Friday is for Gran & The Fiddlehead - Part 5

Friday's post is dedicated to my Gran Betty who lives in a nursing home and used to own a canal boat in England called The Fiddlehead. This is my weekly letter to her. This post also commemorates a recent family trip taken by thirty-five family members as we motored five canal boats (at three miles an hour) along the Leicester Loop in England on a two week vacation sponsored by Gran herself. We ranged in age from eight months old to ninety-one (Gran herself) and it was a trip I shall never forget!

This is me casually steering a several ton canal boat - no worries, just watch out for ninety degree angles that require turning whilst going under a curved brick bridge - oops! (I guess anyone can make a mistake on their first day out!)

Two pages from my sketchbook, painted hastily (well as fast as one can while scenery whips by at two miles an hour from the deck of a boat!)

This is Jackie, one of my ship mates (and engaged to my cuz, at the time this was taken) swabbing the deck - those Virgos do love to be tidy! (And I should know, 'cause I'm one of them.)

Just a regular canal boat dinner. We all took turns pairing up to cook. That's me on the right and my hubbie across from me (in the front,) with Jackie next to me and my two cousins alongside. We all shared this particular boat (unofficially known as the 'party-boat,') along with my brother Pete (who was taking the picture.) Everyone really went all out with the cooking - buying meats from small village meat shops, veggies from small supermarkets, good wine and all the fixings; all trying to outdo each other, but we were the envy of the other four boats, I can tell you that much!

Gran - Part 1
Gran - Part 2
Gran - Part 3
Gran - Part 4

Friday is for Gran & The Fiddlehead - Part 3

Friday's post is dedicated to my Gran who now resides in a nursing home. She was the proud owner of the Fiddlehead, an English narrow boat, also known as a canal boat. In 2007 she treated 35 family members to a memorable family reunion on the Leicester Loop in England. We were 5 narrow boats in all, and we ranged in ages from 8 months to 91 years old (Gran herself!)

Gran, my hubbie and me, eating one of our favorite meals, the Ploughman's Lunch along with a pint of Bitter. Gran said it wasn't up to par though, due to the pasta side. I also learned to say 'Bitter' not 'Bitters' and that there is no tipping in England, instead you buy the bartender a drink!

I spent most of my time sitting on the bow of the boat painting, sketching and writing in my Moleskin Journal - here are some watercolors from Day 2 of our two week trip.

If you need to catch up, here are Parts 1 and Parts 2 from our trip.

Friday is for Gran & the Fiddlehead - Part 2

This Friday post is an ongoing canal boat feature in honour of my Gran, who was the proud owner of her very own English canal boat named "The Fiddlehead." Gran currently lives in a nursing home and this is my way of staying in touch on a regular basis because Friday is her mail day! The pictures in these posts come from Gran's own scrapbook as well as a recent family trip in 2007 that included 35 family members ranging from 8 months to 91 years old (Gran herself) on 5 narrow boats touring along the Leicester Loop.

A Wee Bit of History About The British Canal System
The British canal system of water transport played a vital role in the United Kingdom's Industrial Revolution and the UK was the first country to acquire a nationwide canal network. This was a time when roads were only just emerging from the medieval mud and long trains of pack horses were the only means of "mass" transit of raw materials and finished products. It was no accident that amongst the first canal promoters were the pottery manufacturers of Staffordshire.

The canal system came into being because the Industrial Revolution (which began in Britain during the mid-18th century) demanded an economic and reliable way to transport goods and commodities in large quantities. Some 29 river navigation improvements took place in the 16th and 17th centuries starting with the Thames locks and the River Wey Navigation.

The 20th century brought competition from road-haulage, and only the strongest canals survived until the Second World War. After the war decline of trade on all remaining canals was rapid, and by the mid 1960s only token traffic was left, even on the widest and most industrial waterways.

Here is Post 1 from this series: Gran Part 1

Friday is for Gran & The Fiddlehead - Part 1

Gran loved her narrow boat called The Fiddlehead and she would go to England every summer and tool around, all four children in tow.

I missed out on all the fun, because I was adopted into another family when I was born, but I met my Gran when I was 27 and have since been to England with my birth family, on my mother's side (all 35 of us ranging in age from eight months old to 91, Gran herself) to tour around the Leicester Loop on five narrow boats. It was our family reunion a few summers ago, and let me tell you, EVERYONE knew when we were heading to their town - we were boisterous, we were Canadian (with our little flags waving from the back of our boats,) and we were affectionately known as, "The Canadian Invasion."

Gran now resides in a nursing home and one of the attendants makes sure she gets all her emails and letters on Friday, so I have dedicated my Friday postings to my 93 year old Gran and her beloved canal boat - this is my letter to you Gran.

Fifty years and eight days separate my birthday from Gran's so it's probably no surprise that I too want a canal boat I can call my day, but mine will run on solar power not diesel!