Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Change Of Scenery

The boat didn't know herself she was free from her moorings and waiting patiently for me to phone Eric to say the first one way narrow section of the Llangollen was clear to cruise. In fact Eiddwen and Ben the dog walked with me nearly all the way to Trevor as we checked out the one way sections. Today the boaters we told that there was already two boats already coming through actually waited at the start of the narrows. The weather did us proud with the sun shining a good bit of the way. Ben was on his best behaviour too as he didn't chase any cyclists. Today we cruised across the heights of the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct with NB Shush following behind and Ben inside the boat keeping him safe in case he decided to jump ship as we crossed the aqueduct.

At the end of the aqueduct we left Wales behind and entered England. Next stop was raising the first lift bridge of the year- they always seem to take forever to go up and Eiddwen lowered it back down once NB Shush had passed through. Another first of the year was going through the shorter Whitehouse Tunnel and shortly afterwards the longer Chirk Tunnel and then Chirk Aqueduct. A mile or so further on we did our fist two locks of the year, the recently reopened New Marton Locks and the new paddle gear worked like a dream. We stopped at Hindford and moored the boat- found the dot in the sky and had a nice relaxing evening watching the box. I cooked a chill con carne as we cruised so all we had to do was cook the pasta, eat it and then the washing up. We enjoyed our first day of our summer cruise. A complete change of scenery- not a mountain in sight!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where's Sue Gone?

If you are looking for Sue's NB No Problem Blog just click the link and you'll be there. She's had problems with her old site and this is where she is now.

Ben the dog and I have been enjoying the sun this afternoon walking in the countryside around Llangollen. I followed a footpath to Valle Crucis Abbey and onto the hills overlooking the abbey before walking down a track and then a road to pick up another footpath up to the path around the base of Castell Dinas Bran. We then followed the route back down into Llangollen. It's all part of the Llangollen History Trail. A few hours later we were back on the boat.
Eric enjoyed an afternoon of Grand Prix and the Boat Race and no doubt he had an afternoon nap. Peace was up when we got back although Ben did have a half hour snooze.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gongoozlers Of An Animal Nature

Eric was busy servicing the engine and two ducks sat on the stern watching- it tickled us pink. Ben came to have a look too and they still stayed put. This pair of ducks come to the side hatch everyday for food. We can recognise the female because of the two tone colour of her beak.

Where's Connie Gone?

Ben was confused yesterday afternoon, he stopped and looked at where NB Henry had been- where was Connie? Nick and Liz on NB Henry had left to begin their summer cruising. Ben will miss playing with Connie and I'll miss my dog walking companion. We've had some lovely long walks with the two dogs and I've now got some new places to walk with Ben. The photo above is not a new one (Ben hasn't got his brown bits of fur) but it shows Ben in his favourite mode- ball in mouth. It was taken on the Montgomery Canal where he learnt to drop the ball in the water and get it out himself. Firstly he looked at us to fish it out! No chance!

Eric went shopping yesterday to look for rubber grid mats for the front deck- a free bus pass comes in handy. The town link bus from Wrexham visits the retail parks around the town centre and this came in very handy. He found them in Homebase and now they are all sitting pretty on the deck- cut to size and hiding the yucky blue but don't tell Eric.

Today's raining and I've been giving the saloon carpets a wash to freshen them up a bit as they take quite a hammering with the boating life. Eric's going to be busy today as he's servicing the engine before it's summer work out. I'm donning the wet gear and going mud larking with Ben the dog in the wind and the rain. At present he's curled up fast asleep waiting for me to finish this blog and have my breakfast. Next week we'll have to be up and showered much earlier as British Summer Time begins and the clocks go forward and we are going cruising.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Welcome Back Alan And Eiddwen

Feeding the birds- note the welsh hat!

Eric returned on Friday and after a good night's sleep was keen to get on with his next job. The front deck had a distinct lack of paint and he sanded the rust spots and treated it to two coats of hammerite paint. We're not keen on the colour, with the blue being lighter than we wanted but as least it's got plenty of paint on it. Now all we need is some rubber matting to protect the surface. We covered over the front deck with a polythene sheet as we didn't want a visiting Connie from NB Henry getting paint on her paws.

