My Free-floating Life on the Waterways of London
Amid an astronomically expensive real estate boom, more and more Londoners are turning to houseboat life—and we’re making it work despite the comically narrow living spaces, occasional engine trouble, and authorities’ attempts to push us out.
Photos by Adam Weymouth
In the spring of 2011 I moved off of land and onto water. I had returned home to England from a year of walking across Europe, and was seeking a degree of stability, but not so much that it would freak me out. There was no particular reason to choose one place over another; sticking a needle in the map seemed arbitrary. A home I could take with me made a lot of sense.
Nettleton Belle was a narrowboat painted several shades of blue, forty feet long and just under seven feet wide, not unlike living in a corridor. A bedroom, a kitchen, a couple of sofas, an absurdly large wood stove for the limited space. A friend of a friend had her up for sale, was living on it with his partner and their baby. He had taken the pockets you can use for hanging shoes in wardrobes and planted them up with salads and strawberries and covered the outside of the boat with them. It was spring, and she was beautiful. I fell for her rapidly, in an adolescent, head-over-heels sort of way. Wi…