Narrow boats

A childhood book that has lived with me is Thursday’s Child by Noel Streatfeild. Actually not much has stayed with me except the scenes on a narrow boat. 

Oh the romance! The adventure! The slow pace!

Google narrow boats and related terms and you get some of the images that have stayed with me. I acknowledge that I may be breaking copyright and for that I apologise but here are some that have stayed in my mind’s eye for over 3 decades or more. 


Today Mr S and I had a day off  from full-on sight seeing. We went for a local walk along part of the Grand Union Canal which starts in London and ends in Birmingham. Built nearly a hundred years ago, it is still in use but obviously not for industry. 

Today was bitterly cold and occasionally drizzly. Rugged up, we weren’t alone on the tow path. But neither were we among crowds. 

Here’s some evocative shots. But first, get a nice steaming mug of tea, dim the lights and snuggle down in your arm chair. Ready?  Ah, that’s better. 

I think this girl is imagining she is legging along a narrow boat tunnel which is too narrow for horses. 

Warehouses still?

Living on the Grand Union Canal. 

A cafe at Little Venice. 

Is it better in colour?

I can’t decide which shot I prefer.  

More shots from Little Venice. 

The reflections gave a beauty to the water that perhaps hid the darkness of the luckily unseeable. 

Now let’s wake up. If you wish to dream a bit more, don’t read on. Not just yet. For the rest of us, let’s allow reality to creep in. 

It was amazing but not all beautiful.  A fishing sign?

Really? You’d eat the fish you caught in this? And fish even live in this?

And I suppose the narrow boat dwellers have to store their stuff somewhere, just on the roof is not that attractive. I guess boats were made before our consumer society’s need for stuff. 

No where seems free of the scourge of graffiti.  

And the final return to reality? A multi-storey block of flats, towering over the canal. People have to live somewhere but do flats have to be so ugly?

(The observant Aussies amongst you may notice a gum tree and a couple of flowering wattles. A strange garden? From whence came the choice of plants?)


3 thoughts on “Narrow boats

  1. Such beautiful and evocative photographs! It makes me want to go straight back to London and never leave.

    As a kid (about 7 or 8) I remember being desperately in love with the idea of London (all from books.) We’d dress up and go to the city in Melbourne in the old ‘Red Rattler’ trains and I would pretend the whole way that we were going to London.

    I still look at all those photos you’ve posted and could get totally lost in the imagination of what I think / want / expect London to be (and all that history!)

    It’s so lovely that you are spending enough time there to properly explore such places. What a fabulous trip!!!

  2. Lovely! I like that glimpse of green grass which I have not seen for months. I read most of the Noel Streatfeild books but they all blur together. Glad you are enjoying your trip and getting off the beaten path.

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