Monday 24 August. 7 miles, 2 locks.
Took a walk up to Mercia Marina which I am told is the largest inland marina in England. Talked to a broker about the process of selling, not that that is the plan just yet but a bit of preliminary research. Talked with the Marina staff about their conditions of mooring there in case we decide to move the boat further south. Back to the boat for lunch then set off south, up the canal. Passed through Burton upon Trent as we hadn't read anything about the place that made us want to stop. Finally moored up next to Branston Water Park. The sunset was so spectacular that all the boaters were out to watch the fiery sky.
Tuesday 25 August. 2 miles, 1 lock.
We took a walk around the perimeter of the water park expecting to see a lot of wildlife but we probably see more on the canals every day than what was there. Perhaps there is more to see during breeding season. Walked into Branston, a town cut in two by a major highway. The smaller part, nearer to the canal was older while the other side was being developed with a large housing estate and new shopping centre. We set off again for the short trip to Barton Turn where we were going to stop only for a short time to visit Barton-under-Needwood. We had read that it was worth the 1 mile walk. Another lovely village with a variety of buildings worth looking at. On the way back the rain came down so we stopped at Barton Marina for a coffee. This and Mercia have been developed as places for the public to visit. Large restaurants, Pubs and farm shops are there to make it attractive for other than boaties to visit. Too wet to move on so here for the night.
Wednesday 26 August. 2 1/2 miles, 3 locks.
Still raining when we woke so no rush to get going. Late morning the sun started to poke through so off we go straight into the first lock. The next lock is a couple of miles away as we follow alongside the same noisy highway that had a continuous stream of traffic all night. At the second lock we moored up well back and Diana went to set the lock. The heavens opened so I leave the boat and take the brolly up to her. Through the lock, back on the boat, rain stops and the sun is out for the rest of the day. Interesting how the heavy showers know when Diana will be standing beside a lock. Next stop is Alrewas where it is reputed to have the best butcher on the canal system. After lunch we walk the mile or so to the National Memorial Arboretum. 150 acres of woodland with 300 memorials to groups and individuals. There were two memorials that got my attention. "Shot at Dawn" 306 posts representing the British and commonwealth soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion during WW1. They have recently all received a pardon. The other was the Armed Forces Memorial with the names of all service personnel who have died on duty since the second world war. There were thousands of them and the sad part is that there is room for thousands more names to be added. I found the name of a family friend from New Plymouth who died in a Jaguar crash while a member of the RAF. Returned to the boat via crossing that busy road just after 5pm. Dual carriageway with a safety zone in the middle. Waited 6 minutes to bet to the safety zone and then another couple to make it all the way across.
Thursday 27 August. 0 miles.
Decide we would take a bus to Lichfield today. The bus runs every hour and we missed one by 5 minutes. Spent the time looking and photographing some of those typical english village houses. One was having the final touches of a new thatched roof being put on. Looked so fresh. In Lichfield we visited the Cathedral. Probably not quite as big as Liverpool but most impressive. Wandered around taking in the variety of well presented old buildings. Visited Erasmus Darwin's house and museum. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin. I think they promote it the wrong way around. It should be that Charles Darwin was Erasmus's grandson. I had not heard of him before and was fascinated with his inventions. Now back on the boat for the night.