Trains and boats and planes

The Cal Guys are both pretty interested in things that move – as relatively frequent visitors to the UK they can hold forth on transatlantic airlines and on aircraft types. Cal Guy Snr has often been to the Marine Corps Air Show at Miramar (just north of San Diego) and so a visit to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden     to examine some (slightly) older aircraft seemed a good plan. To see an aircraft being pushed up a slope back to the hanger    was unexpected but there were surprises too in seeing biplanes  , a triplane in the hanger (photo here from the internet)      and even an aircraft that had featured in a James Bond movie. 

You cannot drive towards Bedford from the west or approach the town from the south without noticing the vast garden sheds on the skyline.    These are the Cardington Airship Sheds, famous more recently for the shooting of a Batman movie, for the Goodyear blimp and the development of the Airlander. The ill-fated R101 rigid airship flew from Cardington in October 1930 but crashed on a hillside in France, causing a catastrophic loss of life. A huge marble memorial to the 48 people who lost their lives is situated in the village churchyard. 

Aircraft featured too in the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.    Such beautiful structures become very difficult to photograph in an aircraft hall    when another aeroplane is nearly always in view… Not that all aircraft sightings were in museum settings: opening up a couple of boxes of their father’s old models one hot afternoon was “just like Christmas,” according to Cal Guy Jnr.     And look what else emerged from a scramble through the contents of an old trunk…

Boats next: the Cal Guys were keen to reprise their four day Cleddau boat trip. Time was short but an afternoon trip was arranged, from Priory Marina along the bare mile up onto Bedford’s fine Embankment,     for a lunch under the trees, a walk to the Castle Mound and a working through Town Lock. 

A car trip to Buckden Marina to visit Tentatrice and crew later in the week offered chance to compare the different layouts on two different narrowboats  – and to make friends with Boat Dog Monty.    Up in Cheshire for a week there was another boat to look at.   While the Captain and Cal Guy Snr investigated The Secret Bunker at Hack Green  Boatwif and Cal Guy Jnr crewed for Jaq    on nb Valerie  This was canal cruising, moving at a slower pace than on the river – and noticing that the canal locks are far narrower too.

Another boat ride in Cheshire involved a 50 foot descent on the Anderton Boat Lift.  No words can effectively describe this majestic structure near Northwich. Built in 1875 to convey coal, salt and china goods between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal it has had a fascinating history.     Now thanks to huge volunteer effort Canal & River Trust operate the Lift daily, lowering and lifting boats between two different waterways.


Trains come in different shapes and sizes: a model train in Buxton’s Pavilion Park,     a Virgin train on the East Coast mainline,   while a working replica of The Planet   a Robert Stephenson invention, was spotted on display in the Manchester museum. Then a personal train journey between Macclesfield and Reading proved unforgettable: it was a smooth ride but the double booking of seats for the Glaswegian cheerleader troupe must have left passengers in Coach F with headaches from the noise and bruising from the squashed conditions…

There was an unfamiliar voice delivering a met forecast last week when, on a BBC studios tour, Cal Guy Snr tried out the role of BBC weather forecaster. Play here to listen…

Cal Guy Jnr, meanwhile, joined a tour for a younger age group.    He read sections of news (his were the green words on the autocue) in the Newsround studio,     he posed bravely beside a dalek      and discovered just how small the Blue Peter studio is…   

The BBC buildings    are in a stunning situation at Salford Quays.  

What a huge expanse of water there is – .   just what size vessels would have come this far up the Mersey and onto the Ship Canal into the heart of Manchester…?

Manchester has a highly efficient tram system: “You must try it out,” Cheshire Mum urged, “when you visit the MOSI…” (the Museum of Science and Industry near Deansgate in Manchester). It’s fast, it’s smooth, concluded the Californians, though it sways more than their local light railway back in San Marcos. 

Hopefully it was the stuff the Cal Guys did on foot that left positive memories too. There was French cricket and tennis with the Cheshire One cousin and a walk into the underground Poole Cavern at Buxton.


There was a case of being united by language but divided by experience. “Would you like to go rock climbing one evening?” the Captain had asked. Cal Guy Jnr was keen, Cal Guy Snr less so. Days later realisation struck: “You mean rock climbing on REAL rocks…?”  proclaimed the younger Guy.   Why go to an indoor artificial climbing wall when the prime climbing site of The Roaches is just over the border in Staffordshire. Ropes and gear    were hauled up to the climbing site and yes, both Guys and The Cheshire One climbed up and abseiled down real rocks!



Then what could be this post’s title? Trains and boats and planes came to mind, beautifully, mournfully, sung here by Dionne Warwick. Perhaps the title should have been extended a bit: Trains and boats and planes; parks and ball games and ice cream, but that would have made this post a whole lot longer…


You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    Brilliant post Sue! What fun the two boys are having with Grampy and Granny, cousins, Aunts and Uncles. And the weather continues to hold for their visit.
    Love and hugs,
    Jaq xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.