Us, from there to here

I’m a single mama to Boat Girl, born in 2011. I teach, write, mark, read and study. I attempt to draw and to make things. I try to live in a sustainable way. I don’t exercise as much as I’d like to and I sometimes drink too much. But I cook well and am lucky enough to have great friends, near and far.

I live on a boat because of a combination of circumstances, both happy and traumatic,  which have combined over the last seven or eight years and culminated at the beginning of 2016 into an irresistible force. However, just after I got Dreams last year, a Facebook memory popped up which showed a post I’d made about ten years ago after a dog-walk along the canal: “Boatmama thinks that a narrowboat would make a great home for her and Daisy[dog]!” So perhaps it’s been in the stars for longer than I realised; perhaps the idea was there all along.

All that said, in this area and on my income (not bad, but less than the national average) renting would use half my pay before I’d paid a single bill. And that’d be a flat on a busy street, with no parking and no garden. I don’t want to live my life looking out of windows, wishing I were somewhere else.

I’m really lucky: I bought a house in 2008 with a government key workers’ deposit scheme, which meant I didn’t have to have any savings (luckily, as I hadn’t any and renting costs were high enough to prevent me having any). I sold it last year because the scheme called for repayment within a decade, and I wasn’t in a position any longer to be given a new mortgage to release the equity. I benefited from the property market that I now rail against, and because of that I was able to buy my own home and afford the costs of upkeep.

This is where I used to live. The furnishings in these pictures aren’t mine, the person who bought it from me had it on the market again about six months later. As I say, I am very lucky. Jammy might be a better word. But then again, I’ve also become a single mama, and lost my wonderful dad to mesothelioma. All I can do is count my blessings and try to make sure I give back more than I take out.

This is me: sparkly for Christmas. We love to be festive for festivals!

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Yes, of course I dress like this all the time!

Boat Girl loves her dual life, on the canal with me and more conventionally with her dad. She has a vivid imagination and loves playing with her fairy people, building things out of wood, making dens, climbing, swimming, cooking (pancakes are her speciality) and toasting marshmallows. She also enjoys playing her cornet, especially with our musician friends at impromptu parties on the towpath (and those warm summer evenings, with the guitars, the trumpets, the fiddle, the basket of percussion instruments for the tiny children and the non-musicians shine out in my memory and will be unwrapped like precious jewels when I’m too old to live on a boat… and hopefully will be equally wonderful for Boat Girl).

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