They arrived with Scottish tans, some half eaten cheese, around a pint of semi-skimmed milk, a few green beans and a slither of butter. There was also a litre of gin, what a lovely gestu…but before the thought even finished it was quashed, ‘Nothing to do with us, from Mum.’ they announced proudly. Thank you Mummy. Common wealth memorabilia and cuddly Scotty dogs were soon strewn throughout the boat.
There was time to walk along to the visitor centre before our Anderton ride…it didn’t take long…’WHY HE GOT FAN ON ROOF?’ (Sarah Harvey, age 34, teacher). How intriguing, always interested in boaty gadgets everyone span round, then frowned – oookay and that would be a wind turbine Sar, and I’m pretty sure they exist in the real world too? Golly, with an everyday wind turbine proving troublesome to process, a show stopping waterway wonder like the Anderton Boat Lift threatened to be mind-blowing.
The visitor centre was great with lots of creatively thought out activities, arriving back at our mooring a lift operator was banging on the boat. Apparently there was a problem with the lift and we had to go right away, the combination of problem and go right away seemed a little odd but the lift operator was wearing a uniform, so we all did what we were told. We perched tentatively as 20 tonnes of boat drove out into a caisson some 50ft above the River Weaver.
With a temporary moor for a quick car shuffle there was just time for tattoos and loom banding before moving on. ‘Blimey what a lovely view, think I just saw a fish with three eyes,’ was the initial, unimpressed reaction to the scenery as we passed the ICI chemical works, but the jeering eased as the countryside opened up and kingfishers began to dart by.
Too slopey, too many thistles, footpath in the way, too narrow, dodgy looking people, too many cows – Swiss Family will find any excuse not to pitch a tent but having happily pitched up next a no camping sign on the River Avon, we know, when night falls they’ll be out there, knocking in those pegs. And they did, over a footpath the first night and in a field of cows (!) the second.
Endless rounds of Happy Families (what else?) means the girls are pretty shit hot at sweeping the cards from you, a losing run curiously ended up with some river dipping. It all got a little out of hand when too many bodies splashing about resulted in Murk launching himself over everyone to join the party.
Back up the lift, a couple of trips through Saltersford Tunnel – where unlucky passers by were subjected to a roving freak show: hairless man and the monster foot woman. One last fridge door opening to check they’d got their half eaten cheese and had inhaled every last scrap of our food, then they were off. And so were we – back down the lift and along the river. It’s so quiet, Nick is happy just listening to the sound of silence.