A Big Change

Anyone who follows our blog will know we have neglected it for a few months but we are now back with a vengeance and this post is going to be a long one to make up for it! It’s been a busy time for us as we have been downsizing as our daughter and her boyfriend are moving back into the family home in Luton and we have been chucked out! Well, OK it’s not quite as harsh as that but our daughter is due a baby boy in August 2018 and the house that they were renting was not really appropriate for a child, too small an no private garden. It seemed to make sense that they move back into the house and we spend more of our time aboard Hannah the Narrowboat to give them space, it’s something we have wanted to do for a long time so this seemed the perfect solution.

For those that have made the same move as us they will know exactly what we went through, it’s amazing how much junk you collect over 20 odd years and sorting it was a major operation! What we have also learned is that you can actually get a lot more aboard a Narrowboat than one may think, luckily we have a lot of storage places aboard Hannah. The bed is about 4ft off the floor so we have drawers under half of it and the other half is storage. Similar with our seating, loads of space underneath so although we had to have a major cull and think carefully about what we took aboard the boat it was not quite as painful as I thought.

Of course many people thought we were absolutely mad to make this major change to our lives but you know what? We are not the mad ones! Take a look at the little video snapshot below and decide for yourselves.

So, what have been the pitfalls? To be honest there has not been anything that we have not been able to sort out one way or another. I suppose from my side of things I had to sort out a way of working comfortably aboard the boat as I can’t give up my day job as a graphic designer and I also needed to be able to continue writing my music. The solution was to get rid of the TV and buy a 4K 28” computer monitor with 2 HDMI ports for the TV tuner box and Apple TV along with a Display Port for my MacBook Pro. Not the cheapest thing to do but now I have an awesome setup where I can switch between all those devices! I also custom built some drawers with a slide out on top for my keyboard, trackpad, mouse and Wacom tablet. It works extremely well but there are some modifications I want to make to it.

Data, loads of it

The one thing I massively underestimated was the amount of data we would get through. My business phone contract on O2 has 60GB of tetherable data so I figured that should be just about enough for work stuff, the files I send and receive are massive so one of those nonsense unlimited plans would not work for me as they throttle the speed back after a few GB and most do not allow unlimited tethering anyway. Yes, there may be a few out there that have old legacy unlimited plans but they are not available now and most carry a fair usage policy anyway and you get throttled back.

60GB was not enough by a long way! That did indeed get eaten up by work stuff but that meant I could not do much else and certainly could not watch Netflix etc over mobile broadband! I decided to get a Three MiFi box that gives 20GB and free streaming of Netflix, TV Player and a couple of other little bits. I thought that may be enough but again was wrong. If I wanted to continue doing YouTube videos, blogs and other social media stuff I would need much more! Then I discovered Vodafone Passes. What a brilliant service (never thought I would say that about Vodafone). I went for the all in one pass that lets me stream all the major movie sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube and you can even upload to YouTube without eating data so that’s awesome. Then we have all the social networks included like Facebook, Twitter etc also the music streaming from Apple Music, Spotify etc and much more, it’s well worth checking out and has certainly solved my issues. I pay £45 a month (rolling monthly contract) for 50GB (£30) and the All In One Pass (£15). Yes my internet/phone bill is high but it’s not really any higher than what I was paying for Virgin at the house (I take my phone out of the equation as that’s business).

Ice baby ice

Ice, I really missed ice. We only had a fridge aboard Hannah the Narrowboat without an icebox as it had to fit under the work surface. We both thought that this would be OK as there was enough room in it for a few beers and some food. It was not long before we started to get a little fed up having to go shopping every few days and Lee decided enough was enough and we had to get a freezer. We initially thought that a tabletop freezer may clutter us up and feel a little claustrophobic alongside the toaster and microwave but once we had a little reshuffle it worked out OK and now I have ice!

Freezer aboard Narrowboat

There was one other major issue we had and that was transport. We have only had one car in our household for a number of years as I worked from home and Lee was the only one commuting to work. That was fine when living in Luton as we had shops around the corner if I needed anything and the town was just a bus ride away if I felt the need (I did’nt as it’s a sh*thole). However, being stranded on a boat with no means to get about when Lee is at work was not going to work for me. I also needed the freedom to pop back to Luton whenever I wanted to see my mum or check on the house etc so I really needed my own set of wheels. I only wanted something small but me being me did not want something without a bit of oomph so I get myself a lovely little Mini Cooper S which is basically a road legal go kart!

Mini Cooper S

Did we make the right decision?

I think it’s a resounding yes – at this point anyway! We have been so lucky with the weather and could not have chosen a better time to do it, don’t get me wrong, I also love winter all cosy with a roaring fire too but it’s not the best time to actually move all your stuff aboard a boat!

OK, so poor old Lee has to commute from Northampton to Luton which is one downfall. We also have less clothes although it does not bother me! I can’t actually think of any other negatives.

In reality I can’t say we have actually moved aboard Hannah the Narrowboat permanently as we have only planned for the foreseeable future, as with all of us I suppose, but we will certainly be spending most of the summer and autumn aboard the boat and then we will see what happens, maybe we will go out continuously cruising if that opportunity arises, although I do love our mooring at Gayton so probably would not give that up.

What’s changed

So much has changed, for one I am far less stressed working from my boat, I go out for more strolls in the countryside as it’s right outside my boat, my health seems to be improving through lack of home delivery takeaways and more fresh food. My blood sugar levels are lower probably for the same reasons as stated above too! I probably drink too much beer but that’s always been the way when the weather is nice. We are more sociable, in Luton we hardly spoke to any strangers as they look at you as if you are mad or don’t understand English (I kid you not). Up here we talk to everyone and anyone and it’s lovely. I have a suntan, a good one. I never have to mow the lawn or do the weeding again! Life is good.

Here are a few pictures and video we have shot since we have been here.

Hannah Supporting England

Stoke Bruerne

Irchester Country Park

Stoke Bruerne Locks

A Day Aboard Hannah the Narrowboat

Gayton Junction

It’s winter and most people that know us think we are utterly mad spending our time aboard Hannah The Narrowboat but to be honest they are the mad ones sitting in their brick buildings watching mundane TV like ‘Celebrities on Ice’. The only thing that would make that program entertaining is if they had fatter celebrities and thinner ice! They also have some weird idea that we are sat their shivering in the cold when it’s completely the opposite – I often get my fat belly out as it’s often too hot!

Of course being on the Narrowboat is just the start of it, we only have to step off the back and we have the world as our back garden, if we tire of the view or our neighbours we can simply untie and move along to a new spot. People seem to be under some illusion that we are all cramped up in a metal box with no space to move, whilst space is indeed limited when it comes to storage we do have all the facilities we need. Whilst they are sitting 10ft away from their ridiculously expensive 60 inch TV we are sitting 2 feet away from a 28 inch TV – the picture looks just as big to us so in essence we are all getting the same experience if you follow what I mean.

So, what do we get up to on a standard day aboard Hannah the Narrowboat? Well, most days in the colder months starts by dealing with the fire, be that adding a bit more coal or getting it going again because it’s almost out. We also usually fill up our coal scuttle and empty the ash tray. Once we have ensured that we will stay warm it’s breakfast time in the cratch where we can watch the world go by and change the view whenever we feel like.

During the week I go to work just like most other people but my workplace is just 4ft from the cratch as I am one of those lucky ones who can work anywhere I have a web connection, and yes we have wifi throughout the boat! For those wondering I am a graphic designer/image editor and musician by trade. If work is a little quiet I can step off the back and do the other thing I love which is taking pictures. Here’s one I took yesterday.

At the moment I am into weird 360° imagery as I find it fascinating and have just got myself a new GoPro Fusion which captures the whole scene around you.

Of course we also do the same things that most people do like eat lunch, and yes our galley has pretty much everything most peoples kitchens have so again, no real difference except we can open the back doors and look out over the water as we prepare our food.

After work the evenings are usually spent sitting outside (weather permitting) with a nice glass of wine watching boats go by and laughing at the mad ducks seemingly shouting at one another. In the colder months we often snuggle up in front of the TV whilst the fire is roaring or we simply hop in the car and go out for dinner and a couple of ales.

Life aboard a narrowboat is awesome and we most certainly never feel we are missing out on something that the brick box dwellers have.

Here’s a little video we put together showing a typical day aboard Hannah the Narrowboat