Cavalcade 2016

I have popped a few pictures to illustrate the weekend at cavalcade, Paddington. This first one shows a solid fuel delivery, boat to boat. A slip would mean a dunking and it is too deep to stand up there, as  I found out later in the day!DSCN5312


I managed to get a grand view of things in with Gentle Breeze moored sidewaysDSCN5334



A butty is a non-powered towed narrow boat that is used in conjunction with a motor narrow boat. Some fuel boats still use them on the canals. They can either be towed on a long line, very short lines or tied side by side, which is termed breasted up. As with many work boats the butties are painted brightly and the decorations may include the traditional roses and castles designs.

I realised that the word butty is close in sound to the word Bonnie, so I am here are a couple of ditties that could be sung to the tune of My Bonnie lies over the ocean. Neither are polished, but are as good as they are likely to get in my hands.

A lament for a butty

A fuel boat I’m working the waters
My skipper keeps the folk warm
He found me a beautiful butty
With roses and castles adorned

Bring back, bring back,
Bring back my butty to me to me,
Bring back bring back,
Bring back my butty to me

She carried most of the burden
But silently glided along
The folk they awaited her coming
She carried the warmth to their home

For miles we’d be parted by tow line
But at nights and in locks be abreast
And then I was proud of my butty
Those are the times I loved best.

But sadly my butty was sinking
And nothing could keep her afloat
The tow rope lies unused and tangled
Again I’m a solo work boat.

My butty has left her impression
On the folk that she brought to the warm
We remember her roses and castles …..
My skipper’s dry-docked her at home


And now a silly song about a butty to the same tune



I’d worked all the rings in the system
So I came down to great London Town
I ran down the Thames to St Katherines
And moored up to wander around.

I forgot I was towing my butty
And my wife she was there on the stern
I watched as they drifted right past me
The tow line it snapped just like string.
Bring back, bring back,
Bring back my butty to me to me,
Bring back bring back,
Bring back my butty to me

I yelled “I can’t come to the rescue,
But whatever you do don’t jump in”
She leant over better to hear me,
And promptly she went for a swim.

A police launch was sent to retrieve her,
A young copper grabbed her midrif
They both fell in-board together
And now she has cast me adrift

My butty went drifting on seawards,
Past Greenwich and past Blackwell Bend
It shot through the barrier sideways,
And was spotted off shore at Southend.

I now cruise the waterways solo
A lonesome single afloat
I miss them and think of them daily…
Especially my other boat

So my butty lies over the ocean,
My butty lies over the sea,
My butty lies over the ocean,
Oh bring back my butty to me.


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