Monday 25 July 2011

My Piece of Canal - Guest Post

In early labour along the canal path,
TENS machine in the little bag.
Firstly thanks to Peggy for having me. It’s wonderful to be given a space to guest post on such a lovely site. I’m Penny, the writer, blogger, vlogger, mother, wife and arts practitioner in residence at AlexanderResidence . My background is in teaching drama and film. My blog is a creative filing cabinet to reflect on the ups and downs of life with small children, and where life permits, life beyond them. I tweet at @Aresidence.

I thought I would share a piece of canal that’s very special to me...

Just before my daughter was born my husband and I moved from London. We rented a house on a new housing estate in the East Midlands, built alongside a now disused section of canal (at least for boats, it’s home to many creatures).

It was a huge shock moving from mulitcultural, bustling South London to a silent, suburban cul-de-sac. When I had lived for a short time in a cul-de-sac as a chid, my mother had explained the term to me as the ‘bottom of the bag’. I had an image in my head of being tied up inside a big black bag, and that is precisely what I feared estate life would feel like after London.

The little stretch of canal turned out to be the light at the end of the cul-de-sac. Suddenly free of work, heavily pregnant in the hottest summer for decades, I began to enjoy waddling alogside the ducks, down the shady canal path, to buy an ice lolly. In fact the short stretch of canal, bordered now at each end by main roads rather than locks, was about as much as I could manage by that point.

When labour finally began, I spent much of the early stages pacing up and down the canal path. I took breaks on a bench talking to my mum and my husband. They offered soothing words as we watched the swans guarding their nests and reflected on my slow labour.

When I returned home from hospital, some days later, exhausted after a long labour and an emergency c section, I measured my progress by how far along the canal I could walk . My city life seemed so far away. My world seemed so small. But day by day I pushed the pram a little further along the tow path.

After a few weeks I was able to venture over the main road and further along the canal into the countryside beyond, by then I also had plenty of friends with babies to walk with. I was starting to really appreciate life away from the city.

As the weeks passed, the swans, who had been busy guarding their nests, proudly revealed their cygnets. We watched as they grew from tiny balls of grey fluff, to graceful creatures who eventually took their first flying lessons. At the same time our daughter grew from a tiny newborn to a bouncing baby, and having found our feet too, we found the energy to look for a permanent home.

We moved into town, needing to be nearer to the hustle and bustle, but the stretch of canal is still on my jogging route. It will always be a space to be free, and a measure of distanced travelled.

My now 4yo daughter and her friend on a bike ride along the canal

Thanks so much to Penny for this lovely guest post. Pop over to The Alexander Residence to read more like this.

Would you like to guest post on Narrowboat Wife? Contact me.

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