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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Springtime Posy: Flowers, Friends and Libraries

"Most things will be okay eventually but not everything will be. Sometimes you will put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room." ~ Cheryl Strayed, American author
     Spring I do believe has come at last to Cheshire anyway. Daffodils are in full bloom, small wild
flowers have popped their heads above the cold, wet soil and unfolded their tender petals. It is daylight until after 6:30 in the evening and I've been able to let the fire go out in the daytime and keep it banked quite low overnight. I've also re-potted and organized my garden on the bow. It gives me immense pleasure to look out the front doors and see flowers blooming with messages of love from dear friends; a pot of several different types of flowers and Ivy from Debbie Davies, a porcelain pot of dainty bijou Daffodils from Sue and Ken Deveson, Lavender plants that overwintered under the bow gunwales, and a newly planted pot of Double white scented Daffodils in a porcelain pot with some of Les' ashes in it. My bow garden is filled with love given and received.

    It is an interesting week to be moored up at Nantwich. There is a convocation of working boats at Ellesmere Port for Easter weekend. Due to the Middlewich breach many boats have had to reroute themselves and come all the way from Middlewich up the Chester locks of Heartbreak Hill on the Trent & Mersey, through Stone, and then right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal (Staff & Worcs) at Great Haywood Junction, along the Staff and Worcs to Authorley Junction, onto the Shropshire Union (the Shroppie) and down through Nantwich and on down to Ellesmere Port. This weekend there is also a Jazz Festival in Nantwich. The cut has become a frenzy of huge working boats gliding by, sucking the water out from underneath the moored boats as they pass, brasses shining, and livery aglow, and a raucous mix of hire boats, continuous cruisers and leisure boaters out for toddle in the milder weather. Among this bracing mix two boats stand out: Tumbleweed No. 5, Angela and Steve's abode moored up five boats in front of me, and NB Serena moored up directly behind me with Judith and John Emery at home.
Steve and Angela took me to the store with them yesterday and afterward they came over and we introduced one another to a couple of good games. They brought Continuo which is an abstract strategy and small tile placement game. After the initial setup of four tiles, players take turns adding tiles onto the edges of previously laid tiles, scoring points for creating aligned paths of colors. One point is awarded for each smaller square in a new path giving a score of 2 to 30 or more depending upon the length of the path. Play continues until all tiles have been used. The highest score wins. It only takes about a half an hour to play with 1-5 players. One can play alone like Solitaire and it is a good way to keep the gray matter working so I hope to purchase this game soon. I introduced Angela and Steve to the "railroad game" as Les call his favorite board game; properly known as the Great Game of Britain. I had a great time hanging out with Steve and Angela, both of whom are great fun to be around. 
     Ken and Sue Deveson popped in this morning for a visit while in the area to check on their boat NB Cleddau which is being painted at Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewich Branch--not the par with the breach but this near end of the branch--than goodness! As always happens with the Deveson's we were following the threads of several fascinating conversations when sue looked out the window at a passing narrow boat and exclaimed, Jaq that's NB Serena--aren't she owned by the woman who comments on your blog?" Up I jumped, threw open a window and hollered "NB Valerie!!!" to the bloke on the tiller which happened to be Judith Emory's husband John. He nodded and pulled in behind me in what surely must be the only  mooring spot left in Nantwich! It was meant to be. Soon the Emory's came to NBV and with mugs of coffee and tea all around, our chins were wagging about all kinds of boaty things from mooring pins to who fell in the cut where, and how many times. We were amazed to discover that John and Judith have a home in Pembroke and know the river Cleddau well. Sue and Ken were born in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock and their boat is named after the river Cleddau. Small world!It was lovely to meet up with John and Judith at long last. for the past year we have been near but not close enough for our bows to meet--or our sterns as is now the case. Imagine our amazement when Sue realize we had been chatting for two hours and toilets were not mentioned once!! this must surely be a first for any group of boaters!
     This next item is just an odds 'n' sods kind of thing: usually when I purchase raw prawns or large shrimp at the store, I look for cold water prawns and I eschew buying any farmed shrimp or anything caught in warm waters off the coast of Bangladesh, Thailand or Viet Nam for example. Why??? I read a book some years ago called The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. In it he chooses six locations around the world and details exactly what would happen if all human life disappeared from our planet over night. Then he points out the degradation our planet is suffering under the relentless human greed that rules our world and our careless throw-away mentality especially with regard to plastics, that is killing other life and destroying our ecosystems. It is one of the most important books ever written and one of the most insightful books I've ever read. In its pages I learned about the floating masses of human sewage miles and miles wide just off the coasts of several countries in the Indian and Pacific oceans, the bacteria and viruses which live in them, and how these miles wide mats of untreated sewage affect marine life. It was all I needed to know to make educated choices about what I eat and where it comes from.     