Thursday, 26 May 2016

It's a Dog's Life on the Cut

After many years of living aboard I have persuaded Neil and Corinne that it’s time a dog’s point of view was heard on the blog. As I’m sure you are aware the idea of a ship’s cat is very outdated and everyone who’s anyone on the canals now has a resident dog.

I generally let Neil and Corinne choose our travelling routes providing that my meals and accommodation remain satisfactory. Every now and then we stop at a railway station and I allow a small select group of humans to join me on my next journey. When my guests arrive at the boat they tend to be a little overwhelmed at how charming my boats are; painted deep red and decorated with roses.  

I make sure Corinne, Neil and the crew give the boats a jolly good cleaning and tidying whilst the new guests drop their bags in to their cabins and perhaps explore locally a little. Later we all like to have afternoon tea, although I myself tend to choose something a little more meaty from the menu, than just tea and cake. Actually at meal times the humans are really quite sociable and seem to rather enjoy themselves.  My personal chef, Corinne, of course provides food to a four star standard for everyone on board.

When the guests first arrive I sometimes wonder how we will all get on, but they do usually tend to be quite lovely people and I can always disappear to my own cabin if I need a little “me” time. (I have a double cabin at the back of the motor boat, which I have agreed to share with Neil and Corinne.)

Both boats are 70 foot long narrowboats. Snipe has a diesel engine and tows the butty boat Taurus which does not have an engine.  Cruising at less than 4mph I love to feel the wind in my hair.  I like to sit in either of the fore-decks as we travel, but I also do get a marvellous view of the passing countryside when I sit on the roof. I see plenty of other dogs on the towpath as I cruise by, and they must regard me with the utmost respect when they see a dog with his own pair of traditional narrowboats.

When the mood takes me I take a stroll on the towpath and this helps me to check that the crew are operating the locks correctly. I do love towpath walks, there are lots of exciting things to see and sniff. I just have to look out for the occasional bike coming past. We pass quaint villages, old bridges, sheep and cows. Sometimes we like to visit a cosy pub for a drink and some food. Now and then the guests get off and go for a look round a local town or place of interest, and I get to have the boats to myself for a while.

Of course the real benefit for the guests though is getting to spend some quality time with a canal dog like me; the likes of which they have probably never met before. One of our recent guests (also called Corinne) came aboard my boats for her honeymoon.

“Corinne and Neil live on board all year with their lovely dog Bertie, he really is a lovely dog and such a sweet character. I had plenty of cuddles with him which helped on days when I missed the boys and Daisy Dog!”
From Corinne’s blog Motherhood Journeys.

If you’d like to join me on one of my canal voyages why not help yourself to a £50 discount* 
Don’t paws for thought –  just do it!


This post first appeared on the Canal Voyagers Hotel Boats blog and is re-published here in loving memory of Bertie P D Thomsett who sadly passed away 25/05/16.

*Discount & canal voyages no longer available. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Top 16 Narrowboat Bloggers

A recent article from Boats and Outboards discusses why more and more people are thinking about living on a boat. For some it's rising house prices, for others retirement, and some are looking for adventure!

Because of this they've come up with a list of some of their favourite living on a boat bloggers, to help to answer some common questions about living on a narrowboat. 

I'm happy to be listed among their top bloggers! Check out the other bloggers featured, for lots of different perspectives on living afloat. They have each provided a summary of what their blog is about and a section on what they enjoy about living on a boat. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

The #Narrowboat Wife Guide to Reinventing Yourself After #Divorce

When life hands you lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade right? After thirteen years as a narrowboat girl I had no idea what I was going to reinvent myself as. ‘The Narrowboat Ex Wife Who Lives in a Cottage in Devon But Still Writes Several Narrowboating Blogs’ was just too long for a new blog title.

So I started a completely different blog about how to take charge of your life and take care of your soul after a break-up. There’s no such thing as five guaranteed shortcuts for moving on in record time, but if there was then I might put these five beauties on the list: 

1. Let it Go

For a while I was practicing ‘letting go’ and one of the most important things I noticed was that I needed to let go of the idea of being my ‘best self’ all of the time. Holding on to that idea didn’t allow me to make mistakes, or to learn from my mistakes.

Can you accept that you’re a person who makes mistakes? What idea could you let go of, just for today? It may be the easiest way to forgive yourself.

2. Have a Perfect Day

Earlier this year I had a perfect day. I didn’t know it was going to be perfect but I did hope that it would be good. I started the day by sticking a post-it note on the bathroom mirror that said, ‘I love you.’ The second one said, ‘How can I make you happy today? It made me cringe to do it and it makes me cringe to write it, because I’m embarrassed by the thought of such airy-fairy new age love-yourself stuff. After all, most people think that kind of thing doesn’t work, right?

But I think that little thing made a difference that day. Do you deserve a perfect day?

3. Meditate

Have you tried meditation but just feel that you don’t really ‘get it’? Do you sit there searching for a Zen-like calm but within seconds you’re planning your shopping list or analysing the plot of last night’s telly programme?

You are not alone!

I too am challenged in the Zen department! So I had to do some research in to meditation techniques for people who just can’t stop thinking.

4. Make a Break-Up Bucket List

Last summer I discovered a great blog called The Break Up List. When Ali Burns’ nine year relationship ended, she made a list of things she’d been meaning to do over the past few years but never quite found the time.

It has inspired hundreds of people to do similar and I was just about to make my own, when I realised I already had one.

On New Year’s Eve I made a list of things to do in 2014 – some big like go on holiday, go in a hot air balloon, and some small like drink champagne, draw cartoons, and go swimming. I can’t believe how many of them I’ve done already, in less than a year. I also can't believe how long number 45 is taking me! Check out my Break-Up Bucket List.

5. Reinvent Yourself in 10 Days

Being a complete self-help book junkie, and personal-development-addict, it wasn’t long before I decided I should bundle up all of my reinventing research into an e-course and give it away!
If you’re going through or have been through a bad break-up, sticky separation or depressing divorce you could begin to reinvent yourself in 10 days with my little course.

In just 10 days from now you could be on your way to more health, wealth and happiness with a clearer idea of how to improve your relationships and career.

Is your life is too busy for a personal development course? This very simple, very quick, e-course is the solution you are looking for. Are you ready to get what you want, and want what you get?

Yes please! I like the sound of that. (Click to sign up - your email is safe with me!)

What sort of things have you tried when getting over a break-up, separation or divorce?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Secret Waterways That Nobody Tells You About (Except Amy @nbwillow)

When I think about places to go and canals to see I think of the obvious holiday destinations: The idyllic Llangollen canal, the Norfolk Broads, or the popular Kennet and Avon. If I want to explore a city navigation I consider doing the London ring, or visiting Birmingham, which has more miles of canals than Venice. I had lived on a narrowboat for years before I realised that Cambridge and Ely are connected to the navigable canal network, via the East Anglian Fen waterways! Not far from London there’s a whole other water-world out there that nobody tells you about (except Amy, who blogs about living aboard in Cambridge!) 

For a long time all I knew of the world of canals was contained in the Nicholon’s canal guides, which don’t cover the Great Ouse, Cam or Middle Level waterways. (However, a range of canal books, canal maps, Imray’s canal guides, and DVDs for rivers including Middle Level, Ouse, and Nene are available in the Fox Narrowboats online shop. )

The East of England waterways have been described as “a hidden gem” by BBC Countryfile’s Adam Henson (pictured), perhaps because they offer peaceful and idyllic countryside cruises, shopping and eating in Ely and Cambridge, pretty walks, villages, churches,  cosy pubs, and the steam trains of the Nene Valley Railway. If you’re looking for uncrowded waters, beautiful little rivers, tourist attractions and historical places to visit then you may just have discovered the waterways’ best-kept secret. 

Imagine visiting the world famous Cambridge University and the grand Ely Cathedral, by canal boat! En route you’ll discover wildlife and wild flowers, traditional pubs and historic monuments. You can also visit St Ives; the birth place of Oliver Cromwell, on the banks of the river Great Ouse, and Oundle and Northampton.

When I find out about a waterway I haven’t heard of I always want to go exploring! It’s like that Star Trek thing of boldly going beyond the final frontier, except at three miles an hour, with a mug of coffee on the roof. Don’t you think that boating is just the best way to see England?!

If you’re canal-curious like me, check out Fox Narrowboats, a warm, friendly, family business offering narrowboat holidays and day boat hire in March, Cambridgeshire. As you know, I no longer blog about boats and living aboard here on Narrowboat Wife but if you want to read more about everything to do with boats and canal-life then you will now find me blogging regularly for the Fox Narrowboats blog. I’ve already written; Three Things You Must Do When Visiting Cambridge, and How Winter Threatens to Damage Your Narrowboat – Three Ways to Protect Yourself. 

Come and see, and let me know what you think of the new blog!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Fox Narrowboats: Narrowboat Holidays and Day Boat Hire. Check out their new blog to find out more about the Fens and get boating tips, advice, stories and news.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Is it time to reinvent yourself?

If you've been following my blog lately you'll know I've made some big, scary life changes and I must admit I'm having a slight identity crisis about who I am. 

