Today the duo of little ships is at Brewood (pronounced ‘Brood’) on the Shropshire Union Canal at the visitor moorings within a long reach of tall Beeches and Oaks on both sides.
Just a little sunlight is normally let in at this time of the year through the small gap where the tops of the trees, abundantly waving and swishing in the fresh breeze almost meet and with a tall grey stoned ornate bridge at each end of the three or four hundred yards stretch, ‘Futurest’ and ‘Roots and Wings’ sit stem to stern very snugly in this natural form of tunnel.
But today there is very little daylight being filtered through the leaves let alone sunlight to sparkle on the water as one might hope, as the rain is beating down furiously from a very leaden sky while the wind leaves all kinds of tree debris on top of our roofs. Yesterday was even worse as the two little ships battled through the driving rain to arrive here in the early afternoon.
All of us had had enough by then as the rain had not let up during the week at all.
On Monday we finally left our comfortable rural mooring at Laches Bridge, from where we had been to visit ‘Moseley Old Hall’. It was raining then, but only lightly on and off, and always optimistic we decided the Sun would stick his head through the cloud layer eventually.
We arrived at Autherley Junction at midday in continuous light rain and though we wanted to enter the Shropshire Union Canal eventually, we had previously decided to venture a further two and a half miles down the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal in order to visit ‘Wightwick Manor’ another National Trust property.
So in the early Monday afternoon we tied up to ‘tin’ in the middle of the pound between Compton Lock and Wightwick Mill Lock while it was still raining hard and on Wednesday we went off to explore the manor house.
Standing in extensive grounds the home of Theodore Mander, of paint manufacturing fame, was built in 1887 to look, very convincingly like a black and white Tudor mansion and both Janis and I, in spite of the weather, found it all quite breathtakingly beautiful. The wife of the the last owner, the descendant of Theodore, was a great collector of art especially that of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement and she and her husband owned many paintings and sketches by these artists as well as having most of the rooms decorated by wallpaper and wall coverings designed and made by William Morris.
It was wonderful and we were pleased we had made the effort to get there.
Still raining heavily yesterday on and off, Janis and I in the morning, took our ships down through the lock and turned around just above Wightwick Lock for the return journey to Autherley Junction.
Here we found it very busy with a queue on the Shropshire side right back beyond the water point, which is where we intended to fill up our tanks. There was nobody actually using the facility for what it was designed and luckily one by one we both managed to stick our noses into an available chink to get alongside briefly for taking on our water.
Then it was plain sailing, in spite of the rain which was now continuous and heavy, for the last five miles of the journey here to Brewood. Today we are enjoying a relaxing day, though the weather has shown little improvement. But we have had our friends John and Barbara from ‘Baljon II’ visiting earlier. It was a delightful surprise and lovely to see them again.