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 September 2013

Great news on the visa front - and we had a red light!

I had an early birthday present on Friday when all the crossing of body parts paid off - Barry's UK visa application has been successful! Hurrah! Just under six weeks since the paperwork was sent to the sorting office, Barry received it all back, along with a visa stamp in his passport. Sadly he can't return until after 21st October, which is the date we recorded expecting he'd need time to sell his NZ business and get everything sorted there. Now he just has to complete the sale of 'ezimade' and find an available flight - we've enough points with Malaysian Airlines to fund a one way ticket.

My younger sister Viv, and her fiancee Ray, arrived on board Friday afternoon and we had a bit of a celebration of the wonderful news with their generous offering of Gin and Tonic in the evening. It's been a while since I've partaken of any spirits (of the liquid variety), and was a little worse for wear when we called Barry via Skype just after midnight. A bit of a reversal of roles, lol!

We still managed to haul ourselves out of bed at a fairly decent time on Saturday morning, my birthday, and after Lisa, Kim (who was up for the weekend) and our grandson visited the boat, we headed into Chester to walk the wall. The route passes the racecourse, and fortuitously it was the last 'Race Day' of the year. The huge crowd was blessed with a glorious sunny day - a good job as many of the women seemed to be dressed sparsely in expectation of summer, rather than early autumn. Our wanderings were interrupted for a good hour or more, as we gazed and gawped at the occasionally stunning but often incredibly skimpy and skin-tight outfits, watching the women tottering precariously on unbelievably high heels. Good fun though, and we hung around long enough to see one of the races sweep by ...

The second race of the day at 1430hrs

Age Maturity caught up with us in the early evening, and we succumbed to a little 'power nap' before getting dressed up and walking along the unlit country road to Tattenhall for a very tasty meal  in 'Thai at the Bear'.

 Lisa, Kim, Viv, Ray and Sandra

Yesterday, Sunday, we paid a visit to Beeston Castle, a few miles away from the marina. The castle itself is in ruins, but it's still magnificent. The grounds are expansive, so a great place for children to run and climb with all their excess energy. I decided to invest in joint annual membership of English Heritage so we can visit again when Barry returns, and go to Chester Castle and all sorts of places for 'free', with other attractions around UK at a good discount. Last time we had membership in 2010, we didn't get the benefit in the six months, but we'll ensure we do this time!

Quite a walk up to the castle itself, but spectacular 360 degree views from inside the castle walls

The view from the top, it's said you can see eight counties on such a clear day - Tattenhall Marina is just to the right of the centre

Another steep ascent to enter the castle

Finally we had a red light showing at the pump-out panel on Sunday morning - how timely to wait until after my birthday, and while Ray and Viv were on board. Ray said "How hard can it be?". That's the spirit! However, rather than rush to get there and back before our castle visit with Lisa and Kim, I chose to be a little more relaxed about it and do it in the afternoon. There was not a drop of wind in the morning, but guess what? When we returned to the marina things had changed! Apprehensively I got everything ready, tried to remember how to start the engine, unplugged the hook-up and switched to 'generator', put the steering pole on (always helpful!), took a very deep breath, untied the ropes and just went for it.

And do you know what? It wasn't hard at all! Not a problem, despite having to reverse to the pump-out point (for those of you who aren't familiar with narrowboats, there's no steering in reverse gear). There, pumped out and back to base within twenty minutes, or at least that's how it felt! 

Like most things in life, it's the thoughts we build up about anything that cause them to seem frightening due to our recollection of previous events, and we expect the same (or worse!) to happen. Most of the time, if we choose to take a risk and go for it, life supports us and all goes well.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A wonderfully wild weekend - and a stroke of luck

I returned to AreandAre yesterday afternoon after an uneventful journey from Hove, Brighton, back to Tattenhall - by train, underground, and bus. When it works well, the British public transportation system is fabulous - especially when you have the time to shop around for bargains!

Sadly, the pansies I'd bought from my visit at my parents and didn't make time to plant in pots, didn't survive - mainly due to the gorgeous dry weather we've had since I left the boat in the rain last Thursday! Mustn't complain though, it meant our camping weekend wasn't waterlogged.

And what a wonderful 'Into the Wild' weekend it turned out to be. I felt very 'at home' with the down-to-earth and unpretentious people who populate such fun festivals, and will definitely be doing it again while we're living here in UK - with or without Barry (I strongly suspect the latter!). I met some fascinating people, and experienced many mind shifts and awakenings, in a spiritual and soulful way. If only everyone in the world knew how to live so simply, there would be far less struggle, unhappiness and discontent.

A great happening (though I wasn't so sure at the time!) was my iPhone decided to completely 'lock' itself on the Friday evening, shortly after I took the one and only photo of the two days. Normally the battery life runs out fairly swiftly, but on this occasion it didn't until Monday lunchtime! One would imagine you could just take the battery out and re-set it - not so on an iPhone (unless there's something I don't know?); you need a special device that only phone shop people have, to do so. I was therefore forced to let go of any need for contact with anyone apart from those present at the festival - and not able to take photos but just BE there. The universe works in mysterious ways - and I was surprisingly grateful to it.

Kim expertly sets up our camping area for the weekend at dusk

I danced and sang, meditated in silence and with chanting, walked and sat by the camp fire in the woods while those around me made up songs and played a variety of instruments (until 0400hrs on Sunday morning!), went to a creative poetry and words workshop, a dying well workshop (seriously, there's ways of doing this and it's a current fascination of mine), and had an introduction to Shamanism and my 'power animals', to name just a few of the highlights (don't knock it until you've tried it!). Oh yes, and I had my face painted! It was rather amusing really. One of the entertainers had some face paints, and we'd seen lots of lovely designs on people, so Kim suggested we get ours done for some fun. He looked at Kim's face and was in awe of her beauty and said he didn't want to spoil it, just enhance it. He painted it very delicately. Then he looked at my face and said he was going to paint my wisdom. I couldn't see what he was doing, but I felt a decent amount of paint being put on. I was smiling inwardly, imagining what he'd said to Kim and how he seemed to now be almost covering my face up!

What do you think? The wise crone (almost!) and the stunning maiden :-)

It's a good job I have a sense of humour ...

Moving swiftly on, some good news! I received an email a few weeks ago informing me I'd won £500. Naturally I was a little disbelieving, but clicked on the 'accept' button as it was from a recognised source - the Avon Customer Panel, which I knew I'd done a few surveys with (one of the ways I've been spending my time to try and earn a small income). In the feedback box, I said how wonderful, so long as it wasn't a scam. I received a reply saying it was definitely NOT a scam, and I'd receive the cheque in a few weeks.  Informing Barry, I could tell from his response he didn't believe it for one second, but humoured me. So I waited until the cheque arrived, took a photo, and emailed it to him! And below is the extra proof - how about that for luck aye? You've got to be in it to win it I say - yippee! Bring it on, I'm open and ready to receive ...

I spoke with Barry this morning - no news yet about the visa. It'll be six weeks next week since it was posted, so fingers crossed. Can you all please cross something too, and the energy may just shift the application a few places in the queue.

There's almost news on the sale of the business, but nothing signed or sealed yet so I'll keep you in suspense for now.

This weekend I celebrate my birth - and I shall be surrounded by members of my family which will be lovely. My sister is driving up from Exeter, along with her partner Ray, and Kim's coming up to stay with Lisa for the weekend, so I'll get to see them and my grandson and son-in-law too.

I haven't had to move the boat to the pump-out yet, but I plan to do so in the next couple of days, rather than as a birthday treat!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Playing the waiting game ...

Two weeks have passed since my last post - and there's not a lot of progress to report! I've chatted to Barry via Skype, and apart from having a nasty cold, he's working in the shop and doing a stocktake in readiness for a possible sale (nothing definite, so watch this space), and catching up with friends and family whilst waiting to hear about his UK visa application - which has now been 'sitting' in the queue in Manilla for four weeks. The guesstimate is six to twelve weeks, so we're unlikely to hear anything for at least another two weeks in the best case scenario!

Meanwhile I'm continuing to keep myself occupied, rather than pining alone on AreandAre. I've just returned from four days supporting, and enjoying the company of, my parents in Worcestershire. Prior to that I had another lovely day with my eldest daughter and grandson. I even had a night out at the opera! Well there was an operatic medley at the medieval St Oswald's Church in Malpas, with the most beautifully melodic and powerful voices echoing through the building - such a treat, and one Barry would've hated. The only time he went to the opera was in Sydney, and he loves to regale people with the tale of how we felt he 'should' experience an opera, but before the halfway point decided he could bear it no longer and attempted to escape. Finding the exit, he was told in no uncertain terms that if he left he wouldn't be allowed back in. To which he replied "Good!", and dashed quick-smart to join his brother Peter in the pub!

So in actual fact, I'm making the most of Barry's absence and doing the things I love doing that he wouldn't. Tomorrow I'm hopping on the train in Chester and heading to Brighton to see my younger daughter Kim.  On Friday we're travelling a short distance to Lewes, and setting up camp for two nights of music, workshops, wild crafts, delicious food, talks, debate, wild walks, forages, bush crafts, yoga, dancing, meditation song and other such soulful and wild uplifting experiences at 'Into the Wild'. I've never camped at a festival before, so it's going to be such fun! The forecast seems to be fine and dry, but whatever the weather I have no doubt we'll have a magical time.

When I return next Tuesday afternoon, I'll have a few 'life coaching' days, then I have my birthday weekend to celebrate with my daughters, two of my sisters and future brother-in-law. 

I have a sneaking suspicion by the end of next week, if not before, I'm going to have to work out a way to move AreandAre to the pump-out point which could make for an exciting story in the next post !

A hot-air balloon lands at the marina last week - this is the view to the pump-out opposite our mooring (on the right of the picture). A short distance, but for me a rather scary prospect to reach!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Solitary confinement - but it's more than ok ...

"You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait, just learn to be quiet, still and solitary.
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
Franz Kafka

So I've been spending my days this week doing just that - mostly sitting at the table aboard AreandAre, learning to be quiet and waiting. 

To be honest though, it's not so bad! Sitting still and having time to reflect on our journeys this year, physically and metaphorically, is very uplifting. I can give more of my energy to my Holistic Life Coaching business, and I'm discovering all sorts of new and exciting ways of organising and marketing my service. With the move of hemispheres, all the visitors and the travelling we've done since April, I haven't really been able to do this as much as I would have liked in 2013. 

I'm one client away from gaining my Diploma - and I've made myself a goal of attracting that person before the end of September. If you know of anyone who wants support to live their life differently, to discover ways to follow their dreams, to find a new direction or focus on valuing themselves more - point them my way! Of course I don't just want one case study client! So don't worry that the slot will be filled - there's always space for supporting people to get more life in their lives.

Last week I had a wonderful time staying with my eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. We celebrated Lisa's 37th birthday with a party for friends and family - yes, I was a (very) young mum! We visited Chester Zoo on Thursday, and I spotted a CRT 'lock' publicising the waterways. Very cute, with those curly sides like they have on the Kennet and Avon.

CRT publicising the waterways at Chester Zoo 

Barry has now been gone for three and a half weeks - and until Monday I'd only spent two days on the boat! Still not a lot of time to miss him, though of course I do if/when I think about it.

Last week I got a call from Tom of NB Waiouru, saying they were moored up outside Tattenhall Marina - sadly I wasn't on board. I'm hoping they're not returning this way tomorrow or over the weekend, as I'm back at Lisa's tomorrow and have a friend visiting Saturday and Sunday.

Pam and Terry, from NB Roosters Rest, have also called to say they'll be in the vicinity later this month - again, I'll be off the boat at a weekend festival in Lewes, near Brighton, with my younger daughter.

AreandAre sitting serenely in the marina - such a fabulous setting for sunsets this week

Our nearest shops are in Tattenhall, a twenty minute walk away, so I went for an explore on Tuesday. It's a lovely village, appearing 'well-to-do' with some rather swanky houses and cars around. Two pubs (could be more but that's all I spotted), a Budgen supermarket (haven't seen one of those for years) which is definitely not cheap so I shan't be shopping there often, three hairdressers (seriously, everywhere we go in England there's an abundance of hair and beauty places - recession? What recession!), a Post Office (very useful thank you), a doctors surgery, vet, library, school and church. 

There's also the Barbour Institute which seems to be a busy little place. I took lots of leaflets from there to read up on, one of which was an over 50s Zumba class which I thought sounded fun (and a little tamer more manageable than the 'young' people's version!). Sadly, I contacted the woman who runs it to book in, and she hasn't had enough interest to keep it going.  She's possibly starting up again in two weeks. Fifty three is a bit of an in-between age I'm finding - not old, not young. We shall see, maybe I'll stick with the walking for now ...

The Barbour Institute

My best friends at the moment are three mallards who visit every morning at breakfast time without fail for a slice of wholemeal bread, and yesterday I was honoured with a family of teenage cygnets who would've come on board and helped themselves if they could! I've not mastered the art of feeding swans by hand, as Barry does with absolutely no fear. He tells me they have no teeth and it just feels strange - and I believe him, really I do, but ... 

Talking of Barry, he's back in Gisborne after visiting his daughter in Hamilton, being privileged to attend his son's graduation in Wellington and his 23rd birthday, and now is back in his shop 'ezimade' this week, while Adrienne, who's been managing the business, takes a very well deserved week off. The UK spousal sponsored visa application is sitting in a queue, and we don't expect to hear anything until October really - six to twelve weeks is the normal waiting time.

As a lone (albeit stationary) boater, I've managed to fill up with water, we should have enough diesel and gas to last until he returns, it'll just be the pump-out that will be the challenge! We're moored directly opposite the pump-out at the Marina, so 'all' I have to do is get the boat there. It surely can't be that difficult!  I shall let you know in a future blog.