Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back In Ellesmere

We travelled back from Prees Junction stopping for the night near Lyneal Wharf where it's very quiet. There was a boat already moored in our spot so we pulled in behind them leaving a good space between us. As they kept their engine running for hours- still going at 11pm- we were glad we weren't too close.

On Monday morning we moved on with Ben and I walked as far as Ellesmere Tunnel. We didn't meet anyone walking on the towpath. We walked alongside Blakemere where I spied NB Spadger with Ian on board, who came out for a chat. Eric moored up the boat to have a chat too. We've finally arrived back in Ellesmere with our first stop being the BW services and then we moored up next to Alan and Eiddwen on NBShush. We're waiting to go in the dry dock so we won't be going anywhere until both boats have had their bottoms blacked as Alan and Eric are helping each other with the work.

Ben and I have been walking in familiar haunts. Today we walked through the nature reserve and over the hill to the Mere to enjoy a walk alongside the lake itself. Ben couldn't resist a drink of water as usual in went the feet too. It was a lovely walk with only a few dogs and owners out on their walks. There were lots of waggy tails as the dogs met and the owners said good morning too. Back on the boat Ben wanted to play ball- I just needed a cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flowers Down The Prees Branch

Wood Anemones

Marsh Marigolds


On Friday We decided to travel as far as Prees Junction as Eric wanted to do a bit of painting and the low sides of the canal meant the all the gunnels were visible. Before we set off I took Ben for a walk across the fields hoping to find the remains of Pan Castle- a motte and bailey. The footpaths weren't that visible with ploughed and planted fields so I followed the arrows but they fizzled out and I couldn't find the remains. Never mind Ben enjoyed his walk and it was a change for me to be on the boat when we were moving.

We had a couple of lift bridges to go through but we were soon moored up at the visitor moorings and we had a lazy afternoon. Saturday morning came and the sun was shining so while Eric painted the gunnels I took Ben for a walk down the Prees Arm to the part where boats can't go and nature can flourish. We found some lovely flowers including cowslips, wood anemones and marsh marigolds and I took a few photos. Ben enjoyed his run and we only met one man and his dog so it was lovely and quiet. All you could hear was the the birds!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On The Way Back To Ellesmere

Peace And Quiet!

On Thursday we had to move (on 48 hour moorings) so we backed up the boat to get some water and use the services before we headed off back towards Whitchurch. I also bought milk and bread (in the Cafe/ Shop) to keep us going until we reached Ellesmere. I didn't want to walk into Whitchurch and carry milk back to the boat. Ben and I walked alongside the boat in lovely sunshine and got back on after going through the first lift bridge as we needed to get coal and gas at Whitchurch marina on the other side of the canal. We pulled alongside one of the Viking Afloat boats and a helpful man came to see what we wanted. Soon he'd taken the empty gas and got us a full one and brought the bags of coal in a wheelbarrow. After paying the bill we left Whitchurch behind, Ben and I got off and walked to do the next two lift bridges and continuing until we came to good mooring spot a bit further on. A good mooring has no road nearby and good satellite reception- we are easily pleased.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Down To Grindley Brook

Nearly A Shiny Boat!

On Tuesday we moved from Whitchurch just as far as Grindley Brook and Eric had turned around before Ben and I got there. I stopped to talk to a couple from Llanelli who moor their boat at Whixall and were out for the weekend. The welsh flag on the boat had started the conversation.We stopped briefly near the services and then moved up to the waterpoint to fill up with water. The water tank took an age to fill up and then we moved up to the 48 hour moorings.

We stayed put on Wednesday as Eric wanted to wash and polish the other side of the boat as well as cleaning the accumulated dirt on the front deck. Ben was waiting for me to play ball but we went for a long walk instead. We walked back up to the bridge over the canal leading into a Woodland Trust called Danson's Wood and followed the well worn paths and ended up crossing a road (A41) following footpaths we'd discovered the day before. Ben had a great time jumping stiles!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Walking Around Whitchurch

With the boat is moored on the 48 hour moorings we decided to stay put as Eric had a few jobs he wanted to do on the boat. It's quite noisy here with an A road nearby so I resorted to ear plugs at bedtime and had a really good sleep. We've been finding cruising tiring after our winter break so it was nice to stay put. I'd forgotten how many turns it takes to raise and lower the lift bridges.

