I am enjoying moving my nexus of activity from Tampa for a few weeks to be home with Leah. Work is going very well and continues during the holidays but at a slower pace. The schedule includes gathering a Christmas tree and being able to join Todd, my son in law ornithologist on the Christmas bird count! This is the shortest day of the year so rather than getting up at 4 am to get up with the birds we are going out at 10 am when we have dawn here in AK!
The trip to Tampa worked out very well with a stop over in NYC to visit my nephew Jason. The last couple of weeks have gone past very quickly as projects have occupied the schedule, along with some pleasant time spent with family. As the work product gets ready to share here on the website I wanted to post a progress report and to just say all is well in Tampa.
There are many ways people who live in narrow boats manage their laundry. Some have enough electrical power to supply an on-board washing machine. This would be very nice. But as a boat that uses very little power and replaces it with a solar panel this isn’t going to be an option. So, you map all of the launderettes that are located within a reasonable hike from the canal. Today the laundry was done by packing it up and walking to Ware were there is a launderette located just outside the center of town and on top of a hill. Ware is about 2.5 miles from Hertford via the tow path. I joked with the laundrette owner that many people have paid good money to take a walking tour of the UK and I get it free with each laundry day. It was overcast but in the mid-60’s so the walk was pleasant and the work kept me very warm. This photo isn’t very picturesque but note the backpack with the clean towels peeking out.
When you have a narrow boat as a home you need to do research as to the most likely next place to visit and call “home”. So walking a long the tow path is just part of the continuous process. You could take the boat and cruise until you find the perfect place,
but, remember you can walk faster than any of the boats! You can also take transit back and hop on a bus if it rains, and it will rain!
Well, I have the narrow boat Poppy developed to the point where the next level will involve serious plumbing and kitchen upgrading so I can stop here and enjoy the fruits of the last few months of work. But, this has me realizing that as I established a good and healthy place to live on the canals and rivers of England the real work can now start of maintaining my home as it has always been defined for me, the sharing of love and interests with family and friends. This, to me, boils down to the difference between hardware and software in that you can create the best hardware in the world and have it useless without some software or content on which to express its “coolness” and capabilities. This blog and website will be the home of GreenHistory, the new venture I have mentioned and Rigall/Design, LLC the design firm that continues to prosper and find ways of helping a very good clients. I have a lot to learn about this work of keeping a blog but you will, I hope, see the progress if you keep checking in for the new posts. To those that haven’t seen some of the interior improvements to NB Poppy, I am sharing some photos of its new stove and the associated solar and electrical panel. As my posting gets more second nature you may have more of my observations and opinions shared, as is typical of blogs, but stay tuned for much more news on GreenHistory and the first garden history course / tour which will be offered Spring of 2015. The details are now being worked on and you will be asked for more input as they become more fixed as to dates.
So, as you made an effort to move around London this past weekend you had to give way to the bicycles that crowded the streets and were allowed to ride a closed-street route from St. Paul’s to Green Park and back! It meant that many bus routes were changed for the entire weekend making the general public move in alternative ways. This was a great dedication to the idea that families would come out and use this opportunity to see London from their bike seat and they did! Many groups and families composed of all ages were to be seen. The area around St. Paul’s had workshops, special events and a general festival atmosphere. Good for you London!
I have found myself making a home on a narrow boat on the canals and rivers of Britain for many reasons, one is that I need to be here for the development of GreenHistory, a new venture of Rigall/Design. But, I also have noted that living on and making a narrow boat a home fits my natural inclination to work on home projects. And, since this is both a home and a vessel that moves with a number of system parts, engine, pumps, solar panels and all of the connecting wiring it seem to also fit into a portion of, perhaps the fringe, of what has been labeled as the Maker Movement. The central idea of the Maker Movement is that we need to add action to ideas and take a hand in making practical the concepts which our naturally and innate creativity as human beings lead us to.
One of the most quickly noticed aspect of narrow boats is that there are never two alike. They share many qualities and abilities since they all must perform the same duties, float, move, go through locks, house human beings and moor and stay where we put them. But, there are many very personal ways to express these aspects of the boats and each owner has made their boat unique in how they have built or added to the basic hull.
I have been busy turning my narrow boat, NB Poppy, from a pleasant and well-maintained weekend vacation boat into one that could be lived on all year long. This has been centered principally on adding a reliable and independent power source for our 21st c. tools and adding a source of heat that will support human life during the four seasons of Britain. The adding of a multi-fuel stove (wood and coal) necessitated the moving of the electrical panel and in doing so, meant the building of a new cabinet and understanding the wiring. Adding the stove also meant adding a hearth and this meant designing how to live closely with a very hot bit of metal safely.
I think, as an enthusiastic member of the Maker Movement, these design problems have been nicely solved and I hope the photos show that. The electrical cabinet houses the new solar panel controller and is the charging station for laptop, tablet and telephone. The hearth is both a rugged piece of natural stone, (curiously and typical of our time it was purchased in the UK after being imported from India!), reminding me of Alaska, and sits on a wood/coal storage box which will keep several days of wood dry and drying and ready when needed.
If any of you want to learn more of the Maker Movement you may want to check out the Christian Science Monitor’s article on maker spaces in my old home town of Detroit, in this link, http://www.icloudmobilemedia.com/t/31190?token=NzRmNzRkZTMwM2MwYWFiZWY1ZmM2Mzg4ZjdkYWRiYTZkMDU3OTFhMg==
This post may be particularly personal for those following GreenHistory for there interest in garden history and garden tours but as I put Narrow boat Poppy in shape to perform well as my UK home it has dawned on me that a 12 volt system without a means of charging it continuously isn’t very useful so I have found a great engineer that can provide and install a solar panel and controller that will allow me to live on the canal without running my Lister diesel just to keep the lights and water pump working. I have been in a very nice marina with all the services you can expect while awaiting the arrival of the solar controller. This has been a good week since I now know what it is like to be moored in such a community of boats. Since Poppy isn’t equipped to attach to the utilities it has been just a good place for showers, laundry and charging my laptop and its accessories.
Poppy can hook up to shore power but it doesn’t invert this to 12v so the water pump isn’t helped by being so near so much power!
The intended use of a narrow boat as a UK home for GreenHistory looks like it is working well. While there have been some remodeling projects to make the boat fit a bit better the intended use the fact is that it provides a beautiful residence in what can be typically a beautifully connected location due to the coincidence of the canals with the trains. The work now for establishing the tour and coursework for GreenHistory is being taken up. Several photos of Poppy in our current location is shown here. As always, much more news to follow.
After two weeks of living with NB Poppy and having to use a ladder to get into her we have now joined the boating community on the River Lea. It has been a great experience working with the Lee Valley Marina in Stanstead Abbotts. It all worked out well and Poppy is ready for her next adventure. I have included some photos of the process, New photos of her finished and in the water will follow in the next post.