Sunday 30 September 2012

Back to Parisien Star

Big day again today.

We headed off from Windermere for the drive South back to Aqueduct Marina.  We arrived just on lunchtime had another look around the boat and then had lunch in the marina cafe.  We also collected the owners manual for nb Parisien Star.

As we walked back across the carpark and yard towards the boat we had someone call out hello to us and there was Peter from nb Kelly Louise.  We've been in touch with him for some time and he's been just fabulous with answering so many of our questions.  There were more today!

We discussed every room on the boat and the various workings.  Goodness, we have a lot to learn.  After Peter went on his way we spent some time sorting out all the bits and bobs left behind in ever drawer and cupboard and cleaning every surface.  I emptied the large suitcase we had left behind last week and put clothes away in cupboards.  There is something about cleaning a place that makes it feel more mine.

Tonight we're starting a week's accomodation in a self catering cottage on a farm about 1/2 hour away from Aqueduct Marina.  It's a lovely place with a friendly border collie.  That will be nice for us.  There was even a "welcome" chocolate cake on the table. 

On the way here from the marina we stopped at Morrisons supermarket to pick up some groceries to get us by the next few days.  We've spent so much money the last 10 days we decided it was time to stay in to eat more now that we're in the same place for a while.  We had decided that once we're afloat we'll allow ourselves to eat out once a week (or get takeaway).  We have to try and stay within our budget.  Groceries are much cheaper here than in Australia so we'll see how far our weekly budget goes once we settle into a routine.  We were amazed at the price of packaged Indian meals in the supermarket.  We tried one tonight - it was a meal for 2 and was only £5. As it turned out we could almost have a second dinner from it and it wasn't too bad. 

Tomorrow we're going to Crewe to Dunelm Mill to find a duvet and a couple of other minor items.  I've become quite partial to a cup of tea so I'm going to buy a teapot.  We're having lunch with Peter and Margaret (nb Kelly Louise) at a nearby pub.  More narrowboat talk coming up......

Saturday 29 September 2012

Sore feet

Firstly, thanks very much to Fran from nb Tamara who left a comment yesterday suggesting we visit Lakeland Ltd in Windermere.  It was well worth the visit.  We bought some kitchen knives and a frying pan as they were the few kitchen things we knew we were missing between what's been left on nb Parisien Star and what we've had shipped over.  So much for not shopping while we're up here.

The other missing item that we've yet to buy is a duvet/doona.  Any suggestions as to where we can get a good one?  We've got until the end of the week.

Today we have walked and walked and walked and my feet are sore.   We started off with our visit to Lakeland Ltd.  What a fantastic shop... we spent over an hour looking around at all the kitchen stuff.  Then we went for a walk through Windermere village and stopped for a cappuccino in a coffee shop.  It was one of the best we've had in England - perhaps because we asked that they make them strong.  The English have very different taste in coffee to what we get back home.  We mostly order a pot of tea if we're out now but this place had an Italian name and a whiz bang coffee machine so we took a chance.

Next was a drive to Kendal and we walked some more (once we FINALLY found somewhere to park).  We had lunch in Booths which I had always thought was just a pharmacy but this place was an upmarket supermarket with a cafe/restaurant below.  It reminded me of Leo's Fine Foods in Melbourne.  On the drive to Kendal and back we checked out a custom furniture workshop and a kitchen / stone / flooring place.  They really do make lovely kitchens in England.  We go looking at them every time we come here.  Mick will have his work cut out for him when we get home as he's already cooking up plans for our next kitchen.

Along the way Mick had found a little book about Volkswagens.  It had every year and every model with some excellent photos.  When we got back to Bowness we walked again - first to the Post Office to post the Volkswagen book to Kevin, our friend from Bendigo, and also to post a brochure from the furniture workshop to Peter, Mick's work chum back home.  Then we had a good walk around the lake edge checking out the shops along the way.

Everywhere we look there are amazing dry stone walls.  They go on for miles and miles.  In Australia they are most common in Tasmania and built using convict labour.  I don't know who must have spent the thousands and thousands of hours it would need to build all these walls here in the Lakes District.

Tomorrow we'll be heading back to nb Parisien Star.  I'm looking forward to cleaning out all the cupboards, sorting out the mountain that is accumulating in the car, and starting to put things away.  I think this whole adventure will start to seem a whole lot more real then.  We still feel like we're just here on a holiday.

We have the whole week staying not all that far away from the marina (booked before we bought the boat) and there's a lot to do during that week.  Sunday we're having lunch with Peter and Margaret from nb Kelly Louise.  I hope you are ready for a whole lot of questions.  Mick has a list in his wallet!

We are hoping our belongings will arrive early in the week.  I haven't heard anything about a delivery date yet from the shipping company but we've asked them to deliver straight to the marina rather than to Ormskirk.  Mick wants to paint the red and cream sections at the stern of the boat while it is out of the water.  It looks even shabbier with the blacking done.

Wednesday will be an exciting day for us.  Nb Parisien Star will go back in the water.  She'll come alive then!  At the moment it's a strange feeling walking about a boat that doesn't move.

Next Friday we have a day of boat handling training.  We're hoping it will give us some confidence for when we have to leave the marina the week after.  We had booked in a second day of training but we were meeting the trainer at the Anderton boat lift so we could do a day on a river.  That's not likely to happen now due to the breach of the canal at Dutton.  Aussie readers - click here - to see the enormous damage done to the canal by the rain the last few days!  We're going to have to arrange an alternative.

