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 20, 2022 33 min

As the nights draw in and the cosy glow of a fire gets evermore inviting, it is the perfect time to share stories. It is not surprising that ghost stories have an enduring appeal. Many stories of the canal feature them. Ghosts like the canal networks themselves create a link between our worlds and the past. Tonight we enjoy the skill of Ian Douglas’ retelling of a ghostly encounter at Blisworth tunnel and why these stories are impo...

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This week saw the return of the cormorant which prompts a visit to Ernest Ingersoll to find out why they have no voice. A fairly severe reaction to the Covid jab meant that I missed attending this year’s graduation ceremony so join me as I think about past ceremonies and reflect on the journey of those passaging from graduand to graduate.

Journal entry:

 9th November, Wednesday

“Here they come’
 Like a stream in spate,
 Rolling black pe...

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October 30, 2022 28 min

This weekend the clocks change (in the UK). These small markers in our calendars can touch us in deep ways. Join me tonight as we stop the clock, step out of time, and savour together the unspent, untouched hour as the world around us sleeps on.  

Journal entry:

28th October, Friday

“Wild winds race ragged
 As starlings sport and shoal.

Golden leaves, sherry warm,
 Stream head height across the canal.
 A flash of brave blue. A kingfisher
 ...

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Tonight, as the evenings draw in and autumn takes a firmer hold of towpath and fields, let's gather close beside a woodland campfire for some unabashed romanticism. 
For life teaches us two things:
 1. Romance does the heart good and brings a smile to the soul - and, on these darker and chillier evenings, who would deny us that? 
 2. Small boys will always be totally captivated by a wild heart and a gypsy smile ;)

Journal entry:

  1...

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The colours of autumn this year promise to be spectacular and the towpaths are being transformed by the brush of autumn’s artistry. Join us tonight as we drink in some of the sights and ponder why this season can evoke such a mixture of emotions within us.  

Journal entry:

 11th October, Tuesday

“A wash of gold afternoon light
 That fresh clean scent of damp earth
 And falling water

The sluices are full and running,
 Laced with curtains o...

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October 9, 2022 36 min

For many, these are not easy days in which to live and our futures can appear so uncertain. How do we live through such times? Join us tonight as we listen to some deeper wisdom offered by a magpie and an alder tree. 

Journal entry:

7th October, Friday

“Day off.
 First a few jobs around the boat in the gold of autumn sunshine.
 The alders are beginning to drop their leaves
 I kick them up as I walk through them
 Their sound reminds me of ...

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This episode is especially for our youngest regular listener to the podcast, Rory, who had her 6th birthday a couple of weeks ago. So tonight, we explore the narrowboat Erica and what it is like to live on a boat, and then, especially for Rory listen to a story about another little girl who met some rather strange and wonderful people.   

Journal entry:

 29th September, Thursday.

“The reservoir is grey and slabby today,
 Crests form on...

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September 25, 2022 41 min

This week much of the country fell silent for a while and that stillness was the occasion for a chance encounter and finding within the silence the music of bells among crow song. Join us aboard the Erica tonight as we are touched by the enigmatic qualities of bells and stillness.    

Journal entry:

 21st September, Wednesday

Dew, the smell of sheep and wet grass.
 Rooks jostle the lightening sky.
 The company of ducks hunched at the wa...

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September 18, 2022 26 min

The second of our reading this year takes back to the working-boat families of the First World War. Geoffrey Lewis’ beautifully detailed and cleverly structured tribute to the people who worked the boats through this turbulent period is a lovely and moving tribute to their hard work, sacrifices, and bravery. 

The Longest Trench follows the lives of two families as they work their boats and provides an intimate and carefully-research...

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September 11, 2022 22 min

The first of our ‘Summer’ readings this year is from Andy Griffee’s meticulously researched, fast-paced, crime thriller Canal Pushers.

Set on the West Midlands canals from Stratford-upon-Avon up to Birmingham and down to Hanbury (a handy map is included at the front of the book). The detail of the canal systems travelled is beautifully captured as is life aboard a narrowboat for would-be owner Jack Johnson. 

I initially started the b...

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There’s a warm welcome awaiting you under the heavy night skies of summer’s hinterlands. Tonight we meet a very special person with a lop-sided smile and who might be able to teach us to walk with elephants.   

Journal entry:

30th August, Tuesday.

“Day’s end. I stand up here and try to see what is Infront of me. But the future is just a confused blur of uncertainty. When I look back, I can so easily draw-out the most intricate constel...

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Although a little delayed, the long-awaited rain and thunder did eventually arrive. Join us tonight as we hunker down beside a young willow and enjoy, with a field full of crows, the wonder of a thunderstorm as it roars overhead and all the richness it brings. 

Journal entry:

19th August, Friday.

“An impulse forage among the brambles on a
 Blustery day of tall clouds and sunshine.
 I pick the high berries, you the lower ones.
 I extricat...

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It has been a sweltering hot week with temperatures in the 30s (90F). Join me onboard NB Erica, on a hot August night just as the heatwave is about to break, as we listen for the rolling sound of distant thunder. 

Journal entry:

10th August, Wednesday

“The last of today’s sun slowly climbs 
 the dolphin-backed ridge of hill,
 colouring the broad cluster of oaks
 and tawny grass with long shadows.

A few hundred yards from me
 A barrel-roofe...

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August 7, 2022 27 min

Join me this week as we moor on a still August night, under a proud stand of poplars studded with starlight and moonlight. Tonight, we explore the evocative power of scents and smells. 

Journal entry:

 6th August, Saturday.

"The sun is three fingers above the horizon
 and washes the bankside reeds with golden fire.

Three ducks cast perfect wakes of Vs
 Slowly, swimming the channel of molten bronze.

There is something ethereal about th...

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July 31, 2022 35 min

There is a spot of ground that is special to me. Perhaps you have one too. They often are not particularly attractive, but somehow they are places we can go to find quietness. Join me to tonight when we visit one of my special places as we go down to the cattle pond with the help of Wendell Berry.    

Journal entry:

27th July, Wednesday

“Drifts of mist rise and ghost upon the water
 In the pre-dawn light.
 The air is deliciously cool.

Th...

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July 24, 2022 41 min

The forecast hot weather has come and gone, but its psychological, as much as physical, effects feel a bit harder to shift. So join with me tonight as we gaze deeply into the mirrored dome of the night sky and its web of starlight, to discover what stories they tell and their challenge for us to begin to create newer ones.   

Journal entry:

22nd July, Friday

“Every day shakes the kaleidoscope.
 Lift it to your eye.
 Twist the base and l...

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July 17, 2022 24 min

These are the long days. The days of heat and dust. The days of quiet skies and dulled colours. Days of eclipse and renewal. These are the dog days of summer.

Journal entry:

23rd July, Saturday [Should be 16th July - blame the heat!!]

“Martins twist and flit around the large ash,
 Clustering in the branches like cockney parakeets.
 En masse they drop, forking down to the water surface, 
Swimming the air with dolphin-like grace.

We slip...

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 Old stories can lift an unfamiliar mirror up to our lives so that we see ourselves anew and as we really are. Tonight, I will tell you an old story. It’s a story about a silvery day of sea fret (mist), rolling ocean waves, empty fishing nets, and a solitary herring. 

Journal entry:

6th July, Wednesday

“I sit on the bank, one leg hanging down. 
 A drake mallard in eclipse, treads water, 
 with slow, lazy strokes of his feet.

He watches m...

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July 3, 2022 25 min

With apologies for sounding like an asthmatic badger, tonight we explore the special qualities of an unremarkable dusk and why we can feel so at peace with it and the darkness it can bring.

Journal entry:

28th June, Tuesday.

“I stop work to breathe in the storm-wind
 And bathe in the whirlpool of its noise.

My shoulders feel heavy
       As If I alone am holding
               up the blanket clouds
       That sag grey above my head.

The wa...

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It is funny how, looking back, distinct paths and interconnections can be found. It is, sometimes, tempting to see them as clear paths that we are destined to follow. However, sometimes, they are coincidence or simply a case that one can spot significance after the event. But they can also be 'love letters written in canal water'. 

Journal entry:

 21st June, Tuesday, Summer Solstice.

“Mist burns off the water, baptising the ca...

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