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Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Weeks Filled with Gifts

"May no gift be too small to give, nor too simple to receive, which is wrapped in thoughtfulness and tied with love." ~ L. O. Baird

     Earlier the first week of May I met with fellow boat woman and herbalist Kit Acott. She came aboard and we talked over tea. It was such a blessing to share time with another herbalist. I haven't done that in over twenty years. Kit shared some great ideas with me and her presence filled my soul with peace. Thank you Kit!! Gift number one.

     Saturday, May 6th brought a visit from friends Sue and Ken Deveson of NB Cleddau. They came bearing beautiful flowers and amazing cookies! We had a wonderful visit as always, sharing our mutual love of the waterways. I was deeply blessed by their love, encouragement and assistance in the days and weeks after Les died and I so appreciate their still looking out for me now. Gift number two.
     Later that evening our friend Angela Walsh of Berkhamsted and NB Bright Eyes texted me to say she was moving up to Fenny Stratford. I locked her through Fenny stop lock and the pedestrian bridge and she moored up behind me. Then she swept me away to Soulbury Three Locks pub and treated me to a fabulous steak dinner, several hours of deep, wonderful and funny conversation, and finally we returned to our boats to sleep. Sunday morning before I cruised off, Ang and I shared breakfast aboard NB Valerie. Gift number three.
     I cruised up to Pear Tree bridge and waited for forty minutes while a boat filled up with water. I could have been filling as well but a wide beam was sitting on the water point moorings. They filled their tank and two water butties installed in the bow on either side of the bow doors after which they took off in their car and left the boat moored up in everyone's way all day. I was desperate for water having been moored up and broken down at Fenny for two weeks with a non-functioning water point. I filled my tank and washed two loads as I went along in the Sunday afternoon warmth. 
     I fetched up at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes and managed to score a mooring spot on the offside near the park parking lot. The link above is to a blog post for May 29th 2015 when Les and I met our daughter-in-law and grand kids Kiera and Kiernan at the park and spent the day cruising. It is one of those beauty spots with great access to buses, Central Milton Keynes (CMK) shopping, the rail station and post office; gift number four.
     I had business to conduct in CMK to whit, I needed to have Les' name removed from our bank accounts and it is no easy thing to accomplish over here. Most banks require an appointment with a bereavement advisor and they are apparently as rare as hen's teeth. I had to cancel the appointments booked before I left for the States in March, because they ended up being on the same day the River Canal Rescue marine engineer showed up last week to make repairs. I tried to reschedule with the banks over the phone and broke down sobbing and hung up.
     So off I went Monday, May 8th to beard the lions in their dens. Nationwide was fabulous. I explained the situation and simply said I was not leaving until I had this sorted. Within ten minutes a lovely young woman called me and shortly afterward the deed was done. It felt so strange taking Les' name off of an account that was his to begin with. It was necessary to keep our account from being vulnerable to hacking through his log-in and it is also a legal necessity but it feels like I requested that my Best Beloved be erased from our finances. It was tough to I moved on to Halifax and they were asses to be plain. I waited at the information desk for twenty minutes before anyone came to see what I wanted. I was told that I quite simply HAD to speak with a bereavement advisor and one was not available until the following Tuesday afternoon. I left and went back to Nationwide and spoke with the young woman who kindly assisted me earlier. It turns out she could help me close out the Halifax account and switch all of our standing orders and monthly debits and payments to the Nationwide account. Sorted! It was Halifax that required six different visits and six months before we managed to get my name added to Les' account and then they still screwed it up, froze the account, and we had to go back in again to get it sorted out although it was their error, leading to my calling it Halif**ked up much to Les' amusement. What a relief to never have to do business with them again. Gift number five.
     Back on the boat I started fixing dinner and turned the engine on for hot water and a woman on the boat behind me waved and called out to me. It was Fran and her husband Vic on Wide Beam (WB) Moonstone. We had never met but we knew each other from boater's forums.  Lovely to meet at last! Gift number six.
Tea Junction © NB Celtic Kiwi, 2017
     When I cruised in to Campbell Park I passed the trading boat Tea Junction owned by Tracey and Ray Arbon, and their residential boat Billy Whizz. Tracey was out and about on her bike and she stopped in on Tuesday afternoon for a cup of tea and a natter. Les and I first met Tracey up on the Bridgewater canal back in 2012. We had a good long chat and reminisced about Les with tears and smiles. I am so appreciative of those who do this with me as it helps to keep Les' memory alive. Later Tracey stopped by again while out walking her dogs and dropped off a luscious parcel of Victoria sponge cake! Yumm!! Gift number seven.
     The moorings at Campbell Park are only for two days, so Wednesday morning I cruised off at 8:30 am. It was cold and overcast until the clouds parted an hour later and the sun finally made its appearance. After catching up seven loads of laundry and cleaning the boat I needed water again so I pulled in to Gifford Park where I waited while NB Daedalus filled up. I chatted with her owners Pat and Simon. Lovely folks they are, who have lived aboard for eleven years. We exchanged email addresses before parting. Gift number eight.
     There was no room at Linford Park so I cruised on and moored up at one of the most breathtakingly lovely places around--Stanton Low. Les first brought  me here in 2011. We moored here for three days and saw not another soul. I wrote an historical post about this spot which you can read here: at that time the estate of Princess Diana's family, the Spencers, owned the land on either side of the canal. Interest in saving the the nearby 12th century church ruins generated interest in my blog post which led a local group in turn to contact the Spencer family about the land. Diana's brother, Lord Althorp, looked into it and agreed to sell both parcels to the Milton Keynes County Council with the proviso the land was left as a park and not built on. Now there is a park on both sides of the cut with a nature sanctuary behind the church ruins.
Les' daffodil plant (no flowers-just four leaves) in the foreground left. I planted it near the bridge on the towpath side. there are five large rocks to the right which block the bridge from automobile traffic.
The views panning to the right from Les' daffodil across the field towards the 12th century church ruins at Stanton Low.

