Good evening everyone. I did nothing yesterday and today it’s been jam packed with excitement and incidents. I rose relatively early and was under-way before 11 am. There seemed to be lots of traffic moving in both directions as I’d sat and had breakfast and that was sort of the order of the day. However shortly after setting sail and taking a bearing on the Shetland Isles, I do need a new map book, I came across a Heron stood at the side of the canal, not too unusual I agree, and he stood there as I approached and with camera in hand I thought I might get a decent picture and indeed I did. He stood stock still and as I passed plunged into the water and came up with his own breakfast. A rather pleasant start to my travels unless you happened to be the fish.
I meandered along at a very sedate pace and met a few boats going north but none thankfully following me so I could cruise at my leisure. A sharp right turn and across the aqueduct which brings you to the outskirts of Rugeley and a 90 degree left hander. A straight run of houses all about 50 ft above you and gardens that drop down to back onto the canal. Here I was visited by more wildlife. This time it was a black butterfly with red on it’s wings. Not a Red Admiral as I can recognise those and I haven’t looked it up yet. I’m sure one of you here will know what it is. Now we are beginning to hit the town centre and I’m thinking of stopping to do a little shopping but after arguing with myself I decide not too. Is it me or do we often look to shop when actually, in my case anyway, I have enough to do what I want to do tonight. Sausage and mushroom sarnies. These are the Cumberland ones I bought from the canal side shop at Great Haywood and I raise my hat to them, they were fabulous. I’m going to work on shopping less and using what I buy and trying not to buy things on impulse. This will be a struggle.
As I said on my way up I find These three little towns very pleasant. As you pass through the town centre area it does narrow down and if boats are moored then a bit of care is needed if you meet anyone coming the opposite way. Today I didn’t and slowly meandered my way through say morning to people and waving to others who were hanging their washing out in their gardens. The sun on my back and warm with out burning. This was turning into a rather appealing sort of day and was only improved when God spoke to me. No there wasn’t a peal of thunder and no I don’t and didn’t here a direct voice but I know it was him. I have a habit of complaining about others who aren’t courteous, or don’t slow down proper when passing, or don’t slow down when you meet under a bridge, or push in at the bar and that sort of thing. You may on occasions do this yourself. Well I got to this bridge and I was halfway through and someone came round the corner and they did slow down a little but by the time I could move right and get out of the way there wasn’t much room between us, a couple of feet, and I just thought why not slow down so you’re not almost threatening the other boat and as they passed and I shook my and said “Oh Lord is it me???” The answer popped up and he said “actually yes it is you. These numpties will continue being numpties so stop whingeing smile and get on with it.” I thought well that’s fair enough.
Now we leave Rugeley and visit Armitage, another lovely stretch of canal and up past Spode priory there are some allotments which I think look grand and I noticed today an old washerwoman scarecrow waving at me. Should I cut down on the drugs I wonder. A little further on and we come to what may be the only tunnel in the world that doesn’t have a roof. Did they build it for people who are claustrophobic I wonder. It does have a bridge built over it now which makes it like a tunnel again but apparently due to subsidence they had to take the roof off.
Next we have near death at the hands of a Buzzard, or should that be “wings of a Buzzard”. I digress but as I left Armitage hit Handsacre’s lovely waterfront bungalows and a very sharp left hand bend I spotted a Buzzard circling and he wasn’t very high so I grabbed my camera and slowed down and took a few photos of him and with my head up hadn’t seen this boat coming the other way. He however had seen me and slowed right down too. So I apologised and blamed the Buzzard, as you do, and he smiled and we continued our journeys.
The stretch of canal from leaving Handsacre down to Fradley junction is to me a sheer joy. Tree lined and meandering with reeds and grass. Today with the sun shining down, the birds singing and something feeling just as it should it seemed to take on a new shade of elegance. An abundance of different shades of green. Water swirling behind and the sun high in the sky. If you can’t enjoy boating when it’s like this then it’s time to go home.
I met some more wonderful people at Woodend lock who helped me through, they were walking, so I offered them a lift down to Fradley, Jeff accepted but his wife Annie declined, I think she remembered what her mother had told her about accepting lifts from strange men. They had hired boats for years but were thinking about buying so we had a good chat on the way down to Fradley. Jeff helped through a couple more locks and I left them at the Swan pub and dropped a further lock and was pleased to find a mooring waiting for me so I soon joined them outside the pub with a pint of Outlawed, for me a very nice pint indeed. Pint number two and then back for the sausage sarnies and to write this blog.
Take care and may God bless you.
Photos; 1. Heron catching his breakfast. 2. First garden as you turn into Rugeley, 3. A fore said butterfly. 4 and 5 Rugeley town centre area. 6. A beautiful bridge. 7. Armitage tunnel. 8. Allotments and Mrs Scarecrow. 9. The Buzzard and 10. My Fradley junction mooring.
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