Canoe Boats*

“When one of our local schools retired their canoe boats and put them on sale, my eldest brother bought two of them – a tandem one and a single one. They’re the traditional ones made from wood. Being a carpenter, my brother reconditioned both canoes back to their original state by stripping off the old paint, making good any damages and coating them with marine varnish and a new lick of paint. Here they were – as good as new!

We went on camping trips with the boats. Three of us, myself and my two elder brothers. We were living in Erdington then. We usually took the boats to the Spaghetti Junction and launched into the canal there. Sometimes we went for a week-long trip. I was only about 13 at the time, all that camping gear was quite heavy for me but you can imagine for a little kid, it was so exciting. We just rowed along the canal and camped where we fancied. At times it started to rain in the middle of the journey, we would just row under the nearest bridge and made ourselves a cup of tea!

It was such fun. I continued to do a lot of canoeing later. Even when I was in the army, I still went canoeing every week. When I lived in Germany I started white water kayaking too. When I came back to the UK, Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham was the place for white water fun – it is a man-made water park but it is very nice.

I think you should try white water too!”

Male, aged around 50, Birmingham
September 2020

* One Saturday afternoon in the late summer when I was paddling with my kayak on the canal, someone came up and we had a chat. This was the story he told me.

Pollen by Emma cheung
"Pollen"(by Emma Cheung