Here’s the first in a daily series of photos from Barry of our recent journeys – trying out a new scheduling tool …

Arriving at the location of our September 2009 wedding held on the roof of our previous narrowboat ‘Northern Pride’
Approaching the Dog and Doublet

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I’m back with Barry for a few days having a bit of a break from my caring role as my younger sister Viv’s with them until Sunday.

Barry does fine on his own (apart from the self-imposed scurvy!), and we don’t have to be at our next festival until the end of May when it’s just The Home Brew Boat trading at Etruria (they said they have already had a face painter booked). So Barry can meander slowly north, as and when. He may even do a spot of towpath trading as he meanders along …

I have the use of mum’s car, as I finally managed to get an insurance company (SAGA) to ‘allow’ me to be a named driver, despite living in NZ from 2005 to 2013. Their previous insurer RIAS wouldn’t insure me as I hadn’t lived in the UK for more than three years, they were quite happily insuring my 93 year old father with cataracts though which I found quite ridiculous!

We’re currently moored in Stourport, described on their website as …

‘a unique Georgian canal town in the heart of the severn valley’

Moored up for a few days in the canal loving town of Stourport

Moored up for a few days in the canal loving town of Stourport

We’ve visited here a number of times, the last on was June 2013. Check out that blog for some of Barry’s very fine photography.

Catching up on my ‘WordPress’ hints and tips emails (I love learning new things about the blogosphere), I’ve discovered an amazing tool that enables me to schedule a ‘photo a day’. I’m going to test it out with some Barry gave me from our recent journey from Birmingham to Tamworth.

We probably won’t have an awful lot of boating news for a while, but I’ll aim to keep you posted on whatever the journey ahead holds for us.

Please keep in touch and visit Barry if you can – I suspect he’d secretly love some more company when I’m not with him.

And a big thanks to Jim for offering to help at any time – we WILL be in touch I’m sure at some point.

St Richard’s Festival

Wow! What a wonderful three days we had last weekend at Vines Park, Droitwich. Last year’s festival we visited Helen and Andy  by train on the Sunday, when they were the only narrowboat trading.  Being there, moored alongside them this year, was a dream come true.

However, due to the vagaries of life’s current challenges and changes, we hardly got a chance to socialise with them. But we did what we could under the circumstances!

On the Friday before the festivities, Helen kindly cooked us a curry which we enjoyed aboard Wandr’ing Bark. I’d been with my parents until the evening, so it was such a welcome relief to be cared for. And the lovely Helen had even bought me a pampering package to raise my flailing spirits. Friends are so precious, thank you lovely lady.

Andy and Barry enjoying the fruits of their labours

Andy and Barry enjoying the fruits of their labours

Barry had a couple of courier challenges on Thursday and Friday, with an order he’d put in from one of our suppliers.  Despite putting in an address and postcode that he felt would be simple to find, each time the courier and Barry’s whereabouts failed to coincide. We need to refine this as it was such a waste of Barry’s time and the courier. It’s a work in progress. Sometimes it all happens in unison, and other times …

Final preparations ready for the first day's trading

Final preparations on The Home Brew Boat ready for the first day’s trading

Barry had loads of interest over the three days, though still heard the age old adage of “I don’t have time“, “... I used to brew years ago ...” from a few people. From the sales he made it feels as though slowly but surely a growing number of people are realising the cost savings and high quality outcomes possible from home brewing.

Helen and Andy sell oodles of their delicious Wild Side jams and preserves

Helen and Andy sell oodles of their delicious Wild Side jams and preserves to lucky punters

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Costumed characters telling the story of St. Richard and paraded through Droitwich and Vines Park to bless Upwych pit

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The ‘Pope’ takes a sneaky peep at The Home Brew Boat!

Funtastic Facepainting was a massive hit with the younger visitors over the three days. So much so that I transformed little faces non-stop each day, without time to even eat or pee! Admittedly though by Monday, around 1430hrs, I had to take two minute toilet interval despite a number of people still waiting.

I really wanted to avoid such queueing, and tried a laminated raffle ticket system with allocated times on the first day. But 3 of the ‘booked’ people didn’t return, and when others did and I’d then got a crowd waiting, I felt uneasy about putting them before people waiting. I suspect there’s no ‘ideal’ method, apart from speeding up and losing quality, doing only very ‘simple’ faces and/or having another person painting too.

My surprise visitor - The Dream Job Coach

My surprise visitor – The Dream Job Coach

Part way through Friday I looked up briefly and saw a smiling woman in front of me. I recognised the face immediately, but it took me a few seconds to place it. Louise Jenner and I have ‘chatted’ lots on Facebook and via our website/blogs for about six months. We have a commonality in coaching, and our passion for using the knowledge and skills we’ve gained over the years, and our coaching training, to support others to find more happiness in their lives. I was disappointed not to get much time with her, but can’t complain as I’m so grateful that I’m actually ‘working’ in one of my ‘dream job’ roles I’ve wanted to do for many years!

'Hard' at work and loving it!

‘Hard’ at work and loving it!

It's not all about faces you know, especially when you've only got a bit of pocket money to spend

It’s not all about faces you know, especially when you’ve only got a bit of pocket money to spend

We hardly saw any of the festival other than our pitches, but you could feel the buzz from everyone and the weather was extremely generous – not a drop of rain until Monday night. My youngest daughter Kim came to stay on Sunday, and we had a fun night out with her and Helen and Andy in beer tent. It was a brilliant band who managed to get many people up and boogying, including Barry towards the end.

I so needed the exercise after sitting down for such a length of time …

Sandra and Kim hit the dance floor

Sandra and Kim hit the dance floor

Barry and Kim get on down

Barry and Kim get on down

All the young dudes - who remembers this one? It was a new one for Kim!

All the young dudes – who remembers this one? It was a new one for Kim!

A stroke in each hemisphere

I’m now back with Mum and Dad, who we believe has had at least one more small stroke. He’s up and down and needing to have someone here 24/7. I’ll be back with Barry tomorrow, meeting him in Stourport where he’s moved the boat for a much needed pump out today! My younger sister Viv arrived yesterday evening and will be staying until Sunday, so I’ll have a few days back on board if Dad remains stable.

On Saturday morning I received an email from a friend in Gisborne informing me that my dear friend Therese, had also had a stroke – albeit at a far younger age than my father. She’s in hospital, thankfully I got to talk with her Sunday evening via her daughter which was a relief for me to let her know I’m thinking of her.

Walking down the sandy aisle, 22nd December 2009, with my NZ 'mum' Therese

Walking down the sandy aisle, 22nd December 2009, with my NZ ‘mum’ Therese

So at the moment you can imagine I’m taking life a day at a time. It’s feeling rather out of my control, which at times is unsurprisingly unnerving and more than a little scary.

Our next booked festival isn’t until the end of May, in Stoke, so we’ll be staying fairly local to Ombersley/Droitwich for a while.

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