Monday, 12 November 2012

Canals are my Life - book review

Canals are my Life 
By Iris Bryce
November 2012

This is the second in a series of the books covering the travels of Iris and Owen Bryce aboard their narrowboat Bix in the 1970's.

A two year boating sabbatical became a way of life when the intrepid pair decided to take short term work to fund their watery wanderings. This was in the late 1970's when the UK was in one of its boom swings (remember them?) and work was readily available - providing they were flexible.

The book is short, just 100 pages long with a handful of black and white photos by Derek Pratt covering a period of about five years. Given its brevity it focuses on places or events of particular interest rather than a detailed description of the journey itself.

The couple led this nomadic life, running weekend courses on jazz and canals (not at the same time), playing in bands and accepting paying guests from time to time. They mostly found work during the winter months and then an idyllic picture of the summers tempered by the pain of being distant from their family in the south.

Their wanderings therefore has a southerly bias and it was on these waters that the most interesting events happened. These events included a tidal surge overtopping the Limehouse lock gates (pre Thames Barrier?) and then their long tidal passage to and from the Medway - still one of the rarest inland waterways routes.

In short this book is the bit in the middle, filling in the gaps between the opening and closing . A good book in a great little series.

5 comments:

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser http://nbharnser.blogspot.com said...

We saw Bix last time we were on the canal

Captain Ahab said...

Brian - which canal did you see it on?

seadog said...

Last saw Bix at Blisworth on G.U.It was so long ago I cant remember the date.Must have been 30years ago.Does that sound right.

Captain Ahab said...

Sea Dog - that would be about right. I havnt forgotten Caravan Afloat! I just keep forgetting each time I go to CH.... Andy

Ian said...

A good tide could exceed the level in Regents Canal Dock and push the gates open, when they were the mitre-type. Now there are radial gates and the lock is a mere tiddler..blah...blah.

Until relatively recent alterations, the tide could still top Bow Locks making Limehouse Cut technically half-tidal. As Limehouse Cut is connected to Limehouse Basin (rather than the directly to the river as it used to be) that would rise too. When the redevelopment plans for the Basin were first mooted there were some rather poor designs with boat docks beneath flats - with potentially adverse consequences on springs.
Medway to the Thames. Been there, done that - ok sometimes but not others!

Ian