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  • Writer's pictureKatie | Cotton Lily

The off-grid narrowboat adventure begins

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

I was sat at lunch one day, with one of my co-workers, talking about last nights episode of Grand Designs. Amazed at how this guy had built a totally off-grid house from materials he had acquired from the woodland he worked in. It led us on to talking about off-grid living in general and he asked me, “ Would you ever live off-grid?” Without any hesitation, I said, “Yes! If I could afford the land and the building costs, I would do it tomorrow”.

That was 4 years ago now. A lot’s happened since then, both personally and professionally, but one thing that remains the same is my response to that same question. I WOULD go off-grid tomorrow given the chance and that chance is now a reality for me to go on an adventure with my Somerset Beau.

When I first moved to Somerset 3 months ago, my original plan was to stick to convention and eventually buy another house which I knew, deep down, we couldn’t afford. This thought was continuously at the back of my mind, making me worry about how on earth we would get back on the property ladder. My Somerset Beau could tell I was worried about something and got me to open up about it. It felt so good to get it off my chest. He hugged me and said, “well let’s sit down and look at our realistic options. Let’s take some time to do what you always advise others to do”. I’m a planner, you see, and I tend to worry if an important plan isn’t in place which takes my head out of enjoying the present moment which fundamentally goes against the slow-living lifestyle I love to live. So we started to plan for our future together.

Knowing a mortgage was not an option that we could afford or even want, to be honest, we started looking into alternative ways of living. Camper vans, caravans and tiny homes were a few options to start with but laws, planning permission and land affordability ground those to halt also. The wind was soon knocked out of my sails and worry started to set in again. The wine bottle was cracked open, a cider bottle was popped and we snuggled up on the sofa to watch George Clarkes, Amazing Spaces to unwind. This particular episode was about a young couple renovating a Dutch barge into a Scandi rustic floating home. It was drool-worthy. We both looked at each other and said “shall we?” That was it, the seed was sewn.

The next day we were straight on the phone to my friend who already lived on a narrowboat with her fiance and two fur-babies, wanting to find out everything there was to know about canal life. They really sold it to us and our research progressed onto Google, Facebook groups, Instagram and YouTube. We soon learnt that the dream of living off-grid could become a reality as continuous cruisers on the British waterways. The prospect of solar panels, wind turbines, log burning stoves, foraging and composting toilets never felt so exciting.

You’ve heard me talk before about why I love living a slow and simple lifestyle (you can read about it here) and I believe this piece of the puzzle will only add another element of mindfulness. Feeling the movement of the water, experiencing all the elements from dawn to dusk, enjoying being so close to nature on a daily basis and being content with our conscious choice to lower our carbon footprint.

Off-grid living isn’t for everyone, nor is a narrowboat, but having viewed a few and continued our research, we couldn’t be more certain about the adventure we’re about to embark on together…….

To be continued.

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