summer survival kit
The summer of 2022 saw record temperatures across the UK. What could be pleasanter than a sunny day afloat? Nothing, as long as you can cope with the heat and the flies. Here, Fiona Burt shares her tips for dealing with both.
We were on the Coventry canal, in the Tamworth area, and quickly realised the big advantage of a narrowboat; you can move it to remain in the shade. We became adept at selecting an overnight mooring which would provide shade as the sun rose, then cruising with parasol (AKA golf umbrella) to find afternoon shelter.
The lack of double glazing proved a benefit as we merely removed the panes on both sides to capture a draught. One especially stifling night, I took the dinette cushions and slept under the stars. Early morning dog walkers were somewhat surprised to be greeted by my bedhead!
We lived off salad and quick-cook stir-fries to reduce the heat on board. Our fridge ice-box contained a big bag of ice. Handy for the G&T and, on one occasion, an iced foot-bath. We needed no excuse to stop for an ice-cream.
When conditions became unbearable, we treated ourselves to a meal in the local air-conditioned Wetherspoons (LIDL also had air-conditioning, but there's a limit to his long you can loiter in the freezer section without arousing suspicion).
And the extreme heat kept the flies away!
We should have guessed when we saw the plug-in Pest Reject, the electric fly swatter and the can of fly spray left by the previous owners of Lutra Lutra. Our floating summer idyll is attractive to all sorts of flying insects. So what really works.
Well, I can tell you how that the flies just walked straight across the sticky sunflowers that I placed on all the portholes. And they left a sticky outline which was impossible to remove (perhaps I stuck them on backwards?).
They were oblivious to the Pest Reject, which also require the inverter to be running. Now on ebay, free to a good home.
The fly spray required a certain hunting instinct, deadly aim and a willingness to breathe in the chemicals, which I have never possessed.
The electrified tennis racket was fun for the kids to use and highly effective against the larger flying insects, but the smell of singed wings does turn your stomach after a while.
All in all, we settled for the humane fly screens over the front doors and side hatch (oddly, the hot air rising from back hatch keeps them out of that end). Held in place with double sided sticky tape and magnetic closures, these halved the number of flies. And for those insects who evaded our defences, we maintained a goodly crew of spiders to welcome them aboard...