We went into Penkridge in the morning and bought a few basics. It's a nice little place, we haven't been in there before although I know we moored there once. The butcher said something about boaters and I said is it that obvious (us in shorts despite the rain starting outside) and he said he could usually spot a boater but he liked them because they usually supported the small independent businesses. I thought that was rather nice.
Anyway we got back to the boat and decided to set off (much to Paddy's delight, he's getting more and more impatient of us sitting in the boat and is always running to the back with an expectant look in his eye), we took the back down, started out and almost immediately the rain started in earnest. We got down the first lock. stopped for water and went down the next and then moored up again.. Poor Paddy was beside himself. This was about 11ish in the morning, by 3 it had started to look better so we made a run for it and got as far as Baswich. Don't worry if you've never heard of it, I don't think it really exists apart from on the canal map. There were moorings of a sort there and we'd half toyed with the idea of catching a bus into Stafford for an explore the next day but changed our minds.
This was where we moored in the sunlight of the next day. It actually looks OK here, but it wasn't the best, although there WERE pilings to moor against so not all bad.
After we set off we didn't have long on the Staffs and Worcs and went past Tixall Wide.
The grand building you can see it actually the gatehouse to the house that is no longer there. You can only imagine how grand THAT must have been. They agreed to have the canal going through their land as long as it looked like a lake from the windows. So the poor navvies had to dig out a wide section that looked more pleasing to the eye.
We got around Great Hayward junction intact and were able to moor just a bit past the lock, looking out at the fields and parkland of Shugborough Hall. Because we hadn't had to travel too far we had time to walk Paddy around to the farm shop and then drop him off at the boat so we could go to the Hall and have lunch. Very nice. Then the rain started so we were pleased that we'd decided to stay there for the rest of the day.
Today we set off in the dry and I have to say it has slowly improved, We are now at Frandley, overlooking the cafe again (and NO Norwyn, I haven't fallen in)
We travelled down either just in front or just behind an old working boat (they went aground quite a bit because of the huge 3;10" draught they have). They were a nice couple of lads on it and we discovered quite a bit about the history of the boat - it had originally been built to transport crude oil so was a bit different from the typical working boats. with hatches in the deck rather than canvas covers.
There was one funny incident, we had to stop at a bridge behind another boat because a boat was coming through from the other direction. For some reason I turned around and put my hand up in a typical 'stop' sign. The next thing we knew was that their bow was coming past John..I SO wish I'd had the camera there to record his expression! It was priceless! Apparently they don't have reverse gears, if they want to go backwards, they have to stop the engine and re-start it with the fly wheel going the other way, not something you can do in a hurry. Anyway it all worked out OK.
I've been busy as I've said doing some knitting and crochet and this is what I've been up to,
These are the animals I've made and I've also knitted some mittens and a couple of Christmas stockings, but they are commissions for Christmas so I can't show them yet.
We are likely to be home tomorrow or the day after, depending on whether we stop or not, so that's another years journey over, just about.