Tuesday 30 August.
Out and about on another Pilkington tour. Today they have found a National Trust Property near Ticknall. There is a limited choice today as normally Trust properties are closed on Mondays but as yesterday was a Bank holiday and they were open they choose to close on Tuesday. Calke Abbey is presented in a different way. The owner had traveled the world collecting artifacts, looked like he had a fetish for birds and animals. The taxidermist's of the area would have had a lifetime of work as everywhere you turned there were cabinets of stuffed Birds, Animals and trophy heads. He turned into a bit of a recluse and the house has been left as it was when he left. It was in need of much renovation but the trust decided to make it watertight and stop any further deterioration. The house is presented as an example of what needs to be done to some of the properties they acquire. Once we had been through the house we spent some time in the large grounds which included a small church, a large walled garden, orangery and selection of sheds with much old hand machinery in them. On the way home we needed a Pub for a meal and ended up in Willington at the Green Man. Had had the best Sunday Roast there last year and although the place had changed hands the meals were pretty good. Back in Rugeley we had coffee on Molly Rose before Anne & Jim made the return trip to Preston, a couple of hours away.
Wednesday 31 August. 5 miles, 2 locks.
A day of boating through the countryside remembering last year on this section, to arrive at Great Hayward for a couple of nights to catch up. Generator out for 3 loads of washing. Walk to the Farm shop and cafe. After tea we walked through the grounds of Shugborough Hall taking some interesting "fading light photos". Generally a quiet evening.
Thursday 1 September.
A no rush day. After lunch we went back to Shugborough to walk through the gardens that were closed last night. Still walking a few miles most days.
Friday 2 September. 5 1/2 miles, 3 locks.
Walked to the Farm shop for some bread and veggies. Filled up with water before continuing north at a gentle, no pressure pace. The locks are spaced well apart and once through the first one where we are second in the que the boats get spaced out as well. Had lunch on the move so with time to spare thought we would walk into Burston, which looked interesting in the book. As we approached we realised we had stopped here with Ray and Rosemary so decided not to. Well that was until we passed some other boaters who were walking back. They convinced us that it was worthwhile to walk a little further to where there was a nice pub. Yes the pub looked nice but that was all there was so back to the boat. It was such a nice afternoon and we are only an hour or so from Stone so we stay put.
Saturday 3 September. 3 miles, 2 locks.
Checked the forecast as soon as we got up. Heavy rain due to start at 1100. A quick breakfast and off we go anticipating to be in Stone by 1100. I recon we have time so pull into the Aston Marina for a pump out and then up to the first lock. I empty it and in we go. By the time we get to the top there are two boats waiting behind. I'm pleased we are in front as I guess they are all heading for Stone to beat the weather and moorings are going to be in high demand. On the approaches to Stone we pull over where we were this time last year with Rachel & Trevor. Diana goes to look ahead. She finds one spot and it is one of the best in town. We first found this one on our way south when Ray & Rosemary were with us. We take the chance that someone coming the other way won't get there first as there is a lock to do on the way. All good as we moor up just after 1100. Good plan, worked well. Pity the forecast wasn't accurate. The rain started just as we set off. Must say though, after 1100 it got a lot heavier. By mid afternoon the rain has eased so walk into Stone to the hardware shop and Costa's. As we get to the main street it is full of gazebos. Yes it is the monthly Farmers market and it has just finished. So into Costa's where we catch up on blogs etc. Home via the chippy and a quiet night onboard.
Sunday 4 Septemeber
It is Fathers day in NZ so a good reason to partake of a Sunday Roast. I wander off into town on the off chance the motor accessories shop is open. It is not. Diana turns up soon after as there are a number of Charity shops in town and she will have a look before lunch Only a couple open. Back to the canal for lunch at the Star. Meat was very nice but the veg were over cooked. Never mind a nice Fathers day lunch. Pottered around on the boat with a bit of painting to finish. Walked down the towpath a bit to get rid of the rubbish before settling in for the night.
Monday 5 September. 4 miles, 7 locks.
Busy morning on the canals. Early off the boat to see if I could buy a bit for the boat. Unsucsesful. Then we both went to do a supermarket shop before Diana checked out the rest of the Charity shops. The canals are still busy so we time our departure and join the que at the first lock. Not to much delay as there are boats coming down. Manage to fill the water tank at the second lock without loosing our place. Did one more before stopping for lunch at the bottom of the Meaford flight of 4. Trundled on with a short stop at Barlaston to visit the Big Boys Toy shop, unfortunately they ar now out of business. We have the option going on to Stoke and 6 more locks or stop at a familiar spot adjacent to Wedgwood factory. to enjoy drinks a knibbles on the towpath.