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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Freedom At Last!!!

"Freedom is never given; it is won." ~ A. Phillip Randolph,  U,S, labor organizer, civil rights leader, 1917-1979

   Last Tuesday was the beginning of week eight post-op for my Left knee replacement. It was also my fourth physiotherapy class at Warwick hospital, and Les had an appointment at the Royal Free Hospital in London for a scan and blood tests. We left Radford Hill Farm moorings Monday mid-day--which after four months of being stuck here in the five mile prison--we've come to think of as our country estate.
   We cruised back into town, stopping at Tesco to top up our groceries. I decided it was a good time to try shopping on my own so I took one crutch and our personal shopping trolley and went on my way while Les headed out across the street to buy diesel and top up the boat. My list wasn't long but it took me awhile to pull out a shopping cart, hang our shopping trolley on it so it wasn't in my way and steer the shopping cart with one hand while I stumped along with a crutch on my right arm. About forty five minutes later--job done! I was back at the boat with our trolley full of groceries and no one was maimed or endangered in the process.
   We continued on to moor up at the Warwick Hospital moorings--just near the footbridge over the canal about 850 feet before the bottom of Cape Locks and the water point. We set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. and both of us had a restless night's sleep. While my left knee doesn't hurt anymore, I am still keenly aware of the artificial part of it, and after a long day it is difficult to relax, let go of that awareness and fall into sleep. So Les and I tossed and turned...
   Up with the alarm and Les was out the door at 7:30 to catch three trains and one bus to arrive at the RFH by 11 am. He started the engine before he left and I washed a load of clothes and did some work before pulling myself together and heading off for the fifteen minute walk over the footbridge, up a short side street and through Warwick Hospital to the physiotherapy department to wait for my class to begin. I decided it was also a good time to try making this walk without any crutches at all.
   Physio class for the five of us women with knee replacements, consists of twelve stations in a circuit; sitting in a chair with a small ball tucked between one's ankles and lifting one's legs, standing on a balance board, sitting in a chair and getting up and sitting down repeatedly without using one's hands (bends the knee), peddling a mini set of pedals while sitting in a chair, up and down stairs, sitting in a chair with one's leg resting on another chair just across the way and a set of three pound weights draped over the replaced knee to make the leg completely straight, bicycling on a BIG bike, standing on a trampoline and doing deep knee bends, and other assorted tortures. Each exercise must be done for one minute and forty five seconds. Rock ballads from the 1950's provide background music: Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Wake up Little Suzy, There Goes My Baby, Kansas City--you get the drift.
   After completing the circuit we take a five minute break, drink water, have our incisions inspected, our knee circumference measured, along with demonstrating one's ability to straighten the leg, lift and hold it for ten seconds and offer a general report of how we're doing. Then we five spread out around a set of parallel bars for the "dance" portion of our show. 
   To a bit more rousing music we walk heel and toe, march with knees
Morecambe & Wise Dance
high, do football kicks (bring a leg back and bend it, swing it forward and high like kicking a ball), back flicks (bend a leg, bring it back and try and tap your bum with your foot), Morecambe and Wise come on, singing Bring Me Sunshine and we "do" the M & C dance to their anthem.

   Americans will probably not have a clue who these guys are or what the dance looks like. The still picture of the duo will give you an idea--a sort of alternating skip with arms back and forward. Just picture five women with recent knee replacements ranging in age from 58 to 76, dancing around in a circle like the guys in the picture. Les got such a kick out of the idea he wanted to come video us but it isn't allowed. 
   Finally we finish up to Sinatra belting out "New York, New York" while we do alternating high kicks, held for three seconds and then really high kicks with jazz hands.  TA-DAH!!! Are you knackered yet?? Well the upshot of all this is....all my hard work has paid off and I was released to go a week earlier than planned. WOOT!!
      Wednesday morning we slept in. I rose first, and jumped out of bed, and while my Best Beloved remained wrapped in the warmth of the duvet, I threw on my bathrobe and some flip flops, climbed out of the boat and started the engine--all without giving my knee or leg a single thought! I swept out the bow and the stairs, emptied the ash out of the stove and brought the fire up, and we sat grinning at each other like mad cats while we ate breakfast and talked about the power of suggestion. I wondered if it was merely the fact the Physiotherapist said, "Great Jaqueline! You are discharged. See you in September," that suddenly made me feel like Tigger on my new knee.
Manually turning a boat involves pulling it around from the stern.
   We cruised to the bottom of Cape locks, where Les turned the boat manually with the stern rope, tied up, we filled with water and off we went with me on the back beside him, coffee cups in hand. The weather was calm and windless but the air had a wet, cold, clammy feel to it. Who cares? We are cruising--and we are not turning around and coming back!!
   I've spend four months in Warwick and the nearby smaller towns and I've seen virtually none of it other than a couple of restaurants and the hospital. Good friends dropping by kept us sane as did our ability to move albeit only five miles total. So Les stopped and moored up in Royal Leamington Spa and we walked into town to see the Sights!
A view of the Royal Pump Rooms as it was originally in 1814 when it was first built by the River Leam,courtesy of
A photograph courtesy of the, of The Pump Room Baths on the right, in 1914.

