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09 Sep 19 - 01:35 PM (#4008146)
From: open mike

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I have received notification of a very late cancellation regarding two places on the musical boating holiday due to start on the 21st September 2019. The boat we will be using is based at Great Haywood, near Stafford. Full joining instructions will be provided once a booking is made.

We will be travelling up the Trent & Mersey Canal and then along the Caldon Canal to Leek and Froghall (as featured recently in channel 5's 'Celebrity 5 Go Boating'). We will return along the same route but using different venues in the evening on the return journey to those we used on the outward journey. The boat we will be using is a 70' long narrowboat. The boat has five cabins, all capable of accommodating two people in each cabin. However, I do not intend to use the saloon cabin as a sleeping area as this would involve converting the seating\dining area into a bed each evening and then converting it back again each morning.

The cabin that has become available can be configured to contain either a double bed or two single berths. All beds are of the fixed type. I already have a provisional booking from a single gentleman who is prepared to share the cabin. Therefore, I can accept a booking from either two people wanting to share a double bed, two people wanting a cabin with two single beds or a single person prepared to share a cabin with another gentleman. None of the beds are of the bunk variety and none of them have to be assembled in any way, as is the case with some hire boats. All of the cabins are adjacent to, and have direct access to, toilet facilities without the necessity of passing through someone else's cabin. All bed linen and towels are provided. I have limited the crew to eight people who will be comfortably accommodated, as the boat is designed to have a maximum occupancy of ten persons. There is a saloon for dining and socialising and there is space at the bow and at the stern for socialising, practicing and relaxing. The boat has two bathrooms, one including a shower, and limited, but adequate storage space. Our instruments will be stored on our beds during the day and in the saloon area at night.

The boat is fully equipped with regard to safety, and incorporates central heating and a fully operative galley including cooker, refrigerator, microwave, sink, pots, pans, cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery. The lounge saloon has LCD TV, a CD/DVD/Mp3 player and a Wifi router. However, TV and Wifi receptions are very dependent upon the location of the boat when they are trying to be used. The boat has both 12V and 240V electricity sockets, although electrical equipment is strictly limited to those that consume less than 1Kw. Crewing and skippering the boat is optional and always with guidance and, if necessary, instruction from an experienced skipper with commercial boating experience.

Food for meals, inc full breakfast, lunch and evening meals is provided for. In the daytime food will be prepared on a communal catering basis. Each evening we will be dining at the venues we will be visiting. The cost of the vast majority of these meals will be included in the cost of the holiday. If preferred, as an alternative to eating out, there will be plenty of food available on the boat to make a buffet meal.

Public liability/third party insurance and a damage waiver for the boat is included in the cost of the cruise. Vehicles are parked at the marina in a secure car park free of charge, but with the usual disclaimers regarding liability. Holiday and personal insurance is at your own discretion.

Each evening the boat will moor up close to a welcoming waterside hostelry where the option to enjoy a delightful session of music and song in a relaxed atmosphere will be available. The venues for the sessions will all be arranged prior to our departure. The sessions will have been advertised in advance on social media, and in the local media, to encourage local musicians, singers and listeners to come along and participate in the enjoyment of the evenings.

Total cost of the holiday is £275 per person.

If you want to book place(s) on the trip I need to know which type of cabin your preference is for, by email to this address ( I also need the contact details of yourself and any other people who want to book with you. These details should include the name, address (including postcode), contact telephone number (preferably mobile for use when we are on the holiday) and email address for yourself and each person booking with you. I will also need the vehicle registration mark of the vehicle you will be using. A few words about yourself/yourselves would be helpful, particularly with regard to what music, if any, you perform and what, if any, instruments you will be bringing along.

Once you have confirmed that you wish to book I will need payment for the full cost of the holiday. The simplest and easiest way to make payments is by sending an electronic transfer straight to my account, sort code 09-01-28, account number 96551793. Alternatively this can be done using Paypal by sending a transfer to my account ( I would have to ask you to cover any charges Paypal levy for this transfer, but these charges can be avoided by marking the payment as a transfer to a friend/family as opposed to payment for 'goods or services'. If you use Paypal and choose any option other than 'Send money to a friend or relative' just send £275 per person as appropriate. I will advise you how much Paypal has deducted from the transfer, and you can pay this difference when we meet on the boat. However, to avoid Paypal charges I would recommend selecting the option that most people choose which is to 'Send money to a friend or relative'.

