... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

A dignified retreat

Oh, the irony. Second only to that of the year we lived on a boat being the one when we did the (second) least boating; the year I vowed to post every day turns out to be the one with the least of all. One hundred and seventy six days of this year have passed, and I have been boating for ... two of them. In a couple of weeks there will be another two. It is shameful, disappointing, and sad. I am reading the blogs of Halfie and Captain Ahab with envy.

How we came to this pretty pass, of course, was by planning to go to Hebden Bridge; planning everything around that, booking the leave, abandoning all other plane - and then not going.

I can't say I regret not going - in the circumstances, and as things turned out, it was clearly the right decision. But I do regret that things turned out that way.

And I wonder at myself. Time was I'd have pushed and pushed before giving up. I would have insisted on going to Hebden Bridge, rather than being relieved by having a reason not to. It might well have ended in disaster, but my passion for boating and my fear of missing out would have taken us to the brink and beyond. Have I become less daring, less driven, less passionate? A coward, and a lazy one at that?

Maybe, inexorably, other aspects of life have crept up on me. Family responsibilities have increased a bit - particularly for Jim, but with knock-on effects. Work has become all-consuming; it's hard enough to find the time to take off, let alone to stop thinking about it. Ricky and Geoffrey are fabulous, but they don't make boating any easier.

But I miss it. I miss the tiller in my hand and the resistance in my arm. I miss moments like nearly getting round Suttons in one and the feeling of knowing that I dared keep the power on and the boat in forward until the last moment, willing her to come round but knowing I could cope if she didn't. That's what I miss: not the wildlife, not the calm, not the scenery, not the sunshine. It's me and seventy one foot six of Big Woolwich working as one; the rare moments when it all comes together (and the not so rare ones when we're just chugging along nicely together); it's the feeling - more and more after nearly ten years together - of knowing the boat, trusting it to keep me out of trouble. The canals are interesting, being out in the open air is nice, sunshine is great, meeting people is good... but it's the boat, the boat that I love.

.... So, I was off on a bit of a flight of fancy there - whether writing stories, or blogs, or research articles, I often don't know what I'm going to write until I start writing. And what I was going to write tonight was that I am going to make a dignified retreat, in the circumstances, from my commitment to post every day for the whole year. Dignified, because I shall have posted every day for half the year, but as things have turned out this was the worst possible year to try to achieve what was always going to be a difficult feat. I am so taken up with work that I have nothing to write about, and no time or energy to write it.  So I will spare you the makeweights; I shall post when I'm boating or when I have something boaty (or occasionally, otherwise interesting) to say; and I shall try to post at least once a week.... and I shall hope that next year will be a better one for boating.


  1. Sarah, Please post when you wish, but even your makeweights are interesting and usually come from an unexpected angle.
    I started to read your blog for the boats but I have now come to find almost all of your posts fascinating and well worth the read.