22 March 2009

A big decision

Do you remember The Littlest Hobo? It was a US kids' programme about a German Shepherd dog that made his own way in the world, stopping to help those in need a la Lassie. It had an annoyingly catchy theme tune, the only words of which I recall are 'must keep movin' on'. Okay, I know what you're thinking, she's been at the cooking sherry and she's rambling...But no, I'm sober and I mention it as it sort of sums up the Damascene revelation we had on Friday/Saturday after arriving at the boat Friday lunchtime. We were looking around us and it struck us very forcibly that we were getting stuck in a rut. You see, quite a few of our neighbours live on boats but don't choose to 'go boating'. They could but don't because they prefer to stay put within the residential community they've created - now we have no problem with that, that's their choice, but we want to be part of a boating community. And yet there we were, sitting tight, not bothering to unplug, untie and get out and about....what happened to seeing the canals? Our boat's got an engine for a reason but we appeared to have forgotten that. But no more and yesterday, after a breakfast pow-wow, we gave notice and will leave our permanent mooring for good in a few weeks' time - we will officially be footloose and fancy free! 

At this early stage, plans are a bit in flux but we anticipate moving the boat around the system as other 'must work but want to cruise' boaters/bloggers do very successfully, finding a pace and a way of doing things that suits both our work commitments and our doggy needs. With so many more marinas now open than there were even three years ago, casual moorings for a week, month or quarter would appear to be quite easy to come by, especially as boaters become more mobile and less wedded to a berth for fear of not being able to find another one. We are both very excited by the opportunities that lie ahead, of the greater freedom and adventure it will bring and the large dollop of 'living the dream' that it will inevitably give us. 

Although it's been a sudden decision, it's one that just feels instinctively right. My trip last week with Sue and Richard on Indigo Dream, where they relished even a short cruise and for whom a minute stuck in the marina is a minute wasted, may have played on my subconscious a little but I wouldn't have wanted to push the idea of 'must keep movin' on' to A, as the concept, while right up my street, would probably have unnerved him as it introduces a few too many unknowns. Just shows what I know...as long as I do the planning and we have every mobile dongle going, he's game. To be honest, I'm not sure how much more extra boating we'll actually end up doing, as we do both have 'full-time' freelance jobs to hold down, but if we can get even a few additional work/cruise weeks in, in different parts of the country, then that will be a real bonus.

As a result of this change, it looks like we'll be moving on to Plan C for our June holiday. Haven't done any detail yet but if we head roughly north via the Huddersfield Narrow, then we can strike out for a marina on the Leeds/Liverpool. We'll then use the rest of the summer to go east to west over the Pennines, maybe taking in Liverpool, before travelling down to the Gt Haywood area. We'll use that as a base for the autumn hols and hang around in the vicinity until November time when we'll hand the boat over to Midland Canal Centre for blacking and modifications. By then, we should know whether we were born to be Littlest Hobos or whether it was a completely crackpot decision - but I'm confident we'll never be in one place for long again.

Brimming with new found enthusiasm, we cast off on Saturday morning and found ourselves a lovely spot above the Swanley Two locks. Out came all the cleaning materials and the Brassmaster himself, A, and so began a weekend of top to bottoming. And how! The brass, which was truly disgusting, is now gleaming, as are the cabin sides, the cratch, the glass, even the dogs got a little buff in the sun. We're exhausted and stiff but we have a glorious view out of the sidehatch, it's beautifully tranquil and there's chicken breasts stuffed with brie wrapped in pancetta for supper. Oh, and a booming T-Mobile signal too, so everyone's happy!

P.S. My heartfelt thanks to those excellent people who donated money to greyhound rescue as a way of marking my recent weight loss achievement...you know who you are and you are stars.

P.P.S. In answer to Heth's comment, there'll be no before pictures posted if I can help it - I don't want to scare you. As for after pics, I'll see what I can do - I don't want my double size zero dogs making me look fat..

P.P.P.S If you have any recommendations re: helpful/accommodating marinas, safe 7/14 day moorings etc, indeed any advice for the soon to be 'at large' Greygal, please do post a comment


indigodream said...

Great news, Greygal, if you enjoy your continuous cruising half as much as we have then you'll be quids in. Don't forget our 'guide to moorings' page - that'll be updated soon as we start our own meandering in earnest next weekend.

Dogsontour by Greygal said...

Thanks, Sue. I'll be in touch for hints and tips soon!

indigodream said...

Great dog pic on twitter - are you sure you've got enough sheepskins down there the poor dogs are having to share :-) Don't they match your carpet nicely!

Adrian C (a Wrgie) said...

Maybe Tomorrow was the name of the Littlest Hobo theme (follow link for the lyrics). Thanks for getting it stuck in my head! :)

Heth said...

The first part of this post about being in marina for months on end really struck a chord with me Greygal. Oh how I'd love to plan & just take off on a journey for a few months, but unfortunately Dave's work commitments prevail because he's on nights.
Like you said, many bloggers manage the 2 together, must be difficult logistically sometimes, but well worth it. Alas not possible for us till he packs it in & takes early retirement... He says we can't afford to do that yet! Me, well I'd rather be happy & poor...!
Will write more about my mixed feelings on my blog post for today...