spring on the riverside

Welcome, Ahoy

Heather is a traditional yet quirky houseboat, laying on the Broads Waterways of Norfolk and Suffolk. Maintained by two friends, she has been home to artists, holiday visitors and mariners for generations.

See on board the houseboat, visit the touring shop and relax on the riverside.

Christopher, Andrew

Christopher, Andrew

Public Staithes

Public Staithes

1 August 2014

Tales of the Scottish Highland Puffer boats

Twenty years ago, BBC television broadcast the first episode of the humorous Tales of Para Handy. The series was based on the author Neil Munro's insightful yarns about the antics of the crew of a steam or 'puffer' boat called the VITAL SPARK. Puffers were local trading wherries, working around the Scottish west coast and the River Clyde, up to Glasgow. Gregor Fisher, well known as Rab C Nesbitt played the Skipper. Heavily laced with comedy, larger than life characters and sumptuous scenery, the stories are arguably unparalleled in marine literature. It is regrettable that the series, plus the surviving episodes of the Vital Spark's first footing onto the small screen over fifty years ago, have not been aired again on television. 

The adventures of the Highland 'coasting trade' hit the silver screen in 1954, when Ealing Studios produced The MAGGIE. The film is stirring and evocative ~ a light and dark comedy of errors, in the mould of Neil Munro. It is said to be based on actual events, where the old, slower paced ways of the puffers, meets high flying business of post war Britain and sparks inevitably fly! 


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