Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Leaving the Thames - Kennet and Avon here we come!

Writing the blog on Saturday, I was feeling a little negative as it takes hours for us to complete each post with all the photos and research (though admittedly some days I do more investigating than others!) and I was wondering if it was worth the hassle. However, we received two comments with such positive feedback it inspired me to continue - so thank you to Kim (though she may be biased as she's my daughter!), and to Doug, and everyone else who's written to us, for taking the time and trouble to put fingers to keyboard.

At times it feels as though we could be singing into the wind fruitlessly - though I do also remind myself that one of the main raisons d'ĂȘtre of the blog is to produce a record of the journeys and experiences we've had for the years to come when we don't have our beloved Northern Pride and won't know if we'll get a chance to be on Britain's waterways again. We've already self-published a few months of our journey last year (just for ourselves) and hope to complete the remainder in the future, and Barry's working on a coffee table book (or a series!) for possible future publication - I just have to do the writing!

Anyway, back to our journey!

I still didn't venture off the boat Saturday morning, though Barry had a check of the area to see if there was anything worth risking life and limb for by negotiating the curve of the tree trunk (see below)! I was relieved to hear there was little to be found, so we left fairly early. The Landowner knocked on the boat just after 0700hrs, when luckily Barry was up working on his photos so we graciously handed over the £5 mooring fee - ah well, we've only had to pay £9 all together in our 15 days on Thames, so not too bad considering (and we don't mind paying when we've had a notice informing us it'll happen!).

P1300749 Our mooring near Mapledurham Lock - tied between two trees - only exit at the bow

The name of the boat moored in front of us looked foreign but it had a 'London' sign on it - there were only two people on board this massive vessel but unfortunately they left before we had a chance to talk with them. It must be tough to get a mooring for such a boat!



The views front front and rear - oops!, bow & stern - first thing this morning

P1300762A Wouldn't wish to be searching for a mooring for this vessel!

P1300773ATake away the big boat, add a few formation flying geese, and it's not a bad scene



Two majestic old ladies from another era - though far more pleasing on the eye than the modern cruisers

P1300775 Another flock of geese off to their morning meeting in a field somewhere






Seen on a boat behind 'The African Queen'





P1300785A The old mill at Mapledurham, sadly not accessible - without paying

It was the last day of our Thames license so we planned to get to the 24 hour Tesco's store in Reading and then a sharp right turn onto the Kennet and Avon Canal - there's one more 'manned' Environment Agency lock and then it's back to the more sublime, but un-manned canal.


A more tropical boat house looking a little out of place on The Thames


This monstrosity seemed to have every rich toy conceivable including jet ski, pool, cruiser and of course a helicopter! The people who 'have it all' - wonder if they're happy?

P1300808 Approaching Reading - one loaf or two?

P1300809Lots of passenger pleasure boats to be found for a trip up the river

P1300814 Reading Bridge

P1300816A A preponderance of modern apartments along the river at Reading

P1300822A Wicked staircases/lifts on the side of these buildings


Still plenty of greenery to be seen

P1300832 There was a 'fire and rescue' boat just exiting Blake's Lock, the final lock on the Thames (which was unmanned - must've been on their tea-break!), and one of the crew said to us and another narrowboat behind "you'll be needing keys on the next locks, do you have any?" Bless him!

P1300837A Puff the magic water dragon, lives by the sea - Caversham lock, final one really on the Thames



Chock a block in the lock!

There's a long pontoon to moor up a short walk from Tesco's, though nothing to advertise the fact as far as we could see. It took longer than expected to shop as it always does when I have to find what I need in the huge stores - otherwise I end up buying things I never knew I needed and have nowhere to store it all! It's good to have such a variety though once in a while. Returning to the boat we were having a deluge ...

P1300846ANice weather for ducks!

P1300851 Possibly an idyllic home in the summer; however come winter ...


Turning off The Thames to the river Kennet, towards Reading centre

P1300864 Arriving at the official commencement of 'The Kennet and Avon Canal'

P1300866 I'm sure these bridges were only designed for horse and carts?

P1300874 The city centre was buzzing with people - bands playing and activities everywhere


Zorb balls in the pool - looks like great water fun without getting wet


Complete with a beach and related themes - The Oracle Beach 2010

P1300879 Sandra entertaining the crowds with her narrowboat driving skills demonstration - look one hand!

P1300881 The crowds go wild with excitement


But Sandra keeps her cool, calm demeanour

We shared Blake's Lock with another narrowboat that's from Hopwas, not far from where Northern Pride was moored while we were back in NZ. It's a lovely boat called 'Guelrose' and had recently had another 10 feet added to it to make it a seventy footer - our poor boat looked miniscule in comparison - but the colours were similar.

At the next lock, Jon from Guelrose didn't get picked up as he thought he could walk along the towpath now we were back on the canals - but that turned out not to be the case so I picked him up and he had a ride with us to Fobney Lock - he and Barry chatted like long-lost friends at the bow!


Barry and Jon at the bow

Jon and his family are on the boat for a week, though it's owned by his parents who also keep a blog click here to read it. Having been around boats all his life, Jon was a mine of useful information as he and Barry chatted, and he loves the Kennet and Avon which is reassuring to hear after all the negativity we've been given about it previously!

As we tied up waiting for Fobney lock, I noticed their boat number (I know ours off by heart as I have to give it every time I pay for diesel) - there's was 46576, one number after ours which is 46575! How likely is that to happen?! They may have been built side-by-side in 1989.


Jon's crew (left to right) Ruby, Charlie and Chloe (and their friend!)

P1300905 Waiting for yet another lock - there's heaps on them along this canal



In case anyone was doubting - here's the proof!

It's certainly good to be back on the canals again - there's a different, more 'comfortable' somehow ambience than the rivers, especially the Thames, lovely as it is.

We eventually moored up right outside a pub called 'The Cunning Man' what a strange name! Seeing as we were so close it'd be rude not to pop in for a drink, so we ventured out late (it's cheaper that way!) but found it still full of diners with no real 'pub' atmosphere, and of course by then it was too cool to sit outside, so we only stayed for one drink - not a problem considering our precarious financial state!



Moored up by the pub

P1280270A Bright and cheery yellow flowers


  1. Hi both,
    You wondered if it was worth compiling your excellent blog.
    Just to say it gives great pleasure to those who cannot get out of a chair let alone get on a narrowboat.Your photos and descriptions opens up a world to an 87 year old and her carer of a beautiful life which can only have been imagined before blogs were invented.
    I notice you have no hits counter.This would tell you how many look at your site.
    Many thanks.
    Dave Winter (Brassiclint)

  2. I love your blog. I love your writing. I love the photos. Don't stop. You'll regret it if you do :o)

  3. Hi Both,

    I read your blogs every day so please don't stop!

    It seems you'll be in Bath before I get back.


  4. I'm another avid reader - please keep going! It just never occurs to me to comment, which is a bit rude really, so I'm sorry. You've got a great laidback style and I love the way you tell a little bit about where you visit. And of course the photos are sublime! Regards, Aly

  5. Hi Barry

    Thanks for the pictures of my boat n.b. GUELROSE (and family) on your blog! What a coincidence about the registration numbers... ours was built by Colecraft and was finished in July 1989 so has just celebrated its 21st birthday. Glad Jon was able to be of help to you. By the way, LIBERTIJN of ALPHEN, weighs in at 140 tons, is 100 years old, and was a real tight fit in Caversham Lock. It is on its way to the National Boat Festival at Beale Park, Pangbourne over the BH weekend, and is one of 28 dutch barges attending - some of which are also the same size! I hope you enjoy the K & A, it is one of our family's favourites but a lot of people don't like it. The secret is to take your time and definitely not be in a rush.


  6. This happened on your last trip if you remember. You thought no one read the blog but by now you must realize you have many followers and lurkers. You both provide a lot of enjoyment and happiness to us all. Please never stop. Its pleasing to hear that you will be going to print.



  7. Hi Barry and Sandra

    Please don't stop posting. Yours is my favourite blog, and is still inspiring us to do the same in a couple of years. Barry's photos are absolutely fantastic.
    Leonie, Napier, New Zealand

  8. I will chime in blog by far!
    Carry on the good work.

  9. So,you see, we ARE reading!
    Keep up thr great work bith of you!

  10. Please carry on with your blogging - very informative and interesting.

  11. Here's another vote of moral support from Downunder. I'd be lost without narrowboat blogs to read while we patiently wait our turn to take on this adventure. We can't go for a couple of years yet and it seems an eternity.

    Your writing and photos are a wonderful escape for many.

    Reminder to myself - leave a comment more often!

    Keep up the good work. You'll be glad of the memories one day.


  12. Hi Sandra and Barry

    So pleased that so many people appreciate your blog, and that you will continue, you obviously had no idea how many of us enjoy it, we all know it takes alot of your time, but it really is appreciated, it seems that maybe a few more comments for readers may keep you inspired to blog. I know you are budgeting, but can really recommend the golden Swan pub at Wilcot just after Pewsey when you get further down, the home cooked food is excellent and not expensive, worth the short walk into a beautiful village with thatched cottages.

    Enjoy Best Wishes Doug

  13. Ditto to all the above - great blog and beautiful photos.