Monday 14 March 2011

Meet The Boaters: Rosie and Tony

Rosie and Tony lived on a narrowboat for four years and a Dutch barge for two years. Rosie is an artist and Tony is a careworker. They have two dogs and a one year old baby.

Rosie says, “Tony used to walk Mabel, our dog, down by Kensal Green canal when we were renting a flat up that way and he got into the idea of the boat, I was nervous about coming back at night but there was a woman with a baby moored there and I thought, ‘If she can do it we can’.

We got a shell from the Liverpool boat company and fitted the whole thing out at Kensal Green. We had a camp stove and no toilet or running water. We had to go to Sainsburys for the toilet and a pound shower at the leisure center. The roof was totally piled up with crap but we were really excited about it and enjoyed roughing it up! We did Bobby Dazzler out lovely in the end, and it’s now well loved and looked after by its new owners.
Our next boat was bought off a bloke who was doing it out with his wife, but she died and he wanted shot of it. I was ready for land but Tony talked me into looking and we decided to buy it. It was cold when we moved onto it and the heating was a diesel stove that didn’t work; it was pretty grim. We had a beautiful lake to ourselves in Shepperton but it was full of Canadian geese which never shut up! It had a lot more space and it was a lot easier to do out as you could put normal furniture in it, but because it was old it wasn’t well insulated and needed all the rust taking off and painted and greased again.

The best thing about living on a boat is summer evenings when you’re moored with a nice bunch of boaters and there’s a barbeque on the go and we had some good New Years party cruises on the Bobby Dazzler. But the best thing is long summer trips down the Thames. You get a good set of people on boats from all walks of life but you all have the boats in common and I like that.

The worst thing is long winters; having British Waterways on your back, and toilets are nicer on land - but you just get used to that. It felt a bit damp on Jantina ( the Dutch barge) towards the end of winter but that was a long winter.

The best thing with our baby was that it was a nice towpath community, including some of the dog walkers. There were low overheads in that lifestyle. I would have loved to have taken our daughter on the Thames round Cookham way when she was a bit older. She used to like sitting in the wheel house when we were on the move.

The worst thing about boating with a baby is doing the locks, keeping the heat consistent (especially when she was really tiny) not having a doctors, having to move when you have made mum friends in an area, getting on and off the boat with a buggy, you couldn’t get a babysitter, and smoke coming in the boat! I could go on …ha ha!

We lived on the boat for four years before we had a baby and nine months with her.

I think it’s a nice way for kids to live as it’s a big adventure, although when they get a bit older they might make friends that they don’t want to move from. It would be ideal if you had a group of boaters with kids that moved around together. I don’t know how it would have been now that she’s walking; that wouldn’t be too relaxing.

I found it hard being so reliant on Tony for so much.. i.e wood for the fire, petrol for the generator, filling up, emptying out. It’s nice for him now that he can come home from work and settle instead of having a million things to do (athough he probably doesn’t know what to do with himself). The little things that are a bit harder on a boat really add up. Laundry, changing gas, topping up the fire, all become a lot more intense when there is a new baby. When she was really sick the other day we did about ten washes in one day, and I kept thinking, I’m so glad I’m not on the boat!

When you live on a boat people always say … “Oh how lovely, I’d love to do that!” …and I think, 'You wouldn’t last two minutes love!'

Rosie and Tony now rent a house with a garden.

“I left boating because of all of the worst things that I’ve just said, but in spring and summer I will miss it because of all the good things... “

Rosie Short creates quirky hand-made dolls at

1 comment:

Kathy Short said...

Even though I know it all already it's been lovely to read about it.