Last night Graham, Emma and the boys Owain and Henry came to see us. It was wonderful to see them again after a six year gap. In that time Owen had grown up considerably, as he had been around 18 months old when we last saw him and Henry was only just thought off, because Emma had only just found out she was expecting him. Both boys are absolutely delightful and a credit to Emma and Graham. We spent a lovely time chatting to them over tea and coffee. With the boys both feeing tired, it was time for them all to go home, we had made plans to see them again Saturday for the day
Saturday morning began wet, we had been deluged by heavy rain over night and when Paddy and I stepped off of the boat for his morning walk there was that horrible drizzly rain falling, which for some odd reason gets you wetter than normal rain. Whilst we were out treading the towpath, K was making us mushrooms on toast for breakfast. The generator went on to charge the batteries, so I put a load of washing on, which would spend the day drying in the engine room. When Paddy and I got back to the boat, I sorted out the back cabin fire, I was going to let it go out, because we would not be on the boat all day, but because of the damp weather I changed my mind, I did not fancy coming back to a cold damp boat later in the day. With the fire waking up and breakfast eaten, it was time to get a few things done before we would be picked up at 11am by Graham and Emma. Outside the local canoe club were on the water, with lots of youngsters being instructed in how to paddle a canoe. It really is a joy to see so many young people taking to the water.
Just before 11am Keith and I locked the boat up and headed up on to the bridge to wait for our lift. Graham arrived just after 11am and drove us to his home in Ruyton XI Towns. Both he and Emma have a beautiful cottage, which has a very old part and a more up to date bit, but it is incredibly homely. When we arrived Emma and youngest son Henry were there to greet us. Owain was away on a sleep over so we would not get to see him.
We were introduced to their family of stick insects, chickens, duck and hamsters.
We were taken to the Old Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe for lunch and very nice it was too. The pub dates back to the 1400's. Keith remembered it from when he used to drive past many moons ago.
After a lovely lunch, Emma and Graham suggested we have a walk around some of Nesscliffe Country Park. We walked up to the caves of Kynaston. They were named after Humphrey Kynaston who was an English highwayman. In 1491 he was found guilty for the murder of John Hughes, he was declared an outlaw by Henry the VII and so he moved out of Myddle castle to a cave in Nesscliffe Rock. With him he took his horse Beelzebub, who lived in one of the two rooms in the cave.
There are some wonderful climbing routes on the stretch described in West Midlands Rock by Doug Kerr.
Both Graham and Keith were eyeing up the routes. It was most impressive, but neither Keith or I have done any rock climbing since living on the boat, so we would be very rusty.
It was onward and upward as we climbed up the hill.
To think that years ago this was a quarry being worked by men with hand tools and today it is a place of recreation and homes to the wildlife.
Henry was very at home on this large log.
Chiseled out of the rock all those years ago were the marks of some of the workers.
We take it for granted the tools we use today, but when these men worked it would have been hammers and chisels. Having seen the red sandstone quarry and its climbing routes, Keith, Graham and I continued walking to the top of The Cliffe, whilst Emma and Henry went home by car.
We reached the top and the view was stunning despite the low cloud. The Cliffe is an area of common land. Commons are areas of unenclosed medieval pasture, which was fortunate to survive the enclosure movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
On top of The Cliffe is a trig point. It is a fixed surveying station, used in geodetic surveying. Graham lead us back down from The Cliffe and back to the house.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening meal with Graham, Emma and Henry and the evening seemed to pass so quickly, because in no time at all it was 10pm and so I suggested that we should make tracks home. Emma very kindly drove us back to the boat. After such a wonderful day with friends, both Keith and I were ready for our bed.