this tiny life: May ’23 Journal

this tiny life: May ’23 Journal

May is finally here. It’s a month to revere as the renewal of spring reaches its crescendo.

Over the course of this month, nature explodes into a cacophony of colours. With blossom lining the hedgerows, new green leaves unfurling amongst the trees and the woodland floor taking on a violet hue as the bluebells flower.

One day when the sun had come back over the Forest, bringing with it the scent of may, and all the streams of the Forest were tinkling happily to find themselves their own pretty shape again, and the little pools lay dreaming of the life they had seen and the big things they had done – A. A. Milne

It always feels like a special time of year, one we’re very grateful for. The boat build needs a certain degree of good weather for us to complete various jobs. Living amongst the chaos of a building site, being able to use the towpath as an additional room without darting around the constant showers of April feels like a huge help.

๐ŸŒฟ In this month’s issue:

  • Building our floating home: We’ve moved in! ๐Ÿ›Œ
  • This Month: Bottling the towpath’s sunshine ๐ŸŒฑ
  • Recommendations: Book of the Month ๐Ÿ“–
  • One last thing ๐Ÿ‘Œ

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The Build Diary: Moving in

It’s been a hectic few weeks since we last chatted about the boat build. Gabby and I are now fully living in Artichoke, which brings plenty of merits and the occasional challenge too.

On the plus side, being back on the boat feels like such a privilege. The last few mornings I’ve been woken early by the otter that lives in the reeds opposite, calling loudly across the canal at dawn. I’ve yet to be lucky enough to spot this timid creature but have spoken to many fellow boaters who have. I hope the loud mewing is a call to her off-spring, or her pup putting in an order for breakfast.

Living in a half-completed boat is not without difficulty. We are currently without running water, as we prioritised building our bedframe over getting the plumbing installed. Most of the time this is fine, we’re a short yomp to the water point and feel the walk is a reminder of how lucky we are to have such a resource at the twist of a faucet. Drinking and washing up, is manageable. Showering though, is a different story. Over the last few weeks, we’ve leant on the kindness of those in the nearby village… Mainly a lovely woman called Sarah, who’s allowed us to use her bathroom for a weekly wash.

The build is leaping forward with every day that passes. In our most recent YouTube episode, we shared the building of our bedframe. We thought it would be best to ensure there would at least be somewhere comfortable to sleep even if the rest of the boat is littered with tools, bits of timber and the accoutrements of life.

We’ve also been busy upcycling a few finds. The aim for the build is to be as sustainable as possible with almost every piece of furniture being reclaimed. We struck gold recently by being allowed to search the skip of a nearby house renovation finding some key parts for the next stage of the project.

In this episode, we’re picking up our biggest pre-owned item yet… It’s something we’ve been hunting a while for and can’t believe how lucky we got to stumble across it on the many marketplaces we scourer each morning and evening.

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Celebrating May: How to Bottle Sunshine

Photo by Walter Sturn / Unsplash

Lying on the towpath looking up at the hawthorn blossoms reveals so much more than a casual glance would allow. I’ll admit, I was feeling a little jaded at the time… Having enjoyed the hospitality of our boat neighbours the night before.

I became fixated on the number of bees that were burbling around the flowers. Their forage is limited at this time of year so they work hard to find resources to top up their early stock. The hedgerow blossom is vital but so too is a plant we often disregard as a common weed. Over the course of this month keep an eye out for the common dandelion.

Foraging Dandelions in the UK: A Guide to Edible and Delicious Wild Greens
Foraging for dandelions can be a fun and rewarding way to connect with nature and add some wild greens to your diet.

Not only is this plant brilliant for the early pollinators, but it’s also one we can use in the kitchen too. Dandelions are a tasty and nutritious wild edible. Their leaves are a great addition to salads, the flowers make a wonderful mock honey and even their roots can be dried to make an alternative to coffee.

Remember to only gather what you need and from areas free of weed spray. If you’re looking for a project to do with dandelions please do look at our Dandelion-Hunee recipe. It makes a good, vegan-friendly substitute that is perfect for drizzling over porridge โคต๏ธ


Recommendations: Book of the Month

We might be a little late to the party with this one as the original publication date was in 2019. However, I’ve finally been able to find the time to pick up what is quickly becoming a seminal read.

This month, I’ve been devouring The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology by Mark Boyle.

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In it, he turns his back on modern technology to return to the land on his small holding. He builds his own simple cabin and lives with the flow of the seasons. No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulbs.

It’s a beautiful, thought-provoking story that strikes a chord with Gabby and me. We love boat life because it requires extra thought over the resources you use. We decided to live this way to experience a simpler existence in rhythm with nature and the time of year. Given half a chance we too would love to attempt to grow our own food and break ground on our own small holding. One day… But for now, our little floating home is plentiful.

One last thing…

Just before we say goodbye and sign off for another month, we just wanted to thank all those who have bought us a coffee during April. You honestly don’t know how much it means and it allows us to keep producing content like this.

If you too would like to contribute (I’m now thrusting out my busker’s cap) you can do via this link:

If not, then honestly reading, commenting and liking our videos and posts massively support us too! If you’re not able to help financially then sharing or recommending us to a friend would be brilliant.

Thank you so much for reading and we’ll see you next month as we celebrate the dawn of summer ๐ŸŒป

Jack Miles
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