Monday 24 September 2012

Memories of Uxbridge

We spent a lovely month in Uxbridge in 2010 as we had to get the hull blacked in the boat yard. The last time we got the boat blacked here was when we gave our notice to the local authority that we intended to marry. To do this you have to have lived at an address for 14 days; of course we never usually have an address. So our marriage certificate cites us as residing at Uxbridge Wharf, Waterloo Road.

Although Uxbridge is at the end of a tube line and has the convenience of a good sized shopping centre, visiting by canal you still feel part of the leafy water-corridor that is England’s longest village. Down at Cowley there are walks in the woods and a pub named after the old Packet Boat, which used to carry passengers from Paddington and back. The Toll House tearooms are a haunt of local boaters and no-nonsense food is served with smiles onto placemats of roses and castles. In the General Elliott I was once part of a boater’s pub quiz team that attempted to beat the other boaters; who’d aptly named their team Sclerosis of the River. At one time I had loads of boating mates in Uxbridge, James and The Yorkshireman, Rufty Tufty Biker Bloke, Nancy Moo, The Marine Engineer and his wife. Some of them have moved away now but if I were to settle somewhere I sometimes think that this place feels like home. We’d sit around under the charming oak beams of the Swan and Bottle, our cork key rings strewn across the table, no doubt discussing portapotties or engine trouble or gossip picked up on the towpath telegraph. You can moor a few hundred yards from the Swan and Bottle above Uxbridge lock and almost feel as if you’re out in the country. I once sat there and did a watercolour painting of that lock; in another life before I had kids, when I had time for such leisurely hobbies. The Marine engineer strolled up with his four year old son on his shoulders. He said that my painting was good enough to sell. I laughed and said,
“You can buy it if you like!”
“How much?” I shrugged.
“A tenner!”
“Ok,” he grinned. He still has that painting now. A woman they knew walked past and said hello.
“What do you say to the lady Charlie?”
“Alright darlin’,” grinned Charlie.
“That’s right,” said his dad proudly.

This is an extract from the book I'm working on.

More about the painting. (Print for sale.)


Alice said...

ahhhhhh, now that's the kind of narrowboat wife writing I just love... wonderful :-) email coming soon with news of my own narrowboat life ;-) x

Narrowboat Wife said...

Thanks Alice. And I'm still reading your further adventures on your blog. Always lovely writing.