|It was very misty, wet and atmospheric|
|And you'll notice we were not alone - there were more boats moving on the Monday than we had seen all weekend. We must be mad - as I said to one guy we went past 'we wouldn't be out in this at home!'|
|I kept warm and dry - David's hat to keep the rain off my head and neck, my silk scarf and fleecy, Kathmandu jacket, fleecy-lined leather gloves and my boots with gortex. And I can see as I am standing on my neat little stool!|
|Hard to see, but Barry and Pauline did the locks and I steered. Barry was a star - he had no jacket, but his Kathmandu fleecy seemed to keep him reasonably dry. Come to think of it, I am not sure what David did ...|
We had one mishap before the Ivy House Lift Bridge which David had been told was under repair. We moored up temporarily in a dodgy place using pins, while David walked ahead to check out the state of play at the bridge. While we were there, a couple of boats came past and when I looked out the stern doors from the galley (taking advantage of the pause to start making lunch – leftovers of chicken curry and cassoulet) I saw that we were spread-eagled across the cut with the stern rope in the water and the pin gone – dammit!
The lift bridge was already fixed so we came on, abandoned lunch until after the bridge and then moored up to eat and for Barry to get some photos of the amazing bottle kilns that remain. One entranced me as it now has a house built around it, incorporating it into the roofline and I assume the body of the house. I wonder what room it is?
|David took this standing on the seat in the stern deck so he could get above the fence. It was still misty and raining.|
|Barry took this one of us approaching the bridge he was on. One of the two bottle kilns in the photo above is showing. Really lovely re-development of the canalside here in Hanley with new housing and great towpath and mooring - rings all the way.|
We had planned to moor up at Hanley Park and send B&P from there directly down to the station. However some locals walking by told us, when asked, that it was a bit dodgy at night. So on we went down to and through the staircase locks and on to the exit from the Caldon.
|I think this is the top lock of the pair of staircase locks. A bit leaky! But now I know what David did for part of the day - he stayed on board to let Barry and Pauline have the fun of the locks|
|The bottom lock of the staircase pair - it is rather deep and we are nowhere near the bottom yet - time for a cuddle|
There was a couple waiting across from the Caldon junction for a boat coming up to exit the lock – the woman was very concerned we were going to steal it from them and told Pauline and Barry first (they were already there waiting as they had walked on from doing the staircase locks) and then came back and told David, who was clearly dragging the rubbish bags from the gas locker while I was clearly hovering at the junction. I spent the waiting time trying to lift a 4 inch thick 6 foot long tree branch out of the water but was not successful. I tried to co-opt a young guy biking past to help me but he was wearing new clothes and didn’t want to get them dirty. I could understand that, but I was already messy and wet so it didn’t matter to me – lying down on the towpath reaching into the cut didn’t seem at all strange ….
Down the 5 Stoke locks we went and then moored up on a couple of rings under Bridge 113A which leads to the railway station. As a mooring, its only saving grace was that it was out of the rain! After cheese on toast for a light snack, B&P departed for their train. In 3.5 hours they’d be back in London.
We moved on out of Stoke. It was interesting that neither of us wanted to moor on the long straight stretches where no one else was moored up. I posted on one of the forums recently about people’s need for proximity – that is how we felt that night. We ended up mooring outside Trentham, and enjoyed listening to 3 kids playing in the field opposite – they were doing that thing kids are so good at ‘I’m going to be x and I’m going to do this, you be y and you do this, …’ Creative play which is so neat to see. It was all the more neat because it was raining and still they were outside happily having fun.
We lit the bubble stove to warm up and decided after an hour that we do need to ditch it and get Ed to hook up the Webasto to the radiators (to hell with the expense) and maybe next year we will put in a solid fuel stove. One of the key problems with the bubble stove is that it requires its waterpump to be on all the time and that is so damned whiny that the sound goes through your head in a most annoying way. Until Ed comes and sorts it, we will resort to an extra jersey or two, blankies over our knees and snuggling in bed under the feather duvet - what else is required?