I've got a new job. That's why I'm no longer living on a boat in Huddersfield. The new job is in London, and I have a shiny new season ticket (£3,544, thank you very much) and a daily rather than weekly commute. The positive aspects to this are many - first the job: it's permanent, after years of temporary contracts, and it's at a respected, even prestigious, university. Secondly, I get to go home and eat dinner with Jim and Lockboy every night.
But what I didn't think about until yesterday evening was this: I will now go for weeks, maybe even months, at a time without setting foot on a boat. And I will really, really miss it.
Even though I knew that last week was Andante's farewell journey, I was so focussed on the trip (and the new job) that I hadn't really thought much beyond that. For the past eighteen months I've not spent more than a week away from one boat or another, and that never struck me, at the time, as strange.
I suppose that in the time I lived on Andante in Huddersfield I could have decided that it wasn't the life for me after all, but that hasn't happened. Instead, over that period I've become hopelessly hooked; on boat life, on the waterways, on the history, but above all, on boats themselves. The visceral excitement when you feel the engine start up and you know you're going somewhere. The feel of a rope taughtening in your hands, knowing that there's ten, fifteen tons of steel on the other end. The shape of a working boat. The sound of a Bolinder. The smell of a hot engine.
I think I'd better go and lie down for a bit.
Normal service will be resumed shortly.