Book 7

Canal Cruising 2011

An eBook and website by Cyril J Wood


The title photograph shows a narrowboat moored in the mist near Lymm on the Bridgewater Canal


Book 7

is dedicated to the memory of Lisa Foster 1969 - 2011...

... a good friend and fellow canal boater who sadly passed away on the 27th July 2011

We shall all miss her dearly



Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2011


Chapter 2 - Mersey/Weaver Ring

Peering Through My Window

Canalography 2011


Return to Introduction

Click on title to follow links


Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2011

A new year and a new project for me! My new project is "Mersey Connections - The Navigable Waterways Connected to the River Mersey". I had been thinking about writing another book to compliment "The Duke's Cut" and "The Big Ditch" and considered quite a few possible subjects including a compendium of the two previous books (a concept that was suggested by the publishers a few of years ago) but "Mersey Connections" seemed the most "do-able".  I already have many photographs for the book, both historic and contemporary, of most of the waterways covered which I am currently in the process of scanning.  Bearing this in mind the project should be quite straightforward... watch this space for developments in this area. The scanning process is not as straight forward as it may sound as many of the images are on large format (5x4) and medium format (6x9) negatives and transparencies. It would be easier to scan the prints from them but, as not all of them have been printed and as I require the maximum possible quality for reproduction I borrowed a large format Epson V700 negative/transparency scanner from work to do the job with the 35mm transparencies and negatives being handled by my trusty Microtek Filmscan 35.

The Microtek Filmscan 35 in action

This was a time consuming and laborious job that could only be realistically accomplished during the winter months when we are not away at the weekends cruising. Many of the photographs to be used in "Mersey Connections" are some of my favourite photographs. Included below are a few of the photographs but they have been resized for web and eBook reproduction and consequently, the image quality cannot be appreciated here.

The proposed front cover of "Mersey Connections" showing the infilled New Line of Locks at Runcorn

(Photograph - Greater Manchester Records Archive)

The northern end of the Frodsham Viaduct over the River Weaver

(Photographed in 1986 on a Zeiss Super Ikonta 6x9)

Wallasey Docks in 1987 prior to the Historic War Ships being moored here

(Photographed in 1988 on a Calumet 5x4 monorail camera with a Schneider Kreuznach wide angle lens)

The tidal River Mersey at Warrington looking towards Walton Lock

(Photographed in 1986 on a Calumet 5x4 monorail camera with a Schneider Kreuznach wide angle lens)

Our friend Ian Gilbody broke his wrist in three places whilst removing Christmas tree lights from outside his house and to cheer him up Ange and I accompanied by Shannon... Ange's granddaughter, decided to meet (with Michelle and Popsy as well) in Liverpool, show them the new canal, have a walk around the Albert Dock and go for a ride on the "Big Yellow Duck"... a converted amphibious DUKW that takes passengers on a trip around the city before splashing into the Salthouse Dock for a quick cruise through the docks before returning to Albert Dock. We then rounded off the visit with a meal in the Pump House and a quick visit to Liverpool One before heading our various ways. I was disappointed to see that we were still denied access to the amphitheatre where the Liverpool Docks Link runs between the Museum of Liverpool Life and the Mann Island development however our friends were impressed by the new canal but Ian thought that some of the bends were a little on the sharp side!.

Beside the new canal at Liverpool's Pier Head

The DUKW that took us on our amphibious journey around Liverpool

The illuminated Liverpool Eye adjacent to the Albert Dock

Salthouse Dock at night

A nocturnal Liverpool One shopping centre

We noticed a poster advertising visits to the Old Dock... Liverpool's first dock which was discovered when excavating the Liverpool One shopping centre. Another Ian... Ian Fogarty who is one of my colleagues at Wirral Metropolitan College is arranging for interested parties to go on a visit to this subterranean dock and Ian Gilbody would like to go as well. Everyone enjoyed the visit although I think that Ian was putting on a brave face with his arm in plaster. Whilst walking off our meal we visited the fun fair at Chavasse Park adjacent to Liverpool One which was especially enjoyed by Shannon and Popsy. All too soon it was time to say goodbye to our friends and we returned home after an enjoyable, if not breezy day.

The work party at Lymm moorings

The next weekend there was a work party at Lymm for moving the boats up. It was well attended with seven of us being "roped-in" (literally) by Alan Savage and, as to be expected there was plenty of banter between all of us. After moving the boats to their new moorings one of the neighbours who is a friend of Barry Greenough's offered us tea, coffee and Kit Kats which were most welcome. Our boat moved back a couple of feet and all the boats from "Rensol" moved forwards to make room for Nigel now he had vacated the Commodore's Mooring and "Vive-Para-Hoy" is now our new neighbours.

The Canalscape Trophy

For a while now I had been considering donating a trophy to Lymm Cruising Club. Given my interest in photography it would come as no surprise to learn that the trophy would be for the best photograph taken during the previous year and called the "Canalscape Trophy" (well, I could have called it the "Diarama Trophy" but I don't think that it would have had quite the same ring to it as "The Canalscape Trophy"). I made my proposal to Lymm CC's Committee last year who accepted my proposal and so the "Canalscape Trophy" was born. The trophy itself is a beautiful brass propeller mounted on a varnished (twelve coats) wooden plinth adorned with an engraved brass plaque on the front. It was made by my youngest son Glyn whilst he was an apprentice at Stone Manganese Marine, Birkenhead... the world renowned manufacturer of ship's propellers and I thought that it deserved a more prominent home than in our display cabinet. I presented the trophy to the Club's Chairman... John ("Rosie") Melling at Lymm Cruising Club's Annual General Meeting on the 1st February 2011.

Me (on the left) presenting the Canalscape Trophy to John ("Rosie") Melling at Lymm CC's AGM

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Whilst on the subject of the AGM, it was an "interesting" meeting with quite a few subjects covered in addition to the normal business of electing the new Committee Members. Also at the meeting we learnt that Phil "Rensol" (aka Mr "Big Boy" Treasurer) had finally sold his boat (see Canalmanac 2010) and that he was looking at a few larger boats to take its place. It looks as though the "nettle might even be grasped"!  After the proceedings I was asked to be one of the editors of Lymm CC's website... something that I thought had been in the pipeline for a while and compliments my other roles as the Club's Photographer and Historian (see The History of Lymm Cruising Club).

The next item on our social calendar was the Valentine's Dance. Hearts was the theme of the evening and everyone was supposed to wear something red. Ange's friend Karen Robinson leant her a large, red, heart-shaped costume and I dressed-up in a black shirt and pants as the Milk Tray Man... complete with box of chocolates, the business cards that he used to leave after his visits and an illuminated hearts belt. Ange received many comments and everybody loved her costume whilst I think that mine was most probably too subtle. Lymm CC's Clubhouse had been beautifully decorated and a themed PowerPoint presentation was projected continually all evening both of which helped to set the mood.

Lymm CC's Clubhouse decorated for the Valentine's Dance

Ange and I taking part in the Mister and Misses Competition

(Photograph - Lisa Foster)

We sat-down to a beautiful meal and afterwards there was a Mister and Misses competition which we answered five out of five questions correctly. We also won the Best Costume competition and dancing followed, with even "Twinkle-Toes Gilbody" making a guest appearance on the dance floor (we all point the "finger of shame" after that one Ian!). Phil "Rensol" told us all about the narrowboats he had been looking at, one of which was as far away as Milton Keynes. Bearing this in mind and don't think that the "Nettle will be grasped"! As usual we all ended up laughing so much we got belly ache and finally retired to our boats (after many Sambucas) well after one o'clock (except for Phil and Michelle)... making us the last people left in the clubhouse!

The following week was significant for three reasons. Firstly... the Liverpool Boat Show was cancelled due to the uncertain financial climate. Secondly... I completed (nearly) a new section of this website and eBook entitled "Canalscape Photography" which covers in detail the story behind the photographs and equipment used in its preparation as well as my personal photographic history. And thirdly... I came across a website in New Zealand ( that is selling "The Duke's Cut" and "The Big Ditch". I knew that copies of my books had found their way across the Atlantic to the United States of America but I never imagined that they would be on sale in New Zealand... literally on the other side of the planet. I was equally surprised to see them priced at NZ$37.99 each. Bet you I won't see much of that!

A screen dump of my page on the Mighty Ape website

Phil "Rensol" had been looking at other boats after deciding not to buy "Grasp the Nettle" which we saw last year. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from him informing me that "the nettle had been grasped" and over the weekend he, his wife Michelle and daughter Emily had indeed decided to buy "Grasp the Nettle" after another viewing and an inspection by our old friend Alan Savage. After purchasing the boat Phil had arranged for it to be dry-docked at Middlewich, have the hull grit-blasted and then painted with Primacon and anti-fowling on top before he brought it back to its new mooring at Agden on the Bridgewater Canal. When we accompanied Phil to look at the boat last year it was in quite a state internally plus the engine wouldn't start as the starter motor had been removed. Consequently, the seller had undertaken considerable work cleaning out the boat, removing the previous owner's belongings, fitting a new starter motor and generally tidying it up to make it more attractive to prospective buyers. Phil has now renamed the boat "Rensol"... the same as his old boat (which now lives on the Macclesfield Canal) and plans to have the same colour scheme as on his old boat as well. We look forward to seeing the new "Rensol" and we have offered to help Phil painting or in any way that we can (like grinding off the roof box brackets). I have no doubt that the new boat will enhance the Phil, Michelle and Emily's canal cruising experiences for many years to come.

The nettle being grasped!

And the boat itself (actually a Mike Christian hull) seen here when we accompanied Phil and his family to view it last year

On Tuesday the 1st March I took a day off work (Ange couldn't come as she had to work) to drive up to Lymm, possibly paint the red waterline on the boat's bow before filling the water tank, removing curtains and bedding to bring home and wash before attending the Club's monthly meeting without rushing my tea and bombing it up the motorway (a recipe for instant indigestion). As there was a boat in the slipway I could not paint the bow waterline so decided to just fill the water tank. When there was sufficient water in the tank I switched on the water pump to check for any winter leaks. I immediately heard water running (not the usual sound) and turned off the pump pdq! The sound was coming from the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink and on inspection there was a large amount of water in the bottom of it which emanated from a split in the copper feed pipe to the calorifier (a job for the weekend). After mopping the water out the water tank isolation valve was turned off just in case water seeped through the pump from the water tank which, by this time was full. As it was a nice day I decided to go for a cruise. Thelwall and back sounded good so I reversed out of the arm and off I went.

Thelwall Cutting in spring

It was really pleasant cruising in the warm spring sunshine with the canalside flowers starting to bud. I kept an eye on oil pressure, voltage and water temperature just in case there were any problems in those areas (which there weren't) and went as far as the winding hole at Thelwall before turning around. There were Bridgewater Canal work boats at Ditchfield Bridge (just before Mrs Lanion's Moorings) and their position actually in the bridge hole was a little challenging. A fisherman just after the bridge chatted as I passed on tick-over and I do not think he is used to craft passing that slowly. I was soon back at Lymm and I know from past experience that the canal is just too narrow to turn around at our moorings so went past to the winding hole on the way to Oughtrington. There was no wind so I tried to get around in one and to my amazement... did manage it in one! On my return to the moorings I tidied-up and took down the curtains, removed the bedding, etc for cleaning then retired to the Golden Fleece (Tuesday is grill night... so mine's a mixed grill please!) for tea  when I took the photograph below. With my stomach filled it was back to the boat club for the monthly meeting and a catch-up with my mates before making my way back home down the M56 and M53 motorways after a productive day.

Bridgewater Canal work boats at Ditchfield Bridge, Lymm

The following weekend we had planned to come up to Lymm and Ange was to re-hang the curtains whilst I fixed the leak in the water system. I also planned to fit a drain-off tap at the lowest point in the water system (which just happened to be where the leak was) so that water could be drained completely and hopefully prevent a recurrence. Unfortunately, Mr Imperial won over Mr Metric (the boat has obsolete Imperial ½ inch pipework and most modern fittings are Metric 15mm) and I could not fix the leak so Ian Gilbody said that he would obtain the correct parts for me. In the meantime I removed the wooden window surrounds for sanding down and revarnishing. We had planned to have a meal in the evening with our friends before heading for home but ended up going to Ian and Michelle's, ordering a Chinese meal. Phil and Michelle "Rensol" (aka "Grasp the Nettle") also came and we had a most enjoyable evening with good food to boot. Phil had arranged to collect his new boat from Middlewich Dry Dock the following morning and Ian and myself were crewing for him. Whilst we were doing this Ange and Michelle G were going shopping. Consequently we stayed the night so that an early start could be made the next morning.

Phil reversing "Rensol" out of Middlewich Dry Dock

The expression on Phil's face says it all!

"Rensol" safely out of the dry dock

"Rensol" below Big Lock after the water tank was filled

Michelle drove us to the dry dock in Middlewich and we arrived just as water was being admitted to the dock. After Phil paid for the services provided (sand blasting, new sacrificial anodes and hull repainting) we turned the boat around (with literally inches to spare) and headed down the locks, careful not to scratch the new paintwork. Michelle waved us off as we exited the bottom lock and she said later that she had a tear in her eye as we were just like the "Three Men and a Boat" from the BBC TV programmes (hope I'm not the Dara O'Briain character!). After filling the water tank below Big lock we set off for Lymm and it was then that a few problems manifested themselves... there was a water leak in the bathroom, the cooker wouldn't light and the refrigerator would not operate. The cooker problem was put down to a build-up of grease and was soon rectified. The fridge was pulled out but we suspect that the compressor is faulty necessitating a replacement fridge. The water leak required a new pipe fitting (sounds familiar) and Ian telephoned his wife Michelle to bring his plumbing tool box as well as a bag of fire wood. She met us at the Old Broken Cross and the girls brought the bits required then gave the boat the once over before leaving to go shopping. We washed off most of the dust left from the dry-dock and started off on our way again.

Running repairs... Ian lubricating the tiller bearing whilst under way ("Take me out!")

Smoke following us out of Saltersford Tunnel - no Phil to be seen

A perfect reflection at Bridge 206 approaching Acton Bridge

I took the tiller whilst Phil made the butties (excellent butties Phil... you can come again!) and Jaffa Cakes (you must know what is coming now... full moon, half-moon, "Total Eclipse") and then the sun came out. If was surprisingly warm in the sun but you really knew when it went behind a cloud or trees. The tiller was very stiff and Ian lubricated the bearing with WD40 whilst we were under way (literally running repairs - "Take Me Out"). It was a rare opportunity for me to take photographs in the tunnels so I relocated to the front deck with my camera. As there were no other boats around, just before we entered Barnton Tunnel Ian decided to stoke-up the fire just to annoy Phil with the smoke (childish but funny). When we emerged we were followed by a plume of smoke and shouts of abuse from Phil (not really... he took the prank in his stride). The sun stayed with us until Preston Brook Tunnel where it was distinctly chilly in the cutting. We had missed the tunnel so completed washing the other side of the boat whilst we waited in Dutton Stop Lock. When the allotted time came we made our way to the tunnel and I took up my position on the foredeck poised to take photographs. This is quite a novelty for me as I am usually at the tiller and, as anyone who has followed me will know, if I see a photograph and Ange is not handy to take over the tiller, I will stop the boat mid-stream (provided that there is nothing coming in either direction), jump up on the roof with my camera, run along to the front, take the photograph and return to my perch at the tiller. All for the sake of a good photograph! After passing through Preston Brook Tunnel I stayed on the front deck and took some more photographs of perfect reflections in the mirror-like surface of the canal in the diminishing spring sunshine before retiring to the stern with Ian and Phil.

Another perfect reflection at Preston Brook Tunnel's South Portal...

... and into the light at the other end

On the Bridgewater Canal Main Line... nice warm lighting at George Gleave's Bridge

When we finally reached Agden it was eight-o-clock and seriously dark. "Rensol 2" had reached its new home without any major traumas and after tying her up securely we made our way to the gate where Michelle G picked us up and took us back to their house where our cars were parked. After saying our farewells we left for home after a busy but enjoyable weekend. The following morning (Monday) we did not want to get out of bed for work and it was not until Tuesday that we had really caught-up on our sleep.

I was impressed with "Rensol's" Mike Christian hull... with good quality welding and attention to detail. I think that the extra-large rear hatch, making it almost a semi-trad is wonderful and when a couple of seats are added... in my eyes it will be pretty near the perfect rear deck arrangement. I would not want a rear canopy (an R M Weeks umbrella holder on the tiller arm should suffice) but a cratch and front deck cover would be nice. "Rensol" is fifty eight feet long and a little big for our needs... a fifty two foot version fitted with a BMC 1500 engine/PRM gearbox as in "Total Eclipse" and a full-length keel to facilitate reversing and I think that would be close to my perfect boat. So I'd better start saving-up for a lined, additions, sailaway from Cheshire Narrowboats at Agden... our nearest dealer. One question though... do I go for the Josher Pack or not?

Sunset at Stockton Heath

The saga of the water leak on "Total Eclipse" was proving to be very taxing. As previously mentioned the boat has obsolete Imperial ½ inch copper pipework and replacing the affected part of the pipe was proving more difficult than I ever imagined. The leak was located in the cupboard under the sink and in an ideal world I planned to cut out a short section of the pipe and in the gap plumb-in a  Conex tee with a drain cock on the spur so that I can completely drain any water out of the pipes and so preventing the problem of a burst pipe at this location. I was having difficulty obtaining ½ inch fittings so it was suggested that I filed out a 15mm fitting and the outside of the pipe. As Imperial copper pipe has a thicker wall than metric pipes this would not affect the integrity of the joint or pipe. I installed myself virtually inside the cupboard and filed... and filed... and filed stopping periodically to see if the olive would fit. I could not get a decent stroke on the file and after filing for two hours I gave up in disgust and all for the sake of a few thousandths of an inch! A few friends promised to look in their lofts and tool boxes to see if they had any old Imperial fittings that I could use. In the meantime I scoured the Internet. A source of fittings was found on eBay America but the supplier does not ship outside the USA. Ange had an "I told you so" moment when she suggested that I tried Thorn Marine to see if they had any obsolete stock. Needless to say they did but not a coupling which they ordered from one of their suppliers for me.  If this proved unsuitable, as a last resort I will have to replace the pipework from an Imperial elbow where it goes through the engine compartment bulkhead behind the calorifier and install new 15mm pipe as far as the next fitting. It is possible to connect 15mm metric pipe into to a ½ inch Imperial fitting but not the other way round so watch this space for the next instalment on the pipe saga! In the meantime we had a visit from Phil on his way to B & Q for some fittings for the new cooker fitted to "Rensol". Phil told us that he had been busy sanding down the solid wood floor, sealing and revarnishing it. A new refrigerator, inverter and sofa bed had also been fitted and the boat would hopefully be ready for our annual Easter cruise to Wigan. After Phil had left I refitted the wooden window surrounds that had been planed by Ian Gilbody and Ange gave them their first coat of varnish once they were in position. The day had not gone according to plan but isn't that one of the joys of boating?

