Monday 7 May 2012

Alice Griffin - Guest Posts on The Call of the Water

Alice (on the left!)
Today I have a special guest on my blog: Alice Griffin, a narrowboat wife. She is a mother, writer, traveller, dreamer, vegetarian, animal lover, seeker of peace, crafter and sometime gardener. On her blog Writings From the Wherever she talks about projects she is working on and connects with others… from wherever she may be... 

Over to Alice... 

The Call of the Water

When my family and I started looking into the option of living on a narrowboat, a friend said: “the winters can be hard, but the Spring and Summer more than make up for it.”

Right now I am writing this in my notebook sat on the roof of my boat. The sun is beating down, fellow boaters are cruising by and my daughter is peddling up and down the towpath on her bike talking to the ducks and geese… at this moment I simply cannot imagine a better way to live in England because for me, it is everything at its best: nature, friendliness and freedom.

We are in the first throws of Spring and winter is just a distant memory. Sure this winter was nowhere near as severe as last winter, but still I cursed to myself at having to lug big bags of dirty washing to the laundrette, thinking about what it would be like to just put the washing on in my kitchen and go about something else while it whirred away*. Or I would catch myself daydreaming about life in a house with rooms where you can shut yourself off in silence when rain is falling and family life gets too claustrophobic. But no, it’s not winter any more and as we untie the ropes of our mooring for the first time this year, I am reminded of all the things I love about boat living.

My hand-washed clothes are blowing in the breeze and there is abundant space on the doorstep where we can roam and find adventures along secret paths, in wide open fields and amongst the trees. I think that’s it for me, the attraction to this way of life: living right in the heart of nature. Each morning the air tastes more delicious and I feel more at peace as I lay still listening to the chaffinch who visits the window feeder or watch the Moorhens as they scurry in and out of their nest. The world is coming alive right on my doorstep and somehow, I am more aware of it than I ever was because it feels as though I am in some way cocooned within nature’s embrace here. And when I do have to do a laundrette run, it is no longer plagued by a cold walk lugging heavy laundry, to sit staring sorrowfully through steamed-up windows onto a dreary street. Now we ‘washers’ chat to each other with bright smiles as we watch our clothes go round, the Manageress plays guessing games with my daughter and we take breaks in the church grounds opposite amongst the Spring flowers. Somehow, now, I feel I would be losing a valuable people connection if I were to have a washing machine on my boat.

But as I write this I feel a sense of sadness for having emerged from another winter, but without the prize of seeing the first ducklings and moorhen babies outside my back door. You see, next week I will be heading off on a new adventure to the mountains of Italy where my family and I will be volunteering on a farm and although I will still be very much within the embrace of nature, I know I will long for my life on water, wondering when it will call me back…

* please note, it is entirely possible to have a washing machine on a narrowboat if you so wish!

Alice's book is an inspiring travelogue with practical tips: True stories of travelling with a baby. 

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