Spotlight on houseboat living: Historic 80 ft Dutch Tjalk on a west London residential mooring
In 2013 Fletcher bought a houseboat with residential mooring via riverhomes and here he explains how his life has changed and why living on a floating home truly offers the relaxing lifestyle amongst the hubbub of a busy city.
Why do you live on the river?
I remember one day walking alongside the river, seeing a community of houseboats and thought ‘why not me?’. As soon as the idea popped into my head I contacted riverhomes, as the houseboat specialists, to help me through the process.
Have you always lived on / by the water?
Before this [owning the houseboat] I have never lived on the water, although I have always sailed.
Is it how you expected it to be?
It is everything I hoped it would be.
Did you have experience of houseboats before owning one?
I previously owned a sailing boat, but this was on a much smaller scale. A few years back I sailed a Thames Sailing Barge and often spent night on board. I suppose I had a general experience of boats.
What is your favourite thing about living on the Thames?
The constant change. The change in light, water level, birds, trees.
I also love the flexibility owning a houseboat offers me. It’s like a tortoise shell, I can cruise off to visit a different area and take my home with me.
What is it about your view that you like particularly?
I am lucky to have very good views both up and down river. It’s also wonderful being opposite the Leg of Mutton island nature reserve.
Do you like any season particularly?
I like that there are seasons and enjoy every one.
Could you ever imagine living back on land?
I imagine it but not likely to do it!
How has your lifestyle changed since living on the river?
Mostly because being in a conventional house you go inside and close the door. Here there feels much more of a community. Everyone is so neighbourly, so close. We are a group who have chosen this lifestyle and all want it.
I now have a different friendship group, and know my neighbours much better than when I lived in a house in Hammersmith.
Do you eat / drink out along the river? Any favourites?
There are a series of waterside pubs and restaurants that I use regularly and enthusiastically! I use my bicycle a lot to get to these.
The Black Lion is a friendly pub with a good range of beers and food.
The Dove is a nice, cosy, historic pub.
What do friends say when they visit you for the first time?
When my daughters first saw the houseboat they said ‘go for it’ and I have regular visitors.
The first time friends visit it is ‘wow’ and then there are questions about any snags to living on the river. It’s great to turn their preconceptions upside down when they realise that I live in a warm, cosy space with great headroom!
All my friends are now enthusiastic visitors and we have a barbeque on deck on Boat race day and for the Great River race. Great fun!
Do you prefer high tide or low tide?
I like both. I like that I go up and down.
Do you enjoy learning about the History of the Thames?
Very much so. When I completed on the purchase of the boat riverhomes gave me a very nice book about the History of the Thames and I have added to this with more books.
Are you more in tune with news / events / about / on the River since living on her?
Yes. I am a member of the Pier Trust and stay in touch with events, as well as attending their lectures on river related history, wildlife and ecology.
Do you follow riverhomes on twitter / facebook to be kept updated about news / events about the Thames?
I’m not on Twitter or Facebook but if I was I certainly would.
What do you like most about your houseboat?
It’s just a lovely way to live. A lovely place to live. I love it in every way.
What’s your happiest memory (so far) of living aboard and when did it happen?
Moving in. Arriving with my furniture and saying ‘it’s mine!’.
What is traffic and transport like?
Pretty good. I have access to buses, trains and Heathrow but, to be honest, I tend to cycle to most places.
What local secret do you know that would take a new resident a while to discover?
The local Sunday Farmers’ market. Bit of a backwater.
If you could change one thing about living on a boat what would it be?
Nothing! I wouldn’t change anything.
Anything else to add?
I thought that just looking for the right houseboat was a lot of fun. riverhomes showed me lots of different houseboats and floating homes in different areas and on different moorings. I really enjoyed the whole process and making a fantastic choice with the assistance and knowledge of the riverhomes team.