Chapter 42 – The Canal Boat

Unfortunately time did not permit them to make the trip north to the Lakes District. The visit to Beatrix Potter’s house would have to be explored another time. The Canal Boat Molly had booked was waiting for them at Bristol, where they stayed overnight in a motel overlooking the water. She had chosen the canal route through Kennet and Avon Canals, taking them from Bristol to Bath. Molly was eager to visit Bath.

That night at the motel she had intended to visit The Attic. Both she and Will had agreed to inform family and friends that they would be ‘off-line’ for the next four days, wanting to immerse themselves in the experience without distractions from the outside world. Molly had so many questions for Grace. This time, her breathing took her immediately to the bottom of the stairs to The Attic. They appeared almost 3D, with high definition detail and clearly defined, solid beneath her feet, only a slight creak as she walked up them purposefully, confidently. Inside The Attic Grace waited at the table for her, with a pleased smile on her face. “So good to see that you are feeling improvement Molly!” She said, hugging her. Molly sat silently, a look of concern on her face. Grace continued to smile calmly, unaffected by Molly’s emotion.

“Grace…..I have so many questions, but now that I am here, none of them seem relevant,” Molly began hesitantly.

“That is because none of them are relevant here. So what is it that is troubling you Molly?” Grace encouraged her.

“Well…I don’t understand the dreams I have been having, in particular the one about falling off a horse,” she began.

“As I have mentioned previously, past life memories have been activated for you by being physically in England. Things can only be revealed to you piece by piece, like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If you were to see the bigger picture in it’s entirety, you would not believe it. So, piece by piece it is. That applies to everything whilst you are still engaging in a physical life.”

And that was the end of the conversation. Sitting in contemplative silence, Molly did not know what to say. She looked to Grace for some idea, but she continued to stare out of the window.

“Well, I suppose I best be getting back to Will…..” Molly suggested, feeling slightly miffed by Grace’s nonchalant attitude, to which Grace replied, “Molly, do not misunderstand the silence between two good friends. Not every space needs to be filled with words or busy-ness. Sit with me awhile and just be,” she reached over and took Molly’s hand, the touch reignited another memory, of lying in a hospital bed, with Grace holding her hand. It was just a flash, not giving Molly much detail. “What was that, Grace? Was that you dressed as a nurse in my dream?” She asked excitedly. Grace just smiled and said intriguingly, “Piece by piece, Molly. Piece by piece.”

The next morning after breakfast they met with the owner of beautifully restored canal boat at Brunel’s Historic Floating Harbour at Bristol. It would have been so easy to have stayed on at Bristol for several more days, but they were on a tight time frame, and had to resist the urge to explore the fascinating buildings, Georgian architecture and remains of the Roman bath’s.

After a half hour instruction, they were set free to cruise the canals. The boat was decked out in vintage decor and furnishings, even including a small wood-chip heater. It was a brilliant summers day, with a clear blue sky and a gentle breeze. The canal was lined on both sides with buildings for quite a distance until they moved out of the city and into the countryside, where the waterways became lined with trees and fields, and cute thatch-roofed cottages.  It was such a buzz, being so excited Molly was unsure if she would be able to sleep, but the gentle rocking of the boat took care of that. The next morning they enjoyed breakfast at a small pub along the way, mooring the boat and sitting outside the old Inn overlooking the canal. There were lots of people about walking, fishing, and even a couple of girls on horseback rode by. It was like a scene out of a movie, except they were actually a part of it. It was dreamy, relaxing and she felt at ease.

These couple of days passed all too fast. Taking in the scenery from the boat, they resisted the temptation of stopping and visiting every village they passed through, and continued on straight for Bath, where they would turn around and return to Bristol. Molly could not believe just how busy the canals were. They met some very colourful boats and  equally colourful characters, some of which were long term residents, finding canal boats an alternative to housing.  There were even little potted gardens on some of the boats, the tenants growing their own veggies, herbs and flowers. The scenery was breathtaking, it it felt like they had stepped back through time. The old cottages with whitewashed walls and thatched roofs, along narrow cobbled laneways and dry stone walls, some river cottages along the waters edge had wild, overgrown gardens, full of colourful flowers, and fruit ripening on the trees. The loch’s were tricky the first time, but they quickly got the hang of it. And as if by magic, there was always someone around to help them, who seemed to know exactly what to do. 

Each night they were rocked gently to sleep, it was an amazing feeling, so soothing and calming. Molly felt a sensation of peace within her that she had never felt before. She wanted these days to last forever, sitting on the river boat, watching the world go by. All the concerns that she had over the past couple of weeks about her health and the dreams she had been experiencing dissolved. It was truly magical floating down the river, and she could understand the addiction of it and why some people opt for this way of life.

As the countryside gave way to more and more buildings, gliding into Bath was spectacular, far more breathtaking than Molly could have imagined, read about or dreamt of. Being at water level, the gracious old buildings seemed to tower above them and again she felt like she had stepped back in time. It was the view from this perspective on the water that gave her that sensation, no modern vehicles were visible and all of the streets in the centre of Bath are pedestrian only, as they were about to discover. They had an overnight stay on the boat before making their way back to Bristol. Arriving in the mid afternoon, once they had moored the boat, there was plenty of time to explore the old city by foot. All of the old buildings were occupied, breathing life into them. Like children set free at a carnival, the couple got lost amongst the numerous, shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation they stumbled upon The Circus – the highlight of everyone’s visit to Bath. These amazing old buildings were designed by John Wood, the Elder, who died before it was finished and his son took on the project, which commenced in 1754 and completed in 1768, it was comprised of 30 homes. The buildings encompass a lawned area in the middle together with a cluster of old plane trees, which originally were paved with stone stents, covering a reservoir in the middle which supplied water to the houses. It was a perfect example of Georgian architecture. Molly had to stop Will now and then, to remind him to see with his own eyes what he was photographing, and to absorb where they actually were.

A delicious dinner in a quaint restaurant tucked up a side street and a long walk back to the boat finished the day nicely for them. Sleeping easily, Molly had a beautiful dream…

She was looking over a balcony inside a grand building, watching couples dancing on the floor below. To the side was a string quartet playing music that made her smile. One couple in particular caught her attention. The girls dark hair was groomed neatly into a tight braid which circled her head and several ringlets fell softly around her face and neck. She wore a soft pale blue and gold brocade gown, low cut but supported by a tight sash of fabric beneath, accentuating her breasts. She wore a simple diamond necklace and earrings. The hem of her gown was caught up with a loop of dress fabric which wrapped around her wrist. Elegantly she moved around the dance floor with her partner, a dark haired gentleman, just as handsomely dressed in a deep blue and silver brocade jacket and matching trousers. When the music paused and they stopped dancing, bowed politely to each other and then looked up directly at Molly. What she saw caught her breath……this couple was her and Will! She woke from the dream in the middle of the night, staring at the darkness around her now. The dream had left her feeling nostalgic, but happy, her cheeks wet with tears of joy. Rolling over in bed, she pulled herself in behind Will’s warm naked body, pleased to be feeling his skin against hers. The gentle rocking of the boat eased her back to sleep.  

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