"Flutter your wings frail bird
And rise an inch above the impossible." ~Anonymous Haiku
Gosh a lot has happened in the last few weeks! I began moored in Nantwich for two days and was treated to a visit by my lovely friend Susanne King. her boat is at Aqueduct marina. Sadly Susanne's husband Peter died just over two months ago in a hospice in Winsford. We connected because I started a closed group called Widows on the Cut, for women on boats who have lost a partner, spouse or significant other and need a safe, confidential place to share their their feelings and emotions and know they will receive compassion, loving kindness, and understanding from other women literally in life's same boat. Susanne is Danish, Peter was Welsh and they lived half the year in Kenya and spent the summers on their boat cruising the British canals. Meeting Susanne has been a blessing for me, as I can speak candidly about my grief with her and know she gets it--because like me, she is in it. We had a lovely lunch aboard NB Valerie and her presence brightened my day.
I cruised back out to Hurleston and the weather deteriorated. First it was blustery winds and warm rain--decidedly a departure from usual late October weather. The shortened days, the lack of sun, and the depressing fact that November was one week away and I would hit the one year mark of looking work--unsuccessfully--made me feel suicidally depressed. I just wanted to give up and throw in the towel or more accurately get pissed and throw myself in the canal.
But then a series of things occurred: a group of women came by in a flotilla of canoes. It was lashing with rain, and the wind was forming waves on the canal and yet here were these intrepid young women refusing to let the crap weather keep them from learning to row a canoe and enjoy nature--in all her vicarious moods!
|Women out canoing in the rain!! Brits don't let the weather interfere with fun--much like Alaskans that way!|
|It really was chucking it down!|
|The same stretch later on after the rain cleared off. |
Next a package arrived for me at The Laundrette. It was from the Heck Sausage Company
in Yorkshire. I had purchased a package of Heck brand Smoky Paprika Chicken Sausages. I love heck brand sausages because they contain no rusk, use fresh herbs and spices, and are 98% meat--like U.S. sausages. I was thrilled to my boots to find a chicken sausage that I thought might be close to my beloved Spanish Chorizo sausage that I use in Three Sisters Chicken and Chorizo Casserole and in my homemade Minestrone soup.
I bought Aidell's
chicken Sausages from Costco back in Washington State and loved them so I was very excited. Sadly the Heck chicken sausages were not for me. They were low fat and consequently the texture was more like plastic then juicy, flavorful sausage. When I ordered groceries again I took the opportunity to leave a less than favorable comment about the product based on its texture, on the Ocado web site. Apparently the store passed my comment on to Heck and I received a lovely email from a woman named Claudia who works for Heck and was sad to read my review. She wanted to send me a check for a refund! It was only £3.00 but what customer service!!
Instead of an envelope with a check I received a package with a hand written letter from Claudia, a refund check for £3.00 and a lovely apron! I have since tried Heck's full fat chicken sausages and they are delicious, and of course their pork sausages are divine. Sadly I can no longer digest Pork or Beef so I cannot enjoy them, but I encourage everyone else to give Heck brand sausages a try.
The weather now took a cold and typically Autumnal turn with ground frost and nightly temperatures plummeting to -1/28F. No more going outside to start the engine withhold a coat, hat and gloves! Time to pack away the summer clothes and fill the wardrobe with winter wear, including my favorite cold weather trousers from Duluth Trading Company
in the USA, made of fire hose canvas. They are thick, tough as old boots and more comfortable than jeans, with pockets for knee pads, a loop for a hammer or a windlass, and lots of pockets and a back waist that rises to close the gap between shirt and pants. Their clothes are made for people who work outdoors and need tough, lasting and essentially comfortable gear.
I love sweater weather!! Mine are washed, dried, de-pilled and folded on the shelf along with thick sweatshirts and long sleeve turtle neck tops. My black down coat and Les' green down jacket are back in service again; I wear my coat to town and Les' jacket for cruising and boat chores.
October 31st arrived and for me as a Witch it is Samhain and a sacred day. It is our day of remembrance of our beloved dead, and it is New Year's Eve. We believe the veil between the world of the living and the dead is thinnest on certain days and nights of the year and this was one of them. We build altars in memory of beloved dead, engage in ritual to allow their spirits space to return and visit if they so choose and usually we have a meal of their favorite foods and set a place at table in their memory.
