Saturday, 9 June 2018

Stopping at Stockton

Having both had a good night's sleep, we woke very early and, after wrestling with a recalcitrant Killer Sudoku, decided to make an early start. We'd planned to leave at about 8.15, so as to make the nine o'clock entry to Preston Brook tunnel, but realised that, if Sheila started boating before breakfast, we could bring that forward an hour.

So we headed off just after seven, following a Claymoore hire boat that went off just before us, presumably due back at Preston Brook this morning. All went to plan and we caught up with the Claymoore as they were working down Dutton Stop. It was now about twenty to nine, so we had a bit of hanging about to do, not a lot, whilst chatting to the hirers. It was their first time and they'd enjoyed it, a good example of the essential role the hire companies play in introducing newcomers to the joys of boating.

They insisted that we went through first. There were no boats coming the other way, so bang on eight o'clock I entered the tunnel and set off for the 20 minute run. The tunnel's almost but not quite straight. Sheila got the washing machine going as we went along. I handed over to her once we'd emerged and made us some hot chocolate (Sheila) and coffee (me).

Once clear of the moored boats at Preston Brook, I could open up the throttle and get moving, achieving 3.9 to 4 mph on the straights. After a bit, I saw a wide beam chugging along ahead and thought we'd have a slower run than planned. As it turned out, I needn't have worried, since he made little or no attempt to slow for moored boats. On the deep and wide Bridgewater, I don't slow as much as I would on a narrow canal, but still throttle back to around 2.5 mph. As a result, he was out of sight by the time we got to Stockton Heath.

It's a pleasant change, boating a deep, straightish and wide canal for a few days, but I don't think we'd enjoy doing nothing else, there's just not enough challenge. There are, however, interesting things to look at, like the Daresbury Science and Technology Park. It seemed very quiet there today, not much sign of seven day workers...

Since it's Saturday, we've tied well back from the main road bridge and the pubs. It's all pins here, no namby pamby rings or handy Armco on the Bridgewater. We've been shopping twice, once before lunch to the Sainsbury's Local for bread and the like, then back down this afternoon. As happened last time we were here, we set off to walk all the way to the Morrisons the other side of the Ship Canal, but saw the Aldi by the traffic lights on this side and went there instead.

It's a very big Aldi with a remarkable range of stuff in the middle aisles. Does anyone really buy a giant TV or an outdoor pizza oven on impulse? Maybe they do...

Finally, a quick hi to the chap on Bella Luna who was passing as we set off to Sainsbury's this morning. Glad to know there are still blog readers out there!

Tomorrow, eight miles to Dunham Massey in what's promised to be seriously sunny weather. Well, we can but hope...

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