Oh so much to catch you all up on!

This year has felt far more frantic than any other since we’ve been travelling on the canals beginning in 2009. I’ve put this blog to one side, along with a few other things, to reduce my sense of overwhelm and chaos!

Apologies dear reader. I’ve been meaning to write, it just didn’t happen. I’m going to keep this post as brief as possible, it’s likely I’ll miss things out (there’s so much to say!), but here goes …

An unexpected take over

I was chatting to Barry recently about why it got to this. “RCTA“, he said. “Aha!” said I. “Of course, that’s the biggest difference this year.

In October 2016, I decided to put my hand up to volunteer to help out the Roving Canal Traders Association, along with about a dozen other boaters. Many people had been critical of how the RCTA had been functioning last summer, and as I’ve done many times in the past, I decided that the most constructive way of moving forward is to help out rather than moan.

Little did I realise how much it would take over my life.

Not only mine now. Barry, bless him, decided that if you can’t beat them you may as well join them. He’s now the Website lead for RCTA and has re-built the site. It’s rather splendid – check it out https://rcta.org.uk

Admittedly there have been many times when I’ve wanted to jack it in and stop RCTA taking over my life to the detriment of my self, relationships and my business, but I’ve realised it’s something I do. Regularly. I take on projects, and allow them to engulf me. I want it to be the best it can be, even if it means giving my all to it. It’s a pattern I’ve perfected. So if I walk away from this one, I’ll just find something else and the pattern will continue.

I’m learning some powerful ways to manage this – and it’s working well. I took some time out in August and nourished my self more, unplugged from the Internet, and reframed the whys of my discombobulation. I reached out to some ex-coaching clients who I have a Facebook group with, and one of them talked about one of the first things I suggested to them was to write down gratitudes daily. She said at the time she thought I was crazy and couldn’t see how on earth that would help. But it did.

So I took her suggestion and committed publicly to posting five daily gratitudes every day in August, on my Facebook page. I’ve attempted daily gratitudes before, and not managed to continue long-term. This time I did. It was incredible how much it helped me to stop looking at what I didn’t have, and focus more on what I DO have. And from 1st September I started a ‘secret’ Facebook group with some friends who wanted to transform their lives too by doing this. We’re loving it.

I’ve also recently felt that my/our intense involvement with RCTA is paying off handsomely. Not just because it’s helped me feel more a part of the boating/trading community, but also because it’s raising the profile of Roving Traders exponentially, and I’m very proud to have been a part of this move forward.

Tons of Travelling

We experienced ‘virgin’ territory on the canals and rivers when we cruised down to Gloucester and onto the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal before the trading season began.

I’ve also travelled rather a lot this year.

To Nigeria, Northmoor (north Devon), and New Zealand in the first three months; then Minorca and Scotland in May and July, as well as all the moving around we do as traders. We started in Droitwich, and moved up to Burton, Mercia Marina, Fazeley, Middlewich and Chester; then down to Linslade, Cosgrove and Blisworth; back up and across to Merry Hill, then Netherton and now Tipton this weekend. Finally next weekend we’ll be in Lichfield for the Huddlesford Heritage Boat Gathering.

For our (first) eighth wedding anniversary on 26th September (we have two wedding anniversaries for our two weddings, one in UK and one in NZ), and my 58th (!) birthday on 28th September, we’re BOTH going down to Hove to stay in my daughter’s flat for a break.

THEN … on 2nd October, we’re setting up our first Calendar Club store in the Three Spires Shopping Centre in Lichfield where we’ll be open seven days a week until 8th January.

I tell a lie.

We’ll have Christmas Day off!

To be fair, Barry and I will share the load so we’ll each have at least one day off a week. If anyone reading this lives near to Lichfield, please buy your diaries, calendars, annuals, mugs, etc from us – the more we sell the more we earn …

People, people, people

Barry and I loved being back in NZ and seeing his family and our friends there, the whole of March was spent in the southern hemisphere.

We’ve had an abundance of visitors too aboard this year.

Dawn from Auckland stayed on board for a week at the end of April, and experienced a boating festival first-hand along with the beer tent and fabulous bands.

We caught up with John and Elaine in Chester, and even watched The All Blacks play at breakfast time in a local pub – a first for me though probably not for Barry!

Barry’s best mate Lee, and his lovely wife Maria, came and stayed for a week in July, which got a little messy at times! That was just before we headed up to Scotland for Sandra Willis’s 50th birthday bash cruise from Falkirk to Edinburgh, back to Falkirk, to Glasgow and again returning to Falkirk. We realised a dream of traveling on the incredible Falkirk Wheel. There was rather a downside though, which I’ll tell you more about in another post when I get some cool images from Barry of our Scottish adventures.

Phil and Cal, friends we’ve made through this blog originally from UK who now live in Gisborne, came and cared for Areandare while we were up north, and moved her from Birmingham to Long Buckby on the Grand Union Canal near Rugby.

I’ve spent precious time with my elderly mum, my two daughters, and grandsons, which does entail feeling quite discombobulated at times as I miss quite a lot of boating experiences. However, being in UK, for me, is about being with family as well as with Barry. And he knows this and understands. I’m certain he also loves to have some peace and quiet when I’m away – he just doesn’t eat quite as well (though the local establishments wherever he may be seem to prosper somewhat!).

We had an unexpected but wonderful visit from Barry’s niece Lauren, from Gladstone, Australia, and we had my nephew Mathew on board for a week too in May.

We’ve also entertained many fellow traders throughout the season, and taught an ever-increasing circle of people barry’s favourite ‘Six-Handed Rummy’ which has been fun.

Trading changes

We’re coming to the end of our fourth season of trading as The Home Brew Boat, and Funtastic Facepainting by Sandra. Some of what we’ve been doing is working well; and some not so much.

Consequently, we’re in the process of deciding what we’ll keep, what we’ll let go of, and what we’ll add.

Interesting times indeed!

We’re also discussing where we want to travel to in 2018. It’s likely to be rather different from the ‘routine’ we’ve found ourselves repeating from 2014 to 2017 – as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

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