No, not the photo, the first comes later – this is sunset over the pig farm on Friday evening!
We left our moorings opposite the pig farm yesterday morning, and, having had a quick stop in Rugeley to pick up a few bits from the new canal-side Tesco, and were surprised to find that we were on our way again by 10.30! Our plan was to stop at Fradley if there was room, but we weren’t holding our breath as it was Saturday and Fradley is usually rammed at the weekend, especially in nice weather. So were were quite prepared that we might have to extend our cruising time a little bit and find somewhere further on.
Soon we were through the narrow confines of the old Armitage tunnel, now roofless, and into the wide stretch past Spode House
Through Armitage and I resisted the urge to take yet another photo of the toilets, and onto the tedious stretch between Armitage and Fradley – it seems to take forever! However, we were glad of the shade of the trees which hem the canal along here as it had become very hot and humid by this time. Eventually we reached Woodend Lock, and were third in the queue to go down. Tail end Charlie, as usual – I helped all the other boats through, but by the time it was our turn, we were all alone. A lovely couple who were getting their ‘canal fix’ helped me open and shut the horrible little gates at the bottom of the lock. They have a share in a boat, but find that they need a fix every few weeks, so they walk the towpaths regularly, helping out where they can.
And now for the ‘first’ – when we rounded the bend with Fradley in front of us, it looked like the visitor moorings above Shade House Lock were full as usual. But as we drew closer we discovered that they were actually nearly empty! In all the years we’ve been boating and the number of times we’ve been through Fradley, we’ve never, EVER been able to moor above the locks. Well, this time we have!
Space for about 3 boats behind us as well – this filled up by evening time, but they all went again this morning.
And very pleasant it is too! So pleasant in fact that we decided to stay today as well. We immediately went to the Swan to celebrate – well, we can’t possibly come through Fradley without a visit to the pub – it would be just too rude! A good decision as it turned out, because it was hissing with rain this morning. At above 11.30 there was a knock on the side hatch and there were Lindsay and Paul (?), who used to own nb Teapot. We met them in Paddington Basin, or at least I did while Rog was in hospital there. They sold the boat a couple of years ago, and are now caravanning. We spent some time catching up on each other’s doings since we last saw each other. Forgot to take a photo though! It was lovely to see you both again.
It’s brightened up now so we’ve had the chairs out, and Ozzy has found a new bezzie mate, a 7 month old orange roan cocker called Harvey – they have had great fun rolling around and chasing each other up and down the towpath.
While we were chatting to Harvey’s owner, another ex-RAF chap, I spotted a very familiar boat coming towards us.
Beacon’s No 8 boat, nb Merryweather, with Les and Susan Merry on board. As soon as we’d finished our chat with Harvey’s owner, we went to the lock and had catch up with Les. Lovely to see them again after so long.
9.2 miles and 1 lock