Narrowboat Life
Oxford Canal

Living on a Narrowboat in the UK

For 4 months in 2020 we spent the summer cruising a small part of the 3500 km of the English canals. Living the narrowboat life is a slow one, best enjoyed at a maximum of 4 miles per hour, and the summer of 2020 will always occupy a very special place in my life. Here’s our story.

Lockdown Blues

Along with the rest of the world, when lockdown arrived in South on March 27th 2020, our world was turned upside down. From a life of travelling the world and having the freedoms that until then we thought were inviolable, we were suddenly unable to leave our house unless for a brief visit to buy groceries. Overnight my, until then, reasonably profitable business was dead in the water. I cannot lie, it was the most traumatic time of my life, far far worse than living through a war, death of family members, divorce and all the other trials of life.

Of course I’m not alone, so, so many people endured far worse.

So We Bought A Narrowboat!

It was an opportunity to realise a long standing ambition to live on a narrowboat on the English canals. So, with very little planning, we bought a narrowboat, Eliora, with the idea of spending the next couple of years at least, cruising the 3500km of the English canals. On May 27th 2020 we boarded a British Airways “repatriation” flight to Heathrow to begin our adventure and made our way to Milton Keynes to see Eliora “in person” for the first time. 

Grand Union Canal Narrow Boats

A Very Special Summer

Despite a hayfever season that was apparently the worst in decades (and I believe them), and many trials & tribulations along the way, it was, for me at least, a summer to remember. We explored miles and miles of the Grand Union and Oxford canals, reaching 4 miles per hour on some occasions. Had lunch in canal side pubs, and took time off from cruising life to visit family and explore parts of the UK that we had always wanted to see. 

The whole adventure is best enjoyed visually, so please do watch the 12 video episodes, and please do let me have your thoughts and comments, I read and respond to each and every one.

Onward To The Next Adventure

With winter approaching and more severe lockdowns looming on the horizon in the UK, while South Africa was opening up, we made the decision to sell the boat and head home. We’ve had plenty more adventures exploring our own backyard in Africa since then, watch this space for those stories coming up.

Until next time, safe travels.

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