As the snow continues to envelop Britain, we're sitting smugly in our sunny Gisborne paradise, and I for one am thankful that we're not freezing our butts off aboard Northern Pride!
Self-timer shot on our honeymoon at Anaura Bay (if you look closely at the photos on this link you'll see Sandra sat at the table outside, taken November 2008)
Barry, on the other hand, drools over the photos of narrowboats sitting prettily in the arctic conditions and amazingly longs to experience a Northern Hemisphere winter on the canals - I suspect he'd only last through the one. Maybe someday I'll relent, but only if we had a log-burner aboard methinks!
In the meantime, we've taken the plunge and booked our return flights for mid-May til end of October 2010, via Sydney so we can visit Barry's brother and I get my first taste of Australia. All being well, we should be back aboard by 27th May ready to continue our travels, heading south.
For Barry's xmas present, I purchased a DVD on the Caldon canal from Paul Balmer of Waterways Routes, and we watched it a few nights ago. I have to admit that it was really heartening to see the canals again, and Northern Pride Pride featured briefly as we passed their boat on our way back to the potteries of Stoke in September.
Watching us watching them! Paul from Waterways Routes passing us by ...
One of the challenges we encountered towards the end of our trip last year, was with the alternator not charging our batteries. The penultimate problem was when we discovered that if we'd only saved our power the previous evening we would've been able to start the boat the day after - luckily our guardian angels were watching over us and we managed to get a jump start from two wonderful fellow narrowboaters. I wrote a story about our serendipitous experience which is being published in the Australia and New Zealand Reader's Digest next month in 'The Kindness of strangers' pages. What would've been useful are more LED lights on the boat to conserve precious power - we had two small ones available from Ikea, but they didn't really give enough light. Sarah, aka, Baddie the Pirate, emailed us recently about her business selling LED lighting for narrowboats and asked us for a plug - so here it is! We'll definitely check them out prior to our return so that we're better prepared should there be any similar concerns in the future.
So the countdown is on once again, but there's lots of hard work to be done beforehand to a) earn enough money to see us through, and b) get everything here ready to leave, such as renting our house and packing away our belongings. I love the contrast of living on land in the southern hemisphere half the year and then living on the canals and rivers of Britain the remainder of the year (and of course achieving a perpetual summer!). Realistically though, it's a very expensive lifestyle that it's unlikely we'll be able to continue after this year and will have to sell Northern Pride at the end of our journey this time :-( unless a miracle happens!