Well what a year so far. Spent January-March moored up at Llangollen on a winter mooring, and then we were off to Ellesmere and beyond. Whilst in Llangollen, we got to share openly about God's love with others who moored up there. We also got to show people God's love in practical ways. Who knows how the little things we do today will affect those we come into contact with in the future?
On 7 April, we set off on a trip to Liverpool, returning to the Llangollen early in June. As always with boating and with life, we have our plans but sometimes things change. We think this is finally sinking in so we are a bit more prepared, although we usually need a few days to adjust to the new plans!
Chris had some temporary work at a college in Worcester, which meant one day at the college and two days work from home. This was an answer to prayer in financing our trip while we were away, although logistically meant we needed to be near a train station as the majority of the time we didn’t have our car.
Our trip off the Llangollen was relatively good. Just praying that we would be OK getting out of Lock 4 at Hurleston. Phew, that was fine, well done to the lock keepers helping everyone down. We carried on to Nantwich, where Chris caught the train to Worcester and there was some work on a boat to do there.
We then headed to Middlewich only hitch - a towel in the prop. This seems to happen to us when we go through there. Then onto the Bridgewater canal, where we met a guy who needed to chat and came with us to Sale. Whilst here, we met up with family and friends and kidnapped our son, who we took to help with those lock things that start again at Wigan.
Had a lovely afternoon at Pennington Flash. This was all new waters for us, as we had only ever travelled as far as Old Trafford Football stadium before. We duly arrived in Burscough to deliver our son to the station and pick up Mum, Pat, for a few days. It was also good to have Chris’s sister and husband visit whilst en-route to Burscough.
We headed to swing bridge 20 on the Leeds and Liverpool which, sadly, just before we arrived, had been vandalised overnight by someone with a JCB. We thought our trip to Liverpool was over; we winded and headed back to Burscough as a trip to Worcester was due on the Friday. However, once we got back there, we heard they were going to manually open the Bridge on Saturday at midday. So, Chris went off to work on the Friday and on his return we duly winded again and headed back to Bridge 20 for the appointed time on Saturday. It was a beautiful day on Friday but, as British weather dictates, if you need to move on a specific date, then watch out. A line of boats proceeded through Bridge 20 on the windiest and wettest day we had had in a long time. "Such fun", as Miranda Hart would say! At one point, Chris clung desperately to Kairos as the wind blew vigorously across the open plains and Sally went off to open one of the many swing bridges along this part of the network.
We moored at Melling, so we could take our passage into Liverpool docks on Sunday. The weather was much improved and we enjoyed our trip into the Docks. We had an enjoyable week exploring Liverpool. We also got to meet up with a youth pastor called Josh Keilly. We had chance to fellowship at their house group and share a bit about canal life and Canal Ministries. Liverpool is a beautiful city and so well looked after by the Liverpool One team. However, as is common in many of our towns and cities, there are lots of people who are living rough. We did what we could, but our hearts are broken by the enormity of the scale of poverty in our country.
We left Liverpool on 5 May and headed to Scarisbrick Marina, where we left our boat while we had a trip to Folkestone. On our return, we travelled through Wigan with a couple who someone from Canal Ministries had met the previous year and had prayed for the lady who had had cancer - she was now clear of cancer; an amazing answer to prayer!
We then headed back along to Pennington Flash, Sale then Lymm, where we met with friends and discussed the possibility of a future mission in the area. We arrived at the Anderton Lift on the lookout, as we had heard that Terry, a member of BCF, had had an accident. We spotted their boat and helped them to travel over the next few days and be able to get closer to a Doctor.
Below Middlewich, we separated and we had a visit from some very good friends with two young children who had never been on the boat before. They thoroughly enjoyed going through the locks at Middlewich and their 2 year old daughter loved the ducks and swans.
We then headed to Nantwich after they had left so Chris could catch a train to Worcester for another visit - then it was hold your breath time again going back onto the Llangollen up Hurleston Locks. A rather windy day again with a try once then try again approach to Lock 4, but we made it back onto home turf.
It is always great to travel and to meet people. It is also good to be based in an area and build relationships with people. Sometimes we have chance to share about God with them, sometimes we have chance to show God's love in a practical way. We never take for granted the privilege we have to live the way we do, meeting so many lovely people and interacting with them. We would ask that if you have had time to read our little update, please pray for us as we look for every opportunity to share God and His merciful love. Pray that we will have sensitivity as we do this. Pray for God's provision, as He has demonstrated so many times, He does supply. Pray He will guide us in our encounters and that He will show us where we are needed. Pray that, through this different way of life, we will bring people to meet with the living Lord and find their own path to salvation.
We cannot always share all we do, as people are important and we have a duty to treat things said with confidence. We do what we are led to do by our Lord and Saviour and that is who we put our trust in always.
In His Name
Chris and Sally Buck
Canal Ministries - sharing God's Love on the Inland Waterways.
Felicity Elspeth Rose.
River Dee, Llangollen.