After the big push up the Severn and Staffs and Worcester Canal we ended up with a day to spare in Great Haywood.
East Bridge at Shugborough
Helen, you see, has been part of a book group for the better part of 20 years and it has become customary to try and host a meeting on the boat before we leave the Midlands. Last year it was in Birmingham and this year the optimum point was at Great Haywood on Monday evening.
With a day to kill we busied ourselves with the washing (you can see the twin tub on the back of the boat in the blog banner photo) and sampled the delights of the farm shop just across the canal. For the afternoon we took a stroll into the grounds of Shugborough Hall and made use of our soon to expire National Trust membership. We have been to the hall before but had never taken the walk around the island formed by the new course of the River Sow and its old route immediately in front of the hall.
West Bridge at Shugborough
The walk includes two rather lovely bridges and the mock Chinese Temple which was constructed in about 1740 based on drawings brought back from China. Sadly it does not offer any great reflected views of the hall itself, which, if I am completely honest, is not the most beautiful of stately homes.
The National Trust have big plans for the house and grounds and I suspect regular visits will be rewarded. At this time of our visit the daffodils had finished but the rhododendrons were coming into their own, as was the wisteria on the front of the stables.
Lobelia at Shugborough
We passed on the hall itself and instead walked back over Essex Bridge and sampled the coffee and cakes at the farm shop cafe.
Essex Bridge over the River Trent
The book group duly arrived and initially I was consigned to the back cabin and my laptop. However, a chance comment on The Erin Mae blog alerted Martin and Margaret Inchley to our presence and we had a lovely catch up on the stern with the setting sun and the literary murmurings providing a backdrop to our conversation.
The book group arrives