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Friday, May 29, 2015

Good Things Come all at Once

"Make your life a house your heart can live in, with a door to receive friends and a garden full of many things." ~Anonymous

© NB Northern Pride.
   One of the beauties of life aboard a boat on the cut, is that unexpected things may occur each day. One never knows what will happen around the next bend, or what will appear around the next curve in the canal. 
   We are nearing the end of waiting around for this latest round of Les' medical appointments, which requires us to be near buses and an easily accessed train to Euston. With that in mind we cruised to Cosgrove to await a Tesco delivery at Soloman's bridge. As we waited for Mr. Tesco to arrive we heard a HUGE honking horn and knew our Kiwi friends Marilyn and David (NB Waka Huia) had caught up with us. They are back in Britain for a Northern Hemisphere summer of cruising. They were meeting up below Cosgrove lock with friends. We told them we were heading back that way after our grocery delivery. Thumbs up and away they went!
   After putting away our groceries we cruised to the nearest winding hole, turned and headed back to Cosgrove to fill up with water and dump our rubbish. As we came around the bend towards the water point we saw a CRT (Canal & river Trust) barge moored up on our left. Further on a small thirty five foot boat called Sassy was on the water point facing the top of the lock; a wide beam called Hetty was also on the water point facing the opposite direction.
   We decided to breast up next to the CRT barge and wait for space on the water point to open. As we were backing up to come along side the barge, NB Honey Street came around the bend behind us making for the lock and Les waved them on. Instead of going for the lock they ground to a complete halt. In the meantime the wide beam had finished filling up, and they were casting off. As the wide beam came off the water point in our direction, NB Honey Street suddenly put their boat in gear and plowed determinedly forward! 
  In that moment we were staring at the bow of the oncoming wide beam, steered by a couple with astonishment on their faces, trying to figure out what the hell the owner boat heading for their port side was doing. Les threw NB Valerie in reverse and backed up to give the wide beam room.
   NB Honey Street barely missed the side of the wide beam, the bloke on the back yelling, "We almost ran aground there you know!" I was thinking, "Well no shit Sherlock. That's what happens when you have a barge and a narrow boat breasted up on one side and a wide beam heading up the canal toward you." There is only so much width to the canal and the guy on Honey Street should have backed up to make room for WB Hetty to pass us before going forward to the lock. Never mind, he will certainly not be kept from enjoying his holiday. I just hope he and his lovely wife survive to enjoy it! Geez...
   While we filled up with water, Les cleaned the roof and I made lunch. Soon we were ready and down the lock we went, to come out headed toward Wolverton. We didn't get very far before a little Kiwi woman began flagging us down. It was Marilyn and we pulled in behind them. It was a lovely, sunny afternoon, and we all sat outside around a table with glasses of wine, chatting and laughing. Marilyn invited one and all aboard for an early dinner of Curry. I passed but Les loves a good Curry and he was not disappointed! After another hour or so of laughing, talking, story telling and taking the mick, it was time to go. We cruised off in the late evening sunset and moored up out in the countryside near a housing estate with a good bus system to Central Milton Keynes Rail station and fell asleep will full bellies and happy hearts. 
Adam in his boating hat
   The next day dawned windy but bright with the promise of sunshine. Our daughter-in-law Joanne was coming to visit with two of her four children and we were keen to see them. While I prepared lunch, Les walked up to the bus stop and caught a bus into Milton Keynes to meet them. Suddenly a familiar boat came round the bend: it was NB Brier Rose! Adam Porter was traveling back from the Crick Festival. What a lovely surprise!  He invited me aboard his Braidbar boat for a tour and must say I was impressed by how well laid out Brier Rose is. We came back to NB Valerie for a cuppa and a natter about all manner of things including the rise of Airhead composting toilets being installed on boats, before Adam had to push on. 
Kiernan steering while wearing Granddad's hat and Nanny Jaq's gloves!
   A short while later as I finished up fixing lunch I heard children's voices on the towpath calling, "Nanny Jaq, Nanny Jaq!" In the bow doors burst Kiernan and Kiera with big hugs for me. 
Kiera concentrates as she steers past moored up boats.
 We had a lovely visit and it was grand to see Jojo, who is busy with College and preparing for Nursing school at Uni. While the weather had grown overcast it was still warm and we decided to cruise to Campbell Park in Milton Keynes. Our grandkids took turns feeding bread to the wildlife along the way, and steering the boat with Granddad! It took about an hour to reach the park where we moored up to walk up to the bus station for their trip home. 
  Campbell Park is one of the best planned public recreation areas I've had the pleasure of walking through. Leaving the canal behind us, we followed the path across the roundabout and to the right of the Cricket pitch. It winds through the hilly grassland with small side rooms hidden by trees and shrubs. 
   We came to two small shallow overflow ponds with fuzzy greenish stuff growing in the bottom and lots of tiny pond life zipping around. We all stopped to investigate things closer and the kids found a large stick to stir the bottom and see what moved. We saw tiny, transparent alien looking things with what looked like a rounded fin on each side of its round body, teeny, tiny fish, pond skaters, and snails. 
   Low hedges of purple Ceonothus catch the eye, and the trees are all leafed out now--the Hawthorn trees appear to be spring maidens in floral gowns carrying flowing trains over their branched arms. Horse chestnut trees have panicles of white and pink frilled flowers reaching toward the sky. Mock Jasmine planted en mass fills the air with a light, sweet sent. 
The long and winding path from the canal moorings up toward the top of the park.
Granddad leads the way.
Ceonothus in bloom.
Chain Reaction Sculpture surrounded by Ceonothus shrubs.
Stairs up to the Chain Reaction Sculpture at Skeldon Gate.
Looking across the labyrinth to the Armillary Sphere in the center.
This is an aerial view of the labyrinth.
Jojo, Kiera, and Kiernan sitting on the benches around the edge of the labyrinth.
Dear Sir sits smiling amidst the sweet scented False Jasmine.
Looking across the park from the heights, toward the path we followed coming up.
The canal is out of site beyond the tree line and hill in the right foreground.
Tres Biggs!
   Besides being a spacious and beautiful green space filled with sculpture, Campbell Park boasts pedestrian walkways over the carriage ways (freeways), so that one may walk right into Central Milton Keynes from the canal without ever having to hang about on a street corner waiting for road traffic to ease before dashing across the street.
   Soon enough we were at the bus stop and it was time to say goodbye. Les and I caught a bus back down to the canal. We had a rendezvous with NB Waka Huia to make and an hour and half of cruising to do first. We turned the boat around and headed back out to the countryside, stopping at Gifford Park to top up our H2O and dump the day's rubbish. when living aboard a canal boat, one soon learns never to pass a service point without topping up the water tank and getting rid of any trash! I also nipped across the road to the One Stop for several bottles of wine and some hard pear cider. While Les steered, I chilled the wine, finished up making a cold chicken and grape salad and laying out some nibbles.
   We came through bridge number seventy five and there was Waka Huia! Marilyn came out and helped us moor up and soon she and David were on board, glasses filled with wine and the evening came on to the strains of straight ahead jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Billy Holiday and others crooning in the background as we talked, laughed and caught with each other. 
   Les and I are not morning people. We both had to get up at the crack of dawn all of our working lives and now we often stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. and sleep in until 9 or 10 a.m. Marilyn paid us a visit to see two people who looked like deer in headlights! The wine of the night before left me feeling a little iffy as well. I threw myself into a scalding hot shower, chugged a cup of hot water with lemon juice and dressed. It appeared I would indeed live!
Marilyn and David in the sunshine
   I caught up with with the Kiwis walking back up from the nearby church ruins. We spent about two hours gong through their Nicholson's Guides marking them for good chandlers and moorings spots the rest of the way down the Grand Union, the Paddington Arm, and the Thames as far as Reading. Soon it was time for NB Waka Huia to cast off, heading for London and then the Thames. 
I am a blessed woman to have many, many, many best beloveds--and these are three of the many.
NB Waka Huia cruises south, Marilyn standing on her footstool steering!
   We caught a bus into Milton Keynes and another bus to Fenny Stratford so I could see an Osteopath. My lumbar vertebrae and some other bits of bobs of backbone have been out for three weeks and I could no longer stand the pain. Two buses back home again and I was totally bushed from the Osteo treatment, and feeling tenderized as my sore twisted muscles un-twisted and slowly returned to normal. 
  Rain was forecast for all day today and that has indeed been the case. We rose at 10 a.m. and I did last night's dishes while Les emptied the pee bottle on the Airhead, started a fire, filled the coal bucket and brought in a couple loads of wood and kindling. After breakfast we sat in our side-by-side recliners in front of the fire reading and napping while rain hammered the roof. A pot of home made chicken noodle soup was simmering on the stove top. We are well loved, well fed, dry and warm, and life is good!


locheriboll said...

Great to see you enjoying life again. And what a great photo of Les smiling in the jasmine - I love it!

Sally xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

That's lovely, you lovely friends. We thoroughly enjoyed it as well, just so you know! M&Dxox

Kath said...

Sounds like a perfect day (I'm no early riser either)
It looks like we will soon be joining your 'club' - we put our order in for the Airhead today! Your reports have been sorely tempting me, getting 'up close and personal' with the one on Briar Rose convinced me.
Kath (nb Herbie)

life afloat on nb tickety boo said...

Lovely post as always, fabulous photos and me sitting here with a big fat smile on my face, seeing you two out there enjoying life, so nice to see after all you have been through, keep it up!! Debbie Nb Tickety Boo x

Adam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sally,
I do love that picture of Les. We had almost forgotten how to have fun and laugh. Life has been so serious for so long...

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Marilyn, We look forward to the next time NB Waka Huia lies up nearby!!!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Kath,
We are so excited to hear your news. Airhead Nation!!! Woot!! YOu won't look back once you've broken free from the Elsan points!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Deb,
Thanks darling. You've been following our saga for what--nearly four years now! I am still hoping we will one day make it to your section of the canal.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Adam I love your analogy of the cut being a linear village. Thanks for adding even more sunshine to an already bright day. Hopefully next time Adrian will be with you and we can all sit down to a glass of wine and some laughter.

Les Biggs said...

Ooops sorry Adam my big fingers bullied the phone to delete your comment.

Les Biggs said...

Adam`s comment I deleted.

It was great to see you -- possibly even more so because it was unexpected! And a similar thing happened yesterday too, with an unexpected crossing of paths. The cut really is just a linear village, and you keep bumping into friends.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs