The prettiest boat

for Jo!

Even Dido fell for this boat, it’s for sale as well.

It would fit in perfectly in the Algarve or north east England wouldn’t it?


Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

 Cheri says ‘Sometimes, we long for the past: for moments we want to remember or recapture. The good times. The golden years. Or perhaps we’re homesick, or longing for something — or someone — that might have been.’

Here are my entries


I wonder if he is nostalgic about travelling back in time.


Boats like this always make me feel nostalgic, I wonder what she was like in her heyday.


An old soldier shares stories with his grandchild at Gallipoli.

Do you have something nostalgic to share?

Thames Barge Vigilant, Connections

Imagine being six years old and setting off to work in 1908. I compare my little granddaughter who is five when I think of it. Talking to a friend at work recently I learnt that her late grandfather was a ‘Barge Gypsy’. A what? I asked her.
Apparently Charles Willoughby Garner started work on the Grand Union Canal, just six years old. His job was to guide the horse along the canal bank as it pulled the barge owned by the Bromwich’s, his grandmother’s family. The barge carried grain, coal and wood, presumably towards London as the canal runs 130 miles from Birmingham.
Charles stayed with the family barge until he was fourteen and then moved on to be a tug man on the Thames.
The First World War began a couple of years before and thank goodness he was too young to be called to arms. He had a very important role during wartime, guiding boats in under darkness, and when the bombing was happening he would be away from home for days on end.
Charles stayed on the Thames until he retired aged 68. The Bromwich barge was last seen and catalogued as sunk at the bottom of a Manchester dock yard. I wonder if Charles knew that when he died in 1979. I’m sure he was justly proud of his part in Britain’s maritime history. Thank you to Michelle for sharing his story.
If you have been following Lucid Gypsy for a while you’ll know that I’ve been posting about the restoration of a Thames barge, Vigilant, here in Exeter at Topsham Quay, who knows, perhaps Charles even sailed on her. Yesterday I popped down to check her progress.
Stern in the Topsham mud.
She comes with her own garden!
Looking good on the port side.
Wonderful curves.
Traces of colour to her bow.
Imagine how beautiful she will be in sail, I can’t wait to see her.

Related posts
Postcard from the River Exe and its barge project

Thames Barge Vigilant

A few weeks ago I noticed a new arrival on Topsham Quay, a great big scruffy hulk of a boat named Vigilant. I don’t know anything about boats but love to photograph them and this is one I plan to come back to again. She has been brought to the river Exe in Devon from the Colne in Essex to be restored, looking at her current condition, she’s likely to be here a long time. She was built in 1904 and is one of only thirty Thames barges still in existence from the hundreds that originally transported massive loads around the coast of Britain.

Boats like Vigilant used to sail into Topsham back when it was a working port – who knows she may have been before. The barges were originally powered by sail, traditionally very large ochre coloured ones and engines were not fitted until the 1930’s. They weren’t just work horses though, they were also raced and Vigilant was a winner in her class. Apparently she was sailing until the 1990’s and then became a houseboat. The plan is that she will race again under her ochre sails when she is restored to her former glory.

Searching has revealed that there are Sail Barge Societies researching their history, and also the Vigilant was sold recently on ebay, for just under £8000. She looks rather sad at present but I know that one day she will be beautiful and I will try to capture her progress.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Sara Rosso says `Foreign. While foreign (rightly so) often brings up images of things outside of your own nation, it can also apply to things outside of or different from your normal environment, or even something which is out of place in general.’

Foreign is fascinating, if it’s different I’ll love it and want to experience it, so this week the challenge is fab as far as I’m concerned. The photo I’ve chosen was taken in . . . any guesses? 

To at least one blogging friend this isn’t foreign and I know that a fair few of my visitors live there!

If you would like to join in visit

A Summer of Boats, England and Turkey

For someone who doesn’t do boats and knows nothing about them, this has been a boaty summer. It began on a glorious April day with a short trip across the Tamar River in Plymouth, Devon on the Cremyll ferry with my lovely daughter in law and granddaughter.

One of the best things that Plymouth has ever done was to buy the Cremyll along with Cornwall Council, for fifteen minutes you have the most wonderful view of the Sound, Royal William yard and the spectacular coastline.

The boat was full of day trippers who like us were heading for Mount Edgecumbe Country Park, on the Rame peninsula that’s actually in that foreign land of Kernow.

Plymouth is a bustling city with little charm having been badly hit in the blitz, but stepping onto the ferry really is another world.

Everyone is excited to be going on a mini holiday to the countryside, the ferry ride is less than five pounds for a family of four and the destination has acres of grounds and gardens to walk, picnic and relax for free!

My next boat experience was crossing the Dardanelle straits, which both connect the Aegean to the Sea of Marmara and also separate Asian turkey from European Turkey. The Dardanelles have been an important stretch of water throughout history and strategically relevant in the Crimean and First World War After an emotionally moving time in Gallipoli I crossed to Canakkale on a large boat where I’d foolishly chosen to sit upstairs for the best view and nearly froze in the draft for an hour. Soon after landing my travelling friends and I reached the site of the ancient city of Troy but that’s for another blog.

Ten days and around eighteen hundred miles and I’m back at another ferry port, this one takes me back to the European side of Istanbul. It’s a large ferry this time with lots of strange chunks of metal, cables, ropes and good strong coffee. The view in all directions is amazing and it’s a real thrill to arrive in a cosmopolitan city I have waited so long to visit.

Later in the day it’s time for a cruise on the Bosphorus, we are just a few on Edim, a posh boat that had the capacity for fifty people with a bar and café. We cruised along one bank beside painted wooden houses, stylish restaurants and clubs frequented by Istanbul’s’ glitterati.

Pootling along for what seemed like hours, the waterway was busy but with space enough for everyone it was quiet and relaxing. The size of the city became apparent from the perspective that the water gave, I lost count of the number of domed mosques and minarets.

Some of the grandest buildings were foreign embassies, palaces and military colleges. The Bosphorus was a lovely place for a relaxing cruise, next time I’ll go by night.

In August I had a brilliant day out with friends in Gloucestershire, a couple of hours on the train. Gloucester Dock, a very ‘Gentrified’ area has the prettiest of canal barges,  well   maintained with shiny bright paint jobs. I’m very curious about who lives here and just what they are like inside. I imagine it’s like being in a wobbly caravan,lovely in summer but a bit bleak in winter especially if the canal froze.

A complete contrast for my last boats of the summer, on Exeter quay where there is a working boatyard. It’s one of those places that look out of bounds and until last year I had only stood at the gate to peep, until one day a man said that it’s public and okay to go in. It looks like a very male environment until you see pots of geraniums flowering their little heads off. A very sensory place with smells of engine oil mixed with oily fry-up, sounds of oars, hammers, rap and classics and boats of all shapes and sizes. I’ve watched this one

develop and now it’s nearly completed it may be gone next time I go down. I’d love to see it hit the water.

This one saddens me, the council have deemed it rubbish and an eyesore.

An official letter is pinned to it stating that they will dispose of it unless the owner removes it by a date that has now passed, and they will charge for doing so. Someone has been working on its restoration, just not as quickly as the council would like, it’s a massive money pit of a project. I talked to one of the boat owners and he said that the mooring fees had been paid and apparently it’s a trawler, obviously very old. Who knows what its history is?I believe it would be beautiful once done, surely the purpose of a boat yard is to mend and build boats? Bureaucracy drives me mad.