Photos for today :
1. The cutest fish and chip shop ever
2. Every paddock fenced with dry stone walls
3. Pity it wasn't a clear day - what a view
4. Town crier in Kendal
5. The lake at Bowness
6. And again
7. A pair wisely standing out of beak's reach

Friday 28 September 2012


We have tonight and tomorrow night at Windermere - a little break from the shopping (lucky that ... the car is filled almost to the roof) and other nb planning.

We did buy a couple more things from our list on the way. We got a coat each and Mick got a pair of waterproof boots.  Other items now piled up in the car include a large box containing the printer (why do they have to make the box 3 times the size of the item in it?), a clothes drying rack, a pack of the little racks you put over a radiator, 2 golf umbrellas, electrical extension lead, a polisher, pegs, food, toiletries, a jumble of chargers and adaptors.....  thank goodness we left our large suitcase on nb Parisien Star or I would have had to cling onto the roof of the car!

Today was another early start as we are still waking up before 6am.  I actually don't mind that because when I start working I'd rather start early so I can be free from lunchtime.  We had a good run heading North on the M6 and headed first to Sawrey to visit Hilltop, the Beatrix Potter property.  We got to test out the new golf umbrella which proved to be an excellent buy.  We had morning tea at the tea rooms next door and watched the rabbits frolicking in the garden.  I'm sure it was Peter Rabbit.

The scenery is like nothing we've ever seen and the stone buildings are just stunning.  It's been a visit well worth making.  We had lunch and a wander around Ambleside, called in to the visitor centre at Windermere and then parked the car at our accomodation in Bowness and had a walk around.  It's just the most picturesque place.  We have a view over the rooftops to the lake from the living room window.

The visitor centre was a lovely place.  There was a treetops rope course and flying fox, an animal park and around the visitor centre building were beautiful gardens to wander through.  The only let-down is having to pay to park there!

Photos for today (although the don't do the place justice) :
1. Lakeside tourist boat
2. Lakeside
3. Lakeside
4. Ambleside
5. View from the gardens at the Windemere visitors information centre
6. The lake by the visitor centre
7. A very bold little bird - they aren't as colourful here as they are at home
8. The view from our living room window
9. We even saw Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny!!




Thursday 27 September 2012

Recliner chairs

For those who have asked...... these are the recliners we've chosen.  We won't order them until we've sold the existing chairs as we have nowhere to store extras.

Shopping, shopping

We didn't stray too far afield today.  There a few things we wanted to knock off our shopping list.Firstly I had done some research about printers and chosen which one I wanted to buy. We bought it at Argos - what an eye opener that place was!  Now I'm pretty much set up to work when we settle in.

We had to go to Southport to the Argos there to get the printer so we also stopped at Halfords to see what they had in the way of folding bikes and Mick spent some time in B & Q.  Once the shopping was over we headed South down the coast to check out Antony Gormley's "Another Place".  We'd never heard of it before - a rather bizzare series of 100 statues of the artist's own body all facing out to sea.  It looks like a small army marching out into the water with the wind turbines in the distance.

On the way home we drove past a golf course on a little back road.  We made a quick decision to go back and see if they had golf umbrellas.  We bought a couple so that's one more thing off our list of things to buy.  There were a few little squirrels romping around at the edge of the carpark of the golf course.  They were  busy little fellows running up and down the trees.  That's something we don't have in Australia.

Chairs for sale

We are selling the pair of rocker armchairs that are currently on nb Parisien Star.
They will be replaced with leather ones (due to Mick being prone to dropping food on his chair!).  The fabric is in excellent condition and they are very comfortable.  They are "glider" type rockers.

Ottoman for sale too.

Make us an offer!

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Welcome to England

We had breakfast with Lynne this morning after her night shift then a quick shop in Morrisons.  There seems to always be something else we need.

It's been a bit of a baptism by fire the last couple of days.  It began raining some time Sunday night and it's still raining now (Tuesday night).  It was bad enough dealing with the spray from the trucks on the M6 yesterday!

Today we went with Mick's brother Peter to have lunch with their cousin Anthony and his wife Jackie.  I didn't take note of the name of the pub in Leyland but it was a reasonable meal - 2 courses for £5.95.  Coming home we spent nearly 2 hours on a journey that should have taken just over half an hour!  Again and again we had to turn back with roads closed from flooding.  I didn't think we'd ever get back to our accomodation but eventually we encountered a friendly policeman who pointed us in the direction of roads that were still open. 

Before we went to lunch today we stopped off at the Recliner Lounge (thanks Peter B!) and chose a pair of recliners for the boat.  First we'll have to sell the existing ones.  Mick's got a plan for the footstools that come with the chairs.

Peter (Mick's brother), Mick, cousin Anthony

Choosing a marina

Today, Monday, was our introduction to English rain.  In fact, it was the first day we've ever spent in the UK where it rained all day.  It was raining when I opened my eyes this morning and it's still raining now at 7pm.  There has been not a moment today that it wasn't raining.  Tonight on the news there's talk of flooding in various locations. 

We intended to spend the day driving around visiting marinas.  We had been to Great Haywood (as well as a couple of others) on Saturday and would have loved to moor there for the Winter.  Unfortunately there were no vacancies.  So, we were on a mission to find an alternative.   There needs to be somewhere easily accessible for milk, bread or other emergency food supplies, a nearby village within easy walking distance, a bus stop close by and a train station within walking or easy bus distance.  That ruled out many of the marinas we've checked out on the internet.

