Monday, November 29, 2010

Ice, Frost But No Snow Yet

Last night it was very cold outside, so cold that the Llangollen Canal froze at Ellesmere. The boat creaked and groaned in the ice too. Out came the hot water bottles to warm those toes. We put the Mikuni heating on while we charged the batteries until 8pm but the bedroom end got very cold last night even though I fed the fire coal at regular intervals. As usual I am not sleeping that well but it has it's advantages as at least the fire doesn't go out. The heating refused to come on this morning but came on fine once the engine had topped up the batteries. Next spring we are going to need new batteries at this rate.
This mornings walk was up the canal towards Frankton Junction as I wanted to walk somewhere where Ben didn't need a lead. It was crunchy underfoot and the canal was frozen except for short stretches underneath the canal bridges. Nobody about and well wrapped up it was nice to be out walking. After that Ben went back on the boat while Eric and I got some cans of fuel to top up the tank for the heating. We won't be cruising until the ice goes as we don't want to be stuck in the ice miles away from the BW services. We bought ourselves an early Christmas present- an Ecofan- in an attempt to spread the heat on the boat which seems to be at head height when you stand up.
We think we must be old and feeling the cold more. this morning a couple came off their boat in little jackets and the bloke had his sleeves pushed up. We had hats, scarfs, gloves and thick coats!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good News! Update On The Wrist.

This morning Nick and Liz took me to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to check my wrist at the Outpatients. They took one look at my heavy weight plaster and sent me to have it cut off with a saw as it was too thick for scissors. Then I had 3 more X rays and waited for the doctor. He said it's not a fracture, but pain and swelling caused by overstretched tendons. So the weighty cast has been replaced by a wrist brace for support- good news indeed!
Back in Ellesmere Eric met us for lunch in 'The Black Lion' and it was a lovely meal too. I had chicken tikka as I could easily eat it with just a fork. A few drinks and lots of chat before we came back to the boat and Liz and Nick drove back to their boat further down the canal at 'Poacher's Pocket'.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Falling About But Not With Laughter

Just turning around

Well the day started ok, it hadn't snowed all we had was a hard frost. We decided to go up to the turning circle and turn around so we could do the filling and emptying so we would be ok when the snow finally came. The shallow part of the turning circle was frozen so the boat did a bit of ice breaking. Ben and I walked and got back on the boat to get across to the waterpoint where we had a nice chat with other boaters servicing their boats. Everything done so I took Ben for a walk through the woods and across the now empty cow field and that's when the trouble began. The ground was frozen and I slipped ending up flat on my back with a very sore wrist where I'd put my hand out to save myself. Ben's reaction to my cries of ouch, ouch was to give me a good lick as I lay there! Thank goodness there were no cows. As my wrist was swelling with a lump the size of an egg we walked quickly back through the woods to the boat.

Ellesmere Info Link in Wharf Road came up trumps when we asked about about a hospital, ringing the Minor Injuries Unit in Oswestry and arranging a taxi to take us there. Waiting to be seen we watched the snow falling and five hours later I'm X rayed and in a plaster with a scaphoid fracture and a fracture clinic appointment in Shrewsbury tomorrow- all I can say is what a day and my wrist hurts!! A big thank you to Alan (NB Shush) who let Ben out while we were at the hospital. Liz and Nick (NB Henry) have kindly offered to take me to the hospital in Shrewsbury and we're having lunch afterwards.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just Hanging Around

Ben loves a paddle!

Not doing much this week with the boat moored up near Ellesmere and Eric has gone to Newport for a hospital appointment while I stay here with Ben the dog. I haven't done anything worth blogging about - just the usual dog walking, food shopping, reading a book and plenty of time 'silver surfing'.

It got cold on the boat and the heating cut in about 3.00 am when it fell below 10 degrees C. I was warm and cosy and the other end was warmer with the coal fire. Perhaps we should have had a central stove on our boat. I've heard various stories on how good/not so good those eco fans so I'll just have to try one one day! I was pleased the Mikuni diesel heater actually came on as it can be a bit temperamental and refuse to come on if the batteries are a bit low. Also we seem to have less trouble with it if we put it on for an hour to give it a good blast rather than let the programmer keep putting it on and off.

The temperature outside was -1 degree C at 9.00 am this morning so Ben the dog will have to wait a bit for his walk. I know he's got a fur coat but I haven't! No I don't want one I'd rather see the fur on the animal it belongs to. I've been telling Ben what a lucky boy he is to have a nice warm boat rather than the drafty barn he was living in as a puppy with the farm dogs. He loves to stretch out by the fire so he likes his creature comforts. No kennel for Ben, although I don't know what the fuss is about in the John Lewis ad- it's only and advert and it's probably fake snow anyway.

We're off for a walk around the Mere and no doubt Ben will paddle in it unless of course the edge is frozen!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Weekend In Ellesmere

A sculpture in Castlefields with the cows!
The trouble with not cruising so much in the winter it that when you need to fill and empty things you have to move. We also needed to run the engine to get some washing done. Once Eric was at the waterpoint I took Ben for a walk and by the time we got back the boat had moved- Ben had his puzzled look. We walked along the towpath to find the boat as he hadn't gone far. On Saturday morning we took Ben for a walk through the wood and across the field to the Mere and we were in luck as the cows grazing in the field were a long way from the footpath. The picture is one of the sculptures we passed in the cow field. In the afternoon Eric did a few boaty jobs, first of all he topped up the batteries and then made a wooden cover which is secured by a ratchet strap to keep the Boat Safety examiner happy. Basically the batteries have to be prevented from moving if the boat tips or overturns and covered to stop metal items falling on the battery terminals.

On Sunday morning I put a casserole in the oven before taking Ben for a nice long walk. There were lots of dogs already in the wood so we went along the towpath to the road which leads into Ellesmere alongside the Mere and then checked to see where the cows were before going back through the field to the wood. He had a lovely run in the wood before we walked back along the towpath to the boat. The spaniel on a boat who wants to eat Ben was inside his boat on the way back but he'd already had a go at him as we passed earlier. He's not a nice dog and he chases Ben with lots of snarling and teeth and Ben can't get past enough.

So it's lunch then I'll read the papers while Ben has a snooze.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back Onboard

I've been back to south Wales for a few days but as much as I love to see my family I am always glad to be home on the boat. For starters a bed on dry land always feels so flat! As I arrive in Newport I always feel a bit overwhelmed by all the people everywhere compared to my comparatively quiet boaty life. I was pleased that my daughter Clare could meet me for lunch and we had a great catch up chat. Later I got a bus to my dad's house where I'd booked B & B -his little joke- he always checks his diary to see if there's room. Lots of hugs followed by a noisy evening as he's rather deaf and he has the TV on very loud. Back in my childhood bedroom again and I'm trying to get some sleep but I can hear traffic and other noises I'm not used to and as I said the bed feels too flat.

The next day it was a visit to the dentist for a checkup and I knew I'd be coming back as I'd lost a couple of fillings. Later in the day I caught a bus to visit my granddaughter Gwenllian and her parents Lisa and Gerwyn. It's always great to see them and Gwen is such a lovely little girl but all grandparents say that! She loves books and brings me some to read to her. Soon it was time to go back to my dad's house and I was in luck at Gerwyn gave me a lift home on his way to work.

In the morning it was up bright and early to catch the ten o'clock train to Shrewsbury and then a bus trip to Ellesmere. With only nine minutes to get from the train station to the bus it was a rush but I made it. Now I'm happily back afloat- both Eric and Ben were very pleased to see me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hello Shush!

Cold and frosty NB Shush

Ben was keen to go out for a walk on Monday so I was walking through the woods at nine o'clock- far too early for me. By the time we got back Eric was ready to move a little way to use the services at BW Ellesmere. We then moored up in front of Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush. Ben was delighted to see Alan and went to get his ball for him to throw. NB Shush is having engine troubles with a head gasket gone and the new one has to come from Holland. As you rely on the engine for all your power it's not easy. Tesco had a power cut too early on Sunday morning which caused havoc with the tills as the card readers were playing up. Luckily I'd enough cash to pay for my shopping as the cash machine was not working either.

It's another cold and frosty morning but the antifreeze in the engine has been changed so we're all prepared for another cold winter. We bought too much antifreeze as we were unsure how much we'd need- the Beta 43 Manual doesn't tell you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Little Further To Ellesmere

'The Plantation'- a walk in the woods

On Saturday we cruised a little further, Ben and I walked with Liz and Connie from NB Henry until we reached Colemere. We left them mooring up and continued our walk passing the beautiful lakes Colemere and Blakemere before going throught Ellesmere Tunnel to moor up near the entrance to 'The Plantation' on the 14 day moorings. ( If you click on the picture you can read all about it.) We've got dental and hospital appointments in Newport and we can easily get a bus to Shrewsbury and a train to Newport. It's a good time to go visiting too as Arriva Trains have a Club 55 deal on at the moment allowing you to travel anywhere on their trains for £15 return or £13 with a senior railcard.

Eric has some jobs to do- he needs to change the antifreeze as we wake up to cold and frosty mornings once again. This morning there's ice on the bow and the grass outside is white with frost. The batteries also need a top up as usual and he needs to make a cover for them with the boat safety inspection coming up in December. The boats looking a bit battered after a busy Summer but I expect we'll have to wait for warmer drier weather to get any painting done outside.

Not much planned for today just a walk with the dog, read the Sunday papers, cook dinner and then laze around- just a normal Sunday!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hello Henry!

NB Henry

On Friday we moved on towards Ellesmere, Ben and I walked until we'd passed through the two liftbridges. It was certainly windy and cold but we had no trouble with leaves until after Bettisfield when the canal was like leaf soup. We'd stopped at Bettisfield to top up the water and get rid of some rubbish. We cruised for about three and half hours and we said hello to Liz and Nick on NB Henry as we passed them near Hampton Bank. Connie was a bit put out that we didn't stop and started to follow us until Liz called her back. Ben was whingeing as well - they obviously wanted to play together. An hour or so later Nick and Connie came visiting so Ben and Connie got to play together.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stormy Weather Rocks The Boat

NB Bendigedig after the storm
On Thursday we didn't move far but we needed to get some coal as we were down to the last bucket full. It was extremely windy which made moving hard going especially as the wind was pinning us to the bank. We finally got going and then had to negotiate the moored Viking boats, mostly moored three abreast to moor up three boats out from the fuel pump. In fact we blocked the canal so it was just as well nobody else was mad enough to move in this wind. Eric then had to back up to get the coal which was passed across two boat bows by the boat yard blokes to me on the bow of our boat. They were put on the roof when we were moored up. We didn't move far at all because after working through two lift bridges we had some sleety rain. So we're back moored opposite that old tree, hopefully a bit sheltered by the hedgerow alongside us. Ben and I did have a walk for an hour once I'd put on my wet gear and it certainly blew the cobwebs away. So we're sat here waiting for the storm to blow over, looking at the barometer which can't go any lower, but we've everything we need at the moment.

After a very noisy night with the winds and rain rocking and battering the boat, it was a lovely sunny Friday morning, although it was still a bit breezy. No fallen trees near us although I saw an ivy covered trunk fallen across the towpath a few hundred yards away but the canal was not blocked. So it looks like we'll me cruising a little further today and I'll be walking the dog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

About Turn- Back To Whitchurch

Wednesday dawned a nice dry day so Eric turned the boat by the locks and headed back to the waterpoint to fill up with water. Connie and Ben played while Liz and I chatted before it was time for NB Bendigedig to head just a little way and moor near the Whitchurch Arm as we wanted to pop into town. Ben and I walked ahead to open the Whitchurch Lift Bridge so the boat could go through, it's one of the bridges which seems to take forever to open and close. We left Ben on the boat and walked into Whitchurch. One thing we wanted was the ceramic sealing strip used to seal the fire glass on our stove and you just wouldn't believe it- the shop was closed on Wednesdays. Of course all the other shops were open. We sampled the bacon baps in one shop before getting a few necessities in Tesco and walking back to the boat.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Short Cruise To Grindley Brook


After a very stormy night with rain and howling winds we were lucky it was a bit calmer on Monday morning. We decided to move down to Grindley Brook to meet up with Nick, Liz and Connie on NB Henry. Liz and Connie walked up to meet us in the rain so I had some help with the lift bridges. Ben and Connie had a great time getting filthy dirty in the process as it was very wet and muddy on the towpath, but Connie managed to get herself clean by falling in the canal by the boats (no doubt helped by Ben). Liz had to yank her out! It took a while for Eric to thaw out, he'd got really cold on the back of the boat. We had hot soup for lunch and watched the heavy rain from the nice warm boat.

On Tuesday the boat stayed put while Liz and I went walking on the footpaths near Whitchurch with the wet gear on as it was raining again. Some of the empty fields had sheep in them usually they are empty when I've walked those footpaths previously. Liz had just noticed all the sheep footprints and then we saw the sheep so it was back on the leads before Ben tried out his herding skills. Lots of work has been done on the footpaths putting in kissing gates instead of stiles. Loads of mud today so the dogs needed a wash when we got back to the boats. Ben didn't knock Connie in again!

The Mikuni heater didn't stay on long so we knew we needed diesel- it aways fails when we've about 80 litres left as the outlet is higher up the tank so you don't run out of fuel for the engine. Eric got a couple of cans of red diesel from a local garage to keep us going. The heater started after a few attempts. Phew we thought something else had gone wrong!

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Little Further- Moored Opposite This Tree

Early Sunday morning it was cold- I was very glad I'd set the heating to come on at 7am as it was only 13 degrees C (about 55 degrees F). I knew the boat felt cold as my nose was cold! Looking outside there was a low mist on the canal. Taking Ben outside proved it was cold but by the time the sun had come up we had another sunny day.

We decided to move as I wanted to get on the Internet and couldn't where we were. Another hour and a half cruise with Ben and I walking along the towpath. Only a few boats on the move today but you always meet them in a narrow spot. Lots of fishermen with long poles across the towpath so Ben went underneath them if there was room, otherwise he jumped over. They moved them out of the way for me! I don't suppose they were too thrilled to have to move them out of the way of the boat as Eric crept slowly past trying not to disturb the water too much. We moored in a nice quiet spot opposite the field with the bare branches of a dead tree. Eric wanted to watch some football and the Grand Prix so the dot in the sky was found.
After a phone call to Liz and Nick on NB Henry I found out they were just two miles away from us at Grindley Brook, so I decided to walk down to see them. Of course Ben was delighted to see Connie again and they rolled around and chased each other. I didn't stay long as Eric was concerned about me walking along the towpath in the dark. Most of the way back it was fairly light - it was just a case of follow that white tip on Ben's tail, but the last ten minutes I was glad of my torch. The Grand Prix was still going when I got back to the boat and Ben just went to sleep.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Meandering -Ellesmere To Prees Junction

Autumn near Lyneal Wharf

On Friday morning (Nov 5th) we made our way to the BW Services and did the filling and emptying jobs before leaving Ellesmere behind as planned. We needed to be away from houses so Ben wouldn't spend a night hiding under the bed as he hates the noise of fireworks. We didn't travel far, just an hour and a half cruising giving me the chance to walk the dog before we moored up. Just in time too as we'd just moored up and the rain started. We had a lovely quiet night with no bangs nearby. The only downside was no Internet but the mobiles and satellite TV were fine.
On Saturday we decided to do another short cruise as Ben and I walked while Eric steered the boat. It was dry and sunny so I enjoyed crunching through the leaves. More walkers and dog walkers about being the weekend but only one dog wanted to eat Ben, but he was a very good boy and we continued our walk. We got back on the boat just before the long straight alongside the Nature Reserve and we moored up just after Prees Junction. We're giving the Prees Branch a miss this time as I was avoiding the 'swing on the chain' lift bridge which is a nightmare. Once again we stopped just in time because the rain came down. Soon the fire was lit and we were warm and cosy so we didn't mind the rain. Just as well as the forecast wasn't good.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Back In Ellesmere-There's Room On The Arm!

NB Bendigedig on Ellesmere Arm

On Tuesday we decided to move from above New Marton Locks with Ben and I walking on to open the locks gates in readiness for the boat. There were no queues today. Ben and I walked for a while along the muddy towpath before getting back on the boat. It took far less time to get from New Marton to Ellesmere going with the flow of the water, although Eric had to give short bursts in reverse every so often to get rid of leaves on the propeller. We only met a couple of boats on the move as it was quite cold in the wind, in fact we had cups of Mulligatawny soup to keep us warm.

I should never have same the pump problem was fixed- it started leaking again this morning. We decided to head for Ellesmere Arm as it would be easier for Mark aka The Yellow Van to come to us to sort out the problem. He replaced the pump protector , a filter which hadn't been replaced when the new pump was installed three weeks ago. So let's hope it's sorted....fingers crossed!

Wednesday morning came but we had a noisy night with the wind and the rain lashing on the boat, with the added noise of drips and little bits fallen off the overhead tree. Ben wasn't quiet either he must have heard something to start him barking. The tree noises were our own fault for mooring under a tree but to get a satellite signal Eric knew where we needed to be.

While we're here in Ellesmere we both need to get some haircuts, I keep telling Eric he's like Freddy Boswell from 'Bread' in the morning- if you're young enough to have seen the TV program! Ben and I will be walking some nice familiar walks too viewing the Autumn colours. So it's just restocking of the fridge before we're off cruising again to that nice spot out in the countryside for November 5th.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Weekend In Llangollen

We spent a couple of days in Llangollen and things went a bit pear shaped as far as the boat was concerned. First of all the carbon monoxide alarm went off one evening so it was open all the windows and doors and let the fire go out! Hopefully it's sorted with new rope on the fire door and seals on the fire glass. Then the new water pump was making strange noises and the shower wasn't flowing freely so it was investigate under the sink again. It seems to be leaking!Luckily Eric was able to fix it after I'd emptied the cupboard.

It wasn't all bad, the weather was warm and dry and we got some 'dragon sausages' which are chilli sausages from the butcher next to the delicatessen- delicious! He had some tasters of various sausages and they were delicious too. We were also delighted we didn't have to pay £6 a night as the electricity was available using a card reader. With shoreline the batteries had a welcome boost.

We enjoyed our 48 hours on the wharf but had to leave Monday lunch time. One thing was in our favour there weren't any boats on the move at all all the way to Trevor, although I walked ahead on the narrow sections just to check it was OK to go through. We had to wait at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct for one boat to come across and then we were on our way back to stop out in the countryside for some peace and quiet.

Ben loved being able to play ball in the big field by the mooring basin and some lovely walks in Llangollen but he didn't enjoy the bangs in the nights (fireworks) and had hid under the bed for the last two evenings. So it looks as though we'll be as far as away from civilisation as we can be next weekend when loads of noisy fireworks will be going off!