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

The Delights of Droitwich and Exciting News about Crick 2015

Our return visit to trade at St Richard’s Festival in Droitwich was a great success despite the unseasonal weather. I even got the bag of winter clothes back out from under the bed to put my long sleeved thermal top on or I’d have been an extremely cold face painter decorating ‘Frozen’ children!

The dismal days didn’t deter the crowds though, who descended in their droves. Admittedly Sunday and Monday fared better than Saturday – so unlike the last year when the sun shone brightly throughout.

Facepainting fun, disappointment and excitement

I was Funtastic Facepainting at full-speed for three days – well as fast as I could go! I’m definitely considering asking another face painter to join me next year so the patient (mostly!) people don’t have to wait so long. A few children came who I’d painted last year, which was gorgeous to see them growing up.

I also intend to speed up too, and stop being such a perfectionist!

Glitter tattoos

Glitter tattoos – I can post these photos here as they don’t show children’s faces!

My one disappointment was that someone, somehow, accidentally (?) managed to walk away with one of my photo-design books.

Facepainting design photo book

Luckily I had two …

That did sadden me, but was balanced out by my excitement in having a number of enquiries during and after the event.

I’m now booked to face-paint at the Throckmorton Air Show on 6th June, and have arranged to collaborate with a fellow face-painter at this event as tickets sales are around 15,000!

I’ll keep another potential event for 2016 a secret as it’s yet to be confirmed, but it sounds terribly exciting if it comes to fruition …

The Home Brew Boat

The Home Brew Boat also drew heaps of folks in – and it was really encouraging previous customers returned.

We frequently get told on our travels people have ‘seen the home brew boat‘ all over Social Media and television which is marvellous – the word seems to be spreading about the advantages of brewing your own.

Barry and his gift of the gab enthralled the crowds with his vast knowledge of beer, wine, cider and spirit making and mixing.

Helen and Andy on Wild Side were also trading, with Helen’s mum on board too (see Andy’s blog about it here), and at least one other trading boater who I unfortunately didn’t get to talk to, Louise Herriot, selling ‘Stunning Soutache’ jewellery.

Facepainting at St Richard's Festival, Droitwich

Helen got the facepainting started on Monday

Leaving Droitwich – 9 days after arrival!

St Richard’s Festival is such a well organised few days by the Worcester, Droitwich and Birmingham Canals Society. Thank you everyone, especially Adrian and Carol who kindly invited us out to dinner with the crew last night at The Gardner’s Arms.

We only left Droitwich today – well more accurately Barry and Areandare did!

We had a spot of engine trouble a few days ago, and lost the the ability to charge the batteries which is a potential disaster (especially where the vacuum toilet is concerned!).

I’d love to describe in detail the exact nature of the problem, and how the ‘kiwi-can-do’ attitude has hopefully sorted it, but it all goes over my head!

I unashamedly abandoned ship on Wednesday afternoon as I can’t ‘work’ without power for my laptop and mobile wifi device, and had a coaching client booked in for Thursday morning. As we’re near mum’s house in Ombersley, and I was planning on coming here anyway a couple of days later, it just got brought forward.

Barry’s now en route to Alvechurch ready for next weekend for their ‘Beer and Boat’ Festival. There’ll be celebration for the 200th anniversary of the Worcester, Droitwich and Birmingham Canals Society, and we’re both trading again.

I’ll be trying out my new pop-up gazebo and hoping for warmer, less windy weather. Surely we’ve got to get a bit of sunshine soon?

An exciting announcement!

The word is out!

I’m confident I can blag about it now as the Crick Show crew have Tweeted to us today.

We’ve changed our previously scheduled stop at the RCTA Burton-on-Trent Floating Market on the weekend of 23rd May, and will be winging our way down south immediately following Alvechurch.

Actually that’s not strictly true.

Barry will be moving the boat for the first couple of days as I’m needed up north again for grandson sitting (long and complicated story about being let down by the NHS that I shan’t go into here!). Please don’t feel sorry for him, he seriously loves boating alone for a few days. In fact I wonder occasionally if misses my cooking to prevent scurvy, more than my presence, a ‘chore’ he detests.

We feel highly honoured to have been asked, along with Helen and Andy from Wild Side, to participate on a panel at The Crick Boat Show on the weekend of 23rd May, which will be talking about ‘Running a Business on a Boat’. It involves two sessions on the Saturday between 2.15pm and 3.15pm, and Sunday from 3.30pm to 4.30pm.

To cap it all Hazel O’Connor is headlining on Sunday – woohoo! What a blast from my past.

I have to say, that life as a ‘water gypsy’ as a few people apparently love to call liveaboards in a derogatory fashion, is rather lovely. Nothing boring and monotonous about this simple yet splendid way of living and being.

A Bath wedding

The last few weeks have been pretty full on supporting mum as she grieves for dad, and doing the bulk of the formalities necessary when a person dies – especially one who’s lived a long, full and happy life for almost 95 years!

I’ve never had the experience of this previously – how fortunate I feel for that. It really is onerous …

Barry bless him, has been doing a stalwart job designing the order of service, and planning what I am certain will be a superb slide-show of dad’s time both with us and way before us. He was 35 when he married mum, and had travelled extensively for work and pleasure prior to that.

Dad’s funeral is on Monday 2nd March. Many people may be aghast at the length of time from his passing on 9th February – it’s chock a block at the crematorium here in UK at the moment apparently!

We’re having the Humanist Celebrant Margo, who performed our narrowboat wedding in September 2009 (there’s a photo of her with us in the previous post). Dad was never religious as far as we are aware. HIs grandfather, Reverend Thomas Inglis, was a much revered Methodist Minister in Edinburgh and Lindley, Huddersfield, but his only son William Dixon, dad’s dad, apparently rarely entered a church.

His funeral and wake are planned to be celebrations of his life. Sure there will be a few tears, we all miss him greatly, but we miss the man he was, not the man he had become, and we’re mostly just grateful he’s not suffering the indignities of dementia any more.

Brightening the days

Last Saturday, 21st February, my beautiful younger sister Viv, married her long time partner Ray. Bath is somewhere they’ve stayed on numerous romantic breaks, not far from their home in Exeter, so that’s where they chose to marry.

Not JUST Bath, but AT the Roman Baths in Bath!

Obviously the public are thronging through during the day, so weddings here are held either early morning or in the evening. Theirs was at 7.30pm. In mid- February that time of night is dark of course, adding to the amazing atmosphere.

It was magical as you can imagine, and really helped to lift all our spirits at this time in our lives. Dad came with us in the form of a framed photo Barry had printed. We’d done a similar thing for our 22nd December 2009 wedding, as Barry’s dad Frank died on 7th November that year. I’d love to think he was filled with pride watching Viv and his family sharing such a happy occasion.

Roman Baths, Bath

The groom and best man await the bride – dad looks proudly on

Bride coming into Roman Baths

Viv and her bridesmaids Sam and Rachel (hidden behind the pillar!), and stand-in dads Jack and Harry, walk around the perimeter of the Roman Baths

wedding at the Roman Baths

A most unusual marriage setting

Bath wedding

Kim, Sandra and Lisa all dressed up

Barry and Sandra Bath wedding

Sandra and Barry – in matching silver and purple

Kissing the bride

The happy couple – who continued the theme with a honeymoon in Rome!

Leaving Worcester

Our stay in Worcester will be a little extended due to circumstances, so we aren’t planning to be back ‘on the cut’ until late next week.

We’d originally wanted to travel down the river Severn to Gloucester, as it’s a journey we’ve yet to experience. However, due to the tight timescale of getting up to Middlewich for our first trading weekend at Easter, we’ve decided to forgo the trip for now. The vagaries of the river levels mean we could potentially get stuck down south and be unable to move in time. So we’re literally taking a rain check!

We’ll be heading north, we haven’t yet worked out our route …