We have reached the end of our first month. Things have settled down, we don't seem to be trying to do quite so much and we have covered fewer miles and locks and enjoyed more of the restful countryside and taken time to visit places, the purpose of our trip. We enjoyed a delightful few days travelling the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal to Great Haywood - stopping overnight at Coven and attending church there, reached by walking across a field. Near Great Haywood is Tixall Wide, where the canal is more like a lake, overlooked by the wonderfully Gothic Tixall Gatehouse (Landmark Trust property), with lovely scenery and bird life. We went to yet another National Trust property, Shugborough Hall, which we found strangely cold and lifeless and also felt very odd being shown around the late Lord Lichfield's private appartments. The exhibition relating to his photography, however, was very good.
We enjoyed a bus trip into Stafford, which is lovely, and did some shopping (relacing specs lost overboard)and loved to see the beautiful collegiate church full of youngsters doing crafts like brass rubbing and pyrography during their open week. At Penkridge, by contrast, the church, also collegiate, was locked. But the village was nice and very friendly people. Our journey then took us back to the juction with the Shropshire Union canal where the huge signpost was topped by a heron - I think they get quite annoyed with the boaters disturbing their fishing! Telford's canal is wide and straight with very few locks, he used civil engineering to level the route so there are deep cuttings and high embankments. Saturday bought us to Brewood (pronounced Brood) where we have been made very welcome by the library, from where I write. We met up with sisters Diana and Juliet on Sunday after attending the morning service, again we have been made very welcome and Martin is 'in' with the bell ringers and rang for evensong and has been invited to attend practice tonight. The weather has been very mixed - it's hard to acclimatise to 28C from 13 and back again in such a short time. Weekends tend to be busy on the canals and it is fun to moor up and then watch the other boats arrive and settle in. We have met lots of lovely dogs and their owners and enjoyed conversations with experienced canal travellers. Sometimes we moor out in the country although until now we have been able to hear the hum of motorways even in what seem to be the remotest places. So onward and northward for the next adventure.