"The moving finger writes, and having written, moves on. Not all thy piety or all thy wit can cancel half a line of it." ~Khalil Gibran, Lebanese writer, port and visual artist, 1883-1931
After leaving the swing bridge near the Fools Nook pub behind, I cruised slowly in the warmth of October sun, the canal narrowing in places with large reed beds reaching out from the edges and long lines of boats on permanent moorings. I saw things that Les would have found interesting and no doubt would have taken pictures and blogged about but I find I have to pay very close attention on this narrow, shallow canal lest I find myself stuck in the mud of the shallows so the small, interesting things that catch my eye are there and then gone before I can even contemplate juggling the tiller and the camera.
|My Best Beloved and our new sink.|
I noted in my diary that this day last year my right knee was replaced at Warwick hospital and Les and our grandson Jack were home on the boat, replacing the bathroom sink and tiling around it. Les sent me a picture of himself sitting next to the new sink with the message, "With love from me to you. xxxx Get well soon I miss you! xxx"
The next morning Ken and Sue Deveson appeared at my bow and we walked through the gate, down the small path and out to the car park nearby. They came to show me around the delights of Macclesfield--a town they know well as their daughter Abi, son-in-law Martin and granddaughter Tasha live here. We stopped at Halfords for a couple of items I needed, then continued on into the heart of town, parking in a lot and walking. It was a lovely day, lightly overcast, but warm with no breeze or rain. Any day it doesn't rain up here is a bonus! After a few more forays into shops for bits and bobs I needed we walked up and found the amazing local bakery Flour Water Salt. Located in an industrial warehouse (soon to move to a shop front nearer the high street), I had the single best latte I've had in this country in the last six years. The Rhubarb Danish was divine and I bought a freshly baked baguette to take away for the week. Ken told me that FWS is among the top ten best bakeries in Britain. They certainly have my vote.
Afterwards we drove up to Teggs Nose Country Park. Boaters you need to know about this lovely slice of countryside. It is very close to the canal. If you moor up at the pontoon moorings in Macclesfield, and walk up to Buxton Road bridge no. 37 just across the street from the Puss n Boots pub and walk up hill to the bus stop at Black rd. The park is only a 12 minute walk up hill from the bus stop at Buxton new road at the Settler Dog Walker Barn. For those that are not up to the walk, it is well worth the 14 quid round trip for a taxi up there and then another back down.
The views of Jodrell Bank Observatory and the canal are spectacular, as are the views down into the valleys and the scenic way the hills rise up to hug the sky. There are a number of hikes of varying degrees of difficulty from easy, to moderate and there are lovely gems along the paths such as the Library in the Landscape. It is simply not to be missed. Les would have loved Teggs Nose Park if he had known it was so close by the canal and I know we would have visited it. When you stop in be sure to say hello to Martin, the local park ranger. His hard work over a number of years have made this park friendly, very accessible, and Martin is a wealth of information. He is Ken and Sue Deveson's son in law so he is well acquainted with boating.
Ken and Sue topped off the afternoon by taking me to lunch in Bollington at Italian restaurant Briscola. The food was excellent and the ambience very nice, I can highly recommend them and they do have a take away menu if you are in Bollington and up for Italian. Afterward we drove to Higher Poynton to Victoria Pit Marina where a winter mooring was available to me courtesy of friends. I met Ian Byrceland, marina owner and was shown where the various facilities are located.
I cruised off again Friday, October 26th on a mist ridden morning, passing the dredger that had been working just ahead of where I had been moored. I was impressed by how he used the shovel as a metal claw to hold the muck filled barge close to the side of the dredger until I passed. Unfortunately there was an over full barge directly in front of me, just going through the next bridge, headed towards its base in the heart of Macclesfield.
|Dredger in the mist!|
|A barge in the bridge hole, © Dredgingtoday|
|Dredger filling a barge with muck © Dredgingtoday|
|Full compliment of barges and dredgers at work, © NB Amyjo|
Les commented that he could never have sat here and enjoyed the children at play on his own. A single man watching small children on a playground was suspicious but with me by his side we could sit and watch the children at play, and enjoy the sound of their innocent laughter and childish exuberance. Les loved little kids and I've never met a child that didn't take to Les immediately. He was gifted at spinning amazing stories out of thin air and Les could make almost any child laugh. I have such fond memories of him reading The Gruffalo to our grand daughter Kiera who sat enraptured as Granddad told the story with different voices for the various characters and hand signs like a large claw for the Gruffalo. Though Kiera had heard the story many, many times, she never tired of Les' telling and she always shrieked with surprise and delight, granddad and granddaughter colluding together to enjoy the shared experience.
It was while moored up here that I met the lovely Bernadette of the Narrow Junk Food Project Boat which I blogged about previously. I was surprised and a bit disenchanted to find that in the five years since I was last in Bollington it had changed, becoming more upscale as commuters with money and jobs in Manchester move in to the area buying new houses springing up like dandelions everywhere throughout the village, changing the flavor and character of village life. I walked to the new Cooperative store for a grocery top up. A young man in his early thirties in expensive casual clothes, shoes, and jacket--clearly a YUPPIE (Young Urban Upwardly mobile Urban Professional) stood outside the doors with a clip board in hand. As I approached he asked me to sign his petition for a new, second pharmacy in the village. I explained that I couldn't sign it as I didn't reside there.
