Regular blog readers will recall our toilet disaster in Bristol (click here to read the post) on our 2010 journey, when we were stuck in the docks there with a broken 'dunny' as Kiwis call it. Well yesterday we had a repeat performance - not a good feeling when we've only owned the boat for less than three weeks! It's always been a bit of an issue for me, this boat living and the disposal of our 'waste'. I recall telling Barry in 2008 that if we were ever going to spend time living on a narrowboat that I wouldn't have anything to do with that part of it - I've cleaned up enough s _ _ t in my nursing and midwifery career to last me a lifetime!
One of our 'essentials' on the list of 'which boat' has always been a 'pump out' toilet, preferably a macerator, but Areandare has a vacuum pump out which I guess we're just not used to yet. Yesterday morning, the ablutions of the day decided to stay stuck and not make their way to the tank - the 'half full' light was on, and we wondered if maybe the 'full' light just didn't work and there was no more room? So we made haste to the nearest boatyard/pump out between Loughborough and Sawley, our destination for the day, got pumped out, and found the problem remained. Without going into too much detail, Barry and the man from the boatyard sorted it out fairly easily, and we think that basically we haven't been working the pump properly and getting the suction up enough with each flush!
I know, not the most tasteful subject is it? But at least we've fixed it, for only £12. However, we STILL don't know how long we'll last between pump outs, as last time we did it when the half full light was on because we had a visitor coming and didn't know when we'd next get an opportunity.
If you've never spent time on a narrowboat, all this toilet talk may appear odd. I believe there's quite a divide between those who feel pump out toilets are the only way to go, and others who swear by their cassette - mainly I think due to the fact that the latter is free to empty. We did consider some boats with a cassette, but the thought of having to dispose 'manually' of the contents every couple of days wasn't at all appealing.
We're still getting to know many of the the intricacies of our new abode, as one does with a new house or boat, and we're working out how to save power (will changing to a 12 volt fridge help at some point in the future?), which engine speed works best when (our current configuration only allows 1100 or 1500 rpm), how much diesel we're using, how much gas, etc.
The change in our lifestyle comes at a cost - we currently have very little income, and while outgoings are reduced in some ways there are still many essentials, so good budgeting is now crucial. In a way we're enjoying our new project - and shocked at how much money we used to spend unnecessarily because we were so 'time' short. Now
we I keep a record of every penny we spend, and at the end of each week categorise it into our spreadsheet. Hopefully after a few months we'll be able to see how much we 'need' each week, and how much we can cut back on or save for 'emergencies'. It'll also give us an idea of an approximate figure we need to look at earning, in whatever ways we can. Filling up with diesel the other day, the lady said "Didn't you know what the word 'boat' means? 'Bring Out Another Thousand'!" Oh dear ...
Any ideas on this subject are welcome, as we know many boaters have chosen this lifestyle because they love the waterways, are able to live so much more, but do so with a lot less 'money'.
Just to brighten up the post, here's Trent Lock (well the pub by the lock!), looking lovely in the afternoon light yesterday:
This evening I have my first ever coaching session, by Skype, from the boat - marvellous! I hope there'll be many more clients wanting to explore ways of finding more 'life' in their lives in whatever way works for them, in the near future.