I’ve written about the unexpected side of narrowboat life and I frequently write about how much I love narrowboat life but today I’m going to write about how narrowboat life is sometimes COMPLETELY RUBBISH.
Look how crap this storm is.
Here are my top 5 things that are absolutely rubbish about living on a boat, in no particular order of rubbishness.
1) Running Out Of Water
Running out of water is RUBBISH. It always seems to happen when a) you’re about to get in the shower b) you’re already in the shower or c) the washing up has reached maximum density.
If you can’t get to a water point for a while this means, at best, several days of trying to figure out the best way to pour a four-litre bottle of water into your mouth to brush your teeth without drowning and, at worst, no tea.
2) The Cold
Gongoozlers are oft gently made fun of by boaters for always asking the predictable question “Is it cold on the boat?” This is then usually met with some trite reply regarding the boater’s aptitude for fire-making or central heating installation.
But actually, you know what? Sometimes it IS cold on the boat. Sometimes, when you’ve just moved on and don’t know how to light your fire, it is FREEZING.
Even now (fire ineptitude resolved) we still get the occasional freezing morning, especially since we stopped buying coal after the British weather tricked us into thinking it was summer.
3) Wildlife Responsibility
I don’t know what it is about boating that makes you feel so much closer to nature but I am suddenly experiencing a sense of responsibility for surrounding wildlife that I have never felt before.
I have become a weird wild woman of the canal, rushing out to aid stricken coots and poking pike with a pole when they get stuck between the boat and the towpath (this actually happened, it was a pretty stupid pike).
This sense of responsibility manifested itself recently when we came across an abandoned gosling, who had been separated from its parents by a giant attacking swan bastard.
Since my affinity with animals only stretches to small and fluffy things, I fended off the bastard swan with an umbrella. We then watched as poor miserable Ryan floated around crying heartbreakingly and looking exhausted.
Having decided we couldn’t well just leave him there, we called the RSCPA. To our surprise, the advice was ‘Try to grab it if you can and we’ll send someone to pick it up. If not just keep an eye on it.’
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to grab a gosling before but it is a muddy and stupid idea. Regardless of the fact that we didn’t want to scare the poor thing, we couldn’t get anywhere near him anyway short of wading into the middle of the canal.
Having failed at gosling-grabbing, we could do nothing but follow the second piece of advice and kept an eye on him by jogging, then running, along the towpath while Ryan zoomed up and down the Regent’s Canal as fast as his little webbed feet could propel him.
It was a literal wild goose chase.
Finally the RSPCA called us again and told us that, as long as he didn’t look injured, Ryan would probably be all right. We waved goodbye and went on our merry way.
Ryan has never been seen since. This makes me SAD.
As well as living in close proximity to wildlife’s creepy crawlies, canal-life means you also live in close proximity to humanity’s creepy crawlies too. The worst of these are the ones who see boats as an easy target for robbery. Social media abounds with daily stories of bikes, pot plants and sometimes even generators all being stolen.
Luckily our boat is built like Fort Knox so we normally feel safe but, at night, outdoor noises do make you thankful for steel doors and sturdy locks.
Personally we have been very lucky… UNTIL NOW. Yesterday we discovered that someone has stolen our brand-new beautiful white lantern off the front of the boat.
5) Mouldy Food
One of the things I liked least about flat sharing was trying to keep track of what food belonged to you in the fridge. Or, once identifying which food belonged to you, going to the fridge and finding it gone.
We were so looking forward to having our own place and saving money with long-lasting freezer food and a fridge full of ingredients that meant we didn’t have to go to the shop and buy dinner every night.
Except of course then someone made the stupid decision to move onto a boat where we have no fridge and no freezer, at least not ones that are permanently running.
This means that, mere days after purchasing food, it goes mouldy. Bread is exhausted after a couple of days on board, salad wilts at the sight of a fire and once more we find ourselves making daily and costly trips to the shop to buy dinner.
The only light in a dark world of green bread and furry vegetables is UHT milk. I have written an ode to UHT milk. However, I will refuse to look upon scientists with anything but disdain until they see fit to invent UHT Everything.