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Novel way to escape rat race

PUBLISHED: 16:33 30 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:50 09 March 2010

Peter Brooke in his converted life boat

Peter Brooke in his converted life boat

EVERY morning Peter Brookes wakes up to one of the best views in Suffolk.

EVERY morning Peter Brookes wakes up to one of the best views in Suffolk.

Today, as we celebrate those who live and work on our fabulous coast line, JAMES MARSTON speaks to a man who has opted out of the rat race.

IT'S a little bit precarious climbing the ladder into his houseboat Alouette but it doesn't deter Peter Brookes.

The 73-year-old father-of-one lives quite comfortably at Felixstowe Ferry without the need for television, central heating or running water.

He said: “It's my choice and I've opted out of the rat race really. I love being near nature and the wildness of my surroundings.

“I'm able to see the sky and the sea and it is a very peaceful place. What else do you need?”

His boat, built in 1903 as a lifeboat is a source of pride.

Peter said: “It was powered by sail and oar and built as a lifeboat for Hartlepool. It was called the Horatio Brand after the benefactor who paid for it. It cost £150.

“It was used until about 1924 when it was converted into a motor cruiser. It is quite an historic boat. I bought it in the early 70s and I've lived on it ever since.”

Inside there is a wood burning stove and Peter uses oil lamps for light. There is a small galley, a comfortable chair, a table and a sleeping area - it is remarkably cosy.

He said: “I spent the winter chopping wood to keep warm and the summer moaning about the heat. I don't like central heating though, I don't think it's healthy. I wouldn't describe myself as tough or hardy I'm just ordinary.

“Here there's a café and a couple of pubs and we all know each other and people help each other out. Every day, whatever the weather I cycle into Felixstowe to buy a newspaper and have breakfast.”

A retired fisherman and merchant seaman, Peter, who was born in Kirton and grew up in Felixstowe, said he spent his working life at sea.

He said: “When I was in the merchant Navy I travelled the world, particularly in South America and places like Argentina and Brazil.

“I don't miss being at sea but I like living near it. In all my travels I only ever found one other place where I could have lived which was similar to this and that was in New Zealand.”

Peter said he especially likes where he lives when the snows come.

He said: “The weather can be quite dramatic but I like the wildness of it all. I can look out and see up to Ramsholt and across the golf course. It's lovely when it's snowed or when it's frosty.”

With no television - Peter thinks TV wastes time - he listens to the radio and enjoys classical music.

He said: “I like reading, I could have a TV if I wanted and I've had one before but I didn't really make use of it.”

For some of us it might sound a frugal existence but few men are as content as Peter.

He said: “I wake up with the sun in the summer. I wouldn't like to live cheek by jowl with other people like in an urban area. I wouldn't even want to live in Felixstowe. It suits me here and I've got a great view.”


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