Friday 30 December 2011

A trip to the boatyard for diesel

I put the kettle on, start the engine and put more laundry in the machine, followed by a kettle full of hot water. I put the little one into her cot for a nap and begin to move the boat towards the boat yard. The water level's down, it's very shallow so I have to reverse the stern out just so that I can get away from the bank. It's hard to manoeuvre as it's so windy, now that we're out of the Tring cutting. For this short journey Big Sister is my ship-mate on the roof.

As I turn the boat in towards Cowroast boatyard she begins to sing the Erie Canal song and I smile.

“Low bridge, everybody down! Low bridge, we're coming to the town.”

Our bow travels under the towpath footbridge and enters the basin full of moored boats. It's so windy that I know I can't turn this 70 footer around such a tight corner without bashing in to moored boats, so I pull it around the corner using the ropes; it seemed to take at least half an hour to do that and get tied up. My four year old is 'helping' by holding the end of the rope that I've got.
“Mum, we are doing good team work!” she grins.
“I know we can do it because we've done it before!” she adds.

By 2.20pm we are finally moored beside the diesel pump, even though we are actually only about five minutes walk from the field-side mooring that we have just set off from. We leave baby sister sleeping in her cot and head off to the shop to meet the new owner.

The new owner is smiley and friendly and offers us home-baked cup cakes from a plastic box on the counter in the chandlery.
“My neighbour made them.” He gives me a key to the diesel pump and a token for the sewage pump-out machine. Sorting out the diesel and pump-out is a filthy business. Big Sister plays quietly beside the boat with her invisible 'Wish Friends'.

We return to the shop to pay the man. I give him my freelance secretary advert for the boaters' noticeboard and offer to help him with the bookkeeping.

It's easier to steer the boat out of the boat yard than it was to pull the boat in. Big Sister has opted to stay indoors and the little one is now on the roof. Luckily there is a mooring space almost as soon as we come out of the boat yard.

One of my least favourite boating moments is battling to bash a mooring pin into a hard piece of ground whilst my youngest is whining on the roof,
“Down now!”
I am of small build, it takes me so much longer than my husband to get the pegs in. She whines,
“Mummy...Mummy... Mummy,” repeatedly while I bang the peg with a mallet.
She wants to get off the boat. My temper snaps.
“Will you stop shouting at me? I'm mooring up the boat!”
A pang of guilt passes through me. Getting diesel and a pump-out is not a fun day out for the children. I promise myself that I will take them to the park tomorrow.

By 4.10pm we are moored up and the children are safe and warm indoors. It's dusk now. I move the pushchair from the front deck to the back deck, my boots squidging down a damp autumnal towpath, under woodland branches. The amber glowing rectangle of the kitchen window shines comfortably onto the muddy towpath as I return, walking alongside this length of green-painted steel I think to myself once again,
This, is my dream home.”

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Getting Afloat on New Years Eve
Why not take a canal boat down the Thames and get a fantastic view of the New Year’s Eve fireworks on the London Eye? Sadly, bravely cruising into the night without a place to moor is not as safe as it sounds. Moorings are usually passenger piers or pontoons dedicated to authorised cruises, and I’m of the belief that taking a small boat on the Thames is something that requires a little planning and plenty of daylight!

So what are the options for those who’d like to be on the water when Big Ben strikes midnight and the fireworks begin?

City Cruises are providing a selection of passenger cruises, some including a buffet or dinner and dancing, but these are all but sold out already. At the time of writing there were gala dinners or champagne cruises still available at Thames Boat Cruises and with London Party Boats passengers can embark on a “fun, spectacular and mind-blowing voyage” on the MV Pride of London.

But why stray so far from the Cut when you could be tucked into a cosy canal-side pub with a tankard of real ale? What you need is the Canal and Riverside Pubs website. Browse your own local stretch of waterway to find each pub’s contact details listed, sometimes with a map, web address, food and facilities included. You can locate a pub by its road address or by the nearest lock, bridge or place. Where ever possible it is indicated whether there is a garden, children’s play area, WiFi and whether it is dog friendly.

It’s a hard job attempting to keep the guide up to date however, by continually visiting pubs and sampling the refreshments. If you visit one of the pubs listed on the site this new year’s eve, or know of a pub that they have yet to include in the guide, then please help the team by getting in touch. They’d love to hear of any updates to the information.

When you've read the guide you will want to buy a narrowboat to visit all the pubs!

Happy New Year!

The Rising Sun, Berkhamsted

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union.

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Image Credits:
Fireworks on the Thames from the City Cruises website

The Rising Sun Pub, George Street, Berkhamsted, HP4 2EG on the Grand Union Canal
© Copyright and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Waterways chaplains to help boaters!

About once a month I take our boat to a marina to top up on diesel and empty the toilet. For her own safety my toddler daughter is sat on the hatch cover and secured to the roof with a safety harness while we cruise.

As we pass under a bridge we see the first of the moored boats that line the waterway up to Cowroast lock and I steer towards the bank. Two gentlemen in matching black jackets are on the towpath smiling at the sight of my daughter on the roof. As we approach I can see that they want to help me moor up so I throw them a rope. One of them is carrying a windlass and their jackets are labelled, 'Waterways Chaplain.' I've lived on the Cut for eleven years and I've never heard of a Waterways Chaplain! These jolly gentlemen are from the Salvation Army and roam the towpath helping people in whatever way they can.
“There are people with problems on the canal; drugs and alcohol. We can provide a listening ear or help with practical things like access to healthcare.”
One holds the mid-rope, another helps me to bash a peg in to the ground.

The waterways ministry was stopped in the 1960s but is being revived as part of a Workplace Ministries project in the Diocese of St Albans. They offer pastoral and practical support for live-aboard boaters in need, providing food, clothing, water, benefits advice or just a listening ear. They have even been known to provide water when taps are frozen in winter, a new chimney, a new battery or comfort to a lonely live-aboard widow.

The Salvation Army waterways ministry first began in 1908 around Fenny Stratford, praying with and talking to working boatmen and their families in their narrow boat cabins. In 2012 more volunteers will be needed as they ultimately aim to cover the Grand Union from Braunston down to Rickmansworth and also the rivers Lee and the Stort.

There is also the Boaters Christian Fellowship who have several mission boats on the canal and hold services at boat festivals. BCF encourages fellowship through chance and planned meetings whilst on the waterways.

I tell them we're headed to Cowroast boat yard and they say that it's under new management. My little one presents one chaplain with her huge cuddly Peppa Pig, and then gives the other one her used tissue.

They wander on up the towpath and we head in to the warmth of the boat for a spaghetti lunch.

If the build up to Christmas has re-ignited your community spirit perhaps you could help?

Volunteers are provided with advice and training, a jacket identifying them as a waterways chaplain and a windlass. If you'd like to to adopt a stretch of towpath or river and commit to walking at least once a week contact Captain Jenny Dibsdall Twitter: @Waterchaplain

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union

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Monday 19 December 2011

How do you steer a narrowboat whilst also looking after the children?

Once a month I take the boat to Cowroast boatyard for diesel, and a sewage pump out.
“Don't go out on the front deck, and you know where I am if you need anything don't you my love?” Big Sister nods.
I leave her dancing to The Wiggles in the living room while I put toddler reins on my youngest and secure her safely to the sturdy brass mushroom vent on the roof. She then requests a blanket, a pillow, Peppa Pig, Gaston the cuddly ladybird and the doll known only as 'Big Baby'. We are ready to go.
“Mummy, don't want it, move boat,” she says with a sad face and big brown eyes, tugging at my heart strings.
I stride off down the muddy towpath and bash the mooring pegs from side to side with a mallet to loosen them, before heaving them up out of the ground. It's now 10.15 am and we're off. My little one puts in another request.
“Mummy, Little Baby.”
“I can't get more toys now my love, I'm steering the boat,” I explain apologetically.
“Mummy, hold hands.”
“In a minute. I'm just steering around this corner,” I say, pushing the tiller across.
I breathe in Tring's steep wooded cutting in Autumn and look up into a mild grey November sky. The little one smiles like sunshine at me. Yellow, green and brown trees are reflected in the canal water. Leaves are floating like confetti on a puddle and trees on either bank lean softly towards each other to whisper winter somethings.
“Hello Mummy,” whispers my fluffy hooded baby, watching me. Two ducks pass us quietly in the opposite direction.
“Mummy! Baby ducks.”
“Did you see a baby one?”
“Yeah,” she smiles and pauses.
“Mummy, pancake.”
“I can't get a pancake, I'm driving the boat,” I explain.
A small black sign on the towpath tells me we're 56 miles from Braunston.
“Mummy, tired,” she says mournfully, but then her mood picks up as we travel under an arched bridge.
“Ah, ah!” she says, experimenting with the sound of her voice echoing.
As we come out of the other side of the bridge she begins to sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', gently rocking from side to side. I smile warmly and start to join in.
“No, MINE!” she says angrily and is quiet for a while. Then she looks at the notepad and paper beside me.
“Mummy, draw mouse.”
“I can't, I'm steering the boat,” I reply. Around the corner I spy The Peg Boat, which is fondly familiar to me. It is a red narrowboat on board which lives a lovely man who paints roses and castles and his wife who makes dolls out of old fashioned wooden pegs. I like seeing the same boats pootling around the same area; you can get to know people, it's like a village community.
My daughter begins to cry.
“Mummy, huggle.”
“I can't huggle at the moment because I'm steering the boat. I can hold hands,” I offer and lean forwards to clutch her tiny hand, my other hand still holding the tiller. We're near Tring station and hear a train rushing to London.
“Choo choo!” she says, smiling. I join in.
“Choo choo!”
“No! MY choo choo,” she starts to cry again and asks for a huggle. Sunshine breaks through the trees.
“Mummy, wee toilet.”
“I'm sorry darling, I'm steering the boat.” I have pre-empted this eventuality. She is wearing disposable pull-up pants. She lies down and holds my hand again. A smile lights up her face, she looks contented. It is quiet except for the chugging of the engine.
After the next bridge we see the first of the moored boats that line the waterway up to Cowroast lock and I steer towards the bank. We moor up in time for lunch and I take the happy girls into a huge green field for a run about.

Friday 16 December 2011

Boating With Kids - in Waterways World

I live aboard a 70ft traditional narrowboat with my husband and two little girls. In January's Waterways World I explain how I do it and answer some frequently asked questions.

What jobs do you do?

Have you got a mooring?

Isn't it a bit small?

Are you afraid the children will fall in?
Also in the January 2012 issue of Waterways World: The complete guide to Scotland's canals including The Lowlands, Caledonian, Falkirk Wheel and Crinan; On test - 62ft Narrowboat, traditional styling with modern comforts; Boating with kids; New series! The history of British Waterways; An interview with Mikron, the towpath troubadours; Advice - Lock technique and making a boat stool; Boating in 1914; Lost tunnels; plus a FREE 2012 wallplanner.

£3.75 from newsagents. On sale now!

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Wednesday 14 December 2011

Santa Cruise

Santa at The National Waterways Museum
Ah Christmas time. Time to winterise your canal boat and lock yourself safely into a warm house. Or is it? There are lots of festive events planned on the waterways this December.

Whilst the elves and reindeer prepare for their big night, Santa Claus is going on several waterways cruises to find out exactly what all the good children want for Christmas this year. Over the weekend of the 17th and 18th December he will be appearing on Santa cruises at the Anderton Boat Lift (Cheshire), Grebe Canal Cruises, (Pitstone, Bucks), Santa's grotto in the Dudley Caverns (West Midlands), on the Muddy Waters Santa Cruises (Thrupp, Oxfordshire) and on Santa's Special boat trips in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. He's also planning a few boat trips in Worksop and Gloucester plus a visit to the Falkirk Wheel. Cruises often include hot drinks and mince pies for the grown-ups. The events are usually popular, so it's best to book in advance.

No one knows how Santa manages to be in so many places at the same time but the North American Aerospace Defense Command have come up with a theory:

“NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do. His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading joy to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum.”

On Christmas Eve NORAD will be using radar to track his journey and will update Santa's progress here.

If you've been very good perhaps someone special in your life will pick up on your hints about buying a narrowboat or canal boat, so that you can really enjoy the waterways in 2012.

However, if you've been naughty this year, and are actively trying to avoid Santa on the waterways, you might just choose a roses and castles canal art course in Cradley (West Midlands) on 17th and 18th December. There are carols by the canal on the Shropshire Union and illuminated boats and carols in Stoke Bruerne, plus hot soup and roasted chestnuts, and Christmas shopping in the museum.

