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Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Les and Jaq Mooring Spot

"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 103-1882. American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
     This is a bits and bobs post. Lots of disparate moments strung together in order to bring readers up to speed on life aboard NB Valerie. I've been moored up near the bottom of Audlem locks for a couple of weeks on fourteen day moorings. I spent a three day patch in Overwater marina week before last in order to give my batteries a good charge and use the dedicated water point on the jetty to wash the curtains, and the inside and out of the boat, as I mentioned in a previous post. Audlem is a sweet village without any of the canal pretentiousness and preciousness of other popular canal villages like Stoke Bruerne. Of course that is merely my humble opinion and since this is my blog I am allowed to say it. Les felt the same way about Stoke Bruerne especially once the mooring times changed from one week to 48 hours. As CC'rs we need three days somewhere maximum. One day to arrive, moor up, and catch up the chores aboard the boat. One day to catch a bus or walk in for groceries and pick up post restante mail, and ideally one more day to spend money in the area: eat out, check out local museums, have a walk around the village or town. With the shortened mooring times at Stoke Bruerne there was no reason for us to stop. Anyway, I digress...

Local crew of Greylag geese visiting the winding hole at the bottom of Audlem locks.

A Moor Hen gathering rushes across from my Audlem mooring. 
     Audlem is twee and doesn't take itself too seriously. There is just enough services for a boater like myself and the people both in the village and on the canal are down to earth friendly. There is only one snag. With cuts to the bus routes throughout Cheshire county, there is only one bus traveling through Audlem now: the D&G number 73. It travels from Whitchurch, Shropshire which is two miles east of the Welsh border, through a host of small villages on its way through Audlem, more small villages and finally into Nantwich. It only makes its route every two hours and it digresses in two spots for school days but the actual schedule makes no sense when one is trying to suss out which particular time the bus might do this.
     Audlem is right near the boundaries between two counties: Cheshire and Shropshire. Good luck to 'ya getting from Audlem to anywhere in Shropshire without a great deal of forbearance if you don't drive or own a car. 
Here is a perfect example:
Audlem and Market Drayton are both located on the Shropshire Union Canal. Audlem is located in Cheshire County. Market Drayton is located in Shropshire County. There is seven miles between them. One can drive from Audlem to M.D. in fourteen minutes or walk along the canal in two hours. Getting there by bus??? Phwaooarr!!! It will take three hours and forty minutes, a train and two buses: the 73 into Whitchurch where one gets the Arriva Train to Shrewsbury where one gets off, walks into the town to the bus station and waits for the Arriva number 64 to Market Drayton! Since April 2018 Cheshire East Council has axed 13 bus routes and diminished another 13 to MWF, or early morning and afternoon school run times.
     I want to give a shout out to Angie and Steve on their share boat NB Streamlines. Angie reads the blog and was kind enough to wave me down on their way through Audlem to say hello. Also a shout out to Allan/Alan??? whose boat name escapes me; I do remember it is a Celtic name. He introduced himself to me at the counter in Overwater Marina and told me he has read our blog for years. Many thanks to all of you for stopping to chat with me and let me know you follow the blog.
     When I left Overwater Marina on the 14th, I came out and moored up again near the bottom of Audlem locks as I had not used up my fourteen days however, the 2018 Transport Festival was scheduled for July 28/29th and I knew it would soon be rammed so I wanted to be well clear of Audlem before mid week. Monday last I turned at the winding hole and cruised back up the cut a half mile and into Overwater marina again!! Sudden repairs were required and I was grateful there was someone at Overwater Marine services who could do the work for me at an affordable rate. I had an engine belt squealing. It had started about a week previously and was intermittent. I didn't hear it when starting the engine. It waited until everything was warmed up and I was cruising along the cut before wailing like a bean sidhe which, besides being extremely worrying is also incredibly embarrassing. I had no idea what was causing it or how to fix it. I also lost a port hole window to the cut. Actually the window had been broken by Les back in 2011 when we were gathering wood on the cut. He was hoiking logs up on the roof, tossing them from the towpath and he miscalculated with one log. Instead of landing on the roof it went through the back cabin porthole window. It didn't take out the entire window, only the hopper at the top which opens. Instead of getting it replaced my sweet hubby found a piece of Perspex, cut it to fit the half moon of the upper window and glued it in place with gray plumber's mastic. The extremely high temperatures we've been exposed to this summer melted the plumber's mastic and the Perspex fell out into the cut. I managed to secure a piece of Saran wrap over the window opening, using what was left of the mastic and some masking tape for the short term, so back in to Overwater Marina I went. I spent one night there while measurements were taken and given to a glass cutter off the premises somewhere. The old drive belt was removed and it was then I was informed that it and the other two new belt Les had left for me didn't actually fit my alternator, which had been replaced at some point before Les and I met because the Vetus engine and all its parts are painted a bright Vetus yellow; the alternator is unpainted metal alloy. It was suggested that the smaller belts Les had picked up probably fit the old alternator. So a new drive belt of the proper size was ordered.