That said, I wanted to make a prawn fettuccine and Aldi only had warm water shrimp, already cooked, from Viet Nam. I sighed and gave in, buying 500 grams of cooked prawns. I took them home, refrigerated them for the next night's dinner and thought no more of it. It was late when I decided to fix dinner--about eight O'clock which is very late indeed for an American. We usually eat dinner between 5:00 and 6:00 PM. The lights were off in the boat except for a wall light in the saloon above Les' recliner. I opened the fridge, removed the bag of shrimp, shut the door and lo and behold--the bag of shrimp in my hand was glowing--I kid you not!! I tried to take a picture of it in the dark but I couldn't capture the glow. The entire bag was fluorescing and it creeped me out. I couldn't being myself to eat the glow-in-the-dark prawns so I tore open the bag and tipped the shrimp into the cut where they continued to glow as they slowly sunk to the bottom. The bag, filled with shrimp juice, glowed eerily in my hand. I put it in the trash and decided to forgo dinner all together. Several hours later I opened the galley rubbish bin to throw away a Kleenex and found myself shocked to see the empty shrimp bag still glowing away, nestled down in the depths of the bin. I've eaten seafood all my life and I've never come across fluorescing prawns before. I am back to looking for cold water prawns. If I want fluorescing seafood I'll buy some glow-in-the-dark Crayons and draw my own.     Libraries: Many thanks to a member of the Wednesday Women and dear friend Rhea Giffin in Coeur 'd' Alene, Idaho for sharing her discovery of the Gladstone Library. Located in Hawarden, North Wales, about eight miles outside of the city of Chester, this is the UK's only residential and prime ministerial library, begin by Gladstone himself to share his collection of over 150,000 books with the public. 
     Sleeping with books!! Gladstone's Library with twenty-six en-suite rooms. If you ever had a fantasy about sleeping overnight in the library you can book a room here, visit the library and bring your books back to your room to read! This is the UK's only residential library and its only Prime Ministerial library, founded by Gladstone himself to provide access by the public to more than 150,000 books. Residents staying on the grounds have access to the library form 9 AM-10 PM. There is a bistro on site, Food For Thought which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are reading rooms available and ongoing events and courses throughout the year such as, Blue Sky God: the Evolution of Science and Christianity, Making the Personal Political: An Evening With Writer in Residence Cal Flynn, Taming Shakespeare, Democracy and Its Crisis with A.C. Grayling, Greek, Hebrew, Latin or Welsh in a Week: learn to carry on a conversation in one of these languages by studying for one week. It is assumed attendees will have no prior abilities in their chosen language; Brexit, Trump and the Common Good. Gladstone's Library seeks to offer safe, open meeting space for ideological conversations to occur about many of the larger themes with which our world finds itself grappling.
     The next library on my list to visit is located at Dunham Massey on the Bridgewater canal and is a National Trust property of 3000 acres with a spectacular manor house and others buildings as well as a substantial garden and a Deer Park. Les took me there in 2012. We didn't go in to the house which cost money, but one can wander around the grounds for free and it took most of the day to do just that. Currently there is a tour focusing on the women of the estate titled, "Dunham Massey: A Woman's Place?" The tour begins with the library because it was the room of utmost importance to Lady Mary Booth.      Written history notes that there has been a dwelling of some kind here since before 1066 when it was owned by Aelfward, a Saxon thegn. After the Norman Conquest the land was given to Hamo d Masci. His family owned it until 1409 when the male line died out. The property was then inherited by the Booth family. Mary Booth, born in 1704 was the first woman to inherit and manage the estate. She was taught at home in the library and many of the books reflect her father's desires for her education, with dedications written inside books from him to Mary who was fluent in French by age eight and a competent translator by age thirteen. She was educated in languages, natural philosophy, morality, fine writing and conduct, estate management, account keeping, and business arithmetics in which she was proficient by age fifteen. Mary's personal handwritten notebooks survive, filled with her thoughts on the literature she had just perused. Married at age thirty-two Mary inherited this vast estate when she was fifty-four and managed it until her death at age seventy-seven. 
     Dunham Massey is an accredited museum with 30,000 objects--the second largest collection in the National Trust. There are a number of scientific implements in the library including an Orerry made by Thomas Wright, instrument maker to King George II which is designed to illustrate the relative positions and movement of the planets around our sun. At the far end of the library, above the fireplace, is a painting of the crucifixion by Tintoretto. There are 119 shelves of books in Dunham Massey's library. Mary has a strong interest in medicine and medical procedures as evidenced by books in the collection and historical evidence bears out the fact that Mary's mother underwent a mastectomy on the premises in 1729. She personally negotiated with the Duke of Bridgewater's agents to ensure the canal brought it advantages to her and her tenants.
     One final odd bit: I saw a conversational strand on a FaceBook page recently about outdoor laundry facilities having been installed near the cut in Leighton Buzzard! Looking into it further I found the company that owns the machines is called Kis Wash and they have installed what we Americans call laundromats out of doors across Britain! Several boaters have used them with great success and found them to be very handy so I thought I would share this on the blog for any boaters who may be interested. Their web site needs a bit of work: the Find a location near you map does not actually do what it it should--instead it takes one to a page to fill in information for contacting them about installing the machines or receiving service assistance. Hopefully they will get that sorted soon.
Post Script: I have had to take this post down and re-write it as Blogger did weird things when it posted and some pictures were missing. when I opened it up and chose revert to draft Blogger changes all my fonts, lost some of text, pictures were jumping around, and even now I can only place the pictures in the middle of the page and I cannot add captions! Blinkin' Blogger!!  


Judith nb Serena said...

It was lovely to meet you at last, thanks for the cuppa. Hope we didn’t delay your lunch too long. Nice also to meet Sue and Ken, it really is a small world. I'm sure it won't be too long before we get round to talking toilets! Love and hugs Judith nb Serena

Catherine H said...

We have just spent over a year in SE Asia on a boat, and can assure you that not much has changed. The ocean has more plastic, and the large cities may have some basic sewerage treatment, but not the smaller places. We tried very hard not to each seafood of any kind there, as we were told, and I believe this, that they use formaldehyde to preserve the fish when out fishing. They go out with only ice, until the hold is full, which could be up to 2 weeks, and formaldehyde is used to keep the catch looking good. The Asians are mad about eating seafood, and it is sold everywhere. In very small isolated places you would be able to buy fresh caught fish, as they are only catching it for the local village consumption.

Dave Winter said...

Hi Jaq,
Glow in the dark shrimps are safe to eat....apparently,see the link.

Dave Winter

Cuddlesceridwen said...

Hi Jaq
Hope you are well, here inTurkey we get a plankton which glows green, one night I dived off of the boat and was bathed in an eerie green light. They call it yakamoz which translated is fluorescent. As in the above comment I don’t think formadahyde glows but best to throw them away all the same!! The Thai and Vietnam coast also has a lot of this plankton, it’s beautiful watching a boat cut through it at night. I hope that beast from the east 2 blows over quickly. Mwah

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,

Lovely to hear from you. Well we had one lovely half day of sun before the temperature dived a bit and the rain pissed down. You know British weather!!! never mind I h ave bee cruising and locking throughout it and happy to be on the move once more.

Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs