They don't offer breakfast at Lostock Gralam Travelodge so we were able to get back to Starcross at Uplands Basin before 09.00 on Saturday morning. The sun was shining, the wind had dropped and the boat was altogether a much more welcoming place to be.
First job was to go over to the marina office and introduce myself to the new manager, who's only recently taken over, and tell him I was leaving! He took it very well and seems a nice bloke - someone I'd have been happy to do business with. However. . .
Before leaving I wanted some diesel. Starcross won't be going anywhere for a while once it gets to Norbury and the amount I had left in the tank would be significantly depleted by the journey. It's not a good idea to leave your diesel tank empty over the winter as condensation can turn into water in the fuel supply and bring all sorts of problems. After filling the tank we had a brief conversation about the "split" (the amount of fuel bought that will be used to move the boat and on which full duty and VAT is payable, as opposed to that which will be used for "domestic" on-board power). We agreed that once the boat got to Norbury the engine would only be used to charge the batteries and that I could have no idea of how the fuel will be used once the boat is sold. I then pointed out that I had enough duty-paid fuel already in the tank to get there so I needn't actually declare any "propulsion" use at all.
Then, about 10.00 or so we set off, still in good weather, south along the Trent & Mersey to Middlewich, where I was glad of Hilary's help with the deep locks through the town. After negotiating the chicane of hire boats at the Middlewich Narrowboats' "yard" (just a stretch of the main line) we turned onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union. The weather soon began to deteriorate and eventually we were happy to call it a day just short of Church Minshull.