Tuesday 9 June 2015

Unexpected renovation

Love it when a plan comes together! Older brother Nº 2 and wife arrived on the bus in Stone around Monday lunchtime, as arranged. We were under a bit more time pressure than intended, because the object of the boating exercise has been to enjoy the far end of the Caldon Canal, and the delay with our window repairs meant we were already a couple of days behind schedule. So we decided to have a quick lunch and start out right away. This was their first experience of narrowboating, and we did 8 locks the first afternoon. My best beloved was in charge of the windlass classes!

We made it to Trentham lock and found ourselves alone on the moorings just below it.

Today as we set out we found ourselves behind the slow boat to China Etruria, and they were not at all interested in letting us past. Very good for patience training, but it was a crawl up to Stoke and through its five locks – lengthened the boating day considerably.

It's a very tight right turn onto the Caldon at Etruria, but we also needed to get a pump-out, so we pushed on to the Black Prince centre, winded there, got our pump-out and came back to the junction which is easy from this direction. We pushed on up the staircase lock to spend the night at Milton, passing on the way Bridge 9 where we had lost our chimney last time.

We were last here four years ago on our first cruise, and I had warned brother and wife what to expect from the underbelly of Stoke. But a really pleasant surprise awaited us.

On the right is the graffiti and worn-out industrial remnant we remembered. But on the left is lots of new housing, and a smartly renovated environment. There were several stretches where the council seems to have put a significant amount of work into this sort of renewal. Their task may now be to market them appropriately – many of the properties had "For Sale" notices. I had commented last year when we were on the Weaver about my desire to see a council matching the need for housing with the need to renovate the landscape, and here was an example of someone doing exactly that. I was well chuffed! But one swallow doesn't make a summer, and the Stoke authorities clearly have a massive undertaking on their hands.


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