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Alexander Residence: Narrowboat Wife guest posts

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Narrowboat Wife guest posts

I'm really excited to have been matched with Narrowboat Wife, Peggy, for the Britmums guest post MatchUp (Check out #BritMumsguestpost on twitter for more information).  Peggy's agreed to let me have a virtual tour of her beautiful Narrowboat.  

Peggy's beautiful home - Violet Mae
Over to Peggy...

As a child I imagined the gypsy life in a painted wagon would be so romantic, but as I grew older I realised that travelling like that was a difficult road to choose.  I was living in a rented flat in Kentish Town when I first saw narrowboats in Camden and began to dream of living on the water. My father is a merchant seaman so perhaps it was in my blood. My first boat was a beautiful 45 foot cruiser, which means there was a cruiser style back-deck. She was red and called ‘Emily Rose’. With my husband we first lived on a 57 foot cruiser, and now live on a 70 foot traditional style boat, ‘Violet Mae’ with our two children. A ‘trad’ narrowboat has a very small back deck, just big enough for the steerer to stand on. Our boat has an open plan living room, kitchen, bathroom with shower, double bedroom and a boatman’s cabin for the girls. 

Boatman's Cabin
A boatman’s cabin is a room at the back of the boat with a fold away bed and a fold down table. It is painted with the traditional narrowboat folk-art of roses and castles and the layout is the same as it would have been in a working cargo boat in Victorian times. We love the extra space our new boat has given our family but are finding that the water tank does not hold enough water to use the washing machine many times in a week. We have to be economical with water and electric. I am the only mum I know who says,

“No you can’t watch TV right now because the washing machine is on!” We don’t have enough electric to run the TV and washing machine at the same time.

The best things about living on a boat are the freedom to move your home, living close to nature and beautiful countryside views. Some of the challenges are the lack of storage space, limited electricity, running out of water and breaking down.

Running out of water or breaking down were simply inconveniences before having children, but now that we do have children making sure that everything is in working order is much more important. The arrival of our children has obviously increased the problem of storage space. We have to be very strict about what possessions we keep. The one thing I wish that our daughters had is a garden; but we could have one if we settled down on a mooring one day.

The saloon
Both of our children were born at home on the boat and we have lived aboard as a family for nearly four years now. The children enjoy picking blackberries on the towpath and looking for an ‘exploring place’ in the countryside. They are not excited about boat journeys at all as it is just a part of ordinary life for them. Our three year old prefers to stay in and watch a DVD when we go on a cruise! I think that the worse thing for children about our lifestyle is not being part of a fixed community. The girls cannot have local friends or next door neighbours.

The most common questions people ask me about living on a boat are, is it cold in winter, and aren’t you afraid that your children will fall into the canal? It is not cold in winter as long as the heating is working well. We have a diesel stove which provides a constant heat twenty-four hours a day. We are probably less worried about the dangers of water than non-boating parents as our children have had the risks drummed into them every day. We keep the doors bolted shut and there are playpen barriers around the front deck.

We have talked about living in a house sometimes and may reconsider it again. We know that we will have to settle down when our eldest child starts school. We may change our mind about narrowboat life as the children grow older and need more space. However, at the moment it is my romantic gypsy dream come true!

Peggy Melmoth is a freelance writer and a freelance secretary. Her daughters are aged three and one. She has lived on a canal boat for eleven years and writes a blog about family life, living aboard at  Go and visit, it's a really inspiring, and unique blog.  you can also follow @Boat_Wife on twitter.

Photo credit -

Would you like to guest post for me, or have me guest post?  Always up for a change! Here is what I wrote for Peggy...

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At 26 July 2011 at 09:04 , Blogger This Mid 30s Life said...

I absolutely LOVED reading that, thanks!! I don't know anyone who lives on a boat, in fact I have no idea about boats. I used to get the ferry to and from work and that's as far as it goes (and I always had to sit on the deck in case we sank).

At 26 July 2011 at 15:48 , Blogger Amy said...

Lovely! I live aboard too, on my narrowboat Lucky Duck! But even I love seeing inside other people's boats.

Narrowboat Lucky Duck

At 26 July 2011 at 15:50 , Anonymous Kirsty said...

How fascinating! I suppose you wouldn't have to settle down for school if you decided to home-school your children - although as they get bigger you might want the extra space from them anyway. I bet if you did settle back into a house you'd keep some of your attitude to possessions and discovering new experiences anyway. Off to visit the blog now! :)

At 27 July 2011 at 10:47 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Mid 30s and Kirsty - It is fascinating to get a proper insight isn't it. I love the mix of old in the boatman's cabin and new in the saloon.
Amy - will be over to visit too :)

At 27 July 2011 at 10:49 , Blogger This Mid 30s Life said...

Beautiful isn't it. x

At 27 July 2011 at 12:16 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wow, really interesting! I would love to spend a week on a narrowboat holiday - sounds like bliss :)

At 27 July 2011 at 19:43 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two of my favourite people swap blogs! Peggy knows I have a particular interest as my OH lived on a narrow boat (Dutch barge actually) when his daughter was young - a similar age to Peggy's children. They gave up boat living when his daughter was 6 (she's 28 now).
He often says how much he loved it, it is a wonderful life, I hope you can find a way to fit into community and schools and still stay on the boat XX

At 31 July 2011 at 19:26 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

I'm with you Nic, it's on my to do list!
Gemma - aw thanks. Learning more about you now, dot you love it when your world's collide?

At 7 August 2011 at 14:49 , Blogger Boat Wife said...

Yes, it's a great coincidence that I got matched up with you Penny, as Gemma had already mentioned you to me. I love the traditional boatman's cabin decor, but my husband likes the modern look, so we have both in this boat. We have talked about home schooling but I think we will settle near a school when the time comes. Thanks for having me Penny!

At 8 August 2011 at 12:50 , Anonymous Narrowboat Wife said...

Yes it's a great coincidence that we were matched up as Gemma had mentioned you to me. We have talked about home schooling but decided on Real School when the time comes because of socialisation!

At 14 August 2011 at 08:33 , Anonymous Planet Penny said...

I've only just discovered the Narrowboat Wife Blog, and I'm really enjoying reading about life on board as it's been one of my unfulfilled fantasies. (I also have pints of seawater in my blood from generations of merchant seamen!) You must have to be so organised on board, I think I would end up with a flotilla of dinghies bobbing along behind full of wool and fabrics! Great Post


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