So what’s not to like…?

1 Apr

Yes, even I have to remove the rose tinteds occasionally and concede there are some things about this lifestyle that I don’t particularly like or look forward to. Or to steal a phrase I read recently:  it’s not all roses and castles…

1) There’s the loo. Boaters don’t have the luxury of being able to rely on the flush fairy to take away their waste and talk a lot about their particular method of dealing with it. Be it a pump-out, cassette or porta potti, it’s not a chore you can ignore. My own is the last of these three, probably the least sophisticated and, like the cassette, has to be manually tipped out and you’d have to be some seriously sad sicko to put your hand up to liking doing that. It was the first thing I planned to change, by upgrading to a pump-out, when I moved aboard. BUT:  The holding tank is usually sited beneath the bed, which doesn’t appeal to me in the least – I’ve heard tales of them leaking  (OMG!) – they cost in the region of £20 per empty – the boat has to go to a special pump-out place, which could be a way away and may or may not be working when you get there – takes ages – still smells – will probably require emptying every couple of weeks.  And if the river/canal is frozen and you are iced in…..? OK, so you can get a DIY kit but you still end up with a containerful of stuff to deal with. Most boaters I know who cruise end up with one like mine as a back up anyway. SO:  I live with my little camping loo. It’s not so bad, lasts nigh on a week and I am now able to stop breathing for the two minutes it takes to tip and rinse. Simples! And from this negative comes a positive: the moment the deed is done you can rejoice in the knowledge that you are as far away from the next time as you can be. A bit like Christmas.

2) Narrowboats naturally sit lower in the water at the stern, meaning that water will always drain towards the back of the boat. Whoever fitted my shower tray didn’t think about this and the plughole is nearer the front end, water won’t go uphill so I always end up with a dreg to sponge out before the limescale gets to work. BUT: Small price to pay. SO: Live with it.

3) Nobody likes dog poo though some people I know (John) are positively dog muck magnets and it gets walked into the boat. Great. A friend of mine has a similar problem and when we were in Jersey……………better not go there in the interests of our continued friendship. We get our fair share on the towpath; in fact regulars here will know I call the approach to my boat dog dirt alley. BUT: Same can be said for pavements, parks and anywhere else that dogs are walked where their owners turn a blind eye. It’s a people problem not a lifestyle issue.  SO: Shit, as they say, happens.

4) Leaving Hobo. Sad but true. I hate to leave her, be it for a short while or the whole of the British winter, don’t ask me why. BUT: It’s really good to get back and I do have a very good friend who keeps an eye on her if I’m to be away for long.  SO: It has to be done for heaven’s sake. Get over it.

5) Being  away from old friends. BUT: Mostly we can, and do, communicate electronically and I do have new friends around here. The community thing means I always have company if I want it. There’s nothing like meeting up with an old mate on the spur of the moment though, being able to nip round for a cuppa/lunch/chat or whatever and no real substitute for actually being with someone, for real, in the flesh. SO: This is the cloud for my silver lining and will, in time, probably draw me nearer to them. As long as there’s somewhere to moor Hobo of course…!

6) See picture. Gross you say. Indeed. BUT: Tell me you’ve never seen one near your home or place of work or somewhere you’ve been. Fact is they get everywhere (we’re never more than 6ft away from one allegedly) and, contrary to popular belief, not seen on, in or around boats that much. Not in my experience anyway. SO: Live and let live – just not in my tree eh.

7) Dropping things in the water.  Something that drives me bonkers. It usually happens to me when I’m getting on or off, specs perched on head, full bag of shopping or generally just getting a bit blase. Maybe you’ve had a drop of pop – it’s so easily done. Thankfully (touch wood) I’ve not dropped in myself but they do say it’s a matter of when and not if.  I’m very careful these days with anything precious. If you can’t get hold of a boatie friend, chances are they’re not avoiding you but have dropped their phone in the drink. BUT: It can give rise to funny stories – we’ve lost chimney caps to trees when approaching boaters’ brains have gone AWOL and John has dived in before now to retrieve a whole chimney that we managed to knock in with a rope as we tried to moor in high winds. And you can, with luck and patience, get some things back with a magnet or hook. SO: Very much a hazzard of living afloat, just stay aware.

I had thought this would be one of my shorter posts, given the subject, but turns out to be one of the longest. But that’s just me wobbling on as usual and in no way means there is much, in my view, bad about living on the water. But it wouldn’t suit everyone.

Sorry about the nasty picture and by way of something to help you forget, here is something completely different……………….

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