A final festive alternative could be an afternoon Wildlife Watch. On New Years Eve you could join the volunteers in Stanstead Abbots who will be waiting in the hides at Rye Meads Nature Reserve to point out wildlife and answer your questions from 2 until 4pm.

A full waterways events calendar including details of the above Santa cruises can be found at the Waterscape Website.

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union

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Stoke Bruerne
Chesterfield Canal Trust

I have linked this post up to the BritMums Christmas blog hop!


Monday 12 December 2011

5 Things You Should Know Before Investing in a Canal Boat

Recently I've been battling with some of the financial anxieties that come with an unpredictable freelance life. Jenna White offered to write me a guest post with some financial tips related to buying your first boat.

5 Things You Should Know Before Investing in a Canal Boat

There are a lot of things you should consider before making a large investment like buying a canal boat. You need to make sure you are financially stable and that you will be able to afford the costs that come with owning a boat, but there are many other things you should do as well. While you may think you can afford to make this investment now, it may not be the right time for you. Make sure you consider all of these tips before you go make a rash decision and invest in this expensive undertaking.

Know Your Current Financial State

The first thing you should consider when you are thinking about buying a canal boat is your current financial situation. Have you incurred a lot of debt over the years and you are now struggling to pay it back? Do you have a problem with overspending or using your credit card to live beyond your means? These are signs that you need help getting control of your finances, and you may need to seek outside advice from a financial advisor or some other type of counsellor.

Set Priorities

In some cases, there will be more important things to save for than a boat. If you are in debt due to personal loans, student loans, or credit card spending, you should set those as your priority before you think about investing in a boat. Set a budget and use a specific amount to put toward paying off any debt.

Once you have paid off your debt, you should use that money to start an emergency fund if you have not made one already. You should have at least six months’ worth of expenses in this fund, if not more, so that you can live with that money for a significant amount of time should an emergency arise (such as an accident or the loss of a job). Always live within your means and save as much as you can so that when you are able to buy your boat, you can still stay above water (with your boat and with your finances).

Educate Yourself

When you have saved enough money to be comfortable, and when you have saved enough to at least make a significant dent in the total cost of the boat, it will be time to research your options. You probably already know a lot about the type of boat you want and any other special features you want it to have, but you should still educate yourself as much as possible. Never invest in something you don’t completely understand, and never buy something that you haven’t thoroughly checked out first. Even if you are buying the boat from your best friend, you should still take all of the necessary precautions to make sure that you are getting the best product for the money you will be spending.

Consider Your Timing

Is this truly the best time for you to buy a boat? As I said before, if you have credit card debt or owe the bank a lot of money due to loans, than this is probably not the best time for you to buy. You also never know if the price of the boat you want will go down in the future. This is where you will need to make a gamble. Buy the boat now and you may lose out on some money you could have saved, or wait a while and risk losing the boat to another buyer. Never fall in love with a boat you can’t afford, and be willing to walk away from an unfair offer.

Know the Total Cost of Your Investment

Whether you decide to make payments on a loan for your boat or save the money to buy it in full, you still need to consider the total cost of your investment. The total cost isn’t just going to be the purchase price, but it will also include the operating costs, maintenance costs, and other expenses that will come with the upkeep of your boat. Will you be able to afford all of these expenses over time? To answer this question, put all of these costs into your budget (leaning on the higher side to avoid miscalculation). This should help you make sure that you don’t take on an investment you can’t afford.

Jenna White is an author who writes guest posts on the topics of business, marketing, credit cards, and personal finance. Additionally, she works for a website that focuses on educating readers about secured credit cards.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Narrowboat or Narrow Boat?

How does the old song go? You say potato, I say tomato? A narrow boat was traditionally a cargo carrying boat found on the British inland waterways from the 18th century onwards. On the UK navigable waterways locks and bridge holes are a minimum of 7 feet wide. The phrase “narrow boat” often refers to the original style of working canal boat, or a modern replica of this type of boat. The first narrow boats were horse drawn wooden boats. Today on the canal there are many replicas of the traditional type of boats, painted with ornate designs of roses and castles. Some enthusiasts are dedicated to restoring the remaining original boats and The Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club was formed in 1966. It is a not-for-profit club dedicated to preserving the working heritage of the canals.

However, the modern meaning of the term “narrow boat” in The Concise Oxford Dictionary simply reads, “A narrow boat is a canal boat, esp. one less than 7 ft. wide”. British Waterways and magazines like Waterways World have adopted the term “narrowboat” to refer to pleasure boats and live-aboard canal boats that are built with the similar style and dimensions to the old cargo carrying narrow boats. Living on a canal boat is now becoming more and more popular and so used boats for sale, barges for sale and houseboats for sale are just some of the options available to people with an interest in living aboard narrowboats and canal boats. Narrowboats are usually built of steel, although some modern ones are now aluminium. Their size, design and history are completely different to that of long-boats or barges.

Although a narrowboat is defined as being no wider than 7 feet, in practice canal boats are usually 6 feet 10 inches wide to allow them to comfortably cruise the canal system and pass through locks and bridges. Most locks can accommodate narrowboats of up to 70 feet in length. However, a shorter boat will allow a boater the freedom to explore more of the network because some locks on a few isolated waterways can be as short as 40 feet. Anything wider than 7 feet is known as a wide-beam or broad-beam, but can often be similar in style and design to a narrowboat. Although they will have an open front deck, this can be enclosed with a removable water-proof covering called a cratch cover. A traditional narrowboat stern is so short that the helmsman actually stands on the back step, inside the hatch. In a semi-trad boat there is no roof over the engine space and there may be bench seats against the side walls. A cruiser stern provides a larger, open back deck, sometimes with a railing around it.

So from their gritty beginnings as an integral part of the Industrial Revolution narrow boats and canal boats have evolved and diversified. Interest in the leisure boating industry was ignited after the second world war thanks to the enthusiasm of L.T.C Rolt and the IWA, living aboard a narrowboat is still growing in popularity and cargo carrying continues to be a practical use of the inland waterways.

Useful Links
The Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club

Choosing a Boat – Part 1

Boatshed Grand Union canal and narrowboats for sale

Old Working Boat Image Credit: R.P Marks

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union.

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Monday 5 December 2011

The Grand Junction Arms

I've promised myself to blog twice a week and sometimes it's hard to find the time when I'm starting a business, being a mum and being a narrowboater. A little voice inside me (and Fanciful Alice) says that I should hurry up and finish my book. It's kind of nearly finished; this is an extract that I'm working on at the moment.

