Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The final words

Tuesday 26th September 2017

This will be our final blog entry.

The reason why we started the blog was to be able to let our family and friends in Australia see what we were doing and to confirm their thoughts that we were completely mad – I think that the blog really did substantuate what they already knew – but it was set up for that purpose.
In our mind it was about our adventures on the waterways and the time between when we started and when we were to finish (which is now).

Tomorrow I will be boarding the flight to go home to Melbourne (this time it will be with Royal Brunei Airlines) and be land based again, our life on the boat will be such lovely memories and behind us; not so the people we have met; the experiences we have shared together and with others; the places and events that we have seen; the fun and the sadness.

There are a number of people whom we have met on the canals who are no longer with us and we are very saddened because of that, but we can recall their faces and the good times that we have shared with them; we can hear their voices and the experiences that they have shared; the knowledge that they have passed along to us – we miss them all; our lives have been enriched because of them and their friendship.

But the nature of life is that we must keep changing; keep evolving; moving on; we have more goals on the horizon that we will pursue, but as I have said previously, our immediate concern is the on-going welfare of Diane’s mother.

What will we do in the longer term?
We have seen a fair amount of Australia already – from Cairns in the north, all the way around the coast as far as Adelaide; we have taken the train across from Sydney to Perth and been south of there through Fremantle and Bunbury and to Margaret River; we have see Rottnest Island and the quokkas; visited Tasmania few times, but we have not seen the middle through Alice Springs and to Darwin; not yet been to the north-west; so there are a couple of places left for us to visit.

We also want to see a lot more of the USA and Canada and spend more time with Mitch and Sara in LA and of course with Sam in Melbourne and Rebecca in Auckland.

We want to again enjoy the sights and sounds and tastes of Melbourne which we think are worthy of a visit from everyone – Melbourne has a soul and a heartbeat and a life and a personality which runs deep and not simply sitting on the surface.

I am pretty sure we won’t be lost for things to do.

What will we miss about life on a boat?

The people – it is always the people that are the soul of the canal system – some we have just fleetingly said hello to and others we have been in almost constant contact with – in between there have been random discussions, a chat whilst we walked the dog, over a beer in the pub – there are people with real character about them; others who can get quite opinionated; and still others who simply just want to be on their boat.
And please no mention of batteries and toilets!

The canals themselves – there are some real brutes out there and others that just seem to glide by under the boat. Is there a favourite? – a bit like asking a parent about a favourite child – the canals are like children in a way, in that they all have their own character, their own persona – and on each we all have our favourite mooring spots for whatever reason that may be.

Just simply life on the water in general – there is so much freedom to do as you want and still keep to the rules which are in place for the benefit of everyone.

The best places we have visited? We have loved being moored in the docks in Liverpool and being so close to the city, but also Castlefields in Manchester and Paddington Basin in London or Gas Street Basin in Birmingham – being able to visit these wonderful cities and moor in the centre has certainly been something to remember.
Equally though, we love the rural areas as well – some of the views across the Pennines on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal; or the undulating hills of Northhamptonshire; the upper reaches of the Thames (away from the large cities and towns); the River Trent which is all rural below Newark; the Shroppie is a real treat as well; or simply the authority of the Grand Union.

Things that we will not miss.
The increasing trend of some boaters – and I cannot classify that into new/old, young/old, hirers/owners/shared boats – to ignore the traditions of the canals (or at least the ones that we learnt about) – helping others at locks; close gates and paddles; slowing down past moored boats; following the etiquette of canal users.
People who want to disregard the rules in place for everyone to benefit, simply because the rules do not suit them and they want to try and always get around them. If you are a continuous cruiser (as we are) then obey the requirements – if not then go into a marina; if you have a boat then pay your licence, if not then get off the water; don’t stop somewhere and think you have a right to stay there for years simply because you work in the area, or have kids going to school, or any other reason; abide by the requirements to be allowed on the waterways.
We will not miss those cyclists along the towpath who think that they own it and speed along with complete disregard for others and churn up the path – for heavens sake slow down and use your bell.
I don’t have too many problems with anglers – sure there are some who don’t want to make eye contact and think that a boat going by is disrupting their fishing time, but on the whole they are usually quite friendly and enjoy a bit of a chat like anyone else.
I will especially not miss the classification of everyone that seems to happen in this country – talk to many people of British heritage and they will invariably fall into the habit of saying something about any group of people who may be from any country you wish to name and tar everyone from there with the same brush or people from a certain town or city. Not all people come to this country to get benefits, or abuse the NHS system, or cause mayhem – in fact the vast majority, of those we have met,  are looking for a better way of life and enter the UK in a perfectly legal way and live their lives according to the laws of the land.

