It’s an infinitely fascinating life living on a narrowboat, cruising and trading on the canals as we do.
Unfortunately the weather’s been attempting to drown us with squally showers and intermittent hail, with a dash of sunshine thrown in to keep our spirits up. I’ve had to keep my waterproof trousers and coat on, as well as wellington boots. I even wore my thermal long sleeved top under my clothes for a couple of days as it was so cold.
Travelling down south wasn’t on our itinerary this year, so it’s been a delight to unexpectedly return to canals we’ve not seen since 2009.
Consequently the captain has been in his element snapping away, and he’s given me some images to share (there’s a few more to come from Tardebigge but I’ll save those for another post) …
The week so far has been amazing – and it’s only Friday! There’s still the weekend to come which holds much promise – expected and otherwise I’ve no doubt.
Meeting fellow boaters
Not long after we started our journeys on Areandare, we met Leonie and Ray from ‘NB Firefly’ at Calf Heath. They’d been blog readers for a while and had arrived in UK in April 2013 ready to do their own narrow boating and blogging adventures. Originating in Napier, New Zealand, they lived in one of the closest ‘big’ towns to Gisborne, Barry’s home town. Hard to imagine here in England, but that’s a three-hour drive along a mostly winding, single lane highway.
I had a coaching client Wednesday morning, and Barry had a Home Brew Boat order delivery to make. Shortly after finishing my call, I heard the engine of a passing boat and a knocking on our roof. Peeking out there was Ray and Leonie standing on the back of their boat, with a couple of their friends from NZ. They’d already seen Barry and had a chat.
They were all enjoying a final trip on Firefly, delivering it to the new owners. Like Paul and Elaine, from NB Caxton, they’re now the proud owners of a motorhome and are planning a European adventure in the near future.
We wish you lots of happy times exploring the beauty of our neighbouring countries.
Mooring a while later in Braunston, I heard a knock at the side hatch and saw a couple standing with Barry. I looked carefully for signs of recognition but am ashamed to admit I had no idea who they were!
Andy and Sue from NB Festine Lente who have been regular commenters on our blog for many years. Barry met them previously on one of the (many!) times I’ve not been on board. They’ve been cruising for two years now, popping back occasionally to their home on The Isle of Man.
We enjoyed a few drinks with Andy and Sue at The Plough in Braunstone on Wednesday evening, then last night moored up nearby and continued getting to know them convivially on the towpath and aboard Areandare. What lovely people – so envious of them being retired at similar ages to us and having an income!
Then again, if we weren’t trading on board we wouldn’t have met so many people or been in the news …
Humans of the Waterways
You may recall a blog post from Middlewich in April (click here to read), when we spoke of meeting Alice and Adam from Manchester? Their organisation had been given a 12 month contract by CaRT to produce stories of ‘Humans of the Waterways’, and we chatted to them at length about our journeys.
We’d almost forgotten about this until Barry opened up an email yesterday morning and saw our faces smiling back at him!
We ARE the faces of the current CaRT newsletter, and the most recent story from the Tumblr Blog – http://humansofthewaterways.tumblr.com. They’ve written an inspiring piece about us which is very timely as we approach Crick and our upcoming seminar ‘Running a Business on a Boat’ alongside Sarah Henshaw of The Book Barge, and Helen and Andy Tidy of Wild Side.
There’ll be much more to share with you from the coming few days so watch this space.
Next week I’m back up in Malpas granny sitting while Barry moves Areandare back up north slowly. Our next event is Funtastic Facepainting at Throckmorton Airshow on Saturday 6th June – though we’re definitely not arriving there by narrowboat!
So far we’re on schedule to arrive at Crick by Friday.
Yesterday was a nine-hour day. Not too bad. It was though, rather a wet one for poor Barry at the back of the boat! By the time we arrived at the first lock the rain had abated a little.
Half way down the Lapworth Flight a couple of voluntary lock-keepers appeared which helped to hasten our journey time.
Amazingly too almost every lock was in our favour. And we were fortunate to have a boat following us initially whose crew offered to open the two swing bridges for us. Marvellous.
Back in time to April 2007
People who know the story of Barry and I, will be aware that when I brought him to England to ‘meet the Walshes” (not the Fockers!), his condition for coming was to include a narrowboat holiday. At the time I was perplexed as to why he’d want to. New Zealand is a very ‘new’ country, with a sparse amount of history in comparison to Great Britain.
And Barry adores history.
Additionally, and importantly, New Zealand has no canals.
Anyway, I digress …
We duly hired a narrowboat from AngloWelsh in Tardebigge called ‘Wye’. Barry, my mum and dad, and Kim my youngest daughter, came with us for four days and nights. We did a mini ‘Birmingham Ring’.
The trip itself had many fun and a few stressful times.
Yesterday was the first time we’ve done the Lapworth flight since then.
My dad was 87 years old when we did the trip, and he loved it I suspect even more than Barry did. At the drop of a hat he’d offer to take over the steering from Barry so he could ‘have a rest’. Barry’s never forgotten taking a shower whilst dad took over as we went through a long tunnel – and Barry bounced around the shower as the boat bumped along the walls!
At one of the locks on the Lapworth flight, dad decided to come and help mum, Kim and I out. Barry had taken the boat out of the lock, and Kim was getting the next lock ready.
Dad walked back up to the upper lock gate and began walking across. I was winding the paddles down with mum and then shutting the gates, when I saw dad suddenly drop from sight!
Running up fearful for his life, I found dad’s head above the water, cap still in-situ, and an embarrassed grin on his face.
I held his hand and shouted to Barry to return as quickly as he could.
Barry abandoned the boat, Kim thankfully realised what was happening and jumped on board as the engine was still running, and Barry heaved dad out of the water.
Taking a wet, cold and shaking elderly man back to the boat for a hot bath and a cup of sweet tea, I remember thinking about my recent ‘adult rests’ update and where on earth I’d summon help from should he collapse.
Fortunately he didn’t and was fine.
As he relaxed in the small tub back on the boat, I walked past and he shouted “Sandra?“, “Yes?” I said. “Did Barry get a photo?“!!
Bless you dad. You had such a wonderful sense of humour.
We knew we’d recognise it when we saw it again – and we did. Lock 17.
I took a few photos this time …
Later on during the holiday we moored at Alvechurch.
Dad, Barry and I had a walk into the village and a drink in the pub. We passed under the railway bridge on the way. The following morning dad had a cut on his head and mum told us he’d fell out of bed in the night and banged it on the floor. Apparently he’d been dreaming and was “jumping out of the way of a passing train”!
We’ve laughed so much with dad over the years about his escapades in this neck of the woods.
It was a tad emotional to be back.
I guess that’s how we become ‘immortal’, by leaving so many magical memories we’re never forgotten.
Half way down the Hatton flight
We made it to a long pound half way down the Hatton flight of 21 locks last evening around 7pm.
That was more than late enough to moor up and cook tea to recuperate ready for another long and potentially rain-filled day.
Ah well. There’s far worse ways of spending time …