Survived the Harecastle tunnel, having dismantled my rainwater-harvesting roof and taken in planters, plant pots, spare fenders and other bits of rubbish I usually keep up there. I'd remembered a very low tunnel roof the last time I'd come through, but that had been after some very heavy rainfall and this time was much easier. I could have left most of the stuff up there! But it did force me to finally tidy things up a bit and that's good.
On through Stoke-on-Trent and the fascinating industrial buildings that line the canal.
I love the bottle kilns you can spot among the factories and read that there are still 47 of them standing in the area. I know it's easy to have a romanticised view of the landscape and a picture I found on this site reminded me of how it was 'back in the day' : http://www.thepotteries.org/did_you/003.htm
All this pottery industry around - there's bound to be a few mistakes!
Looks like one hell of a Greek wedding celebration!
It's been fun doing locks again after such a long break from them (having had the mooring on the Peak Forest canal for 9 months). The Stoke locks were great though I did struggle a bit with the top lock at Meaford where part of the bridge below it has collapsed onto the steps. There's a road immediately at the foot of the lock so, if you have an awkward dog that won't stay on the boat without you, you have to drop your boat in the lock, bow-haul it out as far as you can, drop the rope onto the roof and hare it across the road, down the lane to the nearest opening in the hedge, then back up the towpath to retrieve your boat as it emerges from the bridge hole. Oh fun and games! :-)
Now I'm at Stone, where there's a shop selling Dunoon china made in Staffordshire. It specialises in 'fine bone china' and I must admit, I hadn't really understood that bone china is still made from bone ash. Something for us vegans to think about when buying our cups! I immediately checked mine and was relieved to find they are stoneware.
Something lovely at Stone is the seat at the bottom of the flight of four locks.
It was made by artist Phillip Hardacre, working with local schoolchildren. (I looked him up and he's done other collaborations which sound amazing, including a memorial grand piano for a much-loved music teacher, though I couldn't find a picture unfortunately). On this seat, there are tiles and ceramic plaques showing aspects of Stone like its shoe-making past, the ale industry, the canal, current organisations and retailers as well as signature pieces by the children themselves. I think it's lovely.