|Sold up and ready to go|
Living on a narrowboat was a three-year project for Pat and myself, but as it turned into four years, I started to get a bit restless. Not that I didn’t still enjoy life on the waterways, the places we visited, and the countless experiences we enjoyed and endured, but it didn’t have quite the appeal it had when we cast off from Trent Lock in April 2012.
The first mate though, is still keen as mustard, so a compromise had to be reached. We have found one, and this weekend we move into a new phase of our life, which we are both excited about .
It’s meant us selling our home of the last 27 years, but after nearly four years of it being rented out it was not the wrench I thought it might be. When we walked out of the door on Friday and shook the new owner’s hands, I felt none of the emotion I thought I would, and I can be very emotional at times.
|Pat wraps our wooden cats up to go into storage|
|And supervises `Johno`, the removal man|
|That's the conservatory cleared|
We’d been back in Welwyn Garden City on and off since mid-August, and I really enjoyed pottering around my workshop/garage, the luxury of cooking in a large kitchen, of `hot and cold` running electricity, and being able to blast out any music I wanted without bothering Pat. She set a time-line for the move and by and large we have stuck to it. It has been a tight schedule though. Part of the sale has gone to help finance our new home in New Zealand, which we are buying with our daughter and her family. They move into the leafy, three-storey house, quite close to where they are now, on 1 December, and that date was fixed. I won’t go into the ins and outs of it all, but it lead to many sleepless night as we attempted to get the house decorated, viewed, get the price we needed, and get it completed in time. We’ve made it by the skin of our teeth, and we will be living from January to June on the ground floor of the house in Karori.
|The New Zealand home we are buying with our daughter and her family|
|We've got the ground floor. See you there!|
Being back in Welwyn Garden City also meant we saw a lot of our son Kevin, who is in digs in another part of the town. Since we took to the canal, Kev has shown a strong disinterest in our aquatic life. I think he still thinks we chucked him out when we left Welwyn Garden in 2012.
But in the last three months his life has completely changed, and, in part, we have been able to help. A new job which he loves, a new car, and in the next week or so, a new flat, up the road in Stevenage. He is a lot happier with his life, and in turn, so are we.
|Son Kev and his new Seat|
We had a good clear out when we left the house in 2012, and stored a limited amount of our furniture, clothes, books, etc, that we wanted to keep, in the garage at the end of the garden. I had a week before we left brutally throwing stuff away, which included hundreds of photos and slides that dated back to the early Seventies. I found the ones below in a plastic box. They are when I finished my printing apprenticeship in central London in 1972, when in line with tradition, I was `banged out` and covered in printers ink and urine, though not dragged through the city streets on a sack barrow as some of predecessors enjoyed.
|Up on the room at The Furnival Press, Holborn, May 1972.|
(Wish I still had that waistline)
It’s been great to meet up with all our pals and my old work colleagues over the last two months and apologies to those we missed. If I had stayed working until 65 I would be retiring in a few weeks time (birthday alert) and that seems unimaginable now.
So we are now back on `The Cat’s Whiskers`, in our adopted Mercia Marina, and we are looking forward to getting back into marina life and meeting all our pals. We’ll be onboard until early January, when our lodge gets delivered. It will be called `Hazel Lodge` and will sit on the other side of the marina. All being well we will have two or three weeks to fit it out before we hand it over to the marina. They will rent it out as a holiday let while we are away. Once back from NZ we will cruise on `The Cat’s Whiskers` for three months and then move into the lodge for the autumn and early winter, before the cycle starts again.
|Pat gets a little carried away after we decide to name our new place `Hazel Lodge`|
And I thought this retirement lark was supposed to be relaxing.