Beyond the tree line is a lake with an island. It is part of the wildlife sanctuary. Herons, Egrets, and Comorants all nest there in the spring.
The path leading from the bridge near Les' Daffodil. Turn left at the bottom and it leads out to the towpath.
The fields are enclosed now to keep motorbikes and ATV's from riding across them. In the dusk one can watch Barn Owls hunting the fields.
The church ruins used to be inaccessible. Now one can walk through them and there are information boards telling about the history of the village of Stantone/Stantonebury/Stanton Lowe. The village appears in the Domesday Book of 1066. There was a mill and four cottages here at the time. The church and the footprint of a manor house are all that remain now.
I heard cuckoos calling out across the meadow! The clocks really do sound just like these birds. It is a tad strange to hear their call from the woods when one is used to hearing it from a clock on the wall!
My first kissing gate without Les there to kiss me through...
Five Greylag Geese and nineteen babies!
NB Valerie moored up at Stanton Low. The church ruins are just out of site to the right across the fields. The canal bridge is behind me and the park leading up to the Oakridge Park housing estate is across the bridge and  off the right.
On the off side over the old hump-backed canal bridge and up through the park on that side is one of the best designed and built housing estates I've ever seen in this country. A pea gravel path takes one from the canal, through the park and in between the houses on the estate. A right turn on Selkirk Lane brings one around to a new ASDA store and a bus stop. The bus comes every fifteen minutes going into Central Milton Keynes or five minutes down the road to Wolverton Tesco. Despite the close proximity of the housing estate, it is fairly quiet here but no longer empty most times so I was lucky to get a spot. Gift number nine.
Curved knife with wrist lasso
    Wednesday, May 10th brought warmer weather with blustery winds moving the clouds along quickly. It also brought a short visit from Sue an Ken Deveson again. After hearing of my travails down the weed hatch with a bread knife back at Grove lock, Ken thoughtfully went online and ordered a curved knife with a locking blade for me and they stopped by to drop it off! Gift number ten.
    Thursday evening brought a lovely sunset and a knock on the boat. It was our dear friends Robert Rogers and his sister Maria! Robert used to own WB Wind in the Willows. He sold his boat and followed his heart to another country as did I, to marry his Best Beloved Roseni and make a new home in Brazil. Robert returns to the U.K. a couple times a year and he always finds us wherever we are moored.
They came aboard with so many lovely things for me: a beautiful gray scarf covered in butterflies, a loaf of freshly bake Irish soda bread direct from Ireland, a box of ginger cookies and a lovely planter with miniature yellow roses. We drank tea, reminisced about Les through tears and laughter, and walked out to the canal bridge to enjoy the beauty of this favored spot. It was such a joy to spend time with you both. Gift number eleven.

Sally and Joe Horton, friends from Pullman, WA. USA
     Friday, May 12th arrived at last and brought with it a long anticipated visit from our friends Sally and Joe Horton who live in Pullman, Washington. Sally is Scottish and Joe is American. They have been married for forty years and we are blessed to call them friends. We have shared delicious meals and evenings filled with fascinating conversation accompanied by Joe's Grand Seville cocktails and home smoked Steelhead Trout. This is the third time they have visited our boat. More reminiscing took place over lunch after which we took a walk to the church ruins and along the path to view the birds nesting in the sanctuary. Gift number twelve.
     Finally yesterday in the last rays of the evening sun I scattered some of Les' ashes and planted a Daffodil near the canal bridge where we used to stand and survey the view across the fields toward the church ruins. The last time we were here we watched barn owls quartering the fields for food, gliding silently over the meadows in the gathering dusk. This led me to recite the poem by E.E. Cummings that I included in Les' eulogy which says, "I carry your heart with me (I carry it in mine)..."
     What does it mean to carry someone in one's heart?
     The word carry is a verb denoting action. So carrying someone in one's heart
This pendant has Les' ashes inside; a gift from daughter Sparky.
is an activity. No mere jargon or jingoistic words of grief to pause on and forget; carrying Les in my heart means I move through my life with a continued relationship with him. He may be dis-incarnate but he is not gone. Carrying him in my heart requires me to move through my grief and re-member our relationship. I had a statement engraved on Les' wedding ring: "You are my joy." He was, he is, and he will always be my joy. Yes I am sad Les is not here on an incarnate level to continue sharing life with me but without his diseased broken body, Les' soul can rise with joy, move at the speed of thought, create paradise and touch my soul--and my Beloved is no longer subject to the laws of gravity and physical being; no more illness, no more pain, no more slogging through this world wearing heavy clay boots. I am sad for myself but I can no longer be sad for Les. Our relationship continues re-framed: my heart is the sacred space where we come together again as one in a new method of engagement.


