We’re Jammin’

I finished the last of my home made marmalade this morning, on the last of Shane’s bread. A trip to the shop in Gnosall was in order. Shane had researched a car free route that went along an old railway line. We didn’t meet any cyclists, just dog walkers in a group with a tangle of leishes and a young woman running, wearing a concerned expression and a body warmer, who said to us, “Excuse me,  have you passed a cow?” We said we hadn’t but that we had only come a short way, from the last bridge and she thanked us and ran on, still worried. Sorry we couldn’t have been of assistance. 

At the shop we met an elderly man who said he was having difficulty finding things and hadn’t brought his glasses. His daughter usually did the shopping. I showed him to the part of the shop he needed, but the cooking oil requested was not available, and he was unsure about suitable substitutions and felt in a bit of a pickle about whether to get the wrong kind or none at all. He decided on none at all. What a struggle without his glasses! I know I would struggle without mine.

He also needed “gravy browning” I found him some Bisto gravy granules and he gratifyingly said “Aaah! that’s it!”

We had a small look around the village and found a timbered, but unpainted house. All the others were just brick, so it was out of character. But the timbers did have bricks too, but in a herringbone pattern.


Thatched house in Gnosall High Street

The weather is brighter and warmer today, so when we set off I dispensed with a layer and the hat and gloves. We wanted to cover a few more miles today as we were meeting Paul near Wolverhampton, and tomorrow suits him, so we were aiming for places that coincided with suitable public transport. Paul had mentioned before wanting to see the Black Country. I am not exactly sure of the extent of the area covered by that name, but by the afternoon I started to see boats with a black country flag on them, and I hadn’t seen them for a while, so assuming we are getting there!

It was pretty much plain sailing and we took turns at driving and enjoyed sitting out in the sunshine. There were some deep cuttings that are dark but a brighter sky was above us. There were quite high arched bridges. Here the trees made their own arch.

Arboreal arch

 Most bridges were a plain arch, but one had a little more elegance about it. Shane went down the front to get a picture, as I was driving in. A man waved to me from the other side as I drove under and looked up behind me to admire the view.

Pillared, arched bridge

There was only one lock today, which I did. We were through it quickly as it was set for us and the paddles were smooth to open. I saw a wider crossover on the large gate and nipped across a little quicker, only to find it was a bit shoogly. Perhaps I did need to hold on to the rail. It was also the creakiest gate, I’ve ever heard.

It isn’t very busy at this time of year, but we met some boats including some day hire boats yesterday and today and a couple of times people waited at the side for us to pass, rather than drive past us, then realised they were actually grounded at the side and after we had passed they had to sort themselves out and push off the bank, or use poles, but it’s all part of their adventure, I hope. 

We passed quite a lot of moored boats and as usual looked at their design and names. I had seen one yesterday called “Irie”, that claimed to be registered in Jamaica. Today we passed “Reggae I” with unique paintwork.

Reggae I just takin’ it easy, in the sunshine.

We saw a sign on one, advertising home made jams. We didn’t see anyone at it, of would have been tempted to try out their home made preserves. They might have had marmalade. For those not familiar with canal terminology, a butty is an engineless boat that is towed by another boat, together known as a “barge ‘n’ butty”.

A very fine jam butty indeed