For the Love of the Sun

My mum recently remarked to me that my blog posts haven’t been very lighthearted of late.

Perhaps this is because boating often makes you grumpy and cantankerous in an amount that is exactly proportional to the amount landlubbers think boating makes you harmonious and floaty.

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I mean floaty in a dreamy sort of way, not a physical way. The boat is, of course, physically floaty otherwise I would be precisely 100% more cantankerous.

Example: Yesterday as we were boaty floating through Hertford in the late evening summer sun, a landlubber called out to me, “That looks so relaxing!”

In reality it was 8pm and we had been forced to move the boat despite having another week left in our mooring spot because we needed to empty the toilet and the nearest elsan was over an hour away. Upon arrival in Hertford we couldn’t find a space to stop and so had to go to the very end of the Lea, turn around and come back again. The sky was beginning to bruise and I was beginning to think we would be forced to camp, when Mr L. Andlubber innocently remarked upon the enjoyability of my evening.

I smilingly called back “You’d be surprised!” in a polite, conspiratorial sort of way but inside my head I was really thinking “ARRRRGHHHHHHHH”.

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Ohhhh, that’s why pirates are always saying that.

That being moaned about, it is summer and that is a reason to be happy because it’s the season that will this year contain a) my birthday, b) my wedding, and c) my honeymoon. So I’m going to literally lighten up and write a post about how much I love the sun.

(This one’s for you, mum).

God I love the sun.

It’s been very sunny lately. You might have noticed by the way British people have been joyously heralding the weather on social media only to complain about the heat five minutes later. Or by the way the press have been digging out their stock photos of families enjoying the sunshine (or their teenage daughters wearing bikinis, if you’re the Daily Mail).

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“Thousands of innocent sunbathers enjoy the weather unaware of imminent FLOODS and SKIN CANCER and IMMIGRANTS.” – DM

But I don’t love the sun for its warmth or its tanning potential or any other pedestrian terrestrial reasons like that.

I love the sun for its sweet, sweet laptop juice.

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I am enjoying the sun. Just from inside and via solar power.

When we first moved onto Albion, we didn’t have any solar panels. Instead we had to run the engine to get all our electricity. With both of us working from home this meant a lot of engine running, which in turn meant a lot of money wasted on diesel. And, since our engine is hardly the most purry of beasts, a lot of shaking and a lot of noise.

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And probably a lot of disgruntled canalside property owners.

Sick of hearing our own teeth rattling and not wanting to anger those around us, we realised this could not go on.

It was time to upgrade to…

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SOLAR POWER!!!!!

“But getting solar panels installed is so expensive,” you may lament.

Not so, humble person insterested in renewable energies!

We managed to get two solar panels bought and installed for just £325 thanks to Matt at Old Friends Canal Services. He told us to order second hand solar panels from Bimble Solar (£58 each) and then installed them for us in a few hours. We opted for Kyocera panels on tiltable brackets (we had had stick-on panels on the old boat but had found them next to useless) so we can even angle them towards the sun like energy efficient geniuses.

We were a little worried that second-hand panels wouldn’t be as effective but oh how wrong we were!

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Our boat. All the time.

Since we didn’t get the panels installed until the end of last summer, we haven’t really had a chance to enjoy them until recently. Over the winter we do still have to run the engine for power thanks to shorter days and just generally living in England but the past few weeks have been a revelation.

The other night we fell asleep and left the inverter on. This is normally a disaster of broken-down style proportions but, this time, we woke up and the batteries were on 88%.

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IT’S PROBABLY QUITE HARD FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND HOW HAPPY THIS MAKES ME BUT JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT.

We now haven’t had to run our engine for power for at least two or three weeks and probably won’t again until autumn (or the next grey spell).

So if you’re a new boater or just a BWaSP (Boater Without a Solar Panel), I really can’t recommend them enough. Although it is a little bit of expense to start with, it needn’t cost a fortune and will probably save you as much money in diesel and pissed-off neighbour lawsuits anyway.

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Clear off and Relinquish Traditions

As a fairly new boater with only two years under my windlass and smarting from some of the reactions to my latest post, I’d like to make a disclaimer: I am not by any means a canal or boat expert and the majority of my blogs are roughly 12% serious. 14% on a day when something’s made me grumpy.

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DEAR GOD THIS BLOG IS ANYTHING BUT EDUCATIONAL.

That being said, today I am going to offer MY UNDERSTANDING of the CCer crisis as it currently stands based on MY EXPERIENCES. Please disregard the lot as soon as you’ve finished reading it. (No, not yet.)

(I’ll tell you when).

We recently watched the insightful Off The Cut by Wendy Zakiewicz. It’s a documentary film about what it’s like to be a ‘Continuous Cruiser’ or ‘A Boater without a Home Mooring’ or ‘Definitely the Best Sort of Boater You Can Be’ or whatever you choose to call us.

Here is the film (you can watch it now, I’ll wait.):

If you don’t want to watch the film or you can’t currently watch the film because you’re reading this blog at work (I like your style) then I’ll try to cram a very huge and complicated issue into a very small nutshell.

Haha Austin… anyway… what?

Oh yes, so, Off The Cut is a pretty accurate, heartfelt account of what it’s like to be a Continuous Cruiser. For those of you unfamiliar with the rules surrounding our way of life, the waterways are looked after/RULED OVER WITH AN IRON FIST (depending on your opinion) by CRT – Canal & River Trust – a charity designed to oversee the likes of lock fixing, dredging, taking away the homes of children, and towpath maintenance.

To be allowed to live on a boat as a Continuous Cruiser, you have to pay for a CRT licence. This entitles you to keep your boat on CRT waters, use facilities, live with the constant threat of your home being taken away, and have a cool key on a cork!

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IT’S ALL WORTH IT FOR THE FLOATY KEY THAT ANYONE CAN BUY ON EBAY.

To receive your licence (and to have it renewed on a yearly basis), you must comply with certain rules as set out in the British Waterways Act 1995:

[to satisfy] the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

A failure to comply with these rules will result in your licence being taken off you or not being renewed when your current licence runs out. Which means you will be issued with a Section 8: After giving at least 28 days notice, to remove a craft which is sunk, stranded, abandoned or unlawfully moored on the Trust’s waterways

…or a Section 13 (I think?): the British Waterways Act 1971 states that it is unlawful to moor or keep any houseboat (defined mainly as any vessel not used for navigation) on the Trust’s waterways without a valid licence. It further gives the Trust the power to remove or (ultimately) demolish a houseboat if, following proper notice, the owner does not first remove it.)

Simple, right??

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Nope.

The problem with the act is that it doesn’t specify… well, anything really. It doesn’t specify what a place is or what ‘bona fide navigation’ means or what sort of circumstances make overstaying reasonable or why geese eat my blacking or why Pickett’s Lock always makes me crash my boat or why cyclists suck.

Thus, as #LawInspo for the CRT license terms, it’s not particularly useful.

Or at least it was completely fine until canal living became hugely popular and CRT suddenly found loads of dirty boaters clogging up its canals and demanding more of the basic facilities they needed to live (like water and somewhere to empty your poo) and CRT had to begin making the rules the hell up in an effort to get rid of all the boaters who weren’t neatly hidden away in marinas so that they could go back to spending their money on duck graffiti.

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Or, until a charity designed to cut weeds and fix big wooden floaty doors found itself at the eye of a government-created housing storm and did what it had to do to save the poor waterways from a new breed of ukulele-toting millenials who infest Broadway Market and poo in the canal.

Depending on your opinion.

To put an end to the confusion, CRT now state Clearly and Finitely that:

  • a CCer must move to a new place every 14 days
  • a ‘place’ = somewhere CRT made up on a map
  • ‘bona fide navigation’ means not returning to a place you were just at. Or the place you were at before that place. Or shuffling between a few places. Even though those would be different places in accordance with the British Waterways Act? Yes, look could you just keep travelling in a straight line until you hit the sea and then you can turn around. Except maybe don’t turn round even then. Maybe go in the sea. Yes it’s best if you were all in the sea.
  • You have to cover around 20 miles during the license period.
  • What?
  • Where did that come from?
  • I can’t see that anywhere in the Act.
  • What does around 20 miles mean?
  • Like 20 miles in one direction or 20 miles and back again?
  • I dunno, just like… around 20 miles.
  • Around?? Is 10 miles enough?
  • No.
  • 15 miles?
  • Maybe.
  • Maybe?? You’re going to take away my boat if I don’t go far enough so how far is far enough?
  • Look at this duck graffiti! So viral.

So you see, a lack of clarity is the problem. CRT cannot be more specific about the rules because the Waterways Act isn’t more specific about the rules and CRT is a charity without the legal standing to create new legislation and enforce it by law ( I have no idea if I explained that right. I’m just paraphrasing the script of Silk.) (How good was Silk??) (I loved Maxine Peake in Silk).

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What a powerhouse.

On the other hand, some of the boaters camp argue that murky law is our friend.

(Murky law, not Murphy’s Law).

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Murphy’s Law is no one’s friend.

They argue that, because the official laws are so vague, CRT can’t actually enforce any of its rules and we can all get away with doing whatever we want as long as we all just shut up and put down that ukulele. Pushing CRT (and perhaps, eventually, government) for more definite rules might result in new laws being created that make our way of life even harder. Where our boats will be tracked by GCHQ and any boat travelling just 19.9 miles during its licence period will automatically explode.

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“This one’s okay actually I just forgot to log him in Broxbour… Oh.”

That all being laid out, it’s time for me to confess.

I am one half of a boating couple in our 20s. We moved onto a boat in London (BOATING PROBLEM AREA #1) because we couldn’t afford to live in the city any other way. During our first year, we even RENTED.

According to many people on both sides of the debate, we are The Problem.

I even look exactly like what happens when you type “hipster girl” into Google Images.

So let me give you an insight into life as The Problem.

We moved onto the canals at the beginning of 2013. We started out knowing nothing and making all sorts of mistakes just like ANYONE ELSE DOING ANYTHING EVER. As we got more used to life on the canal, we took the time to learn about its history and about the rules, we found out that renting was a bit of an issue so we used our savings to buy our own boat (although I have to say we were very lucky with our waterlords who were nice and reasonable and took care of us. This is all I will say on renting because I don’t know how many contentious issues I dare to fit in one post).

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“I have read all of the boat informations and I still cannot work out why everyone on London Boaters is angry at me!”

In our rental year, we asked our waterlords to let us leave London and travel up the Grand Union, which we fell in love with. Over the past year on our own boat we have travelled to Oxford and back and are currently travelling up the River Lea heading for first the Stort and then Hertford, even though we both have work that requires us to be in London on some days (thankfully not every day, we are luckier than others with 9-5 jobs).

Not asking for a pat on the back or anything, just stating that this is the case for most of the Continuous Cruisers we have met – just normal people trying their best to live a certain way of life and trying to live it within some pretty changeable rules. I’m sure there are overstayers and poo-in-canalers but I haven’t met any and I certainly haven’t witnessed anything like the extent of problem boats CRT (and some other boaters) claim to exist. In fact, apart from the congestion in London, the only problems we’ve faced are a lack of boater facilities and the unpleasant sensation of being constantly watched by CRT.

Over the past few years we have experienced:

  • Having to risk mice and other pests by storing our rubbish on the roof or in the gas locker for days because there are no bin facilities nearby (where we are currently moored there is a big bin by a cafe with a sign that specifically says ‘No Boaters Rubbish’ or something to that effect, which makes me feel sad and rejected. By a bin.)
  • Continuous texts and emails from CRT telling us to move on from an area during two separate occasions when I had notified them that we had first an engine problem and then a gas leak.
  • CRT Volunteers (who walk the canals checking people’s license numbers to make sure they’re not overstaying) banging on our doors – and I mean banging like “STASI! OPEN UP!” – because they couldn’t read our brass licence plate (Landlubbers: This is akin to the police banging on your door once a week and asking to see your council tax information).
  • Having to pretty much cross my legs and wash with baby wipes for the time we were stuck in Berkhamsted with engine failure because one water point was broken (and never fixed the whole time we were there), one Elsan point was blocked and had started overflowing into the canal, and the other Elsan was an hour away on foot or by boat (and was locked when we got there.)
  • Wanting to visit Oxford but finding the moorings all ’24hrs only’ so having to retreat to Kidlington if we wanted to actually settle somewhere for our LEGALLY ALLOWED two weeks (there’s talk of doing this in more areas now, Berkhamsted included, making yet more ‘places’ unlivable for Continuous Cruisers).

This is just a small amount of the difficulties that we’ve come across as Continuous Cruisers and they are ongoing. We’ve currently come up the Lea because we a) really like Hertford and b) want to fulfil the terms of our licence but there is nowhere to empty our toilet within an hour’s radius of where we are currently moored. We are also two able-bodied people who are lucky enough to work from the boat for the majority of the time meaning we don’t need to be tied to one place. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the disabled or ill or those with children of school age who are no longer allowed to cruise within a commutable distance to their school.

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I got a bit ranty for a while there and forgot to do any pictures so here’s a funny-looking duck.

