A time of interesting journeys

It’s been a while since I’ve written – apologies for my/our absence on the blog.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been avoiding writing a post – things went a little awry recently, and it’s taken me a couple of weeks to work through the fog and begin to see things clearly again …

Life consistently brings twists, turns, and unexpected challenges to us all. It’s the meaning we take from these, and the changes in direction we choose, that makes a difference to our future.

I’m aware I’m waffling a little, as I consider the words to publish as an update. Continue reading


Grandchildren gorgeousness, festival fun, and meeting The Modern Maori Quartet in Brighton

Last Monday, 31st May, I abandoned Barry (again!) in Manchester to continue his solo journey up to Eldonian Village, a short distance from Liverpool.  This may evoke in you a tinge of sympathy on his behalf.

Or maybe a slight feeling of envy that he’s boating alone and happy as a pig in the proverbial?

Joking aside, he assures me he loves it, so you can let go of wanting me to feel guilty.

Actually that’s more like me talking to myself!

Yeah okay, I’ve let it go. I know he sort of misses me occasionally, especially at mealtimes when he’s forced to cook for himself … Continue reading

One of only two ‘hand-picked’ boats – what a magnificent beginning

We did it!

Our first ever day of trading as ‘The Home Brew Boat‘, and ‘Funtastic Facepainting by Sandra‘.

And it was a wonderful way to begin our new journey at The Spring Market in Digbeth. We hadn’t realised until the day before that we were privileged to be one of only two ‘hand-picked’ narrowboats trading there.

Admittedly the weather could’ve been kinder; it was overcast and cool much of the day. On the bright side though, the sun poked his head out of the cloud cover intermittently, and most importantly it was dry!

We’d moored the night before below Camp Hill Locks on The Grand Union Canal. Not in a recognised mooring spot – but on the bollards which are there for boaters waiting to go into the locks we assume. But it’s ok. There was no notice saying ‘Don’t’, so we figured we could. And the delightful Sarah from The Book Barge, moored right next to us.

The only other option was ascending five locks to the facilities at Camp Hill, then descending again on the Saturday morning! A journey that would’ve taken a minimum of an hour each way, and one we wanted to avoid. We’d hoped to moor at The Bond, but sadly their security arrangements couldn’t allow it as we’d have been setting off the infra-red alarms all night.

The inspirational Sarah Henshaw - author of 'The Book Shop That Floated Away'

The inspirational Sarah Henshaw – author of  The Book Shop That Floated Away

Sarah bought her boat in 2009, and turned it into a floating book shop. Although the venture didn’t prove as successful as she’d initially hoped, she didn’t give up or give in. She left any comfort zones she may’ve previously been inhabiting, floated away on a six-month adventure, bartering her books for services she needed, and in the process wrote a book about it all.

What an inspiration to anyone with a dream to manifest. Sarah’s a living example of how dreams rarely just ‘happen’; they take visualisation, effort, commitment, fortitude – and a whole heap of passion, planning and self-belief.

So inspirational in fact, that her Book Barge has featured in The Huffington Post in an article on ‘The World’s Great Book Shops’, and on Friday and yesterday she was filmed by a cameraman from the BBC.

The BBC filming on The Book Barge

The BBC filming on board The Book Barge

Our boating buddies Helen and Andy, aka Captain Ahab and crew, were also trading at the Spring Market. It happened to be Andy’s birthday, too so we celebrated in the evening with an Indian meal.

Helen and Andy set up their stall for their Wild Side jams and chutneys – and so much more

Although we didn’t make mountains of money yesterday, we made enough to cover our expenses – and most importantly, we learnt a great deal about what worked well and those aspects needing a bit of fine tuning for future events. Life, after all, is a continual learning process …

Banner and bunting in place on the Home Brew Boat

Banner and bunting in place on the Home Brew Boat

Lots of folks interested in getting their kits off - The Home Brew Boat!

Lots of folks interested in getting their kits off – The Home Brew Boat!

I adored the facepainting, there was a couple of hours in the afternoon when I hardly glanced further than the people at the front of my table or the cute child whose face I was transforming. The hours of preparation and practice really paid off. I’ve kept my designs fairly simple to begin with, with  a vision of expanding as I gain more experience and improve my techniques.

Arm painting in action! Not everyone wants their face adorned ;-)

Arm painting in action! Not everyone wants their face adorned 😉

A huge thank you to those people who came to support us – especially our friend from NZ Gavin’s dad John, his brother and family (above), and our long-time blog reader another John, and a fellow professional photographer so he and Barry always have heaps to talk about.

I’m hoping to have more photos to publish tomorrow – from the master’s camera!