New Internationalist


I’ve been living on this barge for the better part of four months and I reckon the time has now come to stop blogging about it.

The approach of winter with fewer opportunties for bragging - though I’m told the otters should soon come back, after taking their leave from the human holiday season on this part of the river - may have something to do with this. But, mostly, it’s now my home, much like any other, and I must get on with living in it, much like anyone else.

It’s a good sign that I long to return whenever I’m away. It may be a bad sign that the demands of maintenance - I now have a wash basin - are relentless. This may prove expensive, in terms of both money and distraction from more solemn pursuits. Never was pottering more easily done.

This morning I found a fishing rod adrift by the barge, though Bob says the fish taste too muddy to eat.

Soon I shall have to set about digging a garden, so that next year I’ll be able to match the green beans and marrows and eggs I sometimes find waiting for me on my return.

The one clear change I can recognise already is in my outlook. More or less everything I use I have to replenish. This means I notice what I consume, which is near impossible to do in a conventional house, even when paying the bills. I feel more vulnerable to nature, and therefore more respectful of it. I am beginning to find life of all kinds where at first I saw nothing at all.

I don’t move house that often, but whenever I do I’m taken aback by the amount of stuff I’ve accumulated since I last moved. Here that kind of hoarding is simply not possible. Even gifts sometimes have to be tactfully declined because I can’t think what to do with them or where to put them.

Books are a blessed exception. There’s more space for them than I guessed. So I’ll retrieve some of them from store and make cases for them out of the old wood from the barge, which is weathering under the trees.

No doubt there will come a moment when the water pipes are frozen, the generator has broken down, the sleet has been falling for days, I’m stranded by floods and I bury my head in my hands.

But maybe that will also be the day when I fire up the engine and set off around the next bend in the river…

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About the author

David Ransom a New Internationalist contributor

David Ransom joined New Internationalist in 1989 and wrote on a range of issues, from green justice to the current financial crisis, before retiring in 2009. He was a close friend of Blair Peach, once worked as a banker in Uruguay and continued to contribute to New Internationalist as a freelancer until shortly before his death in February 2016. He lived on a barge on the waterways of England’s West Country.

His publications include License to Kill on the death of Blair Peach in 1979 and The No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade. He also co-edited, with Vanessa Baird, People First Economics.

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