Monday, 9 May 2016

Gnomeless Gnomes and a Collector of Bricks.

Sunday 8th and Monday 9th May, 2016 in Atherstone.
The early morning was lovely and the forecast promised two clear days of sunshine.
M has to go home today, just for one night. R was keen to make the most of the good weather and get a few miles under his belt on our way to Braunston, so after waving M off at Lichfield Station, he set off south.
We have seen a number of swans sitting faithfully on their nests, but this was the first time we have seen a brood of cygnets.
In 2013, when we passed this way, we saw an incredible display of garden gnomes outside a house in Whittington. This was then...
Now they seem to be gnomeless...  Oh, dear!
Last year, at Glascote Locks, we met a chap called Paul who lives in the lockside cottage. Paul has an unusual hobby - he collects interesting bricks with the maker's name in the "frog"! He helped us through the lock and then proudly showed us his collection, some of which he had made into an attractive garden path. We promised that we would try to find him some interesting bricks and bring them with us next time we passed through. True to our word, R presented four bricks (kindly provided to us by Bridgett and Peter) to Paul as he passed. Paul was delighted with them and declared us now to be part of a small but elite group of narrowboaters that have provided him with unusual bricks.  We have tried (but thus far failed) to find any "Surrey" bricks, even though we know both Reigate and Dorking have a history of brick making.
R saw no less than three Kingsground narrowboats today, all of which we have seen before as they moor locally.
MM's overnight mooring was another place where we have stopped before. The last time that we moored here, we were lucky enough to see a Stobart Rail train pass - this time there were only Virgin trains.
On Monday morning, the forecast was again good but since heavy rain was forecast for Tuesday, R decided to press on and take advantage of the sunshine.
By lunchtime, he had done the three miles and 11 locks of the Atherstone flight of locks and was moored up at the top of the flight. It was hot work, so he rewarded himself with a large iced caramel latté in Costa!
M was due to arrive back at Atherstone station at 16:28, so R used the time profitably touching up the paintwork and wood varnish on the front and rear decks of MM. Lots of brownie points!
M arrived back ot time after an interesting journey from Reigate - which included four trains and three buses! It was still very warm and humid, so we both had an iced latté, which was most welcome.
We are very fond of little Atherstone. The market square has a very Georgian feel.
The High Street is charming and is full of "real" shops and no large multiple stores.
The sky was pretty as dusk fell. We were moored up opposite the former hat factory; Atherstone was historically a proud centre for the hat trade. R met a gentleman on the towpath whose father worked all his life in the factory, which used to make hats for royalty and sold its products all over the world.
The factory closed in 1999 and is now derelict although it was recently bought for just £100,000. Apparently the plan is to convert it into luxury flats - but there is no sign of any change yet. Let us hope that this iconic building can find a new use.
Two Days: 17 miles, 13 locks and 12.7 hours.
Trip: 41 miles, 20 locks and 25.2 hours.

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