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 ...

Sunday 31 May 2009

Another hot day on 'my' island ...

Yes, sorry to those reading in NZ where it’s blooming cold right now, but it has been another glorious, hot day here in the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s my final evening on Northern Pride without Barry. It’s been very surreal to be on the boat alone, but in many ways has also been quite cathartic and somehow empowering to be by myself for a while. But six days of solitude (the other 2 days were at my parents) is sufficient I think! I’ve read 2 Paulo Coelho books – 'The Pilgrimage' and 'The Zahir' – both good reads though I enjoyed The Zahir the most; I’ve completed a module of my comprehensive writing course and one for my editing and proofreading course; I’ve taken the bags of household bits and pieces that were on the boat when we bought it but don’t ‘fit’ with us to the cancer charity shop in town; I’ve got to know most of the nooks and crannies of Evesham (what a lovely place it is – we may return for our English wedding ceremony in August!); and I’ve entertained 2 of my lovely 3 sisters!

Tomorrow the boat will be travelling up to the Marina – there may be some photos on tomorrow’s blog about any mishaps along the way, but fingers crossed all will be plain sailing! Bless Bob, he’s also giving me a lift to my parents tomorrow so that saves me from getting the train. There really is a law of Karma – what you give is what you get returned …

Is anyone reading this – do please tick any of the boxes at the bottom or make a comment, although the statistics say that 181 people have logged on in the past 7 days, no-one has made any comments for days and I feel as though I am talking to myself!!! Even if you just tick ‘rubbish’, at least I’ll know you’re there!

Roll on 9 June – I think we may make it one of our anniversaries – ‘The Day Barry Returned to the Boat’!!!!

Something I’d like to share with anyone who's reading (especially Barry and his friends and family) that had a profound effect on me earlier reading The Zahir follows, It’s called ‘Consoada by Manuel Bandeira (a Brazilian poet – hope I don’t need permission to print?!):

When the unwanted guest arrives …
I might be afraid.
I might smile or say:
My day was good, let night fall.
You will find the fields ploughed, the house clean, the table set,
And everything in it's place.
Barry will think I'm crazy as per normal, but that's OK.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Seven days down, ten to go...

It's been another glorious summers day – though I think summer doesn’t ‘officially’ begin until Monday. Such a shame that Barry isn’t here to enjoy England in the sunshine, let’s hope this decent spell lasts for the next few weeks.

Hurrah! The internet has 'allowed' me to publish a few photos this evening without too much hassle for once!
Me and Ray 'at the helm' - quite safe though, no engine running and all tied up! Note the pansies in bloom Barry xx
Me and Viv on the boat - looking very tidy I might add! (the boat that is!)
On 'my' island where we had dinner and then played cards - round ones! Oh yes, and a glass of wine or two... And note the geese in the background to Viv's discomfort!

Bob phoned and asked me out to dinner last night - for those of you wondering, Bob is a friend of the people who we gave a hand to in the locks coming into Evesham, and who's going to help me drive Northern Pride to the Marina on Monday. I was a little uncertain going out with someone who is, after all, a relative stranger, but as Barry had asked just that morning whether I had yet gone to the rowing club with him I thought he wouldn’t mind (he's so totally NOT the jealous type bless him). We had a pleasant evening at the Bridge Inn at Offenham, just up the river, and I was safely back on board the boat (alone) by 10pm. I did feel a little vulnerable, something most men never experience and find difficult to understand I think!

Not a lot else to report really. Just chilling on the boat; walking into Evesham and pottering around the shops (they have a huge NEXT store just out of town that I had to visit today, not letting on if I bought anything or not!); reading books; going on-line checking the blog & stats, hotmail and facebook; eating and drinking (have treated myself to some Pimms this evening, so having Pimms and Lemonade, mmm..); and of course sleeping (have had a couple of afternoon naps these past few days, bliss!); and generally reflecting on where we are and where we’ve been. It’s actually quite a luxury to just ‘be’ for a while, I do feel tremendously lucky. So many folks are trapped in the busy world of work and don’t get much time off – I remember it well!

It’s still very pleasant here on the island, the goslings have apparently gone to their nursery above the weir - they only stay on the island for the first 2-3 days after hatching, so I haven’t been able to catch any more glimpses of them.

I tried to book a ‘ghost tour’ of Evesham for tomorrow evening, it sounded like a fun thing to do, but unfortunately it was all fully booked. They're only held on a Thursday or Sunday evening, so that’s out now, shame…
Missing Barry heaps, but a week has already passed so only 10 days to go and he should be back, depending on how things are in NZ. It'll be so good to have him back on board and be on the move again, seeing the sights along the way and meeting new people - and of course publishing a more interesting blog with Barry's fabulous photo's!!!!

Friday 29 May 2009

Back on board for a few days...

Back on board now after a lovely couple of days with my parents and my sister Linda. We found some very smart material for curtains, now I just have to make them! It’s years since I did any sewing, I'm going to have to contact my oldest sister who has the know-how and also, most importantly, the sewing machine!! The boat will look so different once the flowery curtains are down, but I’m not giving any information away about what the new ones will be like – there’ll be a photo on once they are hanging up!

We also went to see Star Trek at the movies, not a bad film, lots of good special effects and great casting.

Yesterday another of my sisters, Viv, and her friend Ray, drove up from Bath to my mums and then brought me back to the boat in the evening. We went for a few drinks at The Swanne Inne in Evesham ( I have to say I’m not terribly impressed with any of the pubs here, not the nicest ones we’ve found!) and then back to the boat for some dinner, a drink or two and a game of cards sitting on the island on a very balmy summers evening.

Joining us for the evening were the island's new goose parents and their two goslings – they are soooo cute! They're just 3 days old and are a little green in colour and ability at the moment. They were unsteady on their feet and kept falling over and doing gambols, very amusing to watch! As the night grew darker we were also joined by a number of low flying bats, so Viv and I decided it was time to return to the boat!

Northern Pride is booked in to have its bottom blacked, its central heating system serviced, and its Boat Safety Certificate done next Monday - it will take most of the week to get it all done I'm told. Bob is going to come and help me to drive it to the Marina, thank goodness! I'll be curtain making after that; then may reward myself with a fun weekend in Exeter for my nephew’s 21st - so long as I can leave the boat at the Marina or return it to the lock.

I tried to get a few photo's on tonight, but no luck - the internet coverage is very poor...

Wednesday 27 May 2009

A wet day in Worcester

At mum and dad’s now in Ombersley and had a much longed for bath last night! The internet coverage is much faster here so I thought I’d try and upload a few of the photos from Evesham that I wasn’t able to get on previously...

Evesham Lock House, on the other side of my island - apparantly the most photographed building on the canal network. Unfortunately it's condemned and uninhabitable due to the last flood and is going to be demolished and re-built

The lock keepers cat comes to sniff around the boat, and the geese on the island

It’s pouring with rain today, though still quite warm, so my sister and I are going on a shopping trip to Worcester and hopefully we’ll find some material to make some new curtains from Northern Pride – the flowery ones just have to go! I think we’re also going to see the movie Star Treck.

Watched TV last night for the first time in weeks, ‘Have I got news for you?’ was very funny, but boy the news is dismal isn’t it? Why on earth do people feel compelled to watch it and then feel miserable about all sorts of things that they can do nothing about? We had a TV on the boat, but we put it in the cupboard under the steps and there it will stay!

Have had a chat with Bob and he should be able to help me to drive the boat up to the Marina next week, so that’s a relief! The Marina called and the boat will be going to have its bottom blacked on Monday.

It’s very strange being in a house and having so much room - it's really very cosy on board ur little boat, but I think I'd go a bit crazy if I stayed on the boat alone for two and a half weeks!

Monday 25 May 2009

A quiet day on the island

A quiet, reflective day, spent mostly in solitude. Spoke with Barry this morning at his mum’s in Gisborne, he’d had 4 hours of sleep since I left him on Saturday morning, but was still able to crack jokes and make me laugh bless him.

I completed a module of my comprehensive writing course that I’ve been procrastinating about for months (you’ll be pleased to hear Barry!), and went to the Co-op for some provisions for tomorrow’s lunch. My mum, dad, sister and niece are coming to visit, then I shall leave Northern Pride secured with the lock keeper for a couple of nights and go and have a relaxing bath, mow my hairy legs with the epilady (gross!) and straighten my hair for once – bliss! I’ll also get a few loads of washing done, yahoo!

It’s an odd feeling living on land after spending time on a narrowboat; you feel as though you’re still rocking around on the water! It’ll be good to have some company for a couple of days though.

My company today has been a narrowboat moored up next to me this morning with a German couple on board, and a cruiser this evening with an English couple on who were also here 2 nights ago. I don’t have the gift of the gab that Barry has, so haven’t really struck up any meaningful conversations with any of them, just a polite hello. Of course there’s also the many geese around who ‘bark’ at all hours of the day and night and are still coming round to call on Barry who fed them left over Yorkshire Pudding the night before he left!! Then there’s the lock keepers cat that comes to the window every now and then to look in, and jumped on board for a sniff around! I took photo's of the animal companions but for the life of me can't get them to load - I'm giving up to watch a DVD!

