Last week was rather a lot of fun on and off NB Areandare. It was our two grandsons’ school Half Term, and we were privileged to be able to have them both on board for three nights.
I must clarify we didn’t have them both at the same time, we’re not as young as we used to be or as daft as we look! It did mean we had lots of fun company, and got plenty of fresh air and exercise.
We bought National Trust Membership last July, which I think we’ve almost made full use of now. Shugborough Estate is very close to the junction of the Trent and Mersey and Staffordshire and Worcester Canals, so we’d planned to be nearby for the boys visit. The house was closed and shuttered for the winter, but the grounds are extensive and delightful.
There was a ‘Tree Trail’ on during the holidays, so we took our time walking around learning about a number of these majestic beings. One in particular entranced Leon, the Yew Tree, with a diameter the size of the Albert Hall. He decided to investigate and managed to find his way from one side to the other – no mean feat! We saw him enter, heard him during his adventure, and watched him emerge from the other side. Along with a few Yew needles 😉
A convoluted track away from the main house and gardens, are Great Haywood Cliffs. Interestingly, sandstone was quarried in this area and subsequently used to build a local Convent. More recently, in 2002, advertisements were placed for a hermit to take up residence in the cliffs. Apparently someone called Ansuman Biswas did. Barry didn’t see him during his visit …
Barry and Leon had great fun exploring the rock faces – and I suspect doing a bit of climbing, while I stayed on board and made the tea. My nickname for the week was ‘boat slave’. I’m not sure that’s terribly appropriate, but it was all tongue-in-cheek and in the best possible taste, as Kenny Everett used to say.
The following day I’d booked Leon into a ‘Bugborough Family Muck-In Day’, which involved us all walking over a mile to get to the public entrance of Shugborough, near the Walled Garden and a rather lovely children’s outdoor adventure playwark that we hadn’t known was there. It was well worth the £5 ticket price, and despite his initial reticence that he’d get bored, he loved it.
Sticks, stones, moss, bricks, tubes – you name it, was gathered and made into a splendid space for all manner of creatures. After lunch the kids were tasked with discovering ‘bugs’ for their containers. Amongst centipedes, worms and woodlice, they even found a vole! The Park Rangers were absolutely brilliant. A great day.
Trentham Monkey Forest
On swap-over day, we took a trip to the Monkey Forest at Trentham with Lisa and the boys. This incredible place is home to 140 free-ranging Barbary macaques. You walk along a circular pathway, separated only by a short wooden fence from the monkeys. Strict rules are observed and reiterated in leaflets and on entrance to the park, but quite literally you’re walking amongst the incredible wild animals.
A few times one or more of them would cross the path of passers-by, when they’d stand still and wait for them to reach the other side before continuing. Truly amazing. The Rangers are well scattered around the park, keeping watch to ensure the monkeys are happy and the public are following the rules and keeping safe.
Barry captured some stunning shots of these fascinating animals …
Wow! What a privilege to spend time with these animals.
Continuing to Penkridge
For the first time our youngest grandson Ewan had a sleep-over on board. He stayed with us for three days and nights, and loved every minute. He and Barry are a like a couple of crazy kids, infectiously laughing and giggling most of the time. There were no more outings to stately homes or forests, just walks along the canal visiting parks and nature watching.
Whilst I’d love to share images of the three boys having fun, we don’t feel it’s appropriate to post images of the children on the blog. The one below is rather special (as it’s unidentifiable) – Barry and Ewan setting off for an adventure while I stayed behind working on Ad-Extra accounts.
During the following couple of days, we continued to Penkridge, where Ewan was collected last Saturday. No rest for ‘the boat slave’, who on Sunday travelled up to Malpas to spend another few days with them all. Meanwhile Barry did lots of much-needed sorting on the boat, in preparation for a planned maintenance project.
This evening we’re moored outside Stafford Boat Club, where we’ll be staying for a while to black our bottom! Sounds painful. Doing it ourselves I suspect will involve a fair amount of pain. To make up for it we may need to partake in a drink or two at their rather delightful Clubhouse. And this time I hope to be working alongside Barry for the week, rather than stuck in hospital with a nasty bug as I was in 2017 when Barry ended up doing it alone …