It’s been a very long time since I’ve written and posted on this blog, generally I leave it in Sandra’s capable hands …
However I wanted to select and post some images I took during our 2015 cruising season. Some of these have previously appeared on the blog, but many haven’t; so it’s an opportunity to put a few of my personal favourites together.
The first series takes us from Worcester (our winter mooring) up to Middlewich, then back again to Droitwich and up the flight to Tardebigge.
I’m better at face-to-face communication and capturing pictures to tell stories, than writing, so I’ll let the images talk to you …
The first 10 favourite images of 2015
I hope you’ve enjoyed part 1 – hopefully I’ll get the next four parts posted before Christmas (Sandra will nudge me if I don’t I’m sure!)
Winter may be the time of hibernation for many animals. We may have come to a standstill in relation to continuous cruising, but definitely not in regards to ‘working’.
Making self-employment on/from a boat work
I recently read entrepreneurs leave behind 40 hour working-weeks to find more freedom and flexibility in their life.
This resonated strongly with me.
It also suggested that by doing so,
many most people inadvertently swap said 40 hours to around 80 hours – for a fraction of the income!
This is also true – for us.
Maybe not everyone. (Please let us know your secrets if that’s you, living on a narrowboat, with only your newly built businesses to bring in income, and you’re wildly successful!)
However, regardless …
… we’re determined to make our businesses run from the boat and land, successful and sustainable.
The alternative will be returning to New Zealand next year if we aren’t able to prove we can make it work here and navigate Barry’s next UK visa round.
Whilst it’s comforting to know we have that choice, it would be incredibly heartbreaking for Barry to leave his beloved canals, and for me to leave my family.
So this inevitably entails many focussed hours of marketing, and working on and in our businesses.
The Home Brew Boat
Barry ran a very successful ‘Introduction to Home Brewing on a Boat’ evening here at Mercia Marina on Monday. Around 18 people came to hear more about Barry’s passion, and be open to persuasion that it is possible for them to do.
Unfortunately, unbeknown to us when we organised it at short notice, the event clashed with two other boaters launching their new ‘Micropub’ business in Burton called the ‘Fuggle and Nugget‘ (but hurrah for craft brewers and we wish them every success).
I’m reliably informed Barry’s talk and introduction was really well received. I was away at mum’s after another Facepainting weekend – more on that to follow.
Recently noticing a plea in the Mercia marina Community Facebook group for someone to lead a local photography group, I had a brief chat with Barry and then volunteered his services!
Last night was the inaugural meeting.
Louise, the events co-ordinator at Mercia, has been trying to get something up and running for quite a while so it was great to help out and get things started.
Barry spent many hours preparing information and photographs to show to support the group, and managed to get one slide-show from his Dustan and Kinge business days to perform.
Sadly the projector bulb exploded a short while later, so people weren’t able to see the fantastic slide-show of canal-related images he put together from our 2009 and 2010 journeys. Another time I’m sure.
Around 22 people came for the introduction – who were at a variety of levels. Some had never taken their expensive camera out of the box, while others were experienced photographers looking for more inspiration.
It’s likely two groups will be set up to accommodate differing needs. Barry’s also offered his one-on-one services if anyone wants more individual attention (unfortunately this aspect can’t be voluntary, we have to monopolise any ways of making a small income, using whatever skills we possess between us).
Such fun-tastic facepainting
I had a really enjoyable weekend facepainting at a couple of events. One was in support of a previous midwifery colleague who’s heading to Uganda on missionary work in the New Year.
It was even pleasanter as we caught up with Helen and Andy, and stayed overnight at their house following a delicious curry made by Pat – another ex midwifery colleague I hadn’t seen for many years. Barry and I even managed the night out together – thanks to Andy for collecting him from the marina (and I took him back before returning to Lichfield to faceprint – phew!).
The Sunday event was Lichfield Cat’s Protection League’s second Christmas Fayre – this time at Bromley Hayes Cattery, where I painted in a deluxe family cat pen! I’m guessing that’s a fairly unique place to work.
It’s a struggle to make much income from facepainting on land, when I have to rely on public transport or travelling to mum’s to collect her car.
However, despite making only small amounts, I know each time I put myself ‘out there’, I get seen more and it increases the likelihood of future bookings.
I’ve got a birthday party this weekend – my grandson’s celebrating his sixth. How special to be his face painter. Then another booking for a girl’s fourth birthday party on 19th December, in Tamworth.
Last Life Coaching packages for a while …
As I’m taking five weeks out from 10th January, to spend time with mum in New Zealand, I’m only able to take two more clients beforehand. So I’ve been promoting a special deal of a two-month coaching package at the incredibly low price of £200.
However, this has to be enquired about by Friday 20th November.
Fantastic Support from Mercia Marina
We’re really thankful we took up the offer of a trading mooring here at Mercia Marina.
The support we’ve had from everyone in the office, and the boaters we’ve had the pleasure of meeting so far, has been incredible.
Walking back to the boat from Willington Railway Station yesterday, I was very pleasantly surprised to see this advertisement for us in the Marina Office window. I wasn’t sure if Barry had done it – but no, he hadn’t even seen it. The staff had put it together from a picture I’d recently posted as the cover on our Facebook page.
We’re VERY impressed. Thank you!
Supporting other CaRT registered traders
We frequently hear of new boating businesses emerging, and the December Waterways World contains an excellent article written by Sarah Henshaw called ‘Floating Your Business’.
She states that:
“Latest figures from the Canal and River Trust suggest that more than 270 craft on the cut are ‘roving traders’ (the commercial boat license category differentiating boats selling goods or services from hire-craft, maintenance vessels and cargo-carriers), with a further 26 operating from a fixed location.”
The Home Brew Boat is once again honoured to feature in the article – a photo of us at Droitwich appears on the first page.
In order to support fellow traders, I set up a Facebook Group for anyone who is CaRT registered to trade, called ‘Trading Opportunities on the Cut‘. If anyone reading is a registered trader and hasn’t been invited to join this (closed to the public) group, do click the link and ask to be accepted (subject to confirmation you really are a trader).
It’s definitely all go on and off NB Areandare!
We can feel winter approaching now, and the fire’s being lit most evenings so it’s really rather cosy on board – and for me I have to be honest and say it feels good to be still for a while.
Yesterday we had a stroll into our nearby village of Willington, walking along the canal on the way and the pavement and road on the return. It’s only a twenty minute journey, so we’ll be able to go to the train station on foot when I leave for another facepainting weekend tomorrow.
We were delighted to see the sun for the first time since we arrived this morning – I took a quick photo in case we don’t see blue sky again for a while (note the picture is mine, the image at the top is one of Barry’s – as if you couldn’t tell the difference in quality!).
Having been moored up at Mercia Marina for eight days now, we’re slowly starting to get a feel for the local area and community.
There’s approval for 180 residential moorings, and space for 630 boats at Mercia – no wonder it’s reportedly the largest inland marina in Europe!
Last Sunday the marina delighted boaters and hoards of locals with a spectacular fireworks display – closely followed by the hooting of boat horns which is apparently a tradition.
One of the residents, Louise Davies, is veritable social butterfly and actively administrates a community Facebook page which advertises a whole host of activities from watercolour painting, to quiz nights, beetle drives, how to write a book night, crafts, and even ‘bus pass adventure group’ (which you can join even if you’ve not reached the age of free bus travel yet!). We’ll definitely be getting involved in a few of them while we’re here.
I’ve already volunteered Barry to get the local photography group off the ground that Louise has been wanting to move forward for a while. Louise visited us this morning to discuss possibilities and how it could progress. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out, as people will have a range of abilities and needs. You’ve got to start somewhere though …
We’re also going to get a ‘Home Brewing on a Boat’ group together in the near future with the aim of demystifying the possibilities of making your own beer, wine, cider or spirits on board. If we can find room while running the business and carrying the stock, anyone can if it’s something they want to do. Like anything, you’ll make the space available.
The Happy Narrow Canalboat Song
Over the summer, one of the boaters had her dad from Holland to stay .
He’s written a song about his adventures, produced a video to go with it, and posted it on Youtube . If you can put aside the pronunciation of ‘canal’ (it sounds more like ‘camel’), Loek’s One Man Band’s The Happy Narrow Canalboat song is really rather lovely.
The Boardwalk Award
Opened just over twelve months ago, the Boardwalk building which is sort of adjacent to our trading mooring spot, has recently been awarded the accolade of being voted the best small commercial building in the East Midlands, by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC). The Boardwalk consists of:
” … a promenade of 6 boutique retailers, with offices above, centred around a two storey bar and restaurant. The development fronts onto a raised wooden walkway offering terrific views of the water, boats and wildlife. We also created a sensory garden at the end of The Boardwalk for people to sit and relax.”
We had my eldest sister, niece and great nephews visit for the fireworks which was fabulous, and yesterday welcomed our friend Dave aboard for a cup of tea and a chat. He and Angie sent us a wedding card when we got married at The Dog and Doublet in September 2009. We didn’t know them but they’d been avid blog followers so we were extremely touched at their thoughtfulness and have kept in touch over the years. Their narrowboat ‘Lady Esther’ is for sale at the marina.
Being in one place for a while means it’ll be easier for many people to pop by and visit – we’re looking forward to many more in the coming months.
Get in touch first though – despite being ‘still’ as a floating home, I’m still going to be more mobile than I’d like and off the boat frequently! Barry always loves to see a friendly face though, so come anyway …