Feeling the benefits of inserting a pause

I (mostly) love our life. The infinite variety, frequent uncertainty, and adventurousness we experience.

Occasionally it becomes overwhelming. Especially the recent 14 weeks non-stop working portion!

I’m confident 2018 promises to bring many gifts our way; I’m also anticipating a few challenges. Mum will be a cause for concern as her Alzheimer’s continues to take a tighter hold. The quagmire of organising the support she needs to keep her in her familiar surroundings is a veritable minefield – I’m managing to stop either of us getting blown to bits so far! Additionally we have the final application for Barry’s Spousal Sponsored UK Visa application to successfully navigate. He has to pass his ‘Life in the UK’ test, which I’m sure most British people wouldn’t. At least a 75% pass is required – though if he ‘fails’ he can continue to take it until he passes, at just £50 a time! He knows more about UK than I ever have or will, so I’m sure he’ll walk it easily.

We have to pay another ridiculous sum to apply for his right to stay in his wife’s country with her – and prove, for the third time, that we are a legitimate couple having now been that way for 12 years. It’s rather tiresome to be honest.

The paperwork for both mum’s care and Barry’s visa is extensive, and I frequently feel as though I’m drowning in a sea of bureaucracy.

To balance the forthcoming challenges and provide much-needed space for me, last weekend I experienced a magical, transformational, rejuvenating retreat in the depths of the Somerset countryside at a venue called’42acres’. I’d been seeking a retreat last summer when feeling stupidly stressed by my (then) role as RCTA Secretary (something I now know, with the benefits of a retro-scope, wasn’t so important and I could’ve and should’ve removed this unnecessary and mostly thankless burden from our precious lives months before). When I saw an invitation from Al (aka Alison and Ash of ‘The Body Creative‘) to the ‘Unravelling your own myth‘ opportunity, I hesitated only momentarily to confirm we’d have completed Calendar Club by 12th January.

This was an invigorating, energising, enveloping immersion in gentle yoga in the presence of 19 genuinely beautiful people – breathing, stretching and awakening parts of the body that had been hibernating over the cold winter; of poetry and story telling, sharing tears and triumphs; of singing joyfully, meeting new friends, and hugging; of eating incredibly delicious vegetarian food (no meat or alcohol all weekend, Barry’s nightmare!); of reading from the luscious library; of walking and conversing with Mother Nature – oh and meeting some most talkative pigs!


Sheer unremitting bliss for 48 hours. I could’ve stayed there for many more days. It was my first experience of a ‘retreat’. It will not be my last.

Moving purposefully and slowly

While I was away at mum’s, then Somerset, and back to mum’s, Barry was busily laying a new floor on Areandare – with some assistance from Handyman Andy Tidy from Wild Side. We’d had carpet in the lounge and bedroom area which was worn and stained, and thin strips of mock-wooden flooring in the kitchen and bathroom that was slowly degenerating.

I’d left Barry at Branston, he’d moved to Shobnall for the majority of the work, and then cruised on Tuesday to Willington where I re-joined him.

The new laminate flooring we chose together looks so much better. Unfortunately the floor in the shower-room was damp from a leak Barry thought he’d fixed, so that’s not been completed yet.

In the near future we’ll be painting the walls in the lounge, kitchen and bedroom to lighten it all up – and I’ll be making new curtains with some fabulous fabric I bought at a market in Nigeria last January. It’s really colourful and will transform the boat nicely. It’ll also blend in well with our newly covered cratch cushions that a fellow trader made for us over the winter.

We’re pottering pleasantly and loving the freedom of not having to be anywhere or having a tight schedule. This year is more about us, what feels right for our lifestyle. Fewer festivals, only those we know and love, and more focus on towpath trading and online sales. Travelling to places we haven’t been to since 2009, and some we’ve not previously ventured to.

Serendipitous events

We’ve recently been noticing some spooky coincidences, now we’re able to pause a little. One of which happened today.

We’d planned to visit Mercia Marina, where we moored and traded for a couple of months in the winter of 2015. To catch up with the friendly office staff, and view their almost completed and very impressive new Piazza building.

Just as we were about to leave the boat, Barry received notification of an order for The Home Brew Boat – from a regular customer moored at Mercia Marina! So we hand delivered it (though sadly he wasn’t on board at the time so we left it with the office staff) and took the opportunity to walk around this magnificent place, the largest inland Marina in Europe …

Tomorrow, Saturday, we welcome friends aboard and expect to be meandering mindfully eastwards …

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