• Katie | Cotton Lily

A new chapter

Updated: Jun 10

It’s new years eve and what better time than to reflect on the year and fill you in on what happened next.

I realise now that it was early June the last time I posted a blog. We had found our boat “Ment 2 B” and planning our new life together on the British waterways. Unfortunately, after a really bad survey result, “Ment 2 B” was not meant to be and our search for the one went on.

A few weeks later we noticed a boat we had put on our wish-list but disregarded due to the overplating done on the hull (overplating is when sheets of steel are welded to the original hull to add thickness but if done badly can cause rust from inside the seams), was still sat at the same marina for sale and to our advantage, slightly reduced. She looked perfect in the photos so what could possibly be wrong with her? We decided to overlook the overplating and just go. After all, on the plus side, it meant all the hull work had been done for us. We drove to Harefield marina just outside Uxbridge and viewed “Frensham”. We were nervous to give our opinions to each other but it was clear we had both fallen in love with her. Scandi rustic interiors, cruiser stern, 65ft…perfect.

After some haggling, a price was agreed and yet again we were waiting on the survey to give us the go-ahead with the sale. A couple of weeks later we travelled back to the marina to be present for the survey. The weather was stunning and seeing “Frensham” out of the water was amazing. We had another look inside while the surveyor was doing his thing. She was just as beautiful if not better than we remembered. “Oh please please please let this survey be ok”.

The surveyor came to see us once he was finished. She had passed with flying colours! “Frensham” was the one and ours.

This was it! The start of a whole new chapter. One where we could fulfil our off-grid, slow and simple living dreams. Our best life was about to commence.

A week later we were on our way to move onboard and bring her down to the west end of the Kennett and Avon. What an adventure this was going to be. We started on the Grand Union canal, making our way down to Brentford where we would go through Thames lock to go upstream on the tidal Thames. We met some characters on the way down. “Posh John” as he called himself who had a home mooring near a lock and came over in his little rowing boat to say hello. Roger Lemon who passed for a good old chin wag while we had stopped to make a phone call. For those of you old enough to remember, he looked exactly like the Grandad from the original Pete’s Dragon. We also met a lovely couple at the water point at Brentford lock, Ken and Tina from “Totty Too”. We had been constantly taking over each other ever since we left the marina but we finally got to speak to each other now we were at a standstill and using the services. They had been cruising for years and took us under their wings as we went through Thames lock. Our first time was always going to be nervous but, my word, the excitement as the lock gates opened and we, and 3 other narrowboats, were in convoy travelling up the Thames. The Cheshire Cat was on board our boat that day.

The houses we saw that overlooked the river were spectacular and for a brief moment the thought “oh how the other half live” popped into my head but it soon left when I laughed it off and said out loud to myself, “no! Look at how we live now” we had the views from the water, ever-changing. Something only a small minority will ever experience.

A few hours later, we were at our first mooring. Right outside Hampton Court Palace. It was blisteringly hot so my Somerset Beau jumped off the side of the boat and I climbed in with Lily. We were all swimming in the Thames outside the palace because, well, we could.

The journey along the Thames continued. We had some hot days and some very rainy days. We cruised through Henley as the regatta was preparing. Through Marlow as a wedding party were leaving the riverside church, past Windsor castle and under Heathrow's flight path. We cruised long days and we were exhausted but around every corner was something new, something to experience.

We eventually reached the entrance of the Kennet and Avon canal and here is where our journey paused for 3 weeks as a lock gate was being repaired. We didn’t mind too much, apart from the commute back to Somerset for my Somerset Beau’s work. Eventually, we were on our way again. We were sad to leave the Thames, thinking the canal wouldn’t be as fun after being on such an impressive and beautiful river but oh how wrong we were. The Kennet and Avon did not disappoint. Endless stretches of green countryside, lots of new friendly faces welcoming us, our first swing bridges and village after town of quintessential Britain.

Roughly two weeks later we arrived at Devizes and took on the Caen Hill flight. This was a very emotional milestone for us. This was the beginning of our home territory and to reach this point after three weeks of continuous cruising was a real tear-jerker. Happy tears. We entered the flight at 4:45 pm with the sun starting to set over the Wiltshire and Somerset Horizon. What a sight! We were fortunate enough to have 3 CRT volunteers on hand to help us down and no other boat on the flight, enabling us to do the flight in 1 hour and 50 mins. We moored at the bottom of the flight for the night with the low setting sun kissing us goodnight and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the beginning of this new chapter.

(Click the photo to watch the flight)

So, there you have it. “Ment 2 B” was not meant to be but “Frensham” was the one and has now been our home for 5 months. Has she fulfilled our off-grid, slow and simple living dreams? Yes and so much more but that’s a story for another time. Until then, we wish you all the happiness as we welcome the new year.

If you’d like to see our narrowboat journey so far, click here, and join us on this adventure.

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