Friday 5th July, 2013 just south of Swindon, Staffordshire.
The day we've been waiting for! It's 20 months since we started cruising and today was the first day that we awoke to still, warm sunshine which streamed through the open windows. For once, there was no cold wind. The sky was cloudless and the birds sang merrily from the hedgerows. This is the sort of day that you see depicted in narrowboat holiday brochures, with smiling boaters wearing skimpy clothing and sunbathing on the roof. We've had a few lovely sunny days before, but the air has been cold so two, three or even four layers were needed - but today was definitely a "One Layer" day! At last! Hooray!
We decided to visit the Red House Glass Cone Museum, which we had seen as we passed by last night, so we set off to walk the short distance back up the towpath. The 100ft high structure is impressive indeed with its complex, and surprisingly attractive, brickwork.
The exhibition inside was very well done, explaining the process and the methods used. But, as ever, it was very sanitised. When in operation, the heat, fumes and noise must have been tortuous for the people working there, given that the furnace works at 1,000 degrees plus. All the raw materials used to be delivered by barge and the finished products also went out on the canal.
The journey continued up the Staffs and Worcs along the contour often with sheer sandstone cliffs on one side.
We moored up for the evening just south of Swindon and for only the second time since MM was launched in October 2011, we got out the picnic chairs, poured ourselves a gin and tonic and sat on the towpath in the sunshine!
Today 5 miles, 6 locks and 4.7 hours.
Trip: 185 miles, 162 locks and 150.1 hours.