Anyway, because of that I decided to begin working on an idea that I had a year ago. Have you ever had an idea that you really wanted to do, but were scared to do it in case other people didn't like it? What if people thought it was rubbish or corny? What if nobody came and nobody cared? 

13 years ago I was scared of living on a narrowboat. What if I was lonely? What if I didn't like it? And what if I loved it? 'What if?' has got a lot to answer for. 

So here's my idea.

Positive thinking must always be followed by positive action. I use visualisation, inspiring quotations, lyrics, music, poetry, written exercises and self-hypnosis to reinvent myself and make things happen.

I've started a new blog about that sort of thing. I've tried not to impose rules on myself about how often I will publish a post. I will just write when I've got something to say, something to share.  

Come on over and see what you think. If you like the idea there's an option to sign up and receive updates by email. I honestly don't know what's coming up next, but that's part of the fun. Isn't it?

When was the last time you reinvented yourself?

What happened to me living on a narrowboat? Find out here.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Living in a house

Since we moved into a house I’ve been feeling uneasy about the town that we moved to. Is it because it’s the town I grew up in: The place I escaped from when I headed off as an adventurous 18 year old, into the world? It’s partly because it is a town. I’ve come from an idyllic little village where the school-run was a short walk up a country lane that had wild flowers tumbling from the banks either side of us, as the girls raced past on their scooters. 

Is it because there are no familiar faces? The school gate mums, the kind headmistress, the school secretary who lives opposite the school and knows all the parents by our first names? What about my friends? After school there would be coffee at the kitchen table with Feisty German Mum, or gin and tonic in the garden with Internet Tycoon Dad; while our daughters leapt about on the trampoline. I miss the evenings soaked in red wine with Jenny From the Lock; relaxing on her candle-lit boat while her cats commandeered half the sofa and eyed me suspiciously.

This morning I took the girls up the road to the childcare centre. This little corner of this little town is not unlike a village. The main street is lined with old cottages and glimpses of woodland and fields are visible in the gaps between the houses.  We’re on the very edge of town, the sun shines onto an uneven cobbled pavement and the church bells are chiming nine o’clock.

After I had dropped the girls off I realised what I was afraid of. The house doesn’t move. It seems obvious, but it has been a subconscious fear. What if I don’t like it here? I cannot untie my ropes, I can’t just move up the Cut. The view from the window will always be the same. What if I’ve made the wrong decision and need to change or move? 

But this decision is not a final choice. It’s an experiment.

“A bigger-picture perspective helps here. Experiments might take months, or a year. That’s a tiny amount of time in the space of a lifetime, and those bigger experiments are worth learning about.”

Friday, 23 August 2013

Canal boating can be used as therapy!

It’s weird but I lived on a boat for absolutely years without knowing anything about the National Community Boats Association or what they do. I like to keep in touch with boating news through the Canal and River Trust, Towpath Talk, Facebook groups and Twitter.

I now enjoy writing a blog for the NCBA and am planning to get their news out to a wider audience. Because they are nationwide their news is happening all over the country, and so are their training courses. They support and represent inland waterways community boating organisations. As well as boating skills and safety knowledge their courses also include leadership, and management skills that will benefit individuals and their communities.

When is a boat not a boat?

The boating organisations that make up the membership are on canals all over the country. They often own more than one boat which are used within their local communities in a wide variety of ways. For example: A floating classroom, a floating children’s home, and a wooden boat restoration project. Boats can also be used for rehabilitation, therapy, day trips for youth groups and wheel chair accessible holidays among other things!  


Sail4Cancer raise money to provide respite for children, young people and families living with cancer. They approached the NCBA last year for help in finding community boats to
provide inland boating trips for young people affected by cancer. In the past they have sent people sailing, but the minimum age for sailing is 14. Using canal boats they were able to provide a boating experience for the 11 to 14 year age range.

NCBA are on Facebook

Gutless Kayaker

More recently the NCBA have arranged to provide a support boat for Justin Hansen, “the gutless kayaker”.  Justin has had his intestines removed due to Crohn’s disease. In just a few weeks he will be kayaking 420 miles from Skipton in North Yorkshire to Bristol in the south west to raise funds for bowel cancer research. (He needs another support boat if you have one available?!)

So, now you know, there is a lot more going on around the waterways than you might have imagined! I love the way that the NCBA promote the idea of “access for all”. Canal boating should not be restricted just to those who can afford to own their own boat.


On the blog I share boating news, charity news, community news and inspiring stories of what people are getting up to around the canal network. But today I’m really going for increasing our profile on Facebook. Please give us a like, share our status updates with your friends and show your support for community boating.