Welcome to Etruria, our second floating canal festival of the 2014 season.
The boaters among you will know instantly that we are moored at the junction of the Trent and Mersey with the Caldon Canal but to those of you who are less familiar with the UK's inland waterways, we are in Stoke on Trent.
Aquarius with the long line
The Etruria is a long established historic boat festival with the entrance to the Caldon rammed with fascinating old craft. Whilst there are boats a plenty, its not an event which attracts a large number of Roving Traders. In fact its almost a re run of Droitwich with ourselves and The Homebrew Boat with a fledgling jacket potato venture in between us.
Aquarius reversing into the basin
It feels a bit odd to arrive at the boat by car, its a bit like being beamed aboard as we are far more used to travelling to an event and then having a friend bring it back for us later. However, on this occasion Mr Truth and his wife Les has some holiday available so brought the boat to Etrutia the long way round, a route which let them cover a lot of new water.
And so we are aboard, with the banners and bunting aloft making ready for the weekend's festival. The main event is based round the basin with the trade and residential boats moored on the main drag out to Festival Park. We are the first l boat above the lock moorings so we have an excellent view of boats coming and going.
On particular pleasure was seeing Aquarius arrive heaving laden and towing Ilford which was similarly deep in the water. I have seen these boats paired before and with their pristine paintwork they looked fantastic. Unusually they were long lining through the locks which is a practice I havn't seen before. Essentially Aquarius (the motor) has a very long rope which is attached to the unpowered butty. By careful measurement of some quality communication between the operators, the motor is able to tow the butty into and out of the second lock down whilst the motor moves through the upper chamber. All very authentic and interesting.
But buttys which are 70ft long is so passe. Anything more that 24ft 3in is just wrong IMHO!
If you fancy seeing some interesting old boats, buying some great preserves and getting a DIY brewing fix come to Etruria! Follow the signs to Festival Park.