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 24 December 2013

Seasons greetings everyone

Happy Xmas!

This will be our final post for 2013, as we're leaving the boat until 7th January, visiting family. Christmas Day will be spent half at my daughter's home in Malpas with her family and my younger daughter who's come up from Brighton, and in the afternoon we'll travel to Ombersley to be with my parents. On Boxing Day we'll drive up to Lichfield to see my eldest sister and her children and grandchildren.

On 28th December we'll set off again, this time onto the M5 to Exeter, to see my youngest sister for a New Year, leaving there for my next sister down in Southampton on 2nd January.

On 3rd January it's a short drive to Brighton to celebrate my youngest daughter's birthday, then back to my parents for a night or two before heading back to Tattenhall.

Phew! How lucky are people who have family all living within a short distance of each other! I often question how we came to be so far apart. It wasn't always like this. For many years we all lived in Sutton Coldfield, and spent Xmas and New Year together. I guess it's just how it is nowadays for many families.

We were really touched on Saturday night, when we went for our weekly night out at the Marina Bar (Scotty's), and were told we had a couple of letters and a parcel. As we weren't expecting anything, we were curious as to who had sent us what! 

One of the envelopes contained a Xmas card from Angie and Dave, from NB Lady Esther, the couple we met at Market Harborough (we blogged about the synchronicity of meting them in April). They'd sent us a wedding card to the Dog and Doublet in September 2009, after following our blog. We were really touched they'd taken the time and trouble to get in touch again - thanks guys, hope to catch you again in 2014.

Seeing the package I wondered if I'd ordered something and forgotten - what a delightful surprise it turned out to be. A Marks and Spencer's Hamper of delectable goodies from our friends in Sheffield, Sarah and Fred. Now gifts like this we can handle, they're not bringing unnecessary 'stuff' into the world. Yum!

And so this is Christmas, and what have we done? Well we've had an amazingly adventurous 2013, which included memorable and magical things such as: 
  • Saying a sad 'Haere Ra', farewell for now, to family and friends in Gisborne and other places in New Zealand
  • Moving from New Zealand to England in March, returning to the Inland Waterways in April after buying NB 'Areandare' 
  • Welcoming on board zillions hordes of vivacious visitors from England and even six New Zealand friends on separate occasions who've made room in their holiday itineraries to spend time with us
  • Catching up with fellow narrowboaters who we'd met in 2009 and 2010, as well as getting to know lots of lovely new kindred boating souls
  • Barry returning to NZ in August, successfully selling his 'Home Brew Supplies' shop 'Ezimade', AND obtaining stage 1 of his UK residency visa
  • Experiencing life in a Marina for the first time, meeting some great people, and being just a short bus ride away from my eldest daughter and grandsons - bliss!
  • Barry returned to UK late October - for the foreseeable future ;-)
  • Two articles published in the Gisborne Herald Weekender supplement about our 2009 and 2010 travels
  • Appearing in Waterways World twice (one was in the January 2014 edition, but it was published in December so we can count it!)
  • About to spend my first Xmas in England for nine years, and Barry's first since his one and only other  in 1976

Mesmerised by the glitter and tinsel of the Xmas shop in Chester

How many baubles can you fit on one Xmas tree?!

When we drive back to Tattenhall on 7th January, all the colourful lights brightening up the dark nights during December will have been taken down which is a shame. Wouldn't it be lovely if people left them up until spring?

Happy Christmas everyone, and we wish a peaceful and prosperous New Year to you all. Thank you for reading our stories and sharing our trials, tribulations and thrills.

We look forward to connecting once again in 2014, as we embark on our year of making it happen - focussing as always on enjoying time with family and friends, whilst vitally next year taking forward ways of earning sufficient funds to sustain a minimalistic lifestyle living aboard our narrowboat, whilst continuously cruising the Inland Waterways - from 1st March 2014.

It's going to be interesting!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Waterways World feature once again, and a wonderful weekend

We're currently feeling a little like 'Retiring Afloat' pin-ups having appeared as the feature photo in two consecutive Waterways World articles! When we sent in six photos of 'retired' boaters, we didn't imagine them using the ones of us, especially not such large ones lol! 

It's quite disconcerting to see ourselves staring back like this ...

January waterways World article - featuring Richard, Rivka, Sandra and Barry aboard Areandare

The lovely Pam and Terry from NB Rooster's Rest appear once again on the contents page. Sadly they didn't publish a few other photos of 'mature' couples on boats that we sent in (Sue and Vic from NB No Problem were one). Maybe another time.  Once again, the photo was taken with someone else's camera, this time Richard's from New Zealand - now he really IS officially 'retired' and drawing a pension!

It was the lovely Helen and Andy who brought said copy of WW to the boat last weekend, when they came to stay for a couple of nights. What fun we had. Andy managed to get two blogs from the visit, you can read them here and here. He took some fabulous shots of Barry feeding our friendly swan (don't show the children!) - by getting him to literally take the bread from his mouth! Yes he is completely crazy fearless!

We had a cracking day in Chester, having persuaded a very reluctant Andy to experience a bus journey (damn the bus driver for being late entailing an uncomfortable wait in the cold and rain - that didn't persuade him one iota of the merits of public transport!). We walked the walls once more, and while Andy and Barry were distracted with their lenses, Helen and I ducked into a quaint-looking pub for a drink. Now Andy, in his blog, suggests that he and Barry talked the landlord into letting us stay for a drink after closing time. The reality is that Helen and I were chatted up, in their absence, and they suggested actually locking the doors so the boys couldn't get in, while the girls enjoyed a pint! Now that would've been a table turning event if ever there was one!  In the spirit of the festive season, we decided to show goodwill to our men, and not torture them ...

A grainy shot from Sandra's iPhone (must clean the lens more often!), Barry, Helen, Sandra and Andy in the very old-worlde Albion Inn

There was a plethora of memorabilia from in the early 20th century to keep us amused - this one below is especially for all the lager drinkers in England and New Zealand - mostly for you Tony Fox!

The Albion Inn, where the landlord has remained continuously for 37 years, and the interior decor iconically captures the essence of the 1914-18 Great War - well worth a visit if you're in Chester

Oh, and to finish, we're celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary today. This year we're off to the local 'Letters Inn' for a couple of drinks, a Chinese meal and to St Albans Church to sing some carols.

Barry and Sandra sign the register 22nd December 2009, Wainui Beach

Sunday 15 December 2013

Auto Awesome from Google+ - incredible!!

Shortly after posting today, I received a notification from Google+  a photo had been picked to 'twinkle' - and here it is! I adore technology, how incredible is this ...

Truly magical, I'm beginning to love Christmas in England after all :-)

'Tis the season to be jolly - feeling Christmassy in Chester and resisting the pressure to spend!

Most weeks recently, Barry's been tootling up the canal on the boat to Christleton on Mondays, to play Badminton at the High School there. Meanwhile I catch the bus and spend the day in Malpas with my daughter and grandsons, returning to Barry in the evening.

Last week we decided to stay for two nights 'on the cut', and walk into Chester from Christleton on Tuesday to do a bit of shopping we needed, and see the Xmas lights and market. We'd have loved to take the boat, but the first lock is closed for maintenance until 20th December.

I'm trying to be enthusiastic about a season I have some challenges with - mostly in respect of the ridiculous amount of pressure people feel to spend money they don't have on 'stuff' no-one needs. I loved Christmas in my eight years of the summer in New Zealand - the warmth and light of the days gave it a completely different feel - it really was a time for being jolly as you can see from a particular decoration below ...

A surfing santa in NZ

Contrast with the lights and noticeable difference in the diluted blue of the wintry sky in Chester ...

The Chester Xmas Market

Xmas tree and lights in Chester 

We walked around town for a few hours, and according to the 'Map My Walk' app on my iPhone's calculations, including the distance from Christleton, we walked 26.9kms! Barry's back wasn't up to returning by foot to the boat, after badminton the night before as well, so we caught the bus back.

I was very pleased with myself for managing to resist all temptations of the array of glitter and sparkle in every shop. The only xmas decorations purchase I succumbed to was buying batteries for one pound I needed for a father xmas I bought in 2005.

To put into perspective the real problem of unnecessary xmas spending (I'm reassured it's not just me who hates the waste), 'Life Squared' has a great publication called 'How to have a better Xmas'. One of the horrifying statistics they quote is 'Britain uses over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, which produces over 83 square km of rubbish - enough to cover Guernsey." Scary aye, are you sure you still need to buy all that wrapping paper?!

Admittedly it's lovely though, seeing the lights around on the dark nights, I'd forgotten quite how magical it makes the evenings here. On the boat, we're keeping our decorations to a minimum, having brought a few things over from NZ ...

