Wednesday 23 August 2023

And now the end is here..

So you might have gathered Reader that we are now home.  Frequent Flyers to this blog may remember that come August we have a run of family birthdays all within five days.   
My mother comes first (Don't tell her I told you but she is going to be 93).  

Then my own daughter who was born mid harvest, I was to have been taken in at 7am the following morning to be started off but during that afternoon I started labour naturally, I was well overdue,  but when David came in mid evening to find me properly in labour, head on arm leaning up the wall deep breathing and counting he was heard to have said something like oh bloody hell Lisa I've just arranged for the men to do the combining tomorrow and now I'll have to go and change it all, where upon he stomped off out again, but it mattered little as he was no use to a women in labour, he was so tired he slept in a chair in the corner but blamed that on the heating, I almost enjoyed myself on the laughing gas, it's funny what you remember.  

Then three grandchildren all have theirs, two four year olds and a two year old.  
August is a busy time around here.

Anyway, after we slipped away in sunshine from Penkridge, it was a lovely run through to firstly stopping at Acton Trussell on the long straight, we got there mid morning and managed to secure a natural recess in the hedge so we could comfortably put the chairs up and also get some shade.  I helped maintain it by doing some extra cutting with the shears.  A disappointment here in that the dairy cows were elsewhere, David loves stock judging, its a dairy farmers thing.

 Barely any boats considering how lovely the weather was but then again the weather has been dire so maybe boaters have gone to Florida instead?

It was here that David remembered that although we had been meaning to sand down the cratch frame all summer and re varnish it, it hasn't been finished, in fact it hasn't been started so we did so today.  

Just this minute I've discovered that my camera wire I've used for the nine years I've been doing this blog has been inadvertently left on WaL and not in the camera case where it lives.  So not many new pictures for you.
Sorry about that, not at all annoying.  

But below is one of the blue skies we enjoyed that day.  So novel I'd almost forgotten what they are.

I always feel so smug when passing under a major road.

Well the cratch frame was sanded down quite easily, in fact David did what he could reach from the towpath.  As I'm the expert I told him what David Lewis had told me "Don't sand the paint and don't sand the glass"  He didn't, unlike me who did both first time.

In total I managed to get four coats on.  I really only wanted to do a rough job and finish it in the spring but it looks pretty good enough.

We had been trying to get together with our Famous Friends the ex-Boat Sharers but they have had a busy time, some of it boating on their really gorgeous boat NB Caxton but stuff happens as it does so we finally decided to nip over to them at Fradley by car.  We had a lovely trip to the National Memorial Arboretum, David and I went by bike about ten years ago taking our lives in our hands having to cross the A38 but they have now got access without certain death.

Its a beautiful place well worth a visit which is free but donations.  Very thought provoking and peaceful.  This below was one I particularly liked.  Very good farming friends of ours in Devon were there because the Land Army girl sent there in the war fell in love with and married the farmer.  Sadly she is no longer with us but how Mollie would have loved this.  


If you can't quite make it out, it's a dead rat in a trap.

  Amanda's son is in the RAMC, there was a fine and touching statue which I failed to photograph, these below are for the VC's which were earned in the First WW and the Second WW.

HERE  For the story of Harold Ackroyd

HERE  For Major William Babtie

HERE  I remembered this case, no medal but a touching memorial.

As soon as I saw this one I remembered it clearly.  HERE

It's a very thought provoking place deeply touching but not sad and busy with visitors.

We had a lovely picnic in the grounds and later returned to Fradley enjoying a drink in the Mucky Duck pub aka The Swan.

Amanda with David

And me with the man I love.

 We'd had a lovely couple of days with the ex-Boat Sharers, not cruising together as originally planned but that will happen next year, right now it's boating France and Canada for them.

Back at Great Haywood where we were moored after popping into the marina for water as the two water points here are out of action with signs on saying please ask at Anglo Welsh ????  Astonishing, on the busy weekend Anglo Welsh had a man out with the hose I wonder who paid his wages?  When we passed two were waiting so to our marina we went.

It's been a fantastic summer for me, I have absolutely loved the Macckie, the Peak Forrest and the Llangollen canals, we've met lovely people, enjoyed wonderful scenery and learnt a lot.  Frankly I could just do it all again next year.

Finally time to pack up and go home, we did things slightly differently this time,  going into the marina in the middle of the day, we packed up in the afternoon and loaded most of it into the car, then set off at 08:30 the next morning arriving home early afternoon, the first good run home in ages.  It took all the stress out of the packing and last minute things we always forget like turning off the gas....