Today we started out with Mercia - it was the furthest from Ormskirk where we are staying.  We, and our Tom Tom navigator, totally underestimated the traffic on the M6.  We should have avoided that motorway altogether - it took us close on 3 1/2 hours to get there!!!  Luckily we really liked it despite it being such a huge marina.  We did go look at one more for comparison but decided to book in at Mercia.  The marina holds 585 boats which is absolutely enormous.  On site there is a narrowboat broker, a cafe, a small shop and a chandlery as well as a hire boat base.  There is more than one amenities block and we have a berth near to one of them.

The new toy (iPad) served us well today as we had a couple of last minute change of plans due to the traffic. We looked up and rang several of the marinas.  The Three mifi thingy worked a treat too.  I still have to find a new smart phone and a printer for my "office" on the boat.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

A quiet day

We are staying in the loveliest little farm cottage.  It's peaceful and there is a canal just down the road. Yesterday we had a relaxed start.... as relaxed as it can be with Mick anyway.

We went shopping at Tesco so we will finally be able to cook for ourselves. There were some flies buzzing around upstairs in the cottage so I had fly spray on my list. Mick went off to find some and came back quite amused. There was only one choice of fly spray! When I think about the shelves of cans to choose from at home I'm guessing there isn't going to be such a fly and mossie problem here.

Next stop was Argos. We had each gone through the catalogue and marked several items to buy. My main things were an Internet dongle (Paul, I went with your advice on the 3 Mifi) and an iPad.  When we got back and charged up the new equipment I discovered a problem with my laptop! Where's my younger brother when I need him! Just one more challenge to overcome.

In the afternoon we drove around visiting some of the farm shops and having a wander along the canal.  We have set ourselves a big day looking at marinas tomorrow. We are hoping to find somewhere that we can cruise from over winter.  We've decided Rufford is a little too limited and the stoppages nearby too much of a nuisance for our purposes.

These should have been on yesterdays post but laptop problems prevented me posting them.
Here's our first meeting with nb Parisien Star!

Monday 24 September 2012

Meeting PS

What a huge day it was yesterday!  We set off in the morning to check out some marinas intending to reach Aqueduct around lunchtime. Things didn't go quite according to plan. We had a breakdown issue which delayed us by more than 2 hours.... Just what we needed on such an exciting day.  We were rescued by a friendly AA man.  By the time we got going again we ended up skipping a couple of marinas and still didn't reach Aqueduct Marina til mid afternoon.

I think I was holding my breath as we drove down the marina driveway. There were many boats on hard standing and we were both busy looking for the right blue one. Finally I spied her, right at the end under the roof.  We drove right along and stopped in front. There she was - our new home.

We walked around checking her out.  It isn't so easy when the boat is out of the water.  The deck level was so high!  Finally we went over to the marina office and introduced ourselves.  They took us back with the keys to drag over a set of steps.  We had a good look through, checking every cupboard, nook and cranny.  Mick went and got our suitcase of extra clothes that we would leave on the boat.

Mick is all set to get into painting and polishing as soon as he can.  Everything needs a good clean having been left unused for some time so that will be my job. Overall the boat is as we expected. There is room for improvement which is fine with us. We are thinking of trying to sell the rocker chairs and buy a pair of leather ones.  We will probably put in a solid fuel stove. Once we get our belongings put away I'm sure it will start to feel like home. It felt a bit strange just like it did the first day we brought the caravan home.

We gave Jack, the marina dog a good pat, had a chat with the marina folk, collected our first item of mail.... Who on earth would send us something to the marina?! It turned out to be a housewarming card from Yvonne and Roger from Crown Narrowboats. Thanks so much guys, we really appreciate it.

We continued on our way to Ormskirk to meet up with Lynne for dinner. We just made it to our accommodation by 6pm so it was a rush to get to dinner in time.  What a day.

Meanwhile we've had a struggle on the communication front.  With my phone being dead we have had very limited access to anything. We have a cheap little handset with a good prepaid sim that gives us cheap international calls. No contact list, no data access. Even Mick has been frustrated at the loss of the smart phone. Shows how much we rely on it.  The mission for Sunday - get some sort of Internet access.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Meeting the first bloggers

We'd been looking forward to today (maybe not as much as tomorrow, but still).

We were up very early, mainly due to jetlag but also because we took Lois to the airport in Birmingham at 5.30am.  We had a lunch date in Stoke Bruerne with Jane and Ian, a lovely couple we met 2 years ago while staying in their self catering thatched cottage.  We were there an hour before the allotted time so went for a stroll down the towpath.  It seemed fairly bustling and we later discovered that was due to next weekends event - Village at War.

There were some vintage boats and then we passed the cheese boat, then the fudge boat and then I spied nb Hadar.  We stopped for a chat with Keith who offered some very useful advice about solid fuel stoves.  Jo returned from her rubbish collecting and joined in the chat with suggestions of the best coal to burn.  It was lovely to stumble across the first blogger boat and such a friendly welcome too.  Click on their names to see their blogs. Thanks guys.

Lunch was at the Navigation Inn and then we headed off to check out Jane and Ian's narrowboat which is moored not too far away.  It's a bit of a labour of love.

So it was a lovely boaty day.  On the way home we tried to find somewhere to buy a wireless internet dongle, a printer, and a smart phone.  It was busy by the time we reached Leamington Spa and we had not much luck with getting directions.  By then we were tired so gave up on that mission.

It wasn't until we got back that I realized I'd carried my camera around all day and not taken a solitary photo.  I'm going to have to get better at this.

Now for tomorrow..... the big day at last.  We're going to meet nb Parisien Star!!

Friday 21 September 2012

Jet lag

We did quite well yesterday with almost no sleep for 48 hours.  It's always so exciting when we first arrive that we get through the day ok.  We were too busy in the days leading up to this trip to even think about doing anything to try and reduce the effects of jetlag.

On the motorway from Heathrow I could see on our Tom Tom when we were going to cross a waterway but it doesn't show if it's a river or canal.  Each time we'd be straining to see if it was a canal and if we could spot a narrowboat.  When we went down to the canal by the supermarket at Warwick yesterday I was watching the boats chug by and it just didn't seem real to think that would be our life for the next year.

It's been lovely to see Lois again although it's only been a couple of months this time - she came and stayed with us at the shed for a couple of nights!  She has moved to a new house since our home exchange in 2007 and this is a lovely place too.  She has a very nice outlook from her living room.

Not all that long after dinner last night we were struggling to stay awake and by 8pm we were out to it.  I'm surprised how well we both slept but as usual in the first few days arriving in the UK or Europe I was wide awake at 3am.  When it got to 4am and I was still awake I decided to get up.  I managed to get my laptop hooked up to Lois's wireless internet (yes, Anthony, I did!).  The time difference meant that in Australia it was work time... for some people... but others although they were at work obviously had nothing better to do than checking out Facebook... so a lovely half hour or so chatting to Vicki. 

Mick was up by 5am and we set about quietly having breakfast without waking Lois. We had a good walk all around the village and to check out the farm we could see from Lois's window.  For the morning we went shopping to make a start on buying the things we need to get.  I seem to have acquired another list... and it's another one that is growing!

This afternoon we went for a drive to Braunston marina.  We couldn't let a day pass without a narrowboat fix.  I just love that place.  On the way we stopped at Midland Chandlers and looked at all the bits and pieces they sell.  About the only things we knew what to do with were the coffee mugs!  Steep learning curve coming up.  We looked at the solid fuel stoves and talked about whether or not we should spend that sort of money to have one installed on nb Parisien Star.

We checked out some boats for sale, had a walk around (pity the Gongoozlers was closed), patted a friendly labrador in the fender makers and on the way back visited a farm shop.

Overall an enjoyable day. 

Thursday 20 September 2012

First day in the UK

We got away to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  My mum dropped us off and we breezed through check in, immigration, customs etc.  When we opened our HSBC account we received two Qantas business class lounge passes.  That was a nice treat!  We had some lunch and enjoyed the quiet.  Just on boarding time we went back upstairs and had barely 5 minutes to wait.

The first leg of the flight from Australia to the UK is to Singapore and takes just a little more than 7 hours.  The second leg takes more than 13 hours, and in our case it was 14!  Oh, how painful that journey is.  I absolutely hate it and so does Mick.  By the time we arrived in London it was 24 hours since we got on the plane in Melbourne.

We had booked a hotel day room so we could have a shower and a nap before driving to Leamington Spa.  The first thing I did when we arrived there was to turn on my phone..... well I tried to.  It's dead!  It won't charge and won't turn on.  I'm stuck without access to my emails and contacts etc.  We bought a cheap little phone so we can make and receive calls but that's all it will do.  When I have time I'll investigate what's available in the way of phones.

We encountered our second little hiccup when we went to pick up the hire car.  They weren't going to let us take a car because we didn't have a return airline ticket!  I couldn't believe it.  The girl who served us was lovely but she had to get her supervisor because we didn't satisfy "the rules".  The supervisor had a bit of an attitude and despite my numerous suggestions for what might overcome the problem she was all set to turn us away.  Eventually she very grudgingly agreed that if I could produce a purchase document for nb Parisien Star as well as insurance documents that showed the same address, they would let us take a car.

We hightailed it up to Leamington and went to Tesco for some groceries and a quick visit down to the canal to see if there were any boats.  We watched 3 go by.

Now we are staying a couple of days with our friend Lois, with whom we exchanged houses for 5 weeks in 2007. 

We had a couple of encounters today where we told someone that we had arrived here today to spend a year aboard a narrowboat.  Firstly, a couple who were also waiting for the hotel shuttle bus asked us how long we were visiting the UK, and secondly the girl at the car hire desk.  The reactions are priceless. 

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Goodbye... farewell... and all that...

We're off!!  We had a good night's sleep and we're all ready to go.

Mick's gone to take mum's car back and he'll come back with her to collect me and the suitcases.  We're leaving behind about a third of what I had stacked up to be packed.  Never mind.

We'll miss our Aussie friends and family but we're very much looking forward to seeing our new UK friends and family.


Monday 17 September 2012

The last night

Well, whatever isn't done now won't get done.  Our suitcases are packed, the stuff we couldn't fit in is put away.  Everything's looking pretty bare now with nearly all our belongings packed away either in the lockup or in the caravan.  The fridge is cleaned out, the bathroom's been cleaned, the pantry is empty, the grass has been mowed, the weeds sprayed, the washing's right up to date and.... our boarding passes are printed.

We've had our leftovers for dinner, fielded some farewell phonecalls and text messages (thanks so much everyone), and spent a lovely couple of hours with our favourite neighbours from the old place.  J & J we'll miss you guys.  Thanks for coming over on our last night.

It's amazing how calm we are tonight.  I thought we'd be pretty stressed.  I'm not even fussed that I've not completed everything on my list.  It really is the most surreal feeling to think that something we've dreamed about and talked about for so long is now right on our doorstep.  We're about to go and live the dream!

Sunday 16 September 2012

Sunday catchup at the "Lower".

Jen, Georgie, Lucy (old workmates) and me
Me, my niece Minka and my sister Katrina

2 days to go

We're sitting here after our final social engagement.  Although I'm totally over the socializing as it's been absolute madness, it all seems a bit quiet now.  I'm glad my mum doesn't live in Melbourne any more - at least she's nearby and will take us to the airport on Tuesday.  I'm starting to think I'll miss people.