The sun's out and Llangollen is busy. Lots of walkers, dog walkers and cyclists on the towpath and Ben is learning how to sit and wait while the cyclists rush past. He's enjoyed meeting lots of dogs and apart from a red setter (hate at first sight) they just sniffed each other and he continued on his walk with me. He's usually ahead of me but as long as he waits when I tell him that's fine. We've enjoyed our walks now the mud has all dried up where the canal was being dredged to get rid of the layer of rocks and stones. The caterpillar tracks of the digger and trucks made a right mess of the towpath. But the canal is now a good bit deeper- perhaps we won't get stuck on the way back to Trevor.

Alan and Eiddwen are now back on their boat (NB Shush) after a lovely long holiday in Australia. They had temperatures of 47 degrees to contend with- I couldn't have coped with that heat. Welcome back we missed you both. We are all looking forward to moving on at the end of the month but we'll be going at our own pace as we're in no rush but Leeds and Liverpool here we come. It'll be great to go north and explore canals we've not been on before.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eric's Gone Visiting

Yesterday Eric caught the train to Newport to do the visiting instead of me- I thought it was about time I let him out on his own- only joking! He hadn't seen our daughters for ages and I don't mind staying on the boat with Ben the dog. While he was watching the scenery flash by the train window I was out walking on the hills on the northern side of Llangollen with Liz (NB Henry) and her dog Connie- Ben's best pal. Liz was in charge of the route and we saw some stunning scenery on from the hills above the Valle Crucis Abbey (our long lunch stop) and later from the hills above Berwyn Station. A lot of the way the dogs could run free which was great as even after being out for six hours Ben will still pull you along on his lead. We had a drink (J2O) and sat outside the Chain Bridge Hotel with the dogs and then carried on walking on the hills above Berwyn Station. An hour or so later we were walking back down into Llangollen. Ben got on the boat, had a drink and some biscuits and then slept for several hours- one eye on me making sure I wasn't going anywhere without him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Llangollen and the Llantisilio Mountains

The canals have come alive now the stoppages are finished on this canal. Llangollen has had its first Black Prince boat from Chirk visiting and quite a few from Canaltime in Ellesmere. The canal basin had five boats moored at the weekend rather than the occasional boat over the winter. It seems to be such a waste when those empty moorings could be bringing in much needed cash for BW (as approved winter moorings) if only the residents which overlook the basin hadn't wanted certain conditions before allowing the planning to go ahead. The revenue brought into the town from boaters obviously didn't concern them - it was just the case of not wanting smoke, noise and long staying boats in their vicinity. We've spent an enjoyable five months here on the Wharf on approved winter moorings with several other boats and there have been no complaints- after all we give the passers by something to look at on their walk along the canal towpaths.
We've been enjoying the lovely weather, the daffodils are in flower and the fields near the lift bridge not far from our mooring are alive with lambs frolicking in the sun. Eric's been getting on with some painting but the boat looks worse before it looks better with the rust spots removed and painted with red oxide paint- the boat has chicken pox! It's a bit like painting the Forth Bridge because it's never ending and when we move on no doubt we'll get some more scratches and rubs which need more paint. I've been on dog walking duties while he's been busy.
Yesterday we got up on a lovely sunny day and decided to go on a long long walk (6 miles) following a route in 'Walks Around Llangollen And The Dee Valley' by David Berry. Sandwiches made, dog biscuits collected, a few drinks (non alcoholic) in the rucksack, thick socks and walking boots and we were away. We followed the route on this supposedly moderate walk and it was quite an eye opener. The beginning was lovely through a Woodland Trust managed wood with Ben leaping over the stiles even though they were dog friendly with a way through at the base. We crossed several stiles with fields with new lambs, Ben was very good on his lead as we walked slowly through trying not to freak out the sheep and lambs.
The book said the next part of the route maybe wet- it was a bog! We were ankle deep in black mud. Then we followed a long, long climb uphill along an approved cycle track- the views were great but the uphill stretch seemed never ending. When we finally got to the top we enjoyed a picnic lunch and Ben had his biscuits. We thought the worse was over but the climb down the valley to Plas Newydd was certainly hard going as old country lane became a steep rocky path and then a rocky gully with flowing water. Ben enjoyed a good drink at this point as he paddled in the stream, while we picked our way across rocks until we reached a tarmacked lane. We walked from Plas Newydd back to the boat and off came the boots and on went the kettle- we decided that was one walk we wouldn't be doing again. Ben slept for the entire evening- he was obviously tired too!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A White Painted Gas Locker

Eric's been busy getting all the rust off the inside of the gas locker as water tends to stay in there when we're moving due to the position of the cut out holes. They could do with being extended lower down so that the water drains out. It's now painted white and the second coat is drying while the sun is shining. The change in the weather always makes him think of the jobs he needs to do and this was a job which needed doing while the gas locker was nice and dry. He's now rubbing down the boat hook which was shedding it's skin of varnish. I wonder what his next job will be?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A View of Castell Dinas Bran From Trevor Rocks

Eric took this photo of the castle ruins which I deleted by accident from my previous blog. Just click on it for a bigger picture.

Castell Dinas Bran And Trevor Rocks Revisited

Cold and windy at the top! (1062ft)

Eric and Ben posing!

The limestone escarpment - Trevor Rocks

Ben posing on Trevor Rocks

Today we decided to take advantage of the dry weather and revisit the hilltop ruin of Castell Dinas Bran which overlooks the town of Llangollen. Eric was feeling energetic! It's a bit of a climb and we needed lots of stops to admire the views (get our breath back) but we did it. We followed the path down the easterly side of the castle mound and eventually followed the Offa's Dyke Path until we came to the rising path taking us towards the limestone escarpment. Ben ran easily up the narrow path stopping to have a drink in the streams and we just followed with lots of stops to catch our breath. This was the same path that Liz and I had come down with the dogs on Thursday. We picked our way across the rocky gully and stopped for a picnic lunch at the top enjoying the beautiful views. We continued our walk along Trevor Rocks and eventually followed the route down to the canal at Sun Trevor. We stopped for a beer and then walked the final couple of miles back to the boat. Needless to say we were feeling a bit tired but Ben was fine- he wanted to play ball along the boat! We took our mucky boots off and had a cup of tea. I'll just remind you- to get a bigger picture just click on it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Walk To Trevor Rocks

For the past few weeks I've been saying to Eric I want to walk along the Panorama Walk and see the amazing views and the limestone escarpment at Trevor Rocks and today I got there with Ben the dog. We had visitors this morning in the form of Liz from NB Henry and Connie the dog. They wanted to know if we were coming out to play (walk). Liz wanted to do a nice long walk and Ben was very keen too! They came on board and Ben and Connie playfighted while I had my weetabix- I needed food for energy on the walk!
Soon the dogs were running ahead as we walked along the towpath towards the first bridge. Connie showed Ben how to jump the stile onto the road up to the farm above the canal where we could pick up the footpath signs. Ben then received further tuition at each stile we met and was soon going first over the stiles. Liz and I walked along the base of Trevor Rocks and the dogs went much faster thoroughly enjoying being off their leads. We saw a pair of climbers and the dogs watched in awe.
Later on we scrambled down a rock gully and onto the road until we came to a ladder stile which was just too high for the dogs to jump. They managed to squeeze under a farm gate into the field occupied by three horses feeding on hay next to the stile we wanted to use to get out of the field. Ben was scared of the horses but I managed to get him to the stile and he jumped over. Connie wasn't scared.
Soon we climbed up through a field of sheep (dogs on leads of course) up to the bottom of Castell Dinas Bran and at last we were going downhill towards the school and back to the boat on Llangollen Wharf. We had been out for over three hours so I needed to get my boots off and recover with coffee and a sandwich. Ben just led down and went to sleep! So now we've got a new walk to show Eric(when he feels energetic), thanks to Liz and Connie for showing us the way.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Walk To Plas Newydd

A View Across The Valley to Castell Dinas Bran

Crocus Time At Plas Newydd

Today is St David's Day and the welsh flags are flying in Llangollen in the sunshine. After lunch we decided to go up to Plas Newydd home of the 'Ladies of Llangollen'. They were two daughters of aristocratic Irish families who lived in Llangollen from 1779 to 1831. Their grave is in St Collen's Church and the memorial stone shows their housekeeper was buried there too. The grounds are open but the house in shut at this time of the year. The outside of the house is very ornate with massive carved doors, perhaps we'll get to see the inside one day. Ben the dog was very good he obeyed the 'no fouling signs'.