Have you ever wanted to get up one day and just move? Maybe you don’t like your neighbours or maybe you just need a change of scenery?
Well last week we met a youtube couple that regularly do just that.
Wendy and Magnus Eriksson live on a 70ft Narrowboat on the UK’s canal network and are constantly moving home.
The Eriksson’s are ‘Boat Tubers’ Youtuber’s that vlog about life on boats, in their case a Narrowboat called Nutshell.
Their channel ‘Life in a Nutshell’ was started as a way for the kids and family back in Australia to keep up with [W]+[M] as they took up their new adventure. But in the first two and a half months since they sold the cows, locked up the house, got on a plane and flew across the world, their simple youtube channel has already gained over 1,500 followers.
Their channel consists of simple headshots to camera and pretty views of the locks, ducks and scenery are liberally interspersed with reviews of a Great British specialty – Beer!
Yes every post is filled with a selection of the intrepid duo testing out a pint of three of one of the copious amounts of real ales on offer at the numerous pubs that butt up onto the canals.
So we sat down with the two of them, one afternoon at a local pub and had a chat over a pint.
First things first, who are you and where are you from?
[W] I’m originally from West Sussex, Chichester and still have a lot of family here.
[M] I’m Swedish by birth, my family moved to Australia when I was 6, though I still speak good enough Swedish to not get caught out as my father never learnt to speak English. Which is great cause we meet a lot of Swedes at home. We moved around Australia quite a bit throughout my childhood but eventually settled in Fremantle.
Wendy was actually backpacking around the world and stopped off in Fremantle to visit her sister, who was married and living there. Wendy’s sister’s husband who is actually a good friend of mine, suggested that I go over and meet his sister-in-law and clearly we hit it off.
[W] I didn’t make the rest of the trip, I stayed in Fremantle, until we had a family and started holidaying all over the place.
Why are you in England?
[Magnus] Well 25 years ago we brought our kids and Wendy’s mum here on a family narrow boat holiday and we just loved it! We went along the Kennet and Avon Canal.
[W] After that trip we just knew that we were going to do this again.
[M] Last year our youngest went to Uni, we went from 7 in the house to just two, and just thought now is the time we have the freedom to travel without worry.
How old are your kids then?
Well we have 4 kids ranging in age between 30-18.
Why did you start a Youtube channel?
[M] I make videos for my job and when we have been away in the past I made videos for children.
[W] We also wanted to use it as a diary so we could remember as well.
[M] We recorded our first video and uploaded it for the family on youtube and all of a sudden there were hundreds of views. We didn’t realise other people could see it but all of a sudden we had a following, comments and feedback even recommendations for pubs and its just grown from there. It’s brilliant! Before we bought the boat we watched a lot of boat tubers, to get some feel of what was in store and we have even met some of them, like Mylo. I mean out of the thousands of boats that we’ve seen there is a good chance you can bump into another youtuber or viewer, We have already met up with 4 people this week including you.
What do you guys do back at home?
[M] I’m actually a tour guide at home in The Whitsunday Islands, which is in Queensland, Northeast of Australia.
There are not many places I haven’t gone in my life, I traveled a lot before meeting Wendy and since then we have moved about a fair bit, given my job we get some affordable flights so it gives us a bit of freedom. Our family have moved about too, we used to live in Fremantle on the West Coast. It was too cold though, so we moved when the first of our kids was in first grade to the North East.
[W] Via Italy! Between us I think we have almost traveled around the whole world.
[M] With the exception of Russia, Alaska and Africa.
[W] But we hope to solve that in the future.
[W] I’m a graphic designer, so I actually do all the website stuff and the logos etc for the youtube but back home I’m an artist. My work is in quite a few galleries and I was even asked to make a map for our home town for the tourists. It took forever but it was so worth it.
You can check out some of her work here….
But what’s interesting is apart from all of that? They own and run a farm…
[M] It’s not the English farming that you think of when you hear the word ‘farmer’ there are no barns, no help calving etc. We have a couple of hundred acres of mostly self sustaining land, solar panels and wind turbines provide the power, we have compost toilets, we provide our own water, grow our own veg. We try and live low impact and green.
[W] We are off the grid, Its about 1.5km to the nearest neighbour
[M] Our farm is completely holistic, the cows go where they want to go, eat what they want and go about their own business, if they calf they do it themselves.
It sounds like a remarkably green way of living and so peaceful and free, the house is currently just waiting for their return and we oh so wanted to ask if they wanted to let us live there but bit our tongue.
[M] We don’t have people working there is no horses or livestock anymore and the dogs went to the kids, so we could travel without having to worry.
How is life on such a small boat after life on a farm and the expanse of home?
[W] 70ft is quite a lot of space and the house back home isn’t that big.
[M] Plus we have all the space outside, all that countryside and sometimes the cities too. As we said before we’re used to off grid living so we don’t really need all that much plus the boat has more facilities, we can run the hot water and its hot! You don’t have to boil a kettle! he says chuckling.
Do you have more plans for the vlog?
[M] Funny you should ask that we actually have a website that is about to go up. We have done a couple of cooking episodes too but we were looking into maybe starting a blog.
Writing just daily posts on what we saw that day, you know just a couple of paragraphs! Simple! I can do that, you know one finger at a time. (Laughs)
So far you’ve been here 2 and half months and moved every day apart from the time you were stuck on the Thames. Where is your favourite place so far?
[M] We have so far travelled 250 miles but so far Oxford canal! Not the city itself just the canal.
