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 4 February 2014

Why reading a mesmerising book on a bus isn't such a good idea ...

Since we've been moored at Tattenhall Marina, I've been fortunate to spend lots of time with my eldest daughter, Lisa, and her two delightful sons. Not having our own transport, this has meant a return thirty minute return bus trip each time. I often use this time as a great reason to read on my Kindle.

Last night was no exception. I'd begun reading 'Narrow Margins' (how ridiculous is it that you can buy a book for Kindle for 39 pence?) on the bus ride to Malpas yesterday morning, and was really enjoying Marie Browne's writing style and her tale of their business crashing when Rover went bust and subsequent search for a suitable narrowboat to live on after being forced to sell their beautiful four-bedroomed detached home. Quite a stark contrast as you can imagine!

I was engrossed in the story of how they eventually bought (for a song) an ex-hotel boat, then realised neither of them had ever driven a narrowboat before - seems oddly unbelievable, but she somehow convinced me! 

I was thinking of Sue's comments on a recent blog post about some people's narrow-mindedness regarding those of us who live aboard, as Marie described some rather stuck up young people's conversation on a floating cafe (The Gongoozler) Marie bought her bacon sandwiches from ("I can't believe people actually live on these things"), and imagining what I may've said to them had it been me listening. She admitted to herself that a year previously she may have been thinking the same thing.

I'd reached Chapter nine, where they'd just began their journey from the marina at Braunston to their new mooring in Cambridge, after a day's instruction with Willow Wren Training. I do recall looking up briefly and seeing a building that wasn't totally familiar, but I thought it was just because of the darkness.

Then I saw the lights of the 'One Stop' convenience store I'd visited a couple of times on our way back from one of Barry's badminton trips to Christleton, and the reality hit me with a bang that I'd completely missed my stop! Only by ten minutes - but that ten minutes by bus is an awful long way by foot!

I called out in anguish and the lovely bus driver stopped. How foolish did I feel? "Sorry love, this is the last bus" was all he could muster in response to my "Oh goodness! What will I do?" I suspect that if I'd been the only person on board he would've turned around and taken me back to Tattenhall, but as there were another three people looking sympathetically back at me, that wasn't a possibility.

I got off the bus without a clue initially as to what I'd do. With a sudden realisation I was actually only a short walk from the canal, I felt a strange sense of relief that I could get 'home', albeit a lot later than anticipated! I phoned Barry, who'd already began to wonder where I was. Luckily by this time I was seeing the funny side of the situation.

So off I walked in the pitch black, the four or so miles along the towpath, with just an occasional light from a moored narrowboat. I decided against using the 'Map My Walk' app to record the exact length of the evening's exercise, thinking I'd be better off keeping the charge on my phone in case I needed to summon emergency assistance (I wasn't sure what that could've entailed, but I was very much out of my 'comfort zone'!).

My wonderful husband walked from the opposite direction and met me after just over an hour. I'd fortunately packed our torch, so was at least able to see where I was putting my feet - Barry used his keen photographer's eyesight to find his way in the dark, only stumbling a few times. 

He did however have his new walking boots on!


  1. Sandra, I know I shouldn't be laughing... well, I'm not really laughing but I am smiling! When I was a kid I'd always be so engrossed in a book that I'd forget where I was going or what I was meant to be doing. There's a reason to always carry a torch when you live on a narrowboat. Towpaths don't have street lights! glad you got back without mishap. I bet you won't do that again.
    Elly x

    1. Hi Elly - I know, I used to be like that when watching TV (one of the reasons I rarely do nowadays, limits conversations!). I couldn't believe I'd done it, and definitely a lesson learned and not to be repeated!

      The upside was that it wasn't too cold, and it was dry for a change!

    2. LOL! Reminds me of the night in tne 80's that I slept through my train stop at Borehamwood and woke up at the last stop - in Luton! I'd done a late shift and it was the last train. No buses either - I think I spent my whole nights earnings on the taxi ride back!

    3. That was me Deb!

    4. Hi Deb! lol indeed! I can picture you doing it - I considered a taxi for a minute or two, but knew I had no cash and neither did Barry so that was a no go! Scary though isn't it, to be 'dumped' somewhere in the dark and cold. Makes you appreciate home all the more ;-)