Plan­ning an in­te­rior – it’s a com­pro­mise

Canal Boat - - Kevin Blick -

Some­times when the Ed­i­tor’s monthly re­minder that my col­umn is over­due drops into my email ‘in’ box, my mind goes blank and I stare vainly out the win­dow in search of in­spi­ra­tion. When it doesn’t come, I re­sort to drink. Only jok­ing.

What I usu­ally do is any­thing that can stop me hav­ing to gaze for­lornly at the empty white square on my screen: look at Face­book, make a cof­fee, eat bis­cuits, look at Face­book again, eat more bis­cuits and so on un­til the Ed­i­tor phones to say that he’s at the printer’s and a grumpy bloke has his fin­ger poised over the ‘go’ but­ton.

At which point I start des­per­ately waf­fling and hop­ing an idea will form. So what’s hap­pened on nb Harry this month? Well we bought some chairs. Big deal you say. Ac­tu­ally it was a big deal for us. In fact, my very first col­umn back in mid 2014 was about how un­com­fort­able our wicker arm­chairs were – they were hard, up­right and, be­ing wick­er­work, li­able to leave im­prints in your fleshy ar­eas. But they did fit the limited space we had.

As I said then: “per­haps one day we will hap­pen upon the mag­i­cal boat seat that is both small and soft and up­right and re­lax­ing but some­how I can’t imag­ine it.” Well, fi­nally, af­ter two and a half years of suf­fer­ing and grum­bling, I think we may have – we’ve bought two nice, snappy- look­ing and pleas­antly comfy Ekenäset arm­chairs from IKEA. Not as lux­u­ri­ous as a cap­tain’s chair or a La-Z-Boy re­cliner, true, but de­cent enough – and your rear doesn’t look like you’ve been smacked by a ten­nis rac­quet when you stand up.

Why did we have such hor­ri­ble chairs? Be­cause we wanted to eat at a ta­ble and there wasn’t room for a dinette. Why no dinette? Be­cause we have a big gal­ley. Why?… Be­fore you ask, Mrs B (be­ing Canal­Boat’s res­i­dent cookery cor­re­spon­dent) wouldn’t have been happy with less. We could have squeezed a dinette in – ex­cept the engine got in the way. That’s what hap­pens when you have a big Lister JP3 sit­ting in the mid­dle of the boat.

There is this al­most in­ter­minable chain of con­se­quences and com­pro­mises when try­ing to scheme out the in­te­rior of a nar­row­boat. I’m re­minded of it ev­ery time I read a ques­tion on one of the canal fo­rums from a ‘new­bie’ seek­ing ad­vice on what to buy or how to plan out a boat – what’s the best place for the gal­ley, cross-bed or in-line, what sort of heating to have, should they have chairs or a sofa and (in­evitably) pump-out or cas­sette? And of course, they get del­uged with opin­ions and counter opin­ions.

Here’s just one I saw: ‘Hi there... we are go­ing to buy a boat as soon as we sell our house... we will have about £50,000 is there any­thing we need to look for and to look out for when buy­ing?’.

They got about 50 replies, many ex­tremely help­ful but a lot of them con­tra­dic­tory. One of them was mine.

I said what I say to any­one who asks: try to buy some­thing with a qual­ity shell and fit- out – it will last bet­ter and have good re­sale value. Avoid ‘self fit- outs’ un­less they look as pro­fes­sional as a ‘proper job’ and steer clear of odd­ball in­te­rior lay­outs. Believe me, it isn’t pos­si­ble to defy the laws of space inside a nar­row­boat.

A lot of peo­ple plan for oc­ca­sional even­tu­al­i­ties – spare beds for vis­i­tors who rarely come, wardrobes for suits and gowns. De­cide what’s really im­por­tant to you and work round that – the in­te­rior space is al­ways a com­pro­mise.

A front cratch and a rear canopy are good for wet or messy stuff – boots, bike, dog.

Think of your elec­tri­cal needs – many peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate them. Do a ‘power au­dit’ to work out what you need and what you’ll want to sup­ply it. Look at plenty of boats and stroll the tow­path talk­ing to peo­ple.

I prob­a­bly should have added that, how­ever hard you plan, you prob­a­bly still won’t get it right un­til the third or fourth boat.

‘There is this al­most in­ter­minable chain of con­se­quences and com­pro­mises when try­ing to plan the in­te­rior of a nar­row­boat’

Good­bye to the ‘ten­nis rac­quet’ im­prints...

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