To Tixall and beyond
The nice thing about being retired is that we don’t have a schedule to keep to now, so when we moved just a couple of miles to Great Haywood and visited the fabulous Canalside Farm Shop and Cafe (they have some lovely fresh produce and we came out poorer than we intended ;-0) we opted to stay there for the night. In the evening Dave & Lesley, who we had been moored next to at Wolesley Bridge walked past so we invited them in and spent the evening chatting about everything and anything, including the fact that I wished that I could splice a rope properly. Lesley promptly offered to come back in the morning to show me, which she did, coming back equipped with diagrams and Swedish fids!
After my instruction we filled up with water etc. and then turned through the junction bridge onto the Staffs & Worcs (Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal). Tixall Wide is a broad stretch of the canal which the owners of Tixall House insisted on, so it looked like an ornamental lake, as part of the deal for routing the canal though their estate. Ironically all that remains of Tixall House is the impressive gatehouse, which is visible in the distance.
We passed through several locks and for most of the way the M6 was our near companion although we couldn’t always see it. There was an attractive Turnover Bridge to photograph swapping the towpath from one side of the canal to the other.
We paused at Park Gate lock to visit Midland Chandlers and buy some rope to practice splicing, then after passing through Penkridge Lock found ourselves a mooring where we shall stay for a couple of days as we need to have our post forwarded Post Restante to the local Post Office.
Whilst here we have explored the town which has a good range of independent shops, including a proper hardware shop where we got cotton sash-cord, and had lunch at The Boat Inn who took 45 minutes to produce a burger, although it was nice to sit outside with a pint in the sunshine whilst we waited, but seriously guys, why serve an outside meal on a wooden breadboard so the salad blows away and the chips get cold?
I am happy to report that the Eye Splice has been mastered and I have made a couple of short mooring straps (or is it strops or maybe warps?) with eyes on either end, like this anyway!
A little more challenging was the ‘Turk’s Head’ a largely decorative knot, used for Boy Scouts’ woggles, but in our case to decorate and protect the paint on the swan-neck from being damaged when opening the hatch in the counter (back deck).
It took me a while to find a set of instructions which I could understand but this set at Ropeworks worked for me.
We passed Tony and Jacqui on nb Timewarp on our way here and yesterday afternoon they caught up and moored behind us. They were colleagues when I worked for Oxfordshire Narrowboats at Heyford Wharf and they are now selling brass tiller pins from their boat.