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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Not a Bridge Too Far.

After a lovely day yesterday that was a bit of a surprise we were woken up in the night with the rain and when we got up it was raining and blowing in the morning. It was hissing it down. Once or twice we nearly set off but it just kept back from the brink as the rain started again. However it did give us the opportunity to get some housework done.

The falling rain that kept us lying low until 1045!

Once we set off though we only had to don the wet weather gear for about 5 minutes as the edge of a shower brushed past us. Today was the day of bridges. There are a variety of bridges. There are the ones for farmers access and most of these are left open permanently. Some are for footpaths and these are normally hand operated. You have to take a key and unlock them, then lift the securing pin and then push the bar to swing the bridge open. Helen does this task as I dash through and wait for her at the other side whilst she closes it. The 'fun' really starts when the bridge is for road traffic. There is a variety of mechanisms for working these and some of the roads are very busy. Some have just barriers that you push across and then swing the bridge like a footpath one. Most of them are mechanised to some degree. You have to puzzle out what you actually have to do by hand and what the electricity/hydraulics does for you. First off Helen has to find a break in the traffic and then start the operation. Most have a set of lights like at a level crossing. Then some have the barriers come down and then some have to be brought across manually. It is surprising how impatient people get. As we went through one yesterday we let another boat through and he told me that when he came through in the other direction he activated the lights and a female driver carried on to beat them but the barrier at the other end shut and then the one behind. He didn't want to press the emergency button as notoriously this means that the bridge doesn't break again. Therefore the car stayed on as the bridge was swung and then returned. They are usually quite quick and I try to be just there waiting as the bridge swings but it isn't so easy in the wind. We have been having a bit of trouble with the new key we have but normally the old, more worn one, works if the other doesn't. In total today we have done 5 bridges and another two were permanently open. There are a load of bridges tomorrow but we are hoping that the Canal and River Trust guys will be working them. We have one more to do in the morning and then all those who are going down have to muster at Bridge 9 so that they can 'escort' us down into Liverpool.

Helen puzzling out the instruction for this particular bridge.

Lights flashing and barriers down Helen keeps her finger on the button to set the lifting jacks and swing motion into action.

This bridge was very quiet but we have had over a dozen cars and pedestrians waiting.

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