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 ...

Thursday 25 February 2010

Northern Pride and the kindness of strangers

Barry has started his first 'proper' job after selling his photography business in September 2008, and is working for Montana wines running the centrifugal CT6 separation system (!!) which separates the water from the grape juice for the production of low alcohol wines (are you with me so far?!).  This machine is designed to spin the grape juice under heat, in a vacuum, to separate water from the juice.  A part of this process will be low in alcohol and used for cheaper wines and grape juices, whilst the remaining, more concentrated part, will be used in higher alcohol production.  Those in the know will understand that more sugar in grapes = more alcohol in wine, and it's imperative to get the timing right to harvest the grapes.  During the process more sugar may be added, but it's considered cheating and definitely frowned upon in the winemaking industry which is such an inherent part of New Zealand culture!  Another way to increase the alcohol content (so Barry reliably informs me) is to use lower 'brix' grapes, and separate the water from the juice.  The current challenge apparently, after working for two days (well one full day as the harvest has been put back a week due to previous heavy rainfall!), is that the CT6 machine, which is obviously crucial to the process, isn't working!  Fingers crossed they get it sorted by Monday when he should commence full time as a vintage cellarhand.


Our other exciting news is that the story I submitted in November to the Australian/NZ Reader's Digest, has been published in the March edition that we received today.  Of course it is (extensively!) edited from my original submitted article, the wordage being reduced at least by half (the fewer words the less money paid!!), but the general idea is there and the really cool thing is that a photo of Barry and I is featured on the 'contribute' page.  The story describes the people in the two boats who so kindly stopped and jump started us - our guardian angels - when we were stranded close to Rugeley, on the Trent and Mersey Canal, towards the end of our travels in 2009 on our way to Bodymoor Heath for our English wedding.

Monday 15 February 2010

Store High In Transit ...

My last post ended with reference to Barry's new job which begins on Wednesday - just one day left!  It's going to be a little strange for him after running his own business for about 26 years, to be working as an employEE rather than an employER, and as a cellarhand at that for a minimum wage.  But beggars can't be choosers and it fits in with our plans as it's just an 8 week contract.

The irony of Barry working in a winery won't be lost on those who know and love him; he could never be accused of being a teetotaller!  I'd insinuated that he'll be like a pig in s--t and it reminded me of a story he recently told me about the origins of the word 'shit'  that he'd read in a book my mum sent from England for his birthday (when you think about some of the words in the English language you've got to wonder how they came about).  He's building up quite a collection of quirky books about what it is to be in England.  The latest one is called 'The old dog and duck: the secret meanings of pub names' by Albert Jack (can't imagine why my mum thought he'd enjoy it!) and there's apparently a story in there which describes how, many years ago, raw sewerage would be collected by 'night soil' men, and, along with ash from the fires, would be made into blocks and used as fertiliser.  Somehow, unimaginable really, there wasn't enough for their requirements so extra supplies would be shipped in from abroad.  Originally they stored the blocks on the floor of the ships, but inevitably some became wet and would go soggy leading to a build up of methane gas so if anyone struck a match there would be random explosions, blowing up the ships.  Consequently they were eventually stored in bags higher up the ships to try to prevent them becoming wet and the fumes from rising.  The bags were labelled 'Store High In Transit ', the acronym of which spells, yes you guessed it!

The Old Dog And Duck: The Secret Meanings Of Pub Names

I must find some time to read the book, having digested just a couple of pages in a few spare moments it's fascinating.  We often laughed at the names of pubs on our journeys around the north of England and were curious as to the meanings of them (I won't repeat Barry's jokes about distances and 'The Cock Inn', definitely not original!).  I suspect he's enabling me to see my home country in a new light, such is his passion for it (yes Andy, you're correct, his heart is in England - but funnily enough he only aspires to live on the canals there, not in the 'real' world thank you very much!).


We've just had a great weekend away at The Mission concert in Napier and boogied on down to a Motown party with bands from the 60's and 70's including The Temptations, The Miracles, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves and the Vandella's and Mary Wilson (of the Supremes fame).  It was fabulous to have four days together (that's in succession and with Barry!), we're going to be like ships passing in the night once he starts full time work next week.


But that's OK, we'll have at least five months of living in close quarters back on the canals come May, so it'll all be worth it.  Life is short, Carpe Diem ...

Sunday 7 February 2010

Two Hemispheres, two such different lives ...

Life here in the southern hemisphere has been pretty mundane of late after all the excitement of the wedding, xmas, New Year and our lovely visitors from the northern hemisphere.  In my opinion we live in a paradise, but it's easy to take it for granted and not find time to appreciate our surroundings ...

It's been work, work and more work for me, with only occasional days off and hence hardly time to catch my breath so the blog has taken a back seat.  It's difficult to find inspiration to write about the canals when we're so far removed from them.

However, we've been talking about different routes for our return, and I think we're pretty sure that we won't do the Bristol Channel due to the expense of hiring a pilot and of course the inevitable potential for time delays when the conditions aren't right.

This weekend we're travelling south along three hours of winding roads to the art deco capital of New Zealand, Napier, where in 1931 an earthquake destroyed most of the buildings.  As often happens, disasters can be turned to an advantage and Napier was soon rebuilt in the style of the era and has been an iconic place since then drawing tourists from around the world.  We're off to a 'Motown Party' at The Mission Estate Winery, and will be away from Friday to Monday - yaay, four days off in a row and in a hotel!  Bliss!

I know it'll be worth all the hard work to get back onto Northern Pride and have the luxury of time and space to relish the lifestyle of the canal world once again.  Barry soaks up all the blogs from fellow boaters who are so good at writing daily posts, and today he's put the map of the waterways up on our study wall - having just redecorated our two spare bedrooms it's sort out time now!


The inland waterways map of Great Britain takes pride of place!

I have a fixed term contract until 14 May in my role as the Midwifery Educator at Gisborne maternity unit, and we're in the process of recruiting a replacement so I can hand over the reins when we leave.  The plan currently is to sell Northern Pride at the end of our voyage this year, and we have a return ticket to NZ at the end of October.  However, we're not actually sure that we will return here; maybe we'll stay in England for a while longer, depending on whether Barry gets 'permission' from the Home Office and what events transpire while we're there.

Meanwhile, Barry has a job as from 17th February - he's going to be working full time for about 8 weeks as a 'Vintage Cellarhand' for Montana Wines.  I'm not sure what exactly that entails, but it's something to do with alcohol so I'm sure he'll be like a pig in the proverbial s--t!