokes and liberal dashes of typically British humour! This is but one of the magical ingredients that make Nilaya such an outstandingly happy ship. It has also created wonderful experiences for guests cruising aboard her.
In 2012, my Belgian partner (now fiancé) Isabelle joined me aboard. Her passion for entertaining, cooking, food and fine wines added a touch of class further improving guests experience aboard Nilaya.
A little about me. To say that I love travel would be an understatement. Having enjoyed a good career way back in the dark ages of Thatcherite Britain, I realised that there had to be more to life than the nine to five. I chucked in the job, bought a backpack and a plane ticket to India. After wandering the globe for nearly two years, it became ever more difficult to stay at home. Working in 'gainful' employment to replenish only my bank balance, the eighties gave way to the nineties, gave way to the millennium and I had spent most of it wandering the planet. I found being in the UK, depressing, dull, very threatening and incredibly expensive! All this at a time when lack of job "commitment" resulted in a CV with more 'holes' than a piece of Emmental.
That 'creative' resume provided ever more lackluster employment 'opportunities' with the pathetic salaries that usually went with them. By 2001 I was forced to take positive action. What if I sold everything that wasn't bolted down, paid back the bank and with the residue buy a barge? Food for thought. While searching the internet for suitable craft, up popped a plethora of English narrowboats. Closer inspection persuaded me they were a bit too narrow! I also decided that maybe I needed something a little more exotic than the Trent and Mersey canal.
Purely by chance, I stumbled upon the picture of a stunning 'luxemotor Dutch barge'. Beautifully photographed, in bright sunlight, with blue skies behind it. Happy healthy looking people populating the decks, each with a glass of wine in hand and gazing out across an undeniably French landscape. It was at this point that I begun to imagine barging on the canals of France. Bigger barges, a vast network of European waterways to discover and along with it, a Europe I had sadly neglected in favour of more distant long haul destinations. The rest as they say, is history.