Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Home Again

Dinas Bran From Sun Trevor

We travelled back to the boat in time to miss the snow expected in south Wales and our daughter told us it has arrived today. The journey was uneventful with the roads much clearer than when we travelled down to Newport and we watched the outside temperature on the car display as we travelled getting colder the further north we went. Ben travelled in the back with the seat folded down covered in a blanket to make room for luggage and dog. He was a very good boy and he just went to sleep unless we negotiated a roundabout when his head popped up to see what was going on.

First job when we got to our boaty home was to warm it up- on went the central heating and the coal fire was lit. An hour later the temperature had gone up from 6 to 20 degrees C and we were toasty. Soon the bags were emptied and the washing mountain added to. The washing machine will be busy this week! We made use of the hire car to get some shopping in as the weather forecast is not good- snow, snow and more snow.

Walking the dog today was very slippery- a lot of the towpath is just ice so you end up picking your way along the grassy bits and even Ben stayed off the ice. At present it's raining hard interspersed with sleety rain but the weather forecast says snow tonight so no doubt we'll wake up to a white Llangollen.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everybody

We are away from the boat for a few days celebrating Christmas with family in south Wales. The boat is being watched over by friends at our Llangollen winter mooring. We survived the journey but the weather was horrendous- the car temperature showing an outside temperature of -4 decrees C as we headed southwards. Ben was glad to be out of the car in snowy Newport. The next day was the Christmas food shop and our daughter Clare looked after Ben for us once he'd had a good run around the park. To say it was busy is putting it mildly and it took ages to get what we needed with the number of people shopping and the checkout queues. We picked up the mail from Paula-Eric's sister including lots of Christmas cards and then back to Clare's house where Ben was waiting looking out of the window!
Soon it was Christmas Eve- one more sleep til Christmas and we were looking forward to seeing our granddaughter Gwenllian after we'd had our Christmas dinner. We had turkey with all the trimmings but it was quite strange this year as it was dinner for four or should I say five as Ben had some turkey with his dog food! Lisa and Gerwyn wanted dinner in their own house and Sally and Bob had other plans too. Eric as usual was the taxi service and he went to pick up my dad for dinner and he spent the rest of the day with us. It was great to see Gwenllian opening presents - at 20 months she's quite a sweetheart and we were entertained with her favourite songs until she was so shattered she needed a nap.
Ben was having a quiet hour or so while we did the visiting as he's too big and boisterous for Gwenllian. He'd also like to help himself to her soft toys. He was a very good boy while we were out considering he'd not been alone in a house before. He's used to being left in the boat which is a little different. It was three to one decision to watch Doctor Who although my dad had other ideas. We're now lounging around- eaten too much, not drunk enough yet and 'Gavin and Stacey' has just started on the TV- so its bye for now!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Llangollen December 2009

A View From A Window

Bendy In The Snow

Ben In The Snow

Sunday morning came and we woke up and peeped outside to find the snow had arrived in the night making the view of Llangollen from the boat a very pretty sight. Ben and I went outside to take a picture of NB Bendigedig in the snow- useful for next year's Christmas cards. It also made seasonal desktop image for my laptop. Ben doesn't mind the snow and Eric and I were soon all wrapped up off on a walk along the towpath with Ben the dog. We slipped and slided but managed not to end up on our backsides with the ice hidden beneath the snow. Ben charged around as usual in the snow staying firmly on his four feet.

The Snowman On Dinas Bran

Nick and Liz (NB Henry) went walking yesterday with Connie and found this snowman but he was feeling the cold wind without a hat. So Liz kindly lent him her Christmas hat and Nick took a photo!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boater's Lunch At The Wild Pheasant Hotel

Today we sampled the menu at another £5 lunch venue and you wouldn't believe the difference in the food. The Christmas Lunch was beautiful - real slices of turkey rather than a thin slice at the other venue and basically much more for the money and included all the usual trimmings- stuffing balls, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce! Well worth a return visit. We all wore silly Christmas hats provided by Liz and Nick and had a very pleasant time. While we sat eating lunch the snow came down leaving a sprinkling on Dinas Bran which we could see from the restaurant. A few hours later we walked back along the riverside walk to town and then back to the boat after a little bit of necessary food shopping. Ben the dog was waiting for us and greeted us with enthusiasm.

A Little Christmas Spirit

What have we been up to this week you ask. On Monday Liz and I tackled a circular route involving Trevor Rocks and Dinas Bran as we felt like a long walk with the dogs- we were out three hours. It could have been even longer as Ben freaked and froze on the way down- he must have heard something we didn't notice. I think it was the bang of a van door at the edge of the field and it took two of us to drag him out of the field- he just didn't want to move! When he did finally move in his haste he caused me to trap my hand in a gate but luckily it's only bruised. We finally walked though Dinas Bran School following a footpath diversion and he was soon happy to be back in his safe place- under the bed on the boat! He's a strange dog- very easily freaked out by noises.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Liz and I took the dogs Connie and Ben for a lovely walk in the Ty Mawr Country Park next to the River Dee. You can access it from the steps down from the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct on the same side as Anglowelsh. We actually did a circular walk going over the aqueduct and along the towpath , along a road to the entrance of the Ty Mawr Country Park near the Cefn Viaduct and then alongside the River Dee back to the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct. The dogs had a great time chasing each other and paddling in the shallows while they were off their leads. They needed a rub down before they could back in the car- and Connie didn't really want Ben in her space- he takes up too much room.

In the evening we went to see a 'Seasonal Schools Concert' at the Royal Internation Pavilion in Llangollen, featuring pupils from five local primary schools. I enjoy hearing the school choirs sing and it was nice to be in the audience rather than the teacher hoping that everything goes to plan. We joined in with the singing as requested in three of the carols but luckily the choirs drowned out our voices. We walked back to the boats with Nick and Liz enjoying the sight of very tasteful Christmas lights in Llangollen. We certainly felt a lot more Chrismassy after the concert.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Dry Day In Llangollen

Ben Waiting For Me

Dinas Bran
Trevor Rocks
Saturday morning and it's still dry so I decided to take Ben for a walk up towards Sun Trevor even though it was guaranteed to be a mud bath. I put on the waterproofs as protection against the mud and set off. The sky was blue as my photos show! Nobody else was walking as it was only ten o'clock so we had a lovely walk despite the muddy sections. The first photo shows Ben waiting for me to catch up. From the towpath there are good views of Dinas Bran and Trevor Rocks places we like to walk to when we are feeling more energetic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It Didn't Rain In Llangollen Today!

Dinas Bran

We woke this morning to blue sky with just a few clouds- we just didn't believe our eyes we've had so much rain. I planned to go for a nice long walk along the canal as far as the Motor Museum and then along a farm track , through a field of sheep over a few stiles past Valle Crucis Abbey and up a gentle slope in the hills overlooking the abbey before heading back down to the canal- a route I've walked many times before. Eric decided to come too although he wasn't feeling that energetic. Valle Crucis Abbey is one of the points on the Llangollen History Trail.