In late August 2011 I finally moored my own seventy foot boat at The Grand Junction Arms in Bulbourne. This is the Tring Summit level of what was The Grand Junction Canal and it marks the beginning of a long leafy cutting that leads down towards Cowroast marina. The way that I remembered it, The Junction Arms was a good old fashioned boaters' pub, built in the mid nineteenth century and still home to old roll-up smoking boaters in waistcoats having impromptu music jams with an accordion in the corner. Bulbourne is a hamlet, consisting of two rows of cottages: one row of cottages along the road, and a row of canal-side cottages at the top of the Marsworth flight. This second row of cottages can only be reached via the towpath, which has been tarmacked in order to allow for the unusual site of the occasional car trundling carefully down the towpath outside the window of our moored boat. The first time I ever came to the Grand Junction Arms it was bustling with boaters after the Wendover 2000 canal festival. Myself and my new-found boating friends sat in the beer garden admiring the BW canal workshops opposite, which in those days were still working and had been making lock gates since 1810.

“I'd like to make a lock gate one day,” said Rufty Tufty Biker Boater, with a cheeky grin. He was a carpenter by trade.
“It would be good to work there for a bit and say you'd made a lock gate wouldn't it?”
I nodded in admiration. I thought it would. But he never did, because in 2004 the yard closed down forever.

At least the pub is still open, I thought to myself. I left the girls on board with The Doctor and popped in for old times sake and to see if they had a copy of Towpath Talk.

As I walked down the towpath I noticed that there was a lovely old painted boat moored in front of us, called 'Cressy' which reminded me fondly of days gone by. Once, this place would have been a welcome stop for the horse-drawn boatman, providing stabling and refreshments when the horse and crew grew tired. When the invention of motor boats allowed for longer working days many traditional canal-side inn's went out of business; without the need to rest a tired horse the boats carried on cruising far into the night. They needed to work hard just to make ends meet.

To be continued.

The story continues when I actually go into the pub and meet a mysterious olde worlde gentleman at the bar.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Barge For Sale

Most people who know me, know that I live on a narrowboat.
“Peggy lives on a barge,” they say, assuming that they are one and the same. I usually smile and nod. But a barge is “a long flat bottomed boat for carrying freight on canals, rivers, etc.” (The Concise Oxford Dictionary.) A bargee is “a person in charge of or working on a barge.” The word barga, of Latin origin, referred to any small boat and the modern meaning of a larger boat dates back to around 1480. Interestingly the phrase "I wouldn't touch that with a (whatever length) pole" has been around for longer than barge poles so, “I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole” is a fairly modern expression.

Most waterways folk know that a narrowboat and a barge are completely different things, even though some narrowboats were built to a design based on river barges. A barge is always going to be more than 7 feet wide. Some canal barges are without engines and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats. The dictionary tells me that “A narrow boat is a canal boat, esp. one less than 7 ft. wide” and so on the canal system the term barge is often used to describe anything wider than a narrowboat.

Barges continue to be used on England's waterways to move freight and carry out maintenance, but they can also be a very comfortable home afloat due to the extra width. Purpose built replicas of the Dutch barge style are a popular live-aboard choice, like this Replica Dutch Barge 50ft ft Live-aboard, with mooring but I'm particularly fond of the 1930's Aak Style Dutch Barge. There's something beautifully quirky about them, and yet some are still narrow enough to share a lock.

Aak style Dutch Barge
There's a high demand for Dutch barges for sale at the moment because they make such lovely live-aboard homes. If you're thinking of living on a boat on the Grand Union Canal then you could use different search terms like “narrowboat sales grand union”, “houseboat for sale” and “barge for sale”, because there are so many different types of boat available.

If you still don't know your barge from your elbow Phil wrote a great article about different boat types available. Choosing a Boat – Part 1

Of course some people don't even mention barges to me. They say,
“Do you know Peggy actually lives on a longboat?”
Don't get me started! Although this name was sometimes used in the Midlands in working-boat days nobody calls them longboats now!

If you have a Dutch Barge or similar for sale, call Phil on 07794 005741. We have qualified buyers waiting.

Viking longboat for sale.

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union.

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Monday 28 November 2011

Narrowboat Living Top Ten

A while ago I discovered another (blogging) narrowboat family who live aboard while refurbishing their boat! Mamma Earthly is a “creative, earth mother, vegetarian, food lover, tree hugger, yogi, off-gridding and travelling through life's many varied possibilities.” She has kindly given me permission to use a blog post of hers that I love, as a guest post here on Narrowboat Wife.

Narrowboat Living Top Ten

Inspired by Boat Wife's Motherboard Top Ten, I've wanted to write a post about boat living for a while. Recently I've been really struggling on board and have on more than one occasion expostulated "I want to live in a house!" along with a tirade on the myriad problems our water-borne home poses to any kind of sane living. So I thought I should write a "positive" top ten, but then realised that that may not give you much of a real idea about our day to day experiences - so here's a compromise, a well-balanced top ten: five good, five bad!

1. There's not much privacy on a narrowboat (especially on our mooring which is part of a World Heritage Site!). And people are pretty darned nosy sometimes!!
2. We have no garden or land of our own (other than the bit of towpath we're moored to, unofficially, where we can store wood and bikes, and have a few plants etc. So nowhere to decant the kids to easily on a good day unless really well supervised (which is pretty exhausting with a toddler). And nowhere for me to read a good book in the sun in peace :)
3. More than other boaters, we struggle for services as we have none installed yet. So we fill up several 5 litre water bottles every day from the BW water point and empty our cassette loo and have showers at a BW service block about 20mins drive away. We take our own rubbish and recycling to our nearest recycling centre, also about 20 mins drive.
4. Every space is multi-purpose, particularly at the moment whilst we're building, so our bedroom is also the playroom and "lounge" once the bed has been turned into a sofa; the dining area is also our "office" and everything else just has to fit in where it can! As you can imagine, this can be pretty chaotic...
5. Life is pretty physical and exhausting sometimes and as yet we have no "haven" like a permanent bedroom to retreat to when we feel ill or knackered or just need to mentally and physically shut the door on things for half an hour.

