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.
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