Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back Home Again


We hired a car from Enterprise and travelled down to south Wales on Christmas Eve to stay with my daughter Sally and her fiancee Bob. Bob made us a lovely chilli con carne while Ben and Sam got to know each other. Ben's not good at sharing so we had to watch him! We went to see Eric's sister Paula for a hour or so but it wasn't easy as there either as Ben didn't want her dogs anywhere near me. Bed was calling so we went back to Sally's and I went to bed and Ben came and slept on the bedroom floor. I found it difficult to sleep in a strange bed with different noises. Afterall I'm more used to hearing hooting owls than traffic.

Christmas morning finally came and we exchanged presents, had some breakfast before heading off for a ball throwing session in Tredegar Park. Lots of dads with the children on their new bikes and dogs of all shapes and sizes which Ben ignored as he only wanted to chase his ball. He discovered the River Ebbw next to the park and couldn't resist dipping his feet in and taking a drink. I suppose at least he washed his muddy feet!

Next stop was picking up my dad to take him with us to have Christmas Dinner with Lisa, Gerwyn, Gwenllian and Clare. My granddaughter Gwenllian was enjoying her first Christmas with lots of presents, but needed help to remove the paper and packaging. Ben enjoyed some turkey and vegetables before I walked him along the canal to the 14 locks in Rogerstone. Clare came for the walk while Eric took my dad home for a quiet evening watching TV. He didn't want to go with us to Paula's house. Paula put her dogs upstairs for a while so we didn't have to act as referee. We enjoyed a lovely buffet tea and felt decidedly stuffed. Later we went back to Sally's house and Ben went to sleep!

We spent Boxing Day visiting again and walking the dog and decided to drive back to Llangollen in the evening when Ben would sleep for the journey. It took three and a half hours which was really good time with a fair amount of traffic on the road. I was looking forward to my own bed and Ben was soon fast asleep catching up after a busy couple of days.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seasons Greetings

Just a few lines to wish boaters and landlubbers!
A Very Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year
Let's hope 2009 is a better year for everybody!
PS - I'll blog again after Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Llangollen Gets Festive

Overlooking Llangollen

Christmas decorations are up in Llangollen so we thought we'd get festive and put up some lovely flashing blue lights and baubles in the windows. Lots of other boats are getting festive too with NB Henry having a blow up Santa, baubles and lights. NB Blue Diamond is currently the best decorated with roof top lights,a blow up Santa, a decorated Christmas tree on the bow as well as more lights in the cratch too. Ben the dog gives the blow up Santa a wide berth as he passes by on his walks.

We had a lovely Sunday lunch at The Bridge End with Alan and Eiddwen. It was nice to have a few drinks, a meal and some pleasant company. We all sampled the turkey and it was delicious and as I was feeling a sweet tooth moment we had desserts too. It was very busy in there today as lots of people visit Llangollen at the weekend for the steam railway, boat trips, walking and the nice little shops.
Monday came and time to order some more coal to be delivered Wednesday so we have plenty to keep us cosy over Christmas. Eric had a haircut to get rid of his curls - he didn't want to be mistaken for Father Christmas! Ben the dog and I had a good walk along the towpath towards Trevor and it was pretty muddy. We met a pair of border collies and Ben enjoyed a play for a while before we turned around to come back to the boat.

On Wednesday we had a run in (again) with a black male labrador at the field by the mooring basin who just appeared and just went into attack mode. I grabbed Ben and put him on his lead and tried to keep the black beasty away until its owner arrived. She said it wouldn't bite even though it was snarling at Ben and not to worry, but as it was the second time it had had a go at Ben when he was just playing ball, I decided to play safe and keep him on his lead until she was gone. We then continued our ball throwing without any further incidents.

Today (Thursday) we've done a bit of shopping in the local Somerfield and walked the dog a couple of times. Other than that we've been lazing around today. I'll have to tidy up tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Visit To Trevor

This week has been busier than usual. On Monday I had a Tesco delivery to a nearby house and the driver rang me to find us so I met him by the steps leading to the canal. The delivery was mainly dry dog food and tins to save my arms. The local Somerfield's dry food is restricted to chicken and veg or chicken and veg and I am sure Ben likes a change. No doubt I'll have another delivery in a few weeks.

We looked at the weather forecast and decided Wednesday was the day for our outing to Trevor to get some diesel from Anglowelsh. Nice and scrunchy underfoot but nice and sunny most of the way. Eric basked in the sunshine and shivered when the sun was behind the hills. Ben and I enjoyed a lovely walk ahead checking out the narrows but nobody was about so it was full steam ahead. It took under four hours there and back.

At Anglowelsh we squeezed in the narrow channel between boats moored four abreast and found a man to sell us diesel. He said we could self declare what we liked for propulsion so we said 10% as we had only recorded ten engine hours since we last filled up. He then found another man to work out the cost as it was too complicated for him. It actually worked out cheaper than the prices we paid near London in the summer as diesel was 75p a litre for domestic purposes. We also managed to get rid of our used oil (cost £1) and filters which was good as Eric needed the empty containers for the next service before we set off on our travels at the end of March 2009.

On Thursday we had a trip into Wrexham to get a few bits and pieces. I got a haircut in the salon by the bus station which suits me as it's a walk in hairdresser unless you want a perm or colour. The price was good at £9.80 for a cut and I was pleased with the results. We didn't join the huge queues in Woolworth's for the 50% closing down sale but it was certainly worth a queue if you wanted bigger items. I bought some frozen food in Iceland before we caught the bus back to Ben who was home alone. As usual he had been a very good boy and was very pleased to see us.
On Friday about 11 o'clock Ben and I set off for a nice long walk along the muddy towpath. As we approached Sun Trevor Ben spotted Connie and her owners and ran off to meet them. We joined in their walk and ended up walking about five or six miles getting back to the boat about 2 o'clock. Ben and Connie had a great time chasing each other and running along the towpath but Connie had a cold dip in the canal when she fell in. Nik and Liz fished her out and she wasn't bothered at all- she just shook herself and carried on playing. Ben was tired when we got back and actually had a sleep!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Greygal On The Llangollen

This week's nearly over- time just flies by. Although I can't say I like the long winter evenings. On Monday Eric caught the train to Newport for a couple of days and I was home alone with Ben the dog. He managed to get in lots of visiting in those few days. The train was delayed for an hour by a broken down goods train so he arrived in Newport later than planned. He met up with an old friend Lyndon who he hadn't seen since 1969. Needless to say they didn't recognised each other at first but enjoyed several hours in the pub catching up on nearly forty years. Eric stayed with his sister Paula and managed to fit in a visit to see my dad and a visit to see daughter Lisa and grandaughter Gwenllian. She has two teeth now and is such a happy baby that Eric enjoyed his grandad afternoon. Clare visited him too when she finished work.

What did I do when he was away you ask? Well Ben and I enjoyed lots of long walks and ball playing sessions in the field by the marina basin. On Wednesday we had a surprise on our walk when fellow blogger Greygal came by on NB Greyhound. She had ground to a halt by a bridge hole so we had a quick chat before she reversed back and managed to get on her way again. She said she was going nowhere fast which is not unusual against the flow on this section of the Llangollen Canal. As usual Ben the dog was recognised before me but it's not surprising as I was disguised with woolly hat, scarf, gloves and several layers of clothes. I didn't see her five greyhounds they must have been all inside. They were travelling up to the basin to get some water and get rid of the rubbish. They must have decided to stay the night as they passed our moored boat on Thursday morning going a bit quicker this time with the flow rather than against it. Greygal waved goodbye and said we'll no doubt see you again.

Ben had a fright yesterday as he hates the sound of guns. He was freaking out and dragging Eric back to the boat so hard so he had to let him off his lead. Ben arrived back on the boat without Eric who returned several minutes later. He slept most of the evening to get over his fright- Ben the dog not Eric! This morning he'd forgotten all about and we walked as far as Sun Trevor along a very scrunchy icey towpath. We got back in time to cook lunch and Ben had another sleep- what a life!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Week Has Come And Gone

Nothing much has gone on this week out of the ordinary. The high winds have cleared most of the leaves off the trees and those which had collected on the boat roof. We've had loads of rain lashing down on the boat and it's been quite cold too, but we've just wrapped up warm and done the usual dog walking, ball throwing and shopping.

On Wednesday it felt a lot warmer without the cold wind and we had the front doors open. Ben had a surprise visitor- Connie ( from NB Henry) was passing and hopped on the boat, pushed open the gate which keeps him in and came visiting. They both then went outside to chase each other and playfight rolling around in the fallen leaves. After a good play Ben came back onboard for a lie down and Connie went home with Nick her owner. It's funny really everytime we pass their narrowboat Connie hops off to play with Ben- it must be love!

We've also done the usual house keeping chores and Eric has refilled the stern gland tube ready for our trip to Trevor to refill the diesel tank in the next few weeks. The Mikuni central heating is quite a thirsty beast even though it's only set to provide background heating most of the time. In the mornings we put it on at a higher temperature to heat the water as we haven't got an immersion heater. Our main heat is from the multi fuel stove which at present is being fed with Excel delivered by the coal man at £8.25 for 25kg.

We've had hard frosts which made walking a crunchy experience rather than a muddy one. Ben and Connie had a lovely long walk towards Trevor while Liz and I had a good chat. They played chase and had a lovely time wanting all the dogs we met to play too. It's a pity I didn't take any photos of them playing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Alan

Alan & Eiddwen (July 2008)

Last weekend we celebrated Alan's special birthday with a meal at the Bridge End Inn accompanied by a few drinks. As usual the food was excellent and we had a good chat.The pub was soon full of youngsters (twenty somethings) and rather noisy so we escaped to the quiet of the boat.

The leaves are continuing to fall here but I've just spotted some catkins on a tree- the seasons have gone mad. We are enjoying the peace and quiet here and we still see and hear lots of birds. Rabbits run along the grassy bank and owls hoot in the night. Nevertheless we are near Llangollen so can easily get the shopping. It also means I can visit the library and take out some books to read on these long winter evenings.

This week we went and did the Christmas shopping in Wrexham- it was quite strange buying for a baby after all these years. Yes Lisa we've got noisy things as requested for Gwenllian. There's a new Debenhams and M&S in Wrexham so of course we explored those. Ben was as good as gold while he was home alone and was rewarded with a new ball and a big chewy bone and of course a walk along the towpath.

We also had a visit from the Fire Service for a free home safety check. They replaced our fire alarm with two nice new ones free of charge.The new ones have a hush button which means Eric won't have to wave a magazine at the smoke alarm when I'm grilling or frying bacon! They are in Llangollen this week to promote smoke alarms due to the death of John- a lovely old bloke who walked his dog Tim along the towpath everyday. John always stopped at the boat for a chat- we'll miss seeing him and Tim who loves carrying big stones in his mouth. Tim survived and is being looked after by a member of his family.

Today the sun is shining so I'm off for a nice long walk with Ben the dog. No doubt there'll be plenty of mud and puddles but we don't care- splashing in puddles is all part of the fun!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

We've settled in to our winter mooring at Llangollen- I can't believe we've been here two weeks already. We don't get up very early and many people have seen me in my dressing gown taking Ben out for his first 'call of nature' of the day. He's very good he goes out about ten pm and doesn't go out again til nine am the next day. If he needs to go before I get a lick to wake me up!

By the time we've showered and dressed it's morning walk time- on go the boots as it's rather muddy along the tow path. Whatever the weather we still go as Ben is not concerned- he just loves a walk. We walked up to Horseshoe Falls this week and it managed to stay dry for the four mile walk. I think it should be called a weir not a falls as it's not a dramatic falls which the name implies. On the way we met some canoeists playing ball in the canal and Ben would have loved to get at their ball. Sometimes we go and play ball in the field by the marina and Ben has a paddle in the canal. He's got a new pal here at the wharf -Connie the dog off NB Henry and he loves to roll around and play chase with her. Nic and Liz (her owners) said she misses Simba off NB Khayamanzi moored at Brinklow Marina.
Eric has an infection in his leg and it's getting better so don't fret Paula! We went the doctors Monday morning and he was seen in the afternoon which was excellent service. Just signed on as a temporary patient with no fuss whatsoever.
We're enjoying being near the shops as we can go and get just what we need rather than have to stock up. We had some dragon sausages from the butcher- they had chilli in them and were rather hot! Gotta go now as it'll soon be walk time again as by 4.30pm it's dark. I hope I haven't bored you to death!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Boats At Llangollen Wharf

Just come back from a pleasant walk along the towpath with Ben the dog and Eric took this photograph when he spotted us approaching.The trees are later this year losing their leaves and we're surrounded by the colours of Autumn. Ben enjoyed dragging a huge branch back along the towpath but he left it when he saw the dog on board NB Henry out for a walk too with her owners. The dogs had a lovely time chasing along the towpath getting muddier by the minute.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Bonfire NIght And Ben Hates It!

For the last few days Ben the dog has been suffering and tonight let's hope it'll be over. No he's not ill he just hates the bangs of all those fireworks going off and I'll be pleased when he stops whining and barking too. We've turned up the TV but his hearing is so good he still hears them. At the moment they've stopped so he's fast asleep!
Sorry there's been no blog but I've been back to Newport on my monthly visit. I booked my tickets in advance to take advantage of cheaper travel with the added bonus of a reserved seat. The journey to Newport was on a busy train which started its journey at Holyhead but two and a half hours later I was there. I collected our repeat prescriptions from the friendly chemist as it's been easier to keep our doctor in Newport. Obviously we sign on as temporary patients if we need to see a doctor more urgently.
A short walk later I was drinking a cup of coffee at my dad's house and having a chat. My daughter Clare came to see me after she finished work. My dad made us tea and we had a good natter. In the morning I had breakfast with my dad before going to get a haircut in Newport. Next stop was to visit my daughter Lisa and baby Gwen and enjoy being a grandma for the day. I hadn't changed a nappy in a while and was totally out of practice with pram pushing -the wheels seem to go just where they liked. My daughter Sally came to visit Lisa as well so Gwen had plenty of fuss and attention.
The return train journey to Ruabon was much quieter and after a short bus journey I was back on the boat- home at last. Ben the dog was delighted to see me and Eric was pleased to see me too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Moored Up For The Winter

We went for a walk along the towpath and passed the BW office (shed!) and asked if if was OK to pay two days mooring and come up for our winter mooring. The bloke said yes so Eric went to get the boat while I kept him informed about boats in the narrows. Eric was on his way once the way was clear, but a boat refused to stop even though I told them a boat was coming and ended up reversing back a few hundred yards!

We had a choice of spots so we set up the satellite and moved to where we could get a good signal through the trees - we didn't want five months without satellite TV. Next stop was a bit of shopping in Llangollen and we finished off with chicken curry and chips at 'The Bridge End'- very nice too. Ben needed a walk so we took him up the open space near the mooring basin and played ball with the thrower. It was really cold with snow on the hills/mountains. Reminder to get gloves, scarfs and hats out.

We had a surprise in the evening when we took Ben out for a call of nature- it was snowing really heavily and it snowed all night long. The central heating cut in a few times even though it was on low. It must have been a very cold night. Out came the wellies for the morning walk but not many dog walkers braving the cold.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Can See Dinas Bran!

We're back on the Llangollen canal again after our visit to the Monty. Ben and I enjoyed a lovely long walk as far as Jack Mytton's- I didn't expect to be able to walk this far but the towpath has been repaired as necessary all the way from Frankton Junction. We moored up outside the pub as it was gravel rather than grass and mud. In the evening we had a few drinks in the pub with Alan and Eiddwen.
In the morning we worked the two locks at New Marton and then filled up with water. The Narrowboat Shop was moored nearby so we bought a few bits including a chocolate fix. We passed by NB Libertybelle moored at Lions Quays and stopped at Poacher's Pocket where we couldn't get satellite reception due to the trees. We ended up watching DVDs - King Kong was good and had one game of Scrabble. What a boring game.
We set off at 9.30am and the rain started and it became very cold. I walked through Chirk Tunnel with Ben the dog and yes it was very dark and then over Chirk Aqueduct. There are so many holiday boats about this week. No I stayed on board for the Ponty Aqueduct - a bit too high for me. A quick stop at Anglo welsh at Trevor to fill up with diesel and then the slow journey up towards Llangollen and our winter mooring. On the way it rained, sleeted and began to snow showing us winter's nearly here. We not quite there yet but I can see Dinas Bran from the windows of the boat.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Restoration In Progress (Montgomery Canal)

Rebuilding The Sides

Through The Bridge Hole

In Water But No Boats Yet!

We walked from Maesbury Marsh to Crickheath Wharf with Ben the dog and these are some of the photos Eric took. The work is being carried out by the Shropshire Union Canal Society and as this is a charity we were saddened to hear that their tools and cement mixers had been stolen this week from the locked containers. The volunteers are due to continue their work this weekend but are now handicapped by this loss. It's amazing to see another stretch restored to water and in the not too distant future boats will be able to travel along the restored section of the canal. As we travelled around the system we always enjoy the Shropshire Union Canal with it's abundance of visitor moorings provided by SUCS.

Down The Montgomery Canal Again

In the morning we moved on as far as Queens Head and we were lucky as there was room to moor. Eiddwen and I planned to catch the bus into Oswestry from here. It's a really good service( Arriva Number 70) every 30 minutes between Shrewsbury and Oswestry and the bus station in Oswestry is next to the big Somerfield Store. The lads went to the pub- they hadn't been for a drink for a while. It was a noisy night with lorries thundering past so it wasn't a place to stay for too long. We moved on in very windy weather and it wasn't easy to keep the boat going where we wanted it to go. We stopped to use the services at Maesbury Marsh and then went through the lift bridge to turn around in the winding hole which marks the end of the canal for powered boats. There is more canal in water now but the vegetation on the banks needs chance to grow before boats will be allowed on it. The photo was taken near Crickheath Wharf where the canal hasn't been restored yet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Queueing At Frankton Junction

We rang BW and booked our passage through Frankton Locks and here we are waiting to go down. The lockie told us 1160 boats had visited so far this year and the quota was 1200 for the year. It's all to do with preserving the habitat and stopping damage to the banks by too many boats visiting the Monty. The sun was shining and the wind was still blowing as we worked through the locks but the rain stayed away. During the afternoon NB Libertybelle came and moored next to us on the Weston Arm- it nice to seem them again. We're all wintering in Llangollen again this year.

Moored Up With NB Shush

We moved on from Ellesmere in the wind- it made travelling interesting to say the least. Lots of hireboats about as it's half term for some parts of the country. We moored up a few bridges before Frankton Junction as the weather forecast said gales with the forecast for Tuesday much better. Ben enjoyed playing ball along the wide towpath and he kept Alan busy throwing the ball as soon as he spotted him outside. In places further on towards Frankton Junction , the towpath was very narrow as the water had washed parts away , hopefully BW will do some work here soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On The Move Again But Not Far

Ben's Last Visit To The Monty (5 months old)

It's Saturday again- the days certainly fly by. We've been moored for the last few days just along from the BW Services at Ellesmere. It's been very busy with lots of boats on the move. We've been having quite a lazy time this week. Of course Ben has still had lots of walks around Ellesmere. We've been back and for to get water so I could catch up with the washing. It's been blowing dry on the rotary line.

Yesterday we filled up the diesel tank at 84p a litre and bought some coal to keep us going until we get to Llangollen. We had fun with the wind in Blackwater Meadow Marina, it just took the bow right out and turned us around inches away from tupperware boats. We'll need to fill up again before the start of the new prices in November but wonder whether the boat yards will be dry with everyone having the same idea. Most of our fuel will be for heating anyway as we're mooring up for the winter at Llangollen.

We're off down the Montgomery Canal for a few days so we needed to get some food in before we went as this canal is very rural and there's only one shop/cafe/PO with very limited supplies. Eiddwen and I decided to take the OAP trolleys to Sainsbury's in Oswestry (20 minutes bus ride away) and stock up as the Co-op in Ellesmere is very pricey in comparison.

To-morrow the locks at Frankton Junction with provide a little light exercise. I wonder how many boats we'll see down on the Monty. Ben was five months old when we last visited the Monty in July 2007.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Weekend On The Ellesmere Arm

We used the services at Ellesmere and moved onto the canal arm for the weekend as Eric needed to rub down and repaint the battle scars on the gunnels of the boat. It's a good place to paint as the sides are concrete and you can easily turn the boat around to do the other side. As the weather was good lots of people walked past the boats stopping to chat too. After our 72 hours stay we moved on just past the visitor moorings to extend our stay. The BW man walks by regularly taking names and numbers to make sure boaters don't overstay. We've met quite a few boaters meandering along towards their winter mooring in Llangollen.
Eiddwen ( NB Shush)and I took a bus to Oswestry for a look around. The bus went past Whittington Castle and some pretty houses so we enjoyed the change of scenery. We could even see the welsh hills in the distance. The 449 bus stops outside Iceland/Sainsbury and picks up in the same place so I took the opportunity to stock up the freezer under the bed. The bus driver was a real character- very friendly and he even dropped us off near the road to the canal arm.
Today Eric and I took Ben the dog for a walk through the Shropshire Trust Nature Reserve and across a footpath down to the Mere. Lots of restoration work is going on here too but it'll be lovely when it's finished. We walked back through the town and shared steak and kidney pies and chips with Ben. He wasn't going to be left out.
Welcome to new boaters Graham and Pat on NB Rambling Rose, we enjoyed talking to you and hope to see your blog very soon. Also hello to Julia and Mark on NB Poppy- nice to hear you follow my blog.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Misty Nights In Ellesmere

Sorry for the delay in updating my blog but I've been travelling by bus and train back to Newport. I had a very pleasant couple of days visiting my family. It was lovely to see my dad and two of my daughters but Sally was away. I enjoyed time with my granddaughter Gwenllian too- she's six months old now.
At present we are moored at Ellesmere and it's a lovely place to stay for a while with the little town so near the canal with lovely shops and lots of walks for Ben the dog by the meres (lakes) and through the nature reserve. The building work on the canal arm has started with ground being cleared and a new paved town square fenced off at present. But when the houses and supermarket have been built who knows what it'll be like to stay there.
It's been very busy this week with hire boats passing by, so far we've had one hit where a boat got us on the side of the bow which was so forceful it caused the TV to wobble on the shelf and other bits and pieces fell over. Luckily Eric was on hand to hold onto the TV and we only lost some paint on the bow. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush moored next to us felt the impact on their boat as we hit the armco. They're right when they say it's a contact sport!
The nights have been cold and damp with a heavy mist hanging over the water- just like the photograph. The coal fire has been lit in the evenings but it's been quite warm during the day. I have just been to buy a big bag of sticks in Ellesmere as we had nearly run out.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Land Of Lift Bridges

First stop after leaving Whitchurch was to turn around at the winding hole and go through the lift bridge for a trip down to Grindley Brook to get water and use the sanitary station. I know we were going the wrong way but we didn't know whether there were still facilities we could use at Whixall Marina on the Prees Branch.
An hour later we were winded again and headed back towards Ellesmere. Quite a few boats moving which meant the first boat opened and shut the lift bridge while the others went through to open the next bridge. We went through three lift bridges all worked with a windlass- a slow process going up and quicker going down. At Fenn's Wood the lift bridge was missing so it was one we didn't have to open and close. We decided to stop just around the corner for a couple of nights as the weather forecast was not good and we were in no rush.

We went for some lovely walks with Ben the dog and discovered 'The Waggoners Inn' is now derelict. I don't remember reading anything about it but it's just walls standing there with no roof at all. We went to look for a post box and found it not that far from the canal bridge at Platt Lane after asking some locals. As we walked over the canal bridge with letter in hand who should be coming towards but a little red van- yes Mr Postie (not Postman Pat) and he stopped and took the letter off us telling us the collection from the box wasn't until the morning. Thank you very much Mr Postie!

We decided to move on and go down the very short Prees Branch and moor between the lift bridges. We were the first boat and a lovely new lift bridge was ahead of us but it had a dangling chain. I pulled and pulled but got nowhere and Eric came along and did it! I took over steering the boat through the open bridge and pulled in to wait for him. I didn't repeat the performance of a hire boat at Whitchurch who came to an abrupt stop as he hit the bridge.
We moved slowly on approaching a bridge- it was so quiet we were sure to meet a boat and we met two. One ended up across the canal after we passed him on seeing Alan's boat coming too! He was having trouble with the brakes and it was very windy. At the marina we spotted diesel at 75p a litre so we filled up and bought a few bags of coal for the nights are getting chillier. There was also water and a sanitary station. Lots of work has been done since it became a BW Marina with new rather short pontoons replacing the rusty old ones. In fact it looked quite a pleasant marina. It's a pity the shop didn't sell milk and bread as 'The Barn Shop' is now closed for the winter.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunny Days At Whitchurch

Whitchurch Lift Bridge

Moored At The Whitchurch Arm

We only travelled short distance as we wanted to moor on the Whitchurch Arm. We are going slowly onwards towards Llangollen Wharf where we have a winter mooring booked. The nights are starting to get darker earlier and much colder and the fire's been lit most evenings as it keeps the boat lovely and cosy all night without the noise of central heating. It also helps keep the level of condensation down.

The days have been lovely and sunny and Ben and I have had some pleasant walks and discovered where some of the footpaths end up. Lots of boats on the move this weekend and we've seen loads of dogs with their owners. It must be the place to walk the dog on Sunday afternoon! The Whitchurch Waterway Trust has great plans to restore the Arm further into the town - let's hope it happens in the not too distant future.
Yesterday we left Ben the dog looking after the boat and walked into Whitchurch for a look around. Quite a pretty little town with lots of interesting old buildings. We even found a pet shop as we needed to take Ben back a big hide bone as he'd eaten every crap of the one he had. We also did a Tesco shop and got a taxi back as we didn't fancy a twenty minute walk with heavy bags.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Towards Grindley Brook

We left Wrenbury through the electric key operated lift bridge. Following us were two holiday hire boats so we let them pass as we were not in any hurry and we didn't want to hold them up. We had a chat to them at Marbury Lock and then followed them through. I walked for a bit with Ben the dog and by the time we reached Quoisley Lock there was no sign of the holiday boats.
As we approached Willey Moor Lock I said 'If the pub's actually open I want a pint', and surprise, surprise it was. Everytime we've passed here before it's been closed! We moored up the two boats and I had that pint- actually two halves. We moved on a bit later to moor below Grindley Brook as we wanted to get these five locks done in the morning. Lots of boats came down early evening - held up by a hireboat which got stuck in the middle lock going down the staircase which took several hours to clear as it got caught on the top of the gate.
Morning came and Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush went first and we followed through the three single locks- other boats were coming down which made it so much easier. By the time we reached the staircase the lock keeper told me to empty the bottom lock and come up following NB Shush. The lock keeper helped us work through the lock rather than just watch as the man at Hurleston had done. At the top of the staircase there was queue of boats waiting to go down, we'd been very lucky as we didn't have to wait at all.
We moved onto the water points to fill up with water. We also needed to use the sanitary station and get rid of the rubbish we'd accumulated since the last rubbish skip at Hurleston Junction. I went off in search of milk and bread and ended up at the Shell Garage. I was so long Ben and Eric formed a search party to come and look for me. I did ring him on his mobile but it was on the boat not in his pocket.

Monday, September 22, 2008

At The Beginning Of The Llangollen-Hurleston Locks

In the morning it was time for Ben's walk while the boats cruised quietly along. After Bunbury Staircase it was time for Ben to go aboard as we wanted to get through Hurleston Locks before we stopped for the night. There were four boats queueing to go up so we waited as we were number two. First we had to lift all the fenders we didn't want to get stuck in the bottom lock. The lockie had to let some water down as the pounds were getting low. Only one boat was going down. Apparently a boat went down late Monday evening and damaged the bottom lock when they got stuck. BW had it repaired very quickly though. We moored up at a very quiet spot (usually) but five boats had thought the same. We've never seen so many boats on this canal but we are a week or so earlier than usual.
We moved on the next day working through Swanley and Baddiley locks and the first lift bridge at Wrenbury to stay for a few days. Ben and I enjoyed a pleasant walk along the towpath. This canal always feels like home. We walked across the field (lots of cow dung but no cows) and through the church yard to the shop/post office at Wrenbury to get some fruit. I also bought a card to send to my dad for his collection. We were last here at Wrenbury about 5 months ago when my daughter Lisa had her baby and made me a grandma!

Christleton And Beyond

Morning came and we decided to continue our travels. We worked Northgate Locks, a three lock staircase with not a lock keeper in sight. We had to let more water down from the top lock to raise the level of the middle lock so that the two boats could clear the cill of the gate. I walked Ben the dog along the stretch of canal next to the old town walls and the boats went ahead to moor up to do some shopping. We needed to get food shopping before we moved on to stay at Christleton near 'The Cheshire Cat'.
At Christleton there was just enough room for the two boats , but it was a busy piece of towpath with runners, walkers and lots of cyclists. Ben barked when he heard the early morning runners on the towpath. The boat did a strange shudder in the night and we thought nothing of it until the morning when we noticed one of our changing colour solar lights had been taken in the night. We more annoyed by the fact that they had taken the metal bracket which holds our aerial pole in place.
Alan and Eiddwen celebrated their wedding anniversary on Thursday and we all went to 'The Cheshire Cat' where they treated us to a lovely meal. Very nice food, drink and of course the company was good too!
In the morning I walked with Ben for a mile or so and then got back on board passing slowly the long lines of moored boats. We could soon see Beeston Castle high on an outcrop of rock and we then worked through Wharton Lock and stopped at Chas Harden for fuel (85p a litre) and water( free to customers). We were glad to refill the water tanks as we planned to stay moored on the visitor moorings above Beeston Iron Lock for the weekend.
On Saturday morning the weather was lovely so I took Ben for a four mile walk along the towpath as far as Bunbury Staircase Locks and back. We bought some milk in the shop. It was very quiet and rural so Ben enjoyed running off the lead. It was a lovely evening so we had a barbecue with Alan and Eiddwen- the second of the year.
On Sunday I was walking Ben down to the lock when a couple said to me 'Your blog is overdue'. They had decided to walk this section of the canal to see if we were here. I explained that I had no signal here but would post something as soon as I could. So hello again to Laurie (short for Laurence) and Jan- thanks for name correction- I'm useless at remembering names.They are at the planning stage and will be joining us on the waterways in two years time. It's always nice to meet someone who actually reads my ramblings!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back To Chester Again

Tower Wharf Visitor Moorings

Monday morning came and we had to leave the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port as we needed a sanitary station and the nearest is Tower Wharf in Chester. Water and refuse disposal at the museum site but no elsan or pump out facilities. Along the 8 miles from Chester to Ellesmere Port there are also no boatyards and so no diesel fuel for sale either. We can see why people turn around at Chester.

We worked the two narrow locks in the museum grounds itself, filled up with water and we were on our way. As usual I walked for a mile or so with Ben and then went back on board for elevenses. Ben was still game for playing with his ball. We obviously travelled the same stretch of water but it always looks different going back the other way.

At Tower Wharf we stopped and moored for the night. Surprisingly quiet here considering a pub called 'Telford's Warehouse' is opposite the visitor moorings. We walked into Chester and had a look around and did a bit of shopping. We also sampled the Cornish pasties from a different bakery- very nice too!

In the morning we intended to move on but seeing rain and grey skies we decided to stay put until tomorrow when better weather is forecast. Hopefully the rain will stop later as we need to take Ben out for a walk and it would be much nicer if he didn't get soaking wet.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Few Laughs At Porters Row

Dummy in the loo!

1950's decor

In the museum at Ellesmere Port there are four terraced houses part of Porter's Row recreating different eras in their life. We looked in to the 1950's room and it was like going back in time. So many things were familiar. At the back of the terraced houses I opened a door to find somebody sitting on the loo. I was so surprised I said ' I'm sorry ' and shut the door quickly! Eric and I were in fits of laughter.

We also thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the old boats moored outside- most in need of tender loving care. The inside exhibits were excellent with lots of interactive information points. All I can say is it's well worth a visit and we've still not seen everything yet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

NB Shush was leading the way with NB Bendigedig close behind. The canal itself was nice and deep so we could travel a little faster without causing a wave. We didn't see any other moving boats once we left the basin at Chester.

We arrived at the museum and went in to ask about mooring in the lower basin. They gave us a permit for our stay and all it cost us was the entry cost for two ( one OAP, one adult) which was £10. We are now moored in the museum and don't have to pay again to look at all the museum exhibits. In fact we became an exhibit ourselves as we worked the boats through the two locks down to the basin. We moored up two abreast on the quay side within the museum compound.

Ben and I walked around the outdoor exhibits and there are lots of old boats to see. We also visited all the places dogs are allowed including the engine room, the blacksmith's, and the stables. He'll have to stay on the boat when we look at the rest of the museum tomorrow.

In the evening we went for a walk with Ben the dog. As the museum is next to the Manchester Ship Canal we let ourselves out of the museum compound with our BW key and went to have a look. A huge ship was being pulled down the canal by two tugs- what a sight! Ben had never seen anything like it but he wasn't distracted for long and was soon pulling us along sniffing at all the interesting smells on his walk.

Christleton And Chester

We finally arrived at Christleton near 'The Cheshire Cat', we couldn't get on the rings so ended up using pins in very soft ground. Eric had to hammer them back in several times with passing boats pulling them out. Alan and Eiddwen sampled the food at the pub and we caught up with them later for a few drinks. In the morning two of our stakes were just in and one had come out, so we were lucky not to end up across the canal. A few boats did and had to rescued with the help of a boat hook. Eric and I walked Ben the dog along the towpath towards Chester in the morning for a couple of hours- actually we were pulled along for some of the way. We returned via the village as we stopped off to get some newspapers. We stayed two nights due to the bad weather and then decided to move on through the double locks to Chester.
Despite having heard various tales of woe from other boaters about actually travelling into Chester we moored up next to the town centre to have a look around Chester. We found the pasty bakery and I sampled their spicy chicken one and Eric had a traditional pasty. Both were delicious! We enjoyed looking around this lovely old city and we posted a card off to my dad. Before we left we went to Tesco nearby to get some food before we moved down through the staircase locks to stay in the basin. Ben was delighted with the green grass and park benches there but he barked in the night on hearing some locals having a sit down and a chat in the middle of the night. They left all the boats alone so we were fine.
In the morning the sun was shining so it's Ellesmere Port- here we come!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A View Of Beeston Castle

