Boatsitters Log Book

When we first brought boats to Portland Basin it was necessary to have someone on board every night to keep the boats safe from vandalism. This is the transcript of the log book that boatsitters kept. Some of it was almost illegible.

Lilith Night Watch

This is a kind of diary for what occurs on and around Lilith. Please write something

For each day you are on board. It’s good to be able to see what’s taken place since your last visit.

Tuesday 17th September 1996 at Portland Basin.

Lynn and Colin with Lilith & Forget Me Not at Macclesfield, en route to drop off

Scrap. Also moored Huddersfield Canal Society Trip Boat; Medana, with Marion and family; an Anderson hire boat out of Middlewich, with an adult group of four; also Two dredgers,

Poynton ( Q.E.2 ) and Pennine.

It’s a mild evening, we’ve seen a pair of Swans and the family of Canada Geese.

The other Thirty Six in the group don’t always come to the Basin. There are no problems,

Although the gas bottle is empty, the range is firing up well and cooking a curry. We didn’t know the gas was gone until we tried to use it around 7.30 pm. Too late to get another and we’ll be away too early tomorrow. The sky is clear, I’ve seen a young crescent moon and there are plenty of stars in sight. The phone is charged up and ready, should we need it. THANK YOU, whoever cleaned the lamp glasses, It’s not a struggle to see to write this.

Wednesday 18th September Captain’s Log ( Ooooheerrr! )

Arrived at Lilith early with Glen, sat outside for a bit because I didn’t have a key,

Then I remembered that the museum had a spare, so I didn’t have to sit outside anymore.

Chopped wood for fire, filled lamps, brewed up, then Robin arrived in van ( with new Device ? Drum ), so I played my drum and felt happy.

Morning arrives all too soon once again. We throw the bedding back into the van and move it into the car park, ( a little late - It’s now 09.40 am. I black the stove, Paula washes up, the three dogs do their best to get in the way. Now we have to leave. Vivienne has taken the gas bottle to refill.

Thursday 19th September

New gas bottle £11.30. I had Great difficulty manhandling it into gas locker! Vivienne.

Thursday 19th September 1996

The leaves are blown by the wind outside, Autumn says “Hello It’s me again”, I light the lamps on arrival and realise how long it is since I was last on Lilith, and that I love the dear old thing. This evening I spoke to Chris and said I wouldn’t be doing the boat anymore as I feel that gangs of armed rapists may arrive, ( one hears such stories, or knows people who do ). Now I’m here though I’m glad that I’ll still be able to stay on board with company. Nowhere have I smelt anything quite like the interior of this boat, a mixture of polish, paraffin, wood smoke etc. Love Jan

More likely to be a lone cannibalistic psychopathic serial killer. M.S

Friday 20th September 1996

Thanks Jan I was staying on Lilith on my own with Samuel tonight and started to think of gangs of rapists, but it’s really hard not to just chill out on this boat, and that’s exactly what I did. But anyway Jan if you ever want company to stay on, just give me a ring, anyway I didn’t hear anything going on round about except geese chatting, so I will sign off now. Lilith stay warm and cosy. Sharon

Saturday 21st September 1996

Hello, this is Chris. I think this log book is an excellent idea. I’ve just dodged back from Bosley where I left ‘Forget Me Not’. I’ll be going back in the morning to carry on to Longport where the scrap will be unloaded on Monday.

‘Freya’ from Braunston and the icebreaker ‘Shackleton’ are staying in the Basin overnight before going down the locks in the morning. I’ve just heard that B.W. Are closing Lumb Lane bridge until further notice. I don’t yet know why but it’s a bit of a problem as it means that the recycling trip will have to be done by road until it reopens.

Can someone get some paraffin please, we’re nearly out. It’s about £1.90 per gallon from Seymour Wilson on Old St, get a receipt for it and Marilyn will reimburse you. There was no paper or cardboard in the tin box of fire lighting stuff when I arrived. I found some when I walked up to the Late shop in Dukinfield.

It would be nice to use the Tilley lamp but I don’t know where the Tilley lighter is. If you find a strange metal object in a jar that’s probably it. Has anyone seen the flask? It’s really useful for that first cup of coffee in the morning.

I had a play on the Internet a few days ago, there were 264 entries under “Lilith”, unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore them. Enjoy Autumn Chris.

PS up at 4 am I saw Mick who was out watching stars but disappointed there were no meteorites. It’s a beautiful starry night.

PPS Keep an eye on the lads camping across the river.

Monday 23rd September 1996

We arrived sevenish ( Marilyn is our witness as we collected the keys from her ), parked up, left stuff on board, then went to ASDA to do some shopping, ( we trip on Antony next week ), Hours later ( ! ) Realised we’d need the car to get everything back here, ( You’ve heard the story of the person who built a boat in his garage ! ), I came back to fetch the car, we loaded up and arrived back at the Basin to find Chris looking for an “intruder”- Imagined He now thinks - Whoops !. I felt I’d deserted my post, anyway it’s a very nice evening and hopefully will be a peaceful night. It’s been fun reading the other entries and making the acquaintance of the other brave Lilithians. I feel less alone, though I have doughty company tonight in the form of Sue. Sara from Stockport.

PS Matches and paraffin needed now!

Dave can you please, please, please take the stereo for Tony, ( in the hold on left just past spare range )

Nick Please take the vacuum Cleaner for your mum. Chris

I’ve brought another box of fire lighting paper - Chris 23.9.96

Wednesday 25th September 1996

Arrived sixish last night. “Midama” has gone since last week. Stayed in the van, didn’t come into the boat except to write this on Thursday morning at 9 am ish. We’ve done Wednesday nights for over a year now every week, but now we must change to another - maybe Monday? I’ll call Chris before next week to try to arrange it. ( The drumming night at Tom Duks has changed from Monday to Wednesday ), Robin, Paula, Roadie & Chakra.

Sunday 29th September 1996

Dal & Karen came down to boat at 4 pm. Cleaned out larder cupboard noticed a lot of water on shelves ( Chris check roof where I’ve put the board, there is a slit and rain leaking in badly ). Back to larder apologies to anyone who had food in there, we donated a lot of it to museum facing, for posterity!

PS found movie equipment in larder so anyone having “Hanky Panky” on board it was recorded, tapes after watching, were sent to Walt Disney! ( Joke ).

Heavy rain all day not ceased even now 7 pm.

Monday 30th September 1996

Nothing to report except we have “ Weeks to find another mooring ( Re museum closure ), there is a Police dinghy moored alongside as I leave 9.15 am Love R

Wednesday 2nd October 1996

Arrived at 11.50 to find museum gates locked and small poster telling all who care to read, that the museum is closed for refurbishment from Wed 2nd Oct. Went to back door and spoke friendly like to one of the staff who allowed me to enter through the museum. Later they decided to open the gates and said these would be open for the next few days.

The weather was really good, warm October sunshine, light breeze and the smell of oak shavings as I planed and spoked the top panels. Finished off the port rear panels which now need taking off and paint & sealer applied to the rear of each piece. Left at 4.25 pm quite pleased with the progress made. Joe Brindley

Wednesday 2nd October 1996

Don’t Panic!!!

I arrived this evening and was impressed by the way the boat was looking.

Sorry I’ve not been around much lately, I’m fully occupied in salvaging what I can of the trust’s gear from what I now regard as a disaster area in Runcorn. It’s Very distressing ( and stressful ). I don’t know yet whether or not we have to move the boat. Eamon and his colleagues do not necessarily have the full story. If we do have to move, that is not a big problem. This situation has been expected for the last 12 months. It’s a bit of a pain that it comes at a time when I’m preoccupied elsewhere.

The panelling looks excellent, as does the paint work. It’s good to be able to delve into the food cupboard with confidence. I suggest perishable food now goes in the stern cupboard at the very back of the boat, ( The proper place ).

Important - Always blow lamps out, lift the glass with lever provided and blow.

Never, ever extinguish them by turning down the wick. We’re now down to two lamps because one of the wicks has fallen into the fuel bowl, because it was extinguished incorrectly. Another had been turned right down but was still alight from the previous night when I arrived. I got some paraffin last week, could someone please please get some fire wood from C.P.S on Bentinck St. We all rely on each other to keep things maintained and stocked up. I simply cannot make good any shortfall. I’m struggling with my present work load. Keep up the good work, sorry I’ve been whining a bit. I think an excellent bunch of people involved with the boat now. We could do with getting together more often, when I’ve got everything shifted out of Runcorn. I should be able to find enough time for things in a while.

Have a good time. Chris.

Thursday 4th October 1996

Mid afternoon - Called by, saw the note about the wood and got some - there’s loads more. Anyone with transport should have no problem filling boot / van space, Winter here soon get now while stocks last !!

Friday 4th October 1996

Arrived about 10.45 am, forward door of cabin had been forced. The bolt on the top half had been bent, so I straightened it and made it secure.

I am now leaving at 3 pm and I have locked up the top half. This door will have to be made more secure, in someway.


Saturday 5th October 1996


I had an unscheduled Stay last night. The thieves have had the phone and some valuable tools. This shows how important it is that there’s someone here each night.

‘ Raymond ‘ has mysteriously sunk, so I am trying to organise pump to raise her. That’s why I’m here. The plan was to set out or bring her to Braunston on Monday.

Thanks for getting the wood Tom, I’ll get some more if C.P.S are open. If everyone else who can do the same we’ll avoid the traditional Christmas fire wood crisis! Chris.

Later Saturday

I’ve got another lock for the back end door. The key for this is hanging over the work top. Please take great care not to leave any inflammable liquids; ( paraffin, white spirit etc ) ;or breaking in tools in the hold. Can someone have a go at working out the non working lamps please, and polish the brass!

Have a good day Chris.

Saturday evening

Spent most of the P.M trying to organise another mobile phone. BT mobile absolutely useless since their computers went down. We have to stay with BT mobile at the moment, our contract requires us to give 3 months notice. Will phone them again tomorrow & hopefully arrange another phone reconnection of our service. We’ll probably have a phone in working order again by Wednesday or Thursday. Worried about people staying on the boat so got my act together and bought a large torch, a small torch and a panic alarm. ( boat sitters please make yourselves familiar with the latter), ( Chris came home and said he doesn’t want to move ‘Raymond’ to Braunston anymore. “It’s sunk I don’t care anymore”. Actually he does but is overwhelmed by work & worrying about this and that).

Now - back to burgling - it was bound to happen at some point or another, and at least they did little in the way of damage. If anyone fancies keeping an eye out for the nicked phone on the Tuesday flea market or at Cash Converters let me know- I have the said number.


Sunday 6th October 1996.

I’ve arrived armed for trouble - mobile phone and ‘Big Boss’ self defence gas! ( Yes I know It’s illegal, but personal safety comes first! ). But as always peace reigns. Lilith’s looking good ( even in the dark ).

I think it would be a great idea if all us boat sitters could get to meet each other, maybe then we could organise our own rota, making Chris’ burden one job less, anyway I’d love to put faces to names.

I would like to wax lyrical about the canal scene but It’s dark, there are no geese, It’s overcast and I’m surrounded by B.W boats and digging machines! I’ll pick up a few bits of wood tomorrow. Vivienne.

Monday 7th October 1996.

Arrived sixish, took dogs for walk.

8.49 pm The kettle boils...

( The cups sit, motionless, on the work surface.

Tea for two ?

Ah yes, yes please.

But oh the sorrow

No Barley cup today

And doubtless none tomorrow. ).

Just managed to fit van inside gate today by careful manoeuvre of the gates. Wish the lights were brighter in here as the log book makes great reading - I like the evolving style of poetic to factual in one breath and have tried to continue this theme here. Next week I intend to furnish the boat with another jar of barley cup- watch out Chris!

PS this ‘log book’ is a con - I have yet to find a single log in it - so have been using the bagged wood in the hold.

7.30 am Gates unlocked by J.C.B men. The van is in the way, so I get up and move it before being asked. By 8.00 am the place sounds like a building site - glad we weren’t hoping for a lie in.

Tuesday 8th October 1996.

I arrived at 5.20 pm. (Wet, in fact soaking); cycles down from wet Werneth (Oldham).

I chopped wood ready for this eve, now sitting comfy having a drink, ‘ Oh by the way! Who is Captain S Log? “ I’ve yet to meet “

Inside the cabin there’s more weapons than I’ve ever seen. A nifty torch that screams, a pick handle ( without axe ), oh and a mouldy onion which I’ve thrown away.

I didn’t think it would scare anyone, well except me. It was hiding and snarling at me from the veg rack - so with fork in one hand and a large pick handle in the other - with one quick prod it was gone. ( Ah time to relax ).

The eve went well, I awoke early with the sound of engines ( builders ). Made myself a brew & went for a walk. Well It’s nearly time to go. Oh this book is a fantastic idea. NICE ONE It’s a great read. TONY

PS Chris Thursday eves I’m busy with study, and Tues is Jans’ Yoga class, if you don’t mind me nipping off for an hour ‘n’ half I could commit myself to Tues, Mon or Sunday ( not all of them - you know what I mean )

See you soon

Or if you’re stuck give us a buzz.

Wednesday 9th October 1996.

Arrived 10.55 expecting to meet Tom & met Tony, who was just about to leave, another face to a name. Somebody had taken off the side panels and painted the rear of them.

I counter bored them the holes ready for screwing back and plugging.

Unfortunately the weather was quite awful, drizzly wet, not really rain but welting just the same, ( The Scots have an excellent onomatopoeic word for such weather ‘ DREICH’ with a lot of catarrh at the end ), so I didn’t put the panels back. I have taken some timber home & will make up a side support for the ‘ settee, bed, couch ` on the starboard side. Left about 2.00 pm. Still dreich !!

Joe Brindley.

Wednesday 9th October 1996. ( Later )

I must have just missed you Joe, as I got here about half two, led by Tom who met us at the station ( exactly on time! ), and walked down to show me the ropes, ( & keys, & lamps, & wood and wow. ), thanks Tom have an ace time in France.

I’ve not stayed on ‘Lilith’ before, but tales from years before from friends, and cross winds, brought me from Sheffield to stay and play, and chill in a wooden boat stylee.

Stepping in from the ‘dreich’ ( or the mizzle, as they say they say round where I’m from ); the warmth of the cabin, the tarry breath of the timbers and the sweet scent of wood smoke hit me round the back of the neck, like an old friend at a family wedding - I’ve not spent a night on my own in a boat for near on nine year, ‘ The Kreta’; home for a season.

I got here as a blob of stress, and an hour later I felt human again. I love being on water, even locked behind large gates! Not even ASDA could shake my calm, and when I got back, Andy from up the way who was tied up on the corner, filled his water butts. A bunch of kids were jumping around on the B.W.B boat opposite. They gave up and left after twenty minutes or so. Evening fell, I cooked a casserole in the oven, ( It’s such a good wee stove ! ), drank me ‘rusty rivet’ and played on the whistle. Nice one, whoever left it; I’m warm and happy. I’ve read the ship’s twig and realise there’s quite a community of you watching and working on ‘Lilith’, I hope I’ll meet some of you sometime. With no watch, It’s only time as it feels, and it feels like bedtime.


Thursday 10th October 1996.

Woke up late (11.00), B.W.B Poynton tying up alongside. I spoke to the fella on board, who said we could take the logs and wood he’d picked up; so after lunch I did, and split them with that strange but excellent axe - like thing behind the bin, ( is it an Adze or a Mattock ?), and did a few bags of fire wood . Sorry too, I couldn’t resist trying out the bilge pump, so I sat on the steps and read my book and pumped for an half hour or so. An oldish couple from between the bridges came along asking for Chris, and stopped for a chat, telling horror stories of Rochdale kids steaming people going through locks.

I’d got the fire going and was starting dinner on dinner when Marilyn came along with the new mobile, so we’d a brew and a natter, when Jip and Dave ( friends from Bolton ), and their dogs turned up at the gate - so the evening carried on, fried parsnip & broccoli & spuds ( I’ve left some spuds & broccoli on top of veg rack - should be OK for a few days).

We never got to play any music, just revelled in the warmth & red wine, a lovely evening. And six wild ducks flew past at dusk, five in front and one behind. Mellow.

Friday 11th October 1996.

I don’t believe I’ve got to go today, but It’s true. I was kind of expecting Chris to appear , as Marilyn thought he’d be in by last night, but It’s about 2.00 pm and I’m ready to head for Shropshire. Thanks a lot for the restful holiday, I’d love to come & stay again ( and do some work on the building side too). Thanks to Lilith for beautiful dreams and making time vanish. The winds are up again, time to do a Mary Poppins.


Monday 14th October 1996.

Just the usual stuff going on down here. There’s a Funk Rock band playing on the other wharf through about 8k complete with lighting rig, smoke machine, flame throwers and film crew. We’ve been warned that they’re going to explode a gas bottle under the water in the basin and we can expect to see flames rising out of the canal. A Viking burial for ‘Elton‘?

Tue. am. Fell asleep to the gentle sounds of a metal distorted guitar and rap vocals- no explosion maybe due to rain, they’re still here though, so maybe later?

The boat has taken on an interesting slanty pose, due to the removal of concrete ballast on one side. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday 16th October 1996.

Lynne with ‘Lilith’, Dougie with ‘Forget me not’, ‘Elton’ on her own.

Also moored Hudd’s canal boat ‘Greater Manchester’, B.W boats ‘Poynton’ & ‘Pennine’.

‘Midama’ is still on her travels and no doubt will be shocked by the sight of ‘Elton’ on her return. A pretty shocking sight is ‘Elton’, although magically tidied up by Dougie, since being

Picked up from Runcorn earlier this month. I can’t believe no one noted ‘Forget Me Nots’ absence. After the scrap trip, she was taken up to Runcorn, aiming to bring ‘Raymond’ back down to Braunston, But a late change of plan - ‘Raymond’ sank and so after discussion was left for the moment and ‘Elton’ picked up instead. On that trip, Chris, Dougie, Lynne and Colin followed the Bridgewater, Trent and Mersey, Macclesfield and Lower peak Forest Canals to Portland Basin, Monday 7th to Friday 11th. A slow and peaceful trip, with ‘Elton’ behaving pretty well, after all, It’s not her fault she’s spread in the middle ( and bow ) and needs chains to pull her shape in for locking. I began to find out how much I didn’t know about boats on this trip and can now occasionally ask the right questions. Arrived to stop over today, finding ‘Elton’ filling up with water due to all pump batteries being flattened during the night and Dougie concerned enough to have used a telephone to try and find Chris, after noticing Chris’ car and trailer, but not finding Chris!. The decision was made to use ‘Forget me nots’ engine to charge it’s batteries, without her moving. This hadn’t been done earlier as it’s not too good for the engine. The batteries began to charge, the pump got ahead of the water, and I was left aboard after a quiet refresher course on how to turn it’s engine off later. Dougie and I spent a happy evening aboard ‘Forget me not’, after chatting with Chris and Marylin who had returned to see how ‘Elton’ was doing. Also the railway sleeper ballast has now mostly been moved from ‘Lilith’, ( it was only temporary ), and on Thursday morning Joe arrived to begin fixing ‘Liliths’ side bed in place.


Friday 18th October 1996

Arrived early Thursday eve. Lit stove, brewed up, ate, went to bed, fell asleep. Woke up this morning, brewed up and left.

Paula x

Saturday 19th October 1996

‘Lilith’s hold is now getting fairly sorted, my trailer is loaded with scrap iron. Had a cup of coffee with Alan Castle from ‘Roland Bardsley’s today. He will be in charge of the site while the building work is underway, we can stay and will have a 4 metre width of wharf for access. We can help by keeping an eye on the site for them. There may be time when we have to move off temporarily but will just have to play it by ear - especially when they’re pile driving!.


Wednesday 23rd October 1996

At Portland Basin

Lynne & Colin with ‘Lilith’, ‘Elton’, ‘Forget me not’. Also Hudds boat, 2 * B.W boats and ‘Midama’ has returned with Marion and Pete ( ? ). When ? - since Saturday I guess.

A quiet night at the basin, no groups of lads on the bridge or gate, climbing for the hell of it, only one passing soul, a woman with a cat and stormed off friend called Stephen. She didn’t call him for long. Stayed on ‘Forget me not’, as the range was fired up and the ‘temporary cross bed arrangement’ on ‘Lilith’ looked a right pain to me. Swept the range and washed up on ‘Lilith’ however. Has someone had incriminating documents to burn? Loads of paper ash. The ‘Lilith’ head was peaceful again so as I left, she seemed to frown before; taking a bit of care of les cabin etc., settled les down. Shopping. We need bin bags & washing up liquid on ‘Lilith’, I’ll try to remember. Colin has chopped firewood, there’s plenty more to get to size tho. The museum is being stripped out - there’s sisal matting upstairs going for a song, altho’ come on only let Chris sing about two lines for his trailer full. Viv - we should help sort out this rota for the nightwatch, yes. See you on the next recycling trip. BFN.

Friday 25th October 1996

I’ve decided to keep ‘Elton’ company tonight. The old gas bottle stove is roaring away cooking my tea/supper, It’s been ( probably ) the final day of stripping the museum today. Tomorrow the site is handed over to ‘Sanctuary Housing’. I anticipate that there may be some complications regarding key’s etc in the next few weeks, until everyone gets to know everyone.

Me & Tom had a very encouraging meeting with ‘John Vare’, the Tameside National Lottery officer, today. He’s very enthusiastic about a ‘Heritage boatyard project’.

There’s a beautiful full moon shining tonight. I feel quite energised, my tilley lamp is chuffing away and outside it sounds like the afghan army is approaching as fireworks Explode around and about.

‘Elton’ has been a bit of an unloved boat, someone used her for carrying retail Coal until about 10 yrs ago, when she finally refused to stay afloat, loaded he put her on dock and filled all the holes with fibrocem ( Cement mixed with glass Fibres ), did a cosmetic job and sold her. The cosmetics soon wore off and she went into the cheap boat syndrome - changing hands at more and more frequent intervals for less and less money.

She was abandoned at Southall in 1994 and we moved her in 1995. The idea is not to include her in the long term collection as we already have ‘Southam’ ‘Elton’s sister..

Hopefully someone with the enthusiasm and cash to take her on will be found before too long.

Adrian arrived on his bike today. He set out for Alderley Edge but came here to find that one of the doors Recovered from the museum is exactly the sort he needs. Funny how things happen.


If you’re staying on ‘Lilith’ or ‘Forget me not’ can you check that ‘Elton’ pump is working strongly and that the filter is not blocked by leaves. I Hope to have a back up pump fitted soon.


Saturday 26th October 1996.

Came to see Chris & had a wonderful dinner; ( very impressed with all the work that’s going on ); feeling ill and run down when I arrived; ( apparently I have anaemia ); but I soon improved, good food, nice atmosphere etc. Kids; ( adults? ); in distance setting off bangers - we’re in the silly season again. All the kids have all the holidays mixed up at the moment. They’re trick or treating, penny for the guying & carolling all at once. I’m not really bothered so long as they keep their fireworks away from the boats.


Marylin ( in her role as miserable old sod ).

PS Chris has given me Indian Ocean Tea which he says will be a bit salty ? Ms

PPS I recently bought a corkscrew for use on the boats ( on FMN ), what else do we need? Ms

I’ve just found two bin bags and put them in the covered cupboard opposite the bin. I Don’t like to moan ( but I do anyway ), but why can I never find a funnel when I want to top up the lamps on ‘Lilith’, luckily there is a spare one on ‘Elton’ so I’ll go and get that. I’ll leave it with the paraffin as usual, please note that allowing the lamps to run out of paraffin damages the wicks


Sunday 27th October 1996.

It’s 8.30 am and I’ve just about surfaced after a rather disturbed night. It was very windy and I kept being woken by things Being blown over. Then at 3.39 am; ( I know the time because I switched the phone on ); a couple of young burglars decided to check if there was anyone in by clanging on the bridge and firing what sounded like an air pistol.

They buggered off when I came out but their uniform of dark clothes, rolled up balaclava's and discreet little flashlights were a dead give away for their trade.

It’s a miserable rainy morning. I’ve just lit ‘Liliths’ range as I’m expecting Vivienne and Marilyn at 10 O’clock and I expect they’ll appreciate cups of tea. We’re going for a walk down Amra street to see if we could turn it into a canal again. Roads into canals, that’s the thing of the future. Today Alma St, tomorrow the M6.

PS They’ve changed the clocks so my times are an hour out.


Sunday 27th October 1996.

Dal & Karn came down about 4.00 pm spoke with Chris and a new recruit, Wasyl,. About 5.30 cleaned another cupboard and generally tidied around. Very windy and also raining tonight. Hope we have no trouble tonight. Went for a Chinese meal to cheer up the night.

Monday 28th October 1996.

Chris already hear when we arrived so the place seemed very warm and welcoming. Rain was quite heavy last night also very windy, discovered the roof had leaked a little during the night. Left Tuesday morning, weather fine.

Paula, Robin, Roadie & Chakra

Monday 4th November 1996.

Has no one stayed on ‘Lilith’ since last Monday, or maybe nobody could be bothered to write anything? Chris if you’re reading this I think the axe could do with sharpening. Needless to say; ( with it being the night before bonfire night ); it sounds like there’s a bloody war going on here. Roadie ( dog ) is extremely unhappy.

Wednesday 6th November 1996.

No probably no - one did stay on ‘Lilith’ in that period as Dougie was on FMN.. I’m now here on ‘Elton’ cooking my tea and wondering where Tanya has got to. I’ve been trying to sort out ‘Liliths’ hold most of the day, with limited success. Dougie has gone home now having done some excellent work in the engine room. The fireworks have stopped at last, yesterday we helped a pair of wandering homeless junkies who Sue ( who lives on the ‘Ark’ ) sent down here under the impression that we ran a night shelter !. Letting them stay on the boat would have been inviting trouble but we sorted them out with food, got their bags dry and found them a better dossing place than the towpath bridge where they stayed Monday night.

It’s been wild wild weather all day and looks like being much the same all night. I must have a walk down to Asda soon to make some phone calls.


PS Sold the ex-museum chairs today.

Thursday 7th November 1996.

Came down to check ‘Elton’ was pumping out about 10.30 pm, no - one here, stayed on ‘Forget me not’. Please if you can’t come for any reason please ring up to let us know.


Friday 8th November 1996.

A Quiet, clear, slightly chilly night. I’m staying on ‘Forget me not’. It’s nice to have such a choice of boat. I feel like a bit of comfort tonight. This morning Vivienne and I had another meeting with Yvonne Cartey in the council office, I can’t believe the help we’re getting toward setting up a base here.

‘Midana’ is over the other side of the arm, I took ‘Forget me not for a trip up to Eli Whalley’s earlier to charge the batteries and collect an Asda trolley. No trouble with rubbish in Bridgehole this time but I picked up a nasty bladeful Which won’t entirely come off yet.


Saturday 9th November 1996. Wasyl Strutinskys.

Expected to share night watch but was on my own, and drunk a whole bottle of wine!.

Went to bed early on ‘Forget me not’; by early I mean before 7.30! Awoke a few times, Chris came to check. Colder than I anticipated, bumped my head a few times and cut my index finger on the wood.

I look forward to the scenery tomorrow morning, and to sample once more the delight of Chris' cooking.

Sunday 10th November 1996.

I arrived at about 6 pm boy it’s chilly! So before anything else I lit the fire it’s now beginning to warm up yummy a night for resting.

The batteries seem a little flat on the FMN I’ll try and recharge them in the morning when it’s daylight; ( I foresee disaster if I stumble around in the engine room at night! )

Bugger - I forgot my bottle of ‘Baileys’- Oh well I’ll save it for next time.

Monday 11th November 1996.

Engine running, things are looking good in there with the batteries on the new switch and new levers and pulls. Somebody’s done a good job.

Well my sister’s just come for a cup of tea so bye for now.


Tuesday 11th November 1996.

Here I am again on ‘Elton’. My tea is cooking, the tilley is roaring. I’ve just ripped some of that horrible tongue and groove off the shearing so that I can see what’s what behind it. Mostly lots of Fibrocem. Well food’s ready. Bye.


Wednesday 13th November 1996.

A nice sunny cold chill day today, I’ve tinkered about with various little jobs. This evening I took ‘Forget me not’ for a trip up to Eli Whalleys and collected an Asda? trolley on the way, that's three ready for taking back. Bedtime I think, Goodnight.


Friday 15th November 1996. Alex, James & Frodo

Quiet night not much to report at all really, except to say this is Alex's' and my first night together on a boat and It’s lovely.

Saturday 16th November 1996. Alex, Frodo & me

We; ( Nick, Rick, Alex & me ); started this evening with good food and plenty of Nick’s home made wine. It all started well, but almost turned into a boat sinking party when ‘Elton’ decided to get a closer look at the bottom of the canal. Help was only a handful of clay away when Chris turned up with Marilyn. I am going to get some sleep now, it is late and the police and their hounds wouldn't let me out to walk Frodo.

There’s trouble at mill, with that I look forward to entering my next log, sleep easy.

James & Alex & Frodo.

Oh Chris, we are off to view a boat early on the morrow so won’t see you, thank you for everything we’ll be in touch very soon bye.

PS please let us know of any scrap trips on the canal.

Monday 18th November 1996.

Cold, cold, cold! Very cold indeed. Lit fire straight away and the place soon warmed up. Nick called round to see if Chris was about, only visitor so far. Went to make mug of coffee with 'Co-op' instant, only to find it wasn’t very instant. Robin has gone to pick up stuff & Roadie from house, hopefully he wont be very long. Oh and by the way, I think Alex, James & Frodo might like to know that canal is spelt with one ‘N’ and not two as they seem to write. Please feel free to point out any spelling mistakes I may have made.

Friday 22nd November 1996. At Picnic Bench

Quite cold night, lots of horrible white stuff about midnight, but fortunately gone by morning. Chatted last night to two lads skidding up & down car park on bicycles and trying to ride down steps from bridge - must be masochistic; ( tell me if I spelt it wrong Paula!!! ); they seemed quite harmless if not a little mad. Was a pile of dirty dishes on ‘Forget me not’ when I arrived - they are still there - I have left the boat as I found it!

Lynne stayed Weds night but couldn’t get into ‘Lilith’ as doors frozen up, so she couldn’t get to log book. Anyway clouds threatening more snow or rain so I’m off home for a nice soak in a hot bath!

Bye for now Nick

PS Key for middle door on ‘Lilith’ is on ‘Forget me not’ keys. Mick

Friday 22nd November 1996.

1) Please can we stop the picky remarks NOW.

2) If everyone leaves the boats slightly worse than they found them, then they will soon be a complete sty. I am constantly doing other peoples washing up, but sometimes leave some if I have to leave in a hurry. Please leave the boats better than you found them, if possible. The alternative is to descend into nasty petty arguments.

3) In ‘Lilith’ there is plenty of firewood and bags of empty bags. Please, when you empty a bag DON’T stuff it in a corner of the cabin but put it in a bag of empty bags. If you get a chance on a weekday go to C.P.S on Bentinck St and get a wheelbarrow full of wood from their off cuts, IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP STOCKS UP AT THIS TIME OF YEAR.

Sorry to be so ratty, Chris.

PS 4) Things are usually where you find them for a good reason, If you put them back where you find them the next person can find them too.

Monday 25th November 1996.

Turned up at the boat around 4.30 pm. Robin was already here, the stove was going and the place felt cosy. We have acquired some squatters, moored on the offside of ‘Elton’.

Can’t think of anything witty to write so I think I’ll go to bed. Robin feels like burning the log book. Paula.

Tuesday 26th November 1996.

Well, having moaned about other people leaving things all over the place I left a complete treasure hunt for Paula & Robin yesterday. Just goes to show that even I’m not perfect sorry.

It’s been a beautiful sunny day here today and I’ve actually got some work done, I made another section for the engine hole floor on ‘Forget me not’. Tom was here too , painting and decorating, and Andy returned from his Pennine house building adventure.

It was good to be able to get swiftly on with work as I’ve been feeling a bit drained lately.

Wednesday 27th November 1996.

Arrived 10.30 nobody around, lit the fire in ‘Forget me not’ & then set to finishing the starboard side bed. Had a good day, well half a day, Chris arrived for about half an hour at lunchtime. Weather was cold but dry, ‘Lilith’ has about 1” of water in the bilge's, I did some pumping but after half an hour I decided to carry on the wood work. Tom arrived & he did half an hour on the pump & various good husbandry jobs, then left about 2.30 pm. Nick arrived about 3.00 and then we went off at about 4.00 pm. Not much happened, nothing sank, nobody drowned - just like “Albert & t’ lion”.

Joe Brindley.

Thursday 28th November 1996.

A quiet frosty night last night. Lovely sunny day today. Pity I can’t stay around, ran the engine for a bit to charge the batteries. Fetched fire wood & saw dust. Washed up, cleaned up, 10/10 Time to go.


PS Vivienne if you run the engine, ( good idea ), switch master switch to battery 2 for starting. If battery light does not come on before engine, then stop engine again and restart. Keep doing this until the light comes on, ( then rev engine to turn it off again! ) And turn master switch to battery 1 to charge cabin battery.

Thursday 28th November 1996.

A lovely clear cold evening. The canal has frozen - about three quarters of an inch thick, I felt a little like an Eskimo breaking the ice for water!.

I broke down three times on my way here. Each time on a main road; holding up loads of traffic; all in all very embarrassing. I may call the AA before heading back tomorrow; so I could be here a while.

I triggered the pump on ‘Elton’, at least that water doesn’t seem frozen yet; I haven’t checked the bilge's on ‘Lilith’, best done in daylight ( all the gunwales and steps are extremely slippy ). I think I understand what you’re saying Chris, did I not do that last time? I think I charged on ( 1 + 2 ), oh well whatever, I’ll get it right next time.

Well I’m off to read my book now, I look forward to a frosty morning.

See you soon Vivienne

Friday 29th November 1996.

Brought a friend; ( Anthony ); down to stay over with me as he was really stressed out. A night on the boat really did the trick, I think he is addicted & wants to join the trust; ( I think we can get him therapy for it!! ), It’s difficult having to explain everything to someone who hasn’t been on a boat before; ( I wish he’d stop calling them barges! ). Anyway it’s now Sat am and I’m off to take him home. Am staying again tonight & Alex, James, Frodo and possibly Rick are coming down. See you later


Sunday 1st December 1996.

9.30 am Too tired to write much in book, lots of excitement last night, will have to wait to hear of my adventures with the Fire brigade!


Monday 2nd December 1996.

05.30 am Up early this morning, at least it’s my own choice this time Nick ( Grrr ).

A wet & windy night, I enjoyed staying on ‘Forget me not’ , the battery master switch has broken, so we may have problem with flat batteries soon. I’ll get a new one A.S.A.P. The use of paraffin lamps in F.M.N are causing singe marks on the woodwork, I’ll get something to hang them from but in the meantime don’t hang lamps on what they are leaning against wood.

We had a good recycling collection yesterday. It took a long time though because there was only Wasyl and me doing it, with a bit of help from Evelyn,. Lumb lane bridge will be opening soon, we need a jumble sale, ‘Liliths’ fore end is getting very full.

Thursday 5th December 1996.

Firstly, Chris - could you please read your comment No 1 of 22/11/96 enough said!!

Back to last Saturday, Anthony joined me at 8 p.m., had a quiet peaceful evening. A beautiful swan has been hanging around, hand feeding him bread off back of boat at about midnight.

Got up about 3.30 am to water the canal and noticed large ball of flames coming from mill, dashed to the gate & snapped my key in the padlock! ran back to boat. Woke Anthony while undigging da mobile phone, Anthony kindly told me to sod off and went back to sleep. Phoned fire brigade & explained where fire was and asked if they could call here after the fire out, I was told I would have to ring the police. In the event they sent me a fire engine & 6 firemen just to cut the chain. Rang Chris who came down & was a bit miffed that the fire wasn’t a little more spectacular!!

Have scrubbed some of the cabin today & have made a casserole as Anthony is coming after school for his tea, ( He’s a teacher ), Am here till Sunday, looking forward to the peace & quiet.

Semi- sub B.W.B boat ( 89512 ) moored next to Gtr Manchester, ( Hopefully it will sink! ). A lot of kids shouting outside, went to investigate - ‘Maria’ trip boat moored under bridge; covered in fairy lights & full of kids. Father Christmas stood on bridge, by the time I got there with my list - he’d gone!.

Friday 6th December 1996.

Everything quiet and peaceful last night, Chris & Tom came down today & worked on boats. Chris says someone has been over the wall in the night because there’s a slate loose on the roof and they’d crapped behind the wall - as by way of a “ Calling card “, I would have thought it was easier to get one printed! Less effort.

Scrubbed back deck on ‘Forget me not’ & pottered about, Anthony didn’t turn up last night, so more stew for tea tonight. Went to ASDA for some shopping, the place was choc a block with plastic people buying plastic present with plastic money. A geriatric, alcoholic, psychopathic father Christmas graced the entrance, looks like he could be a mass child murderer; ( given half a chance ). Well it reminds me , only 19 days to Christmas- it’s depressing- be glad when it’s over. Only 14 days to my birthday ( Hint! Hint! ).

Well all's quiet, Chris is coming at about 5.30 am to pick his trailer up, to go away for the weekend. I wonder whether he’ll get his own back and wake me up!! ( OOPS! Sorry Chris I forgot, no picky remarks! ), well I’m off to bed now - goodnight


PS swan has been 4 or 5 times today for bread, I’ve named him George, if you see him please give him a piece of bread.


Saturday 7th December 1996.

Had an extremely early start this morning. Someone; ( who shall remain nameless to save being picky ); called to pick their trailer up at 6.00 am and also wanted a pan of stew off ‘Forget me not’. Geese started fighting about 7.00 am so I gave up and got up. Went home about 11.30 am, had a shower & came back about 1.00 pm. Filled the water tanks on ‘Forget me not’. While I had hose out I hosed down the land to get rid of bits and geese shit, ( OOPS! Are we allowed to swear in this book? If not I’m sorry and I’ll wash the pen out with soap. ).

Changed the mattress cover on the bed, great fun kneeling outside wrestling with a cover and pieces of board on the floor outside. Polished brass rings on chimney outside, even though it’s against my religion to clean beds! The swan Goerge hasn’t been round today- hope I’ve not given him too much bread & has sunk!!

Well it’s just going dark now, I’ve lit the fire & am going to ASDA in a bit - it will make me realise how nice the boat is!

‘Maria’ ( Trip boat ); has been up & down all day, doing trips with kids & father Christmas, people have been wandering around asking me where to get on the boat. I know I’m the same build as father Christmas & we share the same name, but do I really look like him ?


My mother and Dudley came for a cup of tea about 9.30 p.m. I invited mother to dispel some of the myths she had, before she thought I was staying on a floating garden shed!

Well you know what mothers are like. George has turned up, he’s probably been looking for a mate, I’ve explained to him there’s one or two good night clubs in Ashton.

I soppose swans are a bit like humans, they’ll come home when they’re hungry.

A freezing fog seems to have enveloped the world; ( Well, this bit of it anyway ), everything is quiet and white and misty - a bit spooky and eerie. Just read on the board outside about people who drowned themselves in basin in the depression. Perhaps I shall see some shadowy figures floating across the icy, glossy misty water - who knows ?

Well I better change the subject, I don’t want to scare the more faint hearted who might be reading this; whilst staying on the boat alone. Off for a little walk and then to bed. Sweet dreams. Nick

Sunday 8th December 1996.

Just spoke to Marilyn off 'Midama'; apparently police & ambulance turned up at

7 p.m looking for a baby in the canal; I was having a doze & I must have slept through it.

Well, cleaned up, blacked the range & I laid a fire for Vivienne, please use rest of my coal in ash can, must pup down to say hello later Viv.

Well 5 pages of waffling later I’ll sign off for now.


Sunday 8th December 1996.

I came down early today so that I could have some daylight to charge the batteries over on ‘Elton’. Thank you Nick, the boat was lovely - all clean and the fire set.

Nick popped down in the late afternoon - but was called over by ? On ‘Midama’ to jump start the boat. I’ve just eaten 2 wonderful bacon butties; ( sorry if I offend those vegetarians amongst us ), so I feel ready for anything.

I hope that my evening here will be event free, as I have an early start tomorrow.

Bye for now.


Monday 9th December 1996.

Robin, Paula, Roadie, Chakra. Kate called, Nick called,pen too big.

This ones a bit better. Checked ‘Eltons’ pump - Humming, Singing & Pumping away - sounded like a happy pump to me. Collected some wood from CPS - I was the 4th person today - it must be winter. I’ve just eaten a wonderful bean roast ( sorry if I offend those meat eaters amongst us! ); so I feel ready for anything ( especially a trip to the toilet !)


Tuesday 10th December 1996.

Colin & Lynne.

Usual suspects around ‘Forget me not’, ‘Lilith’, ‘Elton’, Gtr Manchester Midama and B.W hulks, ( plus George the swan ).

11.15 p.m Just about ready to settle down for the night; sleeping on ‘Forget me not’; as Nick had a roaring range going when we arrived and construction work still carrying on apace on ‘Lilith’.

Very quiet evening up until now - still and frosty; but no chance of skating ducks just yet. Nick stayed with us until about 7 p.m and entertained us with stories of planes, trains, automobiles and the back seats of double decker buses!. Great meal prepared by lynne of ‘Libyan braised shark’ followed by triple chocolate layer cake; ( £1 off at ASDA at moment ).

Tried some bottled ales; ( Bishops finger, Fuggles, Fargo and Waggle dance, the latter made with real honey ); and briefly entertained Chris, who dropped his trailer off, and Nick who returned to pick up a book - something about a ‘Boddies’ pub in Derbyshire, I think.

Lynne wishes to thank Nick for bringing along a cafetiere, knowing her as I do, this will get a lot of use.!

We have also brought along a can of de-icer for those tricky moments in the morning when the padlocks are frozen solid. We have decided to leave it in the forecabin of ‘Lilith’ on or nearby the loo; so that it can’t be locked in, on one of the boats ( and in case of emergencies when going for a dump in the early hours, I suppose )

Time for bed, I think, especially with the promise of freshly laundered pillow cases and mattress cover etc - Cheers Nick

Probably all for this visit as we have to leave early tomorrow.


PS (8.50 am Weds); This coals handy stuff isn’t it? Warm all night, no waking up by 4 with odd bits, enough coke left in to get a boil on for the coffee, ace!. One problem tho’ - where’s the poker? You can manage a wood fire without a poker, as I did on Wed 20th, but not coal. This is not being picky - WHO’S REMOVED THE POKER FOR THE FIRE? And more to the point RETURN IT PLEASE. Lynne

Friday 13th December 1996.

Chris, Tom, Doug & myself. Doug playing in engine room, Tom playing on ‘Lilith’ & Chris playing on the roof of ‘Elton’. Came down to clean fore cabin of ‘Lilith’ ( toilet ). Got to cleaning the floor and found you needed a floor to be able to clean it.

The floor seems to have gone rather brittle and crumbly when you walk on it, ( a bit like the ice on puddles ).

Ripped old floor out and created a new one with some old steps, fire wood, sheets of ply, our old door, some sticky back plastic and 2 washing up liquid bottles!! ( Only joking about last 2 items!! ). Lit a fire in there, it’s now lovely & warm and clean. Better not make it too nice or people will want to use it!. Brought a rag rug down which will make 2 rugs for floor of F.M.N Lynne to kindly sew these ( thanks ). Clear blue sky & warm sun.( something wrong with weather I think )

Bye for now Nick.

Monday 16th December 1996.

Came down & cleaned ‘Lilith’, Work being done is much appreciated but could people possibly clean up after themselves - sawdust-tools-paint tins etc. Sorry to winge! Well kettle boiling & boat warm, just waiting for Robin & Paula.


Tuesday 17th December 1996.

Lynne & Colin; ‘Lilith’ - ‘Elton’ - ‘Forget me not’ - ‘Midama’ - ‘Pennine’ - ‘Termite’; ( B.W ) Gtr Mcr. The boats have swapped position once more, we’re back to the original arrangement of ‘Elton’ in the middle and F.M.N, where as last week; ( I’ve been here eight nights consecutively ); F.M.N was against the bank, with ‘Elton’ on the outside. I’m now used to this arrangement again and it’s a lot easier to put slops in the cut from the outside position. It’s also easier to keep an eye on ‘Elton’ , moored against you, than with ‘ Lilith’ between. I kept wondering how ‘Elton’ would be each morning, as I looked out, instead of knowing. I would notice during the night if anything went wrong. On Friday Termite was raised from the water at the stern and by one of the machines by the mill, to clear the propshaft of something major I think. I now understand why they think the depth of the canals is inadequate - the boats have a pretty shallow draught, not more than 1.5 - 2 feet under water, maybe less. I don’t know where Poynton, Its dredger QE2 has gone, in fact I did not notice when. I’ve gone off coal for the range now - it covers everything in muck, Its smoke is horrible and it slows the kettle down.

Sunday 22nd December ( 1996 just ) ( Dave and Ree )

We came , we saw, we conquered. We survived the near freezing temperatures by lighting the stove and making a meal. Twas good. Nick dropped in and tried desperately to put us off it, ( the food ), to no avail. Now my cheeks are rosy, and so are my toes, I’ve just noticed the clocks stuck at 25 minutes past seven, which suits me. Love the swans.


Wednesday 25th December, Christmas Day

After a day of helping Marilyn entertain her parents, I left them all falling asleep in front of World War II video and walked down to check everything ok.

No one about, no geese either, but It’s a favourite time for burglars so I’ll stay until Nick arrives or Marilyn calls me to take her folks home, whichever is the sooner. Listening to radio 4 and eating Nicks peanuts. The range is very slow burning because the chimney needs cleaning. I’m not doing it now though as I’m not dressed as a chimney sweep - just for a change.

The engine is drained at the moment to prevent it freezing, so please don’t try starting it. I’ve re-sealed the part of the slide which was leaking, I hope it won’t next time it rains, I’ve also planed the slide runner on ‘Lilith’ so that should work easier. I’ve spoken to Dave & Nigel about the battery charging problem. I’ve had a look at the control panel but I can’t get to the bits I need to. I’ll have to unscrew it and take it off.

Ps Forgot to say, I moved ‘Midama’ over for safe keeping.

19/12 > Nick

20/12 > Nick

24/12 > Robin, Paula, Nick & Dogs

25/12 > Nick >

Sorry I’m not in a writing mood at the moment.


Saturday 28th December

Visited Chris who was staying, working on ‘Elton’, ( brave person ). Stripped dirty mattress covers etc from F.M.N to take home to wash - could everyone remember to let me know when this needs doing - I’m happy to wash mucky covers/linen etc.

All the best

Marilyn !!!

Sunday 29th December

Came down & topped fire up so smoke coming out of chimney. Looks like someone’s on boats. Checked on ‘Elton’ , ( had rather a spurt in front yesterday, but now all is fine ). Boat should be warm & fire still going for whoever is on next. Took both kettles home and gave them a good ‘ doing’, with Mr Muscle & bleach. Green kettle is fine to use - just looks a bit tatty. Bleached inside of it to dispel myths of it being filled with canal water. Off to manchester now to pick up people for meeting. Will call later to check Elton


Friday 3rd January 1997

Live Long and Float Free

Adrian and Thai

Saturday 4th January

Well, I tried to get F.M.N floating free this morning but without success.

I broke some ice and got the bow under the bridge, but that’s about it. It’s 2 inches thick in the middle, ( 50 mm for anyone under 35 ).

Monday 6th January

6.30 ish The snowball six are here being sad for a while, I ignore them, Pavla outwits them and they go away with the “We’ll be back” routine - we are terrified and are going to hide in the food cupboard behind our handbags.

Tuesday 7th January

The snowball six didn’t return as threatened, SURPRISE SURPRISE!


Tuesday 7th January Lynne & Colin

F.M.N, Lilith & Elton. Midama back in position. G.M as ever, The 2 B.W boats with graffiti seemingly painted out.

Arrived about 3.30 pm to find Chris ploughing up and down in F.M.N to break up the ice so Midama could get home. Mission was accomplished without mishap and Lynn and I stoked up the fire and settled in for a cosy evening. The best bit about staying on the boats in winter is thawing out, getting warm, getting hot and ending up in T-shirts whilst listening to the sounds of brass monkeys in trouble outside.

Sampled the rest of the ASDA bottled beers with some decent food. And chatted ‘til’ far too late for an early start on Wednesday morning. As it was so cold, we put some coal in the stove to see us through the night - still just faintly glowing at 7.45 am. Thanx to whoever provided the freshly laundered duvet. Shear luxury’


Managed to ask Chris with a straight face the whereabouts of the milk, the blue kettle and all the torches.

Saturday 11th January

Oh dear, I’ve spent a quiet night nursing a hangover. We’ve had no visitors tonight, a little bit of howling at 10pm from across the water, but the perpatrator does not have Jesus qualities and as such cannot reach me, good!

The broken ice in the cut is reminisent of the antarctic ( albeit not so dear ) maybe it will not look so romantic by day.

I didn’t get a chance to check the pump on Elton tonight si I’ll see tomorrow , well nothings sunk yet tonight.

I have organised a jumble sale to get rid of some of our clothes and bric a brac. Collected on the recycling trips. So as much help on the night and in collecting before as possible is needed.

If you can collect jumble in your street(s) in the next few weeks give me a call after 6pm and I will send you some small notices to post through doors. Your help and support is needed.

Sunday 12th January

Everything more or less running smoothly, two hours into the evening. Just waiting for my pizza to cook. I find I eat a lot on F.M.N, the evenings fly by here, must try and arrive earlier next time. Think I’ll hit the sack.

Monday 13th January

Robin, Paula, Roadie & Chakra hereby announce that they will not be staying on Lilith until either (a) The weather is better, or (b) The stove is better. Another smokey, sleepless night despite cleaning out chimney yesterday. As nobody else stays on Lilith, this will presumably help with work on cabin and the ‘stove’ ( for want of a better word ) can be removed. One or two of us will stay on F.M.N next Monday.

I have been in touch with Arlene at Westend Centre re opening up / clothing on Feb 7th and giving Arlene a lift which will cut our costs of hiring the place.

Tuesday 14th January

F.M.N, Lilith, Elton, Gtr. M/cr, 2*B.W, Midama, Lynne to stay. You’ll be glad to know I can now find the pumo switch, just beyond the engine bulkhead in its’hold on the portside. A quiet night no worries about batteries or toches now, though a torch with a long beam would be useful for shining on potential vandals across the cut,.residents With headlights were out last night, doing their version of ice breaking and having fun. Beautiful sunshine on Weds am, plus birdsong. Glad to be alive.

Monday 20th January

Have removed blockage from Lilith’s range. Has someone been dropping coal down the chimney?

Monday 20th January

Robin, Chakra & Roadie on F.M.N ( no room for Paula ). Nothing to report.

Tuesday 21st January

F.M.N, Lilith, Elton, Midama, Gtr M/cr, usual 2 B.W + 1 guest bw watcher up alongside Gtr M/cr.

Pshaw! As they used to say, Chris and I decided totake F.M.N up to Ely Whalley, ( up past/under ASDA ) to charge up. All went well on the way there even with me steering.

Tuesday 28th January

Lynne + Colin on Forget Me Not, all other usual suspects in basin.

We came, we saw, we stayed, we left. Oh and Lynne did a lot of cleaning and tidying


I’ll try and work out which of this boats visitors ( since Jan 20th ), left the lurking knives as a joke. HO HO HO. In fetching cutlery out of the drawers, firstly I ended up with what seemed to be orange marmalade or apricot jam up my arm. I wasn’t going to lick it to see, and yes lurking knife number 2 got me as well. The large one covered in engine oil or something. More unacceptable than expected, had to be binned because of that one. Well done. My turn to get you next.


Tuesday 11th February

F.M.N, Lilith, Elton, Midama, Gtr M/cr, 2 * B.W

Rain, rain, rain,. Luckily Chris has completely solved the problem of the leak on the chimney/ cabin roof # not a drop of water. Spent the early evening doing some cleaning and polishing whilst listening to the Estonia v Scotland football match on the radio~ the cleaning was by far the more interesting occupation.

A quiet night. No one would have been mad enough to be out on a night like this~ ok, Chris came round at about 10pm to clock the boats!

The only winged beasty in the piles treatment was that f*****g alarm at the mill, which went off twice. Surely we should be provided with ear protection or else the WCBT will be sued for loss of hearing!

The rain seems even heavyer this morning and there is much lapping and gurgling of water under the counter, so the wind must be up as well. Ok well, must get moving as I have a bus ticket relay to perform.

See you all Saturday Colin

Thursday 13th February

Well I got here late and missed Chris ( who was here at 6 o’clock to meet me sorry!), so I guess It’s pretty much my own fault, but I had a right time of it tonight - last night by now, but here it is for amusement of seasoned boaties.

I picked the keys up from Midama about half past eight, ( childcare - don’t you love it ), and was thinking of stopping on Lilith, as I’d not been on Forget Me Not before, and didn’t know if I was up to sussing the whole thing out. It would have been easy if I’d noticed the ‘Guide to staying on Forget Me Not ‘, in the big envelope with ‘Connor’ written on it, that was on the side bench in Lilith, but no, I was too busy hunting for a light, and two or three trips between the boats I finally got a torch and a bit later the matches. So after getting the lights going, ( and then getting paraffin to fill up F.M.Ns’ hurricane lamp ) I had time to admire the beauty and neatness of the cabin. I guess Lilith is on her way to this but for me it’s a joy to check mout all the little cupboards and hatches and playing spot the wasted space.

So then everything was sound!, got the fire going, brewed up and listened to the end of the last of Mark Radcliffe Thursday night ( with the wonderful divine comedy). Not a lot else to do but de-stress and read the exploits of Captain Slog (I did decide to keep entries shorter though, so I’ll stop here. A lovely night ), Late though and whats the siren about ?

Friday 14th February

Straight outta dreamsville! Hello + knock on the door from Tom. Him, Chris and Bill were down to start work and I was still abed. When I finally got my act together I got round to trying to make a brew , but the gas rings in Lilith are now inspectored out, so Chris advised us to try the paraffin - double wick - thingy; I did, and it eventually got the kettle to boil, by which point I’d had enough to make sandwiches and grapes to wake up. Sat and had a brew with Tom, who was fitting wood, gunge and red sedant/ paint in Lilith.

Then a trip with the barrow to C.P.S and back, and a quick emptying out of half sacks of wood to clear the back of the hold. There’s lots of matches now on Forget Me Not; ( from Tom ); and when Chris came back with some trees to plant, we went for a quick brew ( which entailed getting the primus out and going, I’d never used one before and sad trainspotter that I am was quite excited to be doing so. And we also found where the missing Tilley starter was - in the biscuit tin, ( I think it’s now on Elton ).

Planting the trees ( mostly Elder ); was excellent, sun still out and warm, the easiest soil to dig in and finished in time to walk back in the light. Beats chocolate hearts any Valentines day of the week.

Then it was a quick lesson on starting the engine:( and a quicker one on how to stop it ), to change the battery, and Chris was away. So I’ve been at my own devices for the last 4 hours; ( time flies here, I’ve had leek and bean casserole with baked potato, Black sheep ale ( gorgeous! , and I’m now halfway through a waggle dance. So if the boats rocking.....

It’s environmentally aware radio clockwork tonight, which is brilliant!, I do love it, but when you’re in the middle of something and it goes off in the most dramatic point of ‘The Archers’, I’ll tell you It’s skin your knuckles time.

Now though It’s the essential selection and the essential contradiction of why Techno and Housey groups sound best in an almost electric free zone, with paraffin lamps and a woodstove! I’m not bothered, I’m happy to enjoy and probably crash soon . No hassle to report, all the kids’ll be off at the local clubs tonight, no doubt, It’s a clear, starry half mooned night, I’m glad to be here. Goodnight


Sunday 16th February

Help! I’ve got 10 minutes to get to the station - and I want to write it all down. But Saturday was good, a mellow walk by the canal, Gtr Mc/r being parked up and Chris and Marilyn brought round some tea aah!. And then today I got to take F.M.N up to the first lock and back. Brilliant! I’ve had an ace time, love and thanks to all concerned, and I promise to empty that compost toilet next time - swear

Monday 17th February

Eltons’ pump not working , back in a bit!

Chris arrived as I was working out what to do and tried F.M.Ns’ batteries to pump Elton out - It’s a good job he did actually, I didn’t realise Elton took on water so fast. Another leak revealed Itself near the stern during the process, which Chris plugged with clay.

Well so much for the excitement.... Back to tidying the cabin!

Tuesday 18th February Lynne and Colin.

Boats in basin: F.M.N, Elton, Lilith, Midama, Gtr M/cr and 2*B.W

A pleasant but breezy evening. Didn’t see a soul about - they breed ‘em nesh in Ashton. We looked for the comet with no luck. F.M.N was quite bad shape. Most things were in their places, including a pile of washing up which Colin says was also there when he stayed a week ago. So I’ve embarked on a rationalisation plan ( again ). All bar 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 4 small bowls and 5 mugs ( with handles ), have been removed to Lilith. There are not usually more than 4 people to use crockery at once. Wash up after yourself, rather than bringing in extra from another boat. If extra has appeared remove it to another boat. This leaves room in the cupboard for food. Also, if you check that the bowls etc, stack together well, then they won’t lurch all over the cupboard when the boat is moving. Thanks for the amber incense beneficent one.

Awoke to storm force winds and damp wood for stove lighting. However, mission finally accomplished and coffee for Lynne at last. Sounds of honking geese in the early morning - and I mean serious honking. Something must have been worrying them but too cold and wet to check it out. Unbelievably Lynne appears to have slept through this.

Have changed the covers on the mattress on the double and side beds, off for a wash in hulme for the old ones, same with pillow cases.

Would whoever borrowed all the little torches, lease bring them back. One should always be hanging just inside the door of Lilith so that it is possible to find the keys for F.M.N without the barking of shins, bumps on the head, and general foul language that results.


Who are you calling an old one? Bumps to you too. This P.s is to point out that the much vaunted free curry powder ( see Chris’ entry 29/01/97 ), has been in Liliths’ larder cupboard since before that date, as it was silly having it take up room in F.M.Ns’ bijou table cupboard.

Note on torches.

Sorry there were no working torches that night. One of the wall ones has broken. I replaced the batteries in the other but some clever clogs left it turned on and flattened the new batteries. I bought re-char gables which were getting their ritual charge yesterday. This should be back in It’s proper place tonight, as long as I remember to take it out of my coat pocket, I probably will as I’ve just remembered I’m staying here tonight.

The batteries were also flat on the large torch yesterday. They’re now being recharged. Several weeks ago I bought a good old fashioned rubber cased torch on Oldham flea market. I left it at Marilyns house and she hid it in the proper place for torches, I eventually found it whilst looking for something else that she’d hidden. When I’ve bought some batteries for that it will help solve the torch shortage.

Please, everyone. Take jar of curry powder home with you wherever it is.

Thanks for changing the covers Lynne. They needed it, wonderful tea towels too. Has anyone seen my clockwork radio?

Found it! And Nicks binoculars.

I’m working on new operation manual for Forget Me Not, Which should make things easier for new people, except those who don’t read instructions on principle

Friday 21st February

Arrived at about 6.30 great to be down on the boats - haven’t been down for ages.

Chris seems to be a bit ‘Pissed’ at people poking fun at Elton, so I’ve stuck a Comic relief nose on it to cheer it up a bit. Also thinking of starting an ‘I love Elton’ campaign!!! Have enclosed leaflet telling you about Red nose as apparently it can be dangerous if used wrongly!

Well I’m going to finish the last of the membership mail as I have an early night

Got to sleep about 10pm. Bloody alarm at mill woke me in night. My alarm went off at 6.45, looks like it’s going to be a nice day. New pump on Elton seems to be working a lot?

Well must finish cleaning up - off to look at office furniture at 9am. The boat is really clean and tidy and everything is in its’ place - thanks to whoever is working hard to keep it like this - a pleasure to stay on the boat. Bye for now


Forgot to mention, engine ok again, but water intake moved. Can you all start taking the piss out of ‘ Elton’. I don’t think I could afford an ‘I love Elton campaign.


Tuesday 25th February

Boats in basin: F.M.N, Lilith, Elton, Midama, Gtr Mcr, 2 * B.W

It’s somewhere between 10.30 and 11.30 pm and I’ve just seen a man dancing in the car park outside the gates. An amazing site - something between a ‘Pas de deux’ and a clog dance.

Of course the singing was unintelligible. His friend, quickly tired of the event, got back into the red car. They are still there as I write.

I have the hatch wide open, the stars are looking in on me. I believe winter to now be over early, as my arms are bare in my silk camisole and my feet over - warm in my wool M & S Wellington boot Arran socks.

From chopping wind and lashing rain earlier this evening, that chimney drip has restarted and presently serves to stop rice getting over dry in the pan - a tantalising breeze now brings the sound of the Tame to my ears, as Orion stands tall behind the Junction Mill.

Another sign of spring perhaps - earlier this evening I was doing the washing up, using the bowl on the back step. Mesmerised by the sound of water lapping under the counter as I worked, I began to sense a series of words as I brushed the steel scourer round and round the bottom of the saucepan. What could they be? Fascinated, I moved the steel scourer more meaningfully and soon, I repeated the words to myself and found the meaning clear - there in the centre ‘ SWAN ’, writ twice. Perhaps George will soon return with a new mate.

The mattress in the cross bed had a big wet patch - perhaps your special heater leaks VW? . Oh where, oh where, is the cafetierre and the poker.

Friday 28th February

A wonderfully peaceful night, with more stars than you could paint, and the first I hope of many. I write too soon of a quiet night. That I assume is the factory alarm . Sounded shortly about midnight.

Sunday 2nd March

Recycling trip - Lynne, Dave, Chris, Wassyl, Alan and myself. Clear but cold and windy, A good trip down with no major problems, left Lilith with Elton. Just getting lunch underway while everyone off foraging.

Monday 3rd March

After the above was written, ‘ Forget Me Not ’s prop shaft coupling came apart and she had to be bow hauled back. Bill took the battery box off to get proper access to the problem.

So please don’t start the engine as everything a bit barearsed, I don’t know how long it will take to get fixed.


Tuesday 4th March

Boats in basin, F.M.N, Lilith, Elton, Midama, Gtr M/cr, Termite and Pennine.

I’d forgotten how peaceful it could be here. For the last few months my visits have coincided with either storm force winds or rain which has fallen in such volume that small dogs have been afeared to leave their kennels. Tonight, however , I have rediscovered the mirror like quality of the cut when not a ripple mars it’s surface. The reflection of the stone bridge is truly remarkable - hence my remark upon it.

It seems that I am also safe from the shattering scream of the Junction Mill alarm. Now that most of the outbuildings have been demolished, it seems that they are not bothering to set the outside sensor which covers the immediate surroundings. Thus the cat can wander in peace and the earplugs can be consigned to the back of the cupboard.

Tut tut Chris. You must Challenge this tendency to accept the stereotype. It was I , not Lynne, who washed the bedding and towels, and if a battery needed changing in the night, or a pump primed, - it would be more likely Lynne than I who rose to the challenge.

Thanks to Nick for the Comic Relief warnings, although if Elton were tested to 80 mph, the loss of a red nose would probably be the least of my worries. The bit about taking care when hand washing the vehicle was , however, valuable advice indeed.

Live long and prosper


Wednesday 5th March

If you believe like

That you are what you eat

Then why on this earth

Do you eat meat.

It’s a modern misconception

You need it to live

And that’s true of the milk

And the eggs and the fish

Think for one moment

What’s contained in that flesh

It’s not wholesome, nor healthy

Especially when not fresh

For when an animal is killed

Be it sheep, pig or cow

It dies screaming and frightened

But we don’t think of that now

We just eat up our meat

Sometimes leave all the meat

And our parents approve

And of course they know

See, some people say

Meats a protein thing

And you can’t get nowt

From carrots or greens

But with me that don’t

It Just another excuse

To avoid mans own

His guilt and the truth

For then comes the illness(?)

The illness, beware

That spreads through

Like bacteria in cheer

Salmonella, Lysteria a cholesterol heart

When you over indulge in beans

You just fart

So after all the debate

And scientific report

I’m left feeling hungry

For the real food for thought

Fruit and veg, beans and pulses

I’ll eat off the land

And the animals can return

To what nature had planned

Just remember man’s big enough

To stand on his own feet

But that’s not for all creatures

So please don’t eat meat

One very important point my poem doesn’t mention is poor land management. Rearing animals for human food and use ( ABUSE ) is far far less efficient than growing food for humans. I know some people enjoy eating animals but then some people enjoy weird sexual practices. ? Upon consenting victims and some really enjoy shooting guns at others but I don’t believe any of us would accept the argument ? Pleasure as justification for that worst of ?. So why then for this? Why allow millions go hungry and many die, while ? And waste the land growing unwanted food.

Some of you are probably wondering why I chose to / / on the boats log, well I’ve noticed more and more animal products working their way onto the boats, ( eggs, milk, Campbell's meat balls etc ), and periodically for quite some time now. The sight and smell of cows milk offends me severely as the dairy industry is particularly disgusting and barbaric and it was in fact this that caused me to adopt a vegetarian ( pure vegetarian not lactose vegetarian ), diet and not the meat.

Some will now think I’m trying to tell everybody what to do and how to be, well I am, you don’t need it to live on and just because you like it , really really enjoy it even, that’s not sufficient reason for contributing towards the mass suffering and sometimes horrifically painful death of millions of animals, ( that includes humans ).

This is 1997 it’s nearly the 21st century for crying out loud and we claim to be civilised and intelligent and environmentally conscious and yet we behave as we have for thousands of years and for the right of world greed we allow the world around us to suffer.

To end on boats!

If you float on a boat

Then please take note

There’s a saying that you might want to hear

It wont take very long

It’s not right and It’s not wrong

It’s just my way of wishing you good cheer

Be it a working boat or paddy

Gleaming bright or dull and shoddy

Or the type that you can even take to sea.

Stop and listen for a while

As I tell you with a smile

To remember to live long and float free.


Friday 7th March


I thought the log book was to report incidents, etc on the boat, not to act as a soap box at speakers corner!. Personally I have nothing against vegetarians and I do not pass comment on what they do or do not eat.

I get really annoyed when people ( as you state ) try to tell people what to do. I do not complain when I come down to the boat and have to dig my way through beans & lentils and jars of strange concoctions to find my tin of corned beef, I wade through gallons of milk free milk to find my real milk. I thought we were all meant to live and work together, and surely that means a little give and take, not forcing any opinions and views on other people .

On the whole, the meat eaters within the group tend to buy & cater for the vegetarians / Vegans e.g. stews for meetings trips etc, we are not forcing the veggies / vegans to eat meat etc, so please do try to force your views on us. This is not a personal have a go at you Adrian, but at what you have you have written. Can I suggest that we all think before writing in the book, and if we think it will offend and upset DON’T WRITE IT IN.

This is meant to be a ‘nice’ book, I enjoy reading it I’d hate to see it turn into a slanging match.

Anyway off my soap box, nuff said

A nice quiet evening, ( so far ), Gtr Mcr, F.M.N, Elton, Lilith, Midama, B.W, lots of fencing, 3 Picnic benches, Chris’ trailer & museum still here. Chilling out after a hectic couple of weeks It’s great to arrive stressed up and half an hour later relaxed again. Thanx to whoever for leaving fire in & kettle boiled. Well I’m going to settle down with a good book and a few G & T’s. Bye for now.

Chris called at 11.15 pm to check on Elton. Apparently she’s been rather ill this week, drinking too much water and threatening to sink herself.

Tongue in cheek:- I think we should all have same sex relationships to cut down the population and stop world suffering! ( and perhaps I might get a few more offers !!!) ( any offers )


Saturday 8th March

An absolutely gorgeous morning, a clear blue sky, The canal like glass, the birds are slimming & the sun is shining. Well I feel brill, off home to do some spring cleaning.


8th March ( cont. )

Arrived around 8.45, met Chris and learnt a bit about the project. Fine night on Forget Me Not, Lucy missed out on a pleasant evening, plenty of food and a relaxed time enjoyed both by passengers and passer bye's. No hassle, range lit first time, although the boiling of the kettle left a lot to be desired, “ Oh Caffeine at last ”, well I’m sure we will be back, hope to meet others in the future. It’s a dry calm day in Ashton.

Chris and Mike

Ps Where’s the bog....

Tuesday 11th March

Boats present, usual suspects minus Pennine, Midama slightly round the bend.

I usually start with the well worn phrase ‘ A peaceful evening’, and last night was no exception. However at 2.45am we were awoken by two youths coming in through the cabin doors of F.M.N . A quick roar from me and the back one took fright and made for a rapid escape over the gate. The other one was slower to leave but finally made it over the gate also.

Lynne observed this from the open hatch - no attempt was made to stop them leaving as we were a little underdressed for a winters night. We decided to give ourselves the hassle of phoning the police, when they went on the other side of the towpath and started lobbing bricks at us. Lynne kept shining the torch at them which made them duck and managed to get a better look at them, one had dark trousers, a tricolour jacket including yellow and purple and sandy hair with fair skin. He was solidly built with a roundish face and swaggered. The other one had light trousers with a dark jacket and had dark hair and fair skin, he had a narrower face and build and, when they finally moved off , seemed to have developed a limp!

Following a second call to the police and a moment or two to get the stove going, the police arrived about 10 to 12 minutes after the youths had given up and walked off to Guide Bridge. The police took down the details whilst we reattached F.M.Ns box line which had been undone.

What was most worrying was that they had managed to scale the fence, climb over the bow ends of Lilith, Elton, and F.M.N, undo the line, come to the stern of F.M.N all without us hearing anything. Also, we had to wait 25 minutes for the police to arrive, if they had come sooner they would have a chance of catching them as they were throwing rocks for a good 10 minutes - and the Guide Bridge exit is over half a mile down the towpath.

We then saw a fox, running on the towpath behind the aqueduct bridge and the wall between the two bridges. It went into the wood on the bank of the Tame and seconds later came the cry of another creature . Next day I slept again, after we returned to bed between 4.30 and 5 am, Colin got up at first light and I saw him sitting on the fire box, reading the new boat building file, in sunlight.

About a previous entry - I strongly object to people interfering with what others have written - it amounts to an invasion of private space, a kind of harassment, as tho ‘ someone had broken into your home and shat in the room - log entries should be left as finally composed by the writer, not interfered with by others. There’s plenty of room and usually time to refer back to previous entries and make rely in your page / s of the book.

Have rationalised the bijou food cupboard once again - unopened and ‘use once’ type packages are in Liliths larder cupboard, together with a range of pulses and spices. Open packages , spreads and sauces are in F.M.N, veg is in F.M.Ns stern cupboard. It is now once again possible to reach / use both the breadboard and the mobile phone. There is only room in F.M.N for stuff that will be used, not stored.

Thanks Lynne

Ps I sent some very small children up the chimney of F.M.N on Tues evening and so it is the proverbial whistle. Hope this makes fire lighting easier.


Thursday 13th March

At 2 am, I was woken by unidentifiable noise outside. I leapt out of bed and emerged from the hatch armed with a pickaxe handle, to find only waking ducks.


Ps Lilith going on dock at Guide Bridge this evening.

15th March

Filled coal box with wood and moved toilet and m into Eltons’ back cabin. Plenty more firewood in F.M.Ns hold, Can’t find any bog roll - ? ? ?

Usually crowded with the stuff.

Room Service.

Monday 17th March

Quiet Night

Nick X

Please note from 1st April there will be a work book with log book.

Please log any work/sleep overs etc, you do also work for the society off the boat, if we get grant we can ?? With voluntary hours also time counts as working parties - no time in book = no parties



Ps called back to pick something up and have lit range for whoever is on tonight.

Tuesday 18th March Lynne and Colin

F.M.N, Elton, Gtr Mcr ( breasted to ours ), Midama, Termite

With refurbishment to the mill gathering pace, the Hudd’s Canal Soc boat has been moved to our side of the fence. If rock throwing burglars - vandals re-aim we’ll hear the steal boat ring a warning! Found the torch batteries were run down, so have put the rechargeable in the little top cupboard, across the stern from the ticket drawers. Have bought a set of Duracell, as there was no way we were going to do without a beam of light, after last week.

I am very thankful that Colin has come here too, as I was due to stay on my own, and have not generally got a spare fiver to loan stuff. Also bought wash - up liquid, sponges and pan cleaners. These are in the monkey box. Found that someone had left their washing up here - were astounded to discover that one item was a polystyrene shrink - wrapped ( empty ), rump steak container! Not only is someone with access to the boats taking no account of other boat - sitters wholly sensible views, they are being actively offensive by leaving meat containers here and causing health risks to themselves and others by not cleaning and clearing after themselves. Words now fail me.

A peaceful night. No burglars or even towpath walkers. It was on the way to nasty weather, perhaps I’ll be happy to stay here alone again soon.

Oh- I’ve lost an ear ring - it might be here - It’s a green plastic drop earring with gold rim. Quite nice, please put in the electric store cupboard if found TA.

Wednesday 19th March

Lynne looked for your earring didn’t see it, having read through the log we are terribly boring. Nothing happened, only peace, quiet and more peace with visits from ducks, swans, and cheerful birds singing all night.

Thursday 20th March ALL PLEASE READ

Firstly can I ask, when and where was it agreed that time spent minding the boat counts towards work parties?

As far as I was last aware, before any idea or condition became effective, it has to be agreed on, at an official meeting and as I was at the last meeting I can confirm that this suggestion was not even talked about, let alone agreed upon. So I must correct a previous entry and state that at the moment, time spent boat sitting does not count towards works parties until agreed on at the appropriate meeting. I’m not saying here that it should or shouldn’t, all I’m saying is that the society is an organisation , which has defined codes of practice, one of them being that proposed motions are passed by a majority at official meetings and not by a few individuals discussing it amongst themselves.

So time spent on boats does not count towards voluntary work ( yet! )

This will be discussed at the next meeting.

Sunday 23rd March Marilyn

Oh dear! I haven’t been here for a while. Hasn’t this book got controversial.

There’s veggie / non veggie and don’t interfere with my entries (ENTRIES not ENTRAILS ),

And Vivienne wants some land ( see 23.2.97 ) . Also I certainly hope it wasn’t Viviennes’ special heater which wet the bed. ( If it is we’ll have to get him an alarm ).

Now perhaps I can shed some light - the cafetiere which was commented upon.

I’ve made some discreet enquiries and apparently this belongs ( personally ) to Nick. He’d just left it on the boat for a bit.

The issue of working parties and sleep overs. This was discussed at the last WCBS Management meeting. I Haven’t had the minutes yet, but there was some sort of decision made at this time, can’t ?? the details. We must remember that the WCBS has an interim council of management which is meeting on a monthly basis to make decisions on our behalf.

Anyway it will be important to record your sleepovers and the hours worked after 01/04/97.

When we apply for grants etc, some bodies will want to know no’s and voluntary hours put in. Also, hours have a monetary value and can count as a donation and some bodies will / may give money based on this.

Next - Can’t help noticing that the personal alarm/torch which, I put on the boat is missing.

Anyone seen it?

As for weird sexual practices - I’m intrigued - answers on a postcard please. 1st prize is a rubber suit.

Seriously - I don’t think that wading through kidney beans is shocking to a meat eater as sausages are to veggie, ( although sitting next to someone who’s been eating the beans can be somewhat distressing ).

I think we need to look calmly and compassionately at the veggie / non veggie issue and try to be objective .

Anyway - I’m off now. The boats still floating and all’s well.


Ps sorry if I’ve offended someone/everyone ..The cat still loves me.

Monday 24th March

I’ve been working on the dock at Guide Bridge all week. The boats change over and Forget Me Not goes on, Lilith will return.

Apologies in advance for the ? By primitive ?

We seem to be slipping into a period of ‘chaos’ ( See “The Different Drum” on the bookshelf. This is OK and inevitable, my concern is that people might leave because they feel that they don’t fit in, please stick it out everyone we’re all human, we’re all valuable and we’re all irritating to somebody.


Tuesday 25th March

About 7.15 on Tuesday morning, I have to leave to start work on ‘Lilith’ soon.

Lots of tips on health on the radio. Please note, eating Watermelon regularly will stop you getting Lung Cancer, 5 portions of fruit or veg a day keeps the rest of us health, they didn’t mention meat !

Last night was beautiful. A clear starry night, the comet Halle Bp hung like a frozen firework in the Northern sky. I’m the south east a full moon rose to illuminate the night.

I hot up at 6am to buy the right soil, I’d just gone over to the towpath side with my spade when that bloody police helicopter came over and circled me! I stood still , innocently whistling to myself until it buggered off to circle Dukinfield.

The engine starting key room to be ?. You can turn the switch by inserting the end of the engine room key or a pointy pair of scissors.


Tuesday 25th March Lynne and Colin

Peaceful. Water level dropped, moved F.M.N to Ashton CC on Weds. A struggle see you later..

Sunday 6th April

7am slipped Forget Me Not yesterday; now preparing for ? Recycling trip.


1) Meths is now in bottom of food cupboard along with tilley lighters and red meths squirter can, ( they could fall if left on shelf ).

2) The only tilley currently working properly is the green army surplus one. This MUST ONLY be primed by lifting the glass and using meths squirter can to fill bong, DO NOT Rearrange glass with broken part at bottom.

3) Would whoever extinguished a hurricane lamp by turning down wick please fish the wick out of the fuel bowl and re thread it ( An hour or twos’ really frustrating work.

Please, please only extinguish these lamps by blowing.

4) Some kids got on Elton on Wednesday, the axe had been left out so they used that and a caulking mallet to try to break in to Lilith. They didn’t get in but we lost these tools. Please take care not to leave such tools where they are accessible.


Make a future for "Aster"

It was day one of my annual solitary cycling trip. The plan was to pick up last years trail atSwindon, carry on across the Cotswolds to Banbury, then turn South East, my new destination being Neasden.

First though, I wanted to visit Jaqui near Bath. Jaqui has lived aboard and lovingly maintained the wooden Josher motor “Aster” for many years. Some time ago she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was determined to stay aboard her beloved boat to the end. As she's got weaker however, she's started to review that decision. Last winter was difficult and she doesn't want to spend another winter afloat. I was going to visit her to discuss the future of “Aster”.

Eventually I spotted "Aster" on the outside, a little way short of the Dundas aquedct and the junction with the Somerset Coal Canal. I crossed the swing bridge to the moorings, which are run by a co-operative. I picked up wonderful friendly vibes as I rode down the path towards "Aster", with smiling adults and laughing playing children.

Jaqui invited me aboard. Inside was a lovely cosy hobbity space with lots of real wood fittings and a big range to keep the place warm. Over a cup of tea we chatted about what could be done with Aster.

Jaqui plans to move on to the bank in the Autumn. The boat will then have to move from her mooring as the co-op has made an exception to its r4ule that only co-op members can moor there because of Jaqui's ilness, and they're not accepting more members. Jaqui showed me pictures of substantial replanking work being done by the previous owners. She had docked the boat too, but had only been able to tingle over the suspect bits, and she'd had to sell the engine to pay for the work. Nevertheless, Aster is in pretty good nick, but she will need some real planking work done soon.

The Wooden Canal Boat Society can't take any more boats on, we're overstretchede with what we've got.My thoughts were going towards getting mine and Jaqui's friends together to form a charity to look after the boat, possibly raising funds by letting her as accommodation via online platforms, something that's working well to subsidise “Hazel”s charitable work. In the Bath area this should do well, though she would need a suitable mooring, with planning permission if she stays in one place, a higher spec boat safety certificate and suitable licence.

We chatted on about the difficulties of getting people working together, but it's worth the effort. I began to notice that Jaqui was looking tired and wondered if I should leave soon. She pre-empted me, explaining that she'd been to the hospice that day and she was getting pretty tired. I climbed out of the boat and said goodbye.

I have over 1000 Facebook friends. I've never met most of them, but they are mostly people who support the work of the Wooden Canal Boat Society, though, generally it's only moral support. If rather than likes whenever I post something they would all join the society, which has a ridiculously small membership, then the WCBS would have another £12000 a year to spend on restoring boats.

Jaqui also has a long friends list. Now, if Jaqui's friends and my friends in the South got together to form a Save Aster Society then it would be a pretty powerful group. Money could be raised, work done on the boat and Aster could be given a long term future, hopefully doing something useful to society. I don't know Jaqui well, but she strikes me as a really wonderful woman. She's facing something that we all dread. It will help her a lot if she knows that the boat she's loved for so long will have a bright future. Over to you!

Cycle trip day 1, Bath and Swindon.

It was day one of my annual solitary cycling trip. The plan was to pick up last years trail atSwindon, carry on across the Cotswolds to Banbury, then turn South East, my new destination being Neasden.

First though, I wanted to visit Jaqui near Bath. Jaqui has lived aboard and lovingly maintained the wooden Josher motor “Aster” for many years. Some time ago she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was determined to stay aboard her beloved boat to the end. As she's got weaker however, she's started to review that decision. Last winter was difficult and she doesn't want to spend another winter afloat. I was going to visit her to discuss the future of “Aster”.

Buying cheap advance tickets online is a great way to set up your train journeys. The only snag is that, if you're taking a bicycle, different train companies have different rules about carrying bikes. It's wise to book your bike on the train, which is free, but has to be done at a booking office. I got caught out with this on my last journey as Great Western had brought in compulsory bike booking on their Inter City 125 sets, how was I supposed to know?

When I tried to book my bike on my train from Manchester to Bristol I found that all the bookable slots were taken, but there was one first come first served slot left. I determined to be there as the train arrived to be the first comer.

My ticket was from Guide Bridge but I decided to cycle to Picadilly. Emily works at Bridge 5 Mill, the environmental resource centre. She had stayed aboard Hazel recently and left her jumper, so I was going to deliver it on the way. I loaded my bike handlebars with two bags for life full of stuff and put my rucksack on my back, then set off down the Ashton new road. Near the velodrome I diverted on to the towpath to stop at bridge 5 and deliver the jumper. I followed the road again until I came to the new basins that almost connect the Ashton canal with the Rochdale, where I followed the empty Ashton canal basin back on to the towpath.

This area, always known as Ancoats, is now being renamed “New Islington” by the regeneration experts. Presumably Ancoats wasn't upmarket enough.

The basin accessed from the Ashton Canal is empty of boats, purely ornamental. The one accessed from the Rochdale is full of boats, but they are being chucked out with nowhere to go. Despite living afloat now being seen as a deeply cool lifestyle, anti boater prejudice remains high among bureacrats.

Soon I was at Picadilly station, an hour early for my train. I went through the automatic ticket barrier and sat down at the platform end to enjoy watching the coming and going of trains. After a while my train arrived and, once it had disgorged its passengers, I hung my bike in the space provided and locked it in place, before seeking out my reserved seat in the next carriage.

Voyager units are not for the claustrophobic. They are tilting trains, leaning into corners like a motorbike. While this allows them to go a lot faster it means that the upper part of the body has to be relatively narrow to fit into the loading gauge whilst leaning. Added to this you have as many seats as they could cram in and limited luggage space. This particular unit was also excessively hot, though it's allegedly air conditioned.

Despite this, and the fact that none of my co-passengers could be tempted into a conversation, I enjoyed the journey, watching the towns and country whizz by. Stoke, Stafford, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Cheltenham then into Bristol with me standing by the door ready with my rucksack and heavily laden bike.

Besides the rucksack on my back I had a supermarket 'bag for life, slung from each handlebar. As I pushed the bike along the platform, both straps on one of these gave way and the bag dropped to the floor. A helpful passenger picked it up for me. I tied the straps together and carried on, though it was clearly not going to last very long with half its fixings gone.

A huge crowd had gathered on platform 11 to await the 15.20 to Portsmouth, which I had to take as far as Bath. The sign flashed up that the train was only 2 carriages and was full and standing. A helpful platform manager (or whatever they call porters nowadays) suggested that anyone for Bath could take the Inter City 125 in the next platform.

My bike was booked on the 15.22 Portsmouth. I was once arrested at Bristol Temple Meads for unauthorised loading of a bike onto an Inter City 125. It cost me £40. I didn't take up the offer but instead I stood, holding on to my bike, for the short journey.

Bath is, of course, a beautiful city.This attracts tourists, so, the city cetre is pretty much geared fgor tourists. It's not the pace to find a cheap shopping bag. For the first time in my life I entered a Waitrose store, where I was able to purchase an organic fairtrade jute bag, which certainly is strong, if costly.

The next task was to find the canal. This isn't easy as canals tend to sneak into cities by the back door rather than proudly announcing their presence. Eventualy I tracked it down and set off at speed aong a wide and tarmacked towpath, busy with wakers, runners and cyclists.

The inside of the canal was dotted with moored boats of every description. Wide beam, narrow beam, steel, wood, fibreglass etc. Most were in some way or other personalised by there owners. Some were works of art. There was clearly a vibrant and creative waterway community here, just the thing that bureacrats hate. This is a waterway of The Shire, not of Mordor.

Eventually I spotted "Aster" on the outside, a little way short of the Dundas aquedct and the junction with the Somerset Coal Canal. I crossed the swing bridge to the moorings, which are run by a co-operative. I picked up wonderful friendly vibes as I rode down the path towards "Aster", with smiling adults and laughing playing children.

Jaqui invited me aboard. Inside was a lovely cosy hobbity space with lots of real wood fittings and a big range to keep the place warm. Over a cup of tea we chatted about what could be done with Aster.

Jaqui plans to move on to the bank in the Autumn. The boat will then have to move from her mooring as the co-op has made an exception to its r4ule that only co-op members can moor there because of Jaqui's ilness, and they're not accepting more members. Jaqui showed me pictures of substantial replanking work being done by the previous owners. She had docked the boat too, but had only been able to tingle over the suspect bits, and she'd had to sell the engine to pay for the work. Nevertheless, Aster is in pretty good nick, but she will need some real planking work done soon.

The Wooden Canal Boat Society can't take any more boats on, we're overstretchede with what we've got.My thoughts were going towards getting mine and Jaqui's friends together to form a charity to look after the boat, possibly raising funds by letting her as accommodation via online platforms, something that's working well to subsidise “Hazel”s charitable work. In the Bath area this should do well, though she would need a suitable mooring, with planning permission if she stays in one place, a higher spec boat safety certificate and suitable licence.

We chatted on about the difficulties of getting people working together, but it's worth the effort. I began to notice that Jaqui was looking tired and wondered if I should leave soon. She pre-empted me, explaining that she'd been to the hospice that day and she was getting pretty tired. I climbed out of the boat and said goodbye.

I have over 1000 Facebook friends. I've never met most of them, but they are mostly people who support the work of the Wooden Canal Boat Society, though, generally it's only moral support. If rather than likes whenever I post something they would all join the society, which has a ridiculously small membership, then the WCBS would have another £12000 a year to spend on restoring boats.

Jaqui also has a long friends list. Now, if Jaqui's friends and my friends in the South got together to form a Save Aster Society then it would be a pretty powerful group. Money could be raised, work done on the boat and Aster could be given a long term future, hopefully doing something useful to society. I don't know Jaqui well, but she strikes me as a really wonderful woman. She's facing something that we all dread. It will help her a lot if she knows that the boat she's loved for so long will have a bright future. Over to you!

I pedalled away through the lovely wooded moorings and over the swing bridge. I decided to have a look at the Aqueduct and the Coal Canal. The aqueduct is an impressive classical structure built in the local Bath stone. The Somerset Coal Canal, a narrow waterway built to tap the Somerset coalfield, was mostly converted into a railway in the 1870s. This, in turn closed down, but shortly after closure was used as the location for the classic Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt. A short length of canal at the junction has been restored as moorings.

Having ticked these two off my list, I set off back down the towpath towards Bath. I had noticed some intriguing derelict buildings across the railway line on the edge of Bath, so I manhadled my bike and luggage over the footbridge that led to them. I couldn't make out whether they were originally residential or industrial, but it looks like they're beenig refurbished as houses anyway.

At Bath railway station I sked for tickets for an old codger (senior railcard) and bike to Swindon. Armed with my ticket and cycle reservation I waited at the designated spot on the platform for the 125.

There was no fuss and no-one checked my ticket. The guard was a cheerful felow with a west country accent, a beard and his dark hair tied back in a pony tail. Dressed differently he could have been a pirate.

By the time we reached Swindon I was seriously hungry. It was getting late so I didn't want to go to the trouble of loighting a fire to cook my tea, a takeaway was in order. I went looking for a chip shop but, finding none, I thought I'd try a carribean takeaway.

I ordered jerk chicken with fries and home made coleslaw. That's £7, said the man “It says £5 in the window, I replied”. “Oh, that's the lunchtime meal deal” he said. OK, no problem, my mistake I said handing over a £20 note. “Have you got a pound” he asked. “Yes” I said, giving him a shiny new coin. He gave me £15 change. A quick calculation told me that I'd only been charged £6. I handed over my flask, “Any chance of filling this with hot water”, “i'll see if they'll do that” he said, taking it into the kitchen.

There were quite a lot of people sitting around waiting. A steady stream of polystyrene clad packages emerged from the kitchen, were wrappped in carrir bags and handed over to waiting customers. I was in no hurry as I was enjoying the reggae music. The lad wrapping and serving had his jeans hanging below his arse, which, thankfully, was covered by a sturdy pair of underpants. I wonder if he realises what that style of dress signifies.

My charged up flask returned, so I wouldn't need to light a fire for my morning coffee. Shortly afterwards my food came through the hatch. The man with the hanging pants apologised for it taking so long, “it was because of the fries” he said “we had to send out for them” (?!!!!?).

I cycled off back along the route I had followed into Swindon a year ago, along the filled in line of the Wilts & Berks canal. I knew this was crossed by thr Midland & South western Junction railway route, now a cycleway. I thought I would follow this to where it crossed the active Great western main line and sit there watching trains and eating my meal. Unfortunately the railway bridge is gone and the cycleway diverts down a rough lane that went under the railway through a concrete rathole. I found myself in one of those urban fringe area that are resrved for the less salubrious functions like rubbish tips and sewage works. This secluded lane is ideal for those people who shun the official disposal methods and creep away in the night to unload their rubbish unobserved.

My food was cooling so I gave up looking for a pleasant spot, instead, opening my meal on a barren mound surrounded by discarded foam mattress fillings. As I ate I thought there was something missing. The chips were OK, the chicken was good, the jerk sauce was very tasty, but there was no coleslaw! I liked that takeaway shop, but it was very random!

I needed to find a campsite for the night as dusk was a near prospect. With my takeaway container added to my burden I carried on up the cycleway, but had no idea which way to go when I reached a junction. Swindon has an excellent network of cycleways, if you know where you're going. There are signposts but many have been vandalised, some have been turned round (to confuse invaders perhaps) and if you set out along a route signposted to a likely sounding place you can guarantee that at the next junction you will be given a completely different menu of options.

I was aiming for the Swindin & Cricklade Railway, laid along the Midland & South Western trackbed and starting in a country park just North of Swindon. For added interest, it ran parallel to the North Wilts Canal, which there are ambitious plans to re-open.

I found myself on a cycleway that looked like it was a railway trackbed, so I followed it. At one point I had to cross a busy road. Someone leaned out of a passing car and shouted “hobo” at me. I'd rather be a hobo than a motorised prick!

Sure enough, the path led me to a country park and the rather bleak Southern terminus of the Swindon & Cricklade. The gate was locked, the information boards blank and no scope for camping, so I headed off into the country park.

I passed a fishing lake but plunged on through young woodland following the wandering path. I kept seeing likely spots but carrying on to see if there was anywhere better. I passed a bunch of teenagers carrying skateboards, then came to a road. I went up the road, thinking it would take me back to the railway line but, after several twists and turns, there was no sign. It was getting dark so I turned back and returned along the cycleway. I left the main route and went deep into Purton Wood, a young Woodland Trust plantation, and hid myself deep in the closely spaced young poplars.

It was spitting with rain, so I unfurled my pop up tent and unrolled my sleeping bag inside. Soon I was deep in the land of Nod.

Ecclesbourne Valley Diesel Weekend.

I've been down to Rugby to visit my brother and family. On the way back I thought I'd visit the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway that runs between Duffield and Wirksworth in Derbyshire. It turned out to be diesel weekend, which was a bit disappointing for me but I nevertheless enjoyed the ride. There were classes 26, 31 and 33 in action and I enjoyed the sound of their growly old diesel engines. The class 31 was hauling a 3 car Metro cammell DMU (class 101). I don't know if its engines don't work or if they were just short of coaches. From Wirksworth a short line carries on up a 1 in 29 gradient to Ravenstor, the old limestone loading point. This was being worked by a Derby Lightweight railcar from about 1956, the sort that was used to try to save the Banbury Buckingham line. I don't think it's engine is in very good shape. As it climbed the incline it left a trail of blue smoke hanging in the air.

Diesel events attract serious railway enthusiasts. Megabytes of video and still photos were being generated, some people were writing things in notebooks and there was an atmosphere of serious study.

Opposite me on the railcar sat a fat man and a thin man, both in their 60s and dressed for a 1950s locospotters club outing. The fat man said in a disparaging tone "I think one visit is more than enough for me",. "Oh" said the thin man, the fatty continued wth a disapproving air "this line wasn't even part of the branch". "It was used for mineral traffic" the thin man ventured. "Yes" continued his friend, now sounding a little angry, "but it never had a passenger service"!  Clearly he will refrain, on principle, from the delights of the Foxfield Railway, the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway and the Nant Gwernol extension of the Talyllyn Railway.

Class 31 arriving at Duffield with the DMU set

The Class 33 "Crompton" at Shottle, the crossing point for trains, viewed through the rear cab of the Metro Cammell DMU.

The Derby Lightweight waits for passengers then sets out up the incline to Ravenstor.

Serious railway enthusiasts mill about in the shade of the railcar at Ravenstor.

An industrial diesel with permanent way train in a siding at Shottle.

Lovely Day on the Ashton Flight

The 18 locks of the Ashton Canal between Manchester and Droylsden are not the best loved locks on the system. Many are the tales that go around of boats fouled up by rubbish, faulty locks, empty pounds and occassional ambushes. We've certainly had some difficult passages in the past. Not the kind of place you'd think to go bowhauling a butty for fun, but that's exactly what we did today.

"Hazel" had to be moved from Ducie St up to Ashton. We had an excellent good natured team of Tony Hewitson, Aaron Booth, David Basnett, Mary Francis and myself. We set off at about 10 AM and steadily worked up the locks with no fuss. Everyone worked as part of the team and needed next to no direction. The weather was dry and sunny but not too hot. We stopped above lock 7 to eat some excellent vegetable chilli supplied by the wonderful Em. At the summit we were met by our friend Fred who towed us the last couple of miles with his steel boat.

Aaron shafting the boat back towards the winding hole. We discovered that you can't wind a full length boat in the entrance to the private basin in Picadilly Village, but you can in the silly litlle arm on the towpath side.

David Hauls "Hazel" towards lock 8 under Ashton New Road.

Mary steers into lock 8.

Approaching Clayton Lane.

Crabtree Lane.

Passing the entrance to the Stockport branch.

Droylsden swing bridge.

Water sports adventure centre.

Entering the final lock.

Down the locks to Sport City 8th July 2017

"Hazel" needs to earn some money so that she can do more good work taking people who need their spirits lifting away up the cut. We decided to try taking her to Manchester as we earn more for overnight stays down there. Today Tony, Aaron, me and new volunteer (though he helped dig out the boatyard years ago) Lee, bowhauled her down the locks to the velodrome. On Tuesday she'll carry on to Ancoats.

"Let's Face the Music, and Dance"

I recently discovered this on a data stick in the bottom of a carrier bag. I wrote it in 2013, but, though personnel have changed a little, the general situation remains normal, so I thought I might as well publish it here.

Lets face the music, and dance.

A few years ago we had a visit from Tony Conder and Roger Hanbury, then curator and chief executive respectively of The Waterways Trust. Tony paid our work a brilliant compliment, “you're working wonders on next to nothing” he said. Certainly, up to then the society had led a hand to mouth existence and it was a wonder we were able to keep the boats afloat and functioning.

When Fiona Jones was working for us, trying to raise funds for our different projects, I would often have the following conversation with her:-

Me “What we really need is continuous funding for 3 full time boatbuilders”.

Fiona “ Sorry, but there aren't any funders who will do that, we always have to fit in with their objectives”.

Me “But we need funding for 3 full time boatbuilders”.

Fiona “But there are no funders who will provide that”.

Thanks largely to Fiona's tenacity we eventually got funding, in the nick of time, for Hazel's rejuvenation. This has funded two people to work on Hazel, but the other boats have been suffering in the meantime because we really need someone working full time on maintenance to keep everything afloat and functioning and to carry out the many stitches in time that will otherwise cost us dear in the long run.

I mentioned that Hazel's funding came through in the nick of time. She had sunk several times in the preceding few years and I was doubtful about how long we would be able to keep her in one piece so that there was actually something to work from when it came to restoration. Certainly, when we slipped her we discovered how weak she had become. By the time the restoration started we had had Hazel for 23 years. In that time she had been docked numerous times and essential maintenance carried out, but, nevertheless, it was clear that rot was steadily eating through the structure of the boat and there was nothing that we could do about it without the kind of major replanking job that we've carried out in the past 18 months. The fact is that, without our 3 full time boatbuilders, both the completed Hazel and the 5 other boats will gradually subside back into dereliction.

Jobs currently awaiting the time, money and boatyard space include the following:-

Lilith, Needs her stern end rebuilding and a new back cabin.

Forget me Not, Needs a mid life overhaul including renewing the top bends and lining planks, renewing a lot of the shearing, clothing up and renovating the back cabin, not to mention overhauling and installing the Bolinder.

Southam , Needs a lot of strengthening of the bow and most of the planks down the left hand side replacing. This would give an opportunity to put her on a diet so that she is less likely to get stuck in locks. There are also ongoing mechanical problems to address.

Queen, Needs a complete rebuild similar to the work that is being carried out on Hazel. We also need to find a Kromhaut semi diesel engine for her.

Elton Needs a complete rebuild, similar the work that is being carried out on Hazel.

Obviously, these jobs, especially Queen and Elton, are not going to be carried out overnight, even with our 3 fabulous boatbuilders, but it's essential that our work on the boats speeds up so that wood is being replaced faster than it's rotting away. It took 23 years to get work started on Hazel. Queen and Elton are unlikely to survive another 23 years without rebuilding, and, at a rate of 23 years per boat, that means poor Elton would have to wait 46 years for work to start on her.

So, why can't volunteers do all this work? Once upon a time I used to spend my spare time firing steam engines on preserved railways. Sometimes I go for a day out to one, or read about them in the railway press, and it makes me turn a bright shade of malachite green to see all the skilled work that is carried out by volunteers. Not only have volunteer led organisations rescued and mostly restored all the engines that were once consigned to Barry scrapyard, but now they are building replicas of the ones that were missed, not just great express locos like the famous Tornado but now humble tank engines and, believe it or not, diesels.

This is what can be done, but the supply of skilled volunteers for boat restoration is extemely restricted. There are simply not as many boat fanatics as there are railway fanatics, and many of those who do exist can satisfy their boating needs by owning a pleasure boat. Though the Hazel project has brought to us some excellent and highly skilled volunteers, they are still heavily outnumbered by the tasks that need doing. It would be nice if I could just find volunteers to reliably do simple jobs like printing and distributing recycling leaflets and keeping the firewood supplies topped up. We need to keep up the publicity about what we're doing ( there's another thing, we've never had a volunteer to take charge of publicity over a sustained period) in the hope that this will bring in more volunteers, but, relying entirely on volunteers will not get the boats restored, though conversely, neither can the job be done without them.

So, how much would these 3 wise boatbuilders cost? Luckily, many skilled people are prepared to work for a project like ours for well below what they could earn doing an easier job for a commercial company, but the costs are more than just wages. If someone is working full time they use up a lot of materials, which cost money. They also make it possible for more volunteers to work alongside them, and they also use expensive materials. The work that we've been doing on Hazel with two paid workers has been costing about £50,000 a year. That works out at £25,000 per worker, or £75,000 for the three. Hardly a bankers bonus but nevertheless, a lot of money to pluck out of thin air. Where will it come from?

It's amazing how many people just assume that we are getting huge grants to underwrite our work. I often get asked by people who have just taken on a historic boat where to apply. The reality is that you only get grant money if your project fulfils the objectives of the funder. Mostly these are social objectives of some kind. Pure heritage funds are scarce and fiercely fought over by well resourced museums and heritage railways etc. The funding that we've had for Hazel is purely to do with the work that she is going to do when she goes into service. Our funders probably couldn't care less that she is the last Runcorn wooden header. While it is entirely possible that we will be able to find more projects that fit with the objectives of a funder, there is always the danger that we will turn somersaults with our plans in order to fit a funders objectives, only to end up reluctantly running a project that wasn't what we really wanted to do. Luckily we have only had to very slightly tweak the pre existing Hazel project.

I'm not knocking grant funding, I'm sure it can play an important part, but it's always likely to be the icing on the cake. This is how it should be. Charities that rely too heavily on grants are always deeply vulnerable to recessions, government cuts and changes of policy on the part of funders. It also needs a lot of rather tedious work, not only in filling in the forms but in gathering the information that they need. For example, while we have figures for volunteer hours at the boatyard and in the shop, we have no idea of the overall annual total of volunteer hours, which is something that funders want to know. We need more volunteers with the time, skill and inclination to put together all the necessary information, fill in the forms and, most important, talk with funders. At the moment Nick Lowther is doing a great job on this, but there's only one of him!

When Hazel is in service she will, inshallah, earn her keep, but she shouldn't really be funding the other boats. She needs to cover her costs and put a bit to one side for her own long term maintenance. I calculate that we will need to put aside £6000 a year to ensure that Hazel never falls into dereliction again. If she starts earning more than running costs plus £6000 then we should be looking at reducing charges for her users. Associated with developing the Hazel project will be the development of a training project to make sure that we are never stuck for qualified skippers. While initially this will be for our own purposes, there is scope for making some money at this in the longer term, but I've no idea how much. We need someone to do a realistic business plan.

The growth of the WCBS has been quite amazing, and quite scary at times, like riding a powerful motorbike that you don't know how to control. In 1988, the year that Hazel was donated to the infant Wooden Canal Craft Trust, the total annual income was £3200, with expenditures of £2500. I don't yet have figures for 2012, but the total turnover is going to be well over £100,000. This has its down side as some people see us as well off and so are more mercenary in their dealings with us than used to be the case. The fact is that for the last 3 years expenditure has exceeded income, something that can't carry on for too much longer. The only reason that we've been able to afford to run a deficit is that we have some, rapidly dwindling, reserves, put by when we had the good fortune to be given a rent free shop for 14 months during 2006/7.

The main engine for this growth, since 1996, has been the recycling project and its offshoots, the market stall and various shops. I don't, again, have the 2012 figures yet, but it looks likely that our current shop, a former woolworths and the biggest charity shop in Ashton, will turn over about £60,000 this year. The down side of this is that its running costs are likely to be round about £50,000, putting only about £10,000 into WCBS funds, which is mostly swallowed up in overheads, licenses, insurance etc. The reality of running a charity shop is that, if you are paying a market rent for your premises, the main beneficiary of your efforts is going to be the landlord. That's not to say that it's not worthwhile renting a shop, it gives us security of tenure. We were very grateful for the free shop mentioned above, but it was a bit of a nightmare when we were given 11 days to vacate the premises because it was going to be sold.

The current shop has a problem. When we moved in, Stamford St was a busy shopping street, not quite in the very centre of Ashton, but not far off. Gradually, under the influences of out of town shopping, online shopping and the recession, the town centre has been imploding. Many of the shops on Stamford St are now empty, others have become offices or takeaways. The footfall is reducing. Despite this, Sarah's efforts have kept the shop income up, though the last few months have been a bit disappointing.

How do we move this business on so that it will generate the £75000 a year in profits that we need. We really need to start being a bit more enterprising. I get a bit sick of hearing all the excuses for not doing things, just drifting. One of the big ideas for our current shop was to start a cafe there, but it's never happened.

As many of our customers are now buying online, we need to start moving there ourselves. Some work has been done on this recently and we're now earning about £100 a month through online sales. This could be expanded greatly , and a lot of the goods that currently goes to the tip turned into money,with more volunteers to do the work, yet when it comes up for discussion I'm always told it's not worth bothering.

Another thing will be to look for another free shop. Our esteemed treasurer will, of course, point out that nothing is completely free, there are always electricity bills and water rates etc to pay, but the potential income from rent free, albeit temporary premises, is huge. The gain for the landlord is that they get property that is awaiting redevelopment looked after and can get it back when they need it. The problem then, of course, is staffing it. This genuinely is a challenge and, despite 'Big Society' rhetoric, government policies are actually discouraging genuine volunteers. However, we managed it before and, with real effort in recruiting volunteers, and with possibly a paid manager on a short term contract in case the shop has to close suddenly, it can be done again. I for one am willing to put some effort into this once Hazel is finished. Any more offers? We really need more volunteers who are able to get stuck in and make things happen.

Castlefield Food Festival May 2017

We decided to take "Hazel" down to the Castlefield Food Festival. The trip along the Ashton summit and down the 27 Ashton and Rochdale locks to Castlefields, Manchester, was wonderful. We had 6 guests on board, the weather was wonderful  and there were no problems.

I usually take the butty through locks as this is more complicated than the motor. This time I took the motor and left Tony Hewitson in charge of the butty. All went smoothly.

In some ways the festival was a disappointment as we were fenced off from the main festival site and so didn't get to meet as many people as we would have liked, though we made some good contacts. We also found that having guests stay on "Hazel" in central Manchester is a good way of making money. Could be useful.

Lovely dog on the next boat.

I like the constant passing of trains over the viaducts at Castlefields.

The return trip was a lot more difficult. It rained all day, we only had 3 people and we had multiple problems with rubbish and low water as we tried to get through Openshaw. I bowhauled "Hazel" singlehanded through the most of the 18 Ashton locks. I didn't take any photos! Having set out at 09.30 we finally reached Ashton sometime after midnight.