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 23 December 2012

Happy Festive Season from Indonesia!

Surprisingly we have free wifi on the island of Nusa Lembogan, so I thought I'd write a quick post and show you how they celebrate here ...

Barry and I wish all our readers a very Merry Xmas - have lots of fun, love and laughter over the festive season.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Latest news on Barry's visa ...

As Audrey Hepburn says, "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!"

When I immigrated to New Zealand in January 2005, the rules had just changed for gaining citizenship from three to five years. Now we're planning on returning to UK for the foreseeable future, the rules for 'indefinite leave to remain'  significantly altered to become far more challenging in July 2012! However we shall not be beaten, we'll just need to re-think our original plans, knowing that things happen for a reason ...

We've now spoken to Colin at ivisas and have a plan!  The rules are very stringent, and although I've never been very good at following such autocratic things, there are times when it's imperative and this is one of them!  So, the settlement date for our house sale is 31st January 2013, at which time we'll have sufficient 'cash' to both meet the visa requirements and buy a narrowboat to live aboard.  The catch is that we have to have that money in an account for a minimum of six months before we can apply for Barry's visa, and then hold it for the following five years - or else have 'proper' jobs that earn a minimum of 18,600GBP per annum.

That's OK, we can work around that - we'll still be flying to UK on 19th March 2013, it just means Barry will have a return flight to NZ sometime in August/September and will then apply for his settlement visa.  In the meantime we'll be gathering the required evidence to support his application so that, fingers crossed, it'll be plain sailing from then on.

On a different note, at 0600hrs Wednesday 19th December, I'll be flying from Auckland to Bali to meet my daughter to celebrate her 30th birthday on 4th January. When I tell people I'm going away without Barry for xmas and New Year, they frequently inform me the world may end on 21st December - let's hope not, we've got so much living left to do ...

If I don't get a chance to post another blog before I return to NZ on 10th January (and the chances are I won't), I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, filled with love and laughter, and a very Happy New Year.

Happy Christmas from us!

Saturday 8 December 2012

A wonderful time with my sisters - and a slight hiccup in our plans to return to UK ...

It's been many a week since my last posting - apologies everyone!  Two of my three beautiful sisters have been in New Zealand on holiday - we've had such an amazing time which didn't include a space for blogging!

Linda, Viv and Sandra on White Island - an active volcano off the North Island of NZ
Linda, Sandra, Barry and Viv at Gisborne Airport Saturday 8th December 2012
It was Barry's birthday on Thursday, so my poor sisters will have been extremely tired on their flight back as we had a party on Friday night which went on until the small hours.  

Our hiccup is with the requirements for Barry's UK visa - these all changed in July 2012, and it seems an even more complex process than before, so we've been going round and round in circles.  There's financial requirements we have to meet (understandable), that don't seem to take into consideration self-employment or the possibility of living on a narrowboat!  So today we've contacted an agency in the hope of acquiring expert assistance.  Otherwise, if there's the slightest problem with any part of the application form or supporting documentation, they reject it and charge us $1,700 a time.

We can't apply until three months prior to our departure on 19th March - and on 19th December I'm flying to Bali to meet my youngest daughter for her 30th birthday and won't be back in Gisborne until 10th January.  Barry's children Jamie and Tom will be keeping him company for xmas and New Year, which, we hope, will be his last ones for a considerable time - if all goes to plan!

We're keeping positive and are very hopeful we have evidence of suffcient funds to support us, and of our relationship of seven years and marriage of three, so that we'll be 'let in' to UK in March - otherwise we'll be homeless in Gisborne as our house is sold which could prove interesting ...

Monday 12 November 2012

Slight revisions and additions to the boat spec ...

Thank you to Elly and Mick and Andy for your comments and emails about our 'dream boat'.  We do realise that we may (!) not get exactly what we want - but you never know ...  It's definitely worth putting it out there and seeing what eventuates.

So here's a few revisions/additions:

  • I forgot to say we really want a boat with two bedrooms - at least with a single bunk at the back of the boat for our grandson to have his own 'space'.  So we'd want a fixed double or pull out bed (I've forgotten what they're called), as well as the dinette conversion to a double and the single - five berth
  • A 'good' inverter (Barry says around 2 to 3,000 watts)
  • macerator pump out loo or vacuum flush 
Keep your eyes out and ears peeled everyone - we believe it's out there somewhere, just waiting for us to come and buy it.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Be careful what you wish for ...

That's how the saying goes.  So we're wishing for our 'perfect' boat, and choosing thoughtfully what's on our list! It's all about what you give your energy to, as we're constantly discovering as our  'to do' list shrinks each time we focus on one aspect of it during our return journey to the waterways, so now we're testing it out on the blog.

Having worked as a recruitment and retention specialist during 2002 to 2005, I believe finding the best person for a job involves knowing who you are looking for - otherwise how will you know when you find them?   It's always worth investing time putting together a 'person specification'.

