Wednesday 30 January 2013

Join the @BritMums Carnival!

Follow your dreams
On 12th February the BritMums Blog Carnival is coming over to my place! Every two weeks a different parent blogger "hosts" the carnival. Bloggers submit posts from the past month. I thought I'd do a loose theme of canals, boats and water, and/or following dreams, because that's what my blog is about. But if you don't have anything that fits that then send whatever you like. (But you do have a dream to follow don't you...?) :-)

All the rules are here The BritMums Carnival.

Please send me,
1) Your name
2) The name of your blog
3) The url of your chosen post

Before Sunday 10th February. Contact Peggy.

Thank you! 


Monday 28 January 2013

It’s not all roses n castles

Rather than acknowledging that mothering on a boat is a difficult choice, and therefore that it makes me quite a good mother, I seem to default to beating myself up about not being good enough. It’s almost as if being ‘The Narrowboat Wife’ has become my whole identity. It makes me interesting in social company, and it’s given me a writing niche on the Internet that I have turned into a career.

However, I am beginning to think living in a house would be easier, and if I’m honest with myself, if I won the lottery right now I might buy a house, rather than a better boat. After all, I can always return to boating when my kids are older.

Since I was little I dreamed of living a romantic gypsy lifestyle. I have a good friend who tells it like it is so I asked for her ‘no nonsense’ style of advice. She said,
“Please don’t feel that you are failing your dream by moving on to the next stage in your life.”
That was really helpful for me. I think that is how I have been feeling.
She pointed out that the ‘periphery crap’ like trying to make sure there is heating and running water, or simply getting rid of rubbish and recycling by walking to disposal points on foot; these things all take time: Time that I could spend enjoying my children or running my business.

I love my boat. I love the canals. I love the little roses and castles in the girls’ bedroom and the swans visiting the side hatch in summer. Most of all I love that I own my home and no one can take that away from me. To live in a house we would have to rent one.
“But there’s no reason why the girls’ bedroom couldn’t have roses and castles in it,” said my friend.

"Rapunzel began to worry. If her dream finally came true - then what would happen?
Flynn knew just what to say. "Well, that's the good part, I guess. You get to go find a new dream."

Tuesday 22 January 2013

How to be happy

Goal setting: life planning. Does it work?

I was going to write something about my goals and dreams because it’s a New Year. I worked through a great workbook from Elinor Wilde theWorking Mums Coach, about how to find the pause button, because there never seems to be enough time in my life. I also enjoyed an hour alone with a glass of wine and the Unravelling Workbook from Susanna Conway. I thought I needed to redefine my dreams and work out another action plan towards my goals. I thought I wasn’t doing well enough in my business and that I could rearrange things so that I was working more efficiently and providing a better service. I’ve become attracted to goal setting and affirmations and vision boards and training for entrepreneurs and mumpreneurs. But is that really who I am?

I want to be happy, but I am never truly happy these days. I am always planning something, goal setting or analysing something.  

I feel I should be writing about narrowboat life; how hard it’s been in the snow. How the diesel stove packed up this week and my husband spent hours taking it apart and chipping coke from the insides. How I took the boat to the water point yesterday, reversing through frozen plates of floating ice, only to find the tap is still frozen.

I could describe the relief and happiness I felt when we bought a small portable butane heater; or the tears I cried at 5.30am on the front deck last week. I was up early to go to the Boatshed conference in London when the propane ran out. While my family slept I used a mallet to free the gas spanner from the frozen front deck. I tried and failed to change the gas bottle and crouched in the soft, silent snow on the front deck in the deep, icy, darkness crying real hot tears. I just wanted my family to be warm when they woke up, and for my husband to be able to easily make a cup of tea. I was not sure that boat life is still for me.

I moved onto a boat in my late twenties when life was an adventure lived mostly in pubs, and no children depended on me.

I feel I ‘should’  be writing about narrowboat life on this blog, but I want to write about my own life; about my choices and trials and tribulations: And the elusive search for happiness.

For some reason, turning 40 recently has made me feel like very soon, I am going to figure everything out! When I do, I will let you know the answers. 

Monday 7 January 2013

Happy birthday: No running water

Narrowboat Christmas

Despite living on a boat for more than twelve years this was our first Christmas aboard; and very relaxed it was too. Father Christmas made it down the flue pipe of the diesel stove somehow, ate his mince pie and took the reindeer food we left for Rudolph. Top requests on the letters to Santa had been a balaclava for Big Sister and a chocolate cake for Little Sister. Santa delivered these and many more gifts besides. What lovely simple requests from ones so young, before they are old enough to request computer game consuls or whatever the kids are into these days. I know I sound old but I did turn 40 on Boxing Day! (Gasp!)

I got everything I wished for on my birthday and after the kids were in bed we chilled out and watched some Christmas TV with The Doctor’s parents. My mother-in-law kindly did the dishes for us but then later on went to use the bathroom. She claimed there was now no running water. No doubt another case of ‘house people’ not understanding how our boat works, I thought to myself, judgementally.

It turns out that she was right, there was indeed no running water. The next day The Doctor dismantled the access hatch and tested various bits and bobs to try to isolate the problem. Do we need a new water pump? Where in the circuit has it all gone wrong? Could this be expensive? We don’t want to disturb our marine engineer’s Christmas holiday so we leave it a few days before texting him, and survive on bottled water and washing dishes with a supply from the aquaroll. It’s a pain but we’re used to this sort of thing by now.

However, after a week of no running water we’re kind of desperate for a bath! So on New Years Day we treated ourselves to a night in the local Travelodge, (£15 for a family room!) I absolutely love sinking into a deep hot bath; we only have a shower on the boat.

The next day, we took the girls to the zoo and the marine engineer let himself into our boat with a set of spare keys. It did not take long to isolate the problem and he phoned straight away to let us know.
“There is a switch above the kitchen sink that was turned off. It turns off the water. I’ve turned it on again now.”
A little embarrassed, The Doctor asks how much we owe him for his time, and the engineer laughs and says not to worry about it.

A week without running water because a switch that we never use had been flicked off! Could my mother-in-law have done it accidentally when washing the dishes? Or was it one of the children? There are plenty of redundant light switches in our boat, as when the previous owner installed new systems he left the old ones in place. There are always a few switches and things about that we don’t know what they do: we just ignore them.

But how the friends and family of the marine engineer will laugh when he tells them the story of the family who didn’t know about their own ‘water off’ switch. 

Christmas morning.