People who don’t like Continuous Cruisers (or who are smug CCers themselves) argue that there are plenty of facilities if you just move far enough to find them. Well we’re movin’ and facilities we ain’t seein’. They also say that, if you can’t comply with the rules, you shouldn’t move onto a boat. Which is fine until the rules change so often that you don’t know whether you can comply with them or not from one year to the next. It’s not like you can be happily working, child-rearing and doing an acceptable cruising pattern around your desired location, only to read that the CC rules have changed and then suddenly have enough money to move into a house near your job or child’s school. It is hard not to feel like Continuous Cruisers are having their lives deliberately made harder in order to drive them out, either into CRT-owned marinas or off the canals completely to free up supposedly-protected land to sell off to developers. Either way, CRT stands to gain financially and the canals are kept ‘clean’, ‘tidy’ and ‘free of poor people’.

I don’t know what the solution to the busyness of the canals is, except to suggest that simply adding more facilities might help people spread out a bit more instead of clustering and shuffling around the places where they can find the things they need to, you know, live. As to CRT’s motives and financial dealings, I don’t know enough as yet to say what is truth and what is conspiracy theory. I only know that I don’t believe Continuous Cruisers are the problem we are made out to be and I increasingly suspect that we are simply subject to the same sort of prejudice as any sort of traveller has been since the dawn of time.

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AKA We don’t have to pay bills and get to enjoy views like this and y’all are just jealous.

(You can disregard this all now).

 

War.

A few weeks ago we went to see some stand-up courtesy of Joel Sanders, aka The Angry Boater. It was funny, of course, and enjoyable in the way only 1.5 hours of niche comedy directed exclusively at your interests can be. But most of all, it made me feel better. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

Alone in being very, very angry.

I didn’t use to be an angry person. My angriness materialised over the past couple of years. Some might say that this coincides with moving onto a boat. Or adopting the World’s Maddest Dog.

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WMD.

But I, and only I (and maybe Ed), know the true root cause of my anger. That cause is: Cyclists.

Not just any cyclists. I’m talking mad, speeding, arrogant flesh bags of entitlement on two canal-side wheels. I’m talking Towpath Cyclists.

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THESE BASTARDS.

Oh Towpath Cyclists, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

(It’s five. There are five ways).

Way 1 – I hate thee on narrow sections of towpath

Let’s get one thing straight, cyclists. Pedestrians have right of way on towpaths. Okay? It’s as simple as that. Boaters are even more important than regular pedestrians since we are HISTORIC and AN ATTRACTION and ACTUALLY PAY TOWARDS THE UPKEEP OF THE TOWPATH VIA THE LICENSES WE PAY FOR WITH OUR (possibly) HARD-EARNED BOATER MONEY.

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Artist’s impression.

You know where that places you in the hierarchy of towpath importance, cyclists? At least third, that’s where. And even then, canal birds are pretty important.

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That’s why ducks always tag the towpath.

Unfortunately, some cyclists do not know how low down they are in the pecking order.

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Pecking order!

Some cyclists believe that pedestrians, boaters and ducks have to get out of their stupid lycra-clad way on sections of towpath where there isn’t enough room to cycle around us.

THIS IS AN ERRONEOUS BELIEF, CYCLISTS.

Case Study 1: Posh lady, Old Ford Lock, Victoria Park

Last week, Ed and I were walking Skipper back from Victoria Park. On the way back we passed Old Ford Lock. At this point on the canal, the towpath narrows as it passes between the facilities block and the lock. As we walked through this bit of towpath, a cyclist approached behind us.

Now, I have a fairly complicated set of rules a cyclist must follow in order not to anger me. One of these rules is: if the towpath isn’t wide enough, tough. Wait. If you do not wait or, worse, if you attempt to tell me to get out of the way even when there is no place for me to get out of your way in, I will do as much as possible to get in your way as I am physically able to.

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That’s what happened with this particular woman who refused slow down and wait until the towpath widened and so witnessed just how much of an obstacle I can be.

When she finally was able to get round us, she turned as she cycled past and informed us “You simply MUST GET OUT OF THE WAY.”

It was okay though because, in return, I politely informed her of the actual rules of towpath cycling.

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It was like this, but with fewer words and more of them were expletives.

Way 2 – I hate thee in tunnels

Guess what cyclists!? Tunnels under bridges are still… you got it! STILL TOWPATH. STILL PEDESTRIAN RIGHT OF WAY.

Which means it is not okay to cycle through them at high speeds regardless of how many Carlis and their dogs are currently walking through them already.

If you cycle through a tunnel at high speed without bothering to check if I am in there already, you know what’s going to happen?

That’s right!

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ARE WE LEARNING YET, CYCLISTS?

Case Study 2: Grumpy Old Scottish Man, Tunnel Underneath Mile End Road, Mile End

Earlier this week, I was walking Skipper through the short tunnel that goes under Mile End Road. When I was already halfway through the tunnel I saw a runner coming towards the entrance. That’s okay, I thought, we can Share the Space. Anyway, runners tend to be less aggressive because Skipper can catch them more easily.

However before said runner had a chance to even enter the tunnel, a cyclist swerved round him and came straight towards me at fairly high speed.

So, naturally…

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Repetition is the key to learning, cyclists!

As well as making full use of my limbs to get in as much of his way as possible, I also added “There’s not really much room in here, is there? Perhaps it would have been better if you’d waited.”

To which he replied, “Well ask them to make it wider then.”

What!? What grumpy old Scottish man!? What are you talking about? Ask who to make it wider? Who do you think I am?? I am not Boris Johnson or Mrs. Canal & River Trust. I have no influence over these matters. If I did, YOU’D BE BANNED FOR A START.

Way 3 – I hate thee’s unecessary out-loud music??

People who can play music out loud in public: Buskers.

People who cannot play music out loud in public: Everyone else.

Cyclists who play outloud music while they cycle around are Bad People in the way that people who play outloud music on public transport are Bad People. No one wants to hear your music. Stop it.

Case Study 3: Unidentified cyclist, Mile End, 6am

In Mile End there is a cyclist who goes along the towpath blaring music out loud at 6am. EVERY. MORNING.

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Way 4 – I hate thee cycling past dogs at high speed

I hate thee cycling at high speed on the towpath at all but most of all please do not do this past people with dogs. You have no idea whether that person’s dog is a nervous one and whether you zooming past might terrify them into dragging their poor owners into the canal.

You also have no idea whether that person’s dog might have a history of eating rabbits’ heads completely whole and whether you zooming past might make you look like a particularly big rabbit on wheels who might be super fun to chase and whose head could definitely be eaten in at least two bits if not entirely whole.

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You just never know.

Way 5 – I hate thee’s BLOODY BELLS

My views on cyclists’ bells are also fairly complex but easy to grasp for the initiated.

They are as follows:

1-3 rings of your bell: ACCEPTABLE. I understand why you have bells, even if a lot of you don’t. Bells are for letting people know you are coming so that we don’t accidentally walk into you or so that we know you’re about to come round a corner or enter a tunnel (FYI if you get there first, I will wait for you to come through. Because that’s MANNERS).

