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“Simply messing about in boats”

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” So says Ratty to Mole and we couldn’t agree more!

Devizes Marina, from there we’ll be chugging through the peaceful & beautiful ‘Vale of Pewsey’.
We used to own a canal boat, which was moored a little further west, on the Somerset Coal Canal. So it’s great to be back on the cut after so long. Rowan is 60ft long, well-appointed and very comfortable.
There was a strong breeze blowing across the pontoons while we were trying to manoeuvre Rowan out of the Marina. Every time I had her lined up to go where​ I wanted, the wind caught her bow and blew her back onto the pontoon ends. However, we eventually managed to get out and are now happily chugging along without as much drama.

We have just motored a mile or so out into the countryside. As we have our very young son on board, we don’t want to push his attention​ span by motoring on for hours at a time. This also gives me more time for sketching.
Featured sketch above:

The Bridge Inn

Watercolour A5(ish) ~ Sold
Sketch of Rowan moored by The Bridge Inn, ready to head further tomorrow.

Materials Used

I have with me two sketching pads. A Daler Rowney, Langton 9 x 12” Hot Pressed watercolour pad and an A6 Winsor & Newton, field sketch pad (which is a great size for slipping in your pocket). I also have my Winsor & Newton, watercolour field paint box, one large Pro Art no.20 brush and a couple of smaller, round brushes – sable no.6 & a no.1. And of course a 6B pencil.

Watercolour sketch of some Sloes
Watercolour sketch of Rosehips

Berries on the towpath

Watercolour sketches ~ A6
Sloes and Rosehips growing alongside the towpath.

‘Wide Water’

We are chugging along in an easterly direction along the Vale of Pewsey. Heading this way means we can avoid the Caen Hill Locks. These are a large flight of locks, west of Devizes. Which is, this trip, a bit beyond us.
So we are moored close to the peaceful ‘Wide Water’. It is a lake like, wide stretch of the ​canal made for Lady Susannah Wroughton. She wanted the canal to be more attractive​ crossing her land. The bridge here is also known as ‘Lady’s Bridge’ and is much more decorative​ than the others. It is a great spot to moor though, as the wider water attracts lots of wildlife. We saw Kingfishers & Herons fishing, Canada Geese & Swans swimming along and in the evening bats flying after insects.

Watercolour and pen sketch, 'Inside the narrowboat Rowan'

Swan Door

Pen & Wash ~ A4
Sitting by the stove sketching the ‘Swan Door’ of ‘Rowan’. We didn’t have too many Swans using that door!

Watercolour sketch of a Moorhen


Watercolour ~ A6
Sketch of a Moorhen on the other side of the canal dabbling about.

Watercolour sketch of narrowboat 'Rosy Lee'

A drop of Rosy Lee

Watercolour ~ A4
Heading back westwards to Devizes. We have stopped for a drink of tea & some cake and are moored looking west, down the peaceful Vale of Pewsey. Time for another watercolour sketch (Sold) – just ahead of us is the narrowboat ‘Rosy Lee’ moored on the ‘off’ bank.

This is our last night on ‘Rowan’, it has been a relaxing and delightful trip. We have all very much enjoyed ourselves and hopefully given our little lad a taste of boating on the canals.

To conclude

Tranquil oil painting of narrow boat moored by the tree lined canal.


Oil on board (10″ x 14″)
Here also is my oil painting of narrowboat Roxy. Our next borrowed narrowboat, from our good friend’s Paul & Midge.
‘Roxy’ is moored at the idyllic ‘Wide Water’.

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