By Friday afternoon last Janis and I had visited and been over the whole of Shugborough Hall and its ground and all the suitable walks around Great Haywood. Our legs had taken us in all different directions.
On that Friday too Gareth the engineer from Burton upon Trent, whom I had called on arrival here, had been out to remedy the screaming alternator fan belt that he fitted for us earlier and had been deafening us now for a couple of days. He fitted very quickly an adjustment bar and a shorter fan belt and we’ve experienced no bother since though we have yet to test it on a full passage.
But as ‘Futurest’ was not booked in for work at the Marina until Tuesday morning, it gave Janis and I the weekend ahead with no particular plans. So we decided to take a run in one of our boats from Great Haywood up to the largish town of Stone, about nine miles to the north, and bring her back again on Monday, ready for ‘Futurest’s booking on Tuesday. The weather forecast was most suitable for the trip with hot continuous sunshine in a cloudless shimmering blue sky.
‘Futurest’ in bright sunshine is totally self sufficient with the help of the solar panel on her roof. Even with the 12 volt fridge working normally there is more than enough electricity produced for her batteries to remain fully charged up, whereas the panel on ‘Roots and Wings’, with the little ship’s inverter running continuously for a 240 volt fridge, fails to produce enough charge over a full twenty four hour period and the engine needs to be run as well in order to compensate.
So we decided to take ‘Roots and Wings’ and safely leave ‘Futurest’ to her own devices at her mooring.
Janis came up through Haywood Lock with her ship at around eight o’clock on Saturday morning and I met them at the already busy water point complete with wash kit and windlass.
The Slalom on the River Trent at Stone
However soon we were on our way as were lots of others and though we had to queue at each of the four locks along the way, it was not an unpleasant passage and because of the number of people always eager to help at the locks, my windlass was completely superfluous during the whole time and never used once.
Burston Village Pond
We arrived at about lunchtime and managed to find a single mooring space on the busy canal, just below the Star Lock and adjacent to the Westbridge Leisure Park, the wonderful green space that also includes the meandering River Trent. Along the river became one of our walks while we were there of course, and we watched the anglers in the river and the paddlers on the kayak slalom. All seemed to be happy and invigorated by the balmy air in the early evening sunshine.
Saturday was also our shopping day and we trailed through charity shops and hardware stores looking for different items that we thought we needed as well as stopping at a little tea shop just off the pedestrianised High Street for a leisurely and well earned cup of tea.
We had an early night ready for a food shop at Morrison’s the following day.
After this we had had enough of the hustle and bustle of the town and decided to move in the afternoon three miles to the south to a more rural spot at Bridge 86, very close to the small village of Burston and it was here that we stayed on Sunday night.
We arrived at around midday again with the weather still perfect. So before very long we had decided on yet another walk using the country footpath system.
The village was small and very quiet and for once the church was open. St Rufin’s was very small. Victorian in age it looked rather more like a Methodist chapel than an Anglican parish Church. But it was quiet and cool enough for contemplation which was important.
Unusually a lone long tailed Tit was flitting and hovering with a great deal of expertise among the small flies just above the surface of the village pond and was grabbing one here and capturing one there with ease in his quick and eager little mouth.
After watching him from a seat for sometime, we had a lovely walk in the country over rustic little used stiles, through knee high hay fields and across green meadows grazed short by timid but resentful looking sheep and very inquisitive cattle whose sheer size and close proximity made us feel uncomfortable sometimes.
A Country Walk
Then four miles later and safely back at the ship, after a good hearty pizza and salad meal, we had an early night ready for a good start back to Great Haywood today.
The canal was just as busy on the return journey after we had left the mooring at 7 am. and we soon quite suddenly came upon the entrance to Great Haywood Marina and by midday were tied up starboard side to, on the north side of the road bridge just above the water point and the junction.
‘Futurest’ was just as I had left her with her batteries fully charged and, I could feel that she was eager to be off somewhere; anywhere; soon.