Friday, 20 April 2018

Lovely Lapwings

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that another sign of spring here at Tixall is a bunch of lapwings performing all around us. We've seen five at a time tumbling about in the air, showing off and emitting their strange calls which sound like nothing so much as a handheld game console bleeping and chirping.

At one point I was convinced there must be a kid hanging around on the towpath playing one, but no, it was the lapwings going "peewit".

In another sign of the remarkable weather, we slept with the bedroom Houdini propped open last night. We slept well, whether for that reason or some other, so were woken for the first time at half five by the dawn chorus. This was mainly very musical, except for one sad pheasant going SQUAWK!, poor chap, no doubt the best he can manage.

After wrestling with a recalcitrant Killer Sudoku, we got up for a leisurely breakfast. Having decided to leave walking to the village until tomorrow, I started the engine so that Sheila could take advantage of the sun (once it had burnt off some serious mist) and run and dry a washload.

After coffee, we turned to and washed one side of the cratch cover which was looking very green after the damp winter and spring. We used Fabsil but I can't say it's come out very well. It's better than it was but there are still green stains on it and some other mucky patches. I suspect that we need to find somewhere where we can take it right off and lay it on a hard surface like a picnic bench to really scrub it.

After lunch we set out for a gentle amble to collect sticks to use as kindling, heading towards Tixall Lock. However, it was such a nice day, we decided to carry on and try the walk Steve and Denise had described to us yesterday. You carry on past the lock to the bridge beyond that superb house and garden.

Climb up onto the road and walk towards Milford village – there's a map on an interpretation board to make sure you go the right way. After crossing the River Sow and then the railway, you come to a junction with the A518, Milford village being down on your right. On the left, there's the back entrance to Shugborough estate and this is the way you should go. Mind you, there's the UK's first ever Wimpy still trading in the village, as far as I know.

There's no charge for walking through the park, though you'd need to buy tickets or show your National Trust card to get into the house. It's a bit of a trek through the park, but eventually you walk across the front of the mansion and on to cross the Trent by the Essex Bridge and so rejoin the towpath by Haywood Lock.

We were now pretty weary but somehow found the energy to stagger on to the Farm Shop to buy ice cream and sit and eat it in the sun. On the way back to the boat, we even picked up some sticks... Sheila's pedometer estimated the total distance including the Farm Shop diversion at just over five miles, so a solid bit of exercise.

We're going to sit tight here tomorrow again, then head off on Sunday because we want to rendezvous with Sue and Peter on Piper Reese at Coven on Wednesday. The plan is to get above Deptmore on Sunday, Penkridge Monday, Gailey Tuesday, Coven Wednesday.

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