Robert Hampton

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1st January 2010

2009? More like Two Thousand and Fine!

July saw Merseyrail’s run of bad luck continue, as a train rolled out of the depot and derailed. To atone for their sins, they introduced a new day ranger ticket, but I wasn’t convinced. This was something of a train-y month for me, as I did my bit to help out the previous generation of Merseyrail trains. Trains were also on the Government’s mind, as they announced that the Liverpool to Manchester line would be electrified.

In London, the Police proved once again what a wonderful organisation they are. In Rome, a swimmer suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

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5th August 2009

Quays Please Me
Posted by at 6.51pm | Out and About | 1 response

Every summer, Mersey Ferries operate special cruises along the Manchester Ship Canal. Every year I’ve looked at the leaflet and thought, “I must go on one of those,” only to find the leaflet again several months later and think: “I should have gone on one of those.”

I finally fulfilled my ambition yesterday, after my friend Andrew suggested we go. So at 10.10am we were one of several hundred people boarding the Snowdrop for the six-hour trip to Manchester, via Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Warrington and Trafford.

I was slightly dubious that a six-hour trip on a ferry would be too much, but it turned out to be really interesting. There was a brilliant guide providing live commentary, which not only pointed out every landmark, but also explained the purpose of every ship and barge we passed. He didn’t even lose his cool when, as we passed under Runcorn bridge, an almighty blast from the ship’s whistle made everyone jump. There were lots of pensioners on board; I’m sure there was much changing of incontinence pads afterwards.

Tying up at Salford Quays, we had two and a half hours to kill before our “coach” (actually an Arriva double decker) turned up to take us home. We wandered round the Imperial War Museum for an hour. I was expecting a slightly unpleasant glorification of war, but there was none of that and it was a sober affair, focusing on the experiences and suffering of the soldiers on the front line. At the moment they are holding a special exhibition on prisoners of war which I highly recommend if, like me, your knowledge of PoW camps is limited to watching The Great Escape on a wet bank holiday weekend.

Then there was just time to check out the Lowry Outlet Mall, which depressingly had almost Clayton Square-like levels of shuttered shops. Just across the road, MediaCityUK — the BBC’s new effort to convince people they’re not too London-centric — is taking shape.

Still, a very enjoyable day, not least because I got the bonus experience of sitting on the top deck of a bus doing 70 along the M62 with a severe cross-wind blowing us sideways.

So, in summary, yes, I loved it and would definitely go again. The ship canal cruises can be booked online at the Mersey Ferries web site.