We had only a three hour cruise scheduled today so we didn't rush to leave Nantwich. As we were thinking about going Jenny B tootled as it went past; after Tony and Jenny had moored we invited them on board for coffee. It was good to chat with them; we departed once they had gone and continued south towards Audlem.
We knew space there would be at a premium as boats were gathering for the annual Audlem Festival of Transport; after breasting up to BCF boat Coriander displaying a friendly home made "Welcome to moor alongside" notice we eventually moved up five locks to a space on the visitor moorings.
I somehow got talking to Phyllis Johnson of Perch. She was born on a boat in the Potteries and was a working boat woman for many years. Her uncle was "Chocolate Charlie" - Charlie Atkins - who used to carry for Cadbury's. She was a very interesting lady; I hope that one day she will tell her story for the record. One thing she told me - unprompted! - was where boaters used to empty their buckets/chamber pots. Yes, we're talking toilets. The hedge? The cut? I think it will come as no great surprise that it was nearly always the cut. Phyllis was also scathing about the so-called boaters' attire of bonnets and petticoats for the women. Her argument was that that sort of Victoriana just wasn't practical for working boaters so they wouldn't have worn it.
We ate the rest of yesterday's takeaway curry for tea, still very good. As I was finishing off a boat went past to go up the locks. It became apparent that he was single handing so I got my bike out and lock wheeled for him up the flight. He was, naturally, very grateful. It was a fine evening and I enjoyed the workout. His name was John; the boat - with a Russell Newbery engine - was Lily.
On our way back to the boat we had a bonus. Two steam traction engines were manoeuvering into position outside the Shroppie Fly pub. The light was fading rapidly; by the time they'd done it was dark. The surprising thing was how quiet they were - a little clanking, some gentle hissing, but none of the noise associated with steam locos on the railway. No photos (no camera and too dark anyway!)
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