4+ rings of your bell accompanied by “MOVE” or “GET OUT OF THE WAY” or, worse, a cheery “COMING THROUGH!”: UNACCEPTABLE. I repeat: If there’s no room. Tough. Wait. Bells are not for making people get out of your way. I do not have to get out of your way. I will not get out of your way. If you ring your bell at me four or more times I will get very much in your way.

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You won’t be ‘coming through’, as it happens!

 


 

So there you have it. Those are all the ways in which I hate thee, towpath cyclists.  If you are one such offender, please learn from this. Please slow down and stop expecting people to get out of your way. Please stop playing music out loud. Please learn how to use your bells properly. Please just stop everything you’re doing and start doing everything differently. Otherwise we, the rightful towpath kings, cannot be held responsible for our actions.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously I am aware that ‘not all cyclists…’ in the same way that ‘not all men…’. So don’t worry, it’s not all of you I hate.

Just most of you.

 

 

A Fortnight To London

 

As those of you who know us might have realised, we’ve been ‘heading back to London in about a week or so’ for five months now. There are many reasons for this. The reasons are four-fold.

Reason Number One – Thamesphobia and The Stoppage That Never Was

When we first bought Albion it was still winter and so there were a fair few stoppages taking place on the canal (non-boaters: a stoppage is when a bit of the canal gets closed off for maintenance). One of these was on the Grand Union at Milton Keynes. Since we needed to pass through here to get to London from our starting point of Stowe Hill, we were in a bit of a pickle.

We decided that, since we’re both working from home now and not tied to the city anyway, we would avoid the Milton Keynes stoppage by going down the Oxford Canal and heading back into London on the Thames. We planned to do this over one two-week trip.

That took up the first three months.

One small hour-long drive for a car, ONE GIANT QUARTER OF A YEAR TRIP FOR BOATKIND!

One small hour-long drive for a car, ONE GIANT QUARTER-OF-A-YEAR TRIP FOR BOATKIND!

By the time we reached Oxford and looked into the logistics of travelling into London along the Thames, we realised that it would actually cost less in diesel to just go all the way back up to Northampton and down the Grand Union to London than it would be to buy the gold license you need to take your boat on the river (and to pay to moor up each night, which it looked like you had to do on the Thames).

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People who have boats on the Thames, apparently.

I have to admit, making this decision was easy for me because I was terrified of taking our little boat on the river anyway.

NOPE.

NOPE.

Funny story: Halfway to Oxford we also realised that – since it took so long to complete all the work we needed to do on the boat in the end – by the time we’d set off, the stoppage would have been over anyway. Lol!

Lol.

Lol.

Reason Number Two – We Accidentally Got a Dog

One of the things that made our trip down to Oxford so much longer was the dog that accidentally joined us halfway through.

"OH HI I LIVE HERE NOW!"

“OH HI I LIVE HERE NOW!”

When I say accidentally, I half mean it. We had always planned to get a dog ever since we decided to buy our own boat (we had always wanted pets but had never owned our own property before). At first we wanted a cat but, after seeing the amount of ‘drowned cat’ posts on the London Boaters Facebook group, we decided a dog would be a better choice.

Being the sensible creatures that we are though, we decided to wait until we’d been on Albion for a while to ensure that were settled and used to all the boat’s quirks before we took on a new challenge.

Except then one day I looked at the Dogs Trust Rehoming site.

How could we resist? Except by being normal mature adults?

How could we resist?? Except by being normal mature adults??

There’d be no harm in just going to have a look, we said. They probably won’t even let us rehome a dog on a boat, we said.

Two weeks later we were en route to pick up our new crew member, Skipper.

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11036257_10101616134630655_4614051092777787521_n And we haven’t regretted it once. Apart from on the first night when she peed on our bed, or the initial two-month period where she point blank refused to get on the boat without being carried, or the time she chewed the handles off our chest of drawers, or the time she ate an entire loaf of fresh giraffe bread after I HAD JUST BOUGHT IT.

This added ages onto our journey since we had to spend loads of time settling her in. Still, three months on and she’s a boat dog through and through. She sits on the roof of the boat when we move and, since she’s a lurcher (half greyhound/half collie), she sleeps for 80% of the day. Just like I do.

A nap is no good without a nap buddy.

It’s not a nap if you don’t have a nap buddy.

Reason Number Three – The Oil Watergate Scandal

Living on Albion has by no means been plain sailing (no, it’s not a pun. We don’t sail, we navigate). Getting used to a significantly-reduced living space has been hard, our fridge wouldn’t work for ages and our hot water system has been temperamental at best.

Still, these were all things we could get used to or fix. Water getting into the engine however, required Professionals.

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We only have amateur-level overalls.

Turns out it was a good job we didn’t go on the Thames as, one day journeying back up the Oxford Canal, the engine suddenly starting cutting out at low revs, sending us drifting – unpowered – down the canal (if anyone saw me drive straight into the wall of that lock, THIS IS WHY). Then the oil pressure gauge dropped dramatically.

I won’t go into the technical details (largely because I don’t know what they are) but the long and short of it was that water was getting into the oil in the engine. Since this can destroy the internal workings of your engine, we could no longer continue. We were stranded.

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Luckily, with the combined help of the positively angelic James Hoare and Keith Duffy on Facebook and Tom from River Canal Rescue, the engine was fixed up just enough to get us back to our Alma Pater, Robbie at Stowe Hill Wharf.

Positive things: Being back at Stowe Hill meant we were able to get the engine fixed, the boat blacked and amazing new solar panels fitted by the wonderful Matt from Old Friends Canal Services.

Negative things: Not only did we have to borrow a lot of money to do all of this, we were also now four months into our trip yet had only managed to make it as far as right where we started.

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 Reason Number Four – The London Conundrum

Though we had initially planned to return to London (or thereabouts) with Albion, the past few months have had us questioning our decision. On the one hand, our friends, social lives and work opportunities are in London. On the other hand, London sucks.

Rammed-tube1

NOPE AGAIN.

Everything’s too expensive, the tubes are packed, the streets are packed and – worse – the canals are so overpacked we don’t even know if we’ll be able to moor up when we get there.

That being said, we do need to be able to commute in easily for various reasons and the Oxford/upper reaches of the GU have not been ideal for this (up until literally this week, getting into London has meant a four-hour round trip and extortionate train fares that would be better spent on buying fun dog toys that I like more than the dog does).

IT'S A GIANT JAMMY DODGER.

IT’S A GIANT JAMMY DODGER!?

So, while we are heading back into London for a bit, it’s really for a change of scenery from the remoteness of the Oxford and we’ll probably spend the rest of the summer exploring the Stort and going back up the Grand Union again.

After all, what’s the point of living on a boat if you’re not going to discover what lies on the nearest easily-commutable-distance-from-London-with-plenty-of-shops-and-boating-facilities horizon?

Adventure is Rickmansworth.

Adventure is Rickmansworth.

 

The Journey So Far

Remember when I said we’d be moving on to Albion in ‘about a week and a half’?

"Hahahah good one, past Carli!"

“Hahahah good one, past Carli!”

In reality, Albion is still not finished and we weren’t actually able to move in for a good three weeks.

HOWEVER, she is now fully liveable in…able. The bedroom under the tug deck was completed a few weeks ago, the bathroom is pretty much done bar some finishing touches and the living room is finally white after 11 coats of crap B&Q paint (do not buy crap B&Q paint).

Trust me.

Trust me.

However there’s still loads we want to do and, with that in mind, I’m saving my ‘Albion: Before, During and After’ pictures post until we’ve really properly finished (although if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen a few snaps there).

Instead, I’ve got a bit of an update about where we’ve been so far.

Oxfordshire

Where we’ve been so far.

With only superficial work to be done and the assistance of professional builders no longer required, we left the comforting womb of Stowe Hill Marina two weeks ago and set off into the abandoned wilderness that is the Oxford Canal, home to sheep, more sheep, red brick bridges, more red brick bridges and never ever any phone signal.

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Believe it or not these are all different bridges.

This same stretch was actually just featured on Great Canal Journeys, the Timothy West and Prunella Scales boating programme. This has been very exciting for us, not least because I have been doing some of the steering and recently managed to get into a diamond lock that made even the experienced Timothy West do a little crash.


Like. A. Boss.

I’m more than a little proud of this, especially as Ed’s always been the designated driver due to superior unpanicking skills.

Now that we own our own boat though, we decided that we should take it in turns to be skipper and so far I’ve managed to steer us out of some pretty sticky situations, such as the time we became grounded on a shallow bit of canal and nearly capsized until I saved the day with some expert tiller manoeuvring (Ed might have been simultaneously pushing us off the side with a barge pole, I don’t know, I was too busy saving the day). Or the time when another boat came round a corner so quickly that he didn’t leave himself enough time to turn and a crash was only avoided by my selfless decision to ground our boat on the side of the canal in order to get out of the way.

"It sort of sounds an awful lot like Carli just runs the boat aground every time she takes the tiller" - IDIOTS MIGHT THINK.

“It sort of sounds an awful lot like Carli just runs the boat aground every time she takes the tiller.” – IDIOTS MIGHT THINK.

The Oxford Canal itself is part beautiful and part pretty weird, in that we’ve been treated to lots of beautiful scenery but we’ve seen some pretty weird stuff too.

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Like the time we discovered a skinned deer carcass on the towpath and initially thought it was a person.

We even braved the terrifying 1,867m Braunston Tunnel:

When I say ‘braved’ I mean Ed braved the tunnel and I hid inside making a timelapse video and only crying a little bit maybe once.

The Oxford is also pretty remote. Unlike the Grand Union, towns with shops and internet signal are few and far between so our original route keeps altering. Unfortunately I need the internet to work from home so we’ve been forced to move on several times from places we’d like to have stopped for longer.

HOW DO PEOPLE LIVE HERE?

HOW DO PEOPLE LIVE HERE?

Even the places we thought would be ideal have turned out to be the opposite. For example, we had planned to stay in Banbury for a couple of weeks to give us time to settle down and have good access to trains into London. My mum lives nearby and it’s a pretty town. We thought it would be nice.

Sadly, it was not. On account of the little shits.

We’re used to little shits on the canal, having spent our first boating year in London, but the ones in Banbury are somehow even worse. Instead of doing anything solid like actually mugging you, they just race up and down the towpath on their expensive BMX bikes, sporting 2004’s emo haircuts and calling everyone twozzas.

What language are you even speaking?

What language are you even speaking?

They’re all so painfully middle class that it’s 100x more annoying, especially because you know that — instead of lurking around shopping centres after closing time (yeah I see you smoking weed behind Debenhams) — they probably do have better things they could be doing.

Oh shut up and go home to the £400 PlayStation you definitely have.

Oh shut up and go home to the £400 PlayStation you definitely have.

On our first night in Banbury, the steam from the cooker kept setting the fire alarm off so we had to open the hatch onto the towpath. Within minutes, one LS had poked his head through the door. When Ed politely asked if we could help him, he panicked and raced off on his bike, yelling insults over his swiftly retreating shoulder.

It wasn’t until Ed went to lock up later that night that we realised they’d returned and untied the back of the boat in retaliation, setting us adrift across the canal. It wasn’t very dangerous, it didn’t do any damage, it was just really really annoying and made me want to shake my fist and clip people round the ear and other such irritable elderly person habits.

"You come back here you little shit, I'll give you what for!"

“You come back here you little shit, I’ll set your face adrift!”

And while you’re being attacked by youths from the towpath, your boat is constantly being attacked from the other side by retired boating boy racers.

This wasn’t just a problem in Banbury, this is all over the Oxford. While we tend to pass moored boats at a slow tickover (because, goddammit, if a sign tells me to do something, I’ll do it), these Golden Age boaters zoom around as though they’re afraid they might not actually make it to the end of their journey. I’ve lost count of the times our little boat has been rocked so hard by speeding oldies that it’s knocked over all my new pot plants.

ThumbHyacinth_Bucket

BOATING HAS TURNED ME INTO HYACINTH BUCKET.

Thankfully we’ve settled for a while on the outskirts of Oxford and hope to help the pot plants recover from this traumatic journey and once more piece together the semblance of a normal life.

For the time being you can keep your eyes peeled for us in your local Ikea and hopefully I can share our finished interior pictures soon.

 

Boating for the Sometimes Image Conscious – or, I can’t be the only one who gets annoyed when I break a nail

All boaters are boaty. But some boaters are more boaty than others.

The precise constitution of boatiness is often under fierce debate by the online canal community; “Oh you’ve been on your boat 10 years? Well I’ve been on mine 11 and a half!”

“11 and a half? I’ve been on 50 years!”

“50 years? Is that all? I came sailing out of my mother’s womb on a one-foot traditional working boat!”

"Who are you calling unboaty??"

“Who are you calling unboaty??”

Or, “Leaving lock paddles up is most unboaty.”

“Agreed, I always put lock paddles down everywhere I go unless instructed not to by a small laminated CRT notice.”

“You just do them everywhere you go? I frequently walk from one end of London to the other putting every single lock paddle down unless instructed not to by a small laminated CRT notice.”

“Just London? I once walked the length and breadth of the UK carrying my narrowboat on my back and putting down every single paddle on every lock even when people were in the middle of using them. And then I swam to the Netherlands and did the same thing. Unless instructed not to by a small laminated CRT notice, of course.”

You get the point.

"NO, I'M BOATACUS!"

