In the first post in this series (HERE) I set out to uncover why certain images seem to capture the essence of what’s so seductive about the inland waterways.

The images I’m drawing upon are an eclectic set of postcards (or less often RP – real photographs) collected when I’m unable to get out on our old boat Eileen.

My ‘canal album’ is becoming a way of vicariously accessing the waterways when it’s neither practicable or possible to make use of the boat.

Whilst not strictly a canal image, the Edwardian postcard (above) of Pangbourne on the River Thames utterly seduced me when I recently came across it.

Sociologists use the term numen to refer to the idea of presence or potency, magic even, residing in an object. To my eye the numen in this image is held in the simple silhouette of the punt.

And the temptation to stand in that punt, yell out loud and plunge! Right in! Breaking the surface and splashing and spluttering and grinning delightedley at a world made more vivid by the urgent coldness of the water and the thought of what lies beneath.

In mid-Winter it’s good to be reminded of the illicit joys of wild swimming and the profound joys of getting back out on the water.

“The water is your friend. You don’t have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.”

Aleksandr Popov

Wherever the water spirit takes you in the coming year I hope you have an excellent time. Happy New Year!

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