Foraging to Brewood
29th and 30th October 2011
30 miles - 2 locks - 10 hours
Boating on the weekend the clocks change has become something of a standard fixture in our calendar. Some years this involves a trip down the Shroppie to Market Drayton, taking in the glorious autumn colours of the cuttings along the way.
This year, with Belle recovering from the fourth lot of surgery, there was no scope for a four day trip. However, Jeff was home from college so there was time for a short trip to Brewood and back, a four hour cruise from Calf Heath.
The weather obliged with unseasonably warm southerly winds of about 16 degrees, and the rain confined itself to the hours of darkness. We were treated to the dying embers of autumn, the colour holding on in the sheltered cuttings but in the more exposed places the trees have already adopted their winter skeletal form. Good days this late in the season feel like a special gift from God.
Belle is still very keen on foraging and she came armed with a list of must find items: Sloes, Haws, Rosehips and Elderberries. No mean feat with the season so far gone. The strange thing is that I find myself sailing along with one eye on the hedgerows, actually enjoying the hunt.
Sloes were spotted at the mouth of the narrows at the southern end of the Shropshire Union, and then loads more just by the M54 bridge. One down, three to go. Every now and again we saw rose hips but they were usually in the most inconvenient place.
Jeff buying us his first pint
Thats my boy!
We pulled into Brewood just as the light was failing and a promised the troops a meal at the Bridge pub. We walked up to the pub and horror of horrors, it was closed for refurbishment. We walked into the village to try and find an alternative but sadly, whilst the Swan is a great pub, it dosn't serve food. The Bistro closes at 6.00pm which left a rather posh restaurant opposite - but it was far too pricey for our cash strapped wallet. With plan A out of the window, Jeff fulfilled his promise of buying us his first pint and we resorted to the local Co-Op which furnished us with the ingredients for an excellent DIY meal back on the boat.
Good Rosehip country
The rain fell continually through the night, but stopped at 9.00am, letting us set off in warm sunshine in search of those other three foraging fruit. Elder was found in the cuttings of Chillington, Rosehips further on near the M54 and the Haws were sourced near Wolverhampton Boat Club. Job done - simples!
The flighty Kingfisher
The trip did offer a few more bonus's. I spied a kingfisher which I managed to capture on film at Autherley Junction and then I managed to source a huge pile of logs back on the Staffs and Worcester.
All in all a short but lovely cruise, whetting our appetite for next weekend's forray into the BCN.