You'll recall, our latest guests left us at Etruria to get their train home... I say home, they were off home briefly and THEN to catch a plane to Majorca for some sunshine... ahem, it appears WE'VE had more than them lol.
Whilst filling with water on the Caldon arm near the Etruria Industrial Museum, I was watching a boat coming up the lock and went to close the gate - getting chatting (as you do) they were wondering if they'd left it too late in the day to begin the Caldon...IE to get past the grottier bits and on to nicer places to stop. I reassured them that we'd started it later in the day then they, and to keep on going until after the 2nd lift bridge...
Taking my advice, they turned up the arm and went passed us - still on the water point. I noticed the boat stopping and thought they'd chickened out... HOWEVER, it was actually a stop so the bloke on the boat could come and say hello - he natters on Thunderboat (the forum) like I do and has been keeping an eye on our travels.
After they'd gone and we were full, we began our descent of Stoke locks.
At lock 37, a train was being held so WE actually made better progress than they.
On the subject of Hire boaters... I have to say, that apart from the occasional "drunken party" most of them are far more considerate than boat OWNERS. This was evidenced a bit later on before we arrived in Stone, when a boat OWNER, 'stole a lock' from aforementioned hirers in front of us - a boat had just come up and our hirers were getting into position to drop off their crew when "Mr Angry" started shouting at them for buggering about and began to empty the lock.
On seeing me walking down to see what the fuss was about, "Mr Angry" became "Mr apologetic" and helped them through the lock... AND apologised for all his swearing... most odd but I have to admit, HAD we not have been there, I doubt he'd have had a change of heart.
The Hirers accepted his apology and continued on their way a little ahead of us until they offered to let us pass. This was helpful as we needed to top with water at Stone bottom lock and whilst the tank was filling, I nipped into M & S to get a ready meal for tea.
When I returned, the water wasn't far off full so we called it a day and then carried on and got about an hour away from Great Haywood before stopping for the night. By now it was about 8pm and getting cold so it turned out to be a good move.
The next morning, bright and early we departed - hoping to beat some of the bank holiday traffic - a lovely misty start to the day but before long the sun burned it away nicely.
Before long we were at Great Hayward where we chucked a right turn onto the Staffs & Worcestor Canal.