Picture 6


Our son’s picture (Picture 5) I mounted myself using an old frame we already had. Our eldest granddaughter did this one for my birthday and we got it framed through a little art and craft shop in the town. It shows me at the rudder driving (the right term) our narrowboat down the canal on a sunny day, with the towpath running alongside the canal.

English canals were dug from the mid 18th century and are nearly all designed to allow two 7 foot wide boats to pass; so we are not exactly talking Grand Erie Canal here. Modern boats range in length from around 70 foot to about 35 foot. There are still a number of  the original working boats in use; these were nearly all built for shifting bulk cargo such as coal. Their industrial use was eventually destroyed partly by the railways. By the 1960’s trade had stopped and I remember seeing dozens of boats left abandoned at their moorings in the iced-up canals near us. ( I was offered one for £25 actually.)

Most are now used for holiday purposes- an English equivalent to the cabin in the hills or the chalet by the lake. However some people live on them all year round; a nice mix of New Age travellers, retired folk, students, people looking for low(ish) cost living space and craftspeople who provide rope fenders, barge art or fuel for sale to boaters. The canals run into the centre of many English cities and towns, including Oxford, Cambridge and London; while Birmingham  has more miles of canal than Venice clip_image002

Talking of Venice, the Columbina mask hanging over the picture frame comes from there; they are worn during the Carnival in early Spring.

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10 Responses to Picture 6

  1. acuriousgal says:

    Happy Bathday, so darn cute!! Very interesting about the canals and these original boats. I wouldn’t mind having one docked and living in it for a short time. Great post! That mask is wonderful, also! Enjoy your weekend.

  2. ninamishkin says:

    Perhaps “Bathaday” is a sly hint you might fall out and into the canal?

    • Trifocal says:

      Well I did once.
      We were moored stern to stern with another boat and I was polishing the brass air vents on the roof with a can of Brasso and a cloth. On the next boat a guy was sitting on the stern deck quietly reading his Sunday paper, chair carefully angled so he could not see into our boat. We did not know each other, the weather was not doing anything exceptional so naturally we did not speak. To clean the vents you have to stand on a 4inch wide sill at deck level and lean in over the roof to reach the vent. Holding a cloth and pouring Brasso onto it takes two hands. As I leant in my toes slipped out four inches. Sliding gracefully down the side of the boat I sank gently in up to my armpits before my feet met the clay bottom. That did justify a conversation, so we had one:
      ‘Yes thanks.’
      He returned to his paper , I hauled myself back into the boat and made a dignified withdrawal into the cabin. Despite my pointing out to Mrs T. that I could have been seriously injured she laughed until she wept for the next five minutes.

  3. Wonderful classic child’s response to the world as seen through an imaginative and creative eye. Artifacts from our children’s childhood are invaluable in our tangible and intangible memories of their growing-up years.

    • Trifocal says:

      I agree. It is fascinating seeing how young children draw these things. Interestingly both our son (who did Picture 5) and this granddaughter have gone on to do degrees in media-related subjects.

    • Trifocal says:

      Yes she did put in a lot of detail. She has included several roof vents and the smoke hole for the coal burning stove, as well as the two shuttered side windows (one with the curtains included too). All of these are correct, though not always in the right places :)

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