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.