Tuesday 21 December 2010


I plugged my phone in to charge but it’s not charging, even though the invertor is on. I find my miserable monologue has a new mantra. ‘This would never happen in a house.’ Being a stay at home mum is becoming more recognised as hard work, but the little hiccups of boating life added to sleep deprivation are prime elements for another equation.
(sleep deprivation) + (limitations of a narrowboat home) – (most mod cons) – (friends, family, human company) = the return of the miserable monologue.

The Doctor is back at work and the girls miss him. Sometimes Big Sister cries “because I miss Daddy so much.” So I give her a little framed photo of the handsome Doctor to look at.

“Parenting at home can be very socially isolating. It is easy to find that the only grown-up you talk to is your partner. Widening your support network is essential to help both of you deal with the stress and boredom of the everyday, and also just to refresh yourself with some different company now and again. There are, of course, some very useful websites through which you can meet local mums and/or just vent your frustrations (Mumsnet Talk being, obviously the best!)”

Toddlers – The Mumsnet Guide

How come I don’t even have time for Mumsnet? My lovely baby is 11 months old now. Shouldn’t I be coping better?

I saw one of the Busy Bees mums go by on the towpath with her pushchair today. My beady eyes spied her across the cut. I know her – I know her name! She’s not a friend. Only barely an acquaintance. But I briefly connected with another mother if only for an instant. No she didn’t see me, she doesn’t know my boat. She doesn’t know I’m here. But for a fraction of a second I thought, ‘We are not alone.’

As Rory McLeod would say, “I can’t survive on the kindness of these lovely strangers here.”

Rory Mcleod is an ex-circus clown and fire eater. “A one man soulband, poet and storyteller, singing his own unique upbeat dance stories. A modern travelling troubadour using tap shoes, acappella, harmonica, guitar, trombone, spoons, finger cymbals, bandorea, djembe and various percussion instruments!”

He wished to find a rambling woman to accompany him on his travels. I was lucky enough to find my rambling man. I wonder if Rory and his woman kept travelling after they had their ramblin’ kids?

“So don’t let me go darlin’
I love you now don’t make me stay
Come with me darlin’ when I have to go, when I have to tear myself away
And be my rambling woman
I’ll be your rambling man
And together we will go
Holding each others hand
And I’ll accompany you my darling
Whenever you have to roam
You’ll be my countryside darlin’
And I’ll be your home.
Won’t you come with me when I go?”

Working boat wives were not so isolated. When the men went to canal-side pubs, they’d be moored alongside other families, and while the women minded the children on board they could catch up with their temporary neighbours moored next door. They were part of a community.

“’Spite of all you hears about ‘drunken boatwomen’ most of ‘em was content of ‘n evenin to loose their chaps orf to the pub while they stayed tied to their kiddies and the cabin. It was a chance for Mum to catch oop on her chores ready for mornin and catch oop with news of the Cut with the women moored alongside.”

Ramlin Rose, Sheila Stewart p.33

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