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!