Afloat on birdsong, hawthorn petals and young leaves
June 20, 2021

Summer Sounds - canalside

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The hot weather has broken with rain and slab-like grey/white skies. While we wait for the sun’s return, it’s probably a good time to remember those lazy sunny days of long ago (and not so long ago). In this week’s episode we explore the sounds of canals in summer from bees to lock sluices and enjoy the words of John Betjeman and E Temple Thurston. 
We also discover the meaning of the word 'haysel'.

Journal entry:

“16th June, Wednesday

The summer heat has come, dustily settling across the fields and with it, the weighty, drowsiness that hums and buzzes in the head. The noontime hedges are as still as the night-time ones and the trees click and stretch beneath the sun. But the lethargy is short lived; the summer is still young, it hasn't yet shaken off the new-yeast of spring. The elder that the park-keeper laboured to cut back last month, explodes with green, lacy life, rearing in delight; defiantly laughing at the clean straight edges loved by sheers and humankind.”      

Episode Information

In this episode I read an extract from Miles Hadfield’s (1950) An English Almanac published by JM Dent and Sons. I also refer to a reference about haysel in Ruth Binney’s (2010) Weather Lorefor the Wise Words and Country Ways series published by David and Charles. 

In this Summer Sounds section I read part of John Betjeman’s (Poet Laureate) ‘Inland Waterways’ which he wrote for the re-opening of Stratford upon Avon canal by the Queen Mother in 1964. It is published in The Best of John Betjeman (1978) published by Penguin. However, you can read the complete poem as well as a write up (with pictures) of the opening celebrations and its background on the Canal and River Trust’s Waterfront website:From the archives: A royal visit

I conclude by reading a short extract from E Temple Thurston’s (1911) evocative The Flower of Gloster published by David and Charles. 

General Details

In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at

Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence. 

Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.

All other audio recorded on site. 

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