The prospect of a few solo days ‘working’ on the boat –  if pottering with a paintbrush to the radio can really be called working – has got me thinking (again!) about the psychological benefits of simply being aboard the boat.

Tomorrow the family are off to a wonderfully weather-beaten house in the rather odd village of Thorpeness, on the Sussex Coast. They’re going to spend a few days with assorted members from our complex extended family. The Boys are beside themselves with excitement, and are bursting with talk of fossil finds and collecting ‘wishing stones’ (the flint pebbles pierced by holes all the way through) whilst big sister Molly’s already grieving a lack of Wi-Fi connection, three days out the ‘e-loop’ being almost too much pain for her to bear!

The price of a few solo days for me is a couple of epic bouts of ‘ferry-about’, it’ll be the best part of 400 miles driving by the time I arrive at the boat (hopefully) late afternoon tomorrow.

Over the next few days I’ve no plans to leave the wharf (by boat at least). This ‘working holiday’ is simply about savouring the moment, about making good coffee; eating good food; listening to some quality radio; partaking the odd beer and hopefully doing a little more ‘sighting’ along the Oxford Canal in the evenings, if the weather does (or even if it doesn’t…) allow.

I’ve been planning this trip for weeks. The paint’s bought, I’m working to a predominantly green and cream colour scheme that echoes the boat’s Birmingham Canal Navigation heritage. At the top of the stairs, ready for loading in the car first thing in the morning, as well as the cans of paint and the gubbins of painting, is a pile of eclectic finds I’ve been planning to take to the boat for ages. In the pile is a 1930’s teapot (see the post Silent Sunday Story No. 22); a brass coal scuttle; some old ropework from the elum (rudder) which I hope Tradline can reproduce in new rope; a gorgeous Edwardian doorknob that also previously graced the elum and now needs returning to it’s rightful home;  and a painted replacement for the timber that lined the ‘slide’ (the sliding metal ‘hatch cover’) which forms part of the doors into the back cabin.

Equally importantly , alongside the practical stuff, I’m going to:

1. Get away from it all, going to the boat solo gives me a rare opportunity to recharge my body and mind through stillness, silence and none-stressful, simple practical activity. There’s no looming deadline nor heavy sense of responsibility or guilt if I fail to achieve any of what I have planned. To be, is enough. Plus, any excuse to put the kettle on and have a brew I’ll take it!

2. Get moving, in my increasingly sedentary, virtual world I find it’s increasingly necessary to find time to actually do something, rather than think about doing something. Just to get moving. From the back and forth of my load brush to stretching my legs over a variety of terrain I can’t wait to get in touch with the yard, the people and the natural environment around us.

3. Carve out time, to think clearly and make creative connections with people and places, with ideas, memories and associations.

You may be wondering why I put the image of the kettle on the campfire at the top of this post? Well, because the image, to my mind, speaks of accessible freedom; of being outdoors on Summer days;  of savouring the opportunity to take things at a slower pace; of parring things back to basics, and delighting in essentials. It’s what the next few days are all about.

 I can’t wait!



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