Our guest bloggers for the month of May are Josh and Sophie from Cruising Qisma!Here, the couple give us an insight into what it's like living a minimalist life on their beautiful narrowboat.
Hello! We are Josh and Sophie and are both from Co. Armagh. We have been together for over 7 years now and met in senior high school, where we shared a few of the same subjects. We both went to university together in Stoke-on-Trent as we studied similar degrees. Stoke is renowned for its stunning canals filled with narrowboats and people who live on the water all year round. We couldn't believe this was possible as it isn't as common back in N.I. Unfortunately, due to Covid we had to be shipped home on the next ferry from University, which meant finishing our degrees at home in lockdown. When moving back to our families' houses, we thought that this 'narrowboat dream' we had created was over, until we found Qisma...
It was only by the off chance as we were curious after the second lockdown if there were narrowboats or liveaboards on the Lough Erne. Low and behold, Qisma was up for sale on Done Deal and we immediately fell in love. We are both easy-going people with not many possessions, so living in a tiny house, especially a floating tiny house, was ideal for us.
Describe a typical day on Cruising Qisma?
We both work full-time jobs, Josh works as a tour guide and production assistant at The Boatyard Distillery in Fermanagh and Sophie works fully remote on the boat as a digital marketing executive for a software company based in Antrim. At the minute we are continuously cruising Fermanagh (mostly around the Enniskillen area) and then during the colder months, we will moor up in a permanent mooring. No two days are the same on Qisma, there are lots of wee jobs to do and we love making content and that does take up a lot of our free time!
How do you make Qisma feel like your home?
Initially, there were parts of Qisma that didn't suit our style. We spent the month of August (the same month we bought the boat) painting the kitchen cupboards a light blue as well as removing the La-Z-Boy chairs in exchange for a futon to accommodate guests. We made Qisma feel more like our home by adding soft furnishings such as a rug, throws and cushions in the living area and prints from local articles on the walls.
What are your favourite items from Osborne's?
We would say all items from Osborne’s that we own on Qisma are our favourites! But if we had to choose, Josh would pick the gold 2-tier drinks trolley, it is such a great way for extra space, fits perfectly on the boat and looks stylish too.
Sophie’s favourite would have to be the navy throw, it works so well with our interior style which layers over our futon nicely. We can already see the throw being perfect for the Summer months at picnics and jetty parties and in the Winter months to cosy up by our wood-burning stove.
Another favourite of ours would be the Mangowood handled serving board, we are big wine and cheese fans so that'll be the perfect touch to our charcuterie dining when we have guests over!
Do you change your decor for the seasons?
We don’t change with every season and event but we do have a Summer style and Winter style. In the Winter we have the stove running almost all the time, meaning we need more space for wood and coal, we have two lovely tall wood baskets that sit nicely on the boat and then go to storage on the roof in the Summer. We also like to decorate the place with fairy lights, garlands and trinkets for Christmas. We had a real Christmas tree (a very tiny one at that) and it died towards the end of the holidays, meaning we had lots of pine needles all over the boat, we may have to opt for an artificial one this year!
How do you manage to live a minimalist lifestyle?
When we had to pack 3 years of University stuff to be shipped home before lockdown, we managed to fit both of our things in one car with space left. When we were packing up we realised we had so many things we didn’t need or no longer used that got thrown away or donated. We didn’t want to make that mistake again which is why we are more mindful of what we buy, making sure everything on Qisma serves a purpose.
How often do you stay on 'dry land'?
We visit our families about once a month which does feel strange as we have developed ‘sea legs’ so we are almost always swaying as if we were on the boat. Qisma doesn’t move an awful lot but we do notice a difference when being back on land.
Top 3 reasons to live on Qisma?
One of the main reasons that we live on Qisma is a more simpler way of life, living on the or being around the water has proven to have many benefits for mental health. The other reason would be being more connected to people both online and in real life. Since we started our journey on social media, we have generated a lot of interest and support which has encouraged us. The third and final reason is to be against the grain, we love the fact that we have no set address and can move our home across the Island of Ireland if we want to! At our age, we felt like we needed to save up for a deposit and get a mortgage for a house, which we weren’t very keen on. Now we live happily and mortgage-free on the water!
What do you miss most about living on land?
The only thing we miss about living on land would be having a garden and more space. We love to host guests and it can be quite tricky to get everyone on the boat comfortably for dinner or a BBQ, we have managed 10 people at once though! A garden would be lovely too but we have an allotment to allow us to grow food.
What do you love about Fermanagh?
Oh, a great many things! Fermanagh is like Spain in Northern Ireland, although we can get an obscure amount of rain when the sun comes out and you’re on the water, it feels like you’re in a completely different country! We also love the community part of Fermanagh, we have felt so connected with business owners, the boating community and the locals. There are so many amazing places to visit across Fermanagh also, which is why we love to share all that it offers on our social media channels.
Make sure you're following Josh & Sophie aka @cruisingqisma on both Instagram and TikTok and keep up to speed on their life aboard Cruising Qisma.