LIFE ON CONTENTED
Where do I begin….
I suppose at the very start of our journey to our new lifestyle……….
My name is Jules and I am a sales assistant at Whilton Marina. I have lived on our boat for 7 years with my husband, but the venture did not start there. We ran our own business for 21 years and it was wearing us out, so we liquidated it in 2016. We had talked about buying a narrowboat for at least 5 years prior to getting one but were not in the right place financially or personally to be able to do it. Bearing in mind that we have never been on any narrowboat holidays, apart from myself, when I went to the Norfolk Broads on a family holiday, deciding to live on a boat took some of our friends and family by surprise, comments like ‘why would you want to do a silly thing like that’, ‘think you’re mad’, ‘you’ll be so cold in winter’ and ‘what will you do with all your stuff’ !!!!. Ignoring all the negative comments we were finally able to start the search end of 2014 start 2015. We did have an idea of what we were looking for, but we put that to one side as you never know, our previous thoughts might not be what we needed.
We registered with many sites and the search began. Every weekend viewing boats, stepping on some and getting off straight away, others taking our time, but nothing seemed to “float our boat” so to speak. Then one Friday evening husband has an email from Whilton Marina to say a boat had come in to match our requirements. I will say at this point I did not work for Whilton Marina. You have never seen two people organise a viewing so quickly in your life! Registered our visit, given the keys, walked on, walked off and paid our deposit, sold subject to survey, she was perfect for us. And when we got home, we just looked at each other and said, “we’ve only been a bought a ****** boat Rodney” and so our new life was beginning to start.
Fast forward two ½ months we took possession of Folly, (originally Clara), a 2001 ex-Black Prince Hire Boat, 62ft long. She was renamed prior to leaving the marina to Contented as that is how she made us feel. I dropped my husband and a few of his mates off to bring the boat back to her new home, informing them it was not a booze cruise, ok they said 😊.
A few hours later I met them at The Boathouse in Braunston and joined them for the final leg of the journey. I have never felt so happy and alive in such a long time. No rushing, enjoying the countryside, taking time out, but nervous as well.
And now the work begins: - Contented had the solid bones we had been looking for in a boat, but she was going to be our home.
We started ‘sympathetically’ pulling her apart – removed the saloon, galley and 1st double bedroom making a 22ft space to have the galley and saloon. As the ‘poo’ tank was under the bed we took out, we built the new galley over it rather than go through the nasty business of removing 17 years of ex-hirers congealed bodily functions ☹, plus we were keeping the first bathroom😊. Over the next 4 months we had spray insulation – nasty job to cut it back as I tried to save money doing that myself, what a mistaka to make, in the end paid our son to do it,!!!!, new galley including appliances, new saloon area, new under gunwales and ceiling in marine ply, new flooring, new led lights (thankyou to our friend Phil Dent for fitting them). We decided to not have light switches, instead 1 out of every set of 4 functioned as the on/off when you touched it, brilliant idea. One of the big bonuses with Contented is she already had a stove fitted which saved us a huge amount of money.
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I remember our first overnight stay. We had forgotten how noisy mother nature can be!!!!. In-between the foxes barking, the owls doing there thing and the ducks obviously on the razz, we finally went into the land of nod. Woke up with start about 6.00am wondering what on earth was happening to the boat, sounded like someone was hammering all the way down the outside. Shook my hubby, well it’s like waking the dead and asked him to investigate. Turns out the ducks were back from their night out and needing some breakfast, obviously the green algae on the waterline is ideal, panic over !!!!. Also learnt over the next few days, swans like to peak through the glass when not expected and have razor sharp beaks when trying to hand feed them, and ducks also enjoy doing a clog dance on the roof, what have we got ourselves into 😊.
Now we skip to 7 years on, still in love with Contented and our lifestyle. Many learning curves good and bad met over that time. You know its cold outside when there is ice on the inside. Took us 2 years to master the art of keeping the fire in overnight. Also duct tape is one of earths greatest inventions and a godsend to any boater, sticks like the preverbal to a blanket and stops numerous draughts. So the essential tool kit of any boater is duct tape, cable ties and superglue, plus various fuses of different amperage. Moving onto the boat fulltime was a different experience. Going from a 5-bed house, to 3 bed, to 4 bed, back down to a 3 bed over the years, we thought we had mastered the art of downsizing.... we were only playing at it! Its at the point of packing up do you realise why on earth do we have 30 cups, umpteen sets of cutlery, numerous dining sets, god knows how many pots and pans, when you actually only use on a regular basis a fraction of them. We both had 4 door wardrobes packed full of clothes we thought we wore, but in fact only 1 doors worth was actually used, so thus began the best clear out we have ever done. Myton Hospice (other charities available) got the lions share and I have to say its one of the most cathartic experiences I have ever done.
TO BE CONTINUED ......