 L to R - Knitted crackers from Ombersley church xmas tree fete (20p each!), Rudolph bought by a German girl my daughter met on her travels to NZ in December 2005 and who stayed with us over Xmas, a Snoopy xmas stocking my girls bought me many years ago and filled with treats bless them, a 'pop-up' narrowboating xmas scene bought for us by friends in NZ a few years ago, and an illuminated santa claus bought in December 2005 in Tauranga, NZ, all on a little embroidered tablecloth I bought from a Gran Canaria holiday in 1995!

In the cratch we have some holly and berries from Ombersley in the herb planter, with baubles hanging from it - we 'found' said (brand new) baubles in a black rubbish bag under a bridge this year along the canal, and 'rescued' them! I have indulged and bought some Xmas lights - five pounds from Wilkinsons for 20 LED battery operated ones that hang on the holly. So with the batteries for santa claus and the stockings, I've spent a total of six pounds and forty pence on xmas decorations, not bad I think.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Sandra plays her cards right after Barry's birthday, and aspirations for a happy Xmas

We returned to Areandare last Tuesday evening, after spending another few days with my parents, and Barry's short trip to Brighton to catch up with his mate Dickie and meet Ray for the first time. Barry spent just 46 hours on the south coast, as Dickie was leaving for a work trip to Southampton. I'm not sure he would've coped with any longer - certainly our meagre personal allowances wouldn't support any more outrageous Guinness drinking! The sustenance of the two days was very much of the liquid, not solid, variety ...

Barry, Dickie and Ray (NB Stronghold)

Back in Droitwich, we unfortunately discovered our hired car had been deeply scraped on the passenger door handle whilst parked, we assume, in 'Morrison's' car park. We choose never to partake of the offered 'extra' insurance by Enterprise to reduce the potential excess of £750, as we figure the odds are very much in our favour. I've only ever, in 36 years of driving, had one car accident - and that was when someone ploughed into my rear end when I was stationary at a traffic island. We reckon on the balance of probabilities, we'll still save money in the long-run, as we hire cars every month or two. This year we'll have hired six times since March, so if the extra is around £10 a day (can't recall how much!), it would've cost us heaps more and saved us nothing. The door handle repair cost £134.

It's all a gamble really isn't it, this insurance lark? We have a car booked over xmas and NY, so we're hoping the weather remains as unseasonably mild as it's been lately! The cold snap that's been forecast for weeks has yet to materialise, in Cheshire at least - yet another case of what I perceive to be the mass negativity propaganda of the British media.

Last Friday was Barry's 58th birthday, only his second winter one, the first being his 21st in 1976! He's more used to a summer celebration, with a BBQ and party with friends in the long, light evening of New Zealand. He's more than happy though, and enjoyed a good old British breakfast to start the day, and a traditional British pub to end it.

In the afternoon we had a stroll into Tattenhall, where we popped into the church to see the decorations and check out the ambience (we may not be 'believers', but there's something very warm and welcoming about British churches I find) and were greeted with 'messy church', a cup of tea and biscuit (love Tattenhall people!), and a sing along with guitar for some village children. Then it was time for a few pints in the warm and cosy 'Letters Inn'. We were invited to join some locals in the corner, chatting amiably to them for a couple of hours, before being offered a lift back to the Marina in a retired farmer's Mercedes. There's not many places where that would happen - a wonderful day.

Barry and his new mate Keith, snug in the corner

My sister Kath joined us on Saturday, so we took her on our hour-long circuit walk along the canal and then back around the country lanes.

In the evening we were happily surprised to discover that fate decided we weren't to miss Scott's bar 'Play Your Cards Right' while we were away. I won £49 by being the only person of about 25 present to make it twice through the board amidst calls of "Higher", "Lower", etc, and amazingly not a single pair ("You get nothing for a pair"). With that and my recent £500 win with the Avon Consumer panel, I'm confident 2014 is going to be a financially successful year for us.

Kath and Barry walk towards the setting sun

Barry gets into Beeston Castle on his second attempt, making the most of Kath's car on Sunday

Talking of finances, I'd forgotten quite how crazy the Christmas madness becomes in UK, this being my first one for nine years.  As we choose not to possess a TV, we aren't subjected to the persistent advertising frenzy (apart from via social media which is bad enough!), but we do experience it at my mum and dad's. It really has got out of hand IMHO.