Waiting here at home was David's repaired car... it's been three months in the fixing mostly due to the difficulty of getting parts.  He's very happy with it and that the hire car has gone back.


So that's us pretty much done now but the boat isn't winterised so maybe in October we'll be up again and pop upto Stone and visit all those pubs we like so well.

We've a new experience coming up in September, it's a group trip to the Italian Lakes, it's an art trip so we'll see how David fares with these arty types on a coach, I've said there's one to Venice next year "God let's see how we go first shall we with this one?"  Well don't worry about him Reader, he can stop at the hotel over looking Lake Ieso on day two if it's blue murder.

In September beloveds arrive for a visit, that is to say youngest daughter and husband Mitch from NZ, just a holiday that is, they'll be returning to NZ again, that is if no one burns their passports ahem.


Friday 11 August 2023

I hate being under trees

We spent the night in Market Drayton.  We moored up okay thinking it was visitors moorings then looked at the sign and it talked about market days, afternoons, I had no idea what the meaning was.  We asked another boater who'd already moored up what it meant and she said Oh they are just really anti social here.  She's been boating over 25 years and moored up here before the attractive modern houses alongside here but on the off side, when they first came there were all sorts of signs saying don't do this and don't do that.  She told us we were two hours early and that you could moor here after 4pm.

We went off towards the next flight and last flight on this canal, Tyrleys Locks.  Only a handful but hazardous, there were by-washes but no so very fierce today.  

I walked up from way back as I did remember (I never much) that the lock landing is tricky here.  Today it was thick mud as expected.  What I like here at Tyrley is the complete change of scenery in such a short time.  You work the first couple of  locks in thick trees then it opens out into glorious countryside.  

Here I am doing the old paddles up and down trick to help David in without damaging the new blacking.

You can just see WaL's nose under those trees as I had prepped the third lock leaving those flipping trees behind.

Now this is Chris.  He lived in Spain for a good many years and came back.  His wife Anne saw the CART ad in the paper and suggested it.  He jumped at it and has been here for the past eight or nine years.  Today he is helping boaters and rubbing down the lock gates to be painted.  He has a car boot full of tools to do jobs with and loves it.  I thanked him profusely on all our behalf.   

Tyrley Top Lock, and just look whats coming ..... three days worth of flipping trees.

Started off not so badly as there was one sunny spell.

But then it got worse and worse and I have to tell you Reader that the Shroppie is now amongst my least favourite canals and I have asked David if he could remember to go back down to Great Haywood next time via Heartbreak Hill.  

These trees remind me of Eeyore Gloomy Place.

One bit of excitement was the report of a fallen tree, two boaters said we should get past okay but in the end it was a fallen branch.  Boredom returned.

They are repairing the towpath here, I guess they had to but how much has it cost and whoever wants to spend time walking here??????

Now for the first time we moored up in Gnosall for the first time.  Rubbish signal all the way down this canal, well for us it was on EE and 3.  I wanted to watch the World Championship Netball, two of our daughters played netball at school and went on to county level, Verity was part of a team that won a national competition when at school (She was watching it in NZ too)    If you haven't watched it you should give it a whirl, its a very exciting sport.  
Sadly England lost to the holders Australia.  The next morning was England v Nigeria in Women's football.  I have little interest in football as for the main part its played by wimpy men and don't start me off on FIFA, corruption and Sepp Blatter.  But now I'm enjoying England's women.  Here in Gnosall we had signal so that was that.  We walked up to the old village and counted the pubs, we went in one which was a micro pub George and The Dragon.  A warm welcome and full of locals all talking, no one on phones.  A very lovely place. 
Well we departed after the football, England won but played poorly, had a player sent off, Nigeria dominated the game and I was very sympathetic for them.    

Oldest building in Gnosall I saw

We stopped at Norbury Junction for fuel but he's not the cheapest by far any more.  Maybe Reader if you are passing this way use the fuel boats instead.  They too need the trade.

Clear waters.

Well glossing over the journey back.  I thought it very very Deadly Dull.  I'm sure the weather didn't help being wet almost every day at some point.
 We got back onto the beloved Staffs and Worcester and were amazed how many boats there were on all the places we wanted to moor at.  We ended up right opposite the now tractor dealership but used to be an old racketedy farm I always said "Where the Grundy's farm"  that Reader is an in-joke for farmers, see The Archers.  That night suddenly the field with long thick grass was full of nice looking Suffolks, so that was pleasant. 