“NO, I’M BOATACUS!”

However, the one thing that seems to be deemed the most unboaty of all is daintiness, or the appearance of not being willing to get your hands dirty. This is fair enough, boating is a fairly ‘get stuck in’ way of life and you can only be so dainty when you’re emptying your poo into a hole. The problem I have is that there seems to be a need to display this dogged ruggedness at all times, to prove that you’ve been the most covered in your own poo out of all of the boaters or that you’ve inhaled so much coal dust your very internal organs are made of diamonds.

This seems particularly to apply to lady boaters, who have to go even further to prove that they’re not too ladylike to mop up an overflowing cassette with their best dress once in a while because who needs clothes!? Strong, independent lady boaters are often celebrated in the community but there’s a vague feeling that (for some people) the ideal ‘strong lady boater’ is a woman who is not bothered about makeup and nice clothes and other frivolous things like that, the sort of lady who can easily heft five cassettes up to the elsan on her pinky and not give a damn about how many nails she breaks on the way.

I once read a comment on a canal forum from a gentleman boater deriding a young female whom he had overheard on the towpath wistfully dreaming of life on a boat. “But what if you broke a nail, dear?” he had snidely remarked (over the internet of course, not to her face).

Well you know what, old men of the internet? Sometimes breaking a nail is really annoying.

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TELL ME THIS ISN’T ANNOYING.

It’s especially annoying when good nails can be part of your job.

Just to clarify, my job title isn’t Professionally Vain (I’m only at amateur level). It’s just that I work as an actress, and commercial castings often specify good hands and nails. They also specify other things like, ‘Not covered in coal dust’ or ‘Preferably no remains of own excrement on clothes’ so I often have to disembark from my vessel looking reasonably well put together. And it’s not just for my job either, some days I just want to look all right.

The sad thing is, on these days I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed to be seen climbing carefully off my boat in heels, or shuffling around the sides of the boat trying not to get my outfit dirty. “Look at the unboaty one!” I expect to hear from all around. “She should not live on a boat if she wants to wear heels and makeup sometimes!”

"Whatever you're doing there, those are not the right shoes to be doing it in!"

“Whatever you’re doing there, those are not the right shoes to be doing it in!”

Sali Hughes made the ‘Feminism and Beauty’ argument far better than I ever could so you should read that instead. I’d just like to stand up for those of us who want to live on a boat but also look nice on some days, so here are my top tips on…

Boating for the Sometimes Image Conscious

1) Hands and Nails – Since I’ve talked about breaking nails so much, I’ll start with that. I knew that we’d be cold on the boat so my nails would probably get dry and break easily (as they do most winters) but I didn’t anticipate things like a hot stove burning the tip off my nail or the damaging effect of constantly handling cold, wet ropes. Here I am guilty of not taking my own advice because my nails are currently crap but, if you do happen to be a hand model moving on to a boat, I would recommend wearing gloves at all times and investing in a hardcore hand cream.

2) Hair – One thing I did not foresee about moving onto a boat was having to give up my hairdryer because it drains our battery too much. I replaced it with a low wattage travel hairdryer but that only dries and does nothing to stop my hair and fringe turning into the sort of voluminous, un-styled bob that should only be seen on a page boy from the Dark Ages.

It's astonishing how rarely I get sent for 'medieval child' castings.

It’s astonishing how rarely I get sent for ‘medieval child’ castings.

If you want your boaty hair to blow sleek and beautiful in the wind as you cruise round the canals, I recommend getting a smoothing leave-in cream to tame your locks because your travel hairdryer certainly ain’t gonna do it. I also just found out you can get wireless travel straighteners too so will be purchasing some of those ASAP.

3) Skin – It’s only been recently brought to my attention that burning certain types of cheaper coal might cause your skin to break out. I’m not sure I’ve experienced this but I do know that coal dust gets everywhere and that touching your face with coaly hands probably won’t be great for the complexion. Make sure you have a meticulous cleansing routine to get the Industrial Revolution off your face before you go to bed.

4) Clothes – Some girls have Winter and Summer wardrobes. I have Clothes and Crap Boat Clothes. I underestimated how deliciously filthy I’d get clambering over the boat and scaling lock ladders so now I keep some clothes set aside for general boating and other, cleaner garments set aside for auditions and non-boating activities where people understand less why you’re covered in moss.

5) General Hygiene – When water usage is so restricted, long luxurious showers are pretty much off-limits. I highly recommend that you MAXIMISE YOUR SHOWER TIME. You often have to run the water a little before it heats up so use that time to do a bit of washing up and then you’ll be stepping into a nice, hot shower. Leave conditioner to soak in while you shave your legs. Hire a professional leg shaver to do it for you while you shampoo. Whatever you need to do. It’s also wise to accept that you’ll probably be showering less than you might in a house so baby wipes and dry shampoo are an absolute must.

That’s all I can think of for the time being but feel free to get in touch with tips if you’re a SIC (Sometimes Image Conscious) boater too. And remember, it doesn’t matter what you look like. If you want to wear makeup, fine. If you don’t that’s fine too. Do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable and happy but for God’s sake don’t forget to put lock paddles down (unless instructed not to by a small laminated CRT notice).

 

Bring Out Another Thousand

There’s been a lot of press for boating recently, largely concerning the lifestyle’s popularity with young people looking for a cheap way to live.

And also because it’s pretty cool.

At this juncture I googled 'hipster' to prove a point but found my screen suddenly and inexplicably filled with pictures of myself. I dunno.

At this juncture I googled ‘hipster’ to prove a point but found my screen suddenly and inexplicably filled with pictures of myself. I dunno.

Admittedly, renting a boat is cheaper than renting a flat in London but since that venture often comes with various life-threatening side effects depending on how conscientious your waterlord is, I’ll leave that topic for the meantime and focus on Buying a Boat. Which is what We Did.

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This boat! This beautiful, beautiful boat. Have I mentioned yet that we bought this excellent boat?

Buying a boat is decidedly Not Cheap. Yes, okay, it’s cheaper than buying a house but it comes with all sorts of hidden costs like Anti-Sinking Repairs and Getting Rid Of That Weird Engine Noise Callout Fees. None of which are mentioned in the ‘Boats are really cool!’ articles because rooting around in a gungy bilge trying to find which bit of your engine fell off isn’t so cool, I guess.

So I thought I’d write a little bit about what buying a boat actually costs, to save you collecting all those stripy tops and getting that anchor tattooed on your head just yet.

Firstly, before you can buy the boat of your dreams, it’s really recommended that you get a survey done to make sure your new home doesn’t sink two minutes into its maiden voyage.

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I don’t know if it comes across, but sinking is really high on my list of general concerns.

