Afloat on birdsong, hawthorn petals and young leaves
Dec. 19, 2020

Winter of 1962/3

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A first-hand account remembering life aboard a small boat with a small family during the harsh winter of 1962/3.
The time we lived on the Kathywere always very precious to Mum and she later wrote about them. Her writings evocatively describe life-aboard at a time when the canals were beginning to transition from working to increasingly residential and leisure use. 
In this week's episode, I read an extract from her writings in which she describes the winter of 1962/63.  

Journal entry:

“16th December, Wednesday.

Venus hangs above Bearley Lock. 
 A hard diamante stud, puncturing the smooth bowl of lacquered blue and satsuma orange fire at the rim
 We stand above the pool eroded by the summer-pastured cows. The water looks like spilt Indian ink that would go on forever and ever

Penny sniffs at the torn soil and a lone duck slips into the air.

Later today, the lacquered bowl will become roughened and dull, and rain will whip and pit the mirrored surface of the water. 

But that is later. This is now… and we are both absorbed in our own worlds.”

Episode Information


Snow at Hampton Hall Farm

Snow on the moorings at Hampton Hall Farm

Wendy in the snow

Wendy in the snow (some of the other boats on the mooring at behind her)

Wendy and snowman

Wendy and a snowman 

More photographs of the Kathy and our family on the boat can be found by clicking on 'At the Start of it All.'

In this episode I mention the delightful Weather Folk-Lore of the Sea and Superstitions of the Scottish Fishermen.

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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