Or in my case the river Thames. Not much of a stream where I used to live in London. Only ten days ago, as a matter of fact, I handed the houseboat I’ve been living on for almost a year back over to its owner.
I’ve written a few times about living on a houseboat and had planned on writing a final post on that. Given that I have now vacated the premises, I should do that before I forget. Not forget what it was like, but simply forget to write it, because I’ll be too wrapped up in writing other things.
Almost a year. Who would have thought?
As with many things in life, it was good, it was bad and it could be ugly.
The boat I lived on was great for one person, though there was room for a second. It was never ideal to share with a complete stranger, though luckily I only had to suffer through that fate for twelve days. Twelve days I very much abhorred, but I made it through. For most of my time aboard I was lucky enough to live alone and it was that, which I paid rent for.
Truly, the boat itself was not worth the rent paid for it. It wasn’t properly insulated, which turned winter into a more or less dreadful experience. London in winter is unpleasant enough as it is, but living on the Thames during the coldest part of the year was almost enough to flee from the experience altogether.
Somehow I prevailed. Had we not had as mild a winter as it was, I would not have been able to stay. No heating in the bathroom or the kitchen meant that I repaired to my room for most of the time I spent aboard, suffered through the briefest of, at least hot, showers and only endeavoured to cook something on Sunday afternoon, usually a pot of soup, which would then last me a few days for lunch at work as well.
During the weekends I spent as little time at home as I could, rather hunkering down in some cafe or another.
The dampness that would never leave the boat did not make it any better and, in fact, caused mold to grown on the walls, mostly on the ceiling and around the windows of the bathroom and kitchen. I got a removal spray and informed the owner. I do not expect this problem to vanish, though. The new tenants, who moved in the day after I left, will find that out soon enough.
That was the ugly part.
The bad bits mostly concern the endless rocking of the boat during high tides. At times it was most wearisome. Weekends were fine, but during the morning and evening, when the tide happened to be high during those times, it could be endlessly annoying. Nobody minds a bit of rocking, but a lot of it on a small boat was just too much.
Luckily it worked like clockwork due to the schedule of the riverbus. Which means outside of high tide it was blissfully quiet.
Then, of course, there was the construction site right beside the pier I was moored on. Four huge apartment buildings in the making. It was less noisy than one might assume. When the boat was sitting in the mud, the quay acted somewhat as a shield and the noise was just overhead without being too much of a bother. The dirt was a different matter. Dust from the construction site pooled on the deck, the roof and got into every nook and cranny.
So, why did I stay?
As I said, I paid for the privilege of living alone. That was a value almost beyond measure. And when it was quiet on the river, on the construction site and on the pier and the sun was out to play, it was wonderfully serene. Sitting on deck and watching the duck and her ducklings, the geese endlessly cleaning themselves and other ducks making a ruckus, it was as close to heaven on earth as you can be in the middle of London.
That outweighed everything else.
I have learned a great deal about living aboard and I know much better now what I want for my own boat, which includes excellent insulation and ventilation.
I shall, in the future, write about the plans I have for my own boat. This experience has certainly not deterred me from my dream home and only taught me what needs to be improved upon.
I do not envy the new tenants as autumn is about to fall, though. Boat life is something else and absolutely wonderful, if you’re cut out for it and have the right boat to live on. But the one I called home for so long is not it.
Regardless, I enjoyed the life style and it was a good trial run for me to find out what it is actually like. It’ll be wonderful when I have my own boat that won’t be moored in the busiest area on whatever river it’ll be that I’ll find myself on.
Call me a romantic, hopeless if you like, but that really is part of the whole experience anyway.