From what we could see, a full survey can cost anywhere between £300 and £500 (if anyone’s interested, we opted for Michael Clarke at Northern Star Marine who was lovely and thorough and helpful and should be hired immediately to survey everything in your life to make sure it won’t sink).

He could have prevented this.

He could have prevented this.

In order to have a full survey, you’ll need to take your dreamboat out of the water so its hull can be properly tested. Depending on whether you do this in a dry dock or lift it out of the water with a crane, this too can cost anywhere between £150 and £300.

This sort of crane won't work.  For anything less than £10,000 a day, darling.

This sort of crane won’t work.
For anything less than £10,000 a day, darling.

Hurray! Your dreamboat passed its survey! Don’t sail away just yet though, you’re going to need insurance for that sexy 11-tonnes of steel, just in case…

YOU KNOW WHY.

YOU KNOW WHY.

I do have to admit the insurance wasn’t actually anywhere near as expensive as I’d imagined BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. You didn’t think you could just waltz around on the canals willy nilly without contributing to society, did you?

Boaters: historically big on contributing to society.

Boaters: historically big on contributing to society.

No, no madam or sir, you also now have to pay for a Canal & River Trust license to give you permission to rove the British inland waterways without being hung, drawn and quartered or being forced to get a giant black ‘P’ tattoo.

Or worse, a Black Eyed Peas tattoo,

Or worse, a giant Black Eyed Peas tattoo.

And that’s before you take into account any building work you might want to have done. Boat building is a specialist skill and doesn’t (or shouldn’t) come cheap.

Oh also, just before you sail off to apologise to your bank manager, have you bought a windlass?

A BW key?

Mooring pins?

Spare rope?                       A coal bucket?                       An Ecofan?               A tool box?

Elsan blue?      Fenders?                        A carbon monoxide alarm?

Coal?                            A poker?                                             A tippy?

Kindling?                                                A chimney brush?

Grease?

A mallet?

A novelty tiller pin (compulsory)?

There’s one saying that’s been repeated to us a few times since we bought Albion: “Do you know what BOAT stands for?”

“Bring Out Another Thousand.”

Introducing Albion

When we first decided to buy a boat, we made up our minds that we didn’t want too much of a challenge to start out with. Keeping a modern boat running is hard enough as it is, so the maintenance and expertise required to run a traditional boat seemed all a bit too much for our very first purchase.

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“WE’RE GOING FOR SIMPLE AND EASY TO USE, GUYS.”

We decided that it was best to go for a fairly new build with an easy-to-run modern engine much like the one we have now, and about 45-foot of well laid-out living space.

Meet Albion — the 1980 51-foot traditional tug style narrowboat with a vintage Petter PH2W 2-cylinder engine that we actually bought:

Plans be damned, she's beautiful!

Plans be damned, she’s beautiful!

As it turned out, we didn’t want a modern narrowboat at all. The more boats we looked at — and we saw some lovely ones — the more we realised we actually wanted something with a bit more history and character. Albion popped up on the second day of our online search and seemed too good to be true. She’s the perfect blend of old and new; though not precisely a historic boat, from the research we’ve done it seems that she did used to be a working boat before being lengthened into the shape she is today. It’s going to be a whole new learning curve for us but we think it’ll be worth it to own something that bit more special.

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That being said, ask me how I’m getting on with the engine in a few months.

Luckily for us, the previous owner has fitted her out really nicely inside too:

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All picture credit goes to our lovely brokers, Rugby Boats, by the by. If you’re thinking of buying a boat, I would highly recommend them. Or even if you’re not thinking about buying a boat you should buy a boat from them anyway.

There is a bit of work to be done on her still. At the moment the sleeping space is a replica of a traditional boatman’s cabin with a fold-down bed which, while lovely…

Look! Really cool.

Look! Lovely.

…is a little less practical for the two of us, so we’re going to have the space under the front deck converted into a bedroom.

These are the official technical plans sent over by our boat builder.

The official technical plan drawn up by our boat builder.

We’re also going to have to get used to a bit less space than the modern 65-footer we have now. While Albion is actually about the length we were looking for, she is narrower and smaller inside than some other boats we’d looked at. Still, she will (should) be easier to move round and easier to moor up than our current behemoth and she’s just the nicest looking boat we’d seen — inside and out. All this should make up for the amount of clothes I’m going to have to throw away and the fact that I’ll only be able to have one friend over at a time.

"DO YOU LIKE MY NEW HOME? No the others can't come in yet, it's one in one out."

“DO YOU LIKE MY NEW HOME? No the others can’t come in yet, it’s one in one out.”

Anyway, all joking aside we are absolutely over the moon to be the proud new owners of such a unique and beautiful boat and we can’t wait to move aboard.

Updates on building work soon!

How to tell if you’re a boater.

We’ve been livin’ la vida boater for eight months now!

Naturally this means I now know absolutely everything there is to know about boating, including how to tell when you are (or are not) a boater.

Do you suspect you might be a boater? Check my list to find out.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.07.561. You live on a boat. 

We'll start out easy.

We’ll start out easy.

2. Answering the question ‘Where do you live?’ always results in an hour-long conversation.  

"You live on a boat? Like one of those long ones? Where is it based? You move every two weeks?? Why do you live on a boat? ISN'T IT COLD?!"

“You live on a boat? Like one of those long ones in Camden? Where is it based? You move every two weeks?? Why do you live on a boat? ISN’T IT COLD?!”

 3. Coal fire season kicks in and suddenly your idea of ‘clean’ is not like other people’s idea of ‘clean’. 

"THAT'LL DO."

“THAT’LL DO.”

4. Your idea of speeding is also a bit different from other people’s idea of speeding.

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5. You can always tell when Winter Is Coming.

You know you’re a normal person if you realise that winter is coming when you step out of the front door and see your breath in the air for the first time that year.

Pictured: normal person.

Pictured: normal person experiencing winter.

You know you’re a boater if you realise that winter is coming when you wake up in bed and see your breath in the air for the first time that year.

Pictured: boater.

Pictured: boater experiencing winter.

6. In fact, you are far more in tune with the weather in general. Particularly when it’s windy.

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7. Annoying neighbours are a thing of the past.

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8. ‘Moving house’ takes on a whole new meaning. 

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9. Trees suddenly become even more attractive than they were before. 

All you can see is Warmth Potential.

All you can see is Warmth Potential.

10. You’re considering being really naughty in the lead-up to Christmas because you could really do with the coal. 

"Excuse me Santa, is this Excel?"

“Excuse me Santa, is this Excel?”

11. You have, at some point, worried about both paper cuts and rat urine in the same sentence. 

Also about how to pronounce 'Weil's'.

Also about how to pronounce ‘Weil’s’.

12. Much of your life revolves around poo. 

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13. You have become really good at fixing things for yourself. 

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Mostly.

14. You have also become really adept at looking like you know what you’re doing when actually you have no idea what you’re doing. 