It's actually been the easiest day we've had for quite some time.  We got up when we felt like it after gazing at the photos of nb Parisien Star that we have taped under the cupboards above our bed.  I've been churning out the washing, and Mick took my two tubs of quilts to the quilt shop for caretaking.  We've sorted more clothes and paperwork and I totally emptied the fridge and pantry. 

My brother, sister in law and stepmum arrived at midday and we went to the local cafe for lunch.  I've been there about 3 times in the last few weeks!  I had a couple of computer jobs for my brother to help me with.  While he was busy with that I even managed to rope the girls into cutting and stacking some fabric hexagons for my quilt.  That was an unexpected bonus.

So now I have my backup jobs done and I feel much better knowing my documents and photos are secure.  Thanks Anthony!  I passed on my little netbook to Anthony to take on his overseas trip in a few weeks time.  I'm going to buy a tablet which will be more useful for us.  Now I just have my laptop and no internet access on it so he helped me set it up to use my phone so I can access the internet. 

We have the challenging task tomorrow of trying to pack our suitcases.  The pile of stuff to go in them is like Mt Everest sitting on top of them.  I think it may be physically impossible.  I'm guessing there'll be some scaling down.

In 2 days time we'll be on the plane.  It doesn't quite seem real.  Thanks everyone for the comments, emails and cards.  We very much appreciate the moral support.

Saturday 15 September 2012

3 days to go

We had a big day today.  We didn't mess around over breakfast - I wanted to get a load of washing on before heading off and there were quite a few things I needed to remember to put in the car. 

First stop for the day was at our old house.  I thoroughly enjoyed a walk around the garden with Tracey.  Spring is the best time and it's like the whole garden is waking up after a sleep.  Tracey has started getting into the gardening so that was lovely to see. The one thing I miss about that place is the vegetable garden.  One day we'll have one again.

Meanwhile Mick went to collect the mail and to call in on the tenants in "the house up the road".  I wonder if I'll ever stop thinking of it that way! 

We drove separately to Bendigo - me having a coffee with Tracey first and Mick taking his truck to Kevin and Bernice's house where it will stay while we're away. We all met at a nearby pub for lunch which was very enjoyable.  We'll miss Kevin and Bernice! 

Next I took Mick to meet a friend of his for a few beers at another pub and I went to mum's.  I took my laptop and a box of receipts to type them up ready for doing Mick's 2013 tax.  We discussed how to use the breadmaker (darn, we forgot to pack it in the boxes we sent!) as mum decided she'd like to give it a try while we're gone.

Just before dinner time I collected Mick and we headed home to our caravan.  Tired, excited and a little apprehensive.

On the planning front we've booked in dinner with Lynne for next Saturday, we've arranged a couple of days of boat handling training - firstly from the marina and 10 days later at the Anderton boat lift so we can learn about handling the boat on a river.  At the end of the week after next we'll have a couple of days at Windermere which I'm looking forward to as well.

Only 3 more sleeps...

Friday 14 September 2012

4 days - to do list - for the last time

The list is over... we really only have a few hours left to get these things done over the next 3 days.

 Last night we had dinner at the home of Mick's workmate and his wife.  I had my last day at work today and it was an amazing feeling leaving the office for the last time.  My friend Tammy came by this afternoon to say farewell.  The next time I see her she'll be married!

I'm having coffee tomorrow morning with Tracey, the lovely lady who bought our house.  We're having lunch in Bendigo with the friends who will take care of Mick's truck while we are gone.  From then on we'll have only mum's old Russell for transport.  Tomorrow afternoon Mick is catching up with a mate in Bendigo and I'll go to my mum's and later pick him up to come home.  I've decided I'll have to take the 2013 tax work to do while I'm there or I'll simply run out of time.  Sorry mum!

Sunday my brother, sister in law and stepmum are coming up for lunch at the local cafe.  Before and after we'll have a few hours to start packing away the things we've been using while living here at the shed - paperwork, sewing, books, magazines, laundry stuff.  Plus, we're in the midst of washing clothes, sheets, towels etc ready to be packed away. 

I'm hoping we'll have most of it done before Monday.  I have yoga in the morning and it would be nice if we weren't rushing around in the afternoon.  Fingers crossed.

So for the last time :

Buy a cheaper house - done
Sorting and packing up belongings for garage sale - done
Apply for Elly's Finnish passport- done
Sell our house - done
Arrange insurance for stored belongings - done
Open a UK bank account - done
Send remaining chickens to their new home- done
Suspend private health insurance - done
Arrange for our mail to be dealt with at home - done
Order new key for mailbox - done
Arrange for mail in the UK - done
Book airfares - done
Rent out our new house - done
Arrange for someone to have the pot plants- done
Pack up our belongings and store - done
Ship belongings to UK - done 
Sell Elly’s car - done
Get chips in car windscreen repaired - done
Get roadworthy for car - done
Complete car transfer paperwork - done
Book accomodation in UK - done
Transfer money to UK account - done
Work out what to do with our mobile phone numbers - done
Buy a caravan for temporary home - done
Set up bathroom for temporary home - done
Correspondence to arrive by email rather than post where possible - done
Return all borrowed items to their rightful owners - done
Type up list of stored belongings by box number - done
Cancel Mick's GST registration - done
Do our 2012 tax returns - done 
Prepare paperwork for 2013 tax (will be due while we're away) - must be done this weekend!
Do tax returns for my mum and her partner - done
Do tax returns for my brother and sister in law - done
Set up my laptop with software to work from UK - done
Change bills and bank statements to come by email where possible - done
Partition off area in shed to be rented out for storage - done
Find tenant for shed storage area - no longer our problem!
Make sure all our favourite recipes are on my blog - in progres, Leanne might need to help!
Catch up with friends and family before we go - very nearly done
Go to New Zealand to see Mick's mum before we go - done
Make a list of what we need to buy on arrival in UK - done
Buy a narrowboat - done, yes it is!
Boat survey - done
Boat insurance - done
Pay for narrowboat - done
Arrange for boat blacking - done
Book into a marina for Winter - done
Book hotel at airport for arrival - done
Book UK hire car - done
Book NZ hotels - done
Book NZ hire car - done
Make optometrist appointment for Elli - done
Make optometrist appointment for Mick - done
Ring HSBC to update address and sort out internet banking - done
Ring real estate agent in case tenants move out while we're away - done
Book table for 9th Sept catchup with Melbourne friends - done
Arrange dinner with our favourite neighbours - done
Arrange dinner with our Bendigo friends - done
Book boat handling course - done
Change mobiles to prepaid - Monday
Cancel internet - Monday
Take Mick's truck to be cared for while we're away - tomorrow
Scan important documents - done
Backup all documents and photos onto a portable hard drive - this weekend
Give copy of important documents to my brother - done
Change address on HSBC UK account so we get a statement with a UK address - Monday
Go through list of boxes shipped and work out what additional clothing we need to pack - done
Order some UK cash - hmmmm.... we'll have to just get some at the airport
Arrange someone to receive World Vision correspondence - done
Pack our suitcases - in progress  
Pack away the last of the belongings we're still using - this weekend
Empty pantry - done
Clean out fridge - in progress 
Book accomodation at Ormskirk - done
Book accomodation at Windermere - done
Print and laminate a map of UK counties - done

Wednesday 12 September 2012

6 days to go

We've been doing lots of "lasts".  Last trip to Melbourne, last night staying at my brother's and sister in law's, last supper with them, my last day at the Melbourne job, Mick's last day of work...

I had a dreadful sleep Monday night, having woken at 2am and being totally unable to clear my mind of the million things running through it.  I tossed and turned, not wanting to get up and wake the rest of the house and trying not to wake Mick with my tossing and turning.  Hopefully that will be the last of the sleepless nights.  We seem to be feeling a bit better about things now.

I must thank those who emailed or left comments of support last weekend when I mentioned us having a difficult time.  In particular Jennifer who sent an email that made us feel immeasurably more positive.  To think someone we've never met could understand how we felt so well.

I bailed out of a catch up with my friend Vicki for today and instead came home from Melbourne this morning to spend the day working on "the list".  Mum came over to have lunch and went home with the car loaded with stuff from the fridge and other bits and pieces.

Sorry mum but I have to tell.... my poor mum was quite upset to have her "new" car damaged while she was parked at the shopping centre.  There's scratches across the corner of the bumper.  Bound to happen sometime but particularly upsetting when it's the very first week.  I think she thought I was going to be upset!

We are looking forward to a quiet evening at home tonight after the hectic pace of the city.  I said to Mick we should try and unwind in the next few days so that we head off feeling relaxed.  We'll try anyway.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

World Vision

I've previously mentioned that we sponsor a child through World Vision.  With the Chile program finished we were advised we'd get a new child to sponsor.

We received a package with details of a new little girl - this one lives in Bangladesh.  I took the paperwork with me on Sunday to talk to my niece about it.  She's quite enthusiastic about writing to the little girl so hopefully they'll both enjoy their correspondence. 

I won't be seeing my three nieces for a year now so it's nice that Minka's old enough to type an email!

Monday 10 September 2012

2nd last week

What a week it's been. To Melbourne on Monday after a hurried morning tidying up.  We hate coming back from a few days away to mess but that's becoming increasingly difficult!  It was getting more and more chaotic in the caravan.  I finally got to use the gold class movie tickets that were very kindly sent to me for recommending an IT company we used many years ago at the office I used to work at.

Tuesday was my second last day at my Melbourne job.  I filed every last document I had lying around.  We took my brother and sister in law out for dinner Tuesday night. They have had me as a house guest most weeks for the last 3 years.  It's been so much nicer than staying at a hotel!  Especially since my mum moved to Bendigo....

Wednesday was farewell to my little nephew and new niece (she'll be up and running by the time I see her next).  I spent a couple of hours on the internet changing addresses, looking for accomodation and catching up up on long overdue emails. I'd promised my mum I'd bring her my car Wednesday afternoon so she could have it for a couple of weeks before driving us to the airport.  The weather was absolutely horrific that afternoon driving home from Melbourne.  It was the windiest I can ever remember driving in. 

Car washing hasn't exactly been a priority so I stopped at a car wash half way home.  Oh my goodness, I went around the car three times with the wind whipping that ridiculous pink foam back at me.  Weeks of road grime weren't going to give up easily.  The car wash guy even came and did one round (number 4) and I had one more go after that.  I was soaked to the skin from the spray and wind and my shoes were covered in pink foam but it really needed something stronger to remove the stuck on insects - the brush was just too soft. I gave up and as it was now getting well on in the afternoon I decided it was better to keep driving than tackle the vacuum which was also outside in the wind and rain.  The little roof over it was useless with it being so windy.  I had visions of mum rolling her eyes at me handing over the car in less than pristine condition and I'm sure she had a whinge to her sister who visited this week. (I apologise Mum if I'm wrong about that!).  I did see mum's sister on Sunday and kept waiting for her to make a comment about it but there wasn't a word.

I was by now running much later than I planned and the going was slow.  An hour from home I rang mum and suggested they come to me and swap cars as it would save me another hours driving.  Of course it rained dusty rain all over the car as well as the wind blowing sticks and leaves furiously across the road.  There were trees down too.  Definitely not a relaxing drive.

Thursday and Friday were back at my accounting job.  I tried to squeeze a few chores in before work each morning which left me rushing out the door to not be late.  I'm usually at the office 15 minutes before starting time!  We were busy at the office setting up the last necessary things on my laptop and me sorting out stuff at my desk.

Friday night we had dinner with our favourite neighbours.  It will be our last monthly dinner for quite some time.  We tried Mason's in Bendigo - a tapas style menu.  It was nice for something different.

I had intended to visit my mum Saturday but Mick and I decided to both stay home and knock some items of our list.  I finally got my tax return finished, Mick labelled the remaining boxes in storage and I typed up the last of them too.  I took photos of my antique quilts which are going to be cared for at our local quilt store.  We churned out washing which is getting harder to keep up with.  I even went through all the stuff in the pantry and boxed it up to give to my mum and sister in law.  Oh, and I went through the bathroom cupboard and packed up some of that for mum too.

Sunday I got up relatively early.  I had bought a couple of pairs of shoes online and one needed exchanging for a smaller size.  I had discovered that the shoe shop in the city was also open Sunday morning so decided to go there first before heading to lunch with some friends and family members near where we used to live in Melbourne.  I was a little earlier arriving at lunch as it hadn't taken too long at the shoe shop.  I sent a text to my old school friend Vicki saying I'd be early and of course she arrived, 3 kids in tow, well before anyone else. That's what I love about her - there's no nonsense, no drama - she just puts the kids in the car and gets on with it.  I was thinking about her on my way home and thought sometimes you find a friend who you know will always be there and you're it Vic! 

I had a lovely day catching up with everyone and was so glad I'd ended up arranging a group get together.  There's just no way I could have squeezed them all in separately.

So now there's just a week to go.....

Friday 7 September 2012

An attack of nerves

I think there's a bit of a crisis going on in our house at the moment... actually, it's not a house at all but still....

Every time I see a photo of nb Parisien Star my stomach does a little flip flop.  We have a photo taped to the back of the living room door, I have one as the background on both my work pc and my laptop.  We even have a row of photos taped to the underside of the caravan bedroom over-cupboard so we can gaze at them when we wake up in the morning.  With all these photos around, my stomach does an awful lot of somersaults.  It's getting harder going to work with my mind on everything but the task at hand.

Mick's been like a bear with a sore head snapping about every little thing.  I'm thinking we'll need to change the name of the boat to "Grumpy Git" (a previous pick of the week).  He's definitely getting anxious about the thought of being away from his beloved shed.  It won't be helping that he's home on his own a few days a week while I'm at work.  He's sorted out all the tasks he wanted to get done before we leave and is no help with any paperwork or computer related jobs.

We've started saying farewell to people and that's making reality hit home.  We had a lovely dinner this evening with our old neighbours.  They are keen travellers and always good for a pep talk.

I've even said farewell to my car.  My mum has bought it and we've done all the paperwork.  She'll be driving us to the airport so has taken it now to have a practice before heading into the city for the airport.  Now I'm driving mum's old Ford Festiva which she calls Russell.

Tonight we've been watching Escape to the Country and one of the houses they showed was in Market Harborough.  We were so excited when they showed the canals I thought I was going to start crying!  Despite our nerves and anxiety I'm sure we're just going to love living on that boat.

Thursday 6 September 2012

The quilt's coming too

I've not been too good when it comes to updating about my 10 year quilt project (the Hexagon Star).  Actually, I've not been too good at working on it at all lately!  There's been too much else happening.

The girls at sewing gave me a lovely bundle of fabric to be used in my mega project.  Alison, my partner in crime, even chose a "difficult" fabric with instructions for it to be fussy cut.

I've washed all the fabric, including a pile of background fabrics I bought at the quilt show recently and I'll be packing it to come to England with us.  I have a plastic tub of sewing essentials on a ship heading to the UK so I'll have plenty of sewing to keep me occupied while we're away.  I even packed a cross stitch - something I haven't done for many years.  It was my favourite sewing project before I discovered patchwork and quilting.

I'm quite looking forward to looking for quilt shops as we cruise around.

The green fabric at right is my NZ choice from Katipatch, those to the left of that were from the girls at sewing.  The brown stripey one is from Alison - a fussy cutting challenge!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Recipe - Baked Apricot Rice Custard

I rarely make desserts or cakes, but when I stay at my brother and sister in law's place I'm sometimes treated to one from the Symply Too Good To Be True Books.  I like this one so thought I'd blog it so I can remember it when we're away.  I might even make it one day!

¼ cup Basmati rice
3 tsp sugar
400g can apricots
2 eggs
2 egg whites
4 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups milk

Boil rice with sugar then rinse and drain well.
Spread rice over base of casserole dish.
Drain apricots and place on top of rice.
Add eggs, egg white, sugar, essence and milk into a bowl and beat well.
Pour over apricots.
Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Place dish into a tray 1/3 filled with water.
Bake 1hr or firm to touch in centre.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

To do list again

We won't need this list for much longer.  We'll either get them all done or we'll just run out of time.

