Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Some boats, a band and morris dancers beneath the motorway

At last, a first breath of the summer to come, so where else to go but by some water to look at some boats.

The Inland Waterways Association's Canalway Cavalcade is a sort of village fête for narrowboat owners and suppliers. Little Venice and the surrounding canals were packed with narrowboats, decked out with flags, and several boats in a special procession (should one call it a drift-past?) of boats decorated in varying degrees of whimsy. Stalls along the edge of the basin sold canal-related books and tea-towels, "roses and castles" knick-knacks, fudge, olives, herbs and the kind of clothes and accessories you can see in arts and crafts markets.

I didn't see a lot of heavy-duty boat supply stands: when I think back to the time my father tried to run a cabin-cruiser on the Thames (we still recall The Day Dad Dropped the Elsan), it seemed to be all about gear-boxes and swearing in the bilges, but not here. True to the atmosphere of bunting and frolic, a jazz band played, there was ice-cream, beer and sausages, and the only space for the morris dancers was under the Westway:

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