Monday, March 29, 2010

Our Winter Mooring Is Nearly Over

Throw the ball -please!

The cruising season has certainly begun if the boats going past our mooring in the early morning is anything to go by. Loads of Black Prince boats coming from Chirk- a trip we did many years ago. It didn't put us off even though it turned into a holiday from hell. We had a little Yorkie and he had rescued from the water by our daughter Clare who emerged from the water and got stung by nettles. Eric got an infection in his leg which ended in a stay in the hospital at Wrexham. The car was in Chirk, I was in Llangollen with the girls and Eric was stuck in Wrexham! What a holiday!

We've since come to love Llangollen and have returned here for the past three winters paying a mooring fee to British Waterways. Our mooring finishes on March 31st- it says so on our window sticker but BW has informed all the winter moorers here by post that our mooring finishes shortly. If they have done this to all the winter moorers on the system it's certainly a waste of their resources. The letter also tells us to look at the online site for a mooring if we want one (we don't) and the rules if we intend to continually cruise- as if we didn't know the rules after three years!

Ben and I have been enjoying our walks this week as it'll be a while before we walk in these hills again. He loves the circular walks in the area especially when he gets the chance to run free off his lead. This morning it was pouring with rain so we didn't go far- I didn't want his bandage getting wet. So you ask 'what's he done now?' Well yesterday Eric and I took him up the field to play ball and he was having a lovely time until we noticed blood dripping from one of his pads on the back of his front leg. He'd obviously cut it, so tissues and a man's hankie made a temporary bandage until we got back to the boat. By the time we got back to the boat it had stopped bleeding and Ben was an excellent patient as he let me wash it with antiseptic and dress it to make sure it didn't start bleeding again. He likes a bit of sympathy and lifts up his foot to show you when you ask him to! Anyway the bandage is off now and he's got us playing ball along the boat.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pensioners PAYE Coding Chaos!

Sally and Bob had another passenger back to Newport as Eric decided to go with them so he could visit our doctor. His back pain was not getting any better so it was time to get it looked at. The doctor thinks its muscular and not pain from arthritis and gave his some analgesic rub to try out. He did a bit of visiting- Sally took him in her car- and returned to Llangollen on Tuesday on the train. I booked advance tickets online to make it cheaper. It was a quiet few days for me with just Ben for company, although I did see Alan from NB Shush who came to check I was OK.
Eric returned with a pile of mail including PAYE coding notices - we'd read about the huge numbers of pensioners been given incorrect tax codes and ours were crazy too. My state pension only started on March 1st yet I'm supposed to have had thousands of pounds- rather than my £89 pound a week. Eric has amazing earnings since he took early retirement- I wonder where they get their figures from. It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't provided them with the information they needed on a form they sent me- what a waste to time! Needless to say I tried to get through to the helpline which kept repeating 'You only need to call if your code is wrong' but gave up and resorted to good old fashioned pen and paper. It also said 'you can get help on the website -goodbye' and cut me off. There is no facility to email them on their website unless you want to notify a change of address. How long it will take them to sort it out I don't know! Then how will it be before I get my money back is another good question. The air was blue aboard NB Bendigedig ! BBC News (Thursday) is saying people should ring up or use the Internet to sort out their tax problems- what a load of rubbish! It also says atleast half of the calls are not answered!RANT RANT RANT!!
I've been feeling off this week and the cough I have is now accompanied by a streaming nose! I'm working my way through a box of tissues and paracetamol and hope to be back to normal soon. I've had my new bus pass so I can't wait to travel free- Eric and I don't now pay but Ben the dog costs 50p a trip!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Smiley Faces!

Sally and Bob
Me and him!

Yesterday our daughter Sally and husband Bob came to Llangollen to visit us on the boat. Ben made them very welcome - more people to play ball with as far as he was concerned. It was lovely to see them and we had a few drinks at the Bridge End Hotel once all the rugby matches had finished. Sally and Bob stayed overnight at 'Greenbanks' in Llangollen and highly recommend it. We arranged to meet for Sunday Lunch at the Bridge End Hotel as a belated Mother's Day present and I had a lovely bunch of flowers too. As usual the food was excellent and we had a lovely time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Are These?

What are these?
Walking alongside the canal near Sun Trevor last week Liz and I came across these lovely blue flowers. They're only about four inches tall and they aren't bluebells. Anyone any ideas?

' Number 82'
There's lots of sheep and lambs in the fields next to the canal- all marked so they can't lose each other. It's a very noisy time with the mums and youngsters calling each other too. Spring is certainly here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bye Bye NB Henry

NB Henry in the snow at Christmas

Today NB Henry went off on his travels with Nick steering and Liz walking Connie along the towpath. I walked with them as far as Bryn Howell before we said our goodbyes and I turned back towards our boat in Llangollen. NB Henry was third in a convoy of three boats although nobody else bothered to send a member of the crew to check the way was clear in the narrows- where one way traffic is the only way through. They were lucky as the way was clear. We passed the canal side fields with new lambs and mums calling each other. One lamb was the wrong side of the fence by the canal and mum was calling until he found his way back to her- we were glad to see them reunited.

