This morning was absolutely amazing on the Grand Union Canal’s towpath. It included meeting Banjo Nick Rambles in lovely conversation while I got my breath back.
Banjo Nick was already taking a breather at Slapton Lock, not far from Leighton Buzzard where I stopped to say hello. Twenty minutes later we were still chatting and what a fascinating time it was. Nick counts himself as a musician first, then a traveller/cyclist and then a voice of environmentalism. I think he likes meeting and chatting to people as much as I do!
Naturally his bicycle caught my eye. It is more than a means of transport for him. It carries his possession which he told me all about through a kind of guided tour. He carries his banjo on his back, I got a sense of this being very important to him. Then there’s the tent, sleeping bag, a home made didgeridoo, his amplifier with its heavy batteries and so on. He had everything neatly to hand on what was quite a mobile home. Talk about independence and his eyes light up; he travels like a free spirit with engaging stories from along the way.
He told me a little of how he makes ends meet. Aside from eating modestly through making his food last, he deliberately lives off as little as possible by earning his “keep” as he travels. This includes putting his hat out whenever he busks or has an impromptu jam in a bar or cafe. It seems to work and he certainly enjoys it!
His bike is not the kind anyone os going to rave about in blogs or magazines. It is impossible to know the weight as it is too heavy to lift. Look carefully in the above photo and you see a screwdriver jammed in the rear derailleur to keep it in the same gear on account of the cable breaking. Banjo Nick was far from worried with many flat towpath miles ahead. We talked about canals, the health of the waterways being a good indicator of many things, travelling independently, making ends meet, the delights of wildlife and the beautiful countryside through which we travel.
I love meeting people, hearing their stories and this morning’s pleasure was to meet you Banjo Nick.
I also bumped into my friends Robin and Jo Wakefield – nice to briefly catch up. They were also cycling on the towpath, heading south so I mentioned Banjo Nick to them.