learning a new way of ‘being’

learning a new way of 'being'

When we decided to move onto a narrow boat, I knew there were over 2000 miles of canals in the English canal system, but I hadn’t taken into consideration the amount of that distance that would be unavigable because of maintenance closures at any one time.

I guess I had visions of us just pootling around choosing where we fancied going next…how wrong I was!

In my ‘old life’, every day was mapped out with a sense of purpose, although I always felt I lived my life like a never ending ‘to do’ list; coming onto the boat was a way of retraining myself to behave differently and be less of a control freak.

I had no idea how challenging it would be to try to change the behavioural habits I’d had for decades, plus how to cope with the constant disruptions to our travelling plans.

Wigan Top Lock

canal drained for repair work

We’d hoped to get onto the Leeds-Liverpool Canal last year at the end of the summer; we planned to leave the Peak Forest Canal and descend the Marple Flight of locks and head towards Manchester and onto Wigan.

The Wigan Flight of locks are the access point to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

Not only did the Marple Flight close months ago (and is still closed) but the Wigan Flight closed too; both flights have major structural issues, hence we’ve been kind of hanging around in the north waiting to head towards Skipton….eventually.

We’ve been to the Yorkshire Dales many times with the caravan in the past and always planned to come back on board NB Grace, but it’s taken a lot of patience on my part (Rob is much more laid back than me 😉) not to insist that we abandon the idea and head south.


snow covered flower

Wigan was supposed to open last Friday, but CRT then announced it would be this Friday; apparently the flight opens tomorrow at 10am and we’re within a couple of hours of the bottom of the flight.

There are 21 huge double locks to wrestle with, then onwards through Blackburn, Burnley and various towns before heading for the hills.

I often think our lifestyle looks idyllic in so many ways, but it’s not without it’s challenges.

I know, more often than not, that the challenge is within me; can I embrace uncertainty to just go with the flow and accept what is, rather than resist what I don’t want or like?

To be absolutely honest, I’m still very much a work in progress, but being aware of what I struggle with means ‘if I can see it, I don’t always have to be it’ 🙃

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About Karen Bent

My husband and I had a narrowboat commissioned after a series of difficult events which made us decide on a totally different lifestyle. We weren't boaters previously, but have been on board NB Grace since July 2021. I write quite a bit about mental health on our Facebook blog Boomers on Board as I figure what I'm learning about myself might also help others. I love history, yoga (I'm a yoga teacher...or was) nature and our boat....and of course my husband Rob who is 71!