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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Slowly homewards, eating well



Monday 10th September The weather was overcast most of the day and we were in sweaters. Intermittent rain and a downpour in the evening, not great weather. We set off to Leek tunnel but decided not to pass through it as it doesn’t really get you to Leek, so we winded and battled our way back around the twisty canal, rubbing on the bottom in many places, pretty but it would be better on  warm sunny day. We returned to Hazelhurst junction to find it crowded with boats, so we decided the defer our trip to Froghall until the spring and made our way back to Etruria. We stopped to pick up or water filter, noting that the cycle Tour of Britain was to pass on that road the following Thursday. 13 miles and 8 locks
This wonky horned beast was along the Caldon canal

Tuesday 11th Very wet overnight, starting cloudy with a cold wind in the morning and we saw friends Mike & Jo on Sarah Kate filling with water at the water point in front of us. They being ready to set off & we having other things to do, we arranged to meet in Stone in the evening to talk over the 2 years or so since we last met.
By the time we were ready to set off there were boats everywhere. A boat had just gone down the top lock, I reset it, but a boat coming down from Stoke blocked us from turning in to use it, so we followed that boat down, and before we had left the lock 4 more boats had arrived! 
This structure alongside the canal in Stoke is a refuse incinerator,
 unlike those in Leicestershire it is still working

We met and followed boats all the way through to Stone, and started to hear Stone mooring were full!! Then Jo rang to say they had not found anywhere to moor in Stone and we would have to defer our chat! We stopped as soon as we reached the outskirts of the town in a lovely quiet mooring. 8 miles 10 locks
The problem with Carol's garden this year!

On the last three nights Carol has really excelled in the galley with excellent Singapore Noodles, brilliant Lamb Dhansac and a very good Chicken Tikka Marsala. All in wonderfully low fat format, giving Carol great pleasure in the cooking and both of us in the eating.
We saw many kingfishers this week

Wednesday 12th A bright start with little wind and warming as the day went on. We shopped & coffee’d in Stone before getting away, but turning into Aston Marina to collect a porthole glass that had been delivered there, and topping up with fuel at 81.8p. We carried on for about half a mile before finding a lovely spot to stop. 3 miles and 5 locks.
Carol and her garden on a sunny day

Thursday 13th A surprisingly pleasant day after a really cold night, shorts were on again! Away at 9.20, we caught up with 2 boats at the first lock, and 3 others arrived before we left, and boats came up too. We made steady progress, surprisingly the water point at Gt Heywood was free, so we topped up before we queued at the next lock before passing through easily to Rugeley where we stopped at 3.15 just before bridge 67. We then headed into Costa & booked a table at the Royal Harris, a Chinese restaurant as I though Carol deserved a break.
A home owner has a great idea for slowing down boats

The coffee was good, the meal pretty good, it operated on a buffet system, but where you order what you want & it is cooked fresh for you. The Shoulder of Mutton in Foxton does the same, and in our opinion is better, but we both ate well.  11 miles 3 locks

Friday 14th Mostly bright with a cool strong wind. We stocked up for friends visiting for Sunday lunch, and collected repeat prescriptions. We didn’t rush as we only wanted to get towards Fradley but we had a pleasant cruise stopping for the night above Woodsend Lock. The heating was put on!  6 ½ miles.
Above Woodsend lock

Saturday 15th A glorious day, and all we did was cruise down 3 locks and moored opposite the services block in Fradley. A volunteer was marshalling boats going down into the junction, and warning people about fresh paint on the lock gates. Volunteers from Coors Brewery had repainted them a few days before but sadly the paint was only dry on the surface but sticky and wet underneath!

After stopping we sample the cafes coffee (pretty good) and then Carol set to preparing food for Sunday lunch whilst I cleaned & polished. We enjoyed a walk around the nature reserve, picking some blackberries, and then a pint in The Swan. 1 mile, 3 locks

Sunday Disaster, the chicken had gone off!! It was in date but with this much pong we were not going to eat it!! Fortunately Carol had some chicken pieces she could interpret into a great meal. Our friends dined royally and we had a great day.

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