Sunday, 5 June 2016

Friends and Rarities on Familiar Waters.


While watering up in Willington we were joined by this black swan – fairly rare in these waters, we thought they were confined to Dawlish in Devon.


Leaving Willington it’s always been intriguing to see this house with it’s own observatory!


Through Burton-on –Trent we stopped on a favoured, and usually very popular, mooring at The Bridge Inn in Branston. We were almost the only boat there.


And a close –up pic to show that James has been busy polishing (as usual!)


Well - Canada Geese certainly seem to like the UK! Fifteen goslings!


Leaving Branston, bridge 36 is as narrow as it’s possible to get!


Approaching the lovely village of Alrewas (where time didn’t allow us to stop this time) the canal briefly merges with the River Trent. This is where we’re prevented from plunging over the very large weir!


At Alrewas we were looking forward to meeting up briefly with fellow boaters Lesley and Joe on nb “Yarwood” as they travelled in the opposite direction. Here’s Lesley with Floyd and Fletcher (and Joe was on their boat and didn’t get in the picture –sorry Joe!). We had an extremely quick catch up chat – short but sweet. Nice to meet you both again this year!


We spent the night (Thursday) at another favourite spot – Fradley Junction. We can’t quite understand why everywhere seems so quiet. The “Mucky Duck” also seems to have changed character a bit.


Out of Fradley Junction on a sunny Friday morning and the journey was a delight as we travelled through the forest areas.


The forest is ‘plagued’ with wild rhododendrons  - spectacular right now but they’re overrunning this delightful mixed woodland.


On to Armitage and past the enormous factory, clanking and whirring, away churning out our lovely toilets and washbasins.


We reached Rugeley next. A great spot for shopping and totally undeserved of it’s bad press. The 1960’s power station dominates the skyline and the houses now built in it’s shadow.


On the other side of Rugeley, and still following the wonderful Trent valley, the open countryside is glorious. The hedges are still full blown with hawthorn blossom –some bushes now turning a wonderful shade of pink. The meadows are a sea of buttercups and the canal banks spotted with yellow iris and, beyond, lies the brooding mass of Cannock Chase.


Nestling under Cannock Chase is Great Haywood where the junction with the Staffs and Worcs canal meets ‘our’ Trent and Mersey. It was to be near Great Haywood (actually it ended up much further along at Weston as there was no mooring at GH) where we were to be for Friday evening to meet up again with friends Pauline and Neil on nb “Waterlily” for a few weeks cruising together.


The next morning (Sat) both “Waterlily” and “Chance” made their way onwards along the T & M. Bridge 82 shows no desire to be a humble brick built arch like most canal bridges. Most up market canal architecture owes it’s splendour to nearby large country estates – in this case Sandon Hall.


Here’s “Waterlily” and “Chance” waiting for their turn through Aston lock. Chinese whispers had this lock ‘broken’ at 8 o’ clock in the morning but at 10:30 it was working well. Worries over!


Stone came next in the day. A strange name for a town built entirely of red brick as we’ve said before. The sign writing is still clear on the ale stores of Joule’s Stone Ales with its foundations in the canal.


Bridge 96 has some quite rare revolving rope guides. They’re normally made of cast iron to stop the bridge edges wearing the ropes of horse drawn boats but this splendid design revolves when the rope rubbed against it.


Still in Stone we were delighted to meet up with friends Debbie and James on nb “Lois Jane” (now known more famously as the “Pen Makers Boat”).


James makes the most fabulous pens from exotic and rare woods and acrylics. We’ve been waiting a while to catch up with them and order some Christmas presents from him.


When we met them Debbie was at the front of the boat busy painting the Well Deck while James was busy making his pens in his “workshop” on the back of the boat.


After Stone it was just a stones throw (oh dear oh dear!) until we got to Barlaston and our mooring for the night. At 5 0’ clock we were all sitting out in the sunshine for some refreshment. Pauline, Neil, Doug and James – oh, it’s hard life!


No one was in the mood for polishing!

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