Stumbling on Stone with Siberia swiftly ascending

Notable Bene; Yes, that is a christmas tree atop that crane, and yes, it has twinkly lights.

No idea what the traveller-person/alternatively-domiciled citizen’s caravan is doing there. Zero miles per hour, by the look of it. Perhaps the horse left it parked there, when it ended it all in the canal? Horses sometimes do that, you know, when they find out that They Shoot Horses, Don’t They &etc.


The previous move was the move that just wouldn’t stop.

The plan had been to mooch on to the edge of the town of Stone, and thence to find some cute and cuddly moorings and to see what’s what, where and why, with whom. In the event I had to mooch almost entirely through the town of Stone before there was an available mooring. I found one just before dark…

This was not the welcome from Stone that I had hoped for, and meant that I had to work through four deep locks right in the centre of town at dusk, bringing the day’s total to seven locks and eight and a half cruising miles. #Thazzalotforme.

The [canal] approach to Stone is varied, with some serious ugly-uglies and some breathtakingly scenic rural spots. A main-line railway runs alongside the canal for quite a distance, and doubtless many passengers on the passing HS125 Virgins found themselves wondering, necessarily briefly, at the sanity of the flat-capped old fa*rt on the back of a mooching narrowboat.

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
Canals and railway lines oft run togather. Trent & Mersey Canal.

There are wide-open things called “fields” were-sheep may safely graze. Oops, where sheep may safely graze. These ones were Swaledale Cross Black-Faced gibbers, other than the one at the canal bank by the Cardinal’s bow, which is a Badger Faced Welsh Mountain tup. Both breeds are sturdy enough to cope with what looks to me, at a passing glance, to be Grade IV Class II Soggy Marsh grazing. Neither breed is especially known for tendencies towards ovine lycanthropy.

Were-sheep, safely grazing, where were-sheep may safely graze.

Some of the bridges into town are slightly more bridge than bridge hole.

Sidney, I think that you may have overdone the brickwork on the arch. Trent & Mersey Canal.

Rather gained the impression that the chap who built this one was hoping to feature it on his Curriculum Vitae.

Other bridges, while perfectly serviceable, look as though they were built by accountants.

The Accountant’s Bridge. Trent & mersey Canal.

The initial view of this …economical… bridge is misleading, because the view from underneath reveals some sort of cast-iron scalloped tray holding up the lane, the full length and width of the structure. It’s much more impressive when viewed from a passing narrowboat.

Stone itself, both in its greeting and in its town moorings, is less scenic and is home to almost no sheep at all.

Dreamy Blend Photo Effect:
Tied up at last, in Stone. Next to a cute little industrial estate.

The photograph above is my quick snap-ette for the Ship’s Log, and yes, the streetlights were on when I finally got moored, it was getting dark and ‘orrible.

Hashtag Iwasknackered after those extra locks.

Thanks upon thanks to Jim (if my dubious memory serves me correctly) for working me through the very last lock of the day, it was much appreciated. You are a (lone, singular) star!

Second to last lock of the early evening, Stone. Bloody ‘orrible locks around here – deep, with heavy gates and silly, silly kinked beams that afford no leverage whatsoever.

To all of those in the The Star Inn who watched through the windows with their early-evening pints as I struggled with the gates and paddles of Lock 27, may the fleas of a thousand sweaty camels infest your most intimate crevices, and your children’s crevices, and your children’s children’s crevices, unto seven fleabitten generations.

p.s., You do all know what the landlord there does in the beer, don’t you? It’s what gives the ale that luxuriant, slightly yellow froth.

To the contractors who thought to close off the lockside and following towpath with barriers and signs – did you know that your barriers are easily removed? Are you even vaguely aware that someone on a narrowboat working through the locks and mooring up cannot “Please use other footpath” (on the opposite side of the canal)! Not unless they can walk on water, and I have yet to develop that particular skill.

Please use other path, in Stone. Um – no, no can do. Nice new pathway though, on the bits that you’ve completed. Are you coming back to seal it with tarmac, or is it to be left as scruffy, slippy gravel?

To add to Stone’s initial reception and attractiveness, storm “Deirdre” quickly then moved in, with the ice-cold cold and the winds and the torrential rain and the enough already. Storm Dierdre has gone, moved on to pastures new, but the Cardinal and I remain.

Stone has shops, food shops and charity shops (mayhap for cheap books and cheap DVDs), and it has a chandlery wot do sell the coal, so I remain for a day or more. Stone also has services, located in the most inconvenient position possible – right in the centre of town, two locks either side and no dedicated mooring. The Cardinal and One (that’s me, I am One – a right one, according to my school reports), availed outselves very swiftly of these on the dusk raid as we arrived. If I stay long then we may have to re-lockinate and visit them again, or I may work something out with the trolley and lots of exercise instead.

Today, while fine and calm and dandy, is a thinking day. I am not certain that I have the lone oomph to scoot on through the long tunnel and the concentration of locks immediately afterwards (thirty or forty such), and if the weather is going to be now-you-see-it now-you-don’t on us, then I most certainly do not want to get stranded anyway in the (bigger) town of Stoke on Trent, which is what are rougher than a badger’s ar*se. Especially not over the Silly Season (Spendmas), while the Children’s Prisons (skools) are closed and the little bar stewards are free to terrorise the neighbourhood.

The route ahead is rather all or nothing, so I am thinking.

We may stay in Stone for a while.

Should that be “set in Stone”? I don’t know. I rather lost my decision-making faculty a few years ago, during a brief experience of psychedelia, and I specialise now in the noble ancient art of “much dithering”.

The best laid plans of both mice (me) and men were made to be flexible, after all is said and done. Lunch first, then decision.

I think. Maybe the other way around. I don’t know.

I shall leave you today with a photograph of me wearing my new balaclava. I had hoped to find one of the old-fashioned, knitted variety, but all that was on sale were these new-fangled “Thinsulate” things with draw-strings. I had hoped that a balaclava would improve my appearance, but I just look like a right plonker wearing it, as with the rest of my wardrobe.

I’ve even tried wearing the wardrobe once, and wasn’t that just the fashion statement that said “guilty as charged, m’lud”?

The balaclava is amazingly warm though, so I don’t care. Let them laugh.

Chin-chin &etc., Ian H and Cardinal W.

Polaroid Picture Frame:
Ian Hutson, narrowboater, author, fashion guru.


  1. I should put Stone on my ‘must visit’ list for A Bit About Britain. Meanwhile – and until I get round to that (it is a very long list) – have a happy Christmas and all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like a day that took the best of you and threw it on a rock. However, you did make it through, so you won.
    You have contemplating the life of were-sheep. I sounds like a rather pleasant living. When the 9-5 humanness gets too awful, a full moon arrives and you can go out to pasture and graze among friends. Sounds peaceful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course, to be serious for a moment, the important thing to remember is that a sheep is for life, not just for Christmas. It is sad to see the rescue shelters filling up with sheep in January, once the initial puppy-lamb shine has gone off the present. 😉

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  3. Maybe Stone gets a lot of low flying airplanes and this is just festive lighting warning them off? I’d be more concerned about vertically challenged leprechauns riding around on pit ponies! Now you have your burgalur disguise nip out and black up the windows of the Star Inn so they can’t leer at passersby! At least there is still a Jim about thank goodness.

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    1. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised at leprechauns – the ducks around here, it seems, never sleep. They bang on the side of the boat at all hours of the night, nibbling (dabbling, I suppose) at the weed growth at the waterline!


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