Hello and welcome to The Olivia Rose Diaries on April 10th 2022.
Boats are fascinating creatures. There are so many different sizes, shapes and layouts. One of the many joys of this life is meeting not just new people but also their boats.
English narrowboats, wide-beam Dutch barges, huge commercial barges that have been turned into floating hotels, catamarans, yachts, electric boats, steel-hulled motor cruisers, and fibre-glass holiday rental boats – we’ve seen them all, with prices as varied as the boats themselves. At one end of the scale we met a lady who had bought a small yacht for just one pound. Admittedly it was on its death bed, but she turned it round and got it back on the water. We’ve seen second-hand cruisers selling for between £40,000 up to £250,000, with hotel barges around the £500,000 and upwards. If you’re looking for brand new or custom-built boats the sky is the limit.
We bought Olivia Rose five years ago for £50,000 and I have yet to find a boat that I find more pleasing and practical. She’s a sturdy, modest steel-hulled motor cruiser, not too big at 13 metres long by 3.5 metres wide so we can get into most mooring spots, but large enough to comfortably live aboard.
The last two years on the water have been hit hard by Covid and travel restrictions and so it has not given us the social life we had come to take for granted. We are hopeful that things will get back to normal this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. As I haven’t had the pleasure of welcoming anyone aboard and giving them a guided tour for so long I thought you might like one. Below are a few pictures of our inside living space, but you’ll have to take us as you find us. When space is at a premium it is important to keep a tidy ship, but we are not tidy people so it is a constant battle. Things get stuffed into nooks and crannies, of which there are no shortage, and every couple of years I empty them out and start again.
After the simplicity of Le Shack, Olivia feels luxurious – a full-size fridge, oven and washing machine and hot water on tap – bliss! The weather has finally turned dry and sunny so we are busy painting the hull below the waterline so that she can be lifted back into the canal next week. Then we’ll allow a couple more days to sort out the inevitable teething problems that always come after a winter of inactivity and after that we shall be off. The first stage of our cruising this year will be to head north up the Canal du Nivernais, one of the most beautiful of the French canals, on our way to Paris.
Moving on to a completely different subject this weekend is an important one in France as it is when the first round of the presidential elections are held. Macron had been the favourite to win but Marine Le Penn has gained ground and it just might be a closer-run contest than previously expected. Le Penn is on the political hard right, with strong views on immigration and foreigners, and if she were to win it could impact on us. It is hard to believe that things could change sufficiently to make life here difficult for British ex-pats, but we are living in an age where things that we never believed could happen are doing exactly that. The final round of voting takes place in late April, so we shall soon know if it is business as usual or new ground for all of us.
Hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are.
See you next week.