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 ...

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)