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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hunkered Down at Calveley

"You have to sniff out joy. Keep your nose to the joy trail." ~Buffy Sainte-Marie

   We took the opportunity of a break in the rainy weather and left Chester behind once and for all on Monday afternoon (June 18th), cruising along through the willow curtains which obscure one's view across the canals, allowing a game of chicken with moored boats as well as those on the move!
The view from our window at Christleton
   We stopped for the evening at Christleton near the water point and took the bus back into Chester Tuesday morning to pick up my wedding ring from the jewelers, where the band was being repaired.
   Ring on hand once more, we cruised off again and made it as far as Beeston, just before the locks. Next time we come this way we will climb up to the castle; we knew the warm, partly sunny weather wouldn't hold out long and we wanted to put some miles between us and Chester.
Near our Tuesday evening mooring; Beeston Castle on the hill

A lone Pen with five of her six cygnets. One was nearer the cut. Where is her Cobb? We didn't see her partner at all. Swans mate for life. I wonder what happened to him?
   By Wednesday we found ourselves once again back at Calveley, moored up in one of our favorite spots between bridge 104 on the Shroppie and the winding hole before Bunbury staircase locks.
    We chose to hang out here after our second foray into Nantwich for Les' dentist at the end of May. Back then we clipped back the grass and hung our laundry out to dry in the sun, enjoying the quiet and privacy.
    We found our old spot empty on our way back from Chester and did the same thing again this past Wednesday, shortly after mooring up. We managed to dry three loads of laundry before the skies opened up and poured; now however the cut all along here is rammed nut to butt with other boats. Traffic entertains us coming and going from the winding hole behind us to the water point and services at Calveley, below us beyond the bridge.
    Why are we back here again and will we ever move on? Well, Les needed some DIY stuff to build a cabinet for our computer and a couple of bits and bobs to wire electrical 12 v plug-ins on the port side of NB Valerie near the dinette.
    Once these projects are complete we will no longer have computers cluttering the table and cables strung thither and yon. Trying to get up and walk to the loo while the computer is plugged in and the pointer is charging is a bit like trying to negotiate a giant game of Cat's Cradle!
Views above and below, of the cut at Calvely today
   We were being held hostage by the heavy rain and high winds anyway. The Met weather office issued an amber weather alert for the area around and just below Manchester--which included this part of the cut. Heavy flooding, pouring rain, and high winds to fifty MPH are forecast so we will stay hunkered down until a break in the weather allows us to cruise back onto the Middlewich arm and head towards The Anderton boat lift and the river Weaver.
   As I type this I am listening to a streaming of WDRV radio out of Chicago, Illinois; classical hard rock. The Stones are entertaining me with "Waiting For a Friend." This is one of three stations I listened to back in Pullman, Washington. The others were NPR (National Public Radio) and Martini in the Morning which broadcasts 50's and 60's Rat Pack music out of California.
    A nod of thanks to Rita and Scooby Talbot (NB Festina Lente) for inspiring last night's dinner. We had the best boneless Pork steaks I've been able to procure over here. Tesco's had giant Pork leg joints available. Too much meat for two people, they are an excellent buy for four to share. Scooby had the scathingly brilliant idea to split one with us. From our half we have four lovely boneless steaks, some chunks to make a stew, and a large roast from which I will make BBQ pulled Pork once we get another spell of hot weather.
   We enjoyed sauteed Pork steaks rubbed with Beau Monde, garlic, and lemon pepper, with a dark brown crust outside; tender and juicy inside. Accompanying our chops, I decided to attempt Risotto. For this I must thank Rita who served mushroom Risotto when they invited us aboard for dinner back in Chester.
    I am not a fan of rice. I don't like the sticky oriental variety, and regular white rice reminds me of insipid school lunches from childhood. Risotto is in another class all by itself but for some reason I've always been intimidated by the apparent finickiness of Arborio rice.
    Rita's excellent dinner inspired me and I made a delicious Cheddar Cheese Risotto ala Nigella Lawson. In this recipe I used Vermouth for the white wine and I whipped up some stock with Knorr's Vegetable stockpots.
   For dessert we had N.L.'s Chocolate Guinness cake--also inspired by my North American correspondent aka Rita Talbot (she's Canadian) who has baking this cake down to a fine art. After tasting hers I knew I had to try it.
    I also knew it would never cook in the tiny boat oven if I put it in a single spring form pan so I divided the batter into two silicone nine inch round cake pans. I spread cherry jam between the layers and frosted the top with Nigella's recipe for Cream Cheese frosting made with whipping cream. Deelish!!!
The happy captain of NB Valerie and my heart!
   In the evening a small wood fire kept us warm as rain came and went, poured and slackened, and the wind genny purred atop our boat.
    Every time I think I cannot be happier, I find I am delirious with joy; all the more surprising for me because I chose to be single for so long, convinced marriage was a trap for women and a failure for me. Les too has been having "pinch me" moments, overwhelmed with happiness; our lives our simple, uncomplicated, and we are filled with gratitude.  Led Zep calls me now with "Cashmere." Stay dry, warm, and may you be as blessed as we two. Happy cruising wherever you are!

4 comments:

John Witts said...

Fab post, Jaq!

May your good wishes return to you gilded!

The pen was probably on her own because the cob was out 'busking'. i.e. seeing off trepassers on his 'patch'. They get all fluffed up and aggressive when doing this, which is hardly typical male behaviour at all....

:-)

By the way, Animal from the Muppets now has a regular slot on Radio Two's drivetime show when they play MENAH-MENAH every Friday at about 17:05.

Essential for any discerning listener, I feel......

Les and Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi John,
We've seen several swans in the canals with babies or sitting on nests with no cobbs around at all--been looking for them--Maybe they are off the canal and busking as you say.

Animal has his own radio show??? Glad to know--I will have to tune in!
JaqXX

Barrie Allen said...

Hi Jaq and Les - love your blog. Choc Guinness cake looks very good!

Ali Allen

Ian and Karen said...

Hi Les and Jaqueline,
Sorry we didn't see you at Anderton, we were aware you were in the vicinity and hoping to meet up. Bother!
Have you got a passage booked down the lift?
Karen

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs