Quiet Waters By
by David Blagrove
This is the sequel to David Blagrove's other book, Bread Upon the Waters published in 1985 recounting the authors exploits along the Grand Union and Thames aboard nb Enterprise when carrying was fast becoming a thing of the past.
With commercial carrying virtually at an end, exacerbated by the big freeze of 1962/3, Blagrove finds alternative watery work on the Thames as a relief lock keeper.This position gives him an excellent perspective on river life from Reading to Oxford, drawing on the life and times of other lock keepers which, from the isolation of their locks, they were happy to share.
This beautifully descriptive account of river life is interspersed with trips aboard the Enterprise and other working boats as he moved more into trip / camping boats, including a fascinating account of his visit to the the lower Stratford Canal in its just finished state or "nearly navigable", a state I remember well from my own first trip eight years later. Lots of wobbly balance beams, narrowed lock chambers and of course, shallow waters.
Blagrove is a human sponge, soaking up the first hand accounts of those he meets along the way as well as being a keen observationalist, describing his surroundings in an evocative manner. I can almost smell those weir streams and locks of the Thames.
Blagrove is one of the original restoration pioneers, eking out a living from the waterways for three years or so before marrying and getting a "proper job" as a teacher but still living in Stoke Bruene and so able to gain access to his beloved canals for a regular watery fix.
His passion and enthusiasm is as infectious as his books are engaging.