Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Over the Hill and through the Dale...

to the flooded part of the country I go (as far as we know right now).
Was that zen or what? How much more in the moment could I be?

OK it's only zen if you normally live in the future and the best you can do is think in the present that the plans you made might change. Actually pretty LAME.

The flood is still the flood and I'm hoping to leave tomorrow to drive to iowa to help out for a bit and just be there for the family. (that's the over the hill and through the dale bit...get it?)

In other news...a bit more on the trip to Wales and how it was frugal and simple. Well, relatively.

Frugal because we had a kitchen and bathroom on the boat so we did our meals and bathing and everything on there. It was quite cool. The bathroom was NOT luxury and I loved it. The toilet did flush in a manner of speaking and it was neat to sit on the potty looking out window at a swan. The shower was one of those sink sprayers over a shower base floor thingy. No curtain. Curtains are for pussies. I got the whole bathroom SOAKED the first day. My mother, Sher, pointed out that if you put your back to the wall and point the sprayer at you, you do NOT get the whole room wet. She's a genius. The sink was across the hall from the shower and toilet. BUT there were two doors that opened and expanded across the hall so that you had a decent size bathroom while you were showering and getting ready for the day. Then you closed the doors and the toilet was in it's own compartment. Very handy.

You could also use one of those doors to separate the bedroom at the back of the boat from the kitchen and dinette/bed in the front of the boat so we had some privacy at night.

The dinette was 2 half-booths on either side of the boat. each could become a single running front to back. OR you could use a couple of extra boards (provided on the boat) and make it a double bed that went across the boat. The owner had designed the system himself and I must say it worked very well and was remarkably comfortable. Took about 2 minutes to go from bed to dinette and back.

There was a radio on board and a couple of evenings we listened to Welsh radio broadcasts. Most stations are in English but I liked listening to the Welsh. I'd learned a few phrases before I went over, but could make out not a single word on the radio. I got along reasonably well with town names once I'd heard them pronounced. I couldn't read them from scratch though.

So, by cooking on board for breakfast and supper, we got to save $$ and have some fun going in the shop and getting some food. The boat owner took us to the store before he took us to the boat (nice of him), gave us and hour to shop then on to the boat we went. We got to talk to people in the shop and we got fruit and veg at little stores along the way. Lunches were usually in a pub or restaurant in one of the villages (which are about every 4 miles along the way...one about each 2 hours of travel time). We would get out, shop, walk, see a castle, have lunch, see another castle, do whatever the local people said was cool, and then make our way back to the boat about dark for dinner. After supper we'd sit on the front deck with a glass of ale or wine. Maybe play cards or write postcards and then go to bed and journal and read.

I think that is all also simple. We didn't go to big events with fancy clothes or manufactured fun. We did what was there and that people would normally do. People in Wales and Britain in general are very into walking. There are traditional footpaths through private land that have been there for hundreds of years and national laws protect everyone's right to use these paths. We walked on these too. We went to see a beautiful reservoir and got stopped by 2000 sheep on the way back. I asked the shepherdess (rancher? farmer? sheep lady?) about her sheep and her dog and she was quite pleased to talk about it.

We saw a cooler with a sign on the tow path at one point. I hopped off at the next bridge (the tow path is very close to the boat under bridges so easy to get in and out) and jogged down to check it out. It was a cooler full of organic free-range eggs! And talk about local. The chickens were visible on the other side of the canal. One the way back, I had my change ready and bought 6 eggs. We cooked them for breakfast in pancakes. There was a little picture on the label and a note inside mentioning that the price would be increasing soon due to the price of feed and apologizing for the increase. I gave the egg label to a friend when I got back (the friend has chickens) and I kept the note as a souvenir. And we ate all the eggs. For about 4$ we got three meals, one gift and a souvenir and a very cool memory. That seems frugal and simple.

Another thing we did was go in the churches. Free views of beautiful art and interesting history. I do donate and light candles (for Grampa and Nigel) in these churches to help with the maintenance and whatnot.

One of my favorite frugal/thrifty events was going in a thriftstore in Brecon! Or was it Abergavenny? Whichever. Let me check my journal...it was Brecon. It was supporting the Wales Air Ambulance. The girls at the counter had just had an argument with a customer who called and told them they were charging too much and taking advantage of the handicapped. Apparently the phoner had given them quite a time of it. Sher was buying some christmas cards with their logo and I was just joking with the counter ladies. I ended up buying a pen with their logo because I got such a kick out of them and loved their little shop. They even had a thimble from Minnesota with a loon on it! I totally wanted to buy it because what is cooler than a Minnesota loon thimble from Wales? But I'm very happy with the pen. I use it almost everyday and it reminds me of the trip and the funny counter ladies.

When I see Sher I'll have to ask what her good memories of Wales are.

Well, if I actually get to leave for Iowa there will be gaps in the blogging. Sorry for that. But it can't be helped. I'm sure Angela's blog and Laurie's blog will take up any slack I'm leaving in the blog-o-sphere.

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