Oliver Barrett – Self towing "Snug"

"I found this photo in an old scrapbook of my Granpa’s. He kept a lot over the course of his life - family photos, holidays, newspaper clippings from Lincolnshire where he grew up before moving to Nottingham (and eventually Bristol) with my Gran.

This scrapbook spanned a few months of his mid-teens in the early 1930’s and included several pages of photos from a family holiday to Norfolk, including this one. Something about this photo stood out right away – the framing, the tow-rope sloping out of shot, the way my Granpa looks both as I remember him but also so youthful at the same time. I love how the angle makes him seem almost like a giant, striding across the Norfolk broads; tiny cattle seemingly unconcerned as he passes by.

Then there’s the caption - Self towing “Snug” - in his slightly runic handwriting that always made me think of Tolkein, and which you can still see traces of in books I have of his from later life, when tremors in his hands made made his penwork spidery and less precise.

A “snug” is a small, roofed vessel of the kind that you might spend an hour or two in upon a river or boating lake - similar to a canal boat. At least this is how I understand it from the pictures in the scrapbook – I’ve looked but can’t seem to find any reference to the term online. Maybe it’s a Norfolk colloquialism that’s fallen out of use - judging by the quotation marks it seems like it was a new term for my Granpa too. The final photo on the page is captioned “Finale: “Snug” breaks down”. Maybe the towing didn’t help, or maybe that was why the towing was required.

My Granpa died when I was 11. I remember him being quiet and self-contained and I remember him taking me round all of the old oil paintings in Bristol Museum on the occasional day when he’d look after me, giving me little bits of information about each one. I didn’t appreciate that much then, but I do now.

I started this album a year or so ago, and finished it up in the two weeks after my Gran died, aged 104, three decades after the death of my Granpa. This album is in loving memory of them both."

Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC


1. Self – 19:06
2. On Oulton Broad – 10:54
3. Self-towing Snug – 01:52