Ever since we set off from Newark over a fortnight ago we have had a friend with us at all times. If he is not actually with us then he has been very close by ….. not too far away.
He has always been watching over us and this evening tied up safely within sight of Wolseley Bridge in Staffordshire and with the Sun shining brilliantly, as if in approval, he is still very close to us.
Like all good friends he has been very supportive, when we have been in doubt. We have felt his praise when we have done things right but his rebuke has been swift when things have gone wrong. But he has been forgiving of our inadequacies and I feel he is mostly in approval.
But we do not fear him …. We respect him in all his moods, sombre, passionate and sparkling.
We are very lucky….
As we travel further north he will eventually leave us to our own maturity but, because he has been with us for so long, we shall miss his presence as we climb over the heights of the Pennines and down the other side.
But soon at Keadby, we shall return to his outstretched arms once more.
He has been our friend,
our constant companion on this long journey
has been the River Trent.
Aqueduct over the River Trent at Rugeley
The Trent watching over us nearby at Wolseley Bridge
On Friday we finally left Burton and moored later that same day at the pretty village of Alrewas.
After tying up Janis and I decided that in spite of the sky being overcast, it would not stop us from exploring the locality as much as we could. As we needed some provisions we made our way first to the local Co op, noting with wonder the ancient, black and white low thatched cottages, with either sweet smelling Clematis, climbing Rose or Wisteria, with heavy blossoms that looked like ripe pale blue grapes, cascading over low doorways and gardens full of blooms that seemed to overflow grey and weathered walls in order to cheer us all up.
One of the ancient thatched cottages
Nearby was a notice on a board announcing that on the following night a concert was being given at the Parish Church by a sextet of singers from Walsall called the Watershed Theatre Company. It was entitled ‘Music from the Shows’ and tickets were six pounds.
Initially having decided to stay just overnight, Janis and I decided unanimously as well as immediately to stay an extra day at our mooring so that we could attend this performance and dived into the local newsagent next to the Co op to buy two tickets.
Therefore having the extra day to explore, on Saturday afternoon we went for a walk, which took us over the busy A38 road as well as the railway level crossing and deposited us, quite by chance, in front of a park called the National Memorial Arboretum. We entered and discovered that it was a young recently wooded area devoted entirely to the memory of the people of this country who have died in combat since the Second World War.
The central Memorial area
It was amazing and quite marvellous. The area was so vast that it would take many days to see all of it. We found and made a particular pilgrimage to the Merchant Navy Section for my benefit, where there was a tree planted for every ship sunk during the War.
Janis against one of the walls of inscribed walls
The main memorial which showed thousands of names carved on white polished granite walls that surrounded the central area, was impressive and the more than life size sculptures within were poignant and filled me with sadness that today we were still allowing the killing to go on.
One of the sculptures which I found very moving
Later back at the little ships, we showered and dressed up for the concert at seven thirty and found the show was marvellous. Each of the cast, three ladies and three gents, had lovely voices very suitable for songs from the shows and the programme was very varied with every combination of the six voices. In the interval there was a free glass of wine and nibbles and at the end of the two hour concert we felt as if we had received full value for our money.
Myself in concert going kit
Janis looking suitably posh for the occasion