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Sunday, October 01, 2017

From Tixall to Westport Lake; from Pullman to England!

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” ~ Cheryl Strayed, author

     Sorry to be absent from the blog for so long. September has been a difficult month for me. Les has been dead for eight months now. Most of the time I cope all right but the time I spent at Tixall Wide and Great Haywood was hard. I am up on the narrow canals now where Les and I made good memories back in 2012. The years and months of fighting cancer, losing the battle and watching my Best Beloved die are behind me on the Grand Union canal. So I should feel better right?
     While moored up at Great Haywood it dawned on me that while I have lovely memories of our time together there, we will be making no more new memories in this special place. This caused me to fall down towards the lip of a yawning chasm of depression. There have been days when I couldn't--and didn't--get out of bed except to use the loo and check on the batteries. I read and I slept; I grieved and I cried. I wrote in my diary, "I miss Les so. Without him life seems completely pointless." I wonder if this longing for Les will ever abate to something I can live with, without feeling like someone has taken a hatchet to my heart. The weather seemed to turn in a moment from hot late summer sun to chilly, blustery, overcast autumnal temperatures, the outer world echoing my inner landscape.
     I left Great Haywood on September 13th after filling up with water, dumping the rubbish, stopping in at Great Haywood Marina for a full tank of diesel and four bags of coal. I waited for thirty minutes in the marina, hovering between neutral and tick-over as a boat on the landing faffed about. While I waited I noted that all the crafts moored in this marina have very clean, empty roofs. It turned out the moored boat was broken down so it had to be bow-hauled into an adjacent space so I could pull in and fill up. Meanwhile the wind rose and the clouds began to gather. I needed to get moving and find a mooring place before the weather deteriorated any further. I went up several locks and moored near the hamlet of Salt so the marine engineer could find me and commence repairing the Ebispacher diesel hot water heater. After two days with the railway line directly next to the offside of the cut and trains roaring past, Ed Shiers came and did a bit of trouble shooting on the Ebi. That done, I moved on and moored up at the bottom of Sandon Lock so I could get my Saturday newspaper and TV Guide, then I went up through the lock and cruised onward for about a mile to moor up on a secluded spot of open canal across from a field of cows. 
A dainty bovine sip of canal water. Yummy!!
Aren't her horns lovely? she is an English Longhorn Cow.
     The next day the weather lifted somewhat and the sun peeked through the clouds. I was sitting at the dinette working in my book manuscript when I heard a distinctive putt-putt sound of a Lister type engine. I looked up and NB Percy was sliding past with Nev and two other blokes on the back. I jumped up and ran to the window shouting out and waving. Nev's friends commenced slowing down and dropped him on the towpath as they went on to Sandon Lock. Nev hugged me tight and we spent a brief ten or so minutes catching up on the stern of NBV. He was on a time schedule with friends and couldn't stay. It was a lovely gift to catch up in person. The last time we saw each other was in 2012 on the Coventry. (BTW Nev, I tried three times to leave a comment on your blog and it wouldn't let me do it!)
Nev is dropped off by his fellow travelers on NB Percy.
The man himself with his lovely smile, on the back of NBV.
     I was warned by my friend Patti Gora McRavin about the way things begin to fall apart all at once after one is widowed, and so it is. If it isn't something with the boat's larger systems like the Ebispacher, then it is small things which happen not one after another but one on top of another. First my recliner broke. The footrest wouldn't work. This happened once before and Les was able to suss out the issue and fix it in about five minutes. The same day one of the drawer fronts Les had glued to his man drawers suddenly fell off on the floor! The drawer then slipped on its track and I couldn't lift it back out again to re-glue the drawer front. Finally, later that afternoon I thought I would fix something to eat. I flipped the switch on the small 150 watt inverter Les installed to power the galley cooker and nothing happened. Once the inverter is on I should be able to hold in a burner knob or the oven knob and hear the click-click-click of the safety ignition and then the stove burner's light up. Nothing; nada, zilch. Okay...I unplugged the stove from the small inverter, turned the large 3000 watt Sterling pure sine wave inverter on and plugged a power strip into the 240 mains plug and flipped it on. I plugged the stove into the power switch and turned it on. Nothing!!! I tried it three more times to be sure I hadn't overlooked something and the cooker remained dead so I assumed this meant it was going to need a new set of ignition switches, about which I know nothing and how on earth would I go about getting them anyway??? Our cooker is a Cannon--not a run-of-mill boat oven sold at any chandlers.
