Canalside Life by the Erewash Canal
January 28th, 2021
Catherine and Kev live on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border near the Erewash Canal. “We can see the canal from our upstairs bedroom windows,” says Catherine, “and from the garden in winter, when there are no leaves on the trees.”
They moved into the modern two bedroom bungalow in 1987, when it was brand new. They extended upstairs in the 1990s, so the house has four bedrooms now and looks like a bungalow from the front and a house from the back. They have also added two conservatories – the first was replaced by a much larger one in the early 2000s.
Catherine’s eye for design is well known to anyone who has seen her stunning narrowboat Sea Glass, which is moored in Shardlow. She describes her decor style as ‘bohemian meets rustic’, with bright jewel colours. She has furnished the house with an eclectic mix of modern and vintage furniture, accented with artefacts accumulated during her many travels around the world.
The house is built on former allotment land, and the canal is directly behind the house. Over the years Catherine and Kev have bought a series of small pieces of land, gradually extending the garden towards the canal. “My aim has been to keep buying land until we reached the canal,” explains Catherine, “but sadly that is not to be.”
Even though the house is in the middle of suburbia, there is wonderful countryside right on the doorstep. The towpath is two minutes away, down a short footpath.
“It’s like stepping into a completely different world,” Catherine explains. “From the canal I can walk north towards Langley Mill Basic, south towards Trent Lock, or head up a gentle hill to the (now disused) Nottingham Canal. The Erewash canal is a little used but lovely canal, about 11 miles in length, starting at Sawley near Long Eaton and ending up at Langley Mill. It passes through a variety of landscapes from industrial through residential and open countryside.”
“Every day I watch nature change. The trees budding in spring with elderflower, hawthorn and blackthorn blossom, through to autumn colours and the stark bare trees in winter. I see waterlilies grow, bloom and disappear, and various weeds appear, then go. I see swans building their nests, having broods, raising them them, teaching them to fly, then letting them go out into the world. I see moorhens, coots, and ducks daily, and their various antics, and only once I saw a kingfisher.”
“We don’t see many narrowboats using the Erewash Canal, which is such a pity,” says Catherine, “but when I do see one, it’s a real treat.” If she does find someone moored up nearby, she strikes up a conversation if she can. “I recently met a gentleman on an old working boat that he was slowly converting,” she recalls. “I asked him how long it would take him. “Oh, at least the rest of my life,” he replied.”
Every day Catherine takes at least one walk with her Jack Russell, Poppy, who meets lots of other dogs, and can be off the lead for most of the walk. Catherine’s regular circular walk is two miles, which takes about 40 minutes, but there’s a shorter 20 minute route if she’s pushed for time. If she has friends over for lunch (before lockdown of course) she often invites them to take a walk along the canal.
“Sometimes the canal freezes over in winter, (as it did in January 2021), and it becomes a sparkling white, completely magical place. My favourite view is when we have wonderful sunsets. We don’t see them from the house, but from the canal they are absolutely stunning.”
Catherine has a craft business selling handmade faux fur pom poms, DIY pom pom kits, handknitted dog jumpers and snoods, and a range of handmade crafts from her various crafty friends, hence the name of her Etsy shop, CraftyFriendsUK. Before Covid she used to hold craft days at her house, and she would often break up the day by taking her guests for a walk along the canal. She is also able to continue running the business from the narrowboat when she’s out cruising. Poppy is sometime pressed into service as a model!