Introduction, and the Story so Far...


Shoestring, the Narrowboat
Just after signing the dotted line! 
I've been meaning to get this blog posted for so long, but have been experiencing a good old dose of Writers Block. I think getting it started was always going to be the hardest part.

So let me introduce myself: for those of you that don't know me, my name is Olivia. I'm 22 years young, and it's been a year since I made the biggest and best decision of my life.

My partner Rob and I had begun the search for our first home together. It's a pretty exciting time for a young couple; you're making this huge commitment to each other, and it marks the start of you building up your home; the start of your family, if you like. Now, don't get me wrong, we were never under any illusions as to how much a house would cost, but we'd never been in the situation where we'd had to look at it realistically. A 10% deposit is a LOT of money, especially for a young couple who are both self-employed. We would need around £10,000 - and even that would only get us a terraced house in the arsehole of Derby (excuse the expression). Needless to say, we became extremely disheartened by the whole process, and it can take it's toll on you as a couple.

It was a hot Summers day when everything changed. We had a rare Saturday off work, so decided to take a trip to one of our local favourite spots - Barton Marina. It was over a prawn sandwich and glass of wine that I made a passing comment about how lovely and stress-free it looked to live on a boat. Rob agreed, and said something along the lines of "yeah, wouldn't it be nice?". For the entire car journey home, I think we both silently thought to ourselves "it would be nice, wouldn't it?", and it wasn't until Rob spoke up about it that we actually began to consider it as a realistic option.

Now, Rob has always been spontaneous and it was very much his style to live on a boat, but me? I'd never even stepped foot on one before. I was definitely intrigued by the idea, but after looking at a few tatty old 30ft boats, I began to feel like we were making a bad decision. You see, we'd set ourselves a budget. That budget was £25,000 - to be honest, we had no idea what we could get for that kind of money, and although you can get a nice boat (if you look hard), they're all to small to live on; to make a home out of.

Being a girl of rather modern taste, lets just say that for every nice boat I saw, there were 50 tatty ones. In a majority, the interior was old fashioned and smelt of cigarettes. Again, the disappointment began to sink in. That was, until we got a phone call.
Trent and Mersey Canal
Enjoying a glass of wine whilst swotting up on
the Four Counties Ring!

"There's a boat I'd like you to look at... although it's a little out of your price range". Doug (from the New and Used Boat Co.) said.

"How much 'out of our price range'?"


It was a lot of money. But the second we stepped onto Shoestring, we just knew it was our home. She's a 58ft narrowboat that we moor at Mercia Marina in Willington, Derbyshire, and it couldn't be more perfect for us. After all, 'Shoestring' seemed like a pretty apt name!

On the 2nd November, we moved in. Just a few days after signing the papers. We decided to put our plans for a complete interior refurb aside and get to know our boat a little better before we start changing things. Waiting until after Christmas was a great idea, because it meant we got to know what would work and what wouldn't.

The start of 2014 was very... tiresome. We moved in with Rob's parents whilst we decorated, and ended up staying much longer than expected (moral of the story: things always take twice as long as you think!). We finally moved back in in March this year, and we've been able to really enjoy living there properly.

We took Shoestring to be blacked at Shobnall Marina in the Summer of this year, and spent our first few days out along the towpath which was such a lovely experience. The great thing about the Trent and Mersey canal is that you could literally cruise 20 minutes down the road and be amongst amazing countryside. We stayed a 15 minute walk away from the marina, but we could've been anywhere. It really was bliss!

Rob and Sid
Rob, taking Sid for his first walk in the Marina
Once we had the blacking out of the way, we had another big decision to make... we wanted to start a family. No, no, no... not like THAT! We wanted to buy a puppy! Still as much of a commitment as having a baby, in our eyes. I've always had dogs, so for me, it kind of felt like there was something missing before we bought him. Rob, on the other hand, had never had a dog in his life, but we were both so desperate to have one! We finally decided on the breed: a Golden Retriever, and after visiting a breeder nearby, we bought home Sid. He's honestly the most well-behaved puppy I've ever known. We had him sitting and giving paw at 8 weeks. Toilet trained at 9 weeks. And at 11 weeks, he was happy to walk alongside us both on and off his lead.

Now he's six months old - we're getting to that "naughty teenager" phase and he's teething, but he seems like such a happy little chap - I think he enjoys living on the boat - the geese, in particular! Touch wood, we've nailed it and won't get any behaviour mishaps, but you just never know!

So there we have it... the story so far! We're sure this will be quite a journey, and I can't wait to bring you along with us...

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