Living on a narrowboat can be great fun. In particular:
1) Doing the washing up and having two swans drift past your window about a foot away.
2) The gentle rocking motion is very soothing. Apart from when you’re drunk, then it is just confusing as all hell.
3) Wood/coal fires – so warm, so very warm.
4) Everything is all cosy and compact and in its place. It can be very satisfying to live on a well ordered narrowboat.
That’s not even touching on the whole romance aspect of being on the move; the appeal of “the road”. The bonhomie and camaraderie of the waterways. Messing about on boats is something which has always appealed.
The Aged P has lived on a narrowboat for the past decade and is currently cruising the waterways of the UK just because he can. He enjoys it. And I do too, when I go to visit for a few days, but there are a few reasons I could never do it full time.
1) The plumbing.
Low water pressure, camping toilets, elsan…
2) The manicure.
Boat living is HARD on nails. Look at mine! They were lovely and within half an hour of stepping on board, snap. Rip. Ouch. OK, so we were fitting out, and doing such fun activities as welding chimneys and messing around with fuel filters, but even normal boat living involves catches and ropes and water. It’s a bad nail environment, with a capital BAD.
3) The concussion.
I loose track of the times I hit my head every time I stay on the boat. Not to mention the number of times I bang my shins. Or my elbows. Or toes. Or back. You name it, you WILL bash that body part. It is inescapable, when inhabiting a space 6ft by 58ft. Especially when clumsy like me!
4) The spiders.
Proper boat people claim to like spiders. They lie. They are lying to themselves because they know there is nothing they can do about the spiders. Yes, spiders are useful against the mosquitoes and flies in the summer. But when you find yourself waking up, nose to leg with the biggest Fred in creation, YOU tell me that you are OK with spiders. It isn’t that they can hurt you, it is just they constantly SURPRISE you. One minute, you are innocently washing up, and the next there is a spider hovering at eye height from the ceiling.
There are other reasons that mean the decision to move onto a boat aren’t really right for me – mooring in Oxford for one! – but I did really consider it for a while. And every now and then I have a moment when the life afloat appeals. Then I remember the spiders, and the manicure, and the mysterious bruises. And the plumbing. Oh god, the plumbing.