Showing posts with label change of lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label change of lifestyle. Show all posts

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

So, boatlife...

I know, I know. I really am crap at writing posts. It's because I get distracted so easily, and then I don't find the time and peace I need to write. Scattered mind and procrastination - not a very successful combination. I don't recommend it.

Anyways - Here I am. We're still living on our river boat; it's been over a year now since we first set foot on it. How's it going? The short answer is, 'Well. Thank you 😊'.

And here's the long answer, if you're at all interested:

We've had quite a beautiful summer: Open windows, bird song, waterfowl noise, wildlife gazing, sitting outside in the sun, barbecues, warmth, even heat. When it was really hot outside, it was still amazingly comfortable inside.

Our six solar panels produced more than enough electricity during the long days. We were able to run the washing machine without having to fear running down the batteries. During the short days we have to add to the electricity by running the engine every other day for an hour'ish, depending on sunshine or clouds or a mix of the two.
Ewan has been keeping the water tank topped up by carrying about 220 litres on board every week. That is when we had no visitors staying over. I always felt so sorry for my dear hubby watching him carry 25 litre canisters through the boat. Remember, it's 70 ft long 🙈 Bless him. But that is about to change: We're getting a filter system this week. We'll be able to source water from the Thames. Yes. Don't ask me about the details, but it will be perfectly fine for washing and cleaning. For drinking it will go through another filter under the kitchen sink, which is being fitted today, by the way.
So, that covers electricity and water supply. The only bills we will have in the future are for gas, diesel and coal.
In terms of independence we've taken another big step by getting a composting toilet. This was a very good decision, we believe. No pumping out anymore. We're actually getting rid of the original toilets and will have the floor sealed.
The next step will be to make one bathroom out of two. We feel we don't need 2 sinks and 2 showers. The remaining shower will be changed into a combined shower/bath (now that we'll have infinite water supply 😉). This will cost us quite a lot of money, so, it might take another year until we actually go through with it. But it's good to have dreams.

We hadn't taken Coddiwomple out since we moored in our current spot. This is partly because we love this place so much and partly because I was still freaking out at the idea of moving her. But recently we had a befriended couple over, so we decided to take her to the pump-out, ca. 1.5 hours away. As we had the help, it felt less scary to me. Still, because of our bow thruster not working, strong winds and a boat blocking our way into the lock, we managed to bump her sideways into ballards (yes, some things fell off the shelves); land in the brambles with the stern canopy (phew, it didn't get damaged); and added to the collection of bow dimples by hitting the side of a lock, while going in. All in all this experience didn't quite reassure me that moving her is a good idea - well, that is when the weather is a bit rough. Ewan would tell you a different story; I believe he enjoyed the day very, very much. He's not a quarter as worried as I am. I'm glad we're back in our beautiful spot, and we won't go anywhere with her until .... don't know. Poor hubby!

I've got used to static boat life, though, and consider it now "The Life". How else can I have so much peace and quiet, beautiful views, nature walks on your door step, lots of wild life, lovely neighbours, and at the same time close to no bills? I know right? I am grateful.

Winter has arrived (at least temperature-wise). I always find the short, cold days and nights difficult anyway. But on a boat I find it even harder. The stove keeps us roasting, and the central heating keeps the other half .... well, not really warm warm. More like just about tolerable warm. I'm dreading the real cold days and nights. Squirrel (the stove) is running pretty much 24/7 now. By the time the warm air reaches the bed room, though, it has cooled down considerably and doesn't really heat the space efficiently. The central heating (diesel-driven) is only on partly during the night and early morning hours. The bath rooms don't get heated at all. I would call this situation .... improvable; we just don't quite know how. I'm sure we'll figure it out somehow. In the meantime, I have ordered another set of sexy long-sleeve thermal underwear. And my super warm Lang Tall Sally dressing gown works a treat.

So much for now. You will hear from me again. I promise. I just don't promise you when 😜

and Ahoi!

Saturday, 9 March 2019

We've Gone Off Grid

This post was meant to go out a while ago, when the headline was "We're Getting There". I had to change it to what it is now, because we got there (work wise): The kitchen is done, the canopy is on, the batteries are fixed and the wiring finished. The heating is working, and the solar panels are drawing in most of the energy we need. 😅

It wasn't a very nice time. It was Winter, and we had lots of work done and therefore little privacy and lots of DDS (dust, dirt and stress). Our start into boat life certainly didn't go as well as we had imagined it. Ewan has chest pains (no, it's not the heart) and suffers exhaustion and is therefore written off sick for 2 weeks; and my neck has played up again, nearly as bad as it was 1.5 years ago, when it all started to go downhill with my spine; and my lower back is constantly in pain. Yes, it's another moany post, I'm afraid. And it goes on, I'm afraid, because now we're back in Abingdon, off grid, moored near Abingdon Bridge, and, despite the place being amazing, the weather is really not so good to us, rocking us about like nothing else. I'm constantly in a state of 'emergency', which can't be healthy. Ewan is much more relaxed, feels safe, and he's really enjoying some time off. He needed that so much.

I think, if we now were physically fit, we would actually start enjoying ourselves. When the sun is out, it's glorious here, and when the stars are out, the sky looks just magical. It just has to get a bit warmer, still.

So, really, we haven't quite got there. I'm sure we will, though. Once the winds ease and the sun comes out more, we'll feel so much better. I hope we're not delusional. The few things that still need to be organised, are
- getting the name onto the boat,
- getting the bow thruster repaired,
- getting the hull inspected.

Here are some impressions of the work site and new kitchen:

I know, it's natural that chaos comes before order, but it was annoying anyway.
The gas pipe and regulator had to be replaced, so, for about 4 weeks we could only use a camping cooker.
New fridge, new freezer, new gas hob, new LPG gas oven, new microwave and new fronts.
Oh joy!
But then.... looked pretty much as we had imagined it.
The worktops have been covered with a special sparkling laminate.
And - just so you remember, this is what it looked like before:

Some people would have preferred this style. But we love it in Ash wood with red worktops.
I just didn't like the cold, black and white, male look to the space. Now it's looking and feeling warm. The new red rugs help, too. We also decided to get rid of the big 3-seater sofa, as I just couldn't get comfortable on that. We replaced it with a two-seater sofa bed, which we are very happy about. Sitting is much more comfy now. 

So much more us.
Now we're moored in this very beautiful spot in Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. On the photos below you can see the end of the garden of the Nag's Head pub. Normally we're only allowed there for 3 days, but we intend to stay until we're being moved on, because of the very windy weather. We're pretty much in the heart of Abingdon right now, which is very convenient and still so lovely. I'm so glad that Ewan's brother Duncan was available and happy to help us move the boat from Shillingford. I was still a bit nervous from the last experience. But now I'm feeling much more confident again.

Two confident males and a scared dog.
Moored opposite Abbey Gardens.

It's such a beautiful spot.
We'll enjoy another week of Ewan being off now, and the whole coming weekend we'll be celebrating Ewan's 60th birthday by having an Open Boat. We're both looking forward to that. Although, where the heck shall we store all the food and drink?? And where will they all sit? What if it rains? Saturday will be party night. We have no clue at all how we're going to make this work. But I do want to stop worrying all the time. Therefore, I shall be prepared as best as I can and leave everything else to fate.

Love to you All 💖

Monday, 28 January 2019

Work Site

Hello everyone,

It's been a while again. Sitting down and just writing seems a luxury at the moment. My (our) life has been so stressful recently that I feel we need another holiday.

Don't know where to start, so I will just start with the heating. It's still not working. We've had an engineer out twice and an electrician too. They came to the conclusion that it's the original wiring, and that we need to have it re-wired. Apparently Viking boats are made in Poland, with Polish standards, not English. God knows what that means. Anyway, a new loom has been ordered, and the engineer will come back this Thursday to start the job. Fingers crossed, we'll finally have a warm boat this coming weekend. It is getting to me that we have to have electric heaters plugged in, which draw a lot of electricity, which has been costing us £10 a day. The wood burner is going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we're still not warm in places. The floor is ice cold, and the 2 bathrooms are not exactly warm either. This particular job will have cost us an unexpected ca £1500, we think.

We had ordered 5 smart lithium batteries and the necessary kit to wire them in. Early January the electrician came with 4 only, as the 5th had tested faulty. During 4 very long days of putting the wiring in while it was very cold out there was also a test to my poor nerves. I'm not really complaining, as the kind soul didn't charge us a penny for the work, only for the batteries, the gadgets, the wiring and the accommodation. That came to over £10,000 (! - Yes, it's true. But these batteries are supposed to be good for about 20 years). So, we're very grateful indeed that this wonderful chap never charged for his workmanship. Still, it was stressful for both of us, as Ewan had to shadow him all the time in order to help when necessary, and I had to put up with the space looking as if a bomb had exploded. We're still waiting for the 5th battery; and some more wiring needs doing, which - he thinks - will take another 2 days work. This will hopefully be finished by mid/end February.

The boys sorting the batteries and me keeping the bellies filled

Six solar panels have been installed, tilting ones, and there seemed to be no problem at all. Took the young man a full day's work into the night, but it's working. We can't use solar energy yet, as we're still plugged in at the Hotel due to the electric heaters drawing so much. But it will be so fantastic to know we're using solar power for most of our electricity in future.

The canopy has been measured up, finally, 2 weeks ago, and apparently it's being fitted tomorrow (29th January). We're very excited about that, as the forecast is snow, and it will add to the boat's warmth and to our comfort.

This is just the frame for measuring the canvas which will cover it.

It'll look soooo lovely and will give us more room, especially for our dirty shoes.

Kinver seem to be doing a splendid job. It took them ages, though.

Poor lad, he had some difficulty in doing this job, as it was quite windy that day.

Last, but not least, we've had a kitchen fitter round since 21st January, and there's now light at the end of that particular tunnel, too. As you might have seen, the kitchen was black and white. We're changing it to ash wood with sparkling-red worktops. We've taken the electric oven out and replace the half-gas-half-induction hob to a full gas hob, so we don't use electricity when cooking/baking; we've replaced the dishwasher with a free-standing freezer, and we've replaced the built-in fridge with a free-standing one, as it gives us more fridge space. We hope it's finished by the end of this week. It already looks just like I had envisaged it, and - again - I can't wait for it to be done. The new LPG gas cooker and hob need plumbing in professionally. We've been let down this morning, but it will be done this week. In the meantime, we're using our new microwave for heating up food. I'll post the piccies when the kitchen is finished.

My health is not so good. My body is aching all the time, and I find it hard to get up and out of bed in the mornings. I feel stressed by everything, especially the cold, and I wonder if that is contributing to my achy bones. Ewan is not feeling much better either, unfortunately, and I'm beginning to worry about him. We do have good times on Coddiwomple, especially when we've got friends over. But we also have a good go at each other for nothing at times. The stress of the past 4 months is taking its toll. I know we'll get through it. But in the meantime we're just surviving, it seems.

Just a reminder, what our boat name actually means. We're looking forward to travelling purposefully.

My business is picking up. I'm a Life Coach and Family Systems Therapist, and for the first time since I've gone full-time self-employed, over 3 years ago, I'm feeling it coming on. That is a huge shift, and it feels fabulous. Having to deal with work, though, as well as everything else, adds of course to the load we're dealing with at the moment.

I can hear your "aaaaw"s LOL. Yes, it's not been easy.

My new flyer - A bit of shameless self promotion.

I do hope I've done a good enough job, so people understand what I'm offering, professionally.

Ewan is constantly making sure that we've got enough wood and water, he's also been amazing at shifting stuff around, so we have been able to use the boat as a living space. He is and remains my rock and my hero.

Our boating community, The Shillies, as we call ourselves, is just so lovely. One of them, Tim, is a homeopath, and we're helping each other with our issues. I'm totally into homeopathy, as it does help me and has always helped my young children, when they still believed in what mummy believed in.

Finally, I'm posting a few lovely pictures I've been taking during walks. Not only when the sun is out, nature is such a source of inspiration and strength.

Our amazing view in the sunlight onto Shillingford Bridge

Light and shade along the Thames Path between Shillingford and Benson

Jack's view

Reminds me that reflection is good practice, and mindful walks help

A beautiful berry dress, a welcome colourful spot in the wintry scene

A stranded narrowboat. Nature is conquering it back. Wondering what the story is behind this scene.

Beautiful reflection in the sunlight

I love willow trees; they're like fun curtains ;)

Life and Death next to each other, as it should be. Both beautiful and natural.

Grass is so resilient

Who doesn't love the look of snow drops

Is that a sign of Spring coming soon?

A bed of snow drops in a garden in Warborough - Stunning!

A very windy day on 27/01/19. Lucky it flew no further than the owner's garden.

Thanks a lot for reading and please always feel free to comment below. Oh, and remember to click "follow" on the right (if you're reading this on your phone, I have no idea if you can, actually).

Till soon,

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