Posted 26th Sep 2017
In the latest of our Humans of the Waterway series, courtesy of the Canal and River Trust, we meet Jules and Pete, of Merry Hill
"We got into narrowboating on a whim really! We'd taken some time out and been touring in a converted bus across Europe. When we came back Pete got work but when that project came to an end, we thought what shall we do now? I said, “Do you fancy living on a boat?”
Pete started exploring the canals to look for a boat and when he realised how big the network was, he was really converted to the idea of living on the canals. The first night after we bought our boat was really embarrassing because we'd never driven a boat before and we had to steer away in front of watching eyes. That was the start of our boating adventure!
I did some part-time freelance work for a while but we came to a point when we needed to make a decision because we’d maxed out financially. So we went back to our house and got jobs again, but within two weeks we thought that was a big mistake. We put our house on market and bought another boat and have never looked back.
To enjoy the lifestyle we wanted, we decided to become roving traders. I'm passionate about Fair Trade, and I'm vegan, so we started trading as the Fairtrading Post. That name didn't last very long because we were dubbed the Hippie Boat by all the other traders - so it stuck, and that's how we became the Hippie Boat!
All our stock fits into nine feet at the stern of the boat so that we can keep our living space separate. We sell Fair Trade ethnic clothing, hats, bandanas, dreamcatchers… This year we've got a canopy which helps if we get rain – we can keep trading without the stock getting damaged now.
We like trading together with other roving traders at floating markets and festivals. Some we’ve done this season are Middlewich, Bradford on Avon, Cropredy, and here at Merry Hill.
We've been living aboard for nine years now and it's our second year of trading. Over the years we've been on the water we're seeing lots more traders and people using canals. I'm on the steering group of the Roving Canal Traders Association as well now, so we're really busy this summer.
We share the space in our boat with our three dogs who are all rescues - there's Ruby, Polly, and Lucy who is very deaf. And our cat is usually lying somewhere around the gunwale too. They've got a good life!"
Text and image courtesy of Canal & River Trust