     I understood Patti's warning now. I also knew these events were not some weird, out of this world thing conspiring against me. It was just life as it is--entropy in action; the tendency of things to fall apart over time and I felt it keenly because Les was no longer with me to help sort it all out. Fortunately Ed Shiers, the marine engineer working on the Ebi came out and when I mentioned the cooker he was happy to take a look at it. He tried running it on the 150 watt inverter and got no response. I told Ed I tried to run the cooker on the 240 mains with no luck either. Ed decided to try it anyway so I turned on the Sterling inverter, plugged a power strip into the 240 mains plug in, Ed plugged in the stove and tried it--and it worked!! 
     What can I say??? I've hated electrickery since I was badly electrocuted as a toddler by placing my hands on a set of live, open fuses. I also think my body generates a lot of electricity which interferes with electrical things. I cannot wear a watch because the batteries will die within a day of my strapping it on my wrist. Back in the day of analogue television with rabbit ears on the top of the TV to pick up the signal, I could walk close to the telly and the picture would go completely haywire only to return to normal once I moved out of range. The same thing was true for transistor radios. Never mind, the problem was identified as the 150 watt inverter which was burned out and is a much easier thing to replace on a narrow boat than the ignition switches on a Cannon gas cooker. 
     September 21st I took our boat into Aston Marina just below Aston lock number 26, on the outskirts of the town of Stone, Staffordshire. While this marina is very posh, I was given a very warm welcome by Marina manager Nick--a former teacher--who is just a lovely human being. This is such a contrast to the way Les was treated at Great Haywood Marina when he wanted to put NBV in for a week to go back and visit the kids in 2010. He was told he would have to remove everything--and I do mean everything--from the roof of the boat first! Bear in mind that back then he had a wind genny, one small solar panel, and about a half a cord of wood split and neatly stacked on the roof. Les chose to take the boat elsewhere. Ever since Les told me this I have been a bit leery of approaching marinas about staying, so Nick's warm welcome put me at ease. 
     I came into the marina a couple of days before the weekend in order to give the interior of the boat a serious autumn cleaning. I washed all the curtains, throw rugs, duvet covers, throw pillow and upholstery covers and vacuumed every nook and cranny. Then I mopped and cleaned, dusted and polished. I also took a load of stuff to the rubbish bins. 
     The actual reason I went into Aston Marina was to leave the boat somewhere safe for a couple of days as I was invited to a dual 70th birthday bash for our friends Ken and Sue Deveson (NB Cleddau). This event had been on my calendar for months and the time was finally at hand. I was looking forward to it; not just for spending time with two people who are very dear to my heart, but also to have a break from the boat. I hadn't been off NBV overnight since I returned from the States in April. 
     Saturday morning The Deveson's daughter, Abi, came and picked me up and we had a wonderful natter all the way down to her parent's house in Bedfordshire. It was a lovely drive made nice by getting to know Abi. Her daughter Tasha--affectionately dubbed Cheshire One by her grandmother Sue--was happily plugged in to head phones in the back seat, listening to music after a hectic morning of music lessons. We had a delicious lunch at Ken and Sue's, with a lively conversation across the dining table and soon enough it was time to gather at Priory Marina on the River Great Ouse. The Deveson's had hired a trip boat--John Bunyon--to take about thirty of us on a slow and scenic two hour cruise up the river. A jazz trio played wonderful music, the weather warmed back up to something resembling early summer and the sun shone down across the water. A cream tea was served--my first ever--and we were all given name tags with colored stars on them.
     The tags were in fact a kind of puzzle. I think there were six different colored stars. Sue and Ken had all six of them on their name tags. Some guests had more than one color star. Mine was turquoise. Soon enough I figured it out. The colors corresponded to one of the six relationships one had with Ken and Sue: RAF, boaters, family, work, school, and I cannot remember the other one. Anyway I love the idea because it was a fabulous conversation starter for someone like myself who is introverted and does not know how to do small talk. The colored stars were a fun way to begin a conversation and soon enough there were few strangers and a whole lot of interesting acquaintances.
     Of course I was not the only boater there as Jennie and Chris Gash (NB Tentatrice) have known Sue and Ken for many years, having met them when Ken and Chris served together in the RAF.  It was lovely to touch bases with Chris and Jennie who have been crazy busy over the summer, and to renew my friendship with Dick and Nan who also know them all from the RAF and who Les and I had the pleasure of meeting in Warwick in late 2015. And of course I was able to say hello to the lovely Nidia, and Sandra who both met Sue in a writing class some years back. 
Ken and Sue's lovely daughter Abi standing at the back of the trip boat John Bunyon.
Canoeists wave at us as we cruise by! Ken and Sue's granddaughter Tasha gazes pensively out the window.

Sue in her beautifully colorful top having a chat with granddaughter Tasha.
The fun and fabulous Dick and Nan. Their eyes twinkle when they look at each other. You can see their name tags with royal blue stars representing their RAF relationship with Ken and Sue. At one point Dick and I serenaded Nan to the old jazz classic, Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat!"
A wedding in progress along the Great river Ouse.
It felt strange  to be inside instead of out on the stern at the tiller. We seemed to be sitting nearly even with the water.
     Our lovely cruise ended at a venue called Danish Camp, overlooking the river. It is so called because this particular spot is as far up the Great Ouse as the Vikings could bring their long boats so they beached them there and used it as a winter post to raid nearby from land. The Deveson's know the owners well, having had other parties here in years past. The venue was wonderful; spacious with a huge wrap around deck overlooking the river. The food was fantastic, drinks galore, and soon enough speakers appeared, and a singer by the name of Dave e. Q began playing pop and rock hits from the 50's and 60's but he was singing the music and let me tell you his voice was amazing! Dave can sound exactly like Sam Cook or Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett--you name it and he can sing it and sound just like the original artist.
     As the evening wore on folks got up to dance and it was then that my longing for Les returned with such depth of emotion I had to slip away to the bathroom and hide in a stall for ten minutes while I pulled myself together. Les would have thoroughly enjoyed the party. I could see him sitting there with me, his brown eyes shining and I could hear his laughter echo in the air mingled with the music and talk. We would have danced with everyone else. It was painfully difficult to watch couples we know and love, move together on the dance floor, obviously in love with one another over many years, their bodies responding as only those whose affection for one another can do as they are comfortable and complete in their own special intimacy. I felt as though I had been cleaved in two and I left the party early. I didn't want to break down and cry in front of others or be a downer at what was a fun, happy celebration. 
The interior is lovely; spacious with glass doors that open to the outside deck overlooking the river.
Amazing food! Fresh, delicious and expertly prepared. Sadly most of my pictures were blurry. I wish I had one of Jennie Gash. She looked really lovely!
The bar at Danish Camp.
A view of the outside area at Danish Camp...
...with the owner's boat. It has a perch on the stern for their Eagle Owl which lives on the premises.
The birthday couple dancing, © Jennie Gash, 2017. I was forced to nick good pictures from other attendees as most of my pictures were blurry and out of focus!
     After spending the rest of the weekend with Ken and Sue, enjoying their companionship and hospitality, they returned me to NBV on the 25th. We ate lunch aboard the boat and Ken put on his fix-it hat and proceeded to repair the chair, the drawer and rewire a new 300 watt pure sine wave inverter they happened to have on hand, into the cupboard to power the cooker. I Stayed an extra day in the marina as the weather was clammy, rainy and overcast, and I was feeling hung over and exhausted by too much wine and too little sleep over the weekend.
     September 26th dawned misty and clammy in keeping with the last two days but the forecast was for clearing skies and sun by mid morning. I said goodbye to Nick, sorted out everything on the boat and left the marina about 10:30 AM. I had help up Aston lock as a boat was coming down which I helped through the lock. They agreed to close the gate behind me and lift the the lock paddles on the gates for me and up I went. As I cruised out of Aston Lock I passed Pat and Trevor on NB Comino moored just before the next bridge.
     I met them at Wolsely Bridge in late July and we hit it off. They are meandering towards the Caldon and then plan to cruise the Maccie as we call the Macclesfield canal, so I will see them up there and hopefully we can share a meal and wine one evening. I carried on trying to remember things from the one and only time Les and I ever cruised through Stone together back in 2012, but we were going in the opposite direction and it all seems a bit hazy to me. I cruised up through a total of five locks before mooring up just past bridge 69A.  I did three on my own and two with help from boaters either coming along behind me or going down. I always offer to lock someone up or down if they will be kind enough to close the lock gate behind  me and lift the paddles on the top gates for me. It works brilliantly. I found myself moored up across from new housing which hadn't been there when Les and I moored up in the same spot in 2012. Back then it was a farmer's fields, so that's progress for you. I was surprised to find large mooring rings installed on the offside in front of the new houses. It is available for the public and this makes it a great place to get a grocery delivery.
     Yesterday I woke early, waited once more for the clammy mist to burn off, and at 10:30 AM I cruised around the next bend to the bottom lock on the Meaford lock flight of four. The next locks were deep and they had impediments such as solid brick tunnels and railings, etc. at the bottom of some of the locks which meant I couldn't do them on my own as Les taught me; I moor up before the lock, go up and set it--either emptying it or if it is already empty then I open the bottom gates, go back and get the boat and slowly approach the gate in a gentle glide. Before stepping off with windlass in hand, I give the throttle a little power forward (welly as they say over here) then quickly put it in neutral. As I walk up to the top of the lock, the boat continues to gently glide inside and I can close the bottom gate and slowly open the ground paddle. When the boat has risen half way up I open the gate paddle or the other ground paddle depending on what configuration is available and soon NBV is at the top. But I can only do this when the locks allow me to step off at the bottom as the boat glides in the lock. 
     As I moored up on the lock bollards a boat approached from behind and three men came around the bend in the towpath with CRT shirts on; volunteer lock keepers!!! They introduced themselves as Neil, John, and Stuart--the three musketeers! As they worked the locks we nattered with each other and the folks off the hire boat coming up behind me. It turns out that they were Americans from Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Texas. All women, they met in the USAF. Retired now, they were enjoying the delights of a narrow boat adventure so the entire contingent of us cruising up the locks were all women from the States. How often does this happen?? I got to know a bit about the three musketeers too.
     Neil was retired early for health issues and loves to walk along the canals taking pictures which he pairs up with appropriate biblical psalms and makes into books to give as gifts. John lives on his boat NB Shannon which he keeps at Aston Marina and he recognized NBV as the boat which had an Ocado delivery in the marina last Monday. Stuart wore the coolest round eye glasses with bright blue frames. Very trendy for someone approaching his early 80's! I waved goodbye and cruised on through Trentham, remembering our visit there in 2012 to the glory of Trentham Gardens. Trentham lock is deep and there was no way for me to do it on my own. I waited until a healthy looking couple came by walking their dog and I asked the man if he would help me. 
Image result for Trentham GArdens
One of the many stunning views of Trentham Gardens. I loved meandering through it with cost us nothing but our time and we both enjoyed the peace and tranquility as well as the breathtaking views.

     "Certainly duck. Just give me the windlass and I'll be happy to help."  His wife sat on a nearby bench with he dog and watched. 
     A lot of the Trent & Mersey canal approaching Stoke on Trent is very industrial in nature with few beauty spots to comment about so I continued on, happy to be moving, carrying on a conversation with Les in my head. It was going to be a long day--eight hours all told--but he would have loved every minute of it as I do. My only moments of peace come when I am on the back of NBV and we are moving.
Eccentricity on the cut!
Two boats on a lovely private mooring in the back yard.
Obviously fans of the marvelous movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert!

The electric gantry of the railroad as it travels unceremoniously along beside the canal for a great deal of the northern Trent & Mersey canal from Great Haywood to Stoke on Trent.

I love the graffiti warning: Mind your head!
Into the dark under a bridge approaching Stoke on Trent--home of the Potteries.
Fitting name don't you think??!!

     It was 3:00 PM when I reached Stoke bottom lock on a flight of five locks leading up to Etruria and the intersection of the Trent & Mersey with the Caldon canal. These locks are in very busy places. Road bridges with relentless traffic pass overhead. Graffiti covers everything. The lock bollards are located quite far from the bottom of these locks for some reason and I felt nervous about leaving NBV tied up by herself while I went up to suss out the locks. I bolted the bow doors shut from inside, pulled the curtains on the towpath side and walked up to the top of the lock. NB Mustang Sally was just entering it. I approached the couple and explained my situation, asking if I could help lock them down and would they be willing to close the gate behind me and lift the top gate paddles for me? Certainly! I wound up the paddle on the offside of the bottom gate and was sent to get NBV. I passed NB Mustang Sally as she left the lock and I took her place inside. The woman locking me up told me she had single handed her boat for years before meeting her husband and she didn't envy me.
     "At the next lock are two young men. They might look a bit dodgy but they are actually very nice and one of them is a boater. If they are still there I know he would help you with the lock." Sure enough, I walked up to the top of the next lock and the two young men were sitting near the top gate on the grass with a young woman. I asked, "Is one of you a boater?"
     "Yes, I am," replied a surprised young man with long dreadlocks. 
     "I am single handing it and I wondered if you would close the bottom gate behind me and lift the paddles on the top gates for me?"
     Scrambling to his feet with an easy grin he said he would be pleased to help and I handed over my windlass. As he worked the lock for me, we chatted. His name is Tom and he lives on his 35 foot Springer NB Meg which he also keeps in Aston Marina. My only regret was that I hadn't baked because I would have loved to give them all some Brownies. Tom handed me back my windlass as he closed the gate behind me. 
My handy helper Tom (NB Meg) who graciously helped me up the second of five locks in the Etruria flight.
     I was able to do the final three locks on my own.  As NBV rose up in lock number 39--the second to last one--I walked up and opened the bottom gates on the final lock in front of me. I walked back, opened the gate on lock 39, cruised out and got set to step off the boat as she entered lock 40. Tired, I forgot to give the throttle a little welly before I stepped off and by the time I walked up to the top of the lock NBV was coming to a halt--halfway out of the lock! "Merde, merde, merde," I said as I stood with my head in my hands. 
     "Excuse me, do you need some help?" A cyclist stopped to ask. I explained what had happened and that I couldn't climb down the ladder to get to the boat. "If you keep an eye on my bike I'll climb down and bring the boat in for you." And he did. By then a lovely woman with a Scottish accent who was shorter than me appeared with windlass in hand to help out. She was on NB Somerton with her husband and they were going down. As NBV rose up, the man stepped off the back and said, "I'm sorry. I should have introduced myself. My name is Andy Whitehouse and I work for CaRT in the Etruria Maintenance yard."
     "Oh Andy it is lovely to meet you and thank you so much for your help. You saved my bacon today." 
NBV moored up some way back from the fourth lock in the Etruria flight. Graffiti and overhanging shrubbery combined with the boat moored up quite far from the actual lock makes me nervous.
Just to make it even more interesting and difficult for a single handed boater, this lock is set on a tight curve around the corner from the mooring bollards.

Some folks appreciate the pedestrian footbridges across the entry to the bottom of the lock. Instead of walking across the lock gate itself to cross from one side of the lock to the other, one cans simply stroll across the footbridge...
however once one opens a bottom gate then the gate arm is in the way and the only way back across the bridge is to climb over the lock gate arm! (The lock gate with the number 39 on its arm is still closed. Once it is opened then it too will be an impediment requiring a leg up and over.)

A typical Stoke cone or bottle oven chimney.

     We parted with a smile, I waved to NB Somerton and cruised off for the last part of my journey. It took me forty minutes to reach Westport Lake.  It was 6:30 PM. I managed to duck inside after dropping the side fenders into position, tying up, putting the tiller and pin away, checking the engine hold for water in the bilge, and putting up the TV antenna, just as it began spitting with rain.  I cruised nine miles and did 10 locks over eight and a half hours. I was knackered! After a hot shower, a cup of green tea and clean jammies I watched Outlander and went to bed. I plan to rest here until Monday when I will head through the 2926 yard Harecastle tunnel. Just after I exit I will turn left, cross the aqueduct and cruise on to the Macclesfield canal. Since I left Cowroast Marina in Mid-April I have cruised 147miles, done 86 locks and two tunnels as a single handed boater. I have 26 more miles, 13 locks and one tunnel left until I reach my destination of Higher Poynton on the Macclesfield canal. I will have traveled on five canals over the miles.
     In the meantime I will end with a few bits and bobs. Our dear friend Karen in Pullman asked me to tell you the story about my new radio. Dear friends George and Carol Plain (NB Still Rockin') installed it for me back in March. It is a Pioneer car radio and I chose it simply because Pioneer equipment is good quality and it was affordable as well. Now the last time I purchased stereo equipment I was thirty two years old! Things have obviously changed with advancing technology-- I just wasn't paying attention to how much. After George and Carol left I set about figuring out how my new radio/CD player worked. first off no simple on/off/tune station buttons. No, everything is digital. Once turned on it sets about updating the list which means finding the various station signals and recording them into the radio's memory. Okay, fine. But then, then all of a sudden it began communicating with me! Bear in mind this is a car radio; for installment in n automobile, in which presumably someone is driving and paying attention to the road and the traffic and their own vehicle, and yet the words, "Are you listening? Plug in your MP-3 player and listen to you favorite play list! Connect your BT mobile and make hands free calls!" appeared on the face of the radio, scrolling across it like a reader board, AND, and the radio face began to change colors like a disco ball! I was so shocked I shouted at it:

Image result for pioneer car radio changes colour     "Shut up you! I'm supposed to be driving!!!" No wonder there are so many accidents on the roads these days.

