Tuesday, 28 August 2012

"I couldn't live like you..."

Gongoozler is a word invented by writer Terry Darlington to describe a very particular group of people. They are the ones who hang around locks, filming unwary boaters on their phones in the hope of an impending disaster which they can then download onto YouTube. My initiation into their twilight world came as a result of our engine breaking down and having to get our boat towed down the Caen Hill flight. Learning to drive two boats breasted together when one has no engine therefore no steerage is not how I would have chosen to do it, but sometimes the best way to do something that scares you is  by getting on with it through necessity. Apparently I nearly squashed a swan against a lock gate, but I wasn't told that til several days later. Just as well, because I would probably have refused to touch the tiller ever again. But that is another story for another time.
  Back to the gongoozlers. There are some for whom a camera or camcorder record is not enough. Halfway down the flight, we stopped briefly for a break and we were approached by a small group of tourists who wanted to see inside one of the boats. Seriously? I don't remember anyone knocking on my door, curious to see the inside of my ex-authority flat on the outskirts of Bristol. If they had, they would have got short shrift and sent on their way. But things are different here, and we agreed to let them see inside one of the boats. When they emerged they were frankly quite rude. Unintentionally, but rude, nonetheless. They thought the boats were just like caravans and they couldn't live like that. Thing is, I can't live like they do either. We, my partner and I , live like this for a reason. We were becoming increasingly disturbed by the greed for space and natural resources we saw around us. We now live in a space 50 feet by 6'10", it is our home and our workshop. It is probably smaller that the kitchens desired by people who go on TV programmes about moving to the country. We have to be responsible in our use of water, since we carry it with us and when the tank runs low we have to think about how and where to refill. We have no appliances, and cooking is on a three ring gas burner. No TV, no fridge, no power shower, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine. We are still very new to this life and it is at times physically hard and we've not had a winter on our boat yet, but so far we are happy with our decision. This really is living mindfully, and our personal response to increasing environmental damage.


  1. It will get easier... our first winter on the boat brought about many problems and challenges, but by the second winter we could fully enjoy the beauty of being frozen in - it was a breeze! Ultimately, the feeling of having everything you 'need' surrounding you, nature to learn from at every turn and just that feeling of living small and more mindfully, does get under your skin... it's impossible to explain to people. We can't wait to get back on our new boat :-)

  2. Thankyou Alice! Really enjoying the autumn now - lighting the stove and listening for owls in the dark. Also having a working engine and being able to get a pumpout when we need it feels like such a luxury!