Living Afloat

Ok my first post of my first ever blog. This blog has come about with a realisation I should write some of my adventures in beekeeping, living on a boat and trying to achieve the good life. My name is Thomas Bickerdike and I am a beekeeper for eight years and have lived on a narrowboat for ten. I am a joiner and occasional cabinet make and consider myself lucky to have a skill that enables me to work with timber in all its variations.

A couple of years ago I decided I was working far too many hours just to pay the bills so I decided to make life as simple as possible and concentrate on being happy and go in search of the good life.

I think I should make an apology for the inevitable typos that will follow as medium dyslexia will make that inevitable and a big thanks to Emily and Emma a couple of beekeeping buddies and two excellent blogs and without them I would not have been able to start and one day when I know how to will link them.

A short walk through my home Dovetail a 45 foot narrowboat powered by a 1500cc diesel engine. I just love this little boat and a bit like living inside your favourite box of chocolates.

The blunt and the steering end

The blunt and the steering end

Just through the doors under a compartment is the engine and along with moving the boat it and two solar panels generates all my electric and stores it in batteries. The power is 12v and I have an inverter to convert to 240v but this is a big drain on the batteries and is mainly for occasional use and laptop charging.

The pointy end

The pointy end

The canvas covers over the front deck folded back in the summer with fitted seating and storage under it’s a nice place to sit and chill out with the ducks ect, a cold beer or glass of wine also helps. But during the winter it becomes the shed full of bags of firewood and a few bags of coal. Under the floor of the front deck is my water tank and when full gives me approx 4 weeks water fortunately there are plenty water points to fill up. I get hot water from a gas water heater. The gas bottles are in a gas locker just in front of the front deck and also supply gas to my oven and hob.

Looking down to the pointy end

Looking down to the pointy end

“Is it cold” something us boaters are asked all the time and no its actually very very warm, to warm at times, providing you have the fire lit. On my boat the stove is centrally positioned and radiates heat out and away and along with a back boiler heats two radiators both at each end of the boat so throughout the boat it has good even heat. Behind the 20mm Oak boarding and painted walls is 50mm insulation and along with the timber a well insulated boat plenty of times I have had 4” of snow sitting on the boat all week and me nice and cosy inside so minimum heat loss. Its handy been a joiner as I can collect off cuts of timber all year and have a good supply of free heat come the winter.

Looking back towards the blunt end

Looking back towards the blunt end

I will in time mention more on the boat and my short travels. I have actually approx 3000 miles of inland waterways to navigate if I so wish but for now keep my travels to in and around west London skimming the outskirts to be close to the wildlife and more open space.


I just love the interaction all the different birds on the water have and it’s not all harmonious, shy Moore Hens, argumentative Coots, crazy Ducks, noisy Canada Geese, Cormorants and majestic Swans are the main characters of the soap opera that takes place just beyond my windows.


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2 Responses to Living Afloat

  1. Andy says:

    Greetings Thomas,

    what a lovely Blog! a good read, thanks. love the idea of living in my favourite box of chocolates!


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