Lichfield Cathedral

September 29, 2010

There is much to see in Lichfield and the Cathedral and its surrounds are the jewel in the crown.

Lichfield Cathedral dates back to medieval times, and parts have survived intact even though there was huge damage during the Civil War. Its undergoing massive and very expensive restoration to the Lady Chapel at present. When we visited we were told by the very friendly and welcoming volunteer visitor greeter that disastrous rot had been discovered in the masonry surrounding the beautiful Herkenrode windows in the nick of time and the windows had been removed before it all fell down and destroyed them. Now they are faced with a huge restoration bill and receive no government aid.

We have felt somewhat over exposed to cathedrals after visiting so many on our travels but we enjoyed our time spent in or near the cathedral. The interior isn’t as stunning as some but there is a wonderful feeling of history and continuity in the Chapter House. I particularly liked the vestibule leading to the Chapter House which its thought may be a pedilavium for foot washing. Otherwise the impact of the interior was of course marred by the grey plastic sheeting cladding the entrance to the Lady Chapel where there would normally be the beautiful colour of the stained glass windows. We’ll have to return in the future when the work is complete.

Where Lichfield Cathedral really stands out in my mind is the beautiful & intricate West Front with all its statues and three delicate pointed spires. And I loved the whole Cathedral Square which was lined with buildings that complemented the Cathedral without a jarring note. The area was peaceful with occasional small groups of purposeful looking Cathedral School pupils travelling between their classrooms.

Market Square

Cathedral

Cathedral

Cathedral Detail

New Gargoyle

Statistics so far:-

1961.53 Miles, 1108 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels

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Lichfield

September 28, 2010

We have really enjoyed wandering around Lichfield. Its a beautiful cathedral city and there are many historic buildings. The streets in the central area are cobbled and for the most part traffic free: I could imagine myself walking through the set of Cranford. I noticed a very good butcher and greengrocer and I’d like to go back to one of the market days.

We took the bus over from Alrewas and the bus driver was very morose, actually lets say rude. I asked for a return to Lichfield (not yet qualifying for a bus pass) and he charged me £5.20 and demanded the correct change. On the return journey I asked the bus driver the cost of a single ticket and he said £2.10 – the first driver had sold me a day saver. Apparently there are no return tickets and I had ended up paying £1 more than I should have done. I decided that it would cost me more in phone costs to ring Arriva and complain about him and wouldn’t get me anywhere but I will always ask for the costs of a single and return in future and check which is the best option.

Georgian and Tudor Buildings

Tudor Building

Side Street

Statistics so far:-

1961.53 Miles, 1108 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels


Pictures from Yesterday

September 27, 2010

Poor connection last night and today it is fine so here are the pictures from yesterday that I couldn’t upload.

Narrowboat Dove

St Leonards

Statistics so far:-

1961.53 Miles, 1108 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels


St Leonards

September 26, 2010

We started the day by lighting the diesel Bubble stove for the first time since May. As usual after the summer it refused to light at first and the diesel had to be drawn through using a pump. We have got better at this since the first time when a large amount of diesel went into the tray under the fire and we spent several days feeling ill and repeatedly cleaning the area. The small finally went with a solution containing Bicarbonate of Soda. We certainly didn’t light the fire as early as this over the past two years but it has been very chilly for a couple of days and we woke feeling that our joints were aching. However, as is always the way, after several hours we have now turned it off as we were expiring from the heat and the residual smell of stove blacking, applied a few weeks ago. We are finally balanced organisms as far as heat and smells are concerned!

Anyway fresh air was definite needed this afternoon and we walked past Alrewas Lock and along the river to the church of St Leonards at Wychnor, dating from the 13th century, at least the lower part of it. Its a smallish square towered church on a hill with good views all round. As we returned we watched boats passing through the lock, as if it was a great novelty. What is the fascination?

Statistics so far:-

1961.53 Miles, 1108 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels


Alrewas

September 25, 2010

We have really fallen for the charms of Alrewas and once again we are very reminded of the Oxford Canal. Its a very pretty village, so far we have seen a mixture of very beautiful older houses, several thatched and very sympathetically designed newer builds. There appears to be a very useful selection of shops, and we love the look of the butchers and will be shopping there in the future. The moorings are plentiful, and we have found a place on the 14 day moorings after meeting its previous resident at Alrewas Lock who pointed us in its direction. We are next to the large churchyard with the lovely old square towered 12th century church. And the Bowls Club!

Actually it was a very pleasant journey along here from last night’s mooring at Branston. Busy roads shadow the route for much of the way but there were pretty views, especially as we passed Branston Water Park. The last section was our final encounter with the Trent in a short river section between Wychnor and Alrewas. There was a lot of traffic on the canal and for just about the first time this year we were queuing at locks. As usual its a good way to get talking to other boaters and today’s lot were very friendly. We stopped and filled up with diesel from a boat that was selling it in 20 litre containers at 67p per litre. Apparently diesel is duty free provided it is sold in containers less than 25 litres. We bought 3 containers which were wheeled along to the boat.

The day was finished off nicely by a visit to the George and Dragon where Alan was delighted with his pints of Varsity.

