When you are a part time cruising crew like us, what is home?
Coming into our old base at High Line Yachting on the Slough Arm felt a bit like coming home. After the long slow drag down the arm (the arm doesn't do fast, the bottom of the water is too near the top), we pulled in against a gaggle of brokerage boats and jumped off to do all the paperwork in the office. John always wants to see licence, insurance, boat safety cert and all that. Mooring up against other boats is a skill you have to learn at HLY! Virtually everyone is breasted up against someone else. Our new slot for the next four months is snuggled up against a lady called Adele, who we haven't met yet. We are a long long way from the car park :-( There will be much trolleying of goods and chattels as we load and unload before and after each trip.
Our request for our good friend Glynn on nbHumbug to put the flags out and kill the fatted calf was sadly unsuccessful as she is away for the weekend, but we did get a cheery wave of welcome from our other old neighbours Geoff (Saltysplash) and Laura as we cruised past, not to mention a cuppa with them shortly afterwards. There being a sizeable community of residential moorers at HLY there is always plenty of gossip and news to catch up on.
When we were moored up in Paddington last week, I spoke to a number of landlubbers who were asking about the boat and boating and canals. One of the first questions is always "is this your home?". I told one Canadian lady that we lived aboard anything up to a hundred days a year. "Oh," she said, "home from home then." And I thought, she's right, it is. Herbie is our second home. People who ask you about boating always seem to envy the life. They never ask why you do it.
Some of the tourists I spoke to were boaters in their own country, keen to ask about how things worked over here. A man from Colorado asking about slippage costs, and a group from Amsterdam, who I managed to impress a bit with the smidgeon of knowledge I have gained about the Oude Haven in Rotterdam. Thanks Val :-) From them I did learn to pronounce it Owde (as in cow) and not Oode which was a help.
Now this morning, after a month in or second home I am back in our bricks and mortar home, marvelling at the speed of an electric kettle, but missing my Smartgauge to consult.
Home? Our house? Herbie? The Slough Arm? Crick? Favourite spots like Paddington basin? Yes, all of 'em.
Today or tomorrow we have to go back home to Herbie to collect all our stuff in the car, then tomorrow evening I'm back in Little Venice for a Towpath Ranger meeting. I will be passing on details of several small trees which we saw fallen across the towpath on the Paddington Arm and the lower GU. The contractors seem sensibly to have prioritised on the big ones, but we need to make sure they go back for the little ones. A blocked path is a blocked path.