Saturday 10 October

We woke to the sound of excitable children’s voices and discovered the park was full of youngsters being encouraged to jog round the park.

After a coffee in bed, Storm went off to buy the Saturday papers and we had another coffee while we scanned the headlines before moving off.

It was decidedly chilly this morning and we needed hats and coats to guard against the cold.   We passed by the Emma Bridgewater factory with its spotty pottery on display. We also passed building sites where bijou apartments were being built on former industrial sites and saw two bottle kilns sitting in the middle of a building site waiting for new houses to be built around them.

At the Ivy House lift bridge we needed our waterways key. The operating panel had clear instructions and the road was quiet thankfully so we didn’t delay any motorists, which is always a worry when you have to operate barriers and lights to stop the traffic.

In places the Caldon Canal is very narrow with a number of bridges on bends which tested our steering as we edged our way through them with little space to swing our stern.

We only travelled a couple of miles today and stopped to explore the village of Milton. It’s quite a busy village on the outskirts of Stoke with a row of shops up the hill and has obviously seen better days as a number of shops are now vacant, the railway station has closed and the line is now disused, although the rails are still in-situ but the trees and shrubs have claimed it for themselves and its impossible to beat a path through the undergrowth.

Susie Cooper of pottery fame apparently spent some of her childhood growing up in this village and there is a small garden dedicated to her with a board detailing how determined she was to succeed as a potter.

There are three pubs in the village, all of them still open, a couple of sports clubs with licensed bars and a number of take-aways.   When checking with CAMRA whether the Miners Arms was worth a visit, we discovered that it had enjoyed a notorious past but appears to have had a change of landlord recently. There were no current reviews so we’ve decided we’ll risk it and sample the wares later.

(I also meant to mention that our visit to The Star Inn in Stone on Wednesday night was very disappointing. It’s been taken over since our last visit and the bar staff seemed decidedly disinterested in serving us so we weren’t surprised that the bar was empty.   We went to The Swan across the road which was much nicer with open fires, friendly staff, a crowded bar, and the live music was good too.)

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