Category Archives: Staffordshire And Worcestershire Canal

Just Around The Corner. 29th May

Tixall Wide to Fancy Bridge 73A, Trent and Mersey

The rising sun urged me to get up off the sofa bed and peek through the curtains. What a sight! The side hatch had to be opened to get the full effect.

Wow! Just Wow!!!

Steam rose from the water so close I could just about touch it, reminiscent of my first experience of sea fret in Scarborough wafting through open van windows. The sun rising in the east caught the clouds above with streaks of orange and pink. Not as bright and bold jaw dropping as sunsets can be but more in keeping with the hour, a quiet calm beauty. I felt privileged to have been able to experience it.

It’s still there

Both of us had slept better, I had too, nobody moving the duvet around to find more space for themselves. An hour and a half of shore leave whilst we had a leisurely breakfast, then it was time to move on. We pushed off and headed back to Great Haywood Junction. I hopped off as we crossed the Trent Aqueduct and walked on ahead to check on the situation.

We’d tried that way and it was very pretty, so let’s go straight on this time

There was space for one more on the water point, we fancied a top up, and nobody was coming so Mick brought Oleanna out from under the bridge, turned her to the right and then reversed back to the water point. One boat was having a pump out, the aroma reaching the noses of walkers coming down from the road. The young girls had no idea what the terrible pong was, but they certainly didn’t like it and made sure we all knew about it!

Look what lies under the West Coast Main Line

Once our tank was full we pulled along past the bridge and found ourselves a space before the lock. Here was better positioned for a drug run into the village (more Lemsips required), a look in at the Spar shop to see if there was a copy of Canal Boat and then a look at the Farm shop.

Tilly struck lucky, there were several copies for sale. I refrained from reorganising the shelf, leaving our four legged thug hidden behind Take a Break and Hello Magazine. They also had Dreamies, so we were able to stock up again (No need for Mungo and Dog to parachute in their spare packet yet, but thank you Joa).

Well worth a visit, shame the fish has gone

The Farm Shop has changed a touch since I last visited. The cheese is now all pre-cut and the wonderful fish counter has gone. The meat counter still looks good, only one variety of frozen gluten free sausages on offer, so we refrained. However we couldn’t resist a punnet of strawberries picked this morning and some asparagus. The latter not quite so fresh or local, it came from Kent! Mick got a pork pie too and we made our way back to Oleanna for lunch.

Over the cobbled bridge at the junction

The mooring here was dark and on a drizzly afternoon it meant we needed the cabin lights on, so we decided to move down the lock. We do-si-do’d with two boats and I stayed to help close the gates for an old work boat which had two C&RT volunteers on board. Mick pulled up at the end of the lock mooring to see what the Fender boat could sell us.

All sorts of fenders
Not just fenders for sale

After around 1615 locks our bow fender is looking a touch used. Mick lifted it the other day but we wanted to add another fender lower down to stop the bow catching on cills as we rise in locks. Mick chatted away and was shown several fenders ranging from £60 to £85. We ended up with a mid range fender and discussed how to attach it, this should be fairly easy with the fixings we already have.

Another favourite mooring

We pootled on a short distance more. Here the towpath opens out with a view over the Trent to Shugborough Hall. A few years ago we made the most of our National Trust membership and visited the estate several days in a row. Today we’d thought about having a wonder around the grounds but the constant drizzle put us off, so instead we stayed inside and got the stove going again.

Tilly spent several hours in the long grass and returned muddy and soaked. No longer the glamorous cover cat, just our bedraggled Dreamie demanding murderous thug. I’m glad things are back to normal.

1 lock, 1.22 miles,1 right, 1 reverse, 1 top up, 10 lemsips, 1 copy, 1 months supply Dreamies, 1 fantastic awakening, 1 approach, 1 punnet strawberries, 11 spears from Kent, 1 pie, 2 hash browns, 1 roast chicken stir fry, 2 tickets to London booked, 1 sock looking promising, 3rd night of quarantine this time on the dinette.

