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 ...

Saturday 25 May 2013

Business cards balls up!

As part of setting up and establishing my Life Coaching business in the UK, we've been working on new business cards.  We normally use ''Vista Print' for these, and needed to edit my cards from New Zealand to include my UK phone number, and website/blog address.

Barry's great at designing these things, and getting it all set out - but once we'd agreed the design something technical happened (I can't remember what it was!) and he had to start again.  Eventually we got it right (or so we thought), and ordered 250, along with some blog cards for AREandARE.

Expecting them to be delivered to my parents around 10th May, I called them before visiting on 12th, only to be informed they hadn't arrived.  By the middle of last week they (apparently) still hadn't materialised there, so Barry emailed 'Vistaprint' and they re-sent the order which was very good of them.

While staying with my parents last Friday night and early Saturday morning, I sorted out my dad's car breakdown insurance cover that had run out.  He's 93 now and gets confused at times, so wasn't clear what the reminder letter was about.  After I'd done that, I opened a drawer to keep the information in the relevant place - and there was a parcel, addressed to me, with the first order of the business cards!  My dad must've answered the door to the postman/courier, put them in the drawer (not sure why!) without understanding what they were, and didn't tell my mum.

So now we'll have 500 business and blog cards.

We began giving the cards out to friends and family to share with anyone they wanted to, or to place in prominent, suitable places.  We gave a handful to Helen, from 'Wand'ring Bark', and took a handful of hers for her 'Wild Side Jams and Preserves' business (on a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' theory).

The following day Helen texted to ask if it was ok to put a link to my website/blog on their blog - and let us know that it wasn't on the business card - we were flummoxed! We'd edited the cards intensively, or so we thought, but lo and behold, she was right!  In the process of the technical hitch and re-doing the cards, we'd missed the website off the final version!

So now we'll have 500 business cards, without the vital link that explains who I am, what I do, and what options there are currently for coaching with me!  Admittedly it's there on my Facebook page if you look closely and open the relevant link, but many people don't 'do' Facebook - avoiding it at all costs.

Here's one of said the cards - minus the website/blog address of

Thank you Helen, it's amazing that we didn't notice and we're not sure how long it would've taken us to (isn't it funny how you sometimes see what you want to see?) - today I've ordered another 250, this time with my Life Coaching website/blog address on!  Now we just have to hope that my mum gets to the postman first, or we'll have to turn their house upside down looking for them in a few weeks time ...

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Loitering in Tamworth ...

Apologies are due - Barry didn't manage to find the time to post any photos last week while I was away as promised - he was too busy drinking pottering about on the boat doing all sorts of jobs.  He did do a bit of drinking too, especially after his boating accident when he slipped off the gunnel onto the corner of the cratch and gashed his eye ...

Returning to the boat after we'd spent a night with my sister in Lichfield, a couple of friends gave him a lift and of course it would've been rude not to go for a drink to the Swan at Fradley Junction with them.  The photo of his eye above was when I returned on Saturday - it was looking much less bruised by then I think.

The quaint bar at The Swan in Fradley Junction

We had some very bad news last Monday that's made us even more sure the move we've made is a good one for us.  On our return to Fradley, once we'd collected the hire car from Lichfield, we spotted a narrowboat we'd seen a couple of times on our trip in 2010.  We'd chatted to the boat's owners for ages in Goring and Bathampton, so were really pleased to see the boat again.  We hoped the same people were on board, and went to see before travelling to my sisters.  Indeed it was they - and we had a fabulous catch up over a cup of tea.  They had such plans for the future.  

Sadly, on Monday, Barry heard someone knocking on the boat around 0815hrs (of course he was still in bed!), and luckily managed to get himself up and out.  It was the narrowboat from Saturday, and he was told the man we'd re-met had, very sadly, unexpectedly collapsed and died the night before.  The lady said to Barry "We have a plaque on the boat which says 'Don't count the days, make every day count' - and we did!".  Bless you both, and rest in peace lovely man.  We feel very privileged to have spent time with you - and the photo I took by your boat may be the last one of you both, so please get in touch and I'll send it to you.

Carpe diem everyone - seize each day and be thankful for what you DO have, instead of worrying about what you don't - for one never knows what's around the next corner.

I spent last week in Brighton with my youngest daughter - so wonderful to see her and spend time in such a buzzing city.  The sun shone brightly on Thursday - and the beach was crowded even on a weekday - you've got to make the most of any opportunity for some vitamin D in England!

 Brighton seafront and pier

Enterprise have a great deal on car hire over Bank Holiday weekends, and we've been planning on hiring one to go to the Crick Boat Show.  Unfortunately I left it a little late to book one, and discovered they had none available from Birmingham, only Tamworth.  So rather than moving this week, we're just mooching around the Fazely/Glascote area ready to hire the car Friday morning.

It was lucky that we were still on this stretch of canal, as we had an unexpected surprise on Sunday when Andy and Helen texted to say they would be coming past us.  Another awesome evening with them, eating curry, drinking wine and playing six-handed rummy - marvellous!

I have some coaching clients booked in tomorrow and Thursday, so it's also useful to have good internet signal here.  

We'll be at Crick on Monday, and hope to finally meet Tom and Jan from NB Waioru.  Oh yes!  And we'll be looking for suitable life jackets for our grandson.  Lisa had bought one from Amazon, but it was too tight, and oh so bulky - does anyone have any suggestions for a good life jacket (that he'll feel comfortable wearing) for an almost four-year-old?

Friday 10 May 2013

Packing it all in ...

No, don't worry, that doesn't mean we've had enough and are returning to New Zealand!

For the next week or so though, I'm packing a lot in to see my eldest sister for her birthday tomorrow in Lichfield, then going to my parents in Ombersley on Sunday morning, and later that day travelling down to Brighton to see my youngest daughter, staying until Friday when I'll head back to mum and dad's.

I'm not sure why my family are so scattered, I suppose it's just the way of the world now for a lot of people.  It's lovely for me to be back here and able to visit them, though it's still a challenge getting to the various parts of the country!

He aha te mea nui o te ao? 
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world? 
It is people! It is people! It is people!

Maori Proverb (from Tairawhiti/Gisborne)

Barry will be 'boat alone' for six days.  If anyone's in the area, has some free time and wants some time on board with Barry, get in touch!

We're moored now just past Fradley Junction, and the lovely people at Enterprise (Lichfield) will come and pick us up tomorrow morning from The Swan Public House there - reportedly the most photographed pub on the system - we may pop in for a pint tonight, it'd be rude not to!  But just the one sadly ...

Enterprise car hire are a gift to boaters, as they collect you from wherever the boat is moored, take you back to the office and get you signed up.  Then they'll take you back again at the end of the car hire - marvellous!  I've looked at train prices to get me to all the places we need to go to, and it would work out about the same, but with a lot more hassle getting to stations and then there'd be delays and missed connections and when you're trying to pack it all in it's just too stressful.

On Saturday we're going to see Jim at The Hop and Cork, Brownhills (or Brownshill as Barry calls it!), to talk about Barry's business that we'll be setting up on the boat once he has his UK visa.

I'm leaving Barry to post a few blogs next week - you may get to see some of his amazing photographs, I know he has some ready to go.  It's so long since he's done so though, it'll take him a while to remember but I'm sure he'll work it out.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Fun with friends and family

Mooring at Shobnall Fields, Burton-on-Trent, on Saturday, we took the opportunity to make the most of the Bank Holiday sunshine and travel by train (on a cheap day return) to Droitwich, to catch up with Helen and Andy on Wand'ring Bark at the Canal Festival there.  We'd been in touch with Andrew Denny, aka Granny Buttons, and discovered he was going there too - so we got to catch up with him as well which was lovely.

Barry, Andy and Helen with the only trade boat at Droitwich Canal Festival - such a shame, but good for them!

Lots of customers for Helen's delicious ''Wild Side Preserves'

Such a beautiful sunny day - Helen working on the boat, Barry and Andy chilling on the grass with a beer!

Andrew, Andy, Helen and Barry - look out for the article in Waterways World

It was a great day, interestingly good to get off the boat and back into 'the real world' for a few hours, which was enough to remind us why we've chosen the waterway lifestyle for now! Spending time with people is very special, it's just the 'busyness' of life on the roads and rails isn't how we'd like to spend our daily life.

Sadly we weren't able to catch up with my parents this time, who live not far away from the Droitwich canal.  However we're heading that way as we've not been on the newly opened canal yet - and we'll be able to see them a bit more then.

I'll be hiring a car this weekend to travel to see them too, and then heading down to my daughter's in Brighton - leaving Barry home alone for a week, though I suspect he'll find someone to keep him company along the way ...

On our journey yesterday we were fortunate to bump into Pam and Terry on NB The Rooster's Rest again, but could only stop for a brief catch up as we were travelling to Barton Turn Marina to meet up with my eldest sisters children and grandchildren who live around the Lichfield area.

Saying farewell for now again to Pam and Terry

It was our nephew Mathew's birthday yesterday, so we invited him and his sisters and nephews and nieces to come and have a trip on board AREandARE - amazingly they were all free, the sun shone, and we had a fabulous afternoon.  

The Taylors take over!

We're now moored in Alrewas until tomorrow - such a delightful Staffordshire village, where my mum and dad lived briefly about 15 years ago in-between house moves.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Have you seen my camera?

Happy May Bank Holiday weekend to everyone in UK - what happened to the promised sunshine? We're just travelling towards Burton-on-Trent, hoping there'll be someone at Stenson Boat Builders so we can pick their brains about the power on our boat (however long we cruise for with the revs at 1500rpm we still lose power very quickly, so there's something we're not doing correctly), and it's chucking it down with the wet stuff.  Then again, now the sun's shining - it's April showers in May I think.

Thank you to Elly for her email advice on the vacuum toilet - much appreciated, and great to get feedback from others too.  It's just one of those boat things that's important to get right, we'll get the hang of it soon, and it's a small price to pay for the lifestyle.  We may just have to write some instructions for visitors, just in case - could be a little embarrassing otherwise ...

This morning Barry asked me if I'd seen his camera. You won't be surprised to learn he has a habit of leaving it in random places - and it miraculously still being there when he remembers he's 'mislaid' it.  Since he bought it in 2009, he's left it on lock gates, lock sides, and in a bag in the supermarket (just in an aisle!) to name a few. I recalled he'd had it last night when we went for a walk around Weston-on-Trent, a pretty little village with some enormous and very flash houses, which in the Nicholsons Guide doesn't appear to have a pub. I'd said we could treat ourselves to one drink, so we were disappointed that our 'big night out' wasn't to be.  

However, we found 'The Coopers Arms' on our walk - and it's a magnificent place, a listed building, which has won numerous awards - reporting itself to be 'One of England's very finest rural inns'. Admittedly I didn't even want to go in, it looked too posh, and I thought it would be one of those places where it's all restaurant, but Barry isn't so overawed by such places and of course there was a bar, and it was delightful. Why on earth it's not in the Waterways guide book is beyond me - though maybe they chose not to so they wouldn't get any boaters frequenting their establishment? One never knows ...

The Coopers Arms, built in 1628, and a Grade II* listed building

Anyway, back to the camera. He couldn't find it anywhere on the boat - then sheepishly came through and said he'd found it.  On the roof of the boat!! This was around 10 'o clock this morning, so people will have been walking past on the towpath, and it's been raining - he really is the luckiest person I know!

Realising how close we are to Fradley, we'll be there sometime next week and will catch up with some of my family, then head south west to Droitwich, through Birmingham, before heading back north for our boxes.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Mayday, Mayday & living more on less

Regular blog readers will recall our toilet disaster in Bristol (click here to read the post) on our 2010 journey, when we were stuck in the docks there with a broken 'dunny' as Kiwis call it.  Well yesterday we had a repeat performance - not a good feeling when we've only owned the boat for less than three weeks!  It's always been a bit of an issue for me, this boat living and the disposal of our 'waste'.  I recall telling Barry in 2008 that if we were ever going to spend time living on a narrowboat that I wouldn't have anything to do with that part of it - I've cleaned up enough s _ _ t in my nursing and midwifery career to last me a lifetime!

One of our 'essentials' on the list of 'which boat' has always been a 'pump out' toilet, preferably a macerator, but Areandare has a vacuum pump out which I guess we're just not used to yet.  Yesterday morning, the ablutions of the day decided to stay stuck and not make their way to the tank - the 'half full' light was on, and we wondered if maybe the 'full' light just didn't work and there was no more room? So we made haste to the nearest boatyard/pump out between Loughborough and Sawley, our destination for the day, got pumped out, and found the problem remained. Without going into too much detail, Barry and the man from the boatyard sorted it out fairly easily, and we think that basically we haven't been working the pump properly and getting the suction up enough with each flush!

I know, not the most tasteful subject is it?  But at least we've fixed it, for only £12. However, we STILL don't know how long we'll last between pump outs, as last time we did it when the half full light was on because we had a visitor coming and didn't know when we'd next get an opportunity.

If you've never spent time on a narrowboat, all this toilet talk may appear odd. I believe there's quite a divide between those who feel pump out toilets are the only way to go, and others who swear by their cassette - mainly I think due to the fact that the latter is free to empty.  We did consider some boats with a cassette, but the thought of having to dispose 'manually' of the contents every couple of days wasn't at all appealing.

We're still getting to know many of the the intricacies of our new abode, as one does with a new house or boat, and we're working out how to save power (will changing to a 12 volt fridge help at some point in the future?), which engine speed works best when (our current configuration only allows 1100 or 1500 rpm), how much diesel we're using, how much gas, etc.

The change in our lifestyle comes at a cost - we currently have very little income, and while outgoings are reduced in some ways there are still many essentials, so good budgeting is now crucial.  In a way we're enjoying our new project - and shocked at how much money we used to spend unnecessarily because we were so 'time' short.  Now we I keep a record of every penny we spend, and at the end of each week categorise it into our spreadsheet.  Hopefully after a few months we'll be able to see how much we 'need' each week, and how much we can cut back on or save for 'emergencies'.  It'll also give us an idea of an approximate figure we need to look at earning, in whatever ways we can.  Filling up with diesel the other day, the lady said "Didn't you know what the word 'boat' means?  'Bring Out Another Thousand'!"  Oh dear ...

Any ideas on this subject are welcome, as we know many boaters have chosen this lifestyle because they love the waterways, are able to live so much more, but do so with a lot less 'money'.

Just to brighten up the post, here's Trent Lock (well the pub by the lock!), looking lovely in the afternoon light yesterday:

This evening I have my first ever coaching session, by Skype, from the boat - marvellous! I hope there'll be many more clients wanting to explore ways of finding more 'life' in their lives in whatever way works for them, in the near future.