AS LONDON residences go, a houseboat has to be one of the more quirkier options for MPs while they carry out their working week in Westminster.
But Northfield MP Richard Burden has had to leave the houseboat he has rented and lived in for more than three years because work on a new super sewer under the Thames is set to start exactly where the boat is moored.
Speaking to The Standard he said it was a sad moment last Friday (January 29) when he said goodbye to Connie (or Iconoclast 2 to give her full name) so she could be put in dry dock.
“Life as an MP can be really pressured so to be able to get away to something hugely different each evening was very important.”
He said the home – one of three one-bedroom flats on the Rhine-style vessel – was tremendously calming and the tranquility of the Thames provided the perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of the Commons.
And, he added, it also meant he could stroll to and from work.
“I would walk up onto a pier, down a gangway and along the Thames to Westminster each morning and go back the same way each evening which was also very relaxing.”
Mr Burden said he had also had some memorable moments on the houseboat.
One of them happened at Christmastime in 2012, soon after he had moved in.
His partner Amy and her two boys, who were aged nine and six at the time, came to stay and were quite excited, especially when, because Connie boasted a small cannon and a small plank to the upper deck, it was decided to have a pirate party with all the trimmings.
This was also the first time he met his neighbours who had heard about an MP living on the boat but did not expect to find him dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow.
“Amazingly enough, they did not leave on the spot and we have become close friends,” added Mr Burden.
The MP has now moved into a one-bedroom flat which is in fact closer to Parliament but, he said, life on dry land without the geese, moorhens, ducks, seagulls and Ferdinand the swan who would appear at the MP’s porthole from time to time, would just not be the same.
“She will be in dry dock for about six years and in practical terms I have to ask whether I will actually get to see Connie again – possibly not and that is really sad,” he said.