an after thought
[There are three of us in this relationship. The boat is not simply a stolid block but a collaborator as non-human (more-than-human) agent in the making and feeling of home, in the making of conversation. It is not simply a vessel to be filled and to carry, but to give [ideas & a sense of calm] and take [my time away],
to offer [shelter, conversation topics, and new friends],
to guide [us through water],
to resist [our planned trajectory by running aground, or getting caught on a whillie bin].]
I suppose there where several beginnings of this journey; when Sian first said “shall we get a boat”, when we bought a boat, when it was launched but I will start at the beginning of the day before the event of Moving House.
We move our home every two weeks, we vaguely aim in directions but there is no way of telling what the weather, the land, and the more-than-human subjects might do to interrupt our journey. This time we were on the way to Middlewich, roughly 4 days driving at 7 hours a day at 4mph. There were two directions we could get to Middlewich as we were on the opposite side of the circular canal route called the Chesire Ring. Leaving the dry dock having painted Roberta’s top and bottom, we had to make a decision; left or right; right, takes us down 27 locks through Manchester city centre and we could then hold the Moving house event there or turn left and risk the leek in the canal further down not being fixed in time. We turned right. With one day free that week we left early hoping to make all the locks in one day so we could get to our point of departure (Castlefield) with a day to spare. We made it in good time to the last 11 locks but found the Canal and River Trust had began repair works on the canal wall and had drained the canal. We were stuck. We had to push the date of departure forward one day. The canal opened on the Saturday, 1 hour later than promised and we were on the move again. 11 locks in the pouring rain later and we made it, set the alarm for 3.20am and went to bed. 4 hours of sleep later, I was up and excited to get going, much to everyone's surprise including the drunks and the karaoke spills. Got the boat prepped and a massive pot of coffee brewed, and wandered down the cut to find the prospective guests.
After a couple of minutes of [daydreaming leaning up against a wooden lift bridge, I saw a couple coming my way. Although I couldn't make out there faces the manner in which they walked seemed to tell of their journey. They weren't stumbling like the others who had walked past, they were a little hunched but they were forward stepping.
A soft greeting with tired smiles was shared and we walked to the boat.
Although the sun hadn't risen the sky was brightening and the clouds felt soft, the temperature was that kind of temperature that you barely notice it exists, only when you move through it can you feel it brush up against your skin.
We gathered inside. Had several cups of coffee. And moved off.
As it was so early and there were other boats moored up near us, we attempted to start the journey the old way, and with myself taking the place of the horse. I pulled it with the rope and before you could feel it beginning the boat was drifting forward.
The boat started drifting too far over the other side of the canal so we started the engine up and gained some control.
It didn't take long for the crew to settle, for Roberta to respond to the new patterns of movement and weight of the extra crew, as we left the city centre behind and headed through the veins of the industrial landscape that is the Bridgewater canal.