Thursday 29 August 2013

R.I.P. Sid

And the news here from Stoke is not good. Sid the sick cygnet passed away quietly in his sleep last night. Sorry. We all did our best but sometimes the odds are stacked against us, I suppose. The staff and vet at Burton wildlife rescue deserve the highest praise for their speed of response and their dedication over several days, plus regularly updating us on progress. We cannot praise them enough. It is great these organisations exist. If you ever have to choose between donations to the RSPCA or Wildlife rescue organisations go for the latter every time. They go for it as volunteers because they love the idea of helping animals rather than the flash uniforms, name and vans. The weather here matches the mood. Overcast and grey. We have yet to go through Stoke but from our vantage point it looks OK and both cats are aboard, which is as it should be. Once again we aim to gently cruise with no destination target in mind, which again is as it should be. Our only target is to be in the vicinity of Leicester for my appointments, but we have ample time. The new drugs are working OK if you consider no fits a success, but as ever there are unpleasant side -affects which I have yet to decide if I can live with.
Tonight we are moored in pole position for going through Harecastle tunnel in the morning. The one we are going through was completed in1897 and has ventilation fans for powered craft use, whereas the older one alongside was smaller and narrowboats had to be "walked"through by the bargee's using their feet on the walls. When you consider the working barges could weigh 70 tons it says a lot about the strength and resilience of the working men and women in those days.the old tunnel has collapsed in several places and is no longer in use. The newer tunnel takes 45minutes to get through and boats are allowed through in armada's of up to 8, one  way at a time as it is the same width as a boat.
We were greatly impressed with Stoke, which retains much of our industrial heritage intact and takes good care of its canal, which only lacks dog poo bins and thus the footpaths need to be used carefully.
In the centre of Stoke is Etruria basin where many of the first emigrants to America set off from. Work was short in Stoke so they set-off on narrowboats to Liverpool before changing to something larger for the sea crossing to North America where a township named Pottersville was established.
We got stuck for ages in a particularly deep lock adjacent to a Canal and River Trust maintenance yard. The deep-end gates leaked badly and as a consequence water was leaving one end faster than it was going in at the other. We had to empty it twice before we could get enough water in to get out. The CRT guys were having their lunch and declined to help
The weather was hot and sunny again.

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