Trentham Gardens and Great Haywood: A Family Weekend

Last weekend we spent time with part of our family around Stone. Our grandson Hugh, and his  parents Andy & Emily, came north to Stone and we had a weekend visiting local attractions and boating. Hugh has been on Albert before but is now he is of an age (3 years) where he can begin to really appreciate it and we could actually cruise.
Boating with Grandad

 On Saturday afternoon we visited Trentham Gardens. With the fine weather  the gardens and  boutique shops near the entrance were busy. A steady stream of fans carrying chairs and tables were making their way towards the concert area where a Red Hot Chilli Peppers & Foo Fighters tribute bands were due to play. By coincidence the "real" Foo Fighters were appearing on the same night back home in Milton Keynes Bowl.

Carriage Riding at Trentham

We thought the planting in the Italian Garden was very imaginative, particularly the use of grasses and the Fairy statues were stunning. 

Trentham Gardens Fairies

We took a horse carriage around the gardens. It was drawn by Paddy who Hugh found fascinating. He loved it when Paddy suddenly stopped to have a wee halfway along a path. I think little boys can relate to it!
The Slide - it requires a climb up a wall!

Hugh inspecting flowers

Planting with grasses

We finished the day with an early dinner at the Bistro at Aston Marina. Hugh was on his best behaviour so we didn't upset the other diners. The meal was up to their usual high standard. Emily and Andy shared a chateaubriand steak.
Travelling South near Aston

Sunday found us taking our familiar trip south from Aston to Great Haywood. The weather was fine and sunny and we had fun. Hugh, equipped with his life-jacket, joined in helping at the locks and travelled for a while on the cabin slide - a traditional location in the days of commercial carrying.

Negotiating Sandon Lock

There were queues at some of the locks but this gave Hugh the opportunity to explore (under supervision).

Hugh and Victoria

Emily steering near Hoo Mill Lock - waiting for the lock

We moored in the early afternoon just beyond the junction at Great Haywood and took a stroll into Shugborough Estate to have tea in the National Trust tea rooms. The weather was sunny and relatively warm, despite the northerly winds, and Hugh enjoyed scooting around the garden paths investigating the "hidden doors" that lead to secret places - it was the last day of this summer event.

Hugh scooting at Shugborough

Shugborough Hall

River Sow and swans

That night Maggie and I stayed on board Albert and the rest of the family returned home. Monday saw us reversing back to the junction, winding and then returning North to Aston. The weather was warm and sunny and the journey was delightful. A steady stream of boats was coming south but going in our direction we only came across one boat. We moored up for a leisurely lunch at Burston finally reaching Aston in the late afternoon. It was a memorable weekend.

Cattle standing on a bridge waiting for the gate to open

Unspoilt by Progress: Update

Today the October edition of Waterways World landed on my mat and, as usual, I immediately dipped into it. My attention was drawn to an item about the epic trip taken twenty years ago by two narrowboats (motor and butty) across The Channel and along the European waterways to the Black Sea. The WW article is an interview of Nick Sanders who took the journey and had the boats built.

I remember the trip being well reported at the time and marvelling at the feat. The boats were named after the Banks's Brewery slogan - Unspoilt by Progress (I and II). This along with their slogan "From the Black Country to the Black Sea" stuck firmly in my mind. I think I recall seeing both boats in the late 90s in the Birmingham area. The new article explains that the motor is still owned by Nick Sanders and is obviously at a marina in the Midlands, but recently that I discovered where the butty is located.

Passing through Stone over the last couple of years, I noticed that the butty owned by boat painter Tina Paramore, and usually moored at Roger Fuller's yard, is named Star but it was Unspoilt by Progress II. This information is proudly displayed on the forecabin but I don't suppose many passing will realise that this well cared for butty has travelled through a war zone and survived a sinking in the River Danube.

Butty Star: Formerly Unspoilt by Progress II at Stone

Steam at Thrupp

Not directly waterways related, in fact you would be hard pressed to find a connection, but I thought some readers might appreciate this image taken today not far from Thrupp Wharf on the Grand Union (Cosgrove). The Duchess of Sutherland, one of Stanier's Coronation class was hauling a Cathederal Express excursion from Rugby to London. I stood on the footbridge at the old Castlethorpe station (closed in 1964) and manage to peek over the parapet to get my shots - modern safety requirements make watching trains difficult.

Stanier Pacific 46233 going south through Castlethorpe, September 3rd, 2015

She arrived spot on time and was certainly showing a good head of steam on a downhill gradient.