A succession of summer visitors part 4b trains, rock houses and a river

The main narrowboating portion of Ray’s experience with us, came between our time in London, and a week of travelling up and down the UK (quite literally! But that’s the next post …).

As always, Barry had planned a plethora of adventures to tittle Ray’s taste buds for England and all it offers. There were also a few impromptu experiences to share.

One of our challenges from welcoming so many visitors on board, is continuing to earn money while we travel and entertain. We’ve not been terribly successful at this venture in 2018 (unsurprisingly!), but we do have a number of options and opportunities we’re pulling together. Continue reading

On the move again – and planning Barry’s next UK visa application …

It feels fabulous to be on the move again after sitting still in Worcester Marina since 1st December. Barry, as you can imagine, is in his element.

And I’m getting used to not having the electric hook and being unable to start the heating before we get up in the morning (time to harden up!) …

We’ve travelled from Worcester to Stourport on the fast-flowing River Severn, then on to Kidderminster where I made the most of the UK public transport system and jumped on a bus to mum’s this week to continue wading through the necessary paperwork to get everything in mum’s name and sort out the finances. I’m almost there …

A few memories of Worcester from the master’s eyes …

Black and white building in Worcester

Higgledy piggledy buildings abound

Friar Street Worcester

Our favourite place to walk – Friar St

Black and whit building Worcester

Still standing after all these years

Multi storey black and white build;ding in Worcester

A multi-storey black and white building – amazing!

King Charles House Worcester

Barry’s favourite pub – The King Charles House – they even had a loyalty card, buy 7 get the 8th one free, as if he needs any such encouragement!

Entering the River Severn

The lock exit to the river – make sure the river level’s not in the red

Signpost

A few locks to get to Birmingham!

Worcester Cathedral

Another way of seeing Worcester Cathedral

Stone carvings on Worcester Cathedral

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Rowers on the River Severn

Lots of activity on the river

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Diglis Basin

Diglis Basin

Moored on the River Severn at Worcester

Sandra’s all kitted out in her life-jacket ready for the river trip to Stourport

Worcester Catherdral from the River Severn

A last look at the Cathedral on a beautiful blue sky day

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Bridge over the River Severn

Which arch shall we use?

Under the arch on the bridge of the Severn in Worcester

This one!

River Severn

A fast flowing river

Mooring on the river Severn

The mooring we used a few weeks ago when our NZ friends were here – not so muddy anymore

Houses along the river Severn

A few desirable residences adorn the banks

Big house on the Severn

Who lives in a house like this?

Big house on the river Severn

Rather majestic, unlikely to be anyone we know …

Flying swans

Swans in flight – a rare but powerful sight (and sound!)

Camp House Inn at Grimley

The Camp House Inn at Grimley – where we’d planned to take our NZ friends in early February had the river levels been safe

To Stourport and Kidderminster …

Lock mooring on the river Severn

Moored up ready for one of the big river locks

Entering Bevere Lock

Entering Bevere Lock – one lock keeper on duty out of season who drove from lock to lock for us – though it was much quicker by car than against the current by narrowboat!

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Unknown large house on the river Severn

Another unknown large house near the river

traffic on a bridge over the river Severn

I’d rather be travelling by boat …

Black and white cottage by the river Severn

What a spectacular cottage, I wonder if they realise how fortunate they are to live here?

Selfie

Barry’s selfie!

Approaching Stourport

Approaching Stourport, an eclectic mix of vessels

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River Severn in the spring

It’s a barren river bank without the leaves on the trees

The old vinegar factory just outside Stourport

The old vinegar factory just outside Stourport, and the upgraded concrete barrier opened September 2014 which helps to divert ‘dirty’ River Stour water from the Severn

Blue bridge acros the river Severn

Colourful bridge across the Severn – there’s not many road bridges

Stour port Basin

Back in Stourport, one of the best canal towns in England, a town built around the canal which opened in 1771. Prior to that there had been a small hamlet called Lower Mitton. By 1780 the town was expanding rapidly

Stourpor fair

The upper basin was closed when we arrived – the wall at the rear of the fairground, Treasure Island, was causing some concerns

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River King trip boat Stourport

The River King trip boat

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double locks Stourport

As the upper basin was closed we had to negotiate the big double locks instead

River-side cottages Stourport

Charming river-side cottages

Entering the couple lock

Coming through!

Stupor Basin

Barry loves Stourport Basin!

Railway bridge

Viaduct which carries the steam train travelling from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth

Kidderminster

Arriving in Kidderminster

On Thursday we made the short journey to Wolverley, cutting through the orange stone walls heading towards Kinver, where we visited the famous ‘Rock Houses‘ on Saturday.  Barry walked around them with his sister Jenny in 2013 while I was coaching a client by Skype, on the boat. They weren’t open that day so they weren’t able to peek inside. This time they were, and we did! Well worth the £3.60 entrance fee to National Trust.

We’re pretty confident, along with many others, that Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings Hobbit houses in Hobbiton, NZ, could’ve been based on the rock houses, as he originated Birmingham, the true ‘Middle Earth’. There’s definitely similarities as you’ll see from the photos to follow in another post.

On Saturday evening, we walked by torchlight, dodging the puddles, to The Anchor at Counsall, after moving a short way up the canal. Barry had been recommended by a number of people to visit this unique pub,  opened in 1840 and owned by the same family for 70 years. They’d had a big day watching the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Landlord is apparently quite a fan of horse racing.

Yesterday we were in Stourbridge, and for mother’s day treated ourselves to a pie and pint at The Duke William, another delightful English pub. In fact Barry decided the steak and ale pie was the best he’s tasted in England. Considering it’s supposed to be a British speciality, we’ve been disappointed by most pies here – NZ pies could outshine most of them hands down!

UK visa challenges and opportunities

Staying at mum’s last week I was innocently listening to the TV with one ear (I generally avoid the box), while reading a book. Mostly the news holds little interest to me, but there was a feature on ‘BBC The One Show’ about the anomalies of the current spousal sponsored UK visa application process, since the government shifted the goal posts in July 2012 – unbeknownst to us until November that year when we’d already sold our house! We’d expected a fairly simple process, over two years. Ha! They changed it to five years, and included stringent financial requirements. Had I wanted to live in a house, or on a boat statically in a marina, I could’ve just got a job as a midwife in the NHS here. And met their requirements easily.

That was never my intention, and I suspect unlikely ever to be …

So my ears understandably pricked up at the news, hoping that by some miracle they’d decided to change the rules back.

No such luck.

The story featured two married couples, the wife of each was Australian, the husband British. Neither couple, through no fault of their own, were able to meet the new financial rules. The younger couple even had a small daughter. They’d met while he was in Australia, married and had a baby. Then he was diagnosed with a kidney problem entailing his return to UK for treatment. Anyway, I shan’t go into the ins and outs here, as to be fair I don’t really know them, but suffice it to say it seems that thousands of legitimate marriages each year are being denied entry to UK since this new ruling.

While I totally understand the British Government’s need to be seen to be ‘doing something’ about the number of people claiming benefits, it feels very much as though they have picked on the only people they are able to ‘control’ to do this. It is causing intolerable pain to loving couples, committed to each other, but unable to be together.

For Barry and I, we have a bit of an uphill struggle to deal with now. We will have the required cash savings of £62,500 available  (we had it previously due to the sale of our houses in NZ, topped up recently by Barry’s mum’s legacy), and mostly in ISAs (tax-free ‘Individual Savings Accounts’ from those not from these parts) by April. It’ll have to remain there for a minimum of six months before we make his next application in mid-October this year.

We have a small ‘buffer’ amount, but otherwise it’s time to put our heads to the grindstone and make our businesses work. I’ve been a little preoccupied of late caring for dad. Something I shall never regret prioritising.

As anyone who’s started a small business is likely to testify, the first year or two rarely bring profit. Ours are no different! Mine especially haven’t received a high amount of energy and focus.

However I now live by the philosophy that we can always make more money, but we can never make more time …

Listening to the stories on the TV made me feel very humbled too. If all goes to pot and we don’t manage to tick all the boxes (and believe me there are many!) on the immigration forms, we have options that mean we can still live together in NZ, as I have permanent residency there obtained in my own right (unless they’ve been sneaky and changed the rules there too while we’ve been away!).

But boy it would be a wrench now to leave my elderly mum, and my daughters, and grandsons, and return to NZ within the next 12 months.

So we’ve been researching and making notes for a while about what boxes we must tick, to convince the powers that be that we’re a legitimate couple, who won’t be ravaging the public purse …

Latest update and a pictorial journey from Stourport to Worcester

Unbelievably we’re over half way through our three-month winter mooring here in Worcester. Where did the time go?

Silly question really, it’s gone so swiftly while I’ve shared my time between being on the boat with Barry, being with mum to help her to transition from being a full-time carer to an elderly woman living alone, and being my dad’s advocate as we attempt to secure the best possible care for him as his mind loses more capability each day.

He’s fallen a few times in the current care home, which convinces us all, if we still needed persuading, that the safest place for him is somewhere with 24/7 nursing care.

Next week yet another assessment will take place by someone from a nursing home much closer to where mum currently lives. Assuming that goes to plan, he’ll move there in a couple of weeks time, and be settled in well before we travel to Bath for my beautiful younger sister’s wedding on 21st February.

At some stage in the coming months, we’ll be investigating options for mum to move nearer to my oldest sister Kath, in Lichfield, and then moving dad too.

This is such a lesson to me about making sure you’re living somewhere ‘suitable’ for your declining health once you become an octogenarian, if not before!

I’m letting go of ‘looking after’ mum now, bit-by-bit, because from 1st March I’ll no longer be just up the road, with access to her car. We’ll be back on the cut, heading down to Gloucester.

This weekend Barry has his future brother-in-law, and his current one, arriving on Friday for a stag weekend. I believe they may venture down to Upton-on-Seven – just thought I’d warn you if you’re anywhere nearby!

I’m getting a grandson fix, having Friday to Monday with my eldest daughter Lisa in Malpas, Cheshire.

Stourport to Worcester

Barry took a number of memorable images during his journey to Worcester from Stourport in late November, that are definitely worth sharing. Living in the marina we’re not taking many photos, so I wanted to brighten up the blog a bit.

Next post I may even share some from Brighton, at the beginning of December …

Stourport Basin

A serene scene at Stourport Basin

Stourport basin

A timeless shot of Stourport Basin

The Angel, Stourport

Delightful olde worlde pub on the Severn at Stourport where we enjoyed a few games of darts – The Angel

Mist on the River Severn

Misty evening reflections on the Severn

Exiting a lock on the River Severn

Barry tries out his self-timer exiting a river lock – looking rather serious!

Houses on the River Severn, Worcester

Some stunning abodes line the river at Worcester

Boat on the Severn

Some not quite so salubrious!

Worcester Cathedral from the River Severn

The magnificent Worcester Cathedral from the Severn

Swan sanctuary on the River Severn

Swan sanctuary on the left

Worcester Cathedral

Watching over the river, Worcester Cathedral

Terraced houses along the river Severn in Worcester

A pleasant stretch of terraced houses along the river

Boating on the River Severn

Rowers sharing the expanse with a narrowboat

Evening reflections of Worcester Cathedral on the River Severn

Evening reflections of Worcester Cathedral

Mooring on the river severn

Not a bad mooring spot!

We’re really looking forward to venturing into new territory for us in March, further down the river Severn to Gloucester. I’ll make sure Barry has his camera close at hand …