So here's our 'boat specification' - a list of essentials and desirables for our 'dream boat':

  • Up to 65' long - preferably 60' to 62' so we can travel the whole system
  • Traditional - but we'd accept semi-traditional if it had other essential features
  • A pump out toilet - absolutely NON-negotiable!
  • Mostly or all windows - we'd accept a few portholes at the rear, but much prefer windows
  • Spray foam insulation
  • Stainless steel water tank
  • Solid fuel stove and radiators
  • Engine NOT in an engine room on the boat
  • Side hatch/es
  • Inverter
  • L-shaped seating rather than single chairs
  • Lots of storage space
  • Less than 10 years old
  • A washing machine (this is actually essential, but we're aware we could put one in, so there must be room available)
  • Prefer not to have a walk through bathroom
  • A boat name we can live with - some of them are just so off-putting! (By the way, can anyone tell me why it's 'bad luck' to re-name a boat?)
There's no rush at this stage.  We have money in UK to put a cash deposit down and our house sale settlement date is the end of January 2013, so we're cash buyers which should prove an advantage. We very much feel we'll know when we find the right boat, and hope to be ready to jump in - but we do need willing and able volunteers in UK to check out any boats for us if possible?  We'd much prefer to have bought before we arrive.

So there it is, down on paper so to speak - we'll be visualising living aboard and focussing on finding her in the next few months ...

Thursday 1 November 2012

The cat and the house ...

The sale and purchase agreement has safely arrived at our lawyers, so it's just a case of getting there next week to check and sign.

One of the many great things about the smooth and simple sale of our house, is that the future owners want to keep our beautiful cat Suki-Lou - how wonderful!  They even tried to list her as a 'chattel', but their lawyer said it wasn't possible, just in case anything happens to her between signing the agreement and taking possession, hilarious!

She adores where she lives and it'll be fantastic to be able to just leave her there, knowing she's going to be extremely well cared for.  She may get a few shocks though, as she's not really used to dealing with young children, but she's the softest and gentlest cat I've ever known and has never, ever, bitten or scratched anyone in anger.  She may love people too much, but that's her only problem - oh yes! and she's rather overweight and on a diet!  But apart from that ...

Here she is chilling in the lounge recently on a sunny day ...

What a lucky cat she is.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Contract signed ...

Our Hillview Terrace buyers have signed the sale and purchase agreement and will be putting their 10% deposit down on our house as soon as we get to see it and sign too - how exciting!  I'll be back in Gisborne on Monday 5th November, so we'll get it sorted and confirmed as soon as possible after that.

Barry came up to visit me on Sunday which was lovely - it gets a little bit lonely up here being on call 24/7.  However it's really not too difficult to stay and work here for a couple of weeks due to its stunning beauty - below are a couple of photos of Tokomaru Bay, taken from the road as I travelled back to Te Puia Springs from an antenatal visit this morning ...

You can see why they call NZ 'Aotearoa - Land of the Long White Cloud'

I've had a few people expressing an interest in being supported on a journey through Holistic Life Coaching with me, so I'm very hopeful I'll get my final three clients signed up in the next week or two for my Diploma case study hours.  I'll still take clients after those places are filled - they'll just not be at a reduced rate.

We're seriously looking at narrowboats now, and have had some communication with a couple selling their boat.  We're not sure it's quite what we're looking for, but it's certainly a lovely boat that we'll bear in mind in the coming weeks ...

Saturday 27 October 2012

Want to change your life or make it even better?

Fantastic that we've sold my TENS business, and now sold our house - the plans we've been working on for the past two plus years are all coming together.

Before Barry and I return to the waterways of UK on 19th March 2013, there's three more important things to do.
  1. Barry has to obtain his UK residency visa.  We can't apply until three months before, so that'll be sent off in December 
  2. Barry has to sell his shop 'ezimade' - he has an every increasing queue of people interested in buying it, such a cool way to work, so we don't envisage any challenges with that
  3. Completing my 'Diploma in Holistic Life Coaching'

On 16th March 2013, I'll be attending a graduation ceremony with  'Life Coach Associates Auckland'. However, I may not be able to actually take my Diploma certificate itself to the UK, as I need to have completed my 100 hours of client case study hours.

All I need is 3 more clients, each signing up to 8 one-hour sessions which can be weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or whatever suits the client and my availability. Face-to-face in Gisborne, or from anywhere in the world via Skype - so don't let distance put you off! I don't have to have completed all the hours before we leave, but it would be fantastic if I had all the clients signed up and being supported to live extraordinary lives while I'm living mine!

What is Holistic Life Coaching you may ask?

Well, the best sportsmen in the world would always have a great coach, supermodels would have their personal trainers, etc. For people who want to get the best of THEIR life, working with a Life Coach is a way of discovering what's stopping you and what you can change or put in place so you can - every day.

People who choose to see a life coach are not strange, they're everyday folk, just like you and I. They may:
  • be at a crossroads in their life and need some direction
  • find that they're repeating the same/similar patterns and going round in circles in their relationships or career 
  • be hitting a milestone age and feel that they haven't 'achieved' or 'done' what they thought they would have by then
  • have so many options open to them they don't know which one to choose
  • be so stuck with limiting beliefs from their past that they're too afraid to take risks or move forward/change
  • be so busy they don't have time to even think about what they want anymore
  • feel they're always caring for everyone else and rarely meeting their own needs, feeling guilty if they say 'no' to anyone
As we get older, we realise more and more how precious life is and that it's up to us to make the most of all there is to offer. It's not about working as hard as you can, for as long as you can, so that when (if) you get to the grand old age of 65 (or older), you may just have enough money not to starve. In the meantime you work long hours to pay for all the 'stuff' that if you really thought about it, you don't really 'need'.

I believe that the time to live is NOW, not waiting until we're old - though I certainly plan to be living a great life then as well!

So if you know of anyone who would grasp the opportunity of working with me as their Life Coach, or maybe you see the possibilities for yourself, please get in touch and I'll give you more information (see how to contact Sandra and Barry for my email address).

Awaken your life

Thursday 25 October 2012

Simply 'Sold' - so much to look forward to ...

It certainly feels like our plans to return to the waterways of Great Britain are working out very nicely indeed!

The lovely young couple who I showed around our home a few months ago, have bought it.  Their bank's valuation wasn't quite as much as we'd hoped, but it was $50,000 more than the government valuation of 2011, and as we wouldn't have to pay any Real Estate Agent/advertising fees out, and we won't have to move out of the house until we leave on 19th April, it seemed like a perfect deal for us all.  I believe that if you get too 'attached' to money, you block it from coming in.  We 'may' have been able to get another $10-20,000 at auction, but then again we may not!

We've yet to sign the contracts, but we'll do so in the near future with a 10% deposit and a settlement date late in January 2013.  The very positive difference between here and UK, is when you buy a house you go 'unconditional' which means once the contract is signed and the deposit changes hands, it's very difficult and costly to renege on the agreement.  There's no sudden changes of mind, and no exchange on the day of move like UK - that really is the most ridiculous process I've ever known!

We've said ever since we bought our gorgeous house in October 2008, how wonderful it would be if a young family bought it when we leave - and the law of attraction has enabled that to happen.  They have a two-year-old daughter and a baby due any day now, so they'll really be able to make the most of the size of the house and land.

It's not a 'posh' house by any stretch of the imagination, like those you see in the glossy pages of 'Home and Garden' magazines, nor does it have all the latest gadgets, Sky TV, a modern kitchen or the 'best' furniture and fittings.  Those 'things' have never interested Barry or I.  We believe we have much more valuable 'things' to spend our money on or save it.  Our home's beauty lies in its welcoming, comforting, spacious and homely feel, and the natural environment that surrounds us.  It's a place to relax and be yourself, no pretences, no anxiety about 'messing up' the expensive bits and pieces.

So we'll be actively searching for suitable narrowboats now - anyone know of any good ones out there?  We want one around 60 foot (no longer), traditional or semi-traditional, at least 4-berth, washing machine essential and log burner/heater, pump-out toilet.  There'll be more to add to the 'essential' list now we can really consider it seriously, and we've time to look around with the benefit of being cash buyers.

Having owned a boat before, we feel fairly confident that it'll be OK to buy sight unseen - though we'll be relying on someone in UK to check it out for us first!

We're both very, very, excited, and thankful for such a stress-free house sale - Barry says I should become a Real Estate Agent, but I'm not seeing that in my future at all for some reason?!

Here's the amazing, majestic and sacred Mount Hikurangi that I'm seeing a lot of as I drive up and down the East Coast visiting the women and families in the area until 5th November.  There's breathtaking scenery at every turn.

Other lovely things for me/us to look forward to:
  • Two of my three sisters are coming to NZ for a three-week holiday on 18th November
  • On 19th December I'm flying to Bali to meet my daughter, travelling from UK, for her 30th birthday (I know, what a dreadful wife, leaving Barry for our wedding anniversary, xmas and New Year!), but to make up for it ...
  • We fly to UK on 19th March, and on 23rd to 30th March we're staying in a beautiful house in the Lake District, with my three sisters and parents, to celebrate my mum's 80th birthday
  • After 30th March - we WILL be boarding our boat to begin our new life.
Wow!  So much to look forward to ...

Monday 22 October 2012

Two weeks of 24/7 on-call, and almost some house news ...

I'm currently up at Te Puia Springs once again, an hour and a half 'up the coast' from Gisborne, covering for the midwife here so she can get a well-earned break.  It's difficult to imagine for most people the commitment and devotion of New Zealand case-loading midwives (me included!). They truly are incredible, and the women here, in my humble opinion, have the best pregnancy and childbirth care and continuity in the world. I frequently hear the most awful stories of midwifery in the NHS in UK, and have absolutely no desire to work in it again - but who knows what the future holds - never say never just in case!

I started my on-call at 1600hrs on Friday 19th October, and finish at 0900hrs on Monday 5th November. It's not quite as onerous as it sounds, the caseload isn't too large, and it's one of the most beautiful places on earth with the nicest, most down to earth people you could wish to meet. We had a beautiful birth in the unit today (only 3 hours sleep so a little tired), and we'll have three visits tomorrow at Te Araroa which is just over an hour's drive north of here. That may put it in perspective.

I love that it gives me time away from Gisborne and 'real life' to chill, and catch up with all sorts of 'to do' lists. And the scenery driving around is just stunning.

I have a lovely senior student midwife working alongside me here from Bristol until the weekend, which gives me some company, and last Saturday we went to Tokomaru Bay for a walk. We were very surprised to see a family of Paradise Ducks, waddling towards the waves ...

The parents split up, and I think the above is dad - he's just letting the ducklings wander in the waves which kept almost taking them out to sea! It was nerve wracking to watch, but they seemed to take it all in their stride.

Right at the end of the road at Tokomaru Bay is an old wharf that people fish off - or take a stroll. How about this for the height of luxury. Nana takes her moko (mokopuna = grandchild) for a stroll in the sunshine. Absolutely delightful, I can't wait to spend time with my moko.

Now onto our house sale.  

Well it's very likely that we'll have some news tomorrow, but I can't say anymore than that at this stage - except that it is looking extremely promising and augers well for a smooth journey to take us to 19th March 2013 when we leave Gisborne to relocate onto the waterways of Great Britain 'indefinitely' ...

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Have we sold before we've even listed?

