Lancashire comes into its own along this stretch of the canal. We’re surrounded by rich open farmland full of crops, no uninspiring supermarket, but farm shops in barns selling potatoes that still smell of earth and taste so good you don’t need anything else on your plate, except perhaps a bit of butter.
Of course good crops don’t grow with out that essential element and whilst we are still grinning from ear to ear about being back in the countryside, I was reminded of another reason I’d enjoyed a long winter in Liverpool.
But being surrounded by wild flowers makes up for it.
We’re sometimes asked if not having a permenant base makes canal life lonely, but not at all. It’s amazing what a small world it is, during our few days at Downholland we discovered our neighbour and I had attended the same secondary school, albeit just a few years before me, but never the less we traded names of friends and acquaintances we had in common, and it turned out he had also owned a Braidbar boat for some year.
So it was a lovely surprise to find our next mooring spot would also become a social occasion-OK, we did know John and Martina on Burnt Oak was cruising in this area so not a total surprise.
It didnt take long for Martina and I to grab our fold up chairs, find our fibre and start spinning together
Martina is setting up a small business and has a roving traders licence to sell hand dyed yarn and fibre. The first week of a pandemic isn’t the ideal time to launch a new venture, but Jubilee Fibres will be making an appearance at events along the Towpath in the future, but I was lucky to restock my own stash with some lovely kingfisher blue. Martina explained to me why she chose the name and logo Jubilee Fibres. The word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew, to celebrate. And Hebrew celebrations often included the blowing of a rams horn, which looks very similar to a canal bridge. Some great combination of symbolism.
This time last week I was in Suffolk taking part in the first ever Britspin Marathon. I’m not sure if I’ve really recovered yet. But I thought you’d like to share a little of my madness. Britspin was organised by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to have some fun and raise money for the air ambulance service. I got involved when Martina from NB Burnt Oak asked if I could be in her team, and coming from Bedfordshire we would be known, along with 8 others as “team spinning in Beds.” We had both hoped to travel to Beds to spin together but as circumstances worked against us social media came to our rescue and we all kept in touch throughout the 4 day event. As the event kicked off at midnight we thought we’d go to bed well prepared.Martina took her wheel to bed and I out teddy in charge of my drop spindle And I woke up at 6 to get a few metres spun on my drop spindle, (no wonder Eric chose to stay on board Firecrest) But I’d got a box full of fluff and my wheel and more spindles were ready and waiting for me once daylight arrived. To keep us busy during the 4 days we were challenged to make our own drop spindle able to spin a minimum of 5 m I dutifully improvised a rose from the garden and one of Heather’s hand made glass beads I was quite impressed with the result, so were the judges, I got a joint third place badge for my efforts. I was a lot more productive using my wheel and proper drop spindles though and over the 4 days I managed to spin approx 800m of finished yarn. As each skein is made up of 2 yarns plied together that actually means I spun about 2363m in total, that’s about a mile and a half. My personal challenge was to pass the mile mark so I’m happy. I might have managed a bit more but Tim and Veve decided to visit, so it was a full house. They had visited a pumpkin patch and brought me a tiny pumpkin (or more officially a gourd) which was just crying out to feel the fibre fun,and I managed another 5m. I reckon I’d be ok if I got stranded on a desert island.
It took a few days for all the results to come through, but our team captain’s did a fantastic job collating all the totals. And here are the results….Everyone had fun, over £3000 was raised for the air ambulance service, with more still coming in, team spinning in Beds came 7th out of 24 teams, our team spun 22141m, and 506220m were spun in total. There were lots of crazy things done in the name of creativity that weekend and we’re all counting down to next year’s marathon I was a little bereft on Monday morning so I got the crochet hook out and made a pumpkin to add to the collection Tim and Veve gave us.