Like the characters from the movie Avatar, Aaran and I mainly meet in the virtual world these days. The restoration of our narrowboat takes him to Debdale Marina and me to my laptop. WhatsApp has become our Pandoran Biosphere.

“The Contact Form is up on the website,” I type into my phone. “Can you give it a quick try out for me?”

“I’ve found the perfect Eye Bolt,” comes the cryptic reply.

Perhaps the Avatar avatars were a little more in tune with one another, but I let it slide.

The virtual world has, in fact, been relevant to our project from the very beginning. There are thousands of members of narrowboat-related Facebook forums and it’s to you we turn when we need help making decisions. Should we install a dinette or a sofa bed? What is the lowdown on pump-out toilets? We devour your answers in an undeniably mercenary attempt to learn from your mistakes. Because, let’s face it, we’ve made more than enough of our own 🙂

Of course, learning from the collective wisdom of the internet is fraught with danger; even friendly narrowboaters passionately disagree sometimes and I’m left more confused than ever after reading certain posts. The correct etiquette when double-breasting still eludes me, as does the actual pronunciation of winding hole. I once watched in horror as an online debate on towpath grass-cutting erupted spectacularly. I won’t lie; the experience left me a little scarred.

Nonetheless, I’m very grateful for everyone who has offered help from up in The Cloud and I pay it forward in whatever ways I can. Steering clear of all things grass-related, I genuinely *heart* your stunning scenic photography and exchange views on woodburners and boat insulation. The world could use more cosiness, don’t you think?

Offline, eBay parcels arrive at home and I feel a bit emotional as I open them up. Their contents (LED lights) hint at the next phase of the boat renovation, real and tangible.

I’ll just WhatsApp a photo to let Aaran know what’s arrived. And maybe it would be prudent to run it past the Facebook forum too…

Categories: General


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