The following weekend promised to be better than the previous one. During the week I had been thinking about the pipe saga and decided that if I could not find a suitable fitting I would use a piece of flexible hose and a couple of Jubilee clips to join the two pipes together. On our way to Lymm we stopped at Thorn Marine who had a pipe fitting for me and as Ange was going shopping with Michelle Gilbody I dropped her off at their house before making my way to Lymm. It was the weekend before the Club's Opening Cruise and there was a work party in progress preparing the yard for this annual event. I made my apologies to Dave King who organised the work party as I had jobs to complete and could not attend his work party. Even though I had apologised it did not stop me from feeling guilty as I walked past my fellow Club members busy sweeping, painting and tidying.  I tried the fitting that I picked-up from Thorn Marine but it did not fit so I pressed pause on that job, started the boat's engine and untied the mooring ropes. It was quite windy so I let the wind turn the boat around at the mooring (it can just turn around without touching the far bank) then headed off to meet Alan Savage at Agden. I enjoyed the short (two miles) cruise to Agden and when I reached Lymm CC's moorings I briefly saw Phil Anderton working away on "Rensol" and promised to see him on the way back. On my arrival at the water point at Agden, Alan and I chatted over a cup of tea (or in my case coffee) and biscuits.

The new pipework and temporary solution to the pipe coupling problem

I mentioned my pipe problem and Alan produced a piece of pipe complete with Jubilee clips which should do the job perfectly until a fitting can be found. I removed the blanking plug from the calorifier feed pipe, connected the new piece of 15mm copper pipe containing the drain-off tap, fitted the flexible hose and Jubilee clips and hey presto... hot water at last. When I turned the water pump on there was a slight leak from one of the compression fittings but it was soon tightened and not leaking any more. I also noticed that judging by the length of time taken to pressurise the system that the calorifier was full (and the water within it hot) so I think that I will fit an additional drain cock to drain the calorifier before next winter. I then made my way back to Lymm and when I drew close to "Rensol" Phil poked his head out but the wind was blowing "Total Eclipse" all over the cut so I couldn't speak to him. On my arrival back at Lymm I varnished some more of the window surrounds, cleaned and tidied the boat before going to collect Ange from Ian and Michelle's. We were invited to stay for tea and after a most enjoyable meal we left for home safe in the knowledge that the weekend had been more fruitful than the previous one.

A panorama of multiple photographs "stitched" together of the tractor rally at Burwardsley

 Lymm CC's 2011 Opening Cruise was the following weekend and we were, unfortunately, not going to be able to attend. Ange had promised to take her granddaughter Shannon out for her sixth birthday. As the weather was beautiful (Sod's Law) we visited the candle factory at Burwardsley near Beeston. On the lanes leading to Burwardsley we met a procession of tractors. It turned out that they were going to a tractor rally in a field opposite the candle factory. After we parked the car we were walking into the reception and more tractors arrived including a couple of classic lorries. We watched them turn into the field and on the doors of the wagons was written "Thos Merral, Water Engineer, Grindley Brook". Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather... my old friend Tom Merral. My parents used to moor their boat "Phial" on Tom's father's land at Beeston, above the Iron Lock. In fact, I moored my first boat with him below the Iron Lock! More stories about my childhood adventures at Beeston can be found in Canalscape Book 1 - Chapters Five and Seven. After making candles and other craft-related activities we made our way to the field containing the tractors and walked up to Tom who was chatting to a friend. When he saw me "Good God... Cyril Wood!" was the response. After a chat and admiring Tom's two 4 x 4 Morris Commercial wagons I looked around the other exhibits which included a "Fergie" similar to the one that Tom's father... Sid Merral taught me to drive on at Beeston. After the inevitable photographs I found Ange and Shannon who were admiring the other exhibits down the field and we had lunch before leaving for another favourite haunt... Snugbury's Ice Cream Farm at Hurleston close to the Llangollen Canal (which we visited on last year's Summer Cruise - see Chapter 3 - Llangollen Fifty Years On). So, even when we are not boating, canals creep into whatever we are doing or wherever we are going, such is the impact that canals and boating has on our lives.

My old friend Tom Merral besides one of his 4 x 4 Morris Commercials

The beautiful weather held for the following weekend when we planned to finish our odd jobs in preparation for the Easter Cruise to Wigan. We had treated "Total Eclipse" to a new stern fender and after I had cleaned the stern paintwork it was fitted. I then proceeded to clean the exterior paintwork from the bow backwards whilst Ange finished varnishing the interior window surrounds. The port side, which is usually next to the bank was quite easy to clean but I knocked one of the pipe fenders off its cleat and it dropped into the canal. I could just feel the canal bed but there was no sign of the fender.  After the port side was completed I turned the boat around the starboard side was a lot grubbier and required considerably more elbow grease!.

The newly varnished window surrounds

The new stern fender fitted to "Total Eclipse"

The good weather brought out quite a few boats and notably the Mikron Theatre Company's boat "Tyseley" past our moorings as did "Parvo"... a beautifully restored ex-working narrowboat whose owner recognised me as we had chatted to each other on a few occasions. It was BMBC's (Runcorn) Opening Cruise and they were to come to Lymm as their destination to use our clubhouse. They started to arrive around lunchtime and one of the boats that arrived was steered by my ex-wife and her partner but their presence didn't spoil the weekend for us.

"Tyseley"... the Mikron Theatre Company's boat passing our mooring

The weather during the week leading up to Easter had been hot and sunny and was promising to extend through the weekend. Both Ange and I had the Thursday off and in the morning we did our shopping which included purchasing a new roller blind for the boat's kitchen window to replace the Venetian blind which Ange disliked due to it attracting dust and being difficult to clean. After doing our shopping we made our way up to Lymm where we arrived mid-afternoon. On unfastening the rear deck canopy we found that Ian Gilbody had put our new ropes on the rear deck after they had been spliced by "Miserable Mike" from the Gardner Engine Society. We loaded our things onto the boat, fitted our new ropes and set off in the afternoon sunshine. We stopped at Oughtrington and moored temporarily in front of "Eclipse" to wait with Michelle and Popsy for Ian to finish work. Whilst we waited we filled our water tank whilst there then set off to meet Phil and family at Agden. Phil had just finished filling "Rensol's" water tank and we all cruised at sunset to just after Dunham Village where we moored for the night at a beautifully quiet and secluded location. When we moored we all had a catch-up, Phil showed us the work that he had done on "Rensol". He had been concentrating on the inside leaving the original grey and red oxide primer for now (more of which later). He introduced us to the new additions to their family... Lily and Tilly. They are Jack Russell/Lhasa Apso crossbreed puppies that are thirteen weeks old and very cute. Ian and Michelle's poodles seemed to get on well with them which is just as well as they will be in each others' company quite a bit.

Cruising past Agden at Sunset

Emily with Lily and Tilly

Leeds and Liverpool Short Boat "Dee" at Dunham Village

The warm sunshine continued the next morning and whilst we at our breakfast, the Leeds and Liverpool Shortboat "Dee" passed us.  Even though the Bridgewater Canal was originally constructed to barge dimensions there are not many boats of this size using the canal these days and "Dee" is one of about half a dozen boats of this size that regularly use the canal. With breakfast over we started our engines and set off... next stop Dover Lock. Bulrushes lined the canal at various points and their heads looked as if they were made of brown candyfloss. Whilst passing through Trafford Park Ian and Michelle spotted a turtle basking in the sunshine on the off-side of the canal close to the Trafford Centre. Unfortunately the camera was not to hand to capture it.

The location of the demolished Gardner engine factory in Monton

At Monton I was saddened to see that the old Gardner engine factory had finally been demolished after lying empty for many years. By now we had caught up with "Dee" and were in a queue behind it until it pulled in at Monton to let us pass. Just after passing Phil pulled in as his engine was smelling hot and was losing power. We pulled in in front of him which did not impress the steerer of "Dee" having just let us pass... hey ho! Phil's engine seemed to be okay and we carried on. Fortunately "Dee" had tied up at its mooring next to Worsley Dry Docks and the steerer that had chastised us was not to be seen. At Leigh we stopped to go to the shops and as we passed Aldi nb "Isychia" was moored outside. This boat is unusual in having the rear deck covered by a fixed roof that originally came from a Land Rover Defender, and what's more still had the spare wheel where the tailgate would have been. I'm not sure how that will work on a narrowboat. Maybe he should have fitted the life belt there... I would have seen the humour in it... honest!

Nb "Isychia" complete with unusual rear deck cover and spare wheel

The new marina at Plank Lane

I had seen this boat before when it passed our mooring at Lymm. At the time I was working on the boat and could not reach my camera in time to capture its unique rear deck cover sourced from a Landrover Defender (complete with spare wheel). At Plank Lane the new marina just before the lift bridge was now complete and awaiting the first residents. The bridge-keeper waved us on as he lifted the bridge as we passed through in convoy. We noticed that the abandoned narrowboat "Kingfisher" had now been removed from the winding hole... maybe someone has salvaged it and is giving it a new lease of life. It was not long before we were tying up at Dover Lock. We moored on the Plank Lane side of the bridge as we were told by Barry Greenough (Lymm CC's Commodore's husband) that the other side was full. It was at the Dover Lock that I was introduced to Sambuca twelve months previously and after we had eaten our meal they flowed once more. Behind the bar was a selection of different coloured varieties... red green blue and yellow in addition to black and clear. I passed on the yellow as it was banana (vomit) flavoured but the green was most acceptable. The barman insisted that I "necked" it one whilst he watched, which I did. He seemed impressed by this but still charged me £2 for a refill and it wasn't even a full measure due to their not being enough left in the bottle! We then retired to our respective boats and were soon asleep ready for the "push" to Wigan the next morning.

"Total Eclipse", "Rensol" and "Eclipse No 2" waiting to enter Poolstock Number One lock.

A 2010 photograph of "Rensol" and "Total Eclipse" at Poolstock Locks...

... and the 2011 version with Phil and the new "Rensol"

(Note the paintwork... more of which later)

Boats from Lymm CC at Wigan

"Total Eclipse" was in the lead of our little convoy until we reached Poolstock Locks. Here we waited in the brilliant sunshine until it was our turn to pass through the lock. Nb "Adreva" had caught us up and Ian waved Paul Savage (Alan Savage's nephew) and family into the lock alongside us. These seemed a commonsense thing to do as "Adreva" is a forty foot Colecraft not unlike "Total Eclipse" and is of almost identical dimensions. We cleared the locks and carried on to the junction between the Leigh Branch and the Leeds and Liverpool Main Line. Her quite a few other boats from Lymm CC had gathered and we moored on the side of nb "Annie May" belonging to Alan the 2011 Rear Commodore. "Eclipse Number Two" and "Rensol" moored behind us. After a quick lunch we walked into Wigan for some retail therapy. Unfortunately, I wanted two items from the camera shop... a 64mm push-on "petal" lens hood for the Fuji E550's wide angle lens and a new longer neck strap for the same camera. The lens hood was only available in 58mm but I did manage to obtain a neck strap but had to take it back when I went to fit it and discovered that it was the same length as the one I already had! Usually we go ten pin bowling in Wigan but this year we decided to make our own entertainment as the bowling alley was disappointing last year as was the food. For tea we ordered pizzas which, surprisingly, were delivered to the boat. Well done Dominoes Pizza! After our pizzas we had a games evening playing "Beat the Intro". Needless to say the team that had Ange (the pop queen) on it won! Next morning saw the Easter Bonnet Parade and the Egg and Spoon Race in which Paul Durbridge off nb "Dominion" did cheat contrary to what he says. It transpired that he wasn't the only one to cheat and all the participants were disqualified! Once the games were over the boats started to head for home. We gave them all a head start and we were nearly the last to leave. Even so there was still a queue at Poolstock Locks. When it came to our turn we shared with "Annie May" and Ange shared a chuckle with Alan whilst I operated the locks.

Plank Lane Bridge Keeper checking the licence as we passed

The Old Boat House at Astley

We cruised in the brilliant sunshine through Plank Lane where we had our licence checked and as "Rensol" passed beneath one of the footbridges adjacent to the flats a walker threw a penny at the boat which landed on the roof. We could only presume that it was to be put towards then paint job (more of which later). It was then on to Astley where we planned to have a chippy tea. Once the boats were tied up Ian, Phil and I walked down to the Mining Museum. On the way we passed the chippy and were disgusted to discover that it was "closed until further notice" so on our way back to the boats we booked a table at the Old Boat House for later on. Our meal was beautiful and even I had problems clearing my plate! We had an early night as we had a long trek back to Lymm the next day. Phil was making an early start but it was after 09.00 when Ian and I cast off. We were treated to yet more sunshine and I took the opportunity to photograph some of the locations along the canal that I had previously only been able to in overcast (or worse) conditions. It was a really pleasurable trip, not having to rush and getting a suntan into the bargain... most unusual!

The arm off the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley leading to the Old Mine Entrances

The Manchester Ship Canal looking towards Trafford Park whilst crossing Barton Swing Aqueduct

Looking back towards Patricroft over Barton Swing Aqueduct

When we reached Barton Swing Aqueduct I thought that we may have been held up by a Mersey Ferry travelling along the canal but our timing was impeccable and we sailed over without interruption. Ian stopped just after the Trafford Centre to photograph the "Trafford Turtle" but when I reached the location it had disappeared again. When we were passing Agden we saw an Airbus A380 airliner... the largest passenger aircraft ever made, crossing our path. This is the first time I had seen one of these and took the opportunity to take a photograph of it as it crossed the canal after taking off from Manchester Airport. All too soon we were back at Lymm. We left most of our things on the boat as we would be back again on late Friday (the Royal Wedding Day) or early Saturday depending upon how things went at the Liverpool Boat Show - now renamed Spring on the Waterfront, Liverpool, at which we had been volunteered by Dave Stewart... Chairman of the Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs (FBCC) to staff the FBCC stand as well as me providing the photographs (mostly from "The Duke's Cut") for the display boards commemorating 250 years of the Bridgewater Canal.

A United Emirates' Airbus A380 banking as it flew over the Bridgewater Canal at Agden

Friday dawned bright and sunny and after breakfast we caught the bus from the end of our road to go to Liverpool. The FBCC stand was located in a marquee adjacent to Duke's Dock (most appropriate) between Albert Dock and the Liverpool Echo Arena. As we walked past Salthouse Dock there were quite a few historic narrowboats moored on the new mooring pontoons... more than I thought that there would be. We counted three ex-Cowburn and Cowpar boats ("Swan", "Skylark" and "Swallow") and all that was missing was "Stork" and "Starling", the latter being the first narrowboat (albeit in a shorter form) I ever steered. "Beattie" was there as was "Elizabeth" complete with its "Harbourmaster" outboard propulsion unit. When we reached he marquee we started to set-up the photographs on the display boards situated next to the Runcorn Locks Restoration Society's display and it was not long before we were ready for business. There was quite a good foot-fall of visitors asking questions and admiring the photographs and I must say that I got quite a buzz seeing interested parties looking at the display. The day went quickly and we left about 3.00 pm to catch the bus home, loaded our stuff into the car and made our way to Lymm ready for an early start the next morning. We did catch-up with the Royal Wedding on the news but the highlight for me had to be Prince Charles lending Prince William and his new wife Kate his beautiful Aston Martin DB6 Volante!

Historic narrowboats at the Liverpool Boat Show now renamed Spring on the Waterfront, Liverpool

Yours truly putting the finishing touches to the FBCC display boards at the Liverpool Boat Show...

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

... and the completed display with the Runcorn Locks Restoration Society's display on the right

Our friends were waiting for us on the other side of Preston Brook Tunnel at Bridge 213... the first one after "Morris Minor Bend" so we set off in the early morning sunshine which was quite cool but promised to warm up as the sun got higher. A beautiful kingfisher flashed past us at Grappenhall... unfortunately it was too quick for me to photograph but I will satisfactorily capture one photographically one day. We made a quick stop at Thorn Marine to empty the toilet and replace a pipe fender that I knocked into the canal the previous weekend then we were on our way again. As we approached Preston Brook there looked to be a narrowboat towing a butty coming towards us. It turned out to be motor boat "Shad" towing the butty "Gifford" on its way to the Liverpool Boat Show. Most of the boats that were already at Liverpool gad gone down the Manchester Ship Canal from Ellesmere Port and crossed the Mersey to Canning Dock Entrance. With "Gifford" (and "Shad") being rare and valuable wooden boats it was considered best if the went the long way around instead of risking a tidal crossing.

Motorboat "Shad" towing butty "Gifford at Preston Brook

The convoy was suitable photographed and soon we were queuing for the 10.30am tunnel passage. As we neared Bridge 213 on the Trent and Mersey Canal I could see activity and wondered what our friends had planned for us... the "super soaker" was filled and primed just in case! As we came up to the bridge a sign welcoming "Squirrel" was attached to the top of the arch and our friends, who were hiding behind the parapet, jumped up to surprise and greet us. It was later decided to unofficially rename Bridge 213 "Squirrel's Bridge".

The sign on Bridge 213... now unofficially known as "Squirrel's Bridge"

Phil pointing to the sign on "Rensol"

We moored behind their boats and caught-up with their latest news over a cup of coffee. Phil showed us the work he had completed on "Rensol"... bed constructed, wardrobe installed as well as making a steerer's "cubbyhole" and other items. We were most impressed with the progress he had made in a week. Whilst Phil was preoccupied showing us his latest work Ian had stuck a sign on the side of "Rensol" informing the reader that it "was also available in matt" - the paint job that is. He didn't add any pennies for the paint fund though! After our catch-up we made our way to between the tunnels and Phil was puzzled by comments from passing boaters regarding the sign. It was only when he was caught by the wind when giving way at a bridge that he cottoned on to the fact that Ian had put a sign on "Rensol". On the way through the wooded cuttings through which the canal passes we admired the bluebells that covered the ground like a wild carpet. We also saw a duck and its brood of eleven ducklings perched on a log in the water which looked quite amusing and worthy of a photograph. I The wooded cuttings were warm and sheltered but was still windy when we reached the "wide" between the tunnels and manoeuvring was, shall we say a little challenging, but we managed to tie alongside Phil without scratching his paintwork.

A duck and its brood of eleven ducklings perched on a log at the side of the canal

Lymm CC members around the bonfire

Between the tunnels there was the usual carryings-on, the investiture of the Rear Commodore, presentation of the "poking stick", barbeque, etc but we planned only to stay for one night then moved onto George Gleave's Bridge near Daresbury on the Bridgewater Canal for part two of the weekend's cruise. As we were one of the last boats to arrive at George Gleave's Bridge we were moored quite a way from the bonfire was to be and Ian sealed our leaking window with "Sikaflex" borrowed from Phil which would prevent our newly varnished window surrounds from being stained by any leaks. With this completed we relaxed in the sun with drinks and as we were so far from the bonfire we stayed on board for tea and chilled out with a glass or two of wine.

The Boys on the front deck of "Total Eclipse" at George Gleave's Bridge...

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

... and the Girls relaxing in the sunshine with a glass of wine

We returned to Lymm the next morning after letting most of the other boats go ahead. It was sunny and warm when in a cutting but the wind whipped across the exposed sections of the canal making it colder than it actually was. The wind caught us at Lymm and we made an aborted attempt to moor temporarily on the front of the Lymm CC yard next to our car for loading our things into it. As I was putting the boat to bed I noticed that there was water in the engine compartment bilge. On examination it appeared to be coming from the stern gland... not where the prop shaft passed through but where the greaser pipe was attached. It turned out to be that the pipe had split and water was spraying out of it. A quick trip back to Thorn Marine for the fitting (£0.52p so I also got a spare) and on returning to the boat the problem was fixed in five minutes. We could then say bye to our friends and make our way back home along the M56/M53. Surely the weather can't stay hot and sunny for much longer. There must be some rain on the way. Let's just hope that it falls during the week whilst we are at work. During the following week I telephoned Ian and mentioned that I was concerned about the stern gland so he promised to pop in at the boat club and check "Total Eclipse" to ensure that there was no more water in the engine compartment. I also spoke to Dave Stewart who told me how the Boat Show was going. Apparently there was a lot of interest in the photographs from "The Duke's Cut" and the display was deemed a success.

The work party in full swing

A pause for bacon butties and a cup of coffee

NB "Rudd" passing through Oughtrington

A couple of weeks later Angie's stepfather had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and only had a short time to live. Accordingly, our canal cruising activities had to take a back seat due to lending support to her mum and being on "hospital duty". Ian had called a work party to cut back some of the overhanging tree branches and erect new fencing panels at the Oughtrington moorings. When he telephoned in the week to tell us about it we had said that we would not be able to attend, however a change of plans meant that we would be able to. We arrived at Oughtrington just after 10.00. Ange was given the task of wiring the new panels together at the car park end while I erected the new panels in place and threaded the hawthorn through them further down the moorings. The proceedings were interrupted by the sound of a low-revving engine and soon the narrowboat "Rudd" cruised past. Soon after we were rewarded with bacon butties, coffee and donuts.

Newly erected fencing panels at Oughtrington

After the refreshments more tree pruning took place and the remaining panels were erected until we had used up all twenty one of them. Ian planned to obtain some more panels and call another work party in a few weeks time. Another slow revving engine was heard and we watched NB "Towy" glide past. By this time we were starting to tidy up and put the tools away after a really productive work party (even if I did fall over a tree root and scrape my knees).

NB "Towy"

During the following week I received an email from a reader called Lew Lewandowski of Shelter Publications based in Bolinas, California, USA. Lew is currently publishing a book entitled "Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter" by Lloyd Khan... a book about unique small homes measuring 500 sq. ft. and smaller. He had been looking at the "Don't Call It A Barge" and "Total Eclipse" sections of "Canalscape" and was asking permission to use some of the photographs in his book, especially some featuring "Total Eclipse". One of the comments that he made about "Canalscape" was that it had "An Embarrassment of Information"... a wonderful compliment that made me feel especially proud of my labours... especially when they come from a publisher. "Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter" is due to be published in the Autumn and is available to pre-order on Amazon.

The front cover of "Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter"

(Photograph - Shelter Publications)

Boats attending the 2011 FBCC Rally at Runcorn

The next weekend was Whit Weekend and the FBCC Annual Rally was taking place at Runcorn. Even though the rally was due to last all weekend and we had registered for a mooring we decided to attend on Saturday by car as Ange's stepfather had sadly passed away earlier in the week and Ange was "on call" to support her mother and family. At the rally Ian was selling boat fenders, tools, etc on a stand and we arranged to help him as well as attending the rally. The weather wasn't brilliant but at least it wasn't raining. We arrived at the rally and caught-up with our friends. When the sun came out I took advantage of it and recorded the rally photographically. As we walked around we bumped into many old friends and fellow Lymm CC members enjoying the hospitality of BMBC at Runcorn.

Attending boats were moored well past the Brindley Theatre and Arts Centre

Phil, Nigel and Ian on "Rensol"

NB "Rensol" with the new paint nearing completion

The rally was very well attended with boats were moored from the Expressway Footbridge in the direction of Preston Brook to near Waterloo Bridge in the opposite direction. We had given our mooring to a fellow Lymm CC member who was previously moored near to the Brindley Theatre and Arts Centre. Whilst walking down the moored boats it was good to see that the area had been cleaned-up since our previous visit. Also moored near to the Brindley was Phil and Michelle with the newly painted "Rensol"... now available in green! As the day drew to a close we helped Ian load his stuff into his van and drove to the Springbrook restaurant for a meal. We had arranged to stay at Ian and Michelle's for the night as we were to have an early start the next morning to go to Crick Boat Show.

Inside one of the trade tents at the Crick Boat Show

Crick Marina full to the brim with boats

We had made arrangements to go to the Crick Boat Show the next day with the Gilbodies and we would be free to go as Ange's brother and sister were taking turns their mother company. We left Ian and Michelle's house shortly after eight o'clock the following morning and headed down the M6 and M1 motorways to Northampton and soon found the rally site. The weather was not brilliant but at least it wasn't raining. This was the first time that Ange and I had been to Crick and we weren't disappointed. There were hundreds of trade stands and the marina was literally full of boats ranging from small convertible boat to the NB "President"... the historic steam powered narrowboat. There was even a narrowboat with "trade plates" on it... something I thought was purely for road vehicles and I had never seen before on a boat. Anyone wanting to go on some of the boats would have to have made a viewing appointment. Quite understandable but some of the available appointments would have been after we had planned to leave for home so we didn't bother. Ange managed to go on board a few boats and she was impressed with the layout and decor of the MGM narrowboat.

A "Trade Plate" similar to those used on motor cars seen on a narrowboat in the marina

The light and airy  interior of the MGM narrowboat that impressed Ange

There were a few stands that we wanted to visit and many more that took our eye as we walked around. On one I was surprised to see a BMC 1500 marine engine... virtually identical to the one fitted to" Total Eclipse" (although a scruffier example than ours). I took photographs of the engine as it gave me the opportunity to inspect parts I had never seen (such as the hidden bolts beneath it that I had only felt when replacing the starter motor).

The BMC 1500 engine on display (an earlier, scruffier example than the one fitted to "Total Eclipse" - a coat of Hammerite wouldn't go amiss either)

A photograph of "Wandering Thorn" on the Rylard Paints stand

Ian chatting to Colin and Beryl Wills off NB "Misbehavin" who were also at Crick Boat Show

We were surprised to see a photograph of Thorn Marine's day boat "Wandering Thorn" exhibited on the Rylard paint stand but we didn't linger at the International Paints stand as I have fallen out with them since they discontinued "Deep Water Green"... the main colour of "Total Eclipse". We were even more surprised to bump into fellow Lymm CC members Colin and Beryl Wills off NB "Misbehavin" who were not looking at wide-beams! Ian was naturally drawn to the S M Hudson display (the builders of his boat "Eclipse Number 2") in the marina where they had two new boats on show. One of them was a beautiful full length seventy footer with imitation "cloths" covering a triangular profiled cabin and a Gardner L2 engine.

The interior of the Hudson boat with the triangular profiled cabin

Beautiful finish and attention to detail on a S M Hudson boat

Ian on Barnowl Narrowboats' Replica Tug

Their other exhibit was a smaller (by Hudson's standards) boat with a Beta Tug engine. Another boat that took Ian's eye was  Barnowl Narrowboats' tug replica. This boat had beautiful lines (not surprising seeing as it is a Norton Canes shell), was very well finished and featured an unusual "bedroom" tucked away beneath the tug deck complete with plasma TV but Ian's cheque book stayed firmly in his pocket! Whilst we were at Crick I received two telephone calls. One from Dave Stewart the FBCC Chairman and the other from Nigel Foster. The calls were to inform me that I had earned the FBCC Chairman's Award for work I had done for the Federation stand at Spring on the Waterfront, Liverpool and the Friends of the Bridgewater Canal. Accordingly, I had been awarded a £25 Thorn Marine voucher that Nigel was picking-up on my behalf. I was also told that when my name was announced there was s big cheer and applause from everyone at the ceremony. This was most unexpected, very humbling and was the crowning glory to a wonderful weekend.

Boats attending the Crick Boat Show moored adjacent to 1397 mtr (1528 yds) Crick Tunnel

All too soon it was time to head for the car park. We didn't know where the time had gone... the day had literally flown. It was certainly an experience going to Crick... we could have spent quite a few (imaginary) thousands of pounds on equipment but there were no boats that I can honestly say that I would like. The Hudsons are very nice but too big for our needs (maybe they'd bend their rules about only making trad boats build a forty eight foot semi-trad just for us). We didn't go home empty handed as we bought a few bits and pieces as well as getting some ideas on decor, layout and equipment. I was not impressed with the finish and welding on some of the cheaper boats... we would have thought that the builders would have made an extra effort for boats going to a show such as Crick. Maybe I have been spoilt by our Hancock and Lane which Ian commented was, at the time of construction, one of the best made boats on the market. My other gripe was that staff showing prospective customers did not have the product knowledge to answer any queries. For instance... we went on one boat and I asked the lady "demonstrator" what size engine was fitted and was told that she didn't know but lifted the deck boards show me the engine (maybe she thought that I could tell what size it was by looking at it). Whilst they were lifted I enquired "Is that a water lubricated stern gland fitted?" The bewildered expression on the woman's face was priceless and I wondered what ever happened to product knowledge... she did know the price though!

The Shady Oak from Bate's Mill Bridge (109)

Lunch in the summer sunshine at the Shady Oak

The following week Ange spent making funeral arrangements and spending time with her mother as well as looking after her grandaughter. Fortunately we both had previously arranged to take the week off work but our plans of how we were going to spend it did not quite work out. On the Friday we did however, manage a run out and lunch at the Shady Oak overlooked by Beeston Castle on the Shroppie on what was, up to then, the hottest day of the year. The light was beautiful and I took the opportunity to take a few up-to-date photographs of the canal before our visit there by boat on the Summer Cruise.

Looking towards Wharton Lock from the Shady Oak... the flat-topped artificial hills are part of the WWII "P.L.U.T.O." (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) installation

The route of the 2011 Summer Cruise includes part of the Manchester Ship Canal for which we would need a Certificate of Seaworthiness for "Total Eclipse". The date arranged for the inspection was Tuesday the 7th of June which just happened to be the same day as Ange's stepfather's funeral. So we would have a juggling act on our hands! The funeral was at 10.00 in the morning so it and the wake were over by 1.00 pm. When the guests started to leave we managed to slide away and made our way up to Lymm. The marine surveyor that had been booked by Lymm CC to make the inspection of the fifteen or so boats booked for the cruise was none other than Graham Thornton who did our Boat Safety Certificate last November. Graham had already inspected the boats moored at Lymm and was making his way through the moorings at Oughtrington and Agden. As we were late he made a return trip to Lymm especially for us. The Certificate of Seaworthiness requires boats to have fifteen metre ropes, an anchor, navigation lights, horn, life saving equipment (life jackets and rings), a means of radio communication (mobile telephones will suffice) plus a current Boat Safety Certificate and insurance. I am happy to report that the boat passed with flying colours and what's more it didn't cost a penny as Graham was coming to Lymm anyway to conduct a Boat Safety Certificate examination so he didn't charge us for the visit. After Graham's visit we went to the Golden Fleece for tea  where we sat with Phil ("Big Boy") Anderton before the Lymm CC monthly meeting before finally reaching home at 11.00 pm after a very busy day of mixed emotions.

One of the transhipment arms in the Bugsworth Basin Complex

Some of the twenty one narrowboats attending the Gardner Engine Rally

We were not boating as such that weekend but we were involved in boating-related activities. Mike Johnson... the Chairman of the Gardner Engine Society who Ian Gilbody introduced us to had last year at the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury (him with the Riley 9) had asked me to judge narrowboat engine rooms (or so I thought). This was to be at the Gardner Engine Society's Annual Engine Rally held this year at Bugsworth Basin on the Peak Forest Canal. I had not visited Bugsworth Basin before as the last time I cruised the Peak Forest Canal was over twenty years ago... prior to its restoration. This location was originally the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal and as such was an important inland port and trans-shipment facility for the Peak Forest Tramway. its importance had long been forgotten but this was rekindled when it was restored, is now a Transport Heritage Site and possesses the customary red plaque. This beautiful location is chosen by many canal and boat societies for their rallies and the Gardner Engine Society is no exception.

The Transport Heritage plaque at Bugsworth Basin

The Rally was held over two days and as we were not going by boat we reserved a room for Saturday night at the Navigation Inn adjacent to the basin complex. I have to say that the food at the Navigation Inn was brilliant and the breakfasts had to be seen to be believed. We did have a slight issue with our room and accordingly the Manager only charged us half-price for the night. Ian Gilbody had brought a van full of equipment... boat fenders, tools, gloves, wipes, etc to sell at the rally. We used his van as a base at the rally during the day. Ange helped Michelle with Ian's stall whilst I was in "Anorak Mode" looking around the boats, vehicles, static engines, taking photographs as I went. I don't know what is is but wherever you go you will bump into Lymm CC members. Bugsworth Basin was no exception to the rule as nbs "Unique" and "Californian" arrived. When they had moored in the Middle Basin they sought us out and spent some time with us and looked around Ian's stall as well. Another acquaintance we bumped into at Bugsworth Basin was Adrian Scriven from Stafford Boat Club who we first met last year when he was on his narrowboat "India" at the Llangollen Marina moorings. Ian took his contact details and we promised to keep in touch with him. He might even be a prospective member of the Gardner Engine Society as he has a 2LW installed in his beautiful replica tug.

Lymm CC members Roger and Lynn  Mellors and Mike and Bonnie (not pictured) Goldberg at the Gardner Rally

For the full story of the Rally and a look around Bugsworth Basin go to the 2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report. But for a sneak preview of the Rally Winners see the photograph below. Going clockwise from the top left they are... Best Narrowboat Engine - Gardner 2L2 fitted to the narrowboat "Frogmore", Best Static Display - the Atkinson lorry loaded with two to eight cylinder Gardners, Best Vehicle - Morris Commercial One Ton Lorry which also scooped the Best Overall Award.

The winning entries at the Gardner Engine Rally

The weather over the Gardner Engine Rally weekend turned out to be mixed with brilliant sunshine and cloudy spells on the Saturday and continuous rain on the Sunday made it feel colder than it actually was. We hoped that our cruise to Walton Park the following weekend would be warmer and sunnier to make up for it. Needless to say this was not to be the case!

On the Saturday of the next weekend we made our way to Lymm along the M56 and the rain bucketed down for most of the way. Thankfully it had stopped raining on our arrival and the sun was shining when we left Lymm by boat but it played hide and seek behind the grey clouds that were looming. Ange's grandaughter Shannon accompanied us and she seemed to be enjoying herself regardless of the weather.

Shannon and yours truly on the rear deck of "Total Eclipse"

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

We gave Ian, Michelle and Popsy Gilbody (not forgetting Lucky and Louie) a lift to Walton Park from Stockton Heath where they had moored (due to the next winding hole being at Moore and needing to be back at the Clubhouse in Lymm for the barbeque) and transported the games equipment as well. On arrival we walked to the park and set-up the badminton and rounders and the games commenced. The slight breeze played havoc with the shuttlecock but those who took part enjoyed it. As far as the game of rounders was concerned Michelle Gilbody excelled at bowling out the opposing team. I have no idea who won though!

Games in full flow at Walton Park

S & A moorings at Thelwall in the sunshine

The sun made an appearance on our way back to Lymm where our Commodore Phyllis Greenough had planned a barbeque. Her brother Derek (the Club's Social Secretary) excelled with the burgers (as usual) but as it started to go cool we retired into the Clubhouse and the games recommenced. Skittles were played and one of the younger members... Levi Clarke (nb "Mullymush") beat all comers. Before long we all retired to our boats after a most enjoyable day.

Lymm CC members enjoying a barbeque outside the clubhouse

The games recommenced in the Clubhouse after the barbeque

I mentioned earlier that I had "fallen out" with International Paints and the time has now come to repaint the side panels of "Total Eclipse". I repainted the roof (or rather Ange did) last year and as International Paints have discontinued their Toplac in "Deepwater Green"... the main colour of the boat, I had to look for an alternative. After exhaustive searches last year the closest I could find was Rylard Paint's "Union Canal Green" but even though it looked almost identical on the colour chart this has turned out to be too blue when actually applied to the boat. The red of the side panels is again International's Toplac but in Pillar-box Red and guess what? This has been discontinued as well! I have sent an email to International Paints asking them why they discontinued these colours. It most certainly cannot be due to falling out of fashion if the number of boats that have this colour scheme is anything to go by so I await their excuses with relish. I'll bet that they cannot supply alternative compatible colours either. A RAL number or CMY shadings would be useful but I do not think that these will be forthcoming either. They don't seem to be bothered about their customers' brand loyalty. Rant over with for now!

Just to keep all bases covered I contacted Rylard Paints to see if they could match the colours of the boat. They requested a sample and, if the worst came to the worst they would produce a couple of tins just for us. Accordingly, I rooted out old tins of Deepwater Green and Pillar-box Red from the shed which I had kept for touching-up. When I prised the lids off the contents consisted of mainly skin so I scooped out a sample of each colour and sent them to Rylard complete with the lids of the tins which seemed to have colour information on them. A couple of days later I received an email from Rylard informing me that they could match the colours required. Unfortunately, there is a minimum order of two two and a half litre tins of each colour at a cost of £45.00 for the two tins and £90.00 in total for both colours. This might seem a little expensive but not when you consider how much it would cost to repaint the whole boat a different colour. Consequently, when I ordered the paint from Rylard I still had not heard from International Paints... their loss! The paint was delivered to Thorn Marine on the 5th July... just over a week after ordering it... how's that for customer service? Well done Rylard Paints!

Some of the attendees on the Worsley Canal Heritage Walk

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Two years ago I gave a guided walk around the Worsley Canal Heritage Walk to commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Act of Parliament sanctioning construction of the Bridgewater Canal. The walk was deemed enjoyable and informative by those who attended and I was asked to conduct another one around Castlefield to commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the canal from Worsley to Castlefield. The Worsley walk was on the 27th June 2009 and the Castlefield walk was on the 2nd July 2011... almost two years later to the day and also the period of time taken to construct the canal.

The old Canal Horse Hospital at Agden bathed in summer sunshine

We drove to Lymm after tea on the Friday evening... a beautiful summer evening with blue skies and the promise of the same weather over the weekend. We set off early Saturday morning for Castlefield about four hours away by boat. The brilliant sunshine gave me the opportunity to update some of the Bridgewater Canal photographs that I was not happy with such as the Old Canal Horse Hospital which is difficult to photograph at any time other than early morning due to the position of the sun.

A busy Staffordshire Arm at Castlefield

Technicians setting up a game for Simon Cowell's "Red or Black" game show

When we arrived at Castlefield moorings were at a premium. In the events arena one of the arms was closed to boats due to filming Simon Cowell's new game show "Red or Black" featuring Ant and Dec at this location. The live-aboard boats that usually populate that arm had moved onto the water point and unfortunately taken their generators with them. After mooring the boat in one of the old Staffordshire Arms next to the YMCA/YHA hotel we caught-up with our friends, had lunch then made our way to the futuristic Merchant's Footbridge where everyone had been told to meet at 14.00 for the walk which is documented at Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk.

Some of the participants on the Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk and yours truly in the centre

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

The usual suspects in the Greek restaurant at the side of Manchester Town Hall

(Photograph - Derek Ridpath... What's going on here? That's two consecutive photographs that I am in!)

After the walk was over we chilled-out for a couple of hours before meeting Phyllis Greenough (Lymm CC's 2011 Commodore) and some of the other members to go for a meal in a Greek Restaurant close to Manchester Town Hall. The food was excellent (as I am a "selective" eater I had a steak) and afterwards we walked through the city centre back to our Castlefield mooring. The walk was most enlightening... the girls wore some of the shortest skirts and skimpiest tops I have ever seen, the boys wore trousers with the crutches down by their knees and their underpants showing (that can not be comfortable at all) but everyone was well behaved and at no time did any of us feel threatened. We were up early next morning as we had shopping to do before we returned home.

A lot of rowing activity at Sale

The journey back to Lymm was again in brilliant sunshine which brought out more canal users than I have ever seen outside a lock queue at Cholmondeston. Many cruising clubs were out cruising to various locations along the canal and at Sale the rowers were out in force... not just the large eight-seaters but the one-manners as well. I have always treated rowers with respect... slowing down to tick-over when passing them, giving them plenty of room and generally being sympathetic to their needs. Not every boater has this approach and I was embarrassed to see boaters weaving in and out of the rowers, coming up close behind them and slamming their engines in reverse to stop running into them and generally not giving them enough room to manoeuvre. Still, by the time we had reached Dunham Massey the rowers had petered-out and we could relax again. It is always annoying when we reach our moorings to go home and the sun is shining with hot weather. I would rather be hot sitting on the back of the boat cruising down the canal than hot in the car going home along the M56/53!

Cyril is a qualified photographer and lecturer in photography. As well as being a prolific photographer and producing audio/visual presentations, to date he has had two books published… “The Duke’s Cut - The Bridgewater Canal” (first and second editions) and ”The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal” (first, second and now... third editions) both published by The History Press (formally Tempus Publishing). He is currently working on "Mersey Connections... documenting the navigable waterways connected to the River Mersey.

Things mostly likely to say: “Look at the pixels on that” and “You call that a lens” And who can forget “As someone that’s done an advanced driving test, historically it’s always been Fast, Faster and Fastest.” and of course “On my Advanced Driving test”

Cyril’s most prized possession: His barge named after his Chihuahua Princess.

Proud owner of: Star Trek Uniform and Phaser, tragically his career on the Starship Enterprise was cut short when he resigned his commission in order to pursue his dream of being captain of the Good Ship Google (see below). (Amendment 3/6/11 still waiting the call from Google HQ)

It is believed: That at some point in the past he was once the notorious war criminal Eppis Lightningfire (AKA the butcher of Tateuse Prim) who’s deeds in the Galactic Empire in the service of the Sith Lords need not going into here. Although he claims to have put all this behind him and turned to a life of peace he still keeps his light sabre, as some sort of trophy.

Has been known to: Spend more on a hand bag than Paris Hilton.

Is known to: Own a Leather Cow Boy hat: but it is not known if his best friends are a construction worker a biker an Indian an army sergeant and a cop.

Dream Job: Captain of the Good Ship Google.

Greatest achievement to date: Construction of concrete lined bunker in order to listen to a pair of 127 petawatt speakers he constructed from a pair of Tesla Coils and some old cardboard boxes.

Dedicated to: A very special boy!

A screen-shot of my entry on "Uncyclopedia"

I have always been able to laugh at myself which, being eccentric as well as a self-confessed "anorak" is just as well. My friend and colleague... Simon Wilson wrote an entry for "Uncyclopedia" (a Mickey-take on the "Wikipedia" on-line encyclopaedia) and above is a screen-shot of the webpage for your delectation! Regarding the references to "Good Ship Google" see "Canalscape Book 6".  And just in case you were wondering... yes, I do have a Star Trek uniform, Phaser, communicator, a Star Wars light sabre and even though not mentioned above... a "Thunderbirds" hat and models. I have a handbag that cost more than Paris Hilton's (Well... it is a Billingham) and it is not a cowboy hat that I have... it is a "Bahmah" Australian Bushman's Hat and is not leather but "Cattle Suede".

A very hard week at work was brightened up unexpectedly by Mike Webb - the Manager of the Bridgewater Canal Company. To celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the opening of the Bridgewater Canal, a commemorative medal (complete with a certificate of authenticity and a velvet pouch) was struck and Mike sent them out by post to all the boat owners on the Bridgewater Canal. I literally "buzzed" off the medal when I opened the envelope that it arrived in. Commemorative bunting to decorate the boats is available from various locations along the canal as is "Bridgewater Rock" sweets... boiled sweets with "Bridgewater Canal" written through the centre just like Blackpool Rock.

The Bridgewater Canal 250th Anniversary Commemorative Medal

The Certificate of Authenticity was complete with an antique map on the reverse side

The London Bridge Rally in 1987...

... and the Stockton Heath Carnival in 2011

The next item on our busy social calendar was the Stockton Heath Festival over the weekend of the 9th and 10th July (the 9th was also Ange's birthday). This annual event (the Carnival that is) in some ways a rebirth of the London Bridge Boat Rally of years ago, has many attractions and events such as a gathering of boats on the canal, dog show, outdoor cinema, puppet show, music, dance and a procession through the centre of Stockton Heath but the ones that we were involved in, like last year, were the free boat trips sponsored by Thorn Marine and featuring a wonderfully welcoming and humorous crew in the shape of Michelle Gilbody, Ange and myself plus Sam and Stuart Hamilton from nb "Ashbridge" in a second boat. The bookstall and Tombola were staffed by Michelle Gilbody and Ange who took it in turns crewing the trip boats as well. On the Saturday the weather was a wonderful hot summer's day and my brother and his wife came to visit with Ange's birthday card and present. They enjoyed the carnival atmosphere and accompanied us to watch the procession and have a quick look around the shops before they headed for home.

Thorn Marine's bunting, Tombola and Bookstall

The procession through Stockton Heath

Phyllis and Barry Greenough relaxing with "our gang" at the carnival

We were moored quite a distance from London Bridge... just after the first bend in the canal for which we were grateful as the live music emanating from the pub was quite loud and later on we had our own music event when residents opposite where we were moored had a barbeque accompanied by music. Thankfully they had turned it off by the time we went to bed. It rained during the night and Sunday was not as hot and sunny as the previous day. But this did not dampen the atmosphere even though it was not as busy as the previous day. When we had completed our stints on the trip boat and Tombola stand we headed for our moorings and I looked forward to the following week when I was off work and would (hopefully) be able to prepare the boat's paintwork for Brian Warburton (nb "Ondine") the boat painter to repaint the cabin sides before we go on holiday. The paint that we ordered from Rylard arrived at Thorn Marine and was duly paid for and transported back to "Total Eclipse". We bumped into Nigel Hamilton from Thorn Marine later in the week and we were pleased to learn that we had raised over £800 for the local charities including the North West Air Ambulance Service.

Passengers enjoying the boat ride on "Rambling Thorn"

Ange and Michelle at the tiller of "Meandering Thorn"

The following week was quite eventful. When the August edition of "Waterways World" dropped through the letterbox it featured one of my photographs of Astley near Worsley on the Bridgewater Canal on page 5 complete with a short piece about the Old Boathouse pub. Our local ITV Granada news programme - "Granada Reports", features a slot entitled "Where's Fred" every Tuesday. Viewers have to guess where Fred Talbot (best known as the Granada Weatherman and one of the presenters of "Locks and Quays") has visited in his Messerschmitt Bubble Car. Quite often the locations have canal connections such as Stockton Heath, Wrenbury, etc but last week he was in Audlem and I emailed in to answer the question "Where's Fred" and got a mention on the correct answer scrolling banner on the screen. Needless to say there isn't a prize for the correct entries but its just a bit of fun.

The "Old Boathouse" at Astley as published in "Waterways World"

Ange was on a course for RBS (whom she works for... for now)  in Manchester and instead of her commuting from there to Wallasey every day we decided to stay on the boat and she would catch the Metro Tram from Altrincham where I would take her to and collect her from. This would also allow me more time to rub-down and prepare the boat's paintwork for Brian to repaint the cabin sides next week. I used my sanders as well as rubbing down the paintwork by hand and was very conscious of my electrical tools disturbing the neighbours adjacent to our mooring. I enjoy looking at passing boats and was pleased to see two ex-working boats pass by in the shape of nbs "Princess Anne" sporting T & S Element's livery and the Rag Company's "Telford" both of which were worthy of a photograph.

The starboard side of "Total Eclipse" with the paintwork rubbed down...

... and the port side similarly treated

Nbs "Princess Anne" and "Telford" passing our mooring

When it came to sanding the roof I moved the boat to the Club's yard where I could work noisily. The roof is treated with a non-slip coating made from what appears to be millstone grit added to the paint from new and has always been problematic when it comes to painting. Bird droppings attacking the paint doesn't help either! I spent nearly a whole day sanding down this area and by mid-afternoon I was seriously flagging with my hands aching from constant rubbing and I am sure that I will now suffer, not from "White Finger" but "White Hand" caused by  the vibrations of the orbital sander attacking the non-slip coating. to say that I was glad when it was completed was an understatement. I had run out of primer for where I had exposed bare metal and Geoff Chilton from nb "Eagle" lent me some that he had left over from painting his boat. I wasn't best pleased when I accidentally kicked the tin lid into the cut necessitating my sealing the tin with cling film and masking tape prior to returning it to him accompanied with my sincere apologies. There is a moral here... don't leave paint tin lids on the roof when working there! After three days of glorious weather I had completed my preparation work and Brian Warburton was pleased with my efforts. With Ange's course over we retuned home on Thursday evening which gave me a little time to re-charge my batteries ready for the weekend cruise to the Trafford Centre and the following week's painting.

After Ange had finished work on the Friday evening we headed straight for Lymm and set off for Dunham Massey where our friends Ian and Michelle had moored. Our mooring was adjacent to an old meander in the River Mersey and the contours of the old river bed could be easily seen in the surrounding land. It is only when you step onto the towpath and look around that you appreciate just how high the embankment on which the canal is built really is compared to the normal ground contours. In the photograph below the line of trees in the centre is the left hand bank of the old course of the river. And we all thought that James Brindley only built contour canals!

A panoramic photograph showing the old meander in the River Mersey

Saturday was not to have the same good weather as the preceding week possessed and it turned out to be a grey day. The cruise to the Trafford Centre was uneventful and I was not feeling too good with aching joints, cough, sniffles, etc... the onset of a cold maybe. When we reached the Trafford Centre whilst Ange and Michelle went into the Trafford Centre shopping I went for a lie down and woke-up three hours later. When I was asleep the boat had been decorated with balloons and flags commemorating this stretch of the Bridgewater Canal's 250 birthday. I noticed that the sump in the steel shower tray was showing signs of corrosion. The only practical way around it is to remove the corroded metal and place a new plastic tray inside the old one. Consequently, Ian measured the tray and sump and contacted a plastics company near Crewe who advertised in "Canal Boat" magazine to fabricate the plastic liner.

Goodwin Plastics advertisement in "Canal Boat" magazine

The company was called Goodwin Plastics and usually made plastic water tanks, battery boxes, etc. They assured Ian that they can produce the shower tray within a week so it should be ready for the holidays. A little later Ian and I joined our wives and we all went for tea in Wetherspoon's. Afterwards, the gates onto the towpath had been locked but a quick phone call to Mike, the Trafford Centre Security Guard remedied the situation allowing us to return to our boats.

Lymm CC boats moored at the Trafford Centre

Sunday was a wet day with ceaseless rain accompanying us all the way back to Lymm. I was on holiday for the next week and I had planned to help Brian Warburton paint the cabin sides of the boat. To save going home and coming back and forth I was going to stay on the boat for a few days. Ange's son Michael picked her up from Lymm  and after raiding the fridge took her home leaving me to fend for myself. I hoped that the rain was going to cease but this was not the case. Monday dawned wet and windy and not being one for daytime TV, I am sitting here typing with the rain battering the windows... very cosy but I would rather be outside doing what I had planned. I will use the inside time to empty the cupboards of anything not required on our holidays and do a few odd jobs like straightening the TV mounting bracket which is a few degrees out and has annoyed me for a while but not had the opportunity to rectify it. I have a "Star Trek" movies DVD boxed set for later just in case the wet weather persists (which the TV weather forecasters assure me that it is). Beam me up Scotty!

Brian applying the undercoat to the cabin sides

Tuesday dawned overcast but dry (not guaranteed though!). Brian came and he started painting the undercoats without any intervention from precipitation and when he had finished both sides I gave the roof its first coat. I think that you can guess what happened next. When I reached the last ten percent of the roof it started to rain. I was not too bothered about the centre portion as it still has the knobbly non-slip coating but the parts outside the handrails will definitely need sanding. I was going to give it a second coat anyway. At least the shower tray was ready for collection which I will go for tomorrow afternoon before I have to head for home. The boat sides received their first coats of gloss the following morning. It was nice and bright with no rain forecast but I would not be able to sand the roof due to the gloss still being wet or at least... sticky so after tidying up and loading my stuff into the car I headed for Haslington near Crewe. The previous evening I had been invited to Michelle and Ian's for tea and they had leant me their satnav as mine was at home. The M6 was as busy as you would expect on a mid-week afternoon but I was soon crossing the Trent and Mersey Canal at Hassall Green and left the motorway at the next junction.

The first gloss coats whilst still wet

The premises of Goodwin Plastics were a little "challenging" to find even though the satnav brought me to the correct location. They were tucked away behind a modern bungalow and after parking the car I was greeted by Jason who had fabricated the shower tray. I was impressed with the service this company offered and even more impressed with the quality of the tray. Ian had instructed me to check all the dimensions before accepting it and they were all a couple of millimetres smaller than the original in order to slip-in. What's more we were quoted £83 and when I came to pay I was told £80. You cannot ask for anything better than that... good customer service, prompt production, excellent quality and cheaper than quoted to boot! With the shower tray safely loaded in the car I left Haslington but had to follow the signs for Hassall Green. I parked the car at the Lock 57 Canal Centre car park and took a couple of photographs of "Heartbreak Hill" on the Trent and Mersey Canal before heading back to Lymm. Once there the shower tray was put on the boat, went home and planned to return on Saturday. When I returned on Saturday morning  I helped Brian complete the ivory coach lines whilst Ange put away some of the clothes, etc that we had brought up with us for the holiday. We then went to fill-up with Diesel, pick-up a replacement gas bottle and when we returned to our moorings helped Ian fit the new shower tray and generally make sure that everything was ready for our Summer Cruise due to start the next weekend.

Lock 57 at Hassall Green on the Trent and Mersey Canal

It is not often that I accomplish all the jobs that I set out to do but this is what happened on Saturday. As soon as we arrived I helped Brian paint the ivory coach lines between the green and red paintwork. Brian had difficulty bending down to do the masking and painting on the bottom coach line so after some instruction the task was given to me to complete. Once this was done the painting was finished except for a few bits of touching-up that Brian would do early next week.

Yours truly painting the ivory coach lines

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

The final gloss coats and coach lines once completed

The new shower tray once installed

Whilst I was painting Ange checked the food cupboards to see what was required for the holiday and Ian fitted the new shower tray. Then we went for diesel fuel and a gas bottle. On our return Ian fitted the sealing strips around the shower tray and that was another job completed. All that was left was to empty the front deck of un-necessary clutter, We went home at tea time safe in the knowledge that we had done all we could to prepare the boat for the summer cruise the following weekend. However we did go up to Lymm on Tuesday to fit a new shower curtain, etc and take up clothes, non-perishable food and clean bedding. When we arrived Ian, Michelle and Popsy arrived as well to do similar things. We also bade farewell to Mike and Bonnie Goldberg who would soon be heading back to Longbeach, California where they live. We look forward to seeing them again next year.

Lisa Foster: 1969 - 2011

The next morning I received a sad telephone call at work from Phyllis Greenough... Lymm CC's 2011 Commodore, informing me that our very good friend, cruising partner and mooring neighbour Lisa Foster (nb "Vivé Para Hoy") passed away in the night. Lisa had long-term health issues and had been in hospital for a while but none of us thought that her visit would end like this. We have many happy memories of Lisa who was also the Editor of Lymm CC's magazine "Slipway". I will remember Lisa for her sense of humour, infectious laugh and for being game for anything within her capabilities. My most recent funny memory of Lisa was on the 2010 Summer Cruise to Llangollen when we went to Snugbury's Ice Cream Farm at Hurleston. To reach the Ice Cream Farm from where we were moored we had to go scrambling through the fields (apparently a five minute walk) with Lisa in her wheelchair. For some of the "walk" we carried the wheelchair with Lisa still in it and she laughed for the whole of the journey and for most of the day afterwards... a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Lisa in transit to Snugbury's Ice Cream Farm in 2010

She will be greatly missed by everyone at Lymm CC and our thoughts go out to her husband Nigel (last year's Commodore) and her parents Beryl and John Moult (nb "Don Ross"). The funeral was due to take place on Friday 5th August whilst we were away on the Summer Cruise but Michelle Gilbody's mother and father had offered to drive to wherever we were and boat/child/dog sit whilst we went to the funeral in their car. As it turned out we were at Christleton near Chester the previous day and we decided to stay there all Friday in order to attend the funeral in Altrincham. At the crematorium there was standing room only with many outside the building. Afterwards we went to Lymm CC's Clubhouse where I had never seen so many people present. There were over two hundred people wanting to pay their respects to Nigel, Beryl and John. The floral tributes from the funeral were displayed on top of Beryl and John's narrowboat... "Don Ross".

The floral tribute to Lisa Foster on top of nb "Don Ross"

On our return to Lymm from the summer cruise there was another poignant moment at Lymm CC. Brent Hindley's narrowboat... "Harry's Lad" had been sold and had been handed over to its new owner who was preparing to take it single handed down to Rugby. We are now looking forward to the cruise to Salford Quays and the River Irwell in a couple of weeks with an excursion down the Manchester Ship Canal on board something a little larger than "Total Eclipse" of the Mersey Ferries. When we reached home the latest edition of "Waterways World" was waiting for me on the door mat. After making a start on the unpacking it was perused over a cup of coffee. I was surprised to see reference made to the "Canalscape" website in an article talking about boat spotting. The writer made favourable comments on the content of the site so I must be doing something right!

The "Waterways World" 2010 April Fool "Good Ship Google"...

(Photograph - Waterways World)

Last year you may remember the "Waterways World" April Fool regarding "Cut View" when many readers (myself included) found themselves hunting on Google for this feature (see "Canalscape Book 6 - 2010"). Well on the 19th August 2011 Google announced that they were mapping and photographing the Amazon and Rio Negro Rivers using their iconic Google Camera mounted on top of a boat. Sound familiar? Well it seems that the "Good Ship Google" really does exist as can be seen in the accompanying photographs.

... and the real thing in use on the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers

(Photographs - Google)

The project was the brainchild of Amazonas Sustainable Foundation... an independent, non-profit making, non-governmental institution. It was founded in 2007 by the Amazonas State Government and the Bradesco Bank. Two years ago this organisation approached Google Earth with a vision of turning "Street View" into a "River View" of the lush and precious Amazon Basin. I wonder when they will get around to our canals and waterways? More details can be found at as well as on Google itself. Once again "Waterways World" can be said to publish the latest news before any other waterway related magazine... but eighteen months beforehand seems a bit excessive to me!

Lymm CC's Oughtrington Moorings

The August Bank Holiday weekend is when we were due to have our annual cruise to Salford Quays. This year it featured the added bonus of an optional cruise down the Manchester Ship Canal on the Sunday. Something that I was really looking forward to and it would give me the opportunity to photograph some of the inaccessible parts of the Ship Canal that I have not been able to reach by foot or by car. We arrived at Lymm after tea on Friday evening with Ange's grandaughter Shannon whose mother had asked us to look after as they were moving house. After loading our clothes and food onto the boat we cruised to Oughtrington to meet our friends Ian, Michelle and Popsy. After a catch-up over a cup of coffee we went to bed as we were to be up and on the move early the next morning. The crew who were staffing Pomona Lock which lowers boats onto the River Irwell and Manchester Ship Canal would only be there between 09.00 and 12.00. We left Oughtrington at 07.00 and cruised along a deserted Bridgewater Canal eating our breakfasts along the way. We reached Pomona Lock at 11.00 and we were locked down to the River Irwell. Once into the river we cruised downstream to Salford Quays. Quite a strong wind had got up and whilst Ian was mooring "Eclipse" we were trying to "station keep" but the wind spun us around a couple of times before we were able to moor alongside Ian.

Boats from Lymm CC moored at Salford Quays

Once the boats were securely tied we had a quick cup of coffee then caught the Metrolink tram to Bury to visit the market. During the journey we had to change at Piccadilly Gardens and the ultra-modern tram whisked through the beautiful countryside and even caught glimpses of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal. On arrival at Bury we ate lunch at a café before we walked around the huge market. We left Bury and retraced our steps to Manchester. Ange and Michelle wanted to go into the Arndale. It was the Gay Pride weekend and the city was full of "colourful" people... as usual Manchester did not disappoint! The tram back to Salford Quays was caught and we had our evening meal in the local "Beefeater" before an early night in readiness for the following day.

MV "Snowdrop" moored outside the Lowry Centre at Salford Quays

The trip along the Manchester Ship Canal was scheduled to leave at 09.00 and we had to report to mv "Snowdrop" which was moored outside the Lowry Shopping Centre for 08.30. Ange, Shannon, Michelle and Popsy were going to look around the Lowry and generally have a girly day whilst Ian and I were on the ferry. We managed to grab seats on the upper deck at the front... handy for taking photographs. When the "Snowdrop" left we could see our gang waving to us from the moorings and we were soon passing beneath the raised Lowry Footbridge.

The new Media City Footbridge swung for "Snowdrop" to pass through

The first feature that I wanted to photograph was the newly completed Media City Footbridge which was swung for us to pass through. We passed the old Manchester Dry Docks now used as a conventional dock before our first lock at Mode Wheel, so called because there was once a water mill at this location when it was the Mersey and Irwell Navigation owned by a lady called Maude... hence "Maude's Wheel" was altered over the years to "Mode Wheel". We then skirted Trafford Park Industrial Estate and to the Centenary Lift Bridge opened by the Queen in 1994 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the canal. When taking photographs for my book "The Big Ditch" I found this bridge difficult to photograph and the journey along the Ship Canal allowed me to take more satisfactory photographs of it.

Centenary Lift Bridge at Trafford Park

Barton Swing Aqueduct and Barton Road Bridge

Cerestar and Weast Wharves were followed by Barton Swing Aqueduct and Barton Road Bridge came soon after and we then ducked beneath the M60 Motorway. Barton Lock came soon after and we were impressed by a motorised winch which pulled the mooring ropes to keep the boat close to the lock sides. The canal entered a rural section lined with trees and farmland followed by another lock... Irlam Lock. Here we were greeted by two Lymm CC members on the side of the lock in the shape of Tanya and Garry Bancroft who waved, took photographs and exchanged pleasantries with us. Beyond this lock  was Irlam Railway Viaduct with the River Mersey joining the canal immediately afterwards, tumbling over Irlam Weir as it does so.

The infant River Mersey joining the canal at Irlam Weir

The canal now entered an urban section with Peel Ports' Container Depot on the right hand bank. The barge "Res V" responsible for carrying containers containing Tesco wines was moored here. This barge is loaded with containers at Liverpool and pushed up the canal by its attendant tug "Daisy Doarado". The disused Cadishead Railway Viaduct soon loomed into view.

Testing Cadishead Railway Viaduct in 1892 (or is it?)

Irlam Railway Viaduct

The disused Cadishead Railway Viaduct in 2011

When I was scanning photographs at Greater Manchester Records Office for inclusion in "The Big Ditch" I came across a photograph of this viaduct being tested with railway locomotives on it. Even though it was entitled "Testing Cadishead Railway Viaduct" it looks more like Irlam Railway Viaduct as it does not have any support arches although they could have been added at a later date. Closer inspection of the brickwork does suggest this could be the case. Another train (excuse the pun) of thought is that the photograph with the railway locomotives on it was spanning a meander or temporary deviation in the River Mersey before whilst the Ship Canal was being built or was a temporary structure built before the one we see today. The next point of interest reached was Warburton High Level Bridge.

Warburton High Level Bridge and meander entrance on the left

Just before the bridge is what appears to be an arm off the canal but was once a meander in the River Mersey. I have walked the filled-in meander and came across a photograph of the original graceful cast iron and stone bridge that spanned the river here. This bridge is still in existence but has now been embanked and only the parapet is visible. The toll levied on the road is to cross the original bridge and not the high level one across the Ship Canal. This particular meander stretches as far as Dunham Massey where the old line of the river can be seen from the Bridgewater Canal as it passes over on an embankment.

The River Mersey leaving the Ship Canal at Bollin Point to wind its way through Warrington

Ian's mother and father-in-law waiting to greet us at Latchford Lock

Just before Thelwall Viaduct the Mersey leaves the canal at Bollin Point to wind its way through Warrington. The next lock is at Latchford where we saw Ian's Mother and Father-in-Law on the lockside. Whilst we were being lowered in the lock I took the opportunity to visit the engine room of "Snowdrop". The two original Crossley engines have been replaced with modern Wärtsilä marine diesels. The engines were impressive as was the accompanying machinery with the generators being bigger than the engine on "Total Eclipse" and the size of the bilge pumps had to be seen to be believed.

One of "Snowdrop's" Wärtsilä 9R32 engines

Leaving Latchford Lock with the Warrington Bridges stretching out in the distance

 From here the bridges through Warrington and Stockton Heath line up and stretch out before us into the distance and when passing beneath Latchford High Level Bridge there seemed to be less than a metre height clearance. It was not long before we passed the entrance to Walton Cut and disused Warrington Wharf. This was once a sand and cement berth with a connection lock to the tidal River Mersey. The area is now earmarked for a housing development and is no longer in use.

Minimal height clearance beneath Latchford High Level Bridge

Walton Cut with the disused Warrington Wharf around the corner to the left

The weather was now making a change for the worse with showers and as we neared the open expanse of the Mersey it got more and more windy. On reaching the outskirts of Runcorn the massive Eddie Stobart warehouse was passed. This is also close to the location of the proposed Mersey Gateway or, as it is more commonly referred to... the Second Runcorn/Widnes Bridge which is due to be constructed in the next few years. Runcorn has most certainly changed out of all recognition as far as the Ship Canal is concerned.

Rural cutting approaching Runcorn

The original location of the (hopefully to be reinstated) entrance to the Bridgewater Canal

What was once a run-down area of derelict buildings and wharves has now been redeveloped to accommodate housing and businesses. Around the corner from the two existing bridges is the location of the original connection with the Bridgewater Canal. This will hopefully be reinstated when the new Mersey Gateway bridge is constructed. The currently in-filled canal and locks are buried beneath an area protected from future construction and the canal corridor can be seen in the centre of the photograph above. Runcorn Docks lined the land-ward side of the canal and now there is only a narrow embankment separating the canal from the Mersey.

Runcorn Docks with the Weaver Navigation and River Mersey bordering the Ship Canal

(Photograph - Eddie Stobart Transport)

Approaching Weston Point with only a narrow embankment separating the Ship Canal from the Mersey

The Weaver Navigation, which pre-dates the Ship Canal, completes a trio of waterways... the River Mersey, Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Navigation, run alongside each other until Weston Marsh Lock is reached. This is where, two weeks previously, we had left the open expanses of the Ship Canal for the relative safety of the River Weaver Navigation. To the right of the lock is the entrance to the River Weaver proper where it runs past Frodsham to merge with the Weaver Navigation a short distance upstream. The water from the Weaver crosses over the canal to empty into the Mersey via Weaver Sluices.

Weaver Sluices where the River Weaver joins the River Mersey


"Stolt Kingfisher"... the only ship we passed moving on the Ship Canal

The Ship Canal now changes character as it hugs the eastern bank of the Mersey down to Stanlow. Approaching Stanlow we passed the "Stolt Kingfisher"... a tanker making its way to Runcorn Docks and was the only ship we passed moving on our trip. In the centre of Stanlow we crossed over the River Gowy which passes beneath in a siphon, past Ellesmere Port and the Boat Museum into a cutting formed by Mount Manisty... an artificial hill formed from diggings from when the canal was cut. The disused Bowater's Wharf is earmarked for redevelopment into a new wharf to service local industry including the adjacent Vauxhall Motors Car Plant.

Passing through Mount Manisty Cutting

Eastham Locks... the end of our journey along the Manchester Ship Canal

Our trip along the canal is now nearing its conclusion with only the de-masting berths and entrance locks at Eastham to come. This is my home territory as I often come down on my lunchtime to watch the comings and goings on the canal as the college where I work is only a short distance away. As we dropped the final few metres to the level of the now massive River Mersey we were buffeted by strong winds which sent many passengers scurrying to the shelter of the ferry's cabins.

Norma Probin pointing to her namesake

As we joined the waters of the Mersey a dredger was at work removing silt from the entrance channel to the Ship Canal. The dredger was none other than the "Norma" which we had seen at Salford Quays last year. I told one of the female Lymm CC members on the upper deck to look out for the dredger and I took her photograph as she saw the name of it. The member was none other than Norma Probin who relished the idea that a dredger had the same name as she did. For the rest of us we enjoyed the roller-coaster ride as the boat was buffeted by waves, spray and wind, past Cammell Lairds Shipyard to berth at Woodside Ferry before crossing the river to our journey's end at Liverpool Pier Head.

Liverpool Pier Head... the end of our journey

But our story does not end here. With the recent opening of Liverpool's new Museum of Liverpool Life the area to the side of it where the Liverpool Link Canal enters a purpose-built amphitheatre has now been opened up allowing me to photograph the missing link in my photographic essay of this waterway. Once the photographs had been taken Ian and I walked around the Albert Dock and had a coffee in the coffee shop on the old "Planet" Lightship moored in Canning Dock before heading into town for a quick foray around the "boys' toys" shops. The city centre was extremely busy due to it being the weekend of the Matthew Street Festival... an annual celebration of local music. By the time we returned to the Pier Head it was time to board the buses which were to take us back to Salford Quays after a really enjoyable day out.

The newly accessible Amphitheatre beside the Museum of Liverpool Life

The following day we left Salford Quays, made a quick foray up the River Irwell in drizzle before locking back up to the Bridgewater Canal and headed back to Lymm and home after a busy if not enjoyable weekend. Again the weather left a lot to be desired but true to form on our way home the sun came out! Still... its all about the journey and the company one keeps. But good weather makes makes it even better!

A couple of weeks later the Lymm CC cruise to "Spike Bridge" near Moore clashed with the Middlewich Boat Jumble. Ian and Michelle had booked a stall to sell their tools, fenders and sundries and asked if we would help him on his stall. As we enjoyed helping him at the Gardner Engine Rally and we wanted to look for a few things we accepted Ian and Michelle's invitation. As an early start would have to be made we arrived at Ian and Michelle's the previous evening and stayed the night in their spare bedroom. The next morning we were on the road by 7.30 so that we could bet a good spot. I had heard about the Middlewich Boat Jumble but never attended it. I envisaged it to be on the side of the canal where the Middlewich Folk Festival is held

Ange and Michelle waiting for the Boat Jumble gates to open

The stalls featured everything from bolts to boats

After setting up the stall I had a look around and saw quite a few things that took me down "Nostalgia Road". The first item of note was a Crescent Marin 12 outboard motor in what looked like excellent condition It was identical to the Volvo Penta 140 that was fitted to the two "Misty Waters" GRP cruisers that I owned in the 1980s. I commented to the stall holder that I had spent many happy hours taking one of these engines apart, stripping the gear box down and fitting replacement bearings and gears. Another outboard that caught my eye was an absolutely mint Seagull Century Plus (five horse power and fitted with a clutch) which warranted a photograph as well. This is a design classic and it is a shame that these wonderfully simple examples of British engineering are no longer made.

The Crescent Marin 14 and mint Seagull Century Plus outboards that caught my eye

There was everything at the Boat Jumble from bolts to boats on sale and one of the items that I was looking for was a pair of fair-leads to protect the boat's paintwork from abrasion by the centre ropes. I saw a nice pair of handed stainless steel ones, managed to buy them for a couple of pounds less than the quoted price and what's more, the stainless steel self tapping screws were thrown in for free! Our Electrolux fridge has a broken door catch and I was looking for an example that I could use for spares. There was nothing suitable there so it is back to eBay for that one! A canopy stall had off-cuts of PVC that was the same as our rear canopy. As we have been looking for ways to repair it the material was bought for £1... bargain! One stall had a very interesting dinghy on sale. It was made out of plastic, had a Dyson Ball type wheel for launching and moving it when out of the water and even featured a re-inforced transom to mount a small outboard motor such as the adjacent electric model. In complete contrast another stall had a beautiful Dover cast iron solid fuel stove and range that would look at home in any traditional boatman's cabin.

The plastic, wheeled dinghy and electric outboard to the right

A beautiful "Dover" cast iron solid fuel stove was featured on another stall

One stall had a facility for letting prospective buyers see an engine run (not in gear) in a large drum of water. When I heard an engine started I hurried over to see what was going on. I was rewarded with smelling the two-stroke engine's exhaust fumes. When I sniffed the fumes I turned to another onlooker next to me and said... "Mmmm, fifty to one. You can't beat the smell of a two stroke in the morning!" to which the onlooker laughed and agreed with me. Ian assured me that the Boat Jumble was not as well attended as on previous occasions and many stalls were packed-up not long after lunch. After another look around the stalls we started to pack-up as well. Before we went home we went to Lymm to check on the boat and empty a casserole dish that Ange had inadvertently left in the oven a couple of weeks earlier when we were returning from Salford Quays. When I removed the lid the smell was putrid as I emptied the contents into the canal. After doing a couple of jobs we locked-up the boat and reluctantly made our way home.

The canal cruising season is now drawing to a close with only the Illuminated Boats Cruise and the Closing Cruise left. With the end of the cruising season comes the social events season. This was kicked-off with a charity fund raiser for GUCH... the Grown Up Congenital Heart Patients Association which was Lisa Foster's charity. The evening prior to this was the engagement party of our Commodore's son Mark Greenough and his fiancée Christine Lowe. We wish them every happiness. On both occasions the catering was by Derek Ridpath which was, as usual to a very high standard.

Phyllis "Spinning It To Win It!

One of Jim's pigeons ready to produce droppings

Lisa's friends Vicki and Lauren provided the vocal entertainment

On the GUCH Charity Night we raised money in a number of ways... ticket price, raffle (by Glenys Kershaw), an auction (by Keith Moore), "Spin It To Win It" (run by Popsy Gilbody, Emily Anderton and Emily Jackson) and "Predict-a-shit" (predicting where one of Jim's pigeon's droppings fall) and vocal entertainment by Vicki and Lauren... Lisa's friends who sang at her funeral.  By the end of the Charity Night we had raised approximately £1214 for GUCH and had a good time in the process.

Whenever friends and colleagues travel abroad and they come across canals they usually take some photographs for me. My boss... Barbara Sculthorpe regularly goes to Carcassonne in the South of France and has supplied me with photographs of the Canal du Midi for use in the "French Connection" section of this website. Jenni Higgins... another of my colleagues at Wirral Met College recently returned from a trip to Canada. Whilst in Ottawa she came across the Rideau Canal and brought me back some leaflets about the canal in addition to many photographs.

The wonderful iconic eight step staircase locks lowering the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River at Parliament Hill, Ottawa

(Photographs - Jenni Higgins)

With the promise of yet more overseas canal photographs of the Panama Canal from fellow Lymm CC member Paul Savage, I have now expanded the original "French Connections" section of "Canalscape" into a section on the website dealing specifically with canals from around the World and retitled it "Foreign Forays".

Jenni Higgins at the Rideau Locks, Ottawa

(Photograph - Wendy Higgins)

I received a letter out of the blue from the BBC forwarded to me by my publisher... the History Press. The BBC are planning to produce a series of films on the Manchester Ship Canal for their "Webwise" website and were looking for people who use information technology associated with the canal. After replying to them via email informing them of my interest in the project and my willingness to participate I was contacted by telephone by Colin Stone... the producer of the series. During the conversation I explained about how I combine my interests in canals, photography and computers to produce my photographs, books, audio/visual presentations and website. We also discussed my photographic history and how the Information Technology Revolution has changed photography. It seemed that I was just the kind of person that they were looking for and arrangements were made to meet to discuss the project in greater detail. To quote Simon Wilson, one of my colleagues at Wirral Met... "Local Celebrity strikes again!"