Outside the Pub

Alrewas Church

Canalside Cottage

Today we did 5.32 Miles and 4 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1961.53 Miles, 1108 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels


Branston

September 24, 2010

This morning we had a real treat when we went on a brewery tour at Marston’s Brewery. I had called to book on Wednesday and was told that we could join a group on Friday. It turned out that we were a group of three altogether so we had the absolute luxury of the undivided attention of our guide, Lesley Sweeney, the Manager of the Visitors Centre. Lesley has been working for Burton breweries since the late 70s, first for Bass and then for Marston’s, and she is passionate and highly knowledgeable about the process of brewing of real ale and the history of brewing in Burton. It was a fascinating tour and we asked so many questions that we ran well over time, very patiently tolerated by Lesley. We finished with a pint (or two) at the bar in the visitors centre. The price of £6 each included two pints or two halves and a bottle to take away. Visits can be booked by calling Lesley on 01283 507 391 and we thoroughly recommend it. Its not far to walk from the mooring at Shobnall Fields and even closer from Shobnall Basin.

Otherwise it had started as a very cold, grey and windy day. Time to take some of the warm clothes out of the lockers. But the afternoon looked a little brighter and we had been recommended to the Bridge Inn at Branston (where the pickle was first made) so we moved along for an hour to the very popular moorings on either side of Bridge 34. The canal is quite narrow here and reminded us greatly of sections of the Oxford. Although we were travelling past an industrial park and have only just reached the edge of the greater Burton area it looks very attractive and rural. The Bridge Inn was very busy and though we didn’t eat one of their specialism pizzas they looked very good indeed.

Entrance to Shobnall Basin

Marstons Brewery

Current Moorings

Today we did 2.01 Miles and 1 Lock

Statistics so far:-

1956.21 Miles, 1104 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels


Burton on Trent

September 23, 2010

Wednesday

Yesterday we moved along from Willington to Burton on Trent. This stretch of the canal had been described in very derogatory terms by another boater at Willington, mainly because of the proximity of the A38. The road was noisy and close at times but there were also some attractive stretches, we crossed over the River Dove and remembered walking by it in the Peak District, the Dallow Lane Lock was quick and easy to use being the first of the single locks and the the entrance to Burton was a very pleasant surprise. We moored at Shobnall Fields and its a very nice mooring indeed.

Laundry was the afternoon’s preoccupation, and a large amount of dirty washing, the threat of the rain promised for today and concerns about our batteries meant finding the nearest laundrette rather than doing it all in the machine on the boat. So we loaded the shopping trolley to overflowing and trudged what seemed like miles through terraced streets, retail parks and beside double lane highways to Bubbles Laundrette in Uxbridge St. When Mr Bubbles came back from the school run and let us in his laundry, which was strangely empty of all other needy souls, proved very well equipped and efficient and everything was washed and dried just before his closing time. If you wonder why I rhapsodise about laundrettes I could tell you about some of the dreadful places we have discovered on our travels.

As we staggered back to the boat Alan declared that he didn’t like Burton and that we should go on the next morning. We went straight back out to the Old Cottage Tavern in Byrkley St, home of one of the five breweries still based in Burton, though I guess about the most micro. A flyer with map had been dropped in our cockpit and if they went to all that trouble and we had used their map to find the laundry…. It turned out to be a really friendly pub, very welcoming, and seemed popular and pretty full. Quite something when there are several closed down pubs in the town. Deciding to make a night of it we had an all you can eat Greek at the Mykonos near the Town Hall. It proved to be far more than we could eat and a bottle of wine for £36 which was pretty good value.

Thursday

We got up today in a much more positive frame of mind and decided to have a good look around Burton and we are very glad we did. We went out fairly late after the promised rain did arrive with a tremendous downpour. By the time we headed out we were starving so had two Full Monty breakfasts in Rumbletums for £7.90 which is just about the cheapest of our travels. Not the best but not bad either.

The centre of town is dominated by the Molson Coors Bewing Company with several sites overhung by huge steel towers. (Marstons is on this side of the canal across Shobnall Fields and we are going on a tour tomorrow). Its quite a surprise to find these sites so central but also great to see a place where things are still being made. There are many solid old brick buildings reminiscent of Manchester and a lively market in the town square. Walking on we came to the beautiful green area of the Trent Washlands and then the Trent itself looking particularly steely and reflective and flowing surprisingly fast. We went over the footbridge drawn to have a closer look at St Peters Church. The Stapenhill Gardens were mid makeover from summer to winter planting so unfortunately there wasn’t much to see but the church with its imposing tower was surrounded with trees that were staring to change colour. It is the first day of Autumn.

We returned on the Ferry Bridge past the sad site of a cleared area and floral tributes where the body of a young Polish woman was found this week.

After shopping at the market and Sainsburys we staggered home in a huge thunderstorm and the rain has continued tonight. The end of summer, but we like Autumn!

A footnote: As Alan has been a radio amateur since his teens it was interesting to learn that Burton on Trent had one of the first radio amateur clubs in the UK, formed just after the first World War.

St Modwen

St Peters Church

St Peters – up close

A444 across the Trent

Another view of the River Trent

Yesterday we did 5.04 Miles and 1 Lock

Statistics so far:-

1954.20 Miles, 1103 Locks, 118 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels