A Touch Further. 15th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Today Mick had extra errands to do on his bike other than just the click and collect from Sainsburys. I’d managed to track down a local timber merchants that is open in the mornings Richard Potter Ltd. A quick phone call this morning and bingo they had dust masks! I go the chap to put a pack aside for me. I’ve been wanting to get on with some painting of Oleanna, which of course requires the existing paintwork to be rubbed back. When doing small areas I haven’t bothered with a mask in the past, but in the current climate I’d rather not be adding any dust to my lungs.

Cowslips on the branch

Just about any suitable masks on the internet were being snapped up by those wanting to wear them day to day when outside, so I was relieved to be able to get hold of some locally which are suitable for the job in hand.

As Mick cycled away I checked on my stock of sandpaper, nothing, well it wasn’t where it should be. I knew I was running low anyway so that and some masking tape were added to Mick’s list.

Whilst he was away shopping I continued to reread Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn. The theatre in Vienna were interested in putting on the show next year, but had been told by previous designers that it wouldn’t fit on their stage. A month or so ago I’d come up with a possible layout that might work, the other day I read Act 1 and today Act 2. If the director can live without having a bath I think I have a solution. Who knows whether the show will be mounted, but at least I can say that they could do it. Austria this week are lifting a few of their restrictions, allowing smaller shops to reopen. It will be sometime before theatres open their doors again. Here they were the first things to close, so in my mind will be the last to reopen. But there is no harm in having a show up your sleeve.

Successful shopping trip

Mick returned with the shopping, walking along the towpath. Only one thing was missing from our Sainsburys order and that was hand wash. We’ve just opened our last bottles and in normal times we’d buy more to have in reserve.

This afternoon I decided to extend my walk a touch and head off on footpaths to see what Stoke Hall looked like in comparison to the Manor. I walked northwards along the towpath to Stokehall Bridge 99 where I headed north east across fields.

Pooh sticks bridge

A bridge over a stream meant I just had to have a game of Pooh Sticks. I both won and lost, the longer stick being faster than the shorter thicker one.

Stoke Hall

The hall soon showed itself through the trees. A Grade 2 listed building from the 17th Century it has been extended through the centuries, mostly during the 19th Century. Three storeys red brick in Flemish Bond it doesn’t look quite as imposing as the Manor does. But I hunted down the details from when it was last on the market and their photos are far better than mine. The interior has wonderful panelling and a small blue swimming pool adds to the seven bedrooms and similar number of reception rooms.


I crossed the freshly ploughed field aiming straight for the stile on the far side, few foot prints to follow on this field. Then a short distance along the road before climbing into a field with a couple of horses.

Stiles a bridge and a hedge to negotiate

The footpath took me across grazing land, over small planked bridges and over stiles in hedges. A farmer plough his field heading uphill whilst the path I followed took me past last years cut off stumps of maize.

Last years crop

My OS map showed a trig point, so I veered off the marked footpath to spot it. Not much good for it’s purpose now as it’s surrounded by trees, but it’s still there.

I then continued straight along the footpath to where a stile brought me onto the road that leads either to Cholmondeston or Nantwich.

Onto the road

Next I had a choice to walk to Venetian Marina and Cholmondeston Lock, returning along the canal and past Lockdown Mooring 1, or to follow a road to the west which would see me passing Stoke Hall again. The former won, the road was a touch busier than I’d expected.

Cholmondeston Lock

Walking up to the lock and standing on the bridge above the bottom gates I sighed. On the 23rd of March we’d known what was coming and headed up the lock for the last time. This is starting to feel like another life, another time.

Hello Blossom

I now followed the canal back to Barbridge Junction. Many of the boats that had been there three weeks ago are still moored in the same places. I spotted a couple of boats that we’ve seen moving, now back on their home moorings and got to say hello to a lady who is a member of the local Covid boaters group.

Below Hurleston Reservoir

Back on the main Shropie a lady paused whilst gardening to have a chat. Her and her husband have been busy tidying their mooring and we’ve said hello each time we’ve passed when going for water. She said I must have been a long way, which I had, a touch further than I’d imagined, but it was making up for not working our way up the Cheshire Locks on the Trent and Mersey today. We chatted away across the cut, their boat was being painted when lockdown happened. Luckily the painter has been able to continue work, but all they’ve seen so far is photographs. I suspect we’ll have another chat the next time I pass.

Shouty boat lifting his fenders

0 locks, 1 walked over, 0 miles, 5.7 miles walked, Act 2 read, 1 solution, 3 masks, 2 boxes wine, 7 black plastic bags, 2 grades sandpaper, 2 rolls masking tape, 3 days quarantine, 3 on the offside, 1 Hall, 2 horses, 6 kissing gates, 4 small bridges, 2 sticks, 2 gardeners, 15 minutes chat, 2 concerned home owners, 3rd chicken left over meal, hash with an Indian influence, 1 shouty boat up the locks, 1 shouty boat down the locks.