The Secret Passageway. 28th May

Sandy Lane Bridge to Tixall Wide, Staffordshire and Worcester Canal

Because Mick is snotty and cross contamination isn’t wanted I’m trying out the sofa bed. This confused Tilly somewhat last night. First there was the excitement of me pulling out the pouffe from under the shelving. This reveals a secret passage behind the sofa. I know it’s there and quite often try to dig it out, emptying the shelves of leaflets and books, but this never works. But tonight it was there, open for me, just there!

The culprit!

What is down there? I hear you ask. Quite a few foil balls and some pens which are behaving themselves and staying on the floor, they did need rearranging though. She wanted to check that I was alright so I bobbed my head back out as everything changed again! Wow!! Which way to go next. The secret passage had become wider, more obedient pens, but the sofa had also gone flat! Both were good until the sofa folded up again, I think it may have been a touch drunk as it had fallen over. A duvet was brought out from the other side of the secret passageway and the sofa went flat again. All this excitement, but then I realised that the sofa being flat meant there was no easy access to the window above.

When the lights went out I didn’t know what to do. I normally spend most of the night keeping her toes warm and ‘hogging the duvet’. ‘How can such a little one take up half the bed?’ That bit’s easy. So Tom was on his own, leaving half the bed just for me, but he was making noises! She was on the drunk sofa, plenty of space for me, but did I trust it? Better to be safe and sleep on the cushion.

Oil Boat

Boats were coming past us early, we’d not be first to Weston Lock. When we were ready we could see in the distance a couple of boats coming towards us, both taking their time if they were moving at all, so we pulled out and headed for the lock. There a boat was just finishing going down and NB Ondina the oilboat was waiting to come up. NB Grace pulled up once out of the lock to stock up, once the transaction was done they came into the lock and rose. Mick wandered down and placed an order for 10 L of 15W/40. As soon as Ondina had risen enough the chap hopped down and delved into the front of the boat bringing out two plastic 5L bottles. The transaction was completed as the top gate opened along with the heavens.

Wonderful shape, just in need of some TLC

Behind us two boats waited to follow us down another arriving to come up. On we pootled past alpacas and old caravans. Apparently Llamas have banana shaped ears and Alpacas straight ones, you learn something new.

The sun out at Hoo Mill Lock

Hoo Mill Lock the last for today, we hoped, if our plan of drawing the crowds away to the north of the Trent and Mersey had worked. The water point at Great Haywood Junction was busy, two boats already filling. There was space on the end for us to wait, then another boat arrived and pulled alongside. As one space became available it was easier for the newly arrived boat to move up then we’d pull back when the other became free.

Which way shall we go to London?

As we filled we were joined by a hire boat and another boat waited through the bridge for their turn, all very busy. Two boats turned at the junction towards Tixall Wide, would there be enough space for all of us? How many git gaps?

Not a bad view

We turned onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to see if our luck was in. Coming round the bend we could see boats, but there were also some spaces. The prime position is a mooring with a view of Tixall Gate House. The spaces we could see were just before this. Ahead a hire boat was plonked right in the middle of a two boat gap. The young crew said hello and then started to untie, yes! We winded and pulled in, nudging up to the boat in front.

Gate house behind the central oak

Our view isn’t quite as good as it could have been. We can see the gate house, just. If only a bit more offside pruning had been done!

Quite a big sneaky peek of the boozer

An afternoon of hunting, blowing a nose and finishing off my model. I then took a full set of photos ready to do a story board tomorrow which I’ll upload to Dropbox for everyone’s reference.

Lovely

2 locks, 4.46 miles, 1 right, 1 wind, 1 wet morning, 10 litres 15W/40, 2 Dreamies (only) a visit, 1 box of tissues nearly finished, 1 drunk sofa, 5 obedient pens, 2 pencils, 1 mooring with a view, 1 model finished.