Saturday 30 March 2013

50ft trad narrowboat for sale

A friend of mine has just finished 'doing up' and refurbishing this beautiful narrowboat. It's light and airy inside with a fixed double plus a dinette. Full details and pictures are here: Beautiful narrowboat for sale. There is also a full list of the work recently completed.

She is currently moored near Milton Keynes.

£34,950 ono

If you're looking for a live-aboard boat or a leisure boat for holidays and weekends this one is lovely. Even if you're not, have a look at the photos, for some gorgeous inspiration of how light and airy a narrowboat can seem inside!

If you have any questions about living aboard grab yourself my free eBook Living on a Boat.

Monday 25 March 2013

No more news from Boat Wife? Really?

If you're reading this in Google Reader then did you know that Google is closing down Google Reader on June 1st? If you don't use Google Reader it's an easy way to keep up with the blogs that you enjoy.

Act now!

If you still want to read blogs in a reader try swapping to Feedly instead. It' free - I'm just recommending it because Glen at Viperchill did, and he's really cool and knows stuff about blogging! Don't leave changing it until the end of May, swap readers now and forget about it. Sorted! I just did it, it was really quick and Feedly even went and grabbed all the blogs I usually read from my Google Reader.

What are you on about?

If you don't use Google Reader then you can stay in touch with me in other ways. If you subscribe to posts in the sidebar on the right you will get an email whenever I write something new. If you don't want to be inundated with emails create an email filter to sort your favourite blogs into a separate folder. That's what I do :-)

My inbox is overwhelming!

Yep, mine too. Perhaps you'd rather have the monthly round-up from Narrowboat Wife. The newsletter summarises what I've been up to, and if you join the list now you get a free eBook called 'Narrowboat Families.' Choose the html version to see the lovely pictures as I think the text version looks a bit weird.


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Monday 18 March 2013

What’s so good about the Grand Union Canal?

When you live and travel on a boat it feels like you have several areas that you could call ‘home’. You might even feel at home on a whole stretch of canal and for me that stretch would be the southern Grand Union.

I’ve travelled from Blisworth to London and often settled myself comfortably on a winter mooring in Angel, Islington. When we finally decided to settle for good so that our eldest daughter could start school we were lucky enough to find a residential mooring in Marsworth. This is a tiny rural community, with a little church, two cosy pubs and many colourful moored boats lining the centre of the village. The loveliest thing about the area though is the three reservoirs that feed the canal. A favourite with families, dog walkers, fishermen and photographers the views are stunning. It is quite an unusual sight to see a vast expanse of water right next to the canal.

Rising up the flight of seven locks you then arrive at Bulbourne, a little hamlet which was once a hub of traditional lockgate making. The old British Waterways workshops can still be seen beside the canal. Drifting onwards the Tring summit level takes us through a leafy canal cutting down to Cowroast. Originally known as ‘cows rest’ because farmers would rest their cows here on the way to market in London, the local pub and boatyard now take on the name. The English countryside remains green and beautiful as we travel towards Berkhamsted, a charming historic town featuring an olde worlde sweet shop, a multitude of lovely restaurants and an ancient ruined castle. Travelling through Hemel Hempstead you see nothing of the concrete town centre, instead chugging past the ancient Three Horseshoes pub (1535), through the swing bridge and the spacious urban parkland known as Boxmoor.

Other highlights for me on the journey are the fields around Rickmansworth where Black Beauty was filmed, the quiet of Cassiobury Park, the lakes of Harefield and the woodland of Denham Country Park. This is followed by the Swan and Bottle pub in Uxbridge, full of wooden beams, real ale and memories of my old boating friends who have long since moved on. Then turning left at Bulls Bridge we head into London still travelling quietly through parkland such as Horsenden Hill and Perivale Wood before briefly flirting with the modern world as we drift over the north circular aqueduct.

The only way to end a cruise like this would be to moor up in one of the boatiest places in London: Little Venice. Here you can remain with the quiet English pub vibe (try the Warwick Castle) or eat at somewhere swanky and modern in Sheldon Square. You’ll also be a short walk from Paddington so could simply head off to see the famous sights of London.

I love this whole stretch of canal and can’t believe Neil and Corinne are offering a £50 discount on what must be one of the best boat journeys you can do!

See more details and check availability on the Leighton Buzzard to London (Little Venice) narrowboat hotel cruise.

Remember: If you are single or a couple, it is much cheaper to come hotel boating than to hire a boat, and you don't have to do the cooking and washing up!

Disclosure: I was paid to write this post for the Canal Voyagers Hotel Boats blog. It was my choice to republish it here as it tells a little bit about my own narrowboat life. 

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Beside the sea side

When I was little we lived in a village beside the sea. I wanted to write a beautiful and lyrical post about being connected to water, but in the end I think these pictures speak for themselves. Our narrowboat is moored about the furthest distance you can get from the sea in England, so my girls have rarely seen it. On this day in half term I took them to the beach near where I grew up and enjoyed watching them discover sand, shells and rock pools.

What part of your childhood would you like to share with your children?

Tuesday 12 March 2013

The day I fell in love with canals

Stoke Bruerne in Spring
Stoke Bruerne in Spring
Blisworth has a special meaning for me, because it was here that I met my first true love: a little red narrowboat called Emily Rose. In my late twenties she became an inexpensive first home for a girl who couldn’t afford a mortgage on a London flat.

Aptly enough, it was Independence Day (4th July) when I took ownership of my first boat and left the brokerage in Bugbrook.   I enlisted the help of a friend who knew how to steer a narrowboat and headed south down the Grand Union towards London.

Before long we arrived at the Blisworth tunnel, and dizzy with the excitement of my first big canal adventure I wrote a bad poem in its honour; “It’s a mile and three quarter, And dripping with water…”
 Originally boats were legged through this tunnel and the leggers hut can still be seen on the bank at the southern end. There is no towpath but the tunnel is wide enough for boats travelling in opposite directions to pass one another. As we chugged through the darkness my steering friend re-told the ghost story of some poor souls who were crushed during the building of the tunnel. They do say that sometimes you may see an alternative tunnel branching off from the current route. This ghostly tunnel is lit by candlelight, as it would have been when the navvies were building it before the tragedy happened…

At the southern end of the tunnel we emerged into the leafy cutting of Stoke Bruerne and moored up for the night. Stoke Bruerne is a charming canal side village full of waterways history. In the days of working boats Sister Mary Ward lived beside the canal offering healthcare to the working boaters and their families. Of course there is a waterside pub to visit, plus boat scales, a double arched bridge, and a series of locks. The waterways museum is in an old corn mill and exhibits include a traditional narrowboat and a reconstruction of a butty boat cabin. You will see steam and diesel engines, historical clothing, cabinware, brasses, paintings and photographs. The museum shop sells books, postcards and other souvenirs. In Stoke Bruerne you can really immerse yourself in the rose-painted nostalgia of the canal era. By this point, and only one day into my first journey I was already in love with the whole lifestyle.

The next day we carried on to visit a church in the village of Cosgrove and then cruised quietly through idyllic rural landscapes. Even at Milton Keynes the canal misses the city centre, instead meandering around the edges giving you a completely different perspective to what you might expect. There was so much open country on our journey and we travelled undisturbed by the sounds of modern traffic, interrupted only by occasional sleepy villages. I felt that I was seeing England in a completely different way.

If you’d like to see the same stretch, not only with your own steerer, but also someone to cook and wash up for you, you may like the Canal Voyagers Hotel Boats Market Harborough to Leighton Buzzard cruise departing on Friday 3rd May 2013.

They are now offering a £50 discount on the first 12 cruises of the year! Click here to get the Late Availability Voucher. 

Disclosure: I was paid to write this post on the Canal Voyagers blog. It was my choice to re-publish it here to offer my readers the discount voucher.

Monday 11 March 2013

Boaters Respond to Moorings Consultation

Following on from last week's rant, here’s a link to the article I wrote for Towpath Talk. 

Boaters Respond to CRT Moorings Consultation

On 24th January the Canal and River Trust invited canal users in the south to comment on some proposed changes to the maximum stay times at popular visitor mooring sites. The consultation ended on 1st March and the Trust hope to begin implementing changes in April. The new board of Trustees and the Trust Council are seeking to improve the chance of boaters being able to find a visitor mooring space.

The proposal refers to 22 specific locations on the Oxford Canal and the Grand Union Canal. Online canal discussion forums and Facebook groups have been busy with debate, particularly from those living aboard without a home mooring. They raise a variety of concerns, such as how much trade might be lost to popular canal side pubs in Berkhamsted. Read the full story on page 2 of the March issue of Towpath Talk

Friday 8 March 2013

Any regrets?

Ideas from Bronnie Ware's Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

Bronnie Ware’s article The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying is a frequently re-blogged and re-read article about the life-changing concepts that she learned in her work in palliative care.

Sometimes when I get overwhelmed by how complicated life seems I look at her list of the five simple things that are important in life and it helps me to see things more clearly. I have decided to use these ideas to create an action plan for change.

Many people wished they had been more true to themselves and honoured their dreams. For me personally this means writing a book. I have always said I ‘should’ write a book and that if I died without writing and publishing a book it would be one of my big regrets. I have a half-written book that I don’t make time to work on. I’ve realised that to be true to myself I need to prioritise this.

The second regret on the list is that people worked too hard and missed the important things in life, like spending time with their children. As I juggle running a business around a young family I know that I am guilty of this and realise I need to simplify my lifestyle and create some passive income streams.

The third regret is that people wish they had expressed their feelings. Bronnie says honesty makes a relationship healthier, or releases unhealthy relationships from your life. My resolution related to this is that I will be braver!

The fourth regret is losing touch with friends. Bronnie says in the final weeks love and relationships are all that matters. I think I’m pretty good at staying in touch with friends but sometimes I wish I had the energy and determination to take the kids on long train journeys to visit some of my best friends.

The final regret is simply, ‘I wish that I had let myself be happier.’ It’s easy to pretend that we are not in control of our own lives. My action plan for this one is to release old habits, embrace change, be brave and smile.

I summarised what I’ve learned from this in a daily ‘To Do’ list, (pictured) and I think if I lived each day with these rules I would teach my children to live a life with less regrets.

So if you were aiming for no regrets what would you put in your action plan?

Monday 4 March 2013

The code is more what you'd call "guidelines."

Elizabeth Swann contemplates the guidelines
for boats without a home mooring.

Unless you are a regular boater on the southern Grand Union canal you may know nothing about a recent consultation affecting the local boating community in the South East of England.

The recent Canal and River Trust Mooring Consultation proposed reducing the permitted stay times at 22 different visitor mooring locations.

The idea was to “to improve compliance with visitor mooring rules,” and “to improve the chances of boaters finding space to tie up when they arrive.” In practice it meant changing many popular mooring sites from the 14 days usually permitted stay, to only two days.

I returned my feedback form commenting on four sites in my local area. I think the current time limits are reasonable for these four locations. Various boaters’ discussions on Facebook have expressed concern that people who live on their boats without a home mooring may be forced to move greater distances, more often, making it much more difficult to reach jobs, schools, healthcare and other commitments.

I do not think that altering time limits at visitor moorings will stop people overstaying if they are the ‘type’ to overstay. I think the law that stipulates 14 days is a fair one for all canal users.

I have lived and travelled on a boat for 12 years, usually travelling in summer and stopping on a paid temporary winter mooring each winter. I now have a permanent mooring. I have never been unable to moor up in my chosen location upon arrival. I have travelled the Lea, Stort, London canals and Grand Union up to Cheddington.

If a popular visitor mooring is occupied upon arrival I simply choose a nearby towpath mooring instead. I believe this is the ‘luck of the draw’, as when searching for your ideal parking space with a car. These proposals seem to favour hire boats and holiday makers over people who live aboard.

This is my personal opinion. But I also wrote an article in this month’s Towpath Talk summarising the varied responses from different boaters in the area, including a canal artist, a boat broker, The National Association of Boat Owners and live-aboard boaters with and without moorings.

Allan Richards made a Freedom of Information Request to the Canal and River Trust asking how many complaints had been received about difficulties finding mooring space at these 22 locations.

The reply was that throughout the whole of 2011 and 2012 no complaints were received about failure to find space at any of the locations CRT wish to change.

Speculations and theories are now widely debated in online discussion forums as to the ‘real’ reasons for the proposals.  If no one has complained about the difficulty finding mooring space then who or what is driving the need for change? There is an on-going assumption by some people that boats without a home mooring are a problem. While some of them certainly overstay beyond their 14 days the vast majority keep to the guidelines and move on to the next place.

It reminds me of when the Trust tried to introduce mooring “zones” or neighbourhoods in London. When Freedom is Outlawed only Outlaws will be free!

“The code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.”
Captain Barbossa, Pirate of the Caribbean