We often moored here looking at the English Longhorns, the owner keeps them as a hobby, three there this am but he's now developed the moorings smartly with water and leckkie, I wouldn't want to moor there as I've lived next to cows and their accompaniment of flies.   

Dropping down at Gailey

Nice reflection this going on here.

Boggs Lock and my goodness look at this leak.

A pleasant run down to Penkridge, the sun came out and to cheer me up David took me to The Littleton Arms.  Its under new ownership, we had a fabulous meal good service and good value for money.

We had moored up in what I call Kew Gardens.   

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Flowers apples and beer.

Just for a change the weather was grey and dull, looked like it could possibly pour at any minute or indeed clear away and the sun come out.  The forecast  (Hahahahah)  actually said a day of downpour and gales.  This day had been especially chosen to nip over to the Staffs and Worcester canal where friends John and Louise on their NB Ploddin' Along were.  

They too had decided not to move due to the dreadful forecast.  We set off in the car, I needed my sunglasses....  a few drips of rain then it stopped.
Not long until we were knocking on the side of their boat where we were welcomed with wine, I grabbed a proffered glass before David had got into the saloon and before it was decided who was driving back.

We all talked the hind leg off a donkey and then enjoyed a fine supper (Or tea as Louise calls it but she is from the north).  

Later we played cards, Hearts, now it was only when I was being soundly thrashed that we realised that David and I haven't played this game since Verity and Mitch (Our daughter and SIL) left these shores to seek fame and fortune in his native New Zealand, that is a year ago in September and the good news is that they are returning for a visit in this September.  I took a while to talk about their departure without crying, I'm over that but of course now I well up when I think about seeing them again very soon.  

We had a lovely time with John and Louise and thank you both very much for your hospitality and probably see you next year.

Well of course I drove back, I have made serious efforts to stop screaming when David drives me, but I'm not there yet.

Supper was chili con carne and a risky lemon tart I took.  Risky as it clearly states unsuitable for freezing, guess who shoved it the freezer?  Yes correct not me.  But we ate it, no one died and I thought it was fine.  

But Reader you take your own risks with frozen lemon tarts, don't blame me.
Oh and by the way, no storm, hardly any rain just a bit plus no gales, we could have all boated but I'm very glad we didn't.  That's forecasts for you. 

Next day after a leisurely start, actually all the boats moored here bar one had moved before us and that one wasn't occupied, we set off to do the Addersley Locks.

Why I feel so fond and affectionate towards Addersley village and it's locks I do not know, but I do.  The countryside is green, undulating and very attractive.  The locals we've encountered are friendly and chatty too, but Addersley is too small for me to retire to.  Now Audlem on the other hand....

Its happened again Reader, I downloaded the photos and they have appeared on here in the wrong order.  If it was better 4G I'd do it again but it's not so bear with me and I'll label them correctly. 

HERE  is NB Percy, until recently a resident of Great Haywood marina, now relocated back from whence he came on the Shroppie.

NB Percy.  We have still not met Rachel and Nev despite sharing the same marina for 18 months.

There are several of these huge bridges on this canal.

This is the same one.

This lovely sign has been restored, I wish they all could be.


Autumnal or what?  Barely in August.  But it was a good year for the roses, perhaps that applies to blackberries too.

Damsons, I saw a tree laden and called for a dish.  When I looked they are not remotely ripe.  Very sad about that.

Scabious, reminds me of home where it grows on our farm.

At the same lock apples growing.

On the Addersley Flight.

Green damsons but masses of them coming.

Another of those leaking like there's no tomorrow lock gates.

More Pretties, but this was growing in the concrete so shouldn't really have been there.

Pinks and white.

Several of these along here, but I cannot see why any farmer would want a gate onto the tow path

These hirers had me in full sympathies when the lady crew said they were late and had to go down to the bottom of the Audlem flight to turn around to come back up and get back to their base.... I wondered if they might have been able to have turned in a pound but thought better of suggesting it lest they become wedged and the whole situation much worse.

We finished and headed down to Market Drayton.  Lovely period buildings on both sides as we walked into town but many shops closed or boarded up, it felt a bit "Poor" as my grandma would have said.  

We did find our way to the Joules Red Lion and Brewery though.

Half the building restored and the other half looks to be going to be restored.

The brewery at the rear.

The hops post brew are blown out of this pipe

Where it goes off for cattle feed.

How many have you been to?  We think five-ish.

The well now inside the pub.

My dad drove a car like that one outside the place back when I was a child, it went 70mph downhill and had leather seats.

Supper was salad and sausages.