Is there anything you miss about a traditional house?

Happy New Year! I’m sure it’s still ok to say that on the 13th January isn’t it? I hope that you all had a fantastic festive break and relearning how to use a knife and fork after two weeks of surviving on cheese, turkey cobs and mince pies wasn’t too taxing. Here we are, in the twenties, a shiny new decade where the promises of new year new me are coming through stronger than ever. I could start by making bold declarations of a commitment to continual blog posting over the next year, but experience has taught me that that would be very naïve of me. Very naïve indeed. So, I’ve decided that in 2020 I’m going to make the commitment to post on our blog more regularly. Will I ever learn?

It’s difficult because boat life has just become life, there’s only so many times I can witter on about my battles with stuff or chugs down the cut without annoying myself, let alone you lovely lot. I don’t want to be repetitive. But 2020 brings our third anniversary of life aboard, alongside some other exciting milestones and changes (Cough, cough twelve sleeps till my birthday). With that in mind I’m going to make the effort to witter on to you all with a bit more regularity. For any of you super weirdo’s who have missed us I would suggest a hobby, but also perhaps head to our Twitter or Instagram, you can find us @Living_Narrow, I do tend to keep these ever so slightly more updated with the going ons.

We spent most of our Christmas house sitting, which was a lovely and welcome break. Next month will mark three years since we purchased our boat and the question we are still asked the most, yes, even more than is it cold, is ‘Do you still enjoy it, will you move to a house soon?’. I’m not going to do the injustice of sitting here and saying boat life is still all adorable cygnets and sparkling sunsets, the honeymoon period finished a long time ago. Despite this I can honestly say, hand on heart, we still enjoy it and we have no plans to move. This doesn’t however mean that there aren’t things about a house that we enjoy, that we miss even and house sitting brings it home.

House sitting is a lot different to spending the night at the house of family or friends, or a night in a hotel. For those two weeks you’re living in the house, going about your day to day life and as it fell over Christmas, we spent a lot more time in than we have previously. It gives you time to think, to remember what house life is like and offers the perfect reminder of where this differs to our life aboard. With all that considered there are three things which stand out in my mind from this most recent stay.

You may not realise this, but if you live in a traditional house you are an out and out superhero in my mind. Sounds dramatic, well of course, but you have a pretty epic superpower. Electricity. Unflappable electricity. Flicking on the kettle while the washing machine, TV and microwave are running is some superhero trick in my boaty world. When we take residence house sitting, for the first day or two I’ll dive across the kitchen to turn off the kettle when I realise it’s running at the same time as another high energy appliance. Only to fall flat on my face, not just because the kitchen is crazily big but also because in a house you don’t have to worry about those things so much, the use of two appliances at the same time rarely causes your electric to trip out. With great delight I realise that for this short stay, I too am an electricity superhero. It is something so simple, but it makes such an incredible difference, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to have high usage appliances running at one time, just while you’re cooking your dinner even.

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Water! I’m quite passionate about the diminishing water resource, I’ve written blog after blog about it. I try every day to be conscious about the amount we use, and that is all helped by the simple fact that we rely on a 1,000-litre water tank for around two weeks of water. Every time you hear the water pump kick in you have an instant reminder of the amount you’re using. I forgot how easy it is to not be conscious of that in a house. Whilst our water on board is also by tap something about incredible water pressure, instant and unlimited hot water, and no whirring water pumps can easily cause your mind to slip on the amount you’re using. For those two weeks I was guilty of slightly longer showers and the occasional bath (Any boat dweller will agree making use of a bath whenever you’re given the opportunity is a must). Whether it was the ease to forget, the lack of an audible reminder or the draw of the waterfall showers, I don’t know for certain. I love that on a small scale we contribute to a reduce in water usage, but I truly appreciate how difficult that can be in a house when water comes so easy and with very little consequence.

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I really, really, tried with all my might not to mention space, because truly I don’t miss the space. The house we house sit is particularly large, but even still the average house offers a considerable amount of space over our boat. I don’t miss that, I don’t crave more room and yet I find myself writing, albeit through gritted teeth and tight fingers, that space offers you an advantage, independence. Living in a small space together gets claustrophobic at times, it’s only natural. Hanging a coat by the door looses a serious percentage of your available space, wanting to immerse yourself in the next chapter of your book while the superbikes are racing around on the telly, it’s an additional challenge. Having that space to wander off to the conservatory, or even in a smaller home your bedroom, and be entirely separate from other things going on throughout the house certainly has an appeal. With time I’m realising that I absolutely don’t miss space for more clothes or trinkets, but that its ok to accept that I do miss the independence that a bit of space lends you. Even more so in winter, when the world outside your cosy little boat is more hostile and sitting reading on the towpath is only comparable to attempting a chapter on a slip-and-slide.

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I completely appreciate that these observations are tiny. Over three years our lives have adapted, to a point where we don’t notice these issues, because, as I said at the start of my post, boat life has just become life. Diving across the kitchen to turn off the kettle because you’ve realised the microwave is on is second nature, sadly remembering not to turn them both on at the same time hasn’t quite got into second nature territory. Having been back on the boat for a week now we’ve forgotten about all those ideocracies of the house, by the end of the two weeks we were ready to head home. It’s a lovely and welcome break, and it’s so nice to remember all those, but my gosh nothing quite beats home.

James & Kirsty

A diary of live aboard life

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