Friday, 25 April 2014

Those were the days of our lives

I was going through an old photograph album the other day and came across a photo of our old canal boat. My father was a clever and resourceful man. When I was young he bought an old wooden ships lifeboat and converted an Austin 7 engine for propulsion. He added the cabin, topping it in canvas and tar.

We spent many happy years touring the canals. This was in the days before they became a popular leisure facility. We explored abandoned WW11 aerodromes. Found plentiful supplies of fruit in empty lock keepers cottages, plums apples, pears, blackberries. We picked nettles for nettle tea, and as a green. During the winter we kept the boat at Gas Street Basin which was then just a graveyard of hulks, wooden barges rotting in the mucky water. There were still horse drawn garbage barges working at that time.

We met up with a couple living on a barge and they became good friends of my parents. He was an artist called Bowler although for the life of me I can't recall his first name. I always thought of him as Tom for obvious reasons.

He had a little studio on his barge and I would often watch him work. As age caught up with them the barge became impractical and they moved to Ireland and we lost touch. He must have passed on many years ago but I still remember watching him work in his little studio. I think he would have been pleased to think he was one of a number of influences on me.

The painting above was one I did on the Brecon canal.

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