Nighttime on Still Waters

Nighttime on Still Waters

A narrowboat-based audio journal on canal life, living aboard, the elements, and the night. Perfect late-night listening for dreamers, insomniacs, night owls, nocturnalists, drifters, and nomads. For lovers Fagen's 'Nightfly', Auden's 'Night Mail', Hopper's 'Nighthawks' and the 'drifting sea-dark streets' of Dylan Thomas. For all those who used to listen to the transistor under your pillow, love the sound of distant trains and rain against the windowpanes, canals and drover's tracks, lost music, splashed puddles, fireflies and bats, hares by moonlight, windsong among pines, owl-light, the shipping forecast, and all the wonderful, terrifying, grand and tawdry avenues of the night. Cosy listening for bedtimes.

Episodes

November 21, 2021 31 min

The pace of autumn is gathering and a chill is creeping into the air tonight, but the stove is warm. In tonight’s episode we go off to encounter Traveller’s Joy, and explore the potency and importance of names.  

Journal entry:

“19th November, Friday

The ash tree held its breath as the moon grazed the darkness,
 Between cirrus sandbanks, in a halo of light.

A handful of stars, misplaced and constellation-less,
 Breadcrumbs, no longer abl...

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Against all odds, this episode comes a little out of time! Events have conspired resulting in a slightly truncated episode recorded in the afternoon!! Nevertheless, duck chatter and babies (with a little help from John Moriarty) help us to find a path through the tangled thickets that many of us are possibly facing. 

Journal entry:

“10th November, Wednesday

A light mist, like smoke, has begun to sweep down the hill turning fields and ...

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What is it about fire that holds our fascination? Last weekend the clocks went back and in the span of one night darkness began to lap at the edges of our late afternoons. The encroachment of night leading the tide of winter into our daytimes can no longer be ignored and it is understandable that at this time of year we are so drawn to the image of an open fire. In this episode, with the help of the poet Robert Service, we explore ...

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October 31, 2021 29 min

Tonight, you join me on a wild October night with the rain rattling against the cabin roof - so there is a little background noise in some places. But it’s warm and dry inside. Penny is snoring in front of the stove. Settle back as we look at life and Halloweens through the flickering light of a swede-head lantern of my childhood. 

Journal entry:

“26th October, Tuesday

Gloaming.
 Civil Twilight.
 The ash in the south field is losing its...

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October 24, 2021 38 min

This week Vanessa from ‘The Mindful Narrowboat’ vlog got me thinking and so this week we begin to explore how our knowledge and (perhaps) attitudes to fungi are changing and leading us back to older ways of thinking about the environment and our place within it.

Journal entry:

“21st October, Thursday

A Hunter’s Moon swinging high
 Across a highwayman’s sky
 Of racing clouds.

The streets of Birmingham run wet
 With the glittering jewels of
...

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October 17, 2021 33 min

Although the trees and hedgerows here are still holding on to their greens, further afield their transformation into golds and yellows and reds is unmistakable. This time of year never fails to trigger a memory of a young couple I once saw in a park in the middle of England who were entering a world that was turning to gold.     

Journal entry:

“16th October, Saturday

7 degrees and the dawn is still an hour away.
 Flecks of dew on Penn...

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October 10, 2021 31 min

When I meet people who listen to this podcast, one of the most frequently mentioned features is the inclusion of the weather log with which I end each episode. This week I talk about what inspired it, one of which is my childhood love of the BBC’s Shipping Forecast. What makes these stark lists of climatic data ring so powerfully in our minds?    

Journal entry:

“8th October, Friday

Laundry-water coloured skies
 Heavy dews
 Clumps of wi...

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October 3, 2021 30 min

This has been a week of blustery winds and storms. Perfect weather for the wild choreographies of the rooks jousting on the wind. The devil has spat upon the blackberries and we (rather hurriedly) mark our first birthday – this podcast is one year old!

Journal entry:

“2nd October, Saturday

Below a thrown scatter of rooks
 South-westerly gusts kick up
 leaves not yet ready to drop.

Rains seeps into the cuffs of my coat

Autumn glory.” 

Episo...

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September 26, 2021 32 min

These are the mornings of mist that ring with the call of geese. What is it about catching sight of the flight of geese and hearing their wind-borne calls that evokes such  feelings restless longing and yearning within us? And yearning for what? We listen to the words of Wendell Berry, BB, David Whyte and Mary Oliver to find ways to capture those powerful emotions. 

Journal entry:

“24th September, Friday

A tangle of Victorian girders
 ...

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September 19, 2021 34 min

This week we catch up with news of our little swan family and explore the strange word ‘gongoozler’. What does it mean? Where does it come from? In some ways it functions as a shibboleth. Its use identifying the ‘true’ canal people from those outside the community. However, it also shines a light on tensions of modern day living. 

Journal entry:

“15th September, Wednesday

Dawn filled with the scent of autumn notes.
 Rooks stream like s...

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September 12, 2021 37 min

Join me tonight on a journey on the dark waters of Shrewley Tunnel. In this episode we travel not just through the tunnel but also through history and try to capture the life of those who worked the canals by physically 'legging' boats through.   

Journal entry:

“12th September, Friday

Having Brunch at the Gongoozler’s Rest Café.
The smell of wet earth and fallen apples
A frisson of rain among rowan leaves
Scarlet berries deco...

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September 5, 2021 28 min

How did the willow threaten a powerful king? What has bloody fingers to do with St Withburga? How much does our knowledge of the world dictate the way you see it? The names we give things are useful (vital even), but they are not passive. Names frame the way we view the world. In this week’s episode (with apologies to Henry Reed) we ‘unname the parts’ to find how rediscovering local names and stories can connect us in new (or older...

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This week we explore and listen to extracts of Kenneth Grahame's (1908) children's classic The Wind in the Willows
The story follows of the lives of various (anthropomorphised) animals that live by a river, principally, through Mole (Moley) and the Water Rat (Ratty). Their friend, the wilful, spontaneous, and exuberant Toad (of Toad Hall), acts as (almost literally) the driver of the plot. Toad's escapades and reckles...

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August 22, 2021 29 min

Is August high summer, late summer, or early autumn? Does the Queen own our little cygnet that went missing? Who looks after the canal banks? This week’s episode addresses all these pressing questions, as well as dealing with my existential angst at the threat of being robbed of ‘summer’. 

Journal entry:

“19th August, Thursday

This week, each day fills and swells with the stresses and anxieties of work. Familiar pulses of panic surge ...

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August 15, 2021 29 min

Under the poplars beside milepost 16 is a place of enchantment and quiet sanctuary, particularly in times of broiling heat.  Join me in tonight’s episode as revel in its soundscape and its dappled beauty as we explore its very particular genius loci.  You can also hear about the saga concerning our little swan family and what happened this week to their young cygnet (happy ending). 

Journal entry:

“11th August, Wednesday

Geese calls a...

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August 8, 2021 35 min

After a 3 week break, Nighttime on Still Waters is back with episode 40! In this episode we catch up with what has been happening on the moorings and reflect on the place of night walking in history and culture.  

Journal entry:

“5th August, Thursday

High in a tree a blackbird
   Sings into the night.

A river of notes
    Pours into the cabin. 

There are no stars
    Just music.”     

Episode Information

In this episode I refer to:

Miles Hadf...

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For our final summer readings session we are looking at a very different piece of writing. It is Lucy M. Boston’s The River at Green Knowe. Lucy M. Boston is probably better known for her earlier book The Children of Green Knowe for which she was runner up for the 1954 Carnegie Medal for best children’s literature. She would later win it with her fourth book in the series, Stranger at Green Knowe (1961). The River at Green Knowe is...

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In this second Summer Reading Special we discover the delights of Ernest Temple Thurston’s The Flower of Gloster. Published in 1911, Temple Thurston is writing about a very different world to the one in which last week’s authors (Hassell and Hollingshead) were writing. It is a nostalgic nod to a world that Temple Thurston recognises is dying. Described by LTC Rolt as unashamedly romantic, it is a lyrical description of his journey ...

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This is the first of our Summer Reading Specials devoted to one or two books that are in some way related to waterways or life on them. They replace the normal format while Penny, Donna and I are away, off-line, and having adventures of our own.?

The first episode explores two very different authors who are writing when the canals were in their heyday. The first is John Hassell’s account of the Tour of the Grand Junction, published ...

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July 11, 2021 34 min

This week we explore and reflect upon a wonderful poem by narrowboater Steve May (NB Blue Phoenix), ‘The Magnificent Heron’. There is a growing appreciation of genuine encounters with animals and birds and, with the help of Martin Buber and Jacques Derrida, we reflect upon changing attitudes and understanding about how we relate to the non-human world.  

Journal entry:

“9th July, Friday

The air is oppressive and sticky. At this hour o...

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