Armed With Masks. 23rd June

Stanier First Bridge 62 to Congleton Bridge 61

Three quarters of an hour was what Mick was told when he got up and gave Enterprise a call first thing this morning. Phone signal can vary a lot around the system and living inside a metal tube doesn’t help. Quite often we need to go outside to get enough signal as leaving your phone propped in a window doesn’t always work when waiting for a call.

Enterprise were picking another car up this morning so once that was collect the two cars would meet Mick in the layby by the bridge, hand over the keys and leave in the other car. All sorted.


Whilst he walked up to the bridge I started to sort breakfast as my phone decided to have just a little bit of signal and bing at me. Answerphone. An hour earlier a message had been left from York Hospital cancelling my appointment tomorrow morning, they would write to me with another appointment. B**ger! The only reason we had a hire car was to drive to York!! Oh well can’t be helped. I tried calling Mick but by the time I got through to him he was walking back along the towpath with keys to the car.

We had other things planned for today as we had a car. A Click and Collect from Sainsburys in Stoke and a trip to Trentham Shopping Village! We know how to live!!

Miles and miles

The drive from Congleton along the side of the hills has spectacular views, but very few places to stop and admire them. Soon we were on our way to Kidsgrove passing over the bridge alongside Red Bull Services, the cruiser, I can report has moved on. Then we were soon zooming along the A500 keeping a steady distance from the Trent and Mersey through Stoke. Familiar landmarks jumped out to let us know where abouts we were compared to our usual route.

Full car park

At Trentham Gardens/Shopping Village we were surprised at the number of cars! Blimey, would we survive this little shopping trip for essential supplies! We successfully found a parking space in the shade and ventured out to find the shops we wanted.


Every morning I have a cup of Whittards Afternoon Tea, it is my favourite and life simply wouldn’t be the same without it. We’d last stocked up in Oxford at the end of last year and about two weeks ago Mick announced that we were very nearly out! A check as to see if they would be reopening their shops gave me hope, some but not all. Sadly none were on our planned route. I checked on deliveries and their method of shipment is by Yodel, not guaranteed to be taken at a Post Office via Post Restante. Only one way to get tea was to drive to one of their open shops.

Half price, but a bit bulky for Oleanna

I enquired if they still do refills, hoping to save myself a few pennies on my favourite brew which isn’t cheap. The lady said yes, we’d see how much she’d be able to get in my pouch. 200 grams followed by another 200 just squeezing in. That will keep me going for sometime. Sadly it seems that the 50p off has vanished, but then I now have a six months supply again.

All masked up

The assistant donned a mask and gloves to weigh out my tea and hand sanitiser was there to use as you walked into the shop. It all felt relatively safe. Mick stood outside and had decided to put his mask on, I followed suit. People milled about, most without masks, most keeping their distance, it just felt safer wearing a mask.

Holland and Barrett next, but they had no gluten free flour. Then Grape Tree, they had no flour but did have a pack of Psyllium Husk which I haven’t seen since we were in Doncaster! Then a birthday card for my brother. Hallmark was a touch busier and even though they had a one way route marked on the floor it was hard to keep away from other shoppers whilst trying to find the right card.

400 grams of morning cuppas

Procook was our last port of call for a new quiche tin, quinoa crust seems to like pulling the non-stick coating off the one I have! Here we were two of four people in the shop and despite there being several routes for a chap to get to his wife he insisted on walking right by us, Twonk! Sadly they didn’t have what we were after, so a hunt on line will have to do. Time to make our exit, it’s not nice being near so many people.

Picking up our shopping

Next was Sainsburys to pick up our order, we were early but that was fine as our supplies were in the van already. No substitutes and everything with good use by dates, well it had to be as we’d just driven past one of their vast distribution centres.


Then it was back to Oleanna, the sat nav taking us on a cross country route with more great views. We decided to nudge Oleanna along through the next couple of bridges to where a tree might just give us some shade.

It says staff only!
It doesn’t mention anything about cats though!

It also meant Tilly might just have a better afternoon climbing trees. She did need reminding that she shouldn’t be going on other boats!

Sunny towpath

The final regular news conference was this afternoon with Mr Johnson announcing further lifting of restrictions on July 4th. Hire boats and holiday homes can now be used and leisure boaters will be allowed to stay overnight on their boats at last. Very good news for many. Just a big shame that on the social media boating groups there seems to be a big US and THEM divide between liveaboards and leisure boaters developing. Hopefully everyone will be so pleased to be able to pootle about again once they’re back on the water.

Pizzas ready for the oven

Mick managed to get through to Enterprise to see if we could return the car tomorrow , meaning we’d be able to join the queue for the locks earlier than planned. They were fine about it and have applied for a refund for us, so not such an expensive click and collect as we thought it might be.


Another go at some sourdough pizzas tonight. I’d made the dough this morning and shaped it out before going shopping, leaving it in the cold oven to rise all day. Sadly the bases weren’t quite as good as last time, but still very tasty with caramelised red onion and goats cheese topping.

0 locks, 1000 ft, 1 hire car, 0 hospital appointment, 2 masks, 400 grams tea, 1 card, 100 grams husks, 1 refund applied for, 1 spot on order, 1 very expensive shopping trip, 1 cooler mooring, £20! 4th July, Hooray!!

5 thoughts on “Armed With Masks. 23rd June

  1. Paul (from Waterway Routes)

    You said “… their method of shipment is by Yodel, not guaranteed to be taken at a Post Office via Post Restante”

    I would have thought they were guaranteed to refuse anything not send by Royal Mail or Parcelforce. They won’t get any payment if any other courier is used and they only get a very small share of the postage costs when it’s sent by Royal Mail or Parcelforce.

    That pittance is being cut soon, to something so small that I expect most Post Offices will refuse to do Post Restante. It is an optional service in their franchise contract for all but the very largest of Post Offices so I expect each will refuse from next time their contract is renewed and why many already refuse and send Post Restante stuff straight back to sender.

    That’s why you need to check with a Post Office before using it for Post Restante to see if they do it.

    1. pipandmick Post author

      There are a few post offices that will accept anything for you. Mostly those in boating villages like Crick and Napton. They also have shops so it encourages you to shop there. Thankfully I now have plenty of tea.

  2. Dave (Scouts)

    If we ran a campsite or similar near to the canal i’d be tempted to offer a limited service to take in parcels and store and if needed forward by royal mail (at cost) to a post office doing Post Restante.
    One thing we’ve found with the lockdown is that we set up a road whatsapp group and now we know our neighbours far better and have all been helping each other out and sharing tools, excess produce etc. I hope it continues.
    If you are ever stuck Pip now that i’m wfh more than ever happy to take in a parcel if needed and either hold it or forward it (at cost)

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