A spluttering noise begins to escape from the tap, “has the water run out, Mummy?” my daughter asks. “No darling, we’re not on the boat today!”
No, we’re not on the boat, we’re staying with relatives in a house and thank god it’s not a house with central heating. As we snuggle down under our layers of blankets I am thankful for the similarity to our normal life.
Our normal life: where we can feel the elements and tell what the weather is doing just from the air and the look of the sky.
During cold snaps we often receive offers of a warm house because it is assumed that we are huddled aboard shivering and lusting after double-glazing and central heating. As kind as these offers are, these assumptions could not be further from the truth.
There is nothing quite like being aboard in winter with the fire raging and hot water bottles warming our sheets. I love the noises of nighttime as ice cracks delicately around our ears. I embrace the elation of opening my curtains to see water frozen over and the surrounding trees silent under the cover of snow.
Magic surrounds us in this season and there is a welcome rawness to life.
There is a connection with life.
I miss this when I am visiting relatives. I miss many things.
Suddenly the realisation of what I love about the narrowboat lifestyle hits me: it is the independence; the feeling that we are in a certain state of freedom, locked in with the essence of life.
We can move, breathe, escape, feel, control.
Yes, I think it is the sense of control that I have in this life... the knowledge that I am responsible for the water that flows through my taps.
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