Saturday: Stone to Rugeley
Sunday: Rugeley to Fazeley
Once again I was too busy enjoying myself, and then (not entirely unconnected) too tired to post yesterday. We thought Stone to Rugeley would be a fairly easy day's boating, so we didn't leave until late, first strolling around the town, checking out the charity shops, and breakfasting on Staffordshire oatcakes with bacon (and bacon and cheese for Jim) from the market, which was a nice treat. The oatcake itself, with all respect to a local delicacy, is not a lot to write home about, being rather like eating hot wet cardboard, but when wrapped around a bit of decent bacon does make an excellent breakfast. I forgot to mention too that we had some very nice chips from the shop in Stone on Friday night too - and I say that as someone who's very fussy about chips. They were fresh and not at all greasy or soggy. I also bought a fridge thermometer to test the various milk storage options, and I am very happy to report that the sidebed is the perfect temperature for storing beer and will henceforth be known as the cellar. Still working on the milk, but at least the important things are right.
The easy run turned out to be a bit of an effort in the end as we were constantly batttling the wind (likewise today) which does make it all rather harder work, but we did eventually make it to Rugeley as planned to meet up with Blossom and Dawn at the Ash Tree - never been there before but having been to the Boat (?) at Braunston was immediately familiar with the concept - a Marstons family eatery, and not at all bad for all that. I had three pints of Pedigree (and you wonder why I wasn't blogging at midnight) and salmon hollandaise, but best was my starter of goats cheese and black pudding which I would definitely have again.
What made the day though happened as I was walking down towards Haywood Lock. Suddenly I stopped and did a double take: Pendorric. (Search the Warrior blog if you don't know the story...) I thought I should explain the fact that I was standing there with my mouth hanging open, so I told the owners 'this was the first boat I ever fell in love with'... and he replied, 'Have you got the Warrior blog?' (Not as spooky as it seemed at first, as he'd found it when Googling for information about Pendorric.). They were lovely people, who'd bought the boat only a week ago and brought it back from the Ashby where it spent the last six years to their mooring at Armitage, and they insisted on me coming inside and having a look. It was as beautiful as ever and in much better shape than when we looked at it at Whilton in 2005 or 2006.
And so on to today - again, we didn't exactly get off to an early start, and, again, the wind didn't make things easy for us, but we coped; we must be getting a lot better at this boatting lark. Nothing really exciting happened today, except the Nicholsons Book 3 blew into the Coventry Canal, so we are now on a Mystery Tour. It was zipped in a plastic folder, so might actually survive its immersion and drift up on some foreign shore... I wonder if someone will find it and read that it is inscribed 'Chertsey 2010' and it will find its way back to us... Stranger things have happened (v.s.). In the meantime we are going by memory. The ziplock folders by the way are jolly good for putting your Nicholsons in; not only do they keep the rain and the smuts off, but they keep it flat and stop the pages blowing about, and it takes a really strong gust to blow the whole thing away! It is possible too to turn the pages without taking it out.
Tonight we are not oing to the pub and tomorrow we really will have an early start. Hoping to be in Braunston by Wednesday at the latest as I need to be at work on Thursday. All good things must come to an end I guess.