I decided to follow some well worn footpaths and find out where they went and Ben and I enjoyed some lovely walks where he could run free through empty fields, although I had to put in on a lead through two fields of horses - he sometimes barks at these 'big dogs'!

I followed one route and ended up coming down to the sign showing I'd been to Dobson's Farm and then along a path I'd walked before back to the Whitchurch Arm of the canal. Ben decided he wanted a drink and found a pond and jumped in- he didn't expect it to be deep but he had his drink and climbed out and shook his very wet coat. We retraced our steps and walked back up over the hill back to the boat and Ben had dried out by the time we got back.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Quiet Sunday- No Cruising- No Way!

Today we planned a quiet day near Prees Junction with no cruising. I set off walking with Ben down the Prees Branch and we met dogs everwhere and Ben had a play with some of them.We were out nearly two hours and returned to the boat just in time to put the chicken in the oven for lunch. Eric was busy polishing one side of the boat- I don't believe it-the bottle had remained unopened for so long.

Anyway by the smell of the gas we'd have to change the bottle soon and it decided to run out in the middle of roasting the chicken. Eric changed over to the other bottle and we then had no gas at all- even though the bottle was full. It turned out that the pipe had died connecting the bottle to the regulator. We needed gas to cook the lunch and keep us in tea and coffee. I rang Whitchurch Marina (home of Viking Afloat) and we were in luck as they had the pipe we needed but it was two hours away by boat. We pulled in at Viking Afloat and collected the pipe and Eric fitted it- Yes we have gas! We cooked the chicken and Sunday Lunch became our evening meal, so everything turned out OK in the end.

We had cruised in lovely sunshine enjoying the wild life on the way. Cowslips, wood anemones, celandines and bursting buds galore- spring has sprung! We also saw a pair of kingfishers, one of which remained on his perch as we passed by. When we finally moored up we watched a pair of unusual birds in the field opposite - out came the bird book to identify them as sandpipers. Maybe we'll have a quiet day to-morrow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad/ Granddad/ Great Granddad

Dad & I
My dad celebrated his 83rd birthday yesterday with a meal at 'The Greyhound'. This is the only picture taken of us together and I managed to close my eyes with the flash! Never mind it's a nice one of him. It's always great to have a get together for a happy occasion.

Auntie Clare With Gwenllian

Gwenllian joinied in with singing of Happy Birthday after she'd sampled Clare's scampi! She was also on the look out for cucumber or tomatoes even though she'd had her tea earlier. It was a pity there wasn't a high chair or children's menu and we hadn't thought to ask when it was booked. She enjoyed her icecream with chocolate sauce when we all sampled the dessert menu though.

Shades Of Green And Chaos At The Chemist

Dilys & I

Dilys & Wendy

On Wednesday I travelled to Newport by bus and train from Ellesmere . I arrived just in time for lunch and met up with friends Dilys and Wendy who I first met about twenty years ago. We had all chosen to wear something green- hence the title shades of green. We enjoyed a lovely meal at the new Wetherspoons in Bridge Treat- I had a curry with chapatis and naan bread. We had a great catch up as I hadn't seen them for a few months.

Next stop was the chemists to pick up three months supply of medication but unfortunately that didn't happen until two days letter as the prescriptions hadn't even been printed or signed even though they'd been ordered by post well in advance. I had to chase up the prescriptions, arrange for them to be collected by the chemist and then wait for the chemist's order to arrive. Luckily I was able to pick the supplies up on the way to the station, so now we're OK for another three months.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ben Takes Me For A Walk!

