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Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Les!

"All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much." ~George Harrison

   I ordered Les' birthday gift the first week of March--once I knew where we would be on March 19th! It came from via Post Restante, which is, for my American family and friends, the UK equivalent of General Delivery in the States.
   I picked up a birthday card at Penkridge Market last week when Dear Sir wasn't looking, and made sure I had the goods in the cupboard to make a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting at his request.
   Last Friday as we were cruising up to Market Drayton we stopped near Goldstone bridge so Les could walk into the village of Cheswardine for a loaf of bread. We found a crew on a BW work boat cutting overhanging tree limbs along the Shroppie in front of us. Les and I walked up the towpath to inspect the work and we found several large piles of logs sitting on the offside of the canal free to anyone who could get to them. 
   After lunch we nosed the boat bow first into the bank and Les walked the plank. We scored nearly a dozen four foot lengths of solid oak which made my heart sing because Oak wood burns long and hot. 
   We continued on to the Tyrley five locks thinking we would breeze through them and be on our way. Lock five was such a pig due to leaking gates at the far end of the lock; neither of us could open it--not even with the bow rope and the boat pulling on it, and we needed the help of a passing walker and allour weight to finally budge the gate open. Eventually we cruised out of Woodseaves cutting and moored up on the embankment ten minutes from Market Drayton. 
   Saturday gave us a chance to cut up all that glorious Oak. Les sawed it up with our new Husqvarna chainsaw, split it with a hand ax, and I hauled it up to the roof so we could stack it to cure for next winter. Satisfying work indeed!
   We awoke early this morning to a sun bright sky filling the NB Valerie with light and warmth. While Les was putting the bed up and pulling the winter thermal plastic off the windows, I placed his cards and gift on the dinette and made our morning tea-for-him and coffee-for-her. 
  Finding his birthday pile, my husband smiled big and sat down in his robe to read cards that had arrived from friends and family, saving mine for last.
   Would he like his gift? I thought so but Les had made a comment several weeks prior about preferring to hold books in his hand rather than using a Kindle. 
   I figured he could have the best of both worlds; we could still swap paper books as we go along the canals, but now Les could also order and download those Inspector Banks books he enjoyed, and the Linda La Plante and Martina Cole murder mysteries which he had not been able to find along the cut.
   And, in the event of being frozen in again next winter, Dear Sir need not pace the floors for lack of anything to read--now he will have access to 900,000 books, newspapers, magazines, and one million free books! 
   The Kindle will hold 1400 books, store all purchases in the Amazon cloud for security, and the battery once charged, will last for a month. Books download wirelessly in sixty seconds! But would he like it?
   At first Les' face registered surprise and shock--he thought I had bought him a book! His brow furrowed as he unwrapped the packaging and saw what was inside. Once he turned the Kindle on, registered it and began playing with it, his brow smoothed out and delight stole across Dear sir's face! I knew it! 
   After watching him play for hours on end with his palm pilot filled with Ordnance Survey maps of the UK, I really thought Les would take to the Kindle technology. 
   Before ordering though, I did check to make sure his favorite authors were available as well as a few I've read and know he will enjoy as well  and when he wasn't looking I bought him a book: Sandstorm by James Rollins. It is the first in a the series of Sigma Force tales. Rollins is the next generation Clive Cussler. I can see Jason Statham playing his main character! 
   Les' phone has been going off all day with calls and text messages from family and friends here in the UK. On FaceBook, friends and family far and wide have posted a "Happy Birthday Les" in his honor.
   I felt totally industrious as I had baked his birthday cake, eaten breakfast, and washed and hung three loads of clothes outside to dry--all before noon!
   While I shooed Dear Sir off on a walk to Market Drayton to pick up a few things at the market, I opened the windows which had been sealed shut all winter, and gave the boat a good scrub down inside, starting at the tops of the curtain rails which continually gather coal dust and dirt from the solid fuel stove; cleaned the glass covering our pictures with surgical alcohol, and generally worked my way from ceiling to floor and bow to stern.
   Later Les dozed in his chair in the sun, a hard cover book of Graham Norton's biography on his lap, as I put in some hours working in my classes. Last week was Spring Break at WSU in Pullman, Washington and there were no assignments for last due for the week. My students were diligently back at it over the weekend and there was much to read and grade. 
   We were gifted with a fine sunset tonight, coloring the sky....
   Dinner was a favorite of Dear Sir's: Mediterranean Potatoes and pan seared pork chops with my special homemade rub of Beau Monde, garlic and Lemon Pepper, along with a salad. Joe Horton's Best-in-the world carrot cake and cream cheese frosting for dessert, and allis good! We are settled side by side in our Ikea sling chairs, feet up, holding hands as we so often do while watching a bit of telly! 
  Happy birthday my darling water gypsy; my lover and my heart's mate. Thanks for gifting me with your friendship and your love.


Ross said...

Happy Birthday Les!
Hope you had a good one

Les Biggs said...

hi Bert
Cheers, I am having a great day.

John Witts said...

Many Happy Returns, Les!

John and Jackie

Sue said...

Happy Birthday Les, birthday kiss will have to be delayed till a bit later! xx

Del and Al said...

Happy Birthday Les, sounds like you've had a great day x

Ian and Karen said...

Happy Birthday Les.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday. Cake looked yummy carol bv

Anonymous said...

Joe was happy about the cake but was VERY excited about the logs!


Sue said...

Just read this (still the 19th) so Happy Birthday, Les, hope you've had a great day! Congrats and best wishes for many more birthdays to be spent happily afloat.

Sue /Cleddau

Mike & Pippa Muir said...

Well Happy Birthday, Les, from Pippa (also the 19th), and Mike (the 20th, I married an older woman), hope you enjoy the cake!

Hase said...

Happy birthday, Les! I hope you enjoyed that gorgeous cake! Hugs, Silvia

Les Biggs said...

Thank you all so much. Now begins the 1 year countdown to my becoming an official Old Age Pensioner.
Good health to you all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry it's late

Happy Birthday


NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs