For a variety of reasons, you may’ve formed an impression that most people living and trading on the Inland Waterways are in a fairly ‘senior’ age bracket. As in not quite ready (or old enough!) to retire. Like Barry and I.
Actually, when you think about it, that’s an anomaly as my theory is you have to be ’employed’ to retire …
Traders have made a conscious choice, at whatever age they may be, to turn their backs on the busy-ness and pressure of ‘mainstream/expected’ lifestyles.
Consequently, this week for our sixth Trading Tale, you’ll discover a heartwarmingly brave and adventurous young family who’ve shunned the ‘rat race’, and the overpowering nature of most 21st century school systems, to make a different life for themselves and their children (two bubbly boys, and a growing addition on the way …)
Introducing Joshua, Kailey-Jane, Aiden and Henry …
What’s the name of your boat, and what business do you run from it?
The first is ‘The Beverage Boat’ selling freshly made coffee’s from our on board expresso machine. We also do teas, a selection of juices along with cakes and hot food.
The second business is ‘Phoenix gifts’ where I burn (using a pyrography pen) personal messages or names into wooden objects like signs, keyrings and egg cups.
About ourselves …
Life before the boat saw my husband Joshua working as a ‘High Voltage Electrical Engineer’ for 6 years in the south of England before we moved to Wales early 2015. I, Kailey, was a photographer running my own company before closing the business to home educate our eldest son in 2014.
Why did you decided to become floating traders?
Upon our move, after the sale of our house – which Joshua worked night and day to cover the bills to pay for – we realised there must be more to life than earning and sleeping. We started to research into tiny houses. We wanted a small living space and a good patch of land to grow food and be able to earn money from. However, that only really works in the USA as the planning rules are far tighter here, so it was back to the drawing board.
We started taking walks by the canal near us – the Montgomery – which is truly beautiful! I for one had never really seen a canal, having grown up in Southampton it was rivers all around. I had no idea the Montgomery section in Welshpool wasn’t connected to the mainline making it only accessible to mobile crafts and a narrowboat company that runs trips for the elderly and disabled. When I was informed of this I asked to go to a ‘real’ canal! So, off to Llangollen we went.
After a quick google search of attractions nearby I decided we should have a nice long walk to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Joshua, me, two small boys and the dog were off! Fourteen miles in total, and we lost count of how many boats we saw. Everyone was happy, smiling away, waving. What’s not to love? When we arrived at the aqueduct it was breathtaking – what a sight to see! Well worth the hike.
When we arrived home we did some investigations into narrow boating and living aboard. We stumbled onto the RCTA website listing all the businesses they have on their membership. Joshua felt there was a gap – real coffee! We found there was a market not too far at Market Drayton in a few weeks’ time in June 2015, so we went along to see what it was like. There we met and spoke to lots of different traders who were all so helpful it was untrue!
We came away with the pros and cons from people who were living the life. Three markets later, in September, we were joining the very people who we had chatted to for our first market as roving traders.
The joys and the drawbacks of narrowboat life …
It has been a complete lifestyle change – who needs to earn thousands a month when all you NEED is food, clothes, a roof over your head and happiness?
You can travel the country meeting new people, learn new things, feed ducks out of your bedroom window, see countryside you wouldn’t normally see and our favourite – wave to the cars on the M6 while it’s at a standstill as you happily plod by at 3mph! The kids love the life they now have, it’s like a new found freedom.
Downsides are some people don’t treat the canals in the same way with litter being thrown in. We got stuck on a double sprung mattress and had to await rescue due to it being wrapped around the prop!
Trading days are long and can be real hard work especially with the kids, so most of the day is spent trying to keep them busy while doing every other job too. SPACE is another there is never enough space on trading days as normally things are neatly packed away but for easy access every little scrap of surface is covered –mostly with cake!
Any words of wisdom to others thinking of working aboard?
We don’t regret our decision to move on to a boat at all. Even when the rain is pouring and you still have 15 locks to go before you can fill up with water, empty the loo and rubbish!
Something will happen that makes you smile, like seeing newly hatched chicks, the spring flowers blooming or not having to turn the engine on to charge the batteries as the solar panels have it covered!
Life is too short not to chase your dreams … even at 3mph.
Places to connect with Joshua and Kailey:
Visit (and like!) The Beverage Boat on Facebook
Visit (and like!) Phoenix Gifts on Facebook
Join their Facebook blog about the trials and tribulations from boating to teaching!
Where can you find The Beverage Boat and Phoenix Gifts?
1st to 3rd July – RCTA Floating Market, Chester
12th to 14th August – Ellesmere Summer Festival , Llangollen Canal
20th to 21st August – Whitchurch Arm Festival
17th to 18th September – Tipton Canal Festival
23rd to 25th September – RCTA Floating Market, Birmingham