The Race Is On

St. Alkmund's Church - WhitchurchBy close of play tonight, we had to back within minutes of the marina, ready to hand our trusty craft back first thing in the morning. As though to amplify the sadness that we all felt as the week afloat came to an end, the heavens had opened and it remained that way pretty much all day.

Donning our wet weather gear, we made our soggy way back towards Ellesmere, leaving time to stop off for a walk into Whitchurch. Strangely, though we were getting soaked through, it really didn’t matter. So by the time we moored just outside the town, we were all, apart maybe from Steve, keen to make our way along the route of the closed Whitchurch spur.

It really was very wet. I was wearing my ever present shorts and a cagoule, but by the time we had walked down the high street and found a quaint little cafe, I even had puddles in my pockets and my wallet was soaked. An alternative meaning to money laundering.

The cafe, Percy’s Coffee and Curious, was a fantastic little place. The hot coffee and toasted teacakes went a long way to warming and reviving us, and the collection of interesting antique items soon made us forget the rain. We stayed long enough to dry out a fair bit, but Steve had had enough of traipsing around the town, so set off back to the boat.

After a focussed expedition to find sausages made from ‘happy’ pigs, and the procurement of some properly muddy organic potatoes, we stopped off at St. Alkmund’s Church. It is a truly magnificent building, both inside and out. The stained glass windows are stunning, and although I have no particular feelings for the religion it houses, it is hard to not be impressed with the architecture.

Bumble was absolutely in her element. Her love of architecture means that she spends more time looking up at buildings and not enough time looking where she is going, hence the extensive history of sprained ankles. But we were all happy to share her enthusiasm in such an atmospheric place. Even the cleaning lady’s vacuum cleaner couldn’t dampen our admiration.

The walk back proved a little too eventful for comfort too. Apart from the fact that we were, yet again, soaked through, down to our unmentionables, Sue failed to negotiate a rather rough section of the path. She tumbled, rather gracefully I thought, into the biggest, muddiest puddle you have ever seen, and had to be hosed down when we finally made in back on board.

Steve, all snug and dry in the cabin, made a fine job of turning our purchases into a magnificent meal of bangers and mash, more than welcome after the moistest of mornings. Then, after getting things all ship shape again, it was time to brave the elements again and get ourselves back to Ellesmere.

The day had been strangely pleasant, despite the rain. We were back close to the marina, so all set for handover in the morning. Once you are soaked through, you can’t get any wetter. If you can come to terms with the slight discomfort, it really isn’t bad at all. We had seen a beautiful church, explored a delightful market town, and because of the weather, we had the place almost to ourselves. A truly fitting last full day afloat.

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