1. We own our house (though we are paying off a small loan for it) and so are (a) not tied to a mortgage for the next 30 years and (b) don't have to put up with "inspections" and other hassles from rental agencies.
2. We don't get post, which I see as a bonus as we needn't put up with tonnes of junkmail, bills and nasty letters from your electricity supplier threatening to cut you off. We simply get any important mail delivered to a c/o address.
3. On that point, we have no service bills, just our licence and mooring fees to think about. We buy our own gas and generate our own electricity.
4. Having to create/look after/buy/collect/dispose of our own services and used items really makes us much more aware and frugal as consumers. On average we use about 20-30 litres of water a day, have a shower 2-3 times a week and try to keep our washing to a minimum (which is easier said than done with kids and our lifestyle). We get a vegbox delivered to our boat and try to make trips to the supermarket as rare as possible (particularly as we can get a lot of what we need locally).
5. We can move our house! We have plans to travel much of the South West network and would love to go to the Fens, but we do need to find a few spare weeks or months!

Give an Earthly
A little dell of sanity and positivity.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Where the Working Boats Went

Imagine effortlessly absorbing the history of the canals by relaxing in a canal-side pub, listening to a couple of folk-singing boaters, complete with waistcoats and flat-caps. This is against a backdrop of projected historical photographs and you are provided with a song sheet so that everyone can sing along with each chorus.

Last Saturday I went to see Life & Times perform their 250-years-of-the-canals show 'Where the Working Boats Went'. The performance was in Cheddington village hall, and I could definitely imagine it being a bit more raucous at a folk festival or a 'spit and sawdust' pub where the audience might sing along more heartily. I think we all enjoyed the broom dance though; a quirky boater's tradition that I'd not heard of! From the Duke of Bridgewater to roses and castles, the 'iced-in' winter of '47 and the revival of the cut as a place for pleasure boating; Barry Goodman and Graeme Meek have got a song for everything.

The canal age began when the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater commissioned his canal in 1759. The waterways became popular for transporting everything from fruit and cheese to turpentine. When the advent of the railways caused the demise of the canals, they were re-invented and rescued as a leisure resource, which is more popular than ever today.

The show is in two 45 minute parts with an interval. Part 1 is set in the early 1870s. Two No.1s meet beside the canal and discuss life on the cut for themselves and their predecessors. Part 2 is set in the late 1950s, about 10 years after the Nationalisation of the waterways. Two boatmen in a canal-side pub consider how life on the canals has changed since their fathers’ day and how it might be in the future.

The music from this show won the FATEA Tradition 09 Award which…“…is presented to the act that have traditional folk at the root of their sound and use it to inspire new songs, tunes and arrangements.”

Graeme Meek and Barry Goodman travel England from Birmingham to Banbury and beyond with their songs and next year their bookings already include Hitchin, Pulloxhill, Beds. Duton Hill Folk Club, Essex, Chadwell Heath, Essex and The Woburn Sands Folk Festival, Bucks.

A full gig list of upcoming shows can be found on their website here

If you can't make it to any of these shows there's a CD available by mail order for £11.

There are still traditional narrowboats working on the waterways to this day, selling fuel to live-aboard boats. A more modern way to work afloat these days is to run a trip boat. Check out this 70ft trip boat as part of a business for sale at Boatshed Grand Union.
Alternatively if you don't want to work afloat you may like to live afloat on a 70ft Cruiser Stern Narrowboat with large accommodation.

More boats to browse at

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union.

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Monday 21 November 2011

Moon Dreams

Losing a Dream - by Plagued by Images
There was once a girl who wanted the moon on a stick. She spent her days weaving her tangled ideas into dream blankets that described some sort of patchwork, freelancing, free-wheeling, literary dream-cake career. The kind with a steady income and a predictable accounting spreadsheet: A day when she woke up and knew exactly what to focus on. But she was constantly distracted from these serious dreams by newspaper adverts and email job alerts, an inbox full of possibilities and application forms for steady jobs that every-girl wants. So she competes with every-girl and has a go and treads carefully over her patchwork dreams while they toss in their sleep. She reaches and grabs for safe secretarial work, tiny transcription teases and ordinary admin alerts. Then, like a firefly her attention is suddenly diverted, inspired by stories of mighty mumpreneurs who are having it all and doing it all and somehow they know what to focus on, and they build great towers of financial stability from their humble kitchen tables, whilst probably baking sugar-spun biscuits with their home-made gingerbread children. The girl with the moon-wish peers in at these golden lit kitchen windows in awe, wondering how her feet got so tangled in her dreams, so that now she can hardly put one foot in front of the other. She tip-toes away from the golden window of opportunity and back into the twig-snapping, safe darkness of a forest of dreams.

Yesterday's girl was a real writer and wrote every day about the poetic paradoxes of narrowboat family life; the good, the bad and the lovely. But everything changes and lately she finds there is not even time to write about the real life of a narrowboat wife.

Losing a Dream

Many thanks to the very talented Louis Dyer who allowed me to use the image 'Losing a Dream'.
Visit his Deviant Art page Plagued by Images where fine art prints are available.
Louis says, "Most of my art revolves around my inability to sleep, or sometimes awake from... lucid dreams, astral projection,sleep apnea/paralysis,interest in mental illness and spirituality etc."

Louis Dyer - artwork inspired by dreams

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Winter Boating

Canal frozen, Angel Islington, London.
As part of my Living Aboard series of blog posts I wrote an article titled Is it Cold in Winter? The past two winters have been exceptionally cold and more of the same is forecast for the end of this year. British Waterways, with assistance from the Residential Boat Owners Association has recently produced a guidance document explaining what services will and will not be provided in extreme weather conditions. British Waterways will arrange for contractors to visit mooring sites to repair emergency plumbing problems, electric faults and frozen locks, (if there is no other access to the site.) They will organise follow-up calls if refuse collections are missed and will arrange grit delivery to sites with grit bins, (the grit is to be distributed on site by boaters).

BW will not organise emergency call-outs for frozen water pipes or pump outs, as these cannot be repaired until they thaw. They will not arrange for the removal of sewage from a boat where there are working alternative facilities on site. BW recommend that boaters stock-pile water supplies in advance of a forecast freeze, as they will not supply on-site water bowsers (trailer mounted water tanks). BW offices will be closed from 2pm on 23rd December until 3rd January, but customers can report any faults by calling the Freephone Canals number 0800 47 999 47. Cruising in winter can be a challenge. You will need to be aware of the dangers of ice and snow on towpaths, bridges and lock-sides. Keep well back from the edge and use handrails on lock gates. Hold on to something sturdy when getting on and off your boat. Clear snow from the gunwales and use grit when you can. De-icer and spray grease are useful for locks and padlocks on your own boat and on the boating facilities. Try to keep ropes out of the water as frozen ropes are difficult to work with! It may be an idea to keep spare, dry ropes indoors.