Since I was on my own my ritual was very low key, but I felt Les' presence. The hairs went up on the back of my neck at one point, and I felt surrounded by power and love. Spent with emotion, I turned in about 11 p.m. My phone woke me at 12:30 a.m. with a ping telling me I had a text message! Someone had logged in to Tutorful,
the tutor web site I am listed with, and was requesting me to tutor them! I answered the next morning and we agreed to meet at Nantwich Bookshop and Coffee Cafe
near the village green.
|This is the 435 year old building in which I work!|
We had a good first meeting, discussing my student's goals and objectives. As we were parting by the bookshop counter I spotted the manager Denise. She has sent me an email three or four weeks previously asking if I wanted them to hold on to my CV. They were in the process of reorganizing things and weren't hiring--yet. so of course I emailed back, "Yes please! I would love to work at the book shop. It appears to be the warm heart of the village green and everyone on staff seems very kind." Now that we were face-to-face I queried,
"Are you Denise?"
"Yes I am," she said with a bright smile.
"Well then you also know who I am!"
"Yes I do. It is good to see you and in fact I wondered if you were still looking for work?"
"Yes I am."
"Could you come in some time later this week and work for a couple of hours in trial so we can see how you handle things?"
"I would love to. What about Wednesday?"
"That would be perfect, " Denise replied as she flipped through her wall calendar and wrote my name down.
The upshot is that I went in for a trial and worked for six hours. At this cafe everyone is trained to do everything: pot washing, plating up orders, barrista, waiting tables, and cashiering. That way anyone on the clock can be slotted in wherever they are needed most. Tips are divided equally between all the staff as well so it means we are a cohesive team working together to provide good customer service no matter what we do--even washing dishes. So now I am finally employed, albeit part time which is a good thing at the mo as I have not worked a physical job on my feet for six hours since I was nineteen! I've had desk jobs since my university days.
I stopped in to Marks & Spencer for a Saturday paper (they a re located right next to the bus station and library and it is easier to nip in there for a paper then walk all the way over to Morrisons for one) and I was chatting with the grocery clerk. Her face lit up when I said I lived on a narrow boat.
"Oh we just bought ours and she is going into the water tomorrow at Aqueduct Marina. My husband and I are gong to live on her and we are so excited!" Her name is Linda and her boat is NB Water Colour
so if you see them about give her a big, friendly wave.
After eight days at Hurleston, preparing for winter and putting draft plastic on the windows, I cruised back in to Nantwich in time for the winter mooring times to begin, filled with water, dumped the rubbish and moored up near the ramp by the stairs down to the Welsh Lane. The cold weather disappeared and warm, balmy weather swept in from the southwest! How warm you say??
So warm I had to let the fire go out in the boat! So warm I had to switch back to my rain jacket! So there you have it!! me and Ma Nature are both very mixed up about the weather these days. One morning recently I was out walking my rubbish to the bin back at the service point and everywhere I looked boaters were popping in and out of hatches and engine bays. Nothing like surprise helping of warm, sunny weather to get those last minute boat chores completed. An elderly gent was standing on the towpath, tobacco pipe in hand looking at his boat NB Solitude
. We got to chatting and before you know it we had exchanged histories, names, and opinions of some of the trials of the world. We even got round to loos!! His name is Roy and his wife is Carol. She was out that morning, but I look forward to meeting her.
After dropping my rubbish in the Biffa bins I decided to stroll down to the Canal Centre and share my good employment news with several women there whom I know. Margaret and Lynda who work in the Chandlers were both out that day. I sauntered around the corner to the Convenience Shop and nipped in to say hi To Sharon, the new owner.
If you haven't been in there, please make sure you stop in when you come through Nantwich and stop to fill up with water, dump your rubbish or empty your Elsan and say hello To Sharon. If you just need to replenish some tinned goods, fresh veg, milk, bread, eggs, and maybe some frozen food between large shops then you will everything you need. It will save you making the one and a half mile round trip walk into town.
|Sharon knitting as she waits for customers. She didn't realize I was taking her picture. Drop in and say hello to see her thousand watt welcoming smile!|
Sharon's daughter owns The Laundrette there in the Centre, That's where I get my mail. Since Sharon took over the Canal shop it is ever so much cleaner, far more organized and has a really solid stock of the kind of things boaters are using. She even carries lactose free milk! Being a knitter, Sharon has yarns and collectibles for sale in her shop as well. This is one more canal side shop we should support so at the very least pop in and grab a candy bar!! You won't regret it.