We came onto the Thames on May 25th, moored up up at Kingston-upon-Thames our first night, moved on to Hampton Court for two nights and then cruised up to Weybridge and moored for a night at D'Oyly Carte Island. The next morning we were off up the River Wey for three delightful weeks where we blogged like fiends trying to catch up this electronic travel companion as quickly as we could. The trouble lies not with Dear Sir but with me--the American writer gobsmacked by each thing that comes at me 'round a bend, over or under a bridge, or up the path! Add in time for work instructing my courses, the every day affairs of living and time slips away from me like a silken thread on a high wind. We will fill you all in about our experiences on the Wey but for right now we need to catch up some long overdue how'da dos and lamented goodbyes!
As we came off the River Wey we caught up with James and Doug on NB Chance--boater's who also blog and whose path has crossed ours several times in the past year, although we've either been sleeping in or in Tesco's stocking up on groceries when they passed! Finally we moored up near each other and we invited them to dinner aboard NB Valerie.
|"Doug--can you believe it? I have a run of nine--and no wild cards!!"|
The next morning we visited their boat for coffee, cake and Doug's dreamy muffins. Theirs is a lovely floating home with comfy appointments. As soon as we parted--we parted again literally; James and Doug headed south down the Thames for Kingston and on to London, and we turned NB Valerie upstream through Shepperton Lock.
|Goodbye to James and Doug aboard NB Chance|
Very late after dinner with Doug and James, we realized our open windows and bright lights were acting as a bug magnet. There were so many insects inside that as we washed up and put the dishes away they were swarming around our faces, in our hair, and trying to crawl in my ears! At the end of my rope (or tether as they say over here) and fairly tipsy on wine, I devised a scathingly brilliant plan to rid our floating home of flying vermin.
We shut off all the lights except the ones in the galley. I went and stood out on the dark bow with doors wide open, and instructed Les to take the dish towel in hand and flap it at the ceiling, herding the bugs toward me, and shutting off the galley lights as he went, turning on the saloon lights to attract all the insects forward toward me. We did this (I say we but really it was Dear Sir doing the insect herding and much the better for all the wine he had with supper) in stages, shutting off lights behind and turning them on in front, Les flapping the tea towel madly as he went until finally he reached the bow stairs, where I stood outside.
I flipped the switch on our large torch (flashlight for Americans), and stood like a combination of Lady Liberty and the man who flags in the planes at the airport, attempting to attract the thousands of flying things out of the boat. It was a combo of Rawhide and Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor...we sat giggling with wine and hysteria on the darkened bow. The next morning as we visited NB Chance we were mightily impressed by the fact that not one flying insect was to be found inside. I had thought they just wouldn't dare, but Doug set me straight on the facts: he sucked them all up with the Dyson!
|Parisien Star--home to Aussies Elly and Mick|
It was lovely to meet Mick and Elly, who posted comments on our blog previously, making me feel much better about being a melancholy American. She is Australian and Mick is British by birth but has lived his life in Australia so they can both understand life in England in all its many permutations.
The same afternoon as we sat at the dinette considering another blog post, Les' phone rang. It was Sue aboard No Problem to say they would be stopping by for a day. A dinner invitation aboard NB Valerie was forthcoming and to say I was excited would be understating things.
Sue remembers me commenting on their blog back when I lived in the Washington State and had a million and one questions about canals, narrow boats, and life aboard--all of which she answered with patience and good humor. We struck up a friendship over the miles, and after Les came to visit me the first time as a guest, leaving with my heart wrapped around his little finger, it was to Sue I turned, leaving a comment on her blog post of October 28, 2010:
"Oh Sue–the picture of Cowley tunnel is magnificent! I am going to wrap it around me and wear it like a shawl today. It is cold and bleak here and not just the weather. I had a visit from a certain Englishman of our mutual acquaintance who happened to be in the States visiting Las Vegas. He’s stolen my heart, and taken it–and the sun back to England with him."
Les, Sue and Vic are dear friends, and Les had told Sue he was coming to visit me. She thought he might melt my heart--and he did! So it seems crazy that it took nearly two years for our paths to meet at last.
Sue invited me aboard NB No Problem for a tour. At 69 feet it is a lo-o-o-ng, narrow boat. It is also an extremely comfortable home, filled with love, laughter, memories and mementos of their life. Outside, yet another live aboard boater/blogger turned up--Ken aboard NB Dogma, whose blog titled Badger Sandwiches is a good read. (Nice to meet you Ken and we hope to see you and Sheena again sometime.) We all sat and had tea and scones, laughing as Les and I shared some of our more memorable "cultural moments" as we call them.
|Sue, Les, and Vic|
I feel now, nearly two years after landing here, that I have been well and properly welcomed to our boating life --by the Goddess Mother and Father of continuous cruisers; two people who appear ordinary in every way--and yet are mythic to me as they embody the life of which I dreamed. Thank you Sue and Vic for folding me into your lives as a friend along with Les who you both obviously adore!
WHO'S THAT KNOCKIN' ON OUR DOOR?
This morning as my best beloved and I lay in bed, curtains closed against the morning sun, the day just beginning to hum around us, we woke to a gentle rhythmic knock.
"Les I think someone's at the door."
"Hmmmm? No it's just the swans pecking the side of the boat." He rolls over and takes the covers with him.
"Not unless they've learned how to peck in a gentle syncopated rhythm it isn't." I got up and flicked the bow door curtains, seeing no one outside. I decided to put on the kettle and get dressed. Les joined me for a cuppa on the sun splashed bow as ducks, Egyptian and Canadian Geese, and Mute Swans gathered 'round in hopes of a hand out.
|Maffi and Sara|
|Maffi waving goodbye; Mollie is steering!|
As Maffi and crew waved and went on their way, Les and I prepared for a walk into town to watch the changing of the guard at Windsor Castle and a stroll over the bridge to Eton--but that's for another blog post!