The early morning sunshine arrived as promised, so after breakfast it was boiler suit back on and we set about cleaning up the scratches on the external paintwork. Keeping on top of rust on the bodywork is an important part of boat maintenance. Paint needs to be applied on warm dry days – not a job to leave to December. We’ve managed to suffer a number of significant scratches and minor scuffs since we set off. Thinking back, most of them were in the first few weeks. We’ve both got better at approaching things more carefully, and learnt where some of the surprising sticky-out bits are on the sides.
The first phase is the noisiest. With an electric sander I removed any visible rust and smoothed away any loose bits of paint. Clare followed me along with pen and paper sketching the locations – we didn’t want to sand something down and then forget to paint it. Although we’d been in splendid isolation overnight, two boats moored up right next to us just as we started the noisy work.
Once I’d finished, Clare set about painting while I monitored what was on the sketch to make sure we didn’t miss anything.
With that done to our satisfaction we drove to the winding hole a few boat lengths away. I’m a bit rusty on turning round without a bow thruster, but managed well enough. We came back to the same spot so we could reach the other side of the boat. This time we dispensed with the sketch book, Clare followed with the paintbrush as soon as I was out of the way. By lunchtime we had a boat with patchwork marks on it, but a feeling of progress. Even if we don’t do the top coat, things won’t be getting worse.
We rewarded ourselves by cycling to Hollins Green for a Sunday pub lunch. Hollins Green is the village where my mother went to school. Her parents, brother and sister never moved very far from there, so it was a regular fixture in my childhood and later life. We have become acquainted with The Black Swan in recent years so went there first. Luckily for them, they were full up, so we went to Ye Olde Red Lion instead where we had excellent meals and friendly service. We also has a ladybird visit our table.
Our route to Hollins Green took us over Warburton Bridge. As kids we always knew we were nearly there when we went over the bridge. My mother never tired of pointing out the farm where she spent the early years of her life.
Strangely the toll for the bridge predates the Manchester Ship Canal and was for a bridge over the River Mersey. The maximum toll set in 1890 was half a crown. That has never been changed, so a one way journey by car costs 12p (or buy an annual pass for £25). Bikes are free. The fee doesn’t seem to fund painting of the iron work – but we hadn’t brought the sander with us.