Thursday 25 October 2012

Quick Trip

Last weekend required a trip up to the local canal basin to enjoy the pleasures of a blackwater pumpout. The weather was surprisingly good and the sunshine was warm. The trip though short proved to be quite enjoyable. For this trip we were accompanied by junior day crew member "George" who like most kids today took instant charge of the computer systems and our two dogs. 

This set in train my thoughts about a comparison between my childhood and Georges. I suppose the nearest equivalent to the computer for me was the radio. Not only that, but programming for children was on certain days and at specific times. For George entertainment was available on the tap of a button. I wonder if he would enjoy Dick Barton special agent?

There were similarities in that we both enjoyed time afloat. He in the centrally heated comfort of Rosie and me in the occasional privations of a grain barge. Yet thinking back, I would not swap my childhood for his. I had the freedom to roam at will. Each day brought a different adventure. I had a large group of friends at school and living nearby. We made our own entertainment. George by comparison keeps in touch with his friends by email.

My parents positively encouraged us to "go out and play" with our friends and we were soon streetwise  We knew instinctively who to avoid and we were often accompanied by our family dogs. In fact dogs roaming the streets were as common place as children playing out.  Today children roaming at play are as rare as dogs roaming off a lead. Today, George lives in a cosseted loving environment. Where he is dropped off and picked up from school. I walked there and back twice a day because I came home for lunch. I was often escorted both ways by the family dog. 

No one ever asked where the car keys were because you either did not have a car or they were left in the ignition. Thinking back, we had a lock on our outside toilet and the rear house door. However, I don't ever remember a time when they were locked! If the toilet was in use, you learned to hum a tune. The torn sheets of newspaper always spoiled a story because you never knew the ending. We never drew our curtains. A house with curtains drawn had the universal signal of a death in the household.

We played football and cricket in the appropriate season. For one week every year (TT week on the radio) we were Geoff Duke on the Norton, MV or Gilera. At other times we went fishing or building a tree house den. Distance was no object because we walked everywhere. If time was limited we would take any short cut including climbing walls and fences. If it was raining we went swimming - as long as the water was not too cold. When the weather turned cold, we would run buckets of water down any smooth slope knowing that overnight it would freeze into a slide for the next day. In the autumn I could take you to all the Hazel and Sweet Chestnut trees in our local wood. We knew the location of all apple and pear trees, wild or cultivated. All windfall fruit were ours by right and we would sometimes encourage them to fall.

A treat was a visit to the local cinema and a visit was a must the week after the Isle of Man TT. The Pathe newsreel always came on just before the main feature and we could get the sight and sounds of the TT action. We had conkers, when I see them today I still have to pick them up and admire their potential. George has transformer toys, playstation and other expensive playthings. 

I still think I got the best childhood deal!

Trip Total
Distance: 5.5 miles
Locks 4 
Swing / Lift Bridges 2
Tunnels 0
Pump-out 1
Engine Hours: 2.2

Accumulated Totals
Miles: 1321.6
Locks: 896
Swing / Lift Bridges: 169
Tunnels. 22
Pump Outs: 15
Engine Hours: 2491.6


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