This blog describes one of our final journeys of 2010, hard to believe it was eight months ago now! It's incredible how quickly this year is flying by, we're six months into it today.
Barry and I are missing being on the waterways more than ever at the moment, as for the past two years at this time that's where we've been. In fact I was just saying to Barry today this will be the first full year that I've stayed in New Zealand without returning to England for at least 3-4 weeks to visit my family, since I emigrated in January 2005.
However, we know that time is and will continue to fly towards 2013 when we plan to be back buying another narrowboat and living on the waterways for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we aim to keep our focus very much on living in the present and enjoying family, friends and opportunities here in New Zealand, as well as working on our financial strategies to flexibly earn a modest income to support us while we're afloat and mobile.
The temperature here is now sadly beginning to drop - great news for the ski fields though who are anxiously awaiting their first big snow falls. We're going to Queenstown, the adventure city, early in August for Barry's niece's wedding, so it'll definitely be more picturesque with white mountains as a back drop. Don't hold your breath for photos of me bungy jumping though - it ain't never gonna happen!
Next Wednesday we're flying down to the capital city of Wellington as I have a workshop on Thursday. We'll be mooching around the city together on the other days, and catching up with Tom and a few friends - I'll also be enjoying Barry's niece's hen night on the Saturday night. Lots to look forward to.
Wednesday 20 October
This morning reminded me of the song lines '... bright and crisp and even'; glorious blue skies but freezing! It must've been a maximum temperature of 1 degree Celsius, my ears and nose were soon numbed into submission.
Luckily we had a long stretch of canal with no locks, so the brightness of the day made it a glorious journey. Barry kept himself busy under the cratch doing his painting and other man-job things, while I relished our final full day's cruising.
Arriving at the bottom of the Stoke Bruene seven locks, we met up with NB Gertie being moved to it's new moorings in Banbury. The owner was a lovely man, very contentedly driving his pride and joy while his much younger wife and his more elderly mate worked the locks with Barry. He told me he'd retired from the Fire Service on a good pension, and adores his lifestyle. It was great to have another boat as company, especially as Jenny, his wife, went up and started the following lock each time as Barry and the builder friend concentrated on the current lock. So all I had to do was drive and steer the boat - easier said than done on occasions, manoeuvring both boats in tightly side by side, but mostly it was fine with not too much paint loss.
We arrived at Stoke Bruene around 1500hrs, had a spot of lunch, then walked to the famous National Waterways Museum, housed in a restored corn mill, which extols 200 years of history of the canals. As the price of entrance was £4.75, and our budget was running out, only Barry got to look around!
I, meanwhile, ambled along to the entrance to Blisworth Tunnel which we'll be travelling through tomorrow - by the time Barry emerged it was too late to move through the third longest tunnel on system as we wouldn't be able to see the light at the end in the dark!
... currently used as part of the museum display
Another look at 'The Navigation and the nearby lock
Charming thatched roof with a cunning thatcher's signature - a fox chasing a sheep!
A historic venue for some working boats
A proud owner keeps this one spruced up and spotless
We took the opportunity to walk around the fascinating canal side buildings and couldn't resist a stop for a drink or two at The Boat Inn. Incredibly the pub has been owned by the same family, the Woodward's, since 1877. It was such a magnificent old world pub, really authentic, with a skittle alley, stone floors and wonderful wood panelling all around. Adorning the walls were many old photos and a framed, hand written history of the pub hanging over a coal fire. There's something about a real fire that magnetises you, and I was soon mesmerised by the flames and extremely reluctant to venture back out into the cold!
Sandra in the authentic bar with a stone floor (watch where you're standing), and a game of skittles anyone?
There's a plaque in the middle of the stone bar room floor, where strangely someone's ashes are buried, saying "Have a drink on me!" - what a wicked sense of humour!