Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Thursday 10 June 2010

Surprised by Stafford and on to Shugborough

It may have been because it was after opening hours, but the town centre of Stafford was surprisingly pleasant.  Of course there were the obligatory scantily clad girls roaming the streets with their milk bottle white legs (and other bits!) on show, but we're sort of getting used to that now!  Once again there were a number of pubs, and all appeared to be thriving - maybe it's because Stafford is a university town and it must be coming up to time for a break for students?


 Looking along the High Street at dusk

P1220441A Majestic black and white building settled cosily amongst the new - reportedly England's largest timber framed town house, now a museum

P1220451A Good old British telephone and letter boxes adorn the town square

P1220457A A charming stroll alongside the River Sow and gardens - part of Victoria Park, a 13 acre Edwardian riverside park with an open-air paddling pool, bowling green, bird cages, greenhouse and two play areas





Previously a windmill but lost it's sail many years ago










The 4.2 mile round trip plus a walk around the town, must've had an effect on me because I didn't wake up until after 10 Wednesday morning!  I can't recall getting up so late for a long time; consequently we had yet another lazy day ...

We continued along the remainder of the Staffs and Worcs canal, which didn't disappoint; such a delightful journey and the sun even peeked out periodically to brighten the day.

P1220471 Six goslings a swimming ...


A couple of glorious bridge and boat shots


P1220537 And a few little residences along the way

P1220560A We met the gentleman in this boat when moored on the Macclesfield canal last year so had a quick catch up - beautiful boat




P1220579 Almost at the end of the Staffs and Worcs canal

P1220609A Moorings at Tixall wide - a swan seems to have mistakenly nested right by the towpath!



  The waterlillies are just flowering            Tixall Gatehouse

We moored for lunch (at 1530hrs!) at Tixall wide, where the owners of Tixall Hall (now sadly demolished) insisted that the canal be widened so that it didn't look like a canal - in the late 18th century of course it was a busy industrial route so wouldn't have been as pleasant as it is nowadays!  Unfortunately only the Gatehouse remains of the hall, though that in itself is pretty impressive. 

P1220618A Tixall wide - designed to resemble a lake rather than a common canal!



It's also supposedly one of the best places to see kingfishers (of which Barry has yet to get a photo for me), but they must've all been hiding today.  It's a very picturesque spot apart from a poor sunken boat - we hope the owner has been informed and is planning a way of retrieving his prized possession and it's contents. 






Moving just past Great Haywood Junction, we moored for the night ready for our day out to Shugborough on Thursday - Barry will be in his element photographing the Hall, park and of course checking out some of Lord Lichfield's work.  As it's a National Trust property we should have free admission.



Great Haywood junction


The cobble stones over the canal bridge

P1220663-Panorama1 A stitched shot of the junction with the much photographed bridge


This little cafe seems the only part of Great Haywood that touches the canal

We took the opportunity to walk a mile or so along the Staffordshire Way in the evening, getting our first glimpses of the Hall to wet our appetite for Thursday's visit.

P1220688A You can't beat the British countryside - even on a chilly, grey 'summer' evening

P1220691A Wow!  Who would live in a house like this?  Lord Lichfield of course!


The Tower of the Winds - previously a dairy and gambling den!



The Essex Bridge - from Shugborough Park to the village of Great Haywood - has to be one of the most beautiful bridges ever

P1220731-Panorama1 England's longest packhorse bridge - only wide enough to get a horse or pedestrian across


The weather really hasn't been to kind to us so far, not that it's a big deal, but we're beginning to wonder if there will be a summer in England this year??



  1. Unlike a lot of towns of its size Stafford still has a lot of decent pubs suitable for old fogeys like me! I often take Starcross down to Gnosall and then get the bus into Stafford for the evening.

  2. WOW - super photos. I am from the marketing department here at Shugborough. loved your BLOG. Would love to be able to use your pictures on our website. Any chance? You can contact me at or call in to Shugborough on 0845 4598900 and ask to speak to the marketing team. Fab work - well done. Russ,