[W] Its beautiful!
[M] We might travel back there on the way back but who knows? We might see something better, I’m not one to go back to things I know, I try and see and take in as much as I can, realistically.
[W] We like seeing new places.
[M] We’re always looking forward to what is ahead, I don’t like looking at guidebooks, I don’t want to know what’s ahead I love the element of surprise.
How long are you in the UK for?
[M] The rough plan is York by Christmas then Nottingham, Manchester on to Liverpool, North Wales, Gloucester, Merseyside and then to the River Seven then back to the start and sell the boat.
[W] This will all be in two years. We were going to to do the I and I but the boats too long.
[M] With that extra 10 ft there are some restrictions, you just cant move in some places.
What happens after the two years? Do you have any more plans?
[W] When we sell the boat, the idea is too use the money that we get from the boat to buy a Yacht and sail back to Australia.
[M] The scenic route, via the Baltic, We want to go to Finland, Estonia, then the Med. Through Alaska, ICE in America, Panama and Caribbean hopefully we will be mid summering at the most northern points. But we’ve got about 4-5 years to do this in so we have some time to play with ideas.
[W] We told the kids, no surprises, give us 5 years she says laughing.
[M] I still have to work though, in April I will go back to Australia for three months, I have to do 6 months in the year, thats why we are winter cruisers. I can only stay for 6 months because of the Visa.
[W] I’ll stay here and wait as I have dual citizenship.
[M] We might come back after that in time, maybe do the Danube? Or go to Greece, I really want to go to Greece.
That sounds like an amazing adventure! Can we come!
How did you afford the boat and what made you choose that one?
[M] Well we had been looking for 18 months for a boat, we originally wanted a 60 foot, traditional, we initially looked at another boat but the plans fell through.
Then we found Nutshell in July of last year, but it was far too expensive for us, thankfully for us Brexit happened and the money changed, suddenly we had a lot more money to play with. The price dropped and we ended up with a 70 foot boat, The Nutshell. Obviously we came over a few times to look at it and check it was all in working order and then we spent all our savings on it.
When we have finished our trip we will sell it to buy a yacht that will take us on the bigger adventure.
[W] He loves boats! So he’s the one that knows all about them.
[M] What’s different about this boat is it has a Hydraulic engine which is more expensive and slightly less efficient (you loose 2% heat and there are more moving parts, which means more things that potentially could go wrong.) It’s unusual, but a great system though!
You know a lot about boats then?
[M] I love boats! I have sailed a lot and I’ve been in a few races before, I haven’t been on a narrowboat up till now. Theres not much of a relation between a narrowboat or an ocean boat, except of course that the stern is still the stern etc. We haven’t had the opportunity to cruise before because we had commitments, you know the kids had to be at school, life just got in the way.
What else do you do for hobbies whilst traveling?
[W] Well I paint and do the editing of the vlog.
[M] I like to explore, I get on my bike and cycle around the area, get a look at the towns. I would say fishing but there doesn’t seem to be much to fish here, though I have to ask do fish here have really good eye sight? All the guys seem to be wearing camouflage jackets, he says laughing,
Where we are from fish just swim into our open hands.
Where we are from fish just swim into our open hands.
Is the English weather a shock?
[M] If you are cold, you just rug up. When we first got here we had to stock up. We had a few visits to the Op shops (charity shops) and Primark, oh and Asda a fair bit too. Wendy is almost always cold but she just wraps up in a blanket.
[W] We landed with nothing that was appropriate, Magnus didn’t even have any proper walking boots, but it was quickly sorted, we shopped in a few random places to get some warm clothes in a hurry.
[M] No the weather doesn’t really bother us.
(“Weird” She mumbled!)
Is there anything that is culturally shocking to you?
[M] Theres a huge difference between here and home.
We speak the same language but its a completely different world, its not better or worse, just very very different. You have so much freedom here, I mean back home its soo strict.
I can go for a cycle here and not have to wear a helmet!
[W] We used to live in Italy so we’re used to the European culture.
[M] Your a lot more relaxed and reserved than back home.
Has it changed much since you were last here?
[W] Not so much for me, I was last here about 2 years ago so its not changed since then.
The only thing is there is a lot more joggers and dog walkers than I remember, especially on the canal.
Do you feel that there is a community on the canal?
[M] Yeah! We love the community, its pretty small but everyone is so friendly and welcoming. We have had so many conversations with other boaters, random people who have walked the vlog. You get a real mixture of people here too.
What really surprised me that there are so many young people out here! They have saved 2 or 3 thousand pounds, bought themselves a little boat and are really living free and independent! Its great to see!
[W] Its also so relaxing, theres no rushing around because there is only two of us, we haven’t got much laundry or washing to do. You don’t have to buy coal, theres often wood on the footpaths and everyone just helps each other out.
Whats the best thing about living on a boat?
[M] The best thing about being on a boat, if you don’t like where you are or neighbours just move, even if its just a mile for a new view.
So do you feel like taking to the water after hearing Magnus and Wendy’s story? We certainly do, although we still wonder why you would leave the beauty of Queensland for the cold of England. But as they say a change is as good as a rest and after that change they will be wonderfully rested and ready for the next phase of their great round the world adventure.
We hope to follow all the adventures of Nutshell and her occupants and hopefully on to the next part, in a couple of years when they take to the high seas and head home.
Will that boat be named Nutshell 2?
Check out the channel, the website and the couple’s life on camera here…