Eric's been busy today doing an engine service before we start travelling on the 1st of April when our winter mooring ends. We've been here nearly five months and I must admit although I love it here at Llangollen it will be nice to be moving again. We're all getting ready to go, stocking up the cupboards and giving the boat a clean outside now the weather is better. The sun comes out and loads of people are out and about on the towpaths and on the hireboats going past our mooring. No wonder I've got itchy feet!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's Windy At The Top




Trevor Rocks From Dinas Bran

Today Liz was back and feeling energetic so we took the dogs up Castell Dinas Bran. The footpath from Llangollen is no longer diverted through the school grounds as the building work which caused the diversion is finished. Further up we went a different way for a change so we climbed up to the castle from the back side with Trevor Rocks behind us. On the way up we stopped for a breather and sat on a bench and I took the photo of Trevor Rocks. Arriving at the top it was extremely windy and blew up Liz's trousers making her dainty limbs look much bigger. I couldn't resist a photo of her with a view of the hills behind her- amazing! We thoroughly enjoyed all that fresh air- no need for bottled air for us!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Changing Weather And Water Levels

Dinas Bran From Barber's Hill

Looking Down Into Llangollen From Barber's Hill

The sun is out and it's a good bit warmer these last few days so walking has been nicer. We've seen the first new lambs in the fields next to the canal at Llangollen and lots more people are out walking too. Ben the dog and I have been walking on our own this week as Liz, Nick and Connie are away and Eric's suffering with his back after scrubbing the roof of the boat. It certainly looks much cleaner but he is paying for it big time! We've walked on the hills above Berwyn Station many times but I still love the views- if you click on the photos you get a larger version.

The water level on the canal has gone down about 20 cms this week for the work to be carried out on the fish grid at Llantysilio, which ensures the fish stay in the River Dee. There is a stoppage which restricts boats coming beyond the Bryn Howell winding point for one week (March 8th- 12th) but yesterday a couple of Canaltime boats have ignored it and didn't get stuck. We've loosened our ropes just in case it goes down 30 cms as predicted by BW. When we first arranged our winter mooring here we were warned of a planned lowering of the water to reline the canal where it runs alongside the River Dee for several months. This didn't happen so it'll no doubt happen in the next stoppage season.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Robin

Robin and Joe July 2009

Today Eric's brother hits the BIG 50 so I couldn't resist putting his picture on the blog. This picture of Robin with his son Joe was taken at my daughter Sally's wedding July 2009. I can still remember meeting this little seven year old boy when I met Eric at the age of 17. I maybe an OAP but the memory hasn't gone yet! - gosh doesn't time fly! It's only 43 years ago!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Dirty Dog!

Yesterday Liz and I took the dogs on a walk up near Valle Crucis Abbey and Ben decided to rub himself in some truly disgusting 'poo' so the rest of the walk was accompanied by the terrible smell. Connie managed to stay nice and clean and stay away from Ben! Usually they romp and roll about but Liz was very glad they stayed apart. We walked back via the marina and Ben had a wash in the canal when he fetched some sticks we threw into the shallow canal. Luckily a lot of it washed off but he still had a soapy wash on the towpath around his neck area and his smelly collar had a wash too.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Ben's First Train Journey

My Dad and I

Daddy's Girl!

On Tuesday Liz and I took the dogs for a nice long walk up to the Horseshoe Falls. My plan was to make sure Ben had plenty of exercise before his very first train journey. Eric, Ben the dog and myself caught the bus to Ruabon and then waited on the train station for the Newport train. It arrived and Ben was keen to get on and was soon settled quite happily under the table on the train- at one point he even went to sleep. Luckily the train was quiet and we had no trouble getting a table seat. Ben was very keen to get off the train in Newport and couldn't wait to get off the station and away from the noise of trains and people. We walked along the streets to get to my daughter's house- where we stayed for a few days. Ben was delighted to see her greeting her with lots of licks.

Ben and I explored the towpath of the derelict Crumlin arm of the Mon and Brec Canal noticing several locks now had gates. It would be great to see it all restored but it's such a slow process costing a lot of money. It is hoped to connect the canal to the River Usk in the future which may make it available to more boats but I don't fancy a trip across the Severn Estuary. If the barrage was ever built it would make the canal accessible to boats.

I took a few photos while I was in Newport and here's my granddaughter Gwenllian who will be 2 in April with her dad Gerwyn. Eric took the photo of me and my dad- he'll be 83 in April.
I forgot to say the return journey went without a hitch- Ben was really good on the train and buses back to Llangollen.