Current picture of the Royal Pump Rooms looking back to St. Nicholas Parish
Once the Royal Spa where wealthy folks came to take the waters, this is now a lovely museum  offering a glimpse into the town of Royal Leamington Spa, the spa itself, and an art gallery with a  nice small collection of paintings, several of which date back to the 17th century.  There was also a fascinating exhibition  titled through the Shop Window, offering a glimpse at what shopping in town was like from 1880-1980.
This is part of the museum's bit about Taking the Cure which was so popular Queen Victoria visited the spa as a young woman--hence the title "Royal" added to the town's name.
Outside and across the street from the Pump Rooms is Jephson Gardens and grass park where the well-to-do took the air to see and be seen. Originally farmland, the owner set aside 10 acres for public access to locals from 7-10 a.m. and paying patrons of the spa and bath house for the remainder of the day. In 1836 the site was expanded to a total of 18.5 acres and a right of way was sunk through the middle to provide access to anyone who wanted to walk through the lush and lovely scenery without trampling the gardens. Over the decades the boating lake, the fountains, a tea room and an aviary were added. The later two are now gone. The Gardens were named after Dr. Jephson who promoted the town's healing waters and built homes for the poor.
The right of way today. I have to tell you the air was magnificent! Although it was cold, clammy and overcast, the air smelled divine with a base note of fresh moving water, green grass, spring flowers, finishing off with a sweet top note of licorice from some Sweet Cicely growing in the wilder corners.I call it Parfum for the spirit!
The lake now sports a fountain in the middle. Once upon a time visitors played croquet, practiced archery, oohed and aahhed over fireworks displays, and sailed model boats here. I love how many benches there are everywhere! This is a park that invites one to step out into a bit of human contrived nature to relax and enjoy one's self.
Children frolic along the edge of the lake with the spires of All Saints Parish church rising across the way. While the church in its present form dates from the 1800's there has been a church here since the 12th century-back when the tiny hamlet was called Lamintone. In 1349 The Black Death visited the village and three successive vicars were laid to rest due to the plague. Today the church is a thriving and vital presence in the center of town. NighLight is a weekly project offering free hot drinks and a listening ear to those out and about at night. It's based at All Saints' and runs every Friday night from 10.00 pm, closing normally by 2.00am on Saturday.
The Glasshouse is a conservatory or hot house as we say in the States. What awaits us inside?
Fantastic Bird of Paradise flowers greet us as we enter.
Airy walkways wander amongst coffee, banana and other exotic trees and ferns.
I don't know what species this is but I was captivated by the white flowers.
Bright Clivia stand near a hidden waterfall.
A goldfish pond offers tantalizing views of the bright fish along with reflections of the glass plated ceiling and the sky. 

The black pipe is a bee portal! It is blocked in winter and opened in late spring so bees can come and go, pollinating the plants and carrying some back to their hive to make honey. What a brilliant idea!
This is the doorstep for the bees on the outside of the building, leading into the black pipe along the wall inside. I wonder what the bee dance offering instructions to this little paradise looks like!
There are outdoor walkways and all kinds of fascinating places to walk, bike, rollerskate, jog, climb, and discover.
The Mill Bridge over the River Leam. The glass house is directly behind me as I took this picture. the gardens are out of sight off to the right.Below is an inlet allowing river water to flow unimpeded. Great for fish and other wildlife.
The view across the river from the Mill Bridge.  One can just see the boat ramp in the foreground on the left immediately past the closest house .
Noted Leamington artist Fred Whitehead painted this scene in 1844 from the bank of the river Leam. The garden is in its infancy on the right, only created a decade previously. The Mill Bridge would be behind the artist. The three arched bridge and the Royal Pump Room spa is in the background on the right upper side. Courtesy of Leamington History Group.
The church tower from my short perspective.
Looking up at a vaulted window.
Gothic spires were added in the late 19th century
...but the original square tower is still there.
This is an 1810 water color of All Saints in the town of Lymington Prior as it was then known. The house in the back ground backs on to the river Leam. Courtesy of Leamington History Group.


