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 30 June 2011

Our last locks of 2010 at historic Stoke Bruene

This blog describes one of our final journeys of 2010, hard to believe it was eight months ago now!  It's incredible how quickly this year is flying by, we're six months into it today.

Barry and I are missing being on the waterways more than ever at the moment, as for the past two years at this time that's where we've been.  In fact I was just saying to Barry today this will be the first full year that I've stayed in New Zealand without returning to England for at least 3-4 weeks to visit my family, since I emigrated in January 2005.

However, we know that time is and will continue to fly towards 2013 when we plan to be back buying another narrowboat and living on the waterways for the foreseeable future.  In the meantime, we aim to keep our focus very much on living in the present and enjoying family, friends and opportunities here in New Zealand, as well as working on our financial strategies to flexibly earn a modest income to support us while we're afloat and mobile.

The temperature here is now sadly beginning to drop - great news for the ski fields though who are anxiously awaiting their first big snow falls.  We're going to Queenstown, the adventure city, early in August for Barry's niece's wedding, so it'll definitely be more picturesque with white mountains as a back drop.  Don't hold your breath for photos of me bungy jumping though - it ain't never gonna happen!

Next Wednesday we're flying down to the capital city of Wellington as I have a workshop on Thursday.  We'll be mooching around the city together on the other days, and catching up with Tom and a few friends - I'll also be enjoying Barry's niece's hen night on the Saturday night.  Lots to look forward to.

Wednesday 20 October

This morning reminded me of the song lines '... bright and crisp and even'; glorious blue skies but freezing!  It must've been a maximum temperature of 1 degree Celsius, my ears and nose were soon numbed into submission.

Luckily we had a long stretch of canal with no locks, so the brightness of the day made it a glorious journey.  Barry kept himself busy under the cratch doing his painting and other man-job things, while I relished our final full day's cruising. 

Arriving at the bottom of the Stoke Bruene seven locks, we met up with NB Gertie being moved to it's new moorings in Banbury.  The owner was a lovely man, very contentedly driving his pride and joy while his much younger wife and his more elderly mate worked the locks with Barry.  He told me he'd retired from the Fire Service on a good pension, and adores his lifestyle.  It was great to have another boat as company, especially as Jenny, his wife, went up and started the following lock each time as Barry and the builder friend concentrated on the current lock.  So all I had to do was drive and steer the boat - easier said than done on occasions, manoeuvring both boats in tightly side by side, but mostly it was fine with not too much paint loss.

P1400945AA 'bright and crispy morning' at Bridge 59, with little Grafton Regis on the hill 

P1400976 The first of the seven locks of today's journey

P1400984 Squeezing in deftly side-by-side, sharing our final locks with 'Gertie'

P1400992A Stoke Bruerne Lock 15 - only one more lock to go

P1400999A Vivid autumnal colours everywhere overhanging the canal

We arrived at Stoke Bruene around 1500hrs, had a spot of lunch, then walked to the famous National Waterways Museum, housed in a restored corn mill, which extols 200 years of history of the canals.  As the price of entrance was £4.75, and our budget was running out, only Barry got to look around!

P1410009A The top lock at Stoke Bruerne and the last lock for this trip

I, meanwhile, ambled along to the entrance to Blisworth Tunnel which we'll be travelling through tomorrow - by the time Barry emerged it was too late to move through the third longest tunnel on system as we wouldn't be able to see the light at the end in the dark!

P1410021A The little canal shop opposite the museum ...

P1410023 ... and 'The Boat Inn' where we visited later

P1410034 Delightful double arched bridge by the top lock ... P1410035A... and the entrance to the old narrow lock ... 














... currently used as part of the museum display

P1410057A Looking back through the main bridge arch with the navigation pub on the left











Another look at 'The Navigation and the nearby lock









Charming thatched roof with a cunning thatcher's signature - a fox chasing a sheep!














 A historic venue for some working boats


 A proud owner keeps this one spruced up and spotless

We took the opportunity to walk around the fascinating canal side buildings and couldn't resist a stop for a drink or two at The Boat Inn.  Incredibly the pub has been owned by the same family, the Woodward's, since 1877.  It was such a magnificent old world pub, really authentic, with a skittle alley, stone floors and wonderful wood panelling all around.  Adorning the walls were many old photos and a framed, hand written history of the pub hanging over a coal fire.  There's something about a real fire that magnetises you, and I was soon mesmerised by the flames and extremely reluctant to venture back out into the cold!

P1410093A Walking across the top lock on the way to the pub











Sandra in the authentic bar with a stone floor (watch where you're standing), and a game of skittles anyone?

There's a plaque in the middle of the stone bar room floor, where strangely someone's ashes are buried, saying "Have a drink on me!" - what a wicked sense of humour!

Thursday 23 June 2011

Barry's 'Ten Random Waterways Images' (part 3)

Here's the next random selection of images. They are all colour corrected and possibly retouched, and form part of our photo library (from where the prints, including cards and postcards, may be purchased if you're interested).  Click on Sanbar Photography Library


P1030157A-15x10H-3x2-Double-Mat Fladbury Mill and weir, on the Avon River

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1060106-13x10H-4x3-Double-Mat Newark Castle at Newark, on the River Trent

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1130261A-15x10H-4x3-Double-Mat The original Hovis Mill buildings at Macclesfield, on the Macclesfield Canal

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1240300A-15x10H-16x9-Double-Mat The Erewash Canal, with the Spire of St Giles Church, on the outskirts of Long Eaton

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1250487A-15x10V-3x4-Double-Mat Foxton Locks, on the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1300762A-15x10H-16x9-Double-Mat'Libertijn of Alphen' leaving her mooring against the bank of the Thames at Mapledurham

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1320194A-15x10H-16x9-Double-Mat Narrowboat 'Renfrew' on the Kennet and Avon Canal

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1340217A-15x10H-16x9-Double-Mat The Cain Hill flight of 18 locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Devizes

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1360766A-15x10H-16x9-Double-Mat The little St Marys Church and grounded barges on the tidal Thames at Battersea

Click here to view in Photo Library

P1370775A-15x10H-3x2-Double-Mat Top Lock and cottage on the Hereford Union Canal at Old Ford, London

Click here to view in Photo Library

Saturday 18 June 2011

Continuing to Cosgrove and Yardley Gobion - and a night out with old friends

Barry's daughter Jamie has now returned to New Zealand after her two-year stay in London, and is currently living with us while she makes plans for the next chapter in her life.  She had an amazing time and was very sad to leave the northern hemisphere, where she made the most of all opportunities to see an abundance of places and people around Britain and Europe.  She probably saw more than many British residents ever do, knowing she had only a limited time - a reminder maybe to those living there to 'seize the day' and get out and explore whenever possible.

Barry was asked to present at the Gisborne Camera Club's AGM, and duly did so on Thursday evening, after spending many weeks perfecting a slide show of a selection of his photographs, with suitably chosen and complimentary music, of our travels - one for 2009 and one for 2010.  They make captivating viewing and were well received he says and certainly make an amazing tool for marketing the waterways of Britain.

After having the warmest May since records began here in Gisborne, our weather is now turning much more wintry, and it's feeling gloomy, dark and cold.  We don't have 'central heating' as such down here, with most houses having either some form of air conditioning/heat pump units, oil-filled radiators and/or log burners.  We rely mostly on our log burner and electric blankets to keep us warm, and I have to say that despite it not heating up the house as well as British gas heating, it feels far more healthy and less 'stuffy'.  The downside of course is that we can't put a timer on the fire being lit before we get out of bed in the morning!

Back to the remaining days of our 2010 travels , and more 'weather' talk ...

Tuesday 19 October

With just over a week left in England, we were pleased to see the sun shining this morning and a blue sky, though of course it was still extremely cold. 

Barry had a limited time left to complete the work he wanted to do on the boat, so continued working at the bow, while I drove the boat up to Cosgrove where we stopped for lunch. 

P1400849A  The view looking back from under the bridge at Linford


 Over the aqueduct crossing the very busy Grafton Street, heading into Milton Keynes


 An interesting railway mural along this wall


New housing developments on the outskirts of Wolverton


 Modern apartment living blends with timeless narrowboat residences


Another couple of delivery boats - there seems to be an abundance of them on the Grand Union


Iron Trunk Aqueduct over the Great River Ouse - doesn't look that 'great' from here! 


 Not a lot of Sandra to be seen!

Taking a walk along the towpath to find a store for a few provisions, I noticed there were posters everywhere relaying that the body a man aged 46 years, a narrowboat owner, had recently been found drowned in the canal and they believed he'd died sometime between 24 to 27 Sept.  I wonder if there were some suspicious circumstances there?

As we went through the one lock of the day, the heavens opened and didn't stop for an hour or so - it felt like I was in Antarctica standing on the back of the boat!  Luckily there were very lovely surroundings to take my mind off the cold, one of which was a delightful Gothic bridge, close to the Georgian Cosgrove Hall.  No-one seems to know why such a stunning bridge was built over the canal, maybe it was to impress people going to visit the Hall in days gone by?

We passed many boats that appeared to be moored up ready for winter, reading intermittent signs advertising winter moorings between 1 Nov to 31 March - not long to go now before the stoppages.


Cosgrove Lock - the only lock of the day


 Looking back down the arm of the disused, and long abandoned, Buckingham Canal

P1400906A Approaching the village of Cosgrove from the lock 


 The road goes under the canal to link west and east Cosgrove


The only other link is across the elaborate, Gothic style, Solomans Bridge, built in 1800 ...


...and the view from the other side

Barry became terribly bored working away inside, his 'anti-rust' paint wasn't drying quickly enough, so he ventured outside and forced me to leave the tiller so that he could drive the boat!  His excuse was that he thought I must be cold, but in reality I knew that he just wanted to savour every last moment as the captain of his ship, bless him.

Just after 1500hrs the sun popped his head out again, lighting up the way as we headed to Yardley Gobion to moor up and meet with Dave and Sue that evening.

P1400932A Manor Farm at Yardley Gobion as seen from the canal


 Approaching 'Baxter Boatfitting Services' and our mooring for the night at Yardley Gobion

We walked into the village in the dark and found the pub we'd arranged to meet them at - rather oddly named The Coffee Pot, but a very lovely old-world establishment.  We had a great catch up, Barry hadn't met them before, whereas I'd known them for over 40 years.  As a child of around nine or ten, Sue and I used to go to Evesham with her parents some Sundays and play on the green by the river - I remember reminiscing about it when I was 'marooned' there in June 2009.  We may look a little older, and be much wiser, but hopefully our sense of fun remains.


Dave, Sandra & Sue after a night out at the local - fabulous to see you both again