Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Oatcakes and beer.

Well what can I say,  what a cracking weekend spent at Etruria in good company with good food and good drink.  We left Great Haywood on Wednesday and had a gentle amble up to Stone having dropped my car off up there on Tuesday night then came home to go to work on Thursday.  Straight after work on Friday we shot off up to Stone and headed straight off getting as far as Trentham village, mooring at Hemheath bridge No 106 and getting into the Toby carvery, 100yards from the canal, 15 minutes before they stopped serving and an excellent meal we had before returning to Darley and bedding down for 11..30pm.  For the next six hours I just lay there, unable to get off to sleep apart from many quick ‘drop offs’ and cat naps.  By 5.30am I had had enough and so got up, fired up Darley’s PD2 and headed off at 5.50am.  By 8.ooam we were pulling round the 180° turn onto the Caldon canal, to be met by Andrew Watts, the show organiser who directed me to Darley’s mooring right outside the Museum. 

We went up the cut a short distance, winded the boat then came back to our mooring for the weekend.  The only other working boat there, at this point was the dustbin boat Lindsey moored in front of us on the water point, later to be moved up to the foot bridge. As the day progressed, more working boats arrived until by the Friday afternoon there was a total of 12 working boats of various types, including 2 Big Woolwiches, 2 dustbin boats, 2 Cowpars, 3 Joshers, 1 Henry Seddon’s, a tug and an ex steamer-ex Yates’ tug.  This included Darley, Lindsey & Keppel, Dove, Tench (loaded with 17 ton stone), Ibex, Sweden, Alton, Sandbach, Victory, Swallow and Swift as well as many other modern ‘cabin boats’. 
Ibex, Sweden & Tench
Friday night saw us having a fish and chip supper collected from the local chippy with normal fish & chips £3.00 and large fish and chips £4.00.  Of cause greedy me and Dawn had large, and I could not believe it when I opened the bag as there were three full sized battered cod fillets  in mine and the fish was so fresh and tasty, unfortunately it left no room for drink so quite a quiet night resulted.  We had all been invited to eat our fish and chips on Phyllis and Henry John son’s lawn outside their boat and so we all took chairs and sat in a large circle munching away and chatting.

Saturday morning saw the show site wake up to a whole host of various things going on including large scale model steam vehicles, stationary engines, belly dancers; fairground organs as well as stalls selling their wares which included a hog roast stall and Longdon Road Oatcakes.  I had two cheese and bacon oatcakes for my breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday while Dawn opted for the pork bap’s from the hog roast where she helped herself to the biggest pieces of crackling both days. Morecroft Pottery had donated a limited edition vase for “the best turned out working boat” whatever that meant for we were told that Darley was ‘too decorated’. It was judged by Harry Arnold and he gave it to Roger Fullers Josher Ibex, but I won the best prize on the Friday dinnertime when boatwoman Phyllis Johnson came over to us and said “Blossom, you’ve got the boat looking beautiful, it’s a credit to you both” to me a prize far greater than some old pot!  Saturday night was curry night and curries were ordered and collected from a local Indian take away and consumed in the museum’s tea room after which a crowd of us retired to one of the empty WOW stalls and so we all brought chairs and sat round the tables in there chatting and having a right good laugh until late with Matt Parrott, The Fuller girl, Henry & Phyllis Johnson, Andrew & Andrea Hoyle.  Sunday morning started with quite a fluffy head after drinking several pints of cider followed by a bottle of lovely red wine, self inflicted was Dawn’s sympathetic uptake on it but the two oatcakes soon put that right along with some crackling off the hog roast and some scratchings off the Black Country Museum stand.  By early afternoon we had both had enough and so decided to leave heading off at about 2.30pm after saying our farewells to all our friends old and new.  As I headed off down the arm to Etruria Junction, the trip boat looked like it was preparing to head off on another trip, so I shouted her crew and signalled for them to pull out before me as I was in no hurry.  As I held back while they winded the trip boat at the junction, or should I say shunted back and forth in the junction, a modern cabin approached from down the north and pulled past the winding trip boat and pulled in behind Mike Edge’s boat, Bass.  When the trip boat cleared the junction I eased Darley round the turn to hover alongside Bass checking her position against the flush of Stoke top lock with ahead/astern.  The obnoxious owner of the cabin boat was now positioned on his bow and shouted to me “ to save you struggling there’s plenty of room behind” My answer was fairly typical of me “ I’m not struggling mate” This he followed with a “your not going in front of me I was here first2  I explained to him that I was in fact in front of him and that had he have been watching he would have noticed that I had held back to give the trip boat plenty of room to wind, but if he was in such a rush then he could carry on through as I was not bothered.  He followed this with a “I was going to anyway” and I though obnoxious ba***rd, so at this point I finished the conversation off with a “f**k off you tw*t” and turned my back on him.  It was so nice when Dawn screamed at him to go as Phyllis had the lock ready and he had not even moved, Excitement over we headed off down the flight with Henry and Phyllis drawing for us and by tea time we were back at Stone. A quick wash and change and we got in the car and drove just up the road to the Darlaston Inn for an enjoyable meal of ‘a bucket of fish’ and I had a shoulder of Lamb with all the trimmings. Monday saw us taking it easy back to Great Haywood,

 although I must admit Dawn’s idea of ‘taking it easy’ does tend to involve a little speed occasionally - Bless her! Well that’s it, first show over, can’t wait for Braunston in just over a fortnight, but until then, as always
Don’t bang ‘em about
PS I've had to add that Dawn's white horses were more of a case of being out of the channel and too near the tow path rather than speed, as she pointed out!


  1. Did someone else really say that about being 'too decorated? Outrageous. It's one thing for Jim to say it as a joke, quite another for the judges not to recognise your wonderful efforts. Can't wait to see you at Braunston where Chertsey will easily be put to shame, but look forward to showing you my new hanging rails!

    That Chertsey Woman

  2. We should have gone and perhaps we would have won with the old dog. In any case there is a considerable difference between the time and facilities available to Mr Fuller and most others. As you say a star from Phylis is worth so much more.