What Makes a Home?Our Live Aboard Narrowboat Home

I think it’s universally accepted that January is a trial month, right? Good. Now we have that out of the way we can gloss over my epic failure at regular blogging in 2020. As I say January was the trial. February is where it’s at.

In one short week we’ll be marking the third anniversary of us collecting the keys to our floating home, Fantine. It will also mark one year over our original planned occupation time. We thought we had it all worked out. Two years aboard, saving every penny, before selling up and buying a dream house. Well life, numerous race cars and several Shetland ponies got in the way of that grand scheme! And so we find ourselves, three years down the line and happily bobbing along the cut.

Something happened which we weren’t expecting. We found our home. Whilst from the minute I stepped aboard I got a feeling about Fantine, in that eye rolling vain they always talk about on the channel four home shows, I never quite imagined she would become home. Choosing a life aboard comes with many challenges and many a raised eyebrow. It challenges everyone’s view of home. When we first moved aboard, I took many a knock as people proclaimed, we don’t have a home. Worries over whether we should be concentrating on buying a house, and not dreaming up ways to explain that you simply cannot have too many Shetland ponies, regularly fill my mind.

I console myself as we watch those around us strive for ever changing house goals. It’s exhausting, constantly climbing an increasingly out of reach ladder, until your advancing years arrive and you endeavour to hop back down. It all seems a little mad. We’ve since decided we would only move should we be able to purchase land and build what is the dream home for us. Otherwise I fear we’d join the ranks of ladder climbing, constantly searching to find the impossible, a house that ticks every box.

So we should all rush out and buy narrowboats as they’re the answer to a contented life? Absolutely not. I’d be lying to myself and everyone else if I said that our narrowboat home ticks every box. I miss so many simple things, from the beauty of hot water literally on tap to being able to leave dishes on the side. Ok maybe most of my issues focus around laziness. Nevertheless, I’m not coming here to proclaim that narrowboats are the one size fits all solution. Aside from this, even as boaty folk we look at other boats and wonder whether they’d be more suited. I’m talking about you Dutch Barges. They give me all kinds of heart eyes. So I suppose even within our boat world we’re still on the look out for something else, something which would tick a box that Fantine misses.

It’s far from plain sailing, it’s an infuriating place to live at times, on a freezing cold, drizzly day when you’re having to fill the water tank so you can make a cup of tea, or when it’s so windy you can’t sleep. There’s so much about it that’s far from perfect. But as I lay in bed last night, the stove was gurgling in the background, we were toasty and cosy and I thought to myself I honestly couldn’t love home more.

What I’m going a very long way about saying, is that a home isn’t a building, it isn’t 3 bedrooms and an en suite. Home is wherever you make it. How mushy is that? As we approach three years of life aboard, I’m so pleased that home found us, and that we get to continue to call our small but perfectly formed space home.

James & Kirsty

A diary of live aboard life

2 thoughts on “What Makes a Home?Our Live Aboard Narrowboat Home

  1. I loved your write up of living on your narrow boat. We had a narrow boat for 28 years. The best years ever. I miss it every single day of my life. Unfortunately I had a heart attack when I was 69 and it was a bad one so we decided we would have to sell our wonderful way of life as It would not be wise to continue long journeys and easier to live in our house to be near hospital for further treatment. We moved to the New Forest and although we now are settled and love the freedom of the forest we miss our beautiful way of life on our narrow boat every single day of our life. Enjoy your days may they last for a long long time. There is nothing so enjoyable. My best wishes to you both. Sandra Holbrook


    1. Hi Sandra,

      Firstly apologies for the delay in replying! I could pretend we’ve been off on a fabulous adventure but the reality is I’ve just been too lazy to check the blog!

      Thank you so much for you kind comment and fort taking the time to leave it. So sorry you had to give your time on the cut and in such frustrating circumstances, at least you’re lucky enough to know the beauty and simplistic freedom of a life aboard.

      Wishing you all the best, Kirsty & James


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