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, 30 March 2011

The return journey - not such plain sailing!

Barry left Gisborne this morning, for the first time since we came back to NZ in November - it's difficult for many to imagine, but leaving this small town on the 'edge of the world' is actually quite a big thing!  It's a good three hours to the closest 'large' (I use that term loosely) town of Napier or Whakatane, and either south or north west involves winding, single lane roads, through gorges.  Directly north takes you around the spectacular scenery of the 'East Cape' of the North Island, and is about five hours to Whakatane (pronounced Fakatani in English dialect, not wok-a-tain as it looks!). 

Barry headed through the Waioeka (why-oh-eeek-ah) Gorge, then west to Hamilton on the other side of the North Island.  This is where our largest 'tertiary' hospital is, for June to have some tests and possibly stay in for a night or two.  Barry was then driving south to Wellington, to spend some time with Tom, his son.

I'm having a treat this weekend and going up country, not quite as far as the Gorge, to a place called Haurata Country Retreat with some girl friends from work - to walk and breath the fresh country air, drink a little vino and soak in the hot tub - bliss!

The public transport system isn't so wonderful in NZ as it is in UK, we generally either have to drive or fly to get around.  Of course there's bound to be times when the UK system grinds to a halt, or just slows us down somewhat, but it's still an amazing system ...

There's a lot more photos than words in the following blog, the journey obviously made a positive impression on Barry that day - maybe it's the acute awareness we had of our time on Northern Pride coming to a close that made us appreciate the surroundings even more.

Monday 11 October

Our return train was booked for mid-morning, but to get into Brighton we needed to be up in plenty of time - hence we arose before 0700hrs, to say farewell for now to Kim and Joe who were off to work, and then we left the house just after 0800hrs to get the bus into Brighton.  At that time of the day of course there was heaps of traffic and at times it felt as though it would've been a faster journey by narrowboat which is saying something!

Arriving at the Railway Station in plenty of time to buy a coffee from a stall outside the station (from a kiwi funnily enough, they do know how to make good coffee I have to say!), our train to Victoria was delayed by about an hour as the incoming one from Victoria had been cancelled.  Once it was announced that the train was ready to be boarded there was a rush to get through the ticket barrier and onto the train which then departed within about five minutes, before the next scheduled one - we had to get the correct time as we'd got cheap tickets - luckily we made it onto the right train and breathed a sigh of relief - short lived though!

P1390586A Brighton Railway Station

We departed at Clapham Junction for the link to Hemel Hempstead, having gone through Victoria.  Once on the train, that we'd had to wait 45 minutes for as we'd just missed the previous one because we were late, it was announced that we had to change and go to Victoria to get to Hemel Hempstead!  It was so frustrating and a journey that took us less than two hours on the way there, ended up taking us more than twice that on the return journey having to get another train back to Victoria, then the tube to Euston, then finally the connecting train to Hemel Hempstead.  Ah well, it wasn't as if we had to be anywhere at a certain time, the boat was there waiting patiently for us. 

After a quick lunch we set off for Berkhamsted and a supermarket for supplies, only just over 3 miles away but with eleven locks to negotiate!

P1390587A That's the first lock of the day done, only ten left!


Winkwell Swing Bridge at Bourne End, beside the Three Horseshoes Pub dating back to 1535 and allegedly hosting two ghosts

P1390603 Sandra on lock duty - we shared locks today with the man we'd previously met, who moves boats around and does them up (sorry, forgotten your name!) 


 A tranquil scene after a frustrating morning - it puts it all into perspective 


 Snugly fitting into the lock side-by-side


 Trying to manoeuvre into the lock with just one gate open P1390635

 Made it, no problem!



 Berkhamsted on a sunny autumn day - such bright colours, nature can truly take your breath away at times 


 Picture postcard perfection ...


  Embracing the canal - though the lock could do with a coat or two of paint!









 Northern Pride is swamped in the lock by the longer boat








 Bits and bobs abound on this house


 Still travelling together


 A modern day Blacksmiths


 Barry must've been travelling on the wrong boat?


 A great mixture of old and new ...





 ... and another new bridge traverses the canal





 What a handsome heron - contemplating life


 Not a bad way to live


 So many different types of trees here 




 Berkhamsted - an eclectic mixture of shapes and sizes of buildings 













Barry went for a bike ride around the area once we'd moored up, and discovered the ruins of Berkhamsted Castle.  And so begins a history lesson ...

It seems that the story of this castle also begins with Duke William of Normandy, who we'd recently encountered defeating of Harold at the battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066.  Following this, William marched with his army through southern England, pillaging as he went (and possibly a spot of raping the local wenches I suspect!), crossing the Thames at Wallingford to reach Berkhamsted.  He was met here by the likes of Archbishop Ealdred, the Bishops of Worcester and Hereford, Earls Eadwin and Morcar, and the 'chief men of London' (they sound very important!), who swore allegiance to him and offered him the crown, so off he went to London to be crowned king on Christmas Day, 1066. 

While Barry was off sightseeing, I did the boring part and made a trip to the local supermarket to buy some much needed provisions. 

Tomorrow we meet up with Ellie and Mick from Australia, who'd been in touch through the blog and were over on holiday checking out the canals in readiness for their much longed for dream of living on a narrowboat for a year or more - check out their blog and progress on "Narrowboat Dreaming".

Friday, 25 March 2011

A brilliant weekend in Brighton - where there's a canal!

After an anxious wait, the money from the sale of Northern Pride cleared in our UK bank account last Friday 18 March - hurrah!  Whilst money isn't everything, we'd have been a bit bereft if anything had happened to the proceeds of the sale - we're relying on that plus whatever we can accumulate here to get us back to UK in possibly two years time and buy another boat to live on for longer.  Of course we're very aware that anything could happen in the meantime to change that, by bringing it forward or preventing it from happening at all.

Sadly, since returning to New Zealand, my younger daughter and her partner have separated.  Whether that's for good or not is not definite as yet, but the weekend we spent with them both last October was a very special and memorable time ...

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th October

We left our amazingly convenient mooring, a short walk from the railway station, just after lunch to catch the two trains that would take us to my younger daughter's home in Brighton.  We were fortunate not to experience any delays, and a bonus of a sunny day to watch the changing landscapes from the carriage windows.

Kim and Joe, her partner, recently moved into a rental house, from their previous second floor flat, and this was the first time we'd visited.  They also took on the responsibility of two cats a few weeks ago who we'd not yet met, 'Cleo' and 'Frankie'. 

We walked from the station to the sea front, and relished the Indian summer warmth and the brightness of the buildings and people of Brighton ...

P1390439 Blue sky, sunshine and beach volleyball - a beautiful day in Brighton

P1390441 The Hilton Hotel gazes majestically out to sea






Ornate, Victorian lampposts line the promenade









Kim picked us up on her way home from work, and we went out to an Italian restaurant in Hove that evening to catch up.

On Saturday we planned to drive to Hastings, but thought we had to wait for a parcel delivery of my 'Fit Flops' - when it got to about 1100hrs, I phoned the company and they said it could be anytime between 0800 and 2000hrs!  So we left a message on door as to where they could leave the parcel and went out - it was another sunny day so we didn't want to waste it.

Hastings is east of Brighton and it's poorer sister looking rather unloved and forgotten in comparison.  Of course Brighton has really become a 'suburb' of London, with so many well-off people now living there who commute to London each day to work and subsequently property prices have escalated out of all proportion. 

We had some good old English Fish and Chips for lunch, then took a short trip up the 'East Cliff Railway' - sadly it travelled through a tunnel so we couldn't see the scenery!  We didn't realise that the 'West Cliff Railway' has views, and by then we hadn't time to think about descending there as we were on the last trip of the day - the only way was up!  Then, when we arrived at the summit and walked to Hastings Castle ruins, we were most disappointed to find that it closed at 1600hrs - damn Father Time going so fast!  We so should've left Kim and Joe's earlier and just left a note for the delivery people - and the story doesn't end here! 


 Yum!  You can't beat English Fish and Chips at the seaside!


 Especially with chip shop curry sauce, Sandra's favourite, sadly not available in NZ!







The cute Cliff Railway - shame about the view of the wall! 







 The outlook from the top was worth the trip - and there's the East Cliff Railway - with a view!







 Kids precariously playing on the cliffs








IMG_1569 Barry and Joe check out Hastings from above

P1390484Houses on top of the hill with spectacular views over the ocean -  cheaper than Brighton but still likely to be prohibitive prices


 East Cliff Railway - maybe next time we'll try that one?!

P1390497 What would 'Health and Safety' say about this?

We walked back down the cliff and along the sea front, before heading back to Brighton through a place called Battle - guess what happened there in 1066?

P1390502 Amazing looking buildings hugging the cliffs

P1390508 The ruin of Hasting's Castle on the hill above the town


                                                                               The burnt out pier at Hastings

The small town of Battle appeared to have embraced it's history far more favourably than Hastings, we were a little sad that we hadn't just gone straight there!  Of course it was not far from here that the actual 'battle' of Hastings was fought, where William, Duke of Normandy, defeated King Harold II to become William I in 1066.

By the time we arrived at Battle Abbey it was closing, of course it was an English Heritage site so Barry and I were most put out to have missed a 'free' entrance!   The Abbey was ordered to be built by Pope Alexander II in 1070 to try and make up for all the people killed by the Normans, and was virtually destroyed during King Henry VIII's 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' but has subsequently been restored.  The Abbey was built around the spot where King Harold was killed, on 14 October 1066, so we were there just under 944 years after that date!

Once again it just goes to show the benefits of forward planning when you're short on time - it'll have to be added to the list of future trips!  There were lots of people in costume around the town, so whether that's a weekly occurrence or just due to the fact date we weren't sure. 


 Battle Abbey

P1390520 The Cafe/Tea Rooms by the castle

P1390525The field where the "Battle of Battle Hastings" took place











By the look of the phone box the 'battle' isn't over yet!














Not sure if these people are re-enactors or just poor people (yeah right!)


Quaint buildings everywhere - maybe this used to be the Blacksmith's?

On Sunday we drove to the seafront in Brighton and had breakfast at 'Carats' - strangely enough there's a canal nearby and we had to walk over the lock!  The lock is for boats going to sea or coming in from the ocean and looked like a smaller version of the Floating Harbour in Bristol as it's to keep the water  at the same level for boats regardless of the tide. 

P1390538-Panorama1 The huge harbour lock at Brighton - Big enough for ocean going ships










There must have been an yacht race out at sea today as a flotilla of craft entered the lock at once

P1390556-Panorama1 Even with 12 or 13 yachts in, there was still plenty of room





A very industrial setting for a cafe , though apparently they're really busy every weekend no matter what the weather's like







P1390558 Alongside the cafe is this row of beach huts - only one being used today


This ship almost covered the length of the lock - wouldn't want to be holding those ropes! 

We had a short trip into town after breakfast before chilling like a 'normal' family back at Kim and Joe's - what a rare treat!   Joe and Barry did the 'boys stuff' and mended the stereo, Barry also tidied up an aerial cable.  Meanwhile I weeded the garden and Kim mowed the lawn and trimmed a large bush at the end of the garden.  So many people would just take such a family day for granted, and is probably what they do most weekends, but for us it was the first time we've had such an opportunity with Kim in a house and we wish we could do it more often - maybe at some point in the not too distant future we will.

The cats hadn't been outside since arriving with Kim and Joe, but Barry managed to persuade them that they wouldn't come to any harm sp they were let out briefly on Saturday and then all day Sunday.  Frankie soon learned how to use the cat flap, though Cleo wasn't so keen on exploring the outside world seemingly too scared to venture much further than back step.  Frankie quickly disappeared to explore, but once Barry or Joe called him and brought him back to the garden a couple of times he was fine to find his own way and was a much happier cat! 


Frankie, Joe and Cleo (and Barry's feet!)








Barry and Joe get on with the 'boys stuff' in the sunny garden















Kim and Cleo get up close and personal!








In the evening we had a BBQ, it was awesome to have sunny and fairly warm days again, even though we knew it would be short-lived as the forecast suggested it was going to be cold again by the end of week.  What a magical weekend we had, thanks Kim and Joe.


 Getting a bit chilly later on - the shape of things to come!