We’ve been on another “two together” rail journey to Chester this week to babysit for Summer, who will be seven months old next week, and we had lots of fun with loads of cuddles.
We also managed to do a spot of garden clearance and some DIY as well as taking time out to visit the Tattenhall Ice-cream Farm this morning as a treat for everyone. There are also a number of farm animals to admire there and I think my favourite was this Alpaca who had eye lashes to die for.
The temperature has dropped considerably today but the sun is still shining. Max and I had an abortive trip to the village shop at 8am for the morning papers while Storm cooked breakfast. The shop didn’t open for another half hour. However, it was comforting to see that the locals could collect their pre-ordered newspaper with their name written on from the pile stacked up outside the shop. Also all the potted plants had been left out overnight so there was no fear apparently that anyone would filch these!
After a very tasty breakfast of sausage and bacon, from the local farm shop, we went back for the papers and dropped these back to the boat for Storm to read while Max and I continued our walk. I strolled along the towpath listening to the birds and watching the buzzards soar, while Max scurried back and forth sniffing all the interesting smells in the hedge bottom.
Our friends arrived in time for lunch and in the afternoon we travelled in their car to Charlecote Manor, a National Trust property just east of Stratford. We chose to walk through the deer park and soon wished we’d paid to view the house itself as the wind got up and the dark clouds gathered and the temperature fell even lower. A cup of tea in the orangery summoned. This sheltered us from the hailstone shower and once this had cleared we stepped outside again by which time it seemed like a different day as the sun was shining and it was several degrees warmer too.
After a very pleasant afternoon we waved goodbye to our friends and paid a quick visit to the ‘Mary Arden Inn’ before returning to the boat for the evening.
Yesterday morning we strolled along the banks of the River Avon and last night we went to see Henry IV Part 1 at the RSC. It was nice to see a familiar face on the stage from Hull Truck Theatre playing Bardolph & Owen Glendower. I studied this play for O Level and I’ve just done the sums of how long it is since I first saw this play at Stratford. Yikes!
On our walk home afterwards we tried to stop off at the pub for a drink, only to find they’d called last orders at 10.30pm!
The closed lock opened late afternoon yesterday, but we didn’t fancy mooring in the basin at Stratford as there are no sanitary facilities there so today we moved the boat to Wilmcote, 12 locks and only about three miles north of Stratford where we will meet our friends tomorrow, as this allowed us to fill up with water en-route and moor up in the countryside with a varied choice of things to do.
Two cast iron aqueducts, six miles and 13 locks to the outskirts of Stratford Upon Avon today, where we were stopped by a lock closure. We moored up and walked on down to the junction with the River Avon, had a mooch around, bought an ice-cream and strolled back to the boat where the effects of lots of sunshine and fresh air overwhelmed us. We’re going to stay here for three days and meet up with friends on Saturday.
The South Stratford Canal is very pretty, peppered with barrel-roofed cottages. These homes were built by the canal builders who were used to constructing canal bridges. (see photo from yesterday)
The bridges on this canal are different too as they have a split down the middle – designed to take the towing rope through the split.
We’ve also crossed the first of three aqueducts today that carry both the canal and the towpath across a river, a road, and a shallow valley. These comprise a cast iron trough and allow for the towing horses and pedestrians to get a duck’s eye view of passing boats.
We travelled for six miles and through sixteen locks today. Max is getting the hang of helping to push the lock gates open.
We moored for the night at Wootton Wawen. (This is difficult to pronounce and I feel as if I have a speech impediment!)
The village is split in two by the busy A34 to Stratford Upon Avon and we dodged the traffic to visit the Saxon church that is reputed to be the oldest in Warwickshire dating from 1035, and erected by Wagen the Thane, a local landowner. Also in the village is a 17th century hall and it looked very grand across the parkland.
At 9am my phone pinged about six times in quick succession. Someone had switched the Internet back on!
We cast off and headed off in the direction of Lapworth Locks. After operating two lift bridges we arrived at the top lock and worked our way steadily through the 19 locks to the junction with the Grand Union Canal, where we carried straight on as we’re planning to explore some of the South Stratford Canal this week.
We moored up and within minutes we had some uninvited visitors on the roof. Thankfully Max didn’t spot them or we might have had ready made dinner!
We got up early and headed back to Kings Norton Junction where we turned right onto the North Stratford Canal. Another load of washing today to take advantage of the glorious warm drying weather.
We made it as far as Hockley Heath and moored up. It was soon evident though that this was an internet blackspot as we had no signal at all for phones or computer. Unable to communicate with anyone outside the village we went off to explore. We found you could buy a McLaren sports car, a swimming pool, or a Villeroy & Bosch bathroom all within four hundred yards of the canal – sadly, none of them any use to us at the moment.