River roots

It never ceases to amaze me how gracious the Gods can be…

How lucky I am to live this life and have such wonderful friends all around the world. This is my family, and now is the time to visit the ‘English Branch’!

It was wonderful to pay a visit to a very special couple, Tara and James, who were once my neighbours back in the days when I lived on the non-tidal River Thames up near Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed back yonder in 1215. My two friends have visited me twice on Free, once in Amsterdam and earlier this year in Sweden. Now it was time to visit them and turn back the clock to those crazy old river days, when I was struggling to make sense of living on the periphery of society.

A nostalgic few days with Tara and James!

A nostalgic few days with Tara and James!

Tara and James are part of a unique British institution, the Narrowboat community, that grace the rivers and canals of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. As far as I’m aware, these interesting craft are found only here, a remnant of the industrial revolution, due to the historic need for canals to transport goods around the country. Families used to live on their boats for generations, but alas this was mostly eclipsed by the coming of rail transport and improved roads.

The river where my live aboard life began.

The river where my live-aboard life began.

The canal system was resurrected by the British Waterways board and has become mainly leisure based, although there are many folk who live afloat rather than in static housing. James and Tara are an example of this friendly, hospitable community and it was wonderful to stay with them for a short while, catching up on tales of yore; an opportunity to feel that sacred water once again beneath me. River folk can be wonderfully eccentric. For example, James has a love for creatures large and small! Their narrowboat packs a fascinating ‘crew’ of exotic creatures!

James proves that it isn't only humans who enjoy the canals!

James proves that it isn’t only humans who enjoy the canals!

My return to the river enabled nostalgic reunions and it was lovely to visit, once again, old friends and near neighbours on the Thames at Wraysbury. For a moment I almost forgot that Free was over a thousand miles away in the far north as fond memories were recalled and toasts made. It takes all types of boats to forge community and Jules and Stefan live on a huge Dutch sailing tjalk immediately behind James and Tara, dwarfing their narrowboat. Along with their other neighbours John and Sue, this little community thrives in its intimacy as the world rushes by on the other side of the river, an endless rumble of cars locked in splendid isolation.

Jules stands with 'Isla' on the stern of her and Stefan's new Tjalk.

Jules stands with ‘Isla’ on the stern of her and Stefan’s new Tjalk.

The return to London left me deep in contemplation and I sense that one day, when I can no longer hand, reef and steer, the canals and rivers of fair England will call to me and provide a twilight solace for an old Viking Lady; a kettle boiling on the hearth and a ton of happy yarns of a life well lived!

How could it not?


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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25 Responses to River roots

  1. Viki Moore says:

    Sounds like a great idea for ‘retirement!’

    • Viking Queen says:

      Wow Viki, that has to be the fastest reply this blog has ever had!!!
      How many times will I retire by the time I actually retire? How I love the irony of this life!

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    “I lived on the non-tidal River Thames up near Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed back yonder in 1215.”

    Gosh, I’d never have guessed your age Poppy. 😉

  3. Lovely tale about your reunion with friends on the narrowboat canal, a place I’d love to visit one day… perhaps for a reunion with a Viking Lady still young and agile enough to share yarns & steer me along the canals on a boat of her own 😉 xo

  4. Jan-Willem says:

    Hoi Puppy
    I see that you are also in al small piece of Holland on the vrouwe Fortuna.
    An originaly “platbodem” flat bottum. Special made for the dutch un deep waters.

    Holland under your feet.

  5. Loco Steve says:

    Hi Poppy hope you are having fun.. I am staying at Palmers lodge in Swiss cottage for this week It is well worth checking out http://palmerslodges.com/ The s/c kitchen is a bit small but the rest of the place is awesome Alright take care Loco Steve.. x

    On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 10:58 PM, A Viking Saga: Choose love and live your

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Steve,

      Glad all is good and you are comfortable. We know the value of that don’t we? 😊
      Will be in St Paul’s from next Sunday for a week. Maybe our paths will cross again before Christmas!
      Take care, be happy,
      Peace from Poppy x

  6. Ruth says:

    Fancy, an email from you AND you’re sitting beside me, all at the same time! Whatever next???!! Ruth

  7. Hey Poppy, I think a River boat Queen would be just the thing for a retired solo sailor. But that must be a long way off yet? These narrow boats are fascinating. Years ago, I taught myself some of the painting techniques they used on these boats. I admire the way they decorate them. My cousin and I have a trip on a narrow boat, on our holiday wishlist to do some day……Take care,

  8. Where I live there is thriving canalboat community/ People ask How do they keep warm in winter? They walk around in t-shirts mostly. Snug places canal boats.

    I am not one of them, though.

    I had not realised England might be the only place narrowboat country!

  9. Jan Willem says:

    Hallo Poppy
    it is quiet on your blogg
    did you stop telling us what kind of nice things you are doing, or is there a blogvacation . Do you have found a nice place tou bring you christmas days trouth. I hope you can bring it togather with nice friends someware with storys, wine en good food. And a warm fire ofcorse.
    We have just had the sinterklaas , a party just for thr kids, but als theaddults like it.
    I was dressed as sint and could give the pressentsto the childdren, and made them happy for a short while . It is a nice dutch child party

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Jan Willem,
      Yes all is peaceful right now with good friends! Just a rest so don’t worry! I remember Sintaklaas when I was in Amsterdam two years ago… And all the roller skates. Great fun! Enjoy it!

  10. laila lyckeskär says:

    A happy new year from us! Hope you will have a wonderful 2015 on the sea! /laila mats

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