I'm very conscious of contrasts between xmas in UK and NZ. In the southern hemisphere it's the season of long, warm, sunny days, so not many decorations are needed or noticed - the days tend towards being naturally gorgeous, bright and cheerful! However, in June and July, there's little to brighten up the days, and I remember thinking they could do with something similar there then! But definitely not with all the commercialism that seems to be paramount here.

I do love to see the xmas lights in UK though, in the houses and shops. What I don't love is the potential for so many people to verge towards being sadder than ever at this time of year, when they may feel as though their lives aren't filled with as much love and comfort as others. People who are alone, people who are homeless, people who are abused, for instance.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I aspire to 
  • keep it all in perspective
  • enjoy the things about the festive season that bring joy to people
  • appreciate that spending money we don't have, on stuff we or others don't need, is not great for us individually or collectively
  • look around and see who could do with a bit more love, and our presence, rather than presents

More xmas aspirations and possibilities for seasonal cheer spreading in the next post ...

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Tattenhall take two, more about life in the marina - and credit where credit's due!

In the previous post, I missed a very apt photograph Barry had taken, which shows the measure of risk we take on our walks into Tattenhall. There's a tiny piece of grass on the right hand side that we can jump onto when there's cars/trucks coming either side, to avoid collisions. The hedge is spiky, so there's nothing to hold onto!

It's always worthwhile though. How fortunate are we to live so close to such a gorgeous village, with an engagingly friendly feel, well maintained and obviously loved by its inhabitants.

Life in the marina is peaceful, despite there being quite a few live-aboards around. We're managing to keep cosy with the central heating, the stove in the Boatman's Cabin and a small electric blow heater in the lounge/dining area. Admittedly I'm pining occasionally for the warmth of the New Zealand summer - it's my first British winter for nine years and it hasn't even officially begun yet so I'm remaining stoical whenever possible (Barry will disagree!).

Every Saturday night at Scott's Bar, opposite our mooring, there's some form of entertainment. It seems to be on a rolling plan of quiz night, dominoes knock out, 'Play Your Cards Right', and shuffleboard (see below). We've experienced three of the four, sadly we'll miss Brucie's game this Saturday as I'm off to my parents again whilst Barry is jumping on the train at Birmingham New Street (so long as Enterprise collect us on time in the morning!) to go to Brighton for two nights to see his mate Dickie. We've also heard from Ray of NB Stronghold, that he may finally get to meet Barry in person on one of the evenings as he also knows Dickie. Watch out Brighton!

For a few weeks now, the starlings have been flocking each evening and providing us with the most awe inspiring sights. They fly in at dusk, then seem to get into formation for a while, then break off into groups, and finally they all swoop down and land in a small clearing. It's like they're attending a planning meeting to discuss the best route and destination to escape the cold British winter ...

Our two resident mallards are frequently to be found almost knocking at the kitchen window, and I can imagine them quacking "Please miss, can we have some bread?" 

My Mondays and Fridays recently have been spent supporting my eldest daughter with our now two grandsons - so I hop on the 0815hrs bus, a ten minute walk away from the boat, for the twenty minute journey to Malpas. My prize for leaving the warmth of our bed at such an hour (I realise most people are generally up way before this!), is I get to watch the sunrise on a clear day. 

The sun rising on Friday - into a spectacularly clear blue sky ...

… the same view on Monday, three days later, the sun rising into a sky filled with criss-crossing vapour trails from aircraft - why is that? Different atmospheric pressure? Or is there a rush to fly away on a Monday morning?

Almost finally, here's the article I mentioned in the last post. Imagine my surprise to open up the page and see Barry and me staring back! Not what I was expecting at all. It's a colourful photo we adore, that epitomises our joy of being back on the waterways in April 2013, taken though by the very talented Andy Tidy from NB Wandr'ng Bark. We'd informed Waterways World that this particular shot was Andy's, but they have credited Barry on the side of the image.

On the contents page is a happy shot of Pam and Terry from NB Rooster's Rest, and we're reliably informed that there'll be another couple of pictures in the January issue. I'm not revealing who may appear then - as although we know which photos we supplied, we don't know WW choice yet, lol!

It's an interesting article about 'retiring afloat', although this edition mostly provided details of different boats to buy, rather than any interactions and/or instances of people's lived experiences of such a life. And you're right to be thinking we haven't retired - in fact we're not sure we'll ever 'officially' retire, and we're certainly not waiting to live until that man-made time and age.

Barry's been plugging away getting his new website up and running over the past couple of weeks, putting up shelves on board and making a top box; and we're just waiting to hear about a few set-up details before we can launch the details of his new business on the blog. And I may even reveal my plans for another small income stream which will work very well alongside his, during the summer months.

Watch this space ...

Friday 15 November 2013

Photography by Barry - getting to know Tattenhall

Staying in one place for a while has the distinct advantage of being able to get to know the local area. You'll all be very happy to hear I've managed to get Barry to give me some of his recent photos from our explorations, which coming posts will feature.

Today it's Tattenhall's turn, our closest village. It's a thirty minute walk away from Tattenhall Marina, or a five minute, two stops, bus ride. Sadly the walk is marred by the fact that there's no footpath, so we take our lives in our hands each time we choose the exercise route (and the buses aren't terribly frequent), dodging speeding cars and trucks by jumping up on the tiny piece of turf on one side of the road. We've been told, by the barman at The Letters Inn, that a pavement is planned to be built at some stage. Maybe by next winter?

Tattenhall is quite a small place, with a population of around 2,000 people, but still manages to have three pubs and so far I've counted three hairdressers too! Apparently it also contains 27 listed buildings, designated by English Heritage. What a joy to be 'parked' nearby.

Tomorrow we'll be back at The Letters Inn to watch The All Blacks thrash England at Rugby - I'm hoping Richie will be playing, it's a while since I've seen him ...

 St Alban's church

Little Morton Hall, one of the listed buildings, which can be seen from the footpath next to the church

There's also a small library at the back of the primary school which Barry and I have joined, so we can keep up a supply of reading material for the cold, dark months ahead. It's the place we can book onto the internet and print anything we need, before we invest in one for the boat.

The Barbour Institute holds all sorts of functions, film nights and classes, and yesterday I started 'Zumba Gold' classes there (dancing exercise to Latin American music - for the over 50s!). I'd contacted the instructor not long after Barry went to NZ in August, but there wasn't enough interest at that time. It meant getting up earlier than normal, and walking to Tattenhall in the rain, the day my body decided to start a cold! Fortunately two of the others in the class (of four!) were from Tattenhall Marina so I got a lift back - hurrah!

The Barbour Institute

Lots of delightful  houses in Tattenhall, and still an abundance of flowers blooming in autumn

Barry's photographs in print
A few weeks ago we were contacted by Waterways World seeking photographs of retired couples living aboard narrowboats, for an article they were publishing. Barry looked in his files and found some lovely shots. The piece is in the December issue, though we haven't had a chance to see it yet, so keep a look out for them! There may be a few familiar faces ...

Sunday 10 November 2013

Playing around with Google and getting some interesting results ...

Have you ever Googled yourself? 

When Barry and I first started dating in January 2006, I gave him a short overview of my life and work history, and he Googled me! I was shocked to say the least, but then quite flattered as I saw my name featured strongly on the first few pages as I'd recently had a high profile role in UK.

A few nights ago I must've been procrastinating about something, and ventured onto Google. I've done it a few times previously, and play around with my first and surname, then adding my middle name into the mix. It may sound odd, but I find it a bit weird to discover there are other people out there called 'Sandra Walsh'! Anyway, I get a few mentions, from a variety of publications over the years and recently (and of course this blog), and from my Life Coaching Blog

Then I tried Barry Teutenberg - guess what? There's not so many people out there with that name! Barry did suggest that if I wanted to be more 'unique' I could change my surname, which is a possibility, but that would bring in all sorts of other complexities.

So, onto Barry Teutenberg. He has the monopoly on the Google search until half way down page three! We discovered his prints for sale on Amazon, and via an American Fine Arts website. Interestingly we found one his favourite shots, of a rainy day in Worcester, had been turned into a cartoon by " Canuck-Girl-In-Worcester".

As Barry can now work legitimately in UK, I've refreshed the Facebook Page I started in 2011, and added in the link to the website where people can buy his prints - I'd never even seen it before! I've suggested to Barry that maybe I can be his VA - he'd never heard this term before. It's a 'Virtual Assistant'. You can pay people to co-ordinate your social media, write your newsletters, set up your website, etc., without ever even meeting them. Barry is more than capable of the website development (which I find challenging), and is working on his new one as I type. But he's not so hot on the social media side - Facebook, Twitter, emailing, etc, which I love doing.

So what a great team we make, complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses. Visit the links and see what you think. And maybe do a Google search for your self and let us know how you get on!

Friday 1 November 2013

Barry's back on board the whare waka, brewing all sorts of concoctions and plans ...

Barry's been back in the UK for a week now, having managed to talk the customs officer into letting him in - seriously, even WITH a legitimate UK visa in his passport, they still quizzed him on arrival! Luckily I was waiting in arrivals, so if there'd been serious concerns about whether he really is married to a British Citizen, I could've spoken up. The small issue of me forgetting to take my own passport along is immaterial ...

The UK visa in his passport - hurrah!

I'm very disappointed in my country of birth I have to say. Not only did Barry not receive a hearty 'haere mai' last week, even when he received his visa in the post, it came solely with the paperwork we'd submitted as evidence of our marriage and finances returned. Not a single word of 'WELCOME' to the UK! I distinctly recall when I emigrated to NZ in 2005, the visa came with lots of information on living in NZ, and I had a friendly contact not far from Gisborne to contact at any time. And each time we return to NZ, they welcome me back. Shame on you UK. Ah well, there was someone in arrivals who was very happy to see him, and I'm sure lots of other people here in UK, so we won't allow the lack of positivity to affect us ...

Just before Barry returned, our second article was published in the Gisborne Herald Weekender. Click on the link to read - it won't be on their website for long! The third in the series will obviously be about our 'indefinite' return. I'm comforted though that if our efforts to make this lifestyle sustainable are not successful, I and Barry, will be WELCOMED back to NZ! Only time will tell ..

Of course we're very determined to make it work. Barry has another five years to get 'Indefinite Leave to Remain', and a few more hurdles to jump through to acquire such 'privilege'. And there's heaps of things we DO love about UK, being close to my family, catching up with friends, oh and of course the Inland Waterways - just not the negativity that seems to abound in many bureaucracies here. 

 Back on board and look who else is very happy to see Barry 

As the autumn weather and darkness descends on UK, I recognise other stark contrasts between the northern and southern hemispheres. Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Xmas, are all celebrated much more energetically and enthusiastically here due to the differing seasons. It'll be my first British winter for nine years - it's going to be interesting how we cope with it!

Yum! Pumpkin soup

Spooky face at the front of the boat brightening up the wet weather

So now our focus is on making this lifestyle sustainable. We've manifested our dream, and feel suitably proud whilst being aware of the challenges that lie ahead! Living on board such a confined space whilst 'working from home' has its moments, and already Barry has decided to set up his 'space' in the Boatman's Cabin at the rear of the boat. He's not silly - that's where the stove/heater is! Next year we hope to have one at the front of the boat too ...

Barry the Boatman (just for you Trish!)

There's going to be lots brewing in the coming days, weeks and months, so watch this space!

(For those with no knowledge of Maori, here's a translation from the post: Haere Mai = welcome
Whare waka = house boat)

Friday 18 October 2013

The next chapter in the adventure of 'Barry and Sandra' is about to commence ...

Life in the Marina (when I'm here that is!), will be changing considerably from next week when Barry returns from New Zealand - yay! I did however chat with him on the phone yesterday, and found myself saying I had some trepidation about his return as I've grown accustomed to having the 'space' of the whole table to work on, and I'm going to find it challenging to adjust to begin with! I suspect I could easily live alone on a boat - so long as I didn't have to move it anywhere - though I reckon I could even do that with a bit of practice ...

Life in the Marina is nourishing. I thought I'd miss the variety of changing the area we 'live' most days - but I don't! I love:
  • Electric hook up
  • Water whenever I want it
  • Being able to get my shopping delivered to the end of the gangplank (thank you Tesco)
  • Having a rubbish bin at the end of the gangplank
  • Knowing there's pump-out only a short distance away so it's fine to wait for the 'red-light'
  • Having the teenage cygnet coming to visit and the three mallards who've decided AreandAre is THEIR boat (and fight off any intruders)
  • Being a five minute walk from a fairly frequent bus service to Chester or Whitchurch
  • Being a twenty minute car or bus journey from my eldest daughter and grandson (and fantastic news - they're about to welcome a new addition to the family)
  • Being across the road to the Ice Cream Factory so when I have the honour of caring for our grandson we have somewhere to 'play'
  • Having some lovely fellow boaters around who are friendly and helpful
  • Having a reliable 'Three' Mifi signal so I can 'work from home' on my business
This is all helpful to me to recognise that whilst I love Barry immensely, and really will adore having him back beside me, I also know I love 'being' with my self - which is something as a life coach I help to bring out and nurture in my clients - such a vital key to happiness.