Then I stopped and asked, "Why does there need to be another pharmacy? Is there a problem with Rowlands?"
"It would be nice to have a choice," the young man replied smoothly as he smiled smugly. As an outsider what could I know about the actual issues? While the local branch of Rowlands offers Express prescription delivery, flu jabs, and prescription collection services, they are only open from 8:30 to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday, 9am-1pm on Saturday and closed Sundays. Therein lies the crux of the issue. YUPPIES want to live a "village" lifestyle forcing housing prices and the cost of a lot of other services upward but they want all the conveniences of city living. It is what it is and the times they are "achangin'" as Bob Dylan sang. It just got my back up how smug and smooth this young man behaved while thinking a simplistic answer could buy off an actual query about the nature of the issue. It felt oily and political and left me with a sense of sadness about the nature of change sweeping over so many small villages as they are "discovered". Fortunately there are still lovely folks and old heritage to be found still at Bollington Wharf. The diesel and coal are reasonably priced, the fuel boat NB Alton is based here with trips up to Buxworth Basin every two weeks to service boaters and fuel supplied by delivery van to boaters south of Bollington and below the Bosley lock flight.
Moving on, I cruised the final four miles to Victoria Pit and gently slid NB Valerie into NB Cleddau's spot while she is gone for the winter to be painted. Mains electricity established, I said hello to Ian, and began to suss out the local area over the next few weeks. I was hoping to find a job in the nearby village of Poynton but there was ought to be had. Waitrose had a position open but I failed the second part of their online multiple choice exam to determine whether or not I was a suitable candidate. After updating my CV, I applied for, interviewed, and was offered a job as an invigilator for Poynton High School and Performing Arts College however it only paid £7.58 an hour with two hours a week during school exam times. Not enough for me to support myself. The woman who interviewed me was sad I couldn't join her team, saying, "What a shame Jaqueline, you would be a lovely addition to our school."
While it didn't work out for me, the experience bolstered my confidence and made me really consider what work I wanted to do, was qualified for with only a Bachelor's degree, and what would be available in the area. I discovered that Library Assistant is the perfect job for me. I have the necessary skills and abilities, and the pay is sufficient to allow me to support myself. I cannot get a job in academia over here because of my lack of an advanced degree. I was a known commodity at WSU and departments were willing to overlook this in favor of my many years of experience with students and my service to the University community; this is not going to happen over here where I am an unknown and foreign commodity.
I have applied for two positions with the Cheshire East Council and I began to study public transit to Nantwich, forty miles West, and Alsager, twenty miles westward. This is when I discovered to my chagrin, that one can travel the length of this country but traversing the breadth becomes problematic. It would take three buses and most of the day to reach Nantwich from here at a cost of £12 each way or three trains and £31!
I am quite isolated here at the upper end of the Macclesfield unless I want to join the hordes of commuters flowing into and out of Manchester each day and I don't! After considering cruising options (as a Continuous Cruiser I have to abide by the requirements of my boat license to cruise on a bonafide journey and to move the boat a minium of every two weeks), looking at places where access to public transit was readily available from a variety of different places on the cut in a timely and affordable manner, I realized I could not spend the winter up here. Bereavement Benefits run out on January 24th 2018 and I have to have a job to support myself by then or soon after.
After nearly a month here I will be leaving the sanctuary of the marina and cruising once more, this time on a mission: I need to move down the Bosley Lock Flight, off the Macclesfield Canal and onto the Trent & Mersey Canal, through Heartbreak Hill as the Cheshire locks are known, and down to Hassell Green before December 25th to avoid being trapped up here by winter lock closures. I will be leaving here next week, and cruising each day beginning December 4th, until I am down on the Trent & Mersey. I should be able to make it to Nantwich on or before December 20th, taking weather into consideration.
Why Nantwich you ask?
This lovely town of 17,0000 is located on the Shropshire Union Canal. There are excellent services and amenities in the town, and good services for boaters on the cut. I can cruise from Nantwich to the winding hole at the bottom of the Audlem locks, cruise back northward into Chester, cruise the nearby Middlewich Arm which connects the Shroppie with the Trent & Mersey, cruise onto the T & M and up to Northwich, back down and across the Middlewich arm to the Shroppie and then up the Llangollen as far as Whitchurch and still access brilliant bus service at various good points along the canals into Nantwich. It isn't hundreds of miles but if I move every two weeks (and I usually move every week to top up water and dump my rubbish) I should be able to stay in the good graces of Canal and River Trust with whom our boat is licensed. I have been in contact with CRT's national Welfare Officer about my situation and he is working with me and the local Cheshire East enforcement officer to gauge my situation. Once I am employed, if I find it necessary to take a marina mooring or a CRT permanent mooring then I will do so.
Besides being favorably located near various canals, Nantwich holds many wonderful memories for me of Les. We spent over a month in the area in late spring of 2011while Les had dental work completed. I wrote my blog post titled Bliss! about our time there. I was going to link that post to this one but I found as I reviewed it that most of my pictures have disappeared from it! I've no idea what I might have done to cause this, but it certainly ruins the flow of the post which is tragic because it its a really good one. Ah well, it is what it is, as is life without Les. I can only go forward now so, on I go....Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American family and friends. This is my favorite holiday. I can celebrate a gathering of beloved family and friends, good food, and giving thanks. Wherever you all are, please know I am with each of you in spirit! Blessed Be! Jaq/Momma/Mim xxx