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 15 December 2013

'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.