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Friday, July 21, 2017


"If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders." ~ Vi Keeland, American author and attorney

     The definition of the title word is to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. It is old English slang and I thank boater Mike Wall on NB Independence for bringing it to my attention. I also found coddiwomple on a list of 25 Words Every Traveler Should Know and I found nearly all those words resonated for me.
     I am pleased to report that NB Valerie passed the Boat Safety Certificate exam with five stars and flying colors. Every system on this boat easily meets or exceeds the current craft safety standards. The examiner was mightily impressed by the cleanliness of the engine bay and my oven/grill!
     I am also pleased to say that my new mattress is an absolute dream. I no longer wake up feeling as though I have spent the night on a torture rack in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition. The process of its unpacking and settling in was almost life-like and rather odd for an inanimate object. The mattress came rolled tightly in thick plastic and a long cardboard box. As soon as I slit the plastic and un-rolled the mattress onto the foundation, it began breathing by which I mean it was out-gassing with a synthetic stench that smelled like a combination of vinegar and old potato chip cooking oil. As the fumes wafted outward (I kept the stern hatch open for two days), the foam mattress also began to breathing in, taking in air and plumping up. It is now so tall I have to hoik myself up in it, like a small child trying to clamber aboard mom and dad's bed. It is made from a new generation of foam called LayGel which is far superior to regular memory foam. while it still uses body heat to reshape itself to relax around body points, LayGel wicks the excess heat away. One doesn't sink into it like average Memory Foam so two people cane sleep on it without rolling into each other or becoming too hot.
     My sleep is physically restful but it seems tragically odd to lie down at night on a mattress Les and I have never shared. I had a horrible nightmare last night in which Les and I appeared at a doctor's surgery for an appointment for him. He was wasted, gaunt and exhausted. The nurse asked us to follow her. I gathered all our bags and we and trudged along a sidewalk down the street to some restaurant the size of a coat room where we were ordered to wait until Les' name was called. Les laid down on a banquette and I sat nearby reading the paper. Suddenly I realized it had gone from daylight to dark outside and our name had never been called. I put down the paper, turned to Les--and he was gone! Panic rose in my throat, my heart hammered like thunder and I tore through the tiny establishment even going into the men's bathroom searching for him. No one had seen Les and no one cared. I was stricken with grief, awash in terror; a stranger in a foreign land who had lost her ill husband! How could I have misplaced him? What kind of wife was I? How could I have allowed myself to become distracted by reading the newspaper? Why didn't I hear Les leave?
     I came awake suddenly, chest heaving, heart pounding with tears pouring down my face, breathing in gasps, my mind asking me how I could possibly enjoy a decent night's sleep on a new mattress when I had been so negligent as to have lost my husband.
     It was 6:15 AM. I rose and checked the status of my batteries as Les always did first thing each morning. The refrigerator was running and the batteries were at 12.40 volts (50% charged). It is exceedingly dark and overcast here, and it has rained, and yet by 9:00 AM the new solar panels have charged the batteries right up to 13.00 volts! Our old system could not do this, requiring me to run the engine to charge the batteries up again on an overcast day. This is brilliant and means one less worry for me. I can leave the boat now for more than 24 hours and I no longer have to return right away to run the engine and charge the batteries. The new system will keep on top of it for me. I can also run the Ebspacher boiler heater (this heats the radiators throughout the inside of the boat and provides hot water for washing, as opposed to running the engine to get hot water and starting a fire in in the wood stove for heat), wash a load of laundry, or vacuum without having to let the engine run while I do it.
     I am in Braunston now, having cruised back here to meet up with my friend Ray Oakhill (NB Stronghold). He is a jack of all trades and a dark horse this one! Among all the knowledge he has gathered (plays classical guitar and piano, is an excellent cook, and a very proficient boater), Ray can splice rope and he is an encyclopedia of knot tying. I fixed dinner for us (Shish Kebobs using my mother's old recipe which I hadn't tasted in nearly fifty years!), steamed green beans with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and raspberries, toasted three cheese bread, and Peach Lazy Pie with cream). Ray brought the wine and we had a nice evening catching up. Yesterday morning Ray came over and spliced my new mooring ropes, creating loops on one end and he sealed the other ends with heat sealed sleeving which is a tube of plastic that shrinks tight when heated. All the new mooring lines are in place now and I feel much better knowing the old, badly frayed rope is gone. He also tutored in a few basic knots--the names of which escape me but I can do them and I keep practicing so I won't forget. We parted ways yesterday as Ray is headed for the South Oxford and the Thames. See you perhaps next year then...take care my friend.
     I opted to stay on in Braunston through Sunday as the weather has taken a cool, extremely windy turn with rain and thunder showers forecast and indeed it is blowing a hooley out there. I want to get my Saturday paper with the telly magazine up in the village, before I go and I think today I will attempt to make those yummy Stilton Cheese Puffs Ray is famous for sharing around. He uses Nigel Slater's recipe and they are divine. I don't like blue cheese so I managed to find some White Stilton at Tesco in Southam of all places and I am keen to try this recipe.
     I filled up with water, dumped the rubbish and washed the windows and solar panels at the water point while everyone else was having their tea (that would be dinner, supper, or the evening meal for Americans, depending on what part of the country you live). Not another soul was moving on the cut and the late summer sun disappeared behind the trees with a golden glow. I turned the boat in the marina entrance and backed up to the 14 day moorings just past the marina bridge. With all chores sorted I did a spider reccy using my slippers like big gloves, finding five and dispatching them all to Valhalla or wherever spiders go when they die with a satisfying clap of the slippers each time, and settled in to watch Outlander on More 4.  I cannot abide the eight legged horrors abseiling down in front of me in the dark while I am trying to relax and watch TV.
     I want to say hello to Angela formerly on NB Lady Ester. When she and her husband lived aboard they used to follow our blog. They sold their boat as Angela was struggling with a very bad knee. They were in Braunston yesterday, shopping for mooring lines for their new boat NB Annie. Angela has had knee replacement surgery and they are going to be back on the cut again. She stopped by to introduce herself and she said I was her role model. She had no idea how I managed to cope with having two knee surgeries in one year while living on a boat and caring for Les, and I inspired her. Thank you Angela, for taking the time to stop in and for your very kind and generous words. Welcome back to the cut!    


Nev Wells said...

...a kindred spirit, I was brought up to have breakfast dinner and tea. Never heard of lunch and supper before I met my wife. Good to see the boat is getting easier. Take care

Dragontatoo said...

Glad your home is approved for habitation by the powers that be--I never had any doubt. Maybe if you find a calming essential oil combination you like you could make a spray to spritz about the mattress/pillows (put in a humidifier? I found one that screws onto any standard water bottle!) before you lay down to sleep to help banish the nightmares? Or maybe you need a dream catcher? I know you don't like the heat but the sun helps uplift the spirit--I hope it returns to you soon. Love you 1000 Cinnamon Bears <3

Anonymous said...

So lovely to hear things going well - apart from the ghastly nightmare! You got this 😊 Sally x

Oakie said...

What a great time we had together Jaq, with very similar sense of humour and love of cooking and good food (I didn't mention the drink)! I look forward to catching up with you next year on the cut, but will be in touch in the meantime during the dark days of winter.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Nev,

Lovely to hear from you mate. So I wonder if there is a place-variation on this island as well for what certain meals are called. Where is Rachel from? I will have to ask next time we meet. Until then, stay well and take care of each other,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Jesse,

I think the nightmare is just a product of my subconscious dealing with something new in my life that is unconnected to Les. I wasn't aware I had any feeling about this. It after all just a mattress but this is what grief does to a person. I will make up some No More Monster spray for myself! Remember when I made some for Mike Boy so you could spray away the monsters under his bed?

Thanks sweetheart, for reading the post and commenting. I love you a million Gummy Bears <3

Mamma xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sally,

Thanks as always for the vote of confidence. I miss you guys. Give Joe a big hug for me please and keep one for yourself.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Ray,

It was fun as it always is when we share good times with friends of like minds. I'm glad you plan to stay in touch,


Carol said...

Hi Jaq, glad valarie past the boat safety test and that you're feeling a brighter now that the sun has calmed down a little. Sounds like you had a good time with Ray, he's good company. Enjoy your stay in Braunston. We think and speak of you often, look after yourself. xx

MikeW said...

Happy coddiwompling Jaq! Good blog. Keep rocking.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs