Tuesday 26th August. 4 miles, 14 locks.
No sun yet, no rain either but they day looks bleak Did my first oil change. No problem but took twice as long to clean up than do the change. I should get better next year or organise the changes when the temporary crew are mechanics. A good day of locks with plenty of boats coming the other way. Of the 14 locks only 2 needed emptying and at most there was someone else to open the gates. The OAP's we meet on Saturday came looking for us today and joined as for afternoon tea.
Wednesday 27th August. Nil
A day out with Alan and Marian, the OAP's.
We were picked up at 1030 and delivered home at 2130. first up to a National Trust property, Little Moreton Hall. A Moated Elizabethan house built to impress, to show wealth and gain status. It has been in the Moreton family until given to NT in 1938. The family left the property a century or two ago and the tenants were not allowed to make alterations so the NT inherited an almost original house. They have done a great job with it. Next was Mow Cop via the Astbury church which features on all Cheshire calendars. Mow Cop a ruined castle was built in 1754 on the top of a hill and can be seen for miles around. It looks like the ruins of a castle but was built that way. From this hill we could see almost all of the places we had travelled so far. Next stop was Biddulph Grange Garden, NT. With a quick stop on the way to visit James Brindley's grave. He was known as the father of the canal system.
Biddulph Grange was the Victorian Mansion of James Bateman, who had collected plants from all around the world and laid out the garden in countries. There was the Himalayan Glen, Chinese, Italian and Egyptian gardens along with the Victorian garden. The Mansion had been developed into 5 star apartments and the developer had given the gardens to the NT to return to their original form. Win/Win, apartment owners have a beautiful garden looked after by NT and the people have a delightful garden to enjoy. The real highlight of the this visit was that the manor had been used as a hospital and Marian had trained there and was courted by Alan at that time. Many stories to tell. We finished the day with takeaways at their place and then went and watched Alan play a match of Crown Bowls. Similar but different to lawn bowls.
Thursday 28 August. 3 miles, 13 locks
Finished of the last of the Heartbreak hill locks arriving at the Harecastle tunnel to late to transit so moored at the entrance for the night. At one of the last locks alongside a pub we meet a man with a Barn Owl and got to hold and stroke her.
Friday 29th August. 2 Miles, one of which was underground.
First through the tunnel and moored up by 0930. Set off for the potteries and saw that “Areandare” was a couple of boat lengths in front of us. We have communicated with Barry & Sandra from time to time since meeting Sandra on a tow path a few day over 4 years ago in 2010. We have now meet Barry, who comes from Gisborne. Sandra was away with her sister. First pottery to visit was William Edwards, a boutique pottery we visited last time and thought his work and concept were delightful. The shop was closed but on enquiry a staff member came and opened it up. While talking with her she offered to show us around. Her expertise was to mix the glasses required to match the artists colours. She took us through the whole process from the designs being perfected on the computer, making the screens and printing the transfers. Then a quick look in the factory to see the transfers being hand placed onto the clay objects. Next door is Burleigh Pottery. Last time we were here it was “potters holiday” where all the factories are closed so no tours. This time we found that they now have 2 holidays a year and you guessed it this was the week. The site of the Burleigh pottery is now owned by the Princes trust (Charles) and a few million has been spent on a visitor centre. The factory has been leased out to a commercial operator. After our hard luck story on timing a private tour was arranged and we spent a good 2 hours going through every nook and cranny. Phil the guide, who's Grandfather was there during the war, was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable I'm sure we had the best tour going.
Saturday 30 August. Nil
A day off. Didn't leave the boat all day. Did bits and pieces and a bit of cleaning.
Sunday 31 August. Nil
Wet morning. In the afternoon we walked to Tunstall and found a pub for “Sunday Roast” Best slice of Beef I have tasted this trip. A bit of supermarket shopping then back to the boat where we socialised for a while with the couple from the next boat.