Foraging on the Shropshire Union Canal
For several years I have clung to the misguided notion that my solo autumn trip along the Shropshire Union Canal is just that - a solo trip.
But lately I have come to realise that it is a long time since I did my solo trip alone, and have had the pleasure of a number of companions over the years. Most recently it has morphed into a late autumn foraging trip, stocking up on sloes, rose hips, and even damsons and elderberries all in the company of Mrs Ahab.
Just half our haul of sloes - for sloe jelly and sloe cordial (cheats Sloe Gin)
The solo trips were the product of a particularly difficult time in my life when I needed some solitude, but this is a time which which has passed for which I am very grateful.
But there is something else about boating which has slowly started to dawn on us - boating is no longer a holiday. Sure, it happens when I am on holiday from work, but its not a holiday as such. That's not to say we are unhappy with boating, far from it. No, what has become apparent this year is that boating is our "other" way of life. We slip from one life to another and being absolutely honest, its the simpler one afloat we want more of. Just as well given the plans afoot!
Anyway, after visiting Stretton Wharf we pressed in through very indifferent weather to a blustery Norbury, picking another five kilos of late damsons, about 8 kg of sloes plus we spied out some late elderberries for picking on the way back (hot elderberry cordial is a standing favourite product at Christmas fairs).
Weed clogged prop on a Trust workboat - had been pressure washing the edging stones.
The following day took us on through Grub St Cutting and then later the even more spectacular Woodseaves cutting - impossibly narrow, deep and unstable. This deep tree lined slot in the land opens out into the pleasing flight of five locks at Tyrely, which in turn lead into Market Drayton - our destination.
The dying embers of an autumn day were spent sitting on the stern forking off the elderberries, another load destined for the elderberry vinegar.
Bridge over Woodseaves Cutting
We ate at the Talbot who served good food and were getting rid of their old glasswear, so we left with full stomachs clutching half a dozen Pedigree glasses - bought for the princely sum of £5. Mkt Drayton was something of a BCNS rallying point with no less than three local boats moored next to us and we all ended up in the same pub for the evening.