Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label SWOG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SWOG. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Wednesday 8 January 2020 - Motoring in the Edwardian Era - A Talk by Craig Horner

These two members of had clearly dressed for the occasion!
In a fascinating presentation, backed by the tome shown below, Craig explained that, even at the turn of the century, there was a thriving second-hand market, cars were available on finance, and number plates (when they were introduced in 1904), could be 'cherished'. If I heard him correctly, the first registration number to be issued in Cheshire - to Lord Egerton of Tatton - 'M1' - was sold in 2006 for £331,500, apparently to a mystery buyer who bought it as a birthday present for his six year old son. 
Craig has spent many happy hours transcribing the scrawled  ownership entries of all the cars registered in Cheshire since registrations began! This is just the first volume, and you can't see from the picture, but it's about 3 cm thick. Geek!
In the early days, most cars were manufactured on the continent, mainly in France, by people like Lutzmann. Most of the names from that period have been lost to common knowledge in the mists of time, but 'Benz' does appear, and I have another book that pictures a car built by Herbert Austin in 1895, ten years before the formation of the Austin Motor Co.
All very interesting, and it appeared to inspire Cary into measuring the Christmas decorations, which he then dutifully re-hung!

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Wednesday 16 October 2019 - 'What I Learnt Cycling Around the World'

I don't often report back on 's Wednesday evening presentations, but this one was exceptional.

Russell Selby graduated then got a Master's degree in Civil Engineering. Then he cycled around the world. It took him five years. He's now back in the North West, working for , an environment friendly company.

He delivered an enthralling talk with passion - basically an overview of his five years of cycling and working his way around the world, the first three of which were with friends, and the last two, from Patagonia to New York, were on his own. Remarkably, he only had to pay for accommodation on 12 of the nights he spent in the last two years; he wild camped or was offered free lodgings for the rest!

Russell's website is .

Now, can I remember what Russell said he had learnt?...
  • people are amazing
  • character is limitless
  • enthusiasm and empathy win the day
  • money isn't everything
  • being positive is a great asset
I'm not sure whether those are right, and I know there was more! Perhaps Russell will either comment or give me the information to enable me to edit the above.*

Anyway his engaging talk could be inspirational to certain youngsters. It's a shame that 'the day job' doesn't give Russell much opportunity to reach the young adults who may benefit most.

* Russell has now commented:
5 things I learnt.

People are awesome
I am very fortunate
The planet is incredible
The future is now
Character is limitless

But what I think most people should take from it...

Money isn't everything
Appreciate and empathise
Be positive and proactive

Monday, 2 September 2019

Saturday 31 August 2019 - The Manchester Ship Canal - Our First Cruise

Jack, from , had kindly arranged this outing many months ago. It's very popular and has to be booked a long time in advance.
Sue and I got the tram to Media City UK on an overcast morning, and crossed over the bridge by the BBC studios in Salford Quays, from which the top picture of Salford Quays was taken. Compare this with the last image from the day, far below.
A bus took us from the War Museum to the Royal Iris's berth, where I guess about 400 people, including 20 or so of our SWOG friends, embarked for the cruise.
It was something of a surprise to bump into old friends, Ian and Caroline, not least because they live in Essex. We spent a very enjoyable day in their company and that of the SWOG contingent.
The cruise took six hours or so over the 35 miles of the Ship Canal plus 5 miles across the Mersey estuary to Pier Head in Liverpool.
Starting through Mode Wheel Locks, we received the benefit of a commentary that was far too detailed to repeat in its entirety here, even if I could remember the content.
However, it was clear that the first bridge was not part of the original canal infrastructure when it opened in 1894 after seven years of construction. This is the Centenary Bridge, opened in 1994 (hence its name), a 'lift bridge', whereas the original bridges were swing bridges.
Barton Swing Aqueduct, shown below in the background, and Barton Road Swing Bridge were the next two landmarks where we held up traffic on the Bridgewater Canal and Barton Road respectively. The road bridge is frequently crossed on our bike rides. The Swing Aqueduct weighs about 1400 tons, of which 800 tons is water retained on the bridge when it swings open. It replaced Brindley's original aqueduct over the River Irwell, which had to be much diverted during the construction of the canal.
There's a new 'lift bridge' to serve the Trafford Centre next to  Barton High Level Bridge which houses the M60 motorway. These are seen below, looking back from our cruise ship, with the lift bridge still raised following our passage.
Barton Locks came next - the second of five locks that bring the canal down from 35 metres above sea level in Salford.
It was quite chilly. I was glad of my down jacket. Here's a group of shivering SWOGgers.
Irlam Locks were accompanied by a spot of rain. We stayed indoors with coffees all round.
Cap'n Jack was first out as we passed under more bridges, including Warburton High Level Bridge, which currently has a 12p toll, and rush hour queues for those travelling between Lymm and Irlam.
The Thelwall High Level Bridge carries the M6 over the ship canal. When it opened in 1963, at 4414 feet it was the longest motorway bridge in England. In 1995 a second, completely separate, bridge was opened to carry the southbound carriageway. This is 4500 feet in length. The original bridge carries northbound traffic. The bridges are open-sided to avoid snow building up in winter, but that design can have a catastrophic effect on high sided vehicles in strong winds.
This picture shows the two separate bridges that you don't really notice when driving over the bridge.
There are several ferry boats that operate for local crossings of the canal. The one shown below is just a small rowing boat. It has to be rowed in a figure of eight direction to contend with the current.
At frequent intervals along the canal are dredging stations. Dredgers operate to maintain the canal, and presumably the dredging points enable the 'dredgings' to be taken to landfill sites. 
The sun came out, and we enjoyed more coffee with Ian and Caroline.
We are familiar with the Moore Lane Swing Bridge, which we cross on our bike rides to Phoenix Park and Norton Priory.
Fiddler's Ferry Power Station then comes into view.
Apparently this old boat, Loach, was derelict until recently. It is now a fully renovated grain barge.
We passed under the concrete carriageway of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, which was then seen from a distance as it crosses the Mersey Estuary.

There's an ancient church at West Bank, just across the Mersey, which at the time we passed by had a higher water level than the canal. In places the barrier between the estuary and the canal amounts to little more than a watertight fence. Elsewhere, a narrow spit of land allows sheep to graze. As we passed at high tide some of the sheep seemed to be somewhat stranded in the water!
The old Runcorn Silver Jubilee Bridge, in the foreground below, and the nearby Runcorn Rail Bridge, are the last bridges under which the canal passes. The former is now open to bicycles and walkers, with cars etc now having to use the Mersey Gateway Bridge, which levies an unpopular toll charge.
A vast area of chemical works at Stanlow is now passed, and there's a forlorn church building, clearly not used, in the middle of this industrial land.
There are thousands of boat movements on the canal every year, mainly at this western end. Here's a gas tanker that we passed.
This is just a minute section of the vast sprawl of chemical works and their intricate piping systems.
We were held in a lay-by for this grain ship to pass. The flour mills further up the canal no doubt need frequent deliveries, thankfully not by road.
Only qualified pilots are allowed to 'drive' the ships, including ours, on the canal. Bigger ships like the one below, which we met just above Eastham Locks, require pilot boats both in front and behind in order to ensure their safe passage.
By the time we reached Eastham Locks, the level of the Mersey was lower than that of the canal, so it was a final shift downwards before we headed off to cross the estuary to Liverpool, with the Captain, not the Pilot, now in charge.
The Royal Iris powered quickly across the estuary, with the Anglican Cathedral and Paddy's Wigwam rapidly becoming closer.
The Pier Head Ferry Terminal, where we disembarked, is very close to the iconic Liver Buildings, in which I sometimes used to work.
Having dumped its cargo of tourists, the Royal Iris sped off for a well earned rest.
We had a couple of hours in Liverpool, whose sights may one day be ammunition for a separate posting. On this occasion Sue and I walked to the Albert Dock via this 'Dazzle' ship and numerous other works. The dazzling colours apparently confused attacking vessels in the First World War because the direction of travel wasn't clear to the attacker.

Next to the Tate Gallery, an exhibit.
We enjoyed an excellent Thai meal at a restaurant in the Albert Dock.
We'd been told the bus that would return us to Manchester left at 6.30, so we were back at the ferry terminal at exactly 6.30, when the last bus left for Manchester. There were five people on it. We had been expecting to find several hundred people waiting for the buses!
Salford Quays were bathed in beautiful evening sunlight when we re-crossed the bridge to return home from the Media City UK tram stop.
An excellent day out, thoroughly recommended. Here's the 40 mile route.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Wednesday 21 August 2019 - The Middlewood Way with SWOG

On the penultimate outing of s evening walk season (don't they just fly past), 23 assorted folk assembled outside the Rising Sun in Torkington, before heading through the carefully researched ginnels of a housing estate to reach Hazel Grove Golf Course, where the entire group slewed to a halt in order to avoid a 'golf ball' confrontation.
A couple of fields, with stiles to string the group out, led to the good surface of the Middlewood Way, where the light was fading sufficient to give the impression that the strollers pictured below might actually be running!
A walk along the resurfaced track led to High Lane Station, with its long disused platforms.
We continued along the disused railway line for a while before taking a delightful woodland path to Norbury Hollow and thence back to the Rising Sun for refreshments.
My memory of this walk will be the lovely Norbury Hollow path, which we didn't follow as far as we could have done, due to diminishing light, and the smell of the Himalayan Balsam that dominates the plant life in places at this time of year. It's an exotic pest, but I'm told the bees love it.
Here's our route - 7 km in an hour and a half or so.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Wednesday 24 July 2019 - SWOG visits Dunham Massey

Nigel and Sue lead an evening walk from The Swan with Two Nicks for most summers. We previously joined them on , when they took a clockwise route, rather than today's anti-clockwise version.
By 7.35pm, just Nigel, Cary and I remained outside the pub, waiting for a late-comer whose GPS didn't recognise the nearby new road system.
Eventually we got going and we soon entered Dunham Massey's grounds.
Our group of five passed the Saw Mill and caught about 18 others before reaching Charcoal Lodge, happily shining in the late sunshine.
The group then left the park and wandered through the golf course, and made its way to the Bridgewater Canal.
We proceeded to the aqueduct over the River Bollin.
This is the last section of towpath before the steps leading back down to the Swan.
Here's the route - 6 km with minimal ascent, taking an hour and a half at a very leisurely pace.
I'd arrived early for this walk (Sue is away as her dad had his - successful according to first indications - heart operation today; we wish him well) on my bike so had already enjoyed a beer, thus I was soon on my bike again for the 20 minute ride home, before it got dark.
Thanks to Nigel and Sue for venturing out of their normal patch to lead this walk.