"YEP THIS ALL SEEMS CORRECT."

“YEP THIS ALL SEEMS CORRECT.”

15. Lastly, you know precisely how it feels to both completely hate and utterly love where you live at exactly the same time. 

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The End.

Towpath Laws

I don’t know if it’s because we’re currently neighbouring the (actually very lovely) Angry Boater and his angriness is contagious, but I’ve been getting a lot of Towpath Rage lately.

Essentially the problem is that the towpath is not exclusively used by boaters. Instead, at some point in time some idiot had the stupid idea to make it accessible to the general public as well. The result being that it is now filled with people talking too loudly on their phone, overexcited teenagers, awful awful cyclists, more-important-than-you businessmen, screaming kids and just all-round morons.

As I said, the general public.

As I said, the general public.

Luckily for everyone involved, I have come up with a series of foolproof laws which, if everyone follows them, will make the towpath a much safer and lovelier place for me.

As set out by me on September 5th 2014 to make my life easier and bring down towpath cyclists once and for all.

As set out by me on September 6th 2014 to make my life easier and to bring down towpath cyclists once and for all.

1. CYCLISTS: Thou shalt not be terrible people. This is just pretty good advice for cyclists in general but, if I must elaborate: A) Stop speeding on the towpath. It is not a cycling highway and you do not have right of way. If you have ever cycled too fast down the towpath then I’m sorry to break it you but everyone in the world thinks you are a bastard. B) Bicycle bells are for warning people that you’re coming round a corner, through a tunnel or under a bridge. THEY ARE NOT FOR FORCING PEOPLE TO GET OUT OF YOUR STUPID LYCRA-CLAD WAY. Again, pedestrians have right of way on the towpath so, if you ring your bell at me one more time, I will follow you around and ring a bell in your ear for the rest of your life.

You have been warned.

You have been warned.

2. RUNNERS: Thou shalt not act like cyclists on legs. It’s not just cyclists who seem to think they own the towpath (they don’t, FYI, I do. Hence all the laws). Plenty of runners act super impatient when regular old unimportant pedestrians fail to dive out of their way too. The other day in Victoria Park, a lady jogger ran right at me then yelled ‘HELLO’ when I didn’t move. This lady was a Bad Person.

Marathon runners

WHATEVER LADY, ENJOY YOUR FREAKISHLY MUSCULAR LEGS.

3. PEOPLE ON THE TOWPATH: Thou shalt not talk to me while I am enjoying peaceful leisure activities on the outside of my boat. I honestly don’t mind talking to people about the boat. If I’m standing around waiting for a lock to fill up, it can be quite nice to chat to friendly and genuinely curious people. When I am reading at the front of the boat or sunbathing on the roof however, questions, cat-calling and comments such as “READING ON A BOAT ARE YA?” (or the particularly excellent “Is that your boat or can anyone sit there?”) are UNWELCOME.

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It is the equivalent of me poking my head over your garden fence and asking how much your house is worth.

4. TEENAGERS: Thou shalt not scream unnecessarily. I’ve been a teenage girl. I know that screaming is sometimes a necessary method of communication. But please, teenagers of London, stop doing it next to the canal at midnight or I’m going to have to assume you’re being murdered. I can think of at least three separate occasions when we have (Ed has) had to venture out into the darkness to make sure said screamer is okay, only to find idiot teenagers messing about on the towpath.

fangirls-blog

If you must scream, please suffix it with “Don’t worry Carli I’m not being attacked, it’s just that I’ve just seen a member of One Direction and I’m an idiot!”

5. PARENTS: Thou shalt not do parenting next to my bedroom window at 7 a.m. Talking of screaming, aren’t kids just the worst? While I am a big fan of parents who don’t give into tantrums, I would prefer it if they did this at home as opposed to on the towpath while I am trying to sleep.

I don't care if its the school run, I don't have to get up until 9 because I was clever enough to not have kids.

I don’t care if its the school run, I don’t have to get up until 9 because I was clever enough to not have kids.

6. DOG WALKERS: Thou shalt also shut up. Another one on the noise offenders list, dog walkers seem to think it’s okay to yell their disobedient dog’s name repeatedly on their 6 a.m. morning walk along the towpath.

That was only cool when it was Fenton.

That was only cool when it was Fenton.

7. LOUD PHONE TALKERS: Thou shalt not shout thou’s credit card details out loud down thou’s mobile when walking past boats. I kid you not, this has happened at least three times already. I can only assume that people forget there are boaters living inside narrowboats and those boaters have ears. Luckily for these people I was too moral to note down their details and steal all their money.

If you ever want to make a ton of cash, just get a narrowboat and sit inside with a pen and a notepad.

Plus I couldn’t find a pen and paper in time.

8. LOUD TALKERS IN GENERAL: Thou shalt not forget that boats have ears. It’s not just credit card details, people loudly share all sorts of personal information while strolling the towpath. For example, the other night we were regaled with the tale of someone’s 85-year old grandma who had done the ice bucket challenge and died.

I DON'T NEED TO HEAR STORIES THAT MAKE ME SAD BEFORE BEDTIME.

I DO NOT NEED TO HEAR STORIES THAT MAKE ME SAD BEFORE BEDTIME.

9. OVERLY CONFIDENT GONGOOZLERS: Thou shalt not climb on people’s boats. This really ought to go without saying but I am a little shocked at the amount of people who see a boat and think ‘Yes I am definitely now going to get on that.’ I’ve had a guy stop and ask me questions about the boat as I was tying up who then climbed aboard and took a peek through our front door while I was talking. I watched a bunch of besuited office idiots (presumably on some godawful ‘team bonding’ exercise) running up to boats, jumping on to take a picture then jumping off again. Yesterday I even watched two teenage girls climb onto the boat next door in order to sit on the roof and enjoy their Starbucks. For a while I assumed it was their boat until they finished their coffee, climbed down and left. STOP DOING THIS. It is not okay.

Let us see how THEY like it.

Let us see how THEY like it.

10. PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO SIT: Thou shalt not sit on or around locks when I’m trying to use them. Just to clarify, I’m not saying people can’t sit on or around locks at all. The canals and locks are beautiful places and should be free to be enjoyed by everyone, I GUESS.

Even IDIOTS.

Even IDIOTS.

All I’m asking is that you please move out of the way when I need to use the lock. It’s pretty awkward to have to ask people to move, especially when they’ve set up an entire lunch break picnic on the lock gate, so it would be awesome if you’d just feel my rage telepathically and move of your own accord so that I don’t have to sound like a canal nerd.

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“ERM, excuse me, I need to open this gate and you’re sort of EXACTLY RIGHT IN THE WAY. Also, you could help me open the gate instead of consuming hummus and watching me struggle if you like? No? Okay, enjoy the hummus.”