It certainly seems extremely likely - how fantastic! "If you believe it you can see it" is such a better thought and focus than "I'll believe it when I see it".

The story is:
Our neighbours house was for sale for a few months earlier this year, and one day I saw a young couple walking down the drive and said a cheery 'hi' to them.  We got talking and they were asking how much sunshine that property achieved, especially on the deck at the back.  I said I wasn't sure, but that ours got lots of sun as it came up over the hill and around the side of our house, then set in the late evening after enjoying its rays while chilling with a glass of sauvignon (or more likely Barry's home made strawberry merlot - delicious!).

I grasped the opportunity and told them that our house would be on the market in the spring if they were interested - they were!  So I offered to show them around our house and land, despite it being a mess and us being half way through renovating the bathroom - yikes!  It could've all gone horribly wrong, but ...

They loved it!  Hurrah!  I gave them our number to call if they were still interested in a few months.

In the meantime, he went into Barry's shop a couple of months ago and said they were still interested and left their contact details.  So we've phoned them up and they've been round again, this time with the house very tidy and the bathroom completed and they adored it even more.  So we have an independent valuer visiting tomorrow.  Their house isn't on the market yet, so they'll need to get a bridging loan from the bank and get their property on the market asap.  But the cool thing is it would mean:
  • No open homes to deal with (well Barry to deal with as I'll be away for all of them if we have to have them!)
  • No advertising costs (around $1,500 initially!)
  • No real estate agent's fees (we've had them written out of the contract as we already have them and nothing to do with an agent) which are 4% of the purchase price; AND
  • We could most likely rent our house off them until we leave on 19th March
So, although it's easy to think 'it can't possibly be that easy', maybe it CAN!  Why not?  Sometimes, when you're taking the right steps and making the right moves in the direction of your dreams, everything literally falls into place.

Here's a few photos of our gorgeous home ...

The updated bathroom - complete with brand new, only put up last night, blind

The sunny back deck - though the sun had just peeked behind the clouds!

It's a split level house - here's the back, with an extra room and a huge storage space under the house - the window above the silver car is the laundry/brewery/man cave!

The view from the deck - the country in the middle of town - idyllic

Further round on the deck ...

And looking up the drive - we're hidden from the road so it's lovely and private in our valley on Hillview Terrace!

Watch this space, we could be making an amazing announcement in the next few days ...

Saturday 13 October 2012

Better luck the second time ...

Having previously thought it wouldn't be a good idea to sign up with someone we know to sell our home, we changed our minds and arranged to meet up with a friend last night who managed to not only talk us into signing up with him, but also to agree to selling by auction!

No dates as yet, but likely to be late November or early December.

Selling a house in NZ is very different to UK where it's rare that you sell a house by auction, here it's quite 'normal' to do so.  There's purportedly various reasons why, and to be honest it'll sort the wood out from the chaff in relation to serious buyers.

We realise now we were foolish not to question the Government/Rateable Valuation when it came out in 2011 (this happens for all houses in NZ every three years I believe), despite knowing that they had valued our house way below its worth.  Of course it meant that our rates stayed low!  We've since discovered that our neighbours DID question their RV, and it was increased considerably so is now a lot more (and sold for just under that recently) - and our land area is much larger, plus we have a great driveway that runs all the way around our house, turns around and comes back up.

So it's going to be interesting to see how the sale of our house progresses.  It really is a beautiful home, in a unique location - a little bit of country in the middle of town set in a valley which provides so much shelter it has its own microclimate.  We'll be really sad to part with it, but you can't hold on to 'things' when you are moving forward or you just live in your status quo/comfort zone and life becomes boring and monotonous - we're going to be living on the wonderful waterways of Great Britain soon, in our own narrowboat, and spending time with my family and friends in England so it'll be worth all the 'letting go' of our home and Gisborne in the long run.

Photos to follow just in case anyone knows someone who may be keen to move to Gisborne ...

Thursday 11 October 2012

Anyone want to buy a hedge?

Well the 'Real' Estate Agent didn't quite turn out as expected bless her.  This was the photograph of our house on the front of the folder ...

Incredible!  Needless to say we won't be engaging her to sell our home - which lies on the other side of the hedge above.

The unbelievable part is that here in New Zealand, we not only have to pay for all the advertising costs, we also end up paying about 5% of the sale price to the Estate Agent.

Back to the drawing board, just a temporary glitch, we've already called someone else ...

On a positive note (I'd so much rather have a cup half full!), we have a gardener coming round on Monday to cut said hedge and the lawn, and take lots of garden refuse to the dump, so it'll all look tidier without Barry having to spend his one day off a week doing it.

Oh, and I have two new Life Coaching clients booked in for next week who are committed to finding ways forward to live extraordinary lives ...

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Next step - or a huge leap of faith

So the TENS business, including ten machines, has now left the building - in the capable hands of a midwifery colleague and a local childbirth educator.  They're so enthusiastic about taking it forward, whereas I've not paid it much attention for months, so that's great.

I'm loving the 'letting go' feeling and the decluttering!

I listed a few dresses that I don't want anymore (not much call for them on the canals, and I have to downsize my vast wardrobe!) on 'Trade Me' last week, and sold one for more than the reserve so that's cool!  I re-listed another one, and the one that didn't go I'll keep for now.  It's the first time I've sold anything on there, a site similar to Ebay in UK, and I'm surprised how simple it is - I can see how people could get hooked!

The next step is putting our house on the market.  We have a Real Estate Agent (not a 'pretend' one, lol - that's what they're called here in New Zealand, no use asking me why as I don't know) coming round on Thursday evening to chat about what the options are and look at how much we may get.  Of course, like anything, it's worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it!  We both believe we have a gorgeous house, with a fabulous large section of land, a slice of country in the town, that would be ideal for a young family.  We have a price in mind, but one never knows if it's realistic or not until it's put to the test.

So it'll be interesting what happens in the coming weeks.  I do love the fact that here in New Zealand you generally aren't in the house when people come to view - they have 'open homes' for half an hour or so, generally at the weekends, and people can just show up and give the agent their name and take a look around the property.  It does mean of course that you have to keep the place tidy which can get tedious.  Remembering the last time we did this with Barry's house in 2008, we recently engaged a lovely lady cleaner who comes once a week and brings flowers from her garden, so that'll make the tidying up easier.  And we're also just about to get a gardener to come and help out, mowing the lawns, trimming the hedge and taking away garden debris.  Bless Barry with only one day off a week, things have begun to slide a little.

Of course the more we get for the house, the better the narrowboat will be, so fingers and toes will be crossed!  'What you give energy to grows and expands' ...

Thursday 4 October 2012

Business sold!

Don't get too excited, it's not Barry's business, we haven't even put that on the market yet lol!

I have sold my Tens business that I set up last year, hiring TENS machines to childbearing women to enhance their labour experience, give pain relief in their labour and a heightened sense of control, and reduce their need for drugs that go through to the baby.  In UK around 25% of women use TENS in labour (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), but here in NZ no-one used them in Gisborne (apart from an ancient machine with pads that were re-used that stopped working years previously - yuck!)  and after trying to get the maternity unit or any of the self-employed midwives to take it on and buy new machines and pads, I did it myself!  The results and feedback from the women have been worth every second of the time it took to set up, and I'm so happy that the business is going to two lovely Gisborne women who will carry it forward.  Of course I've also got the money I paid out back and some for the set up costs so that's great.

So things are moving forward positively with our plans - watch this space as we progress on our journey back to UK ...

Monday 1 October 2012

Celebrating my birthday in New Zealand and other 'lasts'!

With less than six months to go now before we fly back to UK 'indefinitely' (assuming all goes to plan!), there will be a number of 'lasts' coming up for us.

As the saying goes, you have to close one door in order for others to open, so we're very pragmatic about these changes.

My 53rd birthday was a quiet one, it didn't stop raining here in Gisborne from the moment I woke up until the following morning!  Last year Barry and I had a lovely couple of days in Mahia and the sun shone, but this year he was working from 1000hrs to 1600hrs, so I hadn't planned much.  It was also our third anniversary of our wedding on board Northern Pride on 26th September - we celebrated by me working and Barry playing badminton - not very romantic!

I had lunch with a couple of friends, then visited another one out in the country for a cup of tea, had a sneaky snooze on the sofa for half an hour, Skyped with our grandson, went out for dinner with Barry, then called in unannounced to some friends for a game of darts!  So I still managed to fit some fun things in despite the rain!

Yummy dessert - a birthday treat!

On Saturday, we had a party at home, with a mixture of different groups of friends, as it will most likely be the final time we have a party before selling our beautiful home.

Barry regales some of the guests with his brewing techniques - or something to do with narrowboating I expect!

The bathroom is just about completed (hurrah!  I love it!) and we've been tidying up the outside of the house and garden.  There's a few more little jobs to do, though they won't prevent us putting the house on the market.  It's a timing issue now - will it sell really quickly and we'll need to find somewhere to rent for a while?  Or will it take ages to sell for a price that's acceptable to us?  Exciting aye, not knowing what the universe has in store for us ...

Two of my sisters are coming to NZ on holiday from 18th November to 7th December, so it would be really good to still have the house when they're here - but if someone came along and offered us a good price we wouldn't say no!

I've also recently booked flights to Bali from 19th December to 9th January. I'm meeting my youngest daughter Kimberley there to celebrate her 30th birthday on 4th January - how wonderful to have such an opportunity.  I'll be away from Barry for our 'real' wedding anniversary on 22nd December, and also xmas and New Year - but his children, Jamie and Tom will be in Gisborne, and it'll be lovely for them to spend their last xmas with Barry before he leaves for UK - though they may be celebrating in a tent on the beach if we've sold the house before then!

We're now seriously beginning to visualise how we're going to earn a small income whilst continuously cruising - so long as I don't have to work as a midwife I'll do (almost) anything ...

Saturday 15 September 2012

South Pacific paradise and dreaming of canals?

I recall as a child listening to my parents vinyl LP of the Musical 'The South Pacific' and singing 'I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair' at the top of my voice - I must've been about seven years old, and never thought I'd be able to go to such a magical place! In 2012 I holidayed at the  fun-filled 'Beachcomber Island', one of the Fiji Islands, on my own and had an incredible time, partying the nights away and chilling on the beach and visiting islands such as 'Castaway Island' where the film of the same name was shot with Tom Hanks - unlike the film though there were other islands close by, but it was as magical as it looked on screen.

Anyway, I digress, from 24th to 31st August I was in Samoa with a girlfriend (Barry doesn't do pool chilling holidays!) - what a fabulous place with lovely people.  Yes Tom, I lost count of the number of churches from the airport to 'Aggie Grey's' in Apia once I'd got to 15 I think - I kept falling asleep as it had been an early morning!  It certainly is a very christian country, but it isn't pushed in your face - the people are just lovely and the scenery spectacular.

One of many cocktails

And one of many more churches!

