It hasn't quite taken 12 months to complete our 2010 blog, but it's certainly come very close! We're still pondering our 'ten favourite places' of the journey and wondering if we'll actually be able to narrow it down to ten! We have decided not to have a 'top ten' as that implies that number one is superior to number ten, and we're sure we couldn't be so selective. It wasn't just the places in 2010 either, we have so many happy memories of the people we met along the way as well, even more than in 2009. Anyway, we'll get there in the near future, I just need to find some time to really consider what to put in and what to leave out ...
In the meantime spring has sprung here and our clocks have moved forward an hour, making us now 12 hours ahead of GMT. There's still a cool breeze, but the sun shines most days. Today we're off for a couple of nights to Mahia, a peninsula about an hour's drive away, where there's some of the world's most beautiful, mostly deserted, beaches . It's my birthday on Wednesday, and yesterday we celebrated the second wedding anniversary of our first wedding (read that blog post here) on the roof of Northern Pride.
Friday 29 October 2010
My daughter Kim came to stay with us for a couple of nights just before we returned to New Zealand last October, and we had a delightful day in the autumn colours around the 19th century mansion of Witley Court, a short drive away from my parents home in Ombersley, Worcestershire.
Very serene ambling along by the trees and water
Kim and Sandra enjoy their day together before we leave once again
The magnificent Witley Court gardens from the front of the ruined house
The entrance to Witley Court - it would have been a grand affair in its heyday before it was ravaged by fire
Making beauty out of disaster
The stunning Perseus and Andromeda fountain which springs into life at various times in the day
A panorama of the pristine gardens and fountain at the back of the ruined Witley Court
The grounds and building are a utopia for Barry, and we used them when we visited in 2007 on our holiday to England, having a 'photo shoot' of the Walsh family ...
Here's some of Barry's favourite spots from 2010:
Also in the grounds stands a Baroque Church, which is in use as a local Parish Church whilst welcoming visitors from around the globe ...
Kim and Sandra check out the ornate ceiling from the mirror
It's as incredible as the buildings in Rome
More autumnal scenes, it really is colourful in England in October ...
On the Friday evening, Kim, Barry and I drove into Birmingham to meet up with Lisa to say goodbye for now. Of course it also gave Barry an excuse to say his farewell to the canals in Gas Street Basin!
The Mailbox in Birmingham City Centre - a hub of illumination and activity around the canal basin
This could be a scene from the late 18th century - it's modern yet timeless on the waterways of England
Always sad to part, but also wonderful to see each other and appreciate precious time spent together
Colourful balls of light adorn the walkway to the railway station
Haere Ra, farewell for now to Lisa and then Kim - breaks my heart every time - such beautiful, amazing women I grew :-)
On Saturday we had to return the hire car to Enterprise, Northampton and catch the train back to Droitwich. Now we know about the car rental company that will collect us from the boat and take us to the premises (and they even gave us a lift to the train station!), we'll definitely be considering using their service when we're back on the canals instead of relying on public transport - it's probably cheaper and more reliable.
We flew to Sydney on Sunday 31 October and spent another couple of days with Peter, Barry's brother, before arriving back in Gisborne on 4 November, ready for the southern hemisphere summer.
As I write this at the end of September 2011, it's almost 12 months from our return to NZ, so we know it won't be too long before we're back on the canals for the foreseeable future - if all goes to plan by the northern hemisphere spring of 2013.