After leaving sunny Suffolk, and 6 hours and 5 trains later. With the occasional highlight of sitting next to a pearl dealer, a family going to the science museum for the day and beautiful bronze sculpture.

I arrived back in a grey and drizzly Stockport. At least it was a warm welcome even if only because we have discovered the ventilation around the generator isn’t sufficient to keep it as cool as hoped. But every cloud has a silver lining and not only does the engine room now make a good drying room, the warmth from the generator keeps us warm whilst cruising. Sadly we’ll have to do something about this as its compromising efficiency too much.

Eric assures me that he’s made good progress over the past week, but he didn’t need much encouragement to pack up the tools for a well earned day off today. I wasn’t impressed with how clean he’d kept Firecrest although I think we’re fighting a loosing battle against the mud.

He’d moored at High Lane but, the village itself doesn’t hold much excitement for adventurous boaters like ourselves so today we drew in the ropes and cruised up to Marple. The small town we had walked to a few weeks ago.

I was keen to take a turn at the tiller, if only to build my confidence having had so little practice. I’m pleased to say I made it through more bridges cleanly than Mr Bump would have done. Everyone assures me, it’ll become instinctive eventually but right now if you see me at the helm I suggest a wide birth.

Unless that is, you happen to want to come aboard for a cuppa which is what Kate and Dave, fellow Braidbar boaters did when they saw us passing. Just as I said to Eric, that looks like….. Kate stuck her head out of the hatch waving and saying “it is, it is them, they’re afloat at last”. Luckily we had just reached Marple and were looking for a mooring spot. So they hopped aboard and came for a short cruise and a cuppa, generously letting us take the spot they were about to vacate as they travelled south.

Its a lovely feeling knowing that we have friends afloat. People that we don’t know well but it’s good to pass the time of day with and share our experiences. And if we’re honest to show off Firecrest to.