Did not 'take to the life'

Published: Thursday, 29 August 2019

I NOTICE that people use your columns to tell when they are packing up in boats, so hope I can do the same, writes Dell Whiting.

It was a colleague who lived on a narrowboat in the city [London] that persuaded me to 'take to the life' as he called it and stop paying my exorbitant rent for a flat', as it would save me a fortune, so I did just that, forking out for a second hand narrowboat and taking a mooring on the Paddington Arm.

Prepared to rough it

I shall not go into the hassle of licences as this is not the point of my writing, which is actually living in a narrowboat, that I have decided is only for the type of person who is prepared to rough it, which I certainly am not.

My own fault I admit for listening to all the benefits but told none of the problems. I looked at the moorings but then realised not many had the necessary electricity points, and the cost went up and getting water was a problem too, both of which I might add my colleague did not mention.

A bit of common sense

I tried to use a bit of common sense when buying, making sure the boat had heating, cooking, toilet and a bedroom, but must have had a brainstorm when expecting the stuff in the toilet to just disappear, as it did not of course, having then to take the boat, that I had never driven before, to have what I found was a toilet tank, emptied.

It was the end of the year when my flat's lease had run out that I moved into the boat too quickly learn that it is a major operation keeping it warm. It had a stove and radiators that I was told needed little work and would keep me warm. What a laugh! One end of the boat was roasting and the other end freezing, with just a bit of heat in the radiator.

Did not give up

But I did not give up but looked into the matter and discovered there was such a thing as a diesel heater, that, connected to the radiators would give me the heat I craved, and it worked, being told a switch by the bed would switch it on before I got up in the mornings, that also worked. But I was getting through a lot of diesel, that too meant me venturing out with the boat, but at least it lasted a few weeks in the winter.

But then came the summer and too much heat, with yesterday prompting this epistle and my decision it was not for me, it was registering 42 degrees centigrade in the boat, direct in the rays of the hot sun, and being steel and I discovered just a useless inch of insulation was no help whatsoever, so like many others at the mooring we left the 'ovens' until nightfall.

Complete lack of space

Then there is the complete lack of space.  My fault I realise for not thinking of this beforehand, but the pathetic wardrobe would only take a quarter of my clothes. The many items I had in my flat had to be put in storage, and my hobbies that needed space went by the board.

I really did go into this with my eyes closed, for there is no space for a washing machine, let alone a drier, and the luxury of a dishwasher has no chance. And living in a 6ft space is just not for me, and my work being with housing, I just cannot understand how a bedroom 6ft by 8ft 6ins can be regarded as suitable accommodation for anyone.

There is a maxim that you 'learn by your mistakes', I have certainly learnt. But I have to say that there are those who seem to enjoy living in a narrowboat, so good luck to them, but it certainly is not for me, I shall be out way before the winter, that's for sure.