09 Sep 19 - 01:40 PM (#4008149)
From: open mike

Here is our itinerary

Saturday      - After loading and stowing away all of our luggage, instruments and provisions for the trip, hopefully, we will get an early start away from the boatyard. Setting off as early as possible is essential to the success of our first day on the boat. During our first afternoon travelling we will head up The Trent And Mersey Canal in a north westerly direction. We will travel through a broad valley, briefly interrupted by our first lock of the week at Hoo Mill Lock. Although roads are often close by, the atmosphere is one of remoteness and peace. The canal passes the small village of Burston and on through the quiet water meadows of the Trent valley. The tower of Aston Church is prominent throughout much of this stretch of canal. We will be mooring close to the centre of Stone, a very busy but pleasant town with strong canal associations. A three or four minute walk will take us to our venue for the evening, The Crown.

Sunday       - The availability of moorings will have determined whether or not we have already passed through the locks in Stone on our journey the previous day. We will soon come across another flight of four locks climbing up the valley to Meaford. A railway line accompanies the canal as it approaches and passes the straggling village of Barlaston. We will then come to the site of the renowned Wedgewood Pottery. Continuing north we will approach the outskirts of Stoke where the canal replaces rural tranquillity with a more urban landscape. Signs of the pottery industry still survive with several bottle kilns visible. Just above Stoke Top Lock we branch off The Trent And Mersey Canal and onto The Caldon Branch Canal. A statue of the famous canal engineer, James Brindley, stands near to the junction. The Caldon Canal is featured heavily on Channel 5's current series 'Celebrity 5 Go Barging'. The first two locks on The Caldon Canal are combined in a staircase lock. Despite being surrounded by urban Stoke, much of the journey to our destination for the evening, The Millrace at Milton, is surprisingly pleasant as it passes along a 'green' corridor between the urban sprawl.

Monday      - Shortly after leaving Milton a flight of five locks will lift us up to the summit level of the canal. As we pass Endon we will leave behind any vestiges of industrial Stoke. At Hazelhurst the canal divides into two. One arm heads off towards Leek, we will descend down a flight of three locks to go towards Froghall. An aqueduct carries The Leek Branch over the part of the canal that we will be travelling along first. The canal and the River Churnet now run side by side for the next seven miles. In fact they are one and the same between Oakmeadowford Lock and Consall Forge. Our boat is too long to cruise the final mile and a half of canal. Therefore, we will wind (turn round) just before Flint Mill Lock and make the journey back to Cheddleton to spend the evening in The Red Lion. For most of this section the Churnet Valley is enclosed by steep, thickly wooded hills. It has been described as a superlative landscape, seeming to be almost untouched and unspoilt by the incursions of man.

Tuesday      - This will be a very easy going and relaxed day with options to leave the boat whilst the rest of the crew visit the Leek Branch of the canal. From Cheddleton we will make our way back to Hazelhurst Locks. After negotiating the locks we will turn left and cross over the aqueduct that we have just cruised under. Two more aqueducts, one over a railway line and the other over the Endon Brook, will be encountered until eventually the canal reaches the north side of the narrow valley. We will pass through the short Leek Tunnel before winding the boat just before the next bridge and then return to Denford to spend the evening in The Hollybush Inn.

Wednesday - Our journey on this day will take us back down the Churnet Valley and through Stoke on Trent. We will pass through the five locks at Stockton Brook, and the splendid Victorian waterworks at the bottom of the flight, Baddeley Green, Milton and Hanley. Hanley is one of the six towns that were amalgamated in 1910 to form the present city of Stoke-on-Trent. The other towns being Burslem, Fenton, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall. Turning left to go back down The Trent And Mersey Canal we will retrace our steps as far as Trentham. We will spend the evening in The Trentham Hotel, locally known as The Toby Carvery.

Thursday    - Shortly after leaving our moorings we will arrive back at the site of the Wedgewood Pottery. On a relatively short boating day, if it is of interest to anyone, we will have plenty of time to visit The World of Wedgewood. The Wedgewood Group is the largest china and earthenware manufacturer in the world. It was started in 1759 at Burslem by Josiah Wedgewood. By 1766 he was sufficiently wealthy to build a large house and factory which he called Etruria. In the 1930's the company Josiah founded decided to build a new factory close to Trentham Lock, as mining subsidence had made Etruria unsuitable. The Etruria site was subsequently demolished. The urban surroundings of the city are soon left behind as we leave Trentham to be replaced by far more rural countryside until we arrive back at Stone. At the southern end of Stone is Little Stoke and our venue for the evening, The Three Crowns.

Friday         - Our last full day on the boat will take us back down the Trent And Mersey Canal to Weston. We will spend the evening in The Woolpack, but I doubt that we will meet Amos or Mr Wilks! After a fairly early start on Saturday morning, we will cruise back down to Great Haywood. We have three miles to travel and we have to have the boat back to the boatyard by 9am. Once we arrive at the boatyard, collectively we have to clean the boat and disembark all of our belongings and unused provisions. Leaving the boat in the same condition as we found it.

Cheers Neil