Thursday, 11 September 2014

Stone & Weston 9th – 10th September 2014

Tuesday 9th September
No room at Stone
4.25 miles, 8 locks

Yet another wonderful day with blue skies and lots of sunshine.  As we approached the first bridge we wondered if this was a sign that it might be busy. 

It was!  Thankfully for us they were all going north as we headed south.  There was a boat coming out of all four locks at Meaford (pronounced Mefford we are reliably informed) which meant we swept through very quickly.  Every lock was ready and there were other boats waiting to come up, so plenty of hands to wind and push. 

There was a little waiting to be done through the four at Stone and there was still more coming up than going down.  We stopped for services in the middle of the Stone flight.  The elsan is the first we have come across that required a peg for one’s nose! Also the tap in there and the water tap are very slow, but functional. 

We noticed this rather clever bike storage today.

How did I miss these magnificent chimneys near the bottom lock on the way up?

I also missed this wooden carving named ‘Christina’ in memory of Christina Collins near Workhouse Bridge.   Boats used to carry passengers as well as freight.  It was cheaper than by coach as it was slower.  In June 1839 Christina Collins paid one shilling and six pence (8 pence today) to travel by boat from Preston Brook to London to join her husband.  After leaving Stoke the three boat men and a boy started to drink heavily and when they reached Stone Mrs Collins told Hugh Cordwell at the Toll Office that she feared the men would ‘meddle’ with her.  He told her to report them at the end of the journey.  Sadly she never made it.  The next day her body was found in the canal near Rugeley.  She had been raped and her body thrown overboard.  Two of the men were hung for the murder at Stafford and the third was transported. 

There is a lot of work going on at the bottom lock – I gather they are clearing the culvert under the canal.  It is incredibly noisy and makes a quiet drink in the garden of the The Star Inn impossible.

We had hoped to moor below the lock, but no joy – all the moorings were full, so we moved on and tied up about half a mile from the bottom lock.  With boats behind

and boats ahead.
 It was very peaceful apart from when the grass cutters and men with strimmers arrive!  They seem to be following us around.

We made a trip to Morrisons – turn right at the bridge and go up the hill and you will find it on the right.  Just past the lock we noticed this establishment with a great name for a hairdresser!

Postscript - Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup - the only tomato soup I like.  We spotted some as a cup a soup a couple of weeks ago.  It is my staple diet if I am a bit under the weather and today was one of those days, so I decided to try it.  I am delighted to say it passed muster and tasted almost as good as the stuff in the tin!

Wednesday 10th September
Tight squeeze at Weston
6.25 miles, 2 locks

We woke to yet another glorious day – in fact even hotter than yesterday.  Just a short jaunt to Weston today – no need to hurry.  Again there were boats moving, but against us, so no queues at locks for us. 

This was a wonderful peaceful scene of the cows cooling off and having a drink 

We stopped at Salt, but was glad we were not staying for the night as there was a wasps’ nest very close to where we had moored.  It was a lot busier than it looks in this picture.

The reason we stopped – curiosity – the Holly Bush Inn is reputedly the oldest in Staffordshire so we went to have a look.  

The garden was a very pleasant place to stop for a swift one – well it would have been rude not to!

In the 18th century several wealthy and influential families settled in this area (it is very beautiful) and this bridge built of brick and stone echoes the high aesthetic values of that time.
 It is certainly magnificent particularly as we went under on our way to Weston.  No we did not leave Monty behind!  The picture was taken on the way back from the pub.

As we approached Weston we spotted this bridge over the railway that seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Note as well the silage in the foreground – a sure sign of autumn.

The sight of Weston church ahead brought back memories of our time on the River Nene when there seemed to be a church spire around every corner.
 Not the best photo as the sky was very blue– I really think my camera is dying.  I need it to last until we get home!

On past this garden with chickens roaming free and black ducks – the first of that colour we have ever seen.

And on to Weston where we got the last possible mooring, but only thanks to the boat ahead of us – they kindly moved a couple of feet to allow us to squeeze in.

So what does Weston have to offer?

Some very pretty cottages – into sun I am afraid, but you should get the idea

One of which has chickens, ducks and peahens running free

And this magnificent cockerel

Is it a duck, is it a swan - no and I really do not know what to make of it!  He decided discretion was the better part of valour and left well alone.

A lake that appears to be privately owned

St Andrews Church

That sadly was locked

And this was the shop mentioned in Nicholson’s guide – just a private residence now, so don’t bother going for a pint of milk and a paper!

It also had a school that is no more. 

It did, however, have the Saracen’s Head where we had a very good meal and a quiet and safe mooring for the night.

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