To Great Haywood (May 2)

After a good night’s sleep outside the Wedgwood factory at Barlaston, we woke at around 7:00 and Steve murmured, “that sounds just like a hot-air balloon burner”. Peering through the curtains we found that it was. Before we left our moorings seven balloons had crossed over us from the direction of Trentham and landed somewhere near Barlaston Hall. One even appeared to attempt a landing in the field next to the canal but discovered that there were power lines across the centre.

The weather was warm and sunny. We got to Meadford flight just before another boat that followed us down the flight into Stone. Maggie chatting to one of the crew, proffered the thought “It’s going to be nice day” “Yes” he said, “I’ve brought my shorts with me!” “Some people wear shorts all year round, like our postman but I think he just likes to show off his legs.”Maggie replied. “ As it happens,” he replied, “We’re all postmen on this boat-but we don’t walk the streets, we drive 20 tonnes of mail around in big red lorries.” By the time we reached the next lock, he had indeed got his shorts on. “And a fine pair of legs he had too!” said Maggie.

Roger Fuller's Boatyard at Stone

Joules Brewery Building, Stone

When we arrived in Stone, it was far busier than when we passed through in March. After stopping for water below the bottom lock, the only mooring we could manage was breasting up alongside the Postmen. When we reached the town centre, we realised one reason for the congestion. The monthly Farmers’ Market was being held in the main street. The place was buzzing. There was almost a carnival atmosphere with the stall-holders’ good-natured banter over a wonderful array of produce; bread and cakes, farm- produced meat and cheese, a whole stall of various mushrooms, plants, and much more. Who could resist? As we were entertaining our friends Anne & Edward Winter aboard Albert that evening, we returned to the boat heavily laden.

Stone Farmers Market

As we left Stone Steve said hello to Brian Holmes (In the Pink) from Narrowboat World. His boat is unmistakable.

The journey towards Great Haywood was uneventful except for meeting a father with his young son on a hire boat at Sandon Lock. As the boy did not yet have the strength to operate the lock mechanisms, he was learning to handle the boat in the lock. It was quite a touching scene.

Shugborough Hall from the Trent and Mersey Canal

We met up with Anne and Edward Winter just north of Haywood Junction. They came down from Sheffield to meet us and helped us through Haywood Lock, fitting into their usual roles when they come boating with us. They also came laden with gifts, mostly edible or potable. We had a convivial meal moored in front of Shugborough Hall in a re-enactment of another memorable meal when they were boating with us on Albert. On that occasion, it was warmer and we were able to eat on the bank, but it was much more difficult to find a mooring.