A Training Weekend Report
from Christine & Roger Ball

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First things first, Chris and I would like to thank Simon for a most enjoyable weekend, we learned a lot and the enthusiasm and patience coupled with good humour of Mike, Jim and yourself made the experience special.
We first encountered President and Kildare at the Salt museum at Northwich in April, they were moored for the weekend on the way to Liverpool. We were invited on board by very knowledgeable crew members whose enthusiasm turned out to be infectious. The result of this; Chris and I joined F O P.
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The first available training weekend was booked and eagerly awaited. Chris and I were met by our Captain, Simon Nuttall, and from the outset were made very welcome. We stowed our gear and then were joined by Mike Palfrey, he too made us feel at home. Simon and Mike started by giving us the members tour of the facilities and then we got on to the serious stuff, l was shown how to lay the fire which l then lit, no it didn’t go out.
While this had been going on Chris provided the tea and familiarised herself with the galley.

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While we waited for steam to get up, we started polishing the brass and spruced up the engine. Time passed very quickly and with sufficient steam pressure we, after some skillful maneuvering, ventured out for a short trip with President. What an experience, yes it was a beautiful day, but the smiles on our faces I think shone brighter than even the sun.
We turned and l was allowed on the tiller for a short time, just to get the feel, Mike proved a good patient instructor. We moored up for the day back alongside Kildare at the Museum. We were hot, a bit black and thirsty but Simon had planned for the latter and after a scrub and change of clothes the four of us quickly strolled to The Pie Factory, Simon had booked a table, I think it’s fair to say a goodnight was had by all !

image[3]We woke to a lovely morning on Sunday, we slept in Kildare’s back cabin, kindly surrendered by Simon, an experience not to be missed. Jim Garatt joined us, he was driver for the day and proved to be very helpful and skillful.
Simon gave advice and help with meeting visitors and it wasn’t long before we both were putting it to use.
We both enjoyed being hosts, and I found it very rewarding as I’m sure Chris did. The look on some peoples faces, trying to answer their questions, and the thanks were reward enough.
With some cleaning done we ventured out again , this trip was a bit longer and incorporated three locks. Simon gave both of us instruction and I think we managed pretty well for a first time, lock virgins was a comment made ! I had a longer session on the tiller and thoroughly enjoyed the experience under the ever watchful eye of Mike.
Before we turned for home Chris provided us with drinks and home made cake.
More lock experience followed and all too quickly we were back moored alongside Kildare.

Simon and Mike gave us a beginner’s guide to knots while Jim rehydrated. We mopped and swept up and said our image[2]goodbyes.
Thank you Simon, Mike and Jim for sharing your knowledge, being patient and giving us a weekend which will stay in our memories for ever.
On a personal note we tried to look the part, we acquired waistcoats, flat hats and suitable shirts all at minimal cost, we felt ‘the part’ and from one or two comments it seems at least some of the public thought we new what we were doing.

Did we like the experience yes !

Would we like to come again yes please !

Christine and Roger Ball

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