Life on land is not all it’s cracked up to be
I’m feeling like I have just returned from a desert island. Or even another planet. We have spent the past couple of months living in a house. It’s the first time in six years that we have lived anywhere but on the boat and, boy, it’s been a culture shock.
How things have changed – and in such a short time. Not for the better, either, though that might just be from the perspective of a grumpy old man.
Take light bulbs. When I last needed a bulb for a ceiling light, you bought one of the old filament ones or a new fangled compact fluorescent jobs that took so long to brighten up you were in and out of the room to find your glasses while it was still in semi-darkness. When I bought a bulb the other day I found a whole aisle of a B&Q devoted to the damned things. Fluorescents, LEDs, halogens, screws, bayonets – oh, it went on and on. It took me ten minutes’ study to find the equivalent to a good old 100w bulb. And it cost more!
Talking of money – as we skinflint boaters are wont to do – what about the cost of phones, eh? I was tempted by land living to escape from the vagaries of 3G broadband with a landline one. And they looked cheap, too, until you looked at that small print – “*prices don’t include line rental at £16.99 a month.” A month! When I last had a landline I swear it was nearer £16.99 a quarter. Surely things
Harry should get cheaper? So we still have mobiles and 3G and don’t miss the landline a bit. After all, I’ve never done much heavyweight downloading or live streaming TV.
We actually don’t have a TV on the boat but, being on land, I admit I was tempted. Now we have 60 channels of Freeview, 59 of which seem to be showing endless repeats of
etc. I can’t even take solace (except maybe a Quantum of it since that Bond film has been on at least six times since Christmas) in the space and warmth of a house. We moved in to do some work while our boat is being worked on. I tell you, if you thought it was hard to find a yard to work on your boat, that’s nothing compared to the joys of dealing with planners, building control departments and builders.
At the moment the house resembles a building site and a cold one at that. Heating up nb Harry takes moments: I fall out of bed to make early morning tea, light the Refleks stove and retire back to drink said tea. By the time we’ve finished, the boat is warm. In the house it’s a case of altering the central heating controls, fumbling with microdot size buttons and squinting at tiny LCD digits while deciphering the pidgin English leaflet.
There must be some positives I hear you say. Of course; we are near our children and grandchildren, we’ve hauled some of our lovely old furniture out of storage, I can put books on shelves rather than back in the charity shop once I’ve read them. And we haven’t been trapped by flood waters, unlike my fellow columnist, Steve. Ah, but we nearly were: the local streams and rivers came up so fast after a heavy downpour on top of weeks of rain that all but one of the routes out of the village were blocked – fortunately only for a couple of days. You can’t escape water!
All in all, we can’t wait to be back on the boat. It’s not just because land life is complicated or costly. No, we both genuinely miss it, deeply; so much that we have flashbacks to days and places we’ve been.
Not glamorous highlights of trips, just humdrum moments come back in waves of nostalgia. We miss the misty mornings, the ever changing backdrop to life, from quiet country to industrial squalor. We are, in short, ticking off the days to be back on board.
‘If you thought it was hard to find a yard to work on your boat, it’s nothing compared to dealing with planners and builders’