Written April 24, 2023, at Great Haywood, England.

Our Kansas City neighbors, Mary and Charlie Murphy, arrived yesterday afternoon to our open arms.

At the same time we were relieved to learn that Pat and Wendy had arrived safely home in Kansas City.

Both couples had been brutalized by 24 hours of travel, much in cramped airline seats. The Murphys were beat but took decidedly different approaches to resolving their fatigue. Charlie took a nap while Mary was determined to hike the countryside. Christine remained at the boat with Charlie and I joined Mary on what turned into a muddy 4+ mile slog through farm fields and along soaked canal paths. Luckily, rain held off until we were dining at the marina restaurant. During dinner the rain came in a deluge. Again, luck prevailed. The skies broke for our return to Fjord Empress.

For a few minutes we were treated to the spectacle of a remarkable rainbow in one direction and an equally remarkable sunset in the other.

We departed the marina early this morning, resuming our journey south on the Trent and Mersey Canal. There was no shortage of scenery.

A canal boat café.

What was lacking were locks. Unlike the last week, today featured only three locks, not the double digit numbers encountered during Pat and Wendy‘s tenure.

This still provided an opportunity for Charlie and Mary to develop “lock sense“, while the long uninterrupted passages gave Charlie a significant chance to learn navigation at the tiller, even “hazarding“ the challenges of entering and exiting a lock.

Our progress was such that we even had the luxury of stopping at a canal-side pub for lunch before soldiering on to Great Haywood for the evening.

We moored too early for dinner. A short walk down the canal brought us to the National Trust managed property of the historic Shugborough Estate.

This massive parklike expanse was owned by the Bishops of Lichfield prior to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII around 1540. It passed through several hands until purchased in 1624 by William Anson. He and his subsequent heirs developed the estate into a huge farming operation that was state of the art for its time. The mansion and most of the buildings and grounds seen today were the work of the famed architect, Samual Wyatt at the start of the 19th century.

We walked only a small portion of the estate which covers thousands of acres. I regret we did not have time to take in the interior of the huge mansion. We did, however, see a number of the classic structures which were built to mimic those of Greek and Roman antiquity.

Tomorrow morning, continuing on the “Four Counties Ring” route we take a hard right turn off of the Trent & Mersey Canal onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal. Adapting the words of legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra to this journey, “When you come to a fork in the canal, take it”.

Peace Everyone. Pete

24 thoughts on “A Fork in the Canal

  1. Thank you again for chronicling your adventure Pete. You and Christine look well and happy. Watched 2 hours of Steve on “Scary People” last night, not him as the scary one. You guys are filling up my time while Mother Nature is trying to decide if it’s really spring yet. Thank you so much.

  2. Bill, I love seeing the sites-reading your very descriptive words about the land, the history and the architecture. Also loved seeing Mary and Charlie. Laura Murphy Wank

      • Tommy Fagan says:

        I was with Charlie Murphy when President Kennedy was shot, (so I KNOW he didn’t do it).(We were 5) That might have been the day we almost got caught smoking one of Mnsngr Tighe’s cigars he usually got from Rothenburg and Schloss on Broadway and we hid behind the Rectory and smoked until we turned green. 10 years later, I would find myself with Newell Davidson working on their HVAC equipment for my summer job. One of the finest customers Fagan Air Conditioning ever had. When we were going to become Publicly Traded, we had the Reps from the SEC interview the folks at Rothenburg and Schloss. Tommy Fagan

  3. That was special; a rainbow and a sunset together. I wonder if the structures resembling Greek or Romans were what I read in some books they called “fools” that people built on their property. Beautiful country.

  4. That is so cool that your KC friends could join you! The rainbow/sunset are gorgeous! And Christine’s hair! It is soooo long and gorgeous too! 😘

    • Hi Annie. The downside on Christine‘s hair is that when I turn over in the night I often times snag it. We count ourselves very fortunate to have been able to share this experience with Pat, Wendy, and now Mary and Charlie.

  5. I can’t get over how green and lush it is in the countryside. We have a week of 50’s and 60’s predicted ahead of us . . . maybe it will be Spring after all! We had to run to Helena for a prescription this afternoon. It started raining steadily as we pulled in at home, and it is still raining 3+ house later! It is the first rain since Fall, I believe. Our pastures are just starting to green (about 2″ high). My brother commented he had never seen as much snow here in his 15 years as we have had this winter, and that his horses are generally on grass by now without hay supplement – they are not yet, this year. Nice to see dirt again – the drifts are melted for the most part in the valley now. Still patchy snow as the foothills climb. I have wondered how your Colorado property has fared. I noticed driving home that the ranchers down on the river moved their cow/calf pairs to greening pastures today prior to branding, which should be starting soon. They turn out on leased BLM mountain pastures on or about June 1. Safe sailing!

    • Thank you so much Babe! It’s green here because of so much rain. I think it is also unseasonably cool the last few weeks I am just up in the morning and it is below freezing out. The cabinets of the boat colder than the refrigerator (I think).

  6. Howdy folks! Your post pictures are beautiful and as always – I love a history lesson (wish I had paid better attention in school!). As others have said – the green of the countryside is indeed beautiful – but we all know there is a “price” to be paid for those lovely green expanses – rain – and lots of it. It has been raining here for two days – cranked up the wood stove to take off the chill .. 2.5″ yesterday, much less today – but we need it. I hope that you can hang up your rain gear for a bit and just enjoy the surrounding areas. Safe travels … hugs to all – even your neighbors – I mean – what the heck!!

  7. Tom Grimaldi says:

    Lovely scenery. It’s a wonder you are making any progress with so many photo opportunities around every bend and fork. I would be
    taking so many pictures I wouldn’t
    be able to do much tiller work. Say hello to the Murphys from Mary and me. We’ll keep an eye on your respective homesteads.

    • Say, Tom, by my reckoning you must be up around 2 AM in the morning! It’s daybreak here and below, freezing outside, probably in the boat as well. Murphys say hi and we all say thanks for keeping an eye on the properties. The four of us send our love to you and Mary.

  8. Sarah Murphy says:

    What fun! (Although 4 miles of mud sounds like a slog to me.) I’m so happy to see Mom and Dad in such good company. Thanks for chronicling this journey, Pete!

  9. Pam Roberts says:

    Love the scenery and especially the rainbow, an awesome sight. How lovely to have some of your friends travel with you and share the experience. I’ll continue to enjoy your travels.

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