What a very nice way to start the day - very early, well not long after 8am we saw a familiar colour scheme slowly passing us - nb Compass Rose, with Howard at the tiller.
|Janet and Howard - until our next meeting|
We exited, Janet and Rosie appeared and we managed to spend a few hours catching up over tea.
We all managed to steer the conversation away from the usual subjects but in the end we couldn't manage any further and toilets reared it's ugly head - just cannot be helped.
Eventually, Janet and Howard needed to head off for cheap diesel, pumpout and Morrisons; and we needed to leave the moorings and hope for a decent one in Gnosall.
So it was goodbyes all around - until we met again - soon.
Very much earlier in the day - in fact just after midnight we had been woken by the sound of a boat glancing along the side of Ferndale - upon investigation there was a boat being hauled along - dragging a small boat behind - they appeared to be OK, but the disturbance to the night affected us for the rest of it.
|The culprit from midnight|
The short trip that was ahead was really very pleasant indeed.
|The Shroppie at its best|
|more of the best|
Whilst it wasn't a day for sun-baking, it was a nice cruising day - or at least cruising hour.
The usual practice is to take the first available and then check for something better - the first one turned out to be the best available, so we stayed put.
Nothing of any great consequence for the rest of the day - a bit of work, a bit of tennis, sitting outside reading - it is a hard life.
Friday and we were up a bit earlier - at least I was, to get some work finished and make sure that the coffee for the missus was ready on time - we were hiring a car for the weekend and were being picked up about 10am.
It seems to be the same for most that whenever you hire a car there is the important job of getting shopping done - in places where you don't normally go and in quantities that you generally cannot manage on the bus - not for us - Diane had it planned - places we do normally go (though not since we left in April) and in quantities we could manage on the bus - it was just nice not to have to worry about all of the walking and carrying it all.
I did however notice that we were in fact back on the boat, after lunch at The Golden Orient, in time for the end of the first men's semi-final and before her favourite, Roger, appeared for the second.
Football again in the evening - the solar panels had been doing their thing again - cloudy conditions and we only run the engine just over the hour as a top-up.
One of the things that we had decided about hiring cars in the future was that we would try to incorporate some of the many National Trust properties into the itinerary and so on Saturday, Diane had planned for us to see two of them which were nearby - Sunnycroft and Benthall.
I also think, after Friday shopping, she had secretly included an extra visit elsewhere.
Saturday mornings on
But before we did anything else we needed to move from the 48hr moorings where we had been since Thursday, and without any fuss we were soon moored up, in a much more open space and very comfortable indeed.
Not long after breakfast was finished, cleared up and sorted out we headed off for the first of the properties - Sunnycroft.
Built in the 1880's, it had had a strange sort of history - essentially staying in the same family, but with at least 2 of the owners having to purchase the house following the previous owners death or placement of the house on the market.
It had been lived in until the 1970's after which it came under the umbrella of the National Trust, but had the definite time warp feel - I think they all seem to have that.
|Sunnycroft - living up to it's name|
|The central hall and staircase|
After this, Diane had noticed that we had a close proximity to Ironbridge and thought it would simply be wrong not to see this famous landmark on the way to the second property - especially since Ironbridge was directly in the path.
With her precise navigation we eventually made it to Ironbridge - I recall her saying as we turned left onto a road "This is where we would have come out if we had taken that other road on the turning that we missed".
Managing to find a free on-road park for the time frame that we had available, we had a look at the Severn River; viewed the bridge from below and above; found a chippy to enjoy a bit of lunch and admire the construction of the bridge and then wander back to continue on with the journey.
|Where it all started.|
|looking down the Severn|
Benthall was a little bit more difficult to find - the phone sat-nav took us to a different location and it only took two about turns to get it right.
Once found we again enjoyed the free carparking for NT members and the free entry.
In contrast to Sunnycroft, Benthall is a 16th century property with additions over the centuries.
It has essentially been in the same family for that period, except for a period when one of the neighbours purchased it after it was put up for sale, with the intent to extract the minerals in the land - after which he himself had it back on the market and three of the family pooled resources to repurchase it.
It saw "action" during the civil war and has retained a great deal of the character of the early part of its life, but as with most properties of this age there has been add-ons and changes designed to bring the living standards up to those of the time, which has seen it change somewhat.
|The table is the only genuine piece from the 16th C|
|Although it says just after 1pm and allowing for summer time,|
it was actually after 3pm - needs resetting
It is however, well worth the visit.
After our visitations, Diane suggested that since we were close, we would like to go to an ASDA so that she could buy another dress similar to one she bought the day before - I think this had been planned.
With the sat-nav working it's magic we were off; it remains a mystery sometimes on the message that comes from the screen to my ears through the navigators unique means of expressing the directions - usually I finally understood after we reached the place being described - "straight ahead across the intersection but go left"
Anyway we made it to ASDA; got through the little bit we needed - they did have some nice prices for red wine - the cellar is now replenished.
On the way back to Ferndale, eagle-eyes in the passenger seat spies a sign relating Newport and canal-side into the same breath - "oooh a canal - shall we go and have a look".
Eventually we decide that we should go - so we returned the 5 miles that we had gone whilst we made a decision about it.
Car parked; street crossed - there it is - the remnants of the
|Although not in working order it is still a pretty setting|
|The derelict lock - mostly filled with concrete|
|This part maybe just a bit too narrow for|
a boat to get through
A few signs around declare the enthusiasm of the local group to get the canal back to a working proposition - maybe it will happen.
Finally after a seemingly long day we got back to
I fear that this was the easier day of the weekend - but definitely looking forward to tomorrow.