The iconic Aggie Grey's Hotel and Bungalows - awesome place

How you imagine the South Pacific to be - and it is!

I looked at this and though "you must be kidding" - then thought "why not?"

And here's the proof!

Our last two nights were spent here at Savaii Lagoon Resort - absolute paradise!

So now it's back to reality - which is definitely NOT a bad thing!  The bathroom is almost finished, just the walls to paint, and a few other bits and pieces to tidy up.

I've booked the accommodation for 11 nights out of 18 that my two sisters (out of three) will be here from 18th November to 8th December, so that's exciting, and I may be off to Bali in late December to meet my younger daughter there for a 2-3 week holiday for her 30th birthday!

Oh, and of course, it will be only six months on Wednesday and we will be flying back to UK to stay 'indefinitely' living aboard a narrow boat as yet to be purchased - just a few things to sort out before then like finishing my Holistic Life Coaching client hours (all my assignments bar one handed in now) and coaching other clients, Barry's sponsored UK residency visa successfully obtained, house sold, possessions given away/sold/packed up, cat to a good home (thank you Rivka), cars sold, etc, etc.  Phew!  A bit of paid midwifery work in between at the hospital and up the coast - it may be my last months practicing as a midwife as I do not intend working in such a role in UK (unless we're completely desperate and destitute!).

Good luck to Elli and Mick who have only a few more days before they fly off to their narrowboat adventurer - we'll see you on the cut in 2013!

Monday 20 August 2012

Tickets to UK booked - there's no changing!

Last week Barry's updated NZ passport arrived - it's so beautifully done, black (of course) with a silver fern on the front and back cover, and each page inside has intricate art work depicting the history of Aotearoa - it almost makes me want to apply for citizenship just to get one of my own!  

In New Zealand, for some unknown reason, you have to get a new passport every five years - hurrah for UK who only make us do that each decade (though the document is terribly boring in comparison)!  Barry only updated his previous one in 2008, the first time we were planning our narrowboat adventure of living aboard the canals for six months.  At that point Tom, his son, was coming with us too.  It's Tom's 22nd birthday today - Happy Birthday Tom!  However it was to be another year before our dream came to fruition, Barry's house and business just wouldn't sell, and by then Tom had all grown up and didn't come with us - here's our first ever blog from 17 April 2009, it feels like a lifetime ago.  

Anyway, I'm getting diverted!  As I previously said, in a June 2012 post, in order to apply for his UK residency visa, Barry needed to have a date of 'arriving'.  So to book the tickets he had to update his passport which still had another 8 months left - oh well, sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get where you want to go.

We'd seen a good deal on Malaysian Airlines for a one way ticket to Heathrow from Auckland for $1,200, so as soon as his passport arrived we went online and booked - we leave Gisborne on 19th March and arrive in Heathrow on 20th March 2013, just in time for my mum's 80th birthday on 24th.

The potential 'hiccup' of the ticket is that we can't change the date of it - that's when we will be going or we'll have to fork out lots more money (it was going to be >$1,000 to have that luxury - I chose to decline).  We're confident that this time our plans won't be delayed - we can't afford for them to be!

So we just have to sell the house, sell Barry's business and complete my Holistic Life Coaching Diploma by that time - no problem, of course it'll all work out, just a bit more of a journey for us before we get back to the waterways of Britain, this time to stay 'indefinitely' ...

Sunday 5 August 2012

One man's trash ...

Today it was 'Second Hand Sunday' in Gisborne and we managed to give away a heap of 'stuff' that I sorted out from under the house yesterday.  The directions say to:

  • Put the items out at 0900 and retrieve anything that hasn't gone by 1200hrs
  • Put a notice on your letterbox to say you're registered for Second Hand Sunday
  • Chat to 'fossickers' as they delve through your give aways (!)

I set the alarm for 0730hrs and Barry and I took boxes of things up to the verge above our house, including glass shelving units, a CD player and speakers, photo frames, a raincoat, a compost bin and lots of other things - the letterbox is down the drive so no notice was put up.  I didn't think to take a photo of 'before' until too late - this was about half an hour after we'd deposited our goods ...

Then by 0845hrs, the scene was ...

Those few items left had also disappeared by 0900hrs, which is when it was supposed to be starting!  We chose not to do any fossicker chatting, though we could hear the conversations from the other side of the hedge - it's quite amusing listening to people discussing your belongings!  This certainly bodes well for the rest of our de-cluttering - and how wonderful to be able to give away things that other people can use - or sell, we don't care!  One man's trash is another man's treasure.

We also saw some slithers of blue sky today for the first time in weeks, we've had relentless rain which is most unusual for the east coast of the New Zealand.  Barry's sister, Jenny, and I, walked to see June, Barry's mum, in the Nursing Home where she's now living bless her.  It was fabulous to get out and have some fresh air and exercise - I can't wait to be on the canals again and able to walk in nature most days and see sights like this one of our river in Gisborne ...

The tiles are all up in the bathroom now, and Barry has finished putting the skirting board on - almost there now!  Just the bath to paint (well, we're getting a professional in to do that!), the heated towel rail to be put in, the new windows to be inserted and the walls and ceiling to be painted!  Hopefully it'll all be completed by the end of August.  

Barry's sent away for his new passport and as soon as we get that back I'll book our tickets to England for mid March 2013 - that will be fantastic to have a date!

In the past few weeks I've resigned from the 'Maternity Quality and Safety Project Coordinator' role - I had already planned what I wanted to be doing before we returned to UK, and that was just an extra 'hat to wear' that tipped me over the balance - it's ridiculous to be a Holistic Life Coach and have no 'life'!  I'm finishing a few things as part of the project, and will support the next person, but my priority is my Life Coaching Diploma (for which I have three more assignments to complete by September ...), and getting our house ready to put on the market by the end of September - oh and of course my holiday in Samoa, two weeks working back at Te Puia at the end of October, and showing two of my three sisters the beautiful country of New Zealand when they come for three weeks in the middle of November!

Awesome, our plans are taking shape nicely.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

A long way away from eating the dog ...

That may seem to be a rather strange waterways blog title!  I shall explain ...

Last week Barry and I went to see a New Zealand comedian and television personality called Te Radar. He was in Gisborne on his travelling show 'Eating the Dog', which won Best Local Show at the NZ Comedy Festival in 2009, and Best Show at the 2009 NZ Comedy Guild Awards.  What a top notch kiwi bloke he turned out to be!  We had a great evening learning more about New Zealand history, and the story from the title of the show brought much amusement. Thomas Brunner was a 19th-century surveyor who set out from Nelson, along with a number of companions and his beloved dog, to discover more of the South Island.  They travelled a huge distance on foot, over an extended period of time, and were eventually so famished and desperate they had no choice but to eat the dog to survive.  Te Radar is a brilliant story teller, with the upshot of the tale being when you ask someone how they are, they can say "Not so bad, I haven't eaten the dog yet"!  One review of the show states "It is a celebration of the awkward and interesting anecdotes of history that make us who we are: “rogues, morons and scoundrels… pooh-poohing the idea of danger.”

Te Radar was such an unpretentious and friendly person, mingling with the audience and selling raffle tickets, it was well worth every cent - and the delicious food platters and wine were a bonus!

Sandra and Te Radar (not the best photo, I think there was a finger print on my iPhone lens and the flash makes us look a little washed out!  Methinks it's time Barry got his camera out again ...)

A light hearted evening to brighten the wet weather we're still experiencing most days here in Gisborne. Roll on the spring - maybe it's just getting us acclimatised to returning to England next year?

Our bathroom is still not finished, after three months, but the tiling is almost there so possibly by the end of next month we'll have completed it.  It's challenging when Barry works six days a week in the shop, but we're making progress slowly.  The drains were completely blocked by roots from the hedge at the top of the drive, so we've had holes dug three metres deep in the pavement on the road we live in (we live on a hill) and also on our drive, as the council clear the pipes - now we just have to wait and see if we'll be paying for the repairs or no, we didn't dare ask!

Sadly, Barry's mum has been very poorly, and has been in hospital for the past two months.  Tomorrow she is going into a Rest Home - not a pleasant thought when she was doing so well for her age and still playing golf and line dancing in April.  All the more reason to 'seize the day' and focus on achieving our dream ...

My Life Coaching is going well, and I'm completing assignments for my Diploma that need to be handed in at my final weekend of the course early in September.  One of the assignments is an Online Coaching Survey, and I need a minimum of 50 responses.  I  have 18 so far from my Facebook page - so if you can spare me a few minutes, please click on the link and let me know what you would want from online coaching.  

Barry hasn't yet applied to renew his passport that runs out next year, and we've not booked our tickets yet, despite intentions to do so, maybe it's the miserable weather that's not motivating us?  I'm going to Samoa on 24th August for a week - yaay,  sunshine!  A reward for completing my assignments - or at least that's the plan!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Rain, rain, go away ...

So we've had the shortest day and we're now looking forward to spring, but in the meantime the heavens keep opening - I hear it's the same in England so it doesn't feel quite so bad!  It's so damp here at the moment, we've had washing on the line for days and the garden looks like a quagmire! 

However, on a rare break in the weather whilst walking up the hill where we live on Sunday, I spotted this gorgeous rainbow heading into 'Poverty Bay', which is the Pakeha name for Gisborne after Captain Cook failed to replenish his supplies when he and his crew landed here in the late eighteen century. 

I've now set up a Facebook page for my 'Holistic Life Coaching' business, which is part of my work for the Diploma as I need to survey people on what they would want from 'online coaching' - do take a look and 'like' the page - the survey will be posted in the next couple of weeks and I need at least 50 replies so fingers crossed.  They say that 'what you give energy to grows and expands' so I'm giving as much energy as I can to my life coaching, whilst juggling all sorts of other balls as we continue to work towards our goal of returning to the waterways.

The drain situation is ongoing, it was unblocked but work still needs to be done - ivy roots have invaded the pipes!  The bathroom is slowly getting finished and the tiler should be coming in the next week or two.  We've not booked our flights yet or applied for Barry's passport, but they're on the 'to do' list again this month ...

I wonder if it's the cold, damp and dark weather that stops us from moving forward as much as we plan to?  Roll on lighter brighter days ...

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The best laid plans and a Happy Matariki (Maori New Year)...

There's one thing you can be sure of when you manage a project - there will be variances from the original plan!  Having finally managed to brainstorm all the jobs we'll need to accomplish prior to returning to the canals in 2013, including those things you do to make your house more saleable, yesterday we discovered a blocked drain from the kitchen sink (and horror of horrors, dishwasher!). The plumber hasn't yet discovered where the blockage is from, but we're suspecting it could be a rather large bill and not one we've budgeted for.