Buy a cheaper house - done
Sorting and packing up belongings for garage sale - done
Apply for Elly's Finnish passport- done
Sell our house - done
Arrange insurance for stored belongings - done
Open a UK bank account - done
Send remaining chickens to their new home- done
Suspend private health insurance - done
Arrange for our mail to be dealt with at home - done
Order new key for mailbox - done
Arrange for mail in the UK - done
Book airfares - done
Rent out our new house - done
Arrange for someone to have the pot plants- done
Pack up our belongings and store - done
Ship belongings to UK - done 
Sell Elly’s car - done
Get chips in car windscreen repaired - done
Get roadworthy for car - done
Complete car transfer paperwork - done
Book accomodation in UK - done
Transfer money to UK account - done
Work out what to do with our mobile phone numbers - done
Buy a caravan for temporary home - done
Set up bathroom for temporary home - done
Correspondence to arrive by email rather than post where possible - done
Return all borrowed items to their rightful owners - done
Type up list of stored belongings by box number - 80% complete
Cancel Mick's GST registration - done
Do our 2012 tax returns - Mick's is done, mine almost  
Prepare paperwork and receipts for 2013 tax (will be due while we're away) - 
Do tax returns for my mum and her partner - done
Do tax returns for my brother and sister in law - done
Set up my laptop with software to work from UK - done
Change bills and bank statements to come by email where possible - done
Partition off area in shed to be rented out for storage - done
Find tenant for shed storage area - the ad is in the paper
Make sure all our favourite recipes are on my blog - in progress
Catch up with friends and family before we go - in progress
Go to New Zealand to see Mick's mum before we go - done
Make a list of what we need to buy on arrival in UK - done
Buy a narrowboat - done, yes it is!
Boat survey - done
Boat insurance - done
Pay for narrowboat - done
Arrange for boat blacking - done
Book into a marina for Winter - done
Book hotel at airport for arrival - done
Book UK hire car - done
Book NZ hotels - done
Book NZ hire car - done
Make optometrist appointment for Mick - done
Ring HSBC to update address and sort out internet banking - done
Ring real estate agent in case tenants move out while we're away - done
Book table for 9th Sept catchup with Melbourne friends - done
Arrange dinner with our favourite neighbours - done
Arrange dinner with our Bendigo friends - 
Book helmsman's course -
Book engine maintenance course for Mick -
Change mobiles to prepaid -
Cancel internet -
Take Mick's truck to be cared for while we're away - 
Scan important documents - 
Backup all documents and photos onto a portable hard drive -
Give copy of important documents to my brother - 
Change address on HSBC UK account so we get a statement with a UK address -
Go through list of boxes shipped and work out what additional clothing we need to pack - done
Order some UK cash -
Arrange someone to receive World Vision correspondence (and send birthday/xmas cards) -
Pack our suitcases - in progress  
Pack away the last of the belongings we're still using - last job

Monday 3 September 2012

Stoppages and route planning

We've been spending some time trying to sort out what we'll do the first few weeks afloat.  We have a couple of months before reaching Fettler's Wharf Marina where we've booked in for Winter.  We're rather disappointed about the very lengthy works proposed at Burscough.  They will prevent us cruising from the marina to visit Mick's half brother who lives at Scarisbrick.  We also have a friend, Lynne, who lives the other side of Ormskirk so it would have been nice to meet at a canalside pub for lunch or dinner. Such a shame as we were looking forward to doing that over Winter.  But, we'll be near enough that we can take a train to Ormskirk from Rufford station.  Or, they'll have to come and visit us. Not quite the same though is it!

We'll be starting near Nantwich about 11/12 October so we could do the loop down the Shropshire Union Canal to Wolverhampton and then back up the Trent and Mersey via Stoke, then the Macclesfield canal to get to Marple by 12th November (to get past the stoppage there).  We'd have to fill in about 5 weeks between 12th November and 21st December as there's also a lock being repaired just the wrong side of the marina at Rufford.  Hopefully it will all go smoothly with the repairs so we can be in the marina by Christmas.

We could instead head to Llangollen first (it's on our list of places we want to visit by boat), then head towards the Anderton boat lift then skirting Manchester towards Wigan.  There doesn't appear to be any stoppages that would hinder our progress in that direction during November and December.

My brain is getting addled with all the adding up of estimated cruising times.  We don't want to head off on a plan that will see us rushing to get where we need to be.  We are conscious that the weather may be increasingly unpleasant as we wait for the lock repairs at Rufford to be completed.  Hopefully the weather will be kind to us.

I guess I should check that the stoppage proposals on the map I have are still current.  I think I read somewhere that they don't get finalized until September.

Sunday 2 September 2012

Nearer and nearer

At last a weekend at home to catch up on some more chores and I actually feel like we're getting on top of things.  Yesterday I even lodged Mick's tax return!

I've had another couple of days unwell after sitting on the plane from NZ next to a fellow who coughed and spluttered the entire way.  We had a little farewell dinner Friday night with the people from my office.  Shame I felt so dreadful.

Today I packed up one suitcase ready to go to England, booked a hire car, bought a kangaroo figurine on Ebay to have a tiller pin made up, we've ordered a book of British birds so we can look out for them along the way, I've washed the fabric I want to take with me for my hexagon star quilt, caught up on all the other washing and cleaned out the freezer.  All the bills are paid and the paperwork is up to date.

Things stepped up a little for us this evening.  Garry who is co-owner of the shed where we are currently living is going on holiday to Canada with his girlfirend Trish on Tuesday.  We'll be gone by the time they return in 4 weeks time.  Saying farewell for a year or more was a bit of a reality check as they drove away.

Here's Mick practicing his relaxation skills...

Saturday 1 September 2012

Made our day

What a lovely surprise we got to receive an email from Peter and Margaret (nb Kelly Louise) with photos of nb Parisien Star.  Peter and Margaret had called by Aqueduct Marina and had a good look at the boat.  The report was positive which was great.

Still awaiting her blacking...