In the morning we worked singly through Beeston Iron Lock as suggested by BW. Apparently although it looks a wide lock its not wide enough due to the warped iron plates and the danger of snagging on the sides of the lock. Ben's walk was delayed til later as the towpath had been invaded by a motorised grass mower! Ben could get away fast enough- he wanted to get back on the boat.
There was an excellent view of Beeston Castle from Wharton's Lock although the photograph doesn't really show the height of the outcrop compared to the lower level of the ground around. Ben and I walked for a while in the pleasant countryside with the boat travelling slowly alongside. Ben loves running free along the towpath and when nobody else is about it's even better.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A View From My Window

The weather men said Sunday would be dry but they got it wrong again. We decided to move anyway as we needed a change of view from the window. Ben and I walked for a bit until the rain started again. We passed Hurleston and Barbridge Junctions and then used the services at Calverley before moving on through Bunbury Staircase Locks. These were double locks so the two narrow boats could go in side by side. We are now going downhill towards Chester and travelling in a north westerly direction. I know my sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired so I have a look at the map. We travelled down through two more double locks and then moored up between Beeston Stone Lock and Beeston Iron Lock on the visitor moorings where we had a good view of the dot in the sky. The photograph shows the view from the boat window- sheep and hills again - it makes it feel like home.

Lazy Days At Hurleston

With torrential rail forecast we moved on from Nantwich as our 48 hours was up. We didn't move far, we stopped just below Hurleston Junction on the Shroppie. Of course we had the shelf causing us problems until we managed to get some hard heavy rubber fenders between us and the ledge. We then walked Ben for a few hours with intermittent showers but the heavens opened as we returned to the boat. The weather didn't help satellite reception it tends to freeze when the rain really lashes down. We lit the fire as we felt damp and cold and soon we were warm and cosy again.

When Saturday came and it had stopped raining we decided to do some boaty jobs. First job of all was chimney sweeping as we'd put on some special powder to help loosen the soot. The brush is not quite long enough so Eric ended up with his arm down the chimney and my arm was up the chimney pulling it down to clean the lower part. Needless to say we were rather dirty but the job was soon done.

The next job involved replacing gaskets on the Mikuni heater as we couldn't use it because of a water leak. Eric took it apart while I walked Ben the dog towards Barbridge Junction. When I returned it was in bits and Eric was cleaning up the combustion chamber. He then replaced some gaskets and put it back together. It works now with no leaks. Warm radiators and hot water to look forward to when we get up in the morning!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Visiting Time Again

I've just come back after a few days in Newport and I really enjoyed lots of cuddles with Gwenllian. She's five months now and a really happy baby. She certainly keeps Lisa busy. Gerwyn sent me this lovely photograph. As usual I stayed at my dad's house and it was lovely to see him again too. Clare and Sally came to see me at my dad's house and we had a lovely catch up chat. Paula brought down the post too. Thanks Paula!
On Wednesday Wendy and I did lunch and enjoyed steak and chips which went down well after fasting since the previous night for my blood tests at the doctor's! My results showed 5.2 on the cholesterol test so it's slightly over the recommended 5.0 and apparently I should follow a low fat diet and have plenty of exercise! I already do the exercise bit but I do like chocolate, biscuits and the occasional portion of chips!
It was a hectic few days with 3 hour train journeys there and back and now I am happily back on the boat.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lots of Locks- Tyrley,Addersley and Audlem

The Shroppie Fly

NB Bendigedig and NB Shush at Coole Pilate Leisure Area

After 48 hours at Norbury we stopped to fill up with water and use the sanitary station. Ben and I couldn't walk for a bit as Grub Street cutting was ahead and the guide warned of wet, wet, wet but actually it was a good path and quite dry! At the end of the cutting we jumped off and walked for a few miles and then we decided to stop at Goldstone Wharf for the night. Opposite us was the Wharf Tavern and a caravan site!
In the morning Woodseaves Cutting was ahead and we remembered the duckweed on the towpath so Ben and I stayed on board until the end of the cutting. We walked onto Tyrley Locks where the waterpoint is still out of action. It was pleasant working through the five locks with some boats coming up towards us. I helped a single handed boater through the last lock while Eric hovered waiting to go down. You couldn't moor up as there was a rocky shelf. Next stop was Market Drayton and Ben and I walked all the way there.

We were lucky at Market Drayton there was room for two boats at the end against the hard bank, which is ideal for a few days bottle locker lid is now has a very bright red lid. Sunglasses needed! We walked into the town to do an Iceland Shop as the freezer was almost empty and they have some good deals on groceries too. After 48 hours we filled up with water and used the sanitary station and left Market Drayton. A stop at Victoria Wharf filled the diesel tank at 69.9p a litre-too good to pass by.

Ben and I walked up towards Betton Wood where Ben tried to carry off a branch of a tree a couple were collecting for firewood. Luckily it was a bit too big so he left it behind. Addersley Locks were ahead and we soon worked through them and the first two of the Audlem flight to stop at Coxbank.
We had a comparatively lazy day on Sunday, although we did walk down to Audlem to get a Sunday paper and didn't move on down the Audlem Flight until Monday morning. Outside 'The Shoppie Fly' Eric filled up with water and I popped into the Co-op to get bread, milk and some hot sausage baps for lunch. Then it was three more locks and a few bridges before Coole Pilate Leisure Area where we stopped for the night.
On arrival Ben ran to greet the doggy crew members on the two nearby boats- and they played together in the usual rough and tumble fashion. He was delighted to meet an eighteen month old short haired collie just like him called Jake and they played until Ben decided he needed a rest and came back on the boat to go to sleep.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Few Days At Norbury Junction

Ben's found a big stick!

We've spent a few days at Norbury Junction and Ben and I have enjoyed some nice walks along the embankment and through some muddy cuttings. Ben has enjoyed being able to run free as it's been fairly bike free. Eric has caught up with a few boaty jobs- like revarnishing the bits on a trad boat open to the elements when we're travelling. We also swept the chimney in readiness for those colder evenings. The Mikuni heater has developed a water leak which will hopefully be fixed with some new gaskets. So we may be lighting the fire sooner rather than later. We're hoping to get some painting done on the gunnel's but that all depends on the weather. It's an ongoing job anyway as we gather scrapes on our travels.

Bank Holiday Monday at Norbury Junction brought out all those people peering in through the boat windows! (gongoozlers). We also had the usual questions about living aboard and the cold weather. As usual they were surprised at all the mod cons on board. Moored nearby were Roger and Chris on NB Lacewing who we keep meeting on our travels. We also met John on NB Marmaduke- a fellow blogger and had a nice chat about life on board. We didn't see Cathy until they passed us as they moved on to Gnosall and we waved goodbye!

We've also met some Northwich Boat Co Boats this week - Number 63 NB Annie was moored at Brewood and we had a good chat to new boaters Annie and Peter who'd had their boat just five weeks. At Brewood we sampled Sunday lunch at The Bridge Inn with Alan and Eiddwen (NB Shush)- very nice too! We also met Number 18 a two year old boat with its owners- sorry folks can't remember your names or the boats name- a senior moment. We chatted for a while and came to the same conclusion we love the open plan airiness of NBC boats.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Autherley Junction

NB President

After a quiet night at Penkridge we continued on towards Autherley Junction as our plan was to visit the IWA Boat Show if we could find mooring on the Shroppie and walk back. On the way to Autherley Junction we passed loads of boats moored up at the official show moorings. At Autherley Junction it was hectic to sat the least and we had to queue to go through the stop lock. Then it was slowly slowly past all the moored boats and in some places it was one way traffic. The moored boats stretched all the way up to Bridge 4 and then we found an empty Shropshire Union 48 hour Mooring, which did us fine as we only wanted to stop to visit the show on Saturday. Lots of boats came past us on Friday evening to turn around at the winding hole before heading back to their mooring and the photograph shows NB President pulling Kildare its butty.

We didn't bang about too much on the shroppie shelf as Eric had put down some long rubber fenders to try and stop the bumps. We were woken up by Ben barking at about 1.45am when he must have heard somebody about outside. Eric had a look with our powerful torch and had some nice colourful language telling him what to do with his torch! We went back to sleep until the morning. We visited the show and had a good look around (lots of mud)and bought a few things we wanted. We sampled the Cornish pasties and some liquid refreshment and walked back to the boat. Ben was looking after it for us and as usual he'd been a very good boy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Going Down The Staffs And Worcester Canal

After a few days of peace and quiet at Tixall Wide we headed back up to Great Haywood Junction to Anglowelsh to fill up with fuel, and use the services. Then a big turn around with me acting as traffic controller so we headed down the Staffs and Worcs Canal towards Autherley Junction. Eric had hoped to be able to do a bit of painting while we were at Tixall Wide, there's always scratches to cover up unless of course you leave it in a marina. But the weather has been dreadful just rain, rain and more rain.
Ben and I walked to the first lock and Eric joined a queue waiting to go through the lock. After we worked through the lock I walked on for a few miles so we could leave Ben on the boat while we went shopping in Stafford. It's easy to catch a bus at Radford Bridge and a few hours later we were back on board with two new pairs of walking boot from Millets. Now we're all set for a winter of dry warm feet. We decided to move on and moored above Deptmore Lock as if we went on any further we would hear the drone of the motorway.
In the morning we carried on up the locks with queues at every lock. At Penkridge we topped up the water tank and used the services then moved on through the next lock to stop at the visitor moorings near The Cross Keys pub. From here it was a short walk to the local well equipped shop for some essentials. They even had a new ball (with a bell inside) for Ben as we had only one left. Some of them inevitably end up in the canal, others get chewed up when he feels like destroying them. Eric found the dot in the sky so we could watch TV and then the rain came down again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back On The Trent And Mersey Canal.

We've enjoyed the Coventry Canal but as it got nearly to Fradley Junction it became much busier and we became target practice for a few Canaltime boats who hadn't mastered the art of steering. One hit a tree on his side of the canal and bounced into us blaming the tree for being in the way. At Fradley Junction we turned left and mayhem began, a boat leaving the lower lock decided he was going to try and beat us to the next lock but we didn't want a race so we let him go first. The first lock we came to has only one space to moor below the lock and with a queue already we had to hover near the moored boats. One boat had the unfriendly sign 'Do not board my boat' , so we decided Fradley is not a friendly place! We finally managed to moor far above the lock as the visitor moorings were full. The problem was the edge was just too shallow. We had a quiet night until the boats started to go past and we bumped and scraped- time to get up!
Ben the dog and I walked for about two and a half miles and we didn't see a soul on the towpath. We then boarded to continue to Rugley where Morrisons is very close to the canal so the shopping didn't have to be carried/wheeled far. Lots of boats were moored up but there was just room for us and NB Shush. We then headed off to moor away from roads and trains as we like peace and quiet at night. In the morning it was only a short cruise to Great Haywood but we queued at the two locks so it took us a few hours. Luckily there was a space to fit both boats above the lock so it's here for 48 hours and then we'll move onto to Tixall Wide.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meandering Along The Coventry Canal

Our Wedding Day 1971

This week we have been married 37 years , although we have actually known each other over 40 years. This year we spent the day apart as Eric was visiting in Newport for a few days staying with his sister Paula and I was boat sitting in Atherstone. Eric went into grandad mode and visited his granddaughter Gwenllian as well as seeing our daughters Lisa and Clare. Sally was out of the country courtesy of Virgin Atlantic in Dubai but we'll see her soon no doubt.

Our mooring at Atherstone was far from quiet with the proximity of the busy railway line so were glad to move on when Eric returned. As promised it was wet wet wet so we got all the wet gear on and worked down the final six locks of the Atherstone Flight. Ben and I walked in the rain and he needed a good rub down with a towel when we boarded again. At Bradley Green we caught up with NB Shush at the waterpoint. The locks on the narrow canals are so much easier than those on the Grand Union and we were soon looking for a suitable mooring place as we wanted to watch some of the Olympic Games on TV.

On Sunday we walked a couple of miles to Polesworth to give Ben a walk and pick up some newspapers. There was a well stocked Spar shop open. We walked back past Stiper's Hill listening to and watching the scrambling bikes on the dirt track. We arrived back at the boat just as the heavens opened , we were so lucky to escape getting soaked. Then I put a chicken in the oven and we had a late lunch and Ben enjoyed chicken, green beans and carrots too! We all had a lazy afternoon and the sun finally came out but not for long. Tomorrow we'll be on the move again towards Fazeley Junction and the weather forecast is rain again - but who cares!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Going North- North Oxford and Coventry Canals

An interesting house at Hartshill

Close up of the sign

Leaving Braunston and back on the North Oxford Canal and the towpath grass has been cut and in some places BW has been busy repairing the places where the towpath had been almost washed away. Ben and I have had some good walks with not a bike in sight meaning Ben could run free.
We had a quiet night out in the countryside and headed for Tesco in the morning to fill the food cupboard and the fridge. Hillmorton Locks were busy but with two chambers for each lock we moved quickly through. We didn't stay long in Rugby preferring to stop near Brinklow Marina and it was surprising how many boats are out and about. As usual lots of friendly boaters as well as those who look away-( too posh to speak), rather than acknowledge we said good day.

At Hawkesbury Junction it was very quiet and we filled up with water and passed through the lock to enter the Coventry Canal. We used the services and then we were off on our travels again planning to pass through Nuneaton as far as Hartshill for the night. The Coventry Canal is certainly busier than the Oxford and as usual we always met another boat on a blind corner or a bridge hole. One boat narrowly missed NB Shush, the skipper was making hand signals and expecting Alan to get out of his way. We were in luck near Hartshill as there was just enough room for us to stop away from trees so we could get a good view of the dot in the sky. It's only occasionally we can't get satellite TV.

In the morning we headed off down the first five locks at Atherstone where we stopped so Eric could catch a train to Tamworth. 14.07 on the Internet (British Rail Site) and the station timetable said the same but the train didn't arrive. We knew only a few trains stop at this station (two platforms with bus shelters) but we did expect the timetabled train to arrive. At the bus station we found out that the next bus to Tamworth was an hour later and this meant he'd miss the train from Tamworth to Newport. A taxi to Tamworth solved the problem although £15 lighter in the pocket.

Meanwhile on the boat Ben is sleeping after his evening walk, and I know he'll soon be wanting to play ball along the boat.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Another Weekend At Braunston

St Peter's Church, Wolfhampcote.

Eiddwen and I have had a very busy few days with lots of locks to work. We had worked quite quickly through the locks at Stoke Bruerne but the flight of locks rising up to Buckby Wharf were a different story. Starting at the lock next to Whilton Marina when we couldn't shut the bottom gates without help they were to become increasingly difficult to shut as we progressed through the flight. Had we turned into weaklings? Did we need to start eating spinach? (Popeye the sailor!) Well by chatting to other women working through the flight we were all finding the gates very heavy indeed. By the time we reached the moorings below the top lock we decided to stop and recuperate. I didn't sleep too well with the M1 noise and the nearby railway so I was glad to move in the morning.

It was only a short distance to Braunston Tunnel and it we followed two other boats through and again we passed two boats near the other end. Not many drips in this tunnel and quite pleasant to be in the cool. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush came through unscathed with strategically placed fat fenders protecting the navigation lights which suffer in tunnels. We queued to come down Braunston Locks but gates being left open for the boats coming up made life a little easier. Lots of holiday boats about with children on so Ben enjoyed lots of attention as he waited attached to the bollard. BW bollards are great dog moorings!

We then found a space on the 48 hour moorings to go and have a chat to Wharf Narrowboats at Braunston Chandlery about our problem with batteries again. According to the voltmeter and hydrometer readings we have a problem getting them charged. They were very helpful and called up their electrician (Tim Scoones) who came on Saturday and checked everything out. He checked the electrics with some high tech equipment and told us the voltmeter was reading 1.5 volts too low, and the batteries are fine- so panic over.

Eric is doing the visiting this month and collecting our repeat prescriptions and I am staying on the boat with Ben the dog. We are planning some nice long walks. We've already walked to see the isolated medieval church of St Peter at Wolfhampcote.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scorching Again With Cooler Intervals (In Blisworth Tunnel)

A Giant Weighing Scales

Stoke Bruerne welcomed us with a sign 'No Return Within 28 Days'- just as well we passed this way on in June on the way to London. We moored away from the waterpoints near Bottom Lock for the night. Ben and I had pleasant walk up the 7 locks to see Stoke Bruerne at a quieter time. The night was cooler so we had a better nights sleep! I took Ben out in the night for a comfort break and the night sky was beautiful with so many stars visible.
In the morning we used the services and set off up the flight of seven locks. The bottom lock was ready for us so we just opened the gates. Another boat was coming down which pleased us until they shut the gates as they left the lock- are they daft? We also met some boaters who can only steer straight. They waited in the lock above us with the gates open willing us to get out of the way so they go straight in and they didn't like it when our two boats carried on one behind the other forcing them to vacate the chamber!
At Stoke Bruerne we stopped for lunch and sampled the local ale in 'The Boat Inn'. I bought a postcard to send to my dad to add to his collection. We had a look around and saw the boat weighing machine from the Glamorganshire Canal with a BCN station boat in the duplicate lock chamber. You can see the pan they put the weights on on the left hand side of the picture like a giant set of scales. It's one of the museums outside exhibits. It was pricey to go in the museum at over £4 each so we gave it a miss. The boat trips into the tunnel mouth were pricey too at over £7 each but we didn't need a trip boat as we go through ourselves.
Next we followed a boat heading for Blisworth Tunnel until it stopped suddenly at the tunnel mouth as a boat was coming the other way. I explained it was OK to proceed as there was room for two narrow boats to pass but they didn't want to go first so NB Bendigedig led the way with NB Shush following behind. It was a noisy journey with singing from NB Shush and ghostly noises from NB Bendigedig and rather wet in places. But we emerged into the sunshine with no crashes and we passed two boats in the tunnel. As we travelled through it's amazing to think it took seven years to build Blisworth Tunnel and it must have been extremely hard work.
We found a quiet place to stay near Blisworth and moored up the night. Ben the dog and Eric went to sleep for the rest of the afternoon, it was so hot we were melting!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Weekend At Milton Keynes

As I've said previously the canal around Milton Keynes is surrounded by lovely green spaces so we decided to spend the weekend here by Campbell Park. It's relatively peaceful although you can hear children screaming from the nearby funfair rides, but that stops in the evening. We walked into the shopping centre through the park as I needed to buy birthday cards and send them off. Danielle my niece will be 18 next week and Wendy (an old friend) will be 58 years young! Happy Birthday to you both on the world wide web. This weekend also my daughter Sally and her partner Bob had their engagement party- congratulations to them too. We didn't get to the party but we drank a toast on the boat!

We've enjoyed the walks around here although it's been so hot we would have loved a dip in the water just like Ben the dog. Eric and I walked to Willen Lake and were amazed at the facilities there. There's a water ski loop which was great to watch, where people could ski without the need for a boat. All the usual water sports were there too- canoes and boat hire and there's even an area for remote control model boats. There's also a wild life lake with peace and quiet the order of the day. This are has lots of footpaths/cycle paths which makes getting around easier as you can just follow the signs. Ben and I have enjoyed lots of walks this weekend. In some places we see footpaths marked by numbers only and this doesn't help visitors as we don't know where we'll end up. I've also managed to get bitten by two horseflies and stung by a wasp- I must be tasty!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Going Down

Loading a working boat at Tring Wharf

Ben free amidst the long grass!

The photo shows a working boat being loaded up at Tring Summit taking blocks down the canal to Lock 41. Then our descent through the Marsworth Flight of locks began. Ben and I walked enjoying the views of the reservoirs along the way. After working through 14 locks we stopped near Ivington Locks in a short pound. Eric had to let a lock full of water down before we went to bed as the level had dropped in the pound and we were at a funny angle although the ropes were slack.

The mileage signs showed we are getting closer to Braunston and the next day we reached Leighton Buzzard. We moored on the Linslade visitor moorings as we expected the moorings outside Tesco to be full and we were right. It was only a short walk to get the shopping done and the cupboards, fridge and freezer were soon restocked. We didn't leave Leighton Buzzard until after lunch and we travelled with the temperature in the region of 25 degrees C slowly past lots of moored boats.

The Soulbury Flight of 3 locks delayed us as two boats got stuck at the bottom when they tried to enter side by side and the one lock gate wouldn't go right back. They had to let some water down to get them unstuck. It proved to be an entertaining time for the folk in 'The Three Locks' pub. We waited until they came up rather than waste water. We chatted to the people in the pub garden by the bottom lock and they asked us about our travels when they saw the two welsh flags on NB Bendigedig and NB Shush.

We worked one moor lock and decided to stop as we were melting! Forty two miles to Braunston.