It was great to walk without rain but there was plenty water, mud and puddles underfoot. We took it slowly and Ben had a great time jumping the stiles like a pro- he didn't attempt to get over stiles until Connie ( Liz and Nick's dog) showed him how last year. We finally got back to the boat a few hours later just in time for lunch. We came back via the marina as Ben enjoys a paddle in the shallow canal and he certainly needed a wash! Connie swims in this bit of the canal but Ben just paddles with no attempt to go into deeper water where he would need to swim.

Ben had a good sleep so he must have had a good walk and Eric certainly needed a sleep. After lunch we had a quiet afternoon -no playing ball as Ben was sleep.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Boater's Lunch At The Chainbridge Hotel

Today 14 Boaters set off for a 45 minute walk to the Chainbridge Hotel along the towpath to have lunch. This included the crew of NB Blue Diamond, NB Shush, NB Cabinessence, NB Libertybelle, NB Blue Toad, NB Henry and of course NB Bendigedig. The path was full of puddles and mud but the rain managed to stay away until we were nearly there. We sampled their £5 lunch menu including Christmas Dinner and Christmas pud for afters-not particularly big portions but you get what you pay for! (To be quite honest we were disappointed with the food!)As the meal was booked a table was laid ready for us. I should have taken the camera as it's the first time we've all got together although we have winter moored at Llangollen for the past three years. We enjoyed the chat before we had a walk back to our boats.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Comes To Llangollen

Today Eric and I took Ben to play ball up the field which he enjoyed! It wasn't raining which made a nice change and not as cold as it has been. Ben had a few dips in the canal complete with his ball and came out dripping wet. On the way back we paused to watch the Christmas Parade led by Father Christmas himself but didn't stay long as Ben freaked out when the band started with a bang of the big drum. He really doesn't like strange noises and this becomes a problem when we're out walking and the guns can be heard from a shoot. He just can't wait to return to the safety of the boat.
The lights are up in Llangollen as they are in Wrexham when I went to do a bit of Christmas Shopping. I never know what to get for presents -it seems to get harder each year. The cards are all written ready to be posted next week. I'll have to get the decorations out and put them up so I'll begin to feel like Christmas is coming. The boats along the wharf usually look really Christmassy and Ben avoids going anywhere near the inflatable Santa's and snowmen which makes going for a walk a challenge.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Not Much Going On!

The weather has turned much colder with the first frosts covering Llangollen. The muddy towpath became crunchy which was a bonus as far as dog walking goes. Eric's gone back to Newport to visit family and see the doctor as he has some new tablets which were giving him a bad headache when he took them. So I'm home alone except for Ben the dog who keeps me company.

Today I went to Aqua Aerobics which was good fun although I certainly knew I'd been exercising. The water was lovely and warm too! Once you're over sixty it's free on Wednesday mornings so that'll be an added bonus along with free bus travel and cheaper rail travel- something to look forward to! Ben and Connie had a couple of walks today but it was bitterly cold so out came the woolly hat and gloves- for me not the dogs. It was warm enough walking but I was quite glad to be back in the warm on the boat.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Quick Update

Since I last blogged I have been swimming- no not in the canal -in the nearby leisure centre. I have also been walking the dog with Liz and Connie- Ben's best pal. I've had wet feet several times but now I've got my new walking boots which feel rather stiff but hopefully should soon soften up. Thanks Paula for keeping the mail.

I had an early birthday present of a walking pole from Connie with a note attached saying it was to ensure I reached the big 60 as it'll help me up and down the slippery slopes. I also had a letter telling me how much my old age pension will be and I just find it hard to believe that you have to pay tax on it. What is the point of the government encouraging you to make voluntary contributions to increase your pension and then taxing you even more if you happen to have a works pension.

This week I've been visiting to Newport to see family and friends- it was nice to see my dad, my girls and granddaughter Gwenllian. The journey down to south Wales was uneventful although it was cold on the train, but coming back to Llangollen the train was packed as it only had two carriages. I was lucky enough to get a seat but there were lots of people standing. Needless to say the train back was much warmer. I had flu and swine flu jabs at my doctors because I have asthma, so now I have two sore arms! Even us lesser mortals get asthma!

Now I'm back home on the boat and Ben was certainly pleased to see me and so was Eric as his back is very achy and I can take over the dog walking again!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting Active!

Horseshoe Falls (November 2008)

On Monday I had a text from Liz asking if we were going walking- she expected a different reply as the weather was not good, but I said OK but not too far! We ended up walking along the canal to 'The Chain Bridge Hotel' and then going to Valle Crucis Abbey and walking in the hills east of the abbey. The dogs had a great time and the rain stayed away until we got back to the boat.

On Wednesday we tried a new activity 'Aqua Aerobics' and it was good fun. Before we went it was find the swimsuit mine hadn't seen the light of day for years- yes I said years! The pool at Plas Madoc was lovely and warm and Maggie, Liz and I were soon getting active. I'm not particularly co-ordinated but I did my best and nobody could see what my legs were doing any way. It was fun and nice to do something different. We had a go at Line Dancing on Thursday but it wasn't for me - my feet are definitely both left!

Today we had a walk along the towpath in the rain to see Horseshoe Falls which was pretty spectacular with all the flood water coming down the Dee- very different from this time last year. It's a weir near the place where the feeder comes off the Dee to feed the Llangollen Canal. Liz and I got rather wet- I had soggy feet! The dogs were wet and mud splattered until they had a dip in the canal to clean up where the side of the canal is a grassy bank. Connie had a swim and Ben just paddles but they came out much cleaner.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Wandering Sheep


Bendy Moored Up

Ben Playing Ball!

Here's a picture of 'Bendy' on Llangollen Wharf- most of the leaves have been blown away and will soon be all gone if the weather forecast is anything to go by. There's a flood warning in Llangollen at the moment but as we're afloat on the canal it doesn't really affect us. We've had lots of rain but Ben and I enjoyed a walk this morning along the canal towpath and it wasn't raining! We had a surprise on our walk though Ben spotted a sheep which had escaped from a field and was down the steep bank near a busy road. I was concerned it could cause an accident if she went walkabout on the road so I walked up to the nearest farm and knocked on the door. The old bloke who answered the door gave me a phone number to ring -he couldn't ring he was going out! I rang the number and someone came to retrieve the sheep and return her to her field, once I showed them where she was amongst all the trees and bushes! Ben and I walked back to the boat to have some lunch.
Today is Alan's Birthday- so HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALAN- another year older!
Hello Jen Frew- I see you're a new follower of my blog!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Still Walking The Dog(s)

A View From Walk 3

Yesterday Liz and I took the dogs for a walk along the canal towards the Horseshoe Falls and then returned to the boats via a walk in the hills opposite Dinas Bran. The dogs enjoyed the three mile walk but we were planning another longer walk for Thursday- weather permitting and I was choosing! I had a look at 'Kittiwake Walks Around Llangollen' and decided on Walk 3 a six mile walk exploring an area south of Llangollen overlooking Pengwern Vale. Eric and I had walked it before but he said never again! Liz was game so we set off with our packed luches as it was a long way and I knew we wouldn't be back for at the very least 4 hours. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed the walk through Pen-y-coed wood exploring all the smells, although it involves a climb up and then back down to cross fields with sheep in near a caravan site. The route involved a very boggy piece of ground and I soon had one wet foot as I need some new boots. Liz's walking poles stopping us getting stuck in the mud and the dog's didn't care about the mud.

The next section involves a long climb up a track used by mountain bikers- I needed lots of stops to admire the scenery ( get my breath back) but we finally reached the top. Oh no - a field of cows ahead so we stopped for lunch before we faced the herd! All I can say it it was a dung and mud covered track and we got filthy as did the dogs. We walked straight ahead with the dogs on short leads- no stopping to admire any views and got out of that field as quickly as possible- Liz going under what used to be a stile and me going over it. We didn't open the gate as a cow was looking at us! As we left the field a tractor went by and then the farmer reversed back to ask 'what was wrong with the gate?'- we said 'nothing was wrong' and he said 'well why didn't you use it?' He obviously didn't realise we just wanted to get out of there!

Back on the road we walked along a country road and finally turned right to take a lane which turned into a rough track down into Llangollen. I remembered this bit very well and the track was very wet, very rough , very muddy and very steep just as I remembered it. The dogs would need a hose down as did our boots when we finally got back to the boats. To put it mildly we were filthy, wet and tired but it was so much better being outside enjoying the countryside. I just needed to get cleaned up and put my feet up while tea cooks in the oven- Ben is fast asleep- for a while!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pulling The Plug At Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Peaceful Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Merely A Trickle!


Spectators Watching Below

A week has gone by here at Llangollen and what have we been doing. Well the weather has been rain, rain and more rain but we've still been out walking everyday with Ben the dog. I've also been out walking with Liz and Connie and come back suitably squelchy but Ben doesn't care- a quick rub down with a towel and he's game for more fun-playing ball on the boat!

We've met lots of dogs- some he remembers with affection and he'd like to eat or they'd like to eat him. The black Labrador is still around so we try and keep our distance but it's hold tight of the leads if they see each other. There's a new dog on the wharf- Tilly on NB Spadger keeping Ian company since he lost his wife to illness in the Summer.

I've been going to get some new walking boots from Millet's and went into Wrexham to find Millet's had gone. I tried the other shop at Eagles Meadow but no brown leather boots in size 8 to be found. I tried in Llangollen but they only had size 7 at my price range! I ordered them online in the end from Millet's. I also had a haircut in Wrexham, so it's nice and short again.

On Monday we got us really early- and set off for the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct as they were pulling the plug to drain it for checks and necessary maintenance. It took two hours to walk there in really misty cold weather but at least it wasn't raining. We got rather muddy and arrived far too early as we had varying tales of the time it was happening. We enjoyed a cuppa from Anglowelsh and sat down and waited- nobody around at all. Gradually people began to arrive and BW put down the stop planks to isolate the aqueduct. Then at 12.30pm a pupil from a local school pulled the plug to send a trickle down into the River Dee below. Soon after it was a torrent. The event was covered by BBC Wales and Eric saw a glimpse of us in the crowd on the news! Nick was kind enough to give us a lift back to Llangollen so we didn't have to catch the bus. We just couldn't face another two hour walk.
Photographs taken by Eric.
Thanks Jen for your comment- I hope you're feeling more yourself.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Walking The Dog Around Llangollen

Eric has gone to Newport to visit family and do the doctor and dentist checkups leaving Ben and I on the boat. So we've had plenty of time to go for some lovely long walks which Ben loves. I enjoy being out and about too, but have to take my time on the hills- old age doesn't come alone. I see to get a bit more achy after a long walk but otherwise I'm still going strong- after all I hit the big 60 in February. Ben just comes back and goes to sleep- the sign of a good walk!

On Monday we were had an four hour walk to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and back to Llangollen about eight miles and all flat. It was lovely as Ben could run free other than the section near the road. We met a few collies with their owners including a boater called Eric who'd just done the Ribble Link and his pair of collies. Ben loved meeting all the dogs. No bikes about and no runners- it was a lovely walk and it stayed dry although it was rather windy.

Today we sampled the delights of Dinas Bran the castle ruins which overlook Llangollen and Ben is fast asleep. I am not good on hills so it was a slow process with Ben patiently waiting for me as we got to the zig-zag path up to the castle itself. Rather than retrace our steps we clambered down the other side of the hill facing Trevor Rocks. At the bottom a bench waited for me to have a breather before we sent off down the lane which is Wern Road-downhill all the way! It took two hours in total. Now I'm drinking coffee and eating my lunch and Ben is still asleep until NB Henry arrives when no doubt he'll wake up to see his best pal Connie with her owners Liz and Nick. They've arrived and moored up in front of us and Connie came to call for Ben! They are now charging up and down the towpath and rolling in the leaves!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Arrival At Llangollen Wharf

Last winter we spotted a Mandarin Duck on the River Dee at Llangollen with the Mallards and this year we have one visiting us on the canal. I wonder if it's the same duck? He comes for some bread along with the other ducks and is a very pretty boy with his autumn colours. Eric took this lovely photograph.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Last Few Miles

We cruised across the Ponty Aqueduct and moored up next to the diesel pump to fill up before the last few miles to our winter mooring on Llangollen Wharf. Anglowelsh staff were going to lunch so we walked up to the pub and had a drink while we waited for them to come back from lunch. We self declared 100% as we will be using fuel for heating only once we're at Llangollen as we've no plans to move anyway as the water level is due to be lowered so that repair work can be done nearby.

We crawled along the last section - it's shallow and you really notice the flow against you. Of course the leaves on the prop didn't help, Eric had to put the boat in reverse briefly to clear the propeller. Last year it was snowing as we came along this section but the weather is so much warmer this year. We got through the first narrow section easily enough as I'd walked ahead with Ben the dog to ask the one boat coming towards us to pull over in the passing place as three boats were coming through. We moored near the swing bridge while I walked on to find out if there was room to moor up on the wharf where we moor up for the winter. The BW guy said as long as we paid the £6 a night fee we could moor up as our winter mooring officially starts Sunday 1st of November.

I rang Eric and Alan to let them know it was OK to come down and inform them there were no boats coming through the final narrow section towards them. Very soon we were all moored up and plugged in to the electricity which had been changed from free to a card reader for the winter. Eric managed to get satellite TV but Alan had to move a boat length along to get a signal so it looks like we aren't friends anymore! Ben just has to walk a little further to get his morning biscuits off Alan on NB Shush. Back in Wales it always feels like I'm home again!

We lit the fire and settled down for a peaceful night but the CO alarm went off a few hours later. We couldn't smell anything but opened the doors and windows to clear the air so the alarm stopped, We let the fire go out as we didn't plan on being killed by carbon monoxide overnight. In the morning we replaced the fire door rope seal and swept the chimney. The fire's lit again know and the alarm is silent- mission accomplished. Ben and I are off for a walk before it gets dark.

Update- I put CO2 not CO sorry! Thanks Bill

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crossing Chirk And Pontcysyllte Aqueducts

Chirk Aqueduct

I took Ben for a walk back towards Lion Quays and then we moved on a bit once Alan was ready to go. We planned to stop somewhere we would get satellite TV as I wanted to watch Holby City. First of all we had to move off-or should I say find a space between boats going in both directions. We followed a stream of boats across Chirk Aqueduct and through the tunnel with Alan leading the way. I took the photo just as train was coming across the viaduct. For once we didn't scrape the boat in Chirk Tunnel- it usually gets us!
We travelled slowly against the flow with lots of boats coming towards us with it being half term. We moored up near Chirk Marina with Alan on NB Shush. By the time it got dark a whole string of boats were moored up behind us.

Art On Offa's Dyke Footpath

We decided to go for a walk with Ben the dog to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and across to Trevor as we'd only ever boated across the aqueduct. It was hectic with lots of people, children, prams and dogs all going across on foot and little room to pass. At Trevor it was busy too with people out and about enjoying the mild half term weather. The aqueduct boat trips passed us on our walk which includes part of the Offa's Dyke footpath.

Crossing The 'Ponty'

We walked back to the boat meeting bikes, walkers on the way as well as two motor bikes- who shouldn't be there! . The fire's lit, shepherd's pie is in the oven so we're all warm and cosy and Ben is asleep- but not for long.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moored At Poacher's Pocket

Poacher's Pocket

We left our moorings at the top of Frankton Locks and cruised towards 'Poacher's Pocket' where Alan on NB Shush was moored up. Ben and I enjoyed an hours walk along the towpath where he introduced himself to the crew of NB Eezyduzit by putting his head through the open hatch - he's a nosey dog! Eric the boat owner recognised Ben as he reads the blog and introduced me to his wife Patsy. We had a nice chat it's always lovely to talk to people who read my ramblings. I'd walked on ahead of NB Bendigedig but Eric caught us up when we stopped to have a chat.

I continued walking for a while but got aboard to make a cuppa before we got to the last two locks of the year. A boat tied up at Jack Mytton's rushed to untie to go in front of us. At the locks the steerer said they didn't want to lose their place in the queue but there wasn't a queue going to Llangollen any way. There was a long queue coming from Llangollen though. We moored up just behind NB Shush and began the task of finding a satellite signal- Eric managed it but as the quality of the signal was poor we lost it if the boat moved! In the field opposite the boats there were several fat pheasants- no poachers though! We don't usually stop here and this morning I know why- the road noise kept me awake for ages. I like to moor well away from roads so tonight it'll have to be a a quiet spot as I need my beauty sleep.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Windy And Wild Today

We've been sitting on a mooring at Ellesmere for ten days only moving to use the services when we needed to fill up the water tank. I went for a short visit to Newport taking advantage of Arriva Club 55 tickets where us over 55's can travel on Arriva trains for just £15 return.(offer available until early November). I also delivered the prescription repeats to our doctors as I couldn't rely on the post getting them there in time for Eric to be able to collect our supplies next week when he goes for a check up. I stayed with my dad and managed to fit in visits to see my daughters and granddaughter in the short time I was there. I returned on Saturday afternoon and we decided to move in the morning. Alan on NB Shush had already made a start on the journey to our winter mooring in Llangollen.

Well Sunday morning came and even though the clocks went back an hour I was up fairly early for me. The wind was certainly up so boating would be a challenge today. First of all I needed to take Ben the dog for a walk before we went and we also needed bread and milk to keep us going. So we headed down to get some water and I made toasties for lunch while the tank filled- it's very slow at the BW Services in Ellesmere. Turning around would be fun with the wind but I held the bow rope standing on the towpath and Eric used the wind to help him turn the boat around.

Soon we were on our way with the wind making manoeuvering difficult when we had to slow down to wait for a boat coming through a bridge hole. Before we knew it we were passing the junction with the Montgomery Canal and mooring up at 2pm. A couple of hours later Ben and I went for a walk down the locks and as usual he had a paddle and a drink in the canal before we came back to the boat. It's been a funny old day as it's only 8pm and it feels later with the clocks going back and it's ever so dark outside!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Walking In Ellesmere

Not doing much since we moored up in Ellesmere other than walking Ben the dog. I've been rediscovering the places we've walked before. Ben loves walks in the woods (Shropshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve) near the canal and looks at me at each junction of the paths to see which way we're going today. It's a great place as he can run free and enjoy all the smells. It's not flat so I have to get used to the steps and inclines without getting out of breath. I need to get in training for those welsh hills in Llangollen!

We've also been walking over the fields (Castlefields) and through the tree filled 'Garden Terraces' and alongside 'The Mere' and Ben enjoys his usual have a paddle and a drink at the same time. I didn't know the names of the places but there's now an information board by the mere showing me. The weather has been amazing for October although it's quite cold before the sun comes up. It's a lovely time of year with crunchy leaves and busy squirrels chasing up the trees, collecting nuts for the winter. Loads of conkers lay on the ground under the trees alongside the lake waiting for the children to pick them up but nobody plays conkers anymore- it's health and safety gone mad.

We've been taking advantage of the closeness of Tesco on the Ellesmere Arm to replenish the cupboards. Into town though for a big bag of sticks as it's cold in the evenings and the coal fire gets lit. A few small shops have closed which seems inevitable as they can't compete with Tesco but there's still everything you need in Ellesmere. The Ellesmere Arm is filling up with winter moorers waiting for the 1st of November when winter moorings begin. The BW signs have gone up 'Winter Moorings Payment Required' in readiness. We'll be moving on to Llangollen Winter Moorings which is more convenient as there's a north Wales to south Wales train station nearby and our family is in south wales.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back To Ellesmere

Ben and I went for a lovely walk along the towpath of the unnavigable section of the Prees Branch and when we returned to the boat we set off down to Whixall Marina as we needed diesel. We also filled up with water and used the sanitary station. We had to fill in the paperwork to self declare our 30/70 split. Ready to go we headed back up the branch- only two lift bridges to go- I wound up the first one but couldn't do the 'pull the chain' lift bridge so Eric managed to do it and I steered the boat. I picked him up from the side and off we went - turn left for Ellesmere. It was a lovely day for cruising with the sun shining and no wind. We finally moored up before Lyneal Wharf all on our own once again. Eric lit the fire as it gets chilly in the evenings. We enjoyed a quiet night with nobody else about.

In the morning we cruised onto Ellesmere, Ben and I had a walk while Eric steered. Through the tunnel and we moored up right at the end of the moorings. Plenty of room but it soon filled up. After helping Eric moor the boat up I walked into town to pick up our post from Ellesmere P.O and popped in the pet shop for a chewy bone for Ben. I had to go in the new Tesco on the wharf to get a few bits and pieces. It'll be a good place to stock up the cupboards before we move on to Llangollen for the winter.

Today was catch up time with Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush and we had cream cakes from Tesco to go with our cuppa on their boat. Ben was pleased to see them too and sat down waiting for his doggy biscuits. We were chatting for so long Ben even had a sleep!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wrenbury And Whitchurch

Ben and Bendy Near Whitchurch

I received an email from the folks on NB Beeston castle telling me they are Colby and Mary from California- so hello again and thanks for your email. Fancy someone reading my blog in America!

Leaving Wrenbury on Saturday morning Ben and I walked the couple of miles to Marbury Lock with the boat. We'd walked this way the day before but this time I didn't have to walk the couple of miles back to the boat. Ben found a clean stream next to the canal to take a dip and have a drink, so he's now nice and clean! Sometimes we walked and sometimes we had a ride to conserve energy as there were nine locks ahead including the staircase at Grindley Brook. There weren't any queues and we were able to go straight up the staircase with the lockie helping by working one side of the locks. He was very chatty so we put the world to right.

Next job was to fill up the water tank as the washing machine had been busy while we were cruising. We used the services and I popped in the shop at Lock 29 for some milk and I spotted some leeks- a bargain at 20p each. I bought some to make a pasta dish with leeks, courgettes and bacon in a cheesy sauce- very nice too. We moved on just a short way through the lift bridge to back up into the Whitchurch Arm. Just us moored here tonight- can't you tell it's October.

On Sunday morning we got up and walked into town and got some bits and pieces in Tesco. Ben enjoyed some time off his lead running with a little terrier along the canal arm. We had a sandwich for lunch as I'd put a casserole in the oven to slow cook for later.We then decided to move past the two lift bridges to a nice quiet spot where we'd moored before with NB Shush. They are currently on the Montgomery Canal so we'll see them soon. Eiddwen celebrated her birthday yesterday- I hope you had a lovely meal with Alan.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Hurleston Junction To Wrenbury!

On Wednesday morning we began our journey towards our winter mooring in Llangollen. First of all we followed NB Henry up the Hurleston Locks and with no traffic coming down we had to empty locks before we could go up. Liz was lifting a bottom paddle as they left the lock above which was a great help. We said our goodbyes as they went on their way to Swanley Marina and we stopped to use the facilities above the lock flight. We moored up a bit further on the visitor moorings.
The next day we moved on meeting Liz and Connie at Swanley Lock. Their boat NB Henry is currently having some jobs done including bottom blacking at Swanley Marina. Liz and Connie walked with Ben and I up to the next lock and then left us to walk back to the marina. Ben and I carried on walking with the boat following close behind until we reached the three locks at Baddiley. I remembered a very muddy stretch of towpath between Baddiley and Wrenbury so I got back on the boat with Ben after we worked the locks. We stopped at the next lift bridge and I opened it and a Canaltime boat came through when Eric waved him on. He followed and we moored up shortly afterwards. The hire boat asked us about the electric lift bridge at Wrenbury. They'd hoped we were going through first!
We stayed two nights at Wrenbury- a really pleasant place to stop. There's a few pubs serving food and a village shop and PO combined to get the food you need. All we needed was milk and bread and they had a big sack of dog food so we got that too. I expect Ben will be pleased he loves 'Wagg' dried dog food.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Meeting Up With NB Henry

NB Henry

We decided to move on when the rain stopped, Ben and I had a lovely walk with crunchy Autumn leaves underfoot. I had a phone call from Liz on NB Henry as they weren't far away. We worked through Church Munshall Lock and stopped just before the next lock to get some oil at Venetian Marine. One more lock and we were heading for Barbridge Junction slowly past all the moored boats. We turned left on the lookout for NB Henry which was moored nearby. We spotted them and moored up behind. Ben was delighted to see Connie and they enjoyed their usual charging up and down the towpath at great speed and rolling around play fighting. It was great to see Liz and Nick - we had a good catch up over a cuppa on their boat.
In the early morning just as the sun was coming up I took the photo of their boat in the mist coming off the canal. A few minutes later Nick and Connie emerged off for their early morning walk. Connie popped on the boat to see Ben but I was still in my pyjamas so he couldn't go too.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Cold And Misty Morning

Bendy In The Mist
Misty Waters

We woke up on Monday morning to a cold boat with lots of condensation on the windows so it must have been a cold night too. The fire was soon lit, the windows wiped and the boat temperature rose. We only had four locks to work through but it took two hours as we had to fill each lock before we could use it and we were in a queue of four boats heading north. I think I'm jinxed as I dropped my new aluminium windlass in the cut one lock after the lock I lost one going down- I put it down but it bounced in the cut! Ben and I had a pleasant walk until the road is next to the towpath so it was time to get back aboard. We arrived at Kings Lock at dinner time so we had fish and chips from the excellent shop opposite the lock. After that we had a walk into Middlewich to the DIY shop for some brass screws and a drill bit but came away with an orbital sander as it was only £13.99! I popped in Tesco for some fruit and veg, bread and milk before heading back to the boat.

We decided to move on away from the busy road so we went through Kings Lock and stopped at the junction with the Middle Branch of the Shroppie to get water before going through Wardle Lock. Maureen who lives in the lock cottage was there and she asked me to ring her daughter abroad for her as she was having trouble with getting through. It was soon sorted- Ben wondered where I'd gone! Two locks later and a short cruise and we moored up, it's usually very busy at the visitor moorings but it was deserted.

We had a quiet night and in the morning the boat was toasty as we'd kept the fire in. The rain was pouring down so it looks like we'll be fair weather boaters and stay put unless the weather gets a better. We've no schedule to worry about as we've plenty of time to get to our winter mooring in Llangollen.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Moving North On The Trent And Mersey Canal

We've moved on further north and did ten locks in two hours- unbelievably a record for us- they just were all full and ready to go down. We stopped the night above the locks at Wheelock but our night was disturbed by youths going past at 1.30am. Ben woke us up barking loudly as they passed and they didn't hang around. We moved on in the morning down the locks to Wheelock and were in luck as a coal boat came behind us and we were able to buy some coal- we only had half a bucket left. We stopped at the waterpoint to fill up and I went to get a newspaper and milk before continuing our cruise for just a few hours away to moor in the vicinity of Sandbach. It's very quiet with no other boats moored up here.
Ben and I walked most of the way and he enjoyed the chance to run free without his lead as there weren't any bikes about. As soon as were tied up to the bank Eric found the dot in the sky and was soon sitting comfortably ready to watch 'The Grand Prix' after lunch. He didn't want to watch it earlier as 5 am is far too early to be up watching TV even if it is F1 Racing. We're enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon reading the papers from cover to cover and Ben the dog is making sure we give him some attention too by giving us his ball to throw along the boat. Lots of people are going past dog walking and a few boats have gone past too.

Friday, October 02, 2009

October Cruising- Harecastle Tunnel Again

Above Hassall Green

Ben and I have a lovely walk around Westport Lake while Eric cleared the roof in readiness for a trip through Harecastle Tunnel. Everyone's been saying the Trent and Mersey it busy but there were only four boats waiting to go through the tunnel towards Kidsgrove- we expected a longer queue. It was certainly cold going through the tunnel but then again Summer's gone and it's October. Once again the water level is down so we didn't notice the low section so much. There are some hire boats out on the mission to do the Cheshire Ring in a week going past early each morning and travelling til late but we've been travelling a few hours a day and as I've said before we don't do early starts.

After leaving the tunnel it felt warmer on the northern side with the sunshine. The water is that yucky rusty colour reminding me of the colour of the water when I fell in at Kidsgrove. Ben still drinks it with no ill effects- he must have a brilliant immune system after sampling the delights of the water wherever we go. We stopped just below 'The Canal Tavern' while I went and did a bit of shopping while Eric put the stuff back on the roof. When I got back we began going down the locks stopping at Red Bull to top up the water tank as I'd done some washing.

We continued down the locks with Ben and I walking and Eric steering the boat until we reached the moorings at Church Lawton which was a nice quiet spot to spend the night. There was plenty of room with only three boats already moored up. The duplicated locks on this section makes locking easier as there's usually a lock ready for you. We've met a few people who insist on shutting the gates as they leave a lock even though they should have seen us coming. 'Should have gone to Specsavers' springs to mind.
We continued down through 'Heartbreak Hill' and did eight locks before stopping above Hassall Green as I didn't want to be any closer to the motorway which crosses the canal further down. Ben and I had a lovely walk as we're back to grass towpaths and no whizzing bikes. The fire lit this afternoon as it certainly feels colder and Ben settled down for a nap while I did some Sudoku puzzles and enjoyed the peace of the countryside. The only sounds were noisy cows and bulls!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Stone Through Stoke on Trent

Yesterday we left Stone behind, as usual Ben and I walked and Eric steered the boat. We worked through the locks often queuing to go through. Little boat traffic from Stoke on Trent so we had to turn each lock before we could go through. Going up NB Beeston Castle passed and shouted 'I like your blog' but I have no idea who was crewing her. If you read this - who are you?

Finally stopping just after Barlaston before the Wedgewood Factory. A busy towpath with lots of walkers and bikes, bikes and more bikes. Ben had a bark as they passed. I've been trying to distract him with a treat as they pass- sometimes it works! A good satellite signal so I could watch Holby City.

Today- Wednesday we're heading through Stoke on Trent and it's raining but never mind as I won't have to water the pots. I am delighted to say my tomato plants are sporting several red cherry tomatoes - not having grown them before I was concerned we'd have to make green tomato chutney. I doubt if they'll make it to a salad- I'll be eating them off the plant!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bloggers Meet At Weston and Stone

We left Tixall behind on Saturday morning and stopped to use the services at Anglowelsh at the junction. We also needed a new gas bottle. It was busy at the boatyard being a turnaround day but lucky for us the water point was empty. We're now back on the Trent and Mersey Canal heading north towards Harecastle tunnel. I walked from the junction and Ben had a play with another dog who got so excited she was jumping in the canal much to her owners disgust. Ben loves a paddle and a drink of the less than clean water and it's not done him any harm.

A few locks further on and we passed through Weston- no room to moor at the visitor moorings so we moored on the next bit of Armco just around the corner. We needed a good satellite signal to watch the Grand Prix on Sunday. We got a signal and believe it or not the qualifiers were just starting so Eric didn't miss them. Soon two more boats moored up nearby so we weren't on our own any more. Sunday morning came and we walked into the village to get the papers and some milk. They had no bread but I had a pack of part baked bread so it didn't matter.

Eric watched the Grand Prix and I took Ben for a walk and was just passing NB 4 Evermore when he said I read your blog. We had a long chat about life on board- so hello to Kev and Ann and if you click the link you can read their blog too.

On Monday we decided to move on as the cupboards, fridge and freezer needed restocking. I walked with Ben and we didn't meet anyone on the towpath. Eric cruised slowly alongside me and we had a good chat along the way. At the locks there were boats going in both directions and Ben met an assortment of dogs and he was a very good boy. One bitch chased him off as he sniffed her but he just went to see the other dogs.

We finally arrived at Stone and moored up at the end of the long line of boats just next to the 'Welcome to Stone' sign- a good spot as it's right next to the big field where Ben had a run with his ball. He also found the river again and came out soaking wet with only the tip of his head dry and the ball still in his mouth!

He stayed on the boat while Eric and I tackled the big shop at Morrison's. Laden with shopping who should I spy NB Debdale with Adam and Adrian on board. They moored up round the corner from us and called in on their way to town. We had a cuppa and a good chat about our travels and their travels. Ben was pleased to have visitors and greeted them with his usual enthusiasm. He was rather noisy as he wanted to play ball along the boat. Click the link and you can read their blog too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A September Visit To Newport

Gwenllian (photo by Gerwyn on facebook)

On Wednesday I caught the 10 o'clock bus to Stafford and a train to Newport via Birmingham. I only had only ten minutes between trains at Birmingham but plenty of time to get from one platform to the other. A pleasant journey down to south Wales as the train wasn't packed. Arriving in Newport I headed straight to the hairdresser as I desperately needed a haircut to get rid off eight weeks growth. It felt so much better when it was short again as I don't do wavy hair!

I had a few things to do including getting a watch battery put in my watch and getting a it of shopping. After that I caught the bus to the chemist near my doctors to pick up some repeat prescriptions. I arrived at my dad's earlier than usual and he was busy gardening. He loves his garden and spends a lot of his time gardening. We had tea and my daughter Clare came visiting and Paula brought the post. Thanks Paula -you're a star!

On Thursday I had a dental appointment for a filling but after that I was going to see my daughter Lisa and granddaughter Gwenllian. I thoroughly enjoyed being a grandma for the day as Gwen is such a lovely little girl. She's nearly eighteen months old now. Gerwyn took the photo and put in on Facebook so I get to see lots of baby photos. I didn't get to see my daughter Sally as she was in Shanghai with her job.

On Friday it was back to Great Haywood retracing my journey with the trains much busier. Eric and Ben the dog were waiting for me on a seat there. I had a great welcome from Ben and I know Eric was glad I was back too. We walked up to Tixall Wide where the boat was moored.

Bloggers Meet At Great Haywood

Roger and Pip

Sorry for the week long absence of blogs but I've been visiting in Newport and I didn't take my laptop. Before I left Eric and the boat we cruised a short way to Great Haywood and filled up the water tank and did the cassettes. Then Eric reversed along the canal so he was pointing the right way to go back up to Tixall Wide after I'd caught the bus. Moored in front of us was NB Windsong and the couple on board introduced themselves and told us they read our blog. I admit I'd not read their blog before but I had a look after we'd met them both. Ben enjoyed a play with their dog while we chatted.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tixall Wide- Bloggers Meet

We moved on from Penkridge in the morning, the school children going past the boat meant we had an early start. We didn't go far, Ben and I walked for a while until the canal runs parallel to a road which freaks Ben out and then he wants to get on the boat. A few locks later we were moored at Deptmore Lock for some peace and quiet. It seems to be a popular place now but a few years ago we were often the only boat there.

We moved on towards Tixall Wide with lots of boats on the move out for the weekend from their marina. Arriving at Tixall we had to reverse back as it was full where we usually stop. Some friendly boaters came with offers of help as we moored up and we ended up having a good chat. Eric had to put the long lead on the satellite dish to mount it further along the boat to get a good signal.

