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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Released to socialise.

28th February

Wonderful sunset last night. First for quite a while.

 Day 6 of Ian having Covid, another positive result. Freedom was not yet to be then. Getting desperate for water and the loo had to be emptied, we drove to the dump station. Only about a mile or two we felt secure about not meeting anyone. But then a call came in. It was the NZ health clinic. They have been brilliant in the text messages and advice throughout Ian's Covid days, this time they wanted a proper conversation. I could hear Ian express surprise, in fact his whole deminer changed from being downhearted to a sudden uplift of spirits. What he told me was baffling.  As it had been almost a week since getting Covid, he was now deemed fit to socialise with whomever he wanted. Apparently tests have been done on this new variant  XBB.1.5 (Kraken) which showed positive results could show up up for 10 days but many people would no longer be infectious to others after 5 days. So a very jubilant Ian did no more than book the tour he had wanted to do for a while and that was to go to the Weta Cave.

Most folk looking up Weta will find a very large grasshopper type insect. Weta Cave is actually a workshop showing incredible artefacts from the world of film, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit to name but two. Tours are available and we managed to get onto one at 1.30 tomorrow afternoon. 

So a very relaxing afternoon was had. Friends from the UK popped over to see us, a very short visit. as they had their very pregnant daughter with them. No hugging was allowed! With low tide rapidly approaching a walk along the shore line to a cluster of rocks which looked promising for rock pools. 

Love this waterproof camera of mine. And the close ups are just amazing.

Walking back we found shells, or rather what looked like shells, and we set about finding as many as we could. My plan is to make them into earrings and a necklace. I have just the friend Sue that could do it, all I have to do is ask very nicely.

Oh, and this photo was taken with that small red waterproof camera. I didn't think it too bad considering.

Interislander ferries.


Monday 27 February 2023

More laptop mishaps

 February 27th

Tests were done first thing, still positive for Ian but negative for me.  Of course, we couldn't go anywhere with lots of folk but unfortunately we did have to drive back into Wellington. 

That computer of mine, if one thing goes wrong it stands to reason something else will follow. Such was the case after the new lead and charger had been purchased. Working fine until the thing fell over with the lead still in. Damaged the charging port and the adaptor wouldn't make a connection. Found a place called Computer and Network clinic. Managed to get parked quite close and in I went with laptop and explained what happened. The chap didn't seem interested! Just said, you need a new power jack. Hmm, he hadn't even looked at it. Then I asked if he could fix it and another taught reply. Of course so do you want me to do it? Gosh, what a rude man and if I wasn't desperate for it to be fixed I would have told him what I thought and walked out. My next question was, how much? With no hesitation he mentioned $175. Now I was in a dilemma. What to do, so I told him I would go and ask Ian. Back I walked to the van, he nearly had an apocalyptic fit, rude words were expressed and said to go and get it done.

Not knowing how long it would be Ian drove along Oriental Road next to the harbour and dropped me off at the swimming pool so I could have a $3 shower. He would have to wait for his until the all clear.


One of the ferries returning to Wellington


Shopping was done and we were about to head back to Owhiro Bay when the call came in from that chap to say the laptop was ready for collection. Crikey it had hadn't even been an hour since dropping off. In a way I wish he had told me how quickly it could be done. I would have hung around! Anyway back at the shop, he left me with the old jack as a souvenir and I passed over 200 dollars (he didn't take credit card). The change was 30 dollars. I left the shop rather rapidly before he realised too much change had been given!

 The cricket was still ongoing and as we passed the Basin Reserve stadium I managed to take this photo. Not too many England supporters I see.

 Hardly a camper had moved from such a lovely bay and we struggled to find a space. One was found between a sleeper car and camper van but it was really tight! Keeping half an eye on the rest of the vehicles, one pulled out just as we had gone rock pool exploring. My goodness Ian got a move on, like a gazelle he was leaping from rock to rock and in his Jandals (flip-flop) too. But the space was secured, plenty of room to get in and out of the Toy.

Our hands are still tied with this Covid malarkey so tomorrow may be another day of hanging around. 

And wildlife

Sunday 26 February 2023

And no room at the inn.

 February 26th

The wait was long! The weather turned nasty, water came in through the roof hatch, just a drip every so often but enough to dampen the carpet. We had also made the bed in readiness for finding a space in the wee hours of the morning at the NZMCA park at Plimmerton. No drips on the bedding thank goodness.

The ferry arrived slightly after 10.pm. The off loading was quick and soon cones were removed from lanes to allow the vehicles to board. We had hoped to be one of the first so near to the front were we, but no. Lane 5 with all the caravans and vehicles towing and then lanes 3, 1, and 2. We were on the fourth lane and the very last to be called to board. 

