Author(s): Danie Couchman
On sunny summer's evening, we've all strolled along a London canal path, admiring the beautiful narrowboats that throng the banks, and idly dreamed of living in one. But what is it really like? What happens in winter (hint: you get used to ice inside as well as out). What does it take, to navigate locks, repair gunnels, steer a craft that can be up to 72 feet long but only ever 6 foot wide?
Danie Couchman has spent the last few years of her 20s living alone on a canalboat in London, moving moorings every two weeks. The decision to do so was swift and instinctive: having grown up in a fractured army family and then in a series of shared houses, she never found a place that felt like home. The water called to her in a way nothing had before. As she would soon learn, a watery abode carries all kinds of new dangers, and the pull of the past is as sure as the pull of a current. But the water also carries friends and a sense of kinship and community which is fast-disappearing in our increasingly screen-led, urban existence.
Slow down and walk along the canal bank. You never know what you might find...