Real life stories that we didn’t plaster over our social media
I hit upload on another picture of an intense, fiery sunset. It’s one of those photos that just happened – right place, right time. In fact, that’s the same for almost all the photos we post on Instagram. We aren’t ones for planning and staging the perfect shot, we just want to capture the beautiful things we see, and in Greece that really isn’t hard to do.
My caption is something generic and positive, about how much work we’ve got done today during lockdown. The captions on our feed tend to be upbeat and cheery to match the photo, maybe a funny story about a disaster every now and again. No one really reads the captions, do they?
After uploading our pretty photo I scroll through my feed. I love seeing inspirational travel shots of snowy mountains and icy lakes. I follow sailing accounts that post incredible action shots that we’ve no hope of every recreating and travel accounts showing off luxury hotel rooms that open into rainforests or infinity pools down to the sea.
I marvel at the thought, composition and editing that goes into some of the photos that I’m lucky enough to see daily. It’s my own personal art gallery. I get to choose the artwork that goes into it, artwork by top class professionals, and all for free.
I tuck my phone back into my backpack and grab the last jerry cans of water to lug back to the dinghy. It’s taken two hours to row to shore, fill every last container we can find (100ls worth of water bottles), lug each container back and forth from the dinghy to the water station and back again and finally load them into the dinghy for the row back – at least the wind is behind us on this leg.
We did the same trip yesterday, and we’ll do the same trip again tomorrow. It’s a relief to have this water ‘on tap’ after months of not finding any. If we do this 2 hour round trip every day then we can have a short shower each too! 2 hours of work for a 2 minute shower is totally worth it after months of washing in the sea!
We’ve both been staring at our laptops all day. The table isn’t big enough for us both to work at so I’ve been working from the bed, with the laptop on my lap. It’s where I spend nearly every hour of the day when it’s a work day. Adam has been on back to back calls which means I’ve been creeping around the boat, strategically using the noisy to flush toilet between calls.
When we get back to the boat we have the fun job of pouring each container into our water tanks, and then we’ll have to run the engine as it’s the only way we have to generate the energy we need to top off the batteries.
During the summer months this isn’t a problem. The long days of unshaded sun give us all the energy we need, even when we’re both running our laptops all day.
But now that it’s winter it feels like a constant battle to keep the batteries healthy. We wake up early and run the engine for an hour or two before work, and then again in the evening. I thought a classroom of children was noisy, but right now I’d give anything for their excited high pitched shrieks over the unhappy growling of our old Westerbeke.
This is a real day on board Hot Chocolate. No freshly caught fish, no beach BBQ, no exciting drama. Just a pretty standard, boring day. We have a lot of them, I promise.
Perhaps the difference is that we have to do things slightly differently now, fight a little harder for snatches of the things we took for granted on land. And though that might look fun to the more adventurous of you reading this (collecting water with that sunset backdrop wouldn’t be so bad, right?) it’s normal to us now. It’s the every day. It’s just our lives – the least glamourous part.
Of course, in the summer you can throw in a morning swim or spearfish, and the days we aren’t working are spent exploring or sailing – just as you spend your weekends going for walks in the countryside or weekends away or on a home project or two. I see your Instagram accounts too!
We try hard to share the good and the bad to help you see it isn’t all sunshine and cocktails out here, but we don’t share the in between. The true worst bits. The ‘boring’ bits where we’re hiking down a busy road to find a supermarket or typing all day long on our laptops. We don’t share the long, dark evenings where we’re exhausted and want nothing more than to sit watching Netflix, not having to make conversation with the person we spend all day every day with. Just as you don’t share the pictures of you sat at your desk working every day, we don’t share the mundane either.
I understand how social media works and I actually quite like it. I go onto Instagram for a little escapism, to dream of adventure and to see what I could look like if I owned clothes that weren’t covered in oil stains or if I bothered to put on make up. I don’t want to see you heating up last nights lasagne or hanging up your washing. Though I’m sure you do it with style. It’s just not interesting when you do it every evening.
For Adam and I searching for water is stressful. I was embarrassed to ask my brother for help filling up jerry cans and lugging them back to the boat, just so that we had access to basic sanitary care. But he pointed out that for him this was all an experience. None of the everyday jobs were everyday to him – they were new and novel.
Seeing the excitement of our crew when they realised they could dive off the boat into the ocean at every anchorage we arrived in was refreshing. When we arrive somewhere new we always jump straight in – to check the anchor, not to enjoy the cool, clear water.
Even the every day, mundane tasks that we do are interesting when they’re something we’ve never experienced before. But how quickly we get bored and forget the fascination we once had.
As I write this I find myself thinking, perhaps lockdown gives us the perfect opportunity to find enjoyment in these tasks again. We could spend this time when we’re forced into the boring every day to notice the sunset backdrops of our water runs, to blow bubbles in the washing up liquid again, to graffiti the dirt on our cars before we wash them.
We could use this time to take every opportunity to have fun with the normal and make those every day tasks an Instagrammable moment. Perhaps you’ll be seeing some different Instagram stories from us from now on – the fascinating every day lives of a boring boat couple.