Winter can actually be a good time to buy a narrowboat, barge or canal boat as you can really get a feel for what the boat will be like during the colder months, and go into it with your eyes open. At Boatshed Grand Union you can see a great selection of photos of each boat before arranging a viewing.

Finally, I am going to re-iterate my previous advice for boating in the winter: Put a casserole in the oven and some mulled wine on top of the stove!

Image Credits
'Mulled Wine for the Party' by fieldtripp
'Frozen Canal' by D Melmoth
Creative Commons License

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Friday 11 November 2011

#FlashbackFriday 11/11/11

Stocker's Lock, Rickmansworth
 “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Midsummer Night's Dream. William Shakespeare.

Twenty one years ago I fancied a boy at school. The school play was A Midsummer Night's Dream. He was Lysander, I was Head of Props. We drank cider and kissed at the cast party on the last night of the play. But we left school and we lost touch. Twelve years later he contacted me through Friends Reunited. We found out we'd both just been travelling in India at the same time. We found out that his new job as a research scientist was around the corner from my new job, at Friends of the Earth in Islington. We became friends and then more. He thought it was a good idea that I lived on a narrowboat, so he bought his own boat and we travelled together. Eventually I sold my boat and moved onto his boat.

“Please be my ramblin' woman
And I'll be your ramblin' man
And together we will travel
Holding each other's hands...”

Rory McLeod

Stocker's Lock at Rickmansworth was our favourite mooring in 2006. We had a picnic beside the lake and he proposed. We got married on the 11th November, so that makes today our fifth wedding anniversary: 11/11/11.

Flashback again to a girl who lived alone on a little red narrowboat called 'Emily Rose'. She was waiting for true love. She wrote a list in her notebook of the qualities that she was looking for. Someone passionate, creative, spontaneous, musical. Someone who writes.

Be careful what you wish for, because wishes come true.

No words can describe what it feels like to be in my kind of true love. But if I had to describe it I would say that wherever I travel, he is my home.


I wanted to link this post up to Flashback Friday at Cafe Bebe, but I'm actually scheduling it to get posted while we're driving down to Plymouth to celebrate our anniversary. Visit Karin's Cafe Bebe to see other bloggers sharing old photos. Karin says, "Just take us back in time. Share some words to take us there and we can all get nostalgic and smiley remembering “when”.
Woodland wedding cake

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Boats Without a Home Mooring

Boat 'parked' on double yellow lines.
Following my previous blog post outlining some basic information about living aboard and continuous cruising, British Waterways has since updated their guidelines for boats without a home mooring. The previous guidance was first published in 2004. However, Bristol County Court recently decided that in the case of British Waterways v Davies, moving up and down within a 10 mile stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal without a home mooring could not be described as 'bona fide navigation' (a phrase from the 1995 BW Act, meaning in good faith.)

The new guidelines were created after consultation with waterways user groups such as the National Association of Boat Owners. They were published on 12th October 2011 and define more clearly what is meant by bona fide navigation and seek to ensure that enough temporary moorings are readily available for all cruising boats.

The new guidance states that,

“Subject to stops of permitted duration, those using a boat licensed for continuous cruising must genuinely be moving, in passage or in transit throughout the period of the licence...

Importantly, short trips within the same neighbourhood, and shuttling backwards and forwards along a small part of the network do NOT meet the legal requirement for navigation throughout the period of the licence.”

Complying with these guidelines is one of the terms and conditions of purchasing a licence to continuously cruise.

BW has also clarified that “Place in this context means a neighbourhood or locality, NOT simply a particular mooring site or position.” Circumstances where it is reasonable to stay in one neighbourhood for longer than 14 days are where further movement is prevented by events such as temporary mechanical breakdown, emergency navigation stoppage, impassable ice or serious illness.

Critics of the new guidelines have voiced concerns about whether the regulations will be adequately policed and enforced by BW officers. While some boaters believe that the same boats appear to repeatedly occupy the same visitor moorings, some live-aboard boaters feel that their way of life is being persecuted and that there are not enough visitor moorings available in some areas, even when one is genuinely cruising (moving every fourteen days). Some boaters do wish to find a permanent residential mooring but BW admits that these are currently in short supply. BW has welcomed the announcement in August by the Housing Minister Grant Shapps which provided an incentive to local authorities to grant more consents for residential moorings.

If you're looking for a second-hand narrowboat or barge to buy in London, Hertfordshire or the surrounding areas Boatshed Grand Union has plenty of boats for sale that are ideally suited to continuous cruising.

If you do require a mooring BW moorings can be found at

There is further information on mooring and continuous cruising at

Disclosure: I wrote this post for the Boatshed Grand Union blog.

For business blogging services contact me at

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Living Aboard - Part 10: Children on Board

I live aboard a narrowboat with my husband and two young children. The first questions that people often ask us are about safety. Our children were born on board and have had the risks stressed to them every day. If you are planning to move a family on to a second-hand narrowboat or barge then there will be several potential hazards to become aware of.

Just as you would do in a house, we keep our doors bolted shut. For summer days outside there are playpen barriers enclosing the front deck, but children must still never be left unsupervised while outside on a canal boat. Life jackets can be purchased from your nearest large chandlery and these may be of use to you if you have a mooring with a garden where the children can play, but we find them unnecessary for the daily walk to the shops or the car.

Victorian working boat families secured their children to the roof of the boat by tying them on whilst travelling. Some families create a modern version of this arrangement using toddler reins to secure the child. In this situation they must still never be left unattended. The adult crew must also remain aware of the dangers of overhanging tree branches, low bridges and mooring ropes being thrown about. I have occasionally seen hire boaters allow their children to stand and walk on the roof of a moving boat, but ours have strict instructions to remain seated! I would not recommend allowing young children to be on deck unsupervised while cruising.

Locks are particularly dangerous places because of the depth of the water and the strong currents below. I recommend repeating a set of simple rules to your children, which depending on their age could include 'stay close to a grown up' and 'hold hands when told to'. All children should be told to keep away from the edge and to never run beside a lock.

If your boat does not have a home mooring the website of your local borough council will help you to find children’s playgrounds while you are cruising. The home page should have a link to leisure facilities and playgrounds; parks and gardens can usually be found in this section.

For family life on board you may be looking for a boat to buy with two bedroom cabins. The Boatshed Grand Union website has a search facility to help you find second-hand canal boats for sale within your budget.

When you move aboard your boat your children will face the same challenges as you will, such as a lack of storage space, and limited electricity and water. But they will also enjoy the benefits of a way of life that is much closer to nature. My baby daughter's first word was, “Quack!”
I told her not to use fowl language.

This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, who worries about the grandchildren on the water.

Disclosure: I wrote this post for the Boatshed Grand Union website.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Living Aboard - Part 9 Pets on Board

Lyra the intrepid boat cat
I was recently asked how practical it would be to keep a pet if you are a living aboard a canal boat?

Dogs seem a popular choice of pet amongst live-aboard boaters. Canal boat cruising is something that most dogs really enjoy, with lots opportunities for exercise and new dogs and people to meet on towpath walks. As always it's important to be responsible about clearing up after your dog, so that the towpath remains pleasant for all to enjoy. It is a traffic free area for walking your dog, although you must remain aware of road bridges. It may be difficult to keep an eye on your dog while working through a lock, so you will have to decide whether your dog would be happiest confined to the boat, or alternatively tied up somewhere safely near the lock, until he (or she) gets used to boat life and you are confident that he is aware of the dangers of the water. While some dogs are happy to swim anywhere, a lock is very deep and has strong under currents. If you move on board to somewhere rural and your dog isn't used to the country life, then make sure that you keep him away from livestock and water fowl.

Cats are more than happy to walk along the gunwales and peer into the windows of your boating neighbours. They can get on and off a boat more easily than dogs. I have met several boaters who keep cats on board. Cats do get used to it, but if they are out exploring and you need to move the boat you may just have to wait for them to come home; bear in mind this could take a couple of hours. When you first move home, as most cat owners will know, you should keep them indoors for two weeks to get them used to their new environment. One cat lover I know has trained her cats to recognise the sound of treats rattled in a plastic box. She rattles this box as a signal for them to come back to the boat when it's time to go off cruising. Her other word of advice is that whenever it is possible avoid mooring too close to busy roads. 

As for other pets, you will have to judge for yourself whether your main cabin has enough room for a bird cage, hamster cage, goldfish bowl or fish tank. Have a look at the variety of boats for sale at Boatshed Grand Union to get an idea of what live-aboard canal boats are available. Some deck spaces are large enough for a rabbit hutch, but if you don't have a mooring there may not be much scope to let the rabbits run around. Having said that, I have seen two boats that kept chickens before. The first was a 50 ft live-aboard narrowboat; the couple on board had set up a small chicken coop on the grassy towpath. I also used to know a couple who sold solid fuel from their pair of working boats. They actually had enough room in one of the holds for a reasonably sized chicken run!


Ben the boat dog - from the Bert and Betty stories (

More about Lyra the Boat Cat:

Disclosure: I wrote this post for the Boatshed Grand Union website.
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Monday 24 October 2011

How to Change Your Life - in four lines.

Leo Babauta
I've been reading the Zen Habits blog for some time, nodding along in agreement with Leo Babauta's ideas on how to find simplicity in the chaos of our daily lives.

“It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.”

Zen Habits is one of the Top 25 blogs and Top 50 websites in the world, with about 225,000 readers, and it is uncopyrighted. The blog is 'reader supported', which means it's advert and affiliate free. Leo sells books and ebooks through his blog. 

While I love and agree with Leo's ideas I have yet to put any of them into action. But a recent blog post of his summed up his methods into a manageable nutshell.

The Zen Habits Method

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

The full article is here
Leo then clarified the 'single change' method here Make one change

I am a wife and mother, a writer, and a freelance secretary. I have anxiety habits and feel overwhelmed by the amount of things that somewhere in my past I decided I should achieve. My email inbox needs more than de-cluttering – I have simply subscribed to too many blogs, newsletters and job alerts from freelancing websites. I'm a narrowboater so I have extra chores like filling the water tank, moving the boat and getting rid of domestic waste. I'm also a student of the online course Become a Mumpreneur (Affiliate link) I work very hard but lack focus. My new business is not bringing in enough money.

I'm going to start very small. I'm going to make one change. I will be present and enjoy the activity. I will be grateful for the step that I take.

My Zen Habit this week is to begin to transcribe medical letters for an online dictation company. It's not glamorous or creative. But it's a step towards building up a work-at-home business.

I have written it down. That means it will happen.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Living Aboard Part 8 Where's My Nearest...?

If you're thinking of buying a boat to live-aboard and go on an extended cruise you may well like to know how far would it be between Elsan points and water taps, shops, pubs, visitor moorings and winding holes.

The Nicholsons Waterways guide for your local area (published by Collins) shows sewage or 'Elsan' disposal points and water points. They also show boatyards, refuse disposal points and recycling points. They are written with boaters, walkers and cyclists in mind and contain coloured Ordnance Survey maps marked out with locks, towpaths and boating facilities. The informative text contains navigational notes, places of interest, waterways wildlife, pubs, restaurants, walks and cycle rides. Many places are listed with their postcode which is very handy for locating yourself using the internet, sat-nav or a smart phone.

Every lock, aqueduct and bridge is marked so that you can plan your journey accordingly, and calculate your likely journey time. Add the number of miles to the number of locks on your planned cruise and then divide that figure by three. This will give you roughly the number of hours that your journey may take, but with narrowboating prepare to be relaxed about punctuality!

The introduction to each guide always contains some useful information for waterways users including boating basics, safety guidelines, mooring advice, and how to use a lock.

For grocery shops, GPs, cash points and the other bare necessities of life you will need the local First Mate's guide by Carole Sampson.

These focus on facilities within walking distance of the canal and include telephone boxes, internet cafes, dentists, vets, hospitals with A&E, chemists, travel links, launderettes, takeaways, churches and more: Everything you might need for a life on the move. Carole's friendly, informal introduction includes advice on using Poste Restante, and other tips on using the guide books. The layout is very different to the Nicholson's guide, focussing instead on the centre of each local town, it's facilities and good places to moor. I like her added suggestions of a “nip-to” now and then, which is something useful nearby, a very short walk from the canal. These are very helpful books containing essential information but without the descriptive narrative that is characteristic of the Nicholson's guide.

Pearson's Canal Companions cover much of the network, with a homespun feel and a chatty and lively narrative.

