Avon Stories podcast #19: Dru Marland’s poetry, art and life on the Kennet & Avon Canal

Dru Marland is a poet and artist who lives on a narrowboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

I went to visit her boat on a wet, grey day, and she told me all about her work and her life on the water, and about the community of canal-people.   We talked about how she started out as a poet, and the traumatic experience that lead her to become a full-time artist, as well as the beauties and difficulties of narrowboat life, from having to find a new berth every fortnight, to more prosaic issues like dealing with the mud, and a boat’s equivalent of plumbing.

During the podcast, Dru read me some of her poems, and we also talked about specific pictures she’s made, some of which you can see below – all pictures copyright to, and used with the kind permission of Dru Marland.

All rights owned by Dru MarlandThe West End of the Kennet & Avon Canal, by Dru Marland

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Avon Stories podcast #18: The Floating Harbour salvage auction

This week’s podcast is a mini-episode, just ten minutes long, and it’s all about the auction that’s running until 4th March 2018, on Bristol’s Floating Harbour.

Every two years the Harbour Master’s office runs a salvage auction, of boats that, for one reason or another, they need to remove from the Harbour.   They might have been abandoned; or they could have been seized as a last resource because their owners didn’t pay their Harbour fees; or in at least one case, the owner didn’t want the boat any more and rather than try to sell it himself, gave it to the Harbour Master.   There are kayaks and dinghies, sportsboats, a narrowboat and much more, in all kinds of stats of repair.  All the proceeds go into the maintenance of the Harbour, and it’s a chance to buy a boat for what’s likely to be a fraction of the usual cost.

I talked to the auctioneer, Graham Cockle, about what’s in the 2018 auction,  and more about why it’s on.  If you want to have a look at the boats yourself, even if you (think you) don’t want to buy one, the boats are on public view every Saturday and Sunday in February, from 10-4 on and around the pontoon between the Cottage Pub and the Underfall Yard.   And you can also have a look at my rainy photos of some of them, below (mouse over or click on the photo to get to the slideshow – or go directly to the flickr album).

 

Claire de Lune

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Avon Stories #6 – RB Boatbuilding and the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters

This one’s a shorter podcast than usual, just 9 minutes long.  It’s an interview with John Raymond-Barker, who runs RB Boatbuilding in Underfall Yard at the end of the Floating Harbour.   He’s one of the last links to Bristol’s long tradition of boat building, and he specialises in making Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, a type of boat that evolved in Bristol and Cardiff, to deal with the unique and treacherous conditions of the Bristol Channel, while racing to get as much lucrative piloting business as possible.

John told me more about the boats, and his work, and I hope you enjoy it.  If you want to know more about RB Boatbuilding, visit his website, which includes a page about the Pilot Cutters – and there’s lots of information about the Underfall Yard, where he’s based.

I got to scramble around a Pilot Cutter while it’s being built, and you can see those photos here (click on the picture to access the slideshow)

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Bristol Ferry trip up the Gorge

I’ve lived in Bristol for 17 years, and I’d never been on a Bristol Ferry trip on the Avon… until this week!  It was very, very wet, so I’ve sped up the film so the raindrops on the lens don’t interfere too much, and so you can see my trip in 10 minutes

It was such a lovely thing to do.  The lock from the Harbour to the River seems almost unnoticeable, very smooth.  And then, although I’ve cycled up both sides of the river, and walked the Portway, I’d never been this low.  I couldn’t believe the river is around 8 metres deep on the way back, as it doesn’t seem like it could be.

It was so meditative, especially once the rain drove everyone else inside, standing in this downpour, watching the water.  I never knew herons lived in a colony, in trees, until it was pointed out on the commentary, and there’s something about the mud that I love.  Everything was green and grey, with a bit of green, and I really want to do it again.

You can book your own Gorge trip on the Bristol Ferry Boats website.  It costs £15, and it took around 2 hours and 15 minutes, but that depends on the tides (we were going against the tide going out, and much faster coming back).

Big thanks to Tim who lent me his GoPro Session, which the film is shot with.