Time is running out to find the perfect gift for the boater in your life! If your loved ones enjoy spending time on the inland waterways we have some unusual suggestions of how to surprise them this year.

1) Curious Canalware

Painted coal scuttles, kettles and Buckby cans painted with roses and castles will be nothing new to a seasoned canal boater, so try searching online for something a bit more unusual. I found a bird feeder, step ladder,milk churn, a rolling pin and some antique wooden ice skates - all painted with traditional roses!

2) Crafted on Board

There are lots of handmade gift ideas at The Crafty Canal Cruising Co. Philippa Eyre creates hand crafted fabric bags, purses, children's aprons, phone cases, glasses gases, pencil cases, make up bags and tote bags, plus rag rugs and cushions in a variety of sizes and colours. I love the cats tote bag (pictured below) because of the crazy colours!

3) A Measham Teapot

A boater with a love of traditional working boats and vintage memorabilia will be impressed with a piece of Measham ware. These charming Victorian tea pots, jugs and kettles have a dark brown lead glaze, often with flowers and a motto painted in white clay. They were once very popular among the “bargees” who lived and worked aboard. Try online auction sites, or Antiques Afloat: An antique shop on a narrowboat! They travel the inland waterways of England and Wales introducing antiques and collectables to people on the towpath.

4) Activist Art

If you search for canal art online you will find an overwhelming number of colourful paintings of waterways scenes, or nostalgic, vintage photographs from the days of cargo carrying on the canals. But for something a little less traditional did you know that some of Banksy’s gritty images were created beside London’s canals? Books of his artwork include Banksy: Wall and Piece,and Banksy: You Are an Acceptable Level of Threat and if You Were Not You Would Know About It.

5) Tiller Tassels and Ropey Gifts!

Ronni “The Witchcrafter” offers unique and unusual rope work created to your requirements. She lives aboard and travels the canals as a Roving Canal Trader attending various markets and events. Her handcrafted products include home accessories, narrowboat rope work, bell ropes, key rings and jewellery. She enjoys a challenge and loves making things out of rope or cord. I like the miniature rope fender earrings! (pictured)

Many of these gift ideas also offer the chance to support a fellow boater in business. If you’d love to start your own boat-based business in 2017 check out Boatshed Business where a variety of business options offer you training, support and the opportunity to be part of our global network.

Peggy Melmoth

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