Friday, 22 April 2011

Living on a marina

For the first year after we bought the boat we were moored in a marina at Newbury in Berkshire.  It was handy as it enabled us to refit the inside.  For example getting to the local tip was easy as we could park the car right next to the boat to load up with old sanitary ware etc.  The only downside, initially, was the distance from home, a 200 mile round trip on the M25 and M4 most Friday nights/Sunday afternoons.

Coincidentally Sophie moved in with Justin that year and they lived in Newbury.  This was good as it meant we could see more of Sophie and that they could borrow the boat sometimes.

The marina was on an island with friendly owners and residents and it was very close to the town centre and what became our local, the LSB (Lock, Stock and Barrel).  This was a popular boaters’ pub and also right on Newbury lock.  It was also a very dog friendly pub; ideal as most boaters seemed to have dogs.

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We spent Christmas 2010 and the New Year on the boat; it was the last really cold winter we really had.  The canal was often frozen over and we had ice on the inside of the windows in the morning.  Here is a particularly nice heart formation:

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And here are some Christmas Day/New Year’s Day photos:

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It was in that winter that we met our first live-aboard friends, Richard and Sarah.  Here’s their boat, Foxy Lady, iced in opposite our marina.  They had had their first baby a few weeks before Christmas.

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In the spring we had a female mallard living on the marina with 29 adopted ducklings of various ages - more children than us!

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Various of our children would visit at the weekends and we would go cruising or just stay on the boat and visit Newbury.  Here are Jake and Jo having fun in our kayak in the area of Newbury called West Mills.  Probably the worst two children to put together if you wanted them back with dry clothes.

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We had a weird experience when Jo and Polly stopped over one weekend.  We had cruised to the west of Newbury and were moored up for lunch.  The girls were on the front deck and a man started talking to them.  I went to check what was going on and he was offering for them to come to his house to take a bath as he thought that it would be a nice change from living on a boat.

We had a steep learning curve in that first year and not just about how to cruise and use locks in safety.  For example, we were cruising with Lauren and Emily and somehow my glasses became dislodged and fell into the canal.  This was in the days before we owned a good strong magnet so nowadays I have my glasses tied round my neck just in case.  The children thought this idea was more fun though:

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We avidly read canal boat magazines that year and one publication often annotated pictures with speech bubbles quoting, “Good idea…” etc.  Sophie was constantly taking the mickey out of pictures of me, especially when my DIY ineptitude could be seen.

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Here are a few snaps from some of the cruises we went on in that first year:

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And here are some of our visitors:

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After a year we were spending more time cruising than in the marina and realised how ridiculously expensive it was so we became continuous cruisers; a term recognised by the licensing authority as someone who does not stay in the same vicinity for more than 14 days.  This is a moot point in cities such as London where people move up and down the same stretch because they work locally or their children go to school locally.  In our mind (and a lot of other people’s minds) they are not really continuous cruisers and should have the facility for a permanent type mooring licence.  Still, that’s a long story, subject to ongoing legislative debate, but one where we can see both sides of the argument.

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