It was 29th August 2019 yet I’m still haunted by the doctor standing at the bottom of my hospital bed, explaining ‘You may not survive the night, but we will do all we can’

Work had gone well and at the time I was working as a security guard at one of our popular Supermarkets. Feeling unwell I continued to work through these pains on my left side, but with my relief colleague now in the building, I left work and drove to my doctors. Of course no appointments available, but they allowed me to sit in the waiting room and a Doctor would see me at some point.

The pain was now becoming quite bad and thankfully I was called in. Almost immediately, the pain started to really bend me in two and 999 was dialled. There was no way I could sit or move yet somehow, with two paramedics by my side I had to walk through the waiting room and out into the ambulance. The pain was unbearable to even contemplate at laying on their trolley. In fact they had to administer morphine to get me onto the ambulance bed. Things then became quite sketchy and it was to be 3 days later before I could correlate anything. Recollection though was somewhat hazy, I was still hooked up to these drips with what I fondly called, my octopus attached to me hand, which in turn was attached to 8 drip lines.

The nightmares continued for months afterwards, but I can still see that Doctor, stood at the foot of my bed and me hearing those words. I owe my life to the care and dedication of those nurses and doctors in the High Dependency Unit of that hospital.

After 8 days being cared for in hospital and weeks of convalescing, I thought I had escaped only to be awarded a minor stroke some 5 months later.

The stroke hit me harder than the PE probably due to the effects being more noticeable, it also made me think even more!

The realisation was that I found myself questioning what I had achieved in my life and what I wanted to achieve. So, the search began for answers only to be interrupted by a chance meeting (via YouTube) with a guy sat in a camper van about to start a new life on a narrowboat.

I’ve had narrowboat holidays in the past, done the usual holidays on The Broads and sailed the Solent but could you really have a life on a narrowboat?

It was during a very wet spell I sat glued to the box watching YouTube adventures of this guy calling himself Country House Gent– I got hooked! But he was not alone, there are many others enjoying a life ‘on the cut’ enjoying the freedoms and the community spirit that appears to exist.

This fascinating world abounds with locks, tunnels, derelict buildings, weeds, the term off-grid and dare I mention the word toilets! In this world I’ve discovered places I never knew existed, hidden gems of rural England that one can only dream about.

Then it rains, and it seems to rain heavier than expected, usually when they are navigating down a lock, or doing their best to reach a destination where they can moor up and put the kettle on.

This is another world, complete with its trials and triumphs where there is only one clock – canal time.

These amazing people are an inspiration. They have the desire to live a life to the full, the ability to weather the tough times and the capacity to enthral anyone who wishes to watch, in their chosen lifestyle.

Friends are those you welcome into your home, sit eagerly waiting to learn all about their latest adventures. By the media of television they have become my friends and I’m longing to join them… very soon!