Our goal today was progress through Stoke on Trent, including tackling a flight of locks. The day started well with cinnamon rolls for breakfast before we set off with Shane driving.We passed through an area that once, perhaps still, had a great pottery industry. Unusual shaped chimneys from the kilns were in abundance.
Before tackling the locks, we made a brief detour to fill up on water in Etruria, a district of Stoke on Trent that was once a workers’ village. While Shane stayed and chatted to another boat owner also at the water point, Clare and I went for a walk around. Clare wanted to show me a local landmark in the form of a statue, and I was happy to go for a walk. We didn’t end up getting a close up look at the statue, but we did have a nice canalside wander and walk though a park with a different and interesting statue.
Back on Barty it was getting close to lunchtime, we were approaching the locks so we decided to lock before lunch. It was still cold, so I prepared myself for locking by putting on a pair of warm mittens I have recently bought. I soon learned they weren’t the right thing for working locks. The faux-leather on the palm of my mittens clung to the metal of the windlass handle, and as I turned it, the mittens kept clinging and wrapped themselves around the handle until I found I couldn’t turn it further and my hand was stuck to the windlass! I switched to a pair of soft and stretchy gloves which didn’t cling, and locking went smoothly apart from some stiff doors and paddles, and some polystyrene and a big stick that blocked one gate from opening. Shane fished those out no bother.
We moored after the last lock for lunch – some tasty flatbreads and falafels. Then headed off down the canal, past a largely industrial landscape. Along the way, Bartimaeus managed to pick up a large stick and push it along in front until Clare dislodged it with another big stick (which I’m now informed is called a boat hook). A late steer also “rescued” a big stick from a low hanging tree. Not long after some people on the bank informed us that we were again pushing a stick. Whether it was the same one we don’t know, but it seems Bartimaeus is most of the way to becoming a diplomat. All he needs to do now is speak softly. (Does the electric engine count for that?)
Eventually with the sun getting low, we found a place to moor for the night. Clare put out some scraps of vegetables and wraps for the birds. They didn’t seem to get a huge reaction, but did attract a labrador onto the bow of the boat. It’s a pity we didn’t still have a stick to throw.