We have met so many people from so may different countries who, like us, simply want to work hard and support their families and enjoy their lives in peace; on the other hand we have seen a number of people who described themselves as British (or usually as English) and want to blame everyone else for their own problems and in a less than peaceful manner.

We are all here together to be part of a larger picture – there are no reasons why we cannot all live together in peace.

We will still be reading the blogs of boaters (can’t say other boaters any more) to see what they are doing and where they are going; we will remember with happiness the places that they visit and where we have also been; we will try to catch up with who we can we we come back to this country in the future; and we will stay in contact with as many as we can.

The contact line on the blog will stay, so if you want to let me know of your email address then send me the information as a comment to the blog and we will be back in touch to you.

If there is one thing that sums up our life aboard Ferndale for the past seven years it is that we have learnt to slow right down and become more relaxed about the things that go on around us and to become much more tolerant of other people.

Au revoir !


  1. What a lovely post. I love your "live and let live" attitude as it is how I try and live my life. I will miss reading of your travels but I wish you both all the very best for the future.

    1. Thanks Alison, life is about enjoying it first hand; experiencing it "in the flesh" - so lets all get on with it - ray

  2. What a fabulous last blog.. We sure are going to miss you both but of course life goes on and there is always something else to achieve. We wish you all the very best on your travels across the rest of Aussie land and of course your other worldwide visits that you have in mind.

    Take care you both, we shall remember you fondly.. Of course I have a wonderful gift from you.. You know what it is and it will be a constant reminder to me of what a fabulous couple you are.

    Bon Voyage xxx

    1. To you both, we treasure the times that we have had the privilege to share your company; to share some laughs along with you - our memories remain with us and each one brings a smile to our faces - ray

  3. Once again good luck to you both. I will miss your blog, but as you say time moves on and you have different adventures ahead as well as taking care of Diane's Mum. Oh how I agree with your sentiments about people using the canals who will not abide by the 'rules of the road'. The southern end of the GU was a nightmare for gates and paddles being left open. The shear number of moored boats along here is also unbelievable and I am sure most are 'continuous moorers'! I will probably regret saying this, but this trip (start 4 Aug) we have not come across a single inconsiderate cyclist. Now I wonder how long that will last?! Anyway I will stop rambling and wish you both farewell and safe travels. Jennie

    1. Thanks Jennie - we didn't have a problem with gates being open - 50% of the time it will be in your favour - it was always paddles left open that meant someone was being lazy - still even with those problems, being on the water is such a lovely way to be - ray

  4. You are such a lovely man, Ray, and that Diane is lovely - even though we haven't met you yet, girl!
    Go well, stay well, Marilyn and David, nb Waka Huia

    1. Thanks Marilyn and David - Diane certainly is a lucky girl - isn't she? -I will probably get a whack for that - it was so lovely to meet you both - it is part of the collage of memories that we have - ray

  5. Au revoir and well said Ray, Carol & Me will certainly miss you two! We hope to see you in Melbourne in Feb/March 2019. Keep the barbie warm!!

    1. I suspect that this is George making a rare comment; the barbie will be ready; the fridge will be full of beer and wine; and we are looking forward to it immensely - ray

  6. Thanks, enjoyed your blog, enjoy life back down under.

    1. Thanks Andy, I am getting into it already and enjoying it - ray

  7. Hi Ray and Diane,
    We've enjoyed your blog and our meetings along the way. Rach and I think we have a few more cruising years in us before we settle back home here in Australia. We are home in Melbourne for the Aussie summer so if you feel you need a dose of canal chat do drop us a line and we can catch up for coffee.

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  9. Hi Ray and Diane. I'm sorry our meeting was so brief. I was expecting to see you on the thames next year.. and now you're gone. I hope the next chapter of your life will make you happy too. Thanks for saying hello, and please don't judge the English too harshly.

    1. Hi Ken and Sheena
      It is usually the case with meetings such as ours - they are always too brief.
      I do not judge the English (British) too harshly; as I have said, we have met so many wonderful and lovely people in our travels and glad to say that these are the ones that we remember, but there is an increasing element of the "dark" side of human character that starts to permeate into society and it is the extent that this happens that is of concern - this is what we have seen.
      We go by our own experiences - all of us do - we have had such a wonderful time during the seven years that we spent on the waterways of Britain that is will be hard to top it - I hope that we can.
      For now, it is other matters that we need to attend to and plan for the next part of our lives
      best regards, ray