Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

Attics and Basements

We humans love to acquire things, and this inlcude people who live on narrowboats. In north america most homes are built with a basement. For basement read: a place to put things that you not quite ready to part with but don’t have any present use for. Or, I know this will come in useful for something, I just don’t know what yet. Or, I inherited all this stuff from my parents and I don’t know what to do with it. Or, I will just put this downstairs until…. In my case, until one of my sisters came and sorted it out. I began to call all accumulated stuff “yesterday work”. I had moved on but the clutter hadn’t, it was created yesterday and today I don’t want to spend my time dealing with it.

Some of us never have to. My last surviving aunt moved into a retirement residence when she was in her very late 90’s. She literally walked out of the home where she and her husband had lived since the mid to late 40’s. Over seventy years of accumulated stuff from life, various hobbies, sewing to lapidary work, painting to who knows what. My cousins had to sort it out in a hurry as they live far and wide across Canada. They worked together for a week pretty well non-stop. Another friend helped his friends who were unexpectedly made executors of a hoarders estate to sort out a whole house stuffed with possessions, including over 50 kimonos. So many that the Japanese Cultural Centre in Toronto could not take them all. My own sisters, Sally and Mary, sorted out Mom and Dad’s home, including over 4,000 books that Dad had in his two libraries, Roman history books, and steam railway books. I am eternally thankful to them.

I, on the other hand did it for myself, but with the help of all of my sisters. Lucky, lucky me. The basement terrified me.

Aside note: This is not how I thought the beginning of the posting would go. As usual, the writing takes over and hauls me in different directions. I will now try to get back to my main theme!

Narrowboats don’t have basements. Nor do they have attics, the sort of British equivalent. I say sort of because attics are a bit harder to get into than walking down steps to a basement. So I think that anything that ends up in an attic has taken a bit more consideration than “I will put it downstairs and think about it later” Not quite so much of a dumping ground. But we humans do accumulate things, sometimes it seems on an almost daily basis. And on a narrowboat, if there is no room inside, it ends up on the roof.

So once again, narrowboats express the full range of human characteristics. Some are totally uncluttered, the owners have found places for all their possessions, and if there isn’t space, out it goes. Others accumulate, and onto the roof it goes. I am impressed by life on a narrowboat. I don’t have all my kitchen gadgets, but I manage to cook meals that I enjoy. I don’t have my full wardrobe of clothes but manage to dress to “go into town”, and to be ready for all weather on the boat. It is a little bit harder to loose something on a narrowboat because there a fewer places to look! And there is a sense of achievement when you organize an area so that it functions well. I wonder if I can transfer that skill back to my home on dry land when that happens later this year.

And human beings are gardeners as well, and we have seen some amazing gardens on the top of narrowboats. I wish I had got a better picture of this one but it can be difficult to take a picture while your hand is on the tiller, especially when the camera is your cell phone. Mine needs to be unlocked and now that it is inside a waterproof case that has to be done with a code not my finger print. Then I have to turn on the camera, hold it up to get the picture and try and snap. All the while steering the boat and hopefully not bumping into something or running aground. But I have managed to get shots that work:

Obviously I wasn’t on the helm for this one!
Mary was delighted to see two different herons fly around the boat. I haven’t seen that yet.
This was a side canal leading to a small community of boats next to a aqueduct.
From the aqueduct. Yes, someone was swimming on April 1st
Going over the aqueduct, after lunching beside it.
I seem to like bridges framing pictures….

We have been having some glorious weather, and the countryside is beautiful. We are in Bath, and have come through Bradford on Avon which are very architecturally interesting towns, mainly built of creamy stone. I should know whether it is sandstone, or ??? but I don’t, yet. I hope to go to the Bath architectural museum in the next few days. It certainly makes the journey along the Kennet and Avon canal worth it, with all its heavy clunky lock gates and hard to budge swing bridges, and difficult to moor at sides. We have used the gangplank a number of times, including here in Bath.

In Trowbridge
Primula growing wild. A favourite of mine
The Snug in a pub was where couples courted, away from prying eyes
Everyone should have a street named after them
Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon
Saxon Church, Bradford on Avon
I could live in this house!
The Crescent, Bath Five million per house, pounds that is.
The Circle, Bath

Would I recommend visiting this part of the world? Yes, absolutely!


In the Skin of a Narrowboat


Tea for the Tillerman


  1. Nina

    Hello Maggie, so awesome to come across your blog while going through Facebook today. It looks like you are having an amazing time. I was wondering how you were. Please keep me abreast.
    Wishing you good weather and extraordinary adventures.
    A warm hug,

    • Maggie

      Hi Nina,
      How great to hear from you. I will add you to the blog list and you will get the postings right in your mail inbox. We chose different water craft. You a yacht in the Caribbean and me a Narrowboat on a canal. But what a feeling of accomplishment when you begin to feel experienced!

  2. Hi Maggie,
    We are really enjoying your adventure. We rent from Cheshire Cat Narrowboat Holidays. We have been on the canals three times and will be returning again in September. Last April 2018 we were in Durham and we enjoyed reading about your home town. Thank you for sharing your adventure, we feel like we are traveling with you.
    Donna & Bryan from Quebec

    • Maggie

      Welcome aboard! I understand that you usually rent Maple Leaf, and that I am borrowing your Canadian flag, which I am enjoying very much. I am originally English but people can tell that I have a north american accent! Proud to be Canadian and show it.
      If you saw Durham last year you saw the cleaned up version from when I was a kid growing up there. It is so much more attractive and interesting now than the 50’s shop fronts covering old buildings, and all the black soot covering the facades of buildings.

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