‘Voyage in a Bowler Hat’

Malat, H. (1960) Voyage in a Bowler Hat M&M Baldwin

I’ve recently re-read this book because, in writing up my first ‘Inlanding’ adventure from 1989 ‘Bowler Hat’ was one of the books I took along and read as I journeyed from Nottingham to London. The book was an integral part of that first journey into the strange new world of waterways.

It retains a seductive, boys-own sense of adventure, and a refreshing innocence that had attracted me first time around, however on this read I saw more clearly the tension between Malat’s heart-felt respect for the working boaters and a confusing over-emphasis on the Civil War anti-Puritan sentiment.

I also felt much more drawn to the stories of his crossing England than the later chapters crossing Ireland, though perhaps that has less to do with the writing and more to do with my stronger sense of association with the English waterways.

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