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 ...

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Ambled along to Atherstone

Barry's so naughty!!! Lol! What's been happening lately is that I write the blog on and off during the day as he's taking his photos. Then in the evening, if we have internet coverage, he’ll do whatever he does with his shots and uploads the ones he wants on. At the beginning of our journeys on the canals I would then re-look at the day’s entry, edit it and add in the captions to the pictures. Silly me – now I let him do the captions as most days he’s up until the wee small hours doing his thing and getting it all sorted – it's a bit of a nightmare getting everything to go where we want it to and can take ages. We’re not sure if we’re just sad spending so much time on it, but it gives us some really special memories of our time here as well as informing our family, friends and anyone else who’s logged on what we are up to.

So this morning when my daughter texted and made a comment about the 'dumplings' photo I thought she was being silly – 'till I realised he'd actually put that on as a caption – he’s just too cheeky! Ah well, it’s all in good fun. I never know until the next day what he’s put on the daft bugger!

Today he went for a long bike ride around Hartshill and got a puncture, luckily it was towards the end of his adventure so he didn’t have to walk with the bike for too long. We didn't travel far on the boat today as we needed to get supplies from the nearest town, which was Atherstone.

He’s trying to learn some English ‘ways’ of speaking and his latest is the saying ‘y’alright?” He can’t quite get it and has found it difficult to understand why people don’t say “Are you alright?” And he finds it a challenge not to answer back – “Well actually, now you ask, no I’m not. I’ve a bit of a bad back and my feet are starting to throb because I’ve been on the bike and then standing driving the boat all day. How about you?” He also can’t help but use an inflection at the end of the rhetorical question, rather than the British way of saying it and the tone of voice lowering! Most kiwi sentences end with a question mark for some reason; it’s just the way it is. Anyway, he’s practicing on everyone now, so watch out if we come into contact with you!

We’ve heard that the weather in Gisborne is terrible, very wet and flooding with schools shutting and homes being evacuated. So we’re hoping our little house is OK and that our belongings stored under the house aren’t now under water!!

We had a call today from a friend of Barry’s, Fred, who lived in Gisborne fro a while many years ago and now normally lives in Sheffield but is in Birmingham for a conference. So Barry's caught the train from just up the road of our mooring in Atherstone, to go and see him and he'll stay there the night (watch out Birmingham!). Meanwhile my friend from Nuneaton, Diane who I worked with when I had a job with the Department of Health in England doing midwfery recruitment and retention, is coming to dinner on the boat. So we both get a night to catch up with friends which is very cool.

No photo’s tonight though, Barry will put today’s ones on tomorrow morning, as long as he finds his way back to the boat!!

Monday 29 June 2009

Up shit creek without a piddle!

One of the problems of living on a narrowboat is that you have to rely on services such as pump-outs. Our toilet had a red 'full' light showing on Saturday night, and the pump-out at Coventry needs a British Waterways token to work – ours was unfortunately empty so we were a little stuck! We had to cross our fingers (and legs!) that we would find a pump-out as soon as possible once we had got up the Coventry canal or things were going to get very messy!!

Our mooring in Coventry - very quiet, only ever two other boats there

They're trying their best to make the place look good, but it's still Coventry!

Signpost at the basin

One of only two statues of James Brindley, father of the canal system. He started building the Coventry Canal in 1769, the same year Captain Cook discovered New Zealand

Pigeon holes along the front of one of the warehouses - very thoughtfull

Cogs from a two hundred year old crane at the basin

Reflection contrast between the old and the ugly

The clock tower

Weigh bridge

A neighbour for the second night - Dutch hirers I think!

On the way out of Coventry we found the bit of Graffitti mentioned the other day. Got the name wrong, it was 'Jill Edwoods'

A boat with what looked like a rabbit hutch or chicken coop!!

A boatyard/junkyard at Charity Dock. The sign on the boat says slow down, "I don't think so..."

To our enormous relief, we found a pump-out at Nuneaton; a very friendly place called ‘Star Line Boats’, and not too bad a price at £14. We had a good chat with the two chaps there who told us about how the narrowboat building industry is literally ‘going to the dogs’ due to the recession here and they have had to lay off 30 of their workers – very sad.

Star Line Boats
The canal from Nuneaton onwards goes through some pretty countryside, and we stopped for the evening near a pub – we haven’t found a supermarket anywhere close to the canal for a few days, and we're running out of supplies so decided to to have a treat and eat and drink out for a change! The weather's been lovely and hot (very happy that I managed to get 4 strapless tops and 2 dresses for less than £22 at Primark this morning – what a bargain!!), and remains humid this evening so we're making the most of it.

Remains of an old telegraph system
We had a good meal at The Anchor Inn just outside of Atherstone, a little place called Hartshill - £2.99 for a chicken curry and rice, £3.99 for a lamb burger and chips, possibly cheaper than cooking yourself! And a lovely little place, with very friendly staff for a change - always a bonus in England!
Amazed at the prices, good beer too - Everard's 'Original' bitter

The beer's working, Sandra's getting blurry

Not many chances getting photos together so you have to make the most of the opportunities

Dessert - Chocolate eclairs, ice cream & two dumplings!

Outside the pub

Another 'photo together' opportunity. The road mirror at the quarry over the canal from the pub

Northern Pride at the far end, by the disused railway bridge
Lovely mooring, until 6am this morning when the quarry rock crunching machines started!

Sunday 28 June 2009

Awayday to Oxford

A lovely day spent with my daughter Kim and catching up with friends I haven’t seen for many years. And of course Barry got to see Oxford and take some more cool photos.
We managed to wake up, get ready and leave the boat on time to get the train at 0925, but then got a little ambitious and walked a different way to the Train Station and got a little lost! After a bit of a panic and a sprint once we asked directions, we arrived in time to pick up our tickets and catch the train – phew! Our special offer of £18 each return was only if we caught that particular train, so the heat was on. Our next getting lost was in Oxford.
I called my friend Lesley for directions, but we must’ve taken a wrong turn before we’d got 100 yards and Mark, her husband, came to find us on his bicycle. A very pleasant walk along the canal in Oxford and 10 minutes later we were with Lesley. Fabulous to see her again, we worked together at The Royal Free in London when I initially returned from New Zealand in 2001. Kim joined us just after 12, looking gorgeous as usual, and we made our way into Oxford, guided thankfully by Mark’s map so we wouldn’t get lost for a third time!

Kim, Sandra & Lesley

Barry, Sandra, Lesley & Mark

Lesley & Mark's back garden

Apartments along the canal walk back into Oxford town

Some brightly coloured flowers beside the towpath

We found a boat for Kim!

A hot Sunday in Oxford is going to be busy!

Beautiful buildings everywhere
We walked through Oxford to Christ Church Meadows and sat by the river for a picnic lunch. It’s been a beautiful, warm and sunny day, though very humid. There we met up with Sarah, another previous midwifery colleague from my time in Birmingham, and had a catch up on what she's been up to – sadly we missed the opportunity to take a photo which is a shame.

Christ Church College main entrance

Kim and Sandra entering Christ Church Gardens

The side entrance

People and geese everywhere
He has that Oxford look of intelligence

This guy doesn't though, swam across the Thames and back.

All sorts of craft out boating
We then had a scout around Oxford and saw some amazing buildings, with the sky at one stage looking like the one in the film ‘Ghost Busters’ when they were on the top of the building at the end – very surreal and spooky! Feeling rather hot and sticky, we then found a pub along a little alleyway and had a jug of Pimms and Lemonade, very refreshing!

Now for a look around the town!

Lovely church tower through Christ Church Meadows

Ivy covered building. 'Please keep off the grass!'

Sandra cheered and clapped when a girl came out to bat. Bowled out on the first ball!

A bit Gothic looking

Even a simple clock tower has to be over the top

Oxford is the city of spires, they're everywhere

Gargoyles of all shapes and sizes along the rooflines

The bridge of sighs

You have to go through a tiny alleyway to find this pub, we found it by chance. It was really busy, apparently a famous Oxford drinking tavern

The Radcliffe Camera, (the word means simply "room") was built 1737-1749.
Originally a library to house both scientific and general books
Now a reading room for the library

The spires of 'All Souls College'

'All Souls College' from the main entrance. Definately keep off the grass

The main gate

University Church of St Mary The Virgin
Later on, Kim persuaded us to try some ‘KrisyKreme Doughnuts’ – a recent phenomenon from guess where? Of course, The U S of A! Ah well, I haven’t had a doughnut for years and I’m sure I’ll work it off on locks over the coming weeks! The cafe was by Oxford Castle, where there is also a hotel that used to be a prison and the rooms are the previous cells which must be amazing, though it looked terribly expensive! ( It was great to see Kim, even for a short while, I wish we could see each other more frequently.

Oxford Castle

Goodness knows what this building is!

Around 5.45 we returned to Lesley's where Kim had parked her car, and had a glass of New Zealand Montana Sauvignon Blanc - very nice! It was hard to leave, still so much to chat about in the world of midwfery - poor Kim, she used to get stuck with me and 'muddles' of midwives (what do you call a collection of midwives??) who don't stop talking when she was growing up, it must be so very boring to have to listen to passionate midwives who want to change the world all the time!! I'm pretty certain that I've learnt now (after 22 years!) that I can't change that world, but it still pulls me in when I get together with like-minded souls.

The walk back to Lesley & Mark's along the Oxford Canal

Sadly we won't come along this stretch on our journey

The front of 'The Crescent', the building where Lesley & Mark live

We managed to leave with just enough time to get to the Station for our return journey and arrived back to the Canal Basin to find that Northern Pride had survived the day in Coventry without us – it looked as though it had rained heavily here but we missed it in Oxford.
I’m going to go for a visit to Primark in Coventry tomorrow; a very cheap clothing chain store found in most towns in England. With all this gorgeous weather I want to try and find a couple of strapless tops to wear on sunny days so I can get a suntan whilst driving the boat but not have strap marks! Once that’s done, we’ll be heading out of Coventry – back along the detritus strewn canal and up towards Nuneaton where I’ll hopefully catch up with another friend! We have a list of people around England that Barry and/or I know and we’d like to meet up with as many of them as possible during our time here, as well as spending quality time with family whenever possible.