Colin Stone from the BBC chatting to yours truly

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Colin arranged to come to Wallasey on the following Saturday morning. I set up the scanners to show him how I scan my old glass plate and large format negatives as well as 35mm negatives and transparencies and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours talking about the Manchester Ship Canal, photography and computers. He also outlined in greater detail the aims and objectives of the Webwise Project and possible locations to photograph. We spoke in depth about Barton Swing Aqueduct which could be one of the locations used, followed by a dash down the M56/M53 to capture on video how I treat the resulting images for inclusion on the website, for publication or audio/visual presentations. Colin promised to contact me again shortly when more information was available.

The next week was half-term week and I arranged to have a few days off work. On one of the days I planned to go up to Lymm, go to Phyllis and Barry Greenough's, who live in Lymm, to pass my entries for the Annual Photographic Competition (Phyllis is our 2011 Commodore) then go around the corner to the moorings, cut the grass, do a few odd jobs and give the boat a wash and polish. I arrived at Phyllis and Barry's, went over the photographs, had a chat over a cup of coffee then left for the boat club. Once there, I walked down the moorings, strimmer, petrol can and my bag in hand and when I reached "Total Eclipse" I couldn't believe my eyes... there was signwriting on the side of the cabin. What's more it was exactly as I had planned it to be (as illustrated on the "Total Eclipse - Future Plans" part of "Canalscape"). I started to fill-up and had to sit down on the steps adjacent to the mooring with tears running down my cheeks. Then I noticed something on the inside of the windscreen so I somehow managed to open the side screen of the canopy and below is the message taped to the inside of the windscreen that greeted me.

The birthday poem waiting for me on the rear deck of "Total Eclipse"...

...the new signwriting on "Total Eclipse" courtesy of Ian and Michelle...

... and a close-up of the signwriting itself

I immediately telephoned Ange who wished that she could have been there (as Michelle and Ian also told me) to see the look of surprise on my face. I then rang Ian and Michelle who were just going into the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary in Devon and thanked them for such a wonderful surprise. I was, for once, speechless and couldn't thank them enough. Phyllis and her brother Derek had followed me around to come and inspect the work and make sure that I hadn't fallen in the canal with surprise.

A surprised Cyril Wood after discovering the signwriting on "Total Eclipse"

(Photograph - Derek Ridpath)

The logistics of doing this must have been complicated. Ian and Michelle couldn't have done this wonderful thing for me nearer my birthday in December as the weather might not have been suitable so they decided to have it done now... last week in fact. They towed "Total Eclipse" up to Oughtrington with their boat where they had arranged for the sign writer to come to. Ian and Michelle told everyone at the Club (except for us) what they were doing and swore everyone to secrecy as they wanted it to be a surprise... which it most certainly was. They must have been sweating a bit as they were going on holiday this week and wanted it finished so that the boat was back on its mooring by the weekend. I nearly spoilt the surprise as I was off work that Friday and was going to go up to the boat to cut the grass. When Ange was speaking to Michelle on the phone last Thursday she mentioned that I might be going up and Michelle then had to tell her that they had "pinched" the boat and told her why. That was the first Ange knew about it and then had to put me off going by arranging to meet me for lunch in Liverpool where she works. That Friday afternoon, Norma and Brian Probin towed "Total Eclipse" back to its mooring with "Hideaway" in readiness for my coming up.

When I came down to earth I found the USB pendrive left on the back deck by Paul, Wendy and Oliver Savage containing photograph that they had promised to take for me to be included in "Foreign Forays" when they passed through the Panama Canal on a cruise. I then cut the grass, washed the boat, polished the paintwork, ran the engine for a while and did a few odd jobs before returning home after a surprising (to say the least) day in the truest sense of the word. After ten years of owning "Total Eclipse" she finally has her name painted on it. I couldn't believe it, and couldn't stop looking at it whilst I was doing my jobs. It looks absolutely superb and every time I did look at it I had a smile on my face. Later on at home, I looked at the photographs on Paul Savage's pendrive and there was one photograph that caught my eye. It was of a swing bridge over Miraflores Lock and the similarity between it and Barton Swing Aqueduct was remarkable. I have included it below so you can draw your own conclusions.

This swing bridge over Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal is reminiscent of Barton Swing Aqueduct

(Photograph - Paul Savage)

The beginning of November saw the judging of the Annual Photographic Competition and I was invited to view the entries in order to judge for the Canalscape Trophy. There were some very impressive entries and the high standard of photographs made the choice difficult. In the end I made my choice but cannot reveal the winner until after the Dinner Dance later on this month. Watch this space!

Lymm CC Chairman John Melling judging the Photographic Competition assisted by 2011 Commodore... Phyllis Greenough

The BBC had contacted me regarding the Webwise project. They wanted a list of my top five locations so that they could choose a location for filming. As well as my first choice of Barton Swing Aqueduct I included on the list the new Media City Footbridge (which I had only photographed from the water), Runcorn Promenade where the original entrance to the MSC from the Bridgewater Canal is located and hopefully to be re-instated when the new Mersey Gateway Bridge is constructed, Stanlow Island... a location only accessible via the ferry over the MSC (unless like me one walks along the canal embankment from Eastham Locks), and lastly... Eastham Locks... which may be enlarged to accommodate larger ships in the not too distant future. I had also thought about Warburton (old) Bridge but it is not as photographically interesting as the other locations so did not include it in my final list. In the end, much to my surprise, the BBC settled on Warburton . Not because of any historical or photographic reasons but because they have a geographical preference for this location. The 24th November was proposed to be the filming date. I arranged to take the day off work as did Ange so all we have to do now is hope for good weather on the day. But in the meantime we have Lymm CC's Annual Laying-Up Dinner Dance to look forward to.

The Laying Up Dinner Dance was upon before we knew it. This year it was held at the Lymm Hotel. The food was wonderful as was the company. As well as the usual trophy presentations including the Photographic Competition in which I won the General category with a photograph of boats on the mud at Heswall on the Wirral taken one Saturday afternoon earlier on on the year whilst Ange was having her hair done. When I donated the Canalscape Trophy to Lymm CC earlier in the year I stipulated that none of my photographs would be eligible as I was the judge. Chairman John Melling was impressed my my photograph and presented me (and the other category winners) with an unusual mug in the shape of an autofocus zoom camera lens complete with petal lens hood and cap.

"Boats on the mud at Heswall"... my winning entry in the General Photograph Category

It was also the first time that the Canalscape Trophy was awarded. I had already judged the winning entry anonymously and I was delighted to discover that it had been won by Eleanor Muirhead (Scotch Dave's wife) with a winter scene of sheep in a snowy field in Dunbar, Scotland , captured on her Sony Cybershot DSC-W270 digital camera and is shown below. I judged the winning entry on a number of criteria... composition, technical quality and also did I wish that I had taken the photograph myself... which I did! When I later spoke to Eleanor about the photograph she told me that they were out for a walk with "Cracker"... their dog who, thirty seconds after she took the photograph, looked over the fence and scared the sheep away. Eleanor was glad that she took my advice from the presentation I gave to Lymm CC a while ago entitled "What Makes A Good Photograph?" when I told prospective photographers to always carry a camera. If she hadn't taken this advice the photograph would not have been taken.

Eleanor Muirhead's Canalscape Trophy winning photograph

(Photograph - Eleanor Muirhead)

Yours truly presenting Eleanor with the trophy

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

The "Total Eclipse" Trophy

A surprise presentation was one that Ian Gilbody had made for the narrowboats represented on or table. Phil and Michelle Anderton's narrowboat "Rensol" was depicted (complete with white coach lines) and Tina and Paul Durbridge's narrowboat "Dominion" (the green colour scheme of which was represented by a suitably shaped cucumber!). Ours was a model of "Total Eclipse" complete with the rear-deck canopy and the tv aerial on the roof which Ian frequently takes the Mickey out of, calling it a "pylon". Attached to the base is a sign giving details of the boat such as... name: "Total Eclipse", colour: green/red, boat history: found on Winter Hill, distinguishing features: large pylon to front - nice signwriting - rocks quite a lot late in the evening - nice life jackets! But back to the Dinner Dance... it was a most enjoyable evening which gave us the opportunity to catch-up with fellow members, reminisce and celebrate the 2011 cruising season. As anticipated, the evening was wonderfully organised by our Commodore... Phyllis Greenough ably assisted by her brother... Derek Ridpath and enjoyed by everyone.

The Thursday of the week after the Laying Up Dinner Dance was when the BBC were due to film me. On Monday, Angela Roberts... the Producer's Assistant, telephoned me to confirm that everything was on-track for later on in the week. One problem though. They could not obtain permission to film on the old line of the river and the Old Warburton Bridge over the in-filled River Mersey meander so Plan B was proposed. This was to photograph the later Warburton High Level Bridge over the Ship Canal. I have an old archive photograph taken in 1893 of the bridge being constructed so I proposed that we try to take a comparative photograph from as near as possible to the same viewpoint. We discussed the timetable for filming which is due to commence at 09.30. I hoped that it would not be raining and that there is no mist around which is prevalent in this area, being low-lying and near to water.

The day of filming arrived bright and sunny. As Ange could not come with me so I asked Michelle Gilbody (whose birthday it was) if she would mind accompanying me to make sure that I looked presentable and to take some photographs of me being filmed for the website. Michelle was also under instruction from Ange to make sure that I did not "wring" my hands, rub my nose or say "things like that!"  We arrived at the Saracens Head in Warburton Village and met Colin Stone the Producer there with. We then drove to the location where we rendezvoused with the film crew consisting of Ivan Hinchley (cameraman who commented "nice Billingham!") and Mat Adams (sound recordist) at the gate giving access to below the bridge. We then made our way to down the track in convoy to the area below the bridge. Whilst the crew set up their equipment I chatted to Colin who mentioned that one of the other films he had made in the series featured a man called Graham Bridge from Runcorn Locks Preservation Society (and BMBC). I told him that Graham and I were old friends, went back many years and first met in 1986. It is a small world... especially where canals are concerned. It did not take long to set up the equipment and we commenced filming.

Yours truly being filmed on location at Warburton High Level Bridge

(Photograph - Michelle Gilbody)

We were lucky with the light and weather

(Photograph - Michelle Gilbody)

Introductory shots were to show me walking alongside the Ship Canal to the bridge. I must have walked along the same path for a dozen times as I was shot from different angles. Michelle was asked to hold the light reflector for the film crew and did an excellent job of filling-in shadows from the shots. After putting the camera on the tripod and a few comments to set the scene we moved to the other side of the in-filled meander where I was filmed taking photographs of the bridge. Unfortunately, small trees and shrubs had grown since my last visit and I couldn't take a photograph from where I wanted to compare with the old photograph of the bridge being constructed.

Squirrel's eye view of being in front of the camera for a change (Mat the sound man crouching made me laugh!)

Unfortunately, trees and shrubs had grown since my last visit and obscured the shot I wanted to take

Central Park Avenue Television Studios

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Still, I did take photographs of the bridge (and the film crew). Michelle enjoyed herself and was pleased at being asked to hold the light reflector for the film crew. When asked what did you do on your birthday, not many people can say "I helped a BBC film crew and held the light reflector for the cameraman!" She left after filming on location was completed and I drove home with the film crew following me a little later. They set up their equipment and our dining room and lounge became a tv studio for a couple of hours. I was filmed at the computer to demonstrate how I download photographs and resize them for the website. I was also filmed scanning an old glass plate negative using the Epson V700 scanner. Filming concluded at 6.00 pm and whilst the crew packed up their equipment I loaned Colin a VHS videotape of our canal holiday ciné films from 1965 to 1969 as well as giving him copies of some old photographs from the same era showing me with various ciné and still cameras to be included in the film. After this everyone headed for home and left us in peace. Ange told me that I was very professional and that she was very proud of me... I didn't make any "fluffs" and didn't have to be asked to do something again due to making mistakes. The film will be posted on the BBC Learning Webwise website in February 2012... I can't wait!

Staying with the photography theme... The day after filming I was driving to work and saw the sun rising in a clear blue sky. As I was going to Wirral Met's Twelve Quays Campus and not my usual Carlett Park I made a quick detour to Egremont Ferry and photographed the sun rising behind Liverpool's Pier Head. I e-mailed the photograph to Granada Reports as a weather photograph. They used it as a backdrop not only to the weather forecast but the sunrise and sunset times... very appropriate. I have included the photograph below for your perusal and I know that it has nothing to do with canals but it is a pretty photograph and arguably there is a canal in it in front of the "Three Graces"... the Liver, Cunard and Mersey Docks and Harbour Company buildings.

A screen-shot of the Granada TV Weather Forecast featuring my photograph as a back-drop...

... and a better quality version of the image used

The general strike day strike on the 30th November meant that the College where I work was closed. This gave me an ideal opportunity to head up to Lymm to empty the boat's water tank and perform some essential maintenance to the canopy over the rear deck. As soon as I arrived I plugged the mains electricity land line into the boat into and connected the battery charger to top-up the batteries and replace any electricity that the water pump took out. This done I turned on the water taps to empty the water tank. I only let the pump run for ten minutes at a time to prevent it from overheating. Whilst the tank was emptying I replaced the damaged "lift-dot" fasteners. The canopy is over twenty years old and ideally, needs replacing mainly due to my damaging it on the Llangollen Canal last year. But due to the cost of them running to over £1k this will have to wait until our "canopy fund" has a few more pennies in it. The major fault on it is the zip fastener on the right hand side screen which had broken and I hit upon an idea to replace it. Instead of another zip why not replace it with self-adhesive Velcro? A suitable length of a heavy duty variety was purchased from our local fabric shop and after replacing the broken "lift dot" fasteners I set to work removing the old zip. This didn't prove to be too difficult as the cotton had started to rot. The Velcro is self adhesive and the inside piece was cut to length and stuck onto the material once all the old cotton was removed and the area cleaned. The flap that the other piece was to be fitted to is too narrow for the full-width Velcro so I cut it in half down its length and stuck into position. This worked well and when the side panel was put back in place the two parts of the Velcro "knitted" together well. A job well done! My next job was to empty the "dregs" out of the water system so I attached a length of hose pipe normally used to fill the Porta Potti water tank to the drain-off cock fitted earlier in the year. The last few gallons needed a little persuasion by siphoning into the washing-up bowl. With these jobs completed I checked the specific gravity of the engine's antifreeze and topped it up before running the engine for half an hour or so to open the thermostat and mix the coolant before heading for home back down the M56 after one of those rare days when I accomplished everything that I set out to do.

The inside of the rear deck canopy with Velcro replacing the broken zip fastener

The Lymm CC Children's Christmas Party coincided with the village's Dickensian Christmas celebration on the 10th December. As the roads were due to be closed for the procession at 1.30 pm this necessitated that we arrived earlier in order to reach Lymm CC. Shannon and her half-brother Kurtis accompanied us to Lymm and whilst Ange helped Michelle Gilbody with the party preparations I took the two children around the village to see what was going on. With the roads now closed throngs of people filled the village's roads and even up the side streets as well.

Hundreds of people in Lymm's closed streets

Lymm's Village Moorings were full as well

We met my old friend from Radio Merseyside... Tony Ball (who is lucky enough to live in Lymm) and had a "catch-up" whilst we strolled around the village. Tony and I went to the same secondary school in Wallasey and are the same age so we have quite a lot in common. Before long we heard the drums and music of the procession in the distance so we found a sheltered viewpoint opposite the Cross to watch. The procession was not only lead but organised as well by our fellow Lymm CC member Peter Powell ("Oh-Yey") who is also Lymm's Town Crier. There were horse-drawn carriages, old cars, Morris Dancers and floats from many local societies including Santa himself (Shannon said that it wasn't the real one though!). When the procession was over we returned to the boat club where a cup of coffee was most appreciated.

Lymm CC's Clubhouse awaiting the children (and Santa)

A clown held the children's attention until Santa arrived

By this time the other children started to arrive and were shown to their seats by parents and grandparents alike. Different types of food was served to accommodate the different (and difficult) palates that children are renowned for. When the food was eaten it was time for the entertainment. A clown had arrived and held the children's attention until Santa was due to arrive by illuminated narrowboat.

Santa arriving by illuminated narrowboat

Santa's crew of helpers

Santa installed on his thrown

Once Santa had arrived he was installed on his thrown and, assisted by a "little helper", a naughty snowman, and an equally naughty Rudolph, gave early Christmas presents to the children. Once the present-giving was over the children started to drift away homewards after another superbly organised event... the highlight of the year for the younger members of the club.

The following Saturday it was the turn of the adults to have their Christmas party. We arrived mid-afternoon and the fist job was to light the fire. Before long it was toasty and we relaxed until Ian pulled-up alongside us. Needless to say the evening was a great success thanks to Phyllis and her brother Derek. The food was exceeded our expectations and "It Takes Two"... a vocal duo, kept us entertained throughout the night. It was well after two o'clock in the morning when we left to for our bed on a very cosy narrowboat.

Our gang at the Adults' Christmas Party

My colleagues at Wirral Metropolitan College sprang a surprise sixtieth birthday party on me a couple of days before we were due to break-up for the Christmas holidays. As well as Star Trek themed presents (Trekkie... guilty as charged!) I was presented with a tee-shirt with a squirrel and "Local Celebrity" written on it and a pair (one for me and one for Ange) of nearly Deepwater Green sweatshirts featuring the same "Total Eclipse" logo and signwriting as on the boat. Jenni Higgins... one of my colleagues had copied the signwriting photograph from the boat's website and given it to a company that stitches logos onto clothing as a pattern. I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of my work mates and I don't know how they managed to keep it a secret from me (sound familiar?).

Yours truly with birthday presents

(Photograph - Barbara Sculthorpe)

My birthday activities continued after Christmas. Ange and I had been invited to Ian and Michelle's on my birthday. After we arrived we piled into Michelle's Grand Vitara and were taken on a drive to a mystery location. We passed Northwich, Tarporley and Nantwich before we eventually arrived at Audlem... the surprise destination. We parked in the "Shroppie Fly" car park and we went into the pub for a drink. We had planned to visit Audlem by boat in the summer but due to circumstances we didn't make it. Ange had heard a lot about this magical location and admired the pub's bar which is constructed from an actual Shropshire Union Canal Fly Boat.

The bar in the "Shroppie Fly" is made from a narrowboat hull

Two photographs of Audlem from the same viewpoint - the left one taken in 1966 and the right one taken in 2011

Looking up the Audlem flight of locks

Suitably refreshed we left the pub and went for a walk down and up the flight of locks. Even though it was not raining and quite bright it was a cold day but not exactly freezing. At the bottom of the flight we retraced our steps past the pub where I took a photograph from the same location as one I took in 1966. We then walked up the locks as far as the accommodation bridge half-way up the flight and then went into the village for a cup of coffee in the café. By the time we came out it was starting to go dark and we made our way back to the pub for tea. The food was beautiful and afterwards we returned to Ian and Michelle's where we spent the night and returned home the next morning after a birthday I will remember for a very long time to come.

A group photograph taken by a passing walker

Audlem Church and Butter Market at dusk

2011 was now coming to an end. We all decided that we wanted a quiet New Year so decided to have our New Year's Party at Michelle and Ian's with not a trace of an "Auld Lang Sine", "New York New York" or any of the other "festive" songs that have been sent to torture us at New Year parties. We were joined by Michelle's parents Pat and Jim who shared in our abstinence from "festive" music and dances. To learn what we got up to on New Year's Day you will have to go to "Canalscape Book 8 - Canalmanac 2012".

2011 had been quite an emotional and productive year. We had lost Lisa Foster... a very dear friend and cruising companion, visited quite a few canals and waterways that we had not previously cruised on, repainted "Total Eclipse" complete with signwriting (courtesy of Michelle and Ian) and made a few interior improvements as well. Let's hope that 2012 is even happier and productive without the sadness that we experienced in 2011.

Click to return to Contents


Chapter 2 - Mersey/Weaver Ring

Lymm CC's 2011 Commodore's Summer Cruise was eagerly anticipated as it contained parts of canals and waterways that we had either not cruised lately or not cruised at all. The route was to be along the Bridgewater and Trent & Mersey Canals to Middlewich, up the Middlewich Branch of the "Shroppie" to Barbridge with an excursion if time allowed to Hack Breen Secret Bunker and Audlem, back down the "Shroppie" Main Line and the old Chester Canal Section through Beeston and Chester to Ellesmere Port, along the Manchester Ship Canal to Frodsham Marsh lock where the River Weaver Navigation starts, explore the River Weaver for a couple of days, up the Anderton Boat Lift and back along the Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater Canals to Lymm. I have christened our cruise "The Mersey/Weaver Ring" as the route is never really very far from either of those rivers. The same route was used in 2003 when it was Bill Edsbury's year as Commodore but this time we were going in the opposite direction. In 2003 we could not get the same two weeks off work so only did a week of it, meeting our fellow Lymm CC members at Beeston and cruised back along the "Shroppie", Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater Canals with them. Hopefully this year we can set the record straight and complete the circuit!

We had brought the majority of our clothes and non-perishable food up in the week and after a week that seemed to last for ever at last the start of our summer holidays had arrived. We both had managed to get the Friday off work and after some last minute shopping and packing we left home to collect Ange's grandaughter... Shannon. This was to be her first long cruise with us but she was only going to be with us for the first week and we arranged for Michael... Ange's son, to collect her from Ellesmere Port before we went along the Manchester Ship Canal and River Weaver. With Shannon and her toys and clothes safely packed in the car we made our way to Lymm to start our holiday.

Pickering's Bridge mooring on the first night of our Summer Cruise

After filling the water tank to the brim we waited for our friends Michelle, Ian and Popsy Gilbody to arrive. Whilst we waited I went to Lymm Chippy for our tea after which our friends arrived and we set off set off with our friends aboard their narrowboat "Eclipse". We cruised as far as Pickering's Bridge not far from Thelwall and enjoyed a quiet night at a very pleasant mooring. The next morning dawned warm and sunny and we had an early start, stopping at Stockton Heath to visit Thorn Marine to redeem the £25 voucher that I had been presented with at the FBCC rally for fuel to top-up the boat's fuel tank. We cruised along the familiar waters of the Bridgewater and northern Trent and Mersey Canals passing through Preston Brook Tunnel uneventfully, seeing an unusual visitor at Tim Leach's dry dock at Dutton in the shape of the ex-River Thames tug "Kennet" now based on the River Weaver, before passing along the canal as it hugged the sides of the River Weaver Valley.

The ex-River Thames Tug "Kennet" at Tim Leach's Dutton Dry Dock

We looked down on the river and looked forward to cruising along it later on in the cruise. Our mooring that night was at Marbury Park and we listened to the owls and other nocturnal wildlife that populated the area. The next day proved to be a bit of a mixture of clouds and sunshine and by lunchtime we had reached Middlewich where we moored above Big Lock adjacent to the children's playground. We waited for the third boat in our gang... Phil, Michelle and Emily with nb "Rensol". They also had another member of their crew in the shape of Megan... Michelle's niece. There were youths in the playground which were proving to be problematic and we did not plan to stay there overnight so after watching a mink walking along the overflow connecting to the river that ran alongside the canal (not quick enough with the camera) and me tightening up a "Jubilee" clip on the gearbox water cooling pipe that was leaking slightly we made a move and started up the locks through Middlewich. After we ascended Wardle Lock some of our party went to the chippy for tea only to discover that it was closed so we carried on through the next lock and moored below Norman's Bridge (28) for the night. After breakfast the next morning we were passed by quite a few boats travelling towards Barbridge including the colourful nb "Sunny Side Up".

The "responsible adults" checking out the swing whilst the children look on waiting for their turn

Whilst walking up to the bridge to take photographs I discovered a rope swing which was crying out to be used. I returned to our boats and asked the children (and adults) if they would like to sample it. Ian and Phil said yes as did the children but on seeing how high it swung (about thirty feet) I think that most had second thoughts. With an ever watchful eye to Health and Safety the swing had to be checked before the children had a go on it which proves that Ian, Phil and myself have not grown up yet (but our wives already know that don't they?). We did eventually let the children have a go on the swing but I think that the fact that the so-called adults spent more time on it than the children which reinforces that point as well!

The queue for Minshull Lock

After shaking-up our breakfasts on the swing we set off and after a while we joined the queue for Minshull Lock. We waited for two hours until it was our turn to ascend and this was to be the only time that we had to wait for any length of time at a lock. The next lock was Cholmondeston Lock adjacent to Venetian Marina and we planned to visit the coffee shop there as well as have a look around the canal shop. The coffee shop was closed and the canal shop had closed down completely however where Aquafax Boat Parts was at the back had been changed (strangely) into an antiques showroom. Anyway, it started to rain and we pressed on to Barbridge Junction mooring on the towpath side opposite the Barbridge Inn where we later enjoyed a meal in the company of fellow Lymm CC members. The next morning we had originally planned to head up to Hack Green and Audlem but with Lisa Foster's funeral taking place later on in the week and having to take a day out for cruising to attend it we thought it best not to stray too far from the planned route.

Our gang at the bus stop waiting for the 84 bus to Nantwich

With this in mind we caught the bus to Nantwich, do some shopping for food (and earrings for Ange) and had a pub lunch. Next door to the pub was Brampton's Pie Shop that was giving samples to passers by which just had to be tried. The sample didn't disappoint and I later bought one of the large plate steak and kidney pies for "us boys" to share for tea. I had cause to use a public convenience in the Market Square and I have to say that they were the cleanest public toilets I have ever visited. They were clean, didn't small, had hot water and even hand soap in the dispensers... well done Nantwich Town Council. Popsy had been wanting a new bicycle for a while and saw the one that she wanted in a shop on the way back to the bus stop. Ian bought it for her and that is where the problems started. We waited for the Arriva 84 bus back to Barbridge but when it arrived the driver would not let Ian on with the bike. It was alright for wheelchairs, prams and buggies to go on the bus but not bikes. To add insult to injury the bus had a poster on it encouraging people to shop and then catch the bus home... or in this case, not! We all complained to the driver but he was relentless in his decision quoting Health and Safety regulations. He obviously did not like Horlicks! Ian rode the bike all the way back and we passed him on the main road out of Nantwich. I must say that he did look funny riding a pink and purple girls' BMX bike along the road though. When Ian reached Nantwich Basin he joined the canal towpath and rode along it back to Barbridge. I felt bad for Ian and when we returned to the boat we started the engine, cast off, went to see if we could find him and give him a lift back at least part of the way. We hadn't gone very far when we saw him cycling towards us and by the time we had turned around he was back at Barbridge. Well, the thought was there!

Ian cycling along the towpath on Popsy's new BMX bike

We next set off and cruised down to the sanitary station and water point at Calveley before mooring a little way further on at the visitor moorings where we spent the night.  Later on we went for a walk back to Calveley Bridge to have a look at the Alpacas in a field close to the railway. There was also an interesting old "Fergie" tractor nestling in the grass that looked as though it hadn't moved for quite a few years.

Alpacas grazing in a field at Calveley

The old "Fergie" looking forlorn and unloved in the field

The sun was shining the next morning and we planned to have a lazy day, setting off after lunch. This gave Ian the chance to do some polishing of his boat's paintwork and Phil to paint the white coach lines on his newly painted cabin sides paintwork. I helped Phil with his stripes whilst Ange occupied the children with a painting contest.

Nb "Rensol" masked-up ready for the coach lines to be painted

Phil painting his coach lines

Ange arranged a painting competition for the children

The beautiful River Gowy Valley below Tilston Lock

After lunch we set off down the beautiful River Gowy Valley, Ange took the boat through Bunbury Staircase and when I ran into the lockside shop for ten ice lollies after the exertions of the staircase lock. The ice lollies lasted nearly to Tilston Lock which I think is arguably one of the most picturesque locks on the canal. Beeston Stone was next followed by Beeston Iron. I walked between the two Beeston locks with a little tear in my eye as I remembered the fun I had when I was a child running down and exploring the hills as my parents moored their cabin cruiser "Phial" just above the Iron Lock (see Canalscape Book 1 Chapter 7 - Beeston Days). The cottage has now changed hands and the area has now been tidied up and landscaped but the lock itself still has problems with subsidence causing the cast iron sides to bow in slightly. British Waterways have erected signs warning boaters to negotiate the lock singly. Nevertheless when we arrived two boats were coming through the lock together.

"Phial's" old mooring above Beeston Iron Lock

Ange steering "Total Eclipse" out of Beeston Iron Lock

Once through we pulled in at Beeston Castle Wharf to say hello to Chas Harden and have a look around the shop. Even though the shop has been downsized there are still many books to temp us. I bought one documenting the River Gowy from source to mouth as well as a couple of others. Phil topped-up his diesel tank and we were soon under way again. Wharton Lock is in the shadow of Beeston Castle and as we came through a herd of Friesian cattle came down to investigate us. Shannon had never seen cows close-up and we took her to the fence to say hello to them. The expression on her face was priceless when one of them tried to lick her hand.

Shannon being introduced to a herd of cattle by Ange at Wharton Lock

One nosey cow watching us go through Wharton Lock

We moored for the night just past Bate's Mill Bridge at the Shady Oak where we later enjoyed a nice meal. The following day drizzle accompanied us on the next leg of our journey through the Cheshire Plain. Lush farmland lines the canal banks with fields of ripened wheat running to the bank alternating with grazing fields for Friesian cattle. I had forgotten just how far it was from Bate's Mill Bridge to Brockholes Aqueduct where the River Gowy passes beneath the canal on a two tier aqueduct. It is unusual in that the aqueduct has not only the Gowy passing beneath it but a footpath/farm accommodation track on top of it. I can remember paddling through the Gowy's tunnel beneath the canal many years ago and was surprised to discover that the river actually bends half-way through (shades of Barnton Tunnel). At Golden Nook there are linear moorings that extend for about two miles stretching from just outside Tattenhall nearly to Waverton. The drizzle accompanied us to Christleton where we moored between Christleton Mill and the Old Trooper and, as usual, when we moored up it ceased. I dog/boat sat whilst everyone else went on the bus to the baths in Chester. The following day was Friday... Lisa Foster's funeral. Michelle Gilbody's parents came to child/boat sit and we borrowed their car to go to the crematorium in Altrincham followed by the wake at Lymm CC's clubhouse. On our return we stayed at Christleton and sampled the food at the Trooper for the second night in succession (nice barbequeued spare ribs).

Our moorings behind Christleton Mill

The rear deck canopy came down the following day whilst we descended into Chester and moored opposite the old Lead Shot Tower now being converted into residential use. After mooring the boats I gave a conducted walk along the city walls to Tower Basin and the River Dee Branch to some of the Club's members. It is not surprising that the branch is not used much as the bottom tidal lock gates have no balance beams fitted and stop planks prevent access to and from the river. The branch is under threat of closure which is a shame. If there was an easier and safer way to cross the weir at anything other than Spring Tides using the gate at the side of it boats might be tempted to venture onto the Dee and cruise upstream the eleven and a half miles from the River Dee Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal as far as Almere Ferry. It was rumoured a few years ago that British Waterways were purchasing land adjacent to the river to build an artificial channel to do just this but the rumours were unfounded and plan came to nothing.  After exploring the River Dee Branch we discovered a square adjacent to the canal where we had lunch in a little café called "The Cake Fairy".

Top pound of the River Dee Branch

Second lock on the River Dee Branch

River Dee Branch Lower Pound

River Dee Branch Tidal Lock

Access channel to the River Dee

Lunch at the Cake Fairy Café

The sandwiches and cakes were truly scrumptious and set us up for a trip on the open toped bus around Chester. The trip lasted for over an hour and was definitely well worth going on. A lady sitting upstairs at the front of the bus was giving a running commentary of the places and features that we passed and it was not until forty minutes into the trip that Shannon commented... "There's a lady up there taking into a microphone". She than asked if "they" were still here. Ange thought that she was referring to the ancient walls of the city to which she said "No Nan... the city wolves!" We got off the bus in the city centre and had a look around the shops. I was impressed to find a "proper" camera shop that even had a Fuji X100 (dream camera). Unfortunately at £995 it will remain a dream camera as well!

Popsy, Shannon and Lucky on the open topped tour bus

When we were all shopped out we returned to our boats and set off for Northgate Staircase Lock. This massive three-step staircase lock was originally a five-step like Bingley but was reduced in size when the Wirral Line was constructed in the late 1820's. Ange and Michelle made short work of the lock and we were soon using the sanitary station at Tower Wharf adjacent to where "Phial" was built and launched. We moored for the night at Mollington on the Wirral Line of the canal, and very pleasant it was too. Virtually in the middle of nowhere half-way across the bottom of the Wirral Peninsula. We erected the rear canopy and big brollies on the towpath whilst we shared liquid refreshment with our fellow boaters until late.

Descending Northgate Staircase Lock

Mollington moorings on the Wirral Line

The beautiful Wirral Line near Backford

Willow branches picked up on our "pylon"

We only had a relatively short distance to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port where we were all meeting up for the passage along the Manchester Ship Canal. We passed beneath many overhanging trees and one willow in particular was extremely low. So low in fact that some of the branches caught on our tv aerial (or "pylon" as Ian calls it) and instead of picking-up tv signals we picked up willow branches. After passing beneath many bridges that we normally cross over the canal on our way to Lymm it made a pleasant change to pass beneath the motorways. On the approach to the Museum we were warned that the horse-drawn narrowboat "Gifford" was traveling in our direction and told (not that we needed to be) to keep to the left when passing it due to the horse's tow rope.

We encountered nb "Gifford" when approaching the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port

"Total Eclipse" descending the entrance locks at the Boat Museum

There was a Horse Fair on at the Boat Museum which was "heaving" with visitors on our arrival and I do not think that we have had as many gongoozlers watching us operating locks. Ange steered the boat (helped by Shannon) and it was not long before we were tying up in the Lower Basin alongside fellow Lymm CC members. We had visitors in the shape of Ange's mother, younger brother Paul and niece Holly. We were also visited by Jenni Higgins... one of my colleagues from Wirral Metropolitan College who lives quite close to the museum. She was impressed by "Total Eclipse" and said that it was good to see it in the flesh after hearing so much about it. That evening Shannon was due to be picked up by her father and taken home, leaving us to fend for ourselves for the rest of the holiday but before she left we had a little leaving party for her. When all the visitors to the Boat Museum had left it gave me the chance to wander around and take some photographs of the Museum without the encumbrance of people in the shot. Phyllis Greenough, Lymm CC's 2011 Commodore gave us cheese and biscuits at an impromptu gathering before we set off on the next leg of our cruise the next morning.

Shannon's going home party

A few photographs of the Boat Museum when the visitors had gone home

Lymm CC boats moored in the Lower Basin at dusk

We had hoped that it would be a nice, calm, hot, sunny day for our cruise up the Manchester Ship Canal but that was not to be the case. It was windy, overcast and threatening to rain. The wind caused quite a few red faces when some of the boaters less experienced in handling their boats in large expanses of water (especially when it was windy) had difficulty in putting their boats where they wanted them to go. We waited safely on the other side of the basin until it was our turn to join the queue for the bottom lock into the holding basin. My brother Jim and his wife Norma came to take photographs of our convoy leaving the safety of the Boat Museum to "play with the big boys" on the Ship Canal.

"Total Eclipse" entering the lock leading to the Holding Basin

(Photograph - Jim Wood)

A composite panoramic photograph of everyone about to enter the Manchester Ship Canal

(Photograph - Jim Wood)

"Total Eclipse" passing Telford's Lighthouse about to enter the Manchester Ship Canal...

(Photograph - Jim Wood)

... and making her way towards Stanlow Oil Refinery

(Photograph - Jim Wood)

As someone who knows more about the Ship Canal that most I was asked if I would go last to keep an eye on anybody with difficulties or falling behind. It also gave me the opportunity to take photographs without worrying about boats behind me as there was minimal commercial traffic on the Ship Canal at the time of our passage although we did pass quite a few tankers loading at the various Stanlow wharves. We had the wind behind us and our throttle did not go above half power as we brought-up the rear of our convoy.

Our convoy passing Stanlow Oil Refinery

We passed a divers' boat at Stanlow Island and I was asked to notify Phyllis when everyone was safely past Stanlow Oil Refinery. We passed over the River Gowy which is in a siphon beneath the canal just after Stanlow Island. As we passed Ince we received a message to say that the divers' boat that we passed earlier would be coming up behind us quite soon and to keep to the right of the canal. Sure enough it came up behind us quite quickly. As it went past we hit the bottom of the canal due to it taking the water from beneath us. We were about fifteen metres from the bank and I was really surprised at the shallowness. Maybe there was an underwater obstruction at that particular point. Ian in "Eclipse Number 2" also grounded when he was passed.

The wide, wild and windy expanse of the Manchester Ship Canal at Ince on a less than perfect day

The rest of the passage was uneventful except for a warning light coming on on one of the boats ahead of us. This particular boat had a single cylinder engine that was running faster than it normally would which may have caused the problem. When we turned to enter the River Weaver the wind was on our right hand side and "Total Eclipse" rocked quite a bit but took it in her stride and we were soon in the relative safety of Weston Marsh Lock along with the rest of our flotilla.

Making the turn into the River Weaver and Weston Marsh Lock

Safe but windswept in Weston Marsh Lock

When we emerged from Marsh Lock we cruised along the Weaver Navigation section of the river as the weather changed and blue skies manifested themselves... but it was still windy with showers. Past the Castner-Kellner chemical plant we were confronted by a collection of rowers on the wrong side (right) of the navigation. On seeing them we kept to the left and one of them left the rest of their group and headed straight for us. Ange was steering at the time and she blew the horn which did not seem to have a great deal of effect on the rower. In the end we had to go into the left-hand bank to avoid them. The trainer accompanying the rowers started to have a go at us for being on the wrong side of the navigation but when we pointed out that it was her charges that were on the wrong side and that we had photographs to prove it she backed down and apologized saying that they were all novices. We had previously passed their safety boat being bailed-out and told the trainer that maybe they should not be out without the support of the safety boat.

Exiting Weston Marsh Lock with the Weaver Navigation leading to Runcorn Docks on the right

I thought that a good mooring place would be just upstream of Dutton Viaduct. I had seen boats moored here in the past whilst looking out of the window of a train and we made our approach to what promised to be a pleasant mooring. It was not meant to be though as we neared the bank we grounded and had to reverse out... Plan B then! We headed upstream past Frodsham and eventually moored just past Acton Bridge outside the "Waterside" restaurant. We had booked a table earlier and we were looking forward to our "two for one" evening meal but whilst we waited we were entertained by a tame duck jumping up on the boats and tales of the Riverside Ghost said to frequent the area. When we eventually had our meal it didn't disappoint. The next day turned out to be a bit of a "grey day" with sunny spells and we left the "Waterside" mooring to head upstream towards Northwich. We passed derelict factories, disused cuts off the river, the Anderton Boat Lift and soon reached the town moorings in Northwich.

Northwich Swing Bridge

Ian visiting his Suffolk Punch lawnmower

A couple of weeks previously Ian had put his classic Suffolk Super Punch lawn mower (a British design classic) into J & R Houlgrave the lawnmower engineers for a service and after looking around the shops he wanted to visit the "Punch" to see if it was feeling better. I had never been to Houlgrave's before and I had never seen so many lawnmowers of all shapes, makes and sized in one place. It was quite touching when Ian went up to his mower and gave it a stroke on the handlebars! When our trip to the shops was over we returned to the boats and set off for Hunt's Lock. If Nicholson's Guide was anything to go by we would have just enough time to reach the lock before it closed at 4.15 pm. What Nicholson's didn't inform us about was that we had to be there thirty minutes before that time in order to pass through the lock due to it having to be filled and left full for health and safety reasons afterwards. We didn't want to return to Northwich so we moored on the visitor moorings below the lock for the night.

The Visitor Moorings below Hunt's Lock near Northwich

As it was a pleasant evening we decided to have our "Mark and Marcia" party. This is where we dress up as characters from Coronation Street and an independent adjudicator judges the best participant. I had been looking for an excuse to try our new cylindrical stainless steel barbequeue (Amazon - £25) and this was to be its christening. There was another boat moored on the visitor moorings and Ian asked the owner if they watched Coronation Street and if they did would they mind being our judge. The owner didn't watch the programme and they had a conversation about moorings in general. On his return I asked how anyone could hold a serious conversation with someone dressed like that. We must have made an impression as they had left early the next morning before we were up! Anyway, back to Mark and Marcia. I was dressed as Roy Cropper complete with shopping bag and zip-up cardigan (borrowed from Ange's grandfather), Ange was Norris Cole, Michelle and Phil Anderton were Kevin Webster and Tyrone Dobbs respectively, Ian was wearing a dress as Marcia... Audrey Roberts' cross-dressing boyfriend (complete with clenched teeth and square chin), Michelle was dressed as Hayley Cropper with the girls dressed as Kylie and Becky. Heaven knows what anyone passing would have thought (there were plenty of locals dog-walking).

Our Coronation Street characters, left to right - Norris and Roy, Kevin and Tyrone, Hayley and Marcia, Becky and Kylie

Ian chatting-up a fellow moorer

The barbequeue didn't disappoint either, cooking our burgers and gammon steaks to a tee. The British Waterways lock keepers arrived early the next morning and after strimming the bullnose and removing wayward plant growth they started to empty the lock for us. We set off after our breakfast and after I had taken photographs of the by-pass cut which leads to the dry dock beneath the railway viaduct and entered the lock which was surprisingly deep for a River Weaver lock. Phil didn't accompany us as he had booked to go up the Anderton Boat Lift earlier than us. After passing through we cruised upstream, past a boatyard which possessed boats of all shapes and sizes. The stretch of river upstream was beautiful. The river flows through a tree-lined gorge punctuated by Hartford Road Bridge... a high, girder arched road bridge which carries the A556 trunk road over the river. Not long afterwards a railway viaduct nestles in the trees not far from Vale Royal Lock. We planned to moor above the lock and walk back to the lock for Mel Blakey... the part-time lock keeper and fellow Lymm CC member to give us a guided tour around the lock.

Vale Royal Lock located in beautiful surroundings

The original lock chamber is now the by-pass weir

Part of the Pelton Wheel lock gate opening gear

A modern Pelton Wheel no doubt shinier that those at Vale Royal

(Photograph - Shenyang Getai Hydropower)

I was especially looking forward to seeing the Pelton Wheel hydraulic equipment which opens and closes the lock gates using the fall of the river water at the lock to power the machinery. Mel didn't disappoint. He showed us the old course of the river complete with the original lock, now a by-pass weir, the bridge stone rescued from the river when the bullnose was repaired last year, and then the Pelton Wheel equipment. Basically a cross between a water wheel and a water turbine which features cups instead of blades, it uses the difference in water levels to turn the wheel/turbine which in turn drives the winch to wind chains to open and close the gates. To learn more about the Pelton Wheel and its inventor Lester Allan Pelton go to The presence of fresh water mussels has restricted the diameter of the tunnels which has lowered the efficiency of the system and sometimes needs a helping hand in the shape of an old butty boat tiller which is used to help rotate the winding gear capstan. For more information about the history of Vale Royal Lock and the River Weaver in general go to go to to Mel Blakey's excellent and informative website at At the end of our guided tour it started to rain and we returned to our boats and have lunch whilst we waited for it to go off before setting off towards Winsford. After Vale Royal the river continued threading its way through the lush Cheshire countryside and soon we encountered Newbridge Swing Bridge. Even from a distance it looked very low and I slowed "Total Eclipse" to tick-over as we neared it. "Eclipse Number 2" was ahead of us through the bridge, having removed the engine exhaust chimney before passing beneath.

The ultra-low headroom Newbridge Swing Bridge

Ange took the tiller whilst I went up to our front deck to remove the tv aerial and mast. In the mean time Michelle had stepped onto the bank to see if the bridge could be swung but it was padlocked with a non-BWB padlock. By now our mast was removed and even with it removed our solid fuel chimney only just made it beneath with about a centimeter to spare!. I did not replace the mast as I did not think that it would be too long before we would be returning this way. Next we passed a rock salt mine and processing plant an the banks of the river. I felt a sense of annoyance at the fact that it was delivered to the various local authorities by road when a means of water transport was so close to hand.

Salt mine and stockpiles adjacent to the river at Winsford

In our home town of Wallasey, after delivery by road. the rock salt is stockpiled on the dockside at Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks on the East Float quayside adjacent to Duke Street Bridge where the Mersey Ferryboats moor. No additional arrangements would have to be made except for obtaining a mobile grab crane if it was delivered by barge or coaster down the Weaver, along the Manchester Ship Canal, down the Mersey to Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks Entrance then through the docks to. I presume the reason why road transport is used is that of cost but in these days of enlightenment when even the Government offer grants for waterborne transport this shows a lack of commitment and taking the easy option even for commodities which are not urgent or non-perishable.

Salt storage at Wallasey/Birkenhead Docks adjacent to the Mersey Ferries berth near Duke Street Bridge

Once past the salt mines the river wound its way through to Winsford and the end of British Waterways responsibility at Winsford Bridge. The river is still navigable above this point and uses the Old River channel for a few hundred metres until it meets Winsford Bottom Flash. Navigation for narrowboats is not recommended through the Flashes so we went in a couple of hundred metres and turned around before retracing our steps.

The course of the Old River leading to...

... Winsford Bottom Flash where we turned around

Moored at Winsford Bridge in the rain

It started to rain at this point so we made our way to Winsford Bridge where we moored in order to go to the shops for food. After getting soaked going to the shops we returned to the boats and cruised back down the river. With there being rainfall since we passed beneath Newbridge Swing Bridge I suspected that the water level may have risen. I was right, and when we came to pass beneath it I slowed the boat to a virtual standstill as Ange and I both leaned out on the starboard side of the boat to tilt the boat over to the right in order to give a few centimetres of extra clearance for our chimney as we drifted through. We soon reached the Vale Royal Visitor Moorings and, even though there were notices saying that they were closed we moored next to other boats from Lymm CC that were already there.

Vale Royal Visitor Moorings

"Total Eclipse" and "Eclipse Number 2" waiting to ascend the Anderton Lift

The next morning dawned drizzly but bright. We ambled down to Vale Royal Lock with our fellow Lymm CC members then on to Hunt's Lock before stopping for water and to empty the toilet at Northwich. Whilst I was filling with water Ian was drifting in the river waiting for some other boats to finish filling. He was astonished to see raw sewage discharge into the river just downstream for Northwich Bridge. When we returned home I contacted North West Water and reported the discharge to them. They investigated the discharge and discovered that two toilets in adjacent building were wrongly connected and discharging into the river. We didn't stay long at Northwich as we were booked on the Anderton Lift that afternoon and had to be there before 1.30 pm. We were there early which gave us the chance to look around the Visitor Centre and have a cup of coffee and a cake as well.

"Eclipse Number 2" entering the Anderton Lift with "Total Eclipse" following

Before long it was time for us to return to the boats for our turn to ascend the lift. We were told by the lift keeper to enter the left hand caisson and tie-up the stern ropes to the bollards provided and waited for the magic to happen. When we first went on the lift shortly after it was reopened in 2003 the journey was quite jerky as the equipment had not yet bedded-in. When we eventually started to go up this time it was remarkably smooth and without trauma.

Ange remembering the first time we went on the Anderton Boat Lift in 2003 when it reopened

We exited the lift when our caisson had reached the top and headed north towards Acton Bridge. We planned to moor for the night just after Bridge 206 (the White Bridge) before the winding hole on the stretch of canal that overlooks the Weaver. Not long after we moored Phil and Emily off nb "Rensol" walked around the corner walking the dogs. There was already a boat moored close to us and when their generator was started we decided to move further down towards Morris Minor Bend followed by Phil and family. We actually moored close to Bridge 213 (aka "Squirrel's Bridge") where we spent the rest of the afternoon and stayed their overnight.

Our boats moored on the T & M at Bridge 213 aka "Squirrel's Bridge" whilst returning home

On the last full day of our holiday Michelle's mum joined them on board "Eclipse Number 2" and when we set off we cruised from "Squirrel's Bridge" along the Trent and Mersey Canal, through Preston Brook Tunnel to Midland Chandlers where we had a short stop under the motorway to look around the store before making our way to Stockton Heath for the night. A quick visit to Thorn Marine as I wanted to see if they had a replacement door catch for our Electrolux refrigerator (which they didn't - but that is another story). Michelle's father... Jim joined us and after Ian had touched-up his hull blacking we went to one of our favorite chippies down the road for tea. It was not long before we were thinking about going to bed for the last time on our holiday. The last day dawned drizzly and we were soon cruising along the familiar waters of the Bridgewater Canal to Lymm. It did not take long to load our clothes, etc into the car and put the boat onto its moorings after yet another enjoyable holiday cruising along the idyllic canals and waterways of England and Wales. We said goodbye to our friends and left for home. As usual, whilst driving along the M56 the sun came out!

Timetable of 2011 Summer Cruise around the Mersey/Weaver Ring

Friday 29-7-11


Lymm to Pickering's Bridge, Thelwall, Bridgewater Canal

Saturday 30-7-11


From Pickering's Bridge to Marbury Park, Trent & Mersey Canal

Sunday 31-8-11


From Marbury Park to Norman's Bridge, S.U.C. Middlewich Branch

Monday 1-8-11


From Norman's Bridge to Barbridge Junction, S.U.C Main Line

Tuesday 2-8-11


From Barbridge Junction to past Calveley, S.U.C Main Line

Wednesday 3-8-11


From Calveley to Bate's Mill Bridge (109), S.U.C Main Line

Thursday 4-8-11


From Bate's Mill Bridge to Christleton Mill, S.U.C Main Line

Friday 5-8-11


Stayed at Christleton Mill all day

Saturday 6-8-11


From Christleton Mill to Mollington, S.U.C Wirral Line

Sunday 7-8-11


From Mollington to Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, S.U.C Wirral Line

Monday 8-8-11


From Ellesmere Port to Acton Bridge, River Weaver via Manchester Ship Canal

Tuesday 9-8-11


From Acton Bridge to Hunt's Lock, River Weaver

Wednesday 10-8-11


From Hunt's Lock to Vale Royal Visitor Moorings via Winsford Bottom Flash, River Weaver

Thursday 11-8-11


From Vale Royal Visitor Moorings to Bridge 213, T & M Canal

Friday 12-8-11


From Bridge 213, T & M Canal to Stockton Heath, Bridgewater Canal

Saturday 13-8-11


From Stockton Heath to Lymm, Bridgewater Canal

Boats and crew on the 2011 Summer Cruise around the Mersey/Weaver Ring

"Bees Knees"


Guy Burden

"Eclipse No 2"


Michelle, Ian & Popsy Gilbody

"Forty Winks" - Joan & Brian Gornell

"In Dispute"


Anne & Colin Ashley



Betty & Dave King

"Lady Edna"


Maureen & Larry Smith



Colin Jones

"Moments of Inertia"


Marie & Anthony Laying



Lesley & Brian Evans

"Philbarmar" - Phyllis & Barry Greenough



Pauline & Bob McCulloch



Michelle, Phil & Emily Anderton + Megan

"Rosie" - John Melling (partial route)



Linda Whalley assisted by Derek Ridpath



Lily & Stuart Williams (partial route)

"Total Eclipse"


Angela & Cyril Wood + Shannon Armour

2011 Summer Cruise Epilogue

Before I say any more I would like to thank Phyllis Greenough... Lymm CC's 2011 Commodore for organising such a wonderful cruise that was enjoyed by everyone who took part in it. Once again "Total Eclipse" has carried us safely and reliably on our summer cruise without missing a beat. We did have a small water leak on the gearbox cooling system but it was traced to a loose "Jubilee" clip and was quickly remedied. This summer cruise has most certainly been eventful and rewarding. Personally, it has fulfilled a few canal cruising ambitions such as navigate the Manchester Ship Canal (didn't expect to touch the bottom!), explore the River Weaver as well as travelling up the Anderton Lift... places that we have been to previously and things that we have done before but not in our own boat. The cruise did whet my appetite for the River Weaver... a river that is crying out for further exploration. What a shame it is not used commercially any more as its deep water and width is crying out for barge/coaster traffic. The weather was kind to us on the first week of our cruise but it made up for it during the second week. But a holiday such as ours is all about the journey, destinations and the people you are with but I must say that good weather does make a difference, especially when the week following your return is hot and sunny! Exploring the River Weaver gave me the opportunity to see if my parents' boat "Phial" (see Canalscape Book 1, Chapter 5 - A Small Glass Vessel) was still around. When discussing it with my brother Jim before we left I told him that I didn't think that it would still be around now. But I still looked... to no avail. There is only one problem when you come to the end of a cruise such as this... returning to reality! We all really wanted to turn around and go somewhere else... like the Oxford Canal or some other distant destination. But I think that we will have to wait until we are all retired before we can consider long-distance cruising such as this. It would be even better if it was in September as I am not currently allowed to take holidays due to it being the enrolment period at the College where I work. Still... that will just have to wait a few more years unless, that is, we have the highly improbable win on the National Lottery first!


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Peering Through My Window

A poem by Angela Wood
Peering through my window another dreary day
Clouds are rolling in, winter’s on it’s way
Pitter patter raindrops
Birds busy in the trees
Rustling of the leaves whistling through the breeze.
Then a familiar sound in the distance far away
Some would call it thunder but for me a heavenly sound
A gentle heartbeat chugging, a Bolinder abound
The noise I used to live with, my brother, Ma and Pa
Working on the boats with goods to ferry around
Powering through the cut to Birmingham we’re bound
Into the basin, then quick turn to the yard to load
Then out of town as quick as a flash to Liverpool with coal
Our lives back then were simple, we didn’t have a lot
But oh! My memories of a time I thought that I’d forgot
Sitting on the cabin, tiller in one hand
Shouting out to all who passed with a cuppa in my hand
We knew all the boatie families
We were all just one big crew, of working boatie families
Some old, some young, some new
The years have been kind to me but not to all I knew
I sit and reminisce, of a time that I once knew
So now as an old lady, sitting by the fire with my memories fading fast
It takes the sweetest sound of the Bolinder to set my heart a flutter
To see my father’s face again, my brother and my mother


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Canalography 2011

A list of milestones in my canal cruising experiences during 2011

26th April 2011 Easter cruise to Wigan
29th April 2011 Set-up FBCC stand at Spring on the Waterfront, Liverpool (also the Royal Wedding Day)
29th May 2011 Attended FBCC Boat Rally at Runcorn
30th May 2011 Attended Crick Boat Show
30th May 2011 Awarded the FBCC Chairman's Award at FBCC Rally at Runcorn (received by Nigel Foster on my behalf)
11th June 2011 Attended Annual Gardner Engine Rally at Bugsworth Basin as a judge in the Best Engine Room, Static Engine and Road Vehicle Competitions
2nd July 2011 Conducted guided walk around the Canal Heritage Features of Castlefield in Manchester
8th July 2011 Attended and helped at the Stockton Heath Festival
11th July 2011 Commenced repainting "Total Eclipse"
31st July 2011 Two week Summer Cruise along Trent & Mersey, Shropshire Union and Manchester Ship Canals then the River Weaver then up the Anderton Lift and back to Lymm (Mersey/Weaver Ring)
27th August 2011 Cruise to Salford Quays via River Irwell and along the Manchester Ship Canal/River Mersey on board mv "Snowdrop" to Liverpool
20th October 2011 Name painted onto the cabin sides (see above)

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The story most probably continues in...


Book 8

Canal Cruising 2012

Finances, health, wife and time allowing!


Click to return to Contents

or select another book below...


 Book 1 - 1960 to 1982

 Book 2 - 1983 to 1999

 Book 3 - 2000 to 2005

 Book 4 - 2006 to 2007

 Book 5 - 2008 to 2009

 Book 6 - 2010

 Book 8 - 2012

 Book 9 - 2013

 Book 10 - 2014

The History of Lymm Cruising Club

The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal

The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal

Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System

The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal
Mersey  Connections
Wonders of the Waterways

2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report

Foreign Forays - Canals of the World

Worsley Canal Heritage Walk

Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk

The Liverpool Docks Link

NB Squirrel
NB Total Eclipse

Don't Call it a Barge

Canis Canalus


Canalscape Photography
Lymm Cruising Club Website

Footnote and Acknowledgements

Site Map
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Updated 09-12-2013