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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Bluebird of Happiness...

"I wish you bluebirds in the spring, To give your heart a song to sing ...
- I wish you love..." ~ lyrics  and music by A. A. Beach & C. Trenet, 1946

Malkins Bank, Bridge 150 to Chelshill Bridge, Trent & Mersey Canal

2 miles, 2½ furlongs of narrow canals; 9 narrow locks

   We spent a day and a half moored up at Malkins Bank, taking advantage of a break in the weather to dry some laundry. We were hanging about the general area because I wanted to visit Sanbach on a recommend from Rita Talbot (Festina Lente).
   After breakfast coffee (and biscuits for Les), we walked up the towpath, crossed over the bridge and caught bus 78 into town. It took about ten minutes total, and we disembarked at the top of high street. We came fairly quickly to the old town square with its two ninth century Anglo-Saxon crosses. It is believed they were thrown down, and scattered across a wide area either during the Reformation or the English civil war. In 1816 after the pieces were collected and put back together the crosses were erected in Sandbach's old town square.Directly across the square from a bench is the Godfrey C. Williams & Sons specialty grocers (Deli). This fine foods purveyor carries something from nearly every country in the world. I finally found Fontina cheese (Italian) at last! It melts delicately and tastes incredible on a pizza or a savory tart. I also found the steel cut oats I love for my morning oatmeal.
   Down the road we came upon Demeter Wholefoods LTD.--the best health food and herb store I've found in England to date. They carry nearly everything a good herbalist--or a Green witch like myself--might need.
   I purchased beeswax so I can make my Comfrey and Calendula healing salve and skin cream. I also found sachets of ground Cardamom and ground Chipotle peppers. Guess who is a happy camper??!!
   After lunch and a quick trip to Lidl's for a couple of grocery items we caught the bus back home to the boat. It was really a lovely afternoon--do rain, warm, slightly muggy, with sunshine peeping through the slow moving clouds every now and again.
   We decided to cruise onward toward the Caldon canal, so we upped sticks and off we went, leaving the double narrow locks behind as we climbed up Heartbreak Hill as it's known. There are a lot of locks on this part of the Trent & Mersey but they are stretched out across beautiful countryside and many of them have long pounds suitable for mooring up for a cuppa, lunch, or a stop overnight.
   Les did the locks while I drove the boat. We were the only folks moving along this part of the canal! He walked on ahead to set the next lock while I brought the boat out of the current one, lowered the paddles and closed the gate behind me. We were both aware of what a splendid team we make, laughing and joking as we went along.
   The wind ruffled my hair and cooled my cheeks as we moved. At one point I spotted the Bluebird of Happiness on the towpath!! It was Les in his blue striped shirt, windlass in hand, arms out, weaving along!
   We stopped for the evening along a quiet country stretch across from a fenced field of cattle. As we sat our on the bow, coffee cups in hand watching the aerial acrobatics of the local community of Martins wheeling and diving for insects--some flying just past our heads--I was filled with a supreme sense of happiness.
   We enjoy some of the best landscape views in England without paying millions and billions of pounds for them; we have all the time in the world to do whatever we choose; Les and I share a partnership of true equals. We love one another's company and we enjoy each other. Life is simple and simply doesn't get any better than this! 

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NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs