Book and Album announcement!
Busk England
by tomkitch1
1w ago
It’s been a while since these blogs were last updated. But the book and album that they led to is finally nearing completion. If you’ve enjoyed these blogs about the waterways community of London, then do take a look at this Kickstarter. The book and album will be supported by a 16 date tour, details below. All gigs are on sale through my website. I hope you enjoy them. It’s been a two and a half year effort to get here and I’m proud of the finished product and can’t wait to take it on tour. Cheers! Tom K ..read more
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The Essex Coast
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
When the sun shines unexpectedly and the English find themselves with a free day, the coast calls. For a Northwest man like myself, this means Blackpool, Morecambe, New Brighton, or even Rhyl. For the Londoner it might be Brighton, Broadstairs, Southend, or Clacton on Sea. Clacton called to me. I dreamed of returning to my boat with the traditional boatman’s trophies of a day at the sea, a stick of rock with ‘Clacton’ written through the middle, and a new lace plate to hang in my cabin, hopefully bearing the legend ‘A gift from Clacton on Sea’. I was accompanied once again by my friend Kate, w ..read more
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Fuel Boat Clover
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
I was back at Ponders End. Having already been upriver with Ben and Emu, I had invited myself onto Clover to do the citybound run with Michael and Nicola. “Be ready for 7.30. That’s when we leave.” My body clock was already set early by last week’s goose alarms at Brentford so by 7.20am I was breakfasted and enjoying a second cup of coffee in the drizzle as the blowlamps went on in the fuel boat engine rooms. Emu was using gas like we do on Spey, whilst Clover was still sticking with the traditional paraffin blower. Both engines kicked off first time, coughing up chaotically to life and then s ..read more
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Brentford
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
Spey made her way back across London once again. I wanted to get down to Brentford, a once thriving port now reduced to a quiet backwater, round the corner and away from the main focus of London waterways life. The greatest density of boats in the capital can be found from Kensal Town right through to Tottenham on the river Lee. It thins out West of Kensal Town, and whilst there are still a great many boats, the waterways are not at capacity on this side of the city and there’s a certain gentle melancholy about the journey West. I was joined for the trip by Bridget and my parents, down in the ..read more
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The Coal Yard and the Nutcracker
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
Nicola and Michael, my hosts at the coal yard at Ponders End, invited me over for dinner. They run fuel boat Clover, which heads into the city from the yard once a week and has become nothing short of indispensable for many London boaters, bringing them the supplies that make life on the water possible. We had a vegetarian pie, a delicious quagmire of pastry, mysterious chunks, and gravy, and it was excellent. I brought wine which was added to their already well supplied rack, and we talked boats, engines, coal. Michael really does live the life of the coalboater, a never-ending merry-go-round ..read more
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Paddington
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
My mooring was non-ideal. It was in a bit of a cutaway in the towpath so when I opened my back cabin doors, I found myself looking straight down the path, and more to the point other people were looking straight in. If I closed the doors and pushed the slide open instead, I had a reciprocal view of the footbridge overhead, where strolling lovers and resting joggers and telephone call enthusiasts were able to look right in at my inner sanctum. It was a mooring that pretty much invited attention, but it was what there was, and I had to make the best of it. The view from the cabin. The area is mo ..read more
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Coalboating
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
Spey and I were on the move again. I had the opportunity to join Coal Boat Emu for the weekly run and needed to get around East London to the yard at Ponders End from which Emu and Clover both depart on their weekly rounds, Clover going into the city and Emu upriver to Hertford. I passed a boat with two notices in the window, one for a missing cat and another for a different, found cat. Cats can be like that. Spey, my home, below Old Fold Lock, heading for Ponders End Spey didn’t stand out as much as I’d expected in London. On the waterways in general, people take pictures, ask questions, real ..read more
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Spoil
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
I emerged from the tube beneath Paddington bleary eyed and carrying a large coffee. I’d not had nearly enough sleep, but the opportunity to join in with a proper piece of commercial canal carrying was too much to resist. James, the skipper, had anticipated my arrival by also procuring me a large coffee and so I sat on top of Everton’s vibrating engine room hatch in the dark considering my life choices with a coffee within easy reach on either side. It was 7.15am, and we were on our way to load. Everton is a Leeds and Liverpool shortboat, 62 ft long and just under 14ft wide[i], built in 1953 an ..read more
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Eco Mooring
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
My seven days at Little Venice were up and it was time to move on again. I had booked an ‘eco mooring’ at Kings Cross and was curious to find out what that actually meant. I had an early breakfast and prepared the boat for moving, enjoying watching the character of the boat change as I did it. Away go the solar panels, the roof is swept, the engine chimney restored to position, brasses polished, back deck swept and mopped, long pole brought onto deck, fan shaft on its little mat on the cabin top, vital rubber duck reinstated on the headlight pedestal. Clutter is hidden and the boat assumes an ..read more
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A quiet week in Little Venice
Busk England
by tomkitch1
2y ago
Arriving at a new mooring you are the disturbance, the difficult new piece in an already completed puzzle, silent ranks of moored boats, and an imperfect space that’ll have to do. Lines run to land. You’re the modification, the imperfection in the order. Notes are left on neighbouring boats and numbers exchanged. A day passes and you belong. This is home now. Neighbours are met and pleasantries exchanged. Saturday comes and its moving day for many. The rules allow for a fortnight on an otherwise unrestricted mooring, no more, and with people now freed from the 9-5 the boats begin to move. Sat ..read more
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