Talking of which - look at this for a beautiful photograph depicting the bliss of a hug from a very special friend ...

Rivka and Richard made a detour on their travels to visit me at the end of September, and are now back in Gisborne (arriving the day Barry left there!), and today I 'discovered' this picture on their blog.  So many people and places I miss about Gisborne - so I won't even begin to broach that subject, but know you all live in my heart.

Onto the past week ...

Well I had a wonderfully inspiring five days in Northern Ireland. Prior to leaving, I visited the hairdresser for the first time since March - I decided to 'step-up' and look a little more like the woman on my business cards instead of a crazy boat-woman! You'll see the difference below.

No photos of the country though, as that wasn't on the itinerary (though I saw Belfast from the motorway and it reminded me of Wellington, a beautiful horse-shoe shaped harbour and houses on the hills) - this time. It was a combination of 'work' and play, though to be fair I don't consider what I 'do' as a life coach to be 'work', it's so different to what I've been used to calling that and I'm loving it. 

Here's a shot of the group of coaches, social media gurus, holistic therapists and all sorts of fascinating business people who gathered to discover more about sales and marketing. It was amazing to be amongst such positive and proactive people, and I know my horizons expanded greatly from the time spent with them. Thank you Bernadette Doyle (she's the beautiful woman just under my chin).

I even spoke up - which for many people reading this isn't surprising, but for me it was out of my comfort zone on the first day in front of a room full of people I'd never met before!

The deciding factor for participating in the weekend's conference, was to spend time with a dear friend who I knew when I lived in Hampshire, in 1985 to 1987. We haven't seen each other since that time, and our lives have taken many twists and turns along the way, but it was like we'd turned back the clock. Thank you Alison and Alan for your amazingly warm and generous hospitality - I shall bring Barry back over to see you at some point in time - or come and experience a different lifestyle aboard our floating hallway! 

Alison, Alan and Sandra about to go out for dinner

This afternoon I have Enterprise picking me up from the Marina, and I'm off to spend ten days with my parents - oh yes! And pick up my husband next Friday morning from Heathrow!

Here's a shot of the Marina for you Barry - not long to wait now and you'll be back with your beloved - and your gorgeous wife :-)

Sunday 6 October 2013

We have a date - let the new life begin!

It took a bit of working around, but after a phone call to Malaysia Airlines, I managed to move 1,000 air miles to Barry's 'Enrich' account so he could book a return flight. With the taxes and surcharges, it cost around NZ$500 - still less than half the price it would normally cost for a one-way ticket from Auckland to Heathrow. He arrives in London early on Friday 25th October, just two months and twelve days after leaving UK on 13th August.

We'd like to 'publicly' acknowledge the amazing work Colin Bonos, from 'ivisas' in New Zealand, has carried out on our behalf; and for all his skilful knowledge, friendly and informative support and advice along the complex journey of gaining Barry's initial 'spousal sponsored visa'. There's another two stages to 'pass through' before he reaches the destination of 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK, but we'll cross those bridges when the time comes.

On 21st September, the first of our articles, 'A Life Changing Journey', was published in the Gisborne Herald Weekender supplement. Well done Amy from NB Willow for picking up a glaring error. Can anyone else spot it (no cheating friends and family and looking at Facebook!)? The second part winged its way to Gisborne earlier today, and just needs Barry to drop into the offices (in person I suspect) some stunning photography to complement it.

Next week I'm off to Belfast for a 'More Clients, More Leads, More Sales' conference by Bernadette Doyle, a go-getting entrepreneur who I bought an online marketing package from last year and the ticket was part of the deal. So I'm taking up the opportunity of attending my first ever Life Coaching related conference/event, and staying with a beautiful friend I haven't seen for 25 years! How exciting! 

Wednesday 2 October 2013

More good news, no date yet, and visitors from Melborne!

It seems everything's falling into place for us now, with the final piece of the project plan we put in place over twelve months ago materialising this week. Ezimade, Barry's home brew supply shop (and website) in Gisborne, was officially 'SOLD' to the extraordinary fairy woman who's been managing it for him since we left New Zealand in March. Huge congratulations to you Adrienne, and good luck with taking the business forward in magical ways only you know how. I'm certain she'll flourish and succeed, just as Barry will as he begins a similar venture here in UK, once he returns with his visa.

I'm waiting to hear from Barry about a date for his arrival, hoping it won't be too challenging for him to find an available flight now he has the go-ahead! I'm sure he'll do everything he can to get back asap, whilst making the most of the time left in the southern hemisphere to continue his catch-up with family and friends.

In the meantime I was blessed with a short visit by Barry's cousin Craig, his wife Sally and their son Clancy, on Monday afternoon. They're on a whistle stop tour of UK and then off to Paris next week. Hopefully they'll come back another time and stay with us longer when Barry's here, but how fabulous to see them and be able to show them AreandAre in Barry's absence. Great to see you all, have oodles of fun for the remainder of your European adventures.

Sally, Clancy and Craig

Monday 30 September 2013

Great news on the visa front - and we had a red light!

I had an early birthday present on Friday when all the crossing of body parts paid off - Barry's UK visa application has been successful! Hurrah! Just under six weeks since the paperwork was sent to the sorting office, Barry received it all back, along with a visa stamp in his passport. Sadly he can't return until after 21st October, which is the date we recorded expecting he'd need time to sell his NZ business and get everything sorted there. Now he just has to complete the sale of 'ezimade' and find an available flight - we've enough points with Malaysian Airlines to fund a one way ticket.

My younger sister Viv, and her fiancee Ray, arrived on board Friday afternoon and we had a bit of a celebration of the wonderful news with their generous offering of Gin and Tonic in the evening. It's been a while since I've partaken of any spirits (of the liquid variety), and was a little worse for wear when we called Barry via Skype just after midnight. A bit of a reversal of roles, lol!

We still managed to haul ourselves out of bed at a fairly decent time on Saturday morning, my birthday, and after Lisa, Kim (who was up for the weekend) and our grandson visited the boat, we headed into Chester to walk the wall. The route passes the racecourse, and fortuitously it was the last 'Race Day' of the year. The huge crowd was blessed with a glorious sunny day - a good job as many of the women seemed to be dressed sparsely in expectation of summer, rather than early autumn. Our wanderings were interrupted for a good hour or more, as we gazed and gawped at the occasionally stunning but often incredibly skimpy and skin-tight outfits, watching the women tottering precariously on unbelievably high heels. Good fun though, and we hung around long enough to see one of the races sweep by ...

The second race of the day at 1430hrs

Age Maturity caught up with us in the early evening, and we succumbed to a little 'power nap' before getting dressed up and walking along the unlit country road to Tattenhall for a very tasty meal  in 'Thai at the Bear'.

 Lisa, Kim, Viv, Ray and Sandra

Yesterday, Sunday, we paid a visit to Beeston Castle, a few miles away from the marina. The castle itself is in ruins, but it's still magnificent. The grounds are expansive, so a great place for children to run and climb with all their excess energy. I decided to invest in joint annual membership of English Heritage so we can visit again when Barry returns, and go to Chester Castle and all sorts of places for 'free', with other attractions around UK at a good discount. Last time we had membership in 2010, we didn't get the benefit in the six months, but we'll ensure we do this time!

Quite a walk up to the castle itself, but spectacular 360 degree views from inside the castle walls

The view from the top, it's said you can see eight counties on such a clear day - Tattenhall Marina is just to the right of the centre

Another steep ascent to enter the castle

Finally we had a red light showing at the pump-out panel on Sunday morning - how timely to wait until after my birthday, and while Ray and Viv were on board. Ray said "How hard can it be?". That's the spirit! However, rather than rush to get there and back before our castle visit with Lisa and Kim, I chose to be a little more relaxed about it and do it in the afternoon. There was not a drop of wind in the morning, but guess what? When we returned to the marina things had changed! Apprehensively I got everything ready, tried to remember how to start the engine, unplugged the hook-up and switched to 'generator', put the steering pole on (always helpful!), took a very deep breath, untied the ropes and just went for it.

And do you know what? It wasn't hard at all! Not a problem, despite having to reverse to the pump-out point (for those of you who aren't familiar with narrowboats, there's no steering in reverse gear). There, pumped out and back to base within twenty minutes, or at least that's how it felt! 

Like most things in life, it's the thoughts we build up about anything that cause them to seem frightening due to our recollection of previous events, and we expect the same (or worse!) to happen. Most of the time, if we choose to take a risk and go for it, life supports us and all goes well.