'Friends... they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams.' ~Henry David Thoreau
We moored on Thursday evening alongside Watermead Country Park, north of Leicester, and on Friday morning I took a walk around the lake there and discovered this fabulous King Lear sculpture. The sun had been out earlier, but half way through the walk the heavens opened - so it cut short my day's exercise!
We then meandered along the cut to Mountsorrel, in readiness of our meeting with Andy and Helen of Captain Ahab's Blog fame (and if you click on that link you can read about our weekend in Loughborough - though just as an aside, it's the Australians that call it that funny name, not us kiwis, but that doesn't matter there may be kiwis here that do too!).
I'm not sure if I've ever revealed how we all came to be such good friends, so I'll tell you the story in a nutshell ...
A few months into our first voyage aboard NB Northern Pride in 2009, I was staying at my parents house and received a Facebook message from Helen. I know some people have a 'thing' about Facebook, and other social networking sites, and I'm sure there will always be the for's and against's for these. I personally believe they're incredible tools, and used wisely and armed with the knowledge that whatever you post is in the public domain (apart from, one hopes, private messages on Facebook!), they make the world a smaller and friendlier place, especially for travellers.
Anyway, initially I couldn't remember who Helen was - I've had a number of 'Friend' requests on Facebook over the years from people I've met/worked with, and my long term memory isn't the best! Occasionally the request is from someone I've never met, who wants to connect for a variety of reasons, and I have no problem with that (unless they sound and look dodgy or their reasons are spurious!). This time, I private messaged Helen asking how I knew her and of course as soon as she told me I instantly remembered her with great fondness. We worked together as midwives back in the early 1990s. Conversing, as you do, about what we'd been up to since that time, I told her about my emigration to NZ, meeting Barry and returning to live on the waterways for six months. She then messaged back to say they also owned a narrowboat, and of course I told her about our blog and she revealed they too had one - it turned out we'd been reading each others stories for a long time!
I truly believe people come into our lives for a reason, and was blown away at the coincidences of Helen contacting me at that particular time. Needless to say, we've hooked up again many times since then. The boys are now great friends, and Helen and I have renewed and strengthened our friendship.
So, back to our sleep over weekend. Andy and Helen drove to Mountsorrel to meet us on Saturday afternoon, having dropped off a supply of jams and pickles for their Wild Side Handmade Preserves Company to 'Wandr'ing Bark ready for their trip to the Droitwich Canal Festival this Bank Holiday weekend (go and say hello if you're around). Helen also brought me a special jar of 'No bits' Lime Marmalade with Medlar Vodka that she's been storing for me - and I had some on toast this morning - delicious! If you haven't sampled her products yet you're definitely missing out.
Helen had asked me a few weeks ago whether we were changing the name of our new boat, and I'd wondered why - this is the reason ...
She'd had this incredible and unique boat decoration made for us - it's just gorgeous! Bless you Helen :-)
We talked together lots about our plans for spending more time on the waterways, and it was fabulous to be able to pick their brains about different canal festivals and running a small business in England - thank you again. During our outward and return journeys, Helen and I chatted on board the boat, working the one lock between Mountsorrel and Loughborough, while Barry and Andy talked while driving the boat.
It was great to have a larger boat to accommodate guests - on Northern Pride it was always such a tight squeeze with extra people and their bags, but now it's a dream! We've got a few people lined up in the coming months - and next time I'll remember to take photos (luckily Andy was more on the ball, so check out his page for them - oh and we've pinched his photo of us for our front page - yet another thank you!). I think Barry took some of Andy, but it takes him so long to edit them it'd be a week or more before we posted if I waited, lol! They may come eventually ...
In the meantime, we're back moored in Loughborough Basin, probably moving along a little tomorrow towards Trent Lock. We've had notice today that our boxes from New Zealand left last Friday, and if all goes well will be with us at the end of June, so we'll be heading slowly towards Fradley to arrive by then.