As I suspected, it's going to be quite a challenge to continue writing this blog and attempting to make it relevant to those reading a waterways site. Living as we do on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, it feels very remote from the canals and rivers of Britain. However the experiences we had during those six months have changed our whole perspective on life, and it's still quite challenging to 'settle' back into how life was pre-Northern Pride. In fact I don't think it will ever be the same again ...
Here's a shot of where we live in Gisborne, just to show you the difference in homes here compared to UK:
All the land you see is part of our 'section' which is what kiwi's call their garden or plot of land attached to their house. We're very lucky and it's really not a great hardship to be back here for the New Zealand summer!
But I digress; onto topics of a watery nature ...
One of our favourite places that we visited on the canals was Manchester and surrounding areas. We'd had a lovely weekend with Lisa and travelled south east from Wigan on the Bridgewater canal. Barry knew we'd be going over the Barton aqueduct which crosses the Manchester Ship Canal, and was so excited when we arrived and the gates were closed and the aqueduct was swung open. And how fortuitous it was that we were the first narrowboat to arrive and subsequently got to spend almost two hours watching events unfold. The tank of water that pivots around the central point over the canal holds 800 tons of water! Amazing!
The canal journey into Manchester on the Ashton canal was very pleasant as we'd previously experienced some less attractive routes into other major cities. We'd been informed by many boaters that stopping in Manchester wasn't recommended, but if we were feeling brave and bold to moor up only at Castlefield. We experienced no scary encounters at all during our three nights in the city and would recommend it to anyone.
Salford Quays was amazing and we really should have spent more time there - if only we'd got out of bed earlier on the Friday morning! As I missed the Lowry exhibition, Barry bought me two Lowry prints and a book (The Lowry Lexicon) for my recent 50th birthday - 'Gentleman looking at something' as this one was painted in 1959 (we have it up in the boat), the year of my birth, and a larger print called 'Northern River Scene' which depicts the mills of the north along with many people walking along the river. We'll get that one framed and put up at home.
A highlight of the weekend was the Manchester Pride Parade - we loved being a part of it and all the colourful people involved, what a fabulous atmosphere, extremely enjoyable.
Leaving Manchester on the Sunday, I don't think we quite realised what a long day lay ahead, it was certainly a hard day's graft! Luckily we were able to share some of the locks with another boat which helped. Since we've been back in Gisborne, a few people have commented that they thought we'd have put weight on rather than lost it or stayed the same - it seems that folks have a mistaken impression that life on a narrowboat is all about cruising along gently, feet up, sipping cocktails and reading books! Whilst the lifestyle is indeed idyllic (and maybe the experience of hire boaters doing a week or two is different to living aboard?), it's not due to lying around but to having fun and making the most of every day and every experience along the way, working hard to move through locks and swing bridges and keeping the boat ship-shape!
Ah well, onto planning wedding number two and we've been to see the venue for the reception which is the surf club at Wainui Beach. Just to make you all envious, here's the scene last Thursday evening around 7pm ...