Greetings landlubbers and pals with webbed feet, from the glorious Staffs and Worcester canal as we drift south, for a change, and I write this from a very pleasant spot, about a mile north of Stafford city centre, adjacent to a park on one side and leafy residential properties on the other.
After a very blustery few days, which were not too pleasurable, we pitched up in Stone in Staffordshire - a small canal town, which the Trent & Mersey dissects, last Thursday. There are three town centre locks, a hire fleet, chandlery and a large boating community. It promotes itself as a “canal town”, and lives up that claim. It also has, some reason, half a narrow boat on display!
|Wonder where the other half went to?|
The best pub in town, about a minute from the tow path, is The Swan, which is always busy and rightly so, and while we were moored in the town The Cat’s Whiskers befriended, though I am not sure if that is the right word: terrorised might be a better description, our own swan, who the locals call Psycho!
His mate was on her nest, opposite us, and we assumed Psycho was doing the macho thing and his aggressive behaviour was based on his paternal instincts. No, say the locals. He is always like it and is a bit of a local personality with an seemingly appropriate name.
|Psycho attacks my shoes|
He liked to hang around the back of the boat, and went for your feet as you get on and off, and if you opened the side hatch you had to check first where Psycho was, otherwise he was likely to rise up and attempt an entry. However, in the three days we were in Stone, we saw him chase and attack dogs, and pursue and hiss at passing boats, pecking at the rear fenders, so he is not bothered who he stalks. Altogether there was a great deal of hissing and fluffing up feathers to make him look more menacing than he was.
While we were in Stone, Pat celebrated her 60th birthday. She spent a good chunk of the day at the local launderette. The previous day she had also fallen down the steps into the boat and bruised her lower back, and that has slowed her down a bit. Ever generous, and as a birthday treat, I gave her a crisp ten pound note and pointed her in the direction of the local charity shops. She only spent £2.50 on a headscarf - that’s my gal!
|Pat models her birthday present|
|Birthday girl (and Psycho)|
And before you all make comments on this blog that I am a penny pinching, cheap skate, tight wad, there will be a spa weekend happening soon, when we are in Birmingham.
Our good pals Vic and Liz drove down from Crewe to join us Saturday night and we had a very enjoyable Thai meal in a little restaurant just off the tow path. Vic has caught the boating bug and I am expecting a call any day to tell me he is afloat.
The weather continues to dominate how far we travel each day - if at all. Generally, apart from the wind, its been OK for cruising: coldish until around eleven, then less cold in the afternoon with the odd sunny spell. We still light a fire each evening, but lighting up time is getting later and later.
We have experienced only a few April showers, unlike this time last year when we were holed up at Trent Lock, waiting for it to stop raining and for the river levels to drop.
All being well, we will be in Penkridge this coming weekend. It is possible that we might have some American Couchsurfers joining us for a couple of days. We are still waiting to hear from them - then we skirt Wolverhampton and continue south for Worcester.