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.”
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