     This morning I woke to a low, gray sky with rain. The landing where I am moored is covered in goose poop from the hundreds of Canada geese squatting here in the grass, so I was out in the rain with a broom, sweeping goose shit away from my mooring spot. A tall, lean man approached me off the hire boat behind me and began to ask me questions about the potteries. He had a Pacific Northwest accent--meaning no accent at all--and I asked him where he was from.
     "Washington State."
     "I am from Alaska but I lived in Pullman, Washington for eleven years."
     "I graduated from WSU fifty one years ago with a degree in ornamental horticulture. I was back there last year for our fifty year reunion. Do you know WSU?"
     "I worked on campus for over a decade as an academic advisor for WSU's Distance Degree Programs." What are the odds???? Neil and his wife Barb were off to the Potteries as she is a potter back home. They are coming over later for coffee. I spent the day making Blueberry-Lemon Bakewell Cake, a pot of Minestrone soup, and a loaf of Artisan bread---just in case they are hungry!!


Nev Wells said...

Hi Jaq, so good to meet you again, and sorry I was not able to stay longer. Another great write up, you have my admiration for the distance and locks you have done. I am sure we will meet up again when you are at your winter mooring. Not sure why the comments are not working - I'll look into it. Take care

Judith nb Serena said...

Wonderful post, much looked forward to. I pop in every day in anticipation of the next installment of your travels. You have done so well doing all those locks on your own. So glad your confident enough to ask for help when needed. What a wonderful weekend you had with your friends, quite a change to be away from NBV for a few days. Enjoy the Mac one of my favourite canals. Love and hugs Judith nb Serena

Patti said...

Ah my dear, I see you are coming along nicely....exactly as it all should be. There are times of insane and overwhelming grief, and if you allow yourself to feel it all deeply, it will someday make sense. New openings and possibilities will arrive. And your Les is still looking after you, as he always will. It's so hard to make it through this part, but worth every tear drop. Enough to fill the canal, for sure. Much love to you, and keep writing!

locheriboll said...

Wow! Well done you. And what a coincidence. It’s a small world right enough. X

Arthur said...

Well done, Jaq. Glad to see you are getting on and getting help when you need it. Keep it going, duck!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Nev,

Thank you for taking time out from your cruise to stop and natter with me.

For some unknown reason I cannot leave blog comments when a blog's comment settings are embedded. If you go to your blog settings and then choose Posts,comments and sharing. then click on the box across from Comment location. If you change it from embedded to full page then I and others who are finding it impossible to comment, will be able to do so.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Judith,

I had no idea you checked the blog so often. I will have to be better at posting more often! Thanks for your confidence in me. A lot of my ability to go it on my own comes from knowing there are friends out there like yourself, on other boats who are tracking my progress and whereabouts.

I've only been on the Maccie once, with Les in 2012 so my memories are vague. I remember it is very shallow and narrow, but it is lovely and I am so pleased to be up here at last!!

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Dear, dear Patti,

You've been such a stalwart friend and guide over the years I've known you and even more so in these past eight months. I am not someone who likes to cry and I cannot seem to stop myself these days. I cry in tunnels, restaurants, bathrooms, in line at the post office, and of course on the boat. My face seems to always be leaking! I can no more control it than I can control the weather. It is what it is...this grief is to huge to stay locked inside.

Thank you sister of my heart, for bearing your grief and sharing mine.

I love you,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sally,

Thanks for checking in and checking up on me! I am so blessed to have wonderful friends like you and others who care and who are such fabulous cheerleaders for my travels.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Arthur,

I will do love, I will do!

Jaq xxx

Carol said...

Great post Jaq, you seem to be managing as a single hander with aplomb, well done you. So pleased that you enjoyed your time away from NBV for the joint birthday party and I'm sure it must have charged your batteries a bit to be doing something different with good friends. Look after yourself and enjoy the Macc - you'll have achieved your target. Love from us both xx

Nev Wells said...

Hi Jaq, I have made the change. lets hope that sorts it. I need to get back on Percy as I left my camera there with all my trip photos on so my blogging it on hold until the weekend ..... hope you are ok and close to the mooring. see you soon,

ertuck said...

Hi Jackie what a brave person you really are especially with your recent bereavement, a Bloke would find it daunting enough in your position.. I have been following n b Valerie for several years now, and as I suspected with your lack of recent postings, that you were in a very low and depressed state. Which is understandable given your situation, things were becoming too much for you and I feared you would turn it all in,but thankfully you haven't and despite never having met you I am proud of you as I know Les is too.. Keep it up Jackie..and keep up the great blogs, so interesting..

Anonymous said...

Hello. We were passing ships on the Macclesfield yesterday. I was the one who shouted I read your blog! I would also like to say how I admire your bravery and fortitude - you are an example to so many of us. Kindest regards
Ellie (NB Rivendell) x

Mike & Phill Muir said...

Well Done, Jaq, more mile than we have done in 2 calendar years, more locks too!

Unknown said...

It is just after 21:05 Friday October 13, 2017.
This time was able to read your posting of October 01, without hesitation, pause or confusion.
Thinking reading your comments "she is now a Brit, cooker indeed!"

Mind the process is no doubt the same regardless.
And when your face is leaking, it is also a good sign, Les is there by your side, always.
You need to continue to leak, in time the process shall become less.

Amazing the assistance others are willing to give to a single boater; very much a give and
take routine. And I keep thinking "those are narrow locks, and short in length too." More
used to 45 foot wide locks by in some cases 1000 feet or more, and much deeper as well.
However your locks can perhaps be used year round. Not here. Winter freezes the Great Lakes and most of the connecting canals solid in the winter, although the last three winters the waterways have been wide open.
Looking at the falling leaves now mid-October am suspecting an early winter here in Southern Ontario. You know what winter is, having lived in Pullman, Washington State and Alaska!

My truck is having new snow tires installed this next week, I can do all the time four-wheel drive if required, however snow tires and a dash of stupidity can result a most interesting scenario. Dosen't take much to go slithering off a snow packed highway at speed, after hitting a patch of black ice. And end up ass over teakettle in a ditch. Done that in my younger years on far too many stages on winter rallies. Compare that to a flat-bottomed narrow boat slithering on top of ice on a canal...could be real interesting.

You, keep out of trouble and we shall connect later....

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Eric,

thank you so much for continuing to follow our blog. It is tough without Les. And you are correct--some days I am so low I feel paralyzed with grief. Thanks for leaving a comment. Just one favor please: don't call me Jackie. My name is Jaqueline and since folks are wont to shorten it and nickname me, I have chosen Jaq (pronounced Jack) and this is what most people call me. Any chance we will ever meet up on the cut? Are you on a boat? How did you find our blog?


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Ellie,

Thank you so much for your shout out and for leaving a comment! It plucks up my spirits immensely to know people are following along n the blog and recognize NBV and me in passing. Perhaps sometime our bows will meet when we can pull over for a cuppa.

Bright blessings,


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hello you two!! (Mike & Phil),

You've been very much on my mind and I have been crap at staying in touch with people. I think of you both often and wish you had been able to make it up to Tixall this summer. There is always next year and hopefully things will be better for all three of us.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Bryce,

Well I have no control of the leaking face bit. It comes on and my grief is too big for this little body to hold inside. I am not ashamed of my tears but I do want to keep from being a downer or a damper on someone else's parade.

Yes I do know what true winter is and it is something we both share. Did you get a chance to go down and watch the winter shipping traffic on the Great Lakes since it didn't freeze last year? When the canals freeze, the boat is stuck fast in the ice not on top. Whenever someone breaks the ice to travel the noise of the smashing shards of ice against their hull and mine as a consequence of their moving, is tremendous. I would love to see some snow this winter but I can do without being frozen in.

Thank you so much for your phone call last night. Your lovely North
American voice was just the tonic I needed.

Love Jaq xxx

Koi said...

I have followed your blog for a few years and have always enjoyed it. You are an inspiration and amazing woman. I hope to see you sometime on your travels. Carole Nb Koi

Brennig said...

Jacqueline. I am only an infrequent reader (time fights and wins too often). I just wanted to let you know that I love the way you write. I consider you to be an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life in this way

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs