It was time for us to head off from Stone, we have a tunnel date of 9th January - the last before the closure of Harecastle for a month.
But first we needed to pop in and say goodbye to Lynn and Phil and to drop off the redundant pump-out kit and to enjoy a cuppa. We have known them for quite a while now and it is a bit sad that with us leaving the Stone area for quite a while that we may not see them anytime soon. There is a certainly pleasure in teasing Phil (whose roots are firmly in Dorset) about coming from Shropshire - when he gets his North Dorset accent going, he is as easily not understandable as if he really was from Shropshire.
But they are very lovely and offered to lock us through the Meaford flight - thanks very much for everything and we miss you already.
With cruising now back to the usual 3 hours per day (exceptional circumstances excluded) we moored up at Wedgwood for the night - we knew it was going to be a cold one and it was showing that even as the sun was setting.
Next morning we were not disappointed in the predictions - a thickish fog was well visible (and nothing else); there was a thin layer of weak ice on the canal - Diane was calling it "cat-ice" - but as I hadn't heard of this expression before I took her word for it.
In any event it was not thick enough to be of any concern to us.
Diane headed off to Trentham lock, and even though we had our walkie-talkies, there was a lot of crackling and I couldn't make out what she was saying - it may of course been my "deaf old git" moment, but I am blaming her mumbling.
Through the first lock without any argument about who was at fault - she declined to walk to the next lock - only 3-4 miles - she certainly would have got her daily steps in with that.
As we passed the Britannia Stadium two things happened - firstly we passed Que Sera Sera which apparently was open for business, and we didn't stop - so Diane missed out on oatcakes and then secondly we spotted our dear friend, Howard Smith (nb Compass Rose) out on his bicycle heading to Stone and back.
So a brief chat and he was off, planning to meet us again once we were moored and he had returned.
The lock flight approached and Diane once again was off to do the locks - she was taking pity on me today as I had wrenched my left elbow - it seemed a bit out of character for her but appreciated.
We had decided (read as I went along with what she wanted done) that we would moor up around the corner at Etruria Junction - fill with water and spend a couple of days here. With there being perfectly still conditions I decided that I would try reversing down the 100 metres or so, instead of faffing around with winding.
I was very pleased with the outcome - it was way quicker than what we have usually done; it made the turn onto the Caldon after the top lock so much easier; and no winding in the hole, which has usually been a pain.
There was only one other boat here, but we were perfectly placed for the walk into town for the evening's entertainment.
Just as we were almost ready to sit down for lunch, Howard reappeared; declined to join us; but we did have a bit of a longer chat than earlier on, and we are now looking forward to a meal with he and Janet (the long-suffering better half).
The exertions of the week seemed to finally catch up and the nurse in Diane ordered me to bed for along overdue "nanna-nap" - I cannot criticise her for her decision. I was refreshed and ready to go out.
We headed up into Stoke to Victoria Hall, picked up the tickets for "One Night With Queen" - to be enjoyed with
It was a tribute band but still a very enjoyable night - we were able to convey some of the night to Sue and Andy and hope that they are over whatever they have picked up during the journey.
A drink after and then it was time to call it a night - some of us had to work the following day - don't we Dot?
The walk back to the boat was all downhill fortunately; the chippy by this time of night was closed - unfortunately in Diane's mind.
We have enjoyed Stoke for many visits now and have always felt safe - the walk back reinforced this feeling as well. We will be here for a few more days - there is shopping to be done - the milk stocks are getting low.
10 miles, 12 locks (includes Diane's travels on 2/1/15)
YTD: 10 Miles, 12 Locks
Totals: 2904 Miles, 2133 Locks, 98 Tunnels, 34