Friday, December 28, 2007

Back To The Boat

It's been a strange week- we really are not used to life being quite so hectic. Ben the dog is at present catching up on his sleep. In Sally and Bob's house he didn't get a daytime nap as he was too nosey, watching all that was going on and there was a little pup to keep an eye on too. The picture shows Sam helping himself to Ben's bone. We enjoyed visiting Paula and Danielle but their little dogs were not too keen on a big Ben the dog visiting as well. At Clare and Lisa's house he was safe as the only dog was a picture on the kitchen wall and he enjoyed all the attention from my daughters. At least he now realises car journeys can be fun especially when they end up in a run around Tredegar Park. The journey back to the boat at Llangollen was fine, not too much traffic and Ben slept for a while when he wasn't watching the world whiz by. Clare came back with us for a few days so we had to go to Wrexham for a little sale shopping after all we had Christmas money to spend. Back on the boat we can relax again and get back to the slow pace of life we have become quite used to.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here again, only one more sleep until Christmas Day! We travelled to Newport on Friday and Ben behaved himself. He soon settled down in the car and was happy as long as his head was on my lap.We wondered if he would whinge all the way as this he is not used to car travel. He has also quickly got the idea of a house with stairs although he makes us smile as he sleeps in the hall- the only narrow space he can find. He has thoroughly enjoyed Tredegar Park where he can run after his ball and meets lots of other dogs. Ben is not interested in playing with any other dogs who come and see him, he has a one track mind- he just can't wait to chase the ball. We are finding it strange to be in a house but it's nice to see our family at this time of the year. Sam the dog lives in this house with Sally and Bob and Ben is a giant up against a tiny pup. Ben and Sam are fine together as long as we keep an eye on them because Ben gets a big heavy footed when he's excited. All the preparations are done, all we have to do is get a good nights sleep and it'll be Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vodafone To The Rescue

I have been really fed up with my connection to the Internet with my data card set up so I went to find out about a USB modem. It was an unplanned visit to Wrexham. Well the modem works brilliantly as I am doing this from the boat and the green light has stayed on showing a 2G connection. In Wrexham they were only too pleased to see me sign up for a 18 month contract to get a free USB modem. So I can use my laptop on the boat again! I know it's £30 a month but that's just a pound a day and I know I'll get my moneys worth. I also did a bit of Christmas shopping, just one more present still to get. A school choir was singing carols so I enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Cold And Frosty Morning

Looking at Sue's blog(NB No Problem) in the library at Llangollen I can certainly see how cold it's been in various parts of of the country. Here at Llangollen the frost is thick, the puddles and mud have turned to ice but it is good dog walking weather as we both don't get quite so muddy. Also as the canal flows from here to Hurleston Junction there is no ice at all on the canal. It is very cold but we are warm and cosy with the coal fire and the central heating as a background heat. I never thought I would like being moored in one place but it has been a pleasant change. We have had a chance to get to know the other boaters , who usually just pass with a wave and a hello as they travel along to their next mooring. We've put up our Christmas lights and some baubles on the windows but no tree as there's not much room, it will be our first Christmas on the boat. We are visiting family for Christmas Day and I am still cooking Christmas dinner! I hope Ben behaves himself in a house, after all he's lived the last nine months on a boat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Trip To Trevor

What have I been up to you ask as a whole week has gone by. Well I have been to a cold and windy on the train. The train was much newer than usual and had a trolley service which makes a change. First port of call in Newport was a haircut by Lisa at Josephs, she knows just how I like my hair! Next I had arranged to meet Wendy and we had a catch up chat with tea and toasted teacakes in M & S coffee shop. Later on at my dad's house my three daughters came to visit- it was really nice to see them. The weather that night was dreadful with the wind howling and rain lashing down and I rang Eric on the boat to make sure he was OK. In the morning I visited the dentist and had my cap fitted on my tooth and then it was back home to the boat in Llangollen.
On Monday we decided to walk the dog to Trevor, which is where the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is. We didn't realise it was four miles away but it was warm in the sun although there were lots of puddles and mud. Ben was delighted to be tramping through mud and puddles. After his eight mile walk he had his usual wash and promptly went to sleep. It was the quietest evening we'd had for a long time-he didn't even want to play ball along the boat. We were feeling weary so we were glad of the peace. On Tuesday we visited Trevor again, this time by boat to fill up with diesel. The price had gone up to 65p a litre. It was very cold and frosty and were glad to be moored up and cosy once more.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Walks In Llangollen

Thursday came and it was a lovely bright sunny day so we decided to do another bit of the Llangollen History Trail. Last time we walked up to Dinas Bran Castle. We set off along the towpath our first stop was the Horseshoe falls. It's actually a horseshoe shaped weir on the River Dee. Eric captured the moment as we waited by the water(posing), two minutes later Ben was standing in the shallow bit having a drink. He always likes to get his feet in the water too!

From the falls we walked in a northerly direction- it wasn't far to Llantysilio Church where we stopped for a drink, a mars bar and a short rest. The next part of our walk was uphill along a narrow path around Velvet Hill, we decided not to climb this bit! Then we walked along the marked path through a field of sheep who all moved away from Ben on his lead. Quite a funny sight! The ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey were in sight but as it's out of season we could only walk around the grounds and Ben was not allowed in, so we took it in turns to go and have a look. This Abbey was once the the second richest in Wales after Tintern Abbey in South Wales. Ben really enjoyed his long walk and he needed a face wash, feet, legs and tummy wash before he could come back on the boat- the smell of mud and dung would have been too much to bear. He made us smile as he happily let us give him a wash on the bow of the boat.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Update From Llangollen

As we are moored at the moment I am finding I don't know what to write. I travelled home to Newport from Ruabon Station- when I got there I was the only person on the station and wondered if the train would stop. The train was Holyhead to Carmarthen and quite a rickety journey but I had a seat and read my book so I was quite happy. I arrived in Newport and it seemed so strange with lots of people about I felt quite lonely! I rang Sally in America and she rang me back using her phonecard as she has to pay £1 a minute to receive incoming calls. After a nice chat I walked down to the dentist and had my crown preparation done and will have the new crown in December. I will have to be careful I don't lose the temporary one as it's £46.90 on the train to get back to Newport.
Dad as usual was pleased to see me- and the salad awaited me as expected! Clare came to visit and we had a chance to catch up before I fell into bed exhausted. In the morning I did the usual prescription repeats and visited Alison (my cousin) before she set off on her Caribbean Cruise- her boat is definitely bigger than mine! After that I did a bit of shopping for my dad and had lunch with him. In the evening Sally and Bob came with Sam the dog- he's teeny weeny and so cute. They took me up to see Lisa at her house- her bump is growing and we'll soon know whether it's a boy or girl as she has a scan in December.
My journey back to Llangollen was quite uneventful. I was disappointed there wasn't a trolley service on the train so NO HOT CHOCOLATE. Luckily I had bought sandwiches and a drink at M&S so I was OK. After a short wait at Ruabon the bus came and I travelled back to Llangollen. Ben and Eric were both pleased to see me. It was nice to be back afloat as that's where I feel at home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What have I Done This Week

We have had an incredibly lazy weekend. We haven't done much apart from walking the dog regardless of the rain and wandering around the town. I miss being able to use my computer on the boat- some days it just won't connect and I end up going to the library. I did go shopping in Wrexham and bought some new jeans in BHS after trying on loads to find a pair that fitted. I also bought Eric a new dressing gown and pyjamas and a few bits and pieces for Christmas. I left Eric looking after Ben the dog.
This morning there is a sprinkling of snow on the surrounding hills and the woolly hats and gloves have come out of the cupboard. I see on NB No Problem's blog snow is falling all around them, so maybe we have that to look forward to. On NB Bendigedig we are warm and cosy, just like Sue and Vic on NB No Problem. Several others boats are wintering here including NB Liberty Belle, NB Shush, and NB Cartref. It's nice having neighbours to have a chat to and the ladies aboard are planning a shopping trip to Wrexham!
On Wednesday I am going to the dentist in Newport to have a crown preparation. While I am there I'll stay at my dad's and visit my family. Sally and Bob have a new arrival- a little eight week jack russell pup called Sam- I can't wait to see him.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Visitors From South Wales

