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, 23 March 2014

Meandering to Audlem - festina lente

Last time we meandered along this route in 2009, we felt ourselves rushing through, on a mission to meet up with Barry's daughter Jamie. We'd only been on the canals for a month, after buying Northern Pride and experiencing the Llangollen Canal for our first 'live-aboard' journey. And we hadn't quite got the hang of taking it slowly and understanding that meeting people by predicting where you'd be on a certain day in the future, wasn't as simple as it sounded!

I recall feeling that sense of needing to speed up to get somewhere fast - then having a sudden flash of realisation - by doing so we'd totally negated the reason we were on a narrowboat. The idea is it's the fastest way to slow down, to marvel and be inspired by the time you have at our disposal to smell the roses, to have oodles of time to stand and stare. Otherwise, what's the point? You may as well be in a car, rushing here and there with blinkers on, looking straight ahead!

For this experience of the Shroppie, we made a completely conscious choice to really take the chance to relish being on one of the most rural routes on the network. We did have to be somewhere my sister can pick me up from by Sunday (and as you're reading this on said Sunday, I can report we got there just fine), and then Barry needs to get to a location I can get public transport back to the boat the following Thursday. But neither of those places were far away.

So we do have a bit of a schedule, but it's a loose one.

Until Saturday 12th April of course, which is our first ever trading festival at The Spring Market in Birmingham. If you're in the area, do come and see us! We can't promise we'll be able to chat much, depending on the number of customers we have, but we'll certainly do our best to be convivial.

Festina lente (make haste slowly) is definitely a vital component of our agenda, but we do also do to earn a living. There'll be times when we must go at a faster pace - and we're ok with that.

A bolt from the blue on the journey!

A vision of calm and serenity

A scene of timelessness on the waterways

Single locks now


We wanted to stay overnight in Audlem, and go inside the famous 'Shroppie Fly', and were pleasantly surprised to find moorings between the Audlem flight of locks, just a few yards from said establishment.

A hire boater moored next to us chatted to Barry, regaling tales of food shortages from the pub - among other things, they'd run out of burgers and chips apparently! That wouldn't encourage you to spend your money if you'd been locking all day and been looking forward to such a meal.

We rarely eat out, so it wasn't a problem for us. After dinner though, we went for a drink in the hope of meeting other boaters and chatting amiably about the historic building.

 The Shroppie Fly - approaching and then safely moored for the night

We were out of luck. The only other customers were a couple of local young men, who seemed to have an exuberant relationship with the very attractive and friendly blonde barmaid. Definitely not looking to hold a conversation with a couple of old boaters - apart from discussing the extortionate price of a blackcurrant cider and lager mix!

Ah well, it was a Tuesday night after all. Most establishments are quiet early in the week. Lunchtimes are the busiest period we were reliably informed, as passing trade takes a break after descending the previous eleven locks, or before tackling the ascent!

They had the latest copy of Waterways World available, and a Daily Mail - so we sat like a couple of old codgers drinking our pints (mine was a mango and raspberry cider, I'm not keen on beer) and reading. To be honest, we rarely do such a thing so it was a real treat. Though once we'd read much of the bad news in the paper, we remembered why we avoid them …

We hadn't realised the pub had recently re-opened after a refurbishment. There was a couple of letters in the WW about it which was fortuitous. One was of interest discussing the sad loss of previous memorabilia:

"… Measham teapots, lace plates, brasses, narrowboat fittings, etc, were subsequently sold as the business went through various financial traumas …" And:
"… a rare wall-size, original, historic waterway map, reputed to have belonged to Thomas Telford …"

The interior now contains bright and modern furnishings, though with some interesting photography by a local professional. And luckily they saw fit to retain the front of BCN 'Joey' boat at the bar, which lends it an air of authenticity.

With lots of tables outside, it must be veritably buzzing during high season here. We wish the new owners good luck with their venture.

The next morning we took the opportunity to experience the beauty of Audlem once again, it's such a pretty little village ..

The delightful St James Church, Audlem, dating from the 13th century

Audlum cemetery, what a majestic entranceway 

An array of patterns and colours - beautiful

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