In an unmanageable world, canals are contained - a stretch of water just a few yards across, a narrow, manageable strip of accessible earth on either side - but the boundaryless sky above and its reflection in the water ensure that they never feel enclosed or limiting. They have a gentle, complex aesthetic with oft-repeated features, characteristic constructions and vegetation, constantly varying with the light - a light that is always muted and subtle. They have a history that's intricate, defined and melancholy: labour, industry, transport, deindustrialisation, decay. They've emerged into a present that's a kind of a low-key happy ending - cleaned and rehabilitated to a basic level for bourgeois leisure boats and bohemian houseboats, for walkers and cyclists on the towpaths and for dwellers - mostly young and transient - in fashionable waterside apartments. I'd like to go, one day, and walk the length of a canal with my camera, then turn and walk it back with all the views reversed. In the meantime, a few more photos
Lovely photos and description, Jean. What is it about bodies of water that so appeals to us?
lovely, slightly melancholy shots - i have a friend who lives in a boat on the canal in Leeds
It used to be said it was the negative ions of water that makes us feel good. We have the Oxford canal a mile away and for a tranquil, flat walk it is perfect. Banbury has a Canal Day and there are many narrow-boat dwellers as well as holiday makers. Only yesterday we were discussing the great sense of community among those who live on boats. We should all aspire to that.
Great pictures. How fireweed decorates the end of summer. I love the canals.
Image and words just right. When suddenly and inexplicably I become rich, the first purchase will be a 72' narrowboat on which I shall drift around the canals indefinitely.
Two of the best holidays I've had were many years ago on a canal boat. I remember the gungy, leaking locks and abandoned warehouses in Birmingham in 1970(?) - now, I think, given a new life as waterways open up to tourism and warehouses are converted to living spaces. Another time (circa 1982) was waking with the light beside a dazzling field FULL of spiders' webs caught in the rising sun... a million diamonds. I didn't have a camera in those days sadly so thanks for reminding me of that. I agree with Dick. I'd love a canal boat.
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