So since returning from our amazing time in Canada, we’ve been suffering from post holiday blues. With a combination of getting straight back into work, the weather here being rubbish with storms, Doris & Ewen knocking us about and not a lot of money to do anything. So we’ve been getting stuck into moving forward with our ‘Living the Dream’ plans – exciting, but a lot to do…
Basically we have a boat and we’ve decided it’s the right time to sell up and go live on her 🙂
We call the boat ‘Head in the Clouds’, she’s a broad beamed canal boat, 10′ wide by 55′ long to be precise – and we love her 🙂
We first bought her in 2002 as a rusty steel shell with nothing inside except a vast rusty space with no windows or doors. It was so exciting and it was from that point that we wanted her to be our home.
There was such a lot to do though and of course, general life and work got in the way which meant time ran on and on and all of a sudden it’s 2017, the kids are all grown up living their lives and the boat looks so much better. So, (although not finished) it looks more like a home to us, so the time is now right to make the jump and go for it. So it’s operation sell the house and climb aboard – Sounds that simple right?!
I and some of Jon’s family helped with some of the work in the very beginning, but the credit must go to Jon who has worked his ass off over the years, grabbing bits of time here and there to create something quite special.
In the beginning, we sand blasted and grinded the rust away and then gave her many layers of special paint underneath, inside and out.
When that was done she could go into the water and be tugged to her mooring on the Sheffield & South Yorkshire canal – exciting times.
Then it was windows to cut out and make, doors to make, rooms to plan and create, electricity to bring in, solar panels to install, water tank, waste tank, inlets & outlets, kitchen & bathroom, fire place to build to name just a few necessities and then of course the engine – Phew – all so simple!
Yeah right, I can see Jon rolling his eyes and tutting at me as I type…Bearing in mind he’s never done anything like this before, I’m so proud of him for what he’s achieved and learnt along the way.
Today, there still is lots to do and of course as the time has gone on there’s also the maintenance to keep up to now but, ‘Head in the Clouds’ is beautiful, she has a ‘Perkins 315’ engine which came out of a dumper truck and sounds lovely as she ‘tug tug tug’s’ along. She has two bedrooms, the main bedroom having the best view at the front of the boat, a double bed, dressing table and fitted wardrobes, the guest room is smaller, but amazingly can sleep three with it’s cleverly designed bunk bed system. The bathroom has a toilet, sink, full sized bath with shower, there is then a corridor which takes you to the open plan living room and kitchen.
There is a cosy living space with a brick fireplace and a wood burning stove along with a fitted B&Q kitchen, then out the back door into the wheelhouse which is a nice size for a couple of chairs and a coffee table. Luxury 🙂 The wheelhouse is ‘work in progress’ at the moment, the bathroom needs updating and still many more jobs to be done, Jon’s just in the middle of fitting new doors and windows to the front of the boat right now.
We’ve already been out on a few cruises since the engine went in and that’s when we realised ‘yup, we did the right thing.’ We have both had to learn the rules and regulations of navigating a boat along the canals and we’ve also had to learn how to actually steer quite a large boat along with how to operate the Locks, all this being quite a daunting experience to start with, but we aren’t too bad at it now after having a few bumps and scrapes along the way. We love boating and generally being on and around the British canals, it’s such a beautiful way to see the countryside. The thing about canals is that they can be very near to busy towns and cities, but when you’re cruising along you barely notice that, because it’s so slow and quiet and you feel you’re really in there amongst nature. (The videos at the end of this post are of us cruising along the Calder & Hebble Navigation).
There are swans, ducks, herons and many other birds which we don’t know the names of, (we’ve got to get a good bird book!) and other wildlife which pops up to say hello – life on the water can be so tranquil.
The British canal network is very large and generally kept in very good condition by the Canal & River Trust and consists of narrow and broad canals. Head in the Clouds is a broad beamed barge which means we are a little restricted with the routes we can take as we can only travel on the broad canals, but there are plenty for us to explore and that’s what we intend to do. Spring is on its way so we’ll soon be unhitching the mooring ropes and away we go…