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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Friends, Old and New!

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." ~Kahlil Gibran
     We've been steadily moving along with short periods of mooring up and chilling out--our life as it was pre-cancer. In Braunston several weeks back Les and I walked up to the local shop for a Saturday paper. On our way back to the boat we had the pleasure or running into Jim from NB Chertsey. He was out with the dog on a lovely sunny morning, while waiting for his wife Sarah to return from her work week in the city. Sarah writes one of my favorite boat blogs. Sorry we missed you Sarah, but we did enjoy our short chin-wag with Jim who looks no older than when we saw him last up on the Shroppie several years ago. I didn't have my camera so Bill remains semi-incognito for now.
Andy and Tina of NB Ytene. Just looking at this picture makes me smile!
      Whenever we are anywhere near Braunston, we always take a turn through the double bridges and head south for Napton to meet up withfriends Andy and Tina on NB Ytene. We had a lovely handful of days in the area walking to the local windmill, which will feature in a longer post to come, and visiting with the Elfords.
     Dinner, drinks and hours of hysterical laughter ensue every time we get together as we introduce them to yet another new game (the British Railroad Game this time, thanks to our friends Ken and Sue Deveson of NB Cleddau who introduced it to us). No one tells a story like Andy and Tina--no one. I nearly lost control of my bladder several times and laughed so hard tears poured from my eyes. Thanks mates, for bringing us the joy of your company.
Sue and Colin next to their boat NB Carrie-Ann. Winnie the boat bunny is napping inside.
     As we cruised past Napton Narrowboats and under the Tomlow Road Bridge, I spotted a familiar red and blue boat we had not see in almost a year. Moored up by the bridge were Susan and Colin of NB Carrie-Ann. We first met them in June 2014 at Cassiobury Park and we really hit it off. They are also live aboard continuous cruisers who choose to live a low tech lifestyle and don't blog but they do travel with a whimsical pet--Winston the boat rabbit! He's large, grey, and soft as thistle down. We called out to the boat and up popped Colin with Sue behind him. We breasted up, sat on their stern deck with cups of tea and enjoyed a lovely warm summer afternoon catching up. We hope to cross paths with them again soon. 
Marilyn of NB Waka Huia and her trusty old hiking boots.
     Les and I continued on toward the Napton lock flight, turning at the winding hole before the top lock, to settle in for a day or so of boat restoration work (scraping, filling, sanding, etc.). The late afternoon heat was getting the better of us so Les and I decided to have a mosey down the lock flight--but first we stopped at the local lock shop for two ice creams. We sat in the shade eating our naughty snacks and then we walked back up to the towpath. A woman and a young boy had come across the top of the lock and were walking ahead of us. Les said, "Jaq I think that's Marilyn (NB Waka Huia). I'm sure that's her hair (short, spiky and silver.) I told Les it couldn't possibly be Marilyn as she and David had gone up the Calcutt lock flight towards Warwick only days prior. My far sight is not good, and Les was not sure so we continued to follow behind. As the short, silver haired woman slowed to allow her young companion to keep pace, I notice her boots--sturdy, well worn hiking boots and it was then I knew Les was correct--it was our Kiwi mate Marilyn!
     We called out, she turned and walked back to offer big hugs and an introduction to her grandson Olek who was visiting from Scotland. We spent several pleasant hours sitting alongside the towpath drinking wine and eating nibbles while catching up.
     Les and I were mightily impressed with young Olek who is thoughtful, smart, and helpful. He also has excellent manners and can hold his own in a conversation with old farts like us. He reminded me of my grandsons Micheal and Matthew back in the States. 
     After all this jollity and frivolity we cruised back to Braunston where Les filled the boat with water and dumped the rubbish while I walked up the high street for a Saturday paper, checked on our Post Restante mail which has still not arrived after a month, and we turned and cruised...North!
Hi Handsome!
     As soon as we passed the second service point at Braunston, just north of the two white bridges I let out a whoop and hugged Les tight. "That's it baby. We haven't cruised this far north in two and half years!" We had in fact been moored up at Braunston on New Years Eve 2012 when Les experienced the first bout of bowel trouble that signaled our decent into his cancer journey. For the first time in two and half years Les' eyes sparkled and shined with life and his laughter echoed across the cut. He pulled me close and we kissed as we cruised--gratitude deep in our hearts for making it thus far.
     We enjoyed the slightly windy afternoon, with sun coming and going behind fast moving clouds. We ate tuna sandwiches on fresh baked bread and drunk hot cups of herbal tea from the back of the boat as we carried on. Rain was forecast for later in the evening and all the next day, so boats were passing us at a fast pace attempting to make time before the rain began. We stopped at Hillmorton Chandlers to pick up some Owatrol and say hello to Richard--the shop owner and the only U.K. distributor of Airhead Marine Composting toilets. Richard was out so we missed saying hello.
     NB Valerie was moored adjacent to some outdoor tables by the pub next to the chandlers. As we walked back to our boat, a man in a blue T-shirt approached and said, "You're Jaq and Les aren't you? " and he held out his hand. I was caught by surprise. I shook his hand as he introduced himself: "I'm Tony and this is my wife Julie." Well knock me over with a feather!
     Tony and Julie have been corresponding with me for months about their new boat build and their desire to have an Airhead composting loo on board! They had traveled down to meet Richard and look at toilets only to find him out. We chatted about boaty things and then they said good bye and we were off again. It was wonderful to meet you both in person and we hope to cross paths on the cut when you are aboard your lovely new boat NB ChasBella. Thanks very much indeed for stopping to say hello. New friends are often people you haven't met yet.
     We are moored up again in a quiet stretch of canal as rain beats a rhythm on the roof. A pot of fresh chicken noodle soup simmers on the stove and fresh baked bread waits on the counter for dinner. A container of homemade coconut yogurt will be finished and ready to make into parfaits with granola and fresh strawberries by 11 p.m.--just right for us night owls.


antinady said...

Hi guys. It was great catching up with you too and thank you for the cracking meal - delicious as always. I have to note from your blog entry that you failed to mention that we both beat you at YOUR game - Andy managed to win without even being there!!! I guess it could be down to beginners luck,great teachers or the fact that we are always on top of anyone trying to cheat (you know who you are).

Here's hoping everything goes smoothly this week. Keep us up to date on progress please.
See you again soon.

Love n hugs
Andy and Tina

Anonymous said...

What a lovely blog-post! So happy for you both. I just wish we could have met up while we were over there. Next time I swear we will not be so tightly "scheduled!" Not my choice.

Elly and Mick said...

It's lovely to read of you both sounding so happy. And, Les looking so healthy in that photo!
Happy cruising.
Elly, now home in Oz

Dragontatoo said...

So glad you're on the move again! Sounds like a lovely life <3 Miss & love you both 1000 Swedish Fish!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

We will defo keep you posted Tina. And yes, I know who I am!!! ;)

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

We know how it is when you are visiting back home and there is simply not enough time to see everyone and do everything on your list. We enjoyed visiting Scotland with your via your FB posts and will be pleased as punch any time you wish to drop by.

We hope you've caught up on your post travel rest and Joe feels better soon.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Elly! Lovely to hear from you all the way from Oz. I;ll bet it feels great to be settling in again on familiar home territory.

Les has one more Radio Frequency Ablation procedure to undergo next week on his left lung and then we are good to go. It sure feels fabulous to be heading farther and farther away from the Southern G.U.
Hugs to you and Mick,

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sweetheart,
It is a lovely life! Wish we could scoop all of you up to share it with us for a good vacation. Maybe someday. In the meantime we are so relieved to hear you found a new place and we miss you all too--and love you to the end of the Universe--and back again.

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Jaq and Les, It was lovely to see you and such a surprise! I have copied your kind words re Olek to Tim and Marta and they were both very touched and proud. He is a gem, isn't he?
By the way, it was great to be able to consult the oracle re winding holes on that rainy morning when I called. And I forgot to tell you that the woman you said hello to on our boat was Lesley, former owner of the little glass parfait dishes that now have a home on NBV.
Now at Calcutt waiting for Mick and Julia to join us and then off we go down and up to Warwick. Mxox

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs