Looking back at my photos, I have discovered that I find boats of all shapes and sizes really fascinating. Maybe this stems from my great grandfather’s life sailing tea clippers from the south China Seas around the world in the 1800s which fascinates me. Or maybe it’s from my father’s early years working in the shipyards of the Tyne, or his wartime service in the Royal Navy. But, as I can’t swim, however hard I try and however many lessons I have, boats are an unlikely interest for me to have!
My fear of deep water has several possible sources, the first being that I fell in the icy cold English Channel from a cliff when I was about 10 years old. I vividly remember thinking as I sank into the murk, how dirty the water was ~ not at all like a swimming pool or the pictures of the ocean you saw on holiday posters at the railway station.
Secondly, where I grew up, my playground was the smoking sulphur heaps left over from the chemical factories, and the old mine workings of a very industrial Gateshead on Tyne. I stand to be corrected but I never saw or heard of a swimming pool anywhere in the vicinity. The Public Baths were for people to go and have a wash when they had no facilities at home as far as I knew.
Lastly, in the postwar years the River Tyne was a busy, noisy, dirty and dangerous river dotted with thriving shipyards. It was not at all as it appears today, all cleaned up with its expensive riverside apartments, leisurely riverside walks, luxurious hotels, The Sage, The Baltic and the spectacular Winking Eye Bridge. No, the Tyne was a marvellous, powerful river to be admired, respected and wondered at, but feared and kept away from for safety’s sake.
But as I look at my travel photos from Cornwall, Dorset and other parts of the world, there are a lot of boats that I snap on the way.