Train strain.

The return to Somerset was pretty uncomfortable on an overcrowded train (is there any other kind in the UK these days?). No space for luggage, no space for passengers (or their long suffering dogs), and no buffet (unless you were prepared to trample over the people forced to sit on the floor); the heating however, was working. “Aha,” I hear my regular reader exclaim “result, given the current plunging temperatures outside”. “Not so,” say I “when the heating continues to blast out despite optimum temperature having been reached about ten degrees ago”. I texted an SOS to K to bring large amounts of water with her to the station for my arrival, severe dehydration was kicking in after three and a half hours in cattle class.

At some point in the journey several of us debated why, given the constant overcrowding of trains, extra coaches are not added to services and came to the conclusion that it is because the cost of additional rolling stock might adversely affect the annual profits and bonuses the train moguls’ so desperately need. Magnanimous plebeians that we are, we accept their need for additional millions each year (those tropical hideaways, nuclear/biological bunkers and global warming stockpiles don’t come cheap, you know) … and we sent our sincere thanks to the aforementioned moguls for a journey unusually delayed by mere minutes not hours.

 

The journey did sort of dull the shine from what otherwise had been an extremely pleasant few days with BB aboard the Blue Buzzard. We visited the Denby factory near Derby, shopped in Sutton Coldfield and tasted a few wines and gin at a local (to Fazely) vineyard/distillery. Unfortunately we visited the Denby factory the day after I’d bought a couple of bottles of the rather lovely vineyard product, and there I bought some of Denby’s rather lovely dinnerware products for R0X1 (well I have to make it up to her that I considered selling her). So I was unable to fit everything in my suitcase and be able to lift it.

I’m sure, dear regular reader, that you will be shocked to find out that it was the vineyard product that was left behind … not sure what came over me, I might have to find a vineyard round here …

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

The Anderton Lift

Monday we went down and up the Anderton lift. The 2 caisson hydraulically operated lift lock was originally built by Edwin Clark in 1875 to enable narrowboats carrying locally mined salt to transfer vertically down 50-feet from the Trent and Mersey canal to the River Weaver.

Anderton lift

It was closed due to corrosion in 1983. Following local fundraising and grants from various organisations a 2 year-long £7m restoration was completed in 2002. It features a modification of the original hydraulic system, a lift control centre and visitor centre. The huge, but now redundant, weights used to counterbalance the caissons following conversion to electric motors in 1908 have been used to build a maze. The scheduled monument is in daily use.

 

 

It’s an awesome experience to be in a narrow boat floating in water yet be going down and up in an open topped lift!

 

Living small.

Last August I joined BB on the Blue Buzzard (non-historic narrowboat) for a weekend of festivities at The Samuel Barlow pub and marina which hosted the annual meeting of the Historic Working Boats Society.

Some great characters there with fantastic stories to tell (that was the narrowboats) and some well oiled characters with tall stories to tell (they were the boatmen).

These old boats housed whole families in tiny spaces (smaller than most present day bathrooms) in which they cooked, ate and slept. The cargo was the important thing. My Van will be palatial in comparison – I earnestly hope!