So Boat Girl’s back-to-school photo wasn’t in front of the fireplace or the front door, but instead was on the stern deck and on the towpath. She was so excited to see all her friends again- Y2, the last year of KS1. She’s getting so big!
I’m not putting her BtS photo on here, but instead some seasonal pictures of autumn on the canal 🙂
Jobs I did last weekend included sweeping leaves off the roof, but I did a partial job because I didn’t clear the roof and do it thoroughly, instead just swept along the rails at the edges and scooping the leaves off. I also did the deck. I checked the oil level in the engine and failed to move the boat to fill the water tank- should have done that when visitors came over on Saturday, because the wind’s picking up now and that makes manoeuvrings more difficult!
We came back from a holiday in France to some beautiful weather, but waking early for work this morning (boo!) I noticed that the quality of the early light has changed to an unmistakeably autumnal hue. It’s not autumn officially yet (some say it’s 1st September, some say it’s 21st) but it does seem to be here in the hedges and the air. I made blackberry jam and the temperatures are dropping…
I wanted a new cover because the old one had no windows, and was too sharply angled for me to sit in it with the sides rolled down. That meant we could really only use it in dry weather, but I needed it to be more available. The front part was made of perspex, too, and it was so scratched that it was basically opaque.
I decided on Kinver because I’d heard good things about them. They took my order over the phone, came down to the marina to measure, and although I never met anyone from the company they did a lovely job and the result is exactly what I wanted.
The new cratchboard
The new board they installed is more beautiful, and has glass panels instead of perspex. The board is also wider at the top, which means that you can sit inside without having to lean forward to avoid your head being squashed by the angle of the cover.
Last but not least, Kinver gave me a couple of beers with which to toast both Christmas and the new cratch; and when I said there was a leak, a few weeks after installation, they came back and re-sealed underneath the whole board. Great customer service; a very satisfied customer here.
…is a lack of internet connection at home! I have been busy at work (A level season- I teach and mark A levels) and at home- moving regularly, filling the water tank, filling up with diesel, making new friends, having towpath parties, festivalling, and even doing a bit of boat maintenance here and there. We had a scorching July and as the school holidays started, the rains returned as per tradition…
Summer on the canal is a wonderful thing. Boat Girl has built dens, toasted marshmallows, jammed with musician friends, found a little sister who adores her (she SO wants to be a Big Sister!), ridden her bike, planted beans and nasturtiums, grown marigolds from seed, been wild swimming, walked for miles, and generally been outside more than inside. I love that she gets the chance to enjoy the world, rather than watching an interpretation on a screen. She makes things, draws, writes, and does engineering like using string or wool to brace structures or to make zip-wires and swings for her fairy people.
(Don’t get me wrong- I think there’s a time and a place for TV and films, and computers- but we are all apt to become screen addicts and in this setting, that’s not even a possibility because they just aren’t there. For me and for her. We get screen time at other places (her dad’s, my mum’s, work) and as I’m writing this on a BRAND-NEW! laptop (VERY exciting, I can tell you!) we’ll be able to watch films as well without being on hookup- because I can shift the telly and we can use this machine with its splendid battery life and HDMI input.)
I’ve been toying with going back into the marina for the winter. Pros: electric hookup, convenience for parking, toilets, showers, water on the pontoon, having a home mooring at licence renewal time. Cons: the cost, feeling ‘trapped’. Despite the pros outnumbering the cons, they seem trivial in comparison to the cons. Anyway, yesterday I walked along to Sharpness at the southern end of the canal (we’re back at Purton) and on the off-chance I went in to see about a mooring there. They had one, at less money than Saul Junction Marina (though, of course, it’s not as swish). So I’ve taken it, and paid with my marking money for a year’s fees. I imagine I’ll use it little, but it will be useful to have the hookup during the darkest months. We won’t stay there too much anyway as it’s non-residential. It just means I’ll have a home mooring, which undoubtedly makes life easier (“They’ll hound you till you get a home mooring” as I was told yesterday- “they” being CRT).
Anyway because of my laxness at posting recently, here are just a few photos for you to enjoy- a taster of the life we live.
New life on the canal
The pots have been a picture all summer
Having coffee in the mornings surrounded by loveliness
So on April 1st we left the marina and moved out onto the towpath. We’ve had a lovely month- we’ve made new friends, deepened existing friendships and really benefited from our floating neighbours. So far our travels have brought us to Purton, where the canal is very close to to the River Severn. It’s a beautiful area, with stunning views across to the Forest of Dean, and really only a few metres from the river itself. This area is famous for its boat graveyard, which helps prevent erosion of the banks which might otherwise threaten the canal itself. I must try to get some photos to include because it really is quite lovely.
We are very much enjoying life outside the marina. Each new place brings new views, new bird sounds (this canal is amazing for twitchers!), and new surroundings. The challenges are much less challenging now that the weather is a bit kinder, the days longer and the bridges open all week for ten hours a day. The solar panels work brilliantly at keeping the batteries topped up. The composting loo is easy to use and maintain. The only (very first-world) problem I’ve encountered really are that my fairy lights don’t like the 240V power coming through the inverter, and they strobe so that I can’t use them! And it’s a frustration that we can only get hot water from running the engine; I would love a solution for this.
It’s been fabulous to actually boat along, to remember that lovely sense of freedom and to smell the clean-water smell of the canal. We are looking out for otters now; apparently there have been several sightings and signs of them.
Spring has really sprung the last week or so. The crocuses are all but over, the daffs are looking lovely, and I haven’t needed to keep the fire in overnight or through the day for ages. (As a result I’m burning mainly wood at the moment.)
Sitting out out on deck of a morning or evening, I reflect on how lucky I am to have had this chance, to make this choice. It’s one I can’t imagine regretting. Even winter-those short days!- feels a long time ago.
The composting loo is working well. Not smelly, not arduous; and Single Mum has offered me a third share in an allotment, so compost heaps will soon be mine! A moment of composters’ humour: to accelerate the composting process, I was advised to turn and mix the contents of the bucket. As a result I can now say that I stir shit; and have a shitty stick that I wouldn’t touch things with 😂
However, once the Heap is created I suspect the buckets will simply be emptied directly, to break down naturally. A food waste compost heap will be created as well; I don’t envisage using the Heap on my strawberries or potato plants 😱😷
There are lots of jobs to do, apart from breaking into the overgrowth on the allotment. I swept the chimney last week, and cleaned the cratch, but the deck rail wants sanding and oiling, and I really must get around to the rust patches on the roof. However, the bottom is blacked and I’m told she is in good shape down there, so I am pressing on with the kitchen refit. Ideally I would swap all the living spaces around, but unless the lovely B can’t do the smaller job this spring, I think I will let that idea lie for now.
The marina is busy at weekends now, with people filling up, running engines, ‘tidying things up’ after the winter. The rubbish area is filled with evidence of cleaning and clear outs- I took another four bags of books and clothes to the charity shop. Everyone is eager to get out onto the canal. Me too- this summer I must get to the far end and I also want to do my shopping by boat!