OVERSEAS holidaymakers are returning to Middlewich to enjoy a relaxing break on the canal.

Family run Andersen Boats in Middlewich have been delighted to welcome back tourists who book year after year.

The canal adventure holiday business has been relieved to set sail again after being moored up for almost four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pauline Andersen, whose husband Neil and dad Frederick, now 99, founded the company in 1973, said: "We're busy both with regulars and new visitors.

"We have had some from overseas including Holland. They have driven not flown over and said they had a lovely time. We are pretty well booked up for next month with just a few short breaks available."

Neil runs the company with brother John and sister Jenny Hough. Hailed Best in Britain in 2014, the family normally attracts visitors from all over the world including Norway, Scandinavia, America and New Zealand.

But lockdown left the company without any income.

"We lost all our bookings from March until the end of June," said Pauline. "Some had refunds but a lot luckily have transferred their holidays to later this year or next year. But we haven't gained any money so we need to catch up at the beginning of next year."

Bookings are now being taken for 2021.

Stringent Covid-19 safety measures are now in place.

A more intensive cleaning regime has been introduced.

A mock up of all the equipment has been created in a spacious workshop to show holidaymakers how to use the toilet, boiler and other mechanics instead of staff showing visitors onboard.

"All the customers are pleased with this so we are going to keep this idea, it works more efficiently," said Pauline. "We've got a big workshop where we build the boats so there is plenty of space to demonstrate to work the boiler and other things. It means we don't have to come on the boat with them."

Holidaymakers are being asked to supply their own pillows and bedding and given anti bacterial spray to wipe down surfaces before they leave.

"We all wear PPE and steam all the soft furnishings," said Pauline. "The whole boat then has to be intensively cleaned, every single item of crockery, all door handles, light switches and all surfaces.

"We're busy today as we have seven boats coming in this morning at 9am and seven going out at 1pm."

New staggered arrival and embarkation times reduces the number of visitors being together.

Winsford Guardian:

Stringent new Covid-19 safety procedures are now in place

"It's all worked really well," said Pauline. "We've had a lot of very positive reviews. Boating is so relaxing, it is the best holiday you can have to be away from coronavirus. You can be out there on your own and moor up in the middle of nowhere. It is the safest holiday to have."

READ > Big thank you to shoppers from Wheelock Street traders

As well as cleaning the boats, Pauline has been busy making face masks while her sister Jackie Latham takes orders and delivers them.

The pair have been donating money to support doctors and nurses treating patients with coronavirus.

Since new regulations made masks mandatory in shops, Pauline has been inundated with demand.

"I had a surge of orders," she said. "I received 60 orders within a couple of hours. I was sitting at the machine until 11pm plus doing the boats but I've caught up now."

The cotton masks have a filter pocket and are machine washable. They cost £4 and come in different designs and sizes for men, women and children.

The sisters have raised £800 for Leighton Hospital.