Waiting For Me!

Today has been a busy one for us. First thing this morning I rang Blakemere Veterinary Centre in Ellesmere to arrange Ben's boosters and they fitted us in this afternoon. We decided to get Ben micro chipped at the same time and he was a very good boy at the vets-he even gave him a lick!

Eric had a much needed haircut losing the long wavy bits. The barber told me that the hairdresser (Ceri's) was open next door when I complained that everyone I'd visited was shut on Monday. I am very pleased with my cut too as she listened and cut it how I like it. I am going to Newport this week for my dad's 83rd birthday and my hair was driving me crazy as it needed a cut. We also did a bit of shopping on the way back to the boat so that Eric wouldn't go hungry while I was away.

Ben and I also had a lovely walk- Ben remembered the way we usually go and it was just a case of follow that dog and stopping him when I needed to put him on a lead. He thoroughly enjoys the Nature Reserve near the canal- running along the pathways and coming back to make sure I'm still walking.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ellesmere In The Sunshine

Moored Up Below Aston Top Lock

We left the lovely Montgomery Canal this morning after a pleasant cruise from Queen's Head. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush are staying there another week, so we said goodbye for now. Ben and I walked a few miles with the boat although Eric cursed me when the boat got stuck in the mud when he pulled in to let us walk. He had to use a long pole in the end as he was really stuck! We stopped on the Weston Arm to use the services including getting rid of a weeks rubbish- this is the only BW skip on this canal. Then we went up the four locks with the help of the lock keeper. At the top were some more boats waiting to come down the flight including a pair of hotel boats. We headed towards Ellesmere and there were loads of boats cruising in the sunshine and many more went past after we moored up just before the 48 hour moorings opposite the BW Services. It's the busiest I have ever seen Ellesmere- it must be the sunshine bringing everybody out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Aston Locks Nature Reserves

We moved from Maesbury Marsh up through two locks to moor up just below Aston Top Lock. It was a lovely cruise with beautiful weather and BW had removed the offending branch so we passed by without any mishaps this time. We passed the Nature Reserve alongside Aston Bottom Lock and planned to go for a walk down there later on. You can access it from Aston Middle Lock as well. There's also another smaller nature reserve by Aston Top Lock.

Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush were moored at Queen's Head and Alan came down to see us in the afternoon. We decided to stay put until Sunday so we changed our passage booked through the locks from Saturday to Sunday. On Friday we popped into Oswestry on the bus to get some fresh food- there's a big Morrisons by the bus station. NB Shush came down one lock in the afternoon and moored up with us- so we had a good catch up. NB Felicitas moored up as well- their from Cardiff so it was three welsh boats together.

It's such a pleasant place to stop and it's so dark here at night you can see loads of stars you don't usually see. Ben likes it too as we're not far away from Aston Nature Reserve which is a good place for a walk. Walking along the towpath on this canal there are wild flowers galore including primroses, wood anemones, celandines and a few cowslips. There's a pair of pheasants near our mooring and in the night there are some very noisy frogs - one boater thought it sounded like a duck with a cold!

Thursday, April 08, 2010



Exploring The Work In Progress

Swans But No Powered Boats Yet!

In Water (But No Powered Boats Yet)

Restoration In Progress (Between Bridges 82 to 83)

Hedge Laying (Between Bridge 82 & 83)

Just A Ditch (Beyond Bridge 83)

Today with the weather warm and sunny, Ben and I set off to explore the restoration work going on below Maesbury Marsh. We walked past the new section already in water and negotiated the swans without too much hassle. I also saw the lovely hedge laying carried out with the help of Nick and Liz off NB Henry. I took a load of photos as Eric wanted to see how things were getting on but also needed to take advantage of the good weather to finish a bit of painting. Underneath the brass thing which protects the boat from the rope (what's it called?) had gone all rusty so he needed to sort it out. We'd already had water in the boat onto the galley worktops via the screw holes so they had been taped over and when he took the tape off the paint he'd already done came off too. He wasn't a happy bunny!

After my enjoyable walk we decided to go as far as we could and turn around to go back up to Queen's Head near where Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush are moored for a few days. I jumped off the boat to work the lift bridge leaving it open while Eric turned the boat around to come back through. Luckily for me no cars arrived until the bridge was safely down again. It takes a lot of turns to get it up and down and I didn't want to have to do it twice.

So we've got two locks to do today and we'll moor below the top lock as it's much quieter than mooring at Queen's Head itself. A good place to stop with a regular bus service to Shrewsbury and Oswestry if the need for retail therapy arises. Our cupboards are well stocked so it's only a need for bread, milk and fresh fruit and vegetables that takes me shopping.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Visiting Maesbury Marsh

Heading for the next lock
Entering Aston Middle Lock

We woke this morning to rain and delayed moving until it stopped. Maggie and Bernie passed by on NB Blue Diamond going the other way. Ben couldn't wait to get out for his walk as I headed off with the windlass to get the lock ready for Eric. The lock was full because NB Blue Diamond has used it to come up but a boater emptied it even though our boat was in view and I was walking towards it with the windlass in my hand. Eric pulled in and waited for them to work through the lock. We worked the final two locks and headed for Maesbury-unfortunately a low branch of a fallen tree didn't let us pass without trying to remove various things from the roof. Eric really couldn't get away from it due to a moored boat just before the fallen tree. We were lucky we only lost a flowerpot. After using the services we carried on a little further to Maesbury Marsh where we moored up not far from the Cafe. There's not far to go now before we have to turn around as the next section is in water but not yet open to boats as the bank vegetation needs chance to grow and they haven't reached the next winding hole. The restoration work is ongoing and one day it will join up with the next navigable section of the canal but it's a lot of work so it's a very slow process.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Finding A Shop!

Yesterday the boat stayed put as the wind was blowing really hard and we didn't fancy moving anyway. I took Ben for a walk to Maesbury Marsh and back about four miles taking two hours- I'm not a speedy walker. We arrived to fine the cafe and shop but no post office anymore and not even a stamp for sale. The shop sold milk, bacon, frozen pies amongst other things but no bread, biscuits and no chocolate! I was disappointed. We managed to find a post box in the wall of a stone cottage not far from the Navigation public house with the help of directions from a local but I still need some more stamps.

Today (Tuesday) we are off to find a shop near Queen's Head we've been told about, whether it sells what we need is another matter.(chocolate!) We found the shop about twenty five minutes from Queen's Head in a little village called West Felton- it had what we wanted other than decent apples including chocolate! I managed to get a book of stamps so I could post some letters in the post box in the shop wall. Not moving again today- perhaps to-morrow.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Sunday- 10 Boats Going Down (The Monty)

Waiting at Frankton Locks

Ben waiting too!

This morning we woke up to a bit of sun. It's still cold though due to the cold wind. We were going down the Frankton Locks onto Montgomery Canal. I can remember coming here when my girls were very young when the locks went nowhere as there was no water below the first lock. We walked down the bed of the canal through the first canal bridge (Bridge 70) wondering when the water would flow again. The bridge numbering is confusing because Bridge 1 is near Hurleston on the Llangollen Canal and the numbers continue on down the Montgomery Canal to make the first bridge number 70. The bridge numbers start again with 1W at Frankton Junction until Bridge 49 at the Horseshoe Falls at Berwyn. Colin the lock keeper was as usual working one side of each lock and carefully managing the water so none was wasted. Today ten boats went down so we stayed at our mooring just around the corner from the junction waiting for the other boats to go and finally went down last. I went round to have a look at the boats going down and met a couple on NB Lola with their two dogs. Ben was recognised by them as they read my blog. My apologies I didn't think to ask your names.

We stopped at the Weston Arm to use the facilities, and we ate lunch while the water filled. We couldn't stay there anyway because there was no room to moor as the other boats were spaced out. We went through Graham Palmer Lock dropping down a few feet and began the slow passage down towards Queen's Head and Aston Locks. We stopped below the first lock on the armco as it's much quieter than mooring near roads at Queen's Head and we knew we could also get a satellite signal. I am feeling shattered today with all this fresh air and working six locks- I really am not used to working locks after our winter rest!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Leaving Hindford

NB Bendigedig Leaving Hindford

We left Jack Mytton's in sunshine- what a change in the weather from the bitterly cold day on Friday. I walked with the boat so Ben could have a good run as it was only an hour to our next planned stopping point at Bridge 1W ready to go down on the Montgomery Canal on Sunday. While walking we met a boater who recognised Ben and gave him a treat. I rang BW and prebooked our passage through the locks although the person who answered the phone told me I had to ring on the day. I told her we had always booked our passage before the day and I wanted to book it for Sunday and she finally put we through to the person taking the bookings, who said it's a good idea to book it ahead as they only allow 12 boats down the locks and 12 boats up the locks between 12 and 2pm. So we're moored up here, having a lazy afternoon.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Ducks Onboard!

Hitching a ride!

We left our mooring near Chirk Marina and set off towards Hindford going firstly through Chirk Tunnel and then across Chirk Aqueduct. Lots of people out walking but few boats were travelling even though we didn't set off until 11am. Ben and I had a good walk although it was bitterly cold and Eric stayed not far in front with the boat slowing down so I could keep up. He had two pairs of gloves and his hands were still cold! It's great to be out cruising again but it'll be even better when we get some warmer weather. The photo shows the pair of ducks who flew onboard and hitched a ride in Chirk. They made us smile as they waddled along the roof of the boat.

At Poacher's Pocket Alan & Eiddwen on NB Shush spotted us coming towards them and we had a quick chat before continuing on our journey. Next we came to New Marton Locks- the first locks of the year. The lady in the cottage next to the Top Lock was out clearing the weir with a rake and came over to help us through the lock and we had a good chat too. It was a bit windy so we took care approaching the bottom lock as it's very open and if the wind is blowing off the towpath side it's hard to get the boat in, but today it was fine. We didn't need to stop for water today as we knew we could get some down on the Montgomery Canal on Sunday. We moored up just before Jack Mytton's where we knew we could get a good satellite signal- I wanted to watch 'Ashes to Ashes' on television. Moored just behind us was NB Spadger and NB Wild Phoenix who had spent the winter at Llangollen too.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

NB Bendigedig Is Cruising Again

Leaving the last narrow section near Bryn Howell

Going to turn around in the mooring basin

This morning we filled up with water, unhooked the electric, lifted the fenders, started the engine and finally untied the ropes- we were on our way. I walked with Ben up towards the mooring basin to make sure there wasn't a boat coming through the narrow section. All clear so Eric went up there to turn around so we were pointing in the right direction to leave Llangollen and begin cruising again.

There are two more narrow sections of canal with one way cruising only so Ben and I walked ahead to the end of the first narrow section to stop any boats going in it once were in that section. Maggie from NB Blue Diamond was walking too, as they were following us with NB Shush following them. The towpath was dire with thick squelchy mud so it was difficult to walk and Ben got so filthy he had to have a wash. he wasn't too keen on putting his feet in a bowl of warm water. He's more used to a wash with a hose pipe!

We managed to get through the narrow sections without having to wait and very soon we were at Trevor turning right to go over the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct. We only had one lift bridge to go through which was already opened by a boat in front and the three boats passed through leaving Eiddwen with the job of lowering the bridge which meant using a windlass to wind it down- hard going after a winter rest. Shortly afterwards we pulled over near Chirk Marina with the NB Shush and NB Blue Diamond passing by as they wanted to go a bit further before they moored up.

After lunch Ben and I went for a short walk along the towpath which had a few very muddy sections before returning to the boat. I had to wash his feet and legs again - they were so muddy!