Saturday, 2 March 2013

Up the Caldon Canal for Steam & Beer Festival (last weekend)

We booked to go through the Harecastle tunnel 3 days in advance, and were told to be at the tunnel entrance between 11.30am and 1.30pm.  I did double check the times with CRT when I booked, just because the Tunnel Keeper on our prior journey through instructed us that for passages from Kidsgrove North to South you had to be at the entrance between 8 and 9.30am.  No matter, the 11.30 slot was a more sociable hour as far as we were concerned.  However, when we arrived there, the place was completely deserted.  Workboat moored inside the tunnel, all the shutters shut.

Ok eck!  This was last Friday morning, and I had visions of us stranded at the tunnel entrance till the following Monday.  So I phoned CRT to check again that we were indeed booked through.  Yes, all fine, no need to panic, someone was on their way!  Phew.  Within 1/2 hour we were on our way.

We had arranged to pick up a couple of engine fuel filters from Barry at Black Prince Etruria, as we had used up all our spares, so with a pit stop there, and with Dave wanting to visit The Holy Inadequate (CAMRA Potteries Pub of the Year 2012), we decided to stop the night at Etruria Museum, and managed to squeeze into the one available mooring spot.  Whilst we were there, we fired up the computer to see what, if anything, was happening up the Caldon Canal.  BLIMEY - we couldn't believe our luck - the Churnett Valley Railway were holding a Steam Festival AND The Black Lion was having a beer festival!!!  Now, this was Friday night, and both events started the next day, for 2 days.  Also to factor into this was the 6 nations rugby.  Well, it just had to be done - or at least tried!  So we got up very early on the Saturday and Sunday, stopping to watch the rugby on Saturday afternoon, and arrived at Consall Forge at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.  We didn't have a tv picture anyway to watch the rugby Sunday even if we wanted to.  We made it!   It was fantastic! I know the blog is a bit out of sync, but I got some great pictures, and can't contain them any longer......
It's behind you!

Double head of steam

The Black Lion


Nemo did venture out in daylight, just the once, but the noise of the trains sent him scarpering back inside and under the bed as another train arrived, this time, backwards.

I walked up the bank a bit to take these photos, just as well I did, as my mobile phone got the feintest of signals, and I received a text from friends Martin & Di who live in Froghall, and happened to have their boat in the area as well.  I'd texted them the previous day to say where we were going to be.  So luckily we all met up on Sunday for the day, and a visit to sample a few of the beers and ciders at the Black Lion.  Now as there were so many beers on offer, I decided to try a wierd beer, or should that be enticed, as it was a chocolate and vanilla stout.  Now I like all three of these ingredients, but together ?!  It was just WRONG!  No matter, there were lots of other delights on offer - I was drinking halves I might add!  Altogether a great weekend.

Di and I also did a quick shopping trip into Morrisons - which was very useful.  Thanks both for the company, and hope to see you soon.

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