Miss Inexperience: a fire, a futon, a fridge

the Camden confusion

Having spent her first summer in London continuous cruising, Miss Inexperience decides to take a winter mooring at Camden. She had no particular reason for picking Camden, other than it was a ‘cool’ place to moor and it was locked at night so she felt relatively secure. With hindsight it was a silly choice; had the canal frozen she’d have been stuck somewhere with no facilities and had to lug canisters of water from the nearest tap, assuming, of course, that she could persuade Camden Lock Market, whose tap it was, to let her do so.

It also meant that anyone who knew where she was moored on 9th February 2008 called her to check that she was all right. Which was … interesting, as she had no idea there was any reason she shouldn’t be…

“Are you all right?”

“Er … yes … why?”

“Camden’s on fire! But you’re OK? It’s not near you?”

“Camden’s on fire?”

Miss Inexperience walked out on to the back deck of MsB’s boat and looked in the general direction of Camden. There was a plume of smoke and an orange glow… MsB on the other hand had turned the radio on to reports of a fire burning out of control in one of the markets.

“It’s OK” Miss Inexperience told her friends, “I’m not moored that close to the markets, I had no idea it was happening.” She carefully omitted to mention that she was not, in fact, on her own boat, and that that probably had something to do with her lack of knowledge.

“I think it’s the Canal Market” says MsB. “Shall we go and check?”


They grab coats, keys and lurchers and head off down the towpath as fast as their little legs can carry them. When they finally get into the mooring and can clearly see that the boat is safe, they breathe a huge sigh of relief. What was actually a twenty minute brisk walk felt like it had taken hours. They discover, upon arrival, that not only do they have a far better view of the (reportedly) 30 foot flames than they had from the back of MsB’s boat, but also that everyone else on the mooring is standing around on the towpath watching the flames and chatting. They put the dogs into Miss Inexperience’s boat, make themselves a cup of coffee and go and join the party on the towpath.

Every now and then someone’s phone will ring, and one of the boaters present (including Miss Inexperience) can be heard patiently explaining the situation.

“No, it’s OK it’s not that close to us … the Canal Market’s the one on fire … no, no between the Hampstead Road locks and Hawley lock … the one above the Hampstead Road locks is the Camden Lock Market … no, that one’s fine … no, even if it were the Camden Lock Market it probably wouldn’t affect us, we’re at least 300m away, and most of us are here, so we could get the boats out anyway … we’d only have to go round the corner past Cumberland Turn …yes, I can see the flames … no, not that dramatic, probably looks better on the news … there are helicopters everywhere … no, I think it’s all right, that block’s gone but the fire brigade appear to have it contained … no, I’m not planning on going to have a closer look…”

the mattress malfunction

Finally, in the summer of 2009, Miss Inexperience admits that her elderly futon mattress is no longer fit for purpose, and so, with the aid of MsB, goes about purchasing a new one, similar to the one that MsB has. Now MsB had purchased said mattress some time ago from a shop in Camden which no longer existed; however, a quick label check and associated internet search revealed that the company was still going. Several phone calls and quite a lot of measuring and re-measuring later, they managed to order a mattress of almost exactly the right size for the bed.

The main problem that remained was how to get it delivered. Fortunately MLB was quite happy to have things delivered to her houseboat, and they had done this on many prior occasions. However, some delivery companies are considerably better at finding MLB’s quirky address than others. Some firms consistently fail to recognise that boats could have addresses, let alone letter-boxes. As a result they would frequently attempt to deliver to, say, the nearest house, or in the case of Miss Inexperience and MsB’s joint dog food orders, quite often the nearest restaurant to the mooring. The local pub apparently found it less amusing, as they rarely took parcels in. If you happened to get one of the better firms they might manage to find the gate, but that was merely the first hurdle. Having found the gate, they had to get through it, which seemed to cause some consternation, despite the inclusion of the gate code in the delivery instructions. If, by some fluke, they did manage to get through the gate, they then had to identify the correct boat… This should be easy, after all the name of the boat forms part of the address and the position of the boat on the mooring is included in the delivery instructions; somehow though, it was never that simple. So, if it’s this much hassle to get an ordinary package delivered, you can imagine how stressed Miss Inexperience was about a mattress, which wouldn’t be that easy to collect from the dispatch office if the company failed to deliver.

MsB did the ordering and instructions because Miss Inexperience didn’t want to mess it up, and is given a delivery date, which Miss Inexperience then checks with MLB. It turns out that MLB isn’t going to be in that day, but she is quite happy for someone else to wait in her boat for the mattress. Miss Inexperience therefore books the day off work and goes round to MLB’s first thing in the morning to wait for the mattress.

The mattress does not arrive, and it keeps on not arriving as the day goes on. Sometime around lunch-time, Miss Inexperience does something she should probably have done first thing; she wanders over to the nearest house (where cards are often left by this particular delivery company) and puts a note on the door stating that the mattress delivery should not be attempted here but at the nearby gate. The mattress continues to fail to arrive. Miss Inexperience variously stands at the gate fretting, wanders up and down the mooring fretting, and, finally, rings the company she’s placed the order with, to find out what’s going on. The mattress company ring the delivery firm. The delivery firm state that they tried to deliver and that no one was in.

The mattress company ring Miss Inexperience back. Miss Inexperience reasonably points out that a) she has been in all day and that b) there is no card in the box telling her that they have tried to deliver and that she was out. The mattress company ring the delivery firm again. The delivery firm state that it’s too late to get it out to her today, but that they’ll put it on tomorrow’s van. The mattress company ring Miss Inexperience to explain what’s happening; Miss Inexperience points out that she has booked the day off work to be here for the delivery and that she can’t just take another day off tomorrow. MLB, who has now come home, kindly offers to take the delivery the following day.

The mattress does not arrive the following day – couldn’t find the address. Nor does it arrive on the next delivery date – absolutely no idea.

the new mattress is a hit

Eventually MsB contacts the delivery firm and somehow manages to get the direct line for the driver. He puts it back on his van and drops it off at the end of his shift the following day – going out of his way and above the call of duty to get the damn mattress to the mooring. That man, whoever he was, deserves a great deal of thanks. Miss Inexperience was very grateful, if only because it stopped her having a nervous breakdown over the whole bloody thing.

Now all she has to do is move her boat to outside MLB’s boat as soon as possible, so that she can swap her manky old mattress for her amazingly thick new one. She manages that the following evening, swaps them over, and discovers once she’s made the bed that two of the three lurchers she and MsB currently have between them can no longer get up onto the bed without assistance…

the fridge frustration

One day, a short time after MsB had managed to secure her somewhere to moor her boat on a permanent mooring, Miss Inexperience arrived home to discover a fridge on her back deck. A 230v fridge, covered with a tarpaulin, plugged in and full of food. Not, sadly, her food.

The fridge, it transpired, had been inside the boat that had previously occupied the mooring she was now on. It had in fact been in use while inside the empty shell, a shell that was also used as a tool-shed. Miss Inexperience was somewhat relieved to discover that the tools were not in fact inside her boat, they’d been moved into a butty.

frozen fridge

But still, a fridge.

The answer to the question “when are you going to move that fridge?” was variously over the course the next few months: “as soon as I can”, “I don’t have anywhere to put it” and “I’ll see what I can do”. Miss Inexperience is glad to be on a mooring, there’s no doubt about that; it comes as a relief after all that frantic boat moving on days off, trying to remember exactly when she arrived on a mooring and when she has to move, as well as, after she has moved, where she’s moved the boat to this time. On more than one occasion she set off in the wrong direction, only to have to turn round and go to the mooring she’s actually left the boat on. Not to mention that there is mains power on her mooring, as well as water on tap (so to speak) which means that she can actually do some of the jobs that need doing on her boat – she doesn’t actually do many of them in the end but she does get some done for her. However, her cruising ability is something she jealously guards. (She only has a 230 circuit put in after she’s been on the mooring for several months, it genuinely hadn’t occurred to her that one would be useful before that.)

And now she has a fridge on her back deck.

It stays there for over a year, until it finally dies and she takes it, by boat, for disposal. You are not having another fridge on my back deck she informs its owner – if all your food won’t fit in your fridge, I’ll store some of it in mine. He accepts, so she does. It’s not ideal but still an improvement on the living with a fridge on her back deck. A fridge, for goodness’ sakes.

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