We don't seem to have done a lot this week other than walk the dog, or take him to a big open space to play ball and see if he does his usual trick or finding a hole to put it down. I thought sheepdogs were bright- he still has not got the message that if he puts it down a deep hole I can't get it out and neither can he. We have done the usual food shopping with lots of nice shops in Llangollen and wandered around the town looking in the gift shops with Christmas presents in mind. On Saturday we had a nice surprise we actually had a phone call- why the delight you ask- well vodafone is very iffy where we are so we tend to get texts rather than calls. Anyway to cut a long story short Sally and Bob were going to visit on Sunday. They arrived at 12.15pm just in time for Sunday lunch at The Bridge End Hotel and it was a lovely lunch too. The vegetables were all fresh and the lamb very good too and I do love eating out, everything tastes so much better when you don't have to cook it. After a lazy hour or two chatting we went for a walk with Ben the dog before they headed back to South Wales. It was great to have some visitors.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Castell Dinas Bran

We made it- having a rest!

Eric came too!

Ben's really at home here!

We are enjoying our winter mooring here in Llangollen, it's a nice change ! Ben and I have had lots of walks as Eric still has a sore toe. Yesterday we did a four mile walk along the canal towpath towards Trevor, when we got back Ben was ready to play ball after a short nap. Today Eric was feeling OK (toe bandaged up) so we decided to go for a hilly walk up to Castell Dinas Bran, a castle ruin which overlooks Llangollen and would give us some spectacular views of the mountains. When I saw how high we had to walk I was daunted but we took it slowly and had lots of stops to get our breath back and we made it. I will post some photos to prove it if this computer at Llangollen Library will let me- otherwise I'll try on my laptop but the signal is a bit iffy. It works better about teatime for some unknown reason! Llangollen library is great - so the proof is in the photos.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Peace And Quiet At Llangollen Wharf

It was a pleasant journey from Ellesmere to Llangollen with beautiful views as we crossed the aqueducts and travelled closer to Llangollen. It took us two days as we travelled about four hours a day. The last mile or so was very slow with the current against us and the one way sections. It was just as well I walked ahead with Ben as various hire boaters ignored the signs about one way traffic, they were going through and we had to get out of the way! We moored at the visitor moorings with the other six boats wintering here. Some nice people too and I'm sure we'll get to know each other! Ben loves it here as we've found the open spaces near the canal where we can play chase the ball. The satellite tv works here but the mobile phone works better off the boat. I am a bit disappointed as the internet connection is not good, but I joined the library and can use the computers there for free. On the plus side it's great having electricity and water next to the boat, as well as refuse and elsan facilities close by. Another good thing is that although lots of walkers pass during the day it has been peaceful at night. The welsh flag is flying on our boat in Wales once again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What A Day!

The day started quite normally other than the fact we were up earlier due to the clocks going back an hour. We planned to go up to the turning circle and then get some water and moor on the Ellesmere Arm so we could go out to lunch. But the best plans went a bit haywire today. Eric was feeling a bit off with a pain in his side but he thought he'd be OK! My middle daughter Clare is visiting so I walked Ben along the towpath while they were on the boat travelling. Anyway the pain got really bad and we had to moor the boat and call for help. Shropshire Ambulance Service were amazing they arrived within 15 minutes walking along the towpath to get to us as we were about half a mile from the road. They decided it would be easier to take us to the turning circle, turn around and go back to the ambulance by boat. The man from the hotel boat Willow helped my daughter moor up while I went to Wrexham Hospital with Eric. Some chaps from Canaltime at Blackwater Meadow Marina came up from the marina to help move the boat down to the visitor moorings alerted by some friendly walkers who had seen us going off in an ambulance. The paramedics were great, they enjoyed their boat trip and we were soon wired up and on our way to hospital. It turned out the excruciating pain was due to a kidney infection but it's better to be safe than sorry. Ben the dog also had a bad day - he has a plaster on his ear where a collie dog bit him! Clare bumped her head on the hatch trying to catch an escapee dog so I think that's all the bad luck we need for one day! Needless to say we never got Sunday lunch!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Winter Moorings!

We have spent just over a week in Ellesmere and the BW man is certainly taking his boat check seriously- he comes past everyday. We have been chatting to other boaters on this lovely canal and found that they have been told that as they already know about the stoppage at Grindley Brook they need a winter mooring to stay on this canal for the winter! What happened to being able to continuously cruise along the open section of the canal? One lady boater we know feels so harassed by BW that she is selling her boat and going back to living in a house. She's always followed the rules and stays off the visitor moorings so she can stay two weeks on the towpath, but doesn't want a winter mooring in one place. Are any other continuous cruisers facing hassle about staying the winter on other canals?
Before we heard about all the hassle certain continuous cruisers were having around Ellesmere, we had decided to spent the winter in Llangollen and rang BW to arrange it- apparently they allow thirteen boats to stay online for a mooring fee. You can stay on the arm at Ellesmere, it's cheaper but Llangollen has water and electricity next to each boat. We had tried to book two weeks in December in a marina but as the hire boats are all back it was impossible. Well I feel better after a moan!!
This week we've seen a big change in the weather here. It's been misty and cold most mornings but the sun has come out to cheer us up. Ben and I have enjoyed lots of walks on crunchy leaves. The nights have been really cold with clear skies and the heating has cut in , even though it's only set low. In the evenings we have lit the stove and toasted, while we watched TV. Ben has kept us busy throwing the ball along the boat as it's too dark for a long evening walk.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ellesmere- Just A Quick Update.

We are at Ellesmere again, Ben loves it here as there is a big field he can run in and lots of walks too. We arrived just in time for Sunday Lunch at The Ellesmere Hotel, which is under new management. All I can say is the food was delicious- beautifully cooked and it cost £7.50 each for three courses so it's a great price too. On Monday I rang the dentist to fix up an appointment as I had broken a tooth on Saturday and on Tuesday I travelled home via Shrewsbury for my appointment. It needs a cap so it will be two more visits before it's sorted. I stayed overnight at my dad's house and in the morning I went to the doctor and got my flu jab and then caught the train back to Shrewsbury. It was certainly a flying visit! While I was away all it did was rain in Ellesmere, but let's hope it clears up now I am back.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sorry Chas And Anne!

There's some pretty places on the Shroppie- we loved Audlem. We actually found a space to moor at Nantwich too near the aqueduct, which makes a change. We went into town to do some shopping and have a wander around, sometimes it's nice to see lots of people. From Nantwich we headed for Hurleston Junction and the Llangollen Canal. We passed a boat and realised it was NB Moore2Life and Chas and Ann were waving at us from a bridge- sorry we didn't stop Eric was on autopilot!
Hurleston Locks were quiet but the lockie had had a busy morning- already three boats had got stuck in the first lock and the pound was low as she had to lower it to get them out. We passed through without any problem , but the next boat got stuck- what a bad day for the lockie! Above the locks we used the services and Ben enjoyed a run around on the towpath.
We continued on our way and did Swanley Locks where Ben decided to try and get on the boat while he was still on a lead, he ended up in the canal but he was none the worse for his impromptu swim. He got dried off and promptly tucked into his food. We continued on through locks until we got to Wrenbury. We wanted to stop here and do the black topcoat on the gunnel's as the towpath was about to change to the other side. We forgot about the church clock which chimes every quarter hour so I didn't sleep that well and ended up having a few cups of tea during the night.
At Marbury Lock we met Michelle from North Carolina on NB Shilling- she told me she reads my blog. I hope I heard your name correctly - otherwise sorry! We are still on the lookout for NB No Problem, who are heading our way. Ben and I walked to the next lock and Eric steered the boat. We got on board at Willeymoor Lock as we wanted to get past Grindley Brook Locks and get some fuel at Viking Afloat in Whitchurch before Saturday. As we approached the third lock who turned the corner and was heading towards the full lock but Sue and Vic on NB No Problem. This time the name was newly painted on the bow so they were easy to spot. A coffee break and a chat followed, as usual Vic made the coffees! Nice to see you both again- we look forward to meeting up again next year!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Onwards And Upwards!

An Autumn Tree
Bridge 39

We continued on our way up the Shroppie, Ben enjoyed his usual long walk as we followed the boat for an hour or so, but we remembered to go on board before we got to Grub Street Cutting- it's just so wet and muddy. The picture is of bridge 39 in the cutting- I love the mini telegraph pole from the days when telegraph poles were alongside the canal. All around us the trees are changing too! A kingfisher accompanied us along the cutting, even staying on the branch to have his photo taken.
We spent a quiet night near Tyrley Locks and in the morning we went down the five locks- the canal is definitely quieter now that it's October. Market Drayton was our next stop to get some food, we ended up shopping in Iceland. I looked like a granny with my shopping trolley but who cares! Lots more boats here at the visitor moorings but still very pleasant. We did the five locks at Adderley and then stopped- we needed a good night sleep before we did the Audlem 15! Someone in Adderley had a firework display, so Ben was upset by this- he really hates unusual noises. As we approach November 5th no doubt we will hear many more firework parties and have to reassure Ben that its OK!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Heading North- Up The Shroppie

We had a few hours in Stafford and then moved on to the peace and quiet of the countryside above Deptmore Lock- no roads or railways near here. We intended to visit Midland Chandlers near Penkridge but forgot it would be Sunday and they were shut. Near Penkridge the canal gets noisy as the M6 is so close, but we watched the cars and lorries whizzing by we were glad we were taking life in the slow lane. At Coven we stopped for fish and chips, we remembered from our previous visit how good they were! After lunch we headed off to Autherley Junction and through the lock onto the Shropshire Union Canal.

Now we really were heading north This canal is a series of cuttings and embankments running north to south and as it is rural it's one of our favourites. Its so straight after the meanderings of the Staffs and Worcs Canal. The days are getting shorter and the trees are definitely starting their autumnal change. It's also cold in the mornings too but we can always flick the switch and put the heating on. Most of the time we use the solid fuel stove as it keeps us warm all night without the noise of the heating system. We moored on an embankment a mile or so outside Brewood, only us there but by teatime we had eight boats with us. In the morning we did a bit of shopping at 'Coopers' in Brewood, then moved onto Wheaton Aston to fill up with water as I did the washing while we were on the move. At the visitor moorings we carefully selected a space away from the big oak tree- we remembered how we were bombarded with droppings under this tree! The satellite television worked but no luck with the laptop, so I took Ben the dog for a walk instead

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Staffordshire And Worcester Canal (Again!)

I spent the last few days in Newport leaving Eric in Great Haywood. It was nice to catch up with family and friends. I collected our repeat prescriptions as our doctor will only give us 28 days at a time. By the time I got back I had been missed by Eric and Ben the dog- hugs, kisses and licks in that order. After a cuppa we decided to move up to Tixall Wide on the Staffs and Worcester canal, but first we needed fuel, coal, gas and water from Anglowelsh. Tixall Wide was quite full of boats as usual but quiet and peaceful nevertheless. The ducks came for tea from the side hatch but we didn't see any other birds. In the morning we moved on , Ben and I walked miles while Eric steered the boat. We stopped near Stafford and caught a bus into Stafford while Ben looked after the boat. We both needed to get some new walking boots - after 8 months our boots were letting in water and we hate having wet feet! Millets in Stafford here we come!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On The Trent And Mersey

Photo of us taken by Mo

After an entertaining evening with Mo and Vanessa on their beautiful boat, we walked back to our boat wondering if Ben the dog had eaten anything he shouldn't! He had been very good and so we played ball along the boat for a little while before we went to bed. It was a very noisy night the rain hammered down and the wind howled and about nine o'clock in the morning we were just about thinking about getting up when we heard a bow thruster. As Mo and Vanessa left I heard a ' goodbye' and they were gone.

We travelled up to Fradley Junction which was surprisingly quiet, but the weather was not good, still windy and raining. We opened the paddles slowly remembering our last time through these locks when someone decided to help and opened the paddles right up and we crashed forwards breaking loads of glasses. No problems this time! Not an easy day due to the wind and so many moored boats which required us to go slowly past but we needed to get to Rugleley ( Morrison's very close to canal) to stock up with food- the cupboards were bare! We did the shopping then headed out into the countryside to moor for the night.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bloggers Meet At Streethay

We've been keeping our eyes peeled to spot Mo and Vanessa on NB Balamaha! As we approached a boat moored on the towpath we saw the orange lifebelt in the cratch and a green boat, so we pulled in to have a look. Yes it was them and coffee was shared and a photo opportunity too! We'll crack open a bottle or two later!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Onwards Up The Coventry Canal

We continued to follow the Warwickshire Ring passing Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal starts. We passed slowly through Nuneaton and headed back out into the countryside again. The BWB Yard at Hartshill was quite impressive with a clock tower and clock that chimed the hour, showing the correct time too! We moored just past the yard, as far away from the road as we could get. We walked up the hill to the village as we needed bread and milk and Ben needed a new ball- he had decided to shred his tennis ball to tiny bits during his mad hour before he fell asleep.

In the morning we headed towards Atherstone with a flight of eleven locks to do. It was an extremely windy day which made the boat more difficult to handle than usual.We had a few lucky times with a boat coming in the opposite direction so we could leave the gates open, and some of the locks were actually full waiting for us. The narrow locks always seem easier than the wide locks and you can usually get through them more quickly. After the locks we stopped just in time to miss the heavy rain. The night brought fog but it was soon gone in the morning.

We headed towards Tamworth and got held up in a queue for Glascote Locks- it took 3 hours to go through two locks as the second lock was filling very slowly as it was losing water from a damaged cill. Never mind it was a chance to have a chat with other boaters. We have been on the lookout for NB Balmaha- we hope we haven't missed them!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hawkesbury Junction

The Engine House At Hawkesbury Junction

The Greyhound At Hawkesbury Junction

Sam arrived to service the engine and we moved the boat nearer to a road to make it easier for him. While we were moored we had an 'I spy' moment. NB Madasca Soles with Maureen Davies on board came past and we spotted each other. Quick hellos were exchanged- nice to see you Maureen! Then we headed off for Hawkesbury Junction where the Oxford Canal meets the Coventry Canal through a stop lock. Boats moored everywhere here and we waited for a space at the water tap quite patiently. The water took nearly an hour to fill the tank and time was going on- we needed a spot for the night. Luckily as we headed off towards Atherstone we found a space for us. Eric took the photo of 'The Greyhound' as I did a cross stitch of this pub in the dreaming years (when we dreamt about having a narrowboat) when I did quite a few cross stitch pictures of canals and boats. It now lives in Clare and Lisa's house as do many others!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Braunston And Rugby On The Oxford Canal

Although we moored way outside Brauston we decided to go for a walk and follow the footpath up to the church and get some bread and milk. Then we walked down to 'The Boat Shop' on the canal and I saw a canal art painted bucket- it was £24.95 so we bought it and I got the inside all dirty by putting coal in it! After a quite night we headed onwards towards Rugby. Lots of boats about as it was Sunday but as the canal towpath is poor there were few walkers and even fewer places we could moor. We stopped at the services at Hillmorton Locks and managed to find a space although we had to get Ben to do a big jump to get onto the bank and we crashed a bit as there was a shelf under the water.
In the morning we did a big shop at Tesco on the outskirts of Rugby and couldn't get over how noisy it was in the store. We are so used to peace and quiet! We rang Sam at Foxton Boats to arrange a service-we've done 1250 hours now. So now we need to moor near a road where he can get to us. We found a place and await his visit. It's OK here as there good internet reception, good satellite reception and a pub if we fancy a drink. We've got a few jobs to do too- the chimney needs sweeping before we use it again, and of course there's always painting to do!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Oxford Canal

We stopped for the night near the top of Stockton Locks- went for a drink at a nearby pub- but it was ten past three and they closed at 3pm! After 15 locks on a hot day a cold beer would have gone down a treat! With the road near our mooring place it was going to be noisy but we were too tired to care. In the morning we set off and before we knew it we had gone up the 3 Calcutt Locks. While we were getting diesel and water from Calcutt Boats, I had a surprise! Adam on NB Debdale walked down from his boat moored above the locks to tell me he reads my blog- nice to meet you Adam.
We continued on towards Napton Junction, and noticed lots of marinas on this stretch of the Grand Union- Venetian Farm Marina is massive! Napton Junction itself was quite insignificant and dreary but left turn for us to continue on the Warwickshire Ring. This section of the canal is called the Oxford and Grand Union Canal and changes to the Oxford Canal at Braunston. At Braunston there were lots of 14 day moorings but it was only midday and they were all full. Lots of the boats looked as they had been there quite a while with very few actual visitor places. We have noticed a lot of permanent moorings along the towpath side and very few visitor moorings on the Grand Union Canal. Although the towpath on the Oxford Canal is poor after Braunston Junction, we moored out in the wilds and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Grand Union

Shrewley Tunnels

Sharing Hatton Locks

The Grand Union Canal was another venture into unknown territory. We turned right at Kingswood Junction and headed for Warwick. I enjoyed steering on such a wide canal with wide bridge holes- no chance of crashing! We stopped near Shrewley Tunnel to get a few essentials at the nearby shop. This wide tunnel is underneath the village and to get to it you walk up a separate tunnel formerly used for the horses as the main tunnel has no tow path.

As we approached Hatton Locks a call came from a garden by a moored boat (possibly NB Shilling) 'We follow your travels on the internet'. Please leave a comment to tell me who you are. Before we knew it we were at Hatton Locks- all twenty one and all wide locks. Alison and Jackie on NB Mandarin asked if we were going down so we could share the locks with them to make it easier for them and us. I really appreciated the help.
Eric and I shared the steering and working the locks as there was no way I could have done the paddles and gates on 21 locks. I quite enjoyed steering the boat and now I can do it without crashing!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Back On The Canals- The Stratford Canal

The photograph shows one of the narrowboats stranded at Evesham Lock Island, brought there by the floods! We also saw narrowboats stranded in fields! It certainly shows that a river in flood is not the place to be!
We spent a lovely few days on the Upper Avon and finally reached the basin at Stratford and it seemed as though the whole world watched us go through the final lock. We found the Upper Avon very quiet too, just a few more narrowboats about. Clare ( our middle daughter) was not used to all that peace and quiet and was glad to escape the boat and have a wander around Stratford. She was also missing her motorbike! There was plenty of room in the basin to moor and Wednesday and Thursday nights proved fairly quiet except for a very vocal duck nicknamed the 'ruddy duck' even though he was a mallard. Lots of tourists photographed our boat. A fair was being set up as we left, so the weekend would obviously be rather noisy. Clare returned home via Stratford Railway Station, Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham New Street and finally Newport Railway Station as there are no direct trains. We were sad to see our daughter leave and she would have stayed longer but she starts her new job on Monday.

We left Stratford Basin to start the climb up to Kingswood Junction, it was great to be back on the canals. We had a crashing time at the locks and extremely low and narrow bridges until we got used to being on the narrow canals. The bridges were so low we had to remove the TV aerial and satellite dish from the roof. Sixteen locks later we stopped at Wilmcote- we were both tired as we shared the steering and doing the locks! Wilmcote has Mary Arden's House in it- she was Skakespeare's mother. The Stratford Canal has some lovely barrel roofed cottages, split iron bridges and interesting aqueducts. It was nice to be somewhere we had never been before. We did meet a few boats each day but it has been much quieter than the canals we have previously cruised along. At Kingwood Junction after a stop at the services we headed down the Grand Union Canal.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Up The River Avon

This is our second visit to the River Avon- we last came here from Tewkesbury when I was expecting my youngest daughter Lisa about 25 years ago! Paula (Eric's sister) came as crew and what a holiday we had! This time we have Clare, our middle daughter as crew. Some of the Lower Avon needed two people to open the gates, so I was happy to have a crew member. It has been really quiet on these rivers, obviously many people are concerned about water levels, but it has been green all the way!

All the way up we have seen the devastation caused by the floods. At Evesham Lock we were so busy looking at the narrowboats in the trees we nearly missed the lock.The lock keeper said two boats were heading straight for his house until they spun in the water and hit the lock gate, bending the arm and ending up amongst the trees.

At George Billington Lock we spotted the pub 'The Fish and Anchor' and remembered how we crossed the weir in a skip attached to a chain- easy in daylight but after a few beers a trip in the dark was a different matter. I know Paula can remember this well! Now the 'ferry' has gone and posh new moorings are available alongside the pub. Next to the lock was a grassy area where Ben enjoyed a run around chasing his ball. But beware boaters are not allowed to venture into the adjoining grassland its private property but there are no signs to tell you. Just a miserable lady telling me she owned 20 acres of land for her little Jack Russell to run in! Well it takes all sorts!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Down The River Severn

We spent a comparatively quiet night above Lock 4 on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, the pub was noisy until 12.30am but then it was quiet! In the morning we went through the lock and down into Stourport Basin to fill up with water and empty the cassettes before our adventure on the river began. We had some interesting lock techniques from hireboaters, we were already going down the staircase and they decided to come up without checking first if the pair was already in use! One couple left their teenage children at the lock and they didn't know how to find their parents who had gone out of the basin. They came back to us and asked for directions!
We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the river, most of the time all you could see was countryside and us. Very few boats were heading down to Worcester. The river cruisers passed us going upstream creating waves and we felt like we were on the sea- a most peculiar sensation. We also enjoyed the automated locks, a pleasant change after the locks on the canals.
At Worcester the locks off the river were heavy but help was available from a retired gent who used to have a narrowboat. Diglis basin looks like a building site, lots of new housing but nowhere to moor. We had to go up on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and find somewhere to moor. We moored above Blockhouse Lock (Number 4), with a factory on the offside, but we were tired and hungry -I couldn't face doing any more locks. The peace was shattered by a firework display nearby and Ben was really frightened , we ended up stroking him and telling him it was OK. We know where we'll be on bonfire night! - as far away from fireworks as we can be. We also had 2.30am wake up call when some youths with colourful language passed the boat, but they left us alone.
In the morning we headed back through the Diglis locks and headed downstream for Tewkesbury. The view of the Malvern Hills was amazing from the boat, this was new territory to us- we had never been on this stretch of river. Most of the time all we could see was river and us. We had the sea experience on this stretch of river too- those river cruisers certainly move. As we passed nearer Tewkesbury we saw the effects of the floods on the riverside properties and the lock keeper at Avon Lock told us all you could see was the roof of his hut. We headed for Tewkesbury Marina to our arranged mooring - I was off to visit my family in Newport.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Going South

We stayed one night at Wheaton Aston and one night at Brewood. The birds and squirrels used the boat for target practice and we had to give the roof a scrub to get rid of all the droppings. We try not to moor under trees but sometimes it's unavoidable. Brewood has some nice shops, so it was a good place to get some essentials. In the morning we headed off for Aldersley/Autherly Junctions as we had decided to head south along the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. We have found this canal very quiet with very few boats on the move at all. We were the only boat going down the Bratch Locks and even the lock keeper said it's been very quiet this summer due to the rivers being in flood. We moored at Swindon and discovered the amazing fish and chip shop- we'll certainly call there again as the food looked and tasted delicious. The next day and many locks later we moored at Kinver in the last space on the visitor moorings. Ben was delighted there was a big open space with picnic tables and lots of room for a good run , so we could play chase the ball outside!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bloggers Meet At Gnosall

We have been looking out for Sue and Vic on NB No Problem as we knew we were getting closer! Anyway as we walked back to the boat I saw the dogs and two ladies and Sue said 'Is that a border collie?' I said 'yes' and she said 'Are you Elsie?' So we finally met and were invited for a cuppa as we were going to pass their boat in the morning. In the morning we stopped behind them and decided to moor there until the next morning as the rain was now hammering down. We had a long long chat aboard NB No Problem and met Chas and Anne from NB Moore2Life too. Vic made the drinks while we chatted. We are so pleased we have finally met after reading both their blogs for ages.

The picture below was taken by Chas and proves Eric is actually with me on the boat as he's usually the one taking all the photographs.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Locks Galore At Audlem

Eric returned from Newport and we set off towards Audlem. The towpath at Nantwich has a sculpture trail and is quite a busy place as the walkers of the world pass by your window. As usual I walked with the dog for about an hour alongside the boat, in some places the towpath was a narrow path through lush vegetation but most of it was good. Lots of boats passed going towards Nantwich but few were going towards Audlem. We managed to have lunch while there was a very heavy shower of rain. Eric cut his hand on the mooring pin, so I did some steering which was quite pleasant as the canal is nice and straight and I even managed to go through bridges without bumping! I really should man the tiller more often then I wouldn't have to think' steer the way you don't want to go'.
We moored at Audlem and went to have a look around. It was Sunday afternoon and lots of people out in the sunshine. There was nowhere to sit outside 'The Shroppie Fly' so we ended up at 'The Bridge' where we enjoyed a pint each and Ben had a nice fresh drink of water while we all watched the world go by. Back on the boat Northwich Boat Number 42 (we are 32) came and moored next to us and we chatted for hours and compared boats. In the morning we pulled the pins (carefully) and headed off up Audlem locks. We stopped at Audlem Services after three locks to get some water and then onwards and upwards off we went. Some of the locks were open ready for us as we approached, which was good news. The weirs at the bottom of each lock were fierce and the boat gained some more scratches- not good news but atleast we were having fun. We've just reached one thousand hours engine running time, although some of it has been engine running to charge the batteries. Ben had waited patiently at each lock attached to a bollard by his lead, before we set off to walk up to the next lock in the flight. Ten locks later we stopped- I was tired and hungry. Ben still had plenty of energy, so we played throw the ball on the boat!

Friday, August 10, 2007

We Found A Mooring At Nantwich!

We finally reached the locks at Hurleston Junction, Linda the usual lockie was nowhere to be seen , apparently it was her day off. She's great as she keeps an eye on everything and even gives a helping hand with the paddles and the gates. The locks were busy but the covering lockie was idle to say the least! We finally got through and moored just below the junction for the night. Ben enjoyed a play with a boater's dog and seemed totally unconcerned when he fell in and went for a swim before I hoisted him out. He just shook himself and carried on playing!
In the morning we headed towards Nantwich, Ben and I walked about two miles to Nantwich and Eric steered the boat. We found a space near the aqueduct on a 48 hour visitor mooring, which was good news as Eric was going to visit his sister Paula in hospital. First though we needed to fill the empty cupboards, fridge and freezer. Ben looked after the boat while we visited Morrisons and got a taxi back to the boat as the shopping was extremely heavy. The road near the boat was called Welshmans Lane so it was easy to remember to tell the taxi driver. Anyway Eric caught the train to Newport and Ben and I have been out exploring in Nantwich!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Back To The Port

We decided to return to Ellesmere and we did all the necessary tasks at BW Service Station. The water tap is really slow there! We moored near Blackwater Meadows Marina (14 days allowed) and in the morning I caught the Shropshire Bus to Shrewsbury Railway Station. The bus seemed to travel at the speed of light after the slow pace of the narrow boat! It took 45 minutes to get there and I arrived just in time to get the Carmarthen Train which stops at Newport. As the train had started at Manchester it was really busy but I managed to get a seat facing forwards- I do like to see where I'm going not where I've been. Two hours later I was in sunny Newport meeting Wendy for a coffee! Later I went to my dad's house as I was staying there for a couple of days. My tea was waiting for me too!
In the morning I went off to see the doctor- my cough needed attention- after nearly three weeks it was driving me (and Eric) mad. I nearly didn't get to the doctors in time due to an accident on the M4 which caused havoc with the traffic in Newport. In the afternoon I visited Paula- Eric's sister, and we had a good chat interspersed with coughing from both of us. Later I returned to my dad's house- just in time for tea! My daughter Clare came visiting in the evening and it was great to see her. She regularly visits her grandad on a Thursday evening and left with some of his home grown tomatoes and runner beans.
Friday morning came and I had a train to catch in Newport. The traffic was OK so there were no delays today. The Manchester train was quieter today and I watched as the welsh hills disappeared and the Shropshire hills came into view. I decided to have a look at the shops in Shrewsbury as I had an hour or so to pass before the Ellesmere bus came in. I found M & S and bought a few long sleeved tops for when the bugs are biting in the evening- they really love to bite me but leave Eric alone. My rucksack seemed to be getting heavier so I found a seat at the bus station until the bus came. Eric and Ben the dog were waiting at the bus stop in Ellesmere - it was nice to be home. 'Home is where the boat is'.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Weekend At Whitchurch

The sun has returned to the Llangollen Canal so we decided to move. We meandered up the Prees Arm mainly for a look and a bit of exercise with two lift bridges to lift and lower. We were able to fill up with water and do the loos at Whixall Marina (free of charge). It is now a BW Marina. We wanted diesel but the pump was out of order. Eric had to negotiate a sunken fibreglass boat on the narrow bend approaching the marina , I would have thought BW would have shifted it!
After that we went off to visit to Whitchurch. I was looking forward to a change of scenery and the chance to stock up with essentials at the town centre Tesco. Tesco kindly gave me a list of local taxis to ring and finally Tony's Taxis obliged and brought me and the shopping back to the boat- I had visions of borrowing a trolley and pushing it back to the boat!
Ben and I also enjoyed some long walks in the sunshine including a walk down to Grindley Brook and back of several miles. The Whitchurch Arm was not busy just two other boats- everybody has jetted off to Llangollen. We saw the dog walkers of Whitchurch pass our boat as well as young couples out for a stroll in the sunshine.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Floods Haven't Affected Us

Just a quick update as several people have been concerned whether we were OK with all this dreadful weather. We're fine- just floating on the boat along with our wet weather gear on. As British Waterways have a system of sluices and weirs to get rid of excess water on the canals we are fine on the Llangollen Canal. Anywhere near a river is not a good idea as this means floods. Looking at Narrowboatworld shows news affecting boaters- a very useful site! I do feel really sorry for all those people affected by the floods and still waiting for life to get back to normal.
Ben and I were enjoying a walk along a narrow muddy towpath and he decided it was time to find out if he could swim! He often goes for a paddle at the shallow soft canal edges but this time he actually he fell in backwards while messing around on the towpath. He swam towards me and I helped him out holding onto his harness- a new purchase to help with the pulling on his lead. We had the usual fight with a towel back on the boat to dry him and as he'd rather play with the towel! He wasn't at all bothered by his dip and at least we now know he can swim!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sun, Rain, Thunder And Lightning!

On Monday I escaped to Shrewsbury to do a bit of shopping and meet Lisa off the train. Some good shops in Shrewsbury- there was even a Hawkshead with a sale so I bought another waterproof jacket half price at £25! Lisa and I caught the bus to Ellesmere where Eric and Ben the dog were waiting for us. The bus seemed to travel extremely fast- I'm certainly not used to speedy travelling along narrow country roads.

We found the boat near the Ellesmere Arm all ready and waiting to set off on a trip to Llangollen with our youngest daughter. Ben greeted Lisa with an enthusiastic lick, someone else to play with! Our first stop was near Frankton Junction and Ben enjoyed a walk down the Montgomery Canal. He thoroughly enjoyed a run off his lead and had his usual paddle by the soft edges. When bedtime came Ben thought great a big bed for me but did come and sleep in our bedroom until we were all asleep. In the morning he was all curled up on top of the duvet fast asleep,and Lisa was fast asleep underneath it.
We decided to travel as far as we could regardless of the weather and finally made Llangollen about 7 o'clock. The rain managed to stay away for us to cross the aqueducts in convey following two other boats. It was quite tedious following them as the boat in front of us travelled so slowly and had great difficulty steering in any thing resembling a straight line (and it wasn't a hire boat!). The narrows proved to be very slow too , we lost count of the times the boat ahead got stuck. We found the last space on the towpath with electric and water and moored up for the night. It was a good chance to give the batteries a boost! We still had to put on the engine for an hour in the morning as it heats the domestic water.

We decided to move down to the basin as we could turn around and get satellite TV there. It amazed me that the pontoons at this basin are so short, it means we had to go in bow first and use the centre rope to tie up as the stern is too far away. Locking the boat up means a walk along the gunnel's to the pontoon. We enjoyed Llangollen after all it was sunny for the two days we were there. Thursday came and we had to head back towards Ellesmere and that night the weather changed with violent thunder and lightening. Ben was unhappy about the loud noise but he didn't make any fuss, just stayed close by us and wouldn't leave the boat!

In the morning it was still raining so we donned our wet weather gear- it's only water!- and headed back to Ellesmere. We needed to get back as Lisa was going home, the time had certainly flown by and we enjoyed having our daughter to stay.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Stop At Frankton Junction

After a week at Ellesmere we visited the services at the BWB Maintenance Yard to fill up with water and use the Elsan disposal point. We have been getting rid of the rubbish daily as when we left the black sack on the bow overnight we had visitors of the four legged variety. Ben heard the noise and woke us up with a loud woof-his bark is very deep! We had never heard him bark before.

We decided to set off to Frankton Junction as we needed a change of scenery and we had a week to go before Lisa our youngest daughter was coming to visit. We moored just past Bridge 1 on the visitor moorings and had some lovely walks down the Montgomery Canal. Ben has a new game- he drops the ball at the edge of the canal and then gets it before it floats away. Sometimes we have to fish it out as he hasn't yet gone into deeper water, he just paddles and splashes in shallow water.The photo was taken of him waiting for us to throw the ball.

Lots of people are on the move today- the sun is shining! They pass us at various rates of knots, rarely slowly! Some smile and say hello, others ignore our cheery greeting! Oh dear I'm moaning again!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Visit To Newport

Once again I caught the bus from Ellesmere to Shrewsbury where I caught the train back to Newport. First stop when I arrived was a haircut to get rid of all those wavy bits! After that I did a bit of retail therapy. Believe it or not Newport has some good shops compared to some of the places we have visited. My daughter Sally came to pick me up in her MX5 and take me to her house in Abercarn-after 4mph it was whizzing! Sally's other half Bob was home already and they treated me to a lovely meal at The Rhiwderin Inn. We had some unusual visitors in their garden, who obviously knew their way around - four sheep nibbling away at the greenery. Sally wished they had stayed longer to get rid of a few more weeds! Obviously strange things happen in the valleys! My bed was particularly inviting as travelling always makes me tired.
The following day was certainly hectic, prescriptions to collect then a visit to my dad. Later Sally and I went to Ikea, where we enjoyed lunch and a bit more shopping. We managed to fit in visits to Wendy (lovely cream cakes), Paula and Danielle ( latte was great) and my other daughters- Clare and Lisa to catch up on all the news. After a good night's sleep I got up at eight as I needed to get to the dentist for my checkup in Newport, and then catch the train back to Shrewsbury. Soon I was back home with Eric and Ben the dog in Ellesmere, after all home is where the boat is!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Changed Plans

We decided to go to Nantwich as it had a railway station and travelling to south Wales would be easier but it was not to be! The weather was disgusting so we donned our wet gear and I felt like the Michelin man but at least I would stay dry. But we couldn't find anywhere to moor- lots of the visitor moorings places were filled by boaters not moving because of the weather. Decisions, decisions- what shall we do?
We decided to head back up the Llangollen Canal towards our favourite place Ellesmere, knowing that I could get a bus to Shrewsbury and the train from there. We headed off top Hurleston Junction and arrived just as the lockie was letting a boat out of the bottom lock, which was just as well as the wind was up and it was difficult enough getting the boat in the hole without having to put off any crew! She locked us up and then I got off to help go through the rest of the locks. We kept going with food on the move and after several hours moored near Wrenbury.
In the morning we were up early as it meant about 8 hours moving but we got there, through lots of rain- passed a few meandering 'Stella drinking' holidaymakers, who kindly let us overtake. We should have had the camera ready as firstly we spotted a squirrel sat on top of a fence post eating nuts and then a large owl surveying the area sitting on top of a telegraph pole, waiting to have their photos taken. I don't know what sort of owl it was, I'll have to get the bird book out! Ben had a nice muddy walk as I walked the towpath just about keeping up the boat to give him some exercise! When we arrived at Ellesmere there as a space and we set up the satellite and tucked in to the curry which had been bubbling away as we travelled- what more could we want?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Visit To Northwich Boat Company

Tuesday finds us back on the Trent and Mersey Canal heading for Sandbach. We are booked in for a 750 hour service as well as having the diesel central heating sorted out and the ballast sorted to level out the boat. All that was wrong with the heating was a blockage in the fuel pipe which was soon blown away! We now have a fairly level boat, which feels quite different- the bed is no longer sloping and tablets stay where you put them rather than roll away. While the work was being done I took Ben the dog for a walk into Sandbach about two miles and caught the bus back to the boatyard as the rain came down once again. It was a new experience for Ben and he was so pleased to see everyone on the bus! After a quite night above Sandbach we headed back to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal while the sun was shining. Later the rain came down again.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Meandering Along The Middlewich Branch

We have been travelling along the Middlewich Branch with a diversion up to Calveley to use the services there. For some reason or other there was no Vodafone service at Calveley, so I missed out on using the computer and getting any phone calls. Originally we planned to spend some time in Nantwich, but discovered there was a festival there this weekend so we decided to give it a miss. We were concerned over a lack of mooring space with the festival taking over the moorings. So here we are again, out in the countryside but nevertheless we have good internet access and satellite reception. It maybe Sunday but there are no papershops or any shops for that matter so I'll have to get the latest news on the computer! The rain is pouring down but being aboard a boat who cares, we just stay put until it stops!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Visiting Anderton Boat Lift

We left Middlewich travelling quickly through the locks- no queues today! We stopped and filled up with water and did the loos. It was great to be on a part of the Trent and Mersey canal we had never travelled on before. Quite a pleasant canal too with lots of wide areas called flashes due to subsidence. Lots of birds to see here too. There were pairs of swans with seven cygnets each which seemed amazing that they managed to rear that many. They already come to the boat as soon as the side hatch opens for thir breakfast. We moored near Croxton Aqueduct - it was rather noisy as we bumped the concrete banks when inconsiderate boaters went past at the speed of light! They woke us early(6pm) so we got up earlier than usual and went on our way past the Robert's Bakery with lovely sweet smells in the air.
We travelled past Wincham Wharf and saw the huge mobile lifting gear which had lifted Bendigedig into the canal for the first time. We moored near Marston for the night but once again the boat was banging everytime boats went past too quickly. We decided to move on in the morning as we couldn't face a day of cringing everytime a boat went past. Near Marston was Marston Country Park and Anderton Nature Park, the latter on land reclaimed from industrial use, which provide lots of lovely walks which Ben really enjoyed. At Anderton Lift there were visiting moorings with 24 or 48 hour limits and atleast the concrete sides were straight down in the water so we didn't have the banging problem . We left Ben to look after the boat while we visited the exhibition and had a closer look at the boat lift. We didn't want to take the boat down as we didn't want to go on the River Weaver as there was plenty of water in it.
At Anderton we turned round and headed back to Middlewich staying again near the aqueduct until we thought the Middlewich Festival would be over. But unfortunately a lot of boats hadn't gone and all decided to go up the locks Monday morning. It took seven hours to go through five locks and we didn't moor at the visitor moorings until 6pm and there were more than twelve boats behind us in the queue for the locks. Lots of people helped each other at the locks but there are always a few who waited until all the work was done and just used the open lock! In one case six adults stayed on their boat and watched as I worked our boat up the lock and then just used it with not so much as a thank you! That's my moan for today. We did also meet some very nice people. What a fun day!! A quiet night there and we picked up some shopping at Somerfield before we headed off again towards Barbridge Junction.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Along The Middlewich Branch

Now we are travelling back along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal intending to visit our boat builder to sort out a few things on the boat and get a 750 hour service. As they can't fit us in for over a fortnight we're hanging around again! Middlewich itself was busy as next weekend there is a boat and folk festival and lots of boats had moored up already. We bought a fan- no doubt the weather will change now. We had been told by another boater that Somerfield in Middlewich provides a free delivery service and they will deliver to boats- fantastic! We filled the trolley and it was delivered an hour later, we just had to put it all away. We stayed overnight in Middlewich on the visitor moorings, but it wasn't a quiet night as the holiday boat next to us was partying! We were up early and off down the locks towards Preston Brook as we thought we'd go have a look at the Anderton Boat Lift rather than wait around in Middlewich.
I enjoy hearing from friends via email and it was nice to hear from Milton Infants School. Caroline in Spain also keeps in touch and Wendy has mastered the art of emailing- well done! Paula (Eric's sister) also keeps in touch and always lets us know if we have any important mail. I set up my web cam and chat to my daughters with Windows Live Messenger and Clare enjoyed looking to see how big Ben the dog has got. He thoroughly enjoys life on the boat and gets lots of walks regardless of the weather. Sometimes he jumps off and takes himself for a wee when we get close to the bank and runs along next to the boat waiting for us to stop and pick him up. Ben discovered he could jump out of his puppy pen when we left him to go shopping, so we don't bother to use it now and will return it to Alison (Paula's friend) as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

From Ellesmere to Hurleston Junction

We finally left Ellesmere beyond and headed back along the Llangollen Canal- it's funny the canal looked different on the way back. We've been on this canal a month and the number of boats moving has increased dramatically. We stocked up at Tesco's in Whitchurch and then headed off again down the locks at Grindley Brook, luckily we didn't have to wait as it wasn't busy. We moored out in the countryside on our own and Ben enjoyed lazing in the long grass, watching the wild life swim by. We travelled all day and went through nine locks in very hot weather as we wanted to get back on the Shropshire Union Canal. Ben helped me with the locks and we walked for miles, so now he's fast asleep at my feet.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who Can They Be ?

As we travelled along the Llangollen Canal we saw an amazing sight on the towpath. Two little people were sat on a bench all on their own, waiting for some kind people to stop and give them a ride back to their narrowboat. We stopped straight away and offered them a ride and they enjoyed looking out of the porthole watching the world go by. We saw squirrels playing on the towpath and lots of ducks with their babies. If you look at the photographs you'll see who came for a ride on Bendigedig.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

We Leave The Montgomery Canal

Down the Monty we met narrowboat 'Pal' again and two collie playmates for Ben. He thoroughly enjoyed chasing up and down the towpath. After several days of peace and quiet we decided to head back up the Montgomery Canal and spent the night on the Weston Branch. This is the only place with rubbish disposal. Maesbury Marsh has all the other facilities but nowhere for rubbish. We needed to get back to Ellesmere so we could stock up with food-there is certainly a lack of shops on the Monty! After bridge 80 there is a PO/Cafe/Shop but supplies were limited. We booked our passage and arrived at the bottom lock at 11.30am to wait our turn, with three boats it front of us we didn't get to the top until 2.15pm. Lots of time to chat with others waiting to go up too! As we approached Ellesmere we had a few near misses, lots of new hireboaters unsure which side of the canal they should be on. An hour later we found a space on the Ellesmere Arm and there we stayed (72 hours mooring). The weather was glorious and Ben had lots of walks in the surrounding area. He also had his first soaking in a stream when he was having a drink, but he managed to get out himself and just shook himself. He is certainly growing bigger and everyone says he'll be a big dog as he's got big feet. We'll just have to wait and see!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Down The Montgomery Canal

I spent a few days in Newport this week visiting my dad and my girls. Eric said Ben was not keen to leave the bus stop, he was waiting for me to come back. I also managed to fit in a visit to Wendy and of course we had cream cakes and a nice chat catching up on all the news ! The journey home was scenic - I also love to see the Shropshire hills and then the hills of Wales. I was welcomed back to Ellesmere by lots of licks and tail wagging from Ben. Eric was pleased to see me too! Near where the boat was moored we could strange bird calls, we looked up and were amazed to see our first red kite. I know Shropshire is supposed to be the home of the red kite but we had never seen one until now.

After filling up the water tank and emptying the cassettes we decided to move to Frankton Junction to await our passage through the locks down the Montgomery Canal. We thought it would be a quieter place to spend the Bank Holiday weekend. The canal is very peaceful and beautiful and the photo shows the view outside the side hatch. Mooring is difficult as the banks in a lot of places are very wild and overgrown, but we found some armco hidden under the greenery so at least we could moor securely. It's lovely being able to explore different parts of the canal system at our leisure!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Llangollen-We Made It!

After a week at Ellesmere we decided to turn around and head for Wales. Perhaps this time we'd actually get there. Our first trip to Llangollen, about 15 years ago was a bit of a disastrous holiday. Firstly Eric ended up in Wrexham hospital after getting a severe infection in his leg which caused a huge lump in his groin. Secondly our pet dog Tigger fell overboard and Clare rescued him but was badly stung with nettles. This time as we crossed Chirk aqueduct Ben decided to jump ship to go for a wee! Luckily he made it without being squashed but as we crossed Pontscyllte he was shut in the boat for safety.

The view over the aqueducts was amazing and as we crossed Eric reminded me he didn't like heights. We remembered the time he was stuck on the house roof while replacing a chimney pot.The scenery got even better as we approached Llangollen and the smell of the wild garlic was strong too. We paid our £10 fee (including electric) for 48 hour mooring and caught up with the washing as we had our own mains electric and water tap. The satellite TV even worked , the gap in the trees must have been in just the right place!

We enjoyed our stay in Llangollen, we left Ben alone ( in his puppy pen) on the boat for a hour while we looked around the little shops. In the evening we walked to see the Horseshoe Falls and the placed where the water is taken from the River Dee to feed the canal about 4 miles. Ben really enjoyed his walk even though it rained heavily and he got very wet. We were ready for a cup of tea and a rest but he was still lively as ever.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Brief Visit To Wales

We left Ellesmere and headed towards Frankton Junction for an overnight stop. I wanted to revisit the place we had walked years ago when the Montgomery Canal was derelict other than the staircase locks at the junction. It was a joy to see they have opened seven miles from Frankton Locks down to Gronwen Wharf and such a quiet, peaceful canal as the locks are opened only two hours a day (booked in advance). Ben enjoyed his walk but a cow mooed and he was quite surprised. He's also unsure of horses and rushes past them!
After a quiet night in the countryside we headed off to visit Chirk, the aqueduct is the border between England and Wales. The Llangollen Canal became increasingly narrow and shallow and places to moor were few and far between. We moored at the visitor moorings before the tunnel and everytime a boat went past the boat banged against the armco as they were speedy boaters! Needless to say at seven in the morning we were woken up by an earlybird- why can't they sleep! It had also got very busy considering it's May, so we went over the aqueduct, through Chirk Tunnel and turned around at the turning circle and started back to Ellesmere.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Llangollen Trip

This is Ben posing for a photo at Hurleston Locks after he watched how to do the locks! We stopped to fill up with water and do the cassettes then off we went on our travels. In all we did nine locks and several lift bridges before we stopped near Wrenbury to walk across the field and through the churchyard to get some bread and milk. The weather has been glorious and we have had to smother exposed skin in factor 30 sunscreen as it's so easy to burn when you are outside all day. We are all covered up not like the holidaymakers in their shorts and tops.
We spent a quiet night before setting off again through six locks to stop at Whitchurch. The staircase locks at Grindley Brook was a new experience but the lock keeper was there making sure the water levels were OK. We moored on the Whitchurch Arm and waited for the evening to set off along the footpath for about a mile to the town centre and Tesco's. We decided to stock up and get a taxi back to the boat with all the bags. Ben didn't like the car ride but we couldn't face carrying heavy bags that far! After another quiet night we decided to go on to Ellesmere after all there are no locks for the next twenty miles. Ellesmere has seven meres or lakes and lots of footpaths so we had lots of walks to keep Ben busy! He has been calmer now we take him out for a long walk in the morning and evening. We should certainly be getting much fitter!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Further Travels Of Bendigedig

We left Kidsgrove with cupboards, freezer and fridge full on our way again. We stopped at Hassall Green for the night after a busy day. Ben has learnt to walk across the lockgates (on his lead) following me. He has had a few wet feet incidents where he has slipped as we walked along the towpath and ended up dipping his toes in the canal, luckily his lead saved him from a dip! He is getting quite good at jumping on the boat when we are moored but can only jump off the stern. He's still a maniac in the evenings so we end up going for a walk as this gets rid of all that doggy energy!

We travelled up to Sandbach and collected some paint from Norwich Boats , then off to travel the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union and what a delightful canal it was- lots of countryside views and very peaceful away from roads and trains. As we left this canal we were photographed by a bus load of Japanese tourists. They snapped way and waved to us! They could see the galley through the open side hatch and commented ' look they have a microwave' which made us smile.

After a short distance we reached Hurleston Junction and the lock keeper ( a woman) helped us through the locks. We are on our way to Wales! The Llangollen Canal is beautiful and we have achieved some firsts, our first electrically controlled lift bridge and our first set of three locks in a staircase. We are flying the welsh flag and soon we'll be in Wales.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Through The Harecastle Tunnel

We left Great Haywood and travelled through the locks up to Stone, where I saw a hairdresser next to the canal so I decided to have my usual short cut. Eric took Ben for a walk but Ben still had plenty of energy when he came back, while Eric was tired! Later after they both had an afternoon nap we travelled up to stay above Barlaston near the Wedgewood factory, but very quiet.

Ben is getting used to the boat, he likes to see where we are going and enjoys getting off to 'help' at the locks- he thinks it's fun to pull the ropes and chew them. Our next stop was at Westport Lakes and Ben really enjoyed seeing all the ducks and dogs. Also lots of people to make a fuss of him. In the morning we got up bright and early- who needs an alarm clock when Ben wants to go out for a wee!

Today was Ben's first trip through a tunnel and the Harecastle Tunnel is a long one to start off with. We all waited patiently at the south portal until it was our turn to go through- in a convoy of four boats. Ben slept through the 35 minute trip- he missed the drips, the dark and the cold, cold tunnel! After that we stopped at Kidsgrove to visit Tesco before we travelled on through six of the locks before we stopped for the evening. Ben has conquered his fear of walking over bridges over the locks- he's getting much braver! He also waits for me to use the windlass , so he can look after it for me and chew it! He has learnt so much in the two weeks we have had him and our boat will never be the same.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sally's Visit At Great Harwood

After a quiet night above Fradley Junction we set on our travels. Ben and I had a nice walk along the bank enjoying the scenery. He is bothered by bikes and sits and waits til the way is clear. We stopped at Rugeley so I could go shopping at Morrisons, which is nice and close to the canal because the cupboards were bare. Lots of narrowboats are out since Easter so finding a space in visitor moorings is becoming more difficult.
Ben is into everything but sleeps through until about 7am which I can cope with. His favourite trick at the moment is to take the end of the toilet roll and unravel it- just like the Andrex pup. We have to remember to shut the bathroom door!
We arrived at Great Haywood and filled the last mooring space above the lock. Sally (eldest daughter) came to visit for the day and this was a good place to meet us. We filled up with water at the BW waterpoint and diesel from the Anglo-Welsh Boatyard. They have started charging £1 to use the elsan disposal point. We decided to travel up to Tixall Wide to give Sally a ride and luckily there was a space. We had paella for tea and then we all walked back to Sally's car at Great Haywood. Ben enjoyed the attention from Sally but he didn't appreciate having a wash when he got back to the boat. He was a very dirty dog! Now he's clean , dry and fast asleep!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ben's First Narrowboat Trip

We had already decided to set off on our travels again, this time we are heading up to Llangollen to see some welsh scenery! Wednesday was Ben's first boat trip and he wasn't bothered by the engine noise. He slept on the boards covering the engine on our traditional narrowboat, with the hatch open and the rear doors closed to keep him safe. We did the locks together but Ben just watched as I opened the lock gates and raised and lowered the paddles. Ben thought the lock key (windlass) was great to bite. He stopped and watched the ducks , another new experience.

Several locks later we arrived at Fradley Junction- much quieter today than the Easter weekend. We moored next to Fradley Nature Reserve giving us lots of fun walks for Ben the dog. We also needed to stop near a road so that the engineer could come and install a new silver box (Travelpower Generator) provided under warranty by Beta Marine. We have had some lovely walks around the lake and Ben follows us faithfully off his lead- but there have been no other dogs to investigate. He greets everybody he meets and loves the fuss he gets from adults and children alike.
Our generator has been replaced- thanks to Sam at Foxton Boats- and it means I don't have to find a lauderette. Rugeley has a good one. Ben enjoyed chewing and carrying the ropes when we stopped for water and to empty the toilet. We travelled up the locks from Fradley Junction carefully opening the gate paddles so as not to repeat our smashing time! We were enjoying the quiet above the locks as we stopped for a doggy walk followed by lunch until the grass cutters arrived , but they were soon finished and peace returned.