Monday, 5 May 2014

Stuffed At Stoke

When I stopped going to top-flight football in the early 80s I swore I would never get sucked into it again. The mixture of euphoria and despondency never materialises in equal measures, especially if you follow one of the clubs who are never going to set the footballing world alight.
But it happened again, about six years ago, when our boy Kev started going to Fulham FC and invited us along. We got sort of sucked into it and every Saturday we cross our fingers when we check the scores and stay up until the last match on “Match of The Day”, for they always appear last, and normally lose. That has been especially pertinent this season.
I mention this as last Saturday saw Pat and I sitting in amongst 30,000 Stoke City fans, with my old drinking pal Paul and his wife Carolyn, who entertained us for the day with a great meal in the club’s best restaurant and two match tickets. We feared the worst but it was a rout.  A crushing 4-1 defeat sent Fulham down into the Championship after 12 years of playing with the big boys in the Premiership. To be fair Fulham were terrible. No fight in them at all. But it was still a great day out. We hadn’t been to the Britannia Stadium, since our hosts had their wedding reception there 12 years ago.
Pre-match shopping at Stone Farmers Market

Pre-match lunch in the Waddington Suite at Stoke City FC

4-1 down. Five minutes to go

We are now in Alrewas, and that is quite a difficult name to pronounce properly. It’s a regular stopping place for us, and for everybody else it seems, for when we pitched up here Sunday lunchtime, there was only  a couple of spaces left. It is better today. We like Alrewas. Delightful moorings; close to the village centre; three pubs; a decent Co-Op, a fabulous butchers and a thriving ukulele club. Plus, one of the pubs does a super Sunday roast, with three courses for £8 and the pub is in the "Good Beer Guide", so a good assortment of ales.
We had to moor on a bend. at Alrewas.

This morning we walked over to the Nation Arboretum. Despite mooring here four or five times, we have never visited this unique and very moving tribute to all those who have served and fallen in the armed forces. It’s a huge estate which attracts thousands every year and was only a short walk from the village.
Pat checks out one of the memorials at the National Arboretum

Our progress, since we left Mercia Marina last Thursday has been slow (for us). But with the football on Saturday and the Bank Holiday, we have lost a couple of cruising days. This will not change much over the next two weeks as we snake our way north to Stoke On Trent, where Pat’s sister Monica joins us for a few days cruising.
We had planned to spend a couple of days, south of Stoke, adjacent to the Wedgwood Factory. Three generation of Pat’s great grandparents worked there  in the 19th century and Pat had some of the dates and addresses where they lived in company houses.
Unfortunately the archivist there has been unable to find any record of them at all. We had hoped to raid the company’s extensive archive (though it is clearly not that extensive!) but I doubt we will bother now. I think we are both a little disappointed. I expect we will visit, but we had planned two days there, so now we have to re-think.
We welcome again John & Karen from "Kind Of Blue"

While we were moored in Burton, “Kind Of Blue” chugged past. We first met John and Karen when we were moored in Hertford last summer, and met up again in Rickmansworth in the autumn, when they were fitting out a boat for their daughter. They are very similar boaters to us, and we always have lots to talk about when we meet up. They appear to approaching the Leeds and Liverpool from the River Trent, so no doubt we will meet them again later this summer, somewhere in the middle.
And, we couldn’t pass Ian and Eileen on “Free Spirit” without popping in for a cup of tea. They are moored at Branston between Burton and Alrewas, waiting to become grandparents again.
Next weekend, we will be in Stone. Another favourite place of mine on this stretch.
Till then, toodaloo.

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