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, 30 May 2010

An unexpected visitor ...


Lisa and Sandra work the two Glascote locks like seasoned professionals!







Housing development at Fazeley on the Coventry Canal 






On Friday evening we moved a short way from Glascote to just past Fazeley and fortuitously moored up right behind Granny Buttons




Granny Buttons gleams in the setting sun







It literally felt as though fate had led us to that very spot - I'd just suggested to Barry that dinner was almost ready and only at that point did he check the map and realise that we were almost at the last winding hole for a while.  He duly slowed down, spotted a gap and reversed in.  As he was doing so he saw the boat logo alongside and was beside himself!  Andrew wasn't aboard so we checked on his blog to see if he had a phone number - and lo and behold he did!  So, at around 2045 (a bit late I know, but you have to grasp opportunities when they present themselves as they may not present themselves twice!), Barry made the call  - "Hi there, it's Barry here from Northern Pride, we've just moored up behind Granny Buttons and we were wondering if you're anywhere nearby?" Bless Andrew, despite probably enjoying a quiet night at home, he dropped everything and came to have a drink with us.



Sandra, Andrew aka Granny Buttons and Barry

We had a very pleasant evening getting to know one another better.  Poor Lisa, my daughter, was a little outnumbered amongst three avid canal bloggers!  However, the conversation soon turned to photography so it was I who was outnumbered then as the language was understandable to Lisa but not really to me!



We all loved getting up close to the ducklings again, soooo cute!

Andrew was off to the Crick boat show on Saturday morning, so we said a reluctant goodbye and hope to catch up again at some point; it was really good to meet .  As I'd said in a previous post, Barry would soak up Granny Buttons' blog long before we first arrived 'on the cut' and we're grateful to him for sharing his vast knowledge of the British waterways with us.  Subsequently, we were chuffed to bits when a whole post was dedicated to Northern Pride - bless you Andrew.

Of course our other very important visitors have been our daughters, Lisa and Jamie.  Lisa left us Saturday afternoon and we then cruised to The Dog and Doublet in Bodymoor Heath, arriving a little later than expected around 8pm.  We had dinner and a few drinks with a number of friends who'd been able to make it which was very enjoyable.  Jim and his wife at us a hearty welcome - it was neat to return to our English wedding venue, though ironic that last time we'd been there in the early autumn the temperature was about 10 degrees higher than in late spring!  Maybe the British summer occurred in the heatwave the week before we arrived?!


Sandra, Arlene, Jill, Jamie and John in the Dog and Doublet - apologies to the others who came and went before we remembered to take a photo! 

Today we had an early start and made the mammoth journey involving 36 locks to Birmingham, picking up Mikey and Sophie along the way ...

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Bewdley re-visited

Last Wednesday we went to Bewdley with my parents - specifically to have some good British fish and chips - and for me some curry sauce!  The fish in New Zealand is excellent, always fresh and tasty, but they can't do chips as well as England and you just don't get curry sauce - some of the things I miss.  Unfortunately, there were roadworks when we arrived and a leak in the fish and chip shop so it was closed for an hour.  As we were starving we mistakenly decided to go to the Wetherspoon's pub instead and had their fish and chips - not the best choice as we were served half cooked fish and tasteless chips and no curry sauce!  We weren't happy, but there'll be many other opportunities over the coming months.

We visited the excellent Bewdley museum, free of charge to enter.  We recalled a post last year when we went on the steam train to Bridgenorth, talking about 'Bewdiful Bewdley' as we visited on our return journey.  We discovered on our most recent visit that Bewdley does actually mean 'beautiful place' in its Norman French place name - 'beau lieu'



Clay pipe maker in the museum - free demonstrations on how to make them.  People used to smoke tobacco through these, but they'd only last a few days then they'd be thrown away




 Some pipes were ornately decorated by their owners






There was also a rope making demonstration, and my dad got involved with the final process - of course we then had to purchase the rope and we have it on the boat - I don't think we'll rely on it to moor up anywhere though as it was only made from coloured wool!

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There's a quaint cottage garden with flowers and herbs close to a great cafe.  All in all an enjoyable hour or so on a cool British summer's day.

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We moved a short way from Glascote last night to just past Fazeley on the Coventry canal, to give Lisa a trip on the boat, and had a wonderful surprise - but more about that in the next post ...

Friday, 28 May 2010

As if we've never been away ...

P1210064We're now back on board Northern Pride and it feels as though we've never been away!  Having made the most of our last day with the hire car yesterday, we stocked up on essentials at Sainsburys and then continued on to our mooring.  It took a while to unpack and load everything onto the boat - we're not sure how we've managed to collect so much 'stuff' from each hemisphere!

After having a lovely meal with Joy and Bruce, who've been fabulous looking after our boat for the last eight months, we retired just before midnight and didn't get up until 9am - the latest since we've been back in UK so hopefully that's the last of the jet lag!



Bertie with bone and Barry with beer ... Perfect bliss!








Bruce and Joy







Glad Sad to say goodbye to 'Northern Pride'!

This evening we collected my eldest daughter, Lisa, from Tamworth train station and she's staying with us overnight.  Lisa and Jamie, Barry's daughter, overlap briefly tomorrow afternoon and then in the evening we'll be travelling back to The Dog and Doublet where we had our wedding last September.  Hopefully a few friends will be coming along for a drink to say 'hi'.

P1210070 Sandra and Lisa at Tamworth Station - a short walk from the canal

The plan then is to travel to Birmingham on Sunday - there's over 30 locks to get through and my godson and his girlfriend, Mikey and Sophie, are coming to give us hand!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hanbury Hall and Wharf

On Tuesday we thought we'd use our new National Trust membership cards and visit Hanbury Hall, where you can discover whether money and beauty bring happiness!  It's a beautiful place, not far from Droitwich Spa, with a chequered history - squandering of riches and scandalous affairs amongst the aristocracy!  We came away having the same opinion as when we arrived - money and beauty can definitely bring happiness but when abused can also bring much misery!  We'd love to have the opportunity to prove that we could be rich AND happy, but we won't hold our breath that it'll ever transpire ...


 The entrance to Hanbury Hall



 Beautifully restored gardens










 Me and my mum in the courtyard 



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 Hearing about the history of the occupants of Hanbury Hall prior to the National Trust taking over




  The painted staircase which saved the Hall from demolition, telling the story of Achilles who disguised himself as a woman to hide from those trying to kill him, but Ulysses sussed him out when he brought gifts of jewellery, a shield and spear and Achilles chose the latter!!   

Artwork by Sir James Thornhill -he also painted St Paul's cathedral



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 Hanbury Wharf near to the junction of the almost restored Droitwich canal 

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Today, Thursday, we're leaving Worcestershire and my parents and heading back to Northern Pride - we're very excited!  It'll be cool to be back on board and we'll be welcoming my eldest daughter Lisa tomorrow, and Barry's daughter Jamie on Saturday.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Back in Blighty & all that jazz ...

We arrived safely back in England mid-day on Monday, and we're getting over our jet lag now.  Amazingly I managed to sleep for over 8 hours on the Sydney to Dubai flight (>14 hours long!) so that helped somewhat.  We're staying with my parents in Worcestershire until Thursday when we will return to Northern Pride.  In the meantime, a little more about our trip to Sydney ...

Fortuitously, it was the Darling Harbour Jazz and Blues Festival weekend while we were there and we had a very pleasant evening on Friday listening to some sounds - they were more reggae and motown based than Jazz and Blues, but enjoyable nonetheless!  Stan Walker was playing on the Sunday evening, a kiwi singer from Gisborne who won the 'Australian Idol' last year - unfortunately we couldn't get to see him as we were on our way to the airport to catch our flight to Dubai and Birmingham.

Darling Harbour is a vibrant place, buzzing with locals and tourists.  My daughter Lisa spent New Year's Eve of the Millennium selling glow sticks there!













 Very mixed weather - sunshine after the rain with a pot of gold in the Commonwealth Bank!

 P1200896 Darling Harbour Jazz Lo Res


The 'Aquashell' (floating stage) at Darling Harbour


Having exhausted our tolerance for being in the city, we took a train ride south on Friday to visit the daughter of a friend of mine who sadly passed away two and a half years ago. 

We didn't get to see too much scenery IMG_1132 from the (double decker) train, just  lots of gum trees and the occasional glimpse of the ocean. 

Australia is such a vast country, we only touched the surface of it.  Hopefully when we next visit in November, we'll go to the Blue Mountains and maybe get to see a kangaroo or koala!


IMG_1160 Barry's nieces at the airport to say goodbye

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Bondi and beyond

On Thursday we made the most of the fine weather and took a ride out to Bondi to visit where my eldest daughter lived for almost a year back in 1999/2000.  Bondi is known as a surfer's paradise - though it'd be challenging to avoid riding over a fellow surfer - even in late autumn the sea was teeming with wetsuits riding the waves.


 Chilling in a Glebe cafe

Some shots of Bondi beach ...


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 P1200839 We had a drink in the 'Icebergs Bar' at the top end of the beach where there are salt water pools  you can swim in at high tide - it looked rather chilly, but not as much as it will do in mid-winter when they apparently put ice in the pool and some mad people jump in!  Hence the name I suspect.


  View across the harbour from Watson's Bay - not a narrowboat in sight!!!











 Awesome to see these beautiful birds flying wild - a rainbow lorikeet and a kookaburra




 Dramatic scenes from a cliff top walk


It's great to have Barry's amazing photography back on the blog; writing can be interesting but '...a picture paints a thousand words'