|With travel restrictions being lifted for liveaboard boaters, but with the advice to “stay local”, we left our moorings in Stone on Tuesday 30th March. We were aiming for the Caldon Canal only about 9 miles north, which had been closed for repairs but was due to reopen on the 31st March. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and only travelled for as long as the washing machine took to do a load, then stopped and hung it out – the first time this year! It always feels nice to get the washing out, blowing on the line! Even though it was less than 1.5 miles from where we started, it felt completely new – it was so lovely to be in a different spot!
We moved again on Wednesday 31st March, going slightly further and stopping near the Wedgwood factory at Barlaston. We moored on a lovely mooring, with fields both sides. We checked the Canal and River Trust website to check the Stoppages page and were dismayed to see, only 2 hours before it was due to open, that another stoppage notice had been issued and the Caldon Canal was now closed until 7th April! Doh!
We decided that we may as well wait for another few days – after all, it was a great mooring – albeit a little frustrating for our travels to be halted again so soon. So, we are enjoying the scenery and watching the resident swan bully the pair of Canada Geese and them, in turn, bullying the ducks! Rabbits and squirrels play in the field opposite (fortunately, otherwise Sal would be tempted to “play” with them!) and we can hear a woodpecker busy at work, buzzards hunting overhead, and owls, at night. It’s also absolutely lovely to have some different walks with Sally!
We have been mulling over our time in Stone, some 5 months in total, and can’t really believe that we spent that long doing not very much! Of course, the weather wasn’t very conducive for doing any DIY, so between regular trips to the supermarket or launderette, as well as Sally’s normal daily walks, we have managed to while away the time. We moved the boat a couple of times to fill with water – the last time, even though we left it until late in the day, someone nicked our spot so we had to moor on the opposite side – not a problem, just lucky there was a space! I have done a fair amount of knitting, whilst listening to audio books, played aloud so Tony could hear, too. We have been working our way through the Harry Potter series, read by Stephen Fry and even Tony, not known for ever having read a novel, enjoyed the experience. We have been having socially distanced coffee and afternoon tea outside, weather permitting, with our boaty neighbours, enjoying chatting and putting the world to rights!
We both celebrated our birthdays whilst in Stone; for my birthday, organised by Mel, we joined in a virtual Murder Mystery evening, all getting dressed up according to our characters – and I was the villain!! Fortunately, I was able to borrow a fur coat from our boaty neighbour – we have a distinct lack of storage space in which to store fancy dress items! We did have to order a Captain’s hat for Tony, but we were quite pleased that we were able to adequately create the characters!
We both had our first Covid vaccinations, getting the bus for a short trip to Stafford. Thankfully, other than feeling pretty washed out the next day, neither of us suffered any nasty side effects.
I also finally got round to editing the drone footage of Marple Aqueduct and Bugsworth Basin, both short videos now on YouTube. Here are the links if you’re interested.
I also managed, thanks to lockdown, to back up all our photos to Amazon Photos. They are already in Google Photos but it’s good to have a second back up (or third as I have them all backed up on a hard drive!) I also put them all into albums, which I hadn’t ever done in Google Photos, so should now be easy to find. I’ve been meaning to do that for ages, so one of the few positives of Covid!!
The only other thing of note was that Sally developed a bit of a dislike to several dogs which we were seeing on a regular basis on our walks around Stone – and was getting quite worked up and reactive to a couple of them. I wanted to nip this in the bud before it got out of hand (and I was getting increasingly anxious on our daily walks) and after one particularly aggressive, barky incident, we went for a one-to-one session with a local dog training company. I found it very useful, even though, Sod’s Law, Sally didn’t react aggressively to any of the dogs they brought out during the training session! I do feel as though I have more tools to handle Sally properly now, and we are doing really well! She is walking beautifully on a loose lead, paying close attention to us and, despite having seemingly less freedom, is still very enthusiastic to go out on walks! We hope to continue her training but don’t know if we’ll ever be brave enough to let her off the lead – watch this space!
So, for now, we wait – again! Hopefully, the published date will be adhered to this time and we’ll soon be in pastures new again.