So no blogging for a couple of days, should be back on board Thursday…

Sunday 24 May 2009

A lovely sunny summers day, despite the clouds on the horizon...

My mooring

All things considered, I’ve had a lovely day. I spent most of this morning writing the blog and getting the photos Barry took before he left uploaded; our internet coverage here isn’t the greatest so it takes some time to do. Strangely enough I have plenty of time for that now, lack of time is the least of my problems!! The sky's been blue, the sun's been shining, and it must've been over 20 degrees today - a rare event indeed!

After lunch I spent some time sunbathing on the roof of the boat – what bliss! Then some exercise was called for before I turn into a blob, so I took a walk into town and then ambled along by the river where the bandstand was hosting a brass band playing to hordes of people sitting on the grass, and children playing in their parks and water fountains. Very pleasant, what a neat little town this is. It reminds me of Gisborne in some ways - a street market yesterday very much like the Farmers Market on a Saturday back home, and the band playing in the outdoors on a Sunday afternoon similar to Friday evenings by the River in Gisborne during the summer months.
The brass band played tiddly um pom pom!

Still warm this evening and Barry has arrived safely in New Zealand - how bizarre that he will be a blog reader in New Zealand now rather than a contributor from England!

Evening on the river opposite the mooring - a hot air balloon drifts slowly by

Saturday 23 May 2009

Marooned in Evesham for the forseeable future...

Photo's from Thursday...

One of the Mill Houses along the way

Another Mill House

Doubling up to share the load - unusual diamond shape at Wyre Lock

A house on stilts to that it doesn't float away in future floods!

Another very swanky house on the Avon

A fabulous thatched roof

Coming into Evesham, lots of private moorings for cruisers - mostly with 'floating pontoons' in case the river level rises so the boats rise accordingly

Riverboat trips on the Avon

Hampton cable ferry, just outside of Evesham (it's manual!)

Some swan shots...

All swans are the property of the Queen of England and have a tag on them

Such elegant and graceful birds

And the cygnets are just the cutest things you can imagine!!

No ugly ducklings here

Thursday night in Evesham: The trees by the river with pretty green lights - our narrowboat is behind the one with lights on!!!

The Bell Tower in Evesham at night

Thursday evening out for a curry

Barry trying the hottest curry they had - still not quite hot enough!!!

Friday 22 May
We went for a walk to Evesham Lock to see the Lock-keeper to check out possible moorings. Lovely man and his wife living there, who are happy for us to moor up by the lock on a little island, close to the weir, for 3 pounds a night. If I want to leave the boat they will look after it, just costs another pound a night. Hurrah! I can think of much worse places to be stranded in!

We then looked at booking Barry’s flight back to NZ and were advised to go to a Travel Agent who specialised in Australia and New Zealand. We did give them a go, but their prices were so high we politely made excuses and left, and booked the flight on the internet from the boat for tomorrow afternoon. I'm surprised travel agents haven't gone out of business yet, it's so much cheaper and easier to book on-line!

We then took the boat up to Evesham Marina and filled up with water and pumped out you know what! I'm going to have to try not to empty one or fill the other over the next 2-3 weeks while Barry is away! We also managed to arrange for the boat’s bottom to be blacked, and its central heating system – a ‘Wobaster’ – to be serviced; as well as getting the safety certificate sorted. That should, with a bit of luck, all get done the week after next. The only challenge now is how on earth I'm going to drive the boat from its mooring, through the lock, then up the river to the Marina! I think I shall be calling on our new-found friend Bob who's said I can call him for anything while I’m here, to see if he has any ideas. The only certainty is that I shan't be travelling alone or the boat is likely to be permanently beached somewhere and I'll have had a stroke with the stress of it!!!

So we spent the day getting everything organised on the boat before Barry leaves me alone. That’ll teach me to say that I was never going to be alone on the boat previously!

We went into Evesham in the late evening for a drink, but the pubs were mostly full of youngsters, not like the quaint little country pubs that we love. But Evesham is a lovely little place.

Our initial mooring in Evesham, Thursday night

One of the riverside walks

Evesham town across the river

Sandra looking very serious on the computer, trying to get internet coverage - OMG! look at that lovely boat hair!!!

Saturday 23 May
Barry left on the train at 1027 to catch the 1615 flight to Los Angeles and then on to Auckland and Gisborne, arriving in Gisborne at 0845 Monday morning, 2145hrs Sunday evening UK time. Very sad to see him go, but it’s good that we have managed to organise it so that he can spend some quality time with his dad along with other members of his family.

The blog may be written from 2 Hemispheres for a couple of weeks, not sure how it will work! Obviously there won’t be any of Barry’s gorgeous photos, apart from the ones he took before he left that I have to try and get on. But there will still be notes from me, and the occasional photo!

It’s a strange feeling being on my own on the boat, I’ve spent the day walking around Evesham and then cleaning and tidying just to keep myself busy. The sun has been shining, a beautiful English summers day, typical isn’t it now that Barry has left the country!!!

Thursday 21 May 2009

"What a bugger!"

Tuesday 19 May
A very wet and windy day in Tewkesbury. Barry spent the morning pulling piping and taps off the basin in the bathroom and the shower outlet as there were a few leaks. He found a good hardware store in town for his bits and pieces, his handyman skills are all being put to good use, no slacking here!

We stayed moored up by the bridge until late afternoon when the sun came out, and rather than pay another £3 for a night’s stay, we travelled up to the Marina to fill up with diesel and water and then on to Eckington.

There aren’t many moorings along the rivers, very different to the canals, and at Eckington there was only room for 2 narrowboats. Luckily we were the only boat wanting a berth for the night, we’re not sure how boaters manage during high season? I felt quite isolated being the only narrowboat moored in a place that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, but close by a frequently used by young people car park! But all was well, and we were still moored up Wednesday morning…

Leaving Tewksbury
The River goes underneath the M5 - frequently travelled on my way down South
Lovely bridge at Eckington

Dusk light on the river, beautiful

Our isolated mooring...

Wednesday 20 May
Not the best of days, we received a phone call from NZ with some bad news that may mean Barry has to return in the near future for a couple of weeks. We think our travel insurance will cover a trip back, so that’s good news, but heaven knows what we will do with the boat if it comes to that. We will be looking at seeing if a Marina can give us a mooring for a few weeks. There is NO WAY I am going to be travelling anywhere alone on a narrowboat.

The locks on the river are infinitely more scary than those on the canals we have experienced so far, they're huge and would fit at least 2 boats in them and the lock bridges are so heavy I find it really difficult to open them. And when the lock gates are opened the boat moves all over the place so has to be tied up fore and aft (I know what that means now!), though Barry did decide in one lock that he really didn't need to do that but could just hold the middle rope - not a good idea Barry, the poor little boat didn't like it all, go on, admit that you were wrong!!! Take me back to the canals soon…

Anyway, we had a walk into Eckington, another very pretty little village with lots of black and white thatched cottages. Some very large homes, I think it may be a rather priviledged place to live! We had a drink in the Anchor Inn where they had a pensioners special for lunch ₤3.75 – I must tell my parents as they are always looking for a bargain, especially my mum so she doesn’t have to cook bless her! The pub was filled with pensioners getting their money’s worth, and Barry had a pint of ‘Piddle Down Under’ – one of the many ‘Piddle’ Real Ales from Wyre Piddle! I tried one of the local ciders, very nice.

One of the many thatched cottages in Eckington

Another one...

Amazing work on the windows

We left up the River Avon early afternoon and cruised up to Pershore. The evening was spent sitting on the path by the river (is it still a towpath? I think not, but not sure what it’s called! A riverpath maybe?!) in the setting sun. It’s been a lovely day weather wise, which makes a change lately and I think is just one day out of many as the forecast is for rain once more tomorrow. We were anxious to know what was happening on the other side of the world...

Great Comberton Church

'Parson's Folly' at the top of Bredon Hill, built by an 18th century eccentric so that he could stand 1,000 ft above sea level!

Another amazing riverside home

Pershore Great Bridge (400 years old) and Pershore New Bridge

A ttree full of mistletoe - not birds nests!

A collection of shots of the local wildlife spotted along the riverbank...

We were not sure what the next few days would bring, our plans would be altered somewhat, but that's life…

Thursday 21 May
Not good news, Barry will be going back to NZ for a couple of weeks due to family illness so we have to find a mooring for me and the boat. Luckily I spoke with our travel insurance and they'll reimberse us for his trip - fingers crossed some red tape doesn't decide otherwise, but no matter, it's only money.

So we've travelled further than we were planning up the River Avon and arrived this evening in Evesham where we're hoping to get somewhere at the Marina here. At the same time we may be able to get the boat's bottom blacked so that we can use the static time usefully. We met some lovely people on a barge coming up the river who may know someone, who knows someone, who may be able to pull some strings…

More horrid huge locks, though we did share the work with other boats along the way so not as bad as just the two of us!

We're off out in to Evesham tonight, I just can’t be bothered to cook. Life is strange with its twists and turns isn’t it? Barry lives the whole of his life in one small city in NZ, apart from 6 months in UK in 1976, and 6 weeks after he finally leaves for a 6 month sojourn his world is turned upside down once more. As I said, one never knows what the next day will bring…