Snatching the sound of Manannán's song on the bite of a northwesterly wind


Boat Life History (Canals)

Stories are for listening: Blisworth Tunnel (Ian Douglas)

Nov. 20, 2022

As the nights draw in and the cosy glow of a fire gets evermore inviting, it is the perfect time to share stories. It is not surprising that ghost stories have an enduring appeal. Many stories of the canal feature them. Ghos…

History (Canals) Readings

The Longest Trench (Summer readings)

Sept. 18, 2022

The second of our reading this year takes back to the working-boat families of the First World War. Geoffrey Lewis’ beautifully detailed and cleverly structured tribute to the people who worked the boats through this turbule…

Boat Life History (Canals) Natural World (Birds) Readings

Caught in a Rhyme

June 5, 2022

On the week that the cygnets of our swan pair hatched, we explore the rather contradictory nature of the canal through the eyes of poets Jo Bell, Nancy Campbell, and Ian MacMillan. We find romance amidst the unromantic and b…

History (Canals)

Banbury Town (Rainy Saturday Afternoon)

May 8, 2022

Banbury has a significant place in the history of canals, most notably for being the location of Tooley’s boatyard and its association with canal restoration campaigner LTC (Tom) Rolt. However, the relationship between town …

Boat Life History (Canals)

'A Gypsy Love of Colour' (Painted Boats)

May 1, 2022

Why are canal boats and traditional canal-ware so colourful? When did the custom of painting working boats in bright colours begin and why? This week we explore our attraction to bright colours and what Tom Rolt describes as…

Boat Life Philosophy/reflective History (Canals)

The Gongoozler and the Nomad

Sept. 19, 2021

This week we catch up with news of our little swan family and explore the strange word ‘gongoozler’. What does it mean? Where does it come from? In some ways it functions as a shibboleth. Its use identifying the ‘true’ canal…

History (Canals) Readings

Temple Thurston's 'The Flower of Gloster' (Summer readings #2)

July 25, 2021

In this second Summer Reading Special we discover the delights of Ernest Temple Thurston’s The Flower of Gloster . Published in 1911, Temple Thurston is writing about a very different world to the one in which last week’s au…

History (Canals) Readings

Hassell and Hollingshead - Early canal writings (Summer readings #1)

July 18, 2021

This is the first of our Summer Reading Specials devoted to one or two books that are in some way related to waterways or life on them. They replace the normal format while Penny, Donna and I are away, off-line, and having a…

History (Canals) History (Personal)

Canalscapes of Childhood

March 28, 2021

A listener has asked, "After we left the boat and went to live in a house, did canals continue to play much of a part in my life?" After the boat, we moved to Kings Langley, Hertfordshire. It was there I grew up and found my…

History (Canals)

'Boots as thick as a moderate slice of bread and butter'

March 7, 2021

The fascination of boots and canals. Boots have always been one of the most essential pieces of equipment for canals and canal-life. In this episode we re-join impresario, journalist and social reformer, James Hollingshead o…

History (Canals)

Haunted Canals

Feb. 21, 2021

Stormy nights like this, when then wind howls among the reeds under a hunted moon, are perfect for curling up with a ghost story or two. In this episode we hear about two ghost stories set in locations close to where NB 5068…

Boat Life Philosophy/reflective History (Canals)

Canal Time

Feb. 7, 2021

One of the first things you will experience when you cast off onto the waterways is, what is sometimes referred to as, ‘canal time.’ What is canal time and how is it different to land time? Canal time functions not so much a…

Boat Life History (Canals)

Deep and Wide

Jan. 24, 2021

Another January storm has passed over us. But, tonight we have a stock of gingernut biscuits and the knowledge that each day the daylight gets longer and the spring is coming. In this episode, with its usual sprinkling weath…

Boat Life History (Canals)

Down the Cut

Nov. 15, 2020

‘The cut’ is one of the old vernacular names given to the canal. It was the one most of us used during my childhood. The name reminds us of its history and construction. This episode explores the strange and sometimes ambiva…