Striking out for freedom
Most people have a dream about what they will do when their children grow up or when they retire, but few people have the courage to do it. Mary and Ray Lambert, from Earith, sold their house and bought a narrowboat. They told ANGELA SINGER why they did
Most people have a dream about what they will do when their children grow up or when they retire, but few people have the courage to do it. Mary and Ray Lambert, from Earith, sold their house and bought a narrowboat.
They told ANGELA SINGER why they did it and, on the facing page, RAY LAMBERT shares with us his tales from the river.
IT was on their way back from a close friend's funeral that Mary and Ray Lambert, then aged 57 and 58, made the decision. They would sell their home, wind up their catering business and buy a narrowboat.
"We thought we are working so hard - and why? Tomorrow we might not be here and we would never get to fulfil a dream," Ray said.
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The couple, who married aged 20 and 19, had dreamed for decades about selling up and taking to the English waterways.
Ray said: "It was always the plan but we kept putting it off and this just tipped us over the edge."
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Their friend Alan Meacock, from Hatfield, had died of cancer of the oesophagus aged 59.
"He was such an incredible guy. He was huge. You never, ever believed that anything would go wrong for him," Ray said. "It was a bolt from the blue. He was given six months to live and he lived for two-and-a-half years and he would give us reports, he was such a lovely guy."
The couple, who have a grown-up son and daughter and five grandchildren, told their family and found they were right behind them.
Mary said the hardest thing was getting rid of ornaments the children had bought them over the years.
"The things that were dear to me I put in our children's lofts and the rest went to charity shops.
"You can't get a three-bedroomed house into a 60 foot boat - and you do have to be tidy on a boat."
Ray warns that a life afloat is not for everyone. "You have to be very practical because things are always going wrong on a boat. Also you do have to get on well, the furthest you can get away from each other is 60 feet apart."
But they have no regrets.
Ray said: "The longer you have a house, the more you get tied to it and you can never do what you want to do. We had to go the whole hog or nothing.
"We house-sat for our daughter. I lasted two days before I had to go back to the boat and Mary lasted a week but she was going stir crazy because when you are in a house, you are so isolated - how many people in a house know their neighbours? Mary started going out looking for people. When you are on the canals, you can sit on your boat and talk to people from 8am in the morning until 8pm at night."
Mary said: "I love the freedom and meeting people. When were house-sitting, I kept looking at these four walls that didn't move and the view out of the window was the same every day.