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Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.

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A Facelift For The Heart Of Calcutt Boats Marinas

The view as you approach the main car park next to Calcutt Boats' Meadows Marina

The view as you approach the main car park next to Calcutt Boats' Meadows Marina

The site around Calcutt Boats Locks and Meadows marinas is beautiful. Over twenty acres of well maintained landscaping, some of the richest wild flower meadows in Warwickshire and over 8,000 trees in two woodland areas. Unfortunately, there’s one small part of it that, to my mind, spoils the site. The tip. At the moment the tip houses everything that doesn’t have a home anywhere else. There are a hundred or more old engines, an old portable building (ex staff tea hut), two storage containers, four old earth movers each weighing in excess of twenty tons (They were used in the construction of the first marina and left on site by the contractor), three or four heavy trailer beds and too many other bits and pieces to list. It’s a real mess… and it’s at the heart of the site.

Too make matters worse, we’ve just had our wharf partially dredged by the very helpful British Waterways sub contractors who are repairing Calcutt Top Lock. We’ve allocated them some temporary storage so as a return favour they’ve used their JCB and a large dumper to scoop out as much as the silt next to the wharf as possible. They did a tremendous job removing four hundred tons of silt that was clogging up the ends of the wharf.

Unfortunately we had to find somewhere to put the silt. Of course the only place to put it that wouldn’t ruin the existing landscaping was in the tip area. There was a lot of rain last week so the ground was soft. The dumper weighs five tons empty and nine tons with a full load of silt. The net result was one hundred return journeys from the wharf down to the the back of the tip with a nine ton load. The picture above shows the mess the dumper made (and also two of the resident redundant earth movers). It’s not pretty.

But it’s changing. And changing soon.

In March the tip area is going to be completely remodelled. The heavy earch movers are being removed, thirty five leylandii will be planted in front of the containers to provide a natural screen, the drive into the top landscaped and strengthened and generally tidied up. The inside of the tip will be levelled and the hundreds of tons of excess earth will be used to build a screening bank to the back and side of the tip area. Leylandii will screen the front.

Once the earth bank is finished and the leylandii are established no part of the tip will be visible from the road. It’s the final piece of the jigsaw. The beautifully landscaped grounds will be a joy from every angle.

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Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.

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