Anonymous said...

I'm exhausted just reading about your therapy. I'm sure it would be good for me to try even without a new knee! So happy you are on the move again. xx

Anonymous said...

Oh and PS I loved the reference to Morecambe and Wise. I loved them. Used to go to my granny's for tea on Saturdays to watch them on her TV!Sally

Anonymous said...

Fabulous therapy program. Yea! Now to hear good results for Les. Wonderful wonderful wonderful ... on the road / cut again!
Karen in Pullman

Carol said...

Great news Jaq! Loved the tour of Leamington Spa and hope that you weren’t as tired as I was at the end!! Look after each other. xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Wonderful that you are out and about around the network again after being limited in your cruising span over recent months.

I remember reading Tony Porter's blog about About Leamington Spa a couple of years ago and thinking that David and I really must visit instead of scooting through - your blog post has reminded me of that resolve!

Travel well, friends - enjoy and be healthy!


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sally,
I can just se you, aged 11 (I really can now that I've seen childhood pics of you on FB) having a cuppa with your granny and watching M & W on the telly! The good old uncomplicated moments of childhood. I'm pleased my post took you back there for a visit.

I think the physio program would be good for all of us after a certain age just to warm up, get a bit of aerobic for the heart, and keep our aging knee and hip joints flexible and healthy. Having never played any kind of football, I have to say the football kick was my favorite. It made use a full range of motion for my leg which felt really good.
Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen,
Yep we were so happy to be moving we even cruised in the rain--something we generally never do! Every week my new knee feels better and better. I take one crutch now when we go out walking about town as my right knee gives me considerable gip otherwise.

Thanks Pal for keeping us both in your loving and healing thoughts, as we do you and Jim.
Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,
Actually I was totally cream crackered! It was my first extensive foray out walking and I overdid it, but I just couldn't help myself after being cooped up for so long.

We miss you and George and send you both big hugs.
Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Marilyn,
I love Tony's blog posts. He is a very good writer in my opinion and really captures the essence of a place when he writes about it. Hopefully one of these days we will actually catch up with him and Helen.

Do indeed stop into Leamington Spa next time you are there and be sure to stop into the museum cafe for one of their delicious muffins and fabulous mochas in between seeing the museum and strolling through the gardens.

Miss you and D. Holding you both n our thoughts across the miles.
Jaq xxx

Quaysider said...

Great to read you chaps are free at last. Your physio sounds much more fun than any I've endured at "back class" - they don't play US lot music... well not unless you count the odd person breaking wind in time ;-0)

btw - I've read both your recent posts on cwf with interest... your knowledge and experience in regards avoidance of sugar and encouraging alkalinity to help fight the big c is not something I've found anywhere else - my dad is in the same boat as Les so I'm going to print them out (my folks refuse to learn to use the internet) and send them in the post.

Keep up the good fight guys.

Geoff and Mags said...

Great post Jaq. Between every line you can detect the joy you both have in finally being able to get away. Well done.

Unknown said...

I trust Jaq fully appreciates the benefits of our NHS now - despite it's many shortcomings naturally - free at the point of need no matter who you are

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

I appreciate and I am grateful for the care I received through the NHS, but it won't stop me from criticizing it if Les' care ever falls short again. Just because something is free at the point of service does not make it automatically good, benevolent, or functional. I also criticize the U.S. health care system when it falls down on the job.

As for the NHS being " matter who you are," I happen to disagree with this. I don't think people who have not paid into this system should be treated for free. (I did pay for part of my hospitalization our of my pocket).

It is what it is and as Les tells me, as his spouse and someone with legal permission to live in this country, work in this country, and receive health care in this country, I have access to the NHS.

When Les and I were first married over in the States, Les needed health care coverage and I added him to my insurance and I paid the monthly premiums for his coverage. I would also have paid his medical bills had he fallen ill. It is what it is. Neither system is perfect and both require people to speak up when something is wrong and call attention to the issues so they can be recognized and addressed.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mark,
I am sorry to hear your family is dealing with cancer too. I hope my knowledge and experience can be of benefit to your dad.

And I hope your back is mending well. I found it interesting that all the members of my physio class were women! Where were all the men that had knees replaced?

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Geoff and Mags,
Thank you! We are thrilled down to our toes. A little bird told me you two are heading down the N. oxford to catch up with Sue and Vic. We are currently at Onley moorings (April 12th). We plan to have a good catch up with them when they return on Friday. It would be fabulous if we could finally catch up with both of you in the flesh!
Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs