Summer of Kiwis
Living in a floating home, the size of many Kiwis’ hallways, brings a few challenges. Sharing that confined space with guests can be an interesting experience. Did I mention intimate? Maybe it’s best not to delve too deeply, writes Sandra Walsh . . .
Barry and I have lived aboard our 60-foot long, 6 foot 10 inches wide narrowboat, Areandare (Are and Are — short, we think, for the forces’ term ‘Rest and Recuperation’), for six years. No garden to tend. No mortgage to pay. There’s sparse space to store needless ‘stuff’. No expensive car to insure or maintain.
We can cruise away from noisy neighbours at will. Choose to moor in the middle of nowhere soaking up peace and solitude. Or ‘park-up’ in the centre of a bustling city, watching the busy-ness of passers-by.
Having the freedom to cruise, socialise, and work flexibly means no ‘requesting’ holidays from paid employment.
Consequently we can, and have, frequently welcomed intrepid visitors on board.
The swelteringly hot summer of 2018 brought a colourful collection of Kiwis across the seas, to the canals and rivers of England. Mostly planned. Though a couple were pleasant last-minute surprises. All had Gisborne connections. Some we knew well. Others we soon did.
During their European tour, Angela and John Robson had a choice between the Lake District or an overnighter with us. As luck would have it we were ‘free’ to accommodate them. We weren’t in the most salubrious of areas, Wigan in the north-west. Famous for ‘Wigan Pier’, which isn’t really a pier just a tiny jetty — but steeped in history.
“Barry and Sandra were wonderful hosts,” said Angela “We enjoyed a tipple of home-brew. Life on the narrow canal boat was fascinating, learning about the locks and seeing the English countryside was so special for us.”
June brought Deb and Graeme McKay, and Rod and Tracey Norman, who had pre-planned their time on board. Each couple experienced a few days and nights on the Inland Waterways and beyond. Barry meticulously mapped out an incredible variety of attractions.
Travelling from the top of the nine Rochdale Locks descending into Manchester, we passed Old Trafford (Manchester United Football Club), across the Barton Swing Aqueduct, down the amazing Anderton Boat Lift to the River Weaver, through the 2.4km long Harecastle Tunnel, culminating at The Plume of Feathers in Barlaston, owned by Neil Morrissey from ‘Men Behaving Badly’ fame.
‘An amazing lifestyle’“A fantastic experience on board Areandare, cruising the canal from city to the countryside — showing a peaceful and alternative view of our surroundings,” said Deb.
For Tracey the experience was life-changing “What a fabulous way of life! We absolutely loved our experience on Areandare cruising the waterways of England — the sights and sounds were fantastic. What an amazing lifestyle! Now our dream is to return and spend many months on a boat of our own navigating the canals, and living the life of a narrowboater.”
Shortly after Tracey and Rod departed, we received a message from Toni and Greg Lexmond. Toni had been Barry’s media contact at The Gisborne Herald when he ran D&K Photography, and latterly Ezimade in Gisborne. Sadly, they were only able to squeeze in one day with us, but adored the experience.
“A unique life for those lucky enough to live on a canal boat and a wonderful experience for us to share this life with great people. We will always cherish the time we spent with Barry and Sandra on the English canals.”
Finally Barry’s two brothers, Ray and Peter, made the journey north. Ray, who owns Verve Cafe, came on a pre-planned three-week stay, coinciding with a long-held ambition to compete in The Brompton Bike Challenge in London. We were thrilled to be able to watch him whiz by as he sped towards Buckingham Palace and around St James’ Park a number of times, dressed as a ‘city slicker’. Visiting Paddington Basin after its regeneration was another joy.
Back on board Areandare we cruised through countryside to Worcester, Droitwich and Birmingham on the boat with Ray.
Peter snuck in an overnighter between travels from America and Europe — we reckon he was in awe of the parallel universe of the canals and will return.
Ray described the experience as “an absolutely fantastic way to see the English countryside and take in the centuries of industrial progress with such wonderfully hospitable and knowledgeable hosts. The ample opportunity to explore towpaths and villages on foot and by bike was brilliant. Loved it.”
To discover more, head to our blog www.nbareandare.com