So here we are in Nantwich – a lot has happened, and not very much, over the last month since the last update.
In that time health matters have tended to absorb us. Several trips to London to the Moorfields Eye Hospital Outreach to sort out the problems with Bob’s left eye as a result of the shingles virus contracted 18 months ago – persistent high pressure, inflammation, ulcers and a fast growing cataract that now obscures his vision in that eye. So with maximum doses of several medications – tablets and eye drops – and a soon to be confirmed date with surgery (or surgeries!!!) we are finally working out just how serious the problem is.
And of course we both managed to contract the most awful flu virus that knocked us off our feet for a good 3 weeks!!!!!
Therefore most of the last month has past in a blur of doctors visits and complete rest – and not a small amount of delirium!!! The good bit is that we were both off the alcohol so if you hear of any wineries and breweries going broke you now know why!!!!!
However we are nearly all better now and about to embark upon yet another visit to London for an update re progress with the eye and from these appointments we hope to be able to predict and plan the next few weeks. We are determined to not let this minor disturbance overtake our plans to see this beautiful part of the country by canal!!!!
So we finally left Penkridge on the 17th March. Prior to that we availed ourselves of what the town and nearby Stafford had to offer by way of shops. Penkridge had a fantastic bakery and butchers which we would not hesitate to recommend. We were lucky to have Chris and Jim taking us to Stafford to catch the train but also get in other required supplies – new sheets, groceries, and of course the odds and ends from the local charity shops. I don’t think we have missed spending a little in every town we visited!! And the market at Penkridge is worth a wander through.
We also met Chris and Jim’s son, Sam, and spent Mothering Day on Sunday 15th March in The Boat Inn enjoying our first drinks for a while and a few packets of crisps!!
Our first stop as we ventured down the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal towards the Autherley Junction where it meets the Shropshire Canal, was Coven and a celebratory cider/ale at the Fox and Anchor Inn. It may sound as if this is a pub crawl by canal but actually a visit is quite a rarity!
It was “ropes off” at 8.00am the next morning as we planned to put in a long day. The morning was misty and this is a beautiful time to be travelling with very little traffic and just the sound of the birds and gentle throbbing of the engine to keep us company. Before long we were at Autherley Junction where Bron had her first experience of turning the boat to enter the Shropshire Canal – or Shroppie as it is called. Textbook manoeuvre!! A slight delay at the stop lock while Jim and Chris got gas and then we were off up the Shroppie!!!!
This part of the canal goes mostly through rural areas with beautiful villages emerging every few miles. Brewood is the first and we moored up briefly for a quick look through the village and its varied architecture – the town itself dates back to its origins as a Roman fort.
The canal itself is built on a series of embankments and cuttings but still has 29 locks to pass through before Nantwich and a very long pound of over 17 miles (distance between locks) between the single lock at Wheaton Aston and the 5 lock flight just before Market Drayton. This stretch has beautiful scenery with very high bridges over the cuttings and rich farming land on the undulating hills visible from the embankments. So peaceful and relaxing and the weather was really quite mild. There were glimpses of spring emerging from winter with the first buds and new green leaves visible on the trees. And when the sun shone we really started to feel better!!!
On Friday 20th March there was a solar eclipse which was visible as we cruised but as we were going through a cutting at the time it just felt a bit like dusk. Apparently some parts of the UK had cloud cover and didn’t get anything much to see and further north it got quite dark.
We stopped for the night in Market Drayton and went for a wander to the centre of town to do a little shopping and a good look around. Another gorgeous village which is apparently home to the gingerbread man!!!
On Saturday we tackled the flight of 5 locks at Adderley and a mile further on, the first 11 of the 15 lock flight at Audlem. Jim and Bob did the locks while Bron and Chris piloted the boats offering a little help from time to time!
On Sunday we decided to just finish the last 4 locks and cruise gently to some lovely moorings at Coole Pilate where picnic tables and barbeques are available. After a light lunch Chris and jim started the spring cleaning of their boat managing to polish one side and clean the windows while we only managed to get one carpet cleaned. We are both still a little fatigued from the virus and know that the big spring clean of Celtic Maid is required very soon!!!
And by Monday lunch time we had covered off the last few miles and 2 locks and arrived in Nantwich and found good moorings near the Nantwich Boat Centre. The afternoon disappeared as Bron sorted out travel arrangements for London and caught up with family and friends in Australia and USA via skype. Bob went with Chris and Jim to check out the town and returned to play chef for dinner and chat to those who called in the evening.
We went off into the town today where Bron had a radical haircut, bought some lovely shoes and Bob checked out the charity shops and added to our DVD collection!!!
Now we are planning our early start to London in the morning and hope for some good news on the eye front.
Hope you enjoy the new photos in the gallery.