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 ...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sandra plays her cards right after Barry's birthday, and aspirations for a happy Xmas

We returned to Areandare last Tuesday evening, after spending another few days with my parents, and Barry's short trip to Brighton to catch up with his mate Dickie and meet Ray for the first time. Barry spent just 46 hours on the south coast, as Dickie was leaving for a work trip to Southampton. I'm not sure he would've coped with any longer - certainly our meagre personal allowances wouldn't support any more outrageous Guinness drinking! The sustenance of the two days was very much of the liquid, not solid, variety ...

Barry, Dickie and Ray (NB Stronghold)

Back in Droitwich, we unfortunately discovered our hired car had been deeply scraped on the passenger door handle whilst parked, we assume, in 'Morrison's' car park. We choose never to partake of the offered 'extra' insurance by Enterprise to reduce the potential excess of £750, as we figure the odds are very much in our favour. I've only ever, in 36 years of driving, had one car accident - and that was when someone ploughed into my rear end when I was stationary at a traffic island. We reckon on the balance of probabilities, we'll still save money in the long-run, as we hire cars every month or two. This year we'll have hired six times since March, so if the extra is around £10 a day (can't recall how much!), it would've cost us heaps more and saved us nothing. The door handle repair cost £134.

It's all a gamble really isn't it, this insurance lark? We have a car booked over xmas and NY, so we're hoping the weather remains as unseasonably mild as it's been lately! The cold snap that's been forecast for weeks has yet to materialise, in Cheshire at least - yet another case of what I perceive to be the mass negativity propaganda of the British media.

Last Friday was Barry's 58th birthday, only his second winter one, the first being his 21st in 1976! He's more used to a summer celebration, with a BBQ and party with friends in the long, light evening of New Zealand. He's more than happy though, and enjoyed a good old British breakfast to start the day, and a traditional British pub to end it.

In the afternoon we had a stroll into Tattenhall, where we popped into the church to see the decorations and check out the ambience (we may not be 'believers', but there's something very warm and welcoming about British churches I find) and were greeted with 'messy church', a cup of tea and biscuit (love Tattenhall people!), and a sing along with guitar for some village children. Then it was time for a few pints in the warm and cosy 'Letters Inn'. We were invited to join some locals in the corner, chatting amiably to them for a couple of hours, before being offered a lift back to the Marina in a retired farmer's Mercedes. There's not many places where that would happen - a wonderful day.

Barry and his new mate Keith, snug in the corner

My sister Kath joined us on Saturday, so we took her on our hour-long circuit walk along the canal and then back around the country lanes.

In the evening we were happily surprised to discover that fate decided we weren't to miss Scott's bar 'Play Your Cards Right' while we were away. I won £49 by being the only person of about 25 present to make it twice through the board amidst calls of "Higher", "Lower", etc, and amazingly not a single pair ("You get nothing for a pair"). With that and my recent £500 win with the Avon Consumer panel, I'm confident 2014 is going to be a financially successful year for us.

Kath and Barry walk towards the setting sun

Barry gets into Beeston Castle on his second attempt, making the most of Kath's car on Sunday

Talking of finances, I'd forgotten quite how crazy the Christmas madness becomes in UK, this being my first one for nine years.  As we choose not to possess a TV, we aren't subjected to the persistent advertising frenzy (apart from via social media which is bad enough!), but we do experience it at my mum and dad's. It really has got out of hand IMHO.

I'm very conscious of contrasts between xmas in UK and NZ. In the southern hemisphere it's the season of long, warm, sunny days, so not many decorations are needed or noticed - the days tend towards being naturally gorgeous, bright and cheerful! However, in June and July, there's little to brighten up the days, and I remember thinking they could do with something similar there then! But definitely not with all the commercialism that seems to be paramount here.

I do love to see the xmas lights in UK though, in the houses and shops. What I don't love is the potential for so many people to verge towards being sadder than ever at this time of year, when they may feel as though their lives aren't filled with as much love and comfort as others. People who are alone, people who are homeless, people who are abused, for instance.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I aspire to 
  • keep it all in perspective
  • enjoy the things about the festive season that bring joy to people
  • appreciate that spending money we don't have, on stuff we or others don't need, is not great for us individually or collectively
  • look around and see who could do with a bit more love, and our presence, rather than presents

More xmas aspirations and possibilities for seasonal cheer spreading in the next post ...


  1. Have you tried I have an annual policy with them for £39.99 that covers car hire excess. With you renting so often it might be worthwhile.

    1. Hi Andy - that sounds ideal, never knew of the existence of such a thing. Isn't blogging fabulous, a great way to share information. Thank you! I'll chat with Barry and check it out, sounds like the ideal happy medium.

  2. Sandra, it might be the same one Andy mentions but I heard of one that can cover up to nine people on the policy. We were thinking of sharing with other couples in the marina.
    Elly x

    1. Hi Elly, yep, that's the same one. We've bought it commencing with our next hire on 24th December for one year so we'll see how it goes. I don't mind spending 39.99 and never using it, but I do resent paying 10 pounds a day each time 'just in case'. Not sure if you can share the policy with others in the marina, it read 9 other potential drivers of the car you hire - but if you can go for it! ;-)

  3. Great to see the pic of The Three Muketeers. What a great time we had in The Rottingdean Club. It's still mentioned to this day! I opened Waterways World earlier this week and was greeted by Barry's mug shot and your beautiful smile Sandra, and there are no credits to either of you - shame. Who are the other couple?

    Have a Very Happy Christmas.

    Ray on the Wey

    1. Hi Ray, yes Barry has very fond memories too! Must've been the amount of Guinness drunk, amazing you can all remember lol!

      The WW photos were supplied to complement the article, we were surprised to see us staring back again too! If you look closely it does say 'Barry Teutenberg' along the side. The other couple are our kiwi friends, Rivka and Richard, who were visiting us while on a UK holiday.

      You too have a wonderful festive season, and maybe I'll finally meet you in 2014?