I never blogged the gap on our Canal cruise from the Shroppie to the Staffs & Worcs to the T & M. Writer’s privilege prevailed and I moved swiftly to blog the Caldon Canal and leave us on the T & M. T & M is Trent & Mersey Canal.
Now we know that DB is measured to fit the uninviting Harecastle Tunnel one future day but no current plans for that. 45 minutes under the low undulating roof is not an attractive call.
We have moved swiftly but slowly along the T & M remembering that speed is not for the Canals. The series of Locks at Stoke-on-Trent had a few boats on the move but no lengthy queues. I was at the wheel, as my back was giving me a spot of grief when I worked the Locks and it was best to take heed of the pain, medicate and not irritate. I am enjoying steering DB, I am not overwhelmed by her length anymore. We stopped at Trentham (pr. Trent-ham) as there is an Aldi a couple of bus stops away. Me and my trolley walk the distance and it is the best way to carry shopping, I am a Trolley Dolly on land! The previous week we moored in Trentham, under the threat of stormy black clouds. I had walked to Aldi and was indoors, there, when the ‘heavens’ opened and I heard loud bursts of thunder. Under the artificial lights, I couldn’t see the lightning flashes but I knew the storm was overhead and I was stuck in Aldi for a long time. It was still raining when I decided to leave but I think the spray from passing road traffic was wetter than the falling rain as I trudged along.
Still, that was then and this time there was no rain. Untie the ropes and DB cruised on past WEDGEWOOD. That’s what the sign looks like, hardly an aesthetic draw card given the timelessness of Wedgewood fine china and porcelain.
We moored DB at Barlaston right outside The Plume of Feathers, Neil Morrissey’s pub. It was a good mooring for the night and looked popular but we stayed on board DB, tired and content. We made an early start the following morning hoping to get good moorings in Stone. Chris had the Lock work to do and I was left sitting at the bottom of the Lock, as he went on to prepare the Lock ahead before returning to let me out. All good in theory. The second Lock, was a very leaky Lock and wouldn’t stay at optimum fullness to let the gate open with the muscle of one person. I moved DB so the nose was close to the shut gate and Chris tied the gate to DB’s nose and I reversed back and eventually, the gate opened! I took DB into the Lock and Chris opened one sluice gate, to let DB go down slowly and I went and made real coffee. It felt like I was ‘trapped’ and I was happy to see the Lock Gates open. The next Lock was a short distance away but not close and I thought I saw someone, human, at that Lock. I shouted out to Chris but when I looked again I didn't see anyone. As I neared the Lock someone was there opening the gates for a boat coming up! ‘Our’ Lock had been stolen!! At the time, we weren’t happy but I can see, now, that the person wouldn’t have seen DB was in the Lock ahead and wouldn’t have been aware that the ‘dog walker’ heading in the other direction would have been responsible for filling the Lock. Yes, the clue is if the Lock paddles are wound up and the Lock is close to being full then someone has done this for a reason. I don’t think our meeting was friendly. Oh well, there are plenty more boats on the Cut!
We stayed a couple of nights in Stone, checked out the many charity shops and waited for the sun to shine. We purchased a much-needed chimney hood at the friendly Chandlery in Stone. A couple of nights and we were ready to move on. I had been walking Della, late afternoon, the day before and I heard “Hello Sarah” from a holiday boat arriving at the Lock moorings. It was Ross and Dan, gongoozlers who we had met, on land, on the Llangollen Canal. How cool, they are taking the first steps to begin the dream of a new life living on the Cut. We passed them the next day, they were looking so happy and I’m sure they’ll have their own boat soon.
|Weston upon Trent|
It was cool that the sun made a rare appearance on the day we left Stone. It was a beautiful summer’s day, closer to an autumn day but the leaves on the trees are still green. We weren’t long on the move when we spotted a sunny mooring at Weston upon Trent and decided to stop for breakfast. It looked like a nice spot so we called it a day. No need to move on, we were meeting a friend from NZ in Rugeley and we were well on time for that plan. We took a late afternoon walk into the village and were surprised to find a couple of home produce stalls just off the Canal. One had fresh eggs and we saw the chickens roaming free nearby. I put Della on a lead to remind her that these weren’t ‘chase me’ chickens as I knew she would be keen to play with them! We’ll never forget the time she came running out of the Truby King Reserve, in the grounds of the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, Otago, NZ. Della had a feathered friend, a chicken, held gently but firmly in her mouth. She released the chook and it scampered off.
On the walk into town, we passed a cutting at the side of the road which had enormous puffball mushrooms growing. Getting more information later, from the internet, we verified that puffballs were not toxic and we watched them being cooked on Youtube. Cptn went back and picked one and I prepared it....cut it like a loaf of bread, brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil, lightly fry it then place it under the grill until it is golden.
|Slice of Puffball|
We moved on to the outskirts of Rugeley waiting for our friend to arrive to stay with us for two days to cruise to Burton-upon-Trent.
|Nice view near Aquaduct over R.Trent, Rugeley|
It felt like we were moving to familiar waters, the threat of rain was holding off and just as we were untying the ropes a Narrowboat came into view from behind.
|Dead centre of Rugeley|
There was no way I was going to cut in front of them but the draw of the water pulled DB back towards the boat moored behind. I throttled forward and bow thrust into the Cut to avoid contact with the boat moored in front. Matey, on the moving NB was only slightly in front but no contact was made. I kept DB, at a distance, behind and was going past at Tic as they were mooring up at the Tesco mooring.
“SLOW DOWN!!!” they yelled
“I AM SLOWED DOWN. I CAN’T GO ANY SLOWER.”
“NO YOU’RE NOT!! YOU TRIED TO PULL OUT ON US BEFORE!! I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!”
They were angry. No time to explain. Best I forget.
We are bumping, not literally, into boat
Alrewas wasn’t as busy as former times we have been there. In fact the Canals we have cruised along are not busy. C&RT have done well keeping boats on the move and moorings that have people overstaying are no longer noticeable.
|Stop talking and let me out!|
The cruise to Burton-upon-Trent was quiet, with little waiting time at the Locks. I was steering DB as I was still having time out from the Locks to avoid ‘heavy’ work.
Cruising a straight stretch of Canal beside the busy A38 and I was aware there was a Nb coming towards me. I moved to the (R), as is the rule, and it swerved in slow motion to its (L) which means it is on ‘my’ side of the Cut. It looked like it was going to ‘wind’ but it wasn’t right whatever it was doing. I made to move to my (L) and it pulled out to its (R), so I moved back to my (R). Whatever!
As we passed and got stern to stern
“What are you doing?” I called out, puzzled.
“Wild Geese.” he said.
“APOLOGIES.” he said.
Miscommunication as hearing gets lost due to the noise of the boat engine and the nearby motorway.
Wild Geese, I like it. It could be in the Boaty slang Ducktionary....
Shobnall Fields is a good mooring in Burton and it is just slightly more than a hop skip and jump into town. But I was on a mission to get my Ukulele back into play and I had made stringing it into a problem. I knew there was a Music shop, and I took my Uke to Pete Oakley Music to get my baby restrung and while I remembered to get a stud put on it so I could have a strap attached. Yay, my Uke sounds playable again.