Thursday, 26 February 2015

Yum yum, eating in Staffordshire

We seem to have done a lot of eating out recently. After the usual Friday gathering a couple of weeks ago it was decided to try the 'Blue Rooms' in Stone. Famed for its super pies, we were anticipating a treat. We were not dissapointed. I had the Feta, mushroom & Spinach, while the Captain tucked into a slice of the steak and Stilton. It was a great meal and I would recomend it.
On Monday, after a flurry of text messages, we drove down to Fradley to meet up with Della & Garry from NB Muleless, who are making their way northwards. No trip to Fradley Junction would be complete without a visit to the Swan, where we had a great afternoon with pints and food. For a change it was not busy and we exchanged all our news in a very relaxed atmosphere. Hope to catch up with you Guys again when you get nearer to Stafford.
Yesterday we had planned to go to the Three Crowns Pie night, just up the road from Aston Marina with Sue & Andy from NB Festina Lente, however, after a last minute change of plan, we drove to the 'Radford Inn'  on the Staffs. & Worcs where they do a daily carvery for under a fiver. It was an excellent meal and super value.
You can gather from the above that we are enjoying our winter at Aston. There is great company and we have made lots of new friends, even if we have both put on a few extra pounds over the winter.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Family Visit

Yes, the family do sometimes remember we are here, and to prove it we had a visit from our daughter Emma over the weekend. We had expected her to get here by lunchtime but the huge pileup on the M40 on Saturday meant she didn't arrive till rather later.
The weather was quite kind for a change. We had a stroll up the towpath into Stone on Sunday morning, and after coffee in 'Spoons' we wandered back to Oakapple in the sunshine and cooked a traditional Sunday lunch.
The sun was still shining on Monday and we caught the bus into Stafford, where we showed Emma the sights, including the old court house and the lovely little old church of St. Chads, the oldest church in Staffordshire. A visit to Stafford would not be complete without lunch in the old picture house, which Emma was very impressed with.
On our own again by Wednesday, we drove to Lichfield. It is a fine old City, and the Cathedral is stunning. Today the rain has returned so it's a catching up day ready for the usual Friday gathering, minus a few faces this week as some of the gang are in Cornwall on Holiday.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Down in the lock

After the usual Friday gathering we caught the bus into Stafford on Saturday with Dot & Gordon.
Rumour was that the staircase locks at Etruria were being opened for visitors on Sunday. It was a damned cold morning but we decided to go along. It's not often you get the chance to go to the bottom of a lock and see the workings and it was well worth the effort.
The scaffolding had been set up to allow us to get to the bottom of the lock chambers, so after putting on our hardhats we were escorted down. The C&RT man exlained how they fitted the new gates and pointed out the features of the cills and paddle gear. These are the bits which are usually under water and remain a mystery, except when some muppet manages to drain the pound!
One feature which came as a suprise was the rubbing stone. Set in front of the cill, it protects the cill from being damaged by boats when the level is low or when a boat is exceptionally deep in the water.
While we were at the bottom of the lock a man with an official looking badge started talking to us. It was only after he had gone that we found out he was the head man of the Canal & River Trust. If we had known we could have had a conversation about some of the issues with the trust. Perhaps it's just as well we didn't know.