I must admit the idea of spending a (probably wet) Bank Holiday weekend day looking at Canal boats was not top of my “to do” list, but when you live in London you’ve got to do things like this. Apparently.
So I got a bus to Paddington and weaved my way behind all the Cross Rail building works to arrive at Little Venice – a place my mum has been wanting to visit for a while…
There were certainly a few boats amassed for the Canalway Cavalcade, which I believe is an annual event full of fun and frolics for all the family. There was an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, followed by a Pageant of decorated boats; on Sunday there was a teddy bear’s picnic and evening entertainment brought to you by the Rhythm and Blues Brothers, followed by a procession of illuminated boats. And to top it all on Bank Holiday Monday you have the Awards, procession of working boats and the Grand Prize Draw (apparently) .
It all felt a bit amateurish, but then it totally encompassed what Brits are so good at doing – finding common interests that then create communities, build fan bases, nurture supporters and then volunteer enthusiasts. On the one hand you have hugely cumbersome and inefficient and over-long boats in various states of repair, with cramped conditions inside and little room for manoeuvre in or but for some people this is their LIFE.
Even though this fan club is definitely not for me you cannot help but admire the volunteers who keep the spirit alive; the people who prepare their little gardens on their roofs and those that decorate their boats with unrivalled patriotic pride.
I was virtually forced into a tour of “Roger” (a boat BTW) by one passionate volunteer and yet it was fascinating to hear how a family of SIX could have lived in the space that could just about house a double bed – and a small one at that.
See more pics on flickr…