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 ...

Monday, 30 May 2011

Saturday night fever, sporadic sunshine, some sadness and a few bees! Oh and introducing 'Sanbar Canal Photography'

After many months of procrastination, I'm finally making time to work on our 'coffee table book' that Barry has put many hundreds of hours into.  It's amazing how fascinating things become when we eventually give a focus to them.  Watch this space for news of our progress ...

You may also notice that we've added a link to the ''Sanbar Canal Photography' website of Barry's stock library of stunning photography, painstakingly but lovingly put together in the past six months - so now if we're asked for a copy of a photo from the blog we can direct people to the specific link from where they can order said image!  We've had many requests in the past and have released images free gratis out of the goodness of our hearts, but we're now on a mission to return to the waterways so need to use all means available to us to realise that dream.

In between posts in the future, we may just throw in a few random 'favourite shots' for you to savour and whet your appetite ...

Sunday 17 October

It was pretty noisy around Leighton Buzzard last night, with lots of random shouting of unknown origin and location.  Probably similar to most towns in the country on a Saturday night, with teenagers roaming around looking for something to do.  I went for a walk this morning into town to see if any of the shops were open, but disappointingly hardly any were - I did however discover three broken shop windows seemingly smashed since my visit yesterday.  Ah well, such is life sadly.  I returned to Tesco to get what I'd forgotten just a day ago, then we hastily escaped the madness on our way to Milton Keynes.

It was a busy day on the canals with an abundance of boats around.  We got chatting with a family gongoozling (I know, it's not a 'real' word, but it sounds good!) at the first lock who'd had a narrowboat holiday years ago for a week on the Llangollen and loved it, they now have small children but were eager to return to boating once they're older.  Sensible people I thought, no point doing it while the offspring are young.  I'm sure it's possible, but for me I can't see the enjoyment of being on a boat constantly having to watch young children every moment, it's not supposed to be stressful!



Burnt out wreck of a poor cruiser - there's not much left of them after a fire





We then shared a few locks with a delightful couple on I think NB Shennan?  They'd just retired, having sold their house in Kent and bought a place not far from Northampton closer to their boat and were planning to spend about half of the year on board, having previously been boating for around 25 years in one form or another.  They were at Leighton Buzzard taking part in the canal cleanup. 

P1400637 NB Shennan waiting for us at Leighton Lock


We were last in but first out - very clever!


 One man and his dog, happily 'slipping away'

P1400643APassing 'The Globe Inn' pub at Linsdale


Doesn't come much nicer than this ...

P1400677 ... or as scary as this!

P1400687A Every boaters nightmare - a fishing competition

P1400688 Under Bridge 107 and into Soulbury Top Lock ...

P1400689 ... though we had to wait for a boat to come up first

P1400694 Good sized pounds between but could be fun with four 70ft boats passing

P1400701Now it's our turn into the first lock ...

P1400706 ... then into the middle lock

It was a pleasure to share some time with them, but we parted company at the third Soulbury lock to visit 'The Grand Union' pub at 'The Three Locks'.  A very pleasant place, in a fantastic position, with a rather pricey but delicious sounding menu (our budget only stretched to a home-made baguette on the boat!).  They have outdoor seating alongside the lock, and when we passed by the sun was shining brightly - by the time we'd had lunch and ventured out sadly the clouds had reformed.  Never mind, we still had a relaxing half hour chilling on a couple of large armchairs indoors, enjoying a pint of Guinness and half a Kronenberg and lime!  We know how to push the boat out, lol!


 Alongside 'The Grand Union' at The Three Locks











Time for a quick drink at 'The Grand Union' - formerly 'The Three Locks'

As we returned to the boat, low and behold the sunshine reappeared!  Typical!  We still had a fair distance to travel to get to Milton Keynes, and it was such a marvellous stretch of canal made even more pleasant by the reappearance of the sun.  It was still mightily cool, but so picturesque in the autumnal light with the leaves making a glorious display of their continually changing colours. 

I had four layers of clothes on, as well as a hat, scarf, ear warmers and gloves - unfortunately I hadn't really got any thick jumpers as surprisingly I couldn't I fit them in with the 20kg luggage allowance!  I was also determined not to buy any, as I've loads back in NZ - I'd have checked the charity shops, but they appear to be getting extortionately expensive nowadays.


 A charming setting, especially in the sunshine

P1400776A Stoke Hammond Lock thankfully in our favour

P1400780 The old narrow lock would have been where the path is now

P1400781A Sandra on lock duty - all layered up

P1400790 Exiting Stoke Hammond Lock


Stunning new-looking Dutch barge

P1400804 A smart, modern development at Fenny Stratford Basin

There were lots of herons and other birds around and many quaint villages, then arriving at the south of Water Eaton on the outskirts of Milton Keynes and all the way up on one side was rural tranquillity with urban conurbation on the other. It was as if the canal formed a boundary wall between the two.











The wildlife enjoying the sunshine while they could

P1400815 Fenny Compton Lock with a 12" drop and a swing bridge across the middle

P1400820A Fenny Stratford Lock with the 'Red Lion' pub alongside

We finally moored up just before sunset, a little short of bridge 82, not far from the proposed site of the entrance to the 'Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway'.

The evening marked the end of our final weekend on our beloved Northern Pride,so we were appreciating the time left on board.  The end of our journey in 2009 wasn't so difficult because we knew we'd be returning - this year we weren't sure when (or if) we'd be back on the cut ...

P1400826A Bridge 92 on the outskirts of Simpson

We watched 'The Secret Life of Bees' that night.  Kim had lent me the book and I'd enjoyed it, so she bought me the DVD for my birthday.  I loved the film too, though not as much as the book (doesn't that so often happen?) but Barry wasn't so enthralled.  Despite appreciating the film and book, it did leave a bitter taste as I so dislike seeing some people's racial prejudice - how can people speak to and behave towards their fellow human beings in such an appalling way, just because of the colour or their skin?  It always amazes me and makes me ashamed to be a white Caucasian.  'What the world (still) needs is a great big melting pot'.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Maybe Barry is cursed after all? Time to hibernate ...

Looking back at my my brief notes from last October, it's amazing (or maybe disgraceful?!) to think that it's taken us over seven months to publish this.  We'd promised the family we met that day we'd email them a copy of their group photo - I expect they've given up on us by now!  I think I've found their email address written hastily on a scrap of paper - I'll have to contact them and see if it's the right one ...

Since the previous blog entry, I've been away on my third 'Life Coaching' weekend with 'Life Coach Associates'.  This time we had a residential weekend in the Kauaeranga Forest Park at the Michael Stead Memorial Lodge, about 14 kms from Thames, on the spectacular Coromandel Peninsula.  It was totally inspirational - one of the things we did was to write a story of our life to date and then foresee our future - guess where Barry and I will be by 2013 if all goes to plan?

IMG_2880 The view from the Lodge - stunning native bush as far as the eye can see

It's almost winter here in New Zealand, but our temperatures during the daytime are thankfully still around 18-20 degrees Celsius - not like the middle of autumn in England last year ...

Saturday 16 October

We're very aware of the need to get moving now, with only a few days left to get close to Northampton where there's a couple of boatyards - one of which it seems will have the pleasure of selling Northern Pride for us.  Barry has a few bits to do on the boat before then, and we need to pack up our accumulated belongings ready to remove them from the boat.  We've arranged a hire car to collect us next Thursday so we can travel to my parents house close to Worcester, then at the weekend we're having a 'Walsh family' (and its extensions) weekend in the New Forest.

Last night we searched the boat for our keys, but they weren't to be found. I knew I'd put them on the shelf at the entrance earlier in the day, but they were no longer there. Barry kept asking where 'I'd' put them - reading my emails a short time later I discovered one from Carrie (thanks again!) who sent us a message via the blog - "Did you leave your keys at the waterpoint at Aylesbury by any chance?" - Barry's face broke into a guilty smile when I told him!  He suspects it's all to do with the curse from the church, lol!

Incredibly we managed to leave our mooring in Marsworth by 1000hrs, warmed slightly by the sun which was desperately trying to shine for the first time since last weekend.





An adorable thatched cottage near Marsworth




P1400407A Marsworth Lock and cottage

P1400415A You'd need to keep the vegetation trimmed here!

P1400424A The ivy must play havoc with the plaster, but it's most attractive

Arriving at the second lock which was almost empty, I saw another boat coming up with a day hire boat full of people - there must've been about nine of them.  Two guys got off, without a windlass, so I did the lock and opened gate for them.  They informed me they were 'narrowboat virgins', so we duly instructed them on the fine art of locking.  I can't believe that the hire company hadn't already done that, they obviously weren't listening!

P1400434A Boatyard at Great Seabrook


Under this beautiful bridge, past Grebe Canal Cruises ...

P1400457 ... to be confronted by a train whizzing past - 125mph versus 3mph, I know which I prefer!  About two miles further up the line is where 'The Great Train Robbery' occurred in 1963

P1400478A Lower Seabrook Lock and cottage - have to say we're a long way from the sea here

At the following lock there were more day hire boaters just leaving - we missed them on the next few then caught up and shared a lock with them.  We discovered that it was the parents' 50th wedding anniversary party cruise - what a great way to all celebrate, along with a feast of food on board.  











P1400511 Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary

After capturing their delightful family on camera, we left them to turn around and head back to the marina whilst we continued our long stretch to Leighton Buzzard with just a couple more well-spaced out locks.

Despite the promising start, it turned into a freezing cold day, but at least it remained mostly dry apart from a brief downpour at around 1230hrs.

P1400523A Simple and practical - elegantly minimalistic - no ivy to maintain on the plaster here

P1400526 Another example of two arched bridges, patiently awaiting the arrival of the second set of locks (which never materialised)

P1400537A The sun's reflections appear as sparkling diamonds on the canal - breathtaking

P1400568A Church Lock 29 at Grove

P1400578A You can see the church to the right - now a private house

P1400594 'The Grove Lock' pub coming up...

P1400598A ...and sadly slipping away into the distance!














Definitely autumnal colours now, on the trees and falling into the water

We arrived in Leighton Buzzard just after 1600hrs, stopped to stock up at Tesco's, then decided to stay overnight.  There was a BW dredger by bridge 114, and notices announcing that the moorings nearby had been 'suspended' that day, but by the time we got there the boat had already passed so we were OK. 

I took a walk into town in the hope of finding a charity shop open to look for anything 'yellow' for the quiz night my niece and nephew were organising for the family weekend - sadly I was too late, they'd all closed at 1700hrs.  Ah well, there's always tomorrow as Gloria Estefan would say!

P1400610 The annual canal clean-up was taking place as we entered Leighton Buzzard ...

P1400611 ... dragging all sorts of things out of the canal - there was even a motorbike in there somewhere


The pretty picture from our moorings by the supermarket at Leighton Buzzard

P1400615A  Downtown Leighton Buzzard with the 600 year old Market Cross














'Fire Station' and 'Post Office' are etched indelibly into these buildings - it's unlikely that either remain so today?!















The parish church with a very narrow office door - no chance of the 'sin' of gluttony entering here!


Is this another opening for a drainpipe such as those we saw on the Notre Dame?

P1400632A Some more of Barry's favourite red phone boxes!!

We had a quiet night in, and I retired to bed just after 2100hrs!  I'm not terribly keen on dark nights and coldness, it just makes me feel like hibernating - but then that's what the season of winter is all about really isn't it?  The death of the old, ready to welcome and celebrate the new life of spring.  I'll be experiencing all four seasons in 2011 for the first time in four years, but for now I'm looking forward to a fast forward to the New Zealand spring in November when we return.