In the morning we walked into Great Haywood to get milk and bread stopping and chatting to some boaters on the way. The welsh flag on a boat always starts a conversation and we met a couple from Swansea who now live in Tamworth. We did the shopping and Ben wanted to go over Essex Bridge as he remembered he could go in the river for a paddle on the other side. He had a good splash about and we then decided to walk through Shugborough to Milford and then back to the boat via the canal towpath. We declined the £3 each to go in the gardens and walked along the drive as far as the car park and then cut through the car park to the drive leading out of Shugborough. It's quite a trek and we didn't get back to the boat for several hours.

Paul on NB Waterway Routes had left a note on my comments to say he was coming this way so we hoped we hadn't missed him when we went on our trek. I saw his boat approaching us on the Wide and he pulled alongside for a chat. He then decided to stay at Tixall Wide as there was just one space and came to have a cuppa with his wife Christine and continue our chat. He was kind enough to give me a copy of his DVD Birmingham Canal Navigations so I'm looking forward to viewing some places we haven't ventured yet. Thanks Paul- I've added a link to your site.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

President and Kildare Pass By.

Moored At Penkridge

We had a really quiet night at Swindon even though we moored opposite the cricket club. We were safe enough as there were nets to stop stray balls hitting the boats. There were cricket matches on Saturday and Sunday but I'm not a cricket fan. Eric enjoyed the Grand Prix and I took Ben for a walk. Lots of people passing the boats walking and cycling. One couple asked us about our boat as they're planning to have a boat built beginning next Spring. We were able to answer lots of their questions about life afloat.

On Monday we set off through several locks, sometimes I took the boat in the lock and Eric worked the boat through until we finally got to Bratch Locks. No queues today so we were able to go up the locks straight away. Eric took the boat in while I worked the locks with the help of one of the two lock keepers. The lock keepers here always make a note of the boats name and number as well as whether the boat licence is business or private so big brother is certainly keeping track of us as we travel the system. Above Bratch we stopped and moored up for the night above the visitor moorings which were filled by a boat moored in the middle so nobody could moor up with him. Another quiet night and really dark so we saw loads of stars.

Next day our plan was to get past Aldersley Junction where the Wolverhampton 21 begins or ends and Autherley Junction where the Shroppie meets the Staffs and Worcs Canal. Both junctions were boat free as you can't go up the Wolverhampton 21 and the hireboaters aren't going up the Shroppie as they can't do a ring. We met one couple going south on a hireboat on the Staffs and Worcs who'd gone from Brewood to Llangollen via the Trent and Mersey and were on their way back to Brewood- all in two weeks, they must be exhausted! We went through 'Pendeford Rockin' where the canal narrows as it is cut through a solid belt of sandstone and we didn't see another boat. We passed through Coven as it's far too near a busy road for a quiet night's sleep and finally moored up near Moat House Bridge as it's really quiet there.

On Wednesday morning we had a nice surprise as we were getting up- I heard a steam whistle and looked out of the window to see the steam narrowboat President and it's butty Kildare coming round the corner. They are on a tour of the canal system to celebrate 100 year Anniversary. There's lots of information on their website so click on the link if you want to know more. The canal has been much busier today with boats moving in both directions so locking has been easier. I walked Ben the dog as far as Gailey where we stopped to use the services. We now going down in the locks and I find it harder to get the boat in the locks without any contact with the lock sides. Eric does it so easily- I need more practise!

We moored up at Penkridge because I needed to get some fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread and there's a big Coop in the village. We left Ben looking after the boat. On our return we decided to stay put and move in the morning as it was already 4 pm. Finding the dot in the sky wasn't easy with the trees but Eric managed it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Retracing Our Steps

We left Stourport behind and we all enjoyed a pleasant cruise reaching Falling Sands Lock without even meeting another boat. At Caldwell Lock an interesting sight greeted us- a boat going up the lock stuck half in the lock and half out- jammed! They had tried to use their boat to open a gate which failed to go back properly and got stuck. We offered to pull them out and with both boats in reverse and a flush of water through the gate we managed it. Next job was to try and find the obstruction with the long pole as BW could be ages. We closed the gates and filled the lock for a hireboater who offered to try and dislodge the obstruction when he went down the lock. Luckily he managed to move the offending masonry with his boat hook so the gates opened properly and he could get out and we could all use the lock.

We passed through Kidderminster without stopping today- cupboards and fridge still full from our last visit to Tesco. We didn't see any boats but lots of gongoozlers about at all the locks. At Wolverley we felt like the floor show with the pub right next to the lock. We passed through Kinver and headed for Stourton Junction where the Stourbridge Canal goes off- it's closed at the moment. Lots more boats about now and the locks were easier as we could leave the gates open for the oncoming boats. We finally moored up at Swindon (again) as we knew we could satellite TV and Eric wanted to watch the Grand Prix on Sunday. I wanted a nice lazy day reading the papers and using my laptop after I'd taken Ben for a long walk. But he wouldn't go far as I'd planned he freaked at some gun noise and wanted to go back. He's now curled up asleep!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stourport On Severn

Boats Everywhere In Stourport Basin

Bendy At The Waterpoint

At Stouport we moored above York Lock on the 5 day moorings, a bit noisy but once the traffic stopped it was OK. We couldn't get any TV signals where we were so we listened to local radio ( couldn't get Radio 2 either) and watched a DVD later on. In the morning Eric washed one side of the boat while I took Ben the dog and his ball thrower down to the big playing fields next to the River Severn. We had a lovely time and Ben had several paddles in the river, while playing roll the ball down the bank and go and get it without any help from me. When I got back to the boat we decided to go down the lock and get some water before turning around and going back up the lock and moving on a bit. Don't know where we'll stop tonight but I know it will be away from any roads.

Beautiful Weather Again!

Devils Den Staffs & Worcs Canal

Kidderminster Lock

We left Swindon after a lovely quiet night on our mooring. When we got up most of the boats had already gone! The sun was shining and this canal is so green and rural we enjoyed our cruise down to Kinver. More boats about so we met some chatty people at the locks. On the way down you could various outcrops of Triassic rock and the photo is of one called 'Devil's Den'. The outcrop has an opening at water level which is boarded up. (Health & Safety!)It was probably an old boat house according to Pearson's. Further down the canal there another of how the rock can be excavated as there's a man made cave next to one of the locks. We stopped at Kinver and walked into town for a few bits and pieces. All the moorings are 24 hours only but we didn't want to stop longer. Kinver is renown for Kinver Edge where the Triassic Rock was carved out to make cave houses.
In the morning we moved on, once again enjoying beautiful sunshine making the lock work a bit hot. Nevertheless we had a lovely day. We stopped off at Tesco in Kidderminster where I did a food shop before finally cruising on towards Stourport. At one lock we met a family from Bridgend who picked up our accent and asked what part of south Wales we were from. He borrowed our anti vandal key and managed to drop it in the lock but luckily we had a spare which know has a piece of string on it attached to my belt loop as we can't lose this one in the cut.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bratch Locks- Staffs & Worcs Canal

We arrived at Bratch Locks to find a queue but luckily we were third but we still had a long wait as there were boats in the locks going down and then some boats coming up before we could go. Plenty of time to have a sandwich and a coffee then chat to the boaters in the queue. Unusual locks with three locks telescoped together complete with side ponds and worked more like a staircase but the paddle gear is colour coded and its blue before red according to the instructions. The two lockies made it easy as they worked us through the three locks.
We've had a busy day with lots of locks and walks for Ben the dog. All the locks had to be filled before we could use them as there was no northbound boats at all. There was also a normal staircase too which we didn't have any problems with but a few holiday makers were a bit confused. We told them not to empty the top lock into the bottom lock until we'd closed the gates behind us or we'll be there forever. We moored up below Swindon locks (not Swindon Wilts - we're in Staffs) at the end of a long line of boats. We'd had enough boating for one day! The dot in the sky was found by Eric while I cooked tea and then we had a lazy evening- we needed it after our busy day.

Monday, September 07, 2009

What Have We Done Today?

Ben and I had a good walk southerly down the Staffs and Worcester Canal while Eric steered the boat. The weather is great today- so much sunnier and warmer now that the children are back in school. We got back aboard and went through the narrows called 'Pendeford Rockin' by the old boatmen. We had to pull over to let a trip boat full of oldies past but we didn't meet anything else. We passed Autherley Junction where the Shroppie joins the Staffs and Worcester Canal and followed it going south towards Stourport. We also passed Aldersley Junction and saw the first lock of the Wolverhampton 21- not going that way this time. Next stop was Compton where we stopped at Limekiln Chandlers to get some some Comastic for blacking the hull. I looked on the Internet and it's the best price we've seen here. We also got some diesel to fill up the tank as we could self declare 30/70 rather than pay 60/40 which some boatyards insist on. The lock gear today has had plenty of grease which means the locks were easier.
On our travels today a narrowboat called Calando ( Northwich Boat Number 29) passed and shouted " we read your blog". So hello to you both -it's always nice to meet someone who reads our blog. We moored up and after tea I took Ben for a walk and he was very interested in the spam cubes the fisherman were using- anybody would think I didn't feed him.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On The Move Tixall Wide To Gailey

We finally left Tixall on Saturday when the wind had dropped so boating would be more fun. We'd had an entertaining few days watching the boats battling with high winds as they wind (turn around) on the wide water that is Tixall Wide. Not much in the way of wild life only a grebe with a baby, loads of swans and an odd (not odd just on his own) duck compared to last time we were here.

We moved on through Tixall Lock and Deptmore Lock where the Lock Cottage is all bolted and padlocked. I wonder where the old lady who went shopping in her dinghy is now? I hope she's OK. At Penkridge we used the services and after that we didn't stop until we'd worked through 12 locks in total. Eric and I shared the steering and working the locks- so know he's aching as well. Note that I didn't crash into the lock walls to add to BW's troubles. We've passed through quite a few bridges in dire need of repair, one supported by scaffolding and a barrier to keep boats away from the damaged area.

We moored above Gailey Lock- my choice as it's far away from any roads and their noise. The M6 is too close to the Staffs and Worcs for my liking when I want a peaceful nights sleep. Due to my mooring choice Eric couldn't get satellite TV- too many trees but the aerial picked up TV and the pictures were clear so he didn't mind. His actual words "I'm not moving now".
On Sunday we went down to the garage to buy bread and milk and then walked back to the boat stopping to chat with a couple of boaters sitting on the towpath. We decided to move on for an hour or so as Eric remembered a nice open spot we had stayed before where we could get satellite. Ben and I only had a short walk as Ben was stung on his leg- and didn't want to walk anywhere. He was licking his leg, holding it up to show me. I suppose it was a wasp but I didn't see anything. I dowsed it with vinegar and the lump grew! He wanted a fuss then he curled up and went to sleep. A few hours later the lump was going down and he was ready to play ball again. We still had our walk a little later.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tixall Wide-One Of My Favourite Places!

The Gatehouse- a view from our boat

It was busy in Stone with lots of boats moving but still a great place to moor up for a few days. Ben really enjoyed his walks by the river and as usual had several dips as he loves a paddle and drink at the same time. On one walk he came out with black legs covered in yucky mud but I told him to go and have a wash a bit further on where it's shallow by the canoe club and he did! Once he was clean we went back to the boat for a towel dry.

We left Stone with Ben and I walking ahead to get to the first lock before the boat. We were obviously going in the right direction as all the queues at the locks were for boats going north not south. I found working the paddles much easier now I've got a new long handled windlass- I'll try not to drop it in the cut. We passed the new Aston Marina being excavated south of Stone- it looks huge. We had a pleasant cruise today with the rain holding off until we got to Great Haywood where we stopped to use the services at the Anglowelsh Boatyard. We managed to get rid off our waste oil and filters for a small fee.

There was no room on the moorings before Haywood Lock so we decided to turn right and more up at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. Now the rain is hammering down- we got here just in time. We lit the fire for the first time this year too. We moored opposite the Elizabethan Gatehouse at Tixall which is all that remains as there used to be a hall too but it was demolished years ago after a serious fire.

The weather got worse during the night and the Wide looked like the sea with all the waves. The rain hammered on the roof, the wind rocked the boat and I spent a lot of time awake drinking tea and reading a book. We decided to stay put rather than cruise in very wet and windy weather. Ben and I walked into Great Haywood to get some papers, bread and milk and on the way back I spied 'Blue Diamond' moored up a few boats down from ours. Maggie and Bernie were on board and we had a good chat as we hadn't seen each other since we all spent the winter moored at Llangollen.

Ben's been a very good boy today and now I'm going to take him for a walk as it's not raining at the moment. Let's keep your fingers crossed I don't want a soaking this evening.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bank Holiday Monday

What have I done today? We left our mooring above Barlaston and worked through eight locks to moor up at Stone. Lots of boats about and lots of chats at the locks. I met a lady on NB Penelope who saw the boat name and told Eric she reads our blog. I didn't get a chance to ask your name so hello again. I also met Brenda whose just retired from teaching at Lliswerry Primary- we didn't exchange names so it was a case of looking for her picture on the website. The conversation started with a comment on our boats name and realising we both were teachers in Newport.

It was chaotic as we approached Stone as the water point is below the lock and we came out of the lock to find boats everywhere. We did manage to pull in and fill up with water. I popped along to the chandlers as I needed a new long handled aluminium windlass to replace the one now in the cut above Sandbach. The long handled design makes the paddle gear easier to move. We moored up near the Sports Ground in a space just long enough for us. Ben is delighted as he's already had a play with the ball thrower in the big open space. We came back to the boat when the rain started.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Passing Through Stoke

A Bottle Kiln

Middleport Pottery

Middleport Pottery

This morning I had a walk around Westport Lake with Ben and then back onboard to cruise through Stoke-on- Trent hoping it would stay dry to do the locks. I took some photos of the bottle kilns you see on the way through. There's a new development where they have kept a pair of joined kilns intact on the canal side amongst new buildings but I didn't have the camera. After several locks we moored up near Barlaston on a 24 hour mooring so we'll have to move in the morning even if we don't go far. It's now raining again and I expect more of the same tomorrow- it's a Bank Holiday!