|Our mooring at Meaford on Sunday evening|
Our main aim for the weekend was to get as far south as we could so that Karen could start commuting daily rather than stay away in a B&B during the week. It seems like we achieved that aim as she left at 5.20 this morning and was in the office for 6.40. The journey should get shorter as Buddy and I continue cruising during the week.
In all we covered 33 miles and went through 43 locks this weekend so that’s a lot of cruising for us compared with what we have been doing over the last few months. On Sunday morning Karen’s cousin, Dave, picked her up to take her back to the boatyard to pick up our car. Karen then drove to Barlaston, a village south of Stoke-on-Trent, and left it in the Plume of Feathers car park. Dave then picked her up from the pub and drove back up to meet me in Stoke. Incidentally the pub is owned by Neil Morrissey and sells a good range of craft beers including a couple of his own brand.
After Dave had set off with Karen to the boatyard I set off to get through the 2 ¼ mile long Harecastle tunnel and then down to Stoke. It was pouring – the first heavy rain we have seen for a while. I had to go up one lock before reaching the tunnel and had a problem before I got into it. I had forgotten how low the bridge was before the lock but managed to stop in time to remove the trolley from the roof. I would have had to move it before going through the tunnel anyway so it didn't really matter.
As it was before November I could turn up at the tunnel and queue for passage – in the winter months you have to book a couple of days ahead. As it happened I only had to wait a couple of minutes as there were no boats coming through and no others going through with me. I had to drop the solar panels down flat and remove the chimney but was OK leaving the wood and plants as they were. It was a strange experience going through such a long tunnel on my own but I kept myself occupied counting the distance markers every 100 metres.
When I got out the other side the rain had stopped. Fortunately it stopped for the day and we had lots of glorious sunshine but there was a cold wind that was noticeable when clouds blew over.
Karen joined me when I got to Stoke and popped a chicken into the slow cooker for our first roast on the new boat. We are slowly getting things sorted out - the bookcase in the saloon is based on the one that Mike and Aileen have on their boat Quaintrelle - thanks for the idea guys. The cupboard also hides the cabling from the broadband receiver on the roof and the wireless router - so wire free and wifi!
The towpaths around Stoke are all tarmacked so there were lots of cyclists around – probably more so as it was Sunday - although, for some reason, there were none in the photo
When we reached the Plume of Feathers we decided to carry on for another couple of miles and get through a couple more locks. We ended up mooring in the Meaford flight – see top of page and then walked back to the pub to pick up the car.
It was a really pleasant evening, rounded off by a delicious roast and a contented feeling that we had achieved quite a lot over the weekend.