Richlow guides are "written by people who go there". Christine Richardson and John Lower set up Richlow  to publish books of the canals and rivers adjacent to the tidal river Trent. But the area has widened, with the whole of the South Pennine Ring, and the North Yorkshire Waterways added. Modern short-run production methods mean that they are kept up to date and very accurate.

On the internet you can find  which is a very good route planner with itineraries and virtual cruises. Water-Way is  based on the Nicholson's Guides plus much more.

So when looking for a boat to buy you can also enjoy planning the journeys ahead and how long it might take you to get to where you want to be.

“If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Lewis Carroll

If your boat is quite long, (ours is 70ft) you may have to factor in plenty of time to turn around at the next winding hole. How far apart the shops are depends on how far apart the towns are where you are cruising. But I can guarantee that you are never far from a canal side pub.

If you want to buy a canal boat to live-aboard, have a look at the boats for sale on Boatshed Grand Union. Search terms like "narrowboat", "broad beam" or "Dutch barge" will help you to find the second hand boat you are looking for.

Thanks to John Warner for the idea for this article.

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Boatshed Grand Union. It was my choice to republish it here.
This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

Monday 17 October 2011

How to Start a Freelance Writing Career in 24 Hours or Less

I found this article ages ago and  I really liked it. But does it work? I promised myself I would publish this as a guest post when I had completed the steps below.
How to Start a Freelance Writing Career in 24 Hours or Less for $0
If you want to start a freelance writing career, it’s as simple as sitting down and taking the steps listed below. You can literally do everything in 24 hours or less – and it won’t cost you a cent. The only thing it costs is time – sweat equity.

If you want to start a freelance writing career, following is a three-step plan of action to get you there. By tomorrow, you can officially say, "I’m a freelance writer."

Steps to Starting a Work-from-Home Freelance Writing Career
1. Put Up a Blog: You need a web presence as a freelance writer. So, instead of putting up a website (which has hosting fees and may require skills beyond your level), simply throw up a blog. A blog and a website are both web presences. They’re just used differently. For now, what you need is a web presence, and a blog will do just fine.
Start with a free one you can get from blogger (dot com) or wordpress (dot com). By putting up a blog, you can’t use the, "I don’t have the time, knowledge, money or skill to build a website" excuse. Once you get an official website, you can move everything over later.
What to Put On Your Freelance Writing Blog
On your freelance writing blog, list three things: your writing samples (which we’ll discuss below); your professional profile/bio (make it short and relevant); and your rates. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Cost: $0; Estimated Time to Complete: Up to an hour (keep things simple).
2. Writing Samples: This the one thing that stops most wannabe freelancers dead in their tracks. Don’t let it.
If you don’t have writing samples – simply sit down and write a few articles for each niche you plan to target. I recommend three to five to start. All potential clients want to see is evidence of your writing ability. Whether you’ve been published before is irrelevant to 90-95% of clients.
Cost: $0; Estimated Time to Complete: 3-5 hours, depending on how many samples you plan to write. Figure on average one article (400-600 words) per hour.
3. Marketing List: Once you have your writing samples and your web presence ready to go, it’s now time to start prospecting/marketing for clients. This is perhaps the most difficult part of starting your freelance writing career.
Hit the web, the best way to find contact information. Target anyone and everyone you think can use your writing services – web design firms, internet marketing firms, ezines, magazines (although these take forever), advertising agencies, etc.
Compile a list of 20-25 prospects you can contact each day. Marketing for writing jobs is simply a numbers game. Before long, you will land a client – I practically guarantee it.
Cost: $0; Estimated Time to Complete: 2-5 hours.
If you spend a full day of 10-12 hours doing everything listed here, you will have pulled together everything you need to start a freelance writing career. Market religiously every day to 20-25 prospects and before long, will have a successful, work-from-home career that you can do from anywhere.
Freelance writing is not brain surgery. Don’t over think it – just do it!

May be reprinted with the following, in full: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of The Authority Site on How to Start a Successful Freelance Writing Career. Site features first-account freelance success stories, e-courses, ebooks, marketing advice and more! Want to make money today as a freelance writer? The e-report How to Make $100/Day or More as a Freelance Writer! tells you how.

So, How Did I Do?

1) Blog
2) Writing samples
3) Marketing list 

I must say, it took me more than 24 hours, but I have actually been paid for writing, which officially makes me a freelance writer. My marketing list is an ongoing project and is not particularly long at the moment, but at least I have an idea where I am headed.
I've also been really inspired by a writer called Antonia Chitty from Become a Mumpreneur (Affiliate link). Visit her websites for free ecourses and lots of advice and info on becoming a freelance writer and mumpreneur.

Now go ahead and start your own writing career. Let me know how you do! Leave a link to your new writers website as a comment below.

Friday 14 October 2011

The Narrowboat Wife Shop is Open!

A selection of lovely things from my narrowboat life. 

Emily's shop Image Credit
Emily's shop was rather an unusual shop because it didn't sell anything. You see, everything in that shop window was a thing that somebody had once lost, and Emily had found, and brought home to Bagpuss.

Everything in Peggy's shop window was either something she'd made, or something she'd found, and liked, and brought home to her narrowboat. She didn't have a shop window. Just a page. You will see it's quite a random selection of things, with prices ranging from absolutely free to £35.00 It's only just opened so browsing around will take just a few moments. I'll let you know when I find more lovely things to put in the shop.

Uxbridge Lock: Watercolour

An 8" x 6" canvas print of this painting is small enough to hang in any narrowboat, or could fill a niche in the house of someone who just loves the waterways. 
Painted in watercolour by Peggy.

Have you ever wondered what it is like to live on a narrowboat with children? Is it cold in winter? What if the children fall in the water? All of your questions answered! 
Free ebook!

Massage For Your Mind: Hypnosis MP3 £8.99
This hypnotherapy MP3 download offers help to improve mental calmness, physical relaxation, confidence, competence, and better quality sleep.  Suggestions spoken by clinical hypnotherapist Peggy Melmoth.
Relax and imagine you're drifting along England's waterways.

I was looking for memoirs of families living aboard (and there aren't that many about!) when I discovered this one. I have great respect for any family that attempts to refurbish a boat while living aboard. Marie’s boat is called ‘Happy Go Lucky’ and at the beginning of the story Marie is anything but that. But I loved the way that as the story progresses the couple become more relaxed and dishevelled, the waterways begin to change them, and they find out that sometimes less is more.

Have you read any good narrowboat books? Let me know!