I have waited to share this big news with you all, as I wasn’t certain it was all going ahead until last night. As of tomorrow morning, my wife and I will be the very proud owners of a beautiful houseboat!
Just nine weeks from now, we are going to be moving our lives away from bricks and mortar – and onto the canals. We’ve bought a 68ft narrowboat and in two months she will be our new home.
This is extremely, extremely exciting. And in equal measure I am scared and stressed. We have chosen this move after very careful deliberation, and we’re well aware of the sacrifices we’re making and the challenges we will face. We’ll be living off-grid; that means no mains water, electricity, gas or sewerage. Even more crucially, there’ll be no WiFi (but I’ll be sure to try and moor where there’s 4G!). There will be a barrage of daily maintenance issues to tackle and I’m sure we will encounter plenty of problems I’ll have no idea how to fix. And we have no idea what impact all this change will have on my already fragile mental health.
It’s huge and intimidating. But there’s a part of me – a small but significant one – that is confident I can handle it. There will most likely be days when I regret our choice and crave being back in a house. But I’m hoping those will be outnumbered by the days I wake up to the ducks outside my bedroom window, or lie on the roof gazing at the sky, or have fascinating conversations with other boaters and people I meet along the towpath. Life is going to move at a much slower pace, in all regards, and I can only imagine that will be a good thing.
Here’s a little preview; I took these photos weeks ago when we first viewed her.
After many weeks of paperwork and research and negotiation, we got the go ahead on purchasing our boat last night. I was thrilled, and then immediately flooded with panic. We have so much to get sorted in the coming weeks. There are licences and insurance to apply for, driving and maintenance lessons to book (not to mention the dog’s swimming lessons…), and the biggest task of all is the actual downsizing.
For almost three years, we’ve been renting a two-bedroom house. It has a basement, an attic, and a shed. And without even noticing it, we seem to have filled them all with stuff. Over the Christmas break, I threw myself into decluttering. My estimate is that we need to get rid of about 90% of our possessions.
Our efforts so far have included; 3 trips to take stuff to the homeless shelter, 4 car loads donated to the charity shops, 1 car load disposed of at the dump, a mediumly successful car boot sale and various things sold online. I’d guess we’ve probably hit about a 50% reduction now. So there’s still a way to go. The things left now are the things that were hardest to part with. And going through a lifetime’s possessions is not the easiest task emotionally. I keep finding myself tearful and drained. So many memories come up as I root through all this stuff. Like those items; some are easier to let go than others. But I need to write a separate post on that.
Tonight I am tired, hopeful, and massively anxious. I’m doubting myself. I’m terrified this is going to be too much. Too much change, too much newness, too much responsibility. I am seriously unwell. I’m anorexic, depressed, panicky, dissociative. I have days when I can’t leave the house, when it feels too much to have a shower or even speak to my wife. How am I going to manage all of this as well as cope with my illness? Is this a whole new level of crazy?
But I am really trying to allow in some of the excitement and make sure I let myself dream about it too. There are so many reasons why this could be the change that I need. There are plenty of ways in which it could make our lives so much better.
On that note, I am off to continue with my essential reading!