AC/DC – Dortmund to Prague..

After the caves – and a friendly altercation with the “spaznav” – Sandra drives north. Fast.

Speed always sounds swifter in kilometres than miles, but, even so, we really are hoofing it up the A45. But why not? – German motorways are renowned for allowing unlimited top speeds.

Nowadays, though, these unrestricted roads are few and far between. I wonder how my four-geared Citroen  – it was new in 1989 – would fare if I really opened her up here. I’m talking downhill, obviously – to minimise the shaking of the steering wheel at more than 100km/h. German police may object to it being in an overtaking lane at all.

So, engine roaring, and trash metal on the stereo – oh sorry, I believe it is called thrash metal – we’re off to The Old Henrichenburg Shiplift in Waltrop. ‘Are you sure it’s open on Sundays, Sandra?’ I ask early on in the journey.

She assures me that, come rain or shine, this marvel of nineteenth-century engineering operates daily. There is no doubt, whatsoever, that vessels are being hydraulically lifted, at this very minute, between sections of the Dortmund-Ems canal.

We arrive, enthusiastic, to be told that the lift closed in 1970. And, on top of this news, all this gallivanting has meant that I’ve missed the erotic show next to AC/DC’s gig back at the Westfalenhalle, Dortmund.

Now refurbished, but certainly not working – for, oh, I don’t know, thirty-nine years or so –  the Henrichenburg Shiplift is still a sight to behold. Unable to fathom why one needs a shiplift in the first place, we have a look in the museum.

Why isn’t there a standard lock system here? I wonder. Surely it’s much easier just to shut the gate behind your ship and flood the tank? The museum blurb proves fruitless. It’s all pistons and crankshaft cross-sections; my impetuous questions remain unanswered.

Miraculously, as we leave, there is a passably attractive staff member on the steps outside. She tells us that an ordinary lock system would require too much water – 30,000 tons of it, to be specific. So that’s the reason..