Saturday, 20 February 2010

The joy of going nowhere

'It's a houseboat' I say. Then people ask questions like 'how far can you travel on it?' and 'Is it difficult to drive/sail/pilot?' Then I say 'it's a houseboat' - a house on water. You may think there is a certain madness in buying a 'boat' that doesn't go anywhere - you may possibly be right. But this is a houseboat. A house that floats.

She sits about 30 minutes from where we currently live and about 15 from where we will move to later this year - as you know location is everything! She is a few metres outside the Ealing Circuit. So when I go there I will be off my patch - psychologically very important for anyone whose job is based at home.

She has two double bedrooms - so lots of room for us as a family, but also lots for visitors and people who need a holiday, can't afford one commercially and love London. Old Lyme Barge (not a barge really, but a houseboat - sorry to be boring about this!) is in Brentford, where the River Brent and Grand Union Canal become one a few hundred metres before they join the Thames.

No, she did not cost as much as the houseboat that recently sold at Chelsea for £1m! She is about a third of the price of an equivalent 2 bedroomed flat in the area and, should we run out of money, we can hire her out to tenants and become big bad landlords - but that's nowhere near as much fun as having a place to go and relax.

It is wonderfully freeing to know if ministry went horribly wrong and I couldn't stand it any longer, we won't be homeless - this actually adds a sense of joy to the job (this may be enhanced due to my being on leave this week!). It is also a great joy to know that if we want to change the bathroom (which we do) we don't have to ask permission. We can paint it in any colour we like, choose carpets to match or clash, put up shelves, move walls.... etc, without inspections, permissions. I clearly did not know how much this mattered until now!

The tiny but very well laid out kitchen (galley) has to be kept tidy because more than two plates and a large cake tin and you run out of surface space - but this is a good discipline. The open-plan nature of the galley/saloon (kitchen/lounge) is very pleasing and it was a joy to have visitors for lunch and be able to chat along whilst slaving over a hot lasagne.

There's a bit of sorting out left to do, some more painting and hanging up pictures, moving furniture and, in the summer, it will have to be taken away to have its bottom blacked (apparently entirely painless) at which point we may change its colour from insipid green to a deep blue.... who knows.... it's up to us!

So here I am, longing for a warm spring and superb summer so we can make the most of it - but also thinking how cosy it will be next Christmas, with a little tree!

Here's Rob enjoying winter sunshine and playing one of the five chords he has so far learnt on his new acoustic guitar (so sweet).

A cosy stove, on board

There is also a lot of joy in seeing kingfishers, heron (called Harry apparently), coot, swans, and all kinds of birds.

Happy days!