Due to the amazing generosity of friends, on Saturday last Mrs MP, Delphi, Quiz and myself were able to hitch our caravan to the back of our car and set off for the far distant land of Staffordshire to visit my godson, Ben, his brother Nathaniel and their parents Greg and Jill. Although we have kept in touch I have not seen Ben in the flesh since his christening six years ago. So this visit was well overdue.
Ben and his family live in Penkridge, a prosperous, small market town just south of Stafford. But we are actually staying at a caravan site just north of Leek in the settlement of Blackshaw Moor. We arrived just after midday on Saturday and, after setting up camp, we set out on a local walk to get our legs warmed up for the week ahead. Our caravan site is in the shadow of the Roaches (from the French les roches - the rocks), a gritstone ridge that rises to an impressive (for England) height of 505 metres. Our walk on this first day meandered around their southern edges on a circular walk that just so happened to go past a rather good local hostelry.
Everything went swimmingly (as we say in these parts) until we were within half a mile of the pub. The last part of the ancient right of way that we were on, before it met the public highway, went through a dairy farm and the farmer (an occupation known for its seething hatred of public footpaths and those who walk thereon) had liberally spread four inches of stinking slurry all over the track for a good fifty feet or so. There was no way round it and to go back would have taken us a couple of hours. So through it we all went and you would not have wanted to be in our company after we had.
Depression set in as I realised that walking into a pub in our state would not be appreciated by the landlord and his clientele. Therefore, disgruntled in the extreme we began to stomp sullenly through the village with the rather good hostelry straight back to the caravan. However, for once fortune was with us as on the edge of the village we came across a ford in a stream in which us humans were able to clean our boots and our four legged companions were able to wash their paws. Therefore, we were able to quaff the good ale available at Ye Olde Rock Inn before winding our way the short distance back to our caravan site for a much needed hearty supper.