Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Heading home

Tug talking with Tebay at Tixall
We are on familiar territory now, heading down the Trent & Mersey towards Fradley and then off to Streethay Wharf to say hello to old mates.
Streethay was where we refitted Harry and turned it from fire ravaged wreck to handsome tug, and before that where we based our first boat, Star, for refitting. It's our boating home, I guess.
We paid a brief visit to Stafford; brief because it's such a dismal place: a variety of edge of town malls have sprung up, pulling away all the big stores, and leaving a vacuum in the town centre. Walking down the wide, pedestrianised main street with its closed shops and shabby seventies parades you expect to see tumbleweed rolling past. And all of it presided over by the vast ugly council offices, looking like something out of Soviet era East Germany.
From Stafford, the run is a level, lock-free one for several miles, generally accompanied by the railway. In a rare bout of incuriousity, we passed three people standing on isolated canal bridges looking into the distance. By not asking them what they were watching for we missed a steam train, which roared past just as we disappeared behind a belt of trees. I'm guessing it was the Flying Scotsman. Damn!
Hot air balloons rise into the clear sky
The final lock on the Staffs & Worcs brought us to the beautiful open expanse of Tixall Wide where we moored behind another handsome tug, Tebay and settled in for some tug talk. It's a historic 1929 boat with a Kelvin engine and even deeper in the water than us. On an evening stroll we saw a pair of hot air balloons go up and drift off across the clear sky, then spoke to some lads fishing - and one caught a pike right in front of us. It was young and about ten pounds but big enough and with teeth looking mean enough to make me stand well clear while he released it.

Just keep well clear of those teeth!
Today we've wandered down from Great Haywood where the S&W joins the Trent & Mersey amid an increasing number of boats and a corresponding decreasing number of mooring spots. Finally we've tied up just above Wood End Lock on the run in to Fradley junction.

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