Anonymous said...

It was lovely spending time with you and eating that delicious soup. Just wish we were closer.

Sally x

Dragontatoo said...

So glad for all for blessings -- I love you 1000 Swedish Fish ❤️

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oh Sally I so enjoyed fixing lunch for you and Joe. Perhaps if you visit again in the future we will have really fine weather and opportunity to cruise. I could feel the longing in Joe to get on the stern and just go. I know that feeling so well. Thanks again pal for everything. Your support, and loving encouragement are priceless--as are Joe's Grand Seville's!!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sweetheart!

What a lovely surprise to get a comment from you. It was such a joy to Skype with you on Sunday and see how beautiful you looked--a bit of sunshine does you well. Of course you know you, your sister sparky and those three wonderful boys are also counted automatically in my list of blessings all the time.

Love Mamma <3

Lisa said...

Jaq I really love that last paragraph.


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Lisa. It has taken me these last three and half months to get here but I did finally. the dragonfly symbolizes transformation. So apropos!
Jaq xxx

antinady said...

Always following you and your progress as you know. Can't wait until you make it our way for a real good 'hug fest' - think we could all do with one. Xxxx

Unknown said...

A wonderful poignant easay. The fields of green, the string of various gifts.
These are things from which memories arise and remain.

Judith nb Serena said...

What a wonderful blog, so many blessings. Loved the last paragraph. You sound more at peace with yourself. It's lovely to reminisce with friends. Take care, hope we get to meet one day.
Judith nb Serena

Anonymous said...

Oh way a joy to read of blessings, good friends, good places, rebirth and spring. And all the work you've done/the peace you've made so far in going forward on the cut.
Still tulip time in Pullman Kareb

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Biggs hugs, lovely friend. So good to read of your lighter being now.
I too love that ee cummings poem - we have a plagiarised piece of it on a plaque in our garden at home for our little granddaughter Caitlin who died at 6 months old in 2011. We too carry her heart in our hearts.
Looking forward to seeing you before too long.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hello Bryce my dear,

Yes memories are made of these things. I need some new ones to help me cope with the sadness imbued in reviewing all the old memories and pictures of me and Les.

I hope you are recovering apace my friend. I worry about you! I hate being so far away and feeling like there is nothing I can do for you. Just know I love you and I am sending you healing energy.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Tina,

Yes we three could definitely do with a hugfest. 2017 is a crap year and I am so so sorry for your loss. I do understand the big hole and the gripping sadness. I cannot wait to see you both and have some Tina and Andy time as and when.

I love you both!

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Judith,

Thanks for following the blog and leaving a comment. I am aiming for peace but it isn't always easy or available. Today I simply feel overwhelmed by my loneliness for Les. It is time to move on and I am pinned down by high winds.

I look forward to meeting you too!

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen!

If it is still tulip time then remember what one fo my WSU work colleagues once told me: It always snows on the red tulips! Fingers crossed the snow is at an end for this year.

I am looking for every blessing I can find. Peace is not always available. Today I miss Les so badly I feel completely fractured by my loss and so singularly alone if you know what I mean.

Miss you and love you!

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Marilyn,

I am so looking forward to seeing you and David again. It feels like years. It is so strange to be moored up here at Stanton Low where you two saw Les for the last time.

Love Jaq xxx

Carol said...

Hi Jaq,

What a beautifully written post, such wonderful friends supporting you and bringing gifts to lighten your days and reminisce about Les and your lives together. Long may this continue as you travel the canals meeting kind folk always willing to spend time with you one way or another.

Received your email today re you not being able to comment on my posts, I've altered the settings enabling comments as 'anonymous' so please can you try this again for me, hopefully it will make a difference.

Big hugs to you and we send our love in spades. xx

Unknown said...

You spoke of gifts, Jaq, but your writing is a gift to us. Keep writing and paying attention to our wondrous world. Sending love, Lisa Conger

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,
I will try it again, and thanks for all the big hugs and love from your both.

Love Jaq xx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Lisa,

What a lovely surprise to find a comment from you! Thank you so much for your support of my writing and everything else. As you know, being a writer can be a lonely endeavor. I am working on my book manuscript so your encouragement is very helpful.

Congrats to your lovely daughter for coming in third in the national pun contest!!

Love Jaq xxx

Arthur said...

Loving the new presentation, Jaq!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Arthur. The blog needed some cleaning up and I was motivated to update the look. I think it is easier to read now.

Jaq xxx

Mike Todd said...

Do let us know where that knife came from. Looks very handy!

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs