It was obvious as we climbed out of Middlewich that the need for a new bow fender was becoming urgent. The damaged one wasn't really doing anything at al to protect the front of the boat. I'd told Ken to keep a look out for a "fender boat" when who should we meet coming out of Malkins Bank Bottom Lock than Brian and Anne Marie on "Alton". Brian and Anne-Marie trade as the Renaissance Canal Carrying Compnay selling coal, diesel and, crucially, fenders from their ex-Grand Union Canal Carrying Company narrowboat.
A swift exchange of fenders and money took place (delayed slightly by the difficulty of finding a signal for Anne Marie's card reader in rural Cheshire) and we were on our way.
A photo of Alton and crew should appear here, but Blogger can't cope with uploading photos tonight!
Brian recognised Starcross from this blog and advised us that the best place to try and fit the fender would be in a full lock, using the top gate as a work-platform and as the locks at Malkins Bank are in pairs and we wouldn't be holding anyone up, we decided to try at the next one.
In retrospect it was a mistake to begin this task at 1.00pm because an-hour-and-a-half and much sweat (but no tears) later we were just able to sit down to lunch. Brian will be pleased to hear that the fender is on and doing a good job, but we'll get no points for the way we've fixed it, which will only be temporary until I can find someone who knows what he's doing to put it right. And definitely no photos!
The delay meant that we couldn't rerach Kidsgrove tonight and are at Rode Heath. Even as late as 24th April I still haven't seen any baby ducklings yet although we did sight the first swallows of the summer today.