However, that's just money and 'stuff' that has to be done.  What's much worse now is that Barry's mum is poorly (more so than ever before), and in hospital, almost certainly she had a stroke on Sunday morning, and all we can do is take it a day at a time as to what the future holds for her.  Just two months ago she bought herself a brand new car (she felt sorry for Barry when I was working away and he was travelling the ten minutes to work by bike, so gave him her 'old' car, bless her!), was playing golf, and going to line dancing each week - at an incredible 88 years of age.  Her mother lived until she was 103, so she'll be most disappointed if she doesn't manage the same or a similar achievement.  Last December she travelled by herself to Australia, to visit her youngest son and daughter, so to now see her so unwell is heartbreaking.

It's also been unseasonably cold here in Gisborne, which doesn't help matters, but the shortest day is tomorrow and it's also Matariki here in New Zealand, which is the Maori New Year and the name of a group of stars known as Pleiades star cluster or 'The Seven Sisters'.  It seems logical that we should be looking at a New Year when the nights are long and winter is well and truly upon us - the same time of year that it is celebrated in the northern hemisphere.

So we get to consider New Year's resolutions twice in this beautiful country.  Mine will be around trusting the universe that all that's happening is as it's meant to be, that I be mindful of how easily I can become passionate about midwifery work to the detriment of other, more important things in my life (i.e. people such myself and Barry!), and to not be afraid of the challenges and changes which we'll be facing over the next year as we begin the enormous changes necessary to move from one hemisphere to the other.

We are greatly inspired by so many lovely people who contacted us when we were enjoying the canals aboard Northern Pride in 2009 and 2010, and have completed or almost completed the journey before us as a long-term prospect - Tom and Jan from narrowboat Waiouru who have had to overcome so many hurdles on their road to the cut from Australia last year, Paul and Elaine from NB The Manly Ferry (aka Narrowboat Caxton) who got to England this year from Manly (who we had the pleasure of visiting there twice) and of course Elly and Mick from NB 'yet to be determined', who sadly I read are also experiencing the challenge of a sick mum as they are almost ready to travel to the UK - our hearts and hope are with you.

Happy New Year!

Monday 11 June 2012

Getting to grips with self-employment and Barry’s visa application …

Every year it seems that time moves by more quickly – we're already almost half way though 2012 and it doesn’t seem that long since the New Year!  In just over a week it’ll be the shortest day and longest night here in the Southern Hemisphere – which is good news for us as it means our days will then become longer - possibly not so good for those of you reading from the Northern hemisphere, where you seem to have sadly lost your summer weather once again.

Last time I wrote I'd recently taken on my new role as project coordinator for the maternity quality and safety programme in Gisborne, and it's been full-on for the past 6 weeks..  I know that if I continue in this role until we return to England, it's definitely going to be one that that takes up a considerable proportion of my time.

My concern here, as I know is an issue for many people, is around maintaining a good work/life balance and not allowing one aspect to ‘take over’ in my passion to fulfil my obligations to the maternity services here by taking on the role.  The plan had been to concentrate more on my Life Coaching this year, whilst getting our house ready to sell and de-cluttering our enormous array of ‘stuff’ that we have both managed to acquire.  The Life Coaching is still incredibly important to me, as it's how I intend to earn a modest income when we return to UK, and I shall make time to complete my diploma and see lots of lovely clients for my case study hours as well as those who continue on a maintenance basis - and fit in some fun things too, like going to Samoa for a week in August and two of my sisters coming for a three week holiday in November!  So it's not all work and no play ...

On another positive side, the project post is on a contractual basis, so I’m paid an hourly rate, which was the only way I could work it in with my other commitments (as is my locum midwifery post at Te Puia Springs), so I’m having to get to grips with the concept of self-employment for the first time in my life – it’s certainly different to someone just paying you a salary, having deducted whatever needs to be taken out and then you can spend your money however you wish!  Now I’m learning how to invoice, whether or not I need to be GST registered (similar to VAT in UK), what receipts I have to keep and what spending I have to keep account of, a log book for my car journeys and a monthly ‘cash book’ that I must keep to give to the accountant at the end of the year, if not before.  It feels like keeping accounts is a part time job in itself!

Last week I finally managed to overcome my (irrational?) fear of visiting an accountant – taking the easy option and going to Barry’s longstanding firm, and bless him he came with me to give in his end of year books so I had his hand to hold!  Now I just have to do the paperwork for last year’s income I earned that wasn’t taxed, from being a midwifery mentor, hiring TENS machines, renting our house out as a holiday home, and Life Coaching.

The great thing is that when we come back onto the British canal system in 2013, I'll be so au fait with self employment that I won’t be in the least fazed by then working out how to do my accounting in another country – or at least that’s the plan!

Barry's downloaded the visa application for his UK residency, and he’ll be working on completing that and probably visiting the Embassy in Wellington in the next few months. He was stumped on the first question “What date do you arrive in the UK?”!!!  So it looks like we’ll need to bite the bullet and book our tickets well in advance, before we even put the house on the market, and then we'll have a date to work our ‘project plan’ on – seeing the vision and working backwards to break it all down into manageable steps and prevent it all feeling so overwhelming.

In the meantime, here's a few photos Barry took while we were there in March:

Swanning about on The River severn, Worcester

Sandra (with a bit of M & S shopping!) and her mum and dad

An unusual lock paddle pulley system at Maunsel Lock, on the Bridgewater  and Taunton Canal

We're hoping to book tickets to arrive towards the end of March 2013, before my mum’s 80th birthday on 24th, so we have a nine-month gestation period to grow our dream baby!

Watch this space …