Waterways World cover July 2013

Many readers will be aware before Barry was a master home brewer, he’d been a professional photographer.

In fact 35 years of his working life was spent photographing weddings, family portraits, the majority of the schools on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, and a plethora of commercial contracts.

He sold his successful business ‘D & K‘ in September 2008, in preparation for our inaugural six months on the UK waterways starting in April 2009.

During 2009 and 2010, we travelled around the majority of over 2,000 miles of connected canals and rivers on our previous narrowboat ‘Northern Pride‘, and Barry took great delight in snapping for pleasure rather than business. He’s built up a large catalogue of mesmerising images that showcase most of the system.

He (and I!) was very proud to hear yesterday Waterways World has chosen one of his pictures depicting part of the Oxford Canal (close to the Napton Windmill), for their July edition front cover. They have a feature on that particular waterway, so it was an apt image.

Here it is in all its glory for your perusal:

Napton Locks and Windmill on the Oxford Canal

Front cover credits Waterways World July 2015

Middlewich FAB celebrates 25 years

We’re now in Middlewich for the FAB Festival, along with an abundance of fellow trading boats. It’s their 25th anniversary, so all the musical venues are free this year. We’re hoping to get to see a fellow boater called ‘Early Grey and the Charwallahs’ on Saturday evening.

The Home Brew Boat trading at Middlewich FAB Friday 19th June 2015

The Home Brew Boat cocktail mixes

Floating traders Middlewich FAB 2015

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In between such frivolities, we’ll be busily selling our home brewing and facepainting skills to as many people as possible. To be honest (seriously!), the socialising will be a minor component. Ensuring this becomes a sustainable lifestyle and obtaining Barry’s UK visa is our number one priority for the foreseeable future!

The laptop outcome

Sadly it wasn’t economically viable to mend my drowned MacBook Air. I toyed with returning to a ‘normal’ laptop, but since buying an iPhone and Apple MacBook Air in late 2011, I’ve  been converted.

A large proportion of my time is spent online, for a variety of ‘work’-related reasons, so I convinced myself I was worthy of another priceless and precious beast. And here I am on it. Loving it and feeling fortunate I’d backed up my files and been able to transfer them. Albeit a month before the accident! But mostly there nonetheless. Another reason to re-invest in the same company.

On the positive side, I had a wonder-filled last weekend with my dear mum in Brighton – even got an afternoon on the beach and saw the sun and blue sky! These rarities are very precious in England this year so far …

Brighton Pier

Where to next …

We suddenly realised yesterday we hadn’t booked into a planned floating market next weekend because we’d originally hoped to travel north to Lymm for their historic boat gathering. Sadly the organisers have chosen not to allow trade boats there.

Thankfully there’s still spots available with the Roving Canal Traders Association Floating Market at Market Drayton – so we’ll be heading there after the festivities here.

I have a facepainting booking next Dunday at a place called Bromyard, not far from my mum’s. It’s a 1940s street party which sounds delightful – any ideas of what would be appropriate to wear? I shall have to Google it …

Don’t worry. It’s not Barry or I who got the soaking this time. It was more serious than that – just kidding!

On Tuesday we travelled up the locks from Fradley Junction, and in one of them the boat bumped the gate a bit and I heard a crash inside the boat. I remembered leaving a glass of diluted squash on the table which had my McBook Air on it and freaked a little. It’s been a concern of mine that one day something will happen to it. It’s rather a lifeline business-wise for me.

Fortunately the glass and laptop were intact. A mug had fallen off a shelf in the kitchen and smashed a plate. Phew! It turned out to be a short-lived relief …

Later that afternoon I was playing around on Facebook, as you do (well some of us do!), and found that my Disney Character was Rapunzel. Quite cool thought I. I wasn’t so agreeable with her worst trait of ‘clumsiness’ though. It wasn’t something I related to and posted that on my feed. Little did I realise how accurate the description would turn out to be …

Around 10pm I was still ‘working’ on my Mac, reading all about guest blogging. Admittedly I was rather tired, but so engrossed in what I was reading I hadn’t realised how late it was.

I snuck a peek at what Barry was doing on his laptop (I know, sad isn’t it, better than wasting time watching TV though!). He was playing cards as I suspected.

Returning to my reading, and I have no memory whatsoever of what happened, my half full glass of dilute squash suddenly fell and spilled its contents over my MacBook! I moved as swiftly as possible, turned it upside down, switched it off and unplugged it and dried it with paper towels Barry hastily handed to me from the kitchen.

The news is not good. I believe I have killed it. Additionally a bit of liquid went onto Barry’s keyboard and his ‘l’ is now a ‘3’ and all manner of peculiarities were occurring as I left him yesterday.

Bummer!

I have an appointment with the Apple store in Brighton on Monday and can only hope that something is salvable. I’m pretty certain that even if the computer is knackered, that I can retrieve all my files and photos from ‘The Cloud’. At the end of the day it’s a thing, albeit a very important one in my self-employed life …

I’m typing this post on my mum’s rather slow desktop computer. I can’t upload any photos, so it’s a little dry if you’ll excuse the pun!

People and possibilities along the route

I’ve not written for over two weeks. Apologies! It’s been rather busy and needing to focus on running our businesses, seeing clients, painting faces, marketing, and lots of travelling takes its toll. This blog often struggles unsuccessfully to get up to the top of the ‘action’ list.

We were most honoured to be invited to take part in the next ‘Great Canal Journeys’ series, filming with Timothy West and Prunella Scales. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to do in our trading schedule, we can’t afford to forgo another weekend as we did for Crick. Barry had passed Tim and Pru as he travelled through Braunston when I was at my daughters’, and they said a cheery ‘hi’.

Barry also met up with Fiona, the lovely lady who bought our previous narrowboat ‘Northern Pride’ back in early 2011. Sad to have missed her as we’ve been in touch on and off via email and Twitter but never met in person.

After I returned to the boat following five days with Lisa, Rob and my grandsons, we met up with Pam and Terry from Rooster’s Rest. Sadly we were going in opposite directions, which is always the case when we bump into each other. One day we’ll manage to have time to chat more …

And we almost missed Dave and Angie ‘Lady Esther’ who passed us in Fazely on Sunday. We only had a brief catch up as Dave wanted to get somewhere for a good signal to watch an England football match.

Barry and I thoroughly enjoyed our day at Throckmorton Airshow last Saturday. I was invited to facepaint there by the organiser, after she spotted me at St Richard’s Festival in Droitwich. I’ve got a couple of fab photos of Barry with a Vulcan painted on his face! Once I get my Mac sorted, I may be able to share them!

Heading to FAB Middlewich

Barry’s boating alone once again for a few days. I caught a train yesterday evening from Rugely Town, and will be driving down to my younger daughter’s flat in Hove, Brighton, tomorrow until Monday.

I’ll re-join him sometime on Tuesday, we think at Sandbach if he arrives by then.

Next Saturday, 20th June, is the start of the three-day Folk and Boat Festival in Middlewich and we’re both trading there along with heaps of fellow traders. We really enjoyed the event last year and 2015 marks their 25th anniversary so it promises to be even more magical. And our drear friends Helen and Andy from Wandr’ing Bark and The Jam Butty will be there too.

Hope to see one or two of you there!

Crick Boat Show 2015

Wow! What a wonderful weekend we had at The Crick Boat Show – in spite of a particularly challenging beginning.

Our arrival on Friday turned into a bit of a tense and troubled time, as due to what seems like a communication cock-up somewhere, we had no mooring booked on the harbourmaster’s list. A case of “You’re name’s not down, you’re not coming in …” 

We almost turned around and left at one stage it was so frustrating. With a lot of too-ing and fro-ing eventually Waterways World staff managed to get the powers that be to find a solution.

Discovering later we weren’t the only ones to experience initial mooring challenges helped in some strange way. It all got sorted out eventually, but it was something we hadn’t expected and things felt rather fraught for a while after such a long journey from Alvechurch in a short space of time.

NB areandare moored at Crick Boat Show

Our eventual mooring – not the best but better than the original nothing!

Moorings at Crick Boat Show 2015

The line of booked moorings at Crick Boat Show 2015 – we were right at the end of these and around the corner (nice and quiet!)

Crick Boat Show 2015

The boats we passed on our way through to find a mooring at Crick Boat Show 2015

Guests on board and surprisingly successful seminars

Our tickets for the show had been sent to Helen and Andy, so we missed the entertainment offered on the Friday evening. Not that we’d have gone anyway – we were busily writing a few notes in readiness for the ‘Floating Businesses’ seminar the following day.

Crick Boat Show programme

Crick Boat Show seminars programme

Shortly after we arrived at the Show late on Saturday morning, I met Halfie and his lovely wife for the first time – and Bobby Cowling, Waterways World editor. I’ve corresponded with them in the past, but not met them personally.

Crick Boat Show

Half, Barry, Half’s wife Jan, Andrew Denny (aka Granny Buttons/Waterways World Assistant Editor), Andy and Helen

Our seminar spot was just after lunch on Saturday, and drew in quite a crowd. We expected Sunday to be quieter, as it was later in the day, but there was standing room only once we got started!

Waterways World boating seminars

Waterways World boating seminars

Sunday’s seminar and heaps of interested people flocked in to pick our collective brains

We were astounded at the level of interest shown in the intricacies of setting up and running floating businesses.

We all highlighted the fact that it’s a lifestyle choice, not for the fainthearted and unlikely to make you rich – though admittedly I did pick Andy up on this comment and suggested richness comes in many forms. I frequently feel wealthy beyond measure living the way we do, with the freedom, flexibility and fresh air we experience.

The panel members had a mix of business and boating experience.

  • Barry and I running three businesses – The Home Brew Boat, Funtastic facepainting and Awakening Your Life Coaching – living aboard as continuous cruisers and needing to make enough to live on
  • Helen and Andy who run Wild Side, the hedgerows finest preserves, who have just downsized their bricks-and-mortar home in preparation for Andy’s early retirement next year when they plan to live aboard and trade for six-months of the year (unsurprisingly it won’t include the winter months!)
  • Paul O’Leary who is a waterways artist and recently began trading from his boat which he lives aboard
  • Sarah Henshaw who lives aboard her boat ‘The Book Barge‘, which she took out cruising for six months a few years ago and wrote a book about her experience (it’s an extremely entertaining read and thoroughly recommended ‘The Bookshop that Floated Away‘). Sarah is now Assistant editor at Waterways World, and continues to open her bookshop at Barton Marina on a Saturday.

It’ll be interesting to see what transpires in the future as a direct result of the seminars – I’ll keep you posted!

Music and cheer at Crick

Having Helen and Andy staying on board Areandare is always special, and last weekend was no exception. Of course it included a few obligatory games of six-handed-rummy. That game of either luck or skill, depending on whether Andy’s winning or not!

It also would’ve been rude not to partake of a pint or two of the wide range of beer and cider on offer, and listen to some of the musicians.

Crick Show beer tent

The Crick Show beer and music tent

Sampling the beer at the Crick Boat Show

Barry and Andy sampling a beer or two at the Crick Boat Show

One of the highlights for many people was Hazel O’Connor who headlined on Sunday evening.

Taking Andy, Helen and I mesmerisingly back to our youth (though not Barry, it seems Hazel didn’t get to Gisborne, New Zealand), she and her all female ensemble gave a very powerful performance.

Andy originally felt they’d be best to leave in the late afternoon and not wait for Hazel who didn’t start until 2110hrs. I was hitching a lift back with them, which entailed an hour’s drive, ready to travel to my daughter’s this morning.

He wasn’t staying, that is, until he and Barry spotted her warming up on stage and he managed to get some really amazing photos of her – and he’s also certain she caught his eye and beckoned him to stay!

The photos are already on his blog so do check them out, as they’re far better than my attempt …

Hazel O'Connor at the Crick Boat Show

My best shot with an iPhone – Hazel O’Connor at the Crick Boat Show

For many people the Crick Show is about looking at boats – as we see them all the time and have no interest in buying another one, that part passed us by, especially as you had to book in advance to get inside any of them (which Helen and Andy did so they could plagiarise kitchen storage designs) …

 Where to next?

That’s a very good question!

I’m now at my daughter’s in Malpas, having time with my gorgeous grandsons.

Barry I believe, left Crick yesterday afternoon heading north. I return to the boat sometime on Friday at a yet to be determined location. Our next planned boating festival is in Middlewich the weekend of 20th June. In the meantime I’ll be facepainting at Throckmorton Airshow in Pershore on Saturday 6th June. Barry will be line-manager which will be amazing – and a fellow facepainter is coming to share the event alongside me, as ticket sales of 15,000 felt rather too large for one person to handle.

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