Stick With It

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.

Bike statue on a bike rack
Interesting bike rack by the water point

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.

wooden statue of various animals
Statue in the park

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.

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