Here I am, at altitude at last. Mt. Washington has been a wonderful place to return to, every day sunny, the nights cool, with old friends nearby. Having said that, it’s not all perfect. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the differences between summers in the UK on a narrowboat, and winters in Canada on a ski hill (or ‘mountain’ to those overseas).
The obvious differences aside, it’s mostly the little things that I tend to think about. I have a dishwasher again. I have a washer and dryer at hand. I have 500 channels on the TV, unlimited hot water (or simply unlimited water for that matter), all the A/C power I want without worrying about whether the sun is shining, and easy access to groceries any time I want.
On the other side, I’m not able to just move my home to the next quiet, serene location should I choose to. I’m not meeting new and wonderful people on a daily basis, although I suspect this will change when ski season starts. There’s a distinct lack of local, traditional pubs to explore, or pubs at all. I’m suddenly spending much more money on fuel as the roads have many more uphill sections than the canals (not counting the locks) and the distances in Canada tend to be much greater. Travelling at 110 km/h instead of 5 also influences that one. Mostly I’m missing the friends I have made ‘over there’. I’m rapidly making up for that one with some great visits with my Canadian friends all over the Island but those in England do seem very far away.
Back in September I had a great few days with Rich and Jane, they had hired a boat on the Llangollen and we cruised together down onto the Middlewich Branch. As they were continuing on a section I’d already been on, I stopped short and enjoyed the scenery and isolation.
As September became October I noticed a distinct change in daily life. The nights became very cold, necessitating turning on the central heating earlier and more often. The wood stove was great but didn’t tend to last all night, and didn’t heat the bedroom very well all the way at the stern. Also the solar became much less reliable. Even if the sun did shine (not that often), the angle was low enough and the hours few enough to not be sufficient. I had to start up the engine once or twice a day in order to keep the batteries charged and not do damage to them (if they ran down too far). And of course I had to be quite circumspect with power use.
Shortly before flying home, I moved the boat into a marina, which eased many of the issues significantly. I now had as much water as I needed, lots of power from the mains plug, and easy access to groceries via delivery. I also had some great company as I had met several people on nearby boats. I soon joined their daily yak sessions on the dock, discussing the weather and politics, but mostly talking about boats, with the occasional pub visit.
The time in the marina was quite uneventful, mostly getting the boat ready for winter and waiting out rainy days with the wood stove going. However, Phil took me to my first Rugby League match, which happened to be the National Final, and was at Old Trafford (a very large and very famous stadium). Huge fun!
Eventually the time came for them to pull Cool Change out of the water for the winter. They did that shortly after I left as I was catching an early train to Cornwall for a quick visit before heading to Gatwick Airport. Leaving was bittersweet, hard to say goodbye to a life I’ve come to love but anticipating some great skiing back home.
So now I’m back to where I started this blog post. Up the mountain waiting for the next season to start. Life couldn’t be much better, and I’m truly thankful; for my friends, my health, and for the life I’ve fallen into.