The ferry was full, all tables and chairs taken with passengers and only one table and chair left which was already occupied by a young man. He beckoned us over to share, I was slightly concerned because of Ian's Covid status but he went as far from the chap as he could and of course the masks were worn. 

An announcement from the Captain, he would do everything in his power to get the ferry in at Wellington early. True to his word, it was well before the allocated time for leaving that he left. 

Now there was quite a swell on, the wind and rain was with us for the whole journey. Many people left their seats to lay under the tables, more to get some sleep than seasickness. Our companion did the same leaving us with the table for ourselves. Out came the Quiddler and the hours passed very quickly. By 2.30ish the docking was complete. Took a further 30 minutes for disembarkation. 

Blast, that was Ian's hand, a fluke rather than skill! He went on to win that game!


Not a single vehicle on the SH 1, the rain continued to fall and it was a miserable drive to Plimmerton.

We were tired, ready just to get our heads down and we couldn't believe our misfortune when not a single space was to be had at the NZMCA park. A factory unit was nearby, it was also a Sunday which meant no workers to move us on. So that was where we stayed, got about 4 hours sleep before deciding we had best move. One cup of tea later, no wash or breakfast and the bed stayed unmade, we headed for Wellington. 

NZMCA park


Now I know why we hate cities. The traffic reminded us of the UK and not a parking space to be had anywhere. Passing the cricket ground we discovered why. England was playing New Zealand!

Jaycar the electronics shop was almost in the centre and we despaired about being able to stop to change my laptop charger. Then...Oh glory be...they had their own small car park. Not so lucky at the photo warehouse. I had lost my polarized lens cap and wanted a replacement. Ian had to drop me off and go around the block three times before I reappeared clutching my prize!

By this time we had had enough. Getting a bit dehydrated through lack of tea and coffee and still having had no food despite the time being 1.45 pm, it was off to find somewhere to stay and finally relax. This was found at a place called Owhiro Bay. Freedom camping permitted and we slotted in nicely between two cars. What a relief to be back on the North Island. At one stage we did wonder if this would happen at all. 

Not sure what tomorrow will bring.Ian's test is still positive I'm negative so going anywhere with lots of people is out of the question It's enough that we are here today.

 And one wildlife photo from this morning,

Spur-winged Plover

Delay after delay

 February 25th...sailing day!

It rained most of the night, shame as this was the very last night of our stay on the South Island. The wind also picked up and at at 3 am Ian was wrestling with the pop top to get it down. A fine mist of mizzle was falling when we re-awoke, (is there such a word?)and found we had again stupidly left the mat outside which was now one big wet puddle!! 

The day lay long in front of us. The ferry was booked for 6.30 pm, we had to be waiting in line by 5 pm. So what to do. A lovely drive along the coast leading from Picton to Robin Hood Bay was just the ticket. This was another road we had never done and it appealed to us both.

Wow, what a road! It had more bends and hairpins than any road we have travelled so far. These photos from the satnav show the route.

Ian loved it, I was apprehensive especially when the slips appeared and persuaded him to stay well away from the edge. 

The views were wonderful though. This was Oyster Bay


We came to Ocean Bay and then Robin Hood Bay.

Ocean Bay

Robin Hood Bay

Lunch was had before containing toward Blenheim. The tarmac road changed to dirt and got extremely narrow! It had to happen, a car was met at the most awkward part. How we passed each other and no contact was made was more by luck than judgement. It was through the ferns we had to go and hoped for no sudden hidden dip. 

 A sign for Whites Bay came up, we turned off the track to go and see.

Amazing what one finds when out and about. This place was not only a fabulous DOC site with more clean flushable toilets than campers, but it was also the very first undersea cabled Telegraph station to the North Island. To read about it click HERE

The return to Blenheim and then to Picton was on more of the New Zealand wonderfully empty roads. As mentioned the sailing time on the Kaiarahi was at 6.30pm. It was still early afternoon, we thought we may as well try to get in the line now. Up to the Interislander kiosk where this young lady apologised about the further delay. What??? Nothing had come through by email so what was the delay? Another check on the engines which delayed the sailing from Wellington to Picton by another 4 hours. New sailing time, 9.30 pm. 

Not too many other vehicles waiting, we were told to go in row 4 with the big boys. A little van dwarfed by huge motorhomes. And so we waited. More and more campers and cars turned up, soon all the lanes were filled.

5.50 pm another email pinged on Ian's phone. More apologies from the Interislander booking office but the Kaiarahi hadn't even left Wellington and was now expected to dock at Picton by 10 pm. Sailing would be at 11.30.pm. So there you have it! We are waiting patiently and have done since 2 .30 pm. I suppose we are the lucky ones that can make coffee, prepare sandwiches and pass the hours playing Quiddler. For those in cars the wait must be endless.

Next posting should (hopefully) be from the North Island.

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