Cruising the Canals – #photographicmemory

In #photographicmemory, Features, HOME, LIFE by Sam Prance

#photographicmemory is a feature in which we ask someone to write about a nostalgic photo of themselves. It was created because sometimes you can find out more about a person by asking them to describe a photo than by asking them a ton of questions. It was also created because it’s nice to look at pretty photos.

10729055_10152823811119772_1721219807_nI feel so emotional every time I look at this photo. Birthdays have never really been a thing for me, just an excuse to justify a self-centred, self-indulgent day. However, my 21st changed things. This photo captures the exact moment I saw all my uni friends, home friends and family waiting for me on a barge in the Birmingham canals, a beautiful surprise planned by my wonderful boyfriend. This photo reminds me of the pure joy and love I felt on that day, and how grateful I am to have such incredible people supporting me.

My family and I had just spent a few hours at a lovely restaurant before my dad suggested going for a walk along the canals and finding somewhere to have a drink. I was babbling about how great the day had been so far and how I was so excited to meet all my friends later before going out. I remember thinking that my dad wasn’t really listening to anything I was saying, and he kept commenting on how pretty all the barges on the canal looked in the evening. That was moments before this photo was taken.

I couldn’t believe that someone had managed to get all these people together without any of them breathing a word about the whole surprise to me. I stood with my hand clapped over my mouth for about 30 seconds while everyone cheered and sang happy birthday, and then immediately burst into tears.

I was bundled onto the barge an emotional mess, trying to hug everyone and give them some soppy blurb about how much they mean to me. We cruised up and down the canals for about two hours, booze flowing, music blaring, my crazy Asian mother dancing on the benches with my friends, before heading back to a house party to carry on the revelries until the early morning.

Rebecca Smith

Becky is a Medicine student at the University of Birmingham. She is a sudoku sister for life and according to BuzzFeed would be Hodor if she were a Game of Thrones character. However, she wishes she were Arya. The struggle is real. If you ever have the fortune of sharing a dance floor with Becky and Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy In Love’ is played, she will get down on all floors. She can’t control it, it’s a thing.

If you want to stay posted with PTL content and musings, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you’re interested in getting involved with PTL – drop us an email on