We are off on our last trip of the year, full of excitement aboard 'Fiona'. We are intending to take it easy with a trip through the Potteries and up into the Peak District via the Macclesfield and Peak Forest to Bugsworth Basin.
We left Kings Bromley on Saturday morning with the intention of heading for Shugborough to meet Lisa & David and their daughter Kirsty aboard nb What a Lark. Plenty of boats about for the Bank Holiday weekend. Plum Pudding was negotiated carefully (don't want to scratch the new boat !!) and then a couple of sharp showers were endured as we headed through Rugeley.
Colwich Lock is always a bottleneck on this stretch, but as we arrived we were a little disappointed to be sixth in the queue, so a bit of a wait, but at least the sun was showing itself again and it was to be our only lock of the day.
There was a nice gap behind What a Lark and before we welcomed Lisa & David aboard, Jasper enjoyed a run and swim in the river. Drinks and a guided tour of 'Fiona' completed, we all retired to the Clifford Arms for a very good and very reasonably priced meal and discussed plans for next Springs great adventure !!
Sunday was lovely day weather wise. The first hour was spent searching What a Lark for a central heating header tank as David wanted to check the anti freeze content of the system and I had the gadget to do it. As the great Toyah Wilcox once sang 'It's a mystery' and despite searching high and low, the mystery was eventually solved with a text and phone call.......it hasn't got one (which I still find a mystery). But anyway we got away about 9.30am after saying our goodbyes and headed through the pleasant farmland towards Stone.
Sandon Lock has a serious leak on the bottom gates and it took a while to fill as a result. CaRT are aware but are hoping that it will last until winter works...can't see it myself. Aston Lock marks the mid-point of the Trent & Mersey Canal.
The volunteer lockies were out in Stone and very appreciative we were of their help. Louise steered through the lovely Meaford Locks (and Jasper kept an eye on things) and then onto Barlaston, passing the fabulous boatyard which can't fail but to appeal.
Today has been a miserable day with rain all day. We decided to stay put rather than cruise in the miserable conditions. So it's been a day of Sudoku, letter writing to relatives, dvd's and odd jobs. We did have a good walk this afternoon thanks to a book we have on board written by the author and walker John Merrill, which took us around the old village of Barlaston and what a lovely walk it was. Through the Wedgewood estate, and then up into the village via a tree lined road with its old and unusual street lighting.
Sadly, the lovely old church looks unused nowadays.
The spectacular Barlaston Hall was built in 1756 by Robert Taylor for Thomas Mills, an attorney from Leek, and is Grade One listed.
It was then on down to the village green. We spent some time reading the bye laws sign and were left wondering if there is actually anything you are allowed to do. We left thinking that there were eyes watching us from all angles in case we put a foot wrong !!
The forecast for Tuesday is much better, so we will head up through Harecastle and onto the Macclesfield towards the Peaks.