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 do...so 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|
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.|
|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.|
|Curved knife with wrist lasso|
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|
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.|