It's Winter. And I'm feeling all those familiar lows that come with short, dark, rainy and cold days. I don't think I suffer from SAD, but I certainly feel a huge lift when the sun is out. But there's much more to the lows than the weather, which - of course - confronts us with heating issues. By the way - as I'm writing on my laptop, whenever I'm pondering, I look up and I see the river flowing past my round window and the river bank on the opposite side. It's always such a lovely view, whatever the weather. It has probably become one of my favourite places to be on the boat. Anyway - where was I? Ah, the lows. Yes, recently I've been up and down a lot, probably more down in the valleys of emotions. This new life of ours - yes - I wanted it. And I still do. Now comes the 'but'. But I also feel constantly challenged by so many little things. The biggest challenge is when Ewan says: "Let's take the boat out." My body goes into complete shock before I feel the fear creeping up in me. What if we bump into a bridge, another boat or the river bank? What if Ewan panics - I have no clue how to maneuver this monstrosity, nor would I be at his end fast enough to help avoid a collision. Usually, as soon as we set off I start feeling more at ease, knowing that my man is feeling confident and happy with moving and mooring her. We have walkie-talkies, so we can communicate, as he's at the stern end and I'm at the bow end. That helps enormously. Yesterday we moved Coddiwomple just from Shillingford to Benson, a journey, which takes just under half an hour one way. We needed to pump out. Ewan was amazing, but there was one moment when I thought we were heading straight into a boat by the river bank; we were going sideways instead following the stream. We would have crushed it, if Ewan hadn't last minute re-gained control over our 37 ton vessel. As always, he managed it well. When we were back home, I was completely exhausted from the stresses of stressing. I am trying to stay calm and focused, and I think I kind of am, but man do I worry. There are moments while moving, when I just feel totally amazing and happy, and I am then looking forward to summer, when we'll be moving about much more. But in windy, rainy weather conditions, I feel our boat is becoming more like a weapon when we move. I am so incredibly proud of Ewan and his confidence. Without him being my rock (as ever) I would have already run away screaming (not sure where, but honestly I would have). I just also want to mention that our dog Jack is always completely freaked out when the engine starts, until it turns off again. He shivers the whole way, bless him.
The constant awareness of limited water, power, limited sewerage tank space, gas supply and wood/coal - I'd never been confronted with that before. Water was always available, so was heating, electricity and sewerage. I never thought about it much. Now I do. I pee into a bucket, I poo at the hotel, and I ask our guests not to flush and use a bin for used paper; I shower rarely (don't worry, I do wash properly), I use washing up water twice or top up with hot water from a kettle; I have to get drinking water from the hotel every 5 to 6 days; I have to think about when and which way to heat, so that I'll be warm going to bed and getting up .... It goes on and on.
Recently I went to a women's meeting, and one of them had lived on a narrow boat for 6 years, so we got chatting. She warned me that Shillingford Bridge Hotel's garden floods from time to time, and that we then would need poles between river bank and boat, so that the boat wouldn't drift into the garden, and that we needed a dinghy to get from boat to land. That set me off into fight and flight mode, and I couldn't sleep that night. Just imagining myself floating meters away from the land and having to get into an unstable inflatable boat with my dog, just when he needs to do his business..... Oh God Almighty!
Yes. I'm finding this hard. I admit it. Now you can have the last laugh.
But I'm not defeated. I'll soldier on with my knight in shining armour. Because Spring and Summer will make it all worth it. I see that going into this venture at the end of September wasn't the best move, as dealing with Winter as newbies really is hard. We still have no canopy, and Kinver are so bloody slow, I think they might actually have forgotten about us or can't be bothered. We still have no working batteries and have to be plugged in all the time, which costs us about £100 per month. And no solar panels either, yet. All ordered. All happening in January, we hope.
So, now is the time for some good news and another 'but':
But, we have an amazing community here at Shillingford Bridge. It really is so lovely to know these special people and feeling the support and friendship. We are not alone. The hotel staff are also very welcoming and nice.
This place is absolutely beautiful; our views stunning. The swan (we call her/him Lesley) comes on a fairly regular basis, and we feed him/her duck food. We enjoy the wildlife, the sounds/noises, and seeing it. Often at night we hear an owl - magic. It's quiet; no noisy, horrible neighbours. The walks round here are gorgeous. Ewan and I are going strong. I have time to heal my body and do the occasional coaching with clients. We have no mortgage no more, no money worries. I enjoy the slow life. I love it when friends and family are with us on Coddiwomple. We have wonderful times together and so much laughter. The Wi-Fi works, slow, but working. By the way - we have a Mi-Fi box from TP Link with a Sim card from Three.com - "All you can eat", which means unlimited data for £25 monthly. The best deal on the market here. The TV is working. Glad we kept it LOL. Winter nights can be quite long.
So here goes. I'll get through my struggles, I'm sure. It's probably mainly my physical issues that bring me down. So much pain all the time.
Lots of love to you all,