NB Valerie moored up in Overwater Marina. The local Greylag Geese gang swim into the marina, and glide underneath the dock to waddle up the bank to the lane.

It is quite a long queue! NB Sonoma moored behind them is a one of the new Finesse narrow boats. I had a chat with the owner who had her made just over a year ago. A Finesse boat comes with a 14 month guarantee. If anything should break or if the owner should be unhappy with anything the company comes out and sorts out the issues for no charge. A crew from Finesse was there earlier in the day to sort out several items for owners Gordon and Dawn Scott. 

After queuing up, gliding under the dock and crossing the puddle on the other side, the ducks waddle up the bank, linger along the lane and then waddle off to plop into the canal which is bordered by the hedge in this picture. Why they don't simply fly up and over it all to reach the cut is beyond me. It underscores that old saying "they don't have the sense god gave a goose." Never mind, I think Greylag geese are pretty even if they aren't geniuses.
     In the meantime I stopped in to The Cafe at Bridge 80 where I discovered they serve gluten free items. I ordered two gluten free cheese scones and a cheese quiche to take back to the boat and all of it was delicious!! What an amazing place to find food I could eat and good gluten free food at that. The next morning the drive belt was replaced as was my window and I went up to the office to pay. Many thanks to Carol and David in the office, and Simon and Ralph in the service shed for your kindness and assistance. As I left the office it began to rain!! WOOT!!! I rushed back to the boat, unwound my mooring lines and cruised off in the rain, happy as Larry, as they say over here. For the first time in more than two months I was cool and comfortable.
     While the rain lasted for over an hour and pelted down, soaking me to the skin, I knew the forecast for the rest of this week was dire. We were told to expect the highest temperatures yet this year with Amber heat warnings for today and tomorrow and then heavy rains on Saturday. I had just the perfect spot in mind to moor up and wait out the weather--a Les and Jaq spot. About a mile and a quarter from the marina is a bijou section between a canal bridge and an old railroad bridge hole where the actual structure has been removed. The canal dips into a cutting just there with adequate shrubbery and trees on both sides of the cut to provide shade for all but the hottest parts of the day. It is cool and green with just enough room for two boats to moor on metal siding and no Shroppie shelf! No one else ever moors there. Everyone continues through the bridge and moors up on the long, open stretch with no shade and a lousy view across a farmer's rubble strewn field or continues on towards Audlem to moor up.
The views from the bow looking at the old railroad bridge footings at the top, and from the stern to the bridge. these two features form a small cutting past a cluster of farm houses in Cool Pilate. Through the bridge hole the towpath leads out to a ramp up to the lane and the bridge.

The view of my Les and Jaq spot from the top of the bridge.

Looking back at the bridge hole. NB Valerie is moored on the other side. The ramp leads up to the lane which ends on the right in a gate to a farm field. There is a lovely wild cherry tree at the top of the ramp with tiny red cherries. 

View from the top: the gate, the ramp, the bridge and the cherry tree. 

The end of the road. 

Standing at the gate looking to the left the road disappears from view, intersecting with Cool Pilate Lane. This is a great spot to have a grocery delivery. Just use the address of the house with instructions that you are on a narrow boat moored just through the bridge. 

The uninspiring view through the bridge of a long slice of canal where most boats moor in the unrelenting sun. 
A spectacular sunset looking back to the bridge hole from NB Valerie. 
     The other sweet thing about this little slice of paradise which is about 120 feet long max is that boats must slow down when passing because they have just come through a narrow bridge hole and will be traveling through the very narrow bridge footings in the opposite direction. Finally, just through the bridge is a ramp up to the lane which is a perfect place to have a grocery order delivered--which I did at 6:30 AM Wednesday morning. With a full tank of water and all my laundry caught up, groceries delivered for two weeks, required health supplements for another month on board, rubbish and loo emptied I was sorted. I was in for a lovely surprise on Friday when NB Holderness cruised up with Tony and Helen hailing me. I saw them last when Les was still alive. It was such a joy to sit for a bit and catch up with them both. They were headed on up the Shroppie towards Authorley Junction. As we were saying goodbye NB Forget Me Knot hoved into view, AKA Baked on Board Pizza!

Two genuinely lovely people: Tony and Helen Porter and their boat NB Holderness. 

NB Forget Me Knot aka Baked On Board Pizza on their way to Audlem for the Transport Festival.

A close up of the wood oven pizza installed in the bow of NB Forget Me Knot. 
     I walked into Audlem yesterday for a Saturday paper: four miles round trip, but the towpath is even and fairly smooth all the way so I simply took my time. It took me an hour and thirty minutes to walk there and back with about twenty minutes in town to chat with a few known locals.
The Transport Festival was on this weekend and Audlem was rammed with old working boats and replicas. I stopped in at The Borders Cheese Carrying Company boat and bought a truckle of lovely Welsh Caws Cenarth Cheese Company's Caws Cryf.
     I stopped to say hello to Ruth Chamberlain, half of the Chamberlain Carrying Company. She and her husband Richard deliver fuels and goods to boats on the Llangollen on their boats Mountbatten and Jellicoe. Ruth also paints roses and castles on an array of goods for sale and she has beautiful style. I saw furl boat NB Halsall moored up on the offside but didn't have a chance to say hello to Lee and Roberta. In town I ran in to Samantha and John, two boaters whose acquaintance I made on the bus from Crewe back in March. They live on a replica working boat on Stoke Manor permanent moorings. They are both retired archaeologists and it is always a pleasure to stop for a chin wag with Sam and John.
     I was all in when I reached home. I preheated to the oven and started a chicken crown with baby carrots and potatoes to roast for dinner and gathered two cups of fresh blackberries from just outside the boat. I had a fresh batch on the go of Easiyo Greek yogurt with honey--my favorite flavor. When it was ready I refrigerated it for an hour while I cleaned the berries, drained them, placed the brambles in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon of water and four Tablespoons of Maple syrup. I grated the zest of one lemon over them with an half teaspoon of lemon juice and let the berries simmer on low.when they reached a low bubble I added in some corn starch to thicken the purple juices and turned the heat off to allow the berries to cool down. Then I stirred them into my fresh yogurt for the most delicious Blackberry yogurt I've ever eaten. I had a small bowl for dessert after dinner with a gluten free McVities Hob Nob. I napped while the chicken cooked; I fall asleep easily in the afternoons these days and at night now as well although I never sleep more than five hours a night.
     I am still researching Auto Immune (AI) diseases and Crohn's in particular for which I will write a long, detailed post regarding my findings. At this point I will only say that AI diseases while having some similar symptoms from person to person, have a lot of individual issues specific to one person. this is because AI diseases are systemic and so it is not just affecting me, it is also affecting the trillions of cells that make up my body. After meeting with the colorectal surgeon to go over my diagnostic results I have heard nothing more. I feel as though I have been cut lose to deal with this on my own. I have not received a referral to a gastroenterologist as I was told would happen. I have heard nothing from my GP and I am in the process of finding a new GP. Trial and error combined with unrelenting research have yielded a protocol that is working for now. Failure to follow this protocol means my digestive system shuts down and stops working.

The supplements that allow me to digest food and heal from a Crohn's flare up. 

I've never been able to grow fingernails. Mine have always been brittle and paper thin. With all the supplements, nutrients, vitamins and minerals I am ingesting my nails are hard as concrete and have to be filed down twice a week!
     I eat as much homemade yogurt throughout the day as I desire, with gluten free cornflakes and lactose free milk for breakfast, accompanied by a probiotic capsule and a mega multi-vitamin. Cups of green tea throughout the day help keep me hydrated with large glasses of water to help swallow the huge Omega 3 wild fish oil capsules required to fight and heal the inflammation in my gut. I take two capsules daily of seven digestive enzymes: one about fifteen minutes before lunch and again just before dinner otherwise I don't digest most of my food. I have two Whey protein Isolate shakes every day. The Gluathione in the whey is essential for healing any digestive issue and we stop making it as we age. If I stop the whey shakes I find after about four days I can no longer digest any food. Before bed I take two Wild Oregano oil capsules to kill the pathogenic bacteria load in my guts. The process of healing from a Crohn's flare up can take as long as three years. During that time if one consumes gluten it sets the clock back to zero; AI disease shortens the average person's life by 26 years. Life without sugar, alcohol, or fried foods is not too difficult but no coffee, tea, or red meat is a hardship. I will miss my coffee every day of my life. I didn't eat a lot of red meat but I do love it and I am sick of chicken and cod. Sea bass is off the menu because of extremely high levels of mercury in it. I try to eat salmon but I only really like King Salmon and it isn't readily available over here.

Our beloved Easiyo yogurt maker full of freshly made Greek yogurt with honey, top; freshly picked blackberries transform this yogurt into a berry delicious dessert. 
     Gluten gives breads and baked goods that toothsome chewiness that we take for granted. Gluten free foods don't hold together well without Xanthan gum and even then they will never have the texture or rich flavor of wheat products. Once you begin to chew a gluten free item and saliva wets it down, it dissolves into either a mushy goo or a grainy, sand-like texture. These products are also VERY expensive. It is £1.05 for a 500 gram box of regular Corn Flakes. Gluten free Corn flakes cost £2.20 for the same amount and the only difference is the regular cereal is sprayed with barley syrup and the gluten free flakes are not. Six regular par-baked rolls cost £1.60 and gluten free pettit pain cost £2.40 for six.This price increase holds true for everything gluten and lactose free.The other issue with Crohn's is that gluten is in bloody everything! Lipstick, shampoo, medicines, skin care lotions, and all foods across the spectrum from frozen food to soy sauce.
     I find I run out of energy quickly and need to rest. I have no passion for life in general and I have to force myself out of bed in the morning, and make a list, then force myself to start on things. I am utterly drained and working diligently to keep moving forward, with one foot in front of the other. I thought it was grief that made me feel this way and it no doubt was for a long while. But I know now and the colorectal surgeon confirmed it for me, that this emotionless exhaustion is a hallmark of AI disease.
     I'll leave you now with a view of the moon from this sweet spot...

The waxing moon...


Anonymous said...

Jaq - love these photos which give a good sense of bliss on the cut. So bucolic and green and interesting. And, your health regime is fascinating ... as you know I am exploring what I need to take care of myself. Researching the issue (for me cancer) is overwhelming but necessary. You say you have no passion, but your writing proves the falsehood of that. AND I get that it is very difficult .... every moment. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share.
Karen in Pullman

life afloat on nb tickety boo said...

I can only agree with Karen. I find your sheer grit and determination to live your life in a way that benefits you and your well being, truly inspiring and passionate. After meeting you Jaq, I found you to be one of the most passionate people I have ever met, even through your sadness at losing your beloved Les. When I read your posts it makes me see things in a whole new way. It encourages me to live my life in a more meaningful way too! I also hope upon hope that once I shake off the ties of work I can bravely cruise the waterways too, another thing you make me look forward to so much! I will join Karen in thanking you once again for your great post and lovely photographs. I am happy to see that the shop I work for is introducing more and more gluten-free products now too!
Take care, hopefully, a catch up very soon xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Jaq,

I concur with Karen. You do have passion and energy - just not the same amounts as you used to when Les was alive and before this Crohns hit you. And obviously, you come to life and sparkle when you see people you know. I noticed when we spoke last week, that you were as bouncy as a bouncy thing - a bit like Tigger, in fact.

And what's more you took on a herbalist consultation for me, and delivered the results in a thoroughly professional and prompt manner. I was very happy to recompense you for that, and I suggest you advertise your skill and take on providing consultations.

Other people reading this comment - if you want a Jaq consultation for your health issue, get in touch with her by phone or by email or on the comments section here - Jaq researches thoroughly, provides comprehensive advice about what you should take/apply, plus she also tells you where to purchase the items you need.

Here are three personal recommendations:
1 I suffered badly, as do many post-menopausal women, with recurrent UTIs - antibiotics work but only on the current infection and leave me vulnerable to the next one. I spoke with Jaq, she recommended that I take D-Mannose and cranbiotics. Lo and behold, UTIs are mostly a thing of the past, unless I let myself get dehydrated and run down.
2 our friend Barry had an awful fungal infection under a big toenail. He'd been prescribed a very strong anti-fungal medication by his doctor and had been using it. However on reading about it and seeing the side-effects and feeling some of them, he decided it was worse than the complaint. I suggested he get in touch with Jaq, he did so, via me (natch) and she prescribed for him. He purchased what she suggested, followed her instructions and the fungal infection disappeared. I checked on his toe when we saw Pauline and him on our arrival in the UK last year - you would never know he'd had a problem.
3 An NZ friend had a severe case of a dermatitis/psoriasis thing on her torso. The doctor had prescribed strong cortisone cream - no result. Jaq prescribed for her - a mix of topical, ingested items and dietary restrictions. Rash gone.

So there you go - use Jaq's marvellous skills and pay her for the use of them. You'll be helping her financial status and you'll also be helping her get her bounce back. If you want to know how much I paid her, email me at (I am serious).

Cheers to everyone and giant Biggs hugs to you, Jaq,

Marilyn (nb Waka Huia)

Judith nb Serena said...

What a lovely read and so interesting too. I haven't made Easyo yogurt for months but after reading your recipe I will start again soon. One tip I was given by Jan and Tom of Waiouru was to use a couple of tablespoons of yogurt powder plus a cup of dried skimmed milk powder (tesco or aldi ) the consistency is the same but works out cheaper. Hope your coping with the hot weather. We are on the River Great Ouse for the summer. We've had temperatures of 33c plus, so draining. Looking forward to your next post. Take care. Love Judith nb Serena

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen,

I am so pleased you enjoyed this post and the pictures. I am glad you found "passion" in my writing. I know I am being called to write more and become published but I have trapped myself in depression over Les' death. I am working on it and on not thwarting myself. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

I hope your research is coming along and you know I am here if you need me.

I love you to the moon and back my dear friend,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

HI Deb,

Thank you so much for your lovely words. I am deeply touched by them. I am so glad we met and hopefully we will see each other again soon. I felt the same way reading your blog when you were starting all over again on your own with your boat, determined to have a boat, live aboard and make a life. I think of you my friend, with gratitude every day as I water the plant you brought me.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oh Marilyn,

You are such a gem! I receive such pleasure in helping others feel better. It is the Green witch and healer in me. Loss of good health is a frightening experience and modern medicine (allopathic) has its limits albeit un-recognized by its own practitioners and most patients. If only allopathic and alternative medicine could link arms and practice together recognizing ways of creating a healing web for patients, the world would be a better place.

I felt honored to help you and your friends.

I love you gobs and bunches Girl!

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Judith,

Thank you for passing that tip on. I will try it. Homemade yogurt has been a literal lifesaver for me, and I offer my thanks to Marilyn McDonald on NB Waka Huia for introducing me and Les to the Easiyo maker.

I hope you and John are staying cool and comfortable as possible in